Category Archives: Internet & Web X.0

Recent Launches in Content & Distribution

We’ve been head down at the agency (kbs+p & the media kitchen) with some recent launches that I’m extremely proud of.  Some of you who read this blog have been part of them (as a partner, colleague, or client) and know how exciting it’s been.

We’ve brought back documentaries to BMW.  If you remember BMW Films, we’ve brought back a similar film/documentary style approach to talk about the future of mobility.  My colleague and buddy Faris has a great writeup on his blog and it’s been written about by BMW Blog and in the press here and here.  Throughout the month, you’ll be able to watch new “chapters” that are released about the future of mobility from some of the top thinkers in the world:  Astronaut Buzz Aldrin; Futurist and conceptual designer for Blade RunnerAliens and TronSyd Mead; Google VP Marissa Mayer; ZipCar founderRobin Chase; founder Graham Hill; editor-in-chief Mike MustoReinventing the Automobile co-author Lawrence Burns; and Director of Environmental Affairs, Richard Mattila.

We have launched The Daily, a new operating unit of News Corporation that pushes the boundaries of digital journalism.  This has been a fun project to work on because we’ve gotten to see it from it’s very early days through yesterday’s successful launch.  When I downloaded The Daily to my home iPad last night, there were over 1200 reviews in the App Store!  There have been tons of reviews about it so if you type in “The Daily” into Google News, you’ll have your pick of reviews to read.  Here’s one by CNN.  Here’s a link to @daily twitter account if you want to sign up.

The common thread of the two of these projects:  high quality content and packaging.  While the Internet has no shortage of content, there is a vast variety of styles of content written and produced.  I think you’ll see with the two of these projects that the content stands out from most of everything else.

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Opportunities in Advertising Ecosystem

I gave a presentation at the First Round Capital CEO Summit yesterday in San Francisco on the subject of areas that need innovation within the advertising ecosystem.  While this is a very very broad topic and I only had 45 mins or so, I had to narrow it down to a few areas to speak in-depth about.

I modified the presentation for public consumption and reformatted it from it’s original version.  The presentation is obviously a “talking” presentation with much of the context and clarity coming from my voice overs.  I tried to put a few sentences under each topic so you can get a sense of what each slide is about.  It’s short and sweet – and would love to hear from anyone who has any “solves” for these opportunities.

Here is the link to the presentation on Scribd

Opportunities in Online Advertising

I had a great time at the presentation and met some awesome entrepreneurs and CEOs.

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Why I'm Excited About This Batch of Internet Driven IPOs

NEW YORK - APRIL 02: Changyou CEO Tao Wang pre...
Image by Getty Images via@daylife

Let’s assume the Internet started mainstream adoption in 1990 when Prodigy had approximately 465,000 subscribers and CompuServe had 600,000 (fact check here).  While those numbers in themselves aren’t mainstream to a country of 300MM+ people, they do signify a large group of people who were early adopters and started to spread the love about this thing we called/call the World Wide Web.

Throughout the decade of 1990s and within the technology sector, there were quite a few companies who attained liquidity thru going public (IPO).   Others raised quite a bit of private equity and venture capital and some are still around today, others are not.

IPOs of significance to this post:  Lycos (1996), Yahoo! (1996), eBay (1998), Akamai (1999), Razorfish (1999)

During the 90s, there was lots of hype and hoopla surrounding many of the IPOs which led them to appear much larger and significant than they really were.  The major reason for this was the promise of the Internet and implied valuations and multiples for what the Internet “will be” in years to come.  These multiples made up for the revenue traction (or non-traction) that the companies had.  The companies who had revenue traction then are more likely to be around today as they had solid foundations.

Fast forward to today.  There is starting to be some talk on the various mainstream and niche news sites about the forthcoming IPO marketplace for Internet related companies such as Facebook, Groupon, LinkedIn, Twitter, amongst many others.  In talking with many investors, journalists, and entrepreneurs, they are a bit hesitant of this IPO landscape which is the opposite of my thinking.  Maybe I’m the contrarian here.

I’m excited for some of the forthcoming IPOs.  Let me explain why but before I do, lets remove any external factors outside of this blog post about the US economy, worldwide economies, etc.   Let this solely be around the Internet.

  • Internet Adoption:  In it’s most simplest sense, there are more people using the Internet today than there were in the 1990s; here in the US and in the world.  By more people using the web, there is inherently more demand for innovation.  Instead of introducing home PCs to people, we’re now introducing tablets and smartphones.  Access to the web isn’t “if” or even “when” now, it’s more about “how much” access thru multiple devices.
  • Internet Understanding:  It’s 20 years post 1990 or 11 years (an entire decade+) since 2000 and the mainstream public now knows how to use a computer and browse/surf/dabble across the web.  500 million people have logged onto Facebook and created a profile.  This was not the case 10 years ago.  Fundamental understanding and most important, comfort, with the Internet is here and more people are discovering, transacting, communicating, and planning each day online.
  • Advertising Dollars:  For the past 20 years, dollars have been allocated to the digital channel.  Search, display, rich media, video, mobile, etc all have helped grow the digital advertising pot. Currently as it stands according to eMarketer, online ad spending is roughly 15.3% (2010) of total ad spending resulting in approximately $25.8B.  This number is going to grow and help bolster digital tv, radio, print, and OOH (all of those channels will have digital backbones eventually).

So why I’m particularly excited about the idea of the Internet IPO resurgence is because there is a strong foundation for these companies to grow on top of in terms of Internet users, comfort level, and ad & product spending online.  The previous companies had very little to build atop which is very different now.  The landscape is a bit more mature which should allow for companies to go big and have a higher rate of success.

(note, I’m not bullish on all of the companies listed in this post -just using them as examples)

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My First Ohours Day Competed

For those note familiar with Ohours, it’s my friend Nate‘s new experiment with helping to connect people looking to network and connect with other interesting people.  He also coded it from start to finish as his working education to learning programming.  I thought I’d try it.

I held my first Ohours day on Friday, January 7.  I made an hour of my time available in 20 minute increments and met with three different people.  I had absolutely no idea what to expect going in and was very curious to see who would pick me.

I will leave out the names of the people I met with due to confidentiality purposes but will give some insight into the content of the meetings and my overall opinions:

  • Probably no shock, all three meetings had to do with entrepreneurship and for me to give quick feedback on certain aspects of their business (fundraising, business development, hiring)
  • The meetings underscore to me that the New York tech scene has a lack of development talent which has been written about quite a bit lately or people just do not know where to look (which seems to be less of an issue now)

Here is some advice if you are using Ohours (and feedback for the product in general):

  • 20 minute meetings are tough.  By the time you are done with intro’s, then you have 10 minutes to talk.  Not a ton of time.  I’d say minimum meeting times should be 30 minutes (an extra 10 mins means a lot)
  • Ohours should send an email with brief bio’s of each person you are meeting with.  I actually had only met one of the three people I had met with before and wasn’t able to research their backgrounds before meeting individually with them.  If Ohours could pull from the various sources online (like LinkedIn) with bio information, it would be helpful.
  • A private feedback mechanism would be helpful to see how the participants in the meeting felt about it.  It could be less about “did I like the person” but more about “did the meeting add or enrich value” (or something along those lines)

The next 2 weeks are grueling for me and laden with travel so I’ll have another Ohours in February.  It’s not posted yet on the site but will tweet it out when it eventually is posted.

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Optimizing My Content Consumption

Image representing Summify as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

It’s very rare that I have time to web surf and pop onto random websites and consume whatever is there.  24 hours just is not enough for me at this point in my life and so I need the best possible filtering agents to help me consume/optimize my time online.

What I expect from a filtering solution today:

  1. Takes inputs from me and understands what I want from them
  2. Look-a-like model against my input list and expand it
  3. Understand what my social graph is consuming

What I expect from a filtering solution tomorrow:

All of the above, but with use cases built in:

  1. Business needs (be able to filter results based on what I need for business – maybe understanding this by time of day and day of week consumption habits?)
  2. Personal needs (be able to filter results per above)

Currently, I’m using Summify and  Both are early in their existence and are making good strides but would love to understand what else is out there?

What I like about Summify:

  • Simple email is sent to me at a specific time (usually in the early AM) with up to 6 items that should be relevant to me based on my RSS + social graph.  I like the simplicity of this.

What I like about

  • I like the web interface to expand my collection into what other people similar to me are consuming/creating

Media optimization is a big space that I’m tracking for 2011 and expect to make an investment or two.  If you are in the space and want to reach out, I’d welcome it.

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2010 Post Highlights

I’ve written a bunch of posts on this blog in 2010.   Not all are my favorites but below, I’ve highlighted the ones that are.  You can find a list of all-time favorite posts here ranging back to 2006.

Organizational Behavior

Data, Marketing Technology

Twitter & Social


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Internet + TV, not Internet OR TV

Worldmap digital television transition-2010-29-03
Image via Wikipedia

The digital media world is jumping for joy.  Advertising agencies, publishers, technology companies, etc.  For the first time, the Internet has surpassed print as an advertising vehicle.  WSJ, Ad Age, Venture Beat, and others wrote about it recently. U.S. spending on online ads will hit $25.8 billion in 2010, compared with $22.8 billion spent on print ads in newspapers, the Wall Street Journal reported.

This is a big deal.  Many Venture Capital funds will forward these articles to their LP’s to validate many of their investments and I’m sure many entrepreneurs will reference this in their fundraising docs.  Patch (AOL) will reap benefits of this if they continue to kick butt and the entire ecosystem will thrive.

But lets talk about television, a media vehicle that has exponentially the amount of ad dollars invested within then Print.

I believe and have said it here and within keynotes many times that Internet will consume television.  Internet + Television go together like peanut butter and jelly.  Your set top box is a computer for all intents and purposes (edited: thanks Colin!) and the delivery of programming will be thru digital methods.  Once this happens, Internet + Television will be inseparable.  Additionally, the way in which marketers and their respective agencies purchase these advertising units will be through media platforms that triangulate many different data points to accurately target ads down to (or beyond) the household level.

The FCC might have something to do with the last sentence above, but I believe that addressable ad targeting is ultimately beneficial for the consumer and the entire ecosystem.

A bit more theoretically, I believe digital won’t be a channel in the future, but a backbone to all existing channels.  Digital penetration to television, print, radio, OOH, and others has obviously already begun and isn’t replacing them all per se, but enhancing the experience and making them more efficient.

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Congratulations to my friends at Fast Lane Daily

Image representing Emil Rensing as depicted in...
Image via CrunchBase

I woke up to a warm email from one of my friends and entrepreneur extraordinaire, Emil Rensing announcing the thousandth episode of Fast Lane Daily and the chronicled journey of achieving that milestone.  For those that know the show, my brother was the first executive producer and helped them get their wheels in motion (no pun intended).

I got an outsider view of watching and hearing about Fast Lane Daily from my dinner table conversations with Kenny and Emil and it’s heart warming to read about the journey.

Instead of recapping it, I’m going to paste Emil’s email below.  For those who want to get in touch with Emil, his website is located here.

Congrats Next New Networks!


Today is the 1,000th episode of Fast Lane Daily, the #1 car news show in the world.

You can watch episode 1,000 here:

Here’s how we got to 1,000 episodes:

In 2004 Russell Datz, Fred Seibert and I produced an interstitial car news minute for the newly launched Spike TV called “Zero to Sixty”. Albie Hecht, the then president of Spike introduced us to a then unknown Danica Patrick — and I learned my first lesson about producing TV: Place your bets early and invest boldly in talent. Alan Goodman, who directed our first shoots and crafted our first scripts taught me my second lesson about producing TV: Always wear a sport-coat so no one on the crew asks you to lift anything heavy.

Zero to Sixty Episode 1:

Rory Camangian sold 3 sponsors in the first 2 weeks: Valvoline, Castrol and Electronic Arts, but sadly we didn’t last long on Spike. The concept of short-form programming didn’t work well on the television, even though it was very slowly becoming all the rage with us nerds on the Internet… But that was just a fad, right?

About a year later, Fred and I were hot-to-trot on video podcasting and launched Channel Frederator and VOD Cars in the iTunes Podcast Directory — before iTunes supported video podcasting or Apple had an iPod that played video. I put up the first episode of VOD Cars late one night in August of 2005. I cut together the episode on a stolen copy of FinalCut Pro with some footage shot by Rob Ferretti. (That cop may be yelling at me. His name was Dave, by the way and he was a very nice man.) I even put a commercial in there — to teach my audience from day 1 that this was television-like and about making money. (God bless you, Trunk Monkey!)

VOD Cars Episode 1:

Fred did similarly with Channel Frederator — and even David Karp wanted to follow-suit with a Kung-Fu podcast but he was too busy with something called Tumblr.

Pete Alcorn from Apple featured our unique brand of 320 x 240 pixel video mayhem in the iTunes Podcast Directory. About a week later, I looked at my download numbers from who was hosting and, well, by the time the month was over, I owed them almost $20,000.00 in bandwidth charges. I recall having a great conversation with my now ex-wife trying to explain the situation: “You raced around like a lunatic with your friends in a Ferrari you shouldn’t have bought, video taped it, put it on the Internet and then paid more money than you have to let people watch it?”

Well, when you say it that way… (To her credit, she was always supportive of my insanity.)

For a brief time, was a directory of car videos on the Internet. Mike Glenn assembled a TON of those links from places like,, and helped build those pages. Traffic soared — proportional to the bills.

Then YouTube came along and killed it all slowly but brilliantly with a much better, much more robust, much more consumer friendly video sharing service. Podcasting became second fiddle to web video when Flash won the format war thanks to YouTube.

But that was ok: It meant that someone else believed what Fred and I believed.

Fred and I wrangled a team together: Tim Shey, Herb Scannell, and Jed Simmons. We somehow convinced Spark, Saban, and Balderton to believe that television on the Internet was the next big thing of the moment — even after I told one of our VC partners, in our very first meeting, “fuck you” and essentially threw them out of our offices. (What? At least I’m consistent!) Next New Networks was born from our collective vision as creative, venture, development, production, programming, and management professionals. We started down the car road, among several other categories we still believe in to this day. “If you want to own a category, you want to own the news.” Herb’s words ring in my ears.

A daily car news show, shot in a studio every day, fashioned after Zero to Sixty… It made a lot of sense. We couldn’t and didn’t want to compete with Autoblog, World Car Fans or Jalopnik. We wanted to add something new to the community. How could we do something fresh, unique, and very different? How could we be the low cost provider of a great video news program? How could we be quality without being expensive?

Fast Lane Daily was born and became the cornerstone of our fledgeling internet-tv-automotive-video-media-empire. Garage 419, Global Motor Spies, VOD Cars, Bikini Model Driving School, Shakedown, FLDetours… Great programming with folks like Derek D., Matt Farah, Gene Sanchez, Alex Gizela, Tina Beth Pina, Ji Young Min, Andrea Feczko, Carrie Millbank and countless others who made it all go… We had lots of traffic, lots of audience, lots of fun for the next few years. We brought our audiences places they never saw before. All that cool stuff car companies do that you didn’t get to see? We showed it to you. All those cool videos from races, events, test days, factories, shops, and tracks? We had them just for you. Videos shot by the community of cool stuff caught on camera they wanted to share with the world? They gave it to us and we helped make them famous. Slowly but surely the industry saw what we could do for them.

Fast Lane Daily Episode 1:

A few years ago, I remember the launch of the Ford Mustang Bullitt in San Francisco. Ford staged an impressive “reveal” and posted the video on YouTube. Overnight they did almost 50 views and they were stoked! Mike Spinelli filed a report on the road during the drive and our version did about 5,000 in the same period of time. The consistency of delivery and the relationship with our audience made our channel valuable — and folks began to see that and understand and seek out our help in getting their message out with powerful video as opposed to just a press release, photo, and a few words.

It was working!

The one thing we didn’t have was a lot of ads… and with the down turn in Detroit things got even worse and automotive media fell by the way side across the board.

In November of 2009, Fast Lane Daily and Next New Networks changed their relationship. Fast Lane Daily joined the “Next New Creators Program” and I began funding the production of Fast Lane Daily, Shakedown, and FLDetours and shuttering Garage 419, VOD Cars, and most tragically Bikini Model Driving School (sorry, girls). The economic mess is a temporary condition. I worked very hard to get us where we were. I worked hard to get folks like JF Musial, Leo Parente, Alan Kaufman, Mike Spinelli, Kenny Herman, Ian Jenkins, Tom Albrecht, Donny Nordlicht, Tom Morningstar, Matt Farah and Derek D. on the team and I wasn’t going to let them go lightly. While some folks went their own way, some of the shows went “off the air”, some folks went to work wirth friends, and some folks went to work for me in other capacities. New people joined our team like Josh, Richard, and new Iain. We even got Alex Roy to come to the party regularly! Tangent Vector was born from the vision of JF and Christian — and he, Leo, and Derek never gave up hope and basically forced me to keep making Fast Lane Daily because none of them wanted to get full-time day jobs.

We changed what we do. We changed how we did it. We “fired” Derek. Got Leo on-camera and writing more often — and are back better than ever with a new tone, a new show, a new feel and a new Derek. It’s more fun. It’s more conversational and more intimate — and it’s working better than ever. November 2010 was our best month ever, up until December whch is looking like it’ll set the bar again as our biggest month yet! Automotive media is no longer a “dirty word”. BBC’s TopGear USA is on fire (say what you will, it’s doing very well for History) and rumour has it that Speed TV is trying to get in on the mix with a new pilot starring a former Internet star who all us car nerds know and love. Video on the Internet is becoming more and more of a preferred medium for advertisers and Fast Lane Daily continues to forge great bonds with our ever increasing audience and folks building new technologies like Autostream (but more on that some other day.)

So, as you watch Derek’s journey in Fast Lane Daily episode 1,000 to the automotive nirvana that is the Nurburgring… and as you watch him drive the world-famous Green Hell in a rented Citröen C4 “Picasso” mini-van… and as you laugh at the part where he can’t pump his own gas because he’s from New Jersey… keep in mind that we made this happen on a budget less than the catering service on a television studio shoot.

We do this because you love it. We do this because we love it. And we do this because we love that you love to love what we love to love to do.

And that’s how we got to episode 1,000.

Emil Rensing
Executive Producer, Fast Lane Daily
Co-Founder, Next New Networks
Chief Digital Officer, EPIX

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Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality protest at  Google HQ - GoogleR...
Image by Steve Rhodes via Flickr

Jon Borthwick (@borthwick) penned a piece for TechCrunch this morning called Neutrality or Bust.   This followed a piece by friend and fellow investor Brad Burnham (@bradUSV) entitled Internet Access Should Be Application Agnostic.

While Net Neutrality has been talked about for years, it’s now getting a lot of attention by the industry because action is about to be taken.  It’s serious and has far reaching implications for the entire ecosystem of advertising, technology, telecommunications, and media.

While I’m not going to write a long essay on what I believe is right, I will point you to the two articles linked above and state my thoughts quite simply:  The Internet has grown at the pace it has because all access has been equal.  I believe it should remain that way.  I do realize however that infrastructure costs  change a bit in a mobile/wireless world and we have enough smart people in this country to figure out a mutually beneficial infrastructure.  Keep the web neutral.

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I Don't Want to be Monogamous

dead SIM
Image by Yaisog Bonegnasher via Flickr

I’ve been thinking about this blog post for a while and finally sitting down to write it.  It’s exactly as the headline sounds… except it’s not about my relationship with my wife, but about my relationship with my mobile phone.

I have an Apple iPhone 4 and have had an iPhone since 2007 with a Blackberry Curve thrown in as a complimentary device for about a year in 2008.

The problem I have with today’s mobile landscape is that the cost of experimenting with different devices is too high.  I shouldn’t have to pick only one device to use at any given time.  I love how when I travel overseas, I can take a SIM card and plug it into multiple different phones.

Being that I get to play with digital media and technology everyday (and get paid for it), I’m probably a bit biased, but I’m curious about the Nexus S, new Windows Phone, and some other smart phones that are in the marketplace.  I’d love to go buy one or two of these devices (pay retail) and plug them into my existing AT&T contract…However, the cost of adding these phones into my current plan are either ridiculously high OR not available and outweighs the benefits.

Will this change?

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