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Santa Monica Content Provider Goes Public  

Ann K. Williams
Lookout Staff

January 28, 2011 -- Demand Media, an internet how-to and general information provider with headquarters in Santa Monica, went public Wednesday to the tune of some $1.5 billion.

The owner of such popular sites as e-How, LIVESTRONG.COM and the Tyra Banks Project boasts more than 100 million “consumers” a month on its websites, although reported figures fall in the 60 million range.

The company pays a stable of roughly 13,000 freelance writers to churn out advice ranging from how to make homemade cake frosting to how to test gold, and career advice like how to become a hazmat worker or how to become an adult film actor. The items are designed to pop up at the top of internet searches.

Critics call Demand Media “a content farm,” a label that Demand Media's CEO Richard Rosenblatt says is “insulting,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

In “Our Manifesto” at demandmedia.com, the company defends its standards. It says it “generally target(s) an hourly rate for writers that is comparable to the average salary of a journalist,” and provides some of its writers “access to affordable health insurance.”

But many writers have reported that, while it depends on which of the company's sites they write for, they make $5 to $20 an article.

“It's not a scam but it's not journalism or even, really, writing,” said a former Demand Media writer.

“Basically, I think, they just want a lot of people cranking out a lot of stuff so search engines will direct people to their websites.”

And under the company's heading “Build Superior Web Experiences,” Demand Media asserts “(w)hile our approach to content creation has captured widespread industry attention, the bigger story is the rabid fan base and rapid growth of our core media properties,” a story that underlies its recent success.

 

“It's not a scam but it's not journalism or even, really, writing.” Former Demand Media writer

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