Welcome, Marshall!

December 11, 2006

Today is Marshall Kirkpatrick’s first day at SplashCast! 

Just a few days ago Marshall was writing for TechCrunch.  Today he is our Director of Content.  Indeed, this past week has been an especially busy one for us.

We are absolutely delighted to have one of the most talented, resourceful, and influential bloggers spearhead our ambitious agenda for covering the wild, wild west of  user-generated content (see yesterday’s New York Times article on UGC).  Marshall will not only be the voice of SplashCast, he will act as executive producer, folding in the best writers, podcasters, and vloggers in our industry.  We have big ideas for “SplashCast Media”, and can’t wait to integrate these ideas into the SplashCast syndication network for all your publishing desires (public beta coming soon, I promise!). 

I hope you will join me in giving Marshall the warmest of welcomes.

Welcome aboard, Marshall! 


This Is Not A Bubble

November 10, 2006

I heard more talk this week about a bubble. Too much money chasing too few good ideas.

I don’t believe we are in a bubble.  I just don’t see it.

We are seeing innovation beyond what we ever saw in the late 1990s. Investments are  far less, both in the overall market and on a per company basis.  The technology costs are less, too.

From ZDNet:

John Girard, founder and CEO of hosted content management company Clickability, is now considering another round of funding. The quest is vastly different from when he started the company in 1998.

“Today, like then, money is pretty easy to come by. We’re thinking about the $7 (million) to $9 million dollar range for the next three to five years,” Girard said. “In 1999 dollars, that would have been a $55 (million) to $65 million plan.”

In addition to cheap building materials for technology outfits, viral marketing techniques, such as providing a free version of software or relying on word-of-mouth adoption, keep costs down.

As a result, the financial models behind many Web start-ups have changed–and investors are being forced to change strategies.

Additonally, the web is now its own vibrant economy with sectors developing fast for social media applications for the consumer space and the b2b sector.

Case in point is the Pluck story. Pluck announced a new $7 million round of funding, lead by Reuters along with return backers, Austin Ventures and Mayfield.

The Pluck investment illustrates the growth for social media applications in the traditional media market. The investment makes sense. This is a far different investment than back in the dot-com days when people developed applications that cost a fortune for markets that did not exist.

Today, we are building applications for markets that are growing rapidly.

More from ZDNet:

Big-dollar acquisitions may remind people of the public stock market entries of many profitless dot-coms in the 1990s. But people say new online business models are more mature, and give today’s Web start-ups a better shot at longevity.

Automated Web advertising is more sophisticated and monthly subscriptions to hosted applications are proving themselves out, particularly to business customers at companies like Salesforce.com.

“Business model innovation is the biggest difference between Internet phase one and Internet phase two,” said Brad Silverberg, a former Microsoft executive and partner at venture capital firm Ignition Partners. “It used to be everything was about eyeballs but there was no way to monetize it. Today there is and that’s why this is more durable.”

Sure, there will be losers. We’ll see big investments that make no sense and acquisitions that boggle the mind.
But this is not a bubble. It’s just the market growing. Don’t agree? Convince me. Right now, I just don’t buy all this bubble talk.

IPTV Meets User-Generated Channels

November 1, 2006

Om Malik writes about the coming of IPTV (digital television over your Internet connection).  Not surprisingly, Europe and Asia are way ahead of the US in early adoption. 

Bluewin TV, one of the new IPTV services out of Switzerland, is boasting 100 TV channels and 70 radio stations.   

Uh… so what? 

The promise of IPTV is not to create a better television experience, it is to completely redefine what television is.  TiVo took this part way, but not far enough.  IPTV will pick up where TiVo has negligently left off. 

That is, we demand that IPTV services include all of the social features we’ve become accustomed to in the MySpace / YouTube world.  That is: collaborative filtering, user commenting, ratings, flagging,  content sharing, bookmark sharing, etc. 

But most importantly, IPTV holds the promise of truly democratizing the “airwaves” by opening the network up to user-generated channels.

SplashCast will enable anyone to build their own media channel, broadcasting content they’ve either created or aggregated to any web site on the web.  In the not-so-distant future, these user-generated and user-programmed channels will be available in your living room.  You’ll be able to flip between NBC Nightly News, the Om Malik channel (to watch his latest vodcast), the Justin Timberlake channel (to get footage of him eating breakfast IHOP — paid for by IHOP), the Barack Obama channel (to get the latest scoop on his presidential ambitions), and your brother’s channel (where your 4-year-old nephew is the star).

Coming soon

Universal Media Player for the Distributed Web

October 30, 2006

Pete Cashmore of Mashable is a visionary.

Last February Pete wrote about the idea of a Universal Media Player:

Flickr, YouTube, Stickam, del.icio.us, Revver and many more Web 2.0 players have successfully employed widgets to drive traffic back to their own sites. eBay and Amazon take the next step by incentivizing their widgets (you earn a % of any transaction). And finally there’s the widget to end all widgets: the indefatigable Google Adsense. Ultimately, I wonder whether we even need to drive traffic back to the originating site – it seems feasible to have all the interaction taking place within the widget itself (and in fact this already happens with Adsense). Nonetheless, you still need a centralized site where the user can create his widgets (or do you?).

The answer to your parenthetical question, Pete, is no.  In the post-destination-website era (a.k.a. “the distributed web”), your rich media content will be splashed across hundreds of different web pages, yet you will be able to remotely control and track it all from one simple console, accessible directly from any Universal Media Player, on any web page.

Sorry it took 10 months for your vision to become reality, Pete.

Wanna sneak peak?  Sign up for SplashCast beta.

Security, Control, Trackability in Online Media Distribution

October 29, 2006

The Ze Frank vs. Rocketboom video blog popularity contest sparked a lot of chatter this past week on how to best measure the value of web-based media shows (podcasts / vlogs / vodcasts / whatever).  Is it possible that Ze Frank’s shows are worth more than Rocketboom’s, even though Rocketboom could have 10 times more viewers?  Techcrunch, Robert Scoble, and Haydn Shaughnessy, among many others, all weighed in and offered their insight.

This discussion ties directly into what we believe is the most critical discussion for the media world right now. 

As traditional print, radio, and television continue to spill onto the web, and as blogs, podcasts, and vodcasts begin their migration from the web back to traditional print, radio, and television (Rocketboom is now available on TiVo), producers and publishers have a real challenge in controlling and tracking content distribution — and its monetization — across all these intersecting channels. 

Further, the democratization of media distribution that is currently taking hold — anyone can broadcast any content to anyone else in the world — creates an amazing opportunity as well as a very stressful environment for both copyright owners and publishers. 

As Marshall at Techcrunch points out: “Ze Frank prominently asks his viewers to keep his videos out of sites like YouTube, presumably so he can track the numbers closely.”  Meanwhile, Rocketboom is syndicating its shows as far and wide as possible.

Is there a way for copyright owners and publishers to leverage viral distribution of media on the web in a secure, controlled, and trackable manner?  Is that media nirvana?

Media Syndication & Collaborative Filtering, Because Humans Are Lazy

October 28, 2006

Why is Google worth $144 Billion?

Why has NetFlix killed Blockbuster?

Why did Amazon.com kill the local bookstore?

Because people are lazy.  People want their stuff — whether it’s a movie, a job, or a boyfriend — delivered to them, simple, easy, and fast, without much thought.  This may be depressing commentary for our species, but seems to be proving true, over and over again.

People have become overwhelmed by all the choices they have, in both the real world and the virtual world.  With the proliferation of social networks and user-generated media on the web, this is getting exponentially worse.  Kim wrote about this yesterday.

Every time a new social networking or video sharing web site pops up (a daily occurrence), the VC’s on Sand Hill cringe and run for cover.  I really like Robert Young’s thoughts on this in his GigaOM post yesterday.  So not only are we overloaded by the sheer volume of media, it’s totally fragmented and scattered among thousands of “destination” web sites — usually without any meaningful context.  YouTube is a great example of media without context.

One of the solutions to this media overload is collaborative filtering.  I want people who are smarter and hipper than me, and who share my tastes, to filter out the junk and deliver me just the good stuff.  Amazon.com pioneered this and took it mainstream.  YouTube still has a bit of room to improve their social filtering capabilities.

The other part of the solution is media syndication.  Once the good stuff has been identified by people smarter and hipper than me, I want it aggregated, packaged up and delivered to me; I don’t want to have to go out of my way to find and collect it. 

With SplashCast, we are attempting to marry collaborative filtering with media syndication, and make it easy, easy, easy for everyone. 

Because we are a lazy species.

Social Network Site Overload?

October 27, 2006

The Wall Street Journal reports that social-networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook are losing visitors and speculates that there is also an increase of users deleting their pages. Market saturation, guerrilla marketing tactics, and an increase in too many “creepy friends” are all sited as possible reasons for the decline of new visitors and page deletions.


I believe that another very possible reason is because there are so many choices now, people are dispersing. The fact is, various social networking sites are popping up almost daily now. For example, Vox offically launched their site yesterday, and many of these new sites are aiming at more exclusive target markets.

In addition to the ones everyone knows about, (i.e. MySpace, FaceBook, Friendster) we also have (to name just a few!):

  • MOG, (a Musical Nudist Colony???) for the music purists
  • Jobster, for employment seekers
  • YouSuckIRule, for those that want to go “evil”
  • TagWorld, for those with tag addictions
  • Downtown Women’s Club, for professional business women
  • Tribe, for those wanting to network in their local community
  • Maya’sMom, for the social parent
  • and the list goes on and on…

With the plethora of choices, it is no wonder people are deleting pages in one site and jumping onto another. But now the dilemma… I have friends on MySpace, Mog and Tribe. I can’t keep up with maintaining a page on all of them, but I want to stay connected and keep access to some of the great media content that they generate or find.

In a post by Byrne Hobart, he ponders “Whats next for ‘Social Networking’ sites?” Hobart states, …”These sites host a few kilobytes of text and a much larger volume of movies, pictures, and music, but the only reason all that content gets centralized on a single page is that no one has found an effective way to decentralize it… (hint: It’s a matter of getting people to comply to standards, not making up a new technology)”

Yes! Media syndication for the rest of us please.