Kara Swisher

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Liveblogging Demand Media's (and Richard Rosenblatt's) First Earnings Call: The Avocado Difference!

BoomTown always enjoys the maiden voyage of a newly public company, so liveblogging Demand Media’s first quarterly earnings seems like a must-do.

It’s also the first public outing for CEO Richard Rosenblatt, who has sold off his previous entrepreneurial efforts.

And it seems like a good start, as the Santa Monica, Calif.-based online content company, which had its IPO in late January, finally out to rest some controversy about how much is actually earns by posting $1 million in net income in the last three months of 2010.

Okay, that is a weensy amount, to be sure, but it beat expectations, as well as for revenue, with sales of $73.6 million for the fourth quarter.

Of course, Demand wants Wall Street to look at “Adjusted OIBDA” results, which was up 88 percent, and which it is a much prettier $20.1 million in earnings.

Also on deck, as MediaMemo’s Peter Kakfa noted today:

“Expect to hear at least one riff on whether or not the company feels threatened by Google and changes the search engine is making to push “content farms” out of its results. CEO Richard Rosenblatt insists that his company is not a content farm, and that Google is just fine with his stuff, but I have a feeling the issue won’t go away just yet.”

We’ll see–here we go:

2:05 pm PT: It took me a bit to get into this conference call, since I could not get the live broadcast from the Web site at all and the teleconference operators were snoozing.

And I tuned in just as Rosenblatt (pictured here) was talking about how Demand was helping people get information about how to ripen avocados.

No, really.

(Memo to self: Curb the snotty journalist tone, especially since I love me a good, ripe avocado.)

Rosenblatt, who seems only a little nervous, pressed on by talking about its massive eHow site, as well as Cracked.com and other major branded sites Demand has.

The latest is TypeF women’s health and beauty site, which is guided by supermodel Tyra Banks.

Rosenblatt then linked it all to advertisers and how much they want to spend on sites like this.

“We are not limited to just a few key verticals,” he said, touting its sales staff, including Rosenblatt’s daring raid of Chief Revenue Officer Joanne Bradford from Yahoo.

“The company is well positioned to capture an increasing share of brand revenue,” said Rosenblatt.

2:18 pm: Rosenblatt then zeroed in on the juicy issues, which center around the quality of the content Demand churns out.

Or, as critics have argued, lack of quality.

“The level of specificity is arcane to some,” noted Rosenblatt, using the example of flying paper lanterns and how to make a roof rake as examples of the kind of niche content Demand produces.

Arcane is right, but it takes all kinds!

Plus, insisted Rosenblatt, it’s good! Accurate! Edited! Useful!

He took the gloves off here, which made me want a Demand piece about taking care of leather gloves (linseed oil?).

“We’re just getting started,” said Rosenblatt, about the company and not the glove care tips.

2:24 pm: The CEO turned it over to the CFO, Charles Hilliard, which meant I was off on my critical Web search about taking care of my gloves.

That’s because he immediately said: “Adjusted OIBDA.”

Which-let’s be honest–sounds like a communicable disease.

Essentially, said Hilliard, it’s up, up, up for Demand, in terms of revenue, earnings, page views and more.

You can read all these gory financial details in the press release here.

For some reason, Hilliard is using the retail term, “same store sales,” as a comparison. I covered retails for years, so it is a surprise for this to be the metaphor, but Demand obviously sees itself as a content store.

2:39 pm: Q&A time and the Google-fights-spam question came first!

Rosenblatt said he welcomed it and appeared unconcerned. His avocado-ripening, roof-rake-making, flying-lantern company needed to make no excuses!

The next question is about expansion, including internationally. Sure, Western Europe.

Then, a sneaky follow-up on content farms.

“We consider ourself very white hat,” declared Rosenblatt.

I wonder what the best way to clean a white hat is?

Voila! It’s right here on eHow:

“1. Wash your white hat in the washing machine if it is made of cotton or polyester. Just add laundry detergent and one cup of bleach. Wash the hat using the hot water setting. Do not put the hat in the dryer. The hat will shrink and then it won’t fit your head.”

Call the Pulitzer Prize committee!

(Wait, snotty again! I also love clean, white hats.)

I was so riveted by the white-hat thing, I completely missed the next question, but tuned in again to one about revenue momentum.

Essentially, Bradford–who looks great in a white hat, I might add–is on the case.

Then some internal technical questions and about guidance for Q1. CFO Hilliard said that the company was guiding for growth, despite more public company expenses.

(Needless to say, you can find out about how to run a public company here on eHow.)

The last question was about how much branded advertising will make up total revenue. Between five and 10 percent of 2010, said Hilliard, but it is the fastest category of growth.

And also one about curation of content and use of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter for feedback.

Rosenblatt said that feedback can even become content, which will be part of new eHow redesign to come.

Want some tips on that? Of course, Demand Media has the answer, at least to this easy question.

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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