Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

YouTube’s Latest Old-Media Investor Is a Giant Printer

printing pressAll sorts of Big Media companies are investing in YouTube startups, which sort of makes sense.

But what about an ink-and-paper printing business?

That makes sense, too, says Joel Quadracci, CEO of Quad/Graphics. Quad, which prints a good chunk of the country’s magazines, catalogs and direct mail, has put money into Pixability, a Cambridge startup that helps brands manage their presence on YouTube.

Quad, based in the suburbs of Milwaukee, took the majority of a $4.1 million round that Pixability closed last month. Other investors include Progress Ventures and Ikea chairman Göran Grosskopf.

Like several other startups, Pixability sells software subscriptions that are supposed to help customers navigate the world’s biggest video site. Pixability focuses on helping marketers like L’Oreal promote their clips on YouTube, said Pixability CEO Bettina Hein — she suggests thinking of it as “Buddy Media for YouTube.”

Again, there are a lot of companies who would like to be YouTube’s Buddy Media — $800 million exits inspire lots of people — so it’s hard to handicap Pixability’s chances. In the meantime, though, the Quad deal is supposed to give it a boost: In addition to the money the printer is putting into the startup, the two companies will co-sell each others’ services, and Quad will integrate some of Pixability’s offerings into the digital tool sets he provides to his customers.

The idea, Quadracci says, is not to use Pixability or other digital deals as a way out of the printing business, but as a way to augment them. He talks about selling advertisers and publishers package deals where there are digital components tied in to their print products, like “augmented reality” ads that create special effects when viewed on smartphones; he figures offering video services to his clients will be a good idea, too.

“I’m a huge believer in print,” he said. “And I think video makes print even better.”

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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