Matt Van Horn has been with Path since before they launched at the end of 2010. And as the Vice President of Business his day to day consists of focusing on strategy and platform.
However, before he started at Path Van Horn worked with a few different companies, the first of which was Digg. Though, the Digg of 2007 was very different from what it is today; they were the most trafficked news site on the web. One of the resounding lessons Van Horn took away from his experience at Digg revolved around securing partnerships.
Digg was the first website to add the button feature that we see Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others taking advantage of these days. But before it was dogma to put a button on your news page, the Digg crew had to beg news publishers to add it to their site. Some were smart enough to understand the value, but the majority of sites didn’t want it.
It was Van Horn’s job to secure as many partnerships as he could for Digg. One day he cast his line out into the ocean, cold, and the fish that bit hook, line, and sinker was none other than Andrew Breitbart.
Van Horn’s boss had told him to reach out to major news outlets and set up meetings for him, so he reached out to Breitbart. Within five minutes the tables were turned as Van Horn received a direct call from Breitbart asking what the Digg button was and what it could do.
Having no real experience pitching big wigs, Van Horn gave a horrific rendition. But Breitbart liked what he heard and decided to give it a go – the Digg button had it’s first adopter.
The key that made this a successful partnership was the exchange of value between the two, something that Van Horn still holds as priority one. The Digg button got Breitbart a ton of traffic, it got Digg even more traffic, and other news outlets were able to finally see the proof of concept for the Digg button.
Facilitating a fair exchange of value has helped Van Horn secure partnerships with major organizations like Nokia and Nike to date, and it’s something he thinks all entrepreneurs need to commit to. You have to consider what you bring to the table, not just what you can take away from it.
Van Horn had a fireside chat with Frank Gruber detailing all this and more during our Tech Cocktail Week Sessions. Here’s the video: