Friday 8 June 2012

VC's, Mashable and how it can go horribly wrong.

What is going on at Mashable? Following Pete Cashmore's 200m usd payday from CNN when they bought the blog in February, changes seem to be well afoot and none of them good.

Firstly the number of Ads has well increased creating a cluttered feel rather than the free, bright, cool style of old. Of course, CNN want their money back ("monetise the content" as they dreadfully say) but packing in the ads will drive traffic away rather than generate more revenue.

Secondly, there seems to me, no more "breaking" news and rather rehashed older stories which are well, badly written. Whatever about the writing, because that is subjective I accept, however the typos aren't and just shouldn't be there. Full stop.

It's even making Techcrunch look like it's cutting edge.

There was a great "coolness" ethos about Mashable that seems slowly to be disappearing and it seems too co-incidental to think that it's not related to the sale to CNN. The CNN site itself, suffers hugely from that "pack em in" philosophy using vod above the fold to create streams and therefore, advertising pre-rolls and therefore, money.

Revenue over substance. Short term gain for a long term loss.

To me, this illustrates the issues around VC's and big time traditional investors who scramble to get into Social (thereby, creating a money bubble). They pay high valuations and don't know what to do later. Acquisitions can make sense but if the cultural fit isn't right, they won't and no more so than in this space. And especially if the young turks who started it, take the money and run.

VC's and investors, can destroy your business rather than help it. They're interested in a return on capital solely.

I am 1000% with the digital founders who take the cheques - like P Cashmore - absolutely but there's something worrying about investors ultimately destroying the vibe. Because when they do, they'll destroy it for all. It will just become another "market". Exactly the damage that the Facebook IPO has done to Zynga, LinkedIn and all other businesses in the space. And the glee that smart suited businesspeople tell you about Social not being "all it's cracked up to be, like Facebook".

At the Facebook IPO one investor proudly spouted off to his other VC pals, how he turned 250,000 into 200m. And he did exactly what for Facebook? Loaned them money that he was able to convince others to give him to invest? Hardly inspiring. Hardly creating anything except wealth for a chosen few who had it in the first place. Money follows money.

It's becoming a mad world.
Caveat emptor.
But also.... be VC aware.

If you take the cheque, be prepared to say goodbye to the baby.

Thursday 7 June 2012

Online Newspapers more popular now than the printed version in Ireland. Good news for publishers.

Just as if you didn't know, online newspapers are now more popular that offline ones in Ireland, according to a no more credible source than the BBC. 

We all knew it was coming and had identified the trend, but the fact that online has overtaken offline already, is staggering. This was conducted in February 2012 so it's really current.

Not that it affects the publishers in one way, since they all have and own, excellent online sites but it indicates where Ad money should go. So whether the ads are placed online or offline doesn't really matter to a publisher except this - they've more inventory, more pages to sell online and the ability to change them regularly throughout a day.

If there's more readers online, there's going to be more advetising online.

The research shows that 60% of newspaper websites are more popular for news than their online equivalent (57%). Although TV is still the main source for news (breaking news + sports) at 63%, which is not surprising given that people want video of news and online publishers don't have it - yet. But they're getting there and they'll then have the power to compete with TV broadcasters when they do. One exciting space to be in for print publishers at last.

Whilst remains the top site in this survey, one must think, but for how long? 

BBC ( comes in an amazing second - given that their news is not local. But it's also the most favoured news source on Twitter (with The Huff Post 2nd and The Telegraph 3rd).

Print and TV will become blurred once publishers get vod of news online and that will give them a significant opportunity. A light for print publishers online which is absolutely terrific, given that they've stuck it out long enough. Good for them.

Most people are viewing news on mobile (54%) a couple of times a day and 42% claim to be checking regularly. Something which isn't done offline, because once you read a paper, well, you've read it and print news is static, online is dynamic (it changes throughout the day).  

Interesting too that 64% said they owned a smartphone and 50% a games console with nearly 90% having good internet access.

“Today’s results are an indication that news consumption in Ireland is in robust health, and that consumers appreciate the traditional print outlets for news as well as the new digital platforms,” said Isla McLeod, digital sales director of EMEA for BBC Worldwide. “These are welcome results for advertisers looking to reach this highly desirable audience.”

And how right that is. 

I note Kevin Foley of Adforce comments (who look after the BBC inventory) about the need for advertisers to adopt change and get more online. I don't think it's any secret that already the TV3 player is sold out for pre-rolls (ads running before the content). And he's right - the model has now officially changed.

All round this is good news for online.
Good for online publishers, good for online Sales houses, good for Clients.

It's simply a change from one medium to the other but making advertising more results driven.

Will Agencies shift their budgets?

Yes, in time. We move too slowly to adopt change but this research is going to make a difference.

More people are choosing online for news now rather than in the traditional way. Advertising follows audience. Advertisers will want to know why it's not being recommended by their Agencies. So they'll have to.

Wednesday 6 June 2012

LinkedIn Passwords hacked? Change yours.

Oh dear, on foot of the price fall (collapse?) following the knock-on effects of the Facebook ipo, Linkedin it seems, now have a security breach. And yep, it comes just after their recent problems with Linkedin smartphone app for IOS update transmitting users meeting notes back to Linkedin servers without permission.

Although LinkedIn haven't "confirmed" it, we all know it's there and if you have a Linkedin account, change your password now. This is spammer heaven if they have yours.

6.5 million passwords appeared on a Russia hacker site today. Although it represents about 5% of LinkedIn users, that's no comfort if you're in the 5%. LinkedIn estimate they've about 160m users.

Twitter users report report that they've found their own hashes buried in the massive text dump and of course, email addresses may also be there. A tweet from LinkedIn at the end of this blog is an object lesson in how not to assage people's fears.

"Stay tuned" as it says, is a bit too cool for me anyway and further tweets say that they've haven't got much further with it. Bloggers earlier in the week had talked about attempts to hack LinkedIn before we heard this. So should have they.

A breach like this coming on foot of the other issues is damaging if it's not handled correctly. It will further dampen investor confidence in the stock for one, probably bringing the share price down again. It will also create an image that LinkedIn isn't as "together" as it might be. And with Facebook and all that damage, it makes Social Media look like a pretty uncool place. So it's not good all round.

Especially to a LinkedIn with more of a "business" ethic where information is considered a bit more "confidential". And you know LinkedIn....they make even navigation difficult.

So a bad day at LinkedIn.
Don't you have one tomorrow.
Change your password.

(To change your LinkedIn password, log onto your account. Click on your name in the upper right corner and then click on the link for Settings. In the Settings section, click on the Change link next to Password. You'll be prompted to to enter your old password and then create a new one. Aim to pick a complex password that's not easy to decipher. Then click on the Change Password button.)


Tuesday 5 June 2012

Sean Parker launches Airtime. A real Skype competitor with live video.

Video, Video, Video, everyone wants it and along comes 'Airtime' Sean Parker's new video service which offers real time chat around Facebook.

Sean of course helped launched Facebook (formerly its President) itself and Spotify but this time has teamed up with another Shaun, Fanning - of Napster fame. Sean's Facebook equity current value? About 2.6bn usd so he won't be short of investment in Airtime nevermind being able to tap into Social Media. He has access like no other. Already Airtime has circa 33m investment.

What Airtime does, and does better than a Skype, is that it draws your Facebook interests and connects you with people you do (or don't know) to video chat around those interests - if of course, you let it. So a real video Social network and notably amongst friends. Talk to existing ones or make some new ones.

You can of course, reject or uptake the Airtime friends suggestions or indeed, limit your interests fields but it works and works smoothly. The start screen is easy to use and easy to modify with split screen giving the 'one to one' feel.

So Mr. Parker has now entered the video market in a real way and it's typical of a thinking that starts with the consumer. Find what they're interested in and let them chat about it.

Interested in music? Chat to other people with exactly the same interest in a partricular Band. Interested in Fashion? Chat to those too. And perhaps in time, chat to the band member or the fashion designer.

With the prevalence of broadband (always been a problem for video), this is both seamless and smooth. So you get something really interesting and very watchable. Almost like instant messaging.

They'll make money through selling advertising or products in time. It automatically blocks porn so it becomes more "safe".

There's been a lot of talk about Airtime over the last year and now that it has launched, it will create a huge buzz. Video is where it's at, live streaming is where it's at and it's right on the money.

I want to text you, share my pics with you but above all, I want to talk with you. Now you can.  

Who said there's no new opportunities in Social Media?