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The Signal Week That Was

By - August 13, 2010

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Once again, for you RSS consumers out there, the week that was in Signal, which, should you care to, you can sign up for in convenient email form right here.

Friday Signal: The Week That Is.

Thursday Signal: We Got Yer Tablet(s) Right Here  

Weds. Signal: Pull the Ripcord!

Tuesday Signal: Google’s Agony

Monday Signal: It’s Slow Out There, Be Careful

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Or Maybe It's Really About (Google) TV…

By - August 11, 2010

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Yesterday I posted some thoughts on the Google-Verizon framework, offering what turns out to be a pretty widespread sensibility, at least in the punditocracy, that this whole thing feels off, not like Google, counter to the brand.

There had to be another reason Google would do this, something super important that forced its hand, something so crucial to its own perceived future that it would be willing to upset its core brand advocates.

But what? I wrote: “it gives me the sense that the two parties are colluding in some way, creating and/or obscuring potential loopholes which will allow side deals in other parts of their business.”

I then suggested this had to do with Android. And perhaps it does.

But a very well placed source just sent me a thoughtful note, and it immediately stuck a nerve. Perhaps this has not to do with Android as much as it does the future of television.

Google TV, according to those that see it, is very very powerful stuff, and a major weapon on Google’s war with Apple (not to mention Microsoft and others). It’s streaming, interactive HD with the web folded into it (and it’s based on Android). And to work, it will need a fast lane on the ol’ info superhighway. Screen shot 2010-08-11 at 8.52.45 AM.pngA really fast lane. And perhaps, preferential treatment to boot.

Might Google petition that Google TV is an “Additional Online Service” outside the protected net neutrality framework it’s developing with Verizon? Such a service sure would drive subscriptions for Verizon and customers and advertisers for Google.

Hmmm. I think I’ll ask.

Second (Day) Thoughts on Google-Verizon Framework – Isn't This All About Android?

By - August 10, 2010

Today’s Washington Post has a second day editorial from the CEOs of Verizon and Google on their proposed legislative framework first announced Monday. Here it is:

Eric Schmidt and Ivan Seidenberg – From Google and Verizon, a path to an open Internet

I read this article three times and I am still not sure what exactly the two are trying to express, or what problem they are trying to solve. Are Google and Verizon in violent disagreement, but together have decided they can live with this compromise? Did the FCC ask the two to sit in a room and not come out till they had an agreement? If so, why?

And what kind of agreement is this? What’s the predicate? What obstacle stands in their way such that they had to get in the room in the first place? Is it really an enlightened attempt by two giants to further debate around a key policy issue? Or is it something else?

As it stands, this piece feels written by committee, and while it may not be fair to say this, it gives me the sense that the two parties are colluding in some way, creating and/or obscuring potential loopholes which will allow side deals in other parts of their business. In particular it raises my eyebrows as it relates to mobile, which the two companies suggest should be outside the framework. This feels forced. Something else is up. Does this have to do with Android, which has become to Verizon what the iPhone is to AT&T? Apple, after all, has pretty much got AT&T pinned down (though lord knows net neutrality ain’t gonna fly in Steve Jobs’ version of the Interwebs). I imagine Verizon, whose partner Google is well known for its pro-net neutrality stance, is not too happy with how the chess game might have played out. Did Verizon force Google into this position?

Because the position feels, well, not particularly “Googley”.

I’d love to be wrong. But this piece doesn’t make be comfortable. I’ll keep digging in, and if you have seen anything that might enlighten me, let me know. The proposal is here. More links as folks start to digest the news:

Google-Verizon plan: Why you should worry (Salon) Dan Gillmor’s analysis. In essence, he is arguing that the framework creates two Internets, one open and public, but over time ignored as an investment platform, the second private and fast, but expensive and dictated by corporations. Ick.

Google-Verizon Pact: It Gets Worse (HuffPo) A rant from the Free Press, which has been all over this since the beginning. Biased, but compelling.

Google and Verizon Offer a Vision for Managing Internet Traffic (NYT) The Times’ news take. Sums up the concerns pretty well.

Google Has A History of Agonizing. Will This Be a Chapter, or A Conclusion?

By - August 09, 2010

The Wall St. Journal has a compelling story about Google executives, including Page and Brin, struggling with the vast amount of actionable data available to the company, and what to do about it, even before Facebook pretty much forced the Internet giant to play their hand. A must read.

If any of you recall Google’s agony over China, its entry and then its withdrawal, this will certainly sound familiar.

Skype Files for IPO – Is This a Trend?

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As I was reading through the Demand Media S1 (more on that as soon as I get a bit smarter on a few financial issues), I noticed that Skype just filed to go public.

Wow. Here’s the S1. It’s another Goldman/Morgan joint, with JP Morgan in there as well.

From what I can tell, Skype has a complicated financial profile, due no doubt to its life inside eBay. But once again, this is a company that, when you clear out the accounting gymnastics, looks to have a pretty interesting profit potential. And it clearly has scale.

More as I read through it.

Demand Media Files To Go Public, First Impressions from the S-1

By - August 06, 2010

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It’s the dog days of August, and a Friday to boot, and I certainly didn’t expect this to land in my mail box this morning: The Demand Media Inc. S1. But I had set an alert for the company – and several others like LinkedIn and Facebook – because I consider Demand to be one of the most important digital media companies to “take the next step” in several years.

The information revealed in the filing explains why. While Demand has been at the center of a months-long debate around whether or not “content farming” is a defensible practice, the facts are the facts: This model is working, and not just in a one-dimensional fashion.

The question remains if Demand will be seen by investors as more than a secondary search arbitrage play – it is dependent on Google for a large portion of its revenues, at least for now. But CEO Richard Rosenblatt, who for the record I count as a friend and colleague (he shares an investor, Oak, with my company FM), has steered the company higher up the content food chain – creating and purchasing brands such as eHow, Livestrong.com, and others, and fostering content partnerships with respected brands like USA Today and Hearst.

Revenue for 2009 was nearly $200 million, and seems on track to grow past $250mm or more this year. I’ll have more on the company during the weekend, once I’ve had time to really grok the filings.

Publishers, Marketers, and the Gap Scenario

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mindthegap.pngA while back I wrote a post titled “The Gap Scenario.” In it I outlined one (of many) scenarios that I imagined would become pretty commonplace as location based services, search, and social merged into a retail setting.

Today’s news (Business Insider) that publisher Daily Candy has created an Android app that sends users articles when they are near “current local happenings” such as designer sales, spas, and concerts got me thinking about this scenario once again.

The app monitors where you might be in the background, then matches content, and one must assume, eventually, offers. It works only in New York for now, but more cities are expected.

As I laid out in my original post (and my 2005 book), location aware services are not yet a cultural habit, in particular ambient ones. But it won’t be long before we assume that our public presence is, in effect, a search, one for which we will expect a response from any number of potential respondents.

What I find interesting is that the first innovators in this space are publishers, for the most part, rather than marketers. I’m not certain that this will stand. As many of you know from reading my thoughts here, I’m convinced that all marketers are now publishers, and the best ones will figure out how to add value in the context of ambient location aware scenarios. Platforms (like Google, Twitter, Facebook, Yelp) will be key mediators, but I’m not sure what we understand to be traditional publishers (like Daily Candy) can hold this ground. We’ll see….

The Week In Signal

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Folks, you have every right to be upset with me this week, my writing simply ceased, I was on vacation, at least in terms of creating longer form posts. However, Signal did not take the week off, and here are the week’s offerings:

Friday Signal: Let’s Do Launch

Thursday Signal: Highest Order Bit

Weds. Signal: What’s our Policy?

Tuesday Signal: Dog Days

Friday Signal: Vacation Ahoy!

Thanks for reading. I promise to be back soon.

Signal Update

By - July 28, 2010

201007281034.jpgEvery day I spend an hour or two curating a set of links that I find provocative, useful, or important, adding a few lines of commentary to boot. It’s called Signal, and you can consume it in three ways – as an email newsletter (sign up on the Signal Home Page in the upper right hand corner), in your RSS reader, or on the web.

For those of you who like to click on links, here are the last three Signals for your enjoyment:

Weds Signal: Get Out There And Be Counted!

Tuesday Signal: Control, Alter, Delete

Monday Signal: Summertime, and The Linkin’ Is Easy…

Thanks for reading…and I hope my August semi-break, coming soon, will allow me to write longer pieces here with more frequency. I’ve been hard at work on some Web 2 Summit projects, expect more on that late next month.