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Trying to Turn Carriers and Retailers Into Google: Azzimov CEO Benoît l’Archevêque (Part 7)

Posted on Thursday, Mar 20th 2014

Sramana Mitra: What you have today is a product and a business model that is just starting to come into the market? This business model is not generating $5 million in revenue?

Benoît l’Archevêque: If you only consider Azzimov, no. But if you consider the whole entity, yes.

Sramana Mitra: You’re basically trying to turn people with major traffic to a Google-kind of business model. It would be interesting to see if they can execute on their side on these ad sales and generating affiliate networks. You’re leaving the execution in their hands. They’re not set up to execute on these kinds of principles.

Benoît l’Archevêque: I’m working with a large company, details of which I will announce in a matter of weeks, that’s actually a portal doing news, shopping, videos, and music. For me, mixing all these kinds of data, is as easy as doing only products.

Sramana Mitra: I don’t think that is the risk of your business model. Since you’re a revenue share kind of model, the risk of your business model is whether these large players can execute a Google-like business. We don’t know that for a fact, because they don’t have a track record of doing this. Retailers know how to sell advertising but carriers don’t know.

Benoît l’Archevêque: I have to disagree with you on this.

Sramana Mitra: It’s not proven. That’s my point. Assumptions may disagree with me, but you don’t have revenue numbers to show that it’s working. Your investment thesis may be fine, but the risk of that investment thesis is that fact that these companies don’t have a track record of doing it. I’m not saying though that they will not be able to do it.

Benoît l’Archevêque: Let me give you an example. In Canada, there’re two portals. One is called Canoe and the other is Sympatico. Both are doing exactly what I’ve been telling you. Both are selling advertising. Both have shopping websites and both have affiliate programs. They’re both doing it. Canoe is the largest platform just after Google in Canada.

Sramana Mitra: That is a company that is specifically founded to do that.

Benoît l’Archevêque: It was not founded to do that. To a certain degree, I understand what you’re telling me.

Sramana Mitra: I’m not saying that it will not work. I’m listening to your pitch and I’m observing that there are risks in your business model. It’s not a slam dunk. It may work. If carriers can make this transition, I think it would be phenomenal in terms of reinventing themselves. But carriers are very old-fashioned companies. From where I sit, I don’t take this as a given at all.

Benoît l’Archevêque: That’s why I’ve created my own portal at the same time. If no one takes up the pace, I will.

Sramana Mitra: You have to acquire the users. That’s a very expensive process.

Benoît l’Archevêque: I know. That’s what I’ve been doing or 28 years.

Sramana Mitra: You certainly have not acquired anything comparable to that level of users – not for 28 years.

Benoît l’Archevêque: I’m not saying that I acquired millions and millions. But acquiring users, that’s what I’ve been doing.

Sramana Mitra: You know how to acquire users but you don’t necessarily have the budget to acquire the kinds of users we’re talking about.

Benoît l’Archevêque: On that matter, you’re right.

Sramana Mitra: Most startups experiment and see what works. You grow organically. I think you’re a great entrepreneur. I’m just debating your business model. The misunderstanding is that this was pitched as generating $5 million worth of revenue.

Benoît l’Archevêque: Just in China this year, we’re on the road to do that. We’re going there.

Sramana Mitra: Very nice talking to you. Good luck with everything!

This segment is part 7 in the series : Trying to Turn Carriers and Retailers Into Google: Azzimov CEO Benoît l'Archevêque
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