As media companies and publishers around the world continue to experiment and evaluate new business models with equal parts excitement and fear, one Canadian start-up has taken a significant step on its own path.
Web news magazine The Mark announced its first investors, led by Innovation Grade Capital; Thunder Road Capital, a firm owned by Jordan Banks, former managing director of eBay Canada; and Arlene Dickinson, CEO of Venture Communications and co-host of CBC’s The Dragon’s Den. Terms of the funding were not disclosed.
The nine-month-old Huffington Post-inspired site describes itself as a daily online forum for news, commentary and debate, and like the U.S.-based HuffPo, relies on a large stable of unpaid contributors to provide its content. In addition, The Mark has 12 full-time and 10 part-time employees, with approximately 80% of those on the editorial side.
Founder and CEO Jeff Anders said the site plans to use the new funding for growth that includes a French version of the site, revenue and content distribution partnerships, and more diversity in its content.
"Right now, we’re strong in politics but looking to grow in other areas like business, arts and sports," he said. "We’re also looking to expand into conferences and we’re coming out with a Best of the Mark e-book in the next several months."
Anders said contributors will remain unpaid, until the site begins to turn a profit.
More immediately, he hopes to expand on the site’s multimedia options. "We’re a platform for smart, interesting Canadians to write what they want, when they want. So with our multimedia goals we’d like to say to our contributors, ‘Not only can you write about this, you can host an online radio or video show and we’ll help edit and act as the distribution channel for it,’ " he said.
Lead investor David Ceolin said in a statement that the site is pioneering a new model for publishing. "The Markis building a portfolio of content-based services that have scalable, sustainable revenue potential and don’t rely on advertising or subscription."