Beyond VOC: Try Content for Commerce (C for C)

Corrections or additions?

Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on July 7, 2000. All rights

reserved.

Dow Jones, a Stepping Stone to the VOCs

E-mail: BarbaraFox@princetoninfo.com

It’s after the dot-com shakeout, so investors are

a little more nervous about Internet companies, yet two former Dow

Jones executives are busy working in dot-com enterprises.

If the journalism challenge of the 1990s was how to deliver business

news online, then Dow Jones was an early and successful pioneer. The

next hot idea for this decade seems to be delivering business news

online to niche markets by creating what is known as "vertical

online communities" (VOCs). Two executives, Craig Allsopp and

Tim Andrews, have left Dow Jones to go off on their own to develop

VOC businesses.

Craig Allsopp started a brand-new company with support and investment

from other Dow Jones alumni. Less than 12 months ago, Allsopp was

the only fulltimer at the Straube Center-based company. Now he has

a staff of 32, three vertical online communities, and is growing by

the week. He has already made one dramatic change in his business

plan and has changed the company name from VertiNews to Internet

Publishing

Direct (www.IPGdirect.com). See story on page 42.

Tim Andrews left Factiva, a privately held Dow Jones and Reuters

company,

for another "business within a business" in the VOC space.

For Primedia, a 7,000-person targeted media company that owns 47 trade

shows and 250 magazines, including New York and Seventeen, he is CEO

of IndustryClick.com. After six months doing research and planning,

he is hiring vice presidents now. By the end of the summer

IndustryClick

will move from Primedia’s building in Hightstown to 20,000 square

feet at 155 Village Boulevard in Forrestal Village, and he expects

to grow to 200 staff members by the end of the year

(www.industryclick.com).

Both Allsopp and Andrews unabashedly doff their caps to their alma

mater and their colleagues at Dow Jones and are determined to build

on what they have learned to achieve personal success. They have

developed

different business models and are 10 years apart in age, but the chief

difference is that Allsopp is starting from scratch and is raising

his own funds in contrast to Andrews, who is tapping a public company.

Nevertheless, Andrews has no illusions that he will

have an easy time of it. "We are clearly a start-up company inside

a $1.7 billion company, moving from a handful of people to a couple

of hundred, starting everything from scratch including mail service

and E-mail service."

As president and CEO at Factiva, he spent most of his time either

on the road or with customers. Here, he spent the last six months

evaluating work already done and planning how to, as he puts it,

"blow

out the opportunity we have here and also hire a senior team."

Offering salaries at market rates plus equity participation, Andrews

has pared the 50 workers now at Primedia headquarters in Kansas City

down to 30 people and is moving a half dozen more to Princeton.

Everyone

else will be a new hire and work here.

Andrews expects to dedicate six to eight online editorial workers

to each community in addition to the print magazines’ staff and

horizontal

sharing between technical, sales, and marketing people.

Andrews’ staff includes CFO Andrea Goldschlager (a Wharton MBA

formerly

with Salomon Smith Barney), and a former Factiva employee, Keith

Tuskey,

as chief technology officer. He has these vice presidents: Pat

McParland

(for product development, formerly with Factiva); Philip Berg (for

business development, an alumnus of University of Virginia and Harvard

Law); Karen McClendon (for human resources, formerly with PBS’

Children’s

Television Workshop) and for sales, Jack Bamberger (formerly with

Time Inc.). His vice president of affiliate relations, Jacquie

Pearson,

was on board when he came and is based in Kansas City. He was

interviewing

for a vice president of marketing at press time.

Andrews is clearly not satisfied with the six VOCs that he inherited:

Three were developed within the Primedia family by trade magazines

for telecommunications, agriculture, and wireless communications.

Three were bought: PromoXchange from Intertec Publishing, Media

Central from Cowles Business Media, and Digibid, a real-time

interactive

auction site for the sale of audio and video equipment and musical

instruments. He will reshape what was done before he came.

"The sites up today are first generation. None were built after

I arrived," says Andrews. "We will be doing a lot more content

creation, including video and audio news." He plans for these

products, and others he will launch, to have a basic core but be

different

for each industry. "We have communities with advertisers and

readers

today, and they are served by magazines in the business to business

space, but we will build these communities on the web."

Labeling himself "methodical and businesslike" Andrews claims

not to be in a rush. "Being first to market is sometimes

important,

but being best in market is always important," he says, noting

that Microsoft has almost never been first in its marketplace.

"I am a big believer that you can’t labor over something forever,

but one of the big mistakes an Internet company can make is that you

can build whatever you want and spend unlimited amounts of money `and

they will come.’ We spent considerable amounts of time with people

in the industries we are targeting," says Andrews, "talking

about decision making and information tools that will help them in

their business."

His biggest surprise: "How many assets Primedia really has in

the B to B space that we can use to create IndustryClick. As you can

imagine it was not an easy decision to leave Dow Jones, and I did

a considerable amount of research, but even after all my research

I was surprised at the phenomenal assets here."

Primedia bought K-III Directory Corporation on 10 Lake Drive in

Hightstown

and is now the nation’s largest provider of directories for apartments

and new homes. In 1998 it sold the Daily Racing Form for a reported

$400 million. Its lengthy consumer magazine list includes Modern

Bride,

American Demographics, and Sail, and its trade rags range from Textile

World to American Trucker. In the education area it owns Channel One,

an educational channel for schools, as well as the 65-person Films

for the Humanities & Sciences on Perrine Road (www.films.com).

Andrews reports to David Ferm, president and CEO of Primedia’s

business

to business group. Ferm is responsible for the more than 90 technical

and trade magazines and newsletters, 31 trade shows, and 450

directories

and technical books, plus Bacon’s Information, Federal Sources Inc.,

and Simba Information, a consulting service.

A bachelor with a home in Princeton on a one-acre lot

filled with roses, peonies, and azaleas, Andrews is in quite

comfortable

circumstances now (and deflects an intrusive question about how much

salary he is earning with the quip ("more than you’d think"),

but he started out quite differently. He grew up near Columbus,

Indiana,

where his father was a factory worker, and says, "we were really

poor. We had nothing. From my mother, I learned that nothing is easy.

I heard her say it a thousand times, that the effort is always worth

it."

His first reporting, in second grade, was typing a one-page

neighborhood

newspaper on the kind of toy machine that selects one letter at a

time. Now his tools and luxuries include a BMW 323-I, a Palm Pilot

and a cell phone that is always on, but for Internet access he

proclaims

himself an "old-fashioned AOL user," at least partly because

he can access a local AOL number anywhere in the world.

He majored in journalism and economics at Ball State, Class of 1984,

and joined Dow Jones early in his career. A stint working for Ogilvy

Adams Rheinhart facilitated the transition to marketing. "I wanted

to move in to marketing, but you had to leave to get people to listen

to you," he remembers.

Hired back to Dow Jones, he ran Dow Jones Interactive, managing it

as a separate business before it merged with a similar entity from

Reuters, and he ended up on top as chief of what was named Factiva,

a Dow Jones and Reuters company. Andrews names Dorothea Coccoli Palsho

as his Dow Jones mentor and describes her as, "the most patient,

understanding, supportive person I could ever have possibly imagined,

and smart to boot. She really taught me everything I knew about

business."

Most broad publications don’t do a good job reporting on a particular

industry, he says. "The people that may be the hardest to reach

are focussed on an industry, and they want expert opinions on that

industry."

To reach these people, Primedia sites combine editorial content from

print magazines with licensed content. He predicts that another

Primedia

company, Workplace Learning, is going to help in the audiovisual area,

particularly when bandwidths expands. With its video and audio

creation

of skills-development tools Workplace Learning can be used to cover

a trade show in real time.

His marketing plans involve both standard web marketing and

"push"

marketing, usually defined as E-mail newsletters. "The 4 million

readers of our print magazines are going to create quite a lot of

cross-promotion of editorial content to web content. We will also

have appropriate partnerships for creation of news content to drive

traffic back to the web," he says.

His business model is under study but will certainly include both

advertising and sponsorship revenues, and might include paid content

or services, including training or skills certification. Eventually,

Andrews says, his VOCs will do business transactions, as with a

current

property, Digibid, for musical equipment auctions.

Andrews says he holds several aces, including the built-in audience

and cross promotion that he can leverage, and the underlying content

that his magazines generate each month. "We are not necessarily

going to be first," he says, "but must simply work hard to

be the best."

— Barbara Fox

IndustryClick (PRM), 10 Lake Drive, Hightstown

08520. Timothy Andrews, CEO. 609-371-7700; fax, 609-371-7879. Home

page: www.industryclick.com.

Top Of Page
Beyond VOC: Try Content for Commerce (C for C)

Craig Allsopp remembers his grandfather’s crotchety

advice, that it is far better to own a piece of a company than to

merely sit on the sidelines. "I was a hippie back then," he

says, "but it must have been resonated with me. I didn’t want

to work with a large company. I wanted to be involved with something

where I could make a difference, have an ownership position, and be

closer to home. With this new company I have been able to recognize

those four personal goals."

Allsopp left Dow Jones to head a new kind of company, Internet

Publishing

Group Direct (www.IPGDirect.com), and he has grown the company in

one year from just himself to 32 people. "We’ve got some

financing,

we have revenue-generating clients, and our target date for breaking

even . . .," he pauses a beat, "is as soon as possible."

To get so far so fast, Allsopp has had to take advantage of a

start-up’s

characteristic strength: the ability to turn on a dime. He has already

made a dramatic change in his business plan and changed the company

name from VertiNews. The original business model was to create

Vertical

Online Communities (VOCs) that would facilitate business to business

(B to B) markets, and two of these have been launched.

"We were going to offer better content than people had access

to in online and offline publications," says Allsopp, "and

we were going to be more targeted than the general interest business

wires."

That was a good strategy to get the company going, but as Allsopp

points out, "It required hitting bullseyes with every single

product

we put into the marketplace and put us into competition with every

publication in the offline market, every trade magazine, every

newsletter

that people had been using to get their information."

"We got good traction right from the start," he claims.

Nevertheless,

three or four months from launching the first VOC, for commercial

real estate, he discovered that other real estate websites would be

interested in information to enhance their sites. "That interested

us in developing a syndication model to serve the much larger market

of people using existing websites, and it got us going into the

content

for commerce, or C for C business. We started using a whole new

acronym.

We embarked on C for C for newsletters and websites to provide expert

content services."

RealtyIQ.com sponsors the actual newsletter, but Cushman Wakefield

signed up for its own version of commercial real estate information

to stimulate use of its corporate intranet.

One of the prestigious B to B exchanges, Ultra Energy Technologies,

also signed up. "They are making the market, linking up the buyer

and seller, and if they bring people back into the sites time and

time again for perspective on the marketplace, they end up making

more transactions," he explains. For this Houston-based company,

IPGDirect.com is providing a customized service, called Traders News,

for those who are trading natural gas.

Meanwhile Allsopp was spending lots of time on the road to bring in

second-round financing, and when the money came in earlier this year,

he changed the corporate structure, and signed up to be a portfolio

client of the prestigious money-brokering firm, garage.com. Such firms

screen entrepreneurial companies, select a minuscule percent, and

match them with the right investors.

Though it has redirected its focus, IPGDirect.com has not abandoned

the VOC market. It has retained its two initial VOC E-mail

newsletters,

the one for commercial real estate and another for buying and selling

Asian assets, and it is making them available on a custom basis.

The top stories on a recent day for Asian Assets Direct dealt with

new listing rules for IPOs, a $4 billion deal for two multimedia

firms,

and a Japanese firm pioneering in selling other company’s securities.

The newsletter also had several stories on Korea, including one that

noted South Korea’s national income was 25 times greater than North

Korea’s.

National stories comprise Commercial Real Estate Direct, but each

has such juicy Manhattan-based news as the quick-turnover of a Soho

property with a potential for $16 million profit in six months, or

a For Sale sign on a cliff site overlooking the Hudson River on which

to build luxury apartments.

IPGDirect’s latest product is a C for C service for the

entrepreneurial

capital market (www.istartupsdirect.com), edited for the startup

equity marketplace by Eric Kramer. A graduate of Kansas State with

an MBA from St. Peter’s, Kramer had worked at Associated Press, United

Press International, and Dow Jones.

"The strategy for istartupdirect.com is the same as for all our

C for C services," says Allsopp. "We will provide both

aggregation

of real time news — and original content that will be coded,

filtered,

and accessible. So if you are interested in high tech companies in

start-up space in New Jersey, any time we have a company on that radar

screen, we send you an E-mail. It is a way to filter dozens of

releases."

The primary users:

Venture capitalists looking for an early warning system

of companies they might want to follow.

Angels interested in finding companies in their

geographical

area.

Reporters and editors who are deluged with releases and

have trouble finding what is pertinent for their beats.

Business service providers looking for potential leads.

Providers pay a fee to be listed in a directory. Allsopp entertained

the idea of doing the actual service or brokering it, but now he feels

it is not the right use of his firm’s resources.

The number of companies that istartups will cover is limited

only by the number of reporting hours available. "Far more

companies

are being created than we will be able to track," says Allsopp.

Sources will include news and business wire services, trade shows,

and networking. "We want to pick them up early as soon as they

come out of the chute," says Allsopp, "and then we want to

track them over time until they hit the jackpot with an IPO, or merge

with another company, or continue on as a privately held company."

Advertisers will benefit from a quasi-brokerage service that istartups

will provide. Entrepreneurs, for instance, can be matched up with

business service providers listed in a directory. "We charge the

provider to be listed, but are not going to take a broker’s fee,"

says Allsopp. On the other side, it will provide a service to the

business community by disclosing where and what the start-ups are.

The website is undergoing a major redesign to be launched this month.

The need to do major overhauls on his websites does not trouble

Allsopp.

"The best research you can have is from the marketplace,"

he says. He has a brother who was a Marine, and he follows the Marine

Corps axiom: Get things 75 percent right first. Then let the

marketplace

shape and refine it. "We have been fortunate in being able to

do that."

Allsopp still has a 60-hour work week, but instead of

taking a 7 a.m. train to New York and returning at 7 p.m., he has

more control over his schedule and more time with his family. His

wife works for a dentist in Princeton and they have three children,

two in high school, one in college. "When your office is local,

your work and your personal life blend. I was able to watch six or

seven of my son’s JV lacrosse games and come back to do my E-mail.

You tend to have more flexibility in your life. And then there is

the philosophical question of what’s work. When I am out riding a

bike and thinking about work, am I working or am I exercising?"

He tells a work/family blending anecdote, about how his son Eric was

hanging out in the office and was paging through the business plan.

Suddenly Eric announced the numbers were wrong. Says Dad: "I added

the summary data in financial tables and it was off by several hundred

thousand dollars. We had relied too heavily on Excel spread sheets

and not enough on quick summary math. My 14-year-old was right. I

think even the auditors missed the error."

Born in Chatham, where both his father and grandfather were in the

insurance business, Allsopp went to Davis & Elkins in West Virginia,

Class of 1973, and has a master’s in journalism from Penn State. After

being a reporter at UPI he thought of buying a weekly newspaper in

New Hampshire, until he made a site visit. "It was the

quintessential

New Hampshire town, and I realized I needed a little more action in

my life and wasn’t quite ready to settle down."

He spent 17 years at Dow Jones, where he helped develop Dow Jones

News Retrieval, and he was vice president for U.S. sales at Dow Jones

Markets/Americas when Telerate was bought by Bridge Information

Services.

"I had no desire to work for Bridge," says Allsopp. Going

on his own " has been a lot of hard work but a lot of fun and

very gratifying. We have built something pretty solid that has a great

future."

"In this new world — some compete, and some collaborate,"

he says. "We moved pretty quickly and established ourselves in

two marketplaces, and we have done a pretty good job in showing we

can compete with the big boys. We have a pretty good strategy, and

pretty good customer relationships."

What is harder than expected: "It is harder to raise money than

the popular press makes it out to be. It is a lotta lotta work. I

spend a lot of time trouping out on the west coast, refining the

business

plan and the business model with Chris Bouck (the CFO hired in

January)

fine tuning the strategy, and fine tuning the presentation. It is

a constant work in progress."

What’s easier than expected: "Recruiting good people has

been a little easier than I thought. We have a great group that has

a lot of energy and enthusiasm," says Allsopp.

Allsopp has a Pollyanna reply to the idea that Wall Street looks less

favorably on dot-com companies than it did last year. "Obviously

the window has shut a little bit but I honestly believe that for

companies

with good business models a lot of noise will be removed from the

marketplace, and good companies will find it easier to get

attention."

The two companies that are headed by Dow Jones expatriates Andrews

and Allsopp would seem to compete with each other. But Allsopp’s new

business model takes away the worry about going head to head with

a bigger firm, and Andrews might very well turn out to be Allsopp’s

client. Instead of focusing on putting its own vertical online

communities

on the web, Allsopp’s IPGDirect.com is changing to provide content

to other VOCs, like the ones Andrews’ IndustryClick will host.

Mark Feffer, founder of Tramp Steamer Media LLC on West State Street

in Trenton (www.trampsteamer.com), has worked for both men. Feffer

says that Andrews is very dynamic and tends to have a loyal following:

"A lot of people were very upset when he left and followed him

out of Factiva." Andrews’ management style, Feffer suggests, is

loose-reined. "If he brings you into his group, there is an

assumption

about your knowledge, and he backs you on it, and he builds very

strong

teams because of that. Moving Dow Jones News Retrieval on to the web

was not an easy thing to do. He really pulled it together. His

strength

is in building new products."

About Allsopp, Feffer says that he is "a good manager who knows

how to run a business, manage a team, and what needs to be focused

on at any moment." He admires Allsopp’s flexibility.

"Rethinking

their business model is an example of how they got feedback from

clients.

They haven’t let themselves get married to a model."

— Barbara Fox

Internet Publishing Group Inc. (IPGdirect.com),

108 West Franklin Avenue, Straube Center Suite I-20, Pennington 08534.

Craig O. Allsopp, chairman. 609-730-4860; fax, 609-730-8652.

www.ipgdirect.com

and www.istartupsdirect.com.

Corrections or additions?


This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com

— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.

Facebook Comments