Thursday, January 25, 2007

Sunny Seattle

I spent the last couple of days in Seattle meeting with VC's in the never ending quest for capital ;)

Having never been to downtown Seattle and always willing to throw a bit of fun into the travel schedule, Don Springer and I decided that we would take the 500 foot ride to the top of the Space Needle. It was an absolutely gorgeous day in Seattle and the sunset over the bay was spectacular.

On that trip we decided that to really get the country behind him, "W" should push a bill through congress making it mandatory that all major cities be equipped with Space Needles.

It was a great time in a lovely city with some outstanding fare from the sea. Definitely a nice respite in the midst of the fund raising marathon. I encourage all entrepreneurs to take a moment in the midst of the rush of these trips for a breath of perspective.

We also had the chance to make the acquaintance of a couple of quality VC's: Madrona and Maveron. By the way, Brian says hi back Brad :)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Future of News

I attended the DaVinci institute's, "Night with a Futurist" meeting last night featuring Stephen Keating. Mr. Keating is currently the business editor of The Denver Post. While I think he had some good insights into what newspapers can do to extend their lives into the next generation of news creation and delivery, he failed to acknowledge that news organizations will be replaced as intermediary (both from a filtering and delivery sense) by smart filtering and personalization technology that began with Yahoo and has been taken over more recently by Google. News organizations could end up becoming purely content creation and distribution into multiple (smart filter) channels. This is similar role that recording companies play in the record industry, or movie studios to the film industry.

Mr. Keating began the evening by reviewing the EPIC 2014 flash video, that predicts the death of the New York Times out in 2014, replaced by a behemoth organization labeled "Googlezon" (resulting from the merger of Google and Amazon in 2008) and begins to seize control of distribution, filtering, and personalization of all information in the universe.

He then went on to describe the size of the advertising market ($424 billion globally) and that newspapers have roughly 30% of this market. So newspapers still own a major chunk of this market and new media is whittling away at this chunk every year. What news papers have going for them are three things: authority, brand, and content as well as an organization that knows how to manage all three components.

Perhaps I'm being unfair in my opinion of the talk. Mr. Keating does believe that the delivery of news is undergoing transformation on a major scale, but stops short of declaring the model broken and proposing a completely new solution. I agree with his main thesis that the three important components that get people to pay attention (in our attention economy): authority, brand, and content. However I would argue that "authority" equates to "people we trust". I get the majority of pointers to information today from emails and the blogs I read, and podcasts I subscribe to. These are my personal brands and authorities all rolled into one. I listen to NPR on the way in to work, look through digg, and scan a news widget that sits on my desktop during the day as my second tier of news and news pointers. My third and local tier is my local television media. As for content, this is your personal aggregation point on the desktop. Right now that is a mishmash of web apps, RSS readers, and podcast tuners.

The talent management and content distribution (indexing) should resolve itself in the current dead tree media shake out. The content filtering and desktop delivery are dead center in the attention economy problem space and I believe will be solved by a number of targeted vertical filters and some general search engines strung together with a much smarter reader/listener/writer than current RSS readers are capable of. These Content Tuners will act as proxies to the various filtering services and provide personalization and collaborative filtering on the front-end to learn the tastes and preferences of their masters.

The content king is dead, long live the personalized information filter and aggregator.

social stock picks

Here's an interview on Wallstrip from 1/18 with the founder of StockPickr, James Altucher. Interestingly he's short on Digg and long on blogs and blogging. Obviously he likes social networking and crowd sourcing since that's the basis for StockPickr. It will be interesting to watch the adoption rate of this type of services and others like it including Motley Fool Caps, BullPoo, and SocialPicks.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

24, so good it's scary

The sixth season of the critically acclaimed show, "24" is about to begin next weekend on Fox. How much better can this show get? We fans of the show have been waiting since mid 2006 to find out what has happened to Jack Bauer since his abduction by the chinese in the final season 5 episode. Reportedly we're in for another stellar opening in season 6. Writer Stephen King got an early look at the season opener and recently wrote about the show in this piece posted on Entertainment Weekly.

Get ready to grab a seat and hold on!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Spraying the Plane

I was on a flight from Austin - Houston - Kansas City on 12/20. At the end of the first leg, we were waiting to pull into the gate after landing. On the right side of the plane were four fire trucks and other emergency vehicles, all lights flashing. Fireman were hosing down the plane. The captain pointed out what was happening, perhaps thinking the passengers might be concerned. I think the phrase he used was "Spraying the Plane", and explained it is a customary ritual when a captain is retiring upon pulling into the gate on his final flight.

We are by nature ritualistic.

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