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Posts from the ‘’ Category

Heavy Adds some Heft

September 18, 2007


Belated congrats to the gang at my portfolio company for some terrific “C-level” hires.

Eric Hadley, CMO, joins from Microsoft, where he was GM of Global Marketing for Microsoft’s media properties, not the least of which is MSN.

Todd Sloan, CFO, was previously EVP and CFO at both Nielsen NetRatings, and

Scott Penberthy, CTO, was previously CTO at Photobucket.

Eric, Todd and Scott, welcome to Heavy!

Heavy Launches Sequential Ads

July 22, 2007


The guys at Heavy have been hard at work developing new and more effective video ad products.

Their latest thing — “sequential ads” — launched this week, and allows advertisers to string together a number of sequentially linked ads over the course of a particular piece of content.

This move was written up by MediaWeek.

Their next new ad product initiative is called “Husky” and will be going to beta in August. Stay tuned!

Recruiting Online Talent

July 21, 2007


Yesterday the AP ran a story about online video talent which prominently featured Polaris portfolio companies and JibJab. It is a pretty fun read.

CNN Pimping Heavy’s Superficial Friends

January 8, 2007


Nice mention from CNN for my portfolio company,, whose new show, Superficial Friends, has gotten a fair bit of critical acclaim.

YouTube sees “Heavy” Competition in October

October 17, 2006


So, yesterday I posted about the YouTube-MySpace competition heating up. Which it is.
But, apparently, I missed another YouTube rivalry from within my own portfolio!

According to the multinational media publisher VNU :

YouTube had to fend off strong competition in the video traffic space from during the week ending 8 October.

Website traffic analysis firm Hitwise reported that, the largest independent broadband network in the US, is the second largest entertainment video site on the web with a 17 per cent market share

This compares with YouTube’s 35 per cent market share for the same week in October. outranked MySpace, Google Video and Metacafe for video traffic based on visits.

I’ll try not to sandbag my own portfolio companies in the future! I’ve actually gotten ahold of the Hitwise data, and will post once I figure out how to…

Heavy Breaks Top Ten

August 17, 2006


Thanks to the combination of a bunch of fun new programming, new social networking features, and some really good viral buzz, Heavy is continuing to see fantastic growth in audience.

Last month they were one of the 10 fastest growing websites across the Internet; according to ComScore, Heavy is now the 6th most viewed video site on the web, behind only Yahoo!, MySpace, YouTube, MSN and AOL, and ahead of Google and all the major networks, etc…

TV Upfronts 2006

May 18, 2006


The television industry has converged on NYC for the annual "upfronts," during which the major television networks tout their upcoming season of programming and try to sell advertisers big ticket "upfront" packages.

I am going out on a limb to predict that 2006 will be looked back on as a watershed upfront season.

Couple of reasons.

First, digital/broadband is no longer an afterthought but an integral piece of the broadcasters' offerings.  In response to advertisers' ever growing demand to reach consumers through digital platforms, the major broadcast networks are falling over themselves to satisfy the advertisers' ever growing demand for alternative digital ad inventory.  (I think it is now clear why we saw the spate of announcements over the last couple months that programmers like Disney and Fox would make substantial chunks of programming available on the web). And, perhaps an even more intriguing harbinger of things to come was the emergence of upfront campaigns by a number of broadband pureplays (including my portfolio company which had considerable success with their upfront campaign).  Advertising on the digital platforms has achieved critical mass.

Second, this is the first upfront where the TiVo ad-skipping phenomenon was widely accepted as an important, soon to be quite commonplace, aspect of television viewing. Even Nielsen is beginning to measure Tivo viewership. To be sure, there is a lively debate over what the implications will be.  Whether TV ads will go the way of 8-track tapes and VCRs as opposed to morphing into "TiVo-proof" models remains unclear (my personal view is the latter), but I think the industry now gets it that, one way or another, the Tivo effect is here to stay and one way or the other will have to be addressed.

Third, as a result of the above, the fact that television audiences have become exceptionally fragmented, and the growing recognition that traditional TV advertising just doesn't work that well, TV broadcasters clearly are losing the leverage they used to have over advertisers. In fact, a few major advertisers didn't even show up for this year's up fronts.

For me, all of this wraps up into yet another data point that the media industry is in the midst of some very dramatic changes and reinforces our view that it is an exciting and promising arena in which to be searching for new opportunities.

Broadband Video Everywhere

April 18, 2006


Seems like everywhere I turn is some mention of broadband and/or mobile video. Whether it be startup business plans, major announcements, blog posts or news stories, it sure seems like this has become the latest "big thing" to talk/write about. I am not sure whether to be excited or worried. Probably both.

The big news, of course, was last week's announcements by Disney and Fox. Much has been written on those — and I am hoping to post a synthesis piece tying together the various themes in the discussion over those announcements. Haven't had time yet but will get to it soon.

I had heard at the Cable Show, and saw announced today, that yet another video-sharing site, Veoh, is getting funded. Please feel free to rant at me if I ever become the10th VC to fund a video-sharing site. I won't go so far as to say I am a skeptic, but I think it will be fascinating to see if/how YouTube and its brethren find a viable business model. As a side bar, PaidContent points to this amusing parody of the kung fu battle amongst video sharing sites.

Which brings me to what I think was a more interesting piece in yesterday's Wall Street Journal (sorry, subscription required) explaining how consumer packaged good companies like Kraft, P&G and Unilever are, despite initial reluctance, now turning to web advertising in a big way. Yet another indication that the Internet advertising economy will continue to enjoy robust growth.

Of course, I must confess one reason I liked the article is that it made very nice mention of some of the successes has had with major advertisers like Unilever.

But it also reinforced one of the reasons why I've spent a good chunk of the last 12 months in and around broadband video — because, although a still nascent (at least until a few weeks ago) category, it is clear that there is alot of money to be made in broadband video by those who understand how to develop content that is at once wildly popular with its consumer audience while also a wildly valuable medium to its advertiser audience. 

This is precisely the challenge YouTube et al. are grappling with. As summarized in a USA Today article this week, "[YouTube] expects to reap ad revenue in the first half of this year but is cautious. To remain relevant, it needs to serve paying advertisers without looking like a sellout to its millions of average users."

The difficulty in executing this strategic balance is exactly why I quickly got so intrigued with in the first place last fall. While the Heavy guys cleary have a knack for developing, and eliciting from their user base, compelling video content that their audience keeps coming back for in droves, they were one of the first groups, I think, to really crack the nut on monetizing the "young male edgy humor/satire" category. They have developed a distinct voice/personality/brand, and it is precisely this same personality that appeals both to their users and their advertisers. A tricky but powerful thing to pull off.

I am one who tends to believe that a rising tide lifts all boats. Lest we forget, AdSense not only created the defining business model for Google, but it also created the defining business model for the entire Internet search category.

So, while it is both exciting and scary to see so many broadband video sites getting funded and/or launched, I nonetheless continue to be encouraged when I learn that major advertisers like P&G and Unilever are substantially increasing their budget allocations to sites (like Heavy) who understand how to deliver them a product they need and value. 

Here's to wishing lots of success and ad dollars to the whole sector!