February 2004 Archives
How can one write about the Internet without experimenting with eBay? Coincidentally, The Wall Street Journal had a front page article on eBay on Thursday (February 26) by Nick Wingfield. I would suggest you read this, but that cannot happen online unless you are a paid subscriber --- of course grab the paper edition if available.
Back to my experiences. I just sold three golf clubs --- the sales closed a few hours ago. It was a great experience. Interestingly I received 20 emails on the last day of the sale period relating to a variety of questions that potential bidders had about the clubs. All the purchasers used PayPal to pay for their purchases.
Many readers might have used eBay and treat my comments as naive or say, "Where have you been?" And with good reason. The WSJ had a chart in the aforementioned article indicating that there were almost 300 million auction and fixed-priced listings on eBay in 2003 (not to mention 95 million registered users, of whom about 430,000 are full- and part-time sellers [according to Wingfield]).
eBay might very well be the best example of one of my favorite themes --- "growing business online." I wonder how many of the 430,000 sellers mentioned above are in business for themselves for the first time and or sell on eBay as a part-time business? eBay is a great business story. But one of the important aspects of this story is the opportunity that eBay has provided for individuals to start businesses worldwide.
Verizon is a huge telephone company. It has many assets including billions in value relating to its Yellow Pages directories. Online search and paid search threaten any Yellow Pages franchise. It is obvious that the folks at Verizon feel the threat coming from current search powerhouses as well as the potential "Stanford engineering students" working on a local search solution.
Verizon does not appear to be wasting time in staying ahead of these threats as they are going to launch Superpages.com at our Search Engine Strategies show in New York City next week.
The Verizon launch is aimed at saving a multi-billion dollar franchise. We are going to see more and more information about local search services --- which means more and more investment --- which means that the already hot search market has several enormous years of growth ahead for all concerned.
Numerous other announcements will be made at SES New York next week at the Hilton. SES will be the most exciting trade show to hit New York City since the halcyon days of Internet World.
Howard Dean is back in Vermont. He is now a footnote in history. I remember back when (I was once advance man for Robert F. Kennedy) a somewhat obscure Senator from Minnesota by the name of Eugene McCarthy came out of nowhere to take the lead for the Democratic nomination (1968). People under the age of 40 are clueless about "clean Gene."
The interesting thing about Dean and this Blog is his use of the Internet. I read this weekend that while the Dean Blog was widely read, he never wrote an entry himself!!! Let me know if I have this wrong since I never read the Dean Blog.
The Dean legacy might just be his use of the Internet --- he will not be remembered for anything else (other than his rant after the Iowa primary).
I know that Lee Gomes in The Wall Street Journal wrote about this subject today (this cannot be read on the net unless you are a paying subscriber). But I have been writing about Dean and the Internet for several months. I doubt I will write more about it, but just wanted to bring the subject to a conclusion.
I helped growing business online! Today I read a terrific article by Kara Swisher in The Wall Street Journal (print) dealing with coffee makers. Kara convinced me to buy the Flavia machine. I checked out the Web site and ordered a machine and several coffees.
The processing went well and the order was shipped.
This got me to thinking about a variety of things including how shopping is changed forever. Also we have always known that reviews in a national paper are sure to grow business, but think now how rapid a purchasing decision is made. Within 20 minutes of having read the article in a taxi, I had made the order online. It would be great to know from Flavia or the other companies mentioned how much their business increased today (and for the next few days)?
And of course this ties in with our new trade show called Internet Planet. We have two days of seminars planned in June at the Hillton in New York City covering the whole idea of "growing business online."
Back to Flavia. I was a bit put off by the number of questions the company made me answer if I wanted to receive the Flavia email newsletter. Nonetheless I answered them dutifully and will see if I will continue with the subscription once it begins to arrive.
Interesting aside. Kara Swisher is a longtime tech writer for WSJ out of Silicon Valley. She has written a few books about AOL over the years. If she tires of covering Silicon Valley, she can always give Walter Mossberg a run for his money!
I am a stockholder of Walt Disney. Many of you know that Comcast recently offered to buy Disney. And many of you might also know that Roy Disney and Stanley Gold recently resigned from the Disney Board of Directors to protest the financial management of the Disney Company and to attempt to wrest control of the company.
My angle on this is the Internet. Roy Disney (Walt's nephew) and Stanley Gold have used the usual financial public relations tricks to get their side of the story in the press. And, they have turned to the Internet to help in their quest.
Check out a terrific Web site called savedisney.com. The dissidents have a variety of articles and news about their plans and actions.
Now to one of my favorite topics --- the dishonest characters who run the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. Readers know that Jupitermedia feels that it was legally wronged in its treatment by the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in relation to its contract for the cdXpo trade show held last November. We have a laundry list of wrongs ranging from a variety of unethical actions to certain breaches of the contract. I have suggested to readers who are in the seminar and trade show business to stay clear of the Mandalay Bay ---I can assure you that you will get "the short end of the stick" on any deal.
Before I connect this to the Disney situation, let me digress some more. This past weekend I was driving and saw another interesting use of the Internet. A driver in front of me had a URL posted on the rear of the car that contained the brand of a car dealer and the word "sucks" after the brand. I decided to speed up and pass this fellow and noticed as I did so that he had the URL on all his doors too! Obviously this was one angry consumer.
Now to the Mandalay Bay. I have a hankering to create a Web site to spill the beans about the Mandalay Bay. I would not stoop to using the word that my "friend" in the car used for my possible Web site, but I could take a lesson from www.savedisney.com. Perhaps something like DonotdotradeshowsatMandalayBay.com?
The point of this post is that the Internet can be and is being used for all types of viewpoints. From the fellow on the highway to a financier like Roy Disney. And now perhaps to a fellow named Alan Meckler.
The USA had a three-day weekend. But our Search Engine Strategies trade show slated for March 1-4 at the Hilton in New York City did not rest. Registrations for paid seminars and exhibit space grew even over the weekend!
Many readers know that we run SES in the USA three times per year and have added related shows in Japan, Canada, England and Germany (and are about to add shows for Sweden and Brazil). We grow these shows along with the "Search" industry.
Search seems to have no boundaries and thus the growth of the business and our shows. Of course it helps that we have Danny Sullivan, "the king of all things search" on our team and to have the Web site searchenginewatch.com with its huge readership.
And now local search is on the horizon --- which means even greater growth for anyone in or around the business.
One thing for sure is that SES NYC is going to have lots of Wall Streeters and VC's in attendance along with a few thousand market orientated types. The atmosphere will be like the early days of Internet World (say 1994-1995). It should be fun.
More importantly this all bodes well for the growth of online information and e-commerce of all stripes. Great things are happening in and around the Internet.
Many of you know about our cdXpo battle with Comdex. I have little to say about the history here other than that I wonder if Comdex will run again. Not a word from MediaLive since November. No news about the supposed November show! Why?
My guess is that MediaLive is waiting on Microsoft. Without Microsoft on the floor in a big way, there can be no show.
But times are a-changing. And this is where Gartner's ITXPO surfaces. Over the years this show (run annually in Orlando in the fall and San Diego in March) just might have become the "new" Comdex. Why?
The Gartner show is 100% pure Enterprise. It has a terrific seminar program. It gets all of the major Enterprise exhibitors (Gartner only allows modest booth space). AND now it has Bill Gates as a keynoter (after having had Steve Ballmer of Microsoft as keynoter last fall).
So I ask readers the following: "Does Gartner have THE Enterprise IT show for the present"?
And another trend to note: All major Enterprise organizations now run several of their own shows each year under a variety of names. These "big guys" build their events schedules and budgets around their own shows and then judiciously select a variety of vertically targeted shows to spend whatever else remains in the budgets. Thus the success of shows like our Search Engine Strategies or Wi-Fi Planet (and what I believe to be a certain success for our new Internet Planet show) or Pulver's VON shows.
So much for the future of Comdex, the future of CEBIT America, the future of CMP's TechX (formerly PC Expo). These are all truly tumbleweed shows. The action for the Enterprise IT set is now in Orlando and San Diego --- the action is where Microsoft resides.
Much ado in the press about the offer by Comcast to acquire Disney. Much of the commentary deals with the distribution of content and the ownership of content --- this combination would combine both nicely.
What might be overlooked is that lurking behind this move and all media moves is the issue of DRM --- Digital Rights Management. Increasingly these three letters (DRM) will become more and more important in discussions both within and without media entities.
It is great to own media assets and their respective digital offspring --- but you had better know how to protect them!
There were several stories in the financial press on Tuesday reporting that Blockbuster would be sold by its parent Viacom. Why? Speculation by reporters in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal was that Blockbuster is facing a devastating assault from online firms such as netflix.com and from the coming wave of being able to download movies online.
Much like Search could well destroy the value of Yellow Page publishers, Blockbuster is another example of the Internet turning an industry on its head.
The Internet is driving creative destruction faster and faster.
And all of the above will go into hyperspeed when Broadband is prevalent and ubiquitous. Lots of so-called traditional business types still do not get it --- they think they have time on their side (they are wrong).
Just the other day I posted an entry about the impending death of print technology trade publishing caused by the Internet. One could go on and on.
Our new Internet Planet trade show is all about this sea change. Our program will be published shortly. Our keynote speaker, John Patrick, will be all over this theme --- it should be exciting.
And while I am pitching Jupitermedia --- watch what our ArtToday image model is doing to the way professionals and consumers buy images (online). By the way we are changing the name of our ArtToday division to Jupiterimages (by the end of the month). ArtToday just might be the largest b2b subscription model in the world today. I have never been more excited by a business model that I have been associated with --- I will be reporting more on Jupiterimages in the coming months.
I had an interesting experience on Sunday afternoon here in New York City. I was visiting the home of my mother-in-law (by the way I have been married for nearly 35 years).
My mother-in-law wanted to show off her new 17-inch screen Toshiba notebook (she has just junked her ancient desktop system).
What you need to know is that Lola (my mother-in-law) reluctantly joined the computing set about 6 years ago. She basically uses AOL and enjoys playing a variety of computer games.
However she has just discovered e-commerce. When my wife and I arrived she had just finished ordering some books from Amazon.com and was finishing off a large order from a specialty candy Web site.
She has also discovered the power of search engines --- she told us about searching for her new computer and for information she needed about Venice, Italy.
So why am I writing this: Lola is an example of how consumers everywhere are turning to the Internet to get their information and to do their shopping. It struck me that my mother-in-law was a microcosm of what is happening in every home, not to mention what is happening in many businesses around the world.
It also made me glad that Jupitermedia is right in the middle of all of this change. And of course my mind linked right into the idea behind our new InternetPlanet trade show --- growing business online. A massive sea change is taking place that is affecting profits, non-profits and the daily life of most consumers.
Have you noticed how painfully thin the few remaining weekly tech magazines are these days? Check out InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week and EWeek. These "books" were once robust heavyweights in terms of need and thickness. But since late 2000 these "books" appear to be treading water waiting for the ultimate final dive (based on an examination of thickness and ad pages).
So what happened and what is happening?
These four trade magazines are the survivors from among some 20 competitive books that were spawned from the mid-1980s during the rise of the personal computing and software boom. Remember Byte magazine? One could have gotten a bet of a million to one in 1992 on the wager of "will Byte ever go out of business." The same could be said for Datamation (now published by Jupitermedia as a Web site after being closed down by Cahners publishing several years ago). Remember Windows magazine etc.?
I come into the picture in the following way. Jupitermedia publishes technology information online in its Jupiterweb division. We have about 150 Web sites spread over four online networks (DevX, Earthweb, internet.com and Clickz). We compete for tech ad dollars with the above-mentioned magazines.
The latest issues of the four magazines mentioned in the first paragraph all have about 60 or less pages. Over the previous three years it is rare that any of these books is larger than 66 pages --- the norm is about 60 pages. The size has not risen nor has it declined very much over the past three years. The number of ad pages in each book is about the same in each issue too. Prior to 2000, these books were on average about 50% larger per issue.
Contrast this to rising ad space and ad dollars spent on online sites across the board (including those offered by Jupitermedia). Public filings from Cnet, my own company and many others indicate the beginnings of significant ad spending in the tech space on Web sites. If Cnet and Jupitermedia properties were magazines, instead of being 60-page books, they would today be 80-page magazines due to increased ad spending. In contrast as mentioned above, the lumbering print titles are limping along at the same number of pages that they were publishing several years ago.
Interestingly the above-mentioned magazines all have online properties. The companies that own these properties are private so we never get to see their financials. Perhaps the CEOs at these companies (Ziff Davis, IDG and CMP Media) are discussing the idea of killing off these dinosaurs and going Web-based? Perhaps they are not discussing the issue, but I can bet you that the employees are waiting for that very situation to develop.
What I am saying here is that in tech trade publishing, it will be the rare magazine that is in print by 2006. The future of tech trade publising is online.
I want to mention a great organization that Jupitermedia just joined -- The Online Publishers Association.
I am not an organization person nor a "joiner." Our company has eschewed joining organizations. However I heartily endorse the OPA and the fine work being done by Michael Zimbalist ---executive director.
Unlike some other organizations out there in and around the Internet space, I believe the OPA is objective, favors no particular company, has an executive director who is not an empire builder (but a visionary), and is a place in which we gain valuable contacts and educational experiences.
I encourage online publishers to take a look at the OPA's offerings and to consider joining.
I will keep all informed about our upcoming experiences.
We have some clever readers out in cyberspace. Some of you figured out that the private client bank that I have recently written about without identifying the company is in fact J.P. Morgan Private Client Banking.
I want to "thank" guys like David Kelso and another winner over at JPM -- Doug "Wurthless" Wurth for their clever handling of their clients money and their foresight for understanding the future of the Internet and Internet VC investing. Someday these guys should be sued by their "clients" for blowing millions of dollars. Congratulations Dave and Doug!
One of my resolutions for the New Year is to try to write kind things. However I must comment on the risk of doing trade shows or seminars or anything at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
Many readers of this blog know that we are about to take legal action against Mandalay Bay for a variety of unethical and illegal acts against us when we ran our cdXpo event last November.
What sparked this entry was an ad that Mandalay Bay ran in the February 2 issue of FORBES magazine. There is a hilarious quote from one Danielle Babilino, Vice President of Hotel Sales: "Ours is a multipurpose facility built to be adaptable to our customers. Our bottom line at Mandalay Bay - Whatever you need, we can do it."
Let me say this: Mandalay Bay is a multipurpose facility --- but it is multipurpose "to screw" the customer who books space to run events there. The game is simple: Sign up for space and if Ms. Babilino gets a better deal after you sign up, she uses her "multipurpose space" to move you from the space you contracted for so that you lose bigtime. And as to her quote about: Whatever you need - we can do it --- Interpretation: "we can do it" means we will really ruin you if it makes sense for us financially.
Once again to all in the events business --- stay away from this place and do your organization a favor.