Posts from September 2006

Sonos Rocks (continued)

About six months ago, I put a Sonos system in my house. I blogged about the experience here.

Most people put a Sonos system in their house so they can play their music library throughout their home and control the play with a wireless console. But I already have that ability via my Request system so the thing I wanted from Sonos was Rhapsody and Internet radio throughout my house. I got Internet radio working well on Sonos this spring and we love it (listening to WEHM’s acoustic sunday morning right now). But the Rhapsody integration wasn’t all that great and we didn’t use Sonos for Rhapsody very much.

But Sonos has released version 2.0 of their controller software (a free download if you already have a Sonos) and they have vastly improved the Rhapsody integration. Now you can browse the Rhapsody service directly from the wireless controller. It would be great if you could also search the Rhapsody service directly from the controller, but that’s not in the new release. Nevertheless, Rhapsody on Sonos is now a very usable feature, maybe even the killer app for Sonos.

Here are a few pictures to show how it works.

This is the first screen of the Rhapsody Music Guide. You can browse by genre, charts (most popular), new releases, and rhapsody recommendations.


This is  what it looks like to browse artists by Genre. It’s like scrolling through your iPod. The problem is that Rhapsody has thousands of bands and it can be a pain to do it this way. There is a "power scroll" feature that makes this a bit easier.


Once you’ve found your artist, you can scroll through all of their albums to find the one you want.


And then you can add the artist or album to your favorites so you don’t have to scroll to find them again. Or just play the record.


Sonos with Rhapsody is like having an iPod in your hand with almost all of the music you’ve ever wanted to listen to on it that plays throughout your home or apartment. And that is pretty much nirvana in my opinion.

Sonos isn’t cheap. The wireless controller costs $400 and the zone box (you’ll need at least one) is $350. If you need a zone player with an integrated amp, then that’s $500.

And Rhapsody costs $9.99 per month on top of that.

But if you’ve got a home stereo system already, for $750 plus $10/month, you can listen to whatever you want throughout your home using a wireless controller to make your music selections.

And that rocks.

#My Music#VC & Technology

More Guitar Hero M&A Activity

Jess_guitar_heroEarlier this year Activistion paid ~$100mm for Red Octane, the distributor of Guitar Hero and other video games.

When I first got into Guitar Hero, my friend Brad Feld told me that a company called Harmonix in Boston, which Brad is a small angel investor in, actually makes the game. So I wondered if Red Octane is worth $100mm, what is Harmonix worth?

Well, we found out today. MTV paid $175mm in cash for Harmonix. Well done guys. Great game. Great payday.

The Guitar Hero franchise is worth $275mm, $100mm for distribution rights, and $175mm for the creators.

Cool. Get Guitar Hero and see what all the fuss is about.

#VC & Technology

Today is OneWebDay


Today, Sept 22nd, is OneWebDay.

So take a picture or a video and tag it OneWebDay.

Or participate in an event.

I’ll be at the event here in NYC at lunch time, between noon and 2pm, in the Battery (that’s right, they moved it from Union Square)

Here’s the details:

Where: The Battery, near Castle Clinton (great spot!)

When: Friday, 9/22, noon to 2pm

Who: Speakers will include Craig Newmark (craigslist),
Scott Heiferman (Meetup), Drew Schutte (WIRED), Gale Brewer (NYC City
Council), and others.

How to get there:
See The Battery site for a picture.

The Battery is accessible from State Street and Battery Place. It is adjacent to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.

Subway: 4/5 to Bowling Green, R/W to Whitehall Street, 1 to South Ferry.

Bus: M1, M6, M15 to South Ferry.

Music, wireless, surprises. Please come!

#NYC#Politics#VC & Technology

Is Facebook Worth $1bn?

I guess it depends on who is buying it.

I am a shareholder of Yahoo! and I wouldn’t be upset to see them pay $1bn for Facebook. They need a strong social networking platform and 360 isn’t going to cut it.

News Corp paid half that price for MySpace and time has shown that to have been a smart purchase.

Clearly Facebook doesn’t have the same traffic that MySpace has.

According to Comscore Media Metrix, MySpace had 55mm unique visitors last month and Facebook had about 15mm. So MySpace is almost 4x bigger than Facebook.

And Facebook isn’t growing that fast. Here’s a Comscore Media Metrix chart of Facebook’s growth in page views over the past year.


In fact that chart shows another of Facebook’s challenges. They have a seasonal business. When their students are on summer break, traffic goes down. So it’s not surprising that they made the decision this summer to open the service up to everyone.

I asked Jessica, who is a Facebook fan (she switched from MySpace when she got to high school) about the possibility of Yahoo! buying Facebook. She was fine with it, as long as "they don’t change it". She’s not happy about the opening up of Facebook to everyone. She liked it because it was exclusive. Not everyone could be a member.

When I told her I had a Facebook profile last month, she was shocked. That shouldn’t happen in her view of Facebook. She says that MySpace has "sketchy old men" on it and Facebook doesn’t. She’s worried that Facebook is going to become another MySpace and if it does, she’ll move on.

So Facebook and Yahoo! or any other buyer faces a difficult choice. Open up Facebook and let it compete on a level playing field for UVs and PVs with MySpace or keep it closed and limit the upside.

The $1bn price tag that has been floating around makes this choice even more difficult. I am going to need some help from all of you so please chime in on all these assumptions in the comments.

Let’s say that you think Facebook will get to 10bn page views a month shortly. Let’s give each page an effective CPM of $1. Then that’s $10mm per month in revenue. I am not sure if I should add the Microsoft deal to that number or not. I’ll hedge and say that they can be a $150mm/year revenue company near term staying fairly closed.

But if they open it up and get to MySpace numbers (~35bn page views a month), they could be a $500mm/year revenue company near term.

The latter approach could easily justify a $1bn number from Yahoo! But it also would require them to really open up Facebook and that could sow the seeds of its eventual decline.

The other issue is how much margin is in the business. At face value, it seems like a fairly low cost business to operate. They don’t produce content, their users do that. They develop and improve the service and operate servers and buy bandwidth. It wouldn’t surprise me if Facebook could produce $50mm of EBITDA on $150mm of revenues. So $1bn would be 20x cash flow on a theoretical near term revenue number. Again, please chime in on all these numbers, this post is a rumination more than anything else.

Doesn’t sound too bad to get a premier social networking platform with some unique properties. I think Yahoo! shold pull the trigger on the deal and commit to keeping Facebook a lot more protected than the wide open MySpace. I think that strategy should work for them.

Here’s Michael Parekh’s take on the deal. He likens it to a return to and Geocities days. Sure, there are some similarities, both the billions on the end of the price tag and the kinds of services they represent (video and community). But this time around, the price tags have some relationship to earnings and cash flow. We may be in a bubble of sorts, but it’s a different kind of bubble for sure.

#VC & Technology


This is Flaming Lips week. Bookended by their show at ACL last Sunday and their show at Hammerstein this Sunday. And I’ve been listening to The Lips pretty much non-stop all week. I started with In A Priest Driven Ambulance (1990) and worked up to At War With The Mystics (2006). What a great run of records.

But there’s one record in that run that stands out as a Nugget. It’s their 1993 release, Transmissions From The Satellite Heart.

The song everyone will know is She Don’t Use Jelly (this is a live version) and that is certainly a classic. It’s Josh’s favorite Lips song and he always requests it when I put on The Lips.

But my favorite songs on the record are the opener Turn It On, the classic Be My Head
(play it loud), and the wonderful Chewin The Apple Of Your Eye.

But every song on Transmissions is great. Do yourself a favor and give it a try.

The Flaming Lips are a special band. Their music and schtick is unique. Thank god they continue to make great music and tour around playing it for us in the way that only they can.

I can’t wait to see them Sunday night.

Flaming Lips on The Hype Machine

#My Music

Scrobbling My iPod

One of my readers left a comment or sent me an email several weeks ago alerting me to software that will scrobble the iPod.

I am tired of not seeing all my iPod listens in and I want to scrobble my iPod.

But I can’t seem to find the comment/email.

If you know the answer, can you please leave it in the comments.


#VC & Technology

Being A Conversational Blogger

  Three Ladies in Conversation 
  Originally uploaded by Akuppa.

Kent Newsome said in a post on his blog recently that I wasn’t a particulary “conversational blogger.” I think what he means is that I don’t participate very much in the comments. That’s true.

As I’ve said in the past, it’s largely because of the way I blog. I post in the early morning most of the time. Then I go to work and spend my day in meetings. Then I come home, have dinner with the kids, hang out with the family, do the dishes, and I’ll get to my email in the evening. By then, the conversation has happened and I missed it.

But not really. Because as many people who comment on this blog can attest, I respond to many of the comments with a private email from my blackberry.

I’d love to copy Typepad on these emails so they can be posted as comments from me on my blog and be available to everyone. I’ve asked them to offer that feature. But I don’t think it’s a priority because not many people apparently need it. I get that.

So I’ll keep doing it this way. Because I appreciate every comment I get and would like to have a conversation as much as is possible. So keep the comments coming.

#VC & Technology