UNIVERSITY PARK -- John Lemp, CEO and Founder of Revcontent, entered the dot-com world before the bubble burst making him an old-timer by technology standards.
He started out building websites for domains such as collegehumor.com when he realized he needed to find a way to make money for the content.
"I was building large sites with lots of traffic and there was no way to monetize that," Lemp said. "No matter how brilliant or world-changing an idea is, if there's no way to pay for it, how will it exist?"
Promoting great ideas and giving them a platform is what inspired Lemp to start Revcontent.
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"So many people are consuming media over Facebook and Google," Lemp said. "Providing an alternative is crucial to us. We believe we will reach more people than Facebook by the end of the year."
It's an ambitious goal to be sure, but Lemp believes his native advertising platform or content recommendation software platform will give him that.
Last year the company opened a New York office and intends to open an office in San Francisco in the next couple of months. Recently, in an all-cash deal, Revcontent acquired ContentClick, a similar content recommendation network in Europe. The purchase adds to Revcontent's international traffic and content inventory.
At Revcontent's offices in Sarasota, employees can take a playground-style slide downstairs to visit the built-in game room, craft bistro or gym. On Friday, the staff congregates around a beer cart at 4 p.m. for brew. A trainer comes in to the Internet-based company's full-size gym early in the morning for employees who want to start their day right. The amenities, meant to help employees bond and keep spirits up, were all built in the name of productivity and growth.
Even the way desks are arranged and structured contribute to the company's creativity.
"The desks are moveable to help departments collaborate," said Meaghan Otto, brand specialist at Revcontent. "And they have to be because the company is growing so fast."
All of the seemingly unorthodox methods are used to enhance the workflow.
"For two years, our mission has been to deliver unbeatable returns by truly understanding the unique nature of our audience, the sites they visit and the content they consume," Joe Williams, United Kingdom managing director at ContentClick said in a statement. "It's a mission shared by Revcontent, and we're excited to scale their market leading technology in the UK."
The term "native advertising" can be confusing; Revcontent does not create content, but rather aggregates content and recommends it based on algorithms meant to determine user preferences. More simply, it's the "you may like" or "recommended content" links found at the bottom of news stories or blog posts.
"Native advertising means a different kind of advertising than display, banner ads, etc.," said Katherine Saviola, brand manager for Revcontent. "Native ads should look and feel like they are naturally part of the site."
Advertising networking companies like Revcontent have a double purpose; to allow bloggers and websites to buy or sell web traffic on a cost-per-click basis.
Lemp hopes his company will start a new culture of success in the Manatee-Sarasota area.
"I would love to see (this area) be Silicon Beach," Lemp said.
Janelle O'Dea, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095 or follow her on Twitter@jayohday.