The phone rang this morning, just as I put the last piece of peach in my mouth. It was a scheduled call with Justin Floyd, Founder of SmartFundit. Rene Bonvanie mentioned the company during our recent interview.
What followed was a hilarious conversation that started with a very “British” guy, introducing himself, and my saying, “Oh, I didn’t realize you were British!” “Should I begin by apologizing for that?” he responded. “I guess, since I am Indian by origin.”
Anyway, Justin has done 6 companies. “All but one succeeded. The one that failed – I had involved VCs in!” So, now, Justin’s mission is to help entrepreneurs bootstrap without venture financing. Or at least, delay a round of expensive capital infusion. >>>
IAC (Nasdaq: IACI) is an interactive conglomerate operating more than 60 diversified brands in sectors being transformed by the Internet, online and offline. IAC’s mission is “to harness the power of interactivity to make daily life easier and more productive for people all over the world”.
The Company’s business can be classified into five segments:
1) Retailing (HSN, Cornerstone Brands, Shoebuy.com)
2) Membership & Subscriptions (Interval International, Match.com, Entertainment Publications)
3) Transactions (Ticketmaster, LendingTree, RealEstate.com, ServiceMagic)
4) Emerging Businesses (Gifts.com, Pronto, CollegeHumor, Very Short List)
5) Media & Advertising (Ask.com, Citysearch, Evite)
The Company has been divesting its non-core businesses to focus on the online search and content business. >>>
There are several very interesting aspects to keep in mind when considering Shopping.com. First, the comparative shopping marketplace was a low-barrier-to-entry marketplace to enter, leading to significant competition. Second, revenue generating strategies were difficult to figure out in the 1997-1999 timeframe. Online advertising as a revenue model had barely started to take off. Finally, once the bubble burst an entire industry struggled to redefine itself and remain afloat. Shopping.com was successful in each one of these aspects. Let’s explore how.
SM: So you moved to the US with Shopping.com. What prompted you to start Shopping.com in 1997? AA: In 1997, that was the early days of the web and eCommerce. It was clear even then that there were new services which eCommerce would enable which were not feasible in regular commerce. One of those services is comparison shopping, the ability to easily compare thousands of different stores and have information which was never accessible before. The idea was very powerful. I don’t think we fully understood how this business was going to grow and what turns it was going to take. The value of this service was clear and strong, so we built a company and initially the idea was to send alerts to consumer-defined products which were within specified price ranges. Over time the alert functionality became secondary to the web functionality. >>>
Chris Brookfield is the Investment Director at Unitus Investment Management Company. He has been a venture capital and private equity investor his entire professional career. In 2004 he co-founded Open Water Investors. Chris has also been an Associate at Redleaf Venture Management, a Silicon Valley seed stage venture investor, and is familiar with pure play technology venture capital.
Unitus is an interesting study in successful microfinance institution financing being conducted in a for-profit environment. I recently had the opportunity to discuss Unitus and microfinance with Chris.
Microfinance has gained momentum in the last 12 months, with a number of successive milestones. >>>
Amir Ashkenazi is the founder of Adap.tv, as well as the former founder and CTO of Shopping.com. Adap.tv is in the midst of the Online Video Advertising fray, on which I have recently written quite a bit. In fact, Danny Cohen suggested this conversation after reading one of those pieces about one of Adap.tv’s competitors, Scanscout. Online Video is very hot right now, but monetization is not quite happening very well yet. That is why, companies such as Adap.tv and Scanscout are important. In this discussion, we will discuss Amir, and also the segment that he is currently entrepreneuring in.
SM: Amir, I would like to start by going back to your roots. Where do you come from, where were you born, what type of family did you grow up in? AA: I was born in Israel 36 and a half years ago. I grew up nobly and aptly. I moved to the US in 1999.
SM: Did you move here as a student? AA: I started Shopping.com in 1997 while I was still in Israel. Before that I was Director of Research at a company called CommTouch. >>>
I have recently written several pieces on the Enterprise 3.0 and the Extended Enterprise trend. In this article, I am going to cover a company that aligns well with the trends of collaboration and the Extended Enterprise, a space that has really heated up of late, following Cisco’s acquisition of Webex.
Today, businesses are no longer limited to one location or office. Employees need to access data while on the move or even while working from home. More and more work is being outsourced and there is a need to share and access data and applications throughout the extended e(n/x)terprise. >>>
Location is fundamental to our personal and business lives – yet it is a concept that is easily and often misunderstood. The Oxford Dictionary defines this word as “the point or extent of space that is occupied by a person, place or thing”. So a place is not a location – it has a location…
In fact, location is an abstract concept that is described by geometry (e.g. lat/long coordinates, boundary polygon, or the intersection of two lines for a major street intersection). This geometry, when used with a geographic reference system, can define “where” in the world a person, place or thing is located. And in turn, mapping systems can depict this location at various levels of granularity or zoom scale.
Most human beings have spatial intelligence and some degree of geographic knowledge – so the location encoded in the answer “near San Jose” to the question “where are you?” actually means something. The vast majority of computers systems (with the exception of mapping and GIS systems) might achieve a string match on San Jose, but will have no concept of near – or closest, adjacent, contained by, or within 5 miles.
As more and more media moves to a digital format, the role of digital advertising firms will continue to increase. Firms which have hybrid experience, who truly understand brand management and are able to capitalize on online efficiency (buy more ad space for fewer dollars) are going to excel. AKQA will be an interesting firm to watch over the next several years.
SM: Do you think all forms of media are moving to a digital platform? TB: Are all media becoming digital, addressable, and quantifiable? Perhaps, and if so there is the promise there could be more of a rational play, more analytics placed against those decisions. The more information one has about who your target audience is, what messages and what kind of package your message is, in terms of what are they seeing online, what are they seeing broadcast, the more it will be a very powerful marketing exercise to harness all of that information. >>>