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Long-Term Stock Investment in the Maven Publishing Network

Author:

Glenn Stok writes about investment and risk-control strategies he perfected during 45 years trading stocks, options, and futures contracts.

Maven Logo

Maven Logo

Maven is an online content company based in Seattle, Washington, incorporated in Nevada on July 22nd, 2016, under the name “Amplify Media, Inc.”

They changed their name to “Amplify Media Network, Inc.” on July 27th, 2016, and further revised it to “theMaven Network, Inc.” on October 14th, 2016.1 They are publicly traded under the ticker symbol MVEN.

Their platform includes journalists, best-selling authors, top analysts, and those focused on important causes who write content for a particular audience. Maven invites writers who already have an existing audience to publish their content on their site.

Each author has a channel, and Maven has over 300 channels. Instead of combining unrelated topics under one domain, a practice that Google frowns upon as a content farm, Maven uses a proven method of organizing niche channels into interest groups that effectively engage the reader.1

Among the channels are over 250 media brands, such as Sports Illustrated, Jim Cramer’s TheStreet, History.com, Ski Magazine, Maxim, and Biography.

How Search Engines Treat Content Platforms

As a writer of online content, I am very much in tune with what’s going on in the online publishing field. Many content platforms have gone out of business, leaving authors feeling frustrated.

I am glad to have the pleasure of writing on the HubPages network, which Maven now owns. I wrote articles for other sites too, and I noticed mistakes they made, such as accepting low-quality content and combining unrelated articles under one domain. Search engines refer to that as a content farm.

A content farm is a combination of unrelated articles all on one site. These sites have no particular focus and give little attention to quality. Google noticed that, and they work hard at giving you the best search results.

In 2012 Google implemented the Panda Algorithm that wiped out content sites that shared unrelated articles under one domain as a content farm.

Google continually updates their algorithms to determine the ranking of online articles, and publishing platforms that don’t provide useful quality content eventually disappear.

Maven Focuses on Quality

It's clear that Maven’s staff of professionals know what they are doing. They are combining authoritative communities of high-quality content that Google and other search engines will recognize as useful to Internet search, and that’s what counts.

Maven announced the acquisition of HubPages in January 2018.2 The two companies have a shared mission of providing a publishing platform that takes care of search engine optimization and monetization, leaving the author free to concentrate on writing content.

HubPages has strict guidelines for writing stellar articles that meet Google’s Search Quality Rating Program.3 I’m sure that’s why Maven decided to acquire HubPages. They saw it as an opportunity to improve their own business.

Maven Continues Innovating to Improve Advertising Revenue

On February 26th, 2018, Maven announced an agreement with Wochit to include their video creation tools in their platform.4 Channel Partners would be able to use these tools to create an enhanced video for their content. Video is known to increase advertising revenue significantly.

Maven also is continually improving ad-generating methods. They recently employed a sticky ad at the bottom of articles when viewed on mobile devices. This is effective for advertisers without being intrusive to readers, which helps produce additional ad revenue.

Maven Acquired "Say Media" for Their Advertising Strategies

Maven acquired advertising firm "Say Media" in early 2018 for their technology to provide additional advertising revenue.5

Say Media uses auctions to sell advertising space in online articles to the highest bidder. The idea they developed is called "Header Bidding" and it helps increase revenue for Maven and its writers.

Rapid Growth With Independent Digital Media Partners

Maven has been rapidly growing with the addition of many independent digital media partners, such as A&E’s History.com and Biography.com. These partners added an additional 18 million and 11 million monthly viewers, respectively.6

On March 19th, 2020, Maven acquired their fourth technology platform, Petametrics, Inc. (DBA LiftIgniter), a machine-learning personalization Leader.7

My Maven Investment Strategy

I was invited to Maven's Coalition Conference in Whistler, Canada, in April 2018, where I learned a lot about their business plan. It looks promising.

In early 2018 Maven's share price reached a high of $2.57 after a few years of trading under two cents. See the chart below.

In the middle of February 2018, the share price dropped to $1.25, and buyers quickly came in, bringing it back up over $1.80 the same day. So I figured $1.50 is a good entry point.

I placed an order to buy shares at that price, good-till-canceled, if it ever gets back down there. On February 23rd, right before the market closed, my buy order was executed, and I got my shares.

Since then, my investment dropped to one-third, but I expected a lot of volatility. I plan to be patient and hold these shares long-term. From the end of 2018 until February 2021, the price fluctuated in a tight range around 50¢.8

It reached a high of $1 in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic, but I figured that might be because people were in lockdown and had more time to reach online articles. As of February 2021, it has inched up between 70¢ and 80¢. But I'm sure the volatility will still cause large fluctuations.

I realize this is not a get-rich-quick investment. Maven has huge costs of doing business right now with acquiring other companies, so I know I need to ride out the ups and downs.

I expected their shares would drop in value due to the costs of acquisitions. They are expanding rapidly, and the value of the stock can't be considered a reflection on their performance during these initial stages. Nevertheless, this provides me with an interesting investment opportunity to acquire more shares on dips.

I realize that they have a strong team behind them, and with the combination of talent, I expect growth in the future and feel comfortable with my decision for the long term.

Maven's stock price chart

Maven's stock price chart

Why Maven Might Do Well Over Time

I expect Maven to be a good long-term investment for many reasons:

  1. They are getting involved with a lot of successful enterprises, as I mentioned.
  2. They also have a strong executive team, with senior executives and veteran engineers from Amazon, Google, Microsoft, News Corp, and Yahoo! 9
  3. They handpick professional content publishers, reporters, and journalists, to join as partners with Maven’s community of experts under individual channels.
  4. In February 2018, they already had more than 70 channel partners and had added many more since then.
  5. Channel Partners have a powerful advantage. They can concentrate on their business while Maven provides broader reader engagement, greater distribution, and increased revenue from more efficient advertising partnerships.
  6. Publishers who moved their websites to Maven’s platform have experienced their audience engagement had increased by 71%.9

I feel Maven made a wise choice with HubPages because Paul Edmondson, the former HubPages CEO, is now the Chief Growth Officer at Maven. He will deliver with his knowledge and experience, as pointed out in a recent HubPages blog.

"Network sites have been a central theme of our joint success over the last two years. We are excited to bring this knowledge to Maven."

— HubPages Blog (January 5th, 2018)

Combining Strategies That Work

Using niche domains as network sites has proven to be successful for many authors who publish content online. Google puts a tremendous amount of extra search ranking on individual sites that focus on specific topics. That helps bring more readers because they recognize the authoritative nature of the content.

I expect the merger of Maven with HubPages will provide a learning experience for both to discover what has been working for one another.

The Maven’s founder, James Heckman, explained their success strategy in an interview by Wall Street writer Brad Thomas.10 I had learned from that interview that they intentionally stay out of the way of Google by maintaining a closed network of invite-only professional writers.

In August 2020, Ross Levinsohn was named as the new CEO of Maven, replacing James Heckman. Levinsohn brings experience from prior roles at Yahoo, Fox Interactive Media, and HBO.11

All Things Considered

You can see why I have high hopes for the success of The Maven, Inc.

  1. They have the right attitude with their mission of providing a platform for success.
  2. They are merging with competent companies in fields that are important for content creators.
  3. They are focused on learning new skills from those who are adept in the field.

It probably will be a long upward battle that will require patience for any investor. Getting in at the right share price is crucial, and waiting for profit-taking dips is helpful.

The main idea is that this is a long-term investment. My overall impression of Maven is that it’s a well-run company, and it has great potential with a strong team of professionals with the right attitude.

Most of all, they have a clear understanding and appreciation of their client base that comes from Internet search and existing subscribers, and they know how to meet their needs with quality content in a well-organized structure.

References

  1. Form 8-K. (October 14, 2016). U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
  2. "Maven to acquire HubPages" (January 5, 2018). maven.io
  3. Google Search Quality Rating Program
  4. “Wochit Training Video” (Aug 8, 2018). Maven Coalition Training
  5. Sara Guaglione. (August 7, 2018). "Maven To Acquire Say Media, Expands Share For Premium Ad Spend" MediaPost
  6. "A&E's flagship History.com to join the Maven Coalition" (Sept 12, 2018). Maven Communications
  7. “Maven Acquires Machine-Learning Personalization Leader LiftIgniter” (March 19, 2020). AP News
  8. The Maven, Inc. (ticker symbol MVEN) stock quote. Google Finance
  9. "Digital Media Startup theMaven Network Inc. Secures More Than Two Dozen Partner Agreements in Array of Media Categories" BusinessWire
  10. Brad Thomas (Aug 2, 2017). "Maven's bright future: a strategic Q&A with James Heckman" maven.io
  11. Danny Peterson. (Augist 26,2020). “Maven Announces New CEO Ross Levinsohn.” TheStreet.com

Full Disclosure

As of the writing of this article I own shares in The Maven Network, Inc.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2018 Glenn Stok

Comments

Dan Reed on April 18, 2018:

I still believe you're in good shape. The only time I worry about the ebbs and flows is if I'm flipping which I don't often do. Long term shares I buy and forget about as not to worry about these low points and yes, I do believe this will take a minute to register in the market but not too long. I've had longer expectations for other investments but here I don't think it will be painstakingly long to see some ROI. Either way I'm patient with promising new companies and never play with money I can't afford to lose.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on April 18, 2018:

It looks like you will get a better price thanI did Dan. MVEN is presently much lower then my entry point. But as you eluded to, that can change over time. In any case, I consider it a long term investment. I don't expect any huge gain in the short term.

As James Heckman mentioned at the Maven Coalition conference, their goal is to create a revolution. But I'm sure that will take time.

Dan Reed on April 18, 2018:

MVEN has been on my radar for some time now and while my investment dollars are currently tied up I see that changing soon and like you will be excited to invest. So far my timing seems to be working out but just hope it won't take off without me because like you I see Maven have a high probability of success.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on April 06, 2018:

Cynthia Hoover - Yes, big things are happening and it's already helping with increased revenue. Maven is already including our network niche sites in the search on their site, so we are getting traffic from that.

In addition, they just merged with "Say Media" so we have the power of three strong companies now.

Cynthia Hoover from Newton, West Virginia on April 06, 2018:

Very informative read Glenn. I am excited to see what the merge brings to the writers here. No doubt big things are in the future and I am excited to be a part of them and see where it takes us!

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on March 06, 2018:

Thanks for the feedback Natalie. It’s good to know you found it educational. That was my intention.

Natalie Frank from Chicago, IL on March 05, 2018:

This was a great article for those of us without much investment experience. It was very educational to follow along with your investment thinking and strategy. Thanks for the info.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on February 27, 2018:

Brian, Buying just 1 or 2 shares would reguire a hugh increase in share price in order to make up for the commission.

Most brokers charge around $5 per trade, no matter if it's one share or 1000 shares.

Many brokers do offer several commission-free trades when you open an acccont, so that could be an option for you if all your intention is, is to play in the game. But don’t expect it to be a wealth changer.

Brian Leekley from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on February 27, 2018:

Glenn, thanks for the clear analysis of Maven. This article gives me additional confidence that HubPages is worth writing for.

Buying stocks would be new to me. I'll think about maybe buying 1 or 2 or so Maven stocks. I can afford to gamble $1.50, and Maven sounds like a company worth supporting, as regards both making good and doing good.

Po.et is very interesting. I'm mystified how it works, but I'm glad it does.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on February 26, 2018:

Mary Wickison - The benefit to us all hopefully will be with increased CPM. The stock is for a much longer term investment.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on February 26, 2018:

I hope you will keep us posted, Glen. I had heard only pessimism on the Maven merger, but this looks very encouraging. My husband and I were wishing that we'd had the funds to invest in the ground floor of some of the tech companies that today are now paying off. Maybe this is our chance.

Mary Wickison from Brazil on February 26, 2018:

Hi Glenn,

Your enthusiasm for Maven is encouraging. I hope that the shares do well for you and that the company will benefit all of us.

Dallas W Thompson from Bakersfield, CA on February 26, 2018:

Sounds like the bottom line is to simply, "stay tuned."

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on February 26, 2018:

Sally, I noticed from reports by others in the forum that results vary based on subject matter. My investment in Maven is related to business practice and not individual publishing revenue.

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on February 26, 2018:

I hope your confidence in Maven produces the financial results you hope for. For my own part, I have seen earnings on HubPages go down since the take-over in spite of increased views.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on February 25, 2018:

FlourishAnyway - I'm curious to know their future direction too. Updates to this article may be forthcoming if necessary.

FlourishAnyway from USA on February 25, 2018:

I think it’s normal for the acquiring company’s stock price to dip after announcement of an acquisition so I would not be concerned on that point. Your analysis is thorough and I enjoyed reading it. I’m interested in learning much more about their direction. More to come I guess.

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