A Modest Proposal for the Future of Online Magazines

Can a daily online-only magazine featuring quality writing and journalism survive without losing money?

Amplify’d from gawker.com

A Modest Proposal for the Future of Online MagazinesFor well over a decade, Salon.com has tried to solve the puzzle of how to put out a daily online-only magazine featuring quality writing and journalism without losing money. They’ve failed. We have just one decent idea for their survival.

Daily journalism—even Salon’s version, with a handful of superstar writers, a small stable of workhorses, and a bunch of freelancers—is expensive. The most comparable operation is Slate, which is nestled sweetly in the sheltering bosom of the Washington Post Company. This is what Salon itself now hopes to find: a large media company patron that will pick up Salon, cover its losses, and let it continue to operate, figuring that its prestige and opportunities for synergy are worth the (relatively small, by big media company standards) red ink it accumulates on a yearly basis.

It’s fair, now, to say that this particular format simply isn’t profitable. No amount of better content would make this particular format profitable. To become profitable in its current format, Salon would have to slash expenses to the point that their quality would suffer severely. Online ad money—even supplemented with subscriptions, which Salon’s tried—just won’t support the level of staff and expense necessary to produce that kind of content on an independent site. (Sorry, all you other startups who had the same idea!)

Gawker Media is a lean, mean stable of diversified blogs that can cross-sell. The Huffington Post is a bare-bones operation that takes much of its content wholesale from other news organizations, and gets another chunk donated for free by aspiring writers. Politico has print ads to bring in cash. Drudge, Perez Hilton, and other successful blogs are tiny operations with nowhere near the staff expenses of Salon. Media models that have proven to be profitable online tend to be cheap, or to have alternate revenue streams to supplement them. For Salon, and others who bring a print-style cost structure to an internet-style ad revenue stream, disappointment is almost inevitable.

And the dream of simply being scooped up by a bigger media company isn’t a sound one. Sure, it still might happen, but for how long? Big media companies have their own problems—namely, that many of their traditional properties are losing revenue to online interlopers. Like Salon! Even Slate’s parent company makes its money off test prep services, not off its namesake newspaper. Big tech companies like Yahoo that want to get into the content business are a better bet in the near term for journalism operations looking to find a new home, but they, too, will inevitably want those content businesses to prove profitable eventually; there is no free lunch at public companies. Only at Conde Nast.

Read more at gawker.com

Get Social, or Get Left Behind

Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, the top Silicon Valley VC firm created a new $250 million fund to invest in social applications and services — which mega-investor John Doerr calls the “third wave” of Internet disruption.

Bing Gordon, the former Electronic Arts creative director who is now a KPCB partner, will run the fund. Companies today, he said, need to have a social sensibility at their core. Those that see social as something to be slapped on afterwards will get left behind.

I love my job more and more everyday!!!

Amplify’d from www.fastcompany.com

For many companies, social media is something the marketing department uses to increase their reach. Features like Facebook Connect seem like obligatory add-ons. But part of the company’s core offering? Not so much.

That’s about to change. So says Silicon Valley mega-investor John Doerr, of Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, who today announced a $250 million fund to invest in social applications and services. Companies like Cafebots, a startup Kleiner Perkins invested in earlier this year that helps people manage their online social relationships.

Also investing in the new “sFund” are Amazon, Facebook, and Zynga, whose CEOs appeared with Doerr at an event on the Facebook campus. The three other backers are Comcast, Liberty Media, and Allen & Company. The fund kicks off today and has not made any investments yet.

Doerr said KPCB was motivated to create the fund because it believes there’s a “third wave” of “incredible and disruptive innovation” that is fundamentally changing the nature of the Web right now. The first was the creation of the Internet itself, and the second was the invention of browsers, which made it possible for everyday people to use the Web. Now, Doerr said, the Web is shifting “from an old Internet of documents and sites to a new one that’s all about people and places and relationships.” The sFund’s goal, Doerr said, is not only to invest in companies that are leading the charge into the new era, but also to inspire young entrepreneurs to take the plunge.

Kleiner Perkins, one of Sand Hill Road’s leading venture capital firms, has a history of picking winners like Google, Amazon, and Sun Microsystems, as well as Electronic Arts, Symantec, and Netscape. In 2008, Kleiner Perkins created the $100 million iFund to invest in developers making applications, services, and components for the iPhone and iPad. One of those companies, game developer Ngmoco, just got bought by Japanese mobile gaming giant DeNA Co. for $400 million.

So when Kleiner Perkins–or, in this case, Mark Zuckerberg of sFund partner Facebook–says “every industry is going to get fundamentally rethought and designed around people,” it might be worth taking a listen.

Read more at www.fastcompany.com

ivi TV Sues Major Media, Claiming Right To Internet TV

Here’s a nice twist on the side of the digital video company. Chalk up one for the tech team!

Amplify’d from www.mediapost.com


Another digital video company has ridden the wrong side of some copyright issues in running television programming via the Internet. But in an unusual twist, the company — Seattle-based ivi TV — has decided to sue first. 

The company launched last week and immediately received cease-and-desist notices from all the big TV broadcasters and media companies: NBC Universal, CBS, Walt Disney, ABC, The CW Television Stations, Fox Television, Major League Baseball, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, WGBH, WNET.org, and Seattle-based TV station group, Fisher Communications.

Because of its technology, ivi TV said it complies with copyright laws, and in a complaint filed earlier this week says “secondary transmission of an over-the-air primary transmission is not an infringement of copyrights in the works contained in the primary transmission.”

The complaint was filed in the United States District Court in Seattle, Washington, on Monday, as “a preemptive move to discourage needless litigation from big media.”

Todd Weaver, founder and CEO of ivi TV, says: “ivi is not another Pirate Bay or Napster trying to gain from others’ works. Rather, ivi wishes to work with content owners in helping them to realize new revenue streams and reach more viewers from around the globe.”

The company says ivi TV “gives people what they have wanted for years, easy-to-use live Internet TV anytime, anywhere to almost any bandwidth speed on a growing number of Internet-connected devices.”

Read more at www.mediapost.com

AOL buys it’s own geo-location mobile social service Rally Up

WOW! Remember when AOL was King? Now it seems they are just Tardy For The Party. In any event, their stocks rose (if only slightly) after they purchased the geo-location social networking site Rally Up. I’m already checking into five different places and starting to narrow it down to my top three. I, for one, will not Rally Up anywhere but good luck to AOL in it’s attempt to remain relevant.

Amplify’d from news.yahoo.com

Internet company AOL Inc. has purchased location-based social networking service Rally Up for an undisclosed sum.

New York-based AOL said Tuesday that Rally Up’s mobile applications will add to its consumer applications unit. The company will join AOL in its new office in Palo Alto, Calif. Rally Up will work with AOL’s vice president of mobile, David Temkin, on creating products that are first released as mobile applications, AOL said.

Rally Up started in 2009. It offers a social networking app by the same name for Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPad, and has submitted another application to Apple’s App Store called FacePlant that is meant to let iPhone users see friends and start a video chat over the iPhone’s FaceTime app.

AOL shares rose 5 cents to finish regular trading at $22.22.

Read more at news.yahoo.com

Google “Calling” is added to Gmail; Boosts exposure but still falls short in other areas

Google, in their continues quest to of world domination, has made using Google Voice from Gmail a great user experience. If you are using Google Apps for business you’ll have to wait for this account integration and there’s no iPhone app for it (color me salty)… but give them time… this is Google… they’ll work this out for all of us in no time. Of course, I am having flashbacks to the Google Wave so may we should adopt a wait and see attitude.

Amplify’d from www.zdnet.com

Google today is integrating Google Voice into the Gmail interface, adding yet another feature that turns the e-mail interface into a broader communications platform and, at the same time, goes after the Skype market for Web-based phone calls.

The integration will happen automatically today for consumer Gmail users in the U.S. Google Voice, which is now open to users without an invitation, will not yet integrate with Gmail accounts that are part of the Google Apps offerings for businesses.

That’s unfortunate because a Web-based softphone feature for businesses would be a pretty strong differentiator between what others are offering in their online office productivity suites.

Also: Google’s Gmail calling: Another enterprise app goodie aimed at Skype

During a press event in Google’s San Francisco office this morning, company executives were vague about the timeline for integrating Voice into the Apps version or the rollout of the service to other countries – though they said they are working on it.

In a demo, the company showed how the features that Google Voice users have come to expect from the web interface – things like screening calls, forwarding calls to another number during mid-conversation and integrating the dialer with the Google Contacts list – are also present in the smaller Gmail user interface.

The service is free and calls to the phones in the U.S. and Canada are free, at least through the end of the year. The company said it has no plans to start charging for calls to the U.S. and Canada but was clear that some of that is dependent on making some money on international calls.

In terms of international calling, calls to landline phones in many countries are a flat 2 cents per minute with no connection fee. Calls to mobile phones vary, depending on the country – but the company says the rates are competitive.

Gmail users without a Google Voice number can use the device for outbound calls – but the recipients of those calls will see a generic number on their Caller ID unit that won’t work for a callback. Google, of course, is encouraging Gmail users to obtain their own.

Read more at www.zdnet.com