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Slide, maker of popular social networking applications like Super Poke and Top Friends, is changing its revenue strategy, placing new emphasis on premium advertising, such as brand sponsorship of apps. Due to this shift, the San Francisco company cut most of its ad sales force yesterday.
GigaOm first reported the news last night, after obtaining a copy of the email chief executive Max Levchin sent to the team and confirming the news with Levchin. The PayPal co-founder said that, financially, it makes more sense for Slide to pursue the bigger ad campaigns and sponsorships (in the $500,000 range), rather than spend time and energy on smaller deals.
Lily Lin, Slide’s director of communications, sent me a few more details:
Unfortunately, we did part ways with most of our sales force yesterday. We’ve made the decision to strategically shift away from selling standard ad units to selling higher-margin premium advertising such as brand sponsorships. The number of people impacted was in the single digits. To support this shift in our sales approach, the plan is to build a team focused on these higher-end sponsorship opportunities.
We’ve reported that Slide is currently making around $20 million a year in advertising. The company has raised a total of $58 million in venture backing — back in January 2008, it raised most of that money at an eye-opening $550 million valuation. (Shortly afterward, competitor RockYou raised a round at what we heard was a $200 to $230 million valuation.) Of course, the economy and ad market have changed dramatically since then, but I would imagine Slide’s feeling pressure to at least partially justify those numbers.
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