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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Box-It-Up Storage Article in Oxy Weekly

Here is a great article on Box-It-Up Storage written by Linni Kral, a reporter with the Oxy Weekly. It's great to get exposure in student publications, even if she also featured a competitor. Take a look at the article below or access it live here.
Box It Up Storage 2007

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Joost

The online video space has become crowded in the last year or so, with several companies offering user-generated content. User-generated material is great, but it just doesn’t stack up against the big producers in terms of overall quality and enjoyment. The popularity of this content comes from the fact that it is free to publishers and they are really seeking to maximize pageviews rather than an optimal media experience. Don’t get me wrong—a lot of the stuff on YouTube is extremely creative and is enabling a wider distribution of independent productions such as Lonelygirl15 that deserve the airtime. The truth, however, about user-generated material is that most of the content on there isn’t worth your time. Now comes Joost, from the creators of Skype and KaZaa, which promises to revolutionize video on the web…and it will.
Joost is an on-demand internet TV service with premium content. Founders Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis have revolutionized how we communicate and share information with each other. Funding for Joost comes from the $2.6 billion they got from eBay in 2005 after the Skype acquisition. Earlier this year Viacom agreed to provide much of their content for the Joost disribution platform, including MTV, BET, and Paramount stuff. Overall, we give Joost a thumbs up, as it incorporates rich highly-produced old-media content with the power of the web, using both chat and search functionality. On the negative side, we couldn’t get some of the widgets to work and it generally takes up a lot of bandwidth, making it hard to run on wireless with other users. Check out some screenshots below.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Content Is King

Why is user-generated content so popular? It’s not the demand side that is driving its ubiquity. In fact, something like 99% of blogs out there are read by only one person, the creator. Most user-generated content is drivel, with the exception of the occasional clever clip on YouTube or great blogentary. The reason why there is so much user-generated content is because, well, it’s free, and free is good. So far, new media is about distribution, not creation. Blogger and Google Search are great ways to share and access information, and the benefit for Google is that this content has no acquisition cost. Google’s $150 billion valuation is based on the idea that content should be free, and will continue to be free in the future.

Sam Zell (yes, that is what he really looks like) sees it another way. In a speech delivered to Stanford Law School last week, Zell asked, “If all of the newspapers in America did not allow Google to steal their content, how profitable would Google be?” I grudgingly agree that Zell has one thing right. Distribution is a commodity and Content is King. YouTube’s dramatic rise is based off stealing others’ intellectual property, and as demonstrated by Viacom’s cease and desist order. Content developers won’t allow this perpetually. User-generated content has a place, but is not a substitute for high-quality material. Yahoo is aware of this problem and is partnering with content developers rather than obliterating them. Netflix is aware of the issue too as they battle to tie up content to win customers in the race for more Netflix logins. Google seems to take a more arrogant stance, but the question remains, once Google runs old media out of business, where will they get content?

Monday, April 02, 2007

Tribune Death Spiral

Sam Zell, the billionaire real estate mogul must be pleased with himself: He managed to get his face on every major newspaper across the country. I'm sure his exuberance will subside once he realizes that he won the bidding war for Tribune Co., the lagging media conglomerate which is sinking deeper and deeper into irrelevance every day. The deal is valued at $8.2BN and Zell purportedly has the goal of making a profit.

It's not that newpapers don't make a decent profit, but that they operate in a rapidly contracting market. In just a short 15 years, the baby-boomers will be qualified geriatrics with significant vision impairment, likely unable to read the pages of the LA Times. And the younger generation? I spending 100% of my time around college students, and I cannot recall the last time I saw one reading an actual paper. Three simple letters: RSS. While the exact meaning of the acronym has been debated, the results of the technology have not. Newspapers are forever gone. I wish you luck Mr. Zell.