You Can’t Take The Paper Out Of The Newstand

The discussion in the tech/media blogs this weekend is Rupert Murdoch's comment:

“Should we be allowing Google to steal all our copyrights?” asked the News Corp chief at a cable industry confab in Washington, D.C., Thursday. The answer, said Murdoch, should be, ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’ “

Ian Betteridge has a good post on this and says:

Some people will paint this as an old-media dinosaur not understanding new media, but I’m not so sure. If you’ve read Michael Wolff’s biography of Murdoch, you’d realise that he rarely says something like this without thinking it through, and without having an agenda.

I agree with Ian that Rupert is as smart and sophisticated as they come and he has thought this through. But unfortunately for Rupert and News Corp and other newspaper owners, you can't take your toys and go home on this one.

News Corp can easily block Google from crawling its pages at the WSJ, NY Post, and elsewhere. They can also sue Google and litigate for a rev share or whatever else it is that Rupert wants from Google.

But here's the thing. Google is distribution. It is the newsstand. If Rupert or any other newspaper owner chooses to take its content out of the Google index, there will be plenty of content left that can take its place.

Look at the top of the page on Google finance right now:

Changeyou

On Friday, an asian online games company called ChangeYou went public here in the US and had a very successful offering. This is interesting to me on many levels as you might imagine. Google shows three stories on the ChangeYou IPO; the lead story from SeekingAlpha, a story from Forbes, and a story from the FT. Note that there is no story there from the WSJ.

And I could care less. I had the option of all three links and I selected the SeekingAlpha link. SeekingAlpha is a network of stock bloggers. It is slowly but surely building a brand as a trusted source of stock news and opinion.

Google is not News Corp's problem. Their problem is us. We know a lot. But we don't own a printing press. And that's a good thing. Because printing presses are expensive. But we do own a computer and many blogging services are free. The explosion of "user generated content" has created some very compelling news services in all sorts of verticals. Not just tech, but finance, fashion, music, travel, lifestyle, and on and on. And there are a bunch of companies like Seeking Alpha that are aggregating up the best user generated content in verticals and creating awesome news, information, and entertainment services.

Steven Johnson, the popular author and founder of our portfolio company Outside.in put it very well in his keynote at SXSW last month.

What’s happened with technology and politics is happening elsewhere
too, just on a different timetable. Sports, business, reviews of
movies, books, restaurants – all the staples of the old newspaper
format are proliferating online. There are more perspectives; there is
more depth and more surface now. And that’s the new growth. It’s only
started maturing.

More perspectives is the most important thing of all. News and information content is becoming much richer and better. And that is Rupert problem at the end of the day. It's not that he can't compete with Google. It's that he can't compete with us.

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