Jiwire – Profile
HQ: Folsom, CA
Management: CEO & Founder Kevin McKenzie was on the ground floor for CNET’s forays into product reviews and lead generation for computer and electronics vendors. Glenn Fleishman, a tech journalist, brings some decent editorial cred to the venture.
Investors: The model is CNET vertical – so it’s no surprise that CNET likes what it sees. The company invested $250K (total seed round was approximately $600K). In January 2005, the company raised $2.35M from DFJ Frontier.
Business Model: News, reviews, and practical information about all things Wi-FI. The cornerstone of the service is a Wi-Fi hotspot locator. Whether you’re dodging kidnappers in Jeddah or writing a bad first novel in Seattle, Jiwire tells you where you can log on to a wireless network, sip your coffee, and e-mail your parents to tell them you’re alright. The business is ad supported, with a twist. Jiwire licenses its hotspot locator to industry heavies like Yahoo!, Intel, and CNET. The company is also getting into the product review/lead-generation business (see below).
Competitors: Wifinder, wi-fihotspotlist/Wi-Fi Planet (both part of Jupiter Media), HotSpot Haven JiWire appears to be leading in traffic, but none are breakouts.
Dirt: Kevin McKenzie and his fellow CNET refugees are clearly taking the lessons they learned at the mothership and applying them to a buzz-worthy, vertical market. After several years of aimless wandering, CNET has finally found traction with its product reviews. The key: draw the interested consumer into a product review, pass the interested consumer along to a vendor that can sell them the product, then charge the vendor for the “lead.” The only limitation to this product review/lead-generation business is that it requires portal-level traffic to work. Big traffic requires big money. CNET people know this, so we’re looking for Jiwire to impress us with their creative approaches to promoting Jiwire.