You may not think much about the links that punctuate nearly every piece of online content (including this one), but Pete Sheinbaum, the founder and CEO of a new startup called LinkSmart, says they present an untapped opportunity.
“The text link is this little innocuous thing that’s been on the Internet since the beginning of time, with all this latent potential,” Sheinbaum says. “We’re exposing this opportunity to publishers and giving them the tools to manage these links.”
The online publishing world is one that Sheinbaum is familiar with. He pent almost nine years at fashion and shopping newsletter DailyCandy, ultimately serving as its CEO before leaving in 2009, less than a year after Comcast bought DailyCandy from Pilot Group Ventures for $125 million.
So why focus on links? Sheinbaum says it’s because publishers are spending significant amounts of money to drive traffic and looking at increasingly sophisticated tools. A smarter approach to link management could address many of those needs in a relatively easy and affordable way, he says. And while there are other companies automatically adding links to content, they’re usually focused on advertising (like Vibrant Media) or e-commerce/affiliate marketing (like VigLink) — in Sheinbaum’s view, they’re usually hurting the user experience. LinkSmart, on the other hand, is focused on directing users to more editorial content.
The company’s product is divided into three main services. First, there’s analytics, so that publishers can see how their existing links are performing. Second, there are management tools that allow publishers to automatically redirect links — for example, if there’s some kind of marketing campaign where they’re trying to promote a certain site or category, LinkSmart can automatically update links in the archive so that they all point in the right direction. Third, LinkSmart can automatically add new links to stories, based on data it has collected about the optimum link-to-text ratio and the kinds of links that perform well on that site.
For the most part, Sheinbaum says these tools will be used by the audience development managers and yield optimizers at a publishing company. Folks on the editorial side might use the system too, but he says that writers should be focused on creating new content, while other parts of the team can use LinkSmart to tweak the links in that content as needed.
The product has actually been in testing for nearly two years. LinkSmart has also raised $4.7 million in funding across two rounds, from Foundry Group, Sutter Hill Ventures, and Costanoa Venture Capital.
Pete Sheinbaum is the Founder and CEO of LinkSmart, Inc. a Foundry Group backed stealth startup based in Boulder, Colorado and is the former CEO of DailyCandy, Inc. In 2000, DailyCandy hired Pete to assist with the launch and development of DailyCandy.com. In 2004, he was named COO of DailyCandy and in 2005 named CEO. After a successful sale of DailyCandy to Comcast in 2008, Pete guided the Company though the transition before departing in May of 2009. Prior to...
Foundry Group is a venture capital firm focused on making investments in early-stage information technology, Internet and software startups. Their passion is working alongside entrepreneurs to give birth to new technologies and to build those technologies into industry-leading companies. They are centrally located in Boulder, CO, but invest in companies across North America. Their current venture fund of $225m was launched in late 2007 and is managed by four managing directors. Collectively, they have almost five decades of experience...
Sutter Hill Ventures has financed technology-based start-ups and assisted entrepreneurs in building market-leading companies since 1962. Through their decades of experience, they have developed strong industry networks, considerable operating and venture capital experience, and an understanding of the challenges that early-stage and high-growth companies face. They offer expertise in developing business strategy and partnerships, building management teams, and financing companies in both public and private markets. They are experienced operating executives who love building companies. Their approach is straightforward. They...