Kara Swisher

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Demand Media’s Q1 Earnings: Kung-Goog Panda Did Not Kill Us!

Earlier today, Demand Media turned a Q1 performance that beat expectations and also raised its outlook for the year ahead.

Revenue was $82.9 million, up 9 percent, compared to an estimate of $79.6 million. Earnings per share, adjusted for one-time costs, were seven cents, above the expected five cents.

You can read it all here in these lovely Demand slides:

Demand_Media_Q1 Supplemental Data FINAL

Not bad, given many investors have been down on Demand, for a variety of reasons, mostly centered on traffic pressure due to search algorithm changes on the all-important Google. The low stock price resulted in a deal, in which Demand recently almost went private.

So what does CEO Richard Rosenblatt have to say for himself about all this? Here’s a liveblog of the conference call with Wall Street analysts, taking place at 2 pm PT.


2:05 pm: The call started a little late, but Rosenblatt was quick at it, noting the news was a lot better than was thought.

Always a jaunty dude, he was jauntier than usual, if possible, throwing in a lot of terms like “growth,” “momentum” and “Those fiddling geeks from Google did not kill us, after all!” Okay, not the last one.

It was a strong performance, indeed, which is a cause for happiness, I suppose, and especially since Demand’s stock has been in the doldrums since it went public earlier this year.

Not Groupon bad, but that’s a moon crater.

“It was a strong performance,” said Rosenblatt. He gets to say that.

More on the specifics, which showed growth in pages views, engagement and such things on its flagship sites, such as Cracked and LiveStrong. Its juggernaut, eHow, is still recovering from the Google search changes, in an effort deceptively called Panda.

This was not a cuddly panda, but Panda Gone Wild.

2:18 pm: The CFO guy who just repeats the numbers in the press release. (This is the part where I go to the bathroom.)

2:28 pm: Back! Sorry I took so long, but I was getting a computer science degree. (You knew that Yahoo joke was coming!)

The CFO is still chitchatting, still positive about the year ahead and saying “growth” a lot.

2:30 pm: Time for Q&A!

The first is about the mobile arena and monetization there.

Important, but no one is anywhere on this, due to the fact that it does not monetize very well at this point in time.

Everyone has a smartphone now, but the advertising part of it is still a wee baby.

“The monetization will come later,” said Rosenblatt, pointing out the obvious, although he did note that Demand was focusing in it.

Whee! Get on it, Chief of Revenue Joanne Bradford (I know you work hard, but work harder)!

Now to video. More monetizable, obviously, and Demand has a lot of videos to offer, being one of the bigger content providers to YouTube.

I am now officially tired of this question. Next!

2:35 pm: Ooh, a future and direction question about eHow.

“How should we think about its utility in the world?,” asks the analyst.

You should think about it as a place to learn to boil an egg, which is what Rosenblatt mentions. Who doesn’t want to know how to boil an egg? And who doesn’t forget how long to do it, resulting in rubber balls or drippy messes?

These are the great queries of our day, people!

The next question is about “bullish” YouTube upfront last week, in which Google pretended to go Hollywood.

Google will never go Hollywood, by the way, since it requires charm and glamour.

Demand was not there, but it is all up on the YouTube channel thing.

And, why not, since Google is giving away dough to become Hollywood. (Not … gonna … happen … ever, but take the money, all you celebs!)

2:40 pm: Next question is about mobile, again. Quantify that, and when is it going to be big?

No one can say yet, but why not ask!

Still, Rosenblatt makes a college try (I wonder if he has a CS degree?), noting it is “happening fast.”

Another question on YouTube channels and then on registar business.

Rosenblatt and Google are apparently going to see if they can make a go of this thing! Like kids putting on a show in the barn! Let’s see if we can make something of this dang talented group of kids!

The questions never end. Wait, the analyst asks about All Things Digital and my story on their private equity deal!

I can check another one off my bucket list: Being mentioned on a Demand Media earnings call!

Rosenblatt cannot say much, but notes, “We have a duty as a public company to look at anything that comes across.”

Which means it’s true, though he might have taken a moment to compliment my scooptastic skills.


2:51 pm: I am bereft by the slight, but shall recover.

And now it is over, so it is back to boiling my egg.

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google