I certainly don't link to Business Insider too often, their credibility being pretty much shot thanks to their aggregation tactics, but this interview with Coupons.com CEO Steven Boal, written by Matt Rosoff is a worthy exception.
The interview is very good and well worth the few minutes it will take to read the complete post.
If you are not familiar with Coupons.com it might be because they have not gotten the big press because they were not the target of big investments from the PE crowd, despite being around for more than a dozen years. In fact, that is one of the major points of the interview, that Coupons.com has been able to raise large amounts of funding by without having to rely on PE firms that have short time horizons.
"There are benefits to staying private and staying private the way we have done it. We are a non-venture-backed, non-PE-backed company, so we have no time-based duration funds in the company. Prior to the $200 million, we had raised $85 million, all privately," Boal told Rosoff.
This is the first point: by staying away from the usual PE players Coupons.com can continue to grow its business without wondering who will be the new owner when the time comes for the investors to cash out.
The interview also talks about the newspaper industry, and what impact the loss of coupons could have on the profitability of the industry, especially the Sunday editions.
Boal rightly shies away from boasting, and says news organizations will be here to stay, but he admits believing that the paper product is vulnerable.
But the thought that stuck with me was that newspaper executives have been aware for a long time that online couponers posed a real threat to the profitability of their products. But only now are newspapers forming alliances to try and develop digital alternatives.
I'm not optimistic. The same digital teams that have created ad-less (or near ad-less) mobile and tablet publishing products are hardly going to be helpful when trying to save a product that is all about advertising. This is why I'm am always crying out for the inclusion of the ad teams when any new digital media product is developed. Advertising should be considered from the beginning, not as a "we'll add it in later" detail.
But sadly the paid content people are supreme right now. I wonder where they plan on working next after they drive their products into the ground.
Note: Don't visit the Coupons.com website using Chrome on a Mac, it will give you an error message and won't let you in. That's very strange considering that it allows Chrome for PC and Safari for Mac to be used.