ad:tech chat with Dave Morgan

Dave Morgan is one of my favorite entrepreneurs. We've backed him twice at USV and he is also a very good friend to me and my partners. Dave has been building businesses at the intersection of madison avenue and the internet since the mid 90s. So when he asked me to do a fireside chat at ad:tech with him, I said yes in a nanosecond.

We did that chat yesterday and I thought it was a great wide ranging conversation that started with the mid 90s and ended with where we are headed in the coming years. It's long, but if you have an hour to watch/listen, I highly recommend it, particularly the Q&A at the end.

Please note that this embed only goes for 10mins. But once the pre-roll is finished, there is a spot on the lower right of the player that says "watch full program" that you can click to go to the full 58 minute video.

Fred Wilson and Dave Morgan: Tomorrow's Digital Landscape from ad:tech on

#VC & Technology#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. CJ

    Sounds perfect for my commute this morning.

    1. William Mougayar

      Is it working on your smartphone?

      1. CJ

        Yes, Samsung GS3.

  2. William Mougayar

    “This video is not available on this device” (iPhone).Β I hope “Tomorrow’s Digital Landscape” includes Flash working on mobiles or doesn’t include Flash at all πŸ™‚Β 

    1. fredwilson

      Likely the latter

  3. jason wright

    sounds interesting, but I’ll watch it this evening – something to look forward to.

  4. William Mougayar

    The current video embed is clipped at 10 mins. To watch the full 58 mins, click here: this one works on the iPhone!

    1. Modernist

      Thanks, am deeply enjoying this one!

  5. JimHirshfield

    You need your own YouTube channel. Do you have one? Or a place that aggregates all your vids?

    1. fredwilson

      Its in the works actuallyI don’t have the auto extraction from AVC done yetAn alpha featuring all the videos is at

      1. John Revay

        HUMMMI clicked through – it seems currently to be a collection of your favorite video clips.I hope you have in the nav – a link to filter video of Fred’s actual talks.

    2. William Mougayar

      Seems like a channel or section in the new I’d rather jump to them from that one place, or from this blog, but you’re right that putting them all in one YouTube will help in finding them. It’s probably a 1 hour exercise to do that.

    3. John Revay

      Great idea – I love watching & listening to Fred. In person is best if I can get into the room, archive will do when I am unable to do so.

  6. Guest

    nice pimp for etsy

    1. fredwilson

      I am all about pimping our portfolio!

      1. CJ

        You need a pimp cup with all the logos from your portfolio companies emblazoned on it. That would be awesome.

  7. RichardF

    50.25 is the point see Fred get pissed off…funny

    1. Carl Rahn Griffith

      Won’t have time to watch in full until later but intrigued and just went direct to that segment.Glad I didn’t ask ‘that’ question, lol! πŸ˜‰

      1. Modernist

        “facebook is not a failure. it is a financial success…i am becoming more confident every day” $ZNGA bottoming, you didn’t hear it here

        1. Carl Rahn Griffith

          As in dead-cat bounce?

          1. Modernist

            as in mark pincus is the next steve jobs. “good artists copy, great artists steal”… to hedge exposure to ZNGA short LNKD

          2. Modernist

            even with the GRPN Q3 earnings sympathy-sell-off in ZNGA and FB, LNKD under-performed ZNGA last week

        2. fredwilson

          from your mouth to god’s ears

    2. John Revay

      I tuned in late yesterday to the live feed – I caught that exchange – I felt sorry for the person that asked the question.Fred showed some passion in his response.

      1. RichardF

        Loved the passion

      2. ShanaC

        always fun when people show passion

      3. fredwilson

        i am just so damned tired of that question.

    3. Donna Brewington White

      Mad Fred…gotta see this…I’ve got some AVC catch up this weekend . BTW your Disqus tagline just popped up…that’s funny.

      1. RichardF

        thanks Donna, love that song.

    4. Matt A. Myers

      That was sooo enjoyable to watch. Thanks for pointing it out. πŸ˜€

      1. RichardF

        you’re welcome matt_____

    5. kidmercury

      HAHAHAHA! thanks richard for pointing this out, i am literally laughing out loud at that…..folks gotta fast forward to that point, fred starts literally pounding the table…….hahahahaha classic!i do take the opposite side there…..groupon had huge sales too, and at least from an investment perspective the relationship between price and earnings is vital. death by a thousand niches for all these giants, already signs linkedin is getting assaulted by linkedin for doctors, for designers, etc. who knows how long it will take though if that world ever does fully kick in.

    6. Donna Brewington White

      Well, that was a little milder than I was hoping for, but still fun.

  8. John Revay

    ” Dave Morgan is one of my favorite entrepreneurs.”Kudos to Dave –

  9. Guest

    “…a lot of people [say] they hate advertising…but great advertising that’s well targeted i think people actually enjoy” so overlooked even these days. for example, i found myself watching this full video ad… although youtube offered me choice to skip it

  10. Modernist

    around minute 27/28 fred mentions a startup that allows people to buy things just by saying “buy” in a facebook post, but doesn’t recall the name of startup. here is an article about the company doing this on twitter called chirpify… (i had to pitch it to my publisher as an amazon article πŸ˜‰ )

      1. fredwilson

        that’s the one!thanks Fraseri’ve been trying to remember the name since the interview with dave

        1. William Mougayar

          But don’t they fall in the segment you thought may not work so well,- retrofitting commerce into social.

          1. fredwilson

            totally agree. i just couldn’t remember them. and i had that brain melt on stage.

  11. Modernist

    “if you design for mobile first, you can scale up to web easily”in my opinion, speech recognition implementations like project glass will soon be the native UI/UX to design around

    1. Yaniv Tal

      google glass is gonna kick mobile’s butt for a lot of use cases. can’t wait to develop for the platform!

  12. OurielOhayon

    Fred you got a typo at the beginning “to my and my partners”

    1. fredwilson

      thanks! will fix asap

  13. takingpitches

    Fred,I remember your post on the atomic unit, but I hope you get a chance to do a post on the insight that “atomic unit=monetization unit” and draw that out more including the evolution of your thinking from geocities and how some people today are doing it wrong (youtube) and any limitations on that insight.I haven’t finished the video yet, but that is fascinating.

    1. takingpitches

      it’s probably a series of posts!

      1. Ricardo Diz

        Great idea!

    2. Yaniv Tal

      a really critical and insightful point! artistically crafted and well targeted ads can be thoroughly enjoyable when embedded directly into a content stream and presented in the service’s native format. looks like USV and their portfolio companies picked up on this way before anyone else. it’s amazing how few internet companies have successfully implemented this model.

      1. fredwilson

        i think I have been advocating that and sharing it publicly on AVC for at least four or five years now

    3. fredwilson

      i have to believe i have posted on that before. probably many times. i will search for the links and post them when i get a chance

  14. Tom Labus

    Great conversation!!So much going on in multiple and connected worlds.

  15. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    will definitely have to check it out. I read an interview you had yesterday on GigOM and you made excellent points differentiating the strategies between Geocities and Tumblr. Good stuff about native ads! I look forward to watching this video later today.

  16. William Mougayar

    It’s a great interview. You tend to be more open when you know the interviewer well or have a relationship with them.My take-aways:1) Native monetization is key. Atomic unit is what you monetize.2) Focus on scale before revenue. If you focus on revenue too early, you may never get to a scaled platform.3) Everything is going to Mobile. That’s where growth is coming from (for most).4) It’s better to make e-commerce more social than to turn social media into e-commerce.5) Mobile first. Try designing for mobile first, then move it to the Web experience

    1. andyidsinga

      I also really liked the discussion about commerce (at ~40:00 mins in)

    2. fredwilson

      talking to a friend is different than talking to someone who will fuck you over for a pageview

      1. jason wright

        pithy this week

    3. Matt A. Myers

      So, basically what Fred’s been saying for years now, all summed up nicely? πŸ™‚

      1. William Mougayar


  17. andyidsinga

    just sort-of learned what an “allowable” is – sweet.

    1. fredwilson

      seth godin taught me about allowables almost 20 years ago now

      1. andyidsinga

        thats really cool.

  18. jason wright

    how is network effect measured?any takers?

    1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      You have been asking this question couple of times in this blog … got curious and I just read couple of papers on this topic … (could not comprehend many terminologies used…one needs to spend a minimum of 100-hours of reading to master any subject… i just spent 2-3 hours which is not sufficient to get deeper).The much i understand i will write… you can further do google search and find more relevant papers.Network effect is measured by the influence of adopted neighbors on potential adopters through diffusive effect on a particular product or service.Potential adopters are influenced through cluster of the network and power of the influencer (already adopted neighbor). It also depends on the demographic variable and density of the cluster in which the potential adopter is commingled (thanx fred for introducing this word to me … it is mostly used in legal terms)..One of the assumptions in network effect measurement is ‘all the members of A network is assumed to be potential adopters’ … which may be a wrong assumption to start with in my opinion…. and that is why people are not able to come out with a solid measure of network effect.Hope this explains a little

      1. jason wright

        Many thanks Kasi.I wonder if a computer model could describe the interactions of the effect? See above.

        1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

          you are welcome…and should thank google than me :-).I am not sure it could be modeled that easily and implemented and interpreted….the best person who could pitch-in is @awaldstein but he is not to be seen now-a-days and hope he and his cat are ok after Sandy.

          1. jason wright

            dialog πŸ™‚ over google any day

    2. leigh

      We’ve been playing with ‘velocity’ — ala How big is our market opportunity? Is it expanding at at an expected rate? How does our reach break down across different channels? How big and influential is our advocate network?

      1. jason wright sounds a lot like the study of particle physics, observing interactions of forms of mass and energy. It must be possible to create a computer model and simulation to describe the network effect, to nail it down once and for all. At the moment it seems more like a cult of the believer.wanted: physicist, computer scientist, funding.

        1. leigh

          Someone else i know has been playing with models traditionally used in the network effect of disease spread. Just found this — looks very interesting — Emotions as infectious diseases in a large social network — http://rspb.royalsocietypub…If you ever figure anything out — come back and let me know!

          1. jason wright

            CDC, meets conCERN over ‘tumblers’ about the effect of infected networks – it is Friday.

          2. leigh


      2. Matt A. Myers

        Lots of good tools and data out there these days to tap into this – you just need the resources (eg: be big enough to put the resources into it) to start tracking, measuring and playing to see what impact marketing has. I’m extremely excited for this once I can get to this point in my plans.

  19. CJ

    My caption this video entry:”One good thing about the hurricane was that I could fish from my window. I swear the fish I caught was THIS big before the line snapped!”

  20. ShanaC

    I really wish people would talk more about social commerce. Unlike you, I don’t feel that my experiences on etsy are highly social. I think, if they felt like it, they could pivot more in that direction (and to some degree they are, but they an’t focusing on it as a way of discovery from the moment you land on the site).You are right that I think a really forward ecommerce company probably could pivot into social commerce πŸ™‚ I guess it is a matter of who goes first.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Early eBay had some of this and some communities cropped up around eBay. In retrospect I realize that this was my intro to social media or the social web. (I played around with online sales and if was quite fun.) Not sure I fully grasp what you mean by social commerce but I really think there is something to this and sometimes wonder if eBay missed an opportunity in not maximizing the social aspect.

      1. ShanaC

        I get the feeling social commerce is supposed to be like shopping with your friends…but online πŸ™‚

    2. fredwilson

      do you follow a bunch of people on Etsy and use the activity feed?

      1. ShanaC

        i follow shops and items in circles (i think, well I put hearts next to stuff), mostly to remember what stuff I like that I am not buying. I never actually end up on the activity feed because I am usually searching-ish to find something specific (eg: a scarf, a cool tote, a makeup bag)

  21. leigh

    “we could sell terrible display Ads at low CPMs and bc of scale still make money — and then Yahoo bought us” If ever there was a poster child situation for the phrase, better to be lucky then good πŸ™‚

  22. jason wright

    when people don’t want to see it it’s ‘advertising’. when they do it’s not. a simple premise, but hard to execute.

  23. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    Good interview Fred. So it is safe to say that you don’t think Facebook is a failure πŸ™‚ I really liked your points about social commerce and how the commerce based companies would probably be the ones to innovate when it comes to social transactions. I think @wmoug:disqus has a nice summary below of your interview!

  24. Pete Griffiths

    Excellent.I was surprised no-one followed up on your observation that the kind of work and required competences to market effectively in a world of native ads is very different. Given the audience I would have expected them to get into this. Which leads me to suspect they may still not quite get quite how profound your apparently simple point about the importance of native really is.

  25. kidmercury

    the regulators are going to blow the JOBS Act. they already pushed the SEC rulemaking deadline from jan 1 to sept 1 of 2013. meanwhile the whole thing is legal and up and running outside the US.the land of the free is now far behind other countries in terms of financial liberty. things like covestor, setting up a brokerage firm, or even investing overseas are an enormous regulatory burden. i’m in the process of opening up a bank account in new zealand for investment purposes and the process is rife with meaningless paperwork. that i even have to do this is hugely problematic.i am a small timer and no one cares about the pennies i’ll be sending abroad. but capital goes to where it is treated well. people will care and the impact will be felt as big money flees for safety and new opportunity.

    1. fredwilson

      true true true

  26. Donna Brewington White

    Loved everything you said about crowdfunding. More innovation. More entrepreneurs. More money being invested and more investors, etc. Investment as part of the culture. I can envision this. It would change our economy.