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Wednesday 17th April 2013 – Travel website Simonseeks has confirmed details of a management buy-out led by three members of its former management team; Rick Madden, Paul Dickinson and Simon Dawson. Founder Simon Nixon will no longer have any involvement in the site.
“Firstly we’d like to thank Simon unequivocally for completing this process and allowing us the opportunity to get Simonseeks back up and running” said Paul on behalf of the new team.
Rick comments “working closely with Simon was a privilege, both personally and professionally, and I fully understood his decision to withdraw funding. However, whilst the projections may not offer a sufficient return for Simon, there is an opportunity to run the business on a smaller scale and still deliver a positive experience for our writers and users, as Simon said himself in 2011”.
The new outfit will initially be run on a ‘best endeavours’ basis as the trio will continue in their other day jobs. “The current level of income cannot justify full-time involvement so we will have to run this as a side project for now. Once we start to gather momentum, of course we will look to spend more time on the site” continued Paul, who originally built the site along with Simon Dawson.
After nearly two years with no development or admin, the site still generates a good volume of traffic and writers continue to submit guides. Proof that people find it a useful source for planning trips and evidence of how enthusiastic the amateur/aspiring travel writing community is.
“The real success of Simonseeks was the travel writing community that got behind us. They submitted some really inspiring guides and fantastic recommendations of where to stay, places to eat and things to do. Those snippets of information you only get from people who have been there and done it.” says Simon.
The new owners know how important it is to find a balance between quality and quantity, an area where the site struggled in the past, attracting criticism for its stringent editorial hurdle and it’s refocus toward professional paid content in 2011. Giving clear signals of where the new outfit will target its efforts, Paul commented “we want to go back to why the site was originally set up, people contributing because they are passionate about travel and sharing their experiences. And we need to look at ways to reduce the barriers to entry so that a wider number of people can get involved. Obviously the content must be legible, useful and above all inspiring. But we want it to be about passion, not payment”
Site registrations and revenue share will temporarily be suspended whilst the team decide how best to structure the arrangement but they have indicated they still want this to be a key feature going forward.
The trio have not ruled out hiring junior staff or bringing others in on an equity share basis to help spread the workload, and would encourage anyone with synergistic partnership possibilities to get in touch. “We’ve built up a strong network inside the travel industry over the years and are already in several partnership discussions” said Rick.
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