I get asked all the time for a list of “tech reporters / bloggers” to contact around an announcement. A few weeks ago, I was pointed to a list on the web by Brownstein & Egusa titled the Tech Reporter Contact List. It’s actually seven lists.
As a bonus, there’s also a good Beginners Guide To PR up on the same site.
Today one of our portfolio companies, LinkSmart, has come out of stealth mode and unveiled its product, Total Link Management and $4.7M in financing led by Foundry Group. My partner Seth Levine sits on the board and wrote about his view of LinkSmart. The investment was an obvious one for us as it fits squarely in our Adhesive theme given the deep relationships LinkSmart has with big media and web platforms as a provider of analytics and traffic management software.
The Internet was founded on our ability to link between things. We all distinctly remember the days of the primitive HTML pages we’d surf in our early browsers — gray page backgrounds and purple links. We clicked. And the Internet grew. This blog, your site, and how search engines like Google and Bing rank you and your relevance were all dependent upon links.
Even though the Internet and web has evolved since the mid-1990s, the most prolific web properties on the Internet all generally follow the same process: advertiser relationships are created with a publisher. This publisher then runs a never-ending fire drill with their sales, SEO and yield management teams to fulfill those obligations with their advertisers. More ad units are inserted on pages, marginally better eCPMs negotiated for, but yet the profit margins continually come under pressure as publishers scramble to generate even more traffic to support the advertising expectations.
LinkSmart has built a system that fixes part of this challenge. The technology LinkSmart’s founder Pete Sheinbaum and his team have assembled is analogous to many of the solutions we’ve seen and invested in for search engine optimization (SEO) such as SEOMoz. However, while SEO directs visitors from the open web — via search engine results — to a publisher’s site, LinkSmart takes those same readers and provides the publisher team with the means to use hyperlinks to more deeply engage the visitors, keep them on site longer, or send them to the properties the publisher wants them to visit.
If it costs a dollar to bring a reader to a site and they bail after the first page, that’s a dollar not optimized or even wasted. If that same dollar is spent and LinkSmart moves the reader three pages deeper on the site, triggering more revenue or visits to affiliate or partner site, the cost per acquisition has dropped dramatically and in many cases will improve the RPM geometrically.
Beyond the link optimization, there’s an enormous amount of valuable data generated by LinkSmart’s system. The data answers questions such as what are readers clicking on? What is their path while on site? What is the optimal number of links 100 words of written content should have to guarantee highest click-engagement? How many readers are leaving your site in a single click and where are they going? LinkSmart helps a publisher look deeply at that data to surface many things including the real-time intent of a reader when on-site.
We are psyched about what LinkSmart is launching today. If you are a publisher, check it out — it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Today SEOMoz announced that Foundry Group has led an $18 million financing and I’m joining the board. Rand Fishkin (The Wizard of Moz) has an incredibly detailed post up titled Moz’s $18 Million Venture Financing: Our Story, Metrics and Future describing the financing process and company history in great depth. In it, he includes all kinds of numbers that people writing articles about financing are always asking for but never getting – it’s an extraordinarily (in my experience) transparent description of what, why, and how it went down. My partner Seth Levine also has a nice post up about our previous miss on financing SEOMoz titled Getting It Right The 2nd Time. And the official press release has a bunch of Internet Memes (thanks to Cheezburger) along with the liberal use of the word fuck.
Instead of going through the history of the financing, which is amply covered in the other posts, I’m going to talk about TAGFEE. What’s TAGFEE? It’s the tenents of SEOMoz. From the SEOMoz website:
Our goal is to have everything we create and cultivate – be it software, content, corporate culture, or professional relationships – live up to these tenets. We acknowledge that we are entirely responsible for SEOmoz’s reputation; the level of success we achieve, the brand image we create, and the contributions we make to the marketing industry are a direct reflection of our ability to uphold the TAGFEE code.
At my first company (Feld Technologies) we had a set of precepts and at Foundry Group we have a set of deeply held beliefs. When I first saw TAGFEE I immediately flashed to these two concepts. As I got to know Rand, Sarah Bird (COO), and other Mozzers, I realized they lived by TAGFEE. I loved it and it was one of the big factors that attracted me to the company. Following are my observations of how TAGFEE works in practice at SEOMoz.
Transparent and Authentic: Just go read Rand’s post Moz’s $18 Million Venture Financing: Our Story, Metrics and Future. The next time someone says that they are being transparent, call bullshit on them and point them at Rand’s post as an example of real transparency.
Generous: Everyone I talked to about SEOMoz reinforced that the company consistently goes above and beyond the expectations they set with customers, partners, and each other and hold themselves to an incredibly high standard in terms of interacting with and giving back to the industry that allows them to exist.
Fun: When I showed up at the company a week before the financing closed to say hi, everyone was gathered with margaritas and cupcakes. We did a 30 minute Q&A thing where Rand and Sarah went through in detail the deal that was happening and how it impacted everyone. The cupcakes were yummy and there was much laughing after everyone realized I wasn’t the homeless person that Sarah suggested I was (as in “Brad isn’t here – this is just some homeless person who wandered in.”)
Empathetic: I saw this in my interactions with Mozzers, Rand, Sarah, and people near to the company. I also see it in the Moz community. Amazingly direct, clear, and emotionally enlightened responses and interactions to everything, regardless where on the spectrum of “awesome” to “shitty” an issue lands on.
Exceptional: This is one exceptional company, in everything they do. They aspire to build something incredibly important and durable. And exceptional.
I’ve watched Rand and SEOMoz from a distance for a while. I know many people who have worked closely with the company. And I’ve been able to spy into Rand’s life a little through the lens of his wife Geraldine (who we call the hilarious cupcake blogger woman in my house). It’s one big TAGFEE universe and I’m spinning around in circles chasing my tail in happiness that I get to be involved in it.