Friday, January 13, 2006
Interview with John Melideo, CEO of Jambo
John Melideo is CEO of Agoura-based Jambo, a startup that is creating pay-per-call technology. The local search market appears to be the next frontier in the evolution of search engines, and Jambo is one of many startups that are looking to stake their claim in this area. I spoke with John about what Jambo's technology does, how it fits into this market, and its benefits to consumers and merchants.
BK: What's the premise behind your pay-per-call solutions, and what do you provide to publishers and merchants?
JM: Jambo has spent roughly four years and several million dollars to develop technology that bridges the local search experience from the Internet to the telephone. Our focus has been on enhancing local search delivered by our partners in a way that benefits the consumer, merchant and publisher.
Jambo is not a local search engine - we work with publisher partners (local search and content sites) to present local search results, which today primarily take the form of free (or organic) listings, in a way that is more relevant to the consumer. Greater consumer relevance drives more targeted leads to the merchant who provides new revenue for Internet publishers.
Through Jambo's technology, search engines and other lead generators that have traditionally had an anonymous relationship with merchants can now be credited for delivering qualified consumers via the phone - significantly expanding their local advertising and pay-for-performance revenue potential. For merchants, Jambo presents an easy and intuitive, cost-effective and trackable way to participate in online marketing.
BK: How far along is your product, and do you have customers yet?
JM: The Jambo pay-per-call solution has been deployed with our first large partner - InfoSpace - across its web properties. We are also in negotiations with other lead generation partners to add to our network.
BK: Google recently unveiled its own, free click-to-call capability. How does Google's recent addition of click to call capability affect your business plans?
JM: Ultimately, we see Google's entrance as market validation of pay-per-call. That said, we believe we have a superior approach to pay-per-call - and can, accordingly, service the local merchant better than any player currently in the market. Traditional search engines simply aren't sales organizations. They embrace a specific channel - that of agencies, SEMs and other marketers who sell service to the local clients. As they move into pay-per-call, we expect that the major search engines will see the value in our approach and choose to partner with us. We complement our sales orientation with deep expertise in telephony; we're experts on maintaining a telephone network, and we focus 100 percent of our efforts on getting the consumer-to-merchant connection right.
BK: How is Jambo funded, and who is backing the firm?
JM: Jambo recently announced venture capital financing in excess of $5 million from Kline Hawkes & Co., Westlake Venture Partners, and Gary Leff and Associates.
BK: What's your own background, and why did you decide to found Jambo?
JM: I have experience several successful startups, as does the entire Jambo executive team. Prior to starting Jambo, I founded CallSource, a leading direct response advertising tracking and management company. Prior to that, I was founder and president of RentLine, an IVR and then web-based data listing service for the real estate industry. Prior to founding RentLine, I designed and developed an innovative automobile security system designed for mass market distribution.
BK: Finally, what's the next goal for Jambo?
JM: We measure success by improving the search experience for consumers, helping merchants and publishers grow their business. Our metrics include number of searches, number of calls, advertiser base and, of course, revenue. We have some exciting products in development, and a few could really change the local search experience delivered by our partners. We are excited about rolling these out in 2006.