Is it just me, or is Alex Albrecht — co-founder of Digg and the new video service Revision3 — just having waaaaay too much fun at the Revision3 launch party?
As my friend Mark Evans points out, billionaire sports-team owner and media mogul Mark Cuban is often a refreshing blast of sanity amidst the hype and hoopla surrounding Web 2.0 and Internet business models in general, but his recent diatribe on YouTube and how only a moron would buy it is a little off the mark, I think (pardon the pun).
I wonder what someone like Mark might have said about a little Internet venture called Broadcast.com way back when the first Internet bubble was being inflated. Would they have said that only a moron would pay $5.7-billion for such a wild dream about the future of online video? I bet they would have. Luckily for Mark, Yahoo wasn’t listening and it coughed up enough cash to make him a billionaire, and now he can play with his sports team and tell everyone else how stupid they are. I think Don Dodge and I are on the same page.
As Umair points out at Bubblegeneration, YouTube is trying disrupt the entire video value chain, and has gotten a least a couple of rights-holders interested in pursuing that opportunity, and others such as NBC seem to be thinking along the same lines. That doesn’t mean YouTube will necessarily succeed, nor does it mean that someone should pay $2-billion for it. But there is value there.
Fred Wilson says we should stop the YouTube hating, and points to a great rant from music industry gadfly Bob Lefsetz, as well as a recent piece on YouTube with comments from Chad Hurley in the New York Times. And Jason Calacanis has some further thoughts on the issue, in which he says that YouTube’s genius has nothing to do with technology, and everything to do with distribution.
Herewith, a roundup of recent Second Life-related news events, as the virtual world continues to get more “real” (for better or worse):
- The Economist has a long piece on Second Life, including a fascinating tale of a psychology professor who set up a place in Second Life where his students could experience something akin to schizophrenia firsthand.
- Professor Charles Nesson of Harvard Law School recently held his first class in Second Life as part of an online-only course called “Law in the Court of Public Opinion.”
- IBM recently held an alumni meeting on the island it owns in Second Life.
- CNet has launched a presence in Second Life which consists of a virtual replica of the company’s offices in San Francisco, where the news agency says it plans to interview both real and virtual people.
- A Swedish online dating company has made the natural leap from dating site with photos to Second Life dating world with avatars.
- Scottish girl-rockers The Hedrons are the latest to put on a virtual gig inside Second Life.
It’s about time that Google gave its feedreader an update, and I think some of the features it has added are pretty good, although I’m not sure I would go so far as to call it “stunning”, as Richard MacManus at Read/Write Web does. It is pretty slick, though. It handled the importing of my OPML file just fine, and I like the fact that it marks items read as you scroll past them.
The sharing is not a bad idea either, and I like the way you can incorporate shared items into a blog widget, as Peter Upfold has done here. But maybe I’m just not cut out for the pure “river of news” approach, as Dave Winer calls it. I’ve tried just about every feed reader out there, including Bloglines and Newsgator and Rojo and Live Bookmarks, and I’m still kind of partial to Netvibes.com.
I like the way I can see about 20 different feeds in a single glance, with five or six headlines per feed, and can mark each individual one read with a single click (which reinforces the fact that I think headline writing has become even more important than it already was, but I digress). The new Google Reader is definitely an improvement, but I think I’ll stick with Netvibes for now, even if Paul says the new Reader rocks.
Didn’t we learn anything from Bubble 1.0? Apparently not — or at least some of us seem to be determined to jump right back into it with both feet, regardless of the consequences. Guys like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook could be forgiven, since they were probably playing on the swingset or learning long division when the first tech bubble came around. But how do you explain someone like RBC Capital analyst Jordan Rohan?
He apparently thinks that MySpace (which does not have 100 million users after all, as ForeverGeek tells us) could be worth $15-billion in a few years, or at least that’s what he told clients in something ironically called a “research note.”
As Pete Cashmore over at Mashable notes in a post, this estimate of MySpace’s theoretical value is predicated on a whole series of loony assumptions, including the alleged $1-billion value of Facebook and YouTube, multiplied by the market value of Google and the CPM (cost per thousand) ad rate that a premium show such as The Simpsons fetches.
In other words, Mr. Rohan’s argument (if I can even call it that) amounts to what philosopher Jeremy Bentham referred to as “nonsense on stilts.” Take some fictitious number that someone else has plucked out of the ether and multiply it by some other ridiculous number that can’t (or shouldn’t) be extrapolated — yup, that’s quite the “research” note, alright.
I know that getting attention is seen as a good thing in the brokerage business, as my friend Paul Kedrosky points out, but this is ridiculous. And former analyst Henry Blodget, who did his own bit to help inflate the first bubble, isn’t helping with a post that effectively says MySpace might be worth more than Yahoo, or not. Rob Hyndman is similarly unimpressed, as is Duncan Riley.
Lots of attention is being paid to a recent story by Bambi Francisco at Marketwatch (on a completely unrelated note, Bambi Francisco is one of my favourite names, as I may have mentioned before), in which Ms. Francisco reports that MySpace has eclipsed YouTube when it comes to numbers of video clips shared.
According to statistics from ComScore Media Metrix, 37.4 million individual users watched more than 1.4 billion video clips on MySpace in July, which put it ahead of YouTube, Yahoo and Google in terms of unique video streams (Yahoo was actually ahead in terms of actual users who watched video, with almost 38 million, but it only served up about 800 million clips during the month). ComScore says that July saw a mind-boggling 7.2 billion video streams viewed.
But wait. Blogger Greg Sterling notes that Hitwise has completely different numbers. In August, Hitwise says YouTube was by far the bigger draw, with more than 45 per cent of the traffic to Internet video sites. MySpace came in a distant second with 23 per cent, with Google Video at just a little over 10 per cent. VC Confidential has some thoughts about the difference in stats between Hitwise and ComScore, an issue that has come up more than once in the past.
I know the blogosphere has a short memory (except for Dave Winer, of course) but does anyone here remember Dead 2.0, that skeptical blog written by an anonymous guy who went by the name The Skeptic? He took potshots at various bubble companies and A-listers such as Mike Arrington at TechCrunch, and subjected new Web 2.0 services to the “Ask Skeptic’s Mom” test.
Then Nik Cubrilovic, who is the CEO at Omnidrive but also a friend of Mike’s, wrote a post in which he said that with only a few minutes worth of work he had identified The Skeptic as a senior executive at a technology company. The Skeptic posted a single post after that, as far as I can recall — in which he asked people whether they thought he should be “outed.”
When I checked it, the overwhelming majority said that they thought it didn’t matter who he was, a view I agreed with along with others, including my friend and fellow tech journalist Mark Evans. Well, for the past few days The Skeptic’s blog has returned a 509 error — bandwidth limit exceeded. Did Dead 2.0 just become too popular for The Skeptic’s limited hosting service, or did he decide to drop it? Or did his company make him stop?
The mystery continues.
For some reason, the photo below captivated me when I came across it at Flickr, after following a link from somewhere I can’t remember right now. It’s a snapshot from the space station in orbit, with “space tourist” Anousheh Ansari looking upwards at an apple floating in the air above her.
The look on her face is one of pure joy (the fact that she is attractive probably helps with the captivating part, I will admit). Is that look worth the $20-million or so she reportedly paid to get up there? Someone will have to ask her I suppose. The shot was posted to Ms. Ansari’s blog, where she also talks about the camaraderie among the astronauts on the space station.
I don’t write a lot about politics on this blog, for a bunch of reasons — including the fact that I don’t really know that much about politics, and the fact that I don’t really care that much about politics — but I feel compelled to mention the recent interview between former POTUS Bill Clinton and Chris “I’m wearing my dad’s hairpiece” Wallace on Fox. Wallace tried to pin Clinton with a question about why he didn’t do more to stop Bin Laden, but the wily Southern grappler turned the tables and got all medieval on Wallace’s ass, rhetorically speaking.
But that’s not really the interesting part, I don’t think (although I have to say Clinton showed a lot more fire than I had associated with the man previously). I think it’s fascinating how in the not-too-distant past, we would have been forced to either take Fox’s word for how the interview went — using their carefully selected clips — or take the word of Clinton fans with their clips. Instead, if we want to, we can simply watch the entire interview on YouTube (or Google, since YouTube got the old “notice and takedown” message from Fox) and decide for ourselves.
I think we’ve all gotten kind of used to that idea, but I would still argue that it’s a very powerful thing. More here.
Garth: “Did you ever find Bugs Bunny attractive when he put on a dress and played girl bunny?”
Wayne: “(cracks up laughing) No!”
Garth: “Neither did I… I was just asking.”
I realize I’m not the only one who has made the connection between Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht of Digg and Wayne and Garth from Wayne’s World, but I figure I have just as much right to use that analogy as anyone, since Mike Myers and I are both Canucks and I live about six blocks from the high-school he went to in Toronto. So there. Party on.
Plus, the picture in the New York Times piece on how the Digg boys are branching out into video pretty much cries out for a Wayne’s World reference. Two shaggy-haired twenty-somethings sitting there with bottles of beer, laughing their heads off at something — the only jarring difference is they have laptops on their laps instead of a cheap electric guitar, and their jeans don’t have obvious holes in them (oh yes, and no baseball caps).
Is it a business? Sure sounds like one to me, with $100,000 in revenue per month right out of the gate. In fact, it might actually be a better business than Digg, ironically. Of course, if it doesn’t work out they can always blame on those darn meddlesome kids (otherwise known as the Scooby Doo ending).