Notes From VON Conference: Figuring out Video on the Net Business Models
I spent much of Monday and Tuesday in San Jose at the VON (Video on the Net) trade show and conference. This conference was founded by Jeff Pulver, the pioneer of voice on the net, and it is big. It was strange to see a "big" trade show, many have become "former" or have become tiny.
For much of Monday I was at the Hollywood and Internet Video conference track organized by Cynthia Brumfield (IP Media Monitor). I moderated the last panel of the day:
My panel:Nizar Allibhoy, Principal, MediaEnable, LLC
Mike Pascarella, President and CEO, Gotuit Media Corp
Herve Utheza, Vice-President and Executive Producer of TV Properties, Orb Networks
It wasn't a simple topic because we have so many ways to upload, share, tag, and watch entertainment. But the panel did well, pointing out that while much of the day had been spent talking abut how media companies were using technologies to bring interactive entertainment to people, not much had been said about how people are using technologies in new ways.
Mr Pascarella's company has several interesting technologies, the main one being the ability to tag parts of an online video and just share clips of just a few seconds long. He believes that advertisers will pay much more for the chance to advertise around popular clips from longer videos. Gotuit only hosts licensed content from large media companies
Mr Allibhoy has worked with some very large media companies including Sony Pictures Digital. He has a new venture coming up and is confident that new business models will be developed around video on the net that will be complimentary to the mainstream advertising models used by TV and Cable.
Mr Utheza said that audio is still a very large component of what users want to share on the Internet. He noted that if users are given the ability to share their media they spend much more time involved in online media of all types.
Dan Scheinman, the mastermind behind Cisco's acquisitions of WebEx and many more, was on a late morning panel. He said that Silicon Valley has a very bright future ahead because of all the media technologies that will be needed to support the human network.
It was encouraging to see an enthusiastic Dan Scheinman. When I interviewed him two years ago for Silicon Valley Watcher, he was worried about Silicon Valley's future because innovation could be done anywhere in the world.
Rafat Ali, from PaidContent moderated a panel on "Who is making money with Web-Based Video?" It was a tough question to answer, and "porn" was one of the answers.
He said that IP communications is finally part of the mainstream communications architecture and that the "IP" part could be dropped.
Vinod Khosla, Silicon Valley's top VC spoke about some trends. He is a big proponent of the "cloud" and said that "virtual" devices will replace actual devices. The mobile phone will become an interactive client to access your PC, phone, etc, which will live on the Internet as virtual devices. One of his startups is Mocka5 which makes such things possible.
He also mentioned that wireless USB might turn out to be a better solution than WiFi because of fast speeds and low battery power usage.
Skype founder Niklas Zennstrom announced new Skype features. One of these is a tie up with PayPal that enables Skype users to send money to each other. And also Skype Find, a business directory that users can build and rate. Plus Skype Prime, selling services over Skype. And Skype Extras, for developers creating Skype based applications.
These are all natural extensions of Skype and nicely leverage its 175m registered users. And now there are some clear synergies in EBay's acquisition of Skype.
Jeff Pulver said that in his startups he tends to hire people with very little or no knowledge of a particular industry. He says that such people can apply their skills to solving problems without being encumbered by what they "know" about a sector or topic.
That is very true. I like working with people who haven't been taught how not to do something. I don't want to hear 50 reasons why an idea or project can't be done, I can do that myself. I'm more interested in hearing how something could be done. That's when there is the potential for doing something new, for breakthrough thinking.