Marketwire, a company best known for its newswire and press release distribution, is today upping its game in another part of its business, the currently-hot areas of social analytics and big data. From today, it is rebranding as Marketwired, and it is naming a new EVP for product and technology — big-data specialist Stu Ogawa, who’s been poached from Yahoo — to help put its new focus into action.
The changes, announced in a blog post by CEO Michael Nowlan, come at a time when social media continues to replace older forms of information distribution — one of which, the still-ubiquitous news release, remains Marketwired’s most visible product, and one that it’s been in for 30 years. Just today, the SEC issued a statement about how social media was a relevant and legitimate medium to post public company news — prompted by a status update from Netflix CEO Reid Hastings noting 1 billion hours of streaming watched in June 2012, which sparked some media attention and a subsequent rise in Netflix’s stock price. In this context, Marketwired needs to change with the times or else risk becoming outdated and irrelevant.
“Cloud, social and mobile technologies are fundamentally changing how businesses’ voices can be heard, and the broadcast communication business is becoming more of a conversation business,” COO Jim Delaney told TechCrunch in an interview. The move comes also at a time of more competition for Marketwired, with Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook, as well as many third parties, also getting more sophisticated in analytics to meet the data demands of businesses using them as the next frontier for marketing and advertising.
This is not to say that press releases are disappearing: “The press release part of the business, the newswire distribution, is very important to what we do,” said Delaney. “It’s just a business that continues to evolve.” This, he said, will include more products to help businesses make their press releases more interactive that can “better connect” with target audiences.
Ogawa tells TechCrunch that he will be starting at Marketwired on April 29, leaving Yahoo only on April 26. His departure from Yahoo comes at a time when the company has been working hard to shore up talent under CEO Marissa Mayer. At Yahoo — which Ogawa still lists as his place of employment on his LinkedIn profile — he is “VP of business intelligence,” wearing as many hats as that vague title might imply. In addition to developing big data, analytic and streaming applications, he headed up product, engineering and QE global teams; developed advertising and mobile enterprise apps; integrated transaction processing systems; and filed intellectual property disclosures.
Ogawa says he is not being replaced: “I have a lot of successors there, so they will divide my role into a few different areas,” he says. On the subject of leaving at a time of big change at Yahoo, he calls the move to Marketwired “a career move that also merges with my personal interests,” adding that “Marissa is doing a stunning job there.”
It looks like that expertise will be put to use at Marketwired. There, he will be in charge of product and technology roadmaps at a time when the company is undergoing a long-term attempt to reposition itself from press release distributor into “social intelligence company.” This will not only include adding new products to improve what Ogawa describes generally as “two-way conversations between businesses”, but also more mobile apps.
The change started back in 2010, when Marketwired bought social media analytics company Sysomos. That bolted on social media analytics services, by way of MAP and Heartbeat, to Marketwired’s core business press release distribution, and brought in clients like Microsoft, Proctor & Gamble, Google and Coca-Cola as clients for that business. Sysomos, Nowlan writes today, will remain “a very integral part of Marketwired.”
Since then it’s also signed on as a Twitter Certified Partner and offers services like letting clients identify “influencers” on the network. “We are actively in discussions with a number of other social network data providers,” said Delaney. “They are the likely suspects, for example we would love to have a more deeply integrated relationship with Facebook.” That is to say, today, Marketwired only gets Facebook data that is publicly available and it wants more. “Today they add 10,000 data sources per day and we want access to more,” he adds. Expect more partnership deals announced in the second half of 2013.
Marketwired’s formula so far is proving to be a success. The company is majority owned by OMERS Private Equity, sister company to OMERS Ventures, which invests in a number of other social media companies, including HooSuite. Delaney says Marketwired is “incredibly profitable” at the moment, with double-digit Ebitda margins, and the social media monitoring part of its business has grown in triple digits in the last two-and-a-half years since the Sysomos acquisition. No comment on potential IPO plans or other exits, but Delaney does hint that there are some acquisitions that will be disclosed soon.