LeadDog Marketing Group held its monthly Q and A earlier this month, with Neil Vogel in the hot seat to elaborate on his new role as CEO at About.com. Lisa Hyman, former White House intern and Partner /Senior Vice President at LeadDog, moderated the discussion.
Vogel is Venture Partner at FirstMark Capital and chairman/co-founder of Recognition Media. He transitioned into his role at About.com in April. The Wharton School graduate is also creator and head producer of the Webby awards—the Oscars of the Internet.
The launch of this milestone event is a testament to Vogel’s vision and the leadership skills that are required to bring About.com to the next level.
Launched in 1996 as miningco.com, About sprang from a simple concept—a platform to provide ‘guides’ – subject matter experts – who could steer users to the answers they needed on topics pertaining to everyday life.. This wasn’t search: this was a more curated approach to finding information, via the expert guides. The site currently boasts 21 content channels and 100 million monthly views, 20% of which comes from mobile usage, excluding tablets..
Vogel is humble about the brand, a mainstay that continues to evolve.
“The best ideas come from everywhere,” he said. “It’s a process.”
That process of where and how to steer About continues to evolve as well, as it pushes forward to draw a greater word-of-mouth virality. This includes the acceleration of a social media presence, a modernized grid – and a precise hiring method.
When Vogel took the helm, a new team was formed: 160 people were interviewed for a few select positions. Whom the company now hires and why tie into how they are transforming the narrative, accurately collecting data, taking risks, and collaborating to make it the best search engine of its kind.
During his tenure at Alloy Media,where he was part of the senior management team, Vogel was able to propel that startup to $50 million in cash fluency and an additional $300 million in revenue in under five years..
In terms of what he envisions for About, he commented that he wants it to look a lot more like things on the Web that are successful, citing BuzzFeed and Pinterest as examples.
An entrepreneur at heart, Vogel concluded by answering a question from an attendee wanting insight on finding the right fit for a solid start up.
“Your momentum needs to keep going. Learn what you’re not good at. And, educate yourself.”
Sage advice from someone who seems to keep making up the future as he goes along.