Travel Ad Network (TAN) is the leading vertical ad network focused exclusively on travel. It reaches users across 50 websites including Lonely Planet, Kayak, RandMcNally, Skybus Airlines, Groople, TravelHero, BootsNAll, AreaGuides, HotelsByCity, EuropeForVisitors, AirGorilla, and many others.
Top advertisers with TAN include American Express, Vacations to Go, Best Western, Netherlands Tourism, Tourism Australia, etc. >>>
Kosmix is a vertical portal startup. Founded in 2006 by Anand Rajaraman and Venky Harinarayan, founders of Junglee, this site aims at creating a ‘Home page for every topic’. Featured Kosmix sites are RightHealth, RightAutos and RightTrips focusing on health, autos and travel verticals. They have also been working on other verticals like politics, finance, video games, etc. with a view to eventually integrate all of them under one search box that would pick the right vertical for a page. [You can read my interview with Venky here.] >>>
PlayFirst is a leading publisher of casual computer games. Based out of San Francisco, it is focused on creating shared casual game experiences around “lasting original brands” with emphasis on “rich story and character”. Few of the more popular PlayFirst titles include the Diner Dash series, Wedding Dash, Chocolatier and Dream Chronicles. My interview with their CEO John Welch is here. >>>
Facebook is the most popular social networking site providing an interactive space that helps members communicate with “friends”. The site features like ‘Wall’ and ‘Poke’ have created a vernacular amongst the youth population. It was started in February 2004, by Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg. “Are we Facebook friends?” has now become a social phenomenon!
Angel Financing of $500,000 came in September 2004 from Peter Thiel of PayPal fame. Series A financing of $12.7 million in May ’05 came from Accel Partners. A $25 million Series B in April ‘06 came from Greylock Partners and Meritech Capital along with previous investors. The series C financing of $300 million came in October ’07 comprising of $240 million from Microsoft for a stake of 1.6%, and the balance from Li Ka-shing, Marc Samwer, Oliver Samwer and Alexander Samwer. The Series C valuation was pegged at $15 Billion. >>>
Digg is a social news book marking site containing user generated content. Ranging from science and technology to politics and entertainment, it covers a diverse spectrum of news posted and rated by users. The site was started in 2004 by Kevin Rose and Jay Adelson.
This site received its funding from two investors – Greylock Partners and the Omidyar Network – in two phases – $2.8 million in October 2005 and around $8.5 million in December 2006. >>>
Tagged, launched in 2004, is a rapidly growing social network for teens aged 13 – 19. It is quickly becoming the number one teen site. The site’s early innovations include the use of slides and YouTube as a part of its graphical interface.
In February 2006, Tagged raised $7 million in its first venture capital funding led by Mayfield Fund. It raised $1.5 million from angel investors in September 2005. In July 2007, Techcrunch reported that it has raised another $15 million round, on a $102 million pre-money valuation (unconfirmed). >>>
Twitter is a micro-blogging site that has taken the web by storm. It is a social network that allows users to post “status update” messages either through the web, instant messenger or through a text message from a mobile phone. An update can be a maximum of 140 words. It could be of the nature, “I am getting off the bus”, or “I am sitting on the loo” (I am not kidding).
Twitter began as a product of Obvious, LLC and was subsequently spun off as a separate company called Twitter, Inc. in April 2007. It was founded in March 2006 and is headquartered in San Francisco. It recently won the Best Mobile Startup at the first annual Crunchies Award. >>>
(I want to preamble this piece by saying that when you read it, please don’t be surprised if Google AdSense starts pushing lingerie ads to you. It is not a very smart algorithm!)
Figleaves.com is the world’s largest online retailer of branded intimate apparel. It includes Aubade to La Perla to Zimmermann. Users can shop by brand, size, price, color, style or occasion. It has a ‘no hassle’ returns policy. It was started as Easyshop.co.uk in late 1998, is headquartered in London and employs over 220 people. >>>
You have heard me talk about the verticalization of the web. Here’s a good example of a brand built on that premise.
Zappos.com is the #1 online footwear retailer. Apart from retailing around 1,100 well known brands of shoes, boots, sandals, and athletic footwear, it also retails accessories including socks, wallets, belts, designer handbags, and diaper bags. (It recently added clothing, a move that is quite inconsistent with its brand!) >>>
eHarmony is an online dating/matchmaking site that uses its patented Compatibility Matching System™ to match singles.
In November 2004, eHarmony raised $110 million in a Series B round of financing from Sequoia Capital, Technology Crossover Ventures and Tuputele Ventures. It had earlier raised $3 million in Series A from Sarofim Fayez and Co. >>>
AmieStreet.com is an online music destination that allows (a) musicians to release, (b) music fans to discover, and (c) listeners decide the price they would like to pay for new and independent music over the Internet. The site has excellent music.
In August 2007, Amie Street raised an undisclosed amount of Series A round of funding led by Amazon.
Amie Street makes money by selling non-DRM music. It shares the revenues with the artist who gets to keep 70% of revenues after the first $5 in sales. It follows a demand based-pricing model for the songs. >>>
Takkle is a social network for high school sports, where students, athletes, coaches, and fans share their passion. Takkle has a strategic alliance with Sports Illustrated.
Takkle allows students to create their profiles and upload their stats, photos and videos for college recruiters.
In November 2007 Takkle raised $7 million in venture funding led by Sports Illustrated and the New York City Investment Fund along with WMG Investments, Greycroft Partners, IJ Smith Enterprises, and Allen & Co. managing director Jack Schneider. It had earlier raised $5 million in November 2006. >>>
Bill Me Later is a safe and convenient payment system that allows people to purchase on the phone or over the web. The service is in direct competition with eBay’s PayPal.
It was recently judged as the sixth-fastest-growing U.S. firm by Inc. magazine. It has around 200 employees and is based in Baltimore.
Bill Me Later has raised a total of $200 million from Azure Capital Partners, Chase Paymentech, Crosspoint Venture Partners, First Data Corp., and others. It has also secured a $640 million debt financing from Citigroup. >>>
Last week we took a look at Xanga and today we will take a look at hi5, another popular social networking site.
hi5 has an Alexa traffic rank of 8. hi5 is more popular globally than it is in the US. It is the number one site in Peru, Dominic Republic, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Portugal, Honduras, etc. It is among the top 10 sites in many countries, and is especially popular in Latin America. More than 75 million people have registered accounts with hi5, and the site draws over 25 million unique users per month. hi5 has 2.9 million monthly unique visitors in the US. >>>
Xanga is a free Web-based service that hosts weblogs, photoblogs, videoblogs, audioblogs, and social networking profiles and is popular around the globe. It is packed with features and is one of the easiest ways to get a blog up and running. It also has a real community feel to it. Xanga Setup Wizard has made creating a blog very simple. The site is targeted towards teenagers. Xanga users are referred to as “Xangans”. >>>