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Digital Dealmakers: Roman Arzhintar, SideReel

Sep 30, 2007  •  Post A Comment

The player: Roman Arzhintar, SideReel co-founder and CEO
The play: SideReel.com is a new search and community site for television shows. The site is designed to serve as a “dashboard” for fans of TV shows because the pages for each show include tools for social networking, links to blogs, episode lists, cast lists and links to the full episodes online, either on sites like YouTube or download services such as iTunes. Users can easily edit descriptions and information about the shows in a Wikipedia fashion on SideReel.
The pitch: Mr. Arzhintar believes the special sauce for SideReel lies in its one-stop-shop approach to TV shows. It serves as a hub to direct fans to various ways to interact with or watch a show.
Backstory: Mr. Arzhintar founded the company in January. He and his co-founders worked out of their San Francisco homes in the early days. The service went live in April and in August the company’s eight employees moved into an office in the Mission district of San Francisco.
In the mix: Competition is immense, with sites such as TV.com, Fanpop.com, TV-now.com, TVsquad.com and numerous others vying for market share. “We combine search, plus Wiki, plus community in the entertainment field, and we think those are the three things people need to collaborate around entertainment,” Mr. Arzhintar said.
The money guys: SideReel raised an angel round of funding from friends, family and key angel investors earlier this year for an undisclosed amount. Mr. Arzhintar said he is currently raising a seed, or series A, round. The site will begin to sell ads to targeted advertisers early next year. “Right now we don’t need the money. YouTube didn’t have ads for a year. We figure we’ve got a year,” he said. He said the site currently attracts 500,000 unique users each month on a worldwide basis, according to internal numbers. Nielsen//NetRatings does not yet track SideReel as it falls below the 357,000 monthly user cutoff in the U.S.
The pros: SideReel integrates search and video links in a way that hasn’t been done by most of its competitors.
The cons: “The biggest challenge is being able to get features out to users better and faster than the competition,” Mr. Arzhintar said.
Background: Mr. Arzhintar was born in Moldova, one of the former Soviet Republics, and moved to San Francisco when he was 7. Mr. Arzhintar attended Muhlenberg University in Pennsylvania, earning a degree in political science and economics. He then earned a law degree from Hastings. He previously was general counsel for video-sharing site Guba before starting SideReel. He is 34 and lives in San Francisco.
Who knew? From 2002 to 2004, he traveled the world and wrote fiction, which he said drove him to become a fan of goth music and fine wine, and an admirer of foreign languages, culture and literature.

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