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Travora Media sells remaining assets: Ad network to live, content biz to close

@denschaal

Feb 11, 2013 7:00 am

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Travora management ran the company into the ground, and its consumer sites languished and will die.

— Dennis Schaal

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The Travora iPhone app and its content sites won't survive the sales of its travel advertising network.


Travora Media’s anticlimactic next chapter begins as its assets have been sold to a company that hopes to build an advertising network for hotels, airports and Internet service providers.

AdVantage Neworks, which is in the process of a reverse merger with shell company JMG Exploration – which recently sold off its oil and gas interests to focus on digital advertising — acquired Travora on February 6 for an undisclosed sum.

Brendon Kensel, president of JMG Exploration, says the company will pair the advertising network with AdVantage Neworks to upgrade Travora’s targeting capabilities to build a large advertising platform for ISPs, and private networks at airports and hotels. The parent company, JMG Exploration, will soon change its name to MediaShift, he says.

Kensel claims the company will be “aggressively” rolling out its advertising platform to hotel, airport and ISP clients in 2013, and that the company has signed contracts, but he declined to identify any of those clients, citing confidentiality concerns.

The acquisition punctuates the collapse of Travora’s content strategy in which it acquired sites such as NileGuide and TravelMuse, and launched its own ill-fated travel-content site, Travora.com.

Kensel says MediaShift will have no interest in pursuing a content strategy and thus TravelMuse, Travora.com, and its mobile app will be shut.

“That is not part of our strategy,” Kensel says.

NileGuide and its Localyte brand will die a slower death, and NileGuide’s 10Best site was recently acquired by USA Today for an undisclosed amount.

Kensel says updating NileGuide and Localyte content will not be a focus, and they will be used as the basis for hotel and airport landing pages.

After Skift reported on Travora’s mounting challenges last month, the company’s leaders disputed the story, calling it “incorrect, misleading, incomplete or flat out wrong.”

Travora Media CEO Kirsten Forte and chief revenue officer Josh Steinitz, who founded NileGuide, are no longer with the company. Steinitz’s LinkedIn profile says he’s now vice president of global business development at Revinate, which specializes in social media for hotels.

Investors Rho Capital Ventures, Village Ventures, StarVest Partners, Austin Ventures, and Tenaya Capital no longer have any stake in Travora Media, which will continue to operate under its own brand, and they undoubtedly piled up huge losses, and left without much. Travora was founded in 2004 and raised some $33 million in funding.

Kensel says the advertising network, which was the only part of the business with any value, did $13 million in 2011 revenue — and that was mostly before Kirsten Forte was brought in as CEO in the fall of that year.

Kensel declined to say what revenue the ad network did in 2012, but two sources says it wasn’t too far off the 2011 number.

Kirsten Forte’s strategy to pair Travora’s advertising network with its own content sites and apps turned into a disaster.

Kensel says JMG bought Travora for its advertiser base and its 20-member sales team, which remains with the company.

Travora, formerly called Travel Ad Network, is the subject of a trademark lawsuit brought by Travel Spike, which alleges it was first to use the name Travel Ad Network.

Kensel says the JMG Exploration acquisition of Travora was an “asset purchase,” and he claims Travora under JMG Exploration ownership has no liability in the suit.

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