FreshAlloy.com was the first venture that I built that achieved significant scale. I hatched the idea in 1999, and at the time, roughly 5% of the worldwide population had access to the internet. The concept around FreshAlloy was to use the content as a catalyst to spark debate. Most automotive content came from magazines back in the day, and publishers did not want to cannibalize their business. Therefore there was an opportunity online to create a website where site visitors could consume content and engage a community subsidized by advertisers.
I remember, before building FreshAlloy, looking through a listing of the top 1,000 properties online. What caught my eye was that some amateur automotive sites and forums ranked in the top 1,000 list. We found that Nissan enthusiasts did not have a destination online during our research, so FreshAlloy was created to become the premier destination for Nissan enthusiasts. From 1999 to 2004, FreshAlloy grew from a $2,000 investment to driving over one million unique users per month. At its peak, Alexa Research, an Amazon company, ranked FreshAlloy as one of the 1,000 most visited sites in the United States.
The Rise of FreshAlloy
A few factors contributed to FreshAlloy’s growth:
- Automotive publications primarily existed in print format only. If an automotive publisher had a website, it was used to drive magazine subscriptions.
- Back in 1999, search engine algorithms were not as sophisticated. With fewer competitors, it was easier to gain organic traffic.
- FreshAlloy released automotive content near real-time while magazines were operating on a 30-day cycle.
- FreshAlloy’s traffic mainly was viral. Our viral growth was due to creating debatable content in conjunction with forums to allow users to debate and discuss. As a result, FreshAlloy users brought their friends, and our online community grew.
- The last factor was a big news break where FreshAlloy became the first news publication to break the highly anticipated Nissan 300Z story. Once we published the Nissan 300z pictures and information, FreshAlloy was on the map in a big way.
Being we were an online-only publication, we were free to leverage digital publishing to scale. For example, I remember one of the first news stories covering the 2000 Los Angeles Autoshow. After visiting the auto show, we uploaded our auto show pictures and news coverage online. In contrast, Automotive publishers were locked into their monthly printing cycles, and our auto show coverage beat the print magazines by weeks.
As FreshAlloy grew, Nissan executives and Chiat/Day staff started to follow our site regularly. The repour we built eventually led to Nissan and Infiniti giving us access to their press fleet.
FreshAlloy Joins B-Verticals
During the dot.com boom, FreshAlloy briefly rolled up our business with three other automotive sites to form a new company, B-Verticals. One of our partner sites had raised a $1M seed round and was collectively trying to raise a $20 million round of funding to scale our business. B-Verticals had an experienced management team and a board including former Diamler/Chrysler Vice Chairman and President Thomas Stallkamp.
Poor timing did not allow the B-Verticals to play out, as a few weeks before going out on our roadshow to raise funding, the internet bubble burst. Eventually, FreshAlloy pulled away from the other sites and decided to operate independently. In August 2004, I parted ways with Freshalloy to pursue my MBA full-time. In 2019 FreshAlloy finally shut down for good.