March 2006 Archives
Many readers know we sold Jupiter Research yesterday.
So why did we sell?
Many reasons. We bought JR for $250,000 four years ago and we received $10 million plus ridding ourselves of liabilities. Obviously we made a great return on the investment! But the return was not our reason for selling.
We saw a nice future upside with Research. JR has a great team of analysts and support staff. But so much more could be done with this fine business and team and we were not prepared to make further investment. Our focus evolved into running our JupiterWeb division and our Jupiter Images division. Therefore we had to make a choice on allocation of time and money and the other divisions won out.
Another reason for our selling was related to our sale of our Search Engine Strategy shows last summer. The relationship between our SES shows and ClickZ Network (which was sold with SES) and JR were strong. Both fed off of each other. But once we sold SES and ClickZ the rationale for owning JR was no longer stong or necessary.
Therefore a combination of evolution, future investment, risk-reward added up to selling Jupiter Research.
We worked hard at finding a buyer that would preserve the proud tradtions of JR and a buyer that relished and needed the employees. We think we found such a buyer in MCG Capital of Arlington, Virginia. The JR employees are some of the finest people I have had the pleasure to work with in over 35 years of running companies. Stars such as David Schatsky, Kieran Kelly, Mike Gartenberg, David Card, Patti Freeman Evans, Zia Widger, Pete "Patriots Fan" Sargent, Tommy Crawford, Mark Mulligan, Ian Fogg, Andrew Peach, Brian Kelly, Todd Chanko (if I forgot to mention someone I apologize -I write this at about 3am Paris, France time) and many others were a pleasure to work with. Many of these people could have jumped ship when we showed up as the only buyer for a nearly bankrupt company in the summer of 2002. But these fine people and others decided to take a chance on us and history was made as we worked together to bring Jupiter Research back to life. Today JR is financially strong and supreme and the best Internet research company in the world. Thanks to all of you. It was a good ride.
I happen to be in Munich, Germany. I always do extra email when on the road and I also catch up late at night on Internet doings.
Google Finance certainly is one of the "doings" I have been reading about. Bloggers and newspapers have gone crazy speculating on what Google's entry into "finance" means for other financial sites and particularly for Yahoo Finance.
My two cents: it means lots - but for different reasons than the usual suspects have proffered. To me the key is what Bob Davis, king of Lycos back in the 1990s, stated to me back in 1997: namely that he had to make Lycos into a media company and not just a portal company. Bob tried, but failed back then. And nobody believed he was correct.
Now that Yahoo and Google see what they can do with keywords they realize that as big a business that it is going to be (and it will get much larger) they have to be ready for the next act. And the next act is being media companies and owning content. Perhaps Dow Jones makes sense?
I checked out the Google Finance entry for Jupitermedia. Considering that Google just launched, I thought that overall it was a better presentation than what Yahoo Finance has for Jupitermedia. One quibble: I was surprised that when one clicked on "Official Blog" on Google Finance that the link takes one to the JupiterResearch blog. The JR blog is great, but it is not Jupitermedia's official blog. If anything Google should link to this blog as I write about the company (and other issues) and the JR team writes about more important things such as "what direction is the Internet going."
In the end, however, the weakness of both Yahoo and Google is content. They both are dependent on sources that they do not own. Someday ownership will matter. Ownership of content makes somebody king. I have witnessed this fact since starting in business in 1971. I have been successful owning content for 36 years, and now see content weaving its magic in the image space as Jupitermedia has moved into a supreme position against much larger image organizations soley because of its content ownership position (and a big help from an incredibly productive and talented team that has been with me for many years).
Google and Yahoo will slug it out for years to come. But one of them is going to buy significant media assets and content. It will be interesting to see which one makes the first move. Perhaps Dow Jones makes sense?
Friday we announced our first photo image product for the Japanese market - photostock.jp. This subscription service is based on our highly successful photos.com which is clearly the largest photo subscription service worldwide.
Photos.com does well in Japan, but now we will have a companion version built from the ground up by our Japanese partners - Aeria - in Japan.
This effort is just the beginning of many more product lines to be launched into the Japanese market. We look forward to see how this develops.
By the way, I am on my way to a multi-stop European and UK office visit. My next dateline will be from the other side of the pond.
I have commented often on the absurdities of bizarre legislation known as Sarbanes-Oxley.
Our company will have spent over $3 million dollars in two years complying with this crazy quilt of regulations. This legislation was designed to prevent future "Enrons." I doubt that Sarbanes Oxley will prevent fraud - the best guard against fraud is to force every executive of a public company to view photographs of Scott Sullivan, Jeffrey Fastow and others being marched out of their offices in handcuffs.
This leads me to a terrific interview in The New York Sun yesterday with Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman. Note that Friedman feels that Sarbanes Oxley poses the greatest danger to the USA economy. I could not agree more.
The other day I raved about my new BlackBerry 8700. I rated this device a perfect 10. Today I have dropped the rating to 7 out of 10. Why? Perhaps I destroy my devices because of high usage? My 8700 appears to be flawed (according to Cingular customer service). I delete all emails on my BlackBerry daily, but every two days I get a message that I am running out of storage. Of course I am not storing messages. So what is happening? Apparently I have a broken device that cannot remember that I have deleted my emails.
Now to get Cingular to replace my three week old 8700. It has been a struggle with customer service. One service fellow told me if the problem appeared again, Cingular would replace the device immediately. But tonight when I called to report the same problem, I could not get the customer service person to agree to what the previous rep had promised. Hopefully this will be rectified shortly.
Readers of this blog know that Jupitermedia started a buying frenzy (or is it a selling frenzy?) of stock photo organizations.
One prime company that remains independent is Stockbyte of Ireland. Therefore it was interesting reading stock photo pundit Jim Pickerell's scoop that Stockbyte would be sold in the next few days.
Perhaps this is true. The sales price mentioned by Jim was $200 million. About the Image has a report on the "pending" sale.
An old friend of mine named Mike Siris has a great device called the "Magnifico" he sells on his Web site officeonthegogo.
He sells direct to the market from his site but also sells through eBAY. Mike realized the other day that he had been hacked on eBAY as some crook somehow gained access to his eBAY password. And then he found out that the same crook hacked his Paypal account and grabbed a considerable sum of money.
After unsuccessfully attempting to rectify the eBAY situation online, Mike resorted to the phone and after 5 hours got things straightened out with eBAY. The whole eBAY experience was a horrible chore. Paypal was a better experience. He was able to reach Paypal immediately and that mess got taken care of rapidly.
This leads me to me own experiences with both services. I have mentioned to readers that I have sold a few items on eBAY. I am sorry I ever started with eBAY for the simple reason that I get about 20 spam messages a day as a result of having used eBAY. Same for Paypal. I get the feeling that if I had never used either service I would get 40 less spams a day.
Some of the eBAY phishing is clever. One gimmick these crooks use is sending an email that looks very much like a legitimate eBAY email. The message indicates that another eBAY member is protesting to me that I did not deliver an auction item. The other ploy is a message indicating that I did not send money for an item that I ordered.
I doubt that eBAY can ever stop these activities? The bottom line is I doubt I will use eBAY again. Paypal is a different matter as it is a valuable service for transacting ecommerce.
In conclusion my problems and Mike's problems are tied to the wonders of the Internet. The Internet and Web still are in a "Wild West" stage - adolesence at best. And as angry as one can get about spam and phishing, the benefits of the Internet far outweigh the negatives.
Many readers know that Jupitermedia has a significant investment in stock photo micropayment site stockxpert.com.
Under the direction of its creator Peter Hamza, stockxpert is starting to roll out embellishments and services. Check out the newsletter and note that the site now offers numerous language options.
Image growth is accelerating and there is more to come as the Jupiterimages team is rapidly developing strategies with the HAAP Media team in Hungary.
CMP Media recently published the last issues of C++ Users Journal and Software Development magazine.
Sams and Que, large technical book publishers recently made redundant many technical and acquisitions editors.
Our Bradley Jones of JupiterWeb points out that the technical book and technical magazine markets are being destroyed by the Internet.
News reports are full of stories about the creative destruction from the Net going on in many industries around the world. However not much has been written about what is happening in the tech trade publishing world.
This trend will continue until only a handful of tech magazine remain in print. The ramifications for media companies dependent on print titles is not pleasent to contemplate.
This leads me to trends at our JupiterWeb division which I believe is the largest BtoB online community in the world. Our trends are positive and of course this bodes well for the future as we will be one of the beneficiaries of the ultimate final collapse of tech trade publishing.
Our niche does not get much coverage in the press. Today consumer community networks are the rage as established media companies are paying huge premiums to acquire the likes of iVillage, About.com and Marketwatch.com.
It will be interesting to revisit our progress in this area in coming months.
A nice mention the other day about the Glasshouse Rights Managed Collection deciding to go with us for distribution. This is just another case illuminating how Jupiterimages is working with focused Rights Managed collections to differentiate Jupiterimages from the competition.
By the way we had a busy day today over at the inaugural JP Morgan Internet Conference. Chris Cardell and I presented the Jupitermedia story to about 50 Funds.
When it rains it pours. We will see another 50 funds or so at the Citigroup Conference at the Four Seasons hotel in Las Vegas on Wednesday. Getting to Las Vegas gives us an opportunity to visit our offices in Peoria, Illinois and Tucson, Arizona this week as well as Picture Arts in Pasadena, California.
We published our financials for the fourth quarter and the year 2005 late this afternoon. I will not comment on the numbers. I think they are excellent, but the market always speaks.
One of my fellow image bloggers presents our numbers and adds lots of good links. Readers might find this interesting.
One of the nice things about writing this blog is the interesting business ideas I got to preview from readers.
David Zhou contacted me the other idea about his new online magazine dealing with RFID.
David's model is no mere pdf or scanned copy, but a Web magazine using the latest in rich media. Take a look. I have no idea about David's background, but I wish him Good Luck with the venture.
Many readers know I have been a big advocate of the Treo 600 and then the 650. I really believed in this machine. But no more. It failed me big time on a trip to Los Angeles on Friday. And when it crashed I realized that I had come to hate my Treo. It increasingly froze in telephone mode and it was a pain to deal with duplicate names appearing after each backup.
Saturday morning I found a Cingular store and learned that the Treo was a mess and could not be fixed on the spot. I needed a phone. I sprung for the new Blackberry 8700 (how convenient RIM settled with NTP the previous day!). Nearly 48 hours later I am a Blackberry freak. What a terrific device. I now realize what I fool I have been using a Treo when I could have been many times more productive with a Blackberry.
And there is another benefit. I can now tell readers that I have been confined for nearly 9 weeks due to a bad disc which required microsurgery in early February. Hopefully this will dispell rumors that have recently surfaced (mostly on Wall Street) that something was not right with Jupitermedia because I was keeping a low profile.
The low profile stuff is over!
So how does the back and the Blackberry connect in the title of this post? One downside of surgery is you get limited by what you carry around on business days. I have always carried a light computer (presently a ThinkPad X41). After two days with my new Blackberry 8700 I can see how I no longer need to lug around the computer everyday.
So I am blessed. The aggravation of a crashed Treo has led me to a great new Blackberry and at the same time I help my recovering back. Now its time to get back to business.
I really enjoy reading various image blogs. These are even more enjoyable (most of the time) when they highlight some Jupiterimages' news. Case in point is the post about our launch of flashfoundry.com. We are proud of this new site and the way it demonstrates our ability to cross fertilize a community site with an ecommerce site.
Another intersting story about one of our competitors - Corbis - makes good reading. I find it interesting that Corbis is now running "analyst days." Analyst days are usually associated with public companies. For example, Google recently ran such a day in which company officials present to Wall Street Fund managers and analysts about various aspects of the company for the coming year.
Getty Images last ran such a day in December in New York City. I guess we cannot be left behind? Get ready for an annoucement of Jupitermedia's soon to be announced analyst day.
Back to Corbis. Corbis gets standing room only crowds at their analysts days. Corbis has great product but they do have the killer attraction - Bill Gates. Maybe we can rent Bill for our first analyst day!?