Imagine! Asking for $10 Million-Plus to Start a Dweebsite!

How Ezra Klein learned he isn’t a star after all.

How long would it take for investors to start making a decent return on their $10 million-plus from this crowd? Five years? 10? My opinion: never.

Launching a Website? Follow the Tried and True Model.
If Ezra Klein had a marketing consultant who was schooled and mentored in 20th century testing, he might have come up with a viable business plan.

A website could be launched on a modest scale. Ezra Klein could persuade his chums to provide sweat equity content in return for a pittance and a percentage of the company. Hopefully it would fog the mirror and maybe start to grow legs.

If it makes news, roils markets, creates controversy and virally generates more and more readers, Klein might have a business. With a large enough list of “unique visitors,” advertisers would follow.

In turn, this would be attractive to venture capitalists.

A yummy IPO would follow.

Giving Ezra Klein $10 million-plus to create a new dweebsite when his current one runs last in the pack is akin to Newt Gingrich’s scheme build a moon colony.

“I spent 25 years in business. If I had a business executive come to me and say they wanted to spend a few hundred billion dollars to put a colony on the moon, I’d say, ‘You’re fired.'” —Mitt Romney to Newt Gingrich, Republican Presidential Debate, Jan. 26, 2012

Takeaways to Consider

  • All the old rules of marketing apply to the Internet.
  • In direct marketing, two rules and two rules only exist: Rule No. 1: Test everything. Rule No. 2: See Rule No. 1. —Malcolm Decker
  • Start with a powerhouse of a USP. Anything less and you don’t have a business.
  • Know thy potential universe.
  • Know thy competition.
  • The three-word mantra for success: “PROFITS, PROFITS, PROFITS!”
  • Advice from a geezer to Ezra: Ask for $300,000 and then proceed to work your ass off.
  • “Imitation is the sincerest form of collective stupidity.” —W. Carroll (Bill) Munro

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at

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  • Ricardo Vidallon

    Ezra who?

  • wash98052

    Tony the pitiful copywriter had it right. Mr. Klein is a time traveler, or wants to be. Maybe he believes Jeff Bezos– after HIS own many initial months in the RED–can empathize as the model survivor of that storied era. Or maybe Ezra just hopes Jeff can recognize a USP in there somewhere that Ezra is unable to enunciate.

  • tony the pitiful copywriter

    I see what Ezra’s doing. His $10 mil website is like Colonial Williamsburg. Instead of re-enacting ye olde colonial America, Ezra wants to re-enact the 1990’s web bubble when investors were throwing money at sketchy internet projects like drunk sailors on leave. Just sayin’.

  • David Slavin

    Newt Gingrich notwithstanding, if one pulls the $10MM claim from the story I fail to see where this falls apart. I thought Arianna started HuffPo much the same way (as opposed to Drudge et al mainlining money from the Koch Industries affiliates to stay afloat) and your chart shows that that venture appears to be doing quite well. Not to mention that Politico followed a similar spin-off path from the Post and it seems to be doing quite well, too. Your whole screed seems to be hinged on the capital request and your own animus. Is this really on target for TM or am I missing something?

  • Stew

    Still laughing from reading this. Poor Ezra, a legend in his own mind. He’s had enough smoke blown up his butt by the talking heads on MSNBC he actually started believing it was true. Maybe Chris Matthews has a position for him?

  • Bart Foreman

    Another Denny classic. However, Denny, you miss some key points:
    1. The cost of living in DC is high and $10MM really does not go very far or very long.
    2. You’re in DC where the norm is to spend other people’s money in large numbers.
    3. If this venture fails, and it will, Ezra needs some working capital to live on until he finds another non-essential niche market to bilk someone else for. Like I said $10MM does not go very far in DC.

  • Max

    He should have asked MSNBC. They understand dweebs and low ratings.