Start-up Lebanese tracker of Web traffic turns profitable



Woopra, a promising internet start-up in Lebanon, has become profitable and crossed the 100,000-user mark after launching its commercial service last October. The company's web-based analytics software allows internet publishers to track, in real-time, the number of visitors to their sites. The service was launched as a free offering and attracted a long waiting list of users wishing to test the software.

In October, the company discarded the waiting list, opening the system up and charging users a monthly fee depending on the volume of traffic to their sites. "The response we got from our users was amazing. They were very positive and they like the pricing," said Elie Khoury, Woopra's co-founder. "Many have converted over to the paying plan, a lot more than expected." Mr Khoury declined to say how many users were now paying for the service, saying only that the company was cash-flow positive and able to fund its expansion plans with its own revenue.

"We are now in a state where we can live and expand on our own without the need of an outside source of funding," he said. "We can always consider good funding terms, though, and we are already talking with a few VCs [venture capitalists] who may help us grow aggressively. But after the launching of the billing system, the ball is in our hands." Mr Khoury and his partner, Jad Younan, started Woopra as a graduation project while studying at the Lebanese American University. Initially self-funded, the company received private investment from John Pozadzides, a US technology industry professional who is now Woopra's chief executive.

The service was rated one of the 25 best Web products of last year by a poll of readers of the influential technology website ReadWriteWeb, placed alongside sites such as Microsoft's Bing search engine and the blogging site Posterous. As the online advertising industry grows, the use of web analytics software has become more popular as publishers look to better analyse the performance of different sections of their websites.

Google runs the Web's most popular analytics service, which it provides free. Other competitors, including Quantcast and Comscore, offer paid services that help Web publishers provide audited traffic figures to advertisers. Woopra aims to compete with the larger companies using its ability to provide Web traffic figures in real time, showing second-by-second changes in visitor numbers. Other analytics services do not offer real-time figures, Mr Khoury said.

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