Self-publishing content company Helium has raised another 10 million in debt financing according to a SEC filing from earlier today. Listed on the the filing are President Mark Renalli, and board members Ann Bushell and John Paloian from RR Donnelly, Joseph Farrelly of Interpublic Group, Anne Kennedy of Beyond Ink, Steve Pogorzelski, David Weild IV and William Huff. There is no indication of who invested on the SEC form.
Sort of like a proto-content farm, Helium writers get paid to write “How to” guides on subjects ranging from “How to get physically ready for Marine Basic Training” to “How to change back to Yahoo! Mail Classic” (wow).
Helium launched in 2006 and since then has amassed a community of hundreds of thousands of writers, at least. Since no one from Helium has returned my calls, I have no more accurate or up to date traffic or engagement numbers. But I do have your brief moment of zen from the last time we wrote about Helium raising money, in a post entitled “Helium Raises $17 Million, Lays Off 30 Percent of Employees.”
“The bomb-shelter mentality among startups is now so severe that even companies raising money are announcing layoffs in response to diminished economic prospects. Boston-based Helium just closed a $17 million series A financing about ten days ago, and then cut 30 percent of the organization (18 people) last week.
CEO Mark Ranalli tells me: “We expect a deterioration of overall ad rates, and a slowing of the economy in general. Our approach was to take a third of every group across engineering, customer service, and sales.’”
While I have no idea if anyone got laid off this time, the severity of the above text, written in the middle of the 2008 financial crisis, is pretty jarring.
In the era of Color’s pre-launch $41 million and in light of Demand Media’s recent IPO (with favorable earnings released today) we often forget that not that long ago the collective startup mindset was one of a “bomb shelter mentality” … Times, they do change.
Helium is simultaneously an online community for writers and a directory for user-generated articles. Writers can submit articles to 24 different channels (business, entertainment, travel, etc.), write for the side of a heated debate, try to capture publisher writing assignments bounties or win user-voted Helium writing contests. Users get to rate submitted articles so the best writing rises to the top. Community writers can also get paid for their work. Helium shares ad revenues with popular writers and the...