Waterfront Media – Profile
HQ: Brooklyn, NY
Founded: January 2002
Management: Founders are youngish refugees from Beliefnet. They hooked up with Tripod-founder Bo Peabody whose Streetmail was floundering but retained significant cash assets. They transferred the cash to Waterfront.
Investors: Raised $4 million in March 2004 from Time Warner Investments, Rho Capital, Village Ventures, and Star Ventures. The company also enjoyed part of the $14M investment in Streetmail.
Business Model: The company sells subscriptions to a variety of Web properties based on self-help books. Current flagship is The South Beach Diet but it also operates Dr. Andrew Weil’s Optimum Health Plan as well as the creepy Left Behind Prophecy. It licenses rights and content from book publishers – primarily diet/fitness and religion-focused books at this point. It then creates community-based sites, email newsletters, and manages online marketing programs. Waterfront estimates it is making $2M a month from the 100K subscribers to SouthBeachDiet alone. To get these numbers, Waterfront is spending as much as $1M a month in online advertising.
VCs dig it: “The Left Behind Prophecy Club is a website and newsletter to help you understand how current events may actually relate to End Times prophecy.”
Competitors: eDiets and Weightwatchers.
Dirt: Waterfront is certainly the fastest growing company in paid content and book publishers are taking the subway out to Dumbo, Brooklyn to pitch their books as next projects. Waterfront has two big headaches: 1) It is riding the success of the South Beach Diet fad and needs to follow-that up with a similarly successful title in order to maintain sales 2) It has yet to develop a distribution partner, such as Amazon or BarnesandNoble.com and, as a result, the company has enormous advertising outlays to buy transitory subscribers. The company would prefer to offset risks by launching many more book titles each year, however, marketing costs preclude that.