September 2005 Archives
I have been a fan of eBAY. I admire the way they are constantly upgrading operations and adding additional services. And most of all I like that they are adding new divisions. Skype might be controversial, but the purchase illustrates that there is orignal thinking going on at headquarters.
On a personal level I have been surprised about how sloppy the company is on its record keeping. Occasionally I sell or buy items on eBAY. Recently I attempted to sell a car. I paid for the ad with my PayPal account. Apparently I had a shortfall in my PayPal account and owed eBAY money for the ad placed. What happened next is puzzling. It took eBAY several weeks to recognize that I owed them money.
I paid the money due immediately by credit card. I never received acknowledgement of the payment and never gave it another thought. Recently I went to eBAY to sell an item. I found that eBAY had frozen my account for lack of payment. However, as mentioned, I had paid the bill four weeks earlier via credit card.
I protested via email to the eBAY complaint area and was pleased that the situation was rectified within 24 hours. In the end my confidence in eBAY was restored by the rapid response to my complaint.
I do have a defense for eBAY. It is possible that eBAY was sending me emails to warn me about my supposed lack of payment. However I tend to never open such emails because of the phisher problem we all face. Increasingly the problem that I faced will have to be solved via digitial signatures and other means to assure someone like me that eBAY is in fact asking for details about my account information.
Datamation was once the foremost computer magazine in the world. Like many tech magazines it morphed into a Web site about 7 years ago. Now it is a thriving Web site on our JupiterWeb network of Web sites at Jupitermedia.
Two of the better tech Internet journalists have launched a new blog at Datamation. Chris Nerney and Mike Pastore, both superb and astute journalists give several updates per day on the Datamation blog.
While not for everyone, this is a terrific read. And it is another fine blog added to the stable of Jupitermedia blogs that we have launched in the previous 20 months. I have written about the great response we have had to the JupiterResearch bloggers ---these continue to thrive in terms of readership and feedback. This is blogging at its best in that readers get solid information and thoughts and the company gets greater bonding with pressent and future customers.
The 19th Annual Stock Visual Survey from Graphic Design USA is packed with valuable information for anybody interested in the growth and future direction of stock photo sales.
Check out this comprehensive survey. If you know what we are doing and planning at JupiterImages, then this survey is a good friend. Note particulary this quote: "Still, many other creatives affirm that there is plenty of room for independents, specialty stock companies and other portals to compete - and they see competition as good for their own creative needs. This contingent welcomes providers and collections who can differentiate themselves as brands and tell their story, bring something unique to the market either in content delivery or licensing, provide customer service and support, and possess roughly comparable technology and pricing..."
As we finish the year, watch as JupiterImages starts to roll out a state of the art umbrella Web site and a variety of services that are sure to appeal to photo buyers worldwide. And 2006 should be even more exciting. I will keep readers informed.
I have been participating in an online fantasy baseball league for several years. The league goes back to before the Web, but we moved to an online format 6 years ago with sportsline.com.
My son (now 25) joined the league at 12 years old and I tagged along as a helper. Over the years we have become partners in running the team. This includes a live draft where we assemble at one owner's home in New Jersey in late March with 11 other league owners and select our respective team rosters. During the season a steady flow of trades and changes in rosters takes place online. In essence we have a community site of 12 team owners.
This community experience takes place similarly with millions of players around the world not only in baseball, but with basketball, hockey, and football too.
Daily and weekly stats are provided by sportsline for reasonable seasonal fees. The process is efficient as stats are delivered online everyday during the baseball season.
The nice thing for me, of course, is to have a nice way to communicate with my son and at the same time to have a blast managing a baseball team with our 25 fantasy major leaguers.
This season brought another bonus. We won the league championship for the first time. It was a close race, but a key trade made about month ago for a relief pitcher named Benitez put us over the top.
This blog began as a report-diary on the launch of a new trade show called cdXpo. It evolved to its present form in late 2003 when it was apparent our company would no longer run cdXpo.
Recently we sold our Search Engine Strategies trade shows for $43 million. Our remaining trade show is running in Chicago as I write this. The show is called ITSMF. We have been producing this show for the ITSMF association for four years and have built it into one of the great tech trade shows. In 2001 we had 75 paid registrants and 500 feet of paid exhibit space -- the Chicago show has 1,000 paid registrants (average registration fee is over $1,000) and well over 20,000 square feet of paid exhibition space ($50 per square foot). The show will be even bigger next year and for years to come. But we do not own this show. We produce it for a healthy fee, but there is no sense in continuing with this event when it would be our only trade show.
We decided to forego running this event after the 2005 edition. The Association will soon select another company to run this event(Incisive Media, the company that bought our Search events will run ITSMF in 2006).
Jupitermedia has exited the trade business with two huge winners -- San Jose SES in August and now ITSMF (we still have a partial ownership of the ISPCON trade shows, but we have no involvement in producing these shows).
It will be odd for me to be out of the trade show business. I have been running events since 1975. A non-compete prevented from being in the trade show arena from 1999-2001, but during that period I was planning my return. Now I have no such thoughts. I am devoted to growing our image operations and running our research and online media properties. I still have a modest role in "events" because we produce small breakfast forums at JupiterResearch and also have a thriving Webinar and Webcast business. So good-bye to trade shows. I shall soon be forgotten, but not gone.
Today is the last day you can read op-ed columnists such as David Brooks and Paul Krugman without paying a subscription fee. Starting Saturday it will cost $49.95 per year to read the op-ed writers of the Times.
I read the Times, but am not a big fan of any of op-ed writers since William Safire retired (I am fortunate to have known Bill Safire for 40 years and feel the Times has had a big hole since Bill retired). But some people are miffed about the Times' new policy as one can see in this blog.
Readers know that I feel that the Times continues to make a big mistake by getting more restrictive with their free offerings. I guess they feel their purchase of about.com, a free site, gives them license to make the quality Times content an increasingly closed environment?
By the way, I must thank JupiterWeb editor Alex Goldman for pointing out the above referenced blog post about the Times policy shift. I must admit that I do not have as much time as I would like to browse the Web, read blogs and do general searching. I am blessed to be associated with about 75 great writers at JupiterWeb who from time to time point out pieces that are sure to interest me.
I write this in San Francisco. I arrived a few minutes ago to present Jupitermedia at the ThinkEquity Internet Conference at the Ritz Carlton on Wednesday the 14th. On my way to the conference I visited our stock photo offices in Peoria, Illinois and Tucson, Arizona. Our teams at both offices are very excited about JupiterImages and cannot wait for the rollout of several new services this fall.
Several employees mentioned that two blogs have been covering the news of Getty Images' entrance to the subscription arena. Dimdump is operated by Bahar Gidwani of Index Stock. Stockphototalk is the other blog that I learned about today.
In any event this link summarizes a little "back and forth" on the state of subscriptions amongst Getty Images, Index Stock and JupiterImages.
I had to remove the "comments" feature for this Blog. Spam is the reason behind this decision.
For months I was getting about four spam comments daily. However in recent weeks this total has jumped to over 20 per day.
I am sorry to have to turn off the comment feature as it was a good barometer of readers' interests.
As an aside, I am amazed at the ingenuity of the spammers. Some spammers appear to have read the entries or have some type of spidering mechanism that sends comments specifically focused on a post.
The conclusion in all of this is that the next great Internet fortune goes to the one who kills spam.
The United State Government has filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court against the National Association of Realtors over the Association's apparent unwillingness to share online listings with online real estate brokers who are willing to discount the normal 5-6% commission structure commonly used across America. The U.S. Government's acting antitrust chief, J. Bruce McDonald, stated according to the 9 September issue of The Wall Street Journal, that the Association's policies "stifle competition to the advantage of some of its members, at the expense of home buyers and sellers across the country."
The Journal reporters, John Wilke and James H. Hagerty, reported that Mr. McDonald "said online commerce brought innovation and lower fees to air travel, stock sales, insurance, music and other markets."
Again we have the Internet about to change another business tradition just as it has already done with countless other mainstream industries. And of course beyond changing business practices the Net continues its assault on daily life ranging from basic information to how candidates run for public office. The Internet is relentless in causing change.
Gasoline prices are going sky high, but at least real estate commissions will soon be declining.
Many readers know that Jupitermedia is taking legal action against eMarketer. We believe that eMarketer is illegally using original research material from our JupiterResearch division and packaging it as eMarketer research. One day this case will reach the courts and I believe we will win a verdict that will block eMarketer from this dastardly practice.
In the meantime I came across another research firm called Parks Associates that is having eMarketer troubles. The following press release from this firm tells yet another way that eMarketer is unfairly taking advantage of the labors of an independent research firm. I congratulate Parks Associates for taking a stand against eMarketer.
Bob Davis, one time Internet star and builder of Lycos, first saw the need to adding services and media to search engines. Barry Diller early on in the Internet era saw the wisdom to pile on services to his InterActiveCorp operations.
And now eBAY is playing this card too as it is apparently pursuing an acquisition of Skype. eBAY understands that its large growth must be fed and that it must add more services. Skype telephony services offered to eBAY's millions of users is a great concept ---whether it would work cannot be answered. One can also see how eBAY's PayPal services would tie in nicely with Skype.
News Corp. is late to the Internet game (I have mentioned many times how News Corp. missed out on being an Internet winner early on by dumping its Delphi community back in 1994). The Murdoch team recently bought myspace.com and now they are purchasing the online game network known as IGN. This means that News Corp. has paid somewhat over $1 billion for lots of Internet traffic, little revenue, and virtually no profit.
I have to question the News Corp. strategy. It smacks of the 1998-1999 concept of "Internet Traffic Mania." eBAY, on the other hand, is thinking outside of the box and into the future (a la Davis and Diller).
News Corp. is a great media company that does not get the Net. eBAY is a great Internet company that "gets the future."
I just had one of my best ecommerce experiences. I used the nikeid.com Web site and designed and built a terrific and comfortable sneaker called "NikeFree."
Not only was the Web site experience terrific, but I had a great time designing my sneakers. Virtually every facet of the shoe can be color designed. Changes are easy to make.
Heck, even if you decide not to order these shoes you can have a great time being the next great sneaker designer.
Congratulation to Nike for a great Web site and and great user experience.
I am not posting this week as I am supposed to be on vacation. I promised my wife that I would only do two hours of email a day while hitting some of the islands off the New England coast. Catch you all next week.