In this week's Vator Box, Charlene Li, founder of Altimeter Group and social networking guru, helps to analyze the opportunities for Wetpaint, a site that powers about 1.3 million free wiki Web sites, and has nearly 800 followers on Vator. The Seattle-based startup, which raised $40 million in venture funding, was founded by Ben Elowitz Li joined Ezra Roizen (Vator Box regular and digital media investment banker) and Bambi Francisco.
Here are their observations and advice.
- Elowitz delivers a very good pitch, covering everything from the company's origins, metrics, capital raised and value proposition. The pitch packs a lot in, though Ben could have given an example of one customer and how they use the service.
- When Wetpaint started four years ago, it was novel. The fact that Wetpaint started in 2005 and had the foresight that people are going to want to have their own little communities and collaborate together was pretty prescient. But now the company seems to be competing with a lot of other services that are either wiki in nature, or are alternative approaches for brands to reach their fans.
- Wetpaint appears to be doing well with its large media customers. Brands are hanging Wetpaint right off the homepage, said Li, who pointed out that Discovery Channel, and its show, Deadliest Catch, is a great example of how brands are promoting their communities, which run on Wetpaint's platform. Discovery's Wetpaint-supported community site is very well populated and has a very enthusiastic fan base.
- While marketers are starting to use services such as Buddy Media, to integrate their brands into the existing social networks, they should also be using Wetpaint to create their own stand-alone destination communities via Wetpaint.
- Wetpaint raised $40 million dollars so it has a significant hurdle to get over if it wants to deliver a return to its investors. Pluck, a provider of social media tools to publishers, was bought for about $70 million in 2008. And that was well before the economic meltdown and the advertising recession hit media companies.