RealTime IT News

Former Motorola VP Will Lead Keen Europe

[London, ENGLAND] Paul Strzelecki, a former vice president of Motorola, is to become chief executive of Keen Europe, the European branch of the Keen.com community that provides answers to people's questions over the telephone.

Known as the "Live Answer Community," Keen.com enables those who answer the questions to make money by charging a per-minute fee to receive calls. The full array of topics covered is set out on the Keen.com and Keen.co.uk Web sites.

Paul Strzelecki, who most recently has been managing director of a European Internet start-up within the Sony Corporation, will launch Keen Europe in the U.K., followed closely by a launch in Germany. His first task, says the company, will be to assemble a senior management team.

Backed by over US $109 million from investors and strategic partners, Keen.com is one of the largest enterprises to combine Web, telephone, and "experts" into what appears to be a general-purpose call center for life's problems.

Among the questions addressed by Keen.com in the popular Relationships area of its site are: "Stressed out/confused about your signicant (sic) other?" and "Which psychic is BEST for you?"

At a premium rate, users can call "thejake420" and find out: "How to get her to fall for you - and fall HARD!"

It appears that the investors have fallen for Keen.com in a big way, with funding from Amerindo Investment Advisors, Attractor Investment Management, Benchmark Capital, CNET, Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown, eBay, Impact Venture Partners, Inktomi, Innovation Investments, Integral Capital, Merrill Lynch, Microsoft, Pivotal Asset Management, Pyramid Technology Ventures, L.P. and Vulcan Ventures.

George Coelho, European partner at Benchmark Capital, said that Benchmark has a rigorous selection process and only backs ventures and people that meet its stringent criteria and share its approach to business.

"Keen Europe combines a proven concept with a great business model. Add to this its successful track record in the U.S., the quality of its existing management team and the experience, leadership and vision of Paul Strzelecki, and we are confident of success in Europe," said Coelho.

Whether Coelho and his colleagues avail themselves of services such as "Witchcraft and Voodoo Love Spells and Money Spells" -- also available in the Relationships section -- is not clear. And as to whether the company will ever reach profitability may be something they could ask Madame, "askmadame" being the ID of one person who provides Tarot Readings and Predictions on Keen.com.