This past weekend at Podcamp NYC I attended a presentation by Drew Olanoff of Pluggd. Toward the end of the presentation Drew began accepting questions at which point I decided to ask “What is your current revenue model?” His response was ultimately that they don’t currently have a revenue model as investors are investing in the technology that they are developing called “HearHere”. According to their site:
Pluggd’s HearHere technology lets you jump to the exact position in audio or video where there is something you want to hear. Use HearHere to search the speeches and compare positions on current issues.
I gotta admit, that the heat map technology is pretty sweet, but it is more of a novelty than a robust solution. I’m guessing that their main goal is to ultimately have a podcast search engine. Additionally, I am confident that Google is already pursuing audio indexing technologies as it is their business to index the internet. Pluggd is up against some pretty stiff competition. Pluggd is also using a 3rd party voice recognition system rather than in house technology. I won’t elaborate on that since there is something else that I think is more important to this story.
While Drew claimed that they don’t have a revenue model, a quick browse around the site shows otherwise. You can see Google Ads that I’m sure provide a modest source of revenue. As we already know though, basing your startup on the ad supported revenue model is risky business on the internet nowadays. Do they really have investors that aren’t concerned with future revenue? I seriously doubt it. What this actually sounds like is one of two things: bubble talk or a conscious decision to hide their actual plans. I would like to believe the latter, but even an interview with Pluggd CEO Jonathan Thompson was absent of any discussion of their revenue model. Has asking about a company’s revenue model become something bloggers and journalists would prefer to avoid? Come to think of it, many of the companies featured on Techcrunch don’t have a stated revenue model. I guess we are to assume that they are following an ad supported revenue model. Granted, blogs like Techcrunch and Mashable are not in the business of analyzing companies, simply covering the basic story of a company. When did a company’s revenue model stop being part of the story?