Posts Tagged TechCrunch

In the Pause Before the Madness, Let’s Focus on What Matters

In a week that should be the buildup to an onslaught of significant tech news, I’m just a bit weary this morning. After a long weekend away from the computer, I logged on to the same old, tired posts about TechCrunch and DEMO and which would overthrow the other.

Every reporter and blogger in the industry seems to have weighed in with their individual conference experiences and no doubt every pundit will need to opine on who “won” in the aftermath.

And they are all missing the story.

I sincerely hope that beyond the “fight” between two events, we can keep the real story in mind: Entrepreneurs are launching their babies at these events, companies and technologies into which they’ve poured blood, sweat, tears and uncountable hours. No matter the venue they’ve chosen, more than 150 companies are taking the world stage next week. We should at the very least hear them out.

They have created something new from whole cloth and that, ultimately, is more deserving of our attention than a trivial, back-alley fight between two organizations which ultimately have a common goal: fostering innovation.

Let the story be about the companies. These companies, no matter where they are launching, very much deserve our respect and attention.

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Profits Not So Evil After All

It’s no secret that DEMO, the launch event owned and operated by IDG and programmed by Guidewire Group, has faced stiff criticism for its practice of charging selected companies an $18,500 fee to participate in its program, which is as much about go-to-market and after-launch support as it is about making a six-minute demonstration on a public stage. A new competitor, TechCrunch, does not charge a fee to the companies it recruits to its TC50 conference, coincidentally scheduled to overlap with DEMOfall in early September. As the “free” launch platform, TC50 has positioned itself as the friend of entrepreneurs and its co-producer has taken umbrage at DEMO’s “payola” (his words, not ours) business model.

In fact, Jason Calacanis commented on a post on this blog earlier this week:

At the end of the day I don’t have a problem with you Chris. I actually think you’re very smart and cool. What I do have a problem with is the $18,500 fee. Intelligent folks can disagree about these fees, and the different models of our shows. I believe we have a better model and that the marketplace will vote with our model and “conference payola” (I know you don’t like the term) will stop. As an entrepreneur myself I want to kill the “pay for play” model.

So it was with keen interest that I saw an email yesterday from Heather Harde, TechCrunch CEO, regarding TechCrunch’s MeetUp at August Capital in July. Read the rest of this entry »

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Imitation Is Flattery? Or Just Bad for Entrepreneurs?

There are a dozen other, perhaps more important and insightful, posts I’d rather be writing today. But, alas, my friends at TechCrunch put a wall in my path today and I just can’t ignore it, despite counsel from perhaps wiser advisers to do just that.

You see, TechCrunch and Jason Calacanis announced their plans for what is now being called TechCrunch50. Reading the TC50 site was a deja vu experience. The concept, the “rules,” the agenda . . . all out of the DEMO playbook.

You might remember that TechCrunch announced its first startup launch event, what was then called TC20, while sitting in the second row at DEMO 07. At the time I believed, as I still do now, that entrepreneurs need a variety of venues and opportunities to address the market. If TC20, which becameTC40 presumably when the blog’s desire to attract more entrepreneurs outstripped its promise of super-exclusivity, can provide a platform and give wings to entrepreneurs, then good on ’em. That can only benefit the tech ecosystem.

But, as I told VentureBeat’s Chris Morrison this afternoon, I’m baffled by TechCrunch’s decision to put its event literally on top of DEMOfall 08. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Real Value of Audience

We didn’t make the list, not that we’re surprised or even disappointed, really. The list? 24/7 Wall Street’s ranking of the 25 Most Valuable Blogs.

While I might argue the nuance of “value” (does audience size and ad revenue trump meaningful discourse?), I am impressed by the analysis Douglas McIntyre put into valuation and ranking of the top blogs. While admitting at the outset that “there is no way to accurately put a value on blogs,” the site drew revenue estimates from data and assumptions about advertising and other commercial revenue, quality and quantity of ads, traffic and traffic growth. The site then based total value on a multiple derived from estimated operating margins, longevity of the blog, outside funding, and the dependence of a blog on its founder or lead personality.

Omitting the blogs of large media companies and blogs as the market-facing vehicle for another primary business, 24/7 Wall Street’s list shapes up like this:

1. Gawker (including Gawker, ValleyWag, Gizmodo, and Wonkette, among others): $150 million.

2.MacRumors: $85 million

3. Huffington Post: $70 million

4. PerezHilton: $48 million.

5. TechCrunch: $36 million.

6 (tied): Ars Technica $15 million.

6 (tied): Seeking Alpha $15 million.

8 (tied): Drudge Report $10 million.

8 (tied): Mashable $10 million.

10. GigaOm: $8.4 million.

Valuations quick tapper off. No. 23 Talking Points Memo is pegged at $860,000. McIntyre assigns no price to No. 24 Travelpod and to his No. 25 pick, his own 24/7 Wall St. (I recommend reading the post in which McIntrye explains his reasoning for each blog, expecting his own.)

There are a couple of take aways from this analysis, and the first is clear: Read the rest of this entry »

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Over Paying Bloggers for “Free” Content

On most days, Carla and I debate our analysis in private, Skyping with one another until our fingers burn. And this day started just the same. She’d been mulling over the value of reasoned analysis as subject matter for blogs. Then, a TechCrunch post about (I think) why investment in blog media companies will never pay out described the blogging as some sort of word-based Fight Club, and that tipped Carla to action.

Her post today asks, essentially, whether thoughtful analysis has any place in the blogosphere. She quoted one colleague who effectively said that if one writes a solid analysis, then what’s there to say in the comments. The subtext: fire off an ill-conceived “rant” and we can really sink our teeth into that. Read the rest of this entry »

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Is Thoughtful Analysis Dead?

Mike Arrington’s post on TechCrunch this morning about bloggers and the capital around them was uncanny, as I spent yesterday pondering the ins and outs of blogging in the current climate. A bit of a ramble and frankly, lacking introspection, his post was nonetheless an interesting perspective on the blogging market and its potential future. It’s prompted me to lay bare some concerns and questions I’ve had of late.

The Guidewire is a relative newcomer to the blogosphere. Not counting personal blogs and the weekly posts on DEMO.com, Chris and I haven’t contributed much to the blog conversation. To be honest, our initial stab at a Guidewire Group blog collapsed under its own weight. We approached it with too heavy an editing hand, too complicated an interface, too… much thought, if that’s possible. We’re industry analysts by nature and trade, a profession that doesn’t lend itself to off-the-cuff musings and breaking news. We spend weeks, sometimes months, weighing market trends and startup viability and only then do we craft our analysis aimed toward Guidewire Group’s primary audience of VCs and C-level execs in technology firms. As we delve deeper into directing some of those thoughts into a blog, though, I increasingly struggle with how to build and maintain an online presence by producing interesting, mindful content that people want to read without turning into a ranting egomaniac. It’s right there in About The Guidewire:

Our goal… is to add to the conversation, not echo it. We hope that when we do wade in on an issue, we can offer a different perspective, one that’s missing from the discussion.

Easier said than done. All the well-intentioned, reasoned thought in the world isn’t worth much when people don’t see it. I think Chris best summed up our abrupt education in blogosphere politics when she said recently, “I’ve become a link whore.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Constructive Criticism

The blog world is atwitter (pun intended) today over FriendFeed. TechCrunch’s Duncan Riley had the nerve to say, “I don’t get it” and the chorus of boos was swift. Louis Gray, an early adopter and rabid proponent of FriendFeed, said Riley missed the point by only giving the service the most cursory of glances.

I’ve written before of my love of FriendFeed and still stand by that. But I think the company and its faithful fan base should absorb opinions like Duncan’s rather than discard them as those of the lazy and/or uninformed. What got me thinking on this was a similar situation with Twine earlier in the week . A negative review of Twine by Marshall Kirkpatrick received all manner of response, both in the Twine app and in the comments to his post, one of which was mine. Marshall made some excellent points about the nascence of the app and how much needed to be improved upon, just as Duncan brought up very real issues with FriendFeed. What interests me is not the specific criticisms but the manner in which they were received. Fervent fans reacted quickly, in essence saying “how dare you” and “you just don’t get it” to the critics. The problem with such reactions is that they bypass the usability issues and tech hurdles that need to be addressed. Radar Networks’ Senior Architect Peter Royal had a smart reaction to Marshall:

He describes a user’s experience if they show up in twine with no hand-holding. it clearly illustrates things we need to focus on from a user point-of-view.

The word “beta” has lost much of its meaning in Web 2.0, but at its essence is user criticism and vitally necessary feedback. Resounding praise isn’t of much use to emerging technology. It’s nice to hear, of course, and validation confirms that the developers are on the right track. But companies should start responding to “I don’t get it” with “What are we doing wrong?” The ensuing conversations will likely be far more productive for both sides.

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