Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Skoeps' first anniversary coming up

Last week, I visited the offices of Skoeps. The company is based in a posh canal house in Amsterdam. The founding group, of which most members came from the Dutch publishing conglomerate PCM, started there in the basement. In the meantime the company is growing so fast that it also occupies offices at the ground floor and populates the ground and basement level with all young people. The offices are sober and in the corridor a big golden statue of Nijntje/Miffy, a gift from the landlord and a reminder to the founders not to loose their innocence.

Skoeps, a joint venture by the newspaper conglomerate PCM and Cyrte, the investment vehicle of John the Mol, is a user generated and moderated content site where people can upload videos and pictures of news events and sell them. It is citizens' journalism, but excludes photographs from VIP spotters, paparazzi and ambulance chasers. The company has been launched a year ago and has already made impact in The Netherlands. John de Mol is already using the material for a television station on internet and for regional television stations.

After half a year the company behind the site is already cash flow positive. It is also selling the concept abroad. There is an English version in the Netherlands, filled with Dutch items as well as a German version. Negotiations with UK and German companies are on the way. Foreign services will not necessarily bear the name and logo of Skoeps. The concept and technology are available as white label as well. For example Zoom.in produces the Flemish and French Belgian sites. In the meantime Skoeps has already services and offices in South Africa and a few other African countries.

The business model behind the company is interesting. The company gets revues from licensing the concept under the name of Skoeps or as white label. It picks up money by licensing the service and software for events like the Cape to Cape rally, a car rally from the top of Finland to the cape of Gibraltar. But it is also negotiating for the Olympic Games next year in Beijing. Of course there are revenues from classic bannering as well as the sale of a photograph or a movie to news media or Youtube –like services. Another revenue source is sponsoring.

But after almost one year, Skoeps is not resting on its laurels. It is actively looking for partners in other countries. Presently Skoeps is talking to an international network which might deliver contacts in some 50 countries. But it is also working on additions to the service; video logging is one of the opportunities. Recently Skoeps started a cooperation with Startlog Nederland, providing authors of weblogs with news scopes. Startlog Nederland will distribute the scopes through its press release service.

The company celebrates its first anniversary on October 5th, 2007 with a nice first year result of operating a service, foreign services and a positive cash flow. What could an investor wish more for: a product, international expansion and a positive cash flow?

Blog Posting Number: 871

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