Former Internet Analyst Launches Consulting Firm

Jordan Rohan, former managing director and Internet analyst at RBC Capital Markets, has started his own media and Internet consulting firm called Clearmeadow Partners with an assist by Mike Kelly, formerly president of AOL Media Networks.

Based in New York, the new firm will work with both large media companies and Internet startups on developing their digital businesses.

Joining Clearmeadow as senior advisers are Kelly and Richard Chang, managing partner of Georgian Pine Investments, a special situations fund investing in emerging growth companies.

Kelly, who was responsible for marketing, distribution and ad sales for AOL Web properties and spearheaded AOL's acquisition of before leaving the company last year, "is already playing a big role," Rohan told Online Media Daily.

Rohan himself rose to prominence as an Internet analyst through stints at Soundview Technology Group, SG Cowen Securities and UBS Securities before joining RBC, where he covered companies including Google and Yahoo.

"I decided after a dozen years of being an analyst it was time for me to help companies directly with what I knew, which is helping to accelerate their digital strategies," said Rohan, who left RBC last month.

In addition to advising companies, Rohan said Clearmeadow may also launch a merchant banking fund aimed at rescuing troubled online units of larger entities. "After a long period of consolidation in the Internet and new media space, what's needed is a bit of a reversal of that trend to save the good assets," Rohan said.

He pointed, as an example, to, which the New York Times Company acquired from Primedia Inc. in 2005 for $410 million to bolster its online ad business. CEO Scott Meyer stepped down in February amid slowing growth at the Web directory and increasing pressure from activist Times Company shareholders to revamp its online business.

"A big corporate structure presents a somewhat suffocating force for a growing company inside of it," Rohan said. "I think we're heading into a time when there will be massive restructuring in the media business."

As a former AOL executive, Kelly certainly brings firsthand experience of what it's like to help run a struggling Internet unit within a media giant.

Clearmeadow has participated so far in a $1 million first-round funding for Small World Labs, a startup that builds online communities for companies, with clients including the Dallas Morning News, Fox Networks and Oracle.

Rohan said the firm will charge large media clients standard fees for advisory services, but will be willing to take equity stakes in Internet startups in lieu of fees.

As far as drumming up business, Rohan has already laid the groundwork. "I was one of the better networked analysts out there," he said.

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