There can only be one… every month.
A well-financed start-up based out of the Odd Fellows building launched a website in April that allows people to compete online for $2,500 cash. King of the Web competitors create an online campaign where they explain why they should be crowned “King.” Whoever gets the most votes wins, and a new king is crowned every month.
“It’s a place for anybody to go and vote for whoever they think is awesome online,” said Casey Selleck, the company’s VP of Marketing and Business Development. Candidates are encouraged to spread the word through their own social networks to bring their followers and friends to the site.
The reigning king is a YouTube video blogger from the Seattle area named BananaNeil, but his reign is facing a serious challenge from a rescued French bulldog named clyde_with_a_y. Clyde has vowed to donate the winnings to the French Bulldog Rescue Network and has received a lot of help from that organization’s fans.
The company anticipated that non-profits would likely play a big role in the site’s popularity and will be launching a charitable arm of the site in the future, said Selleck.
The company has some high-powered backing. Two of the founders, Rich Barton and Nick Hanauer, have had a hand in quite a few successful Internet companies in the Seattle area, including Expedia, Amazon, aQuantive and Zillow. “It’s one of those ideas that’s totally binary. It will be huge or it will be nothing,” Barton told TechCrunch last fall in reference to King of the Web. At the time, he had just stepped down as CEO of Zilliow.com.
The idea for the site came from a brainstorm among the founders, said Selleck.
“There really is no one place on the web for people to choose who they want their celebrity to be,” she said. “What if the Like button on Facebook meant something?” Thus, the cash prize.
The company is “still building out the revenue model,” said Selleck, but it will likely be based around the sale of virtual goods and advertising.
The company, which currently employs eleven people full-time, chose to locate on Capitol Hill because the neighborhood is supportive of start-up businesses, she said. The office space they chose in the Odd Fellows building is a “plywood box” in the old Velocity Dance Center space.
“We wanted to be part of the creative community here,” Selleck said.
You can see what they’re building at http://kingofweb.com/.