Demand Media announced today that it has hired Michael Kirby to lead the company’s mobile strategy, which CEO Richard Rosenblatt says is “essential” to its business going froward. Kirby’s official title is SVP & GM, Mobile. It’s a newly created position at the company.
The role includes “strategic oversight of the company’s existing mobile products and the identification of opportunities for expansion in the mobile category.”
The position may be new, but Demand Media isn’t exactly new to mobile. It already offers various mobile products including diet and fitness apps for its LiveStrong brand, a yardage/score-tracking app for its Golflink brand, a GPS-based app for its Trails.com brand, a Cracked.com iPad app, and of course the mobile eHow interface. Last month, Demand Media’s Pluck launched some new tools to help brands boost their own mobile presences on iOS and Android.
It would appear that we can expect Demand Media’s mobile offerings to get a significant boost.
“Michael has been at the center of each critical evolutionary shift in community, social and mobile the industry has seen thus far,” says Demand Media EVP, Media and Operations, Larry Fitzgibbon. “Michael’s uncanny ability to envision the future of the mobile space makes him the right person to propel our mobile portfolio beyond its current reach.”
Kirby has been a game producer at Activision, run e-commerce at ESPN, overseen strategy and operations at FOX Sports Interactive, served as EVP/GM of MySpace parent company Intermix Media (after it was acquired by News Corp. in 2005), and was most recently the Chief Revenue Officer at GOGII, where he was responsible for the development of revenue streams for the textPlus app, which ranks in the top 40 of Apple’s App Store’s most popular free apps of all time.
More revenue streams are an important part of reducing dependence on Google. Demand Media recently saw a 20% dip in search referral traffic to its flagship eHow property as a result of Google’s Panda algorithm update, though the company still did pretty well on its latest earnings report.
“Demand Media is uniquely positioned to put useful information in the palm of your hand right when you need it most,” says Kirby. “No other company can combine content and context in quite the same way, which makes the possibilities for mobile here incredibly exciting.”
It will be very interesting to see which directions the company takes its mobile strategy in first. The possibilities are certainly increasing as Demand Media makes new partnerships with celebrities, deepens social media integration with social networks like Facebook (see Pluck/Buddy Media deal), and acquires other properties (like CoveritLive).
The mobile landscape itself is certainly creating more work in this field, new platforms emerging for smartphones and tablets (not to mention Chromebooks).