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Deal Radar 2008: PaidContent

Posted on Wednesday, Jul 9th 2008

PaidContent—the flagship site of ContentNext Media Inc.— is a blog site that covers news on media related technology worldwide. It was founded by editor and publisher Rafat Ali in 2002 in a bid to raise his personal profile and find a new job. Four years later Ali made PaidContent a business and founded ContentNext Media, joining the bandwagon of monetized blogs like GigaOm and TechCrunch, which have been covered before.

The company operates four sites on technology: PaidContent.org, PaidContent:UK, MocoNews.net and ContentSutra. MocoNews.net focuses on the world of mobile content and ContentSutra on the digital world in India. The company also hosts events like EconSM (Economics of Social Media), Future of Business Media, and mixers where PaidContent readers meet to network.

In September 2007, PaidContent launched a new finance section and the ContentNextMedia Index in partnership with Financial Content. The ContentNextMedia Index is “an index of 100 U.S.-traded companies in the media, Internet content and related sectors” that showcases the financial performance of the industry. The company also launched PaidContent:UK, PaidContent’s sister site, which will cover the world of digital content in the UK and Europe.

In March 2008, TechCrunch reported that PaidContent was looking to raise money and was also considering selling the company. While Ali categorically denied the second report, he did confirm that PaidContent is looking for more funding. The company had raised an undisclosed amount (less than $1 million) in 2006 from from Alan Patricof’s venture firm Greycroft Partners.

Later in March, the company announced that it is looking to scale. Rafat Ali stepped down from his not-so-favorite role as CEO to make way for Nathan Richardson, who previously headed Dow Jones Online and Yahoo Finance. Patrick Dignan, previously the director of East Coast sales for Forbes.com, also joined as chief sales officer. Staci D. Kramer, the first to join Rafat’s team, was made the co-editor and EVP. She was previously the executive editor. The company’s board includes Charles Koones, who was previously the president and publisher of Variety.

While these are impressive recruits, I wonder whether Paidcontent / ContentNext has the business model to support the cost-structure it is building. I am still, by and large, of the opinion that blogs are small businesses, not venture capital style businesses. Those blogs that have broken out and become ad networks have more scalability built-in. PaidContent doesn’t seem to have done that.

PaidContent, however, is one of the rare blogs that has some reasonable revenue. Like most media sites, it has a job board where employers can post a job for $300 for 30 days. The site has attracted a lot of high profile advertisers including Adobe, Akamai and the Emmys. According to Media Disruption, ad rates are said to range from $2,500 to $5,000 per month while mixer sponsorships were listed at $10,000 to $20,000 per event and EconSM sponsorships cost $7,500 to $40,000. PaidContent also has ‘sponsor posts’, or advertisements in the form of blog posts.

PaidContent, oddly, only attracts 12,226 U.S. monthly visitors (Source: Quantcast) as compared with TechCrunch’s 984,598 and GigaOm’s 241,086. The number sounds low, and may not be entirely accurate. Their Alexa rank is 33,148 (3-month average). Traffic, however, shows a steady decline, probably due to the over-abundance of business / finance blogs these days.

Update: Paidcontent has been acquired by Guardian News and Media.

This segment is a part in the series : Deal Radar 2008


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Hi Sramana,

There is a danger of saturation in the blog market as your article points out and to maintain a high SEO ranking requires significant new content and differentiators to stand out from the pack.

One has to admire Mr Ali’s entrepreneurial initiative but in order to grow his service further against the competition and to achieve market leadership will require further innovation.

The market will continue to grow but the competition and saturation will grow exponentially I believe at a faster rate.

The challenge is therefore to differentiate in a world were true differentiation is ever more elusive.

Best wishes

David

David Bristow Thursday, July 10, 2008 at 5:03 AM PT