Thursday, March 5, 2009

OnlineSpin: Back In The Start-Up World

Last week Dave wrote "TV's Audience Problem."

Richard Nailling wrote in response, "Sounds like we need a Pandora, iLike, or Apple Genius of TV content recommendations.

Just as my TiVo recognizes and records my favorites in its more first-generation way, one of the portals--or Hulu--should learn from our online viewing or content consumption behavior and provide TV programming suggestions.

'Shows You Might Like--Tonight.'

Maybe it starts as an iPhone app."

Thursday, March 5, 2009
Back In The Start-Up World
By Dave Morgan

It's been almost a year and a half since TACODA was sold to AOL, and just over a year since I left my role as executive vice president of Global Ad Strategy at AOL. It's been a wonderful year -- lots of travel, lots of time with my family, and lots of just plain relaxing after working on two start-ups back to back for the previous 14 years. Well, as you might expect, after having some time on my hands to think and ponder, I started working on a new business idea. It's now time to jump back into the start-up game and make it official...

This morning I'm announcing the launch of Simulmedia, a New York City-based start-up that will help television companies build audiences for their programs by improving the effectiveness and efficiency of their on-air program promotions. Simulmedia is developing data models and predictive technologies to aid cable operators, cable networks and broadcast networks in delivering the right promotions to the right viewers at the right time.

Yes, it's true that my new start-up is focused on television, not the Internet or online, where I have spent the past 17 years of my career. I have always been a big believer in the power of television as a media platform, and have been waiting a long time for the right opportunity to launch a business in the industry. Fortunately, I was able to recruit a great team and some great investors that felt the same way, so we decided to jump in and see what we can make happen.

Yes, it's true that we're starting the company in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. While it's certainly a very difficult business climate, I believe there are some real advantages to running a start-up right now. One, you can attract great talent. Two, incumbents that might compete with you tend to retreat back to focus on their core operations. And three, when you have a company that's still in the "pre-revenue" stage, it doesn't really matter much that revenue is hard to come by

No, it's not true that because I'll be focused on television  I won't keep writing my weekly Online Spin. It's clear that the television industry is starting to develop some Internet-like capabilities, as evidenced by yesterday's story in The New York Times about addressable advertising trials by Cablevision and Visible World. It's also clear the online industry will start developing more television-like capabilities, such as the "TV Everywhere" strategy discussed by Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes in his Ad Age interview earlier this week. More and more, I believe, we'll see parallels developing between online and television.

One fun thing about starting new companies periodically -- my first was in early 1995, my second in early 2001 -- is that you get to start fresh with a new set of communication tools and technologies. In 1995 it was Eudora and Internet email. In 2001 it was all about Outlook email and Today, it's all about Google's e-mail and applications and Twitter -- you can follow me at @davemorgannyc. It's amazing how much easier, cheaper, and more functional the tools have become over the years. What do you think?


Dave Morgan is the CEO of Simulmedia. Previously, he founded and ran both TACODA and Real Media.

Online Spin for Thursday, March 5, 2009:

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