Never Heard of Minyanville? Soon You Will

by , Jul 19, 2007, 6:00 AM
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Minyanville.com hit an important milestone this week in its mission to become a financial media company that serves every rung of the ladder from the sophisticated professional trader down to families and kids with a mix of "content, community and critters."

In addition to a redesigned Web site, the company Wednesday launched its animated "Hoofy & Boo's News & Views" videos on Yahoo Finance, exponentially extending the reach of its distinctive trademarked "bulls and bears" brand beyond the several thousand traders who know it through paid subscriptions to its daily "Buzz & Banter" newsletter.

The weekly video vignettes are part of a content syndication deal that puts Minyanville's blend of financial news and commentary mixed with entertainment on the Yahoo Finance home page. (An upcoming not-to-be-missed installment features the "Mr. T. Gold Indicator" charting the correlation between the price of gold and the status of the actor's career.)

Now officially onboard to exploit Minyanville's "brandwidth" as chief marketing officer is Charles Mangano, the former worldwide brand head who established Merrill Lynch and its bull as a leading global brand.

Mangano rounds out the executive team consisting of Minyanville founder and CEO Todd Harrison, the former head trader of $400 million New York-based hedge fund Cramer Berkowitz; and President Kevin Wassong, who built and led digital@jwt for seven years within J. Walter Thompson.

In an interview with Online Media Daily, Mangano said the company is ready to hire its first official ad sales executive, and is actively working with Kaboose.com to create a version of the Minyanville community for families and children that is expected to launch in October.

With characters created by John Bell, the creative director at EA who designed "Ants," Minyanville will also be exploiting the numerous merchandising opportunities for the brand. Mangano said the online/offline model of the Webkinz is the strategy.

"We will definitely be at the Licensing Show next year," said Wassong.

Bootstrapped as a hobby in 2002 by Harrison, an early writer for TheStreet.com, Minyanville has since secured private investment to fund the vision of becoming the "Discovery Channel" of the financial services sector. Wassong came on board in 2005 when the company officially formed, and the first Web site launched in February 2006.

"The chasm between what people know about finance and what they need to know has never been greater--be it individual ideas, underlying themes or macro trends," Harrison said.

Harrison aims to create a helping community of Minyans who learn from each others' financial and investing experiences. Onboard are 30 contributors Minyanville dubs its "professors" to distinguish them from pontificating "experts."

Minyanville's advertising base to date has drawn on the founders' relationships, including Dreyfus, TD Ameritrade and other financial services firms. Cayman Air has just come on board, and the company seeks to expand to more lifestyle categories attracted to the high-income demographic the site draws.

"Madison Avenue is part of our plan this year," Wassong said. Also in place is a partnership with the National Council on Economic Education, which regulates financial education in schools. A sponsor is being sought to underwrite an in-school program, along the lines of PBS.

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