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New York, Jan. 20, 2016 – Piano, the world’s leading provider of e-commerce SaaS software to media companies, has added to its team in Bratislava, strengthening its Technology and Product Development capabilities with the hires. Piano’s platform includes the Web’s most sophisticated visual segmentation engine and audience analysis tools and is deployed by more than 1200 websites worldwide.
Ivan Debnar, the founder of Slovakia’s largest search engine Zoznam and founder of the Bratislava Startup Incubator, “The Spot,” is a digital native. He started Slovakia’s first Internet Café in 1996; created one of the country’s first ISPs before founding and running Zoznam.sk, Slovakia’s biggest native search engine; and was CTO at Azet, Slovakia’s largest online portal.
Tomi Vanek comes to Piano from Accenture where he was a Senior Software Architect leading projects from The Walt Disney Company, T-Mobile and the US Government’s healthcare.gov Web-portal.
Trevor Kaufman, Piano’s CEO said, “I couldn’t be more thrilled about both Ivan and Tomi joining the Piano Team in Bratislava. Ivan has an amazing background and is extremely well connected to both the local and regional IT and startup communities. Tomi has an incredible track record, working as a consultant for Accenture on complex and critical projects for major companies like Disney and T-Mobile. We are extremely excited that they are joining us to help expand Bratislava’s role as Piano’s leading development center for audience data and analytics.”
Piano is a global software firm that resulted from the mergers of New York-based companies Tinypass and Journalism Online and Bratislava-based Piano Media. Piano Media is one of Slovakia’s startup success stories, having started a nation-wide subscription systems for Slovak, Slovenian and Polish newspapers, and then successfully pivoting to focus on subscriptions for individual publications and data analysis.
Piano is now the most deployed e-commerce for content platform in the world. With clients in 19 countries and over four billion page views under management, the company continues to expand its tech development center in Bratislava, hiring talented analysts and developers who are skilled in developing data products. Piano employs more than 110 people, including 80 product and tech developers in its European and American offices.
Frederic Filloux at the Monday Note writes this week about Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP); how it will take a chunk out of both Apple’s and Facebook’s walled Gardens and how it incorporates with paid content. Google expects the system to have rapid take-up among publishers and will spread even more quickly as as specifications for more mobile components become available.
For revenue streams with AMP, most ad servers will work although Google will constrain the formats allowed in AMP. Paid content will also be incorporated into AMP, Google is working with both publishers and paywall providers to make sure that the most popular E-commerce system, the meter, will function properly. This project enables users to have a better mobile browsing experience while making sure that publishers retain their revenue from their engaged users.
You can read Filloux’s entire article here.
The late aughts saw the beginnings of the paid content industry with Press+ leading the way. They didn’t get much traction until the New York Times launched paid content, but then the industry took off. Steve Brill and Gordon Crovitz were co-founders of Press+ (purchased by Piano in 2014) and Poynter’s James Warren interviews Brill about what happened back in the early days of paid content and where he thinks the industry is headed now. It’s a fascinating read.
2015 will go down as an amazing year for Piano. We started the year as two companies in our highly competitive space, merged, and ended as one really strong company in our highly competitive space.
For Piano, 2015 was the year that magazine publishers decided to step up to the paid content table and ask their subscribers to pay.
Time Inc. was the first of the big American publishers to start using our incredible VX platform, installing it on, of all magazines, Entertainment Weekly. They liked the versatility of the platform so much they quickly started using VX on their flagship publication, Time Magazine.
Hearst was another major American publisher that turned to Piano for software. Esquire, a men’s magazine that has published some of the most prolific and creative journalism and fiction over the past 100 years, is using VX to monetize their archive.
As soon as magazine publishers see VX and are introduced to Composer, our revolutionary tool that enables them to build a rules-based subscription management system in hours without the help of their IT departments, they know that this is the future of the industry and clamoring to jump aboard.
And they aren’t wrong. Piano ended up 2015 with more than 1200 websites using our software in 19 countries. We have over 4B page views under management and are generating more than $30M in revenue annually.
We think that 2016 is going to be even better, the year of OTT streaming.
We signed OTT client NBC Sports who used VX to monetize their streaming subscriptions for the 2015 Tour de France with NBC taking home the maillot jaune!
Another OTT client was AmericaTV from Peru. How would South American broadcaster drive subscription revenue? Well, they asked us the same question and we showed them some very convincing information from our data warehouse that has more than four years of accumulated media user data. Now AmericaTV is one of our fastest growing clients, adding subscribers and growing revenue that will help them develop new programming and keep their audience informed well into the foreseeable future.
What keeps media companies beating on our door? Some of it is our software and some of it is our team, led by a super focused CEO, Trevor Kaufman who has extraordinary vision; values beauty and talent and refuses to settle for anything less than the absolute best.
Our software reflects his vision with beautiful, intuitive dashboards that let our clients easily understand their data and take market actions quickly and simply. We are also finishing products that will be best-in-class, like AI that will give publishers the data they need and focus insights in the two areas most valuable to our clients’ business: loyalty and advertising. We are reinventing the data consumption experience with new key metrics, layers in context and results presented in intelligent, novel and beautiful ways.
We are building a world-class software team on two continents in four cities. Our AI team based in Bratislava, Slovakia is creating business intelligence software for our international customers with the best and brightest data scientists, analysts and coders that can be found; our VX development team in Izhevsk, Russia is focused on building Composer so anyone can monetize content with a bespoke system; our design team is in Los Angeles and our Product team is in New York City. We benefit from our great diversity in experience and culture and we cross-pollinate with bi-monthly company-wide meetings.
We are 110 people strong and growing. It’s an amazing time to be in paid content, working on the best software in the world at one of the most amazing companies. We are really looking forward to 2016!
The FTC released a “guide” that details how online publications should label native advertising in order to not confuse their readers. Naturally some publications took exception to the Federal Government telling them what to do, but in the UK, BuzzFeed fell afoul of the guidelines and were reprimanded. Digital publications have a responsibility to clearly label advertising so they don’t generate fake CPMs; but there are production houses now creating such interesting native ads that publishers can entice their readers into clicking without deception.
Read more about what publishers are discovering in this week’s Industry Insights, available now!