As a total aside. I went to Lever House the other night with my friend Barry Wine. Amazing place. Barry I spent some time in the kitchen watching an amazing operation feed a room filled with folks like Edgar Brofman who was eating at 11PM. He must have been putting the final touches on his music deal. This place is the new power hangout. The room was PACKED at 11PM.
Sitting in a Charbucks somewhere in midtown blogging this, turns out someone left their wifi open for me so I don’t have to pay T-Mobile or Verizon for the bandwidth. Thanks to all the unnamed free bandwidth providers out there. I salute you.
Spent the last couple of days visiting with some local VC firms here in New York getting some perspective on where they see the industry.
Nooooooooo, I’m not raising capital for a new project (not even Weblogs, Inc.). I’m just getting the pulse on where the industry is and where it is going. Really, you gotta believe me.
Just finished breakfast at the Yale club with Ed Goodman of Milestone Ventures, a smart guy.
Ed runs a $13 million fund that puts $250K to $500K into small tech and services firms. Of course in New York there aren’t that many deals to be done. Turns out that many of the Silicon Alley entrepreneurs I used to cover in Silicon Alley Reporter have all run for the hills (or more specifically run to the turntables to spin records and take drugsI kid you not). Go figure: now is the best time to raise capital in the past four years.
On my way now to meet up with my old friends Tom Phillips, formerly of Deja News and Spy Magazine, and Deven Parekh of Insight Venture Partners (http://www.insightpartners.com/).
Met with Howard Morgan of idealab! (who is also an angel investor), as well as Steve Brotman of Silicon Alley Venture Partners and Stonehenge (two different funds). They are both doing smaller investments, $250K to $500K. The valuations are not huge, $1 to $3m, but that gives the entrepreneur enough room to raise further capital and still own a 1/3 to 1/4 of their firm after two or three rounds when an exit might happen.
Dropped by to see Stuart Ellman of RRE Ventures, one of the largest firms in New York City (they did their third fund of $225m recently). Of course, with that kind of money they need to invest big (think $5-10m a pop), and that really doesn’t work in New York anymore. Of course, if Howard, Ed and Steve do their job they will have deals to feed up to folks like RRE Ventures over the next year or two.
The interesting thing is that in order to raise capital you need to have some the business built outcomplete with revenue. As one person told me “come to me with a client who loves you and is spending five to six figures with you and I’ll invest.”
This is, of course, the way it should have always been. I never really understood the idea of investing in an idea, with the possible exception of a handful of entrepreneurs who have hit it big in the past. Having a couple of hurdles to hit before getting a wire transfer is a nice check and balance for a venture business that has been, frankly, lazy and loose in recent history.
If you want a very entertaining read from the desktop of a publicly traded CEO, stop by Alan Meckler’s blog.
It is amazing. You get to hear him bash COMDEX on an almost daily basis while trying to rationalize what went wrong with his own show in Vegas (the airport in Vegas, IT people being too busy, etc.).
I’m friendly with Meckler, we go to lunch once a quarter or so, and I respect what he has done. The blog is just brutal honesty and who knows some day maybe every public CEO will have onebut I doubt it.
Seems Michael Jackson is taking a note from the Martha Stewart book of public relations by starting his own official webpage. It seems if you are going to have a site like this you need to sign it personally.
Is there a handwriting analyst in the audience out there that can tell us about Michael and Martha based on these JPEGS?! Seems to me that Michael is very cramped up and sloppy, isolated perhaps. Martha’s is very “here I am, look how much more perfect I sign my name then everyone else.”
I wonder if their PR consultants consulted them on their signatures?
this is just a test
I kind of liked Tony’s idea of writing a book on Google collaboratively. However, the NYT took a negative slant on this with the headline “Collaborative Book Idea Gets a Nasty Review” and a photo of Tony looking really slyperhaps evil.
Amazing how the Grey Lady can spin things. This story is so one-sided I gotta think this is old media beating up new media ideas or simply the continuation of Nick Denton’s crew piling on Tony because he is a commercial blogger (of wait, Nick’s doing porn, the most commecial thing ever!).
Regardless, I salute Tony for pushing the envelope and I don’t hate him because he is super connected, driven and successfuland neither should non-commercial bloggers. He’s contributed a lot to the tech media space and one of the reasons bloggers and indie media is doing so well is because of the projects he’s worked on.
Something about the proposition struck Brian Dear, a software entrepreneur and writer, as being a lot like Tom Sawyer’s inviting the other boys to paint the fence. Mr. Dear found the posting especially galling, he said, because he has been grinding away for years on a history of the user community that grew up around Plato, an early computer network. “It just kind of rubbed me the wrong way,” he said of the Perkins proposal, “and I thought, You know, I should denounce this.’ “
So on his own Web log, brianstorms.com, Mr. Dear ridiculed Mr. Perkins’s e-mail message line by line.
Mr. Perkins had written: “Writing a book is a very painful experience. And frankly, the only way I can pull this off under a tight deadline (I want it out before Google goes public), is to write it with AlwaysOn members.”
Mr. Dear replied: “Writing a book is so painful, I find it easier if someone else does all the hard work. So I’m asking you, members of the AlwaysOn network, to give me all of your ideas.”
Mr. Perkins wrote: “As we say in the world of journalism, This is a story that needs to be told.’ ”
Mr. Dear responded: “As we say in Silicon Valley, There’s never enough money. Make more.’ “
The blast has been widely circulated online. Mr. Perkins, for his part, said, “I thought it was pretty clever, and have referred it to many people, including my wife, for laughs.”
But his online readers have generally been supportive, he said. “I can’t imagine not blogging all my books into existence.”
Call me a cynic, but at this point it has become clear that releasing “home movies” are part of an overall marketing strategy by the media. As such, look for the following in the near future:
Creation and leaking of “home movies” as part of a recording or TV contract: “Before the delivery of a fifth CD, and immediately before the release a best of‘ compilation, the artist agrees to create and release an private adult video. Such creation will remain the property of the artist, but will be available for reasonable publicity purposes by the corporation.”)
Three of the following in a home movie: Paris Hilton, Madonna, Britney Spears, Snoop Dog and William Shatner.
Celebrity Porn Uncensored #12 on E!
Former child-celebrity “home videos” from: Screech, Gary Coleman, Shannon Doherty and Elizabeth Berkeley (or just about any other cast member of Saved by the Bell, 90210 or [insert late 80s sitcom here]).
Once again I’m chillin n’ bloggin’ at the Mac store. This time I’m at the one in Santa Monica using a G4 with one of the huge studio monitors. Macs are really starting to feel much more stable from the days when I was trying to convert from Windoze. The new X operating system, with that cool navigation bar at the bottom, has breathed new life into the platform.
Just got back from seeing the movie The Station Agent, which I was unable to get into at Sundance. It wound up winning a bunch of awards, and rightfully soit’s amazing. Go see it with someone you love. It’s great.
Also, make sure you see Capturing the Friedmans, also award-winning from Sundance. Sort of a downer, but a very compelling search for the truth.
Right about now TP is feeling pretty good about himself, the Valley and the IPO market next year.
He’s got good reason to smile, the San Fran/SV scene is starting to pick up again thanks, in large part, to the Google IPO. Of course, if the Google IPO doesn’t happen or their stock tanks it will be a cold and bitter day in San Fran (well, a colder and more bitter day then normal).
I have to say that on my trip to San Fran last week I found the place buzzing more then it has in the last three yearscombined!
While the streets were still empty (picture the Flatiron district with little to no foot traffic strange right? That is what much of San Fran is still like to this day!), an inner circle of people are doing deals and banging on their Crackberries.
People have learned some major lessons from Google, and they are the antithesis of the dot com days that Tony and I both chronicled in Red Herring and Silicon Alley Reporter (how ironic that we are both doing Web log sites now or not). Google lessons:
Solve a real problem.
Don’t waste money/be cheap.
Make money, then figure out how to make more money.
Don’t waste money on marketing (when’s the last time you saw a Google commercial or billboard?).
Make your customers love you.
Never stop innovating.
Doing one thing excellent is better then doing eight things good (i.e. Yahoo has dozens of links on their site, but Google main categories are all much, much better: search, image search, discussion groups and news).
Don’t waste money (oh did I mention that already?)
Silicon Valley is back . . . with a Kennedy as First Lady and a global twist.
In order to cleanse our system, though, we did have to pay the price of going out of fashion for a while, which was a painful and embarrassing process. New Yorkers in particular rubbed our noses in it. They stopped writing about us, stopped calling us up and asking us to be on television. They wanted to make it very clear that they really never had anything to do with us in the first place.
But what even the New Yorkers may not know is that Silicon Valley is roaring again. (Based on my recent trip to Paris/London/West Berlin, the Europeans sure are surprised to hear the U.S. is doing better.) As we predicted when we launched AO, Nasdaq is appreciably up on the back of strong economic trends and tech company earnings. And 2004 will be a huge tech IPO year with at least 10 blockbusters currently in the pipeline.
So, I just got back from an event here in San Francisco hosted by WIRED editor Chris Anderson and had an odd moment when I asked him about his rehab after I read it on a Gawker story about the Napster relaunch party. Here is the note which seems real to me:
Wired editor Chris Anderson is evidently back from Betty Ford, no more trips to the powder’ room for him. Our spy also reports: “Dot-com launch parties are supposed to be sexy. Did we learn nothing in 1999? A tandoori chicken buffet simmering over sterno lamps should not be the hottest thing in the room.”
Turns out Gawker.com was “joking.” Of course, the three people I’ve talked about this also thought they were serious. Anderson wasn’t thrilled when I discussed it with him either. Gawker.com is repenting:
Letter from the Editor: Reading Comprehension#
As Elizabeth Spiers used to always mutter into her Dramamine and tonic when she was the editor of Gawker, explaining a joke immediately renders it not funny. No problem here; most of my jokes aren’t funny to begin with.
In reference to a few very curious emails from people with either bad reading comprehension or no sense of fun, let me state for the record that Chris Anderson, editor of Wired, is not actually a coke addict, as I have repeatedly reported.
Also, Cindy Adams does not eat human babies, no matter what I’ve said. You may in fact find one or two other things I’ve facetiously said on Gawker.
So, Chris Anderson, cokehead? Nah. He’s just your everday magazine editor, with feelings and thoughts and a love of shiny blinking things. In fact, he may have a serious problem with compulsive gadget fondling. I have also heard that he owes 200 grand to a really mean bookie. Oh and he once turned green and all his clothes split off his body and he killed a kitten with his bare hands in front of me. Other than all that stuff, a totally normal kind of dude.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
I’m in San Francisco this week for meetings with VentureSource and Wicks (the company that bought VentureReporter.net and which I’m currently working for). I pulled out the old rolodex and pinged some old friends to see what they are up to.
Last night I sat courtside at the Mavericks vs. Warriors game thanks to my good friend David Bunnell. David is the publishing visionary who created PC World and sold it to Ziff, ran Upside in the glory years and recently tried to make the digital gadget space work (with mixed success).
Since my girlfriend couldn’t make the trip I brought Mark Pincus of Tribe.net as my date (http://www.markpincusbio.blogspot.com/). Mark is a brilliant and rabid entrepreneur. He did Freeloader and Support.com previously and I’m sure he’ll hit a massive home run with Tribe.net. He’s got a ton of tricks up his sleeve which I promised not to tell, but I think Friendster and the rest of the social software space is going to get crushed by what he is doing.Mark Cuban even said hello to us before joining his team (he spoke at bunch of our Silicon Alley Reporter events back in the day).
Today I went for breakfast with Craig Newmark of Craigs List fame. Craig is another visionary type guy, but more laid back then Mark who averaged about six calls on his cell phone per hour last night. Craig was the first guy to add the feature “Flag for review” to a website. That created a total revolution in the online space no longer did you have to police websites, your users did it for you. Total Genius.
Craigslist is making serious bank as well. They seem to have 100-300 of these $75 classifieds on their San Fran site every day (only the San Fran jobs site has a fee, everything else in every city is free). That’s like $15,000 a day, or $75,000 a week or about $3.6m a year in revenue. All from a site built off of free software. I’m sure Google will buy his classified system and make a tab right after news called Classifieds. No doubt in my mind.
Anyway, I’m off to see Rob Burgess over at Macromedia and then shoot over to see Chris Anderson at WIRED. I’ll fill you in/name drop some more later.
Watching Meet the Press and the New York Times today I was filled with feeling of complete disgust.
The Times is reporting that President Bush and his team are stonewalling a 9/11 commission, and that the reason is that Bush knew more about the threat about 9/11 in the weeks before those two towers and thousands of lives were lost.
I’m seething from this. Bush is on TV all the time talking about how we have to study this and get to the bottom of that. It is becoming very clear that 9/11 was very avoidable. Bush is clearly scared to death that when the public finds out he knew about those four planes in the days before the actual event, and was unable to stop them, they will want his head on a stick. If this is the case, Bush should just resign. That would be the honorable thing to do.
Then on Meet the Press I’m watching Colin Powell backtracking on his own comments in February of 2001 that Iraq had no WMD. Powell is an excellent liar, but at this point the frustration on his face while he is doing so is clear as day.
As this is all happening while a dozen rockets hit a hotel in Iraq today where Wolfowitz is staying. I thought we were supposed to be looked at as liberators in Iraq?
Anyone speak French?
Blogging since 1750
Le futur roi du BTP (Blog Tout Public), Lo? Le Meur, nous parle de BlogAds. Henry Copeland, l’inventeur du concept BlogAds, fait en effet du bon boulot et son initiative pr?gure les ?lutions du genre.
(Pour un mod? poussant l’utilisation de la publicit?t des services payants dans les blogs, voir Weblogs, inc., le projet de Jason Calacanis, journaliste brillant et businessman de talent. Son weblog personnel pr?nte sa r?exion sur les business models des blogs du futur. Du pur Jason, qui n’a eu de cesse, depuis 1996, de provoquer le microcosme avec ses r?exions provocantes et fut l’un des premiers fossoyeurs du mod? des contenus gratuits. La r?it?ui a donn?aison sur bien des points, comme en t?igne The End Of Free, anim? par Olivier Travers et autres.)
BlogAds n’est pas encore rentable, si j’en crois Henry, qui me confiait avoir lanc?e service pour jeter un pav?ans la mare – la publicit?ans les blogs restant un sujet tabou aupr?de certains pionniers du genre.
Question publicit?l a r?si son coup: tout le monde en parle.
L’un des utilisateurs fran?s les plus en vue est Jean-Luc Raymond, sur mediatTIC.
(Jean-Luc, quel est ton retour d’exp?ence?)
Henry est aussi l’un des am?cains les plus europ?s que je connaisse et un acteur qui compte dans le petit monde de la PQR en France: sa soci?, PressFlex, est le prestataire de services web de nombreux journaux locaux fran?s, comme La R?blique de Seine-et-Marne, L’Informateur d’Eu ou Le Courrier de Mantes.
Le saviez-vous? Henry a identifi?e premier blogueur de l’histoire.
Cela se passait en 1750 🙂
We’ll have two or three bloggers joining us on the blog starting next week. This will mark the first time a Weblogs, Inc. blog becomes a group effort. We’re doing the group blog thing based on the success we see at BoingBoing.net and Many To Many.
Sure, if three people are working on the blog then the $1,000 in advertising (if it hits that) will have to be split three ways. However, we all know that no one is looking to get rich off doing blogs, and having partners on the blog means you don’t have to blog every day if you don’t want to. Takes the pressure off, and makes it better for the readers.
Not sure if the majority of Weblogs, Inc. blogs will have one blogger or groups, but we’ll be trying both and keeping you posted.
So, I’m chillin’ at the Apple store at the Grove in sunny LA while my girlfriend gets some shopping done. This place is amazinglike walking into an art gallery.
The total polar opposite of the Microsoft store I visited in the Sony Metreon in San Francisco. That store is so ugly and cold, as opposed to the Apple store.
Kids are running around, hipsters are blasting music, and the lighting and glass everywhere makes me feel like I’m on the set of Gattica. On top of all this I’ve been sitting here pounding out emails, creating Weblogs, Inc. sites and reading ESPN Zone for over an hour and they have not bothered me once!
As a matter of fact I feel as productive here, on a Mac in a store, as I do at home. Amazing how technology has changed distance and how we work. I’ve got all my data at my finger tips and the fact that I’m on a Mac not a PC means, well, nothing.
Just watched the heavily-promoted AMC talk show Shootout
The show brings together two Peters, Guber and Barts, to discuss the pressing issues in the entertainment industry (I know, that is an invitation for a snide comment, but I’m going to save my snide comments for later in the review)
One of the Peters is soft spoken and smart, and the other one is loud and, well, you get the idea. Peter Bart is, of course, the editor of Variety. Peter Guber is, of course, the infamous producer who caused Sony to lose hundreds of million dollars paying off his employment contract with Warner Bros. As thanks, Sony funded his new studio Mandalay (the one with the cool tiger promo at the start of a film).
Guber is a great producer, having done films like Terminator 2, Basic Instinct, Sleepless in Seattle and Philadelphia. I’m sure his domineering skill set serves him well in that capacity. Unfortunately, it backfires in a roundtable talk-show format.
On paper, the show sounds very promising. The show aspires to have drama (“The Fireworks Begin at 11:00AM” is the tag line on the website). The first show featured Ed Norton and a studio exec from Fox. The studio executive wasn’t even put on the website, while Norton had an extensive bio. This leads me to believe that the Fox exec was added at the last minute
The selection of topics was way too simplistic for the intended audience (i.e. industry folk, prosumers, etc.). I’ll chalk the topic selection to the fact that this is the first show. However, if the best the show’s producer can come up with is the impact of bigger movie budgets and the proliferation of awards shows, this show will be gone before the ink dries on his first check. I mean, with everything going on in film, there are much more prescient things to talk about. Heck, a loser film student could come up with more interesting topics. I’m sure the topics will evolve (they better).
The show is also completely ruined by the fact that Peter Bart, who has something intelligent to say, was constantly dominated by Peter Guber, who apparently has nothing to say (at least nothing intelligent). There was a 10 minute stretch where Bart basically gave up and let Guber take over. Guber is doing some bad McLaughlin Group impersonation in which he asks a question (i.e. what’s up with all these award shows?) and then lets people start to answer before cutting them off moments later, and giving his grand analysis (i.e. the rules need to be changed). Guber shouldn’t have a talk show. He should be on public access with a fixed camera pointed at his head while he tells you everything he know.
Norton had the best points of the show, and it seemed that Guber didn’t want to alienate him and actual let him speak without interrupting! Norton made the Fox executive concede that mid-market films were much more profitable then big budget films. He also got the group to discuss the cynicism of the film-going audience, as manifested in their belief that award shows are bought. Of course, this was short lived, as the discussion quickly moved to how much money Variety makes off Oscar ads.
Bart’s quip back, a deadpan that Variety was a non-profit, was one of the better moments of the show.
The show ended with a boring point-counter point format moderated by a blond-bombshell type with horrible delivery. The two Peters touched on topics like the relationship between Arnold and Hollywood, as well as the $7 million paid for the movie rights to the best selling book The DaVinci Code. As a total aside, this could have been a great main topic for the show (i.e. the role of writers and the script, or the lack thereof, in Hollywood).
Mr. Guber: It is perfectly fine to cut people off in a group discussion format. However, it is standard operating procedure that if you do cut in, you shouldhave a comment that is of at least equal value, if not more value, then the one you’ve just ended!
Peter Bart: Please get a little bit more aggressive before Guber has this promising show canceled.
Show Producer: Please take the topics up a couple of levels, and don’t be afraid to go a little more in-depth. Anyone who is going to spend part of Sunday morning with you guys is in the business, or aspires to be, and doesn’t want to have to wade through simplistic discussion for a few insightful crumbs. Give us the chunky, deep and gooey stuff.
The show will be repeated on: Mon., Oct. 13 at 1:35 AM / EST; Wed., Oct. 15 at 11:25 AM / EST; and Fri., Oct. 17 at 3:05 PM / EST.
Today is the end of the first official week of Weblogs, Inc., the company I founded with my life-long friend Brian Alvey recently.
Brian runs the company, I’m the hands-off chairman. Really. However, I thought I’d give you a little update from my perspective on how the project/experiment is going.
For background, Brian and I have known each other since high-school and we’ve spent more time working together then with anyone else in our lives (Silicon Alley Reporter magazine, CyberSurfer magazine, VentureReporter.net, etc). Not sure I want to expand on this any more, but let’s just say Brian and I finish each other’s sentences and other cute things like that. OK, too much information.
This week we launched two new blogs. If you combine that with my personal blog (you’re soaking in it right now) and the Weblogs, Inc. corporate blog, we’re up to four blogs.
For some insane reason I told Wired I didn’t think having 100 blogs in a year would be too difficult. We’re now 4% of the way there, and we’re going to try to keep up with that prediction.
So, the two new kids in the family are:
A soon to be “group” weblog focused on social software. Social Software is a big word for software that lets you communicate and basically means sophisticated stuff like Friendster, Groove Networks, Tribe.net, etc. People used to call it collaborative software, but that is so 1996. This site is focused on the *business* of social software, so you won’t find a lot of academic stuff on it.
This site is dedicated to distance medicine and education. This space is booming and the ramifications of having the top medical knowledge, practices and talent available to anyone with an Internet connection is mind blowing. Of course, if you’re from a major city like New York this is hard to get your head around. Think about if you lived a couple of hours, or days, from a basic hospital. Well, a lot of the world does, and telemedicine will be the way they will get their healthcare. What I love about this space is that it is here today, unlike things like digital patient records and other healthcare related technologies.
Also, in week one we changed our revenue split to be more blogger friendly. Our goal is to make money for bloggers. If we can’t make bloggers money there is no way for us to build our brand. More details at the corporate blog.
Have a great weekend.
ItGirl Elizabeth Spiers shows some love for Fred Wilson and I today
New York Venture Capital Flatiron Partners’ Fred Wilson recently started a blog, as did Silicon Alley Reporter founder Jason Calacanis. (I feel so 1999!) Wilson says he’s in the process of raising another fund and that he feels optimistic about the technology sector in New York. “I think that we are seeing a resurgence of entrepreneurial activity around the Internet and Technology,” he writes. “I see it in NYC, I see it in Silicon Valley, and I see it everywhere else.” I guess that comes as no suprise. I’ve never met a venture capitalist who wasn’t optimistic, even if it’s?to use Radar editor Maer Roshan’s favorite phrase?cautiously optimistic.
Some wild man decided to fall on me playing basketball the other night, and three of my fingers on my right hand got bent so far back that they almost snapped. Scary.
Expect a slow down in overall blogging for the next couple of days while the swelling goes down. ESPN SportsZone should have the highlights, as well as my 360 windmill dunk, tonight at 10.
Xeni Jardin of Silicon Alley Reporter/BoingBoing fame IMs us that Robert Smith of the Cure now has a Friendster page and that it is real!
If this it true it will, of course, turn the social software world on it’s head. Months ago Friendster started deleting fake celebrity profiles, known as “faksters” in social software circles. Perhaps the move was in order to make wrong for the real celebrities?
More importantly, does the creation of a Friendster page by an 80’s icon represent the nail in the coffin of their carrer or their rebirth. As Xeni, and Coffee Talk host Linda Richman, would say:”discuss amongst yourself.”
Robert even took the time to place five photos on his page: