Look At This Social Media Advertising Done Right – Vertical Advertising Is The Model

For those who follow my blog know that I’ve been a big proponent of social media, but the problem is results and measurement.  Airforce is doing something innovative with their agency and Volomedia.  I really like this announcement from G4 and Volomedia.  Volomedia has signed up a big publisher and a big advertiser to insert ads in portable media and video.  The best part is that it work on ITunes and the Iphone.  I’ve talked about this before around how iTunes (and IPhone) now has a business (revenue) model.

Comcast’s G4 cable television network and Web site G4tv.com have begun working with VoloMedia to insert ads into the 300 podcast videos distributed monthly through about 23 feeds. The ad network began placing ads for the media giant last month, targeting young gamers.The U.S. Air Force placed the first ads in G4’s podcasts: Attack of the Show, X-Play, and Game Trailers. Sunnyvale, Calif.-based VoloMedia’s new vertical business, Video Game Podcast, supported the ad campaign created by GSD&M Idea City, the advertising agency for the Air Force.

What Does This Mean?  Why is this important?

Vertical media works.  The trend is away from individual sites or blogs but instead to ‘blanket the vertical’  with brand messaging.  In turn effective reach in a vertical hits enough critical mass that brand equity translates.  Said another way the most effective way to leverage things like blogs and podcasts is to ‘buy’ the vertical.  The dynamics of social networking and social media create an opportunity to hit alot of people in the affinity group.  What’s even cooler about this announcement is not only reach but measurement. This is a good move by the Airforce to get a vertical – here it’s gaming as the ‘contextual’ proxy for audience affinity.  It’s a no brainer that gamers are their target audience, but instead of going for silo’d conversion, Airforce is going for blanket coverage in the vertical or affinity group.

I predict this is the way the world will go very quickly.  Vertical media advertising.  This is a great program for brand advertising, and it has measurement.  I am sure it will be a success.

Sad Day For Seagate and Plantronics- Seagate CEO Ousted & 3,000 Jobs Cut – Plantronics Slashing Close to 1,000 People

What a sad week for Seagate.  CEO Bill Watkins (whom I like and have interviewed many times) was ousted and now they are cutting almost 3,000 jobs.  Folks we are seeing the beginning of the massive recession or depression.  Ok we are knee deep in the financial depression.  This is only going to get worse.

Seagate said in an 8-K filing with the SEC that the restructuring moves will result in pre-tax charges of about $90 million, with most of that to be taken in the December 2008 quarter. The company expects the stafff reductions to save $130 million a year.

The company also said it will cut the salaries of its senior staff, with a 25% cut for new CEO Stephen Luczo, “named executive officers” and executive vice presidents, a 20% cut for senior VPs, a 15% reduction for VPs and a 10% reduction for other management, sales, supervisors and professional employees. The savings cuts should save about $80 million annually.

In related cuts in Silicon Valley and Santa Cruz Plantronics is cutting almost 1,000 jobs.  Ken Kannapan (a neighbor of mine) is trying to keep the company cash flow positive.  Plantronics needs to move the “ball down the field” big time if they want to compete in Unified Communications.

Company officials said revenue and earnings per share for the third quarter of fiscal 2009 will be lower than originally expected. They had projected net revenues of $205 million to $220 million but now are expecting revenues to be $184 million for the third quarter. Final third-quarter earnings will be announced Jan. 27.

The revised revenue estimate is mostly the result of lower-than-expected sales of Bluetooth headsets, but also reflects the impact of broad economic weakness across different product categories, officials said.

As a result of the workforce reduction and other restructuring, officials expect savings of approximately $7.7 million to $8.2 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009. Yearly savings are expected to be more than $50 million. The company also plans a 50 percent reduction in capital expenditures in fiscal 2010.

“As global economic weakness persists, our key objectives are to remain profitable and cash-flow positive, continue to invest in strategic initiatives such as unified communications, and to improve our profitability in our consumer businesses,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Ken Kannappan. “We believe that our strong financial position combined with ongoing strategic investments will allow us to emerge from this downturn in a significantly stronger competitive position.”

Google Aims At Microsoft – Google Apps In the Enterprise – Google Sets Up Channel Partners

In an big move Google is taking the classic enterprise sales move – set up a channel.  Indirect channel marketing is great leverage and if pulled off is very disruptive. I’ve spend many years in the channel business with Hewlett-Packard and the channel model is based upon a simple formula – get thousands of people selling your product everywhere.  However, the key to success is money which Google has plenty of.  If Google can incent channel partners with good products and great margin, they will put a dent in the Microsoft dominance.

Here is more detail. Web search leader Google Inc took another step on Wednesday toward direct competition with Microsoft Corp by recruiting IT resellers to market its Web-based applications to business clients.

From the end of March, authorized resellers will be able to sell, customize and support premium versions of Google Apps, which includes word processing, spreadsheets, calendars and email.

Google Apps is broadly similar to Microsoft‘s top-selling Office package except that Apps is completely Web-based and is part of Google‘s push into so called ‘cloud computing‘ or software-as-a-service. Microsoft said in October it is also looking at adding Web-based features for its Office applications.

Since it launched Google Apps in February 2007, Google has only sold directly to business users over the Web. Analysts said the move to work with third parties is necessary if Google hopes to compete seriously with Microsoft or IBM.

Microsoft, which is the world’s largest software company, sells more than 95 percent of its software through more than 440,000 third party resellers, according to Gartner Research, and intends to spend around $3 billion on managing those sales channels in 2009.

Steve Jobs Apple Computer CEO Steps Down Takes Leave of Absence For Health Reasons

This email went out to Apple employees.  Steve will take some time off to focus on his health.  I would like to wish Steve a speedy recovery.  Meanwhile, COO Tim Cook will take over day to day operations.

Here is Steve Job’s memo to employees:
Team,

I am sure all of you saw my letter last week sharing something very personal with the Apple community. Unfortunately, the curiosity over my personal health continues to be a distraction not only for me and my family, but everyone else at Apple as well. In addition, during the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought.

In order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health, and to allow everyone at Apple to focus on delivering extraordinary products, I have decided to take a medical leave of absence until the end of June.

I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for Apple’s day to day operations, and I know he and the rest of the executive management team will do a great job. As CEO, I plan to remain involved in major strategic decisions while I am out. Our board of directors fully supports this plan.

I look forward to seeing all of you this summer.

Steve

Update:  For more information on Steve Jobs health that has been reported check out this playlist put together by DJ

Playlist of Steve Jobs Videos

Yahoo Will Get New CEO – Carol Bartz – Good Choice – Lets See Some Bold Moves

Yahoo Inc. is expected to announce that Carol Bartz, former chief executive of software company Autodesk Inc., has accepted an offer to become the Internet company’s next CEO, according to people familiar with the situation.  Boomtown’s Kara Swisher was the first to break this and now it looks like Kara had her ear to the ground in the right spots.

Hiring an operational Silicon Valley insider is a good move for Yahoo.  What Carol needs to do is filter the signal from the noise internally at Yahoo. I’m sure everyone there is jockying for position.  Carol needs to hire from the outside and bring in some ‘mavericks’ to get Yahoo relevant again in both the product side and the corporate side.  She has a big job ahead of her.  I think the thing that no one is talking about is that she makes a great partner to Jerry Yang who obviously has the desire to make Yahoo great again.

From WSJ today. Ms. Bartz, 60 years old, will face a number of challenges as she tries to turn around Yahoo’s flagging performance and stock price. Some investors have been lobbying for a break-up of the Internet giant, for instance. Yahoo faces tough competition from Internet rivals such as Google Inc.

Ms. Bartz still serves as executive chairman of Autodesk, of San Rafael, Calif., which she ran as chief executive from 1992 to 2006. Autodesk is around half the size of Yahoo, with approximately 7,000 employees world-wide.

Ms. Bartz was also an executive at Sun Microsystems Inc. and she sits on the board of Cisco Systems Inc., with Mr Yang. She is also a member of the Intel Corp. board with Yahoo President Susan Decker, who was also interviewing for the CEO job.

In afternoon trading, Yahoo’s stock fell 2% to $11.96 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The stock remains well below its 52-week high of $30.25.

Ms. Bartz’s appointment will likely reopen questions of Yahoo’s strategic direction, potentially clearing the path for the company to restart negotiations with Microsoft over a sale of its search business. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who tried and failed to buy Yahoo last year, has publicly said in the past few weeks that a search deal with Yahoo should be made when there is a management transition at both companies. Microsoft late last year hired a Yahoo search executive Qi Lu to lead its Internet business.

Ms. Bartz and Yahoo’s board will also have to turn to other ways to right the business, which is being hurt further by the down economy. That could include striking a deal with another partner like Time Warner Inc.’s AOL or divesting of smaller business units.

With these major strategic questions in mind, Yahoo’s board focused its CEO search on experienced executives with deal and operating experience, according to people familiar with the search. Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock led an informal committee of directors in the search; the group also included Frank Biondi, the former chief executive of Viacom Inc. Directors quickly zeroed in on a short-list of external candidates, such as former Vodafone Group PLC Chief Executive Arun Sarin, among others.

Web 2.0 Revenue Models ?? Drama 2.0 Weights In

Web critic blog – Drama 2.0 has a post about the realities of Web 2.0. Not  to toot my own horm but if you’re interested in Web 2.0 business models just read my posts from the past 2 years – the monetization answers are there.

Here’s the conclusion that Drama 2.0 came up with – pretty right on.

As we head into 2009 facing one of the toughest economic environments in decades knowing that the fun and games are over, it’s time to face the reality: the Web 2.0 we have today is not the Web 2.0 we envisioned a few short years ago.

The most popular Web 2.0 creations have not been cheap to grow and operate. They’re still struggling to find revenue models that will serve as the foundations of self-sustaining businesses and even those startups that generate significant revenue in absolute terms (namely Facebook) cannot justify the valuations they’ve been given. And profitability is still largely a pipe dream.

While it’s possible that Web 2.0 stars like Facebook, Digg and Twitter will turn things around, it’s quite clear that these companies are not like many of their hot Web 1.0 counterparts, which, despite having to battle challenges of their own, were able to develop viable revenue models and turn a profit relatively early on.

Given all this, for Web 2.0 proponents who continue to make the same asinine argument, “Don’t treat Web 2.0 like Web 1.0!”, it’s 2009 and I concede defeat. Web 2.0 is not like Web 1.0. It’s in a special (ed) class of its own.

The Quiet Tech War: Google vs Cisco – DNS Is The Internet Oxygen – Cisco Does Deal With Infoblox on DNS At The Edge Speaks Volumes

Network World is reporting that Cisco has done deal with Infoblox for managing DNS at the edge. In enterprise speak this is about the branch office – in tech speak this is about intelligent addressing and control of the edge. Infoblox vNIOS™ software for Cisco Integrated Services Routers (ISRs) empowers branch offices by automating core network services, providing the performance benefits of local service delivery with unparalleled resiliency and centralized visibility while reducing branch network capital and operating expenses.

Here is Yankee group perspective worth noting on this Cisco Infoblox announcement…“Remember the ‘Trapper Keeper?’ That’s what Cisco’s routers are becoming for enterprise branch office: a single place to keep all critical network applications and services,” says Phil Hochmuth, senior analyst at Yankee Group. “This is being enabled largely by the AXP, which allows organizations to cram as many services — even ones beyond Cisco’s own scope, such as Infoblox IP address management — onto a single platform.” …hmmm DNS in core and edge routers.. hmmm policy at the edge… interesting.

There is a bigger picture here. DNS is the small little Internet feature that will be the focal point for the upcoming Internet war between Google and networking vendors including Cisco. Why? DNS is the Internet Oxygen. DNS made Google – no DNS – no URLs; no URLs – no Web; no Web and URLs -no search. Here we go again except instead of web pages and search, we have web services up for grabs – that includes enterprise and cloud services.

Having a technology that is automated and programmable (i.e. policy) will gives the winner the viable solution to deliver the next generation search and application paradigm from advertising to brokering transactions.

Over the past 8 years insiders at Cisco have been debating the future of Cisco. Many back in 2000 were arguing internally at Cisco that they have to “move up the stack”. Well they never did it. In fact Cisco has been spending a ton of time rewriting IOS and figuring out what to do. Meanwhile back in 2000 a little growing company named Google was scaling their DNS offering (aka URL search) to take over the online advertising market. Now it’s apparent that Google has a mission in the cloud and networking space – they have been moving down the stack – right into Ciscoland.

This middle ground (Cisco moving up and Google moving down the stack) will be where the battle of the titans will take place. This feature from Cisco is an indicator of what the battle will be for.

Update: I just found out that this has not been officially announced yet. I believe it will be discussed here at this event in San Jose this week.

CES 2009 Thoughts and Observations

I have been on the ground here in Las Vegas at CES 09 since Wed morning. I am not rapidly blogging the show because the flow from the news outlets are good enough (G4 has good coverage). I’ve been busy in meetings all day everyday and wanted to share my observations.

CES is not dead. In fact the focus seems more peaked than ever. There is a real emphasis on doing deals not a lot of BS.
Social media has evolved to be bigger than ever. I really enjoyed watching the social media stars letting down their hair (Sara Lacy and Julia Allisson) at the after hours parties. Check out Brian Solis for all the photos.
Intel in spite of their bad finanical results is showing some great stuff – it’s seems to all be coming together with Intel’s stuff – WiMax, Widget TV, tons of intelligent embedded technologies at their booth.
Convergence is still happening
New marketing trends developing and all have social media components
The WiFi is horrible here at the show – I’ve been relying on my iPhone for internet access.
Twitter is huge for coordinating among all the social events and helping participants navigate the show.

All in all a very good CES this year.

Yahoo Keyword: Arbitrage – A Yahoo BiD Coming From Investment Group ? It’s About Damn Time

Mike Arrington has a report that a group of investors are circling Microsoft for money to take over Yahoo. Finally, someone is making a run at Yahoo. The wounded beast is begging for a takeover and what a bargain that would be. I would love to have the cash to take over Yahoo. Yahoo has amazing assets.

This is the easiest arbitrage and the best investment if the group can get the company at the right price. Also a huge win for Microsoft. I am happy to see some life in the technology financial markets. This would be a fun deal to work. Can’t wait to see the debate – obviously I have an opinion with a ‘capital O”.

A group of well known Silicon Valley executives and top investment bankers are putting together a Yahoo takeover deal that would be financed largely from debt supplied by Microsoft, we’ve learned from sources with knowledge of the proposed transaction.

Under the terms of the proposed deal, the investment group would make a takeover bid for Yahoo at a relatively low premium of around 20% to its current price of around $13 per share, valuing the company at just over $20 billion.

Simultaneous to the transaction Yahoo’s search and search marketing business would be sold to Microsoft. Following the transaction the new executive team would take over the top ranks of Yahoo. A key goal of the new team would be to attempt to attract back much of the executive talent that has fled Yahoo in the last year.

New Venture Capital Model Is Coming? Limited Partner Investors Seeking New Avenues

NOTE:  Visit the siliconANGLE blog for a community of bloggers on Social Web and Technology Opinion and Analysis.  THANKS

Is this financial market mess going to put the nail in the venture community? Today’s Venture capital has been struggling for sometime with ony a few small hits and very handful of big returns. The problem is that entrepreneurship is stuck because of venture capital. We need to modernize the venture capital business so entrepreneurs can get busy. I am seeing more early stage creative development then in years past. The entrepreneurial process will never die but it will evolve. These are the pains that we are seeing now with startups. The capital markets are a mess and with no liquidity market today’s venture capital firms are spinning their wheels. The good news is that capital markets are efficient and will work around the bottleneck we are seeing. This NYTimes story is an early indicator that big money will find new homes.

NYTimes has a very interesting story…

Investors in venture capital and private equity funds who want out are discovering that their stakes are worth less than they paid for them.

As returns on venture capital investments sour and investors’ wealth deteriorates, some of these investors — the universities, foundations and pension funds known as limited partners — have been unloading their stakes in the funds. When they decide they can no longer supply the money they had previously committed, they sell their stakes at a discount to what is known as a secondary firm.

In the second half of 2008, as more limited partners tried to sell their stakes, the price they could get for those stakes fell to 61 cents for every dollar of face value, according to a report from Cogent Partners, an investment bank for institutions looking to sell their holdings on the secondary market. That is down from 84.7 cents on the dollar in the first half of the year and a 4 percent premium in 2007.

A stake in an early stage venture capital fund that has already been fully invested, for example, would be worth 10 to 30 cents on the dollar, Mr. Gull said. “It would have relatively young portfolio companies, some number of them will need additional capital so the fund will get diluted and there are not going to be any exits for some number of years.

A 40 percent loss is no different than investments in the public markets, Mr. Gull noted, and investors would prefer to have the cash. They think, “It’s a sure thing that I can redeploy in some other activity I think has a larger chance for return,” he said.

Mr. Gull said he could not predict when pricing would improve, but his firm is betting that it will not see any meaningful returns from private equity and venture funds until late 2010.

Discovery, Navigation, and Collaboration – Hello Holy Grail – Facebook Is Soaring – They Will Be Huge – Trust Me

I am a big believer that Facebook’s massive growth is bigger than most people think. They are pushing a utility that delivers big time value. Over the past year I have been studying the utility of Facebook and can tell you that it’s not about just sharing and throwing sheep – It’s about people in a new paradigm. Facebook has the opportunity to take a very strong value proposition and evolve how users discover and navigate (the core principles of search) BUT more importantly they are in the exchange position of real value – actionable value transfer. Simply put: they broker transactions from finding lost friends, staying in touch with existing friends, making new friends, to finding and buying products and services. They can be a hub of collaboration of all sorts. All of those elements make them poised to make it big time. If they continue to keep their eye on the user experience (utility) ball then they can get there. Their numbers are just too big to be dethroned. The only way Facebook will miss the opportunity is if they screw it up on their own. Facebook as they say is ‘gold plated’.

Here is a post from Facebook’s CEO Founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Today, we reached another milestone: 150 million people around the world are now actively using Facebook and almost half of them are using Facebook every day. This includes people in every continent—even Antarctica. If Facebook were a country, it would be the eighth most populated in the world, just ahead of Japan, Russia and Nigeria.

When we first started Facebook almost five years ago, most of the people using it were college students in the United States. Today, people of all ages—grandparents, parents and children—use Facebook in more than 35 different languages and 170 countries and territories.

The full potential of the web is to make the world more open, so everyone has a voice and can share what is important to them. With 150 million voices and counting, we can’t wait for the rest of 2009, and we look forward to offering even more ways for you to connect with the people who matter most.

Clay Shirky Media Business Market – His Forecast for 2009 – Look For The Deeper Meaning Within His Words

I’m a big fan of Clay Shirky and his research. His latest book “Here Comes Everyone” is awesome. He makes some great points that it’s worth posting his forecast here as well from the Guardian. Many of my opinions and analysis of media and social media align with Clay’s. I suggest if you’re interested in Social Media or “media 2.0” that you follow Clay’s work.

Clay Shirky predicts further gloom for traditional media: “2009 is going to be a bloodbath.” Yet he foresees that a recession may produce greater industry clarity by forcing radical action, which he explains as a boss saying to staff: “‘Bonfire, this is Hail Mary time!’, instead of: ‘This year we made as much money as last year but we’re still restructuring dramatically.'”

Much of the success of Shirky’s recent book, Here Comes Everybody, about internet technologies and the effects of mass democratisation of the web, came from its simplicity and the absence of jargon. “As with the printing press, the loss of professional control will be bad for many of society’s core institutions,” he writes. In conversation he is just as plain-speaking, saying, for example, that “Management has a hard time destroying parts of its business unless the alternative, obvious to everyone, is that there is no choice.” Based in the unlikely environs of NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, a stone’s throw from a fusty independent bookstore in downtown Manhattan, rather than Silicon Valley, Shirky, 44, is unburdened by traditional media ties. After Yale, he worked as a painter and theatre director before becoming ensnared by the web in the early 90s thanks to his mother, a research librarian. He has consulted at News International and lists the BBC as a current client. “The advantage I had over people in the traditional media industry is precisely what I didn’t know,” he says. “I was a pretty unlikely early adopter.”

No one, of course, can know what a future media landscape will look like. But, given that Shirky was among the few to have forecast 15 years ago that classified advertising would be sold online rather than via a newspaper ad, his crystal ball is more estimable than most others. This is his forecast:

Newspapers

The great misfortune of newspapers in this era is that they were such a good idea for such a long time that people felt the newspaper business model was part of a deep truth about the world, rather than just the way things happened to be. It’s like the fall of communism, where a lot of the eastern European satellite states had an easier time because there were still people alive who remembered life before the Soviet Union – nobody in Russia remembered it. Newspaper people are like Russians, in a way.

Jeff Jarvis said it beautifully: “If you can’t imagine anyone linking to what you’re about to write, don’t write it.” The things that the Huffington Post or the Daily Beast have are good storytelling and low costs. Newspapers are going to get more elitist and less elitist. The elitist argument is: “Be the Economist or New Yorker, a small, niche publication that says: ‘We’re only opening our mouths when what we say is demonstrably superior to anything else on the subject.'” The populist model is: “We’re going to take all the news pieces we get and have an enormous amount of commentary. It’s whatever readers want to talk about.” Finding the working business model between them in that expanded range is the new challenge.

Why pay for it at all? The steady loss of advertising revenue, accelerated by the recession, has normalised the idea that it’s acceptable to move to the web. Even if we have the shallowest recession and advertising comes back as it inevitably does, more of it will go to the web. I think that’s it for newspapers. What we saw happen to the Christian Science Monitor [the international paper shifted its daily news operation online] is going to happen three or four dozen times (globally) in the next year. The 500-year-old accident of economics occasioned by the printing press – high upfront cost and filtering happening at the source of publication – is over. But will the New York Times still exist on paper? Of course, because people will hit the print button.

Books and magazines

If you pick a magazine at random, it will not interest you. For people who care about quality, it’s easier to find it online. If it’s a highly qualified niche magazine, something aimed at surgeons or firefighters, it’s going online. There’s no reason those things should exist.

The great advantage magazines have is glossy pictures. It’s better to read on paper than on the web but it’s much better to look at pictures on paper than on the net. Brides magazine is going to be the last one standing.

The book world is more secure. I think the big revolution is going to be print on demand. Imagine only having one browsing copy of every book in a bookstore. You could say “Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers looks good”, and out pops a brand new copy. Why does a bookstore or a publisher have to be in the shipping and warehousing business?

TV

The big fight will be between passion and mass appeal but I don’t think it’s a question of who will win. It’s not a transition from A to B, it’s one to many. The question is who figures out the business model that says it’s better to have 6 million passionate fans than 7 million bored ones? That is going to be the transformation because what you see with these user groups, whether it’s for reality TV or science fiction, is that people love the conversation around the shows. The renaissance of quality television is an indicator of what an increased number of distribution channels can do. It is no accident that this started with cable.

And the BBC iPlayer? That’s a debacle. The digital rights management thing …let’s just pretend that it was a dream like on Dallas and start from scratch. The iPlayer is a back-to-the-future business model. It’s a total subversion of Reithian values in favour of trying to create what had been an accidental monopoly as a kind of robust business model. The idea that the old geographical segmenting of terrestrial broadcasts is recreatable is a fantasy and a waste of time.

What does the next decade hold? Mobile tools will certainly change the landscape, open spectrum will unleash the kind of creativity we’ve seen on the wired internet, and of course there will be many more YouTube/Facebook-class applications. But the underlying change was the basic tools of the internet. The job of the next decade is mostly going to be taking the raw revolutionary capability that’s now apparent and really seeing what we can do with it.

Is Intel Crashing and Burning? Q4 Expectations Fell 20%; Well Below Previous Guidance

I love Intel as a company and have been using their products for all of my digital life, but I have to say that I noticed a big change in the company over the past few years – it’s got this sinking feeling. Now Erik Savitz is reporting that Q4 Earnings are not great and below guidance (translation Intel missed their numbers). 2008 has been a bad year for business all around and Intel is no exception.

Intel has been slowly laying off employees and cutting back on almost all expenses especially marketing. We’ll see how much impact Intel has at CES. It would be a shame if Intel continues to sputter because it certainly will leave a crack in the door for AMD and others to get back into the leadership position.

I miss the old Intel. Maybe Andy Grove can come back and give a pep talk to management.

Web 2.0 Art By Sean Tiner – Pretty Cool Stuff

Sean Tiner recently created this portrait of me.

furrier20art

It’s part of Faces, an ongoing social media art series that he started at the beginning of 2008. To launch the art series, Tiner first created 50 portraits of friends from Facebook and posted the artwork on the social networking site. He theorized that by posting the portraits and tagging his Facebook friends in the portraits, it would help to create awareness and interest in his artwork. Following the first 50 portraits, Tiner started created portraits of people that he found interesting, including Seth Godin, Darren Rose, and Chris Brogan.

I’m honored that Tiner has included me in his portrait series and look forward to seeing more of the series as it unfolds. To view more of his series check out his blog or view his eBook (I’m on page #57).

New York Times – A Failed Ad Strategy

New York Times is now selling ads on their front page. I have to say that I didn’t even notice.  This is the reason why it’s a failed strategy.  Trend is away from print to online and that is where the NYTimes should be focused.  Not only are web users not clicking on display ads, a new crop of software led by Adblocker Plus is blocking all the ads.  Adblocker Plus used on about 10% of all web users is quietly gaining ground as a tool for end users.  I wonder if the New York Times will see the impact of the fact that display ads are being blocked.

From Adage.

The New York Times unveiled a display ad on its front page, despite decades of fear that advertising there could contaminate the journalistic product or brand.

New York Times front page ad

Enlarge
Today’s ad, which promotes CBS, occupies a strip of real estate two and a half inches high at the very bottom of page A1.

Today’s ad, which promotes CBS, occupies a strip of real estate two and a half inches high at the very bottom of page A1. That makes the unit less noticeable than the boxes available on the front of Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal, but it’s still a big departure for the Times.

In a statement this morning, the Times pitched the turnabout as win for marketers. “In 2006 we began testing ads on some section fronts and received a very positive response from the advertising community,” said Denise Warren, senior VP-chief advertising officer for the New York Times Media Group.

Taking its situation seriously
But it’s also a clear reflection that the Times is taking its situation seriously, something that was questioned after a recent presentation to investors and analysts. The New York Times Co. finally cut its costly dividend payments last November but drew fire for failing to suspend them altogether. “It just seems the reality is it’s a very, very difficult business right now, newspapers,” a questioner told executives. “And the notion that cash is flowing out of the company to the equity seems — it seems like you may not understand the gravity of the situation.”

In a funny way, the awful business environment may have actually freed the business side to sell the ads without worrying about an outcry from the newsroom.

“While three years ago the notion of the august New York Times serving up front-page ads would have stirred emotions far and wide, today it’s a one-day story,” said Ken Doctor, a newspaper vet turned media analyst for Outsell, a research and advisory firm. “When someone doesn’t have enough to eat, he doesn’t quibble about the source of the food.”

Made their peace
Many other papers have already made their peace with front-page advertising. The Journal began selling front-page units in 2006, carefully milking their potential to get big commitments from the five marketers allowed to buy them each year.

“Every single purchase has with it an annual commitment, an online commitment,” said Michael Rooney, chief revenue officer at Journal parent Dow Jones. “Some are multiyear, and some are global as well.”

With such prominent ad units, of course, it’s easy to wonder how the big articles next to them hurt or enhance their effectiveness. General Motors and Hewlett-Packard ads have bumped up against negative coverage of their own companies.

The front of the Journal’s Marketplace section today, on the other hand, shows an Oracle ad next to an article pegged to the Consumer Electronics Show. That’s an adjacency Oracle might have liked to arrange — which in turn is a possible suspicion that bothers opponents of these ads. Mr. Rooney said the paper never talks about news articles with advertisers. “It’s just not a conversation we would ever have,” he said. “Whether it’s the B section, the A section or anywhere in the paper, we sell our audience.”

Off the table
Last June The Washington Post’s new publisher, Katharine Weymouth, told Ad Age that front-page ads remained off the table. “I’ve had advertisers beg me to put ads on the front page, and we’re not ready to do that,” she said. The same goes for ads on Post-it notes affixed to the paper. “We declined to do that because we thought it cheapened the front page.”

Since then, of course, the economy has worsened dramatically. The Washington Post Co. saw print-ad revenue at its newspapers fall 14% in the third quarter.

This morning Ms. Weymouth confirmed, however, that the Post still doesn’t sell front-page ads. “No,” she e-mailed Ad Age. “The Washington Post does not currently accept front-page ads in our print edition.”

Steve Jobs Health Memo – Apple MacWorld 2009 – Hormone Imbalance Has Caused Him to Chill A Bit

Update January 14, 2009:  Steve Jobs Steps Down Til June for Health Reasons

I just read at AllThingsD that Steve Jobs has publicly announced that he has a hormone imbalance and that will be preventing him from doing the Keynote at Apple MacWorld 2009.  Steve, in rare form, announced that he is “Chilling Out” with his family rather than preparing for MacWorld 2009.  Good for Steve.  He has poured his heart and soul into Apple and turned that puppy around from the dismal state it was in when he took over over a decade ago.  All the recent health speculation comes to an end now.  Steve will be around for a while.  Being the CEO of any company never mind Apple can be a like a “meat grinder” so it’s great to hear that Steve is taking some time to “chill”.

I got to know Steve’s family over the past few years here in Palo Alto and I’m glad to see that he is focusing on his family while maintaining his CEO post at Apple.

Letter From Apple CEO Steve Jobs

Dear Apple Community,

For the first time in a decade, I’m getting to spend the holiday season with my family, rather than intensely preparing for a Macworld keynote.

Unfortunately, my decision to have Phil deliver the Macworld keynote set off another flurry of rumors about my health, with some even publishing stories of me on my deathbed.

I’ve decided to share something very personal with the Apple community so that we can all relax and enjoy the show tomorrow.

As many of you know, I have been losing weight throughout 2008. The reason has been a mystery to me and my doctors. A few weeks ago, I decided that getting to the root cause of this and reversing it needed to become my #1 priority.

Fortunately, after further testing, my doctors think they have found the cause — a hormone imbalance that has been “robbing” me of the proteins my body needs to be healthy. Sophisticated blood tests have confirmed this diagnosis.

The remedy for this nutritional problem is relatively simple and straightforward, and I’ve already begun treatment. But, just like I didn’t lose this much weight and body mass in a week or a month, my doctors expect it will take me until late this Spring to regain it. I will continue as Apple’s CEO during my recovery.

I have given more than my all to Apple for the past 11 years now. I will be the first one to step up and tell our Board of Directors if I can no longer continue to fulfill my duties as Apple’s CEO. I hope the Apple community will support me in my recovery and know that I will always put what is best for Apple first.

So now I’ve said more than I wanted to say, and all that I am going to say, about this.

Steve

Update:  Apple just posted the announcement on Steve Jobs’ health status on their Apple.com.

Here Are My Traffic Numbers for 2008 – Direct Traffic Not the Same as Total Reach or “GraphRank” – Furrier.org Direct Traffic for Blog in 2008

During 2008 I spent most of the time rebooting my energy and working on research & development of a few ideas that I’ve been kicking around.  I blogged a bit more and saw traffic to the blog increase hence the addition of sponsors.  Thanks Infoblox and Volomedia.

I am working on a research piece on ‘Total Reach of a Blog” – specifically ones like mine.  Often the best blogs don’t have to have huge direct traffic numbers to reach millions of people.  If a blog or blogger has a high “GraphRank” (term I’m trademarking can’t find the symbol to insert) they have a huge reach.  Anyway more on that later in another post (people who follow my research might know where I’m going with that).

Here is my blog FURRIER.ORG – DIRECT TRAFFIC FOR 2008 (site and rss reads in unique visitors):  Thanks for all the 297k people who read my blog.

JAN          15,325
FEB          10,254
MAR           7,493
APR          26,426
MAY         26,648
JUN          20,285
JUL           22,853
AUG          18,967
SEPT         33,987

OCT         38,649
NOV        50,632
DEC         26,263

TOTAL DIRECT TRAFFIC             297,783

New Reality: Silicon Valley Wealth Machine – The Rebooting Meritocracy

Businessweek has a post about Silicon Valley wealth machine. Silicon Valley is going through another downturn. It’s the second major downturn in less than 10yrs. I’ve been on the ground for all of those years. It’s down, but not completely ‘out’.

Silicon Valley is a special place for entrepreneurship, and it continues to be. The issue is not that there is a wrench in the machine, but that the machine is broken. It’s rebooting.

One thing I love about Silicon Valley is that there are no handouts. It’s the ultimate entrepreneurial meritocracy. Change happens and it happens both from the bottom up (entrepreneurs) and the top down (capital market). The question is which force is driving the change.

Redistribution of wealth is upon us. The entrepreneurs and investors that move on this current market opportunity will capture the proverbial “chips on the table”. As an entrepreneur, I love this market. Opportunities are everywhere. Unlike the dot com bust, this tech (entrepreneurial) market never really crashed. Everywhere I look I see discounts and new opportunities. Smart money will move around, but in select places. Is the market scary? If you’re an incumbent it sure is scary.

Silicon Valley Web 2.0 is hurting, but not for the obvious reasons. A bigger force is at play here – massive redistribution of wealth is taking place. Some are scared, and some are welcoming the opportunity of possibly acquiring the wealth “on the table”. I think that Facebook and Twitter are great examples of what might be possible. Facebook will become the next Google. The only thing holding them up is that the ‘new revenue’ model that is soon to arrive at the “station”. When that “train” arrives (and it will) Facebook will say Goodbye to all the naysayers.

Research & Development Void?

The bigger picture is more long term and that’s all about research and development. Judy Estrin recently came out to talk about something really important – the innovation gap. Let me translate her thesis – we are screwed if we don’t have steady research unencumbered by short term agendas. Think how important institutions like Stanford, MIT, and SRI have been to Silicon Valley and entrepreneurship. Without these deep research institutions we would not have many innovations that created wealth – hello Ethernet; hello Apple; hello Cisco; hello Google, ..etc.

The lack of institutional research leaves a void in the Silicon Valley ecosystem. John Markoff postulates in his book “What the Dormouse Said” that the culture and research of the 60s drove the PC revolution. The question now is what revolution are we developing and where is the research? Will we miss the next important energy, medical, or tech breakthrough? Where is our modern day moonshot mandate?

How will it play out? The future is unwritten.

Update: The Wall Street Journal has a great perspective on how regulation is hurting entrepreneurship. Add the lack of research mentioned above and the opinion is complete.

Ultimate Recession Company – Virtual Events – ON24 – Conversation with CEO Sharat Sharan

Last month during the Web 2.0 conference I stopped by the office of ON24 to meet with their CEO Sharat Sharan. I was interested in meeting with Sharat for three reasons: 1) he was funded by USVP, 2) his company is doing extremely well, and 3) he’s lived through two bust cycles.

ON24, a venture backed company, has built up a business that is now global. Initially they were focused on “Live” events and now have focused on servicing the enterprise via webcasting, demand generation, and rich media offerings. I was very impressed with Sharat in that he is very geeky and is deep technically. More importantly, he kept his company alive through two up and down cycles. ON24 has built an infrastructure platform that handles corporate casting, conf call, demand and lead gen. However, what got me excited is the new direction of virtual conferences.

As Second Life struggles with it’s virtual business approach, ON24 is kicking butt. Trade shows and conference are the areas that companies cut during a recession and having a viable platform like ON24 makes sense. To me the big upshot is the trend in social networks where trust and communications are now being established. This will lead to a viable model for virtual collaboration or better yet virtual events. Although the product isn’t what I had hoped, it delivers the basics and it is state of the art.

ON24 isn’t going out of business anytime soon. In fact they are doing great even in this market. They have the ultimate recession product – it increases revenues for companies while reducing costs. Now that’s a business model.

ON24’s challenge is to make the user experience truely social instead of some vendor speak “spam party”. I know that they are working on that but that is not their job. Corporate customers need to adjust the ON24 product to fit the market rather then just fit their marketing message.

A couple of sound bite comments from Sharat worth noting:
– Second Life is inappropriate for business
– Brands want control over their virtual environment
– demand generation and lead generation is key to the ROI for corporate customers
– users enjoy exciting new apps but it complicated things – the latest and greatest don’t necessarily translate to success
– the social web is becoming more cluttered (noisy) and we need new filters and look to expert systems or guides to lead in this area
– in 3-5 yrs rich media will be the standard not the exception with interaction capabilities being front and center
– patience is what allowed him to survive and keep his business on track for the 2 down cycles (including this one)
– reinventing and serving customers that drive revenue help companies survive – eliminate the heavy cost structures if revenues aren’t in sight
– revenue is the ultimate success story for this current market condition; revenue equals product/platform validation
– Erwin Federman was the key to the success of ON24 with Erwin Federman ON24 never would have made it

I have to say that I really liked Sharat and his team. Sharat is a true entrepreneur, tech guru, and great executive. We shared some great entrepreneurial stories including some about USVP which will remain off the record. PodTech and ON24 where both funded by USVP. USVP shut down PodTech, but supported ON24 (Erwin Federman wasn’t on the board of PodTech).

Sharat success as he puts it comes down to patience and support of his team (including Erwin Federman of USVP).

My prediction is that we will see a massive rise in social “virtual” collaboration very quickly or more short term – “virtual” events. The question is can ON24 platform enable and accelerate that trend. The key to success will be user experience.