An Open Letter to Seeking Alpha Contributors

by: SA Product Team

I wanted to let you know personally about three new initiatives that have rolled out on Seeking Alpha this morning:

1. Sharing revenue with contributors

I've always viewed Seeking Alpha as a partnership with our contributors: You provide us with outstanding articles, and we invest heavily (we now have over 70 employees) in technology, web design, editors and traffic partnerships to get your ideas in front of a large and valuable audience and drive customer leads to your business. But we've always known that some of our contributors don't have businesses we can drive leads to, and that many contributors would appreciate additional direct income from their articles.

We've spent over a year building a direct sales team, and our readership has hit an all-time high and continues to grow (see report here). As a result, we can now share meaningful revenue with contributors: You'll earn $10 for every thousand page views to articles which are published by Seeking Alpha and given to us exclusively (i.e. they don't appear for free elsewhere on the Web). We call payment for exclusive articles our "Premium Partnership Program". It's on an article by article basis, so there are no contracts or forward commitments, and if for any reason you don't want to receive payment yourself, you can pick a charity to receive your earnings instead. And if you don't want to give us exclusivity for articles, nothing will change from the way we publish your articles now.

2. Upgrade to our leaderboards and reputation system

We've introduced a new reputation system and set of leaderboards, called "SA Opinion Leaders". You're now ranked by page views (trailing 90 days) to your articles according to the themes you write about. For example, if some of your articles are tagged "Software", you automatically appear in the Software Sector leaderboard and are ranked by the number of page views you received to those articles. You can appear in multiple leaderboards, determined by the themes your articles are tagged with. Additionally, if you're ranked in the top 5 for any theme, that information is displayed on your articles and also on your profile page.

We think this new reputation system has strong advantages. First, we've discovered that the number of followers a person has on Seeking Alpha (and, parenthetically, Twitter also) doesn't necessarily equate to reader engagement or influence. In contrast, the number of people who read your articles is a direct measure of reader engagement and thus your influence. Second, reputation is far more meaningful when measured in specific areas of expertise. So if you focus on software stocks, it's far more valuable to know (and tell people) that you're the number one on Seeking Alpha in the Software Sector than that you're number 33 in some general ranking. We think that measuring real engagement and ranking contributors in categories will be valuable for contributors and -- critically -- valuable for readers.

3. Access to stats

You can now view detailed stats on Seeking Alpha, including total page views, page views by article, and page views by category. Additionally, you can track your page views and earnings for exclusive articles.

The future

Any major change carries risk, so why are we doing this? After all, churn in our contributor base is remarkably low, we're about to add our 4,000th contributor, traffic is at an all time high, we recently crossed our 600,000th registered user, we have over 40,000 comments on the site per month, and our audience is of outstandingly high quality.

The answer is: This is about a vision. Investment research has been dominated by the sell side, but there's a world out there of other people who have considerable knowledge and insight about stocks, options, bonds, ETFs and investment strategy. Whether you're a fund manager, financial advisor, industry expert or a smart individual investor, we want to be the partner that brings that insight to light and unlocks value for contributors by offering exposure, reputation, customer leads and direct income. If this is successful, it should transform the investment research industry.

Next Steps:

Thank you for your partnership with us, and wishing you a happy and prosperous 2011.

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