Digital Dealmakers: Greg Morrow

Aug 21, 2006  •  Post A Comment

The player: Greg Morrow, co-founder and president of PureVideo Networks, which operates StupidVideos.com and GrindTV.com.

The play: Stupid Videos is one of dozens of companies competing for the attention of consumers as a viral video destination site. The category is dominated by giants such as YouTube, MySpace and Google Video, whose monthly audiences reach into the millions. But little guys like StupidVideos are carving out niches that may appeal to advertisers or potential acquirers. StupidVideos, which had 854,000 unique monthly visitors according to Nielsen//NetRatings’ latest numbers, is carving out a niche among 12- to 24-year-olds.

The pitch: To compete in a crowded field, StupidVideos has opted to syndicate its videos to other Web sites. This week, the company plans to announce it has inked a deal with TagWorld, a new social networking site targeting the teen demo that StupidVideos also seeks. TagWorld isn’t MySpace yet, but it counts about 2 million subscribers. StupidVideos will become a syndicated channel on the video page of TagWorld. Mr. Morrow likens the viral video marketplace to the online dating business. “It’s sort of like online dating, where you had Match.com and that was niched out by Jdate and PlanetOut,” Mr. Morrow said. “TagWorld is really focused on the teen community.” StupidVideos will also renew its syndication deal with MSN Video to continue providing viral video clips. Mr. Morrow thinks visitors will keep coming back because StupidVideos provides an editorial filter and selects 10 videos a day to feature on the home page. That pre-screening process has enabled the company to land advertisers such as Nissan, Nintendo and Hanes.

The backstory: Mr. Morrow has worked in online video since 1997, when he founded Musicvideos.com. The company merged with Launch Media, which was then bought by Yahoo! Inc. Mr. Morrow then became head of business development and strategy at Yahoo Music and ultimately worked as general manager of Yahoo! Music International. He said he applies many of the same of the same principles to StupidVideos that made Yahoo Music a huge success: usability, consistent quality of the experience and content, user interaction and search engine optimization.

The money guys: Mr. Morrow and Erik Hawkins, CEO of PureVideo Networks, acquired StupidVideos and GrindTV.com in 2004. Softbank Capital invested $6 million in the company in November 2005. Mr. Morrow said he expects the company to become profitable in late 2007.

In the mix: StupidVideos is playing in a crowded field, with behemoths such as YouTube attracting 30 million unique monthly visitors, MySpace Videos getting 18 million and Google Video luring 9 million. The key is to own a niche, Mr. Morrow said. “To use a water analogy, YouTube is five miles wide and two inches deep, whereas StupidVideos is two miles wide and two miles deep. The key thing we do is, we are trying to sift through and focus on humor content for teens,” he said.

Launching pad: The viral video site has also brought fresh success to talent it has “poached” from YouTube. For instance, comedian Dave Hill generated only about 1,000 hits when he posted a video from New York Comic Con 2006 on YouTube in April. That same video garnered nearly 50,000 views on StupidVideos. The site has also created a similar lift for other viral video auteurs who made the move from YouTube. In addition, StupidVideos helped launch bigger careers for some of its talent, such as DJ Keltech, an amateur DJ who snared a deal with Sony BMG after generating more than 400,000 plays on StupidVideos and its partner sites.

Who knew? Mr. Morrow, 33, was born in Iowa and earned a degree in mechanical engineering in 1995 from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He is married and has two young sons. While in college, he organized a inter-sorority charity volleyball tournament, involving students from seven states, that raised $100,000 for the Make a Wish Foundation.