IQ News: Investors Put Money Where Yack!’s Mouth Is

Online chat and cyberevent listings site Yack! today will announce that it has secured $18.5 million in new financing from a roster of venture capital firms, including Information Technology Ventures, the Mayfield Fund, Weiss, Peck & Greer and Blue Chip Venture Company, according to Yack! co-founder and executive producer Farhan Memon. In addition, the company will announce today that Jeff Morris, a former Showtime Networks executive, is joining Yack! as chief executive officer. Three-year-old Yack! has offices in New York and San Francisco.
Morris spent 16 years at New York-based Showtime, most recently serving as senior vice president of new media and technology. He said last week that the transition from producing online events to spearheading the aggregation of chats and events is a natural move for him.
“I think the space that Yack! addresses is one that’s going to grow in importance based on the fact that there’s an increasing number of consumers out there who are looking at an increasing number of real time or streamed events,” he said. “Yack! represents an opportunity for [consumers and event producers] and I think it’s poised for very significant growth.”
Yack!’s growth plans include expanding its core service in coming months to feature more customization options for users, as well as an e-commerce component. The site currently contains editorial content, reviews and feature articles, in addition to listings. As the new services ramp up, Memon and Morris said Yack! will continue to focus on facilitating traffic for partner sites’ chats and events.
“Part of what we have to do is explain to new users–and even intermediate users–how they can properly experience content that we’re leading them to,” said Memon. “That ranges from how to chat on the Net to the Netiquette of chat.”
Morris said both traditional media companies and upstart new media companies face the similar burden of needing to generate eyeballs. “Yack! can help bring consumers to the content that they want,” he said.
Getting chat and events listed on the site is free to producers. Yack! derives revenue from advertising, sponsorship and syndication, and has co-branded site distribution through partners such as Microsoft, TV Guide Online, BellSouth and Looksmart.