“To snatch the best talents from companies like Google or Facebook you have to think big and be clear on how you want to change the world, because today it is essential for them to know where they will be in a few years”: so Massimiliano Squillace, 41, serial entrepreneur now at the helm of Contents.com, he told us how he convinces the best talents in the field of artificial intelligence to refuse a contract from big techs, or even to give them up for a small startup.
“Clearly I have to guarantee the same salaries, with Ral starting at about 50 thousand euros for new entries and up to 200 thousand euros for managers, but money matters up to a certain point – this is Squillace’s reflection – Many have come to us after having had an experience with large companies because we are small and we offer them the possibility of experiment with new technologies and work on their ideas while in big tech they are often found to be executors of instructions that come from California“. If you then add an aggressive stock option plan, that’s it. So in the last two years the engineers within Contents have gone from 3 to 25, and they will grow even more.
Ten artificial intelligence movies (and a series) to watch in streaming
by Emanuele Capone
Contents, born in 2018 and today valued at around 17 million euros, uses a mix of artificial intelligence and creatives to generate texts and translations for companies. In practice, humans revise the content written by machines and refine it, “because the AI is unable to develop a quality and effective product”. Contents customers include companies of all kinds, including Google, IBM, Yhaoo, Microsoft, Amazon, Azure, and Taboola, all acquired thanks to the network of contacts built by Squillace with the companies it previously started and then sold: “In high school I dreamed of being a journalist, then I found myself publishing with Nano Publishing (acquired by Populis, ed) and I discovered that the publishing world is very old and tied to concepts that could be innovated and so I started studying and tried to bring technology into the publishing field, and then turn towards companies “.
In 2017 Squillace launches Notizie.it, one of the top 20 Italian news sites (one million readers a day, 10 million fanbases on social networks), which uses artificial intelligence to identify the most interesting news for readers and the approach to the news they would like. News that are then written by a team of over 10 thousand freelance collaborators. At the end of 2020, the publishing company, Entire Digital Publishing, changes its name to Contents and Squillace focuses on companies.
Squillace’s career as a startupper is started at 21 buying domains in the US from his bedroom and reselling them through Hosting3000, when the monopoly of Telecom Italia still existed in this field: “Searching on Yahoo I discovered that you could buy domains online in the United States at much lower costs and I set up a site that resold them” . Two years and 20 thousand customers later, Squillace sells to Internet.fr, which wanted to enter the Italian market. Subsequently he founded FreeStreet, an online advertising service, which 5 years later he sells to competitor Olx receiving in exchange money and shares, becoming a partner. Five years later Olx is acquired by Naspers for 80 million euros and Squillace starts working at Nano Publishing. At the same time he also began to invest: he was among the first investors of Supermercato24, now Everli. However, Contents is “the first startup I make with a Serie A and with the aim of listing it”.
Mistakes are wasted, but “they are part of the normal growth process: we made a mistake in wanting to do everything together and everything immediately, opening Spain, France and the United Kingdom in 3 months, so that then we found ourselves having to slow down. On the contrary, not equipping ourselves with the right managers immediately for the desire not to burn too much cash made me waste time. And all this generated an organizational confusion that took 6 months to put everything back in order ”.
The company is now growing 100% year-over-year, with a decline of 20% during the period of the first lockdowns. Growth that last March brought Contents to close a € 5 million Series A investment round led by Sinergia Venture, a Synergo Capital fund and participated among others by Fabio Cannavale with B-Heroes, Alberto Chalon with Invictus Capital and Gellify.
Unicorn founder Truelayer: “Open banking is a European opportunity”
by Silvio Gulizia
Contents is not an original solution, but one of the services most requested by the marketing and communication offices: “Today there is no player able to cover the whole funnel, from data analysis to text production to translation. Our main asset are the datasets: through these we go to understand what people want to read and why and where the company can generate a conversion “. Through these analyzes it then comes developed the artificial intelligence brief: “The next step will also be to deal with dissemination”.
Digital content is a market that is worth $ 375 billion in the West. There are various active players at all latitudes, but none or almost none that work on the entire funnel globally, as Contents has decided to do since its inception, in 2018. The market leader in the United States, Persado, has a turnover of around 30 million euros in this field, Squillace told us. The main rivals, but also potentially customers or buyers, are at the moment the various Accentures, which “cover the entire funnel, but using several companies and with a consultative approach”.
Look Contents profile In the our Startup Database.