Digital Dealmakers: Sean Doherty

Mar 26, 2007  •  Post A Comment

The Player: Sean Doherty, founder of Channels.com

The Play: Channels.com is angling to be the electronic program guide for the Web video world. The site, which went live last week, serves as a directory for online video such as ad-supported episodes of TV shows on network Web sites, as well as promotional clips for shows on sites including YouTube and MySpace.

The Pitch: Mr. Doherty wants Channels.com to be a central repository for TV networks to promote their shows online and to make clips and previews available to Web viewers. The site also creates playlists of those videos, including interviews with actors, show recaps and the episodes themselves. “We provide a click-through opportunity for viewers to consume ad-supported video,” Mr. Doherty said.

In the Mix: Mr. Doherty is currently reaching out to broadcast and cable networks to strike deals for special promotions on the site. “Channels is designed to be a programmable promotional environment,” he said. “You can surf around and preview clips.” To succeed, Channels.com will need to drive consumer traffic to the site. Mr. Doherty is aiming to do that through search optimization that will ferry traffic in from portals. Channels also has developed what it calls a “badge” that lets other Web sites embed video playlists from Channels.com.

Pros: The opportunity to organize Web video is huge.

Cons: Channels.com is a new entrant and needs to build its name from the ground up.

The Backstory: Mr. Doherty founded the company in 2004 after launching his own firm, Odyssey Telecorp, in 2002 to acquire telecom concerns. He decided that being on the content side of the broadband revolution made more fiscal sense than the bandwidth side, so he started Channels.

The Money Guys: Mr. Doherty and his Odyssey partners funded Channels.com with $1.6 million of their own money, and the company is seeking to raise $5 million for product and business development. Channels.com now counts 15 employees and offices in San Francisco and Palo Alto. Mr. Doherty does not have a target for profitability, but he said Channels will make money as networks pay for promotional placement and through ads as viewers click to view videos.

Background: Mr. Doherty, 49, was born in Quincy, Mass., and raised on the south shore of Massachusetts. He earned a degree in music theory and composition from the University of Maryland. Mr. Doherty was the founding chief operating officer for broadband service @Home in the ’90s. He also worked at Shoreline Capital. He currently lives in California’s Silicon Valley with his wife and three kids.

Who Knew: A trained pianist, Mr. Doherty likes to sight-read classical music and also plays jazz for fun.