A Conversation with OurStory
Today I had the chance to speak with Andy Halliday, CEO of recently launched OurStory — a post-launch follow-up to our initial discussion back in May. The site falls into the social networking category but has an interesting way of differentiating itself within the burgeoning (some might say saturated) space.
The site appeals to a demographic and psychographic that is underserved by the current roster of teen- and young-adult-centric social networks. It appeals partly to matriarchs of families or anyone that wishes to capture a life story or family history. It therefore comes with lots of tools for uploading photos, posting stories, plotting timelines, etc., which are all tied to the networking features that allow users to connect to family members, friends or the larger OurStory user base (whomever users designate).
The site has free and premium products and is currently trying to build a critical mass of users before it actively promotes the premium version (here are more details on the differences between free and premium). In addition, Andy and I also spent some time speculating on the possibilities of bringing in highly targeted advertising that is additive to the site's content — something on the company's road map.
There is also the possibility of companies forming accounts (rather than just individuals) to tell their story, history and other information that can be construed as promotional yet is still in the spirit of OurStory's intention. This has been attempted on other social networks such as MySpace (as we wrote about here) and can be a valuable form of local viral marketing. In addition, OurStory can be a valuable enterprise tool for internal communication, as Halliday pointed out. An additional enterprise level product — that comes with an enterprise level price tag — could also someday be developed (my speculation).
The company has also formed a partnership with video publishing site VideoEgg, and is interested in continuing to form partnerships to beef up its multimedia capabilities. When various communication mediums such as video conferencing approach mainstream adoption, OurStory will be in a unique position to leverage the base of content it has built up through its users, and in turn provide them with a pretty sharp product. So far the site's look, feel and user experience are cleaner and more media-rich than those of many other social networks (such as MySpace), in my opinion.
There is lot more to explore, and we'll dig deeper in this week's Local Media Journal. The Washington Post’s Leslie Walker also wrote about the company yesterday.
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Bank of America analyst Glen Taksler agrees that under the current proposal the swaps are likely to split, which would result in average swap spreads moving significantly wider than current levels.
"Although the tax basis remains uncertain, general market consensus is that Verizon Directories would need to issue more than $6 billion in debt (the 25 percent threshold), still causing CDS to split," Taksler said in a report sent on Monday.
In light of the leverage the directories business is likely to have, market participants expect the entity would be rated in "junk" territory