Monthly Archives: September 2009

Futurity & The Growing Importance Of Niche

Last week the Mercury News reported that because of concern that journalism’s
economic problems are reducing Americans’ understanding of science,
medicine and other research, 35 of the nation’s top universities announced that they will
supply their own news accounts of their discoveries directly to top news sites
on the Internet.

The
universities have formed their own non-profit wire
service called Futurity to provide articles to popular Web sites such
as Yahoo News and Google News, along with MySpace and Twitter.

The schools saw the reduction or elimination of science and technology staff at larger organizations like CNN, Mercury News, Boston Globe and others so they realized that the only group that would ensure their work reached the public was them.  With that in mind, I think their is another lesson here for both ‘for-profit’ and ‘non-profit’ media, information & content providers.

Not everyone cares about everything.

The power and necessity of targeted, niche delivery, or narrowcasting, is not a new one but it is quickly becoming the rule rather than the exception to viable media business models.  Futurity came into being because the broadcast based organizations could not find an audience of enough size to support the operations.

That is not surprising.

In our ‘pull-based’ world, those who are interested in a topic can find it much more efficiently than a non-specialized source can provide it.  There is a reason that Triton bought Ando, that Search dominates advertising growth and that Price Waterhouse Cooper projects a 10% shift in spending from non-digital to digital media that can support “more targeted and tailored models that will differ widely within and across segments and geographies.

With the NAB conference in Philadelphia this week, I am excited to catch up with a lot of people and talk about the growth of niche.  We, as consumers, are very demanding and increasingly device and platform agnostic as long as we can get to the information or entertainment content that is most important to us.

Broadcasters have a tremendous opportunity to leverage a large audience and break it down by behavior, location and content and eliminate the barriers between platforms to please both the consumers and advertisers.

The New York Times and the universities in Futurity have learned that lesson and are passing it on.  

Government Apps

This is my first post from a mobile phone and I think it is appropriate given the topic. The federal government annunced below that it has jumped into the cloud computing and app pool in the name of time and cost efficiency.

I applaud it in the loudest way possible.

The Obama CIO Vivek Kundra blazed the trail for open data and open government apps during his days as the CTO for Washington DC through the popular Apps For Democracy project. I am excited to see that work moving into the federals sphere and I am doing my best along with a passionate and talented group to launch a similar project in Philadelphia.

http://www.gsa.gov/Portal/gsa/ep/contentView.do?pageTypeId=8199&channelId=-24825&P=&contentId=28477&contentType=GSA_BASIC

Collaborative innovation has a place in both the public and private sectors and I do believe it is a cornerstone of true democracy. I look forward to the discussion on October 6 at the Global Creative Economy Convergence Summit.

One Lesson From Facebook Profitability

Yesterday’s big news in the social media business sphere was the Facebook acknowledgment that they turned a profit last quarter.  That is absolutely great news and a tremendous indicator for the future of convergence that has been “coming” for years now.

Facebook and some analysts point to the low headcount as the reason for profitability despite the basic ad model and the fact that Facebook does not share in the revenue that application makers generate through their network.  While running a lean business is essential, to me the lesson in this profitability turn is that an open strategy can work.

Before opening up its network to applications, Facebook would have probably had a very good run and then went the way of Friendster and MySpace…popular, but not monumental.  The ‘perfect storm’ combination of an (1) open invitation to applications, (2) Facebook Connect to let users interact with friends outside of Facebook and (3) Facebook Mobile to let us all carry our friends wherever we go is the reason the service has exploded to 300 million members.

While 99% of the businesses out there will never reach that level of audience, those actions of openness are still relevant. The fact is that we, as consumers, no longer live in one place, interact with one community or remain loyal to one brand.

We are in the ‘me’ world, but not in an egotistical way, just in one that we seek to have our likes, passions, companions right at our fingertips.  I had lunch with a friend of mine the other day who runs a company with a user base of well over 50 million and he said it well…”we need to give our customers the easiest path to ‘me.com’.

Businesses that keep that fact in mind, regardless of the product, service or scale, will do well.

Speaking At Global Creative Economy Convergence Summit

I am very excited to have been asked to speak at the Global Creative Economy Convergence Summit here in Philadelphia on October 5 & 6, hosted by Innovation Philadelphia.

Whether you are an entrepreneur, a graphic or
web designer, business executive, or something in between, there is sure to be
something for you at the conference with more than 100 speakers scheduled for this year’s
event.  With a variety of panels and
workshops, and keynote speakers such as Eat,
Pray, Love
author Elizabeth Gilbert and social media guru Peter Shankman,
the Summit is bringing together an assortment of
creative industries to network, exchange ideas, and share information.

I will be giving two presentations, one solo (SaaS – It Takes a Villiage to Raise A Venture) and one as part of a panel ( Unlocking Technology: How Open Source Drives Innovation).

The descriptions are below.  I am taking a page from my favorite VC blogger Fred Wilson’s book to develop as much of the discussions based on community ideas, insight and recommendations as possible.  If anyone has ANY ideas, please put them in the comments below.

SaaS
– It Takes A Village To Raise A Venture
 

Creative
entrepreneurship is the sum of innovation, efficient capital use,
collaboration, measurable results and social responsibility. Modern business
creators must establish their core focus and move to market quickly through the combined use of
social, open and proprietary tools, databases, services and applications while
still planting the seeds of longevity & scalability. This workshop takes a
hands-on approach to proving the power of leveraging software-as-a-service
(SaaS) to launch a company. Participants will gain a practical approach to
embracing existing tools to launch their own creativity in ideation,
operations, marketing and sales for any venture.

Unlocking Technology: How Open Source Drives Innovation

Open source technology has revolutionized the way software is developed,
but open source thinking expands beyond the IT world. Peer-based collaboration
can be used in all aspects of business and results in better, more effective
ways of producing goods and services and disseminating products throughout the
marketplace. In our world’s highly competitive market, the more collaboration
and exchanging of ideas that happens, the better the outcome. Learn how you can
use open source-style collaboration in the development of your products and in
the way you conduct business.

7 Years Ago Today…and getting better each day!

On this day, September 14, in 2002 in New Jersey at a wedding for her best friend, I met my beautiful wife, Kerri Lynn Kennedy.

It is hard for me to remember how jovial of a person I was before that day, but I can honestly say that must have been the most unhappy day of the past 7 years because every day since has been a greater joy the more time we spend together.

We took our time in the relationship as we were both “reluctant” to accept that fact that there was another person who could keep up and waited until last November 29 to get married in Mexico.

I don’t know who I thought I was kidding as I have to sprint every day to keep pace with Kerri, the most vibrant, intelligent and passionate person that I know.  How she fell in love with a media-tech geek obsessed with Law & Order, music and soccer I will never know, but I am thankful ever single day.

It is beyond an honor to share my life with her and I work every day to make her proud as she deserves nothing less than a desire to change the world for the better.  You can see a sample of her tremendous work on behalf of the women of developing nations at Womens’s Campaign International.

I know that I will look back each year on 9/14 and 11/29 as the most unhappy days of the past year…and be the happiest man on the planet as a result.