October 2007 Archives
I had a video interview with a new service called Beettv. It is nice service. Got me to thinking that in the future most interviews will include video as it becomes easier and easier to create video for the Net.
Readers know that we purchased Mediabistro a few months ago. Mediabistro continues to thrive and become more popular. Mediabistro products and offerings are mainly responsible for its continuing success.
However, founder Laurel Touby, also spurs readership and growth. Laurel has a terrific talent for "getting press." And getting press helps generate more new readers to Mediabistro.com which in turn leads to more use of the job boards and more sign ups for online courses etc.
Check out this write up on Laurel and Mediabistro from the Washington Post.
The Internet world certainly knows that Microsoft made a significant investment in Facebook this week.
Ironically, The Economist magazine recently had a headline on its cover entitled "Some Doubts About Facebook." A reading of the article is worthwhile.
I have expressed my doubts about the social networking craze and the corresponding valuations for businesses like Facebook. This article adds energy to my philosophy. The article concludes that social networking sites are important but that no social networking site "can have it all." In other words the more horizontal a social network like Facebook becomes, the less valuable it is. And that vertical social network site such as aSmallWorld which is an exclusive (or vertical) social networking site might be performing a more valuable service than a huge horizontal model such as Facebook.
Social networking is here to stay. But the longtime winners in this space could very well be the vertical plays. In the meantime, congratulations to Facebook for garnering a terrific investment and valuation.
Over the weekend we launched a subscription version of Stockxpert.
Things at Stockxpert have been jumping. We are approaching the one million image mark. Sales have been growing. Stockxpert is now hitting on all cylinders. The new subscription service gives Stockxpert a dimension that only a handful of the thirty plus microstock sites in the world offer. Time will tell how successful this endeavor will be, however, the first few days indicate a solid new line of revenue is on its way.
It is exciting to see how Stockxpert has evolved. We started with an investment with Peter Hamza the founder of Stockxpert (based in Budapest)in early 2006. We purchased control of Stockxpert by the end of 06. The first six months of 2007 was devoted to building out the servers and moving them to our Peoria, Illinois facilty along with adding to the software and tech platform. Now we have added subscription. More services are coming.
All of this has taken place with the help Jupiter personnel based in Budapest, Hungary, Peoria, Illinois, Darien, Connecticut, Gatineau, Canada, Tucson, Arizona and New York City. This has been a true Internet age colloboration.
I was watching the ABC television program last night Nightline. I was amazed to learn that according to Nightline the fastest growing Web site right now is a new entry called GodTube.
GodTube is an exact clone of YouTube save the content. GodTube is yet another example of how anybody can show up on the Internet with a great money making idea and the next day have a company worth tons of money.
Regardless of your religious persuasion, check out GodTube. It is a great success. And like many good ideas, simple and obvious.
One of the great benefits of our recent acquisition of Mediabistro is that Jupitermedia has added another line of business. This is the business of offering courses and training both in person and more importantly online.
During its 10 year history Mediabistro has been developing courses and training on a variety of media related topics. Initially these courses were limited to the classroom in New York City and in a few other cities around the United States. However a few years ago Mediabistro started to offer online courses. The majority of courses are now online and this percentage is growing significantly.
And now we are going to take the platform that Mediabistro has developed for online courses and training and start making offerings in Web development, IT, and image editing. Obviously we have large communities of readers in our other divisions who should be interested in this concept. Fortunately we can start these new offerings from the base and platform that Mediabistro has developed over 10 years.
It is interesting for me to make such a statement because our fundamental interest in purchasing Mediabistro was its vertical online job board. Now that we have owned Mediabistro for nearly three months we see more opportunities for growth - namely online courses and training.
One final dimension: Mediabistro is now using video to capture many of the training offerings. This means that we will have yet another business opportunity to sell archived courses over and over again long after the actual course was presented. Thus we have a way to leverage content into another revenue stream.
This is just another example of the evolution of Jupitermedia into a multi-faceted company with a variety of frictionless ecommerce offerings.
I recently posted about the sale of TechTracker to Cnet. TechTracker had once been part of the Internet.com Venture Fund portfolio. I mentioned that we had "lost" our ability to maintain our venture funds because JP Morgan Private Client group forced us to close down our funds back in 2002-2003. The JPM geniuses actually accused me of running the funds for the main purpose of making money with the 2 percent management fee. In other words they stated that we had no expectations of making money with the investments.
In recent months several of "our" portfolio companies have been sold (but we were not able to participate in these successes). And today word comes that How Stuff Works was sold to the Discovery Channel for $250 million. In 2002 our funds owned 8 percent of How Stuff Works! But of course when this site needed more money to operate we were not able to invest in later rounds because Doug and Dave and others over at JPM Private Client took away our funds.
This is a good place for me to apologize to the individuals and organizations who invested with me in our venture funds. Obviously we made great investments and I am sorry that our investors did not reap their just rewards. I tried. I warned JPM about the future. The great irony to all this is that today a new group of people probably run JPM Private Client and there is a good chance they have invested once again in Internet VC!
Yesterday brought us word that Cnet's Webshots division has cut a deal that will allow Webshots' photographers an option to offer photos on Corbis' new SnapVillage microstock site.
As our microstock site, Stockxpert.com nears the 1 million mark of accepted photos, I have learned a great deal about quality concerns and what sells and what does not sell. Based on my experience, I doubt that the Webshots deal is going to do much for SnapVillage. One blogger whacked the Cnet-Corbis deal yesterday. My reaction is tamer, but I would have to agree with Melcher.
The microstock business looks easy to run. However if one is going to have an excellent site and a long lasting operation, one really has to pay attention to quality control. The competition in this niche area of the stock image industry is fierce. Quality and great software are going to be the keys down the road for economic success.
I am a big fan of vertical Internet business models. One of the best I have come across is Artnet.
Artnet is the gold standard for dealers and buyers of fine art - particularly paintings and photographs. I have spent hours on this site and have watched in amazement how it has developed and rolled out service after service. It has terrific databases of auction records, art galleries and artists. It has free access areas, but it also has extraordinary subscription services that any serious art buyer and dealer must subscribe to.
I am amazed that some large media company has not jumped at buying Artnet. In the meantime take a look at an amazing example of a powerful Internet business model.
Many readers know that I have written about my experiences running Internet.Com Venture Funds from 1999 until late 2002. Readers also know that the JP Morgan Private Bank pulled our funding in 2002. The JPM team liked the Internet when it was hot, but did not like it very much when the Net was not. Of course that is why they play with money other than their own. They chickened out and ran to try to make themselves look good with their clients.
Now fast forward to today. What I had predicted back at the beginning of the decade is all coming true. I stated then that large media companies would be spending most of their business development time on buying vertical or specialized Web sites. Go back a few years and think Dow Jones buying MarketWatch.com or The New York Times buying About.com. Or even Jupitermedia buying Mediabistro.com this past July.
And now another small addition to the list. TechTracker.com was just purchased by Cnet a few days ago for a sum believed to be about $15 million. Internet.com Venture Funds was once one of the larger investors in TechTracker. When the JPM team pulled our funding we lost an opportunity to buy more of TechTracker at a discount to our original investment. Then JPM turned around and sold their interest in TechTracker (and several other Internet.com VC portfolio companies) to a buyer of "distressed" assets for pennies on the dollar.
Readers of this blog can figure out the rest. There are more one-time Internet.com VC portfolio companies that are now very profitable and getting ready to be sold. The JPM private client group really knows how to run money!
And so it goes.
Last year we launched an egreeting card Web site - Jupitergreetings.
We now have several hundred greeting cards. They have all been created by our very talented Animation Factory team based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
So what makes Jupiter Greetings different? We just launched line printable greeting cards to the mix. Now a Jupiter Greetings member can customize printable card templates with their own photos, add their personal message and then easily print the card on their home printer. Also Jupiter Greetings has added new features to our photo ecards expanding the way photos can be shared. Members can now easily add their created photocards to their Web site, blogs and social networks as well as send the ecards by email.
The egreeting card business is robust. We are not the biggest or near the biggest in this arena, but we are growing and certainly hope we will be an egreeting card power in coming years.
We recently launched an interesting new Web site devoted to the business and technology surrounding the semantic web. I believe that the semantic web has great possibilities as a sort of new frontier of the ever evolving Internet.
One interesting sidelight to launching this site was our ability to purchase the URL "semantic web." Time will tell if having this Web site and this potentially powerful URL will lead to a nice pay off for Internet.com.
Getty Images today announced the roll out of their music effort today.
This press release brought lots of congratulations to me. Why? This sparked me to read the press release. And of course the reason for the kudos goes back to the old saying that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." I dare say that whomever wrote the release dusted off several of my press release quotes over the previous 18-months in order to get their quotes just right!
We at Jupitermedia congratulate Getty Images for seeing the light and following our lead with music (and earlier following us into subscription and microstock). I am pretty sure that our industry and the trade press will see more and more verification in coming months that Jupiterimages is now the company that sees the future way, way before Getty and others.
I am a confirmed RIM (BlackBerry) user. I have the "Curve" or 8300 and am anxiously awaiting the new WiFi enabled version.
In the meantime, one of our Board Members, John Patrick (also the father of the Internet during his time at IBM) has written a well-reasoned memo post on Apple's policy towards third party software applications that has recently surfaced. Basically Apple is not open to such development.
If I had been thinking about switching to the iPhone, John's latest blog entry would certainly weigh negatively on such a decision.