Death March founder Jeff Taylor is hoping to wrest control of paid death notices from the newspaper industry, just as he did with employment postings.

Several years ago, founder Jeff Taylor was chatting with his mother when he found out that she was a regular reader of newspaper obituary sections. Not only did she read them in her local paper, the Boston Globe, she also followed them in the newspaper of her hometown of Bloomington, Illinois, a place she hadn't lived in for 50 years, on the off chance that she might read about someone she knew. It occurred then to Taylor that a lot of the characteristics that made job postings so successful online, such as the ability of users to search in multiple categories and be notified of new events, could also apply to obituaries. He stuck the idea into his mental file.

Fast-forward to 2008, and Taylor, 47, is now putting his long-gestating idea into action. His latest venture,, on online community targeted at baby boomers for which he serves as C.E.O., has just spun off a new company called, a website that serves as a clearinghouse for obituaries and death notices. Its revenue is expected to come largely from advertising and hosting fees from funeral homes, but the company will also charge users to create their own tributes to and memorials for loved ones on the site.

"Regardless of which business it is, the consumers have said that their preferred way of getting information is the internet over traditional print," says Taylor. "For a while, you'll see obits in both newspapers and on the Web, but my prediction is that eventually they will all be online." Newspaper owners and publishers must see Taylor as the Grim Reaper, banging another nail into the coffin of their industry, just as he did with classified help-wanted ads.

After building, which he launched in 1994, into an almost $1 billion company, Taylor left in 2005 to launch Taylor's success with Monster helped the startup attract $32 million in venture capital from blue-chip firms like Sequoia Capital, Charles River Ventures, and Intel Capital. has been no attracting lots of initial attention, traffic dropped considerably and the company was forced to lay off one-third of its workforce--but its launch was fortuitous. On one of Eons' topic channels focusing on relationships, Taylor saw an opportunity to implement his idea of bringing obituaries online. The first inkling that it could be something was when Eons created a message board for tributes to Rosa Parks on the first anniversary of the civil rights activist's death, in 2006. The page received a flood of traffic and postings. In February, Taylor decided to turn's focus toward social networking and to spin off the site's obituaries section into its own company,, raising $4.2 million for it from backers, including Dow Jones.

According to Elaine Haney, a former executive who is now president of, the site is keeping a relatively low profile before its planned redesign in June and a big consumer-marketing push in September.

There's another reason to keep a low profile until they get it right: faces a lot of competition. Unlike the early days of the Web, when could make strides simply because of being online before others, today even newspapers themselves print death notices and obituaries on their own websites. And there are several other websites with a similar conceit, the best-known of which is, a private company started in 1998 that turned profitable in 2003, according to its spokesperson. Instead of competing directly with newspapers, however, has chosen to partner with and charge them a fee for hosting their online obituaries. It counts as clients more than 500 major newspapers, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. also hosts popular guest books and allows users to write and store their own obituaries; the site boasts 11 million unique visitors per month. is not concerned about Taylor's new venture. "Others have come and gone in this space, and we certainly take note of any new competitor, but the arrival of an online company interested in obituaries doesn't alter our strategy in any way," says Hayes Ferguson,'s chief operating officer.

Taylor says's competitive edge will be its searchable central database.

"We can introduce the idea of finding information based on your contacts in the past, and you can be on the watch for people who went to your church or your school or people who you used to work with," Taylor says.

But Taylor is patient, having learned from his experience at how long it can take to chip away at a new market. He notes that the Conference Board recently estimated that last year the internet helped more people find jobs than did traditional media.

"It took 14 years from when I started Monster" to get to that point, says Taylor. "Building Tributes isn't going to happen in one minute."

Visit for the latest business news and opinion, executive profiles and careers.© 2007 Condé Nast Inc. All rights reserved.

Editor's Pick

Related Topics


Upgrade Your Tech with $200 Off a MacBook Pro

If you're in the market for a new laptop, then you won't want to miss this deal.

Starting a Business

New Research Reveals 4 Personality Traits That Most Wealthy Entrepreneurs Share

In the book "Rich Habits," author and CPA Tom Corley shares the daily success habits of his most successful clients.

Growing a Business

Serial Entrepreneur Turned VC Reveals 4 Numbers You Need to Know to Scale Your Company

If you're looking to attract investment or simply seeking to scale your business, there are four key numbers you should use as your guiding light.

Business News

McDonald's Is Making a Major Change to Its Burgers in 2024

The beloved Big Mac will also be getting a big makeover.

Business Plans

She Wrote An 'Escape Plan' to Quit Her Job and Move to an Island. Now She's There Generating Nearly $300,000 A Year

"My detailed, step-by-step plan on how I would quit my job and move to a Caribbean island."

Business Ideas

This Teacher Sells Digital Downloads for $10. Her Side Hustle Now Makes Six Figures a Month: 'It Seems Too Good to Be True, But It's Not.'

When one middle school teacher needed to make some extra income, she started a remote side hustle with no physical products and incredibly low overhead. Now she brings in six figures each month, and offers courses teaching others how to do the same.