Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Suddenly the most useful tool on the internet is a little know feature on it's a rating system for places you might have deposited your money and you are not sure anymore whether you should move it. It's called Safesound. It occurs to me if we all checked it out, make a move for the safer and stopped hoarding, this crisis will blow over because the antidote to a debt crisis is lquid savings.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Wow...all this writing finally got me a writer. Go figure. The whole series is good...execs and analysts weighing in on Microsoft vs. Google will fall out in their neck of the woods.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Microsoft buying Yahoo may be bad for data portability, I just realized. I was reading through some recent articles when I put two and two together on this topic.

Most people, I suspect, don't know that while Google and Yahoo pretty freely let people import their contacts into social networking sites (and theoretically site's of any kind), Microsoft restricts this simple data portability function and sends cease and desist letters to companies that hack around it. They'll only permit a site to import Hotmail contacts if they make Windows Messenger the exclusive IM client for the site. Otherwise you need to pay 25 cents per user per year for Widows messenger to be one of the IM options.

Yahoo on the other hand has been at the forefront of data portability and OpenID and I can't imagine them winning that battle once they are inside Microsoft. Jerry and David are far more idealistic than Terry, and trapped in a non-idealistic world (let's be helpful and publish our browser bookmarks, oh snap now were a multi billion dollar company). It occurs to me that while there has been a lot of talk about the Yahoo rejecting the deal because of the share price, there must be a lot of huge cultural issues like this that they need to iron out before any price could be attractive to them.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Speculating on Facebook's next move Nov 6th in NY... just occurred to me but don't have time to consider in detail right now. Could Facebook do any better than to launch a SocialAds (social advertising network to Google's search advertising network) AND announce that SocialAds (but not would support OpenSocial. Wouldn't that put them in position to reap the benefits of OpenSocial without giving up the benefits of their closed Platform?
Facebook vs. the Internet...that's what I spoke with new friend David Spark about at lunch day before yesterday. If you read my posts from when the Facebook Platform launched, you know I expected this to happen, but talking it over with him I was inspired to extrapolate a little more. What is new to me is the role Google is playing in pushing this process forward. Let's review the history shall we?

1. The internet became less usable as a communications platform because of spam and other burdens unsolvable by the open standards community. Meanwhile the private systems (namely the webmail providers) were busying them selves with "storage wars".

2. Facebook and MySpace emerge as closed recreations of the internet and are able to restore functionality be removing possibilities (constrained application environment).

3. Facebook "opens" their system setting off a frenzy of creative juice...pent up developer energy that had been waiting for internet standards to catch up with the platform needs of applications developers.

4. Google releases the OpenSocial open API standard and (new prediction) sets the Internet
back on the road to functionality as a communications tool.

Let's put recent events in context...most predictions were for Google to open up their own social network (Orkut) and other applications in the same way as Facebook. Instead what they have done is claim the mantle of fighting for the Internet, the original open platform, thereby reducing (if not completely wiping out the perceived advantage of Facebook's "opening"). That is to say they have reminded us that "open" isn't all that new. And the brilliant thing is that Google only benefits from this indirectly (more traffic on the web means more AdWords sales), but reminds us that in this regard: Google's interests are perfectly aligned with the rest of the Web ecosystem.

Let's put the other side in context also, Facebook fully expected this. That's why that even during the lead up and aftermath of the Platform launch the continued to say their primary value was the ability to best activate the social graph (not the Platform).

Now I fully expect to MySpace to come on board OpenSocial, but not to the exclusion of their own API initiative...and perhaps after some hemming and hawing Facebook will too (there are definitely advantages to staying closed for the time being). Hell Facebook has stated a need for a data portability solution and OpenSocial by it's nature is the type of implementation with the most portability.

And finally to give posterity to where posterity is do...all the credit for reminding the Internet what it means to be open goes to Facebook. Thanks for the kick in the pants, Mark.

(BTW, David describes his business as "creating an editorial voice for businesses"...just talking to him made me gab this long, so I imagine he's good at what he does.)

Monday, October 15, 2007

I just made a bunch of comments on a post Steve Rubel made on the "economics" of Web 2.0 where he tries to offer economic defense of his argument that "It's going to get very hard for advertiser-supported startups to get any scale when it comes to revenue.". I thought it might be useful to collect my comments here:

Steve misstates his point but in the way most people misstate it for shorthand:

A) As the supply of content rises, attention decreases and demand lowers - e.g. traffic thins

B) As the supply of ad-supported media rises, inventories swell - e.g. this equals less ad revenues

Supply and demand actually go "up" and "down" *independently*. What changes is the price at which they "meet" - the clearing price. To logically make the sort of point he is trying to make, he actually needs to hold either supply or demand *constant*. So to properly state his points (which are really the same point restated using different currencies to measure price), I suggested restating as follows:

A) As supply of content goes up & demand for that content stays constant, the price we are willing to pay per piece of content (in attention) decreases.

B) As the inventory of ad supported content goes up & the demand for that inventory stays constant, the price per unit of inventory goes down.

Important to note that in these scenarios, aggregate attention and revenue *may go up*, that is the economy may get bigger. It's the price per unit that goes down...hence a push for businesses to play for either efficiency (keeping costs low) or volume (aggregating many transactions).

Two additional things worth noting:

1. In the attention economy (the experience, media and entertainment industries) it is useful to treat demand as constant (i.e. "people only have two hours a day to spend on entertainment) because there is no substitute for the currency of time (we can make more money, but we cannot, as yet, make more time).

2. Even in the case that demand goes up (due to factors out side of the industry like shorter workdays leading to more entertainment hours), the point of these statements still holds even if demand increases, as long as it increases *less than supply*.

Finally, the least immediately relevant, but the most interesting thing to note is that it is possible for businesses to unlock markets within the attention economy (capture latent, unmonetized demand) as Google did with AdWords and as we intend to do with future products at ffwd.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Replacing "Fame Creation" with "Fame Transfer" is the next transition for the music industry.
A realization was triggered by the news of Radiohead's new album download pricing scheme: pay what you want, $1 - $100. This isn't a new idea, nor is it at all the first implementation of the idea. What's new here is that Radiohead, a band with singular brand power, is doing it. And that got me thinking...Radio head achieved that power through the tried and true machine of the record label. This is not to take away from the band's merit, but they surely didn't become famous despite their label's help. And looking at the handful of artists that have previously been lauded as vanguards of a new economics in music, we see they are mostly products of the old economics who now have freedom to exercise their manufactured power out of contract: Prince, Peter Gabriel, Pearl Jam and now (moving on in the alphabet) Radiohead.

What I realized is that for all the economic changes in the industry, the way in which fame (which in this industry is power) is created and transferred is still the same. I think it is finally time for artists themselves to start passing fame directly on to other artists in a mass way. This is also neither a new idea, or unimplemented. Starbucks music has had a very successful business of "Artist Picks" type compilations. But now with the rise of artist profiles on social networks, all now have the ability to do this with little monetary cost. The only thing at stake is reputation, and it takes a little time, too.

But what a huge difference it would make? We go from a chain of Label produces Artist produces money for Label who produces new Artist to a chain of Artist produces Artist. How elegant and efficient. All we need is a clever marketing genius to productize a way for artists to transfer fame to new artists directly using their fanbases on social networks. If you are such a
genius, give me a shout, I'd love to help.

Friday, September 14, 2007

James Currier (a founder of Tickle and currently of Ooga Labs ) is my hero for the week. On Wednesday we both spoke at the STIRR Founder Hacks event and James was by far the best of the three of us "seasoned" entrepreneurs who spoke. Not surprisingly he is the most seasoned, Tickle actually being a site that informed a part of the marketing strategy. Regardless, he had the best lock on the inspirational speaking style appropriate for the occasion.

Watch the videos and you'll see what I mean...

Scott Rafer and I both had interesting things to share, but James did an exceptional job of distilling his message to a simple take away, "hit it hard". I, on the other hand, tended toward the a Socratic lecture style and got complemented on succinctness and revelation (the a ha moment), but not for being particularly exciting. In retrospect, I think mine could have been, "You need people to bust your chops".

In passing let me also note that the STIRR crew put on hands down the best industry event I've been to all year, somehow allowing ample room for both "networking" and more substantial types of connections. It may be simply because everyone pays, except for founders (otherwise they are more likely to stay at the office and work!). But I also think there's a really collegiate vibe where cunning (i.e. name tag scoping) matters less than openness. Everyone I met spoke about why and how they do things, as opposed to most silicon valley events the focus seems to be about what you are doing and who you are. I highly recommend checking out their other programs.