The usage, says the company, is increasing dramatically in Asia and sparked by the company’s “live and global” promotional events with Disney, Dreamworks, Variety, and the Sundance Film Festival. With Ortsbo set to spinoff as its own entity, Cantech Letter talked to Intertainment Media CEO David Lucatch about Ortsbo’s remarkable debut.
David, you put out a press release recently that showed Ortsbo had 107-million users for the 30-day period between Jan. 25th and February 23rd, 2012. What does that number mean to you?
Well first of all, I think it is important to point out that we have 107-million unique users. What it means to us is that we crossed a real threshold. To us, that was a goal we set to accomplish within our first three years, and we hit that goal in just about nineteen months.
Where is the growth of Ortsbo strongest and why?
We are seeing growth across the world, but it is particularly strong in Asia. South Korea, Taiwan and China, Hong Kong and Japan seem to be very high growth areas for us and that makes sense, it’s one of the fastest growing areas for internet penetration and one of the fastest growing language sectors for globalization on the internet.
It seems the usage of Ortsbo is very event driven. You have had online chats with Stan Lee and Gene Simmons, the Sundance Film Festival, Disney and Variety, for starters. Are people coming back to Ortsbo after they get their first touch from an event like this?
You know, it’s amazing. I think of those things opportunities as promotional events for Ortsbo at this time to let the world know who we are in a way they can clearly and easily understand. I think they do drive additional users because once someone sees the capability of Ortsbo then they’re apt to use it again. Our first goal is to create a touch point, and that touch point might be a Gene Simmons interview or The Avengers ensemble we did with Disney Marvel. The second thing is discovery. So from those events we create a touch and our job now is to create returning users. We are now clearly seeing that every month.
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You have started to add some talent to Ortsbo. Can you talk a bit about the appointment of Jacqueline Saltzer-Lamb and what she brings to the table, for instance?
Sure, over the coming weeks there will be a more definitive opportunity to look at new people coming to Ortsbo, because we are looking at best-of-breed in a number of different sectors, as we look to spin out Ortsbo as a separate company. Jackie is, in my opinion, a fantastic addition to the team. She brings with her a significant history in corporate communications, not only for the executive teams at eBay, but also from Charles Schwab. So she understands both the financial community and the internet community. Now, while eBay might not be truly a social media play, it is one of the early examples of socialization with a common goal on the internet. We expect that Jackie’s hire will be just one of the many outstanding hires we will announce in the next few weeks.
Let’s talk about monetization. Is there a way for you to make money off Ortsbo without harming the user experience and if so, what’s the timeline for monetization?
For your first question, the answer is yes. What we really focused on, initially, was growth. Now that we have hit 100-million users our emphasis has changed now from not only growth but now revenue generation because our numbers are so substantive. Again, I think you will see some exciting hires in that area in the next few weeks where we’ll start to show where we’re going with the user experience and I think it will be very favourable to the users. But if you look at numbers in terms of monetization, and we have looked at Facebook as a general comparison, not an exact comparison, most of Facebook’s revenue is from North America, although most of their users are from outside North America. So there is an easier opportunity to monetize North American users, but we’re looking at hiring in regions where we need the most support.
Have you had any reaction from Intertainment’s plan to spin off Ortsbo and, if so, what has that reaction been?
I think initially, given the two day halt and requirements by the regulators to include additional information in the announcement, it may have been very complicated for some of the investment community. As such, we are working diligently to communicate that information in a manner that is much easier to digest. We chose a route that was different than an IPO but would produce the same results, but I think some investors were challenged by the mechanism. We believe that this mechanism, in the long run, is going to provide more value, abetter solution, and an easier solution to digest for the entire investment community in Canada with respect to social media, because we are a Canadian social media company that has gone global.