When three Demand Media founders all jumped ship from the company in January 2012, the media was intrigued, but not enough to really investigate. At the time, Demand Media said the moves were coincidental. Luckily for the online community, the departures would soon prove to be deliciously coincidental. A month ago the three announced a new, more palatable venture: Tastemade.
After 13 months of laying low, Steven Kydd, Joe Perez and Larry Fitzgibbon reemerged. This time, the trio made an entrance into the online video space with some pretty heavy backing: $5.3 million to be exact — led by Redpoint Ventures, a firm that’s also invested in Machinima.
“Simply put, our mission is to connect the world through food and we are building a global food network for digital platforms,” says co-founder Fitzgibbon, “A generation ago the cable industry launched category defining brands in food and lifestyle and we believe the same opportunity exists in today’s changing landscape.”
The idea is pretty basic, but the execution is brilliant: short videos — most less than five minutes — showing viewers how to make a dish. Some dishes are mildly complicated and gourmet (think white chocolate panna cotta) and some are easily accessible and made with ingredients most homes already have (check out the slacker shake).
But no matter what the recipe is, each video is shot with the same high-quality production value and attention to detail. Throw in the brilliant chefs who are full of personality — and usually drinking — viewers may find they’ve sucuumbed to the siren song of Tastemade. Some already have: in the few months that the channel has been live on YouTube, many videos have received well over 1.5 million views. In fact, YouTube is where Tastemade has decided to make camp — and so far it’s been a good idea.
“YouTube has been a great partner for Tastemade,” says Fitzgibbon, “We received funding from them to create original programming and launch our YouTube channel. In addition, we were one of the first YouTube Certified multi-channel networks. We’ve been working with brands interested in reaching our audience of food lovers and developing content with our tastemakers. We are also developing relationships with new distribution partners.
It’s only been live a few months and already has more than 100,000 subscribers and 8 million views. Additionally, our network has grown very quickly,” he continues, “with over 100 channel partners that reach 9 million consumers each month. We’ll continue to expand these areas of the business, while developing a platform that will further enable us to grow and connect food lovers around the world.”
It’s no surprise that many media wonks are calling Tastemade the Machinima for food — after all, both are heavily backed by the same VC firm and do rely on the same basic model. But Tastemade is more — at least it can be. With the channel’s variety of recipes, commentary and cultural exploration through cuisine, there is no doubt that the snackable — pun intended — content will attract a plethora of hard-core foodies, travelers and people just looking for a good recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala. Everyone has to eat. Tastemade is helping them do it with a little more sophistication, grace and ease.
But it’s not all delicious food and exotic booze for the team. They have carefully constructed a 15-member team at Tastemade who are experts in new media. They come to their new venture with years of media experience and know what they’re in for.
“The way consumers experience media today is fundamentally different than it was a generation ago,” says Fitzgibbon, “Video distribution has moved from a single screen to multiple screens available anywhere, anytime. New distribution requires new creation methods and formats. Also, creators have more access to technology and distribution than ever before. We have built Tastemade with all this in mind.”
“We started Tastemade with a passion for food, media and technology and are focused on building a truly modern media company,” says Fitzgibbon. That’s something the industry can toast to.