Zed today announced the expansion of its U.S. operations, headed by a new management team and new U.S. headquarters based in Redwood City, Calif.
Zed USA President John Foster is charged with driving Zed’s expansion here. He’s been meeting regularly with Zed CEO Javier Perez Dolset in Madrid, Spain, to iron out the company’s strategy.
In a statement, Dolset said Zed is growing its U.S. presence in the U.S. and putting in place a management team “with a proven track record to ensure that Zed continues to be at the center of mobile innovation.”
Prior to Zed, Foster was senior vice president of corporate development at Infospace, where he was responsible for corporate strategy, leading Infospace through a transformation that resulted in the company becoming the largest North American mobile content provider and a player in online local search.
Infospace was one of those companies that experienced a meteoric rise and “fell back to Earth,” Foster says now. It eventually was sold off in separate pieces, with the mobile part going to Motricity.
Zed also said it has appointed Michalia Negri as country manager and COO of Zed USA. Negri previously led Zed’s operations in the U.K., Ireland and China. She has served as an elected EU Board member of the Mobile Marketing Association in 2009 and was featured in the 2010 Mobile Entertainment list of top female execs in the mobile content industry.
Zed’s office in Redwood City is up and running; next up is to hire a chief technology officer, Foster says. Zed USA’s Los Angeles and Miami offices will remain, but being in Silicon Valley is necessary given the innovation that’s happening there.
So far, Zed’s U.S. business has been primarily ringtone based – and yes, people still buy ringtones – and it’s a steady business, but the real growth comes from content-based apps. Zed USA is focused on working with content providers and carriers to build apps – but more importantly, Foster says, monetize them. Ample opportunities exist, whether be it the popular freemium model, mobile advertising or something else.
Zed USA wants to help content providers build compelling apps, but “just putting it out there to use on mobile, that’s nice, but the objective has to be getting people to subscribe, getting people to buy… The overall objective is to provide a whole environment where they can not only make their content available but monetize it,” he says.
Zed USA already works with U.S. mobile carriers to some extent or another, providing an embedded version of its ringtone platform for U.S. Cellular handsets, for example. It also distributes mobile content through AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile USA and Cricket and works with groups like Universal Music Group, Sony Music, Warner Music Group, EMI, Univision and Glu.
With so many billing platforms now out there – carrier billing, PayPal and more – many platforms are close to frictionless, Foster says. Zed USA plans to remain agnostic and work with as many different payment platforms as possible to give consumers options, he says.