The rumors of PodTech’s death may not be greatly exaggerated?


Update:   As far as I know PodTech is doing fine as of December 2007, and the rumors back in July were bogus or exaggerated.   Just heard from John Furrier that PodTech will again host a “bloghaus” at CES, one of the neatest “social tech” ideas last year in my opinion.    I’m a big fan of all that Robert Scoble has done to evangelize quality corporate blogging and really wish PodTech the best.

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Mike Arrington is reporting that PodTech is in trouble. I think this is consistent with the idea that content is no longer king – it’s a pawn in the big game to leverage the flood of free content and social networking activity, a game where the winners will NOT be the product of doing the “right thing”, rather winners will be the survivors of the evolutionary process that drives our rapidly changing digital ecosystem. Biological evolution works *away from failure* rather than towards success, and it seems clear to me this is also how internet company evolution works.

Mike suggests that PodTech might survive in modified form by scaling back and lowering their “burn rate” and focusing almost exclusively as a production and advertising house focusing on their own clients. I wrote over there:

Good insight as usual Dr. Mike.

“… get their burn rate very low” ummmm – can you cite any examples of a companies that did this in time to survive?

I enjoy Robert’s perspectives and consider him a real blogging leader and a digital inspiratation to the rest of us, but I don’t have the time to invest in his videos or PodTech’s other rich content. (just the facts please!)

Producing quality content is now playing with pawns rather than kings, and for some time it will be the companies that leverage the flood of free content or help people process the maelstrom of content that will win. e.g Facebook, Google, and your personal favorite winner, TechCrunch!

The painful thing if PodTech dies is that they did so many thing exactly “right”. They saw video and blogging as sweeping new online paradigms, they hired Robert Scoble who is nothing short of a digital inspiration to bloggers and video folks – he’s one of the elite onliners who puts his blog, money, reputation where his mouth is and actually engages non-elites regularly and with gusto and stays about as Web 2.0 connected as you can without exploding. Also, PodTech sponsored what looked to me like CES’s best new idea – the Bloghaus.

But planning and quality don’t necessarily breed success in biology or business, and PodTech may be just one more example of the harsh new evolutionary realities facing any digital animal.

As Paul K infectiously notes business plans are overrated. Twitter’s lack of a business plan may be the flip side of the evolutionary challenges – disorganization won’t hurt them and might even be part of the reasons it’s looking like Twitter will be …. hugely successful.

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About JoeDuck

Internet Travel Guy, Father of 2, small town Oregon life. BS Botany from UW Madison Wisconsin, MS Social Sciences from Southern Oregon. Top interests outside of my family's well being are: Internet Technology, Online Travel, Globalization, China, Table Tennis, Real Estate, The Singularity.
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10 Responses to The rumors of PodTech’s death may not be greatly exaggerated?

  1. I think drawing a conclusion from “PodTech is having issues” to “content is no longer king” is a bit of a stretch.

    PodTech raised nearly 7M with no business plan. So they hired a bunch of talented people, tossed a bunch of money at them and expected miracles.

    What they got was a series of totally underutilized products, a bunch of advertorial and some high profile personalities.

    That simply is *not* enough to build a 100M$ (the exit they’d need) valuation on.

    Will PodTech survive? I hope so. I know most of the folk there and like all of ‘em.

    But PodTech’s failure is their own, nobody else’s. It isn’t the market’s. It isn’t advertiser’s. It isn’t the VC’s (well, maybe it is, but still).

    Building a non-business in a non-industry generally is a non-starter.

  2. Thomas says:

    I am not sure if I agree with ‘Content is no longer king’ statement, especially because I work as a technical writer and a content developer ;)

    I see the problem being an avalanche of content, and the issue is sorting through all that material to find the valuable content.

    That is why I was very interested in your blogging revolution. There is ALL this content out there, what method or system do you use to sort through it to find the right information at the right time?

    The people that I have interacted with from PodTech, Robert and Jeremiah are excellent, and I consider them front runners in their field. I am not familiar with management at PodTech myself, but as you mention just because you have the strongest talent doesn’t mean they are being harnessed correctly, which I would say is indicative of a problem with the leadership.

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  4. Jeremy: calling my show “advertorial” is absolute bullshit. There is only one company that’s paid to be on my show: Seagate. Everyone else gets there for free. I’ve done more than 360 videos since joining PodTech at http://www.scobleshow.com and when you call my stuff “advertorial” you’re simply 100% wrong.

  5. And I didn’t know you saw our “non business plan.” We certainly have a business plan. Investors don’t invest unless you have a plan to invest their money.

  6. JoeDuck says:

    Jeremy and Robert –

    Robert’s right on here – it is Twitter that was flying without a plan, not PodTech. It’s also totally unfair to call Scoble’s work “advertorial”. It’s not at all, and he’s clearly gone to some length to keep conflicts to a minimum – much more than many other elite bloggers have done.

    My suggestion was mostly that biz plans probably have little if anything to do with success.

  7. JoeDuck says:

    I see the problem being an avalanche of content, and the issue is sorting through all that material to find the valuable content.

    Thomas and Jeremy – I agree but don’t think it’s a strech to suggest that this avalanche means lower “value per content item” over time. It’ll take years to shake out, but I predict that aggregating existing content and creation of free content are going to erase most of the profitability in content production. There may be exceptions like blockbuster films which can’t be done cheaply, but they’ll be fewer as time goes on IMHO.

    Thomas – maybe it’s time for that Screenplay?!

  8. Twitter has a plan, by the way. It’s just clear they made up some story to keep from sharing it with us (and giving their best ideas to Pownce or Facebook).

  9. JoeDuck says:

    Thx for clarifications Robert. Are you or PodTech covering SES San Jose and/or the Google Party? The Google Dance would be a great video podcast.

  10. Joe: not sure, but I think so. I’m not sure about what happens when my new son arrives, but since SES is local I should be able to get there and I’m sure that either way that Podtech will have someone there.

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