WonderHowTo Raises First Round

WonderHowTo.com, a provider of an online collection of how-to video, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding led by General Catalyst Partners.



WonderHowTo.com, the video guide for a curious world, has unveiled the world's biggest free how-to video index, cataloging and linking to more than 90,000 curated video clips at launch. The company has also closed a Series “A” investment led by General Catalyst Partners and ad sales will be powered by Scripps Networks. The announcements were made today by Stephen Chao, co-founder and CEO, WonderHowTo. Financial terms of the investment were not disclosed.


“At WonderHowTo.com, our passion is to search, curate and organize the fascinating but fragmented category of free and informative video that has recently become widely available on the web,” said Chao. “There is a quiet yet thrilling revolution happening in the how-to video world. Historically, people have spent around a billion dollars a year in the U.S. buying instructional videos about fitness, self-help, dancing, languages, auto repair, gardening and all kinds of other things. But the market forces of the internet are swiftly liberating the realm of video just as they liberated text a few years ago. As our community grows, WonderHowTo will become the free video guide for a curious world.”


WonderHowTo.com's team of pre-launch video curators has amassed an impressive collection of free, high-quality how-to video features from the farthest reaches of the Internet, classifying and ranking more than 90,000 videos in more than 400 categories over the last few months. With today's public launch, WonderHowTo.com will also begin accepting community submissions of new videos and soliciting user ratings of videos featured on the site.


During his successful career as a television executive, Chao left an imprint on the primetime landscape that persists today. As a young programmer at Fox, he commissioned Cops, created America's Most Wanted, and earned a reputation for creating commercial success by pushing boundaries and questioning conventional wisdom. Chao rose to president of Fox Television, and later held the same position at USA Cable where he launched Monk.


“WonderHowTo's content and community-centric approach to the web how-to video sector makes it a very attractive investment for us,” said George Bell, special venture partner, General Catalyst Partners. “Add to that the opportunity to work with Stephen, one of the great explorers in the media business, and it's easy to see why we became enamored with this company.”


WonderHowTo.com aggregates community-submitted links and reviews of how-to video from across the Internet. From mainstream queries such as how to tie a tie, to the eye-opening presentation of how to perform a Balducci levitation, to the long-tail eccentricity of how to train your cat to use the toilet, WonderHowTo embraces the ever expanding visual imagination of the collective web to provide the most comprehensive and revelatory results in the instructional video space.


Ad sales for the site are managed by Scripps Networks. Because videos on WonderHowTo are organized into extremely targeted categories, the site offers outstanding opportunities for contextually relevant advertising placements. On the content side, Scripps Networks has provided WonderHowTo with thousands of video assets from its library.


“Scripps Networks is already a leading web content publisher in this space and WonderHowTo dovetails perfectly with our distribution strategy of continuing to make our videos even more widely and easily accessible to do-it-yourself enthusiasts,” said Doug Hurst, senior vice president and general manager of non-linear distribution for Scripps Networks. “We felt right away that WonderHowTo's vision of community-powered universal search for online instructional video would be a good fit for us and have been working together since April 2007 to index thousands of the best video clips from our networks – HGTV, Food Network, DIY Network and Fine Living – at WonderHowTo.”


“With more than 400 categories of how-to video and continually expanding coverage of the long-tail curiosities of the web, WonderHowTo offers marketers a tremendously flexible ad targeting framework,” said Jeff Meyer, senior vice president of interactive ad sales for Scripps Networks. “We are excited to add this site to the multi-dimensional solutions that the Scripps Networks Ad Sales team presents to advertisers. Marketers realize that those actively seeking how-to content are also actively seeking purchasing advice and information.”


Kip Kay, the all-time top video publisher and earner on short-form online video site Metacafe said, “It was easy to submit my library of instructional videos to WonderHowTo, and the site does a great job of organizing and spotlighting my material. Every video view on WonderHowTo registers directly on my Metacafe channel, which results in more money in my pocket. I am excited to see such an outstanding community-powered search tool begin to centralize the how-to video search experience.”


By pointing to how-to video around the web, rather than hosting the videos, the ad-supported site sidesteps the cost structure issues that face many other online video communities. In addition, the company's approach enhances the monetization strategies deployed by pioneering content owners by increasing traffic and video views for publishers. WonderHowTo's dynamic user feedback and continuous web spidering keep the site's video index current by organizing new material and suspending any expired, broken, or otherwise misleading links.


In head-to-head tests, WonderHowTo's human-powered indexing and ranking mechanism consistently provides how-to video search results of significantly better quality and accuracy than existing general purpose web search engines.


Analysis of available data suggests that U.S. special interest instructional videos approach $1 billion in retail and direct-to-consumer sales annually. Additionally, the tremendous growth of special interest cable networks and the larger do-it-yourself movement suggest a very robust marketplace for informational content. Meanwhile, in the web search arena, Hitwise.com, the online competitive intelligence service, reported recently that “how-to” queries on the web have risen nearly 20% since the start of 2007, confirming that the consumer appetite for how-to knowledge continues to spill over from traditional media to the web.


About WonderHowTo.com

WonderHowTo.com is the video guide for a curious world. The privately-held company was founded in 2007 by Stephen Chao and Mike Goedecke, and is backed by Cambridge, MA-based General Catalyst Partners. Chao is a media industry veteran, and Goedecke is the founder of Belief, an award-winning broadcast design firm. WonderHowTo.com is headquartered in Santa Monica, CA. For more information, visit www.wonderhowto.com.


About General Catalyst Partners

General Catalyst Partners is a venture capital firm that invests in exceptional entrepreneurs who are building the technology-based companies that will lead innovation and transform industries. Founded in 2000, General Catalyst Partners leverages its principals' extensive operational, business development and technological expertise to provide portfolio companies with a catalyst for success through business-building and partnership development assistance. General Catalyst has approximately $1 billion under management and is headquartered in Cambridge, MA. For more information, visit www.generalcatalyst.com.