[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