Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Peggy Noonan, Lesley Stahl and Friends Raise More Money: Wowowow.com Gets Another $1.5 Million

The purse strings haven’t completely closed for start-ups looking to raise money–even niche Web sites that hope to stay afloat by selling advertising.

Wowowow.com, a site launched earlier this year, which targets women over 40, has raised a $1.5 million round led by Bob Pittman’s Pilot Group and the Rhime Group.

No word on valuation, but I’d guesstimate Wowowow.com’s investors peg its value in the high seven-figure range. The company has now raised $3.1 million in less than a year.

The five founders–former publisher Joni Evans, “60 Minutes” reporter Lesley Stahl; New York Post gossip columnist Liz Smith; ad exec Mary Wells; and Wall Street Journal political columnist Peggy Noonan–contributed $200,000 each in an initial round. Some of the company’s high-profile pals, like Whoopi Goldberg and Candice Bergen, later kicked in another $600,000.

Is that money well spent? We’ll see. Publishing is a tough business, even for lean Web operations, and advertisers generally steer clear of small sites. The company launched with a series of high profile sponsors; from what I can tell, at least some of them–like Citigroup (C) and Sony (SNE)–are still there.

And Pittman, the former MTV and AOL executive, has garnered new respect as a Web investor (Full disclosure: Pittman’s company invested in Silicon Alley Media, my former employer), so presumably he sees something there.

One plus: Wowowow.com is boasting rapid growth. The site, which launched in March, says it attracted 600,000 unique visitors last month. That number is much higher than outside estimates from outfits like Compete and Quantcast, but that kind of discrepancy is par for the course for any Web publisher.

In any case, if Wowowow.com wants to make a go of it, it’s going to need to attract at least one million uniques a month, a goal the company says it will achieve “early next year.”

BoomTown’s Kara Swisher dropped by the company’s New York offices earlier this year; here’s a video that documents her visit.


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Nobody was excited about paying top dollar for a movie about WikiLeaks. A film about the origins of Pets.com would have done better.

— Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”