Strategies for a discontinuous future.

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

Friday, July 21, 2006

"Content" vs Creativity

Can't wait for the movie.

-- umair // 12:06 PM //


Politics of the Day

Whether or not you think Hezbollah had it coming, Israel overreacted, whatever - I think we can all agree: there are hundreds and hundreds of thousands of basically innocent people paying a very, very steep price in Lebanon.

"..."They evacuate the foreigners, bring them to safety, and they leave us like dogs in the street," said Therese Khairallah, sitting with friends in an alley near the seashore. "A small mistake turned into this mountain of a disaster, and we're the victims."

I think it's morally bankrupt (not to mention absolutely, astoundingly bizarre) of the American left to pretend to have no opinion.

It is a microcosm of American politics. It tells us a great deal about just why and how the (far, far) right keeps "winning" - because the left is basically too wimpy to stand up for anything. And so it's no wonder no one really takes the American left seriously - what little spine they have is so easily broken.

But the real point is that there's no better way to breed fanaticism than to destroy the basic institutions of the state (while calling it "liberation" or "democracy building", etc).

Just look at Iraq, for example. More people are now killed in Iraq every month than Saddam killed an entire decade.

In fact, the daily or per capita murder/death rate in Iraq is in fact greater than in most of the civil wars in history. And the stage is being set for exactly the same dynamic in Lebanon.

So I can't help but point out what the the Lebanese PM said:

"..."Is the value of human life in Lebanon less than that of the citizens of other countries? Can the international community stand by while such callous retribution by Israel is inflicted on us?

"Will you allow innocent civilians, churches, mosques, orphanages, medical supplies escorted by the Red Cross, people seeking shelter or fleeing their homes and villages to be the casualties of this ugly war?

"Is this what the international community calls self-defense?

"Is this the price we pay for aspiring to build our democratic institutions? Is this the message to send to the country of diversity, freedom and tolerance?

"Only last year, the Lebanese filled the streets with hope and with red, green and white banners shouting out: Lebanon deserves life!

"What kind of life is being offered to us now?

"I will tell you what kind: a life of destruction, despair, displacement, dispossession, and death.

"What kind of future can stem from the rubble?

"A future of fear, frustration, despair, financial ruin and fanaticism."

-- umair // 11:55 AM //

Thursday, July 20, 2006

From Strategy to Creativity

Savile Row mini case study - possibly the most insightful single thing I have read in months.

-- umair // 5:06 PM //

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Myspace vs the Blockbuster Economy

Nice example of strategy decay happening in real-time - highly recommended.

-- umair // 4:58 PM //

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Jobs Effect

If you read bubblegen a lot, we've been arguing for ages that it's only a matter of time before Steve Jobs', well, Jobsian-ness, causes iTunes to implode catastrophically into an event horizon from which no profit shall escape (just like it did in the 80s).

Gratifyingly, this is an argument which has become more and more obvious even to analysts on the Street who usually refuse absolutely to think beyond the next earnings call, and so it's becoming a part of the new zeitgeist, at least amongst the kool kidz.

So here's what's likely the first chink in the armor - the first strategic error. Imho, rentals are deeply out of sync with the dynamics of consumption at the edge - not to mention the economics of movies via the www.

-- umair // 4:39 PM //


Link of the Day

On "need you to". A brilliant article tracking the rise of "need" over "must" or "should".

Now, to the beancounters among you, this no doubt sounds petty. But, strangely enough, I've been thinking about exactly this question lately in a tiny corner of the back of my mind - why, esp in the corporate world, is telling people about "needs" now the most appropriate way to construct a request?

I think it points to a deeper psychopathology within the corporation - that there is still little free will and social capital, ultimately the greatest sources of creativity and innovation, living inside most firms. When social capital is around, you do things because they "should" be done - not because ten layers of managers "need" them to be done.

-- umair // 3:11 PM //


Put Your 2.0 Where Your Mouth Is

In case you didn't notice, 2.0 is about to undergo a pretty severe test.

Michelle Malkin is about to begin using Digg as a political tool - a bullhorn with the reach of continents, if you follow my drift.

Now, that's perfectly fine. Even though I think it couldn't be more obvious that Malkin's bloodthirsty racist persona is just a means to the end of making $$, which is, in fact, what's truly bilious from a moral point of view, of course, many disagree.

The point is that we're about see the wisdom of crowds tested against the madness of the mob in real-time.

By this, I don't mean that people on the far right are insane (ok, maybe just a lil). What I mean is that, like most day-traders, they are going to be purely irrational (ie, Malkinintes don't exactly want Digg-style conversation, they want to basically tell you who's boss). The result is that volatility will be amplified, etc, etc.

This kind of tug of war happens everyday in financial markets - but it really hasn't happened in media yet. This is a big test, imho. If relatively normal people can share intellectual (market) space with cretinous Malkinite thugs, 2.0 is more powerful than even I guessed.

In fact, I predicted markets fragmenting into micromarkets - one for each niche - exactly because vol would be amplified (paradoxically) in participants. So, let's see which effect dominates - madness/contagion or wisdom/efficiency. Something to keep your eye on.

-- umair // 12:56 PM //


Bubblegen 10 (15, 20...)

Guys, I feel like my upcoming list of startups is missing a few, I can't exactly put my finger on who or why, so more recs here if you want.

-- umair // 12:38 PM //


Politics of the Day

Tragedy, meet farce. Tragedy and farce, meet Bush.

"...The US has 25k people in the zone as potential evacuees; the British 22k, the french 20k.

Oddly enough, you don't see the British or French governments threatening to bill their citizens to evacuate them to a British airbase in cyprus. It's too hot on the ground to move people out by sea or air yet, but it likely will start happening en masse when Israel gives some guarantees.

I can't believe people think it's appropriate to bill people to airlift citizens out of a goddamn warzone. If you don't have the money, then fuck you, you can stay and get bombed. Niice."

Indeed - welcome to the "ownership society".

-- umair // 12:02 PM //

Monday, July 17, 2006

More 1.0

Death of a brand, how not to think strategically, blah, blah - nice article, recommended.

One can only really point out the obvious - this is just a decision to do a brand equity ultra-sell out, a la Gucci in the 80s.

-- umair // 12:01 PM //



The utter retardedness of the modern American newspaper never ceases to amaze.

-- umair // 12:01 PM //

Sunday, July 16, 2006


Lots of inquiries about how we work, etc.

OK. BGSL is a boutique strategy consultancy. We focus on the what you read about here - media, culture, strategy, innovation.

Like most consultancies, we structure work through a few different models: workshops, projects, and longer term advisory work. Topics are flexible, but generally related to our big themes - old media, new media, peer production, management and strategic innovation, the shift from core to edge, next-gen branding, etc.

Unlike many consultancies, we also cross the line into more traditional investment banking: we work with both the buy side and the sell side (investors, startups, acquirers, etc) on M&A, investment theses, and advise on targets, valuation, fundraising, strategic reviews/acquisition strategies, corporate finance, etc.

But perhaps the best way to discover all of this is just to get in touch and chat - it's a complex set of services which can't be canned into a neat blog post.

-- umair // 9:51 PM //


BGSL vs Murdoch in Wired

Wired has a killer cover story this month by Spencer Reiss profiling Rupert Murdoch, chock full of Ross Levinsohn, and going deep into Myspace.

And I don't just mention that because we're quoted (and even called "trendy"...awww).

It's a great piece rich with insight, highly recommended.

And, yes, it's a (huge) testament to the intellectual and analytical poverty of the state of new media investment that Murdoch is still the guy that gets it the most - and so merits cover stories in Wired (just contrast for a sec with yesterdays digerati). Murdoch qwns j00 VCs (competitors, everybody) - and that is kind of sad.

-- umair // 9:43 PM //


Laws of Social Media

Guys, I am dropping the price of my Laws of Social Media paper by 50% as promised long ago.

If you're interested in investing in new media, thinking about social media/consumer-generated content/peer production from a strategic point of view, understanding why Myspace works/why it's not a fad, thinking about creating value from revolutionizing branding/the social/the cultural, etc, you might want to read.

I am also thinking of offering a market map for the new media space - which is basically a less complicated version of what I use to think strategically about the state of play - you can contact me if you're interested in this (more on this in about a month or so).

-- umair // 9:37 PM //



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