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Category: value

NBC Blinks, Still Clueless


NBC comments on the iTunes contract negotiation. NBC doesn’t seem to understand the ecosystem of the internet. And they clearly don’t understand who downloads shows to watch on iPods and Apple TV. Jeremy Horwitz, of iLounge, does a good job of explaining the situation to NBC.

Apples iTunes allows customers to legally download content for a small fee. Previously, content was downloaded for free. Apparently NBC prefers that we return to the good old days. It’s amazing that, even at this late date, people don’t understand what it means to live in the Age of Digital Reproduction (the Age of Mechanical Reproduction has been surpassed, see Walter Benjamin). The means to reproduce the digital thing are contained in the thing itself. Companies like NBC don’t want anyone to know that. Or better yet, they’d like to change the nature of the digital.

Note to NBC, the time isn’t right yet. Take something rather than nothing. Keep pricing simple, take the money.

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Frank’s Back

Frank Quattrone made a lot of people a lot of money. He was the i-banker of Web 1.0. Now he’s beaten the charges related to the IPOs he ran for CSFB during the Internet boom. Of course, those who actually remember ancient history (back around the turn of the millenium), would know that Quattrone was never charged directly with the securities violations everyone knew he committed. He was charged with the cover up. He beat that rap.


So now in this new era of Web 2.x, Frank’s back. But things have changed, there’s Sarbanes Oxley, start ups are trying get by without VC funding, and the “first day IPO pop” has been revealed to be the most expensive advertising a company could possible do (as well as an opportunity for the kind of securities violations that Quattrone was originally suspected of). It was the difference between the IPO price and the first trade price that traditional bankers like Quattrone were able to parlay into a network of favors, and a pipeline of deals.

Here in the Bay area, we think the new crop of Web businesses are probably due for a shake out. But it’s also acknowledged that there are some better business models out there that really organically fit into the Web. If there’s a bubble today, it’s a much smaller one. It’ll be interesting to see how Frank will emerge. He wants to get back into the scene, maybe it’ll be M&A this time.

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The Small Internet: Bell’occhio

french pen nib

As has been previously established, the Internet is dead and boring. Some say it’s because we don’t have enough bandwidth, and that the network isn’t ubiquitous. Without question, more will make more possible. But will it make better possible? Sure, it’ll destroy television as we know it, but that’s really already happened. Once the distribution system got beyond 3 major networks, it was the beginning of the end for the economy of scarcity.

The real problem is that there’s not enough quality content to be distributed through 800 cable channels, zillions of Web sites and your phone. And even if there was, you wouldn’t have enough time to consume it. The reality is, you need to filter out 99.9% of the crap people are aiming at you. Your friendly local venture capitalist hopes that social networking sites will provide that filter for you. You and your “friends” can collectively filter the vast wasteland of the Web to something that’s actually interesting. But even that may be too much, people may have to stop sleeping to keep up with the river of “interesting stuff” their friends have dugg.

While gossip can be amusing, can the Internet also introduce us to the small, the original, the unique and the beautiful? Small shops like Bell’occhio are much better in person, but I love seeing them on the Web. No VC invested in this company, but it’s more interesting than all the Web 2.x companies missing vowels from their names.

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