NEW YORK, May 17, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Jerrick Media Holdings, Inc., (OTCQB: JMDA) (the "Company" or "Jerrick"), a digital media and technology company, today reported financial results for its full year and fourth quarter ended December 31, 2017.
Fiscal year 2017 marked the year that Jerrick cultivated and scaled its core technology platform, Vocal, increasing the platform's user base and enhancing the user experience. In December 2016, Vocal hosted a handful of creators and less than 10 submissions daily; Vocal now receives hundreds of content submissions daily by its over 200,000 content creators as the platform continues to grow.
"A great deal of my personal focus was spent working with, and solving problems for, talented creators and their communities. The evolving digital landscape has compelled creators and brands to increasingly value sustainable partnerships and meaningful connectivity. Vocal facilitates these relationships and generates revenues from both brands and creators within its virtual marketplace," said Jerrick co-founder Rick Schwartz.
Revenues for 2017 were $95,653, accounting for a receivables adjustment of $25,722. The majority of revenues were from multiple lines of scalable business opportunities and technology features that were beta tested in anticipation of broad releases during fiscal year 2018. The majority of the $223,927 of revenues generated in fiscal year 2016 were directly attributed to ongoing sales and monetization of the Company's legacy media assets and IP. During fiscal 2017, legacy-related revenues were deliberately curtailed, for a period of expansion and optimization of the underlying IP assets and their core value. Management expects these assets to begin to contribute in a more material fashion during the fourth quarter of 2018. The Company expects a material increase in total gross revenues during fiscal year 2018 as compared to fiscal year 2017 from both the increase of legacy performing assets and, more significantly, the broad release of technology and Vocal revenue-related features.
Jerrick was founded in 2012 by long-time friends and business partners Jeremy Frommer and Rick Schwartz. Initially a private media company leveraging Frommer's background in the financial services industry as well as Schwartz's successes in the entertainment industry, the partners created a diversified portfolio combining technology, data analytics, and media related product tools. Jerrick's growing portfolio of brands and content quickly outpaced the available commercial technology that supported it.
In 2015, after interviewing multiple consultants and development groups, management discovered CEO Jed Watson's company, Thinkmill, a design and development group based in Sydney, Australia. Jerrick engaged Thinkmill to create a best-in-class content management system (CMS).
Initially envisioned to be used for Jerrick's growing portfolio of media assets and IP, proprietary development plans were accelerated as management discovered a need to accommodate an expanding network of brands and influencers. The product quickly evolved from a proprietary CMS tool to plans for a robust long-form social publishing platform. The successful working relationship between Thinkmill and Jerrick led to a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in early 2018. The proposed joint venture will further leverage technology development, white labeling opportunities for both companies, and a combined working business group of 50 professionals.
In early 2016, Jerrick's media IP and technology, which encompassed the research and development of the Vocal platform, was absorbed into a single entity through a reverse merger, forming the publicly traded entity Jerrick Media Holdings, Inc. (OTCQB:JMDA). Over two years ago in a March 2016 press release, CEO Jeremy Frommer stated, "Jerrick is designing a unique proprietary digital content platform with an eye towards profitable monetization of that content across the digital spectrum."
Throughout 2016, Jerrick progressed from a research and development entity to a product-oriented company with the release of Vocal. The Vocal platform is home to a network of communities and a suite of publishing tools that enable new generations of content creators to grow their audience and monetize their creations. "Before Vocal, there was no obvious home for diverse creators, and monetization tools were limited. Vocal is designed as a canvas for creators who are seeking to have their voices heard and be rewarded for their work," explained Sharon Solomon, Jerrick's Director of Marketing.
The company expects 2018 to validate and scale revenue-generating features provided to Vocal's creators, brands, and audiences.
"We have provided proof of concept that the creative community is in serious need of a centralized solution within a fragmented digital environment of creator tools and monetization features. Jerrick's flagship product Vocal is uniquely positioned to provide a scalable, valued-added solution for creators and brands, and by extension, for Jerrick's (JMDA) shareholders," said Frommer.
Key Operational and Financial Metrics
- Grew unique monthly visitors over tenfold, from an early start of 500,000 monthly visitors during Q1 2017 to an excess of 6 million monthly engagements in Q1 2018. The Company expects that number to reach seventeen million before Q3 2019.
- Onboarded over 100,000 content creators to the Vocal platform through December 2017, with an additional 125,000 creators added in the first four months of 2018.
- Received an average of 300+ content submissions daily. This metric is expected to more than double over the next 12 months.
- Recorded a daily high of 1,037 submissions, with nearly 500 published, in mid-November 2017. This metric is expected to double within the next 12 months.
- Ended 2017 with a total of 30 communities. New communities are objectively and quantitatively derived in response to voices and interest levels within the rapidly growing Vocal network. The Company expects over 50 combined owner-operated and branded communities launched by the end of 2018.
- Completed platform upgrade, Vocal 2.0. The initial upgrade began May 15, 2017 with deliverables of important user interface enhancements, back-end component improvements, and several revenue-related feature introductions.
- Introduced micropayment beta feature in late 2017. Audiences can gift creators in increments of $1, $5, $10 or $20 while generating transactional fees for Jerrick. Micropayments on the Vocal platform originally encompassed a small group of beta users and a singular application of the feature. In addition to absolute user growth, the Company expects horizontal growth to amplify this metric, as it adds additional applications of microtransaction related features, such as premium subscriptions and upgraded tools for both creators and brands.
- Increased licensing and IP portfolio. Properties include issued trademarks for VocalTM, BakedTM and VivaTM, its community focused on women's issues, in addition to other genre-specific properties. Updated provisional Patents (filed April 25, 2017) concurrent with technology advancements. The Company expects to increase its media and IP library as part of ordinary course of business.
- Elected to early adopt new accounting guidelines pursuant to the issuing of ASC 2017-11, resulting in a delay of the Company's filing of its 2017 Annual Report on Form 10-K. Early adoption eliminates a significant portion of certain derivative liabilities. Frommer explained in a April 19, 2018 press release, "Adoption of the new accounting standards will significantly improve shareholder value and will also serve as a first step towards execution of our NASDAQ uplisting strategy."
- Entered into discussions with Thinkmill regarding a joint venture, which resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding announced on March 27, 2018.
- Monthly operating expenses for fiscal year 2017 averaged $471,498 including accelerated payments to accumulated payables, as well as one-time product development, legal and accounting expenses associated with the successful launch and management of the Vocal platform. Management believes this number will average less than $400,000 per month for fiscal year 2018, a 15% reduction year over year. Management does not see operational expenses growing before the second half of 2019.
- Monthly revenue growth rate will increase compared to 2017's relatively flat rate and average monthly revenues of $7,971. The Company continues its shift from beta to sustainable non-exploratory revenues with the introduction of six revenue producing features in fiscal year 2018:
- Fees from creators and users: platform processing, brand collaboration and tool upgrades.
- Fees from brands: content production, affiliate marketing and subscriptions.
The Company expects to continue to execute on its multi-year business plan throughout fiscal year 2018, and leverage JMDA's diversified portfolio of technology, data analytics, and media related products to generate shareholder value. In addition to transactional revenues directly attributed to the long-form social platform, Jerrick will continue to monetize its core library of media assets as well as provide intelligence for brands and agencies through its proprietary suite of quantitative analytics.
"Jerrick is now positioned to execute on its monetization strategy in partnership with its creators, thus providing a best-in-class user experience...we have begun to shift much of our internal resources towards executing on our monetization features and roll-out strategies that have been teed-up for the second half of this year," said Frommer in an August 2017 press release. Reflecting on Jerrick's 2018 market position, Frommer remarked, "Content creation will continue to accelerate as audiences shift from display advertising to independent creator content. Traditional display advertising and content business models are threatened. The intrusive nature of display ads led to over 615 million ad-blockers being installed, causing margin compression at the largest digital advertisers. Because of these tightening spreads, excessive traffic was required to successfully monetize content. I expect this to create significant disruption in asset valuation for traditional digital media content on legacy publishing platforms. This content and asset deterioration will create substantial opportunities for Jerrick Media Holdings Inc. and our technology. Jerrick will have the ability to source and access a near infinite pool of content, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Our proprietary platform Vocal is the optimal environment to extract value from across the digital spectrum–content creators and content consumers, brands and their audiences."
The Company reported a net loss of $(0.23) per basic share for the full year 2017. This is consistent with the net loss of $(0.23) per basic share for the full year 2016. As the Company begins to generate core operating revenues in the second quarter 2018, it expects a material increase in gross margins.
Technology development in the second half of 2018 will provide platform advancements for both creators and brands, as Jerrick continues to lay the groundwork for subscription-based recurring revenue streams.
"We plan to continue to add more communities, both internally created by our team and externally sourced for existing media brands posted on the Vocal platform by our beta Software as a Service (SaaS) opportunities," said Jerrick co-founder and Head of Product Development Justin Maury in a October 2017 press release. Reflecting on the progress since then, Maury commented, "We have set ambitious but realistic goals for the upcoming twelve months. Vocal's 2018 roadmap ensures a balanced approach to achieving our primary goals: technology development, creator and audience growth and revenue generation."
Jerrick's roadmap for 2018 additionally includes: machine learning curation, iOS & Android apps, expanded SaaS offering, additional transactional features, enhanced monetization integrations, and collaborative creator/brand offerings.
Additional analysis of the Company's performance can be found in "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" included in the Quarterly Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2017 filed at www.sec.gov and posted on the Company's investor relations website.
Jerrick is a holding company that develops technology-based solutions designed to solve for challenges that have resulted from disruption and evolution within the broad media and content generation environment. Its flagship product Vocal is a long-form, digital publishing platform focused on supporting content creators with content management tools that are embedded within digital communities. Vocal is architected to enable targeted marketing of branded content and e-commerce opportunities embedded within long-form content. Vocal's community sites are managed by a dedicated team, whose primary focus is on creating healthy communities and identifying monetization opportunities within them.
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SOURCE Jerrick Media Holdings, Inc.