Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mediabistro: Time Line to Success

I've been running around left and right trying to get my little operation into high gear and as usual fretting about the future, until I read an article (The Accidental Entrepreneur) in this month's New York Enterprise Report. It was about how Laurel Touby sold her company, Mediabistro, for $23 million this past July. It took her just 13 years...but she didn't make a profit for the first 9 of them, and she didn't generate any money for the first two. That really helps to put things in perspective!

I remember going to a few of her events and have seen her company grow right before my very eyes. Her story is so inspiring to me that I wanted to piece together all the details of how she did it, so I looked up a few other articles on the sale and put together a time line:

1994 - Laurel, a struggling freelance writer, starts organizing after-work cocktail parties for journalists - 10 people showed up at the first one but within months that turns into one hundred ( that database is about 700,000) - however, she wasn't making money from it

1996 - Started an email newsletter with job listings (still no money)

1999 - Started charging HR people $100/month to post jobs - got 8 checks the first month, then 16, then 25, 35, 45 (ka-ching!) - that's when she ditched her freelance writing and decided to make this a business

2001 - Received $1 million in funding in March (a big ka-ching), then 9/11 hit (took back some of that ka-ching - read Laurel's account of how they managed to pull through after the terrorist attacks:
The Strength to Lead in the Face of Crisis, from The Huffington Post)

2002 - Laurel follows a colleague's suggestion to add courses for journalists to her list of services, and later that year launches a premium content subscription membership (ka-ching, ka-ching)

2003 - Became profitable

2006 - Got approached by buyers

2007 - Sold Mediabistro to Jupitermedia in July for $23 million, pocketing $12.4 million (she owned 62% of the company's stock) (a really big ka-ching)

Here's more related articles on the story:

-Village Voice: The $23 million Boa

-NYC TV's NYC 360 (video): Interview with Laurel Touby

-Washington Post: Journalism Morsels Make for Profitable Dish at This Bistro

As senior vice president, Laurel will still oversee Mediabistro but now she will also report to her new bosses at Jupitermeda. NY Enterprise Report asked if her life has changed now she's wealthy and her answer was "no, I still take the subway. Maybe I’m eating out a little more often. The one thing I’m going to spend the money on is a gigantic loft apartment so I can have all my journalist friends over for dinner." Sometimes the more things changes the more they stay the same...

My take home message out of this? Create a community of like-minded souls, find out what they need, and deliver it to them. It's that simple. Do that long enough and eventually the money will come.


Anonymous said...

Yes!! I like this article.

Deb said...

Thanks for the great post! As someone trying to grow her business it's very inspiring.