February 2008

Kara Swisher popped by the Seesmic office on Monday – and before she even entered the office, her video camera was already armed and ready as she turned the camera on Loic and VinVin to provide an update on Seesmic. You can see her post here – Kara visits Seesmic, but the picture above was taken right before Vinvin donned a large phony mustache and started rummaging in the green box you see to apply a bit of powder for his taping of the next Seesmic du jour.

Both Vinvin and Loic are perfect characters for the camera and will most certainly become stars in the emergence of the web-celebs. You can see Bobbie Johnson’s take on the current line-up of web celebs in his article “Stars in your Lap.”

Video is becoming an everyday part of our Internet lives and it’s fascinating and exciting to have a front row seat!

VinVin in the Seesmic Cafe studio

Tim Schigel (ShareThis), Andrea Heuer and Kathy Johnson (Consort Partners) In today’s Style section of the San Jose Mercury News, Mark de la Vina tells us how prevalent long-distance marriages are and features couples that have been making it work for years. One of his sources is Tim Schigel of ShareThis. Tim commutes from Cincinnati to the Bay Area so he can keep his family happy and his company growing. Check out the story here: Keeping it together while living apart. (Photo above: Andrea and I with Tim Schigel, CEO of ShareThis)

Today XING announced they’ve surpassed the 5 million member mark, solidifying their position as Europe’s leading professional network. They also met their guidance numbers with revenues of €19.61M (~$29M) and EBITDA of €6.89M (~$10.1M). These results indicate that XING has reached its initial FY 2007 forecast of approximately doubling revenues and achieving EBITDA margin of 30-35%, while profitability is at the high end of the previous guidance. Well done to Lars, Daniela and the XING team – you continue to stay ahead (see picture!) of the pack!


cbs-la.jpgCBS in Los Angeles has just reported live on the WooMe event.

No date for Valentine’s Day – no fear! WooMe is here!

Watch this coverage from Rich DeMuro of the CBS affiliate KCAL in Los Angeles, reported live from a WooMe event tonight. Hayley Stokols, muse of WooMe (and sister of co-founder WooMe) appears as well, with a sweet comment for the reporter!

The politics of PR is an ever-changing landscape (not that I have a ton of first-hand PR *agency* experience myself, but in my limited time in it as a co-founder of Consort Partners, I’ve witnessed a lot as far as I’m concerned). Today we had an embargoed press release from Seesmic get spilled before it’s time. I was very disappointed about it, but once a story is “in the wild” as they say, there’s no pulling back. The story about Seesmic was seismic – causing ripples and reverberations in many places and my biggest regret is it left Loic in a reactive position. Loic is one of the most radiant and charismatic personalities I’ve met in a long time and he has turned a potential negative into a positive by opening his heart, mind, and diary. See Loic’s blog post here for full insight into his experience: Loic Le Meur.

I’m confessing all of this here, as I want to let y0u know that we too are taking Loic’s advice to heart to be transparent and open in all you do. We have experienced a situation that has caused us enormous stress (okay -I’m having a glass of wine while I write this… and yeah, I’m still working at 10pm…), but it has also elevated the exposure of Seesmic to another level – they are now #1 in Techmeme (at this very minute) and are also ranking up higher and higher in Google, Technorati, etc.. But I also confess I probably wouldn’t be so open about all of this if we didn’t have a pretty nice track record of good publicity for Seesmic to date (yes, Loic and Seesmic are both ideal entities to work with).

So to embargo or not embargo? I think the lesson I’ve learned in all of this today is maybe this whole “embargo” system is ready for the dumpster. For those relationships that are trusted and true, you never have to worry about a leak. For those you don’t know or don’t know well… all of us at Consort will be working on gaining the trust of those whom we don’t know or don’t know well so we too can make this a gain for everyone.

Now back to the Seesmic conversation… without my glass of wine… don’t tell anyone…

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Robert Norton (King), Om Malik (GigaOm), Toby Rowland (King)

King.com has just revealed new traffic numbers – their traffic has more than doubled since last January, with 190 million games played in January 2008. The interesting insight into skill games is it’s a domain of women, with over 70% of players being female, primarly around 30 years of age. They play to relax and for the community aspects, as they can meet other players throughout the world and play a variety of games, including those developed for for hit television shows, such as “American Idol,” “Deal or No Deal: The Banker’s Quiz,” and “The Biggest Loser.” In addition to skill games and entertainment, King.com saw rapid growth in MyGame.com, its free site aimed at social networks and community platforms worldwide.

(Photo:  Robert Norton, King.com, Om Malik, GigaOm, and Toby Rowland, King.com)

Stephen Stokols (WooMe) and Kathy Johnson (Consort Partners)  Congratulations to Stephen Stokols and George Berkowski, the co-founders of WooMe for securing an additional $3M bridge loan, bringing their funding up to $5M. WooMe is one of the few companies that was able to maintain momentum following their launch at TechCrunch 40 last year, and this infusion of cash is a strong nod of validation to the team and the business.

Indeed, in the 2.5 months since launch, WooMe has brought together over 600,000 people from 138 countries. With those statistics, not only were the current stable of investors woo’d, but others came circling as well. Speed dating is a $1B+ business in the offline world, so with WooMe’s strategy to focus on not just online speed dating, but the larger opportunity of online introductions, this company holds immense promise. As we know, the Gen Y community wants instant gratification and won’t settle for fluffy profiles and doctored profile pictures from 10 years ago. They want to meet people now – based on what’s interesting to them now (as in, this minute). With $5M in the bank, I’m sure the world will be a less lonely place with the addition of WooMe.

Dominic Johnson (Consort), Marc Campbell (Independent Comedy Network), Kathy Johnson (Consort) Hooray! Something for me to do that requires little effort but produces tangible results… I can now take little breaks from my day to enjoy a funny escape at the Independent Comedy Network. Today ICN launches a series of original and engaging shows that can be viewed at their website or at a number of other video sites including Blip.tv, Joost, MySpaceTV, DailyMotion and many others. I particularly enjoyed “2/8 Life” which is a spoof of the soon-to-premiere NBC show “Quarterlife.” I’ll admit to you I’ve never watched Quarterlife (it was originally a TV series that nobody picked up, then got shopped around to online video networks – that’s how it got picked up by MySpace… and now it’s back on the big screen… hmmm), but 2/8 Life is a truly engaging and humorous look into the lives of 20-somethings and provides an amusing insight into today’s hyper-connected community.

Marc Campbell of ICN knows what’s funny, but he also knows business, as he left investment banking to become a comedian (sounds like a start of a joke). That combination of serious business and funny business is a key to success for ICN, as they benefit from connections to popular comedy venues (including the Westside Eclectic – founded by Marc). Plus, you can just tell Marc is a good guy from the picture above.

Do check out Independent Comedy Network and also scope out the news section of our Consort site, as ICN has garnered some nice mentions in several news sites and blogs.

Dominic Johnson & Heddi Cundle (Consort Partners), Dan Cohen (Pageflakes), Kathy Johnson (Consort Partners) I’ve been wanting to work with Pageflakes for a long time – ever since Klaus Hommels first told me about it over a year ago. In fact, when he and I were first collaborating together on another one of his portfolio companies, wunderloop, Klaus sent me his wunderloop “flake” – a customized webpage containing all the news, blog mentions, competitive information, Alexa charts, etc. about wunderloop and the behavioral advertising space. I didn’t know you could share “flakes” with other people (it’s like getting a peak into what Klaus was reading every day to stay on top of his investment companies). Anyway, late last year, we finally had the honor of working together with Pageflakes and absolutely admire and adore the team, headed by CEO Dan Cohen. Dan is a seasoned internet veteran who knows the ropes about building vibrant companies and brands throughout the world. Indeed, his background as the head of My Yahoo! was called upon given the current Microsoft/Yahoo news. He has a unique insight into the potential implications on search and advertising that companies and individuals might experience if it goes through, so we’ll be watching that space closely.

Although a tough businessman, Dan also got a great sense of humor, which we indulged when we were in NYC together for AlwaysOn Media. Here Dominic, Heddi and I are giving Dan some Consort love.

Mark Benerofe and Thede Loder (Boxbe) with Bambi Francisco (Vator.tv) Before the AlwaysOn Media conference even began, networking and interviewing commenced.  We met up with Bambi Francisco in the lobby of the Mandarin and talked about her cool new company Vator.tv.  She and her team have been busy building a “video Hoover’s” and I’m thoroughly impressed with their progress.  I had registered earlier last year but Bambi gave me a quick review of what’s changed since then and it’s developed into a rich community of entrepreneurs, VCs and executives sharing their stories, pitches, commentary and wishes.

To date, Michael Kleindl of wunderloop, Jamie Siminoff of Simulscribe, Stephen Stokols of WooMe, and Loic Le Meur of Seesmic have all been video taped on Vator.tv.  At AlwaysOn, Bambi and her team also videoed Tim Schigel of ShareThis, Charlie Muirhead of T5M, Marc Campbell of Independent Comedy Network, Dan Cohen of Pageflakes, Matt Colebourne of CoComment and in the photo above, she’s taping Mark Benerofe and Thede Loder of Boxbe.   I’ll provide links to Marc and Dan’s videos once they’re posted.

Bambi also wanted to get me on camera but I had a sudden case of camera-shyness-sickness.  But I promised her I’d post a pitch about Consort – which I will do.  In the meantime, you can check out my static profile here on Vator.tv.