SIIA 2012: Media funding depends on financial savvy, 'chemistry'

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New York—Media and content startups seeking venture funding had better focus as much on making money as on developing new ideas, or else face a dearth of investor interest. That was the message delivered Tuesday at the Software & Information Industry Summit by Michael Chen, founder of Comcast Ventures' Peacock Equity Fund.

“Don't just be an innovator,” Chen said in his opening keynote address, titled “Inside Secrets of a Media Investor.” “Show investors that you're an entrepreneur as well, meaning you can commercialize your ideas and make money. You can do that by understanding and demonstrating who your end-game customers will be.”

Chen said certain common factors help publishers attract the interest of venture capital companies. These include seeking out emerging growth areas, he said, citing in particular mobile media and online video.

“The iPad will replace laptops in the business world,” said Chen, who formerly was president of NBC News' strategic initiatives group. “In fact, 91% of iPad users currently use it at work.”

Chen has a dim view of media companies that are based on user-generated content.

“It's exciting and where the world is going, where people get together to create new ideas, but if I were a big corporation I wouldn't invest in it because it has the potential of destroying your own credibility and integrity,” he said. “It dilutes your brand.”

Primarily, Chen said, publishers must spend time developing “chemistry” with investors.

“Investors invest in people, but we do not invest in people we do not have chemistry with,” he said. “Therefore, build a personal brand for yourself. Have a reputation that precedes you.”

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