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Jon Brod of AOL Ventures #Marketplaces2010

March 22nd, 2010
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Jon is responsible for Local & Mapping at AOL (aol.?)

aol. is looking as local as their big opportunity, particularly because it involves content, which is where aol. is putting a lot of investment.

Patch is the cornerstone of aol.’s local strategy.  They have created a “scalable” technology platform.  They then hire a journalist and plop them into a community.  Brod is now running through examples of stories that local Patch editors have broken.  They seem to be focused on good local linkbait like lost dogs, misspelled public signs and mislabeled hamster photos.  They also broke a story that a local politician had served time for murder.  Sounds like a local paper right?

An ad on Patch is 4.1% the cost of a like-sized daily newspaper.  That’s a good stat.

Has grown from 3 markets one year ago to 41 communities on four different states.

Forming Patch.org – foundation to improve quality of life via access to trusted local info.

Relaunching “City’sBest” brand in 25 markets.  Pretty much Yelp or Zagats-like rating service.

Relaunching MapQuest this year.  19th largest property on the web. 46% share, 40M unique vistiors, #2 navigation app

Seed, aol’s content system, geocodes every piece of content created at aol.

They have a LocalFund to invest in local startups.

Nice quote: “local is not a 1 ton gorilla, it is 2,000 one-pound monkeys”

Question: @bensaren asks how is this different than Backfence? Answer: better technology, better data and better journalists.

Question: What kinds of start-ups are you looking to invest in with AOL LocalFund? Answer: Looking at seed and series A.  $50K-$500K investments.  Looking at NYC, Silicon Valley, Israel & India.  Sorry Peoria.

AOL on the record as investing $50MM in Patch and City’sBest this year.

If I didn’t know better I would think AOL was setting itself up to be a local seo company :)


Tags: BIA/Kelsey

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