GoFish CEO + Bolt CEO: Moving advertising from TV to Internet, Exclusive Interview


Michael Downing, co-founder and CEO of GoFish, and Aaron Cohen, co-founder and CEO of Bolt Media, are enthusiastically looking forward to jointly growing a billion streams “made for Internet programming” advertising supported business, and they shared their enthusiasm with me this morning. 

In a New York-San Francisco conference call Downing and Cohen put forth their vision for building the largest independent online video company on the Web.

GoFish Corporation, a publicly-traded consumer online video destination has agreed to acquire Bolt, Inc. in a stock-for-stock transaction valued at up to $30 million. The combination will create an online video company with about 7 million monthly unique visitors in the U.S., according to Comscore Media Metrix, and over 19 million globally.  

The combined company will develop highly monetizable, made for Internet programming targeting the 18-34 year-old demographic, the chief executives told me.

GoFish is acquiring Bolt, but Cohen and Downing underscored to me the power of a merger of two unique video forces with each pooling complementary business assets and Web traffic.

Bolt has a ten year track record of successfully packaging and selling advertising at its online video properties and boasts a portfolio of several dozen Fortune 500 blue chip clients such as Coca-Cola, Verizon Wireless, Nike, Sony, Cohen told me.

GoFish, the first publicly-traded company in the user-generated video sector, in two years has grown to deliver millions of videos per month, “a place on the web where millions of people come to upload, share and watch their favorite videos from around the world.”

Downing told me GoFish will be focused going forward on developing high-quality, original “made for Internet programming” to be packaged for premium advertisers. In partnership with Los Angeles based creative teams, GoFish will facilitate the creation and distribution of compelling content that large numbers of people will want to watch, Downing said.

The goal of the combined GoFish and Bolt is to build a differentiated Internet entertainment franchise that is attractive to television network quality sponsors. The GoFish made for Internet programming will aim to be more attractive to traditional television advertisers than “friends and family” user generated content video fare is. 

Both Downing and Cohen underscored to me, nevertheless, that it will not be typical television network fare.

GoFish believes that a lucrative made for Internet programming entertainment franchise does not require a large volume of video production. GoFish seeks to initially support the development of about eight to ten unique properties and then widely distribute them via broad syndication.

A “billion streams” business is the goal: “We now have the platform to consolidate the industry and build a business with significant scale."

Both companies have approved the transaction, which is subject to approval by Bolt's stockholders and certain additional closing conditions, and is expected to close in March or April of 2007.

Cohen will serve as co-president, along with Jay Gould, Downing will retain the title of CEO.

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