August 2007 Archives
Our James Maguire of Internet.com has a neat article on the top 100 tech blogs. Top 100 lists are always tough to tackle, but James has some interesting picks.
Microstock websites have proliferated. I believe there are well over 30 in the space? Microstock also gets lots of press from a variety of stock photo blogs and the financial press.
Now we have a terrific new blog devoted to the micrstock segment of the stock photo industry. Microstock Diaries was brought to my attention recently. It is a good read!
We are really pleased with the Mediabistro acquisition. Job board sales are robust and traffic to the MB content continues to grow.
Another barometer of Mediabistro's reach is its popularity with the Colbert Report. Check out several mentions of Mediabistro reporting on a recent Colbert Report broadcast.
The stock photo industry is under pressure from a variety of new models. The original model - Rights Managed Images - still accounts for nearly half of all image sales. RM refers to images that are licensed for specific use (Royalty Free images, once downloaded, can be used by the purchaser forever). The new rage, microstock, is of course part of the large RF sector.
Nobody talks about Rights Managed images these days. When articles appear about stock photos, 90 percent of the coverage deals with RF.
A neat anomaly is the growth in our Rights Managed business while most of our competitors have shrinking sales in this category. Why?
Our competitors have quality. But we have even better quality. And we will also have super specialized collections such as FoodPix which was created over a number of years by Jeff Burke and came to us through our PictureArts acquisition. We also have among our many RM offerings Workbook Stock which is a terrific general interest RM collection that is unique in the RM space.
Another factor: RM images are not under assault by the microstock revolution. The RM model is impervious to the growth of microstock because of rights issues and the quality demanded by the typical RM buyer.
All of our RM collections were once distributed by Getty Images. We all know that Getty decided several years ago not to distribute Jupiterimages' RF and RM collections. This Getty decision plus our high-quality images accounts for our RM sales anomaly. Now buyers of RM images have learned that they can only get our specialized Workbook, Food Pix, Nonstock and several other of our RM collections directly from Jupiterimages and selected distributors (not including Getty and Corbis).
Additionally and most importantly we have a terrific and motivated creative team around the world that ensures the continuous growth of our RM annual output. With this team and the way things work in the stock photo industry we should be able to continue to take RM market share.
Business decisions made by others as well as our decision to purchase superb RM collections have provided us with a great RM opportunity. The irony in this post is incredible!
I recently wrote about a Photoshop-like application that is cutting-edge. Here is another that allows a user to modify images without distortion. And the application takes minutes instead of hours.
I presume Adobe might buy this technology before it gets into the hands of a competitor?
These days Internet and tech companies need to employ several people to be on the lookout for threats to cash cow business models. As the saying goes: "keep your friends close and your enemies closer."
Internet deals abound. Since we purchased Mediabistro in July we have been offered an amazing number of Internet properties. Obviously Mediabistro is responsible for some of these offers, but there must be something more about the level of activity.
I think the mortgage mess might be part of the equation. My reasoning is that many entrepreneurs might be panicking. Perhaps they reason that all types of funding might be curtailed due to the credit crunch enveloping America? So perhaps this is the time to sell rather than hunt around for more funding for expansion?
I am not complaining about the situation. It reminds somewhat of late 1999 to early 2000 when acquisition options and VC deals were aplenty. What is different this time is that many of the properties being offered have solid business models but lack the ability to obtain critical mass. Combining with a larger entity is appealing.
Anyway, stay tuned as we are sure to make some more deals in coming months.
I rarely if ever utilize Wikipedia. Frankly I could not care less about Wikipedia.
In the last few days there has been a flurry of articles about Wikipedia. The theme has been about the veracity of entries.
I for one see how Wikipedia can be used to promote causes and services that have nothing to do with what an objective entry should be about. For example check the entry for Jupitermedia. Note the paragraph entitled "controversies."
In one case there is mention of Chris Locke and then his book the Cluetrain Manifesto is mentioned. I am not sure if Chris placed this comment or someone else. But I find the reference not important. However what we do have here is promotion for the book.
Then read the next controversy. There is reference to something about social networking at JupiterResearch. First of all we do not own JupiterResearch anymore and secondly as far as I am aware there was never a controversy about social networking, JupiterResearch and Jupitermedia. Clearly whomever added this "controversy" was promoting a book or service or something that has nothing to do with facts or history.
My point is that Wikipedia entries are very suspect. I am sure many of the entries are superb, but over the years I know that the entry "Jupitermedia" has been used many times to promote individuals and services more than the facts. Our company has edited out some of these "promotions" but we do not bother anymore as they continue to pop up -- so why bother?
News appeared yesterday that Ziff Davis Holdings will not be making interest payments on its approximately $390 million of debt. This reminds me of my attempt through Jupitermedia to buy the whole company in the summer of 2005. I offered ZDH to buy all operations for no cash and the assumption of debt. I was laughed out of the room. The ZDH price was $850 million and assumption of debt! Of course this was a bail out price for Willis Stein Partners who had laid out $750 million for the ZD assets in 2000 (I wrote an article for Business 2.0 [September 26 issue of 2000] stating that Willis Stein had made a huge miscalculation). I guess my deal in the summer of 2005 would have been a good deal for ZDH?
This memory makes me also reflect on this article dealing with the theory that traditional media companies are falling all over themselves in their rush to purchase Web media properties.
Back in 1999-2001 when our company was heavily involved in VC work our premise was that in coming years all traditional media companies would be buyers of Web properties. This was a hard sell back then because VC investors wanted to do venture deals that would lead to IPOs. It was obvious to me that the IPO boom could not be sustained. I did not see the Internet crash that was developing, but did see the trend we have today.
We were able to raise close to $100 million for our three VC funds. But alas the larger investors, particularly the JP Morgan Private Client group, panicked in 2002 and forced us to close down our funds.
And while I am throwing stones here, I realize that our company has not been a stellar performer on the stock market. However we keep evolving and we have terrific assets and solid EBITDA. Jupitermedia is like the Union in the American Civil War. We have won some battles and lost some battles, but we are getting it together. Right now we should be equated with 1864 about the time U.S. Grant took command of the Union Armies. By April of 1865 the Union was victorious.
The new Internet.com is off to a great start. Page views and unique visits to this page have increased significantly since the redesign took place two weeks ago. This is promising. Hopefully if this positive trend is taking place in the summer then results could be even better once fall begins. A strong Internet.com bodes well for traffic and ad growth across our network of sites.
Our new registration systems is also firing on all cylinders. We are now gaining registered users at three to four times the rate we were obtaining them prior to the new system's launch.
Over at our Stockxpert microstock site we are not too far away from launching a subscription service as well as being able to add footage to the Stockxpert offerings.
Mediabistro is a gem. Perhaps it is honeymoon bliss, but Mediabistro is a gem of a company topped only by its personnel. Mediabistro is packed with talent. Many readers know that we have a job board called Just Tech Jobs. We believe that the Mediabistro experts on job boards have given us some valuable input to make Just Tech Jobs an even more valuable asset.
The summer is winding down as Jupitermedia is heating up on many fronts.
I reduce my posts around times where Jupitermedia is about to report its financial information for a particular quarter. I do this due to concerns that remarks I might write could possibly give the wrong impression about our financial condition.
We reported our numbers after market last Wednesday and on Thursday held our informational conference call (note that the linked press release has information to listen to the Thursday remarks) with investors. It always takes about four days of trading after reporting to conclude how the Street has reacted to our numbers. Using this calculation we need today and tomorrow to see if the numbers were perceived as neutral, positive or negative.
I am optimistic. We have had some tough times with the Image division due to the microstock revolution. And in the OnlineMedia division we have had to overcome some software and design obstacles to get the division growing once again. My talk to investors on Thursday outlined our strategies for both divisions which will hopefully bring positive results toward year end.
Along with our new refinancing of our debt and the changes forth coming changes and trends mentioned on Thursday I am eager to move forward and the fourth quarter.
Anyone in the Internet space has to be paranoid. One never knows when a college kid is going to invent something that will blow an established player out of the water. I will not bother to recite such examples, but think Google to Yahoo. Or on my level, think of the microstock revolution and what it has done to selling single Royalty Free images.
Now comes a threat to Photoshop. My colleague at Jupiterimages, Luis Orellana, has pointed me to a terrific report from BBC News Online about a team from Carnegie Mellon University that have developed an alogorithm to help people remove bits of photographs automatically.
As Luis aptly phrased it to me: "One can get the same effects with Photoshop, but the fact that the alogorithm's of the product look for a match for the user to compose the image, eliminating humans to look for something that would take hours if not days...."
It is scary out there!
Michael Wolff and a team of high profile media people launched Newser.com today (beta).
Lots of press for experienced and high profile media people. Interestingly none of the articles mentioned that the name is a clear ripoff of our Mediabistro's TVNewser.com that has been a strong online brand for quite sometime.
I have been around for a long time so I am used to seeing these types of ripoffs. However one would think that Wolff and company could have been a little more original with their brand selection?
The new Internet.com was launched a few hours ago!
We have made several significant changes including a clean and easy to use portal page that directs our community to several vertical interest areas such as IT, News, Developer Topics, Personal Technolgoy and Small Business. Video is now a major component of the redesign.
The redesign along with the Single Sign On Registration System launched a few days ago concludes two large initiatives that took several months to complete.
I am getting more and more questions about the Semantic Web. Of course I tell those asking that they can get all of their questions answered and more at the upcoming Semantic Web Strategies tradeshow that we are organizing in San Jose September 30th to October 2nd.
Lots of articles are appearing about the Semanatic Web. Perhaps one of the best written on the topic appeared at Internet News. Writer Nicolas Carlson's piece is to the point. I suggest you check it out. I am also glad to say that Jupitermedia appears to be the leader in providing information about the Semantic Web both with our tradeshow on website coverage.
Chalk up another sector of the Internet industry that is off to the dustbin. Web Analytics.
Google's version 2.0 of its analytics package apparently offers very robust and vibrant services for free. These services, up until now, could cost as much as $200,000. Now you can get it all for free from Google.
I just read an interesting blog on this very topic. This is a lesson for everyone competing in both offline and online business. Be wary.
One has to be fleet afoot in the Internet space. My own company has been effected by the microstock revolution for images. We have had to scramble to meet the challenge from this revolutionary way of creating stock photos.
It is good to be paranoid.