Danny Kelly considers himself a fortunate man in that he has tied
everything that interests him - sport, music and, latterly,
communication - into his work.
He has another reason for feeling lucky: when the 365 Corporation, of
which he is co-founder and publishing director, floats later this year
he will make a great deal of money. In fact, The Sunday Times recently
put him in its list of the top-100 e-millionaires, estimating his
personal fortune at pounds 10 million.
He doesn’t consider himself a materialist, but it was the desire to own
what he was producing that inspired him to leave Emap, where he edited
the sports and music magazines, Total Sport and Q.
365 came into being two years ago, when Kelly got together with Dan
Thompson - the founder of Renegade Software and now 365’s chief
executive - and Simon Morris, a former Ginger Productions director and
BSkyB programme marketing director, currently 365’s marketing director.
With the help of more than pounds 1 million from the high-tech investor,
Durlacher, and ’some rich people’, they went into business.
Kelly says: ’We had all worked in different parts of the media for a
long time and we wanted to avoid the self-regarding, over-bureaucratised
aspect of the business. We wanted to build a proper business we could
all be proud of.’
He admits they got it all wrong when they started. The first venture,
the football365 website, was too much like a traditional publishing
But within three months, the design flaws were ironed out and it
Sites sprang up for cricket, rugby and music in seven countries.
The other revenue-generating areas of the 365 operation are less well
known, and the company has also been relatively discreet about its plans
for growth - to go cross-platform, across all content and
365 currently operates on three platforms - the internet, by e-mail and
by telephone. On the back of its websites, it provides personalised
team-specific news and information that is e-mailed or messaged to
Following the January purchase of Symphony, 365 moved into providing
Digital is next on the agenda, although Kelly is cautious on this
’Anyone who tells you where digital TV and convergence are going long
term doesn’t know what they are talking about,’ he warns.
Plans for expanding 365’s operations across content are based on the
fact that it will eventually be possible to pull media consumers into
’passion centre’ communities based on topics such as football, music and
business, via all the various media, making profits through economies of
Eventually, there should be TV versions of what they’re doing online,
but Kelly won’t spell out at this stage what they’re up to, beyond
saying: ’We are dipping our toes in the water. If, and when, the content
we provide becomes replicable and high quality on TV, why not? It will
all become clear in a few months.’
The third area targeted for growth is the international market. There
are already sites and offices in France, Germany, Chile, South Africa,
Australia, India and the US, where the company hopes to grow as it has
done in the UK.
It is this three-pronged strategy that has stopped the City from gasping
’no way’ to the flotation plans, which, annoyingly, 365 staff are unable
Sources reckon the 365 Corporation will be valued at between pounds 300
million and pounds 600 million, and it is expected to generate revenues
of pounds 20 million this year, rising to more than pounds 50 million
Its advantage over the Freeserves of the market is its content
ownership, but what about the high level of competition in the ’passion
Kelly is unworried. Competition is a sign that you’re in the right area,
Kelly is sweetly old fashioned about certain things. The fact that 365
employs 180 people makes him immensely proud, growing up as he did in
the 70s when ’unemployment stalked the land’. His inspiration in life is
an uncle who started off as a barman and became a successful
entrepreneur, and Kelly himself always wanted to do his best, even when
he worked as a British Rail clerk. ’I wanted to be the best railway
clerk the world had ever seen,’ he says.
And like those football and music anoraks who immerse themselves in
their subjects, he’s addicted to this new form of communication and
spends every hour God sends thinking about it. Ask him what it’s all
about and he says, a touch obscurely: ’It’s different from anything
that’s gone before. It’s related to all media. It starts off like
everything then becomes more and more like nothing except itself.’
THE KELLY FILE
Q, managing editor
Total Sport, launch editor
365 Network, latterly 365 Corporation, founding partner