Monday, December 21, 2009

Top 10 for 2010 ...

What will be the top 10 events of 2010? Give us your predictions!

1. The most expected political event of 2010 - passage of health care reform?
2. The most unexpected political event of 2010 - the failure to pass health care reform?
3. The next disruptive technology to follow Twitter and Facebook?
4. The biggest media deal of 2010?
5. The most important media deal of 2010?
6. The most unlikely media event of 2010, to parallel the Tiger Woods scandal of 2009?
7. The closing price for the Dow Jones Average at the end of 2010?
8. The biggest movie of 2010?
9. The most unlikely media celebrity of 2010?
10. The most unlikely political celebrity of 2010 (is that the same as #9, see Sarah Palin)?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Scheduled to Testify at the NYC Council Committee on Tech. about the Importance of Tech Companies to the City

I am scheduled to testify at the hearing to be held on Wednesday, December 16, by the New York City Council Committee on Technology in Government. The Committee is seeking suggestions from the tech and business community as to how City government can foster the development of small technology start-ups. In turn, I am seeking suggestions from each of you.

My initial thoughts are that there are 3 key areas of development:

• Ease of creation of new companies. In the last few months, I have met with a lot of new companies and with budding entrepreneurs who want to start new companies, both because they have great new ideas or out of economic necessity. Anything that City government can do to make it easier to create new companies, especially in areas such as licensing, permitting and incorporating, will encourage more people to take the plunge.
• Increased employment opportunities. Many of these companies are one-person operations. They could definitely use more help, but hiring people is often a risky proposition. Anything that the City can do to make it easier to create in-house staff will create jobs. This is especially valuable because we want to encourage entrepreneurs to create new jobs, especially since their alternative is often to out-source functions, which pushes the work, and jobs, to other locations here in the U.S. or abroad. Furthermore, in-house development of technology is important to these fledgling companies so that they can have greater control over their technology and more flexibility with regard to its development.
• Support services. Every startup technology company needs an ecosystem of vendors and suppliers to enable its business – hosting, legal, accounting, advertising, etc. Making it easy for entrepreneurs to launch new technology companies will have spin-off benefits within the ecosystem of companies and agencies that spring up or staff up to service these new clients.

I am open to additional suggestions from the tech, entrepreneur and finance communities as to other items that any of you feel should be raised in this forum. Hopefully, the benefits of this inquiry by the City government will result in benefits to us all.

More information about the hearing is available here: and the media alert is reproduced below:

Who: Council Committee on Technology in Government, Council Committee on Small Business, Technology Community, Entrepreneurs, and Developers

When: Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at 10 AM

What: Public Hearing on Tech start-ups, their benefits to NYC, and methods to encourage digital entrepreneurship

Where: Council Chambers, City Hall

(The Hearing will be webcasted through and tweeted on More details below.)

New York, NY - On Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at 10 AM in the Council Chambers of City Hall, the New York City Council Committees on Technology in Government and Small Business will hold a joint public hearing to examine how small technology start-ups are surviving in this tough economy. This hearing will help the Council understand the dynamics behind successful firms as well as what options are available to the City in aiding these important businesses in their struggle to remain competitive and viable in a global environment.

City lawmakers are seeking ways to foster small business growth and boost New York City’s image as technology and digital media leader. Small businesses and information technology groups offer a myriad of job opportunities and ideas to the broader economy. Current incubators, venture capitalist funds, and industry consortiums help improve the economy and provide support for future entrepreneurs. By understanding the dynamics of how these firms operate, the City can help facilitate broader innovation and attract additional companies within knowledge-based industries.

The Committee on Technology in Government will be live twittering and webcasting this entire public hearing.

* You can follow us on twitter at and use the tag #nycstartup if you have any comments, suggestions, and questions during the hearing. Wireless Internet is available to attendees to tweet this hearing.
* If you are unable to attend the hearing, you can view the live webcast at You may also use the chat function available on the site for comments, questions and suggestions.
* Furthermore, you can follow all of the Tech Committee’s activities on

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Studio One Networks Launches Venture Capital Operation


Unique venture program will provide exposure for innovative content and media technology firms, and assist creators of groundbreaking programming and interactive services for the Internet and beyond.

NEW YORK, September 10, 2009 – Further strengthening its position as the leading Internet content syndication service worldwide by meeting the diverse needs of its rapidly expanding user base, Studio One Networks announced the launch of Studio One Networks Ventures, which will make equity investments in media and technology companies in exchange for inclusion and promotion in the award-winning programming of Studio One Networks.

Studio One Networks Ventures is unique in the marketplace because it serves as a content development studio, a network platform, and a venture capital program for entrepreneurs, start-up companies and independent innovators in the creation of groundbreaking interactive content and technology solutions. The Ventures division will focus on the delivery of new services, enhancement of existing products, entry or expansion into key strategic marketing and critical research and development activities. Selected companies will have access to Studio One’s market-leading syndication network and its 120 million monthly unique users. In return, Studio One Networks Ventures will receive an equity position in these companies, enabling it to share in their future success.

Andrew Susman, CEO of Studio One Networks, said, “This program will help ensure that we continuously re-define ‘state of the art’ in content and content enhancements. We developed Ventures to identify and provide an accelerator effect for entrepreneurs who are developing content and technologies that take advantage of the vast possibilities of the Internet and serve the needs of our audiences, media partners and supporting sponsors.

“The formation of Ventures also demonstrates Studio One’s commitment to the innovation community, which we’ve been a part of for more than a decade,” Mr. Susman continued. “We all remember people who believed in us early on and gave us an opportunity. We want Studio One Ventures to be that kind of entity.”

The Managing Director of Studio One Networks Ventures is Victor Lee, who was previously Director of Capital Cities Capital, a venture capital operation that invested in media and technology companies in exchange for providing access to the media assets of Capital Cities/ABC. Mr. Lee was also previously President of U.S. Broadcast Services for Medialink Worldwide, a leading broadcast public relations firm, and President of Brandstands International, a digital out-of-home video network.

Mr. Susman added, “Victor has the perfect background in finance and media to run this operation for us, based on his experience with a very similar program at Capital Cities Capital, as a private equity investor at the IBM pension fund and as head of strategic planning at Time Inc.”

About Studio One Networks

Established in 1998, Studio One Networks pioneered the discipline of Internet content syndication for megabrands and major media partners. Today, Studio One is the oldest, largest and most successful firm in the field. Studio One has amassed a loyal group of exclusive sponsors. Their programs include Iams (The Dog Daily), Symantec (Your Security Resource) and Bridgestone (Driving Today). Every day, Studio One reaches more than 112 million viewers globally through 500 syndication partners in 14 languages.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Julie & Julia: It's Not About the Food, It's About the Media

"Julie & Julia" opened this weekend, a movie about Julia Child's rise as one of America's premier food mavens and a blogger's search for the meaning of life through the re-creation of each of the 540-some recipes in Julia's seminal tome, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."

The two principals never meet, and the movie cuts back forth between their stories. Among the interesting contrasts between the two tales - in addition to period costumes and heavy (cigarette) smoking during Julia's time, especially during dinner time - is the stark difference in media and the opportunity for self-expression. For example, Julia and her co-conspirators set out to write the first cookbook explaining French cooking in English for the American housewife audience. That entails laboriously typing over 700 pages of manuscripts, with copies possible only through the use of carbon paper and onion-skin duplicates. The completed book must then be (snail) mailed to a publisher, who stands as the gatekeeper between the authors and their audience. The first prospective publisher rejects the book, but the second comes to the rescue. This gives Julia's book a much smoother ride to publication than that endured by many of today's most well-known authors, including J.K. Rowling and John Grisham, who apparently encountered double-digit rejections before reaching publication.

By contrast, Julie Powell, the intrepid blogger, has no such third-party obstacles. She is online within minutes (at least in movie time) of conceiving the idea of her blog. Of course, finding an audience (other than her mother) takes a little longer, but at least the audience (and media attention) she attracts is presumably a function of the quality of her writing, not dependent on the judging panel of a publisher that makes the American Idol crew seem promiscuous.

The moral of the story seems to be that, in this web 2.0, interconnected, user-generated world, anyone can be a writer. As one would expect, in that event, anyone will. Even me.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Nothing Is Truly Free - You Always End Up Paying Something

I was reading the New York Times review of Chris Anderson's new book, "Free." The reviewer was Virginia Postrel, and her review certainly made the book sound very interesting. My interest was particularly piqued when she mentioned that the book was available free online until its publication date. Ms. Postrel pointed out that this "free" distribution of the book went to the book's core thesis, that one can create a lucrative business by giving away products so as to create demand for non-free products and services. Being the cheapskate that I am, I decided to check this out here on Scribd.

Immediately it became apparent that there are a few impediments to enjoying this book "freely," to coin a phrase. Let's start with its unavailability beyond the pub date. Okay, I thought, why don't I just download the book at read it as my leisure? No good - download function is disabled.

Alternatively, why don't I just print it out in a pdf? Oops, that's been disabled as well.

As a result, I am limited to reading the book in the Scribd reader. Given the ravages of age and its impact on my eyesight, I needed to enlarge the text, which no longer fit comfortably within the reader, such that each pair of adjoining pages could be read only by scrolling laterally and horizontally (If anyone knows of a way to ameliorate this, please let me know.).

While the content is "free," the time, effort and aggravation required for me to read the book in this format is a much higher "cost" than I am willing to bear. After all, the book is over 250 pages in length - that equates to 125 pairs of pages. Perhaps this too was part of the business plan - the book is nominally free, but it's so inconvenient to read that I'll be compelled to buy it instead. If so, it seems to have backfired. I'm now so annoyed at having been essentially "suckered" into thinking I was getting to read a book for free, that I'm just going to get it for free, for real, at my library. So there!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Are Online Videos Getting Shorter or Longer?

While I realize that online video is still a nascent industry and that, as Yogi Berra said, it's difficult to make predictions, especially about the future, two sources last week seemed to point in exactly opposite directions, much like the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz.

The New York Times, on Sunday, July 5, claims that videos on the web are getting longer, lasting beyond the 2-3 minute limitations that producers thought were imposed by the outer reaches of their audience's attention spans: "TV networks get much of the credit for the longer-length viewing behavior ... making users accustomed to watching TV online for 20-plus minutes at a time."

By contrast, a recent survey by Frank N. Magid Associates indicates that viewers are moving away from TV broadcasts that are shown online, and that, in the words of MediaPost, "shorter online video -- done professionally -- has been found to be more entertaining than full-length TV shows on traditional TV sets among 37% of consumers."

To try to reconcile these two viewpoints, it would seem that TV viewing online is conditioning users to longer-form programming than previously, and that online video producers are taking advantage of this trend by lengthening their narratives as they increasing compete with TV programming for eyeballs. Thoughts?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

100 Days ... Now What?

President Obama held a news conference last night, essentially to commemorate the first 100 days of his administration. This was seem by presumably everyone in America who was not watching Fox, which declined to provide prime-time access for this event. Seems rather churlish to me - after all, where would sister network Fox News be if it weren't for the fodder provided by the President and his triumphs, foibles, failings, pet musings, and all the rest that passes for news these days.

Granted, 100 days is a rather meaningless, arbitrary benchmark, but it does at least provide an occasion for some level of reflection - as NYC Mayor Ed Koch used to say, "How'm I doin'?"

So, how do you think he's doin'? And what do you make of the fact that he is more popular than his policies? Does that mean that his personal qualities will help eventually sell his less-popular policies or do you think that his personal charm will wear off and the cold harsh reality of his policies and the public discomfort with them will prevail?