Deal Radar 2008: Aggregate Knowledge

This story was written by Sramana Mitra.
Aggregate Knowledge (AK) provides content discovery through the Pique Discovery Network, a service that imitates how people shop for products offline and translates that into opportunities for retailers and publishers online. The company works with various content and e-commerce sites and provides their users with recommendations, thereby increasing page views, creating revenue opportunities, and eventually driving up sales on those sites. The Retail Discovery Network leads people to discover products while the Media Discovery Network helps users discover content.

AK was founded in early 2006 by Chris Law, a serial entrepreneur who also founded Indigo Technologies and Tribe Networks, which was later acquired by Cisco. The leadership team includes CEO Paul Martino, who was CTO and founder of Tribe Networks; CFO Steve Pantelick, who was CFO for Kodak Gallery and Cadbury Schweppes; CRO (Chief Revenue Officer) Christopher Marrow, who was previously VP at TACODA, later acquired by AOL; and CTO Kristopher Wehner, previously at Salesforce.com. The management team clearly has lots of domain knowledge of building internet businesses. The company is based in San Mateo, California.

AK received seed investment of $500,000 from First Round Capital and NetService Ventures. They raised a $5 million Series A from First Round Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in June 2006, and a whopping $20 million Series B from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and DAG Ventures in April 2007. This new round of funding is definitely a vote of confidence in AK's business model. According to an April 2007 TechCrunch article, the company was rumored to be at or near profitability, with most of the original $5 million investment still in the bank when the new round was raised. Actual revenue figures are not available.

AK works on a fixed fee per month or apay-for-performance business model, depending on the situation and the client. From the retail side, the company takes a cut ofclients' increased sales, and media companies share a portion of their increased ad revenue with the company.VentureBeatdiscusses how Overstock.com increased their 2006 holiday sales by 20% by using AK's Pique. Given that Overstock.com's sales were approximately $700-800 million, that's a rise of about $150 million. Pretty compelling story!

Let's say, AK took 10% of the $150 million, that's $15 million in revenue right there, so no wonder they have money sitting in the bank. If they have truly been able to establish this kind of gain-sharing business model with their customers, this company is splendidly situated.

Some of the customers that use the Pique Discovery Network are Overstock.com, Sony, and the online versions of the Washington Post, Business Week, and the Los Angeles Times. One of their main competitors is Loomia, which also works with sites to maximize visits and engagement using customized recommendations. Other companies in the same industry are Wunderloop, Buzzillions and Strands, which we profiled earlier. Last year AK was an AlwaysOn Top 100 Private Company winner, and in July 2008 the company was selected as one of AO's Global 250 winners as an 'Enabler'.

Related Readings

*Deal Radar 2008: Coremetrics
* Deal Radar 2008: MyStrands (now called Strand)
* Interview with Strands CEO Francisco Martin


By Sramana Mitra
  • CBSNews

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