With a new round of $35 million, could Mail.com be the next Yahoo?

Custom email provider Mail.com has taken $35 million in a round led by Quadrangle Capital Partners.

My first take of the news was to write this up as being the last great round at the end of bubble 2.0, after all, $35 million to a company that provides an email service seems absurd on the surface. But then I started looking at what the company does beyond email, and it’s quite impressive.

Naturally the core of the service is email. Mail.com has over 2 million email users, and defines itself from competitors such as Yahoo and Google by offering 00 specialty email addresses, such as lawyer.com and usa.com. But it’s not just an email company, it’s also a big content player as well.

The front page of Mail.com is a content portal similar to Yahoo, and comes with news and coverage across a wide range of topics. Some content is original, some comes from AP, but all of it is posted on the mail.com site. Although never the best reference point, Alexa notes that 32% of Mail.com’s traffic is on Mail.com itself, and while some of this traffic will be people hitting the site to log into their email accounts, they none the less hit the page (the email server at mail01.mail.com takes 60% of the traffic). The company has also branched out into blogging, with celebrity gossip blog HollywoodLife.net and car reviews site OnCars.com.

The traffic numbers for Mail.com are impressive as well: Alexa ranks the site at 803, Quantcast 945. Compete notes over 1.5 million US uniques in September 2008.

Content is the focus on the new round, with the company noting that “The proceeds from the financing will provide capital to further accelerate Mail.com’s growth, including initiatives such as content creation, vertical site development, selective acquisitions and new management hires.” Joining the board is Daniel Rosensweig, a former COO at Yahoo.

Maybe suggesting Mail.com could be the next Yahoo might be a stretch for a number of reasons, and given Yahoo’s recent problems, they probably don’t want to go in that direction anyway. But the fundamentals are sound: key product, leverage into content, money in the bank, and experienced staff. Mail.com doesn’t have, nor will it likely ever have all the bells and whistles Yahoo has today, but that’s a positive when you consider that Yahoo’s long held strategy of trying to be everything to everyone is the reason today why they are masters of nothing. Mail.com can target growth areas without the baggage, and they can only continue to grow from here.

(in part via VentureBeat)