The goal of Synacor Inc. is to create a great consumer experience online. President and CEO Ron Frankel says it does so by working with cable companies and telephone companies to provide portals and value added services, all in the name of pleasing consumers. "In this new economy, online services become very important and as TV moves online, more services move online," he explains. "So how does a cable company or telco present TV to its customers and present other kinds of products like games, music, the Wall Street Journal and other subscription products and make them available in their model to their consumers?" Frankel says they need a page from which to watch those things. And that's where Synacor comes in.
The company was founded in 2001 with the merger of check.com and mypersonal.com and has experienced significant growth over the past five years. Synacor portals are in front of about ten million households. Frankel says he can sell digital products and subscriptions to 25 million broadband households in the U.S. He expects that number to grow as it expands with new customers outside the U.S. Frankel says Synacor just signed a new, yet to be named, customer in Europe and there are other large prospects out there as well.
Frankel says the economy has not had a negative effect on business. "Home services, home entertainment services are the last to be let go," he said. "People have to have TV and cable, high speed has become a utility, a necessity for every household so we've seen consistent growth." Synacor revenues reached $52.6 million in 2008, up from $39.9 million in 2007. It is ranked 31st on this year's Business First Top Private Companies list. Frankel says he expects to do $60 million in revenues this year and grow again next year as it enjoys being on the front end of the curve of technology.
Although the economy has not had a negative impact on Synacor, Frankel does anticipate more opportunities as it bounces back allowing consumers to adopt new services like HDTV, high speed services and advancement of technology. "Those sorts of macro development are the ones that will drive our business," he said.
That growth can put a strain on Synacor's 200 employees. Frankel says that's why he has a "Silicon Valley mentality, work hard, play hard ethos" for the company, which is located near Buffalo's waterfront. "The pace is quick and we have a lot to do and customers are demanding and the consumers are demanding," he said. "So we're demanding of people, but it's also two way street. I want to make sure they feel like we're giving." That's why Synacor pays 100% of health insurance, offers 25 cent snacks, buys dinner for workers who stay late, celebrates with company outings and allows workers to bring children to the office if necessary. "So there are a lot of elements of the experience at Synacor that hopefully our employees feel supports them," he said. "From my perspective, if home is feeling supported I think people generally have a happier work life and I think that's very important."
That has allowed Synacor to be very successful in its recruiting efforts. "We recruit from San Francisco, LA, Boston, Toronto, New York, all great places," he said. "We have people from Yahoo, Microsoft. We're successful at recruiting from the top companies in the industry." But Frankel says he is pleased with the local workforce as well and believes that it, along with the low cost of living, will help make a new name for the local region in the field of technology. "Western New York, historically, has very talented people, I think I have a ton of great people," he said. "It isn't known to be a mecca for technology, but actually I think we can help make it so."