Hummer Winblad funds baby-boomer portal
July 17, 1999
companies targeting women, teenagers, and seniors abound.
However, a new startup, spun off from CNN and funded by Silicon
Valley venture capital firm Hummer Winblad Venture Partners,
is focusing on a different affinity group: baby-boomers who
believe they are ten years younger.
CNNfn.com executives Helen Whelan and Craig Forman are launching
Myprimetime, an affinity portal based on the theory that baby-boomers
are not catered to on the Internet today, and the editorial
vision that 40-to-55-year-olds aspire to be younger than their
targeting a very dynamic group, who are staying fit and healthy
longer, have probably sent their kids off to college, and
are looking for alternatives to retirement," Ms. Whelan says.
site will offer the three Cs -- content, commerce, and community
-- in four areas: personal finance; entrepreneurship ("over
half of our generation are entrepreneurs or would like to
be," Ms. Whelan claims); health and nutrition; and travel
has just raised a first round of funding from Hummer Winblad
and a handful of angel investors. Hummer Winblad partner Ann
Winblad has joined the board of directors.
According to Mr. Forman, the first generation of Internet
companies focused on building sites that were scalable and
defensible, and that "tried to be all things to all people."
The second generation built on the lessons learned by the
first, but are focusing on specific demographic groups.
Card, an analyst in Jupiter Communication's consumer content
group, sees the advantage of focusing. "General-purpose portals
like Yahoo [Nasdaq: YHOO] have been very successful, but a
new tier of success is growing up around communities of like-minded
people on the Internet."
Jupiter is very bullish on affinity portals and that a generation
of 40+-year-olds are all going though the same things with
careers and lifestyle changes. "People who are throwing out
the music they listened to in college and making the switch
to classical and jazz do have a lot in common," Mr. Card says.
EVERYBODY WANTS YOU
With a number of Web sites targeting women, teens, seniors,
and various ethnic groups, it does seem that, as venture capitalist
Ann Winblad says, "baby-boomers are the last untapped group
on the Internet." However, this group represents the most
average and broad of all demographic groups and is already
the focus of most mainstream media and commerce.
challenge for this Internet company is that all media is targeted
at this group," Mr. Card says. "Positioning could be very
difficult for them, because everyone is trying to reach these
challenge will be attracting users to a site that brands itself
as focused on older adults. "No one will want to admit they
are part of this group," Mr. Card says.
argues that the site will not focus on aging, but the more
positive aspects of being middle-aged: having more experience,
more money, and more responsibility. "It's about growing up,
not growing old," she says.
people are a valuable target market. It is the most rapidly
growing segment of the population, with about 79 million people
aged 40 to 55 in the U.S., according to Myprimetime. They
also have the most money and, according to Jupiter statistics,
have the third-largest penetration on the Internet (after
college students and young adults).
site does take off, it will no doubt attract a number of competitors.
The founders believe, though, that their experience at CNNfn
will give them an edge over any other sites targeting baby-boomers.
"We were part of that first generation of Internet sites;
we already know how to build a mass audience around good content
and tools," Ms. Whelan says.