Kin Community coalesces around millennial women and their ways home

A decade in, Michael Wayne finally has a clear vision of what his company can be.

The former Sony Pictures Entertainment executive had been driven by the idea that video would overtake the Internet, and he wanted to be the leader in producing high-quality digital shorts. But what they’d cover, where they would stream and how to make money — he figured he’d settle all that as he went along.

Now Wayne is ready to describe at least half the picture. His Los Angeles media start-up, Kin Community, has coalesced around the idea of producing shows that help young women craft their home.

It’s not just about construction and furniture. Kin Community wants to help those women define what home means to them by letting them watch how peers decide what to cook, how to clean and where to shop. If those videos turn out to be as appealing as Kin Community hopes, it could present a new threat to a swath of cable TV, including HGTV and Food Network, that is having to adjust its business practices because of the surging popularity of Internet video.

“We see a really great opportunity to super-serve the almost 1 billion 18-to-34-year-old women globally,” said Wayne, Kin Community’s co-founder and chief executive. “We think women everywhere are making their way home.”

The sharper mission coincided with Kin Community’s 60-person team moving into a new home of its own this year, an exposed wood-ceiling hangar on the border of Westchester and Playa Vista. The offices contain a small nook and set for filming as the company ramps up productions. It plans to spend $10 million on show development over the next three years.

On Kin Community’s current slate are “Trending on a Dime,” which recently launched under the title “Pretty Penny” about budget clothes, furniture and meals; “Here’s the Thing,” a comedy about finding solutions for common and pesky issues in the home; and “The Journey Home,” a documentary about former foster children.

Kin Community had focused on lifestyle videos for several years, but that was more because of circumstances than intent. When the economy dived in 2008, Wayne’s company, then known as Digital Entertainment Corp. of America, or DECA, decided to focus on the category because a mom’s lifestyle show had been the most well-received of several trials.

Wayne also had less aversion to the idea than many male entrepreneurs from his generation might. He grew up in Manhattan, the son of a fashion-model mother and restaurateur dad. Between his parents and his two older sisters, Wayne says he picked up a passion for lifestyle content and an eye for good aesthetics. Those interests led him to start a local culture magazine in Prague after his bachelor’s degree studies and to partner with only the most elite video makers through Kin Community.

But Wayne acknowledges that his company might have ended up in a different place if it had started later and had more time to experiment. It wasn’t until YouTube became a global sensation and moneymaker for video creators in 2011 that DECA started hitting its stride.

Kin Community’s shows about decorating bedrooms and baking cakes have been delivered in a way that attracts mostly women viewers. And its advertising sales teams have expertise in working with women-oriented brands.

Still unclear is how and when the company can generate recurring profits. Nearly all revenue comes from integrating advertisers as sponsors or cameos into shows that are produced by the company or its 130 video-making partners such as Hannah Hart and Byron Talbott.

Selling video subscriptions, products or tickets to events could grow into the revenue mix. But as advertisers shift spending online from cable channels and magazines to reach younger audiences, the ad business is likely to remain dominant.

Alteryx’s IPO followed a long journey too

Dean Stoecker is always deeply involved in training sessions for new employees at his Irvine technology company. The goal: Make sure they view customers as No.1.

“Customer trust defines the integrity of the company,” he likes to tell them. “They pay the bills, the employees’ salaries and help us innovate.”

Stoecker reinforced that message himself last week by taking his software firm Alteryx Inc. public on the New York Stock Exchange. The initial public offering tripled the company’s bank account by bringing in $126 million. But Chairman and Chief Executive Stoecker says the cash wasn’t needed. Instead, he pushed for the IPO because it could gain Alteryx attention and drive a wave of new customers.

Alteryx’s program centralizes, organizes and analyzes databases for people who have to execute computing tasks such as “vlookups” or work on “brittle spreadsheets” all day, Stoecker said. Alteryx’s 2,300 customers last year included Nike and Southwest Airlines, according to regulatory filings.

But Stoecker knows that there’s a big population of such workers who don’t know about Alteryx’s automated tools for replacing rote tasks.

“We're going public because the opportunity the next 24 months is huge,” Stoecker said by phone from New York on Friday. “Over the coming months as the broader awareness around self-service analytics occurs, we'll be there. It's our market to lose.”

The challenge is to grow large before giants such as Microsoft and IBM squeeze into this emerging corner of a $20-billion market. Alteryx so far remains small, with $89 million in sales last year and a $24-million loss.

Alteryx shares closed Monday at $15.23, down 1.7% on the day but up from the IPO price of $14.

Stoecker, his two co-founders, fellow employees and the company's venture capital investors didn’t sell shares in the IPO, further emphasizing that the process was more about the spectacle than the money. Employees were given a chance to cash out some shares during two private financing rounds in recent years.

The IPO marks a significant milestone for a company that dates to 1997 and started with a focus on geography-based data analyses.

“I knew our business would get this big but I didn't think it would take this long,” Stoecker said.

He also plans to leverage Alteryx’s new status as a public company to spread awareness of Orange County and Los Angeles technology industries.

“I have begun to become more vocal,” he said. “This region is chock-full of great talent.”

Elsewhere on the Web

Retailers including Target stopped selling a dishwashing product from Honest Co. because it contained less liquid than advertised, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Newly launched Venice start-up Purple Squirrel wants to help people looking for a job at a specific company connect with existing employees for a fee, according to Fast Company.

Nordstorm plans to put showrooms for Santa Monica tuxedo rental start-up the Black Tux in six stores over the coming weeks, according to Recode.

Los Angeles start-up Naritiv sold its Snapchat analytics software to Hootsuite, according to Techcrunch.

In case you missed it

Pocketwatch, a new entertainment company led by former Disney and Nickelodeon executives, aims to be the children’s media headquarters of the 21st century.

Healthcare products maker Johnson & Johnson and automaker General Motors Co. are among the latest companies to halt advertising on YouTube after concerns that Google is not doing enough to ensure that the brands’ ads are not appearing near terrorist content.

Walt Disney Co.’s chief executive has no interest in having theme park visitors strap on virtual reality headsets that block out their view and place them inside a digital world.

Snap shares jumped as IPO insiders encourage buying or holding on to the stock.

Coming up

The Product School at 601 W. 5th St., Suite 920, Los Angeles, hosts an “ask me anything” session with Samantha Stevens, senior product manager at Tinder, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. She’s expected to discuss how Tinder organizes its product development team and the challenges of her role. Tickets are $10 in advance, $20 at the door, plus a processing fee.

Twitter: @peard33

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