April 2008 Archives
I just got back from 6 days in Russia (Moscow and St. Petersburg). Our Stockxpert meeting with several hundred contributors was extremely successful. Our team of 6 that attended learned a lot about the needs of our rapidly growing pool of microstock contributors.
Some travel thoughts: I had to constantly remind myself that I was in Russia. Moscow is a dynamic city with a fast pulse. Lots of boutiques, sleek restaurants and money. Red Square by day and particularly at night is one of the best sights anywhere. Many might know this (I didn't) that "Red" has nothing to do with politics or the old USSR flag. Rather "Red" in Russian means a few things including the color, but more importantly it means beauty. The lighting at night of the Kremlin and St. Basils Cathedral is fabulous. Finally, Lenin's Tomb is a surreal experience. Seeing the embalmed Lenin in his underground tomb is not something that is easy to describe. Lenin appears to be a yellow-orange color and apparently was small in stature.
St. Petersburg is a totally different experience. No vibrancy. Just a lovely city with lots of canals, the amazing Hermitage, and the Neva River. Peter The Great can be felt throughout the city. By the way, I did have an odd adventure two nights ago when some thugs tried to break into my room at the Astoria Hotel. I won't bore readers with the details except to say it happened about 2 am while I was busy with email. I was not harmed and the potential intruders escaped into the night.
Both cities have so much history that one could easily spend one week in each city and still only get a glimpse of their respective riches. If you go to Russia be prepared for difficult communications. I found little to no English spoken in both cities. Also a paucity of English signs.
One final note: the security check in the Helsinki airport is the most thorough I have come across in my world travels.
I have been on the road in Europe with my new Kindle. Readers know I have given Kindle a rave review to date. Unless I am missing something I have found a major flaw in Kindle for someone who travels outside of the USA.
One of the nice features of Kindle is the ability to subscribe to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. A user can buy these papers by the day, a week or a month. Of course that means that the papers would be automatically downloaded.
Unfortunately Kindle uses (I believe) the Sprint network. Sprint is fine if you remain in the United States but it does not work outside the USA. This means that I cannot get the above mentioned newspapers.
I find it hard to believe that the Amazon team did not think this problem through? Perhaps this is a case of a bunch of engineers based in Seattle who never travel outside of the USA and therefore missed this point? Amazon needs to rectify this problem or at least give refunds to those who subscribe to the Times and Wall Street Journal.
I have arrived in Moscow. Quite interesting for someone of my age who grew up in the midst of the cold war and fear of the then Soviet Union. Tomorrow we setup for the Stockxpert convention taking place on Saturday. I am looking forward to meeting with hundreds of Stockxpert contributors.
I must mention my first experiences with my new Kindle. The device is very intuitive to operate. Downloading books is a true snap. I read parts of Doris Kearns Goodwin's book - Team of Rivals - which deals with Abraham Lincoln and his management of his cabinet of super strong personalities during the Civil War. The Kindle was easy to use. Lots of nuances to pick up but I think I have great piece of equipment. Best of all the device weighs only a few ounces and the battery seems to last for at least 6 hours or more.
The Kindle is another part of the Internet revolution. Future generations of this device should be mind boggling in terms of the services one will be able to access. I know that one can read books on smartphones (at least on the BlackBerrry) so it is possible that the Kindle could be overtaken by smartphone technology. Amazon will probably merge the Kindle technology onto a variety of smarphone platforms. We should be covering that on our new blog - Mobile Content Today and our new tradeshow Mobile Content Strategies.
I am about to leave for Russia tomorrow afternoon. I am attending our first Stockxpert gathering for photographers and contributors on Saturday in Moscow (at the Marriott Courtyard). I rarely do siteseeing when I travel but I will make an exception on this trip. I did visit the Taj Mahal on a Saturday during my India trip in February and that led to a car accident. Hopefully things will go smoother in Russia?
Last night I had dinner with John Patrick. John is a member of the Board of Directors of Jupitermedia. More importantly he began all things Internet at IBM in the 1990s. John pulled a Kindle out of his briefcase and I was impressed. I ordered my own this morning and expect to have it by airplane boarding tomorrow afternoon.
I just received a notification from Amazon that shows the genius behind Amazon and the Kindle. Amazon wanted me to know that my account for wireless ordering of books, magazines and newspapers for Kindle can be accomplished by using my normal Amazon account information. I am geared up to put the Kindle through its paces. And of course I will keep readers informed.
Jupiterimages is the leader in the world in selling digital content via subscription. We have 12 subscription properties and continue to grow the list. The most recent launches were Jupiter Images Unlimited and Stockxpert (our microstock offering).
We have owned a clip art site for years. It recently added 3.5 million more images for a new grand total of over 10 million making it the largest images subscription in the world. And now we have launched Clip Art Connection. Clip Art Connection offers 1 million images. This smaller site is a great value for consumers and smaller marketing companies that do not require a 10 million image library. Prices for this new offering start at $4.95 per week - needless to say a great bargain when one can download a large number of images per day.
We continue to innovate at Jupiterimages. The future in the image and digital content arena is value buying. Of the big three in the industry we are the one company that has the broadest offerings and is best suited to take advantage of the continuing buying revolution. Many image companies will lose out if they do not change. The Internet and the Web have produced a bifurcated market of top end and low end offerings. The low end is where the growth will be in the future. It will be growth larger than we have witnessed in the history of the image business. While I cannot guarantee it, Jupiterimages is best equipped to handle this revolution.
My take is that there are now too many microstock sites. The closing of Lucky Oliver is the beginning of the end for 80 percent of the approximately 40 microstock sites in the stock photo world. This is capitalism and the survival of the fittest (and the well financed).
And at a time of cessation for Lucky Oliver it appears that microstock sites such Istockphoto and Shutterstock are thriving. Certainly this is the case for our microstock site Stockxpert. We are having a growth spurt at Stockxpert out of the ordinary. I have been in a business for over 35 years and it is rare to have an operation that grows as rapidly as does Stockxpert. The exciting thing about this growth is that we will be launching several initiatives in coming months in and around Stockxpert that none of our competitors offer (and most likely will not be able to offer).
I am sitting in O'Hare airport in Chicago waiting to board an early morning flight to Los Angeles. Earlier this morning I was in Peoria, Illinois. I had visited with my colleagues at Jupiterimages yesterday late afternoon and evening. Great meetings. But the big memory of the trip to Peoria is the earthquake that took place at about 4:30am. Quite a sensation. It was the third earthquake I have been involved with so I know the feeling. Fortunately I have never been connected with a "bad" earthquake (only 3 to 5s on the Richter scale).
Another interesting item. While walking from the American terminal to the United terminal at O'Hare (a good mile or so) I came across a display that tells the story of how this monster airport got its name. One Butch O'Hare is the person behind the name. Butch won the Medal of Honor and numerous other citations as an aircraft carrier fighter pilot in World War II. In fact he was the first ace of the Pacific Theater (an "ace" is a pilot who shoots down 5 enemy aircraft). Unfortunately Butch did not make it through the war and died in combat in 1944 (two years after receiving his Medal of Honor in the Battle of Midway). And this was the year that this airport was named O'Hare.
Now off to Los Angeles.
On the road again. Dallas this morning and now Chicago and then to Peoria and Pasadena. I get back home on Saturday and leave next week for Moscow where we are running our first international gathering for Stockxpert contributors.
Many associate us primarily with stock photos. But we have a growing music business. We are in a small but powerful niche - background music for Web sites and other uses. Generally we sell directly to the end user. But increasingly we are making deals with organizations that distribute our music.
Take a look at ThoughtEquity. This interesting company sells all kinds of footage. A natural adjunct business for ThoughtEquity is to offer music to go along with purchase(s) of footage. And that is where our music comes in. ThoughtEquity is now offering our music.
I have written a few posts about net neutrality. Net neutrality is under attack. Just read a blog that concisely points out the dangers. Readers should protest whenever possible about any threat to net neutrality.
As to Yahoo: It appears that Yahoo and Microsoft are talking and that we might see a deal announced in the next 10 days. Weeks have passed since Microsoft offered to buy Yahoo. I think it is clear that Microsoft is the only potential player in the world that can write a check to buy Yahoo "hook, line and sinker." I also think that Yahoo should face the music, make the best deal it can get for its stockholders and become part of Microsoft. I can understand why Jerry Yang would like to remain independent as Yahoo is his baby and he has devoted his life to Yahoo for the previous 15 years. Unfortunately the Google revolution has taken the growth out of Yahoo. Yahoo will always be valuable, but its assets will diminish in coming years. The right thing to do for the Yahoo stockholders is to sell.
We recently added a stock footage option to our microstock site -- Stockxpert. Stockxpert has over 1.3 million stock photos produced by thousands of photographers worldwide. The addition of footage makes Stockxpert a more complete market place for all types of graphics and design needs.
We recently produced a promotional video to illustrate the range of footage offerings. Take a look for it shows the talents of a number of our contributors. We have a few more embellishments coming on Stockxpert. We also are running a convention for our Stockxpert contributors in Moscow, Russia on April 25th. We expect a large gathering. This will be the first of many such gatherings around the world.
How many readers really understand the debate raging about Net Neutrality? Don't count on me to explain it in this post.
However the lead singer for the band OK GO, Damian Kulash Jr. wrote a terrific Op-Ed piece in The New York Times the other day that concisely and graphically outlines the issues in Net Neutrality.
Kulash's last line is superb: "If network providers are allowed to build the next generation of the Net as a pay-to-play system, we will all pay the price."
I have been very vocal about the absurdities of the Sarbanes-Oxley regulations for public companies. Sarbanes-Oxley was supposed to prevent financial fraud. It was also supposed to prevent American public companies from hiding risky investments (keeping them off of their balance sheets).
A great indictment of Sarbanes-Oxley appears in the latest issue (14 April) of Fortune magazine by Bethany McLean (Bethany is the writer who first uncovered fraud at Enron). Bethany states: "[SarbOx} turned out to be perfectly irrelevant to the current crisis." She goes on to compare SarbOx to the French Maginot Line that was supposed to keep the Germans out of France prior to World War II. Or as she aptly states: "We build fortifications to stop the Germans - or in this case, the business world's 'innovations' - only to have them go around the line and destroy us from another direction."
SarbOx has proved that the USA now has another pile of regulations and red tape that did nothing to protect the general public. And august institutions such as Citibank, Bear Stearns and dozens of others (all public and all compliant with Sarbanes-Oxley) went on their merry way and helped create one of the biggest financial crises in American history.
Sorry to keep pushing Tim Berners-Lee and the semantic web on readers, but something big is brewing in this area. The siliconrepublic blog had some more interesting news about Berners-Lee and his theories about how linked data or the semantic web can help eliminate email spam.
Our Linked Data Planet tradeshow coming in June in New York City will be the place to understand what the semantic web is all about. There are other shows out there talking theory. Our show will have practical applications on how linked data is revolutionizing the Internet.
Mediabistro Circus is a new tradeshow being offered by Jupitermedia through our Mediabistro division. We purchased Mediabistro last July. I have been told by a few media professionals that they could not understand why we purchased this company. Time will show that this was a great acquisition. Mediabistro has a fiercely loyal community of over 1 million unique visitors. Readers read the news and a number of blogs covering all apsects of the media industry. Readers also are heavy users of the job board as well as the freelance market place and the rapidly growing online education unit. And now this community appears to be embracing Mediabistro's first tradeshow.
The show is still 7 weeks away, but paid seminar registrations are strong and the exhibitor list is growing. I will keep readers informed about progress on the show over the next few weeks. Mediabistro Circus is just another way Mediabistro is proving to be a dynamic acquisition for Jupitermedia. In addition to a thriving job board, ad banner growth, online education growth and Webinar growth, we now have likely tradeshow growth. Mediabistro Circus is just the first of several new tradeshows coming from Mediabistro. We will be announcing two more new shows shortly.
The other day I met with a private equity executive who still could not figure out what I saw in Mediabistro. I was a bit offended that he could not see the value in Mediabistro. But rather than recite much of what I have written above I responded by saying "Let's see what you have to say about your analysis at this time next year."