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Valley vet Ron Conway backs news wiki about start-ups

Beta test version of TradeVibes, a site that aggregates news and opinions about private companies, launches after raising $900,000 from angel investors.

TradeVibes, a site that aggregates information, news, and opinions about start-ups, raised $900,000 in seed funding from a group of angel investors that includes serial technology investor Ron Conway, early Google employee Aydin Senkut, and the Kinsey Hills Group.

Mill River Labs, the company behind TradeVibes, is certainly well-connected, given that its four founders were early employees of PayPal. Conway, who was an early investor in Google and PayPal, will act as an adviser to the company, along with YouTube co-founder Steve Chen and Ariba co-founder Ed Kinsey.

Mountain View, Calif.-based TradeVibes launched its free site in beta test form on Friday in a move to take on major sources of company news such as Dow Jones and Hoover's, as well as rival upstarts KillerStartups.com and TechCrunch. It initially opened its site in November by invitation only while the company was building up a database of about 1,000 start-ups, largely in the field of technology.

David Li, co-founder and CEO, said he expects that the site will eventually include start-ups in other fields, thanks to its open system that lets businesses or individuals add information to the site. "We want to be the Wikipedia for company information. But we've created a structured wiki, so it's easier for people to edit information in the same format," Li said.

TradeVides provides basic information like a company's founders, rivals and funding information, but it also gives people a way to discover start-ups in a given interest area, such as clean tech or social networks. Visitors can comment on or rate a start-up, as well as review news and blogs about the company.

Li said TradeVibes plans to make money initially by selling job listings on a company page. He said he can also envision eventually selling subscriptions to investors for added services such as private social networking, in which they could talk to other fellow investors about potential deals.

Mill River Labs was founded in February 2007 by Li; Peter Chu, who is chief technology officer; and David Kang and Doug Ihde, who are both developers. According to its site, TradeVibes employs five people.