The player: Alex Blum, CEO of KickApps
The play: KickApps provides Web sites with a full suite of social media tools to enable social networking, widgets, user-generated video and content syndication. Site owners can pick and choose the social media tools they need, essentially letting small and large site-owners build in the capabilities of a YouTube, MySpace or Flickr to their Web destinations.
The pitch: Media companies are intent on adding social media tools to their sites because they entice viewers to stay longer and share information with other visitors, building impressions and page views for a site. According to an Accenture study, about 62 percent of media executives expect to make money via ads and sponsorships of social media within the next three years. Mr. Blum said KickApps clients have reported traffic increases between 30 percent and 100 percent after adding social media tools. “If you look at the fastest-growing sites, they are social media sites. That leaves a huge universe of destinations who are trying to grow audiences and are looking for the most effective ways of doing that,” he said. KickApps offers its tools for free and makes money via a share of the incremental ad dollars generated from the new features. “If you implement this and nothing happens, we don’t get paid,” he said. n
The backstory: Chairman Eric Alterman founded the company in 2005. Mr. Blum joined in late 2005 as a board member and became CEO in February.
The money guys: Mr. Alterman self-funded the company in the early days. KickApps then raised $7 million last June from Spark Capital, Prism VentureWorks and Jarl Mohn. KickApps is gearing up for a B round of funding.
In the mix: KickApps powers the social media component for DIY at DIYnetwork.com, launching this week, and also has worked for Procter & Gamble, ABC, Disney and others. KickApps targets media companies but also vertically oriented sites centered around interests, such as autos, and independent producers.
The pros: “We believe social media is thought of as an add-on, but we believe strongly at some point in time it will no longer be thought of as an add-on but a baseline requirement for your site,” Mr. Blum said.
The cons: KickApps faces competition from other social media technology providers such as Ning and Neighborhood America.
Background: Mr. Blum was born and raised outside of Detroit. He attended the University of Colorado and earned a degree in mechanical engineering and then received an MBA from Seattle University. Prior to KickApps he was president and chief operating officer of IPTV network JumpTV. He also worked at AOL. The 45-year-old Mr. Blum lives in Greenwich, Conn., with his wife and son.
Who knew? Mr. Blum said in his spare time, when not with his family skiing in Colorado or on the golf course, he enjoys running his vintage Porsche on the Lime Rock Park race track in northwest Connecticut.