John Furrier has been working in technology and starting technology startups for some time and his blog has a lot of good perspectives from a clever guy. John was a founder of PodTech, the video startup, and I had a couple of nice talks with him at CES where the PodTech Bloghaus was a huge hit with hundreds of the thousands of bloggers swarming all over Las Vegas.
Today Current TV, with Al Gore a prominent investor, is filing for a big IPO. But there is a problem. They lost a lot of money “making” their 64 million in revenues last year. Will they ever be profitable? Global warming or not, I’m guessing they will be profitable about the same time that hell freezes over.
I still just don’t get it. I understand why video clips are fun and a significant development online, but I don’t get those who express *economic* enthusiasm for online videos produced by … you and me. As I’ve noted before about online video, I don’t understand why people think video sites can make money. Youtube cost Google 1.6 billion but doesn’t make money. Podtech had a brilliant, well executed, forward vision of the online video landscape. They even had the ultimate forward looking blogger spokesmodel Robert Scoble (who has just moved to FastCompany.com and is right now hanging in Davos with the uber-economic-elite). Despite this Podtech failed to deliver on the promise of monetizing quality content to the larger user base. I had a chance to talk about this with John Furrier at CES. John told me he’s still very bullish on video, but Podtech is going to focus more on a model where they’ll be producing company videos for corporate clients, helping them to leverage social media advantages. We also talked about how hungry many big companies are for those who understand social media and want to leverage that power to their corporate advantage. This, in my opinion, is where you’ll see most video and podcasast production efforts moving over the next few years. The money is in leading corporate clients into the uncharted social media waters rather than trying to build website visitation and monetize clips. The latter is a very dead end in my view.
So, should you invest in Current TV’s IPO? Sure you should, right after hell freezes over.
Brian at Gizmodo has a thoughtful, pointed piece today about why he thinks people were way too hard on Gizmodo for pranking Motorola at CES, turning off screens during a presentation.
He hasn’t changed my mind yet because next year I think every booth staff person is going to be more skeptical than they were this year of the legitimacy of those with “blogger” badges (Gizmodo folks probably had press badges – but this was all reported as a blogging stunt).
More importantly CES’s great treatment of bloggers has been rewarded with stunts.
Brian’s case would be stronger if Gizmodo’s buzz machine had focused on negatives at CES – such as some of the press payoffs he mentions in his article, rather than simply sabotaging a presentation for cheap YouTube thrills and views.
But, ultimately I suppose the community and those affected more directly than me must define the appropriateness of this kind of activity and if there is little outrage by Motorola or CES than maybe I was the one who overreacted.
The Consumer Electronics Association, reports Portfolio.com, will ban the Gizmodo blogger (I assume Blakely) who used a hacking device to turn off TVs, some in the middle of CES tech presentations by Motorola. They are reviewing taking more actions against Gizmodo.
Unfortunately for those of us who blogged the show “responsibly”, the Gizmodo prank has set back bloggers and blogging at least a few notches. CES treated the blogging community very well with excellent credentials and two well stocked comfortable blogger lounges. This hospitality was repaid, in the case of Gizmodo, with information vandalism against fellow tech enthusiasts.
Thanks to SONY Online and Flying Lab software for a very nice party showcasing the Pirates of the Burning Sea, a new Massively Multiplayer online game or “MMO”. I’ve been researching the MMORPG topic for the past few weeks and it was great to get a chance to talk to one of the game developers and Flying Lab PR about MMOs in general as well as their experiences with this game.
Also really fun was playing some poker with professional dealers who were very helpful to the many Texas Holdem novices. One of my dealers has dealt in the world series of Poker, which was cool. Very nice guy who could track the fast action in remarkable form. Interestingly, when asked a different dealer said that he makes about $100,000 per year dealing at one of the top casinos here. I think most of this is from tips.
For a project of this scope it was very disappointing to see Intel’s departure, only a few days before CES. I agree with CNET that this was handled poorly on both sides, and I’m especially concerned that Negroponte’s brilliant vision may ultimately get undermined by his in ability to compromise with the market forces that drive consumer electronics much more than altruism or societal need.
That said it appeared that AMD remains solidly behind the project and many countries are buying in, so hopefully this will bring to pass the grand vision of technology to those who have the least chance of getting it otherwise – poor children in developing countries.
My favorite project of CES remains the Meraki mesh networking concept. It’s a great example of leveraging existing technologies in new and clever ways while keeping common sense, profitability, and global citizenship in mind.
Blogging is a pretty big story here at CES and I’m hoping to get some comments next week from CES CEO Shapiro about his decisions to bring bloggers in as a “separate but equal” press category. In fact the second hand stories I’ve heard indicate that the press actually was complaining they couldn’t get in the blogging lounges which were generally less crowded and more comfortable than the press rooms (they are allowed them in now).
I just talked to Plantronics who is sponsoring the lounges. She said last year they did have a blogger lounge but it was out in a tent and not as comfortable as this year’s lounges. Thank you Plantronics.
Another blogger upgrade are all the “blogger only” parties here. Intel sponsored the one yesterday at the Atomic Testing Museum, and Monster the night before at a Paris Hotel Suite. Hey Silicon Valley – YOU could learn a lesson on how to treat bloggers from the CES sponsors, though CES has the advantage of filtering folks via the cost to get to Las Vegas. This effectively reduces the number of folks who, for example, might just start writing the day before they got here. I’m hoping to ask CES if they did any screening for eligible tech bloggers. I understand there are about 200 registered here as “bloggers”, but most of the blog folks are here as Press because they are with other media outlets.
Adam is clearly not enjoying himself as much as I am here at CES.
Aside from the digital picture frames… What you talkin’ bout Willis?!
I’m pretty unsympathetic to the silly life challenges faced by those of us who can afford a trip to CES. There are technology guys here from Kenya which is now falling into chaos after questionable elections, and Rwandan’s President who watched (and stopped as opposition forces leader) the butchery of almost an entire culture. What are they to make about concerns that CES isn’t hip or cool enough for snotty suburban tech elitists? Sure, have some wrath – but use it to tool up those without technologies rather than bash those who have too much of it.