Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Roll Camera! Jason Calacanis Makes a Video Push at Mahalo, and Wants You to Know About It

Jason Calacanis has overhauled his Mahalo start-up yet again. Just ask him.

Actually, no need to: The not-at-all bashful entrepreneur has been working hard to make sure we’re all aware of what he’s calling “the Mahalo 4.0 launch/pivot.”

So there will be no shortage of places to read about this today. And if you want to hear Calacanis pitch his pivot himself, you can do that too, via a livestream of the DLD conference, where he’s presenting right now.

So here’s what you need to know:

  • Calacanis, who launched Mahalo in 2007 as a “human-powered search engine,” then turned it into an “answers” site, is now trying to move deeper into the “how to” category dominated by Demand Media. Which just happens to be going public today in a very hot offering that will value the company at more than $1 billion. [Correction: Demand will start trading on Wednesday, January 26]
  • The most important part of the move is a new emphasis on video, which Mahalo is creating itself. That’s a different strategy from Demand’s, which relies on a computer to spit out editorial assignments, then hands them out to an army of freelancers.
  • Calacanis and Mahalo president Jason Rapp, who came on board last spring, have hired a team of 50 editors, who are now cranking out some 900 videos a week on topics like “How to Cook a Ham.” They plan to have a staff of 100 dedicated to videos by the end of the year.
  • Mahalo still relies primarily on Google ads for revenue, which the company won’t disclose. But last week Calacanis said incoming dollars from Google’s YouTube have shot up 9x in the last year.
  • Rapp says Mahalo still doesn’t need to raise any more money beyond its initial round, which brought in $20 million from investors like Sequoia, CBS and News Corp. (News Corp. also owns this Web site.)

If you missed Calacanis’s pitch this morning but still want to see people talking about his site, here’s a promo clip the company supplied. It features Calacanis’s employees, but not Calacanis, so it’s a lot less interesting. But you’ll get the idea.

Mahalo 4.0 from on Vimeo.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik