Category Archives: Internet & Web X.0

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...
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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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Why These Frothy Times for Angel Investing are Actually Good

I’m going to play contrarian for a post.  There is so much talk right now of the angel investment scene going bananas from venture capitalists, angel investors, entrepreneurs, journalists, academics, and even lolcats.  I agree that it’s going bananas, but where I don’t agree with many people (and many people who I respect) is that it’s a terrible thing.

I believe it’s actually a good thing.

I’m an occasional angel investor.  Back in ’00-’01, I lost a lot of money in early stage investments.  Too much money.  I vowed never to do early stage financing again.  But I’ve had enough toes in the water over the past 7 years here in New York to understand where we were and where we are now.

If you are an entrepreneur, this is a great time to raise capital.  There is a ton of capital for many different reasons and access to it has never been easier.  It used to be that you had to have a top lawyer who knew people, or was asked to pitch at an angel group.  The web has fundamentally changed this.  I receive 3-4 deals a day on AngelList of companies I’ve never heard of but have demonstrable traction and already have hundreds of thousands committed.

Since there is a capital supply glut, simple economics say that it’s in favor of the entrepreneur.  Valuations are higher than a few years ago which is not in favor of the investor.  You need to put more money to work from an investment standpoint to have the same ownership percentages than just 365 days ago.

So as an entrepreneur, times are great.  If you are on the fence about raising capital, go and do it.  Cost of capital is cheap so take advantage of the opportunity.

As for angel investors, it sucks to be us.  But then again, it’s great to be us.

I spent a few hours in a board meeting today with angel investor and friend Jerry Neumann and he mentioned that the best part of being an angel means that you don’t have to do deals that you don’t want to do.  So lets use some simple logic:  if the deal terms are atrocious right now yet money is getting poured into early stage investments, then who is being ridiculous?  Us, – the angels!  No one is forcing us to put money to work in angel investing.  If the deal terms are so ridiculous, shouldn’t we be looking at other investment vehicles to generate wealth?

So why isn’t the well running dry in the angel investing ecosystem?

These frothy times will weed out the morons, or more importantly, the people who deserve to be weeded out.  Maybe the term moron is way too harsh, but it’ll weed out angels who are either a) way too green, b) investing on ego (I see quite a bit of this), c) people with no sense of simple math.  Is that a bad thing for the angel ecosystem?  Not if you ask me.

So, in 365 days from now, hopefully the froth has died down, angels who have no business being angels run out of capital earmarked for angel investments (but hopefully they saved for their children’s 529s), and more entrepreneurs than ever have startups and are dominating the world.

Price and Value

This post is inspired by Fred Wilson’s recent post entitled, Does Price Matter.  When you purchase a product or service, it has a price tag associated with it.  That price tag is based on what the seller wants to make (cost + profit) based on what they think they could sell to their anticipated target market.

Traditional “price” for products/services though in itself is flawed, IMHO.  It only takes into account one side of the equation:  the seller.  There are a few promotions such as the recent one done by apparel seller Uniqlo but most [private] pricing is determined by the seller. And for financial instruments, an open market determines the cost:  NASDAQ and NYSE are examples for that.

There were a few websites back in the day such as Mercata (shut down in 2001) that allowed groups of users to purchase based on the demand that they have and almost dictate market pricing.   I’d imagine this type of service is coming back in some form or another:  the more people buy, the lower the price becomes.

I’d argue that price does not always reflect value.  Value is generally what you will receive once you actually buy something:  and that value should be at or better than the price that you paid for it or you will most likely look at your transaction with negative taste.

People say that paying >$4 for a cup of coffee is expensive.  While pricing sounds expensive, what is the value to me?  If that $4 cup of coffee allows me to sit at a table, read the NY Times or WSJ and answer emails early in the AM, the valued delivered is much more… at least to me.

Video Search: A Big Opportunity

Image via Wikipedia

Here’s a startup idea that I think is ripe.  Time is now.

Lets try and learn from the past and apply it to the future. Alta Vista, Excite, Yahoo!, Overture, Dogpile, InfoSpace, Metacrawler, Gopher, Ask Jeeves, Webcrawler, Bing, Google (and many others) all evolved the way that we search for information.  Gone are the ways of card catalogs (I actually learned how to use one in grade school) and in are digital search boxes.

These search engines in varying degrees have been helpful to us when looking up textual based content and in some capacities, are helping us pull social, graphic, and video content.

As digital becomes less of a standalone channel and more of a backbone, I’d have to think that Video Search is going to be a huge business in the mid-future.  I don’t know the exact statistic, but X out of 10 televisions are being sold with either direct-to-Internet capabilities or STB’s that plug into a wireless routers which enables your big shiny new television as a portal to all the content on the web.  That “X” number will increase over time.

Since I find it hard to think I’m going to use my 70″ LCD TV to write Powerpoint documents from my bed, I’d have to think that the primary use will still be to view video content.

If Fred is correct, which I certainly believe, we should get together to build some beautiful video search apps for Android that will be positioned to deliver video search capabilities with potential for social interactions.

I’d have to imagine that the current big (and small) search engines were not created with video search capabilities as the technical infrastructure is fairly robust so either they will eventually come knocking.

My Tuesday morning thoughts.

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