Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wowio To Rebrand Itself?

MoneyTV recently talked with Wowio CEO, Brian Altounian. I'm actually not sure why something called MoneyTV spoke with Altounian without really talking about money or finances; it mostly comes across as a PR bit for Wowio. I'd also not heard of MoneyTV before, but their embarrassingly bad website suggests that they're not anybody worth paying attention to. That said, Altounian did mention two tidbits that might be of interest to folks here.

First, Wowio is going from a limited liability company (LLC) to a corporation (Inc). This is mostly just a legal distinction that provides some separation between the company's owners and the company itself. This will likely have little to no impact on their day-to-day operations.

Second, and of more noticeable impact to readers, is that Wowio will adopt a new site design on July 1. No mention if that will be just a cosmetic change or if there are functional improvements as well.

Altounian also made some vague reference to new acquisitions for Wowio, but it's wholly unclear if he was referring to new IPs they have the rights to publish or companies they've bought out or new staff members being brought on board or what. In any case, this implies that their overall financial situation is much more stable than it was a year ago.

Per their standard operating procedure, no mention of the impending changes is mentioned on Wowio's own website.

3 comments:

Brian Altounian said...

Hey Sean. Just wanted to answer a couple of your questions here. In the spirit of maintaining an open dialogue, I am happy to provide some answers to your questions (similar to our earlier exchange a while back.)

The reason I do the MoneyTV spots is to give our current investors regular communication about our company. We have completed two rounds of financing since October, which enabled us to pay off the outstanding royalty obligations, bring the team on board full-scale, and build the next iteration of WOWIO. We have over 100 investors in WOWIO and this is one of the regular modes of communication I use to keep them informed. They also tell their friends about the company and this is a good way to get new, interested folks up-to-date on our activities. I'm not very fond of their website but I get the WOWIO segments sent to me separately, so I can post them on our site, my Facebook, and on the Alliance Acquisitions site as well.

The reason for our transition from LLC to Inc. is somewhat obvious for those that know me and my track record - that is, I will be issuing stock certificates to our investors and leave our options open for a going-public process (again, from our earlier conversations) or possible acquisition. You are right, though, it doesn't change our day-to-day operations (I mess with that all on my own.)

On the site design, yes, we are launching a new site design July 1. We notified our publishing partners last week and we intend to notify our reader base through our newsletter, which goes out June 1 and then we'll notify the general public with a posting of that newsletter. Our publishers have vested interests so we felt we should notify them first and separately from everyone else because we strive to treat them the way they deserve to be treated - with respect, care and in open communication. There will be significant functional improvements, some of which we have begun testing, like reviews and ratings and social networking capabilities.

On the acquisitions, we will be making one announcement on Wednesday of next week, followed by a second announcement on June 7 and a third the week after. We are building momentum towards ComicCon and even though our activity level has increased significantly in our growing offices, we didn't want to overwhelm everyone with too much news at once because each piece has great significance in this space and we want each transaction to stand on its own. These acquisitions include new site destinations and even some original IP that will be exploited across the WOWIO platform. We will be aggressively increasing the number of titles on the site and the number of corporate sponsors to subsidize books for readers so the free content can reach a global audience. With this activity, there are several new staff members that have come on board, including some well-respected folks in the comic space, both print and online.

I hope that answers your questions and if it brings up others, I am happy to answer them for you as well.

Best regards, Sean. -Brian

Sean Kleefeld said...

Thanks for expanding on things, Brian.

I have one more question, mostly out of curiosity: how did you and Wowio's investors opt for MoneyTV as a communication vehicle? I won't knock it if that works for that purpose, but I would've thought a newsletter or email would be more obvious solutions. Like I said, just curious.

Brian Altounian said...

I've been involved in a number of early-stage (startup) companies that take an early leap onto the stock market, where one of the most critical elements for success is expanding awareness about your company or product. Newsletters are good but you can't send spam emails so you have to hope folks opt in to your email list in order to send them information. You see what happens when companies put out a lot of press releases to garner attention: they are often tagged as "vaporware" companies or media hogs. So I am a fan of the live, interview-style program to show investors and potential investors a real face, a real voice, and a real passion of a CEO that is more humanizing than a faceless press release. MoneyTV is one of the few outlets where these companies can create an awareness campaign with consistency and integrity.

I have been a fan of MoneyTV for quite some time and a number of the companies I have been involved with have run successful promotional campaigns on the program in the past. Don Baillargeon, the host, is warm and friendly, but more importantly, he is a fan of these companies, the people behind them and their products. He has been tremendously supportive of our efforts to inform and enlighten our investor base and he is a really great guy with tons of integrity. The look of the website aside, the program really is run like a top-notch production studio and he does his best to provide material (and investor feedback about the program) to help the companies gauge their success. We have made suggestions on how to make the website a bit more user-friendly and contemporary and he has been open to changing it but there's about 15 years of history there, so it's a little difficult to alter.

Hope that helps. -Brian