The Founder of ViralNova – A One Man Site Sold for US$100 Million – Scott DeLong
ViralNova, launched in May, 2013 is an internet site similar to Buzzfeed, which is a collection of “trending pictures and stories around the Web” with catchy phrases shared on social networking sites like Facebook. The site has an audience of more than 100 million visitors monthly and has earned advertising revenues of more than US$10 million last year using only ad networks. This site was recently sold to Zealot Networks on 9th July, 2015 for US$100 million in cash and stock and is the invention of a single man named – Scott DeLong.
Scott DeLong, approx. 30 years of age, was born and brought up by his mother, a homemaker and his stepfather, a truck driver in Uhrichsville, Ohio. His father worked as a part-time Christian pastor, in a steel mill and owned a car wash and Laundromat.
DeLong did his graduation from Kent State University and landed a job in 2004 at a marketing agency in North Canton called the Karcher Group at a nominal income.
Formula for Success
In 2005, in his early twenties, he launched a website called “Nothing Toxic”, with blooper videos of accidents and car wrecks. To widen his audience base, he paid other web owners to past links to his site on theirs. This helped him earn an income of US$8000/ month by the end of the year. However, in 2008 he sold the site to Break Media, an LA-Based Company for US$800,000 post the growing popularity of Google’s YouTube.
Over the next few years, he created a number of sites such as mywickedspace.com, celebparasite.com and godvine.com in 2010. Though, both the former sites lost audience post the emergence of other sites; GodVine.com paid off well. It was a site to attract Christians with inspirational videos; that was sold off to Salem Communications (SALM), a Christian media company for US$4.2 million in 2012. Though, SALM made the announcement of the acquisition public, there was no mention of DeLong who maintains a very secretive life. No videos or posts even on ViralNova mention his name.
ViralNova was launched in May, 2013 solely by Scott DeLong and two freelance writers with a few Google ads on its pages. The site capitalized on the popularity of Facebook where ViralNova’s stories with catchy captions would appear. This resulted in skyrocketing the site’s revenues to millions of dollars annually and audiences to approx. 100 million.
Though, the site took the market by storm; DeLong had considered selling it off in 2014 due to the inability to single-handedly handling the pressure of the growing traffic on it. A New York-based entrepreneur – Sean Beckner convinced him to stay in the game and obtained a part of the site besides hiring an executive team and other writers.
DeLong’s site – ViralNova currently has a full-time employee base of 22 and is likely to generate US$35 million in the current year. The Company post its sale to Zealot Networks has shifted its headquarters to Venice, California with DeLong continuing to stay on the Board of the Company.