Wow! Time Inc. Gets a Clue

Way back in 2002, Josh Quittner, who is a pal and also the Editor of Business 2.0, took a risk on a down-and-out dot-com publishing exec and contracted me to write a column for his magazine, the only one left after the Standard and its ilk bit the dust….

B2.0-2Way back in 2002, Josh Quittner, who is a pal and also the Editor of Business 2.0, took a risk on a down-and-out dot-com publishing exec and contracted me to write a column for his magazine, the only one left after the Standard and its ilk bit the dust. But when I got the Time Inc. contract (B2’s owners,) I was bereft. I had an issue with the fact that what I wrote would be behind AOL/TW’s paywall. So I requested, nice as pie, that I be able to post my columns here, on this site. Josh agreed, and the rest is history.

Well, all that’s moot now. CNNMoney is picking up my column, and all of B2 for that matter, and it’s all free.

Here’s everything I ever wrote for Josh!



Enjoy, I sure as heck will!

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Titans Column: Omid Kordestani

I interviewed Omid a couple of months ago for my B2.0 column, here it is in full. TITANS OF TECH The Wizard of Ads Google's Omid Kordestani conjured a formula that took its sales to $3 billion. Now he's rethinking the world of advertising again. By John Battelle, October…

I interviewed Omid a couple of months ago for my B2.0 column, here it is in full.

TITANS OF TECH

The Wizard of Ads

Google’s Omid Kordestani conjured a formula that took its sales to $3 billion. Now he’s rethinking the world of advertising again.

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Titans Column: Bob Wright

I'm behind in posting my B2.0 columns, but this one (paid sub required, so read on below) was fun to do…. TITANS OF TECH The Internet Puzzle NBC Universal CEO Bob Wright has put together all the pieces of the perfect media conglomerate. Will the Web tear it apart?…

I’m behind in posting my B2.0 columns, but this one (paid sub required, so read on below) was fun to do….

TITANS OF TECH

The Internet Puzzle

NBC Universal CEO Bob Wright has put together all the pieces of the perfect media conglomerate. Will the Web tear it apart?

Wright

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July Titan: Anne Mulcahy

And here's July (up soon is Bob Wright, CEO of NBC, then Omid Kordestani, of Google): TITANS OF TECH Turning the Page Bit by bit, Xerox CEO Anne Mulcahy is digitizing the copier company she helped save. By John Battelle, July 2005 Issue She was not the obvious choice…

And here’s July (up soon is Bob Wright, CEO of NBC, then Omid Kordestani, of Google):

AnnemTITANS OF TECH

Turning the Page

Bit by bit, Xerox CEO Anne Mulcahy is digitizing the copier company she helped save.

By John Battelle, July 2005 Issue

She was not the obvious choice to lead Xerox through its darkest hour, but four years and one miraculous turnaround later, no one is questioning Anne Mulcahy’s leadership anymore. A nearly 30-year veteran of the company, Mulcahy doesn’t like to dwell on her much-lauded role in helping Xerox avert bankruptcy. She’s too busy trying to get the company growing again.

Long before any of us Googled anything, we all Xeroxed everything. The company’s iconic status came despite a scant presence in homes; although Mulcahy had established Xerox’s consumer printer business, she shut it down when the company was strapped for cash. (By making tough decisions like that, Mulcahy cut the company’s $14 billion debt load almost in half.) Xerox now mostly serves large businesses, not just selling them copiers but managing “information flow” by scanning and storing documents in digital form. And despite the spinoff of its fabled Palo Alto Research Center, Xerox has still managed to innovate: It now gets two-thirds of its $15.7 billion annual revenue from products and services that are less than two years old.

Having turned the company around, what will Mulcahy do next? Many people floated her name as a potential replacement for Carly Fiorina at Hewlett-Packard. A Xerox PR staffer told the New York Times that Mulcahy would “never, ever” consider leaving. “Why don’t you just put a fricking lock on the door!” Mulcahy says with a laugh. If she has more successes like the turnaround, Xerox’s board had better do just that. Business 2.0 sat down recently with Mulcahy to learn more about her plans.

Are you bored yet with being asked how you turned Xerox around?



Yes! It was interesting, but it only led up to the thing we really care about, which is succeeding, not just surviving.

How do you get a culture to move beyond survival and start innovating?



The most critical thing — even more critical than getting the company financially stable — was recognizing that nobody’s in this just to survive. You have to make sure there’s a compelling enough story that the great people will stick with you during the difficult times, that they will hang tight for the possibilities of the future.

Let’s talk about that future. What happens to the document on the Internet? Do you consider Google a competitor?

It would be terrific if Google’s model worked in larger enterprises, but the world those businesses live in has not only tons of digital technology but also vast amounts of manually intensive paper-based processes. Making information more accessible, more personalized, is a huge opportunity. Search as a utility is a wonderful thing, but it’s really about the journey from paper to digital for our customers.

So what does going from paper to digital involve? Are you just talking about scanning documents?

(continued in extended entry)

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Titan Column: Homer

I'm getting caught up on my B2.0 column posts, here's June: TITANS OF TECH Reinventing Television Silicon Valley veteran Mike Homer wants to move TV shows from the airwaves to the grid. If he succeeds, we'll never look at video the same way again. By John Battelle, June 2005…

I’m getting caught up on my B2.0 column posts, here’s June:

HomerTITANS OF TECH

Reinventing Television

Silicon Valley veteran Mike Homer wants to move TV shows from the airwaves to the grid. If he succeeds, we’ll never look at video the same way again.

By John Battelle, June 2005 Issue

Editor’s note

In the Titans of Tech column in our June issue (“Reinventing Television”), we ran an interview with Mike Homer, CEO of Kontiki, conducted by contributing writer John Battelle. After the issue was sent to press, Battelle announced a small round of funding for his new business venture, FM Publishing, in which Homer is a minority investor. According to Battelle, Homer’s involvement in FM took place well after the interview and editing of the column were done.


(My post about my dumb mistake is here)

At every important turn in Silicon Valley’s recent history, Mike Homer has been there. He got his start as an engineer and later a marketer at Apple, then joined Go, a handheld device startup that, despite $100 million in funding, failed to find its market. From there Homer landed at Netscape, just in time to see the company’s spectacular success and equally spectacular slaughter at the hands of Microsoft. After Netscape was sold to AOL, Homer jumped ship to launch Kontiki, a Net-based video-serving business, where he is still chairman, and invested in a slew of technology startups, including TiVo and Google.

For years Kontiki has labored in obscurity, perfecting a video-delivery service for corporate clients. But all along, Homer had his eye on the consumer market. He now believes that the time has finally come to put video on the Net — and he’s betting his money and his reputation on it. In April he and former Netscape cohort Marc Andreessen launched the Open Media Network, an audacious nonprofit that intends to host video files and create an Internet TV guide. Business 2.0 caught up with Homer on the day the network launched.

Why are you calling the Open Media Network “the future of public broadcasting”?

OMN is a free public service that enables consumers to view and publish legal content on the Internet. Digital distribution technology is now capable of doing a good job with video on the Internet, but there are still a lot of factors within the industry that keep producers from putting a wide variety of content online. We wanted to find a segment of the broadcasting industry that was willing to move first — and that’s the Public Broadcasting System.

So what’s holding back the rest?

First is concern over cannibalizing their current channels of distribution. Second is concern over piracy. And the third is the lack of a demonstrated business model.

How does OMN differ from other recent offerings, such as Google’s planned video service?

(continued in extended entry…)

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On Disintermediation

I wrote a piece for AdAge (reg required) which ran this week. It's here, and I'm told that soon I can link to it outside of registration. I'd love your feedback. ARE YOU BECOMING IRRELEVANT TO YOUR CUSTOMERS? Why Marketers, Agencies and Media Execs Need to Understand Disintermediation July…

AdageI wrote a piece for AdAge (reg required) which ran this week. It’s here, and I’m told that soon I can link to it outside of registration. I’d love your feedback.

ARE YOU BECOMING IRRELEVANT TO YOUR CUSTOMERS?

Why Marketers, Agencies and Media Execs Need to Understand Disintermediation

July 12, 2005

By John Battelle

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Titans of Tech Column: Sky Dayton

I personally can't wait till full 3G nets hit the US. I spent some time with Sky talking this and other stuff over recently, and the result is my current column in B 2.0. TITANS OF TECH Surfing the Virtual Wave EarthLink founder Sky Dayton helped connect our PCs…

B2.0-1I personally can’t wait till full 3G nets hit the US. I spent some time with Sky talking this and other stuff over recently, and the result is my current column in B 2.0.

TITANS OF TECH

Surfing the Virtual Wave

EarthLink founder Sky Dayton helped connect our PCs to the Net. Now he wants to put Korea’s version of wireless broadband on our cell phones.

By John Battelle, May 2005 Issue

For more than a decade, no matter how you’ve wanted to connect, Sky Dayton has been there with the hookup. The coffee shop owner turned Net entrepreneur started EarthLink and built the Internet service provider into a billion-dollar business. Then he wove a patchwork of Wi-Fi hotspots into a nationwide network, Boingo. Now he wants to reboot the cell-phone business.

All along he’s been guided by two ideas: You don’t have to own infrastructure to sell service, and customers care about applications, not technology. That’s why EarthLink and Boingo thrived while rivals spent hundreds of millions of dollars on Internet backbones and Wi-Fi routers, only to go out of business.

For his latest venture, true to form, he’s renting out space on cell-phone networks to give American customers something that South Korea has had for years: high-speed Internet access over a 3G (third-generation) wireless network and sophisticated handsets packed with the latest technologies. While DSL is fast and Wi-Fi is fun, both tether you to a limited area. 3G truly puts the Internet “in the air,” as Dayton likes to say. EarthLink, where he is still a board member, and Korea’s SK Telecom are putting $440 million into the new venture, SK-EarthLink, for which Dayton will serve as CEO while it prepares for a launch of service this year. Business 2.0 sat down with Dayton in his Santa Monica, Calif., office to get a preview of the wireless future.

How did South Korea get so far ahead of us in wireless?



Part of it is technical. They bet on Qualcomm (QCOM) technology, which is now the basis of all 3G networks. Lately they’ve even overtaken Japan as the hothouse of wireless development. Sprint and Verizon (VZ) and Cingular are just now rolling out the high-speed technology that SK Telecom deployed more than three years ago. We’ve been living in the past. The other part is cultural. Koreans study and work a lot harder. It’s no wonder they got so far ahead.

So what do they have that we don’t?



The applications that SK has built are a glimpse into the future — live video on a handset, multiplayer games, and location-based services. To provide those kinds of services, it created a huge infrastructure: billing, video streaming systems, gaming, mapping systems, all that stuff. We’re bringing that over lock, stock, and barrel and plugging it into the U.S. cellular infrastructure.

Why aren’t you building your own network?



I have a lot of respect for the capital and focus it takes to be successful at building infrastructure. It’s just not my core competency. EarthLink already had mobile virtual network operator agreements with Verizon and Sprint, and we contributed them to the joint venture. We have a foundation to build a house on now.

Which applications will draw users to the service first?



There are many I’m not ready to talk about yet. But there’s music and video and location-based services. On my first trip to Korea last summer, I was at a restaurant, and one of the guys was late. I asked his colleague, “Can you call him and see if he’s close so we can get on with lunch?” He said, “Just hold on a second.” So he flips open his phone, pokes around a bit, shows me a little dot moving on a map on his screen, and says, “He’s almost here.”

(continued in extended entry)

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Latest Business 2.0 Column: Tom Glocer, Reuters

TITANS OF TECH Screen Test Reuters CEO Tom Glocer wants to build an online broadcast network. Can the venerable newswire take on Fox and CNN? By John Battelle, January/February 2005 Issue During its formative days, Reuters was a relentlessly innovative company, using the best tech it could get its hands…

Biz2TITANS OF TECH

Screen Test

Reuters CEO Tom Glocer wants to build an online broadcast network. Can the venerable newswire take on Fox and CNN?



By John Battelle, January/February 2005 Issue

During its formative days, Reuters was a relentlessly innovative company, using the best tech it could get its hands on to carry the news. Before the telegraph came along, it beat competitors by using carrier pigeons to send information about stock trades. But back in the 1980s, Reuters decided to wholesale its newsfeeds to Ted Turner — and watched CNN become a billion-dollar business. As broadband video blossoms on the Web, Reuters CEO Tom Glocer doesn’t want his London-based company to make the same mistake twice.

In 2003, 10 years after joining Reuters’s U.S. law department, Glocer worked his way to the corner office — the first American and first nonjournalist to helm the venerable company. He immediately restructured it into four customer-focused divisions, a move that’s saving a billion dollars over five years and has sent the stock price up nearly 50 percent in the past year. What’s more, he’s managed to pull this off while sending hundreds of journalists to Iraq and losing some in the line of fire.

Now Glocer is shaking up Reuters’s highly respected newswire business. Think of the newswire as wholesale; Glocer, in essence, is using the disruptive power of the Internet to get into retail. The move would have been unthinkable 20 years ago for reasons of both cost and culture. But Glocer has learned the hard way that you don’t make much money selling your content to others. Successful media companies, he says, make their money either by creating branded products or by controlling distribution. Glocer recently sat down with Business 2.0 to explain how he plans to do both.

Despite the costs of the ongoing conflict in Iraq, your stock went on a tear in 2004.



The market sees Reuters as a classic recovery story. By the end of 2006, we will have taken $1.7 billion out of our costs since we started restructuring in 2000. Our core subscription revenues are still declining, but the Street is increasingly confident that we can return these to growth next year.

Last summer you pulled your news off Yahoo. Why?



For 153 years Reuters has run a wholesale media strategy. We produce raw text, video, and pictures and make it available to the world’s publishers, who in turn slap their brand on it, develop brand loyalty, and aggregate an audience. Go back to 1980 and ask yourself, as I often do: Between Reuters and CNN, who had the greater assets and likelihood to launch an international news network?

Did Reuters consider competing with CNN back then?



I don’t know. I wasn’t there. But I do know that Ted Turner has said that they kept looking over their shoulder because they couldn’t believe their luck. When they were starting out, they really were the Chicken Noodle Network. Reuters had bureaus in 200 places and a hell of a brand name. Who had ever heard of CNN? More recently, Reuters repeated the mistake — we were the wholesaler to Yahoo and others.

But this time you pulled out.



(continued in extended entry)

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Tech Review: New Form of Advertising

I am breaking my holiday silence as a few readers have reminded me that I forgot to post a link to a column I wrote up for Technology Review magazine. It's basically a rewrite of my Sell Side Advertising post, but to make the concept a bit more approachable…

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I am breaking my holiday silence as a few readers have reminded me that I forgot to post a link to a column I wrote up for Technology Review magazine. It’s basically a rewrite of my Sell Side Advertising post, but to make the concept a bit more approachable (or perhaps to ruin it) I changed the name to Publisher Driven Advertising. In any case, as always I owe a debt to Ross Mayfield and many others for the ideas contained within. And it’s my hope that in 2005 we can take this idea and see where it might run.

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