Congratulations to Rafat Ali

Congratulations to Rafat Ali, who couldn’t find work four years ago after the two publications that he wrote for shut down. Not finding work doesn’t warrant congratulations. Neither sometimes does finding work. But Rafat deserve congratulations for creating his own pioneering opportunity and becoming the example for other people of a new model of trade journal publishing.

Rather than find work, Rafat created PaidContent.org. It initially reported about attempts successfully charge for online content but now reports about online news & entertainment media in general. Rafat started it as a one-man army, but now has a staff of reporters, editors, and sale people working under him.

I remember when in 2002, when I was writing ClickZ.com’s monthly column about paid online content, and Rafat asked me if I knew of any examples in which someone by themselves had used basic blogging tools to create a successful, daily trade news site. I knew of none, which wasn’t not much encouragement for him. Nevertheless, Rafat launched one anyway, perseversed, and PaidContent.org succeeded (I profiled Rafat two years later in ClickZ.com, making him ironically the pioneering example that I didn’t have when he first asked me).

Rafat’s ambition extened beyond just one such B2B blog. He soon launched two more: MocoNews.net about mobile phone content and ContentSutra about new-media in the Indian subcontinent. His three sites now collectively receive five million visits per month.

Rafat today announced that Greycroft Partners, run by veteran early-stage investor Alan Patricoff, had purchase a minority share of Rafat’s company and that former Details magazine president and publisher Jeff Stern was being hired a director and Chief Operating Officer. These certainly are further signs of Rafat’s success.

The Wall Street Journal today reported further details about Rafat’s announcement and how reporters such as Om Malik and Christopher Carey are each following what I think are the path that Rafat pioneered.

In 2003, a year after PaidContent.org launched, it won Europe’s Net Media Award as ‘Best Business News Site.’ Rafat couldn’t attend that conference in Barcelona, so I had the pleasure of accepting the award as his proxy. I’ll be seeing Rafat tomorrow at his company’s ContentNext mixer in Manhattan and look forward to congratulating him there in person about his latest achievements.

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