Netvibes will announce a $15 million investment from Index and Accel ventures (Index previously invested in a prior round).
NetVibes is an Ajax 'webtop' that allows users to aggregate RSS content and include 'gadgets' of content/functionality from external web sites on their Netvibes homepage. Netvibes is the leader in this space followed by PageFlakes (backed by Benchmark Capital). Large players such as Microsoft (Live.com), Google, and Yahoo are also in this space.
A $15m investment is significant. By comparison, Bebo, has recently raised $15m but they have a more clearly defined business model and more users. So I'm wondering how Netvibes could justify a valuation that must range between $40 million (on the absolute low end) to $60 million. Currently Netvibes is not running ads on their site and the service is free.
The only revenue stream I am aware of is charging the 3rd party developers who create Netvibes gadgets to promote them within the gadget directory. I learned this in conversation with Netvibes about creating a Pluggd gadget. I'm not sure this is a great approach as it will only incent developers to support competing platforms.