Earlier in the week we wrote about how UK blog network Shiny Media has sold half of its business to a new London-based VC fund, in exchange for $4.5m.
I talked to Shiny Media CEO Ashley Norris to find out more about the company’s progress and plans for the future.
Well done on securing the investment. How much pain was involved in raising the cash?
“The vast majority of VCs we met were too focused on searching out mobile or social networking opportunities. Some VCs actually tried to foist different projects on us, in the spaces that they were interested in. So that didn’t work for us.”
“A number of VCs made the mistake of thinking that there is a low barrier to entry with blogging. This isn’t accurate. Sure, you can set up a blog easily enough but actually putting it on the map – and keeping it there – requires a lot of effort.”
Why did you choose Bright Station Ventures and how long did it take you to secure the funding?
“When we met Shaa and Dan it was different. They understood what we’re about, and the opportunity. We are a fairly unique content play and both have the right sort of experience that will help us grow further. It took us about three months to wrap up the deal.”
What will you do with the money?
“The money allows us to move quickly on new ideas, which is one advantage we have over most mainstream media firms. If we have an idea at breakfast we can start working on it that same day. Being able to react quickly to new ideas is key. It will also help us to throw more resource at the commercial side of our business.”
“The amount of growth we generated in 2006 was phenomenal, but there remain some key holes to fill and that’s why we wanted the money. It will also help up protect the position we’ve built up over the past couple of years. We will also be looking at acquisitions in due course.”
How is Shiny doing compared to Big Media?
“We have built up a huge lead on mainstream media – the big publishers have been slow off the mark in this area. In fact they’re the ones moving towards us!
“Many publishers are experimenting with blog functionality – introducing reader comments, community interaction, adding social networking aspects, that sort of thing. It proves to some degree that our model works.
“This month we’ll have about 3m unique users across our sites – including hecklerspray.com*. The New York Times blogs, which have attracted loads of positive press, generate about 1.3m uniques a month. We’d love to know how the Guardian blogs are doing!”
And what’s the big goal?
“Essentially we want to build Shiny up to be the online equivalent of the likes of EMAP or IPC. We are a media brand and we see the bigger picture.
“We’re keeping our eyes open, watching the mobile space, investing in video content… more than a million people have watched our videos in the past few months. It is early days but we’ve had some short-term success, so we’ll continue to experiment with new content.”
(Disclosure: hecklerspray is a entertainment blog I founded in 2005 that is affiliated with – but not owned by – Shiny Media and which pulls in around 600,000 uniques per month)