The strategy today is simple: In order to move fast, build what you can’t buy or risk losing control of your fate and becoming the next Palm, Motorola, or HTC. And if, in the process, you disrupt an Oracle or a Qualcomm? So be it. You can read my column over on Fastcompany.com.
Previous FastCompany columns:
It has been over a week since Facebook announced its intentions to buy WhatsApp for about $19 billion (all told.) The news obviously generated a lot of debate and a lot of commentary filled the airwaves. The stock market more or less approved of the deal, giving Facebook stock and market capitalization the requisite bump it needed. I argued that it was an irrationally rational deal.
Since I started a new gig, I sort of ignored most of the published commentary. A couple of days ago in a conversation with my new colleague at True Ventures, Keila Fong, we started talking about how different really is WhatsApp that it is worth $19 billion to Mark Zuckerberg. So we ran some numbers and compared WhatsApp’s numbers to some of the other social applications.
These charts show that not only WhatsApp is different, but it is exceptional and did well to capture the moment (i.e., rise of the mobile broadband) near perfectly. They are also not just exceptional, they are a standout with highest rate of growth and getting to that point the fastest.
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Last night, John Lilly, partner at Greylock and formerly chief executive at Mozilla tweeted and asked for recommended links about Crimea-Ukraine-Russia crisis that is unfolding in Eastern Europe. Instead of recommending the usual news bits-and-bobs, I shared some with him that give more context to the situation. Here is a list of seven I have found in past few days that I think are worth your time.
While not specific to Ukraine, these edited notes of a lecture by academic/author Paul Mason give you a greater context on what is happening to our world, though I am not sure I am in agreement entirely, but this is worth reading.
Putthison’s Derek Guy:
So much of what passes for fashion media these days is little more than a thinly masked advertorials. That includes many blogs, where affiliate links, referral links, free products, and cozy relationships between bloggers and brands have ruined the ability to produce independent, honest critiques. On many blogs, I can tell you a couple of days beforehand what’s going to be published, because I get the same press releases with the same bullet points. Many are just recycling press releases with little to no personal input. And we’re not just talking about the kind of sites that announce products (where such a thing can probably be expected), but bloggers who are considered “independent voices.” #Influencers, as I think Twitter users call them. Menswear blogging used to hold so much promise as a form of independent media, but as the influence of blogs has grown, many have been co-opted by brands.
For a minute I thought he was talking about…..
+ Check out my critique of GQ and other men’s fashion magazines and why I have don’t trust in them.
“Instagrams, Secrets, Whispers, and Snapchats are in direct competition with the Times…Daily attention is being sliced and diced multiple ways.”
That’s me in conversation with Ryan Tate of Wired who asked me to comment on Marc Andreessen’s recent post about the state and future of media. I have seen the evolution of dot-media, up close and personal and have learnt from the past mistakes and more recently put some of those lessons in practice. When Ryan contacted me, I pinged him back with my thoughts:
Being the first guys to the rodeo, we at Gigaom have tried many of these experiments and ideas, succeeding in many and not so much in some cases. In fact, in many ways it is nice to see Andreessen essentially validate our approach to the media business. The whole notion of things he talks about in the piece are things we have tried — vision, scrappiness, subscriptions, advertising — the whole shebang. So, it is hard for me to disagree with him. Thus, as a practitioner, I see the validity of Marc’s arguments. Calling conference “human presence” is pretty awesome, but I will caution that that there are physical limits to what can be done and achieved in the conference business.
So what we might have is “golden age of news and journalism” the “business of news is still in the dark ages.” However the business of news (not the production of news) is still mired in the systems of the past. For instance, the intellectual makeover of Madison Avenue hasn’t even started yet. We are still trying to retrofit old ideas of advertising on to today’s media models. The native advertising that is being talked about, actually doesn’t scale unless it is just another form of display advertising. The heroin of web media is CPM-based advertising. In 2008, we realized that the old advertising paradigm isn’t going to last and created a subscription-driven research business. That was a tough decision to make then, but today we are super comfortable with where we sit and our growth trajectory as a company.
Where I disagree with Marc:
The business of news still depends on a lot of hits. So while there is a 10x increase in the supply of news, there won’t be 10x increase in our attention. Daily attention is being sliced and diced multiple ways — from Facebook to Twitter to whatever. And it is going to keep getting sliced and diced. In other words, Instagrams, Secrets, Whispers and Snapchats are in direct competition with the Times and everything else that is meant to inform us, including old the new news orgs. We are already a society of skimmers and how you turn skimmers into people who advertisers can sell to, or you can turn into a paying customers remains a challenge.
That said, being a media guy all my life, I am glad that Andreessen likes media and hopefully will shell out big dollars for someone. It is good for the overall (media) ecosystem.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Jonny2Love
The tweet-diarrhea plague is spreading and ruining the experience. It started with Marc Andreessen who tweeted his views of media business. Then others chimed in and now it seems everyone is doing long-posts-as-endless-tweets. And it is already becoming annoying.
It isn’t like there aren’t ways for folks to blog about shit that they want to broadcast on the world. If you want to be an influencer, take the time to craft and articulate your opinion and respect the attention your followers accord you. On the upside, it surely has driven me to use Facebook more often and away from that rampant attention abuse going on Twitter.