Wallstrip Goes Through The Exit Door

CBS announced today that they are purchasing Wallstrip.

Here’s the story as I see it. Howard Lindzon is a scrappy investor and sometimes entrepreneur from Phoenix, Arizona. He got hip to blogging several years ago and started networking around via blogs. He’s as good at that as anyone I know. He connected to me via blogs and we’ve become fast friends. Howard started watching videoblogs and figured there ought to be one about stocks.

But instead of just thinking about it, he did something. He got on a plane, came to NYC, hired a couple of awesome video producers named Adam and Jeff (aka Bright Red Pictures), they hired a wonderful host named Lindsay, and Howard also roped me and a bunch of other bloggers into helping him fund the show. He set out to make a funny short video about Wall Street five days a week for less than $1000 per show.  Adam and Jeff figured out how to do that and they’ve been online every work day since October 16th of last year.

Along the way Howard, Adam, Jeff, Lindsay, and a few other brave souls they hired figured out a bunch of stuff that is key to a successful web video show. Like how to get the show on every video service quickly and easily. How to tag and promote the show on each and every service so it actually gets seen. How to measure and track all the views. How to reconcile all the different measurements you get. How to get subscribers in iTunes, FeedBurner, and YouTube. How to make a web site that communicates what the show is quickly and easily. How to do advertising in a way that doesn’t get in the way of the viewer. How to get the show indexed by ticker in the major finance portals. And most of all, how to keep it short, fun, and funny.

So many of the comments on the rumor last week were about the show itself. It was good, it was bad, it was funny, it was silly, or whatever else.

But here’s the thing. It’s not entirely about the content on the web. Sure it has to be good enough to attract an audience. But right now, its about way more than the content. Just figuring out how to make a show on a cost basis that can make a profit is hard. How to do it every day is even harder. And figuring out all the other stuff that I listed above is critical. Not many people have figured all that out. But if you don’t know how to do all that stuff, you can’t build a business in web video.

Howard, Jeff, Adam, Lindsay, and their small team figured most of that stuff out. And they’ve been rewarded with a nice payday for nine months of work. But more importantly, they are going to be doing way more than Wallstrip for CBS. They are part of CBS’s new internet strategy that recognizes you can’t just make content and expect the audience to find it. You’ve got to get it where the audience is.

That’s what Howard did best with Wallstip. And that’s why CBS wants Wallstrip on it’s team.

I really enjoyed this short run. It was profitable too. And that’s always a good thing in venture deals. But more than anything, I got some amazing lessons from this one. And I expect they’ll pay even bigger dividends in the coming years. Thanks Howard, Adam, Jeff, Lindsay and the rest of the Wallstrip gang. It sure was fun.