Phil Sim

Web, media, PR and… footy

Getting away

I flew into London a few days ago and have been seeing some of the sites, although I must admit it’s taken my body clock longer than I expected to adjust!

Also had a meeting with Dan from Daryl Wilcox Publishing – a company with a very similiar business model to us over here. MediaConnect’s business model is pretty unique and DWPub is about as similiar a business to MC as I’ve been able to find. Founder Daryl Wilcox has an almost identical background to mine, being a former tech journalist who founded a journalist portal and then expanded by building a complementary website for the PR community. So it was great to talk to Dan about what we’re doing, hear from some of their experiences and I think we both got a lot from it and hopefully there may also be some partnership possibilities down the road.

One of the reasons I took this trip is because I felt myself becoming a little stale. I’ve been able to take myself away from the business but I’m still doing just enough work stuff to keep the ideas percolating along in the background. It’s working well for me and it’s probably something that all business owners should do. Interestingly, Daryl from DWPub is currently on sabbatical.

I think this is just the second real break I’ve had in six years so it was probably well overdue.  It also gives you the chance to see that, yes, the business can run without you…

Heading down for a quick diversion through Paris and Venice before returning back to London for another few days and then over to the US for a couple more meetings and some more touristy stuff!

Filed under: Uncategorized

Get global – literally

I’m going to riff a little longer on the B5 Media thing as they’re has been some really interesting comments worth exploring.

Rick, the VC behind the deal, commented: “Three Aussies bagging some VC coin, com’on, that’s gotta be worth something!”

To which, Aussie entrepreneur Nik Cubrilovic responded: “Actually the story of Aussies bagging VC coin (as Rick puts it) is an interesting story on it’s own – VC isn’t big down under and I am sure this is the first ‘new media’ deal”.

Which prompts the question: Would B5 have gotten to this point, without Jeremy the canuck being a pretty high profile leading man up there closer to where the action is. I dare say, probably not.

We had Darren Rowse along to our Kickstart event earlier this year and was astounded to hear Darren say at that event that he was about to meet up with Jeremy for the first time after having had this B5 gig operating for more than a year. The backstory as to how B5 has evolved is fascinating in itself.

But the fact that Jeremy, Darren, Duncan and Shai have gotten to funding point with this unusual multi-national company structure might have some value for other companies from Australia, and other such international outposts. That is, make a North American merger quick smart so that you have access to networks where there is far more access to money/parnterships/etc.

Or else, start global from start. When you’re putting together your traditional three-man startup, why shouldn’t an Aussie start off from the word go with an Indian tech specialist and a US biz dev guy. I know that’s not how startups usually get off the ground, but why shouldn’t it?

One thing I know, is I’ve seen Australians try and do it all themselves, constantly jetting to and from the US or going through the rigmerole of setting up a US office and it can be terribly draining financially, professionally and personally. I’ll be doing that to some degree myself over the next month as I head over to both the UK and US.  The fact that Darren and Duncan have managed to land Canadian VC dollars without barely having to step out of the country is worth thinking about.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Blog networks – Worth the money?

UPDATE: Squash feedback suggests a $10 mil valuation is pretty unlikely and $4 to 5 mil is probably more realistic.

So 2 mill for the B5 boys and girl?

Unfortunately, that figure would be much more useful if Rick Segal of JLA Ventures let us in on the stake they and BrightSpark got for their pound of flesh. But with those nice round figures lets take a punt and guestimate a valuation around the $10 mill mark, which would pretty smart multiples for a business model that the jury is still out on…

I go back and forth on blog networks. I do believe blogs have a lot of evolving to do and will become more complex and richer and gradually incorporate more social media functions and value-added functionality and so aggregating the technical function is going to be useful. Probably more importantly, Blog networks can also invest properly in SEO which is something your independents struggle to have the time or resources to do and its this that in many cases makes or breaks a blog.

The issue I question with blog networks is the margin-factor. B5 blog guru Darren Rowse reckons it takes a year to put a blog on the map. That’s got to mean your looking for a 2-year turn around before you get a positive return on each new blog you’ve invested in. You then have to hope that a) your blogger hasn’t run out of steam b) they haven’t got so successful that it now makes sense for them to go out on their own.

You hear increasngly around the traps of blog and podcast networks who are locking their talent into really, tough contracts – ‘we own you mofo’ – and with these kind of economics vs risk you can see why.

B5 have said the money will help them put on a VP of sales and I hope they get a good one. Coming from a media background, its impossible to understate how important it is to have an effective sales function and its no difference with blog networks. Problem is this kind of talent ain’t cheap. That’s going to hit your margins too….

Rick also riffed a bit about Doc Searl’s Intent economy. Not sure if I buy it. B5’s biggest traffic generators by far are its celebrity blogs, which don’t exactly fit this model. If I see a future in blog networks, I think its probably going to have to do a lot with reader profiling. As a single-site publisher I may not be able to build up enough of a profile on you to do some serious ad targetting but if I publish a couple of hundred blogs and you might visit 5 of them I can then start to develop a pretty neat profile…

Filed under: Blogs

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