Reed Elsevier Ventures — the London-based venture arm of Reed Elsevier, one of the largest publishing companies — is leading a $6 million investment in the parent company behind GigaOM, GigaOM.tv, GigaOM Events and GigaOM Pro. Current investors in the company, Alloy Ventures and True Ventures, are participating in this new round of funding. REV General Partner Kevin Brown is going to join the board of our company, joining me, our CEO Paul Walborsky, Alloy Ventures’ Ammar Hanafi and True Ventures’ Jon Callaghan.
Why Why Why?
With who-what-where out of the way, let me focus on why we are raising new capital. The answer is GigaOM Pro, our new research service that has a unique twist on the multi-billion dollar a year research business. Just as we never positioned GigaOM to compete with traditional media outlets, I believe we are charting our own course with our GigaOM Pro research service.
And it is working. It is working so well that we really need to put more gas in the engine to grow it even faster. I know my mom will get upset when she sees me tooting my own horn, but for once I think she will overlook my indiscretion. Because it is not about me, but the collective achievement of Team GigaOM.
In 2008, right after my heart attack, I told Paul and our board a very simple thing — this company cannot rely on one person, one revenue stream and one business. Our focus as a digital information company shifted from page views to engagement. And once we made the shift, we came up with the revenue models that match our core value proposition — content with high impact. It matched who I was, who our writers were and, more importantly, the DNA of our company.
A few days ago, I wrote how Skype has been one of the defining companies of my career and how it has dovetailed with my own personal life. Nearly three years ago, Faisal Galaria, a former Skyper, moved to San Francisco and introduced me to Kevin from REV. At that time we were small and were embarking on a makeover. Kevin stayed in touch and watched the company find its way.
These were three tough years – my own personal physical limitations, the housing crisis, the global economic meltdown. We bobbed, we weaved, we learned, we adapted and we grew. But we always were focused on the long term – building a sustainable information business. And in the end that is what made Kevin and his partners at REV believe in us.
No Me in Team
What has worked for us, in the simplest form, is the GigaOM team! Even with some of us leaving to pursue new opportunities, over the past three years we’ve created a GigaOM company culture of working together, for each other. And there is a unified belief in building something for the long term.
A lot of that has to do with our leadership. Paul, who took over as the CEO under extremely trying circumstances, has led from the forefront, working tirelessly to make sure that we are doing the right thing.
Today we are a much larger group, one that has taken the concept of GigaOM and made it our own. Facebook founder Mark Zuckeberg put it best when he said:
One of those things that the media just constantly gets wrong is this idea that it’s a person. It’s never a person. It’s always a team. The most important thing for you as an entrepreneur trying to build something is, you need to build a really good team… recruiting, finding good people, both outside the company and inside the company, to put them in more impactful roles.
I might be the founder of GigaOM, but it is our team that is its soul, its heartbeat and its future.
Where Do We Go Next?
We have demonstrated that paid content (not paywalls) can work, as long as you can provide value to your community. The community in return rewards us with attention – by reading our blog content and participating in it, attending our events and buying subscriptions for our premium information service. Now we are going to scale our operations – and that means working on delivering more value.
As I have said earlier, we are expanding our editorial coverage to New York and the East Coast. In addition, we have finalized plans to expand to Europe where Bobbie Johnson, former technology writer for The Guardian, will spearhead our efforts from London in more permanent capacity, though he will continue to write for print publications and work for broadcast outlets. If you are a GigaOM Pro subscriber, we have a lot of new things coming your way. We are going to be growing our analyst network.
And there is more – just stay tuned.