The paidContent Interview

It's memorial day weekend. We are at the beach with our family and I am taking it easy after a hectic week.

I did a bunch of interviews and talks last week. It felt like I was in front of an audience at last a half dozen times in the span of four days. So I am going to take a short hiatus from writing this weekend and run some video here.

We will start with the interview I did with Mathew Ingram at the paidContent 2012 conference. Mathew focused the conversation on the challenges that traditional media/entertainment has had in working with the changing technology landscape and the tech community. I don't think I said anything that the AVC community hasn't already read or heard from me before. But I do think we did a decent job of framing the issue and laying out some likely paths forward from here.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Have you seen anything that answers that gov’t watchdog need that you discussed early in the interview?

    1. fredwilson

      not yet. although @nickgrossman is thinking about ways to facilitate that

      1. bsoist

        What about anything to disrupt the way movies are distributed? I remember your post about the Knicks game, but I remember another post. You and Gotham Gal gave up trying to find something to watch. Have you seen anyone trying to solve that problem?

        1. fredwilson

          no, i have not. it is getting worse i think

      2. Kirsten Lambertsen

        He looks like the right person for the job 🙂 Signed up for the email notices. What an exciting idea. Revolutionary possibilities!

      3. Donna Brewington White

        I had that question, too. (Thanks @MsPseudolus:disqus)But a larger issue is what you said prefacing/surrounding this — that the companies are heads down getting the work done — and also that tech companies want to do things in the most efficient, least costly way possible (paraphrased). This laser focus and leanness are part of the beauty of the tech industry — particularly on the early stage side of things. This has to be protected and yet at the same time, the interests of tech companies need to be protected as well. For the most part. But, how?

  2. bsoist

    You’re right, I’ve heard it all before – but more people need to hear it and I’m glad you are spreading the word – “it’s bullshit” – could not agree more. Keep up the good work.

  3. awaldstein

    Doing everything against the grain.Biking to the Brooklyn Museum to see the Keith Haring exhibit, then the Botanical Gardens then brunch somewhere Park Slope.

  4. William Mougayar

    That was a much “headier” and meatier conversation than the one on TC Disrupt with Mike Arrington. This was my favorite quote which I tweeted: “Society shouldn’t bear the burden of providers enforcing their content copyrights.”btw- “This video clip is not mobile compatible”. Can anyone see it on a mobile device?

    1. fredwilson

      it is in flash so it should work on android

      1. William Mougayar

        Not a good week for iPhones 🙂

        1. bsoist

          I was thinking the same thing when I saw your comment. I remember you had some issues the other day.

        2. John Revay

          I think I saw that Apple yanked the airfoil app this week

    2. bsoist

      I am loving!

      1. William Mougayar

        Thanks Bill! I appreciate the feedback

    3. Prokofy

      If you liked that quote, please do think harder and indicate where “society bears the burden”. Society doesn’t bear any burden. When was the last time a massive copyright violator like Google suffered any consequences?! The cost of prosecuting Kim Dotcom is miniscule compared to the whopping losses to the economy from piracy itself. THAT is the cost that society is burdened with, and Fred is completely turning this on its ear, just because he couldn’t watch a basketball game once. Awful.

  5. JLM

    .What a great interview. You really are a very accomplished speaker with a perfect rhythm, cadence and articulation. Well played!Next time I want you to wear a Tommy Bahama shirt. Particularly on Memorial Day weekend.I also love the great number of heads getting in front of the camera..

    1. Luke Chamberlin

      “Down in front!”

    2. fredwilson

      Yes. Lots of people showed up late

  6. Cam MacRae

    Interesting discussion albeit a bit too short.I am highly suspicious of state sanctioned intellectual monopolies because so little of the evidence that gets trotted out in support of them gels with the claimed economic benefits — although copyrights are at best a middling evil when compared to patents.The fight that interests me most at the moment is the so called “academic spring” (someone please conjure a better name. please. please. please.) where the academe is in open rebellion against journals locking up the output of tax-payer funded research behind paywalls. This (long) comment in The Guardian provides a good overview:

    1. Dale Allyn

      Oh, you mean like having a wonderful daughter with a rare condition which most doctors don’t understand, but for which there is tax-payer funded research online… if only… if only one could gain access without going bankrupt?? Is that what you mean? …Sorry, I felt a rant coming on. 😉 Registering at some of the sites as a doctor sometimes works, but there’s meaningful research which is not medical and which should be transparently available for all to read. Sadly, there are those in Academia who do not want we “dullards” to have access, as it should be reserved for the elite and interpreted for those of us with feeble minds. ACKK!Oops, there’s that bubbling rant again.

      1. Cam MacRae

        Rant away.Not many academics feel that way. I’d much prefer our library to invest in more power outlets, breakout rooms etc. than pay mega bucks for journals (let alone buy back the institution’s own research).

        1. Dale Allyn

          I hope you’re right, Cam. Sadly, I’ve seen the opposite in some cases – at least in areas of my interests. I’ve also met with some pleasant surprises, though.With regard to the costs of journals and access in libraries on campuses, I’m sure you’re quite correct.

          1. Cam MacRae

            Just shared my email with you on –> if you’re having trouble accessing a paper feel free to hit me up.

          2. Dale Allyn

            Thank you, Cam. Very kind of you. So far, I’ve successfully rooted through most of the barriers, but I may take you up on your offer sometime. I’ll ping you for e-mail connection on both ends. Might have a flying question for you. 😉

          3. Donna Brewington White

            “Just shared my email with you on Engagio” Yay!@wmoug:disqus is that a “Donna White feature”?

          4. Donna Brewington White

            This was in response to @daleallyn:disqus — sorry @cammacrae:disqus

          5. Cam MacRae

            No apology needed. It’s a very cool feature.

          6. Dale Allyn

            Yes, Donna, it was a nice gesture by Cam to share his e-mail with me via BTW: not getting some notices via Disqus today, so I missed the mention. Just opted to refresh this page and saw your comment.

          7. Confused

            What does that mean when you “share email”? Is it only the address or all of the emails themselves? I am confused.

          8. Donna Brewington White

            Are you signed up to You can share your email address with someone on Engagio after you have interacted with them on a connected social media site. Opens up the opportunity to build on those relationships begun on the social web.

          9. William Mougayar

            I assumed he was on Engagio? Otherwise, just share your profile pic & he’ll signup and you can reveal your emails.

          10. William Mougayar

            Actually, Donna revealed her email to you via Engagio, so you’ll get an email with her email. It’s a subtle way to want to connect.

          11. Donna Brewington White

            That’s funny. On Engagio, “I’m Confused” shows up as Guest but with @daleallyn:disqus ‘s ID.

          12. Dale Allyn

            Donna: the system is wacky lately. While I may be confused at times, I don’t post as “Confused”. That’s someone else. What’s more, I’m getting @disqus notifications 2 or more days late.

          13. Donna Brewington White

            I didn’t think that was you! I just thought it was interesting that your i.d. was picked up by Engagio.

          14. Donna Brewington White

            I was trying to remember if this was one of MY features? 😉

          15. William Mougayar

            Not this one, but there were 2 others.

          16. William Mougayar

            @cammacrae:disqus Your notifications is set to “never”, so you won’t receive an email with Donna’s shared email, but you will be able to see it if you hover on her name or check her profile

          17. Cam MacRae

            Cheers. I find a quick scan of the “My Contacts” page more convenient as I receive 100s of emails per day, most of which I’ll never read.

      2. ShanaC

        feel free to rant., you have a moral rightness to your cause

        1. Dale Allyn

          Thank you, Shana. 🙂

          1. ShanaC

            You’re welcome!

      1. Cam MacRae

        Yes, given charities depend on donations which offset otherwise taxable income. But either way it’s a worthy discussion.

  7. Dale Allyn

    Fred, as you mention in the post, members of the AVC community have read and heard your thoughts on the topic here and elsewhere, but I really enjoyed listening to a “contiguous” discussion and presentation of your thoughts in the video, rather than the bits and pieces scattered about. Thanks for posting it.Hope you and your family have a great weekend at the beach.

  8. Dave W Baldwin

    Great interview.

  9. MartinEdic

    Btw, that video clip is incompatible with iOS. That means something like 80 million potential readers can’t watch it.

    1. William Mougayar

      Livestream has an iPhone app, but I can’t even find this interview there.

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Can’t view it with android either. Reads “This video clip is not mobile compatible.”So I’ll just read the comments to get my AVC fix until I open up my laptop for the day.Mobile is one of the best things ever to happen to contact lens wearers. Can actually read in bed. Anyone know what I mean?

      1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        Seems html5 is screaming out for widespread adoption

        1. Donna Brewington White

          I was reading something on this today …an article for mobile developers comparing the different OS for tablets …so far minimal use of HTML5 per the article.

      2. jasonpwright

        I could but I shouldn’t.

      3. RichardF

        I know exactly what you mean Donna 🙂 but I am going to get my eyes lasered v soon

        1. Donna Brewington White

          Good for you, Richard! Unfortunately, I am not a candidate for laser surgery or I would go for it. The main reason would be to have more freedom in the water.

  10. testtest

    matthew ingram is a ‘senior writer’. it doesn’t seem good enough to be just a writer these days.from now on i’m self-proclaiming i’m a senior commenter. in this capacity i will continue doing the same thing as before.

    1. Cam MacRae

      importing legacy media hierarchy makes your blog more authoritative, apparently.

      1. ShanaC

        people like citing who they know, as they already have credibility to other similar thinking people. The assumption is that the institutions that hold these people have been providing truths for a while, so the people who provide them must have to access to some sort of truth as well. it is hard to crack through institutionally, they are a dinosaur that people keep around because they don’t know what to do instead.

        1. Cam MacRae

          agreed, and much more insightful than my flippant remark.

          1. testtest

            it was an interesting comment; i didn’t realise it was legacy. one theory i had was the desire of differentiation for the professional writer in the face of the blog becoming popular.

          2. ShanaC

            That was accidental, I assure you.FYI – if I think about it, I am one of those people who like keeping dinosaurs around – or better yet, make them evolve (I’m looking at you NYTimes)

      2. leigh

        Mathew is not only a great writer, but he’s an extremely down to earth person. He is a journalist by trade and worked at the Globe & Mail for a million years — i’m not really sure what the issue is with Sr. Writer?

        1. Cam MacRae

          everything. nothing. it’s just signalling.

        2. CJ

          The internet isn’t about titles, didn’t you know? Writer/Blogger should be enough in most people’s eyes, adding Senior just makes you look like you’re labeling yourself as special rather than letting the quality of your work speak for you.Honestly, I don’t think it matters, everyone is a CEO, CTO, etc nowadays. It’s your deeds that count, not your title.

      3. William Mougayar

        @mathewi was a social media convert way ahead of many others.

        1. Cam MacRae


        2. testtest

          him being ahead of the curve doesn’t make it less skeuomorphic (if that’s the reason).

          1. CJ

            Skeuomorphic…Nice! I had to look that one up. 🙂 Today I learned…

          2. William Mougayar

            i had to look it up too 🙂 @chrishuntis

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Well, whatever his title, the guy seemed to know his stuff. A really good interview. Matthew had done his homework. I loved his conversational interview style and the way that he engaged Fred. Fred is a seasoned interviewee and is quite fluid, but a lot of this is based on the tone set by the interviewer.Maybe his title should be Senior Interviewer.

      1. fredwilson

        I agree. He did a nice job

      2. leigh

        🙂 yes he’s a great interviewer.

    3. LE

      Like “special agent” for the secret service. (Which is much different than “special needs” for a child.)My favorite is the use of “signature” when referring to someone’s recipes or a golf course.Then there are hosting companies that are now labeling the amount of “space” they give you as “premium storage”.Titles are good though and when used properly they can a) get more work out of someone and b) save labor costs.Using bullshit like this, um I mean wording, can allow you to take something that is nominal and increase the value in the eyes of someone who has no clue. People always infer specialness in things that they don’t understand and think they are the fool at the table.I remember an uneducated ex relative of mine who had a friend who had recently been given a chair at a university (love that one by the way). After hearing about it he said “as soon as I understand what that is I’m going to be impressed”. (He was the same relative who told me “you know what your problem is? – You think to much”.)

      1. testtest


    4. leigh

      well he isn’t “just” a writer 🙂

      1. testtest

        you either misunderstood what i wrote when using the word ‘just’ it that context, deliberately misrepresented me, or i didn’t make my point clearly enough.the title ‘writer’ is fully descriptive. the adjective is not needed.

        1. leigh

          never deliberately misrepresent…i’m not that smart or quick 🙂

    5. William Mougayar

      @mathewi is well respected. Check his tweets- they are excellent.

      1. testtest

        i’m sure. and writes for a great blog. still.

    6. jason wright

      Sounds like just another typical internal hierarchy. They’re everywhere, but for how much longer?

  11. John Revay

    I saw a tweet by @DouglasCret mentioning the talk.I watched it the other day….I much more liked the discussion you had at the Paley Center Breakfast earlier this year- when you discussed the topic w/ general counsel from NBC/Universal.It was a classic moment when he showed you a piece of paper – which I recall listed a bunch of pirated content…..and you put your reading glasses on and argued that none of that content was available for pay – if I recall correctly…

  12. jasonpwright

    Is the avc survey request authentic?

    1. fredwilson

      Well yes and no. It is being served by federated media who serves the ads on this blog. I did not approve it and I have asked them to take it down

  13. rudyc

    I agree with you that the internet is going to eventually be the platform of media in the future. But to ultimately get there esp. 4 startups it’s going to require innovation and not the “HOMERUN” everyone is looking for. Established media outlets traditionally have been slow in developing formats.Are they going to turn, eventually. I think everyone agrees. The real question is how. Subscription based formats will work to certain extent but to what extent is the question?PSH started with the idea of gradually entering established media outlets by gradually taking niche markets first and establishing a brand/base for more marketable media. Hopefully will get there, it’s interesting though we have the same thoughts but different views on how…

    1. george

      Size is the prize! That’s what makes all the incumbents so nervous. They realize the formation already exists with respect to convergence of tech.innovation driving new media outlets – Apple’s iTunes subscription model is simple to extend and accelerate with the App developers community.Fred’s comments about scarcity vs. ubiquity are spot on, control levers are changing.

  14. rudyc

    am i banned from this site…?

    1. rudyc

      guess not…then why don’t my other posts show up? Is it because they’re too long?

      1. fredwilson

        Looks like your other comment showed up below

    2. ShanaC

      ooo, moderation. next time just dm me on twitter @shanacarp.

    3. jason wright

      Do you think you should be?

  15. Donna Brewington White

    This is a good interview. Nice flow, good information.I hope people are picking up on the threat to entrepreneurial tech based on the thinking and power of incumbents and a much more focused agenda while tech entrepreneurs by doing what they do best are sometimes oblivious to the threat.Have a great time at your lake, Fred. The videos ought to be fun. …hmmm

  16. jasonpwright

    Is they real tufts of grass?Soothing.

    1. fredwilson

      i think so. pretty cool backdrop

      1. jasonpwright

        but plastic drinking bottles….

        1. JLM

          Ruins the feng shui?

          1. jason wright

            There is that, and the wider environment.I’d begin the chat with a question of my own. “Why the plastic bottles?”.

      2. jasonpwright

        but the plastic bottles….hurt the harmony.

  17. Pro_Se

    I had hoped that this interview would shed light on investment strategies towards companies associated with the production of content that in many instances now manifests itself in the form of digital files. Unfortunately, just the opposite transpired. When asked if investments are made in these types of companies, the answer was that as a general rule they are avoided because of the uncertainty in quantifying the risk/reward associated with them. Interspersed within the discussion was little more than personal views about specific laws and legislation, which views do not stand up to scrutiny. Merely by way of one example, SOPA was stated as being bad, but not a single substantive provision was identified, followed by a thoughtful explanation of why its specific terms were so troublesome. One “horrible” about the act that was mentioned regarded payment service providers. Inexplicably, the fact a federal court order was a necessary condition was never mentioned.Major labels for music and studios for movies are in truth the equivalent of VCs in those two industries. Yes, there are differences in how the investments are structured (generally equity versus rights), but in both cases risk/reward analysis is the driving and determining force.

  18. Sean Hull

    I’m a long time tech entrepreneur & consultant myself, so it’s easy for me to see how ridiculous pipa & sopa are. However I can’t help but listen to this interview and think – we’re in the tech innovation & *disruption* business – which is at it’s core an attack on old business models. It’s no wonder they’re arming the castle wall. Take Google for example. Transparency & openness in the context of disruption (yelp, but closed & territorial when protecting turf (dropping affiliates without appeal).

  19. Prokofy

    Fred, every bit of what you are saying is wrong, and you will some day come to regret your long flirtation with technocommunism, seriously.Number one, it is an entirely wrongheaded notion that digital items “can’t be” scarce. We’ve heard this a million times from people like Glyn Moody. Of course they can be scarce — because they are welded to *the attention economy*. Your blog isn’t scarce in the attention economy because you invest money in start-ups so tekkies read you, but you’re more scarce than TechMeme which has greater traffic. You have to expend your actual person-hours every morning adding the value so that you can attract at least a competitive traffic that evidently you see as a boon to your overall business — but those are unpaid sweat equity hours in the merciless attention economy. My blog is highly scarce because it’s a micro-blog — to get attention I’d have to work hard to put links around meaningfully or put ads up or try to literally pass out business cards. The attention economy isn’t something separate; it is a feature of every digital object.Furthermore, digital content need not be scarce if you have a DRM. And the DRM need not work perfectly against hacking and theft but be just good enough for communities around content to support artists. And that’s why Second Life works and in fact any local artist surviving on CD sales and concerts advertised on social media.I’m dead set against registration because it was tried in Second Life, demanded constantly by certain lobbies, but it always failed because *people prefer a DRM to a registration*.Furthermore, copyright is *inherent*; since the Bern Convention recognized this, you do not need a registration or a license to claim your copyright. It’s a good idea to register it to facilitate lawsuits, but it is not a requirement.The most fallacious thing you say is the claim that “society bears the costs of protection of rights holders.” Utter nonsense. Society bears the cost of *piracy* and theft of copyright and content’s ability to be monetarized — Google hijacks content, sells ads against it, and waits for DMCA notices to come in — *five million last year*. Five million! Of which 75 percent were honoured and removed! The rest didn’t have good lawyers! The cost to society is the ability of Google to monetarize with hijacked content and only later remove 75 percent of their purloined content. That’s what *that*’s all about.The Nicks game is a poor case. Tekkies who need to watch sports on something other than regular TV are a tiny segment of society. That’s not the problem. The problem is Youtube and the Internet at large where songs and videos are constantly copied to the detriment of the iP holders.What’s extraordinary is that you can sit there and bang on middle men as somehow ripping off artists, and then blandly advocate that enterpreneurs should come in and provide services to content providers. Duh, that’s the same thing as middle men!Finally, you must admit that Spotify etc are NOT PROFITABLE. That means you will LOSE MONEY, Fred!!! It’s been three years, and Spotify is NOT PROFITABLE. Youtube only became barely profitable because of interruptive ads blocking the content for long periods before it can be viewed.The real problem is the failure of the tech community to create easy and safe payment systems online. They are wasting their time fiddling with payment offline such as with Square, and not doing what needs to be done for all of us on the Internet, which is making micropayments possible with wallets online, so I can buy content easily, tip artists, receive tips for blog posts, etc. etc. The obstacles aren’t only the card companies that claim fixed costs make micropayments unprofitable. The problem is Google that doesn’t want any friction on its Big Ad system.

  20. Paul Stanley

    A bit late to this, but I reacted to the first response from Fred stating that the VC/entrepreneur ecosystem doesn’t have an easy way to keep track of political issues and/or regulation. A company I talked to a couple of weeks ago is tackling the first with eyes towards the second. Check out at Now they just have to figure out who would pay for it….

  21. fredwilson

    we open our beach house for the season on memorial day

  22. Tom Labus

    We have a cabin by a small lake where I always dive in this week end, regardless.I was in the lake last October.

  23. bsoist

    I’m not sure it’s “notable,” but my wife and I officially begin our almost daily cocktail hour – we hang out on the deck and enjoy whatever she’s put together. We also spend a lot of time thinking of and praying for the men and women in the military, and the men and women who keep sending them into danger.

  24. Neil B

    Memorial Day is set apart to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our great country – for all those who never came home. Please take time this weekend to remember those who gave their lives so we can still enjoy ours.

  25. Donna Brewington White

    We live in a small lake community (yes, I am aware of the unfairness of living near the beach AND a lake)…our community has a softball game between two teams formed based on which side of the lake you live on… and a picnic on the lawn down by the main dock. Although the 4th of July is when it gets really exciting around here with traditional games such as potato sack races, egg toss, pie eating contests, etc., with a frog racing contest to add local flavor (bullfrogs caught from the lake, treated mostly humanely then released back into the lake).Our family celebrates Memorial Day fairly quietly but the meaning of the day is not lost on me.

  26. John Revay

    I thought I read a blog post from you or the GothamGal about some of the work you did on it.#SunInTheFun