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Quick News Archive
Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on CN last year. I thought it was worth sharing again as more startups test the waters of monetization models – especially the pro/paid option.
The web enables us to listen to music, watch tv shows and follow the latest news all without paying a cent. But while things are slowly but surely becoming free, I still believe people are willing to pay for certain value propositions.
I believe the following 5 things are uniquely profitable in a world of free:
FYI – beginning at 8:30pm Eastern this evening, we will be moving CN to a new blogging platform. The site will be live during the transition although comments left after 8:30 until I note that the transition is complete will be lost. So either get your comments in before 8:30!
Thanks for your patience during the transition – more to come later tonight.
Update: The changes are now complete. This weekend I will share details of the changes both on the front and back-end. Everything should work and commenting should be easier than before – give it a try and please let me know if you run into any issues. I will be working to correct lots of small issues with URLs and other links.
Thanks for your patience during this very brief transition time.
We’ve heard several unconfirmed reports today that there have been mass firings at TheLadders in NYC. There are also several comments on Twitter including from one employee who posted some comments from the actual conference room where the notices were given.
Product Manager Derek Tumolo noted on Twitter that at least 8 people were fired and what we’ve heard is that the total number is much higher. Many were visibly angry out on the street. We are also hearing that there are security guards stationed outside their headquarters building.
I have calls and emails into as many of the staff at TheLadders as I could find. I have not heard back yet but will update this story once I do.
If you are new to TheLadders, they offer a job board exclusively for jobs over $100,000/year. They earn revenue by charging employers for job postings and applicants for searching and applying. Here’s a video demo I captured with CEO Marc Cendella.
Update: Peter Kafka from AllThingsD was able to get the following quote from TheLadders:
“While demand for our service remains strong and we continue to grow, we regularly assess our business and the economic environment around us to ensure we remain a healthy, strong growing company. Given the current economic environment, we have made some adjustments, which includes a reduction in workforce. TheLadders.com is taking these steps to position the company for long term success.”
Brooklyn-based Pontiflex has announced a new $6.25 million Series B round of funding led by RRE Ventures today. The company previously raised $2.5 million. Existing investors New Atlantic Ventures and Greenhill SAVP also participated in the round. Pontiflex notes that the new funding, "will be used to strengthen the company’s flagship Pontiflex AdLeads product that makes online lead generation simple, effective and transparent."
Pontiflex describes their service as, "offering advertisers the opportunity to purchase high-quality customer leads via brand-specific banner and direct response ad units. These ‘marketing leads’ generated via the Pontiflex platform represent potential customers who have voluntarily opted in to receive advertisers’ messages."
David Kaplan at PaidContent has more on the transaction. David discusses the difference between marketing leads and sales leads and spoke with Pontiflex CEO Zephrin Lasker regarding transparency and the company’s opt-in methods.
Over the past month or so, there’s been a lot of chatter that Friendfeed users want this person or that person to use the service. What these FriendFeed users are missing is that the people they are talking about are already using Friendfeed. So what’s the difference between using Friendfeed and using Friendfeed?
As social aggregators like Friendfeed continue to grow in popularity, there are two basic types of users: passive and active. Once you create a Friendfeed account and add some feeds to it, you are now a passive user. Regular commenting and/or clicking the "like" button on threads moves you into active status. The other categorization puts a user into either the publisher category or the user category (you could fall into both categories). Publishers are looking to get as much traffic out of a service as they can while users are there to be part of a community.
If we look at the old style of forums, you basically had to be an active user. There was no other way to participate and even then it wasn’t easy as pimping your own stuff was typically a no-no. In the new world of forums 2.0 (i.e Friendfeed), you are welcome to pimp your own work as heavy as you like.
Let’s assume that one (or more) of the major tech bloggers has not already created an account (either as passive or active) on Friendfeed. Now he or she creates and account and adds feeds for their blog, videos, photos, etc. Because they are a big name in the tech world, people instantly begin to follow him/her on Friendfeed. Basically the work for that blogger is now done as a publisher. They will enjoy having their content shared, liked and commented on by other Friendfeed active users and will receive additional traffic to their blog.
I am not sold on why publishers who are using social aggregators as traffic drivers should participate. How does it benefit their blog? In fact, I wonder what percentage of high-profile bloggers signed up for a Friendfeed account early on, used it for a few days and then left but are still "participating" via other users.
In addition, if you are questioning how they might participate in conversations on the social aggregators around their content – there’s an easy answer for that. Commenting services like Disqus and blog plugins are pulling comments from Friendfeed back into the publisher’s blog. So it makes sense that the publisher comment on his/her blog and have their readers benefit from the responses. And services like Backtype will feed the comments back into their Friendfeed account, completing the loop.
Naturally for Friendfeed to grow, they need to register more active users not passive publishers. But if these passive publishers don’t participate on other blogs, what makes you think they will participate on Friendfeed? I do believe that everyone should have a Friendfeed account and participate as a passive publisher. There’s just no reason not to.
Earlier this year we reported on NY-based book rental service BookSwim expanding to textbooks. Today I have another Netflix-style book rental service to check out. It’s called BooksFree (although the books aren’t free) and in addition to renting books, they also rent audiobooks in a monthly format.
Monthly book rental plans start at $9.99 for 2 books at a time (in batches) all the way up to $47.99 for 15 books at a time (which circulate in multiple orders). Basically the $9.99 means you get two books, you send back two and then they send two more. The multiple orders means you can send back one of the two and get one more and never be without a book.
Audiobook CDs and MP3-CDs rental pricing begins at $22.49/month and goes up to $62.49/month. There are also plans that mix books and CDs.
I did notice that their rotating production offering (displayed below) does not actually work – I wonder if they have lost any customers because the "Sign Up" button doesn’t click to anywhere. With the popularity of Twitter, they might look at allowing their customers to tweet which books they have rented.
The Avid Reader blog has a good review of the service. BooksFree notes that their library has over 170,000 total titles for rent. For heavy readers, it looks like a convenient service and you have a better chance of actually receiving the specific book you want unlike the public library. Now if they offered technical books, that’d be hot. Of course those change so often, there’s probably no market for renting developer manuals, etc.
Here are some of the latest startup and event updates from companies based in NYC.
Ignighter has relaunched their group dating website today. The company is calling the updates "version 2" which includes an update to functionality and site design. It also looks like they have redesigned their logo. Co-founder Adam Sachs noted regarding the update, "One new feature that Ignighter is excited to unveil is the world’s first group matching engine. The site has developed an algorithm that determines compatibility between groups of friends rather than just individuals. This will help Ignighter suggest groups for you and your friends to go out with."
Ignighter has also updated their groups function to allow users to follow updates for groups they subscribe to. Adam tells me that their groups function is similar to following someone on Twitter.
Their other update regards their blog and I think it’s a smart move. They are adding more industry-related content to the blog in addition to site updates. This will help keep readers coming back and over time Ignighter might be able to convert them into trial users of the Ignighter dating service.
Check out my video interview with the Ignighter founders to learn more about the service.
Buddy Media has announced the launch of Builder today. Buddy Media describes Builder as, "a proprietary Social Media Development Platform—the industry’s only such platform to standardize and enable rapid deployment of branded social media applications across all social networks."
Buddy Media builds "app-vertisements" which are basically applications build on social networks including Facebook and MySpace. Builder allows customers to build app-vertisements that can be updated easily when the networks make changes to their platforms.
Check out my video interview with Buddy Media CEO Mike Lazerow.
Another event has been added during Entrepreneur’s Week this month. BootUp NYC will be held on April 22 at Webster Hall. Tickets are $5 and it seems to be a very long program running from 6:30pm to the wee hours of the night. Speakers include David S. Rose and Sanford Dickert. There will also be a variety of DJs and drink specials throughout the night.
(note: we are a media sponsor of Entrepreneur’s Week although not for this event)