Archive for the ‘Silicon Alley Insider’ Tag

Why the New York Times Should Stop Selling the News…

I’m sorry to everyone for being away from a while… I am writing some new research on product launches and studying for my graduate school exams, so I haven’t had the time to keep this up-to-date.

However, I am still posting sporadically on my Quoting Tumblog and updating my favorite news stories in this blog’s sidebar.

That said, the New York Times continuing poor financial performance has led many to discuss new business strategies for the firm. Since I am a loyal Times reader and do not want to see it disappear, I want to add my two cents from a product perspective…

The New York Times should (slowly) refocus it’s business away from providing the news. Why? Because the NYT’s competitive advantage lies in its opinion editorials.

Two elements make a good news story…

  1. What you cover, and
  2. How you cover it.

The “what” includes the key facts of the story, while the “how” involves the discussion and insight the author adds. Both elements are important to any news story, but they are not mutually-exclusive.

The “what you cover” is easy, and everyone with access to a computer (or even a mobile phone) and a blog account can cover the news. Therefore, the leaders in the news are the people who can get it to you the fastest. With all of the bureaucracy and editorial barriers baked into a newspaper, the Times will never be the first out of the gate. Their publishing cadence could never be as quick as the 24-7 news stations, bloggers, and services like Twitter and Outside.In.

The newspaper is not the best way to get late-breaking news stories. A few months back, there were rumors around my office that a fire has closed DC’s metro lines, and some people were trapped in between stations. To see what was happening, I search “red line fire” on Summize (now Twitter Search) to see if anyone was tweeting about it. Sure enough, some people were talking about the fire and linking to a few relevant sources.

By the time I knew what had caused the fire, it was 9am that morning. A newspaper couldn’t have published this story until the next day, or at the earliest on the web, a hour or two after the incident. Because I tracked the events in real-time, I wouldn’t want to hear the facts while reading the next day’s headlines.

If the NYT is going to be a day late in recapping a story, they must give you a little bit more than just the facts. This is why we still read the NYT today… not for the headlines, but for Thomas Freedman, Paul Krugman, Maureen Dowd, and many others.

Very few news sources provide the consistent level of insight as the New York Times, and this paper’s voice is important to educating and informing the public. From a financial perspective, I agree with Silicon Alley Insider’s analysis, but from a content perspective, the paper should focus its limited resources on giving readers the opinion editorials we all love.

Why Silicon Alley Insider is the king of creative valuation…

I’m going to take a moment and profess my love for the Silicon Alley Insider… it is not only an insightful place for news on digital business (not just product innovations, which TechCrunch tends to focus on), it has a smug humor than comes from its roots in NYC and Wall St. That style makes it different from other destinations for business news I’ve found.

One of my favorite themes from their reporting is “what we would do if we ran these companies”. Better than anyone else I have read, SAI have great opinions on how to extract the true value from the companies they cover. Some great examples include: Craigslist, Yahoo, CNET, and AOL.

But, my favorite post was on Wikipedia… SAI showed how Craig Newmark could earn around US$900M annually for the Wikipedia Foundation, if he ran Wikipedia as a competitive for-profit business, and donated the profits to charity (ala Newman’s Own).

Key lesson – Hidden value lies in almost every business… you just need to know where to look and how to find it. And, that’s why SAI is the king of creative valuation.

Think Creatively to Generate Revenue, and “…connections go for a premium”.

I love creativity… I have a great deal of respect for people that think about something in a new and unique way. And for this reason, I’m excited about entrepreneurship. If you have a good idea that effectively solves a problem, you will be rewarded… handsomely.

Business creativity doesn’t lie solely in product design and development. It should also be evident in your business model. I’ll be writing about this topic soon, but I don’t think people should design a great product, and then get lazy by figuring that they must monetize it through advertising.

To effectively monetize a product, you must dig deep to identify the true value, and put a price tag on it.

And, that’s just what Scripped is doing. According to a post at the Silicon Alley Insider, Scripped will provide their web-based script-writing software for free, and charge for add on services, such as “script consultations” and “brokering meetings with producers and the like”.

Now, I don’t know much about the movie business, but it seems like these guys thought hard about what a screenwriter would pay the most for… experience and expertise. Can they deliver on that promise? We’ll have to see…