| HBS Case Collection
(Revised April 2015)
Affinity Labs: Valuing Customer Growth
In November 2006, Chris Michel left Military.com, which he founded in 1999, to start Affinity Labs, a global network of online communities. That month, Michel raised a Series A round of venture funding and established a partnership with Monster, which he had sold Military.com to. Within its first year of operations, Affinity Labs launched eight vertical portals including PoliceLink, NursingLink, TechCommunity, and IndiaOn. While the company was well ahead of its original plan to release four portals in 2007, Michel still faced a number of challenges. He had learned a great deal from Military.com and Affinity Labs' first launches, but in the case of each new community was faced with how best to construct the vertical and attract a sufficiently large audience. While the model seemed highly scalable because each vertical used the same core technology, every sector had its unique features. In the fall of 2007, executives from Monster opened up a dialogue with Michel about selling the company or expanding their relationship. Michel wondered if the time was right to sell or if he should grow Affinity Labs further with the hope of creating a company that could command the high valuations seen recently by a number of social networking concerns.
Keywords: Mergers and Acquisitions;
Demand and Consumers;
Partners and Partnerships;
Social and Collaborative Networks;