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Why Polaris is backing Heavy.com

January 30, 2006

vcmike

I recently made an investment in Heavy.com, one of the leading broadband video sites. Why did we invest?

Although pure “content” deals like this are a little atypical in the VC world, my partners and I found Heavy to be a pretty compelling investment opportunity.

Clearly, there is a ton of demand right now for good broadband video content. It is no mystery that broadband video sites are starting to get funded, not to mention mainstream media companies ramping up their broadband video efforts.  As more and more broadband video pours onto the web, it will become a lot harder for young companies to rise above the noise. We think Heavy.com is uniquely positioned to grow and succeed even when this supply/demand imbalance evens out (which it will).

As we evaluated the opportunity, what really stood out for us was the Heavy team’s unusual ability to consistently create content that not only was highly appealing to their audience, but was equally appealing to the advertising community that tries to reach that audience. Heavy’s appeal to its audience is clear enough and seen in the size (over 10 M unique visitors/month), growth and behavior of its viewer base.  The team’s creative genius was readily apparent and pretty well supported by their track record.

But, what we found really special about Heavy was that their creative genius speaks equally strongly to advertisers.  As we got to know the company (duirng which we spoke to about a dozen advertisers and/or agencies), we were struck by how consistenly we heard the same thing. To advertisers, Heavy has a very distinct personality and brand (“cool” “hip” “cutting edge” were what we often heard) within the 15-35 male demographic, and the advertisers felt very strongly that their own brands benefited by being associated with the Heavy brand. This was in part because of the strength of Heavy’s brand, but also in part because Heavy helped its advertisers create and integrate advertising content so that the advertising itself was part of the overall entertainment experience at the Heavy site. 

The result is a site which is succeeding both in establishing and growing a committed, habitual audience, and in creating a highly profitable business model.  So, with some growth capital to support expansion, a few key hires, and a little luck (yes, luck is part of it), we think Heavy is in a great spot to grow into a substantial and important business — the broadband media network of the future.

29 Comments

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  1. January 30, 2006

    Simon is a brilliant guy…. very smart investment. Would love to have AOL involved in some way!

  2. jon #
    January 30, 2006

    I’m in Heavy.com’s target demo but have never stayed at the site for more than 30 seconds. Everytime I end up there (usually because of clicking on something at Break.com) the super heavy Flash interface drives me nuts. I love Flash for video, like on YouTube.com, but for a site’s main interface it just screams 1999.

  3. BK #
    January 30, 2006

    I love Heavys Radio but there are no links to buy, waz up with that.

  4. January 31, 2006

    To be honest, I can’t stand Heavy.com’s flash interface. Having to wait 60 seconds to go through ads, and load a video, and have the interface loads, really turns me off.

    I just want to watch the videos!

    But a great investment indeed, hope it turns out well for you.

  5. john #
    January 31, 2006

    yea its a good site but tell them to redo the damn flash interface, absolutely vile and feels, ironically, extremely heavy/clunky

  6. Eric #
    January 31, 2006

    I actually put a call into heavy.com recently, and while the person i spoke with was certainly nice enough to deal with, he just didn’t seem to fully understand the value of the opportunity I was presenting him. They are still stuck in the CPM world and have not yet realized that they could make a lot more money by running CPA offers targeted at the demographic that the advertisers and agencies you spoke with find so valuable.

  7. duffy #
    January 31, 2006

    Heavy is an internet legend… and looks to have a rebirth. Glad to see one of the original Silicon Alley firms flourishing.

  8. specialk #
    February 2, 2006

    keep an eye on sputnik7.com….ask simon:-)

  9. February 3, 2006

    Checked Heavy page views on Alexa… 10M page views???? You can’t be serious…

  10. February 3, 2006

    I meant “Heavy’s appeal to its audience is clear enough and seen in the size (over 10 M unique visitors/month), growth and behavior of its viewer base.”
    Please check that statement on Alexa.com. Doesn’t add up to 10M uniques…

  11. February 3, 2006

    Ixter – Heavy’s site actully is tagged and audited by Nielsen which is where they get the 10 million uniques per month. if you were not already aware, you should know that Alexa data is VERY unreliable, which is why we always rely on more valuable sources like Nielsen.

    Alexa’s sample pool is based on whoever downloads, or is tricked into downloading it’s toolbar. The toolbar’s largest user base is asia and oddly enough, asian americans. You cannot derive a market share for the entire market if your sample pool doesn’t reflect actual demographic usage. If I had a sample pool of 1000 left handed people and were looking for data on the percentage of left handed people versus right handed people, it would be obvious that my sample pool would skew towards a higher percentage of left handed people. That’s my simple example, it’s obviously more nuanced than that, but you get the idea.

    The other funny thing about Alexa is that it’s hard to derive a unique monthly number from the data. ALexa shows you “per day” snapshots of traffic. The frequency is not known. So let’s say you’re a site with 1 million uniques per day and that audience comes back everyday. At the end of the month you’re uniques are not 30 million, they are 1 million. If on the other hand you have 4 million people that visit you weekly, you would have 4 million uniques for the month and would show less traffic per day. That means Alexa would show you having less traffic than the site with 1 million uniques.

    If you’re interested in analytic tools that show american market share more reliably, I would suggest Hitwise. It’s sample data is directly from the largest ISP’s and does not come from a downloadable toolbar/adware. It’s not free, but you get what you pay for, better data.

    Heavy, for reasons not known to us, has recently plunged in the Alexa ratings. Perhaps they’ve seen a recent dip in asian traffic, or some IT guy pulled the toolbar from employees’ computers. They have no idea. And that’s the point. It’s unreliable. Their Nielsen numbers have not changed, and their internal system shows no cliff dive. They’ve been growing from week to week, month to month.

  12. scruffpot #
    February 22, 2006

    why keep an eye on sputnik7.com? I love that site, it is the best. i wish that they would update content sometimes a bit more regualy though, but still the best in teh world

  13. March 15, 2006

    How does Heavy.com handle the emormus amount of data is has? Not many products on the market can provide through put enough for streaming video?

    Does anyone have a contact there?

  14. April 4, 2006

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    This means we would forward these customers to you and we are willing to give you an ad on our site at no cost. We will pay the programmer to set it up. So this means you get free leads from us. I have contacted a few other companies offering something similar and I am receiving a somewhat mixed response so I want to make it clear that there is no contract or fee to you. 6 months to a year from now I’m sure we will charge but for now it is free to you and we are happy because we will have a resource for our visitors to go to.

    Still in our initial phases, we currently recieve from 2600 to 5300 new sessions per day and is growing rapidly due to our unique marketing efforts. We get an average of 12,000 hits per day on our site. All we ask is for your webmaster or whomever is responsible to call and give us a logo and phone number you would like us to use and have him put a link back to us within your site. The Loan4Loan is making additions to the site daily which will ultimately make us an authority site within a short amount of time. Also a list of states you service would be very helpful. This is something we are looking to do by within the week. Please make sure to get with me within the next two days for your ad and logo. Our free adspace and link offers are flexible for limited time only as we grow. Thank You and we look forward to a prosperous relationship. If you have any further questions make sure to give me a call, below is a brief description of our business.

    Loan4Loan – The Future of the Financial Industry
    The future is inevitable, the number of online users and buyers is growing on a daily basis. At the same time mortgage laws and compliance are becoming a problem for many companies in the industry. Loan4Loan is a unique integration of the internet, compliance, and an array of automation services. From phase 1 towards our industry dominance we will not only portray a fresh new look to the public eye that has a distaste for the internet and mortgage companies in general – but we will provide them with an experience that will keep them coming back.

    First I will discuss your place in our master plan – then move on to briefly discuss what we will begin offering industrywide. Loan4Loan needs lenders. The inevitable traffic that will come through our site on a daily basis over the next two years cannot be ignored. We have been building our model from the ground up with both the internet and its customer base in mind. Our loan application will bring a new standard to the industry offering a system that will be utilized both from the professional and customer ends. We look to provide our customers with the absolute best programs – a step we feel may be greatly accomodated by YOURLENDERSNAMEHERE lending division. From A paper to Subprime we will offer customers a program that is tailored specifically to their needs. COMPLIANCE – at Loan4Loan compliance is a primary concern because we understand the nature of this beast – and plan to obide by every rule and regulation the state and federal government lay upon us. We look to seek your lending support to help us put together a system that is profitable for both our ends. Our traffic is inevitable – we would much rather disburse it appropriately to qualified lenders with matched loan programs than to hungry brokers and loan companies that will simply take advantage of their customers and overcharge them.

    With the top real estate companies already working on our side, Its only a matter of time before we become a large influence on the lending industry. Please join in this grand and noble venture to change an industry that has long been compromised.

    Thanks for your time and I hope to hear from you soon.

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    Chairman CEO
    Loan4Loan, Inc.
    christophers@Loan4Loan.com
    direct tel: 702-686-0675
    direct fax: 949-272-2362
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  15. mark may #
    December 15, 2006

    vcmike – in your response post you recommend hitwise, and say its “sample data is directly from the largest ISP’s”. the last time i looked into it, which was admittedly two yrs ago, they were heavily skewed to tier 2 and 3 dial-up ISPs, as the largest dial-up ISPs and the major broadband ISPs were not willing to allow Hitwise to piggyback on thier networks. unless this has changed, I’d view the data as less reliable – particularly as compared to comScore and NetRatings. Moreover, Hitwise only gives relative/market share rankings, not absoulte uniques, pageviews, etc. (I belive).

  16. mark may #
    December 15, 2006

    i love the heavy investment, despite the comments on flash interface. they reall understand their target audience and play well to advertisers. i’ve been impressed with polaris’ investments in online targeted media — techtarget, choicemedia, etc. nice job, again…

  17. January 3, 2007

    unfortunately, heavy is turning out just to be another rip-off site:

    http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/videoblogging/message/54380

    easy come, easy go

  18. January 12, 2007

    Hey guys, this message board software this website runs on, is it something i can buy for my own website or is it propriatary?

  19. January 16, 2007

    And they are also into SPAMMING forums with their promotions.

    http://www.wiispace.com/forum/wii-news/2460-nintendo-sponsor-wii-video-contest.html#post38711

  20. February 3, 2007

    Spam really sucks( delete it

  21. Ramira #
    February 6, 2007

    I’m excited about the wii contest actually

  22. #
    February 16, 2009

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  23. tariely #
    January 2, 2010

    Классные мультфильмы бесплатно на Кинозоуне.

  24. FranMam #
    November 9, 2010

    So how did that investment pay off for you?

    /snicker

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