December 2007 Archives
Now that Time magazine selected its "Man of the Year" I thought I would enter the selecting business by starting a new tradition - Internet Person Of The Year. My first selection for this "prestigious award" is Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com.
Interestingly, a few years back, Bezos was selected as the Time "Person of the Year." Today Bezos does not get very much press. However Amazon continues to roll along. Amazon adds new services and offerings every few months. The beauty of the Amazon model is that Bezos does not go outside of his "community." Amazon has a huge community of people who like to buy things on the Internet. And Bezos continues to give them more and more options along with better ways to get good buys.
Jeff Bezos is my person of the year for another reason. He is fabulously wealthy. He does not need to work. But he continues to grow and refine Amazon on a continuous basis.
In the early years of the Internet I got to meet many of the rock stars of the Internet at the Internet World shows which I once owned. I never had the privilege of meeting Jeff Bezos.
Regardless, hats off to Jeff Bezos as "Internet Person of the Year" from this small spec on the blogsophere.
AOL announced that Netscape is officially dead!
Many readers are too young or were not involved in the Internet to remember the Netscape-Microsoft browser wars of the mid-1990s. In fact many do not remember that Netscape was the Google of 1995-1997. Netscape's public offering in the summer of 1995 started a rush of Internet IPOs - the likes of which will probably never be seen again.
Netscape and not Yahoo was the real excitement of the early days of the Internet. Founder Jim Clark along with Jim Barksdale and Mark Andreesen were the rock starts of the Internet for a number of years. Relatively speaking they were bigger stars than the Google trio of today - Paige, Brin and Schmidt.
Netscape seemed forever. Google seems forever today. I cannot fathom Google being replaced or becoming outdated in the future. However, I probably felt the same way about Netscape back in 1996.
Netscape made a huge mistake by attemtping to become a significant company for the Enterprise. Microsoft attacked and the rest is history.
Google seems set on taking on Microsoft today. Google has a better plan. Internet applications are a much better thought than getting into Enterprise equipment.
Now that Netscape is dead, what is the future of AOL? While they have made lots of management changes, I doubt AOL will grow significantly in the future. It is time for Time Warner to sell off AOL and reap whatever large cash influx they can get. My guess is that AOL will decline in value in coming years. Time Warner should cash out now.
I have been taking a few days off with my extended family in Mexico. Lots of good reading including the autobiography of General William Sherman (American Civil War General) and a few Cormac McCarthy stalwarts.
I also bought some more of Jupitermedia as I could not resist the value as various investors and fund managers are dumping our shares.
Finally, my colleague Luis Orellana sent me a very creative ad from Sprint that reflects the Holidays and the New Year perfectly. Take a look!
And Happy New Year to all!
I have done my share of blasting poor service from a variety of Web sites on this blog. Now I want to take my hat off to StubHub.
I had ordered tickets on StubHub to a sporting event. I had expected the tickets to arrive within 24 hours of ordering. They did not. I checked out the site for customer service and called the service number. It was late Sunday afternoon so I presumed my call would not be answered. Lo and behold, it was answered promptly by a nice fellow named Jonathan. He looked into the situation and reported back that the seller had been slow in sending my tickets, but that he would make sure the seller acted.
This morning at 8am Jonathan called to apologize that my tickets were still delayed. Needless to say I was shocked to get this call. Even more amazing to me was that the customer service rep was following through from my complaint several days earlier.
When is the last time you had customer service this efficient! Again, hats off to StubHub.
I picked up an issue of the IDG magazine NetworkWorld the other day. It was shocking to see what has happened to this venerable title. It is now in magazine format after years of being tabloid sized. I imagine it is only a matter of a few more months before this title becomes a full time Web site?
Regardless, some of the columnists from years back still write for NetworkWorld. One that I always enjoyed reading is Scott Bradner, Harvard University's Chief Security Officer.
Scott's article is entitled "Internet Overload: Painting Tomorrow Like Today." Here is a shocking stat: "the average download speed in the United States is less than 2Mbps compared with 60 Mbps in Japan."
And this is not unusual. Dozens of countries have vastly faster broadband speeds than are found in the United States. I find this shocking and would think that most readers would agree?
The other day I was called "old, boring, and white" by a writer over at ValleyWag. Now we can add dyslexic to that description!
Out of the blue a writer from Business Week called me the other day (Gabrielle Coppola) for an interview about my dyslexia. (I was educated at a time when this condition was not understood and only found out a few years ago that I was indeed dyslexic.) Lo and behold I ended up in Gabrielle's story in Business Week.
I might add that growing up was a bit rough since I recognized I had learning problems, but teachers thought I was not trying when I could not complete certain tasks. Of course such experiences toughen one up for life and business. All in all I cannot complain the way things have worked out.
We have a growing music business at Jupitermedia. Many would not associate with us music, but we believe we are the largest owner of royalty free music in the world. We have a few music sites. The best known is RoyaltyFreeMusic.com. And just the other day we bought Flying Hands Music to add to our royalty free music library.
Our music operations go back to late 2005 when we came across Mike Bielenberg. Mike is a musician who had created a royalty free music site called Bbm.net. Mike approached us about doing a deal with our image operations to sell both music and images. We were so impressed with Mike we bought his site and hired Mike to run our music business.
Fast forward to today. Mike oversees Jupitertunes in our Atlanta office. One of the other benefits of having Mike onboard is that he can also write. If you get a chance check out his informative blog.
We have lots of new plans in and around royalty free music. We will be rolling out a major new way for organizations to buy royalty free background music for Web sites and other purposes in late February.
Readers know that I suggested a year ago that Yahoo should buy Dow Jones. Rupert got the message and Yahoo is still in limbo in terms of making a bold move.
Last week's Barron's magazine (a NewsCorp. publication) had an article by Eric Savitz suggesting that Yahoo needed to make some changes as it was losing the search wars to Google. I could not agree more.
My next idea now that Dow Jones has been sold is for Yahoo to buy Cnet. Cnet has a number of online assets that would be sensational in the Yahoo orbit. Cnet has huge readership. It has great consumer properties that cover personal electronics and cameras. It also has music assets and software download assets. Finally Cnet recently rid itself of WebShots. Cnet assets would add a marvelous dimension to Yahoo. Finally this purchase would move Yahoo out from Google's giant shadow.
As for Cnet, its stock price has been around $8 for a long time. A reasonable premium to this price with Yahoo paper could seal the deal.
Yahoo has the paper to valuation for it to be able to digest Cnet's market cap. Everything lines up. Jerry Yang and Sue Decker should do it!
Silicon Alley Insider published its "Top 100 People" list in New York City for 2007. This continues the "tradition" that Jason Calacanis started at the erstwhile Silicon Alley Reporter in the 1990s.
The interesting thing to me in all this is that ValleyWag had a big put down on the list not to mention the obnoxiousness of the headline. The post also inferred that nothing much happens in Silicon Alley and that all the Internet action is in Silicon Valley.
And who was the writer? None other than Nicholas Carlson who worked for Jupitermedia until recently at InternetNews.com. Nick seemed like a nice guy. I even had a lunch with him at our Christmas party last year. ValleyWag is cool but has no substance. ValleyWag could just as well be covering Britney and Lindsay. Also if we ever have another bubble burst in the Internet space, ValleyWag will be one of the first sites to bite the dust.
As for Carlson, he was hired away from InternetNews by ValleyWag to cover "boring" Silicon Alley and New York City. Is it not ironic that he blasts NYC and the very people who has been hired to cover? At least Nick shows his range as a writer. He went from writing quality at InternetNews.com to writing gossip and garbage at ValleyWag.
Yours truly has expressed more than a few times a somewhat jaundiced view of the hype over Web 2.0. Now comes a study from the small business arena that supports the idea that Web 2.0 is cool, but perhaps not practicle when it comes to using Web 2.0 concepts.
Lauren Simonds of our highly read SmallBusinessComputing.com site has an article that delves into this issue. Web 2.0 is hot with the VC community. It makes for great reading. But the backbone of commerce is the small business owner. This group is not buying the hype.
Wow! No sooner did I write my post yesterday about the hot market for vertical content sites when lo and behold venerable Dun & Bradstreet bought AllBusiness.com for $55 million.
News reports indicate that AllBusiness has 2 million unique visitors per month. All Business was doing about $10 million in revenue per year. No EBITDA numbers were given.
Thus it would appear that D&B paid about 5x revenues or $25 per unique visitor.
Regardless, the deal just proves my point that "we ain't scene nothing yet" in what is becoming a white hot market for the buying and selling of vertical content sites.
AllBusiness has an interesting trading history. It was sold to NBC back in 1999 for $225 million and later resold to the founder for pennies on the dollar in 2002. Perhaps the NBC team that decided to sell AllBusiness worked with the same team at JP Morgan Private Client that decided my VC ideas were garbage that same year?
As usual, PaidContent has this deal covered.
Back to Beliefnet: For News Corp. to buy a site like Beliefnet surely shows that News Corp. is only at the beginning of its Internet buying spree. This is bullish news for content sites on virtually any topic. The Internet has finally achieved what I had predicted in the mid-1990s: that the Internet would spawn an enormous wave of vertical content sites way beyond what print was ever able to accomplish. Internet publisning is an economic wonder. Regardless of the number of readers, costs do not increase very much. With print, a publisher faces the economics of paper, printing, binding and postage. The Internet publisher has little to no incremental cost as readership increases. And now that the Internet is becoming part of every home and business worldwide the opportunities are greater and greater for vertical content sites to thrive (for both the consumer and the BtoB market).
The golden age of Internet acquisitions is upon us. Large media companies will be gorging on existing and promising content sites for years to come.
If I had time, I think I would work as a media banker buying and selling Web sites.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the Internet is how it disrupts and or creates new businesses. One of these areas is lending.
The Wall Street Journal had a good summary of the business last Wednesday entitled "Online Lending Gets Easier And Safer." Writer Jane J. Kim summarized what online lending is all about. "The sites, often marketed to borrowers as lower-cost alternatives to credit-card and unsecured bank loans, match people who need small loans with willing lenders. Some firms, such as Prosper, function like an eBay-style marketplace to determine the interest rates that borrowers are willing to pau and lenders are willing to earn."
I checked out Prosper and was fascinated with the business model. It is very easy to sign up as a lender or as a borrower. The FAQs are simple and to the point. I can see millions of people getting involved in this marketplace in coming years. The model is so efficient that I would think companies such as IAC and eBAY might want to acquire some of these companies before the price gets too rich.
Zopa is another company in the field. Zopa's strength to date has been in the United Kingdom but it is now expanding to America and elsewhere.
This is going to be a hot Internet segment.