Its operations themselves aren’t terribly fascinating: they consist of cranking out fun, but trivial, widgets and social network applications for the likes of Facebook and MySpace.
But whether its products appeal to the digerati or not, it sure does appear to have a knack at making money off social networking when the social networks themselves are struggling to monetize effectively. How else can anyone justify the startup’s huge valuation?
Slide makes all of its money from brand advertising, primarily through its Facebook applications (although Levchin has indicated an interest in direct-to-consumer sales as well). To bolster sales efforts, it has decided to open a second office in New York City, where it believes 70% of all brand dollars originate. Unlike its San Francisco headquarters, which houses 80 employees (mostly developers), the New York office will consist of a sales team led by Jason Bitensky, a former national sales director for AOL.
I took the opening as an opportunity to ask Keith Rabois, VP of Business Development, some questions about how Slide monetizes its applications. Rabois explained that Slide mainly targets Fortune 50 companies and sells ad space almost exclusively on a CPM basis (no performance-based advertising or CPIs).
Advertisers on Slide roughly break down into three segments: entertainment, consumer packaged goods, and mobile. The entertainment segment consists of all the major movie studios, packaged good companies include big corporations like ConAgra, and mobile advertisers come from both the hardware side (Palm) and network side (AT&T).
Their campaigns are spread over three primary Facebook applications: FunWall, SuperPoke, and Top Friends. Each of these has its own advertising characteristics. FunWall runs sponsored videos that enjoy premium CPMs, SuperPoke features sponsored actions (like a whip for the new Indiana Jones movie), and Top Friends overlays videos on top of special network pages.
RockYou is often portrayed as Slide’s archenemy, and from a consumer point of view, it can be hard to tell their products apart. However, Rabois insists that their monetization strategies are substantially different. While RockYou makes its money from CPI and ad network deals, Rabois positions Slide as a competitor to Yahoo, which also tries to get brands in front of eyeballs.
Slide now has a total of 5 sales people. Expect them to bring aboard more as they attempt to further monetize their development efforts.