RealTime IT News

MSN to Consumers: Listen up!

Microsoft's MSN Network signed a deal with San Francisco-based Keen Inc. that will bring its users live advice and online content regarding subjects such as computer help, astrology and financial advice.

The move marks a major ratification of Keen's business model. Under the agreement, Keen's pay-per-minute service will be offered across a variety of MSN properties, enabling users to talk live over the telephone to Keen advisers. Financial specifics were not disclosed.

Links to Keen's personal advisers will be integrated throughout the MSN network, including MSN Search, MSN Communities and MSN Chat.

MSN users who need advice on anything from child care options to tax advice will be able to follow a Keen topic link to connect with a KeenSpeaker for a live telephone conversation. Keen is also a part of the Microsoft Office Tools on the Web site, so users can connect with a Microsoft Certified Engineer for technical support by clicking on the Tools on the Web link in an Office document and following the links to Keen advisers.

"MSN is committed to bringing superior content complemented by easy-to-use technology to millions of users ... and Keen's vision is in line with reaching those goals," said Jed Savage, director of national sales for MSN at Microsoft

Through keen.com and 800-ASK-KEEN, consumers can browse a directory of KeenSpeakers (those who sell their advice on Keen) and connect for a live phone call.

Keen says that because it makes the connection, consumers get the advice they're looking for without revealing phone numbers or other personal information. People who wish to sell their advice can join Keen's community of speakers free by creating a listing that describes the information and advice they wish to provide.

Launched in November 1999, Keen's investors include 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 and Vulcan Ventures.