This is Tim White. Canberra-born and Kambah-raised, he’s just bought into the RiotACT.
You may not know Tim, but there’s a very good chance he’s had an impact on where you’ve lived over the past decade.
The Canberra-born tech entrepreneur started his career as web developer and systems architect at the Australian Tax Office, but went on to become the driving force behind real estate platform Allhomes’ rise from ACT start-up to $50 million takeover target.
After transitioning from IT to management then start-up founder during a 5 year stint in London, Tim joined Allhomes as its CEO in 2007. He remained at the helm until June this year, and led the process and due diligence for Allhomes’ acquisition by Fairfax Media in 2014.
Tim stayed on to oversee the integration of the platform with the newspaper company’s Domain Group.
While Tim was at the helm at Allhomes, the number of listings on the site grew from 5000 to 430,000. Page views rose from 10,000 per day to 2 million per day, and revenue grew at an annual rate of 35%.
With a view to expanding the company early on in his tenure, Tim met with young Weston Creek entrepreneur Michael McGoogan to discuss web hosting opportunities with his uber-successful tech company, UberGlobal.
“We should’ve met a lot earlier, given our various paths,” Tim says.
“When we did meet, we both thought why hadn’t we met earlier, because we both connected, and then those conversations led into Michael explaining about his business. We ended up moving Allhomes over to Uber, and they did a fantastic job with us.”
The pair are now business partners, with the RiotACT the first of several digital projects they plan to work on together.
Having fulfilled his post-acquisition commitments at Fairfax, Tim is itching to get into new digital challenges.
“I miss Allhomes, I’ve only been gone a couple of months but I miss it,” the former Kambah High and Lake Tuggeranong College student says.
“I just love online.”
He’s looking forward to bringing his strategic planning, business strategy, relationship management and emerging technologies expertise to the RiotACT from today.
“I’ve been watching RiotACT for many years,” Tim says.
“The hardest thing from an Allhomes perspective is reaching local, online digital traffic. RiotACT brings that in spades, and it has incredible reach across Canberra which is really, really hard to get.”
Tim believes his media expertise and local focus will complement Michael’s experience on this, their first big joint venture.
“Michael understands how to build and grow a company, I really understand local traffic and the importance of local traffic, and that is RiotACT,” he says.
Having gained valuable media buying insights during his Allhomes years, Tim believes there are a lot of national companies going about trying to get into the Canberra market the wrong way.
“They do a national buy, and Canberra is a certain per cent of that national buy, but that’s not going to work for them,” he says.
“Canberra is a market in its own right.”
The solution to this problem is using a powerful engagement tool like the RiotACT, he says.
“We’ve got the eyeballs, we’ve got the reach, we now need to bring some further professionalism to the offering.”
On this front, Tim is passionate about transforming the RiotACT into a respected media channel in the months ahead.
“I think it’s got some way to go to be fully respected and the fact that Michael and myself are prepared to put our names to it, and other people are prepared to put their names to it, I think that shows that we’re serious about making that happen,” he says.
He recognises that there is work to do to attract some readers to the brand, but also knows that the RiotACT’s history is what built its audience
“It had a place, it played a really important role, and we want to take over, take it forward, and build on its audience now,” he says.
The next steps towards winning over potential new readers is revamping the comment moderation and article submission guidelines, and expanding on an already strong team of contributors.
Tim plans to be very hands on at that strategic level as that process continues.
“I’ll put whatever effort is needed to make it a success,” he says.
“I’m listening to feedback, I want to be in at a very detailed level so that I understand the business.
“If I’m not in the trenches, then I’m not going learn how to improve it.”
A passionate advocate for life in the capital who is raising a young family here, Tim believes that ensuring the RiotACT is all about this city and region is the key to to the platform’s success.
“I am all about Canberra,” he says.
“One of the appealing factors for me with going into business with Michael is that we’re both Canberrans, both born and bred Canberrans, we’ve both built businesses, we’ve both exited businesses, and we appreciate the uniqueness of the Canberra market and getting people like our editor, Charlotte Harper, and other local people involved,” he says.
“Hopefully we can set ourselves apart from competitors and incumbents.”
Another way the site can expand its audience is to dare to be different, he says.
“The RiotACT needs to challenge the norm in terms of news delivery and what users expect, and we’re prepared to do that,” Tim says.
“We don’t want to be the run of the mill website, because we’re not going to be able to compete with the big guys, from a dollar perspective, so we’ve got to be smart with what we do.”
Like Michael, Tim is expecting to make some mistakes as part of that process.
“We will learn from our mistakes, and we will refine what it is that business wants out of the website and users want out of the website,” he says.
It worked for Allhomes, which Tim sees as a benchmark for Canberra online enterprises, though of course he recognises that the RiotACT’s business model is very different.
“If by investing my time, energy and resources in the RiotACT, I can create something that provides Canberrans with a better news, information and entertainment platform, then all of this will be worthwhile,” he says.