Tag Archives: social networking

Early Stage Areas/Companies I'm Watching

I have really enjoyed watching all of the innovation over the past few years and wanted to highlight a few areas that I think are really interesting for 2010/2011.  In some cases, I may use company names as examples;  unless otherwise noted, I am not an investor in any of these companies and this is not a sponsored post (cmp.ly disclosure).

Video
I think 2010-2020 is going to be the decade of digital video.  Analog video will become digital and it will become indexable, optimizable, and interactive.  For many reasons outlined in this previous post, I don’t think it’s going to happen overnight, but I do think that video is going to grow significantly.  Many of my clients in the agency are asking for video (either to complement their digital plan or to substitute for their traditional TV efforts) for 2011.

One of the companies that I’m watching today is Milabra (Crunchbase Profile).  The reason why Milabra is interesting to me is because they help us index what is in the actual video content.  This is extremely important when we want to target, customize and index content.

Social Networking
CollegeOnlyIt’s 2004 all over again.  I wrote back in the day that social networks are like hot clubs – while they are all the rage now, there will be another hot one in the next year or two.  Facebook has obviously dominated but there becomes a point where Fb will not have 100% marketshare.

One of the companies I’m watching is CollegeOnly (Crunchbase Profile). What I like about them is that their value proposition is easily understood and their media kit does a great job describing who and what they do… and I believe it.

Automated Advice
If we all had access to a lot of data, we can have it tell us things based on certain criteria we tell it to look for.   In an age of large amounts of data, companies are going to emerge that weed out the middleman of giving advice/consultations for the opportunity to automate actionable decisions.

PlantlyI’m specifically tracking two companies in this area:  Plant.ly (Crunchbase Profile) and Profitably (Crunchbase Profile).  There is no coincidence that they both start with “P” and end in “ly.”  Plant.ly has access to a huge database of investment risk and returns over a few decades.  Based on your risk tolerance and expected return, they can recommend the right fund/etf/etc for you.  No need to pay a middleman to set that up for you.

Profitably is another startup that is innovating in the automated advice area.  You give it access to your Quickbooks business information and it helps you decide where you can either trim costs or grow profits for our business.  For someone who isn’t numbers adept, this could be very valuable.

Because both of these companies use technology to disintermediate humans, the can significantly reduce the transaction cost and still make boku dollars based off of scale.

Content Consumption
This is an area that I’m currently very active in.  I’m a formal advisor to Fast Society which is launching in a couple of weeks, and I’m about to launch a project called Tomzy (currently the sole investor) that helps the world visualize vast amounts of information.  I’m on a content consumption kick because in it’s current form, it’s broken.  I have a whole post coming out on this upon the launch of Tomzy but essentially we cannot manage our current content stream and we’ve not even digitized the majority of our content yet… so how can we expect to keep up with it in the future?

While Tomzy is all about processing and filtering content based on its relevance to YOU, Fast Society creates a bbm (blackberry messenger) like service across any platform for a small group of people for a defined period of time.  I can’t give too much away about Fast Society but it’s different than GroupMe (Crunchbase Profile).

Based on what you have read here, if there are companies who you think should be on my radar screen, I’m certainly willing to engage.  Please contact me thru this form, comment below, or tweet me @dherman76.

Pew Internet Study – A Great Resource

Every few months, the Pew Internet & American Life Project releases a study that gives us insight into a certain subject such as Social Networking Websites and Teens: An Overview and Teens and Technology (amongst many others). The resource is available to anyone and is fairly in-depth. Much of the research can be used in new venture pitch presentations or advertising/media planning (I certainly see it over and over).

In the most recent study, 55% of teens use social networking sites. That’s more than half. Impressive as the bulk of social networking sites came into existence in the past 3 years. Most interesting to me is that older teens, particularly girls are more likely to use these sites. Girls find social networking sites are primary places to reinforce pre-existing relationships; for boys, the networks provide opportunities for flirting and making new friends. Another statistic that stands out to me is that 3 out of 4 teens say that they use social networking sites to make plans with friends…. bridging online with offline. I love it.

In a time where we want “engagement” metrics… we better find a way to figure out how to measure the value of engaging a user-base because more than 4 in 5 social network users have posted messages to a friend’s profile or page. How can we leverage this for brands?

The survey was conducted via telephone interviews from October 23 through November 19 2006 among a national sample of 933 youths.

Social Networks as Fads?

Wired Magazine’s September issue (9/2006) includes a reader “rant + rave” that says the following: “As a fad for the young, MySpace will fizzle out within two years, just as a new nightclub burns brightly with all the cool people until the mundanes discover it. If old media wants to keep the young dazzled with its online clubs, it’ll need a virtual velvet rope to keep out the unhip, including parents, teachers, and those over-the-hill 35 year-olds fishing for 18-year olds.” (William McCarthy)

I agree partially with what William discusses above. I like the MySpace vs. nightclub comparison. In the nightclub industry, you can only be “hot” for so long – it’s a rule of thumb. Owners of hot restaurants and nightclubs will generally close after they are the #1 club for the summer and go and open up somewhere else under a new name. The reason for this is that the “elite” or “trendsetters” do not want to keep frequenting the same place year after year. What will generally happen is that the “trendsetters” will find the place, party for a summer, then the name will spread to the masses and it’ll become the mass place to go until that fizzles out. Just think of Pangaea and Serafina here in New York… those were the hot-spots.

MySpace according to McCarthy “was” the hot-spot. I like his analogy here. The trendsetters are probably up in arms that 55+ million people have registered as well, so they are out scouting new social networks. However, my question is, can you take 55+ million people away from Myspace as it’s not the “hot club” anymore? Probably not, but I do like his analogy.

Social Networking Rant in NYT

Theodora Stites has written a fantastic article labeled, Someone To Watch Over Me (on a Google Map) which touches upon a half dozen social networking companies who directly impact her life every day. Sites that are realized in the article are:

  • Myspace
  • Friendster
  • Dodgeball – good to see the site/service appear
  • Facebook
  • Match.com
  • Nerve * not really part of the list
  • Plazes
  • Fark
  • Geocaching

The most interesting part of the article focuses on why Theodora has multiple social networks. She explains it well, and honestly, it’s fascinating:

WHY, you ask, do I have to be a part of so many online communities? Isn’t it hard to keep track? I need to belong to all of them because each one enables me to connect to people with different levels of social intimacy.

Don’t know you but think I may want you to be part of my network? I’ll contact you through Match.com or Nerve. Just met? I’ll look you up on MySpace. Known each other for a while, but haven’t been in touch recently? Friendster message. Friends with my friends and want to get to know you better? Dodgeball or MySpace. Good friends and want to connect more often? Dodgeball. Really good friends? Instant Message.

Anyone involved in the social media space or investment realm should take a look at this article. It may be a bit slapstick or informal, but it does lay out some great thoughts into the social networking realm.

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Facebook Nears Deal With Major Holding Company

When we think social networking, most of us can name Myspace.com immediately, but if you’ve graduated from college in 2003 or less, you probably can also name TheFacebook.com, or their newer name, Facebook.com.

A major advertising holding company, IPG (Interpublic Group of Cos.) is nearing a deal to purchase a 0.5% stake in the organization. IPG has 2 significant media agencies within: Initiative Media Worldwide and Universal McCann. R/GA is part of the holding company as well. Not only will IPG media agencies purchase their media on Facebook.com, but ideally, and I personally think they should use the platform to mine the data… forecast trends and understand what college and high school kids are doing and WHY. There is tons of data that they have… IPG can leverage this for their clients to provide valuable insights.

Denuo (Publicis) has hinted at M&A and investments in the media space but this would be an unexpected move by IPG who has been hurting financially lately.

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