Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Interview with Patrick Keane, Associated Content
As part of our ongoing series of interviews with local high tech companies, we recently caught up with Patrick Keane, the new CEO of Denver-based Associated Content (www.associatedcontent.com). Keane joins Associated Content from Google, and also spent time at CBS Interactive.
What's the idea behind Associated Content?
Patrick Keane: It's a number of things. One, we are a publishing platform that allows content developers--writers, either amateur or professional--to publish content on AssociatedContent.com, and also syndicate across our partners. We compensate producers and writers based on upfront payments, and a percentage of advertising revenue, depending on the traffic or visitation on the content they create. In a sense, we are doing what eBay has done for commerce in retail, in the area of the creation and publishing of content. We give content publishers more control and ownership over what they produce, and essentially are creating a new, and hopefully more efficient ecosystems for publishing, curation, and monetization of that content.
Who are the people contributing content to your site?
Patrick Keane: Any number of people. It might be an expert, or it might be a mom in Chicago, with an affinity for something like parenting or raising children, or someone living in Brooklyn who loves to create arts and crafts. Some of them might be professionals, some of them might be amateurs looking to augment their income, or someone just passionate about a subject or category of interest. Our internal metrics say that we had 21 million monthly visitors using Associated Content to view our information. We create an instantaneous audience for people, who more or less would not be able to create their own individual blog about a category or subject of interest. We help more people see, access, and gain access to their content.
What do you pay users for that content?
Patrick Keane: It really varies. As a creator, you can go to AssociatedContent.com. It depends on what they write about and the history of how successful that topic has been. You can't predict it up front. Over the history of the company, we've had over 250,000 specific people who have created content on the site, which is a pretty massive universe creating content for us.
There's been a lot of debate over the role of vs. user sourced content on the Internet. What's your opinion on that?
Patrick Keane: I think there is an established marketplace for both, really. Whether you're an ESPN, and have a legacy of creating great information for both cable and vertical content for television, we also definitely think there's a place for all spectrums of content. There are many individual users, who are increasingly dissatisfied with traditional media coverage on their area of interest. Associated Content can provide more depth, and another viewpoint, which often can be more useful that existing, traditional content. It's really born out of content creators wanting a new audience, and users voting with their clicks and consumption this form of content. That information is often as valuable, and often more valuable, than professionally curated content. I'm not saying there isn't a place for professional content development--there absolutely is--but it's just as arguably useful to have content developed by a mom in Chicago with a specific interest in parenting.
Let's talk a little bit about your funding. How are you funded?
Patrick Keane: We have three main providers. Canaan Partners, Softbank Ventures, and Tim Armstrong, who was one of the original professional monetization leaders at Google. Tim's since left Google, and is now at AOL.
We see you've got locations split between New York and Denver--how does that work?
Patrick Keane: It works pretty well. The great thing about web innovation and technology, is it's easier and easier to communicate with people. I've had experience in this--I used to work at Google and CBS Corporation, and my staff worked for me on the west coast. Whether you're doing video conferencing or instant messaging, it gets easier year after year to have franchises in different locations. They say New York is the Media and Advertising capital, and most agencies and brands are based here. For any revenue producing media firm, having a foothold in New York is critical. We've also seen over time, that Denver has an incredible community for technical development. We have engineers, software developers, product managers, and programmers in Denver. We don't have to compete with the same people trying to find individuals with similar backgrounds, like you would have to in San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Seattle. I think people like the quality of life in Denver, and their caliber is equal or better than in those other places. We get the best of both worlds.
Finally, what kind of plans do you have for the company?
Patrick Keane: For one thing, it's continuing to grow our audience of publishers and content creators. I mentioned the 250,000 number, but we'd like to see that grow. Most of our content is text, and we want to add more video and images. The web is obviously a multimedia platform, and we want to make sure we're able to provide users with more and more content that falls beyond text.