From Start-Up to Success
Vince Thompson talks to Michael Jones about going from start-up to success in his company Userplane.
From Start-Up to Success
Vince Thompson: Hi! Welcome to Dog and Pony. I’m Vince Thompson. It’s online networking games popularity. So, this is the demand for online communications technology. A leader in this field is Michael Jones, founder and CEO of Userplane. Michael, welcome to Dog and Pony.
Michael Jones: Thanks Vince.
Vince Thompson: It’s great to have you here. Tell us about the Userplane.
Michael Jones: So, Userplane is a company that comprises three different business parts. We have a large social media ad network that we’ve grown over the last two years where we’ve represent over 5000 social media properties. We have an application based publisher system where we basically license our application to publishers that such MySpace and Facebook in order to increase engagements on their websites. We have a third piece represents which is a direct to consumer online community which currently bring around three million in each month and it’s growing extremely roughly source.
Vince Thompson: How does this business get started?
Michael Jones: I’ve got started through our initial instant messaging product. So, we were working with some small communities in Los Angeles at that time primarily in the online dating space and they were looking for some live interaction tools to give to their users. We licensed the fast pace system to different online social networks and dating sites and grew a large volume of publishers that basically we’re using our hosted solutions. As that business grew, we started seeing need to also systematization. So, part of our applications went out based.
Vince Thompson: Talk about the evolution of business after you got it launched then you move forward, ultimately what happened?
Michael Jones: We grew the company organically. So, no obviously funding, no enter of dollars, all kind of ground through and consulting practice that eventually translate in the applications. As the application business for us grew into attraction start covering over cost, we started exploring and doing a financing round. Through the financing process, we start getting many activities and then about half a year ago. AOL came and inquired us and we are able to actually stay so much separates. So, maintain on our brand, maintain on our office and we’ve grow on our penal. And they had greats support from within AOL to basically see Userplane as until it grow independently.
Vince Thompson: What advice would you give the entrepreneur who is considering selling their company to a much larger firm?
Michael Jones: I think they will need to look at the effect that their life might take on selling the company, right. So, there’s a bit of a misalignment in goals often between entrepreneurs and VCs. So, if you had the first on entrepreneur that’s still renting an apartment and has big dreams and you have a VC who is looking at investing the entrepreneur and has way of bigger dreams of hundred million dollar plus sales, ten X on the return etcetera. You have to really make sure that the entrepreneur is ready to go that distance, right. There’s a whole range of small acquisitions to sub the $50 million that I think are available on the market of entrepreneurs. To become somewhat unavailable once you tune up with certain VC’s.
So, I think it’s really a heart to heart that the entrepreneur has to have with themselves, with their partners, with the initial share holders and with the venture capitalist to make sure they’re really willing to go the distance that the VC’s are going to require them to go.
Vince Thompson: I want to ask you of how we can take advantage of these tools to make money for our own businesses or create more value for them?
Michael Jones: Well, I think you know, with the inventive ad networks and third party companies that kind of help websites monetize their traffic, Userplane is in that same vain. So, you have a whole network of publishers, services and businesses now that can basically assist those entrepreneurs on that process. We look at it from the engagement perspective and say, “What can I give you as a website publisher, not an entrepreneur that’s going to increase the amount of time users spend on your website. The amount of ads that users click on, the amount of engagement they spend talking to other users on that site.” What can I ask you to give that are going to drive our peak business?
So, Userplane are little bit different than a standard publisher services company and that we’re really looking at increasing of those values.
Vince Thompson: Instant messaging, still a lot of opportunity in that category?
Michael Jones: I love the concept of a worldwide web. You know, I think that’s a really interesting idea. I think there’s a blending between what’s instant messaging and what’s email and that they are both at the end of the day. You know, they are both and like communications and it just about the temporal aspect of it, if it’s media on where it’s delayed. I’m really interested and start ups right now and coming new they are thinking about how to kind of merge their communication experiences into kind of a unified of communication interface.
Vince Thompson: Michael, what are you most proud of in your career.
Michael Jones: I think there’s a tendency for entrepreneurs to easily dominate their days with their work schedule. I’ve work really hard to balance my normal personal life with my work life and I’m proud that I have I feel like I feel I’ve been able to do that.
Vince Thompson: Michael Jones, CEO founder of Userplane and AOL Company. Thank you so much for being with us.
If you have question, comments, or ideas for guests please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m Vince Thompson. Thanks for watching.
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