Sunday, March 30, 2008

New business models in online communities

Just ran into this presentation on RW-Web. A must-read for anyone doing anything with communities.


From: plus8star, 3 weeks ago

Our presentation at Media'08 event in Sydney in March 2008.
A world premiere comparing Facebook with Cyworld, Mixi and QQ.
Result: Facebook is #4.

Countdown to launch: 6......


Often, you question your reason for being. Not only is it natural, but it's also very healthy.
It helps you stay focused, it helps you re-calibrate yourself, and it helps you understand where you stand in the context of today.

However, every once in a while, when you question yourself, you get some outright brilliant answers. It happens very rarely, but it's what you live for. These brilliant answers are what make you who you are. It's why you roll the way you do.

WeareIndia.TV is a labor of love for a great many of us. We're doing this because we can. We're doing this because it needs to be done. We're doing this because it makes sense. And we're doing this because no one else can get it right.

Film-making is an art form that has long been gulped down by mainstream cinema. What used to be a medium for individual expression, has turned into a medium for mass entertainment. And while we're just as much a part of the masses as we are individuals, mass-culture has taken precedence over individual personality.

And that is unfair. It's unfair to expression, it's unfair to freedom, it's unfair to individuals, and if you think about it, it's unfair to the masses.

So, in a very small way, we've embarked upon setting this record straight.

As I look through the quality of films that are showing up at our doorstep, and the passion driving each film-maker behind them, I know that we're on the right path. Each one of these films entertains, without fail. Or, teaches me something I didn't know. Or, shows me something I haven't seen.

The response has been overwhelming, and this was the answer we were looking for. It's what we live for. It's what makes us who we are, and it's why we roll the way we do.

We are honored, humbled, and grateful to be a part of all this. That we're doing this as a business is why we believe this will be a success. This isn't a non-profit movement that relies on generosity. This is a for-profit initiative that solves problems.

A big thank you to BlackBook Productions, Hypnautyx, Influx Dzine, Nalandaway, Breakthrough, GrayMatter Films, BrokenMirror, HereandNow365, SolutionSet, iDes and many others for being the friends that you are. Believe you me, this was not happening without you.

We're going to accelerate our launch proceedings now, seeing as we are 2 days away from launch(or are we?!).

On behalf of the team @ Marcellus, I invite all of you to head on over to WeareIndia.TV

Best wishes,
Manoj, Rifaquat, Shashank, Bobby, Harshal and Preetam.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

A tribute to John Lennon

Before I get to the Lennon part:

I've been meaning to say thank you to Jeff Lanctot and his team @ Avenue A for the wonderful report they released recently on the 2008 Digital Media Outlook.

I figured re-distribution might be a good(albeit selfish) step to acknowledgment, so here's a graph that summarized where ad dollars are, and where they're going.

Points to be noted:

1) Portal advertising, which grew 100% between 2005-2006, grew only by 7% between 2006-2007. Ouch.
2) Vertical advertising, which grew 15% between 2005-2006, grew a good 42% between 2006-2007.

What does that mean?
1) Fragmentation happened very quickly. Almost too quick for most portals/destinations to react. People found relevance elsewhere, and just..sort of..left.
I don't read Yahoo! news anymore. I get on iGoogle, read my personalized news across all topics, and then head on to wherever my news appetite for the day seems to get satiated best(via Google, of course).

2) As fragmented markets take shape and coagulate, the resulting verticals/niches present highly target-able audiences for advertisers.
I follow headlines, not newspapers or brands. If I see a news item that's appealing, then that's where I go.
Advertisers want to be where I go, because that's their biggest clue to knowing what's appealing to me.


It's all very beautiful. We're seeing the dots getting connected all over again. The world hasn't grown. We're all just getting a little closer to each other. Without suffocating each other.

This is a new world...a new dimension if you will.

Time means nothing, perspective means everything, context is infinite, connectivity tends towards perfection, a space has no definition...only opportunity, collaboration is survival, open is naked is beautiful, persona is situational...not representative, everything adds up, and spam is about to die.

John Lennon is missing out.

Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug.....

The story of the week comes from a chance encounter I had with a product director for MSN Video, at Microsoft.
As it turned out, she was a panelist at one of the sessions, and of course, not a lot of what she said made sense.

I went up to her after the session was over(mostly because I didn't remember what she said, and I know she used the word 'community' somewhere in her annoying monologue..) and asked her:
"Ma'am, what is Microsoft's plan for edge distribution? I mean, as we're reading these days, distribution trumps destination, and it sounds like you guys are still stuck on creating a portal/destination."

Her response:
"Well, we have the MSN Messenger community, the largest online community in the world, with over 400 million users. So you can take MSN Videos and post it into your MSN messenger's great! We've launched in the US and it will come to India very soon."

You know me.
I gave her the warmest smile, shook her hand, thanked her for her time, and left.

(Update: Fake Steve has an interesting perspective on Microsoft Surface Computing strategy- a must read)

The online media space, especially when it comes to Internet video, is undergoing many fundamental transformations.

One of these transformations is that contrary to earlier models where context was associated with content, we're now in a world where content needs to follow context.

Because context is everywhere. Discussions, communities, social context and personal relevance is all at the edge, and if you're building up a centralized platform, thinking you're going to draw audiences, you're wrong. Way wrong.

Rather, you need to think about the edge network as a multitude of cities....a collection of ecosystems with varied needs, motivations and behavioral patterns.
"Contextual relevance" means different things to different ecosystems.

Reality check. As a content owner looking to solve the distribution puzzle on the Internet:

1) You can spend your marketing and advertising dollars in understanding, profiling, targeting, and reaching out to a few million fragmented markets.
And hope that these millions of audience segments will show up at your destination to see what you have to offer them.

I can't think of a more inefficient way to spend money.


2) You can spend your technology and R&D dollars in making your content so incredibly elastic, that it can be made to fit within virtually any context across the edge. In a nutshell, you enable your consumers to become distributors.

And if you can enable viral distribution, without having to actually stimulate it, you've already won.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

FICCI-Frames: Live coverage

(As you may have noticed, we never returned from tea...technical delays and I promise to plan better next time around).

---Break for tea. Resume at 12.30pm----

OPENING SESSION: 9:30am - 12:10 pm

Amit Khanna, Chairman, Reliance Entertainment

"9 years ago, when Frames was first held, Internet was merely a medium. Today, it is an economy."
"Today, everything is entertainment - News, Crime, Wars, Sports, Education, everything!"
"HUman mind moves in arithmetic progression. Technology grows in Geometric progression"
"MOre than arithmetic, Culture is going to be the global forces of the coming century. Fortunately for India, we already are a powerhouse in this force."

"I believe people in the future will agree to receive services in exchange for their attention. Monetizing that attention is the future of business.

"Internet is a copy machine. It is an invitation for people to take the easy routes. But people will slowly learn that when you start riding a tiger, unless you learn how to ride the tiger, you'll get eaten up."

"Mindshare grabbing is the way to grabbing a share of the wallet."

Top entertainment trends for the coming decade:

1. New digital technologies reshaping logistics of entertainment. Traditional media will have to adapt to new technologies to remain competitive.
2. Convergence of Internet with other media will pave the future of the industry
3. On demand interactive content will become the standard.
4. Movie theatres will get introduced to satellite download of movies.
5. More powerful, smarter multimedia devices to experience the new era of entertainment content.
6. Digital TV to provide realitme participation with celebrities.
7. Convergence of entertainment and education
8. Producers of any form of art will have to adapt new technologies.

HE Viviane Reding, Commissioner, Information, Society & Media, European Commission

"Culturally, Europe and India are very similar. Indian constitution recognizes 22 offical languages. EU recognizes 22 offical languages. India is a republic for 60 years, Europe is a confedration for 50 years, and more so.. However, we are a Continent of 500 million and you are a nation of more than double!"

"Censorship is the bane of good films everywhere in the world"

"We want our film makers to learn in your schools and your film makers to learn in our schools"

"Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Sweden - leaders in Broadband penetration, higher than US. "

"Europe has the Highest mobile penetration in the world. India to become the Mobile contintent of the world. Why not bring the 2 together and mutually benefit?"

HE Dominique Dreyer, Ambassador of Switzerland to India

"Switzerland owes a lot to Mr. Yash Chopra for putting our geography onto the world map through his movies. Hopefully sometime soon, someone in the Swiss Govt. will decide to name one of our mountains after Mr. Chopra!"

Asha Swarup, Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Govt. of India

"Financial SOPs had been requested - Finance Ministry has obliged with certain measures in Union Budget 08."
"Don't create an inspector Raj"
"Indian entertainment industry poised to grow faster than the Indian economy"
"Parallel release on multiple platforms only solution to piracy"

Stewart Beck, Asst. Deputy Minister, Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Canada.
"India invested $5 billion in Canada in 2007"

Amit Mitra adds:
"In 2007, India invested more in UK than UK did into India.
India invested $10.6 billion into the US while USA invested $856 million into India"

Saturday, March 22, 2008

In a world of good and evil....

...sociable people always win me over. Over and over again.

Social Design Best Practices from Google.

Joost gets a boost. Akimbo remains a bimbo.

Yes, it's official: Joost is now going to move out-of-the-box in an effort to catchup with the Internet age.
(Tivo/SlingMedia, for the umpteenth time, please take note..).

Clear sign that their old strategy for providing the P2P living room experience has failed.
But I also think this new move is hot. Sizzling hot.

How? I see two potential next steps for the Joost platform:

1) Browser-based video delivery( step, multi-platform/multi-device support)
2) P2p delivery architecture( step, P2P Torrential CDN-as-a-Service)

And ubiquitous access + distributed delivery => mass appeal + democratized production(++ cheaper content distribution)
Weren't people looking for the next pioneer in Internet video/the YouTube killer? Well, here it is, taking birth.....


Oh and you know who's NOT the pioneer it claims to be?
It's these homies out of San Mateo, California...

I'm going to have a button on WeareIndia.TV that says:
As much as we'd like to, we're UNABLE to keep up with the nuances of IE 5.5+. So pretty please, with sugar on top, download Firefox.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Countdown to launch: 7......

We just integrated our Amazon web store this afternoon.

To keep things simple(and relevant), we've included only a few product categories. I'm sure we'll add to this list over time, but for now....just a few specific categories.

Integration was quite seamless. In fact, the entire purchase process is quite seamless.

I think we're going to do some more exploration into this WAI-AWS relationship. There seems to be a lot of opportunity for deeper level integration and audience fulfillment.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

full figure bra stores in arizona

I am so not joking: this ad just showed up next to a dynamic content page on the WeareIndia dev. site.

This was a page filled with a lot of movie trailers, and none of the videos had any meta information, except for "Alexander", starring Val Kilmer, Anthony Hopkins, and Angelina Jolie.

Anal as I am about these things, I did a full search on the page for anything that might have caused Google to contextualize the ad thus.

No mention of a "bra", "arizona", "figure"...etc...anywhere across the page.

This is silly. Maybe Shopzilla pre-seeded their search w/ the phrase.
I think I'll just ban them, for screwing with my contextualization efforts.

Heh. :)

First advertiser to be banned from WeareIndia.TV: Shopzilla, a seller of full-figured brassieres in Arizona.

Countdown to launch: 8......

This post is dedicated to the commenting feature that saved the day for us: Disqus.

We were struggling to get our commenting working just right, and even then, we hadn't implemented a third of the capabilities we wanted to.
And then just like that, I see an e-mail from Disqus- a service I'd signed up for a long time ago, but never used.

Here's what it looks like on the site:

That's not all, of course. There is a gang-load of features that you can check out here.

I strongly recommend Disqus to anyone doing anything on the web that involves comments.
It's easily my favorite widget of all time.

And yes, given the timing, I think this qualifies as serendipity.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


I'm really bored with all this talk of Yahoo.

I think it's clear by now that Yahoo! has *some* value, and the debate is on about the mutually agreeable quantification of that value...for all parties in this orgy(Yang, Yahoo! Board, Yahoo! Shareholders, Ballmer, Microsoft, yada yada..). And such a debate could be endless.

So I thought I should shut up and draw a few boxes, connect them with arrows, and see what happens.

Here's what happened:

This is quite a soup Microsoft has gotten itself into.

- Will Yahoo! add value to Microsoft? Yes.
- Can Microsoft capitalize and grow that value? No.
- Where does that value go in a merger? To offset the declining value of Microsoft.
- Is a Yahoo! acquisition enough to repair existing Microsoft damage? No.
- Can Microsoft afford more such acquisitions? Probably not.
- Is MicroHoo just a way to extend the Microsoft life line? You bet. $45 billion?!! They're GASPING for air..!!
- What Ballmer is probably thinking: Dude, where's my car?
- What Yang's thinking: King Kong ain't got shit on me.
- And Schmidt's kickin' it with the Page twins, wondering: THESE are the pirates of Silicon Valley???!!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A child gives birth to a mother

I am not sure which way I feel about this, but thought it should get on the blog anyway: India nurtures business of Surrogate motherhood.

Friday, March 14, 2008

ShareThis raises $15 million

Well, hell.
11 days ago, I called it a funky tool.
11 days later, the funky tool raised $15 million (in addition to its earlier $6 million).

Congratulations, ShareThis. Go in peace.

But hey, you rich folks at Draper Fischer and what not.....check this out: I just made the same tool in 25 minutes and a $0 investment. It works across many different content types, not just URLs. And I could've added 20 more platforms, but was a little bored and running out of real estate on my web page.

Oh and that's not half the story- our CTO is about to get medieval with this, with a pair of pliers and a blow-torch.

He's going to:
a. Let users add in their own choice of sharing platform into our widget. Beat that.
b. Build us a facebook app that incorporates this widget, so we won't really need to be in "talks" w/ pimple-face-berg.

So lemme aks u dis: can ye kick mah ass??!!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Countdown to launch: 9......

New announcement for WeareIndia.TV launch proceedings: you can look, but you can't touch.

That means, no interactions. You can't rate, you can't tag, you can't make your own play lists, etc..

Because we are working on a set of interactions that will blow your mind away.
And we want to test the hell out of them, and make sure they work beautifully, before pushing them in front of you.

In the meantime, there will be many many places across the site which need your feedback. I think that's more crucial for us right now- hearing from you on what YOU would like to see on the site.

That was the quick update...more soon!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I promise I'll stop with this i-Shit very soon, but until then, here's a totally hot interpretation of the Mark Zuckerberg interview at SxSW, by Sunni Brown.

Check out more funnies like this on her website.


Okay, so I'm really not high, but it's been a day of heavy talk, and I just ran into this totally hilarious find: the marijuana-themed documentary- "Super High Me"

Go here, ask them to send you the movie, invite your friends over, light up a joint, and "get SUPER HIGH".
Just make sure you don't charge anyone to watch it.

"It can be difficult to get stoners off the couch," said Suzanne Blech, senior vp sales and acquisitions at Screen Media Films.
"The number of people who get stoned in America is quite a large percentage, and all we want for them is to tell their friends that they have to see this funny, funny movie."

I just spent two good hours writing about new media economics, value creation, and ..........I'm now faced with a new 10-foot demographic I didn't consider before: stoners.

Anyway, you know what to do if you want to hold a "special screening". :)

The real deal launches on April 20th, of course.


As a follow-up to my last post, I think it's worth adding(if you didn't know it already) that democratization is radically changing the way we do business.

The value is shifting from content owners, to successful players in the areas mentioned below.

Is there room for value creation?
Absolutely. Because now(on the Internet), you have a lot more content , many different avenues for consumption, new monetization models, mass(yet personal) syndication, and ubiquitous distribution.

Everything just....sort of...exploded. In.Your.Face.

How fun. Read on.

5 areas of value creation in online media .

1. Production

> Help people produce more content. Help produce quality content. Make it all happen cheaper. Faster.
> Eg: Brightcove

2. Showcasing
> Make it easy to find, discover, search, browse, and filter content. Make it easy for end users to re-purpose your content in ways that have personal meaning. Or even social relevance.
> Eg: haven't seen anyone achieve this yet. YouTube, to a great extent, comes close, but by focusing on YOU, they've ruined their chances of discovery, and relevance.

3. Monetization
> Business models are changing. But the ways to make money aren't. (Ads, paid content). Offer publishers the controls they need to tweak their biz-models on-the-go. Success in this domain isn't about how cool your advertising method is. Success is about being able to ensure conversions, irrespective of revenue model.
> Eg: haven't seen anyone achieve this, although folks like Entriq make some claims.

4. Syndication
> RSS is the vehicle. Not the answer. There needs to be some degree of smart syndication, where the right content is scooped up from a number of different content sources, aggregated according to the context of a syndication network/platform, and delivered as preferentially mashed up personal feeds.
> No doubt, Guy Kawasaki's Alltop is what I'm talking about.

5. Distribution
> Sometimes, distribution is about jumping over walled gardens. And at times it is about interfacing via web services. And there's always the good old "strategic partner" route. The big challenge in new media distribution is overcoming technology barriers to maximize portability. And provide 100% visibility.
> Haven't seen anyone pull this off yet, either.

iRock or iSuck?

Open letter to the media companies of the world, however big or small.
To know if you rock(or if you suck) in the new media world, here are five things you should be thinking about.

Question 1.

What’s the new definition of ‘media life-cycle'?

In an earlier oligarchy, a movie went from being alive in theaters(@ 10 bucks + popcorn), to home video(@ $5 + groceries), to TV networks (@ $3.99 PPV minus Ads), to dying a death at your local Super Saver (@ 2 bucks + popcorn).
Obviously, the movie didn't become any less entertaining as it went's just that the demand for a movie diminished as it moved through the cycle.(and let's keep in mind the demand from hyped premiere, opening nights, home video launches, etc.).

Now think about this for a second: on the Internet, a song on iTunes sells for $0.99 on day 1, and for $0.99 on day 730.

Two years into the supposed life-cycle of a song, and instead of slashing the price by 80%(and selling it for $0.20), Apple can keep the price exactly as it was the day the song was released.

What does that tell you?

Demand, in the new media world, is not what you see on Day 1 or Day 730.
You simply can't look at it from a temporal context any more.
You need to start thinking about life-cycle in a spatial context.

Because on the Internet, demand has nothing to do with time. It has everything to do with space(ahem..venue/location).


Question 2.
What are the different stages in this new lifespan progression of media, who’re the entities involved, and how do they all play together?

Let's say you've figured out the spaces, places, and faces that help you formulate your new media life-cycle....

Your next challenge is to figure out how you can help them interact with each other. How do you tie in your on-site video distribution platform with your iPhone application? How do you leverage the two to create a winning Facebook app. that finally makes sense for Joe Blow to use?

How do you move from "We hope you will enjoy the show", to "We know you will find enjoyable shows"?

The Internet is not about making an impact. It's about making content accessible. So you need to figure out your new value chain, how your content traverses through it, how value is created, and how big a role you can play in extracting+distributing value.


Question 3.
When do we make money?

Okay, first off, you need to forget about 'minimum guarantees'. No such thing on the web. No one can guarantee you zip. Nada. Zilch.
It makes sense for a content CREATOR to ask for a production fee + margin to fund his creations, but no content distributor/provider should expect to receive a minimum guarantee for distribution on the Internet.
Case in point: go to YouTube. They guarantee you a total audience of about 50 million users, but what minimum guarantee do you have for revenues from that audience? ZERO.

So how long before you make a lot of money?
No one has a good answer to this. You definitely will not gross millions in your first week.
The Internet has often been viewed as a place to make a quick buck, and to an extent, it’s lived up to its potential.
However, if you’re thinking profitability and ROI, then remember that the R is always proportional to the I. The ‘I’ is not necessarily money, because it's relatively cheap to publish on the Internet. You could probably spend a truck load of cash in advertising and marketing, but can you do that on a sustained basis?

I can even build you a case study of a certain company that spent more money than I've ever seen spent on marketing an online venture. Two years later, it's still a pathetic venture making little money.

Your investment is the time you put in to build up your business organically, drive traffic, scale, add services, build audiences, and achieve critical mass.

So understand your business, know your audience, grow efficiently, and distribute value.


Question 4.
Do you invest in content,or technology? Or services?

We recommend that you stick with content. Bluntly put, that’s what you do best, and at the rate the Internet is progressing, your investments on building technology will only bring you diminishing value.
Even we(and we’re technology people) have a tough time keeping up with technology. Not because we don’t understand parts of it, but because things are hyped up so much, that it’s a serious chore to chip away at the externalities and find the diamonds in the rough. A good part of my day goes away everyday in doing just that, and I’m not a fun person to be around afterward.

And, go for services. They're easy, they help you scale, they're cost-efficient, and they evolve(else they die).

Find services that help you mould business models and show you how to respond to your audiences very quickly.
Learn how to identify technology that drives. And equally important, learn how to identify technology that slows you down.

No, I’m not going to name names, but it’s no point anyway. Remember, it’s a big playing field and it’s up to you to choose how you want to play.


Question 5.

How do you re-calibrate?

Answering the above should be a good start.
I didn’t cover business models here, and that’s intentionally so. Too much has been made out of successful business strategies in the Internet video world, and I really feel like it’s all just a little bit of history repeating.

Yes, the Internet is laden with opportunity to be harvested, but it’s equally important to know that this opportunity isn’t about to diminish. There can never be enough audiences to satiate.

So, to re-calibrate, start with a careful(and honest) examination of sustenance, objectivity, capability, competence, and longevity.


Friday, March 7, 2008


Good times, everyone...

The BBC has made its iPlayer available for users to catch up on their TV shows, via streaming video to the iPhone.
Check out the link here on the BBC Internet Blog.

Which reminds me, the iPhone SDK is ready for download(even though the BBC isn't really using the SDK to deliver the iPlayer to the iPhone).

Thursday, March 6, 2008


I just heard of the iFund today. Yummy, ain't it? (ahem, Kleiner Perkins at it again....)

It seems like there's a lot to be done yet on the [i]concept. While the world moves towards 'you' and 'we', it's really interesting that Apple keeps moving closer to 'i'.

I don't know if I should read anything more into it, so the juice is that there's a $100 million fund set up that will finance products that can use the iPhone SDK to build innovative applications.

WAI.TV members: check out our Zoho forum for a continuation of this(.....our secret sauce... if you will).

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

WAI Facebook?

F8 is coming under heavy fire.

Umair Haque says: "F8 fragments the larger network into app-specific networks, kills networks effects, and destroys value."
He links to David Gal on VentureBeat who wonders if F8 is "..a strategic mistake?"

I think we should start off by taking F8 for what it is...a Zuckerberg best-effort at stimulating interaction(via app. development) on FB, leveraging the user community, and providing a monetization angle in all this for developers.

Being as we just started discussing our own Facebook application, I thought we ought to give some careful thought to this.
And this is not just because we greatly value Umair's opinion, but because I am an avid Facebook user, and I detest 99% of the applications that show up on my notification feed from my friends.

So arguments for the FB-Doomsday situation were:

1. F8 does little to build the network.... (and I think this isn't quite right because F8 is clearly aimed to leverage, not build..)

2. Useful networked applications need to have a lot of relevant users... (and by letting multiple apps. show up in a category, no single app. can effectively leverage the network for that category; likewise, the popular apps aren't necessarily the best ones, but the first ones to arrive..)

3. Leveraging the network: Facebook needs to be the one directly leveraging the network, for quality control and maximum value.
F8 => kilo-tonnes of apps into the network == Mass-ploitation => NOT (mass value-creation)

4. "endless numbers of apps competing for network effects, but failing to realize them; because the iron curtain of f8 minimizes the value of said network effects."


Whew. Heavy stuff, as always. To a large extent, I agree.
Simply put, the big reason I like to use Facebook is because of its clean, clutter-free appearance.
And the gang-loads of applications (20,000++) almost seems like a counter-intuitive complement to the aesthetic which draws me to FB.

But you know what...just like we get the leaders we deserve, the Facebook network is responsible for shaping its own effects.

I don't think F8 is the problem. To me, it's just another platform, made available to people who're at a certain party, and as long as the people at the party don't yell at the losers standing on the platform, there will continue to be losers on stage, undermining the true potential of the platform.

So before we put this thought aside, let's keep in mind two words: social policing.


Next two words: developer responsibility.

Personally, I think this is meaningless. A ToS page, this large, means nothing. I think Gideon Yu would do well to draw on his experience at YouTube and try and replicate something like this on F8.

I think we all get the first message: "Anyone can build a Facebook app."
Now, there needs to be some new messages....about responsible application development for a community.

And these messages, of course, need to be backed up with some conformance-control by FB.
I remember it taking 24-48 hours for YouTube/Google to let my uploaded videos go live. It was (or at least I hope it was!) a best-effort at monitoring compliance w/ their content upload policy, and it kept the dirt out.


Now let's assume that Facebook is able to clean up this whole piece. Only good, socially responsible, useful and do-no-evil apps reside on the Facebook app. network.

But then, What do you do about the iron curtain?
Facebook apps., are after all, only available to Facebook users and to the Facebook network.

Well, I suppose some app developers couldn't care. Their world changes radically by reaching out to a potential audience of 60 million.

But there are some of us who DO care. So let's talk about us, and why we need to care.


A Facebook application is a complementary strategy for us.

We're not counting on the F8 platform for our bread and beer, but we are looking to Facebook for exposure, the opportunity to experiment painlessly with a social network(not a good time to lie, so you'll have to pardon the crudeness...), and yes, a distant third success scenario for us would be if folks loved our app. so much that it starting making us(and Zuckerberg...and Ballmer..and others...) a lot of money.

But let's focus on 1 & 2 (both boil down to money anyway..)

(1) Exposure: We operate on the model that no single destination is good enough for our content. It needs to be everywhere it can be, as long as we can track usage, advertisement impressions, and get half-decent analytics. So Facebook becomes a natural choice for us. It's a great way for us to show off to a (closed) group of 60 million users a compilation of content that we're really proud of.
And all in the hope that every month, we get a 0.1% penetration for our app. and brand (60,000 users) and that 20% of those (12,000 users) click through to our site and for the 5-10 average page views each one of them generate in a given month, we can count on a $2,400 check (12k x 10 x $20 CPM) from our Facebook app. every month.

(2) Experimentation: A good disclaimer here is that we're definitely not thinking of Facebook users as lab-rats. In fact, we had a conference call on this yesterday and discussed how we want to experiment, without f-ing anybodys happiness on FB. No spamming, no "send this to 50 friends to see results", and all that crap.

But we ARE going to exploit the sandbox that's been made available to us, so the things we are going to experiment with are:

a. Engagement: To what level do users like to be engaged with an app. like ours? What tools do they prefer more than others? What's the best use they find for our app? How many different uses for it can we offer/they envision?
b. Context: How can we leverage the social context of each user of the app, to generate and distribute marginal value? Can our app. be used to create better context, or is exploitation of context our only option? If the former, can the enhanced context be translated into more value(recommendations...)?
If the latter, can we do-no-evil? ;)


Now the big question for us, of course, is why bother with all this over $2,400/month?

Well, for starters, 35% of that money goes to the content publishers. Enough said there.

Second, we're distributors, 2.0. We go places in sophisticated technological vehicles, capitalize on the graciousness of our hosts, give them a few mementos, hopefully leave a footprint, and keep walking the streets of Agrabah, selling combination hookahs and coffee makers which also make chilli and fries.
I already mentioned this- our job is to distribute content- not just on our website. Today, it's relatively easy to set up on-demand relationships(audiences <> avenues; avenues <> content; content <> publishers), and once you've set up a relationship, it only breaks when something radical changes(Facebook shuts down, for instance).

Finally, we believe that platforms like F8 *need* mindsets like ours. We aim to complement their offering, rather than mindlessly eat off their success. Irrespective of original intent, DNA, conspirators, and intent to take over the world, this is a platform that invites creativity, offers opportunity, leaves room for value creation and only requires that you share your success.
We consider ourselves fortunate that we don't have to deal with horrifying alternate scenarios (create an MFC application, build a DLL or EXE out of it, and make it available for downloads...for a PC only).


Does staying closed destroy implicit value? Maybe.
Does staying closed generate explicit value? Maybe.

Should we be worrying about the iron curtain? Probably not.
Because we don't believe there's really an iron curtain. FB apps work like most web 2.0 services and are easily able to share derivative information by interacting with other web services.

So why this illusion of an iron curtain?
I think it's those damned 20,000 odd Facebook apps....

And it all begs the question:
"If seven maids with seven mops, swept it for half a year, do you suppose", the Walrus said, "that they could get it clear?"

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Now that my blood pressure's more manageable....

I find myself better positioned to share the real good news with you.

According to e-Marketer, "Over half of the United States will watch web video in 2008".

Now, I'm just as skeptical as you are about numbers from research reports, but the thing is...this trend is undeniable.
The video market is now on the Internet, 40% of the market is looking for short form content, and *someone* needs to be supplying them with QUALITY content that's in sync with their short attention spans.

Can you visualize me 3 feet above the ground feeling just a wee bit excited? :)

El Dumbo.

Heh!?! Akimbo just raised another $8 million from some of its earlier backers (Draper Fischer J., ATT, Kleiner Perkins, et al.).

Being as we said hello to them in many different ways- from the time they were selling a STB @ $125 + a monthly for content, to when they were just aggregating content, I thought we should check 'em out and see what $56 million raised over 5 years can help build.

The short answer is a long one: I am deeply offended by the state of venture capitalists, and their professed due-diligence for a market place, if they think it costs $8 million to build and market this..... (See screenshot below)

This costs $8 million to build and market?! Give me a break, guys. This is a $100,000 exercise, and it restricts you to Internet Explorer users. Not only do you not support Mac and Linux users, but you also don't support PC-Firefox users(which, from what I hear, is a FASTTTT growing and already kinda huge, market).

And it's not just the product...I think the website is an accurate reflection of their mindset. This is no 'widely acknowledged pioneer in Internet VOD'. It's a heavily funded failure. I could probably spend some time proving them wrong on all things mentioned on their "about us" page, but why bother?!


Why bring this up? I'm not 100% sure. I liked Steve Shannon...he was a good friend to us. It's not Akimbo I have a problem with, either. They're just out there trying to do their thing. That "their thing" sucks is great...more power to us in the competitive landscape.

I do think I have a problem with Draper Fisher Jurvetson though. And with Kleiner Perkins. And I know I *might* be shooting myself in the foot, but heck, I think part of the reason we're blogging on here is to call a hat a hat.

Because if you're funding a $100k product, and a $7.9 million marketing effort, then it's no longer about venture capitalism.
It's about vulture capitalism, all over again.

And we all know where THAT got us last time around.

"The end of exclusivity" & the beginning of hyperactivity

Liz Gannes had an excellent write up on The End of Exclusivity.

Quotable quotes:

"Embeddable video is an underrated innovation. It’s the most successful web “widget” to date and was key to YouTube’s ascendance. And of course, it’s a way for users to participate in content without actually generating it themselves. More importantly, it’s putting an end to the practice of locking up content in distribution deals, even in cases in which the hoity-toity television networks are involved."

"Parsing out content in a single location at a certain time doesn’t make technological or even business sense any more."

"Hulu ratchets this all up a notch by allowing people to embed its content on the open web. Suddenly, everyone’s a self-serve local television affiliate, with the incomparable reach of the Internet. Personally, I’ll take embeddable video over the closed environment of Hulu rival Joost any day."

"Of course, the move away from exclusivity and formal deals is bad news for aggregators, because they don’t get to stand out from the competition by imprisoning the best content within their walls. But hey — more often than not, video search sucks, so there’s still a reason for aggregators to exist. And even the most dedicated creators don’t want to publish to 15 different web sites every time they make a new video."



a. Users are keen to participate in publishing, distribution and re-purposing. Want your users to pay attention to you? Help them participate.

b. Don't be a destination. Be a gateway. (need an analogy? Check out

c. Everyone is involved. It's a democracy. Act accordingly.

d. Publishers want to maximize exposure, but it's irritatingly hard for them to do so. How do you solve this problem? Refer point b, above: Be a gateway.

Share this.

A new tool for our blog: the "Share This" button at the bottom of each post.
Now, you can easily bookmark a post, or share it with a huge social network on any of the sites we've included.

How does it work? Well, you click on the "Share This" button(look down to the end of this post), select a website you want to share the blog post on, and submit.

Pretty easy.

If you're not big on social networking, you could also just bookmark it using Delicious or Google Bookmarks.

Funky tool, BTW. Took me all of 30 seconds to set up.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Open forum: need killer ideas for a Facebook app...


Need some killer ideas here.

We're building out a Facebook app. for WeareIndia.TV as well.
Suggestions on what this app. should look/work like?

Open to all ideas, but the only guidelines are:

1) The app. shouldn't be complicated to use. Au contraire, even Preetam should be able to use it.
2) Nice to have: a social element to it which would let us make fruitful use of each users contacts(besides spamming them with "Send this to 100 friends to view results.")


> Thoughts in all stages of maturity accepted.
> If you write us a winning product spec., we'll share revenues(from that app) with you.
> All notable ideas get mentioned. Not just on here, but also on our website.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Countdown to launch: 10......

Okay, launch proceedings for WeareIndia.TV is underway.

Launch notes// Count 10.

a. For YOUR information
Initial features will be straightforward. We're going to build this up incrementally.

Focus points:
- video playback
- publisher listings
- video listings
- e-mail, commenting, favorite-ing (for logged-in viewers only0
- search, filter, sort
- IMDB-style linked navigation

b. For OUR information
Bug fixes in progress. Part of our aim-small, miss-small strategy. We will attempt 100% bug-free launches w/ every iteration.

Focus points:
experimenting with different players. Should we go for plain-Jane simple? Should we go for hot, but complex?
- UI issues...making sure the experience is perfect. Pages should load quickly, nothing too graphic intensive, links should work all around, etc.
- Interactions...making sure the interaction process is smooth. We're going to make sure it's easy and intuitive to interact with the platform. No pop-ups, some Ajax, easy browsing, etc.


Stay tuned for
Launch notes// Count 09.