Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Blogging SIIA: Henry Blodget and Info wants to be expensive

Got to see Henry Blodget keynote at last year's SIIA-IIS. This year, he's moderating a panel with Gaby Darbyshire, COO of Gawker Media, Cheryl Milone, CEO of Article One Partners, and Jim Fowler, CEO Jigsaw Data Corporation.

There's some short intros going on now, with Gaby Darbyshire talking about Gawker Media (IMO: Gawker's got a profit based on paying their reporters very little. And from folks I know who've been assoc. with Gawker, they do not inspire loyalty among their staff. Then again, maybe they don't want loyalty--only low wages Update: heard from @nicknoted via Twitter that this has changed--wages at Gawker now comparable to print. and many recent hires.)

Darbyshire: availability of facts will be more widespread

Cheryl Milone: in the patents industry. Patents are now accessible to everyone, but tools to evaluate them are scarce. Article One launched a year ago--crowdsourcing model to research validity of patents. She believes that the crowsourcind aspect is going to grow--but who are the people doing the crowdsourcing? and what incentives do they have??

Jim Fowler: B2B data collections. Also providing a crowdsourcing model--but he notes that there is a community of professionals to manage. Disrupting not just how data is collected but how data is distributed. Their data is active--where database is changing all the time. They maintain and manage the database. If people don't want to be in Jigsaw's database, they can be removed--only collect account info and (one other kind of info I can't recall. it looks, however, that what they're collecting is public knowledge anyway.)

Derbyshire talking about the NYTimes and their announcement: maybe the Times is getting people used to the idea of metered pay, and perhaps hoping that others will do the same.

Blodget points out that maybe the Times is just scared that their metered plan is not going to work--and cites the Newsday debacle.

Derbyshire counters that she can understand why NYT would want to do this.

Blodget to Milone: "your products are better, why don't traditional firms do the same?" Article One's community is incentivized with some profit distribution to community. India firms asking to leverage their firm's excess capacity by doing work for Article One. Opportunity is strong enough that she sees traditional firms doing work for them.

Blodget to Fowler: "why doesn't B & D work with you?" Fowler: :The value isn't in the data itself, but in the changes in the data." In order to resist disruption, it's to recognize there will be disruption, so they developed a business model that will make money from the change in the data (which they push out in real-time.) when they push out, 40% of customers share their data and get a price break on Jigsaw's services. Holding on to data no longer has value--sharing data has value. People will pay for up to date data, and the best way to get it is for people to share it with you.

Darbyshire says NYT is hidebound to legacies that could be damaging them. NYT has lots of columnists that they can't tell from print if they are read or not. Metrics help Gawker show that their columnists are popular. (hmmmm...kind of backs up what Cision survey found...) "Fluff" brings spike from Google, but not an overall readership. Gawker knows what works for its audience from metrics, so it can allocate resources accordingly. Immediacy of reporting, conversational tone to their posts, helps Gawker. Lack of conversation in print hobbles the news industry (note: but is news a conversation? lots of newspeople would argue that it isn't.)

Fowler: need to let innovators take their time and not be pressured to make big money fast. You can't though, hemorrhage money on an innovation project. Keep discipline. CEOs need to give their people 20% of their day to innovate--the way google does. Have them go out and find 5 or 10 innovative projects and fund them. Buying innovation, however, doesn't always work (yeah, I've seen that happen--or the innovations get squashed.)

Darbyshire: economics of whole industry is getting reset at a lower level (true for news.)

Milone taking advice from disruptive companies that have survived. "Have a deep desire to understand (the customers) needs." Even the government should listen to customer needs.

Darbyshire: older big companies might have problems becoming smaller, lighter and more nimble.

Fowler notes how Jigsaw's created an alliance with Dun & Bradstreet that's a win-win for both. "Some companies can't be saved" says Fowler, and cites Encyclopedia Brittanica, which is being buried by Wikipedia....

Note: so, it all depends on the type of content that either wants, or can be, expensive. Data, if aggregated in real-time or at least timely, can certainly be expensive. Re-selling of crowdsourced data can definitely be a good business model, if the type of info that is crowdsourced is needed, hasn't been updated in awhile, o is difficult to understand and update....and news--whether news can ever be as expensive as it was in the 20th century is debatable. The economics of news are being reset at a lower point (Derbyshire, etc.) so news may need to be "cheap."

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