A pretty good day for Marissa Mayer: why Yahoo! could still win

July 16, 2012 | 5 comments

Not only was she named as the new Yahoo! CEO today – but she’s also announced that she’s expecting her first child. That’s up there with Mark Zuckerberg’s graduation-IPO-wedding triple whammy earlier this year.

At the time of writing, Yahoo! is worth over $19B. It’s certainly languished for the better part of a decade, and some of its leadership choices have been questionable. But it’s huge in Asia, its news and sports sites are the #1 in their respective categories, its APIs are widely used, Yahoo! Mail remains more popular than Gmail, and it still owns sites like the much-loved Flickr (which I’ve been using for years).

There’s a lot of potential energy in Yahoo!, ready to be converted into success.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if, under Mayer, it became the new, friendly home for broadcast media. Here’s CNBC’s coverage of the CEO announcement, and here’s the corresponding coverage from Fox Business. Both are hosted on Yahoo!’s Screen portal, which also has deals with ABC News, MLB, the NBA, the NFL and the NHL – and I’m picking names out of a very large hat here. It’s worked hard for its friendly status with the content companies, and if you combine that with its content analysis technologies, aptitude for smart feeds and real social tech, as well as true hardware agnosticism, you’re looking at what could be a very interesting platform for 21st century content consumption. (Don’t believe me? Jason Kilar, Hulu’s CEO, was under heavy consideration for the leadership post until he bowed out.)

That focus would also sidestep Yahoo!’s biggest bugbear: the perception that it’s a search engine / web index directly in Google’s space. Yes, its origins lie there, but Google’s emphasis on algorithms would be an uphill struggle to beat – and while the Yahoo! Directory still exists, it’s clearly not the company’s prime focus. (Also, it’s worth considering that Mayer likely still has Google stock.) Better to embrace the spirit of Yahoo!’s early years and provide a space on the Internet that’s more about DNA than data.

Yahoo! won’t be an algorithm; it won’t be a click farm that tricks the user into building their own direct marketing profile. It’ll be a curated series of channels full of the stuff you care about. That’s its strength, and that’s what it should concentrate on.

Inside Huffington Post’s traffic machine: the algorithm that’s killing traditional media

July 9, 2012 | 1 comment

Frédéric Filloux has written a great analysis of the Huffington Post’s SEO techniques, and is uncompromising about the implications:

When I discuss this with seasoned newsroom people on both sides of the Atlantic, most still firmly believe the quality of their work guarantees their survival against a techno-centric approach to digital contents.

I’m afraid they are wrong. Lethally so.

Frédéric goes into some detail about the way sites like the HuffPo find original journalism and re-wrap it with catchy headlines, quick links, some fine-tuned social engagement tools and a bunch of content straight from the article itself. In particular, he notes that a particular article on the New York Daily News received 2 comments, 1 tweet and 1 Facebook share, while the corresponding Huffington Post version managed 4601 comments, 79 tweets and 155 Facebook shares. And presumably, a whole bunch more advertising revenue.

In other words, because traditional media is failing to adopt new media techniques, sites like the HuffPo are eating its lunch.

The essence of what we’re seeing here is a transfer of value. Original stories are getting very little traffic due to the poor marketing tactics of old-fashion publishers. But once they are swallowed by the HuffPo’s clever traffic-generation machine, the same journalistic item will make tens or hundred times better traffic-wise. Who is right? Who can look to the better future in the digital world? Is it the virtuous author carving language-smart headlines or the aggregator generating eye-gobbling phrases thanks to high tech tools? Your guess. Maybe it’s time to wake-up.

Maybe – but the traditional media orgs that manage to turn this around and adapt to the 21st century (think: the Guardian) will win the day. Original content and the smarts to market it? Now we’re talking.

Check out our entry for the Knight News Challenge!

March 26, 2012 | Leave a comment

We’re a part of the Knight News Challenge:

1. What do you propose to do?

Speed up, simplify, economical sending and sharing of large video files from anywhere to aid journalists and others.

2. Is anyone doing something like this now and how is your project different?

Slow or expensive methods of video delivery exist, but latakoo is fast and inexpensive. We speedily send, share, download, and transcode large video files and provide public and private distribution.

Check out our full Knight News Challenge profile and – if you like our idea – click the “heart”.

Every visit and show of support helps. Thank you!

For your consideration at SXSW Interactive

August 11, 2010 | 1 comment

I’ve submitted a talk for South By Southwest 2011:

Building the User-centered Web

By establishing a general standard for social application interactions, the services and technologies used to make connections become less relevant; the Internet is people, one big social network, and users no longer have to worry about how they connect. We can all get on with communicating and collaborating in contextually appropriate ways. In this talk, I’ll discuss how to build a decentralized, user-centered web using existing and emerging technologies. I hope you’ll join me.

If you’d like to see this at the next SXSW, please visit this page to vote.

Paul Adrian also has submitted a talk, this time about the future of journalism, and how technology can help:

Technology Can Create a Press for the People

I believe it is time for a “news” revolution. A new press should produce comprehensive streams of rigorously non-partisan original reporting on the issues that are most important to our lives. Once informed, we the people should have a space where we can discuss the important issues of our times without having to submit to intolerance, deceptive campaigning and fear-mongering. Through the use of technology and new business models, news innovators can provide more credible information and space for civil discussions. The goal is to empower citizens by providing access to superior reporting and the platform for community organization necessary for the People once again to become powerful participants in democracy.

As well as being an award-winning journalist and technology entrepreneur, Paul is an inspiring speaker who is worth listening to. You can vote for his talk over here.