July 2006 Archives
In actuality the search engine became operational about four weeks ago, but we did not want to formally announce its launch until we were sure the software was operating on all cylinders.
This is a significant event in our brief history as one of the larger providers of stock photos in the world. While we still have more additions coming to our search engine, we now can compete with larger providers on equal footing. Until recently larger ad agencies and buyers of stock photos were reluctant to use Jupiterimages because of the kludginess of our search - no longer is this the case.
The proof of the pudding about the effectiveness of the new search engine is in usage. We have seen a pick up in use of our Jupiterimages.com since launch of the new search. I cannot guarantee that this trend will continue, but certainly it is heartening to see what has happened this month.
This new search is only one of many software initiatives that Jupiterimages is rolling out in coming months. We are now equal to anyone in image quality and soon it is arguable that we will be the equal to any competitor on the software side of business as well.
I must say that I did not recognize two years ago the complexity of software development that is required to be a leader in the stock photo business. It seems that everyday a new project is started to further enhance our offerings or to launch new offshoots from our existing collections as growth opportunities become apparent. We can always use more help for these projects. Anyone in software development that would like to consider working at Jupitermedia should contact our Human Resources office to let us know of such interest. We are always on the hunt for a few good people in the development field.
One of the exciting aspects of business is taking ideas and turning them into operating businesses. Our launch of Photos.jp in Japan last week typifies this thrill. While I cannot guarantee the success of any new business venture, Photos.jp has great potential for success.
The stock photo industry has witnessed the development of a rapidly growing segment called micropayment Web sites. There are numerous examples around the world including the site we have an investment in - Stockxpert.com. It will take at least another year to understand the impact of the micropayment sites on the traditional buying patterns of purchasers of stock photos, but certainly the segment is here to stay.
Our launch of Photos.jp in Japan is interesting because it is the first micropayment site to be produced for the Japanese market. It is not uncommon for stock photo sites to be translated into a variety of languages, but of course merely translating a site into Japanese does not ensure success. And with the micropayment segment which, to be profitable, requires the photographer to keyword submitted photos, an English language micropayment site (for example) would not be viable for the Japanese. With Photos.jp, all submitted photos will be produced by photographers who are facile with the Japanese language.
As stated at the top of this post, ideas into businesses is exciting. Let's see what happens with Photos.jp?
Several months ago I pointed out that Getty Images was going the sleaze route by buying our brand names on Google to promote their offerings. Within minutes of my post, someone got smart in Seattle and pulled the ads.
Now Getty Images appears to be getting creative. Instead of buying the keyword "Jupiterimages" they must have thought hard on how they might not be caught. Getty seems to have bought the keywords "jupiter images" (note lower case and two words).
When a company like Getty Images has to stoop to such marketing tactics one has to wonder, to paraphrase Shakespeare, if there is not "something rotten in Seattle."
Reuters ran a story today about Lycos selling Wired.com and related "wired" branded Web sites to Advance Publication the publisher of Wired magazine.
The history: In 1999 Wired the magazine was sold to Advance Publications and Wired.com was sold to Lycos.
Yours truly had a part to play in this 1999 deal. In 1998 all of the Wired properties were put on the market. There were no takers for the lot. At the time I was CEO of Mecklermedia. I approached the Wired management and convinced them that it would not be very complicated to separate the two properties (the magazine and the Web site). I had a deal worked out, but a variety of complications arose and the deal for Mecklermedia to purchase Wired.com fell apart. A few months later the exact deal I had worked out came about as Advance Publications bought the magazine and Lycos purchased the Web site.
And now, quite appropriately, Lycos has sold the Wired.com URL back to the magazine for $25 million.
Upon reading the story I decided during my travels today to purchase a copy of Wired magazine. Reading it brought back memories of the 1990s when Wired magazine was the pulse of the Internet age. The magazine still has the same graphics and much of the edge of those early Internet days. I believe the magazine is doing well and now that it will be joined again with the Wired URL the whole enterprise should reach new financial heights.
Jupitermedia is mostly associated with images these days but we still own a powerful collection of online media properties known as JupiterWeb. Today our Washington correspondent Roy Mark posted an article reporting on the passage of proposed legislation to ban Internet gambling. I have been writing in opposition to such legislation. Roy Mark's article will give readers the details about this latest House proposal.
Not surprisingly the various Representatives who "desire" to protect Americans from gambling have protected or exempted all forms of gambling that take place within each State from this new legislation. If you are going to ban gambling on the Internet, then ban all forms of gambling. Of course the typical American politician is a phony with no backbone and thus this ridiculous legislation.
I was interested to read in The Wall Street Journal of 6 July 2006 an article entitled "You've Got Free Mail? AOL May Give Away Service to Some" by Matthew Karnitschnig.
The article speculates that AOL is about offer broadband subscribers "free" service - in other words no more monthly fees.
Perhaps AOL should hire yours truly as an advisor since I suggested this very strategy (almost to a tee) in a post on December 13, 2005.
Therefore I could not agree more with this decision. It is a sure winner. Otherwise AOL will watch their subscribers go down the drain by the end of this decade.
While I cannot prove it, I theorized on this very problem with a one time securities analyst named Alan Braverman back in 1998. I believe Alan was with Montgomery Securities in those days and I debated with him that AOL was doomed because of the future problem of subscriber loss. Braverman and many other analysts, including Mary Meeker of Morgan Stanley, never foresaw this problem and of course neither did Time Warner when they gave away a huge part of their company in the 2000 AOL-Time Warner merger.
The New York Times had an article on 4 July by Kate Phillips entitled "Interest Groups Lining Up to Lobby on Web Gambling."
Readers of this blog know that I am in favor of Internet gambling for the main reason that I do not think it can be stopped and since it cannot be stopped Americans should not be impeded from competing in what the rest of the world considers to be a legal business.
The article cites numerous religious groups, particularly Christian fundamentalists, that are lining up with members of Congress to impede Americans from using credit cards and other forms of credit to bet online.
Representative Jim Leach (Republican of Iowa) seems to be taking the lead in the thrust against online gambling. If you read the article and substitutte the word alcohol for gambling you wonder why Leach is not trying to reinstall prohibition in America. I would contend that alcohol abuse is much worse for Americans than gambling. In fact in the same edition of The Times there was an article showing that alcohol consumption by teenagers was a sure way to cause brain damage. While gambling might cause problems, it does not cause brain damage.
Like most politicians, Leach should be spending his time on matters such as bringing sanity to the American tax system or our health system or perhaps being realistic about taxing gasonline appropriately rather than running around railing against Internet gambling. No matter what legislation is created, Internet gambling is now part of world commerce.
Leach and Senators such as Jon Kyl (Republican of Arizona) are absolutely ignorant about how the Internet is used. They are tilting at windmills - just as the government in China is fighting a losing battle in keeping criticism of China "off of the Net" in China. Nobody can stop the march of the Internet.
Vacation time here in the USA for the Independence Day (July 4th) holiday.
I am having a fine time but I cannot help thinking of our soldiers in Iraq and other areas that are having a terrible time with IEDs and other hostile actions. I also marvel at one reporter who writes fabulous material from Iraq - Dexter Filkins of The New York Times. If you get a chance read his coverage. I have always had a passion for the World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle. Pyle covered the African, Italian and European theaters and was called in action on a Pacific Island by a Japanese machine gunner in early 1945. His reporting from Italy could make you cry. His report of the scene on Omaha Beach on D-Day plus One has to be one of the best wartime reports ever written. I think Filkins is on par with Pyle.
On the lighter side: I was just chatting with my mother-in-law who in her early 80s lives alone in New York City. She is very active and has a love affair going with the game of Bridge.
She spends about 12 hours a week on a site called BridgeBase.com. I get a big kick out of vertical sites that appeal to enthusiasts and special interests. This one is particularly interesting because it is run as a "labor of love." The site is interesting to me also because of its message boards. The message boards have relatively heavy activity. I am not a Bridge player and I presume there are many other Bridge sites? But this one is quite interesting because it runs no ads.