Archive for the ‘tech’ Category

TV show aggregator

April 15, 2006

 Both ABC and FOX recently announced that they will be putting their shows online after they have been aired on TV.  I just had the idea that it would be useful if there was a TV show aggregator that would pull in different shows for a user from various sites.  So users would have the ability to tell the aggregator which shows they want to see and the aggregator would set off to pull in shows that the user has included in thier list.  People would be able to mix and match any shows or even other videos from the web.  In a way, this would give people the ability to create their own customized TV channels which they could further share with others or maybe they could stream them from their computers to their television sets.  This would be huge disruption to the current TV network model.  I think something like this could be a successful business idea.


The A-Team

April 14, 2006

I've been thinking about the blogosphere for some reason and have reached the conclusion that it will become just like any other media industry out there.

We hear all this talk about how blogging is the great democratizing force, how it will result in everyone having an unoppressed voice, and this will bring an open media platform controlled by citizens, and how all this will lead to love, peace, a utopian society, kumbaya, yadda, yadda, yadda…

Great ideals but nothing like this will ever happen, not because the idea of a peaceful world is flat-out impossible, but simply because supply/demand forces will cause the blogosphere to look like any other media industy.

We're already seeing the first phases of this filtering as the blogoshpere is split into seperate classes such as A-listers, B-listers, and so on. Soon all that will really be left is the top few classes. These will be bloggers that blog because of some ego satisfaction gained by having a large audience, monetary reasons, or blogging as a mouthpiece for some organization (these reasons are very general and I'm sure there are subcategories as well as other reasons). The rest of the bloggers, those writing just for the hell of it, will tire of spending time writing for a zero person audience. As many in the latter group will retire from the blogosphere, the A-listers will become the most obvious available option for blog readers. Of course there will still be other bloggers but the audience sizes they command will be so small compared to the A-listers they will hardly matter, sort of like the numerous D-grade movies made every year but viewed by all of 4 people.

This group of A-listers, or the A-team as I'll call them, is showing signs of acting like a single media empire. For instance, I've been noticing that very often this group talks about the same topic and link almost exclusively within the group. So if Om Malik blogs about the umpteenth video sharing site, this gets blogged by TechCrunch, and then by Silicon Beat, and so on. Also, by linking to mostly each other, the huge traffic that each A-team member gets stays within these bounds. Since these blogs have "authority" and loads of traffic, almost by default, blogs written by this group work their way to the top of memediggers like memeorandum. This further increases both their authority ranking and traffic numbers, thus solidifying their position.

The trouble is that like other media this too could be manipulated by corporations, thus putting a prompt end to any chance blogging had to be a powerful citizen's voice. As mentioned, many of the A-listers (in tech) often are covering the exact same topics. So, wouldn't it be great for a corporation if there was one entry point for which to market their product, and then have it re-blogged by all the other A-listers to capture the largest possible audience? This would be no different than a company approaching ClearChannel and having its products pimped on the top radio stations.

Federated Media Publishing, a intermediary between online advertisers and publishers, is well on its way to taking advantage of this trend where the blogosphere consists of only a few top bloggers. To have the privilege of publishing ads distributed by Federated Media Publishing you must be hand-picked them, and only the cream of the crop, aka the A-team, will have this chance. Next, Federated Media has introduced a new section which aggregates from only 25 of the top tech blogs, thereby cutting out all those deemed unworthy.  It's interesting to think whether FM will become the ClearChannel of web 2.o.

Don't get me wrong, I really like the business idea of FM and it will likely become a successful company as we move closer to this new blogoshpere (don't worry, I'll refrain from calling it Blogoshpere 2.0) controlled by the few blogging elite. The point is to show that we've already started down this road which will ultimately lead to the demise of the happy blogosphere of present.

Web 2.0 shake out

March 1, 2006

There was some good discussion on Memeorandum about Web 2.0 “companies” and their apparent lack of business models. This is something I’ve also thought of so I thought i’d chime in with my 2 cents. The question is whether we are approaching another bubble with all this hoopla over Ajax-splashed, Rails powered, RSS enabled, open API web “apps” that have appeared in blinding numbers recently. I guess I’m kinda suited for this question since I’ve been working on my own Ajax-splashed, RSS enabled, open API web “app” for the past few months:-)

i think that this time we won’t see a fully blown bubble as we saw in 2000 but will see the type of usual shakeout or filtering process that is quite common in the tech industry; examples from the top of my head include car manufacturers around the 1915-1920s, semiconductor/chip companies and PC makers in the early 80’s, and portals more recently. There just isn’t a market to sustain so many bloody AJAX desktops ; there’s no need for so many of the same-old formula social networks such as Tagged, TagWorld, and MyYearBook (though i believe there is a market for smaller, more niche specific social networks based around focused topics); or search engines that bring little innovations, etc, etc.

Most of these companies do nothing really new that differentiates them from the crowd. Add that with a lack of clear business model, and inicreasingly fewer barriers to entry and you have the perfect framework for failure. Things will get really bad if the overall economy starts to go sour and we see a decline in Google’s and Yahoo’s stock price. That will effectively put an end to the exit strategy for several of these companies and may indeed stop new Web 2.0 companies from sprouting.

I sure hope this post hasn’t been a prophecy for my own Web 2.0 company;-)

Can Facebook be beaten?

February 27, 2006

I just read an interesting post over at GigaOm titled “Can Myspace be beaten?”. I’ve kept a close eye on the various social network plays over the past year since i’ve been working on a “social network aggregator” with a couple of other people. MySpace and Facebook continue to amaze me in how rapidly they have acheived mass adoption, and that too by the highly coveted teen and young adult market.

Since the guys over at GigaOm are attacking the MySpace question, I thought I’d give some insights about the Facebook question; can it be beaten by another college oriented social network?

I made my conclusion to this question a year ago when a friend and I were working on another start-up. a college oriented social network based around the buying and selling of things such as textbooks, movies, music, games, etc. One of the main reasons I decided to leave this start-up was because I firmly believed that Facebook could not be beaten since it had accumulated too much momentum. It was (and still is) amassing students at a faster rate than we could dream of ever having on our own site, and with every new student it signed up, its stranglehold on the college social network market only got more impossible to break. In hindsight, my decision to step away from the startup was a good one because Facebook has only gotten stronger: it has since raised $12.7M from one of the top VCs, it has moved into the mecca of tech that is Silicon Valley, has 75 people on its payroll, and has many more millions of users.

Regardless of all these happenings, a recent entrant named Xuqa has come onto the scene, also with VC backing, to challenge the incumbent for the throne. I still think that Facebook cannot be beaten, not because it has a better product than Xuqa (indeed Xuqa is more in tune with Web 2.0; whether this is a good or bad thing is left for another post), but because it still has too much momentum, it’s still too “cool” to be part of the Facebook craze. This however is a double-edged sword for Facebook; many college students still retain the “follow the leader” mentality that is common in highschool. If the “popular” people start to move away from Facebook, others will follow them. As Friendster can easily attest, this starts a vicious cycle in which hordes of people start migrating to the new “it” place. Perhaps this is the opening that Xuqa or some other competitor could leverage to beat Facebook. Again, I don’t expect this to happen soon, and if Facebook can add important features that create true lock-in then maybe Facebook will not be beaten. Still, I’m glad to see Xuqa at least putting up the challenge since at the end of the day, competition is usually good for the end user.