Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Interview with David Bohnett, OVGuide.com
Our interview today is with David Bohnett, CEO of OVGuide.com (www.ovguide.com), a Los Angeles-based web site which has created an online guide to video, TV shows, and other content on the web. David is best known as the co-founder of GeoCities, and for the investments out of his venture firm, Baroda Ventures. Baroda Ventures recently made a Series A investment in OVGuide.com. We caught up with David to learn more about OVGuide.com, as well as to get David's view of the Internet industry in Los Angeles. David spoke with socalTECH's Ben Kuo.
Tell us a little bit about OVGuide.com and what you do?
David Bohnett: OVGuide was founded by a man named Dale Bock. I met Dale when he was a software engineer at Xdrive. I was one of the significant investors in Xdrive before we sold it to AOL. He started the company in late 2006, and I got involved in May of 2007. OVGuide.com is a comprehensive guide to video channels on the web. It provides topics, categories, and search for searching video sites. There are hundreds and hundreds of sites, and we have over 900 currently, and are adding five or ten sites a week to the guide. Most people think it's just YouTube and a few others, but there are literally hundreds of video sites on the web. We provide an easy way to find what they want to watch on the web, whether that is by searching for specific titles, or browsing by category, or looking at what sites are the most popular and what people recommend. It's organizing video content that is spread across the Internet.
Why did you decide to get involved with OVGuide?
David Bohnett: When Dale first introduced the site to me, I started to use it. I didn't see anything out there with the same level of functionality and utility, and I still don't. It seemed very obvious to me that with the growing number of sites on the Internet, there was a need for a guide and a directory, to help organize all this disorganized video content. I am attracted to companies and business models where users really get a value out of the service. Based on surveys and traffic, people love it. The bottom line is, if people love it, you can create a great company, and a great site.
With all of the video on the Internet, why would people go to you rather than just hitting a Google or YouTube?
David Bohnett: There's two things you might want to do. If you're looking for a specific show, like the Simpsons, and you want to find all the video clips and sites with Simpsons content. If you do that on Google, you get a very broad web search of all Simpson content, or you might only see YouTube clips.With OVguide.com, you only search video sites for Simpson content, which is attractive. If you like the Discovery Channel, and science, how you find that is you need categorization and an editorial overlay of science and technology sites. It's not easy to get that information anywhere else, which is why they come to us.
How much of this is technology versus people?
David Bohnett: We've got a staff, which reviews site submissions every day for sites that want to be included. They review those, and we have staff that goes out to seek out what we're not aware of. Most of it is from submissions from the site owners themselves. For search, we're using a customized version of Google that we can adapt and adjust to provide the best search results for sites on OVGuide.com. It provides excellent search results.
Tell me a little bit about what you have been doing since Geocities?
David Bohnett: I started a venture fund in 1998, and have been actively involved in NetZero, Stamps.com, Xdrive, Lowermybills, Wireimage, and Online Partners. In all of those companies, I've had a significant investment stake and a board seat. I've also had active involvement with the entrepreneurs and management team. That's what I've done for the last ten years since GeoCities.
Do you still have a current fund?
David Bohnett: I still do, it's called Baroda Ventures. We were the Series A investor in OVGuide.com. Just this last year, we sold MediaVast, we were the Series A investor in MediaVast, which we sold to Getty. That closed last year. I also mentioned LowerMyBills and Xdrive.
When did the investment in OVGuide happen, and were there any other investors involved?
David Bohnett: We invested in the company in June of 2007, and we were the only investor.
As someone who was one of the earliest Internet entrepreneurs in the area, and have been involved in many other companies here, how do you think the Internet industry is doing in Los Angeles?
David Bohnett: We're finally starting to see, after all the talk about content, original, web-based content. There was a lot of effort at that early on, but now we're finally seeing significant activity and investment in original content for the web. LA is the ideal place for that. I'm enthused and encouraged by that, because, with advances in technology, broadband, wireless, and streaming video, the attention has moved from the living room to the desktop. There has been a lot of obvious stuff written during the writer's strike, about where people will go for original content, and it's increasingly on the web. There's more and more LA involvement in that, and that's exciting. I personally am focused on consumer focused services -- such as Xdrive, OVGuide.com, and LowerMyBills--that's typically where I'm interested and invest.
Finally, what's next for OVGuide?
David Bohnett: We're focused on traffic and brand building. We're one of the top 500 sites on the web, according to Alexa. We had 334,000 visits yesterday, 265,000 uniques, and 1.9M pageviews. We're ramping up our brand, visibility, and traffic. The ad dollars are certain to follow that.