Needly Debuts a WordPress plus Photoshop plus Google Reader Hybrid

15 April 2014

After appearing to a private audience at South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW) Los Angeles-based WYSIWYG social Web publishing platform Needly is pulling back the curtain and launching to the public today. The common idea is to let anyone, regardless of technical ability to create any website from scratch using drag and drop tools. Besides, this design and publishing functionality, the platform also takes in social following of other content creators – inside and outside the Needly network – and a RSS-baser reader solution.

Needly is the vision of serial entrepreneur and angel investor Fred Krueger, who is also originator of Top Level Domain Holdings (TLDH), Adconion Media Group, Tag world (sold to Viacom), and Fauve Software (sold to Macromedia/Adobe). Krueger started working on Needly after paying one too many design contractors a silly amount of money to build a website for one of his portfolio firms. Upset that the process isn’t much easier these days than it was a decade ago, he assembled a small team and created an option. The result is the easiest method of creating a professional-looking website.

It’s hard to tell exactly what Needly is trying to be, but it does many things well. During a latest demo, a company employee was seen recreating pixel-perfect copies of the Pando Daily, TechCrunch, and Chase Bank homepage from scratch, each in a matter of minutes and without writing a single line of code – all three designs which certainly ran six (even seven) figures in development cost to create.

Simultaneously, the platform offers a Tumblr – or WordPress – like community platform where publishers and creators can pursue one another and share content amongst them and to the Web in general. Lastly, Needly gives a Google Reader replacement, as, well, who isn’t making one of those these days. Needly’s reader includes its social DNA by enabling users to create both public and private groups among which to share content.

Needly will fit in nicely with Krueger’s TLDH, which is a domain registrar similar to Go Daddy. When users buy and host new domains – including those fancy top level domains like .beer and .london that the company has obtained – they will have the choice of designing a website easily and quickly. While the two industry giants, GoDaddy and Web.com, claim to provide the same tools, the experience in both cases seems straight out of 1999. Needly is a remarkable improvement, and one that makes expert website creation a realistic attempt for the novice small business owner, homemaker, school teacher and others.

Needly has raised “over $3 million dollars” from Wellington Partners, Upfront Ventures (fka GRP Partners), and several angel investors, according to Krueger.

So, to sum up, Needly is Photoshop plus WordPress/Tumblr plus Google Reader. That sounds great, so what’s the catch? Well, some of it costs money. The reader and basic design product are obtainable for free. But any person looking to host a site of any substance will need to pay for the base, self service version of publishing platform, which runs $19 per month, giving the user 4GB of storage capacity and 8GB of bandwidth. The complete service, managed solution costs $99 each month, ups storage and bandwidth to 6GB and 20GB correspondingly, and means the company’s experts will design and keep up your site for you.

For a business holder, both solutions are sensibly priced and offer plenty of value. But for the individual consumer, even the vital plan is a lawful barrier to entry at $228 per year. A large component of the success of both WordPress and Tumblr is that they are totally or partially free to use, letting them to set up huge network effects. The same is true of the late Google Reader and now Digg Reader, Deedly, AOL Reader, etc.

As a fairly unknown product, Needly is going to have a tough time overcoming its cost differentiation. Maybe its designer and reader can serve as a set of Trojan horses to bring users into its ecosystem that can be later improved to paying users. Otherwise, Needly will be an additional striking product that not enough people get to see and gain from. 

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