Michael Paolucci is no stranger to making money on the Web: He founded Web marketing darling 24/7 Real Media and in 2007 sold it to WPP for a reported $649 million.
While sailing in eastern Maine, he had the a-ha moment for his next Web marketing play: taking the natural human passion for the night sky and turning it into mainstream Web entertainment. And so SLOOH was born.
Showing the same hustle he used to build 24/7, Paolucci developed what amounted to astronomical Web co-production deals with research telescopes in the Canary Islands and Western Europe. The scopes lease him observatory time that he broadcasts over the Web, mostly during after-school hours, using standard video tools.
Dubbed missions, each session is sped up for pacing, mixed in with information about the stars and otherwise tweaked to be compelling for families with kids. Revenue figures are not released, but Slooh is clearly not on track to be the next Facebook: The site reports roughly 60,000 uniques a month. However, retailers are taking notice; the company has buys from Target, Toys 'R Us, Ritz Camera and several others.
"Within my demo group - families with kids - done right the night sky is a legitimate mainstream entertainment offering on par with anything out there," says Paolucci. "I am competing with Grand Theft Auto. And I think I can win."