Posts filed under “Web/Tech”
You double down in a crisis.
When the stock market tanks, you don’t pull your money out, you buy.
This was the record labels’ biggest mistake, it haunts them to this day, when Napster hit they should have started spending, getting ready for the new reality, instead they kept cutting and no one under thirty works there anymore, certainly not anybody with any ambition.
Just because newspapers are financially challenged, that does not mean there’s no more need for NEWS! And that’s the dirty little secret, despite all the opinionated bloviating online, there’s very little newsgathering going on online, certainly not when it comes to the big issues of the day…finance, politics and international developments. This is what newspapers do best.
There’s no reporting at the TV station. Local outlets are all talking heads, models in a contest to air that which will get ratings. Cable outlets are not much better. And they and the networks take their talking points from newspapers. The “New York Times” might be struggling when it comes to income, but in terms of influence, the paper’s never been bigger, it’s a powerhouse. Because the “Times” has boots on the ground, and none of its competitors do…except for the “Wall Street Journal” and the “Washington Post.”
That’s what Bezos is buying. An army of newsgatherers. And if you don’t think this is valuable, you don’t know the aphorism “knowledge is power.” And it is. You can learn more about the music business by sitting home and reading than going to any number of endless lunches. That’s what separates the winners from the losers…information. He who has it wins. He who controls it has more power than any banker, any manufacturing titan. Yup, while the Grahams were asleep at the wheel, figuring they had to save the family fortune, Jeff Bezos saw an opportunity.
Does tomorrow’s newspaper look like today’s?
Hell, Yahoo’s directory was eclipsed by Google’s search engine. How information is accessed always changes, especially in the digital era. But he who writes the news, he always survives, as long as he continues to evaluate and change distribution.
Paywalls are for pussies. It’s a head-scratcher why all publications are erecting them. They learned none of the lessons from the music industry. Foremost of which is your enemy is not reduced revenues, but obscurity. The key is to be the paper of record, to be available to everybody. And not everybody is concerned with everything, but when you break a story…be sure it can go viral.
In other words, if you make people buy your music to hear it, you’re never going to make it in today’s marketplace. And it’s always about the music. Thom Yorke can get everybody to pay attention to his opinion on Spotify, but he can get almost nobody to listen to Atoms For Peace. And that’s backward.
There’s a huge desire for news. By pulling back from the audience, the paywall police are doing it wrong.
How do you do it today?
You decide what to cover and then own the sphere. That’s the Apple paradigm. The iPod lesson. They OWNED portable music. Who will own the news of the future? Not TV, certainly not the “Los Angeles Times” and the other papers that have punted, who’ve closed foreign bureaus and cut staff in order to maintain margins, there’s nothing left there, no reason for people to pay attention.
So what does Bezos do with his asset?
But he comes from a completely different background from yesterday’s newspaper owners. He knows you invest and reap profits way down the line, when you’ve eliminated the competition. Amazon killed Borders. Its only real competition is the struggling Barnes & Noble. Like a venture capitalist, Bezos is investing today for rewards tomorrow.
Talent is available. The “New York Times” loses Nate Silver, not knowing what today’s star reporters want and need, and Bezos opens up his checkbook and gives a home to all those great writers who’d rather report than build a website and go it alone. Yes, he can make the paper attractive, as opposed to the record labels whose big selling point is they’re the last resort, if you want to get on terrestrial radio and make inroads into physical retail. That’s like saying I’m the last Smith-Corona dealer and if you want a typewriter…
Bezos is all about the future. And he comes from the school of Microsoft. The first iteration sucks, but over time the product is refined and dominates. From the joke of the first Kindle to the Fire today. Hell, Amazon killed the Nook, right?
That’s what you do, kill the competition and shine.
But Bezos also comes from the school of Apple. Wherein you don’t have to be first, but if you do it better you can arrive late and win.
So everybody says that newspapers suck, business is lousy and you can get everything you need online. And then five years from now, they say just the opposite, that he who controls the news is king.
Don’t look at today, look at TOMORROW!
I have had an odd couple of weeks, where some really strange, rather interesting things keep happening to me. I don’t know how else to describe this except to say life can be oddly fascinating.
I am usually pretty cynical; I tend towards the critical, and yes, I have been called a curmudgeon.
Just to prove that I am not in a dark mood all the time, here are some things that have pleasantly surprised me recently:
• Checked luggage: During a jaunt of travel from NY to Denver to Vancouver to NY to Maine to NY again, I never waited more than 7 minutes for my checked luggage. Clocked on the iPhone’s timer, from the moment I arrived at baggage claim to when I physically collect my bags, no more than 420 seconds.
• Delta Terminal at LaGuardia is actually nice: Not the new one, but the old crappy one — pretty much gut renovation, lots of seating everywhere, tons of power outlets — and affixed iPads for free web browsing. (I checked my passport to make sure I was in the right country),
• Took a friend apartment shopping. First place we saw I said “He’ll take it.” Make him fill out paperwork; We then looked at 6 other places — none remotely as good. Agent said “Good thing you took that place — 9 other people tried to get it.”
• Lost my anchor 2 weeks ago. That is not a spiritual reference, I literally snagged what I suspect is an undersea communications cable in the Long Island Sound in 39 feet of water in my little dingy. Despite lots of trying, could not get free — had to cut it loose, thinking, “there goes $500.” On Monday, I find a replacement on eBay for $30 and order it. I come home from work the next day and there is a box sitting on my front porch with a Danforth anchor in it. I am amazed.
• WTF Podcast: I continually am amazed at the high quality content that is given away for free. WTF is a perfect example of that. It is my favorite Airplane entertainment. When I am too tired to read but not focused enough to watch a movie, WTF podcasts are the ideal time killer. They are just perfect little vignettes, smart conversations that you get to listen to. Funny, insightful, entertaining stuff.
• NYC Rocks: Walk down the streets of NY, filled with electricity, tourists, and office workers living out their lives. So much intellectual capital, all in one place. If you don’t feed off the energy in this city, you are probably already dead. (The 7 Train: Deserves its own mention for being so fast and damned reliable).
• My Co-Workers are great: I work with some terrific people. Today was the last day for our summer interns — they get some R&R before returning to Amherst and University of Pennsylvania. My colleagues are smart, funny, pleasant people to work and hang with. We are doing good things for people and bringing the truth to those who need (Preach it, brother!) I am thrilled to be part of this team.
• Technology is Magic: What we can do with software today was simply beyond imagining 10 years ago. It is a wondrous time, your life is better when you can appreciate these things.
Tomorrow, I will go back to being a curmudgeon, but I wanted to get these few things out there . . .
Video: Louis CK on Conan, “Everything is amazing and nobody is happy” after the jump.
I am up in Maine with 50 fund managers strategist , with somewhat tenuous connection to the internet: WiFi router shot to a neighbor’s dish slingshot beamed to a Verizon Tower and on to the main trunk of the web. It doesn’t take much of a nudge to knock the whole thing out of alignment….Read More