San Diego’s Platformic Expands Its Web Development Platform for Broadcasters

11/10/09Follow @bvbigelow

Mark Underhill says he was doing Web design and applications development for Clear Channel Communications when the San Antonio, TX-based media company announced plans to sell 448 of its 1,150 radio stations, along with its 42-station TV group. That was in November 2006.

Underhill, who had initially been hired in San Diego six or seven years earlier to run 11 Clear Channel websites, says he remembers thinking at the time, “I’ve learned so much doing this. But I could do better than this. I could build a better mousetrap.”

The following year (just a few months after Clear Channel completed its $1.5 billion sale), Underhill and his longtime friend Claudio Canive started Platformic, a San Diego startup that enables customers to create and manage their own websites. The company, which acquired its first customer by the end of 2007, has targeted the broadcast industry and now counts Comcast, the Tribune Co., and Fox Broadcasting among its biggest customers.

Platformic-based Web design

Platformic-based Web design

Platformic’s software-as-a-service model provides simple point-and-click tools that do not require users to learn Adobe’s Dreamweaver Web design software or to write computer code. The company says its hosted system enable customers to “come up with any look and feel” for their own websites by empowering people who know what a website should look like, but who don’t necessarily know how to create it. Websites using Platformic’s technology include Los Angeles TV station KTLA and San Francisco’s AM sports radio station KNBR and its San Mateo sister station, KTCT. Last week, Platformic helped launch 12 Fox regional sports websites throughout the country.

Platformic’s roughly 200 customers also include what Underhill describes as small “mom and pop” businesses operating websites that basically provide an online brochure of their products and services. But Platformic says its Web-based system is ideal for enterprise media customers that understand the broadcast business, but may not be technically adept in terms of creating interactive Web pages for their audience.

“What we’ve found is that people say, ‘Gee, this has a lot of different applications,” says Canive, Platformic’s founding CEO. “But we’ve focused on broadcast stations because that’s where our contacts were, and that’s where our experience was.”

When I sat down with Canive and Underhill several weeks ago, they told me one of their goals was to build an online community and networking capability into their technology—and now they have realized that goal. In an announcement today, Platformic says it is adding social media capabilities that will enable members of a broadcaster’s audience to share photos, create their own user profiles, create personal blogs, and make comments on the broadcaster’s Platformic-powered website.

“The social site announcement is about getting your visitors involved in our website in a pretty integrated way,” Underhill says. User-generated content, including comments, ratings, and recommendations about articles on a website, can be searched using SiteSearch, a Platformic tool that allows searches from one location for all articles, users, and media-based content.

“We’ve had comment modules that our customers can install” as they develop their websites, Underhill says. “But this kind of ties it all together, so users are able to blog within a Platformic website.”

In addition to providing its technology through a software-as-a-service approach, Canive says Platformic also can provide the Web design and development itself for customers. The company hosts the customer’s website itself, and customers pay an enterprise licensing fee and annual maintenance fees.

Canive, a network engineer himself, says Platformic has been entirely self-funded, and now has about 10 employees. “Strategically, our goal is to grow organically,” Canive says. The company is “very profitable,” he adds, because of what he calls its novel approach to website development and management. “It’s just a very unique situation that we’re in.”

Underhill says he attributes Platformic’s growth to the fact that the technology represents a cost savings compared with conventional Web design and development. As he puts it, “The technology is just incredibly robust for the price point.”

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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