October 2005 Archives
Rebecca Buckman in The Wall Street Journal today had an article entitled "Many Internet Start-Ups Telling Venture Capitalists: "We Don't Need You." The thrust of the article is that many start-ups these days (versus the late 1990s) simply sell out rather than get involved with venture capital firms.
The writer provides several reasons for this change in attitude. But there is a fundamental difference between then and now. In the late 1990s into 2000, most start-ups were driven by the idea of an IPO. Also established media companies were not commonly buying Web site properties at that time.
Today we find that most purchases of Internet start-ups are coming from established media companies or the Search Engine organizations. Witness Myspace.com being sold to NewsCorp and Flickr being purchased by Yahoo.
Interestingly yours truly was in the VC game for a few years from 1999 until 2002 (Jupitermedia still has small interests in a variety of Internet companies from these VC days such as mdlinx.com, biocompare.com, techtracker.com, madeforchina.com and many more). Our model was revolutionary in 1999 because it was not based on having an investment turn into an IPO, but rather it was based on the idea that vetically focused start-up Web sites would be built up and sold to established media companies. I remember having trouble raising VC funds back then because potential investors were focused on the hot IPO market. It is nice to see that our investment philosophy of 1999 has in fact become accepted today as most start-ups are being sold to established companies rather than pursuing the IPO route.
Check out John Patricks's thoughts about a recent seminar in New York City called BlogOn. John is the "father of the Internet at IBM" and is well known as a profound tech thinker. He retired from IBM and has been writing books, making speeches and serving on several company Boards (including Jupitermedia's).
John's thoughts about the future of Blogs is about as good as it gets into understanding where the "blog wave" might be headed.
Have you read about Indieflix.com? IndieFlix allows a fledgling film maker to gain a form of distribution. A story in today's International Herald Tribune with a byline by John Anderson reports: "Directors submit their films, which are then posted on the indieflix Web site. When users log on and click to buy the films that capture their interest, the Site burns them onto a DVD and ships them out. The price is $9.95."
The Internet continues to spawn vertical niches of horizontal success stories. Clearly Indieflix is a variation of NetFlix just as Stubhub is a variation of eBAY. And of course the list goes on and on and continues to develop and evolve.
European Wall Street Journal
A few months ago I predicted that all major newspapers would one day adopt the tabloid style of printing. Lo and behold a few weeks after the prediction the European Wall Street Journal announced a forthcoming tabloid design. I saw it today for the first time. It is snazzy and beautifully designed. Recently Dow Jones, the parent of The Wall Street Journal, announced that its USA edition would shrink by some three inches in width. While this change is in the works I am sure the folks at Dow Jones already have a plan for when the USA edition goes tabloid too. After all, if The Times of London can be tabloid, all newspapers will go this route within 5 years or less.
The New JupiterImages Web Site
We recently soft launched a new version of Jupiterimages.com. The site is a work in progress. It is vastly improved from the original version, but it still has a ways to go before we will be satisfied with the end product (look to March 2006). In the meantime we think we have a very competitive site for now which will only improve. And today Jupiterimages.com had a mini review.
Many readers know that Jupitermedia competes with Getty Images in the distribution and sales of stock photos. In an industry that has historically seen cooperation amongst competitors, Getty Images has decided to close its distribution network to JupiterImages brands.
For example it no longer distributes our Comstock Images brand and in a few days it will not distribute our Thinkstock Images brand. Starting in December it will not distribute several more of our brands including Brand X Pictures and several rights managed brands.
This is fine with me. I like competition and am more than ready to compete with Getty Images.
However my company will compete with integrity, honesty and a willingness to work with any competitor. Getty on the other hand must resort to threats and dishonesty in its dealing with the image world.
Note the item pasted below from the Getty Images Web site. It indicates that Getty will no longer be distributing Thinkstock imagery because the images do not meet the Getty standards of excellence or because we asked that they be removed. All of this is dishonest. The only reason Getty will no longer distribute Thinkstock is because Thinkstock is owned by JupiterImages.
We all know the Bible. One of my favorite stories is that of David and Goliath. Need I say more?
And here's their explanation: "Imagery that has been withdrawn is no longer available for purchase. Withdrawing imagery is an infrequent occurrence on our site. Generally images are withdrawn due to reasons like poor image quality or at the request of an image provider. Regarding imagery to be withdrawn, it will only be available for purchase until the date found under the image. We apologize for any inconvenience it causes you."
I am in Los Angeles today after having spent the last few days at the PACA (Picture Archive Council of America) conference in Redondo Beach, California. Hundreds of commerical image players and companies attended to go to seminars, make distribution deals and view exhibits.
PACA is a great place for me to visit with lots of competitors and to hammer out prospective deals. It is also great for getting feedback on our latest acquistion, of Bananastock.
Must close as I am off to the airport for a flight to New York City.
Today we purchased one of the top Royalty Free stock image companies --- Bananastock, based near Oxford, England. Bananastock was created by Cathy Yeulet. Cathy had previously worked at Digital Vision (now part of Getty Images). Cathy has a reputation for being one of the finest photo producers in the world. Her photos are top notch and we are proud to now own them for our JupiterImages division.
The other good news is that Cathy has formed a new production company - yet unnamed - and she will be producing photos for us for the next several years and perhaps longer.
Another positive here is that JupiterImages is Bananastock's largest distributor worldwide. This is an enormous plus for us since we have purchased a highly profitable business (accretive on purchase) and also gained the benefit of being Bananastock's largest distributor (now a Bananastock sale for us is a direct sale).
We look forward to integrating Bananastock images into our overall Jupiterimages umbrella strategy. This program is making rapid strides so that it could soon be the equal if not better than any other image distribution platform in the world. The coming months will see us roll out more and more of this platform at Jupiterimages.com.
A writer in 1999 suggested that watching traditional media companies "fight the oncoming Internet boom" was like watching someone rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, the deckchairs are being rearranged at an even faster pace today. Every Google announcement (or speculated announcement) causes acute consternation amongst fellow Search companies, WiFi organizations, media conglomerates and the advertising industry in general.
And if Google did not exist, Internet angst would still be so acute that the deckchair dance would still be at fever pitch. The future of music, television, radio, newspapers, movies, games and related industries is up in the air. Readers and content users are moving to the Net in droves so much so that media empires could be gutted overnight. Thus we have the traditional media companies making big bets once again on Internet properties that may or may not help replace "traditional revenue streams" and market share.
Who would have thought that Time Warner, all of the sudden, is placing big bets on its future around AOL? A perusal of news stories about Time Warner, until a few weeks ago, would find only remorse from Time Warner executives about the 2000 merger between TW and AOL. Now, however, Aol.com is being rolled out with a national ad campaign -- in fact Aol.com just might be the only way for Time Warner to preserve its media market share in coming decades. How ironic!
The Phoenix has risen! Jason Calacanis, erstwhile owner of the defunct Silicon Alley Reporter (1996-2001) has scored big by selling his Weblog company to AOL. Zach Rodgers of Clickz ran a piece about the deal today.
Jason is one of the great PR people of all time. A great promoter and a great deal maker. Jason is one of the first people to cash in on blogmania. It is nice to see a fellow beaten by the Internet crash of a few years ago to make such a strong comeback and to make a bundle of money to boot.
AOL should let Jason be the front person for Aol.com. Jason's PR skills are so good that he would get AOL in the news almost as much as Google! I doubt Time Warner could stand Jason's "heat" but it would do wonders for their stock valuation. Most likely he will stick around for a while and then come up with another Internet business.
One of the great secret Internet successes is mlb.com. Owned by all of the major league baseball teams, mlb.com is worth billions of dollars should it ever become publicly traded. A recent article by New York Post columnist John Crudele (September 27, 2005) reported that the baseball owners have voted against an IPO for a variety of reasons including not wanting to divulge their profits to the players' union.
Mlb.com should be studied by anyone interested in the best in combining text, video and audio online. Added to this mix are numerous ecommerce offerings including a variety of subscription offerings.
Finally, mlb.com is forever free of competitive threats! What an investment!!