So last night I attended an event put on by Wharton in San Francisco. To my surprise, the event was actually full of great content. The speakers included
- Samir Arora, CEO of Glam Media
- Ben Golub, CEO of Plaxo
- Ben Nelson, CEO of Snapfish
- Steven Polsky, President & COO of Flixster
- David Sifry, Founder & CEO of OffBeat Guides, and Founder & Chairman of Technorati
Samir and Ben made the best points out of everyone. It was really great to hear their insights. I apologize about the quality of the video. We weren’t really planning on recording it but thought to turn on the flipcam anyways. It’s better than nothing. Right?
Few Key Points
- Ads are not an intrusion if they are truly relevant.
- It’s very hard to change the free vs. paid relationship with your users especially if you’re going from free to paid.
- Just because newspapers are dying, doesn’t mean journalism is dead. Separate the two.
- Thoroughly understand your bread and butter customer and ignore everybody else.
Given that the topic was based mostly around social networks, I thought that the panel talked very little about emerging technologies, behaviors and techniques in the space. I guess that was mainly because of the questions asked by audience which was not really comprised of people active in the space but general Wharton business folks (no beef with that). I wish I would have actually recorded the first presentation by professor Peter S. Fader because I think his presentation had a lot of great insights. His most important point was that mass media is not dead. It’s actually more alive than ever. Is this true? Maybe… depends how you define mass now and how you define it 5-10 years from now. I bet it won’t be the same animal (size/distribution).
One concept that I don’t hear much about is thinking of the area below the curve as consumer spending power. There is only so much money that a consumer can spend. If you keep stretching out the curve, you’re going to start taking away from the highs and giving more to lows. Which means less mass media. Nothing new here. It’s the same shit we hear over and over again. As it takes less resources to produce what mass media can produce, mass media doesn’t seem so special anymore and it starts blend together very quickly. I don’t think it is inconceivable to think that South Park, The Simpsons or even The Office could be produced by a few guys with a lot of spare time and the right tools and talents.
Mass gets a lot of it’s definition because of the huge gap in quality between amateur and mass. Some would say that’s not true… it’s the distribution actually. That might be true but that would actually support my point even more. As we start to shorten this gap, it’ll all blend together. The people that empower the long tail and middle tail (not so definable area between the high and very low) will let people these so-called amateurs be able to support their love and produce some real work that not only represent fresh ideas and lets the markets decide who should win (money + audience) but also creates something that can engage with its audience (genuine) and ultimately be much more responsive to user’s tastes (making it more relevant). At the end of the day, it’s all about barrier to entry = friction = required effort = how unlikely it is to happen. The more of this factor, the less efficient the market and less value for the consumer. The best thing that we can hope for is for the distribution part of the formula to get more and more accessible and standardized (Google, Amazon, iTunes) so the best content can win. That’s what everyone should be rooting for. Woot Woot Content. If you aren’t, you’re probably evil.