Consumer Feedback Goes Mainstream

Back in 1999, Flatiron Partners invested in a company called Planet Feedback which was started by Pete Blackshaw.  Pete’s thinking was that major brands needed to tap user generated feedback to create a "closed loop" marketing process.  Like many venture investments, we were way too early and no matter what Planet Feedback tried, there was just no effective way to collect user generated feedback.

Planet Feedback merged with a similarly focused firm called Intelliseek in 2001 and the combined company had sufficient capital to hang in there and work to develop the market.

Then along came blogs and all of a sudden there was a way to efficiently capture user generated feedback.  Intelliseek launched BlogPulse which I blogged about in May 2004 and have used ever since.

Intelliseek had a strong competitor called Buzzmetrics which was also doing very good work mining user generated content for marketers.  The two companies together really built the market for data mining user feedback.

Today, the news is that Intelliseek has merged with Buzzmetrics, and has in turn taken a majority investment by VNU Nielsen.  The new company will be called Nielsen Buzzmetrics.  The press release is here.

This is a big deal because Nielsen is a major player in marketing research and data and they have embraced the idea of user generated content/feedback as a business opportunity.

We are pleased with this outcome of our original investment in Planet Feedback.  It took a lot longer to realize Pete’s vision that we invested in, and certainly a lot more money.  But it has happened and that is always gratifying.

I’d like to congratulate Pete, and also Mahendra Vora and Mike Nazzaro of Intelliseek for having the tenacity to see this opportunity through to its logical conclusion.  I’d also like to thank our investor partners, particularly River Cities Capital, who worked tirelessly to keep the Company funded.  Well done guys.

This one is another in my long string of lessons in the venture business.  If you believe in a market, but are too early, you can make it work if you have the patience, tenacity, fiscal discipline, and the right partners.  We had all of those in this deal and the results speak for themselves.