Posts from April 2007

Flying Blind

  BlackBerry 8700c "Electron" 
  Originally uploaded by Josh Bancroft.

I am one of those people who rely completely on my Blackberry. I don’t check voice mail anymore because all my messages are transcribed and sent to my phone via email where I can simply one click to call back.

My calendar on my Blackberry phone is like an instructor telling me where to go and what to do.

When I travel, I become even more reliant on my Blackberry. So when I landed in Oakland last night, I couldn’t send or recieve emails. I thought it was my phone. Every once in a while I have to reboot my phone. No big deal, it happens about once a month.

I rebooted about ten times in the past 12 hours. I asked our tech guy Rich to check the Blackberry server. All to no avail. I was scratching me head.

Then I saw this news. Blackberry (RIMM) is suffering from a system wide outage. Well at least that rests my mind.

But I’ll be flying blind today. If you need me urgently, call me.

UPDATE: I am back in business. Blackberry started working again around 10:15am EST today.

#stocks#VC & Technology

This Video Says A Lot About Where The Music Business Is Today

When I see a lot of Google traffic coming to my blog, I check the feedburner stats and yesterday the search term Fluorescent Adolescent was generating some meaningful traffic. Flourescent Adolescent is the name of my favourite track on the Arctic Monkeys new record which is coming out next week. I don’t have the record, but I’ve heard most of it on the Hypemachine.

So I googled Fluorescent Adolescent and sure enough my post linking to the track was number one. Number two was this video, taken at an Amsterdam show last month, probably on a cell phone or something like a cell phone.

First of all, this song has not been released. But this video has been viewed almost 16,000 times on YouTube in the past month. I am sure some people have watched it multiple times, but surely over 10,000 people have gotten introduced to this song in the past month, some portion of whom are likely to buy the record.

Second, this is not the first single, that would be Brianstorms, a good track, but not my favourite. But in effect, there’s already a "video" on YouTube promoting this track.

Third, this was shot by a regular fan, uploaded to YouTube, and the quality and sound are pretty damn good for someone five or six bodies back.

Fourth, this was shot at a club in Amsterdam and is available to the entire world via YouTube instantly (or as soon as the person who shot it uploaded it).

Fifth, check out how many others in the crowd are taping the performance with their cell phones and cameras. Has to be at least five or ten others in the video doing that.

Lefsetz says in one of his recent posts:

And trust only grows person to person now.  NOBODY trusts the machine.

Let’s look at what just happened here. Somebody got a hold of the Fluorscent Adolescent track and uploaded it to their blog. It made the Hypemachine. I heard it there and reblogged it. My post went to the top of Google for that search term. I googled it (but you could have too) and found the YouTube video posted by another fan. I saw that and reblogged it just now.

Person to person marketing. No machine other than the web and google at work here. The rest is us, enjoying a song, a band, and music on the web.

#My Music#VC & Technology

Redefining Broadcasting

I spent the last two days in Vegas at the National Association of Broadcasting (NAB) conference. It’s a measure of the effect that digital technology and the Internet has had on the media business. Five years ago, there weren’t many technology companies or tech investors at this conference. It was mostly TV and Radio execs. This year, the conference is overrun with tech companies and investors like me looking to connect the dots and see interesting new stuff.

It made me want to pause and think about the word broadcasting. Are these companies, radio and television companies, still in the broadcasting business? While many still associate the term broadcasting to mean "over the air" it’s certainly true that less and less of the media we consume every day is coming over the air. Although with the advent of broadband wifi and wireless data, we may get back to that world someday soon, but it’s going to be Internet Protocol (IP) based delivery.

Maybe more importantly, broadcasting implies pushing content down a one way pipe to a mass audience. And that’s what many of the broadcasting companies want to do with the Internet. But I believe that the Internet is not and should not be a one way pipe. It’s a two way pipe and so the question is will broadcasting content survive as a dominant model of delivering content to audiences? Or will a more interactive approach emerge?

People talk all the time about "lean back" and "lean forward" modes of content consumption. Lean back means a passive approach to content consumption (watching a TV show). Lean forward means a more active approach (browsing the internet). But does it always have to be that way? I am not sure.

But I am sure that the broadcasting industry is undergoing big changes. And they were in full bloom at NAB this year.

#VC & Technology

Lady Luck

  Place your bets! 
  Originally uploaded by {platinum}.

Luck is an essential element in successful investing, venture capital included. I consider myself a lucky person. My dog is named Lucky and he has lived up to his name.

Last night, after dinner in Vegas, headed back to my room, we stopped at a craps table. I put $40 on the pass line and the stickman handed me the dice right away. I rolled three straight 7s, then back to back eights, then crapped out. The table was going wild. I took my chips and left. Figured that it couldn’t get better than that.

I don’t honestly recall what my take was, but I think I made 3x in five minutes.

#Photo of the Day

Overcounting Web Audiences

  Tossed Cookies 
  Originally uploaded by LeggNet.

When you hear a web site’s audience size, it’s most often stated in unique visitors. And those unique visitor counts are usually generated by analytics packages that use cookies to determine unique visitors (browsers). There are other methods (beacons and ip addresses) but those methods are not as popular as cookies because they suffer from a number of problems.

Well today comScore released the results of a study on the role of cookie deletion in web audience reporting that they’ve been working on for months. And they determined that using cookies to determine web audience will on average overcount your audience by 2.5x.  That’s right – 150% higher than it actually is.

And it’s worse if you have an audience of hard core cookie deleters. Seven percent of the web audience (as measured by comScore’s panel), deletes cookies more often than four times a month and on average they will be overcounted by 12.5x a month.

It’s been a rule of thumb that third party cookies (set by ad servers and ad networks) are the primary target of cookie deletion software so if you set first party cookies, you don’t have to worry so much. Wrong. It turns out cookie deleters make almost no distinction between third party cookies and first party cookies and delete them with about equal frequency.

I got a preview of comScore’s press release and wrote this post on Sunday because I am flying most of the day on Monday. I’ll link to it when I land but it should be linked to on this page. It’s a good release, filled with lots of numbers and quotes from academics, ad agency execs, and industry insiders who all agree that this is important research.

It proves something I’ve always said. You cannot rely on your own analytics data. You need third party data as well. That’s not to say that third party data (primarily panel data) is perfect either. You have to triangulate between all the numbers to get a decent view of what’s actually going on.

People often say that comScore’s numbers (and it’s competitors numbers too) are too low. It’s true that  panel data is generally a lot lower than your own server logs. But that doesn’t mean your server logs are right.

#VC & Technology

Blog Radio

What if there was a radio station, a licensed legal station that paid royalties, that featured only music that had been recently blogged?

Where the DJs are us, the music bloggers who love music and talk about it incessantly on our blogs.

And what if you could read the posts while listening to the songs that the posts are about?

And what if you could chat with other listeners about the music that’s being played?

No more what ifs, because it’s here.

#My Music#VC & Technology

Big Company-itis

This isn’t going to be a long and thoughtful post on Google (GOOG), just some observations which hopefully I’ll come back to and mine for more depth.

Google is a different company than it was even a year ago. It’s still got the world’s best search engine and I use it maybe a hundred times a day and really can’t think of not using it. It’s like firefox, a fundamental part of my daily web experience, a starting point for most anything and everything. Search for Google is like Windows for Microsoft, it’s the product that pays the bills for everything else and is ubiquitous.

That said, YouTube was the beginning of the end of old Google and the beginning of new Google. I personally love that Google bought YouTube, because I love YouTube and everything it’s about. But that was the line in the sand that Google crossed with the media owners. Google is now public enemy number one with content owners of all kinds. Witness Sam Zell saying that "Google steals newspaper’s content". That is just not true. But the claim that YouTube (ie Google) steals Viacom’s content rings a bit truer (I also don’t agree with that statement). Google is big, powerful, and rich, but it’s also now in the same shoes as Microsoft was in the 1990s. They are the big powerful company that everyone hates (not me).

Look at the DoubleClick deal. They outbid everyone. That’s what Google can do. They have the big pot at the table and can win by just making it too expensive for anyone else to play. But the losers are going to get their revenge by calling in the Feds to look at the deal. Google’s lawyers are going to become their most important asset and when lawyers are more important than engineers to a company, you lose.

Finally, Google is losing engineers, at least some engineers. And the "HR acqusition" model may be losing its effectiveness for Google, because they cannot give every project the attention that it would get as an independent company. Just look at the Dodgeball founders exit interview to see what I mean.  These guys sold their company to Google and then watched entrepreneurs who had more freedom to innovate beat them to the promised land.

Big companies are not the best places to innovate and guess what, Google is a big company now.

#stocks#VC & Technology

New Feed To Read

Kevin Maney, formerly of USA Today, is now blogging for the new Portfolio Magazine.

Here’s the blog and here’s the feed. It’s in my blogroll because Kevin is one of the most blog savvy tech journalists out there and I like what he has to say.

He’s got a cool guest post from Roger McGuinn of The Byrds who says he loved seeing himself on YouTube the morning after his show. And a nice writeup on Slacker, the sort of iPod/Pandora combo that uses satellite to deliver music on demand. What I don’t know is why Slacker didn’t just put Rhapsody on their device. If you are really looking to delive music on demand, Rhapsody is where its at.

#VC & Technology

Adding Insult To Injury

Readers to this blog know I got shut out of the Arcade Fire shows earlier this year at Judson Memorial Church. So when the Radio City show was announced, I wasn’t going to let it happen twice. I got the Ticketmaster thing right for the first time in a long time and got orchestra tickets for the whole family.

Then I found out that I had to be on the west coast that whole week. Ugh.

Yesterday, I read on Stereogum that The National is going to open that show. Ouch.

Well at least the Gotham Gal and the kids are going to see one hell of a show.

#My Music#NYC


I got a comment yesterday from Josef yesterday to my Highline post:

Haven’t seen a music post in a while. Some great records have just come out. My top 5 this week include Andrew Bird, Laura Viers, Kings of Leon, Patrick Wolf and LCD Soundsystem.

Have I really been slow with the music posts lately? Well you asked for it Josef.

Feist has a huge front page Jon Pareles article in the NY Times Arts and Leisure section today.

I had never heard of Feist six months ago, but I started getting emails and comments from readers that I had to listen to her. No problem, she’s been all over the Hypemachine popular list lately. Then I found out that Feist (her name is actually Leslie Feist) sang with Broken Social Scene and Kings of Convenience. Well that’s all I needed to know. That’s seriously great pedigree in my book.

Her new record, The Reminder, comes out on May 1st and is available on Amazon right now for pre-order. Here’s my favorite track from the record, called 1234. Enjoy.

1234 – Feist – The Reminder

#My Music