Admit it: Your reaction to Web widget-maker Slide’s latest funding — $50 million at a more than $500 million valuation — is “WTF?” Half a billion for MySpace slideshows, Facebook apps, etc.?
But BusinessWeek columnist Sarah Lacy paints a different picture: Slide doesn’t just push widgets; it’s a flashy ad network in the making.
…Widgets are grabbing real estate off of everyone else’s pages. That’s an inherently riskier proposition with far fewer ways to make money. [Slide/PayPal founder Max] Levchin understands that risk, having built PayPal on top of eBay. But this time, he has several eBays — in the form of MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, and even more niche personal blogs and sites.
For the strategy to work, Slide needs to build a jaw-droppingly huge audience—so huge that advertisers will see Slide as a way of advertising across the hottest Web sites in one move, versus advertising on each of those places. In that scenario, Slide almost becomes like a huge ad network, only one that’s delivering advertising in a far more compelling way. It’s not in a banner ad that people routinely tune out. It’s ideally worked into a very personalised slide show of your memories.
Will Slide ever be able to make serious money selling ads on your MySpace photo albums? Not yet clear. But many wondered the same thing when they first saw Google’s ugly little text ads running next to search results.
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