When Greg Strakosch heard people predicting the "end of traditional media" during the peak of the Internet bubble, he didn't buy it.
"People were saying everyone is going to get all their information from the hundreds of portals -- like Yahoo! and AOL -- and all traditional media is going to die," remembers Strakosch, 42. "Well, we looked at that and said 'there's no way that's going to happen."
Like traditional media, the major search engines were too broad, says Strakosch. Successful publishers in the information technology (IT) world -- like Ziff Davis Media, publisher of PC Magazine -- were already having trouble giving IT professionals in-depth information about their specialties, so there was no hope for Yahoo! or AOL.
Seeing an opportunity, Strakosch founded TechTarget in 1999. As opposed to the broad reporting of both the traditional media and the new portals, TechTarget, based in Needham, Mass., focused on highly specific individual sectors within the greater world of Internet technology. His first webpage, for example, was solely devoted to the widely used IBM AS400 server. Today, TechTarget, ranked number 425 on the 2004 Inc. 500 list, has 90 journalists and over 20 websites covering specific products, like Oracle, SAP, Windows, as well as sectors, like networking, storage and security.
TechTarget's focused coverage earned the trust of IT managers. But more importantly, it attracted advertisers. "We're the most targeted media company in the IT space," says Strakosch, "so if you're an advertiser it gives you a very efficient way to reach that audience." In other words, a high percentage of the people visiting TechTarget's Windows page are people who use -- and buy -- Windows, making it a great place for, you guessed it, Microsoft to advertise.
Thanks to its business model, TechTarget not only survived the dot-com bust, but flourished during it, growing from four employees to 400. In 2005, Strakosch projects sales to reach $80 million, a 60% improvement from 2004. TechTarget also has been successful at raising capital, securing $70 million last June, which it used to buy BitPipe, a distributor of white papers.
Despite TechTarget's -- and the Internet's -- astronomical growth, Strakosch expects much more. "People underestimate how early it still is in the Web. Think about it, it hasn't even been around for 10 years," Strakosch says. "My belief is it's only the top of the second inning."
With the proliferation of broadband and wireless connectivity, as well as the drop in hardware prices, more than 900 million people worldwide are online, according to eTForecasts, a market research firm based in Arlington Heights, Ill. By 2007, the firm predicts the number of users will reach 1.5 billion. With so many users, the opportunities are gigantic.