Continuing my crowdsourcing of questions for one-on-one conversations at this week’s CM Summit is Joel Hyatt, CEO of Current. Founded in 2005, Current is “the only 24/7 cable and satellite television network and Internet site produced and programmed in collaboration with its audience.” The company has grown to nearly $64 million in revenues (2007) but has yet to hit profits, early this year it filed a public offering ($100 mm in proceeds), which has not completed due, one presumes, to market conditions. Still and all, a cable channel that counts more than 50mm potential viewers is a serious asset, and current.com, its online presence, is a vibrant community as well. It doesn’t hurt that the company courts a difficult to reach demographic – young, educated adults.
Current has been at the center of a lot of innovation in media, a recent example is “Hack the Debate“, a partnership with Twitter (co-founder Evan Williams will also be speaking at the CM Summit).
Current is an ambitious project, backed by serious players, including Al Gore, who serves as Chairman. Hyatt, who runs the company day to day, also serves on the board of HP and the Brookings Institute, and has been quite involved in politics, serving as National Finance Chair for the Democratic Party in 2000. Previous to Current, he co-founded and led Hyatt Legal Services, which provided low-cost services to middle and lower-income families.
So what would you want to hear from Joel in a fireside chat? My questions include:
– Current has a pretty new model (for television, certainly) but still a lot of its value is in the TV play. Are you still held hostage to that? Will the online portion of Current ever be bigger than the television piece?
– How is the economy impacting sales, both offline and on?
– Clearly this is not a time to go public. What are the financing options for a large media play like Current in this environment?
– Tell us more about the deal with Twitter? What does it portend?
– What’s broken with how we get our news? If you ran a major news outlet (IE CBS News), what would you do differently?
– What have you learned working with marketers at Current? Give us some examples of innovation that might spark discussion?
– I can’t let Joel get off stage without getting his take on the election, given the timing….
What would you ask Joel?