Kara Swisher

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Betaworks Hires Former HuffPost Publisher Balis as CRO

Janet Balis Headshot

Betaworks has hired former Huffington Post Media Group publisher Janet Balis as its chief revenue officer.

The New York technology studio — which owns and develops varied media-focused companies, such as social news aggregator Digg, news-saving app Instapaper and the hugely popular Dots mobile game app — has been girding its efforts to monetize its portfolio, said Betaworks CEO John Borthwick.

“Phase One of Betaworks was building great companies,” he said. “And Phase Two is really building Betaworks as an operating media company.”

Balis left her job at the AOL-owned HuffPost in May, after a year-long stint. She has also worked at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Time Inc. and Newsweek.

In an interview, she noted that there was ample opportunity to knit together tech and data to serve advertisers better.

“There is a thread of social discovery for brands to think very creatively and strategically, and Betaworks properties are well positioned for that,” said Balis. “We have to think differently to bring those brands into the process.”

Betaworks has been searching for a CRO to work on a common monetization effort that it could apply across its many platforms, said Borthwick.

“We have been trying to tie together and figure out all the places we could monetize, and it surprised me how well it has gone with some early efforts,” he said.

Borthwick pointed to a partnership effort around Dots with industrial giant GE, which sponsored a new game mode called Gravity that was made available free for a week. The native ad implementation garnered 30 games played and 172 million views, he said. Later — due to its popularity — Betaworks rereleased the Gravity mode within the game, for $1.99.

Borthwick said that to help develop more such ideas with marketers, the company had also hired James Cooper as its head of creative, to “explore creative opportunities for Betaworks products and to help tell the Betaworks brand story.”

Cooper was previously at the production company Tool of North America, and has worked on a number of well-known digital advertising initiatives, such as the “Help I Have the Flu” Facebook app.


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