Strategies for a discontinuous future.

Consulting & advisory, research notes, in the press, about bubblegen,
next wednesdays.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Something Ventured - May 20th, 2005

State of start-ups in Canada written by a respected local VC based in Vancouver. Need a little Canadian context to fully follow it, but interesting nonetheless.

-- Mahashunyam // 8:27 PM //



Nice NYT piece about IPTV business model teething problems, using Akimbo as example.

-- umair // 12:09 PM //


Link of the Day

"...That�s one reason why we will play old Jagger more than old Bowie fifty years from now. The new culture of self-promotion has had a disastrous effect on creation. Networked art has the shelf life of a tomato. Energy spent networking is the same energy that could be spent making masterpieces."

A great read - highly recommended.

-- umair // 12:08 PM //


Apple vs Apple

Mossberg confirms something I've heard rumbling of:

"...More recently, unidentified cellphone carriers are reported to have balked at allowing customers to buy a new phone, jointly designed by Motorola and Apple Computer, that would let users synchronize and play back music from Apple's iTunes computer program. One possible reason: They want to sell music themselves."


-- umair // 12:05 PM //

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

AlterNet: The Flight From America

A very interesting insight into the comparative advantage of US and what could be done to sustain it.

"The main thing affecting the flow [of talent and technology] is not, in fact, your education system. A perfect example of that is California. California has for decades under-invested in its primary and secondary education system, and yet has these spectacular universities and a vibrant labor market. It's a great open place to live, and attracts people from all over the world.

What I say in my work is that there's this third T -- apart from Technology and Talent -- called Tolerance. The reason this third T is an important part of economic growth and economic advantage is because it attracts talented creative people from all races, ethnicities, income ranges, -- whether they're white, black, Hispanic, Latino, Asia, Indian, women, men, single, married, or gay. So places that are the most tolerant, the most diverse, the most, in words of the new book, "proactively inclusive" have an addition economical advantage."

-- Mahashunyam // 7:55 PM //


Some interesting insights into the economics of the internet. I've written a few EULA's in the past, and I find the survey on why NOBODY reads a EULA before downloading software to be very telling.

-- dhd // 4:27 PM //



Dan says regarding my property rights arguments:

"...The thing about DRM is that with DRM the price goes down, so even though I may not be able reburn a subscribed song from Napster/Rhapsody onto a CD, it costs me a fraction of the cost to listen to it as it would to buy it (provided I listen to enough music)."

OK - price alone is irrelevant. It's an effect, not a cause. It's a function of supply and demand, in the simplest case.

The problem with DRM, in my analysis is simple: it imposes huge nuisance costs on consumers, which limits the amount of value they derive from consuming DRM'd goods. This, obviously, impacts demand for DRM'd goods.

Alternatively, you can think about it in terms of plasticity. Plasticity is one of the fundamental sources of value for digital goods. People want to do cool things with the digital goods they buy. What can you do with a DRM'd good? Not much - DRM limits plasticity.

So regardless of price alone, what's important, strategically, is the price/value ratio: in this case, the price has to come down massively to keep the ratio competitive.

Now, in most cases, that kills margins, which alone is enough for DRM to be a really bad strategy. Another not-so-great consequence is that this essentially amounts to price/quantity competition, which is never a very good idea.

But if you also consider the fact that no copy protection system has ever 'worked' - gray markets have always arbitraged them away (at least at the consumer level) - you can draw the conclusions that DRM's always and everywhere a (very) dominated strategy. You can read my nauseatingly geeky prop rights essays for more.

I know, I know, the response is that rights management systems are only supposed to be like speed bumps, not like roadblocks, etc...I think that's a specious argument.

-- umair // 10:59 AM //


The Man Who Killed Blogging

Glenn Reynolds:

"...Quite a few bloggers are moving beyond opinion journalism into firsthand reporting. On my own InstaPundit.com weblog, I feature firsthand reports, often with photos, from places like Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. My "correspondents" are correspondents in the original sense -- people who correspond -- rather than in the modern sense of people with good hair and a microphone."

Ha ha. OK - let's not get carried away. No one the planet really believes that Glenn Reynolds is...uhh...some kind of actually objective editor interested in facts, for god's sake.

This is a small case of one of the big problems with micromedia: hyperpolarization. People can consume only what already know they want to consume. So how do preferences ever change? How are people exposed to perspectives that challenge them?

Obviously, the answer is that there's still going to be room in the market for mass media - but it has to do a much more effective job of challenging and stimulating people. Just don't tell Instapompous.

-- umair // 10:47 AM //


Brilliant Editorial of the Day

The J asks 'Why Can't the World Bank Be More Like A Bank':

"...Under this proposed policy, the Bank would establish, manage, and oversee individual accounts for citizens or institutions in Third World countries, as well as directly contribute to those accounts."

Great idea. Then we do even cooler things like their garnish their already meager earnings, to pay back money they 'owe' us, and better yet, now that Wolfowitz is in charge, outsource the whole job to Halliburton.

Brilliant stuff - the raw essence of Kafka distilled and forcefed to the 3rd world.

-- umair // 9:37 AM //

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Politics of the Day

Deep Throat's identity revealed - FBI AD. (MeFi).

-- umair // 5:03 PM //


A Recommendation

I've noticed that my media presentation is getting about twice as many downloads as my peer production presentation.

For those of you who are seriously interested in these topics professionally or personally, I strongly recommend reading them as a set.

That's because in the media presentation, I conclude, in large part, that peer production is the future.

The peer production presentation then goes on to detail how to think strategically about peer production, and how and why peer production dominates firms and markets under certain conditions.

Either way, enjoy.

-- umair // 4:42 PM //


Humour of the Day

'Prophet Yahweh' summoning UFOs on demand for a understandably skeptical ABC Las Vegas guy is hilariously cool. (Monkeyfilter).

-- umair // 10:59 AM //


Europe vs Innovation, Pt 281734

Part of the problem with Europe and innovation is that there are few cultural drivers - there's no Wired, for example.

No, the Reg does not even begin to be a cultural driver - it's an antidriver, a just helps keep geeks, droids, and beancounters separated.

But the other part of the problem is that the rest of the media is still fairly naive about tech. Like the Guardian, for example.

Despite all of their (worthy) efforts - which I think are great - for some mystifying reason, they still publish articles which are basically BSA press releases.

-- umair // 10:20 AM //


RIP Media 1.0

In today's WSJ, I find a very nice example of exactly the dynamics I've outlined in my media presentation - the failure of blockbusters, the rise of attention scarcity, and the huge problems this creates for Hollywood's (and the rest of the media industry's) usual price discrimination tactics.

"...After an aggressive campaign to promote and ship "Shrek 2" discs -- emblematic of Mr. Katzenberg's drive to expand the DVD market -- DreamWorks failed to adjust for a sea change that finds new titles burning out much faster than they did at the start of the decade. It stuck to generous forecasts for how the title would perform after its initial release, and assumed that "Shrek 2" would continue selling strongly.

Five years ago, a typical new DVD release would rack up about one-third of its total sales during the first week of release; the figure was even lower for animated movies, which tended to have longer legs. DVD sales would then steadily mount over weeks or months. But these days, DVD releases are generating a huge percentage of their total sales -- typically over 50% and in some cases, up to 70% -- in the first week.

The reason for the change: intense competition for shelf space, as both movie studios and TV producers unleash a flood of new discs every week. DVD sales are now mimicking the big-bang nature of the theatrical business, where movies make most of their money in the first few days before being knocked out by a slew of newcomers."

-- umair // 10:13 AM //



Recent & upcoming sessions:

Supernova 2007 (video)




due diligence
a vc
tj's weblog
venture chronicles
the big picture
bill burnham
babak nivi
n-c thoughts
london gsb

chicago fed
dallas fed
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world bank
nouriel roubini


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