Delicious Bookmarks for July 21st through August 31st

These are my Delicious links for July 21st through August 31st:

Delicious Bookmarks for June 22nd

These are my Delicious links for June 22nd:

  • Sorry, There’s No Way To Save The TV Business – A clear and concise overview of how the incumbent stakeholders in the TV business are oblivious to the fundamental changes being wrought by delivery of video over the Internet and how this rising tide will ultimately wash away the strategic underpinnings of their legacy business models, which ultimately cannot be translated to this new world.
  • Not safe for work: And we’ll tweet at the end of the tour | Technology | guardian.co.uk – "Looking around the hall at the same-old-same-old faces of microblogging – the people who have been around long enough to have usernames like @amanda and @drew and @mario – all given just enough stage time to remind everyone how awesome their little corner of Twitter is – I realised that 140 Characters was never supposed to be a conference about "the state of now" at all. Rather it's a conference about the state of "then". A conference designed to bring together those of us who have been using Twitter since the start and who now feel like we've lost control of it to celebrities like Aston Kutcher and Oprah. A chance for us all to sit around and talk about the good old days when Scoble and iJustine still mattered a damn and where having 50,000 geeks following you was the pinnacle of success…Or to put it another way, 140 Characters was like a meeting of Twitter Early Adopters Anonymous."

On Hulu and Boxee or Sometimes it sucks to be right

A little under two weeks ago in a comment on a GigaOM post about Boxee, I wrote:

I think [Boxee’s] current differentiation is based primarily on giving users the features and content they want in the form they want it, which is mostly a function of Boxee not being encumbered by the legacy business models of the incumbents.

Frowny BoxeeWell, today those legacy business models came knocking on Boxee’s door in the form of Hulu pulling its content from Boxee at the request of its conventional media incumbent content partners. Though the very diplomatic (but still genuine, which is a hard line to walk) blog post from Hulu CEO Jason Kilar doesn’t say why, I agree entirely with TechCrunch’s assessment that the content partners weren’t so keen to see Boxee getting all this great press for doing an end-around the legacy value chain these guys are fighting tooth and nail to prop up. Boxee was a stand-out at CES in early January and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Boxee first heard from Hulu on this matter just 2 weeks after the NY Times ran a very high-profile and positive article on how Boxee was so awesome for delivering major media content to the tv in the way consumers want (which also happens to be exactly what the major media companies have been fighting against). When you think about it, this timeline pretty much matches what it would take for the content companies to read the NY Times article, bitch about it to each other, decide to go to Hulu, get push-back from Hulu, and then steam-roll them.

Steve Raymond has a great post on why this is such a short-sighted move by the content providers, with which I totally agree. So, I won’t rehash it here. But, I will say that this issue is only the tip of the iceberg threatening Boxee. Though they have effectively found an un-endorsed end-around to the legacy living room value chain, this shows how dependent they still are on the goodwill (or at least ignorance) of the incumbents. They have poked the bear and it is now awake. The networks obviously don’t want to lose the high CPMs and concentrated audiences they get from broadcast tv, which can arguably be replaced by online ads at some point in the future. But, what can’t be replaced is the increasingly valuable fixed revenue stream from the carriage fees paid by cable and satellite operators (NBC and Fox, the primary content providers to Hulu, both own ~10 widely carried cable networks). A product like Boxee is a direct threat to cable and satellite operators because it eliminates their positions as programming gatekeepers and turns them into dumb data-delivery pipes. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if this move was driven more by the cable and satellite companies than the content providers.

In my original comment, I predicted if Boxee succeeded in pioneering this space they were likely to end up like TiVo. Now I think they’ll be lucky to get that far.

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Delicious Bookmarks for January 9th through January 23rd

These are my links for January 9th through January 23rd:

  • Tube Mogul Buys Video Analytics Firm – "TubeMogul currently has over 40,000 users, ranging from networks and studios such as CBS, to web only video producers and bloggers like 'Fred.' Illumenex current clients include Internet TV pioneer Revision3 and comedy site 'eBaum’s World.'”
  • "Don’t forget…" – a set on Flickr – Really cool street art project in Berlin (where else) that is adding Photoshop interface elements to billboards to remind passers-by that these images of beauty are artificially enhanced. (via https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/9591)
  • Facebook Developers | Facebook Developers News – Facebook is now allowing custom FBML tags, essentially code libraries produced by 3rd party application developers that can be used by other application developers to add functionality from one app to another. This opens the door to officially sanctioned mash-ups of Facebook apps, which are already mash-ups in themselves. Using the term mash-up in a non-ironic fashion makes me want to punch myself.
  • The Inauguration of President Barack Obama – The Big Picture – Boston.com – A poignant collection of photos of Barack Obama's inauguration and the reactions to it around the world. My favorite is the American soldier in Iraq crying tears of joy (#19). The fact that the routine transfer of power in our country can inspire such powerful reactions around the world is evidence of what a truly global world in which we now we live. And I believe it shows that we as American citizens are making progress towards redeeming ourselves in the eyes of the world, who hold *us* (not just our leaders) accountable for the actions of our nation.
  • Transcript – Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address – Text – NYTimes.com – Text of Obama's inaugural address.
  • Rev. Lowery Inauguration benediction. Transcript. – Lynn Sweet – "Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around — (laughter) — when yellow will be mellow — (laughter) — when the red man can get ahead, man — (laughter) — and when white will embrace what is right."
  • Resources Every WordPress Theme Developer Should Know About! | Arbenting – A comprehensive list of resources for WordPress Theme development.
  • YouTube Videos Pull In Real Money – NYTimes.com – Many have long claimed that the only profitable type of online video content was repurposed TV shows/films or other "professionally produced" content. This article give several examples dispelling that myth and showing that the online video audience and business has reached a point where even so-called amateurs can make real money. For example, Michael Buckley is making >$100k/year from his homegrown entertainment news show "What the Buck?" purely through YouTube's partner program.
  • Op-Ed Contributors – The End of the Financial World as We Know It – NYTimes.com – Comprehensive (if not revelatory) overview of some of the primary drivers of the financial bubble and resulting collapse by Michael Lewis and David Einhorn. Puts things like the failures of the ratings agencies and the greed of financial services company shareholders, which have been examined more deeply on their own, into the broader context of our current hindsight.
  • YouTube Is Changing How We Think About Video | Techdirt – "The power of YouTube is that it enables something entirely new and different to emerge and to thrive. In the history of disruptive innovations, merely taking a product from one medium and moving it to another usually doesn't get very far. It's the projects that really embrace the new possibilities that are only possible via that new medium that really make an impact."

These are my Delicious links for January 9th through January 23rd:

  • Tube Mogul Buys Video Analytics Firm – "TubeMogul currently has over 40,000 users, ranging from networks and studios such as CBS, to web only video producers and bloggers like 'Fred.' Illumenex current clients include Internet TV pioneer Revision3 and comedy site 'eBaum’s World.'”
  • "Don’t forget…" – a set on Flickr – Really cool street art project in Berlin (where else) that is adding Photoshop interface elements to billboards to remind passers-by that these images of beauty are artificially enhanced. (via https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/9591)
  • Facebook Developers | Facebook Developers News – Facebook is now allowing custom FBML tags, essentially code libraries produced by 3rd party application developers that can be used by other application developers to add functionality from one app to another. This opens the door to officially sanctioned mash-ups of Facebook apps, which are already mash-ups in themselves. Using the term mash-up in a non-ironic fashion makes me want to punch myself.
  • The Inauguration of President Barack Obama – The Big Picture – Boston.com – A poignant collection of photos of Barack Obama's inauguration and the reactions to it around the world. My favorite is the American soldier in Iraq crying tears of joy (#19). The fact that the routine transfer of power in our country can inspire such powerful reactions around the world is evidence of what a truly global world in which we now we live. And I believe it shows that we as American citizens are making progress towards redeeming ourselves in the eyes of the world, who hold *us* (not just our leaders) accountable for the actions of our nation.
  • Transcript – Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address – Text – NYTimes.com – Text of Obama's inaugural address.
  • Rev. Lowery Inauguration benediction. Transcript. – Lynn Sweet – "Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around — (laughter) — when yellow will be mellow — (laughter) — when the red man can get ahead, man — (laughter) — and when white will embrace what is right."
  • Resources Every WordPress Theme Developer Should Know About! | Arbenting – A comprehensive list of resources for WordPress Theme development.
  • YouTube Videos Pull In Real Money – NYTimes.com – Many have long claimed that the only profitable type of online video content was repurposed TV shows/films or other "professionally produced" content. This article give several examples dispelling that myth and showing that the online video audience and business has reached a point where even so-called amateurs can make real money. For example, Michael Buckley is making >$100k/year from his homegrown entertainment news show "What the Buck?" purely through YouTube's partner program.
  • Op-Ed Contributors – The End of the Financial World as We Know It – NYTimes.com – Comprehensive (if not revelatory) overview of some of the primary drivers of the financial bubble and resulting collapse by Michael Lewis and David Einhorn. Puts things like the failures of the ratings agencies and the greed of financial services company shareholders, which have been examined more deeply on their own, into the broader context of our current hindsight.
  • YouTube Is Changing How We Think About Video | Techdirt – "The power of YouTube is that it enables something entirely new and different to emerge and to thrive. In the history of disruptive innovations, merely taking a product from one medium and moving it to another usually doesn't get very far. It's the projects that really embrace the new possibilities that are only possible via that new medium that really make an impact."

Congratulations to the Yahoo! TV Widgets team!

Last week, my former team at Yahoo! launched Yahoo! TV Widgets to some great press coverage. This is a project that was underway before I left, and drew heavily on the work and people of the Konfabulator/Y! Widgets team. It goes all the way back to the original Konfabulator team of Arlo Rose, Perry Clarke, and Ed Voas, who first popularized the term “Widget” for consumers as “whatever you want it to be” (much to the chagrin of Marketing & PR folks and proud mothers of people who work on Widgets everywhere 😉 ). They pioneered the concepts of open developer platforms and mash-ups that are all the Web 2.0 rage today, they just did it on the desktop. By the time I joined the team nearly a year after Konfabulator was acquired by Yahoo!, they had built a thriving ecosystem (yes, it was a real ecosystem, so I can say that without being buzzword compliant) of thousands of independent developers and millions of users worldwide.

Yahoo! TV Widgets As we continued to build the team and grow both the user and developer bases, we began to learn and build things that we realized had much broader applicability than just Widgets for your desktop. With the help of our marketing all-stars, Brady Wood and the awesome Shan-Lyn Ma, we started to create best practices and tools for building and cultivating a community of independent developers around an open platform and helping connect them to users. This work resulted in the relaunch of the Yahoo! Widget Gallery (which, for the sake of that douche over at VentureBeat, pre-dated the iPhone App Store) and a number of other improvements for the desktop Widgets product. But, it also became an essential part of the launch of Yahoo! Mobile Widgets at CES, the TV Widget launch at IDF last week, and some other stuff that’s still in the works down in Sunnyvale. It was also a great opportunity for us Konfabulistas, many of whom got to work on some of these fun projects and some of whom even moved on to these new teams.

So, in addition to being happy for my friends, who have been working on the TV Widgets project these last few months since I left, I’m proud to see the work we started (finally) coming to fruition. Way to go guys (and girls)!

If you love something (and/or want to make money from it online), set it free.

This past Sunday, I had a long discussion about the NY Times article on Time-Warner’s new content-centric strategy with my father, who happens to be in the film business. While the article touched on some of the complexities that exist in the legacy value chains for both movies and tv, I thought it glossed over important details and ended up being somewhat contradictory. On the one hand, the author labels the move to spin off T-W Cable as “eviscerating the once-popular corporate notion peddled by business consultants and merger specialists that content and distribution should reside under one roof.” But just a few paragraphs down, he talks about T-W’s interest in NBC Universal, primarily as a distribution outlet for the tv shows T-W produces.

In theory, a pure-play content company would *just produce content* — it wouldn’t program (i.e. tv network), it wouldn’t distribute (i.e. movie studio), it wouldn’t deliver (i.e. cable/satellite provider). This type of horizontal focus (or modularization) is advocated by Clayton Christensen once a market of vertically-integrated solutions has reached a “good enough point” for consumers, because it enables the firms at each layer in the value chain to focus on what they do best and exploit best of breed solutions available in the rest of the stack to do the rest, thus maximizing overall efficiency and profit. In our terms, a company purely focused on making the best content is free to choose *whatever* distribution solutions will make it the most money from that content. In NewTeeVee’s analysis of this same NY Times article, they said “How we watch is all the same. What we choose to watch, however, is a different story.” In other words, distribution is the commodity and content is the differentiator. I couldn’t agree more if the only channel in question is online. But as long as content creators want to exploit their content beyond the Internet, there is a different set of rules, and those rules generally extend to what those creators can do with their content on the Internet as well.

Studios can no longer claim ignorance of what consumers want — Jeff Bewkes (T-W CEO) tells a story of how he was told by file-sharers “We’ll pay for movies if you give it to us the right way” — but, they are now claiming (however ironically) impotence to deliver it —  that the major stakeholders in their other (more lucrative) means of exploitation, like Walmart (DVD), theater owners (theatrical, duh), and cable/satellite operators (PPV), won’t let the studios innovate too much online for fear of cannibalizing the other channels. As much as this may be true, the studios are pretty happy to have their hands tied because they already know how to (and do) make a lot of money from those other channels and they have barely started to figure out how to make real money online. Going back to Christensen, this is a classic example of an entrenched incumbent seeing disruptive innovation coming a mile away and doing nothing, as epitomized in this quote from the NY Times article:

But until technology forces Hollywood’s hand — Mr. Bewkes suggested that it would take three to five more years before high-definition videos are delivered conveniently over the Internet — the industry will retain its grip on sequential windows of release.

This all stems from the fundamental discontinuity of extending an offline media business online. In the offline world, control is the key to success — it is what enables the winners to exploit the inherent inefficiencies in the system at the expense of the losers and, to no small degree, consumers. In the online world, attempts to retain control generally stifle growth by limiting exposure — you have to be willing to let go of your content to a certain degree and you need to build business models designed to take advantage of that approach. Not only is this counter-intuitive to a lot of conventional media executives, who have built careers (and personal fortunes) retaining the tightest controls possible, but it may also be in direct conflict with other important revenue streams, as we see with T-W above.

Unfortunately, there is no easy solution for those trying to bridge the gap. Some companies, like the NY Times itself, are leaping across this digital divide while they still can and largely abandoning efforts to artificially protect their offline business from the specter of cannibalization. And, they seem to be having some success. This past Sunday evening, there were five NY Times stories on the front-page of Techmeme (the next closest sources were TechCrunch and CNET with two stories each), which should be driving some solid traffic to nytimes.com. By making their high-quality content available for free on the web, instead of holding it back to drive paying offline subscribers, the NY Times is aggressively driving readers (and thus ad revenue) to its online business. While those online readers may not be as lucrative as the offline subscribers today, there’s lots of room to improve online monetization if you have the readers, and offline readership is only going down and fast. On the opposite end of this spectrum is the Philadelphia Inquirer and their recent moves to consciously make their online offering *less* competitive in preservation of their offline business. T-W and the rest of the film industry seem stuck somewhere in the middle — keeping abreast of what consumers are demanding and giving them just enough incremental progress to remain satisfied without actually doing anything really disruptive to the studios’ other businesses. Christensen would argue that waiting too long on the offline side will preclude one from successfully making it to the online side when it’s finally more attractive (see Recording Industry). I guess we’ll see which side Bewkes and company end up on when “technology [finally] forces [their] hand.”