San Francisco's transformation into a bedroom community for Silicon Valley's business parks is a huge mistake because tech companies should be exposing their people to the city's rich diversity and its incredible culture, a history steeped in more than 150 years of media innovations.
San Francisco historian Gary Kamiya, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, tells the story of San Francisco's early newspapers (and the passionate duels using the pen and the gun):
San Francisco has been at the epicenter of more than just earthquakes, it has a long tradition of being at the forefront of the media industry stretching back to the gold rush.
It’s where massive newspaper fortunes were started by newspaper magnates such as M.H. de Young, and more famously, William Randolph Hearst. Hearst got his start in the newspaper business in 1887 at the San Francisco Examiner, which competed against de Young’s San Francisco Chronicle.
Pixels and speeds are meaningless tech specs. How to live a meaningful life is the best metric that our use of technology can provide. Our challenge is how do we harness tech to achieve it?
2014 is where we need to start answering this riddle. E-commerce and e-marketing are just the first step. We have plenty of tech – the second step is how do we use it for the best outcomes for all? How will peoples’ use of tech transform lives and communities?
These will be the best stories in 2014 and beyond.
If there is further proof needed that Silicon Valley's top companies are in fact media companies (technology-enabled) then take a look at this Bloomberg story: Zuckerberg Brings Silicon Valley Friends to Sun Valley - Bloomberg
The stock market has been very good to Apple over the past decade but does its business have a solid future? The Wall Street Journal points out that Google's business is now valued higher than that of Apple.
Rolfe Winkler on the Moneybeat column reports:
Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of marketing giant WPP, slammed Google, Facebook, AOL, and Yahoo over their refusal to be take editorial responsibility for their content they publish.
In a video interview with Mark Sweney at The Guardian newspaper, (1.08 minutes) he says that by calling themselves "tech companies," rather than media companies, they are hiding.
In three days I'm off to London for a week, then Amsterdam, hopefully a few days in Berlin, and then Warsaw (above) returning in early June.
I'll be making a series of presentations around my favorite topic: "Every Company Is A Media Company - the transformative business equation of our times."
Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel said that Twitter would last longer than the New York Times, a news publication started in 1851, which is more than 163 years. [The New York Times - Wikipedia.]
CNN's Maureen Farrell reported:
Colleen Taylor at Techcrunch, reports that Yahoo! has changed the way it describes itself in its latest 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
She writes that it's a small change but symbolic.
When it comes to making industry predictions I always resolve not to make any, but as you can see, I have trouble keeping my new year's resolutions.
Two year's ago I made the same resolution and failed when I wrote: 2010 Prediction: The Media Tsunami Is Coming...
The media is dead, long live the media. We now have more media, in more formats, in more times of the day and night, from more people -- than at any other time in history. And we will get even more in 2010.
When I talk about media, I mean anything and all things that are published: news stories, magazine articles, TV, radio, video, music, advertising, photos, web pages, and of course social media. All of it, all the media that's fit to print and all that isn't.
The low cost of the tools to make media content is a big driver, more important however, are the media hungry platforms that make it easy to publish anything and distribute it widely. One-click uploading to Youtube, or Facebook, or wherever, it's all very easy to create and publish media. A tsunami of media.
Tsunamis come in waves...
Chief Marketing Officer or VP of Marketing/Communications has to be one of the toughest jobs around these days. Why? Because of the massive fragmentation going on in media and communications.
The good news about the new media and communications channels is that it is all measurable. You can measure things in incredible detail. You can slice and dice the measurement data in ways that were never possible before.
The bad news about the new media and communications channels is that it is all measurable. There is a mountain of data that can sliced and diced in so many ways. What is worth measuring? How much should you measure? What do the measurements mean? How can you relate the measurement data to revenues?
We are still figuring out these and many other questions. And that's why marketing and communications today is so challenging and it isn't going to get any easier.
That's from my post Chief Marketing Officer - Toughest Job Around . . . written about four years ago.
Here's a good article on the same theme but with some hard data from various industries, written by McKinsey staff: David Court, Jonathan Gordon, and Jesko Perrey.
As Spotify, the hugely popular European online music service prepares for its imminent US launch, RDIO, a relatively new online music service, recently hosted a media roundtable at the swanky Boulevard Restaurant, in San Francisco, with top journalists from Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, Financial Times, CNET, Forbes, Business Insider, Technologizer, and The Next Web.
It was an interesting evening, moderated by Mike McGuire, an analyst at Gartner. Here are some of my notes:
(Flipboard team at work.)
Silicon Valley investors love a pretty face especially if it comes with free content. That's what's working for Flipboard, a hot startup with an iPad magazine app with a very pretty user interface.Flipboard's valuation has soared in just nine months since its launch and it now ranks with The McClatchy Company [$MNI] newspaper group, which publishes 20 newspapers, employs 7700 staff, and generates $1.4 billion in annual revenue.
The company said it has already signed up several large media organizations. They plan to use the Arktan platform for blogging live events.
Twitter celebrates it 5 year anniversary today. It's a fascinating service, one that has been very useful to me and my line of work. And others like it too.
I'm always fascinated by how much, or little, a company's founders/top execs use their own service or product. I think it is key to the future success of any venture that its key people know, love and use their own product.
After all, if you aren't a heavy user of your own stuff then you might not be making the right decisions about future direction, features, and these days of API proliferation -- recruiting third-party developers.
Which is why it's interesting to take a look at Twitter co-founders and how much they Tweet:
There was an interesting tidbit in Therese Poletti's Tech Tales on MarketWatch this week:
(Khris Loux (shirt) talks with analysts while Oliver Starr checks his social streams.)
Khris Loux, CEO of Echo, this morning introduced the Echo StreamServer - a real-time publishing system that allows large media organizations to quickly develop web sites that pull-in and analyze multiple streams of information and output dynamic web pages of socialized content.
BitTorrent is keen to polish up its image and move away from its connections with piracy and into legitimate lines of business.
Today it announced it had reached 100 million active monthly users and it released some other usage stats:
· Average daily active users: Over 20 million
· Average daily client downloads: Over 400,000
· 52 languages (including English)
· Clients checking in from over 220 countries every day
BitTorrent could become a very important distribution medium, especially if its streaming version takes hold. Take for example the massive amount of bandwidth that Netflix uses for streaming; or the net neutrality debate and how to make bandwidth use more economical and efficient; also what could this technology mean for companies such as Akamai and content distribution networks?
In all of these areas BitTorrent could help. To show off some of its abilities in distributing large files such as video, BitTorrent has been helping to distribute independent movies: Pioneer One, Yes Men, Four Eyed Monsters, and an album from PAZ.
BitTorrent will be at CES later this week showcasing some of its "future capabilities."
- - -
Please see: BitTorrent Close To Launching Live Streaming Technology
I caught up with Kieran Hannon the other day. He was in the Bay Area for a meeting with the Irish prime minister (he's on the board of Enterprise Ireland) and I realized it had been a good few years since I had last seen him.
He used to be co-managing director of Grey Advertising, then had gone off to Texas to work as VP of Marketing for Radio Shack, and then moved to Santa Monica, in Southern California. He's now working as COO at a promising startup called Sidebar, which has an interesting mobile technology that recommends content based on what people like, very useful for online retailers and others.
Kieran and his family had spent 18 years living in San Francisco, and I was curious what life in Southern California (SoCal) was like.
He said life was good, and that the startup scene was healthy and that there are a lot of media/technology centers there. I often write about how Silicon Valley has become Media Valley, because of all the media companies here (Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, etc) so it makes sense that SoCal, with its rich media history, would be a fertile breeding ground for media technology startups.
Earlier this week, Mark Suster, a VC based in SoCal, wrote an excellent post about startups in LA. Want to Start a Technology Company in LA?
He makes some great points:
...LA [is] the second largest city in the country with a population if 16 million. We have universities like Caltech, UCLA, USC and many more. We have many seasoned entrepreneurs who have built successful companies here and made a lot of money for investors and themselves. But LA is not Silicon Valley and we don't need to aspire to be so. We will never be Silicon Valley in the way that Toronto will never be Hollywood. But we have a great city for building technology companies.
He goes into details about how LA is not like Silicon Valley.
- Funding is different, there are smaller "A" rounds of around $3m rather than $10m here.
- Recruiting is different. There aren't huge pools of engineers, but it is possible to build 100+ sized teams.
- Commuting isn't as bad as people think it is, most people live close to where they work. And hey, commuting isn't that easy here.
- Lots of content creation skills. This is an interesting point to make because software engineers can be found almost anywhere in the world today, but content creation skills are very culture specific, you can't outsource this work.
- There are now larger numbers of successful entrepreneurs, many are on the their second and third successful company.
Here are a few success stories:
There is a lot of innovation happening in LA from places like Eqal, Deca.TV, DemandMedia's studios, Clicker, Filmaka and other initiatives.
. . .
The whole category of "sponsored search" came from a successful LA company, Overture. (my firm, GRP Partners, was an investor). LA produced Applied Semantics that created AdSense and was bought by Google. We were also an investor in the early local listing company, CitySearch - an LA company. LA was a leader in lead generation (LowerMyBills), comparison shopping (PriceGrabber, Shopzilla), social networking (MySpace ... I know, I know - Facebook won - but it was still a big business). If we extend a bit North up the coast line we have many affiliate marketing innovators including ValueClick, Commission Junction and FastClick. They also produced GoToMeeting and CallWave.
. . .
A great team from MySpace has created Gravity. Gil Elbaz from Applied Semantics has now created Factual. Zorik Gordon is tearing it up at ReachLocal. TechCoast Angels backed GreenDot should be a major IPO this year. Frank Addante has created Rubicon Project. Douglas Merrill, the former CIO of Google, is building his next company in LA. Scott Painter, founder of CarsDirect has created two new generation LA startups (Zag and TrueCar, both backed by GRP Partners). Brett Brewer (ex MySpace) has AdKnowledge, there is Adconian, Legal Zoom and many more. Hautelook, Gogii, Magento - all very high potential companies building in LA.
Mr Suster is one of the organizers of Launchpad LA V2, which was announced today. This is a project aimed at helping first-time entrepreneurs and helping to educate them and guide them in building successful companies.
We will be selecting 10 startup companies to participate. There is no cost but you must physically be based in or move to Los Angeles for the 6 months of the program. Applications are due April 6th, 2010, the form is on the website and the Twitter address is@launchpadlad
A West Coast corridor of innovation...
It won't be long before we have a West Coast corridor of innovation stretching from Silicon Valley to Southern California, and beyond.
In fact, if you fly from San Diego heading north along the coast you pass over tons of innovation centers:
- The communications and biotech industries of San Diego;
- The electronics industries of Orange County;
- The media centers of Hollywood and Santa Monica;
- Then you reach San Francisco/Silicon Valley with its electronics, software, media tech, biotech, cleantech industries;
- Then Portland with its thriving startup scene plus Intel's big presence there;
- Seattle with a thriving tech scene mostly spun out of Microsoft, and Amazon;
- Vancouver and its software industry.
Wow. 1400 miles of innovation. There's no other region like it, hundreds of miles of world-class, industry leading, innovation and creativity.
Interestingly, it's all built on top of one of the most unstable fault lines in the world. A disruptive reality. Is there a connection?
I've always said that innovation has to be disruptive otherwise it's not innovation.
I was at Chris Brogan's Inbound Marketing Summit on Wednesday, speaking on a panel moderated by Paul Gillin, on the subject of "Media in Transition: The Future of News in a Democratized World." My old friend Dean Takahashi from VentureBeat (formerly with Wall Street Journal, Red Herring, San Jose Mercury) was also on the panel, along with Ken Doctor, analyst with Outsell.
Media in transition is a fascinating subject, I can talk for days, for weeks on this subject.
Between the four of us on the panel, we probably have nearly a century of experience with news media. We now find ourselves taking part in an incredible transition within our industry of a like we will never see again in our lifetime.
And few people realize that Silicon Valley is the main instigator of the disruption happening in the media industry. It is Silicon Valley technologies and companies that are at the forefront of developing the new landscape of the media industry, and also transforming SIlicon Valley into a "media valley."
Take a look at some of our largest companies, such as Google, Yahoo, Ebay. These are media companies. These are not tech companies, you can't buy any tech from them, these are technology-enabled media companies.
They publish pages of content with advertising. What's not a media company about that?
Facebook, Twitter, Craigslist -- are all media companies, they publish pages of content and advertising. And so are most Web 2.0 companies.
Take a look at the Internet, it is a media technology. It allows you to distribute and publish web pages, data, to any computer screen, any computer platform. Now, in this second phase of the Internet, anything with a computer screen can publish back -- it's now two-way, it's read/write, we now use both sides of the glass screen.
It is Internet technologies and services, it is online companies such as Google, Craigslist, etc, that are helping to disrupt the media industry. Or more accurately, disrupt the business model.
When we talk about the death of newspapers, what we really mean is the death of traditional media business models.
On Silicon Valley Watcher, I often use the tag line: "reporting on innovation at the intersection of technology and media." Because that's what's happening, that's what I see, a tremendous intersection of technology and media. It's like tectonic plates coming together and crumpling the landscape into a new mountain range.
And mountain range is a suitable metaphor because there are always two sides to a mountain range, one side is dry and the other is wet and fertile. For example, the Andes protect and enable the massive, wet, fertile Amazon rainforest with its incredible diversity of life, while the west side of the Andes is dry and relatively barren.
The mountain range being created by the intersection of technology and media is a barrier to the traditional media companies, most don't seem to be able to climb and transition to the other side; most won't make it.
But, I'm confident we will have a new type of Amazon rainforest emerging in the media industry, we will see an amazing diversity of media companies and services. You can already see the tremendous amount of innovation emerging and we've only just started.
For example, Facebook and Twitter are very new, even to us in Silicon Valley, and they are spanking brand new for the majority of people today. What other new forms of media will we have a year from now?
We can create incredible mashups of media technologies and media formats that have never been seen before. How will we use them? How will we deal with the loss of traditional media? How will our society handle the transition? How will we pay for journalists and the vital Fourth Estate service that they provide? How do we sell products and services? How do we find trusted sources of information?
There are tons of questions waiting to be answered. And that's what's so wonderful about all of this, we are directly involved in figuring out those important answers. We, the people working in media, in communications, in marketing, in startups, we get a chance to help create and define the future.
This is why I love my job, writing Silicon Valley Watcher, and reporting on innovation at the intersection of technology and media.