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.

Waiting for OnRebate ‘s “no wait” rebate?


Update:  OnRebate replied to this post, and I think that is nice of them.

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My son just assembled a new and very fast PC from parts we bought at TigerDirect, but suffering through the rebate submission process is sure diminishing the educational value of this for me. Even though he’s doing much of the paperwork himself I just spent close to an hour figuring out the silly details and going offline, online, and printing the various forms required.

I suppose it’s teaching him something, though so far it is mostly “why is dad cursing at the rebate people?”.

Onrebate.com is processing 2 of the 5 rebates we are due. From a technical point of view the system seemed to work OK but the “no wait” rebate option that offers what they say is an “almost instantaneous” rebate is a lesson is how OnRebate is using deceptive doublespeak marketing BS. This “instantaneous” rebate will come to me after they process all the paperwork rather than after they simply match my input to the existing sales records (that would be neat, and it’s clearly what they implied they were going to do).

Sure the stakes here are low with $40 and $20 rebates but I resent how companies like this effectively prey on the inexperience of their customers and the complexity of the rebate process to lower the response rates as well as tag on extra charges. Good rebate systems (Staples comes to mind – Kudos to them) are still an inconvenience but I respect the fact that fraud is a big issue now. Bad rebate sytems are usually immoral attempts at marketing ripoff schemes or reduce response rates (a multi-billion dollar scam that is perfectly legal). I’m not putting OnRebate in this category yet but they are sure on my list for potentially seeking to reduce response rates. Incredibly they also wanted to charge a sneaky $4 “no wait” fee for the rebate that would still require weeks of waiting, just not their normal wait time of several months.

Summary: Beware rebates in general and beware sneaky marketing doublespeak from OnRebate.

Update: Here’s an interesting thread about OnRebate problems. Note that the helpful OnRebate rep no longer works there though it looks like she was great in dealing with complaints. http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/0/149/ripoff0149417.htm#217843