Michael Jones sold Userplane, which provides text, voice and video chat software to websites to AOL almost exactly two years ago for around $40 million (the exact price was never disclosed). Now, almost exactly two years later, he’s left AOL full time to pursue his next startup: Tsavo.
The team has set up offices in Santa Monica and has taken a first round of financing from American Capital, a publicly held fund with $20 billion under investment that usually only invests in public companies.
The reason American Capital may be a good fit is that Tsavo intends to quickly acquire a bunch of content and advertising startups that fit with its over all strategy which Jones vaguely describes as “relevancy.” The goal is to tailor content to individuals based on their online actions (not gestures). Beyond that, he’s staying quiet. But the deal with American Capital gives them the money they need to make those acquisitions quickly. From their website:
What is Tsavo?
Tsavo Media is focused on delivering highly relevant experiences to the digital touch points in consumer’s lives. Initially we are applying our technology focus to content and how media is experienced daily by consumers.
In the future we will grow our portfolio using our relevancy technology to enhance other segments beyond media.
The model somewhat resembles Demand Media, which also develops technology in house and has acquired a number of content and ecommerce startups.
We’ll likely hear about a couple of Tsavo acquisitions in the coming weeks, with initial product rollout later this year. Jones, along with cofounders Nate Thelen and Gabe Harriman, remain paid advisors to AOL.