@ EconWomen: Advice To Publishers: ‘Don’t Put All Your Women In One Bucket’

New entrants to the exploding female-centric content market should acknowledge the diversity of female interests if they want to play in the VC/M&A pond, Greycroft VC partner Dana Settle (right) told the deals panel at our EconWomen conference. A woman can also be a mother, a wife, a friend, a professional, a hobbyist— “there are so many different areas and so many areas they go to fill their needs; (sites) should be fairly niche-y because it’s hard to put women in one bucket.”

Deals adviser GCA Savian’s MD Terence Kawaja agreed with Settle, and cited the example of Yahoo: its recently launched Shine women’s site has “all kinds of stuff including the kitchen sink that they define as ‘women’ but which arguably you could put in a variety of other buckets,” he said.

Impact of the crash: Once women’s publishers have got the proposition right, how receptive will they find the investor community in this economy? Our panelists said they have seen a big slowdown in VC activity. SheKnows GM and VP Kyle Cox did five acquisitions in as many weeks in the first half of the year but said multiples are now half what they were back then – and maybe that’s not such a bad thing; previous asking prices were “extremely inflated for quite a while,” Cox said. Kawaja warned: “People have got the notice that life is different now and they can’t expect the same valuations as 18 months ago.” The new ecosystem: “Fewer deals, lower valuation.”

Money still to be found: The cash hasn’t dried up, VCs are just being more cautious. Settle: “We’ll always fund good businesses.” CafeMom co-founder Andrew Shue said, “VCs are telling young companies: ‘get profitable now or die’. Especially in this climate, you have to have a revenue strategy.”

Mobile: Settle: “The iPhone has transformed the possibilities. As it relates to the women’s space, to the mother’s space, there are an enormous number of tools and opportunities that make sense.” Cox’s SheKnows is to create iPhone widgets for bite-sized content like horoscopes and grocery widgets, but sees no reason why its regular website wouldn’t be used on a mobile platform.

Disclaimer: Greycroft was an investor in paidContent.org’s publisher ContentNext.

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