Sunday, December 31, 2006

Farewell to the Godfather of Soul

I saw James Brown at the Metro in Melbourne in the late 80's. I bought tickets to both shows - which as a student cleaned me out for a month - and saw the gig two nights running. Even in his late 50s, wearing a tight brown three-piece suit, his moves were smooth. He did the splits in the middle of the first show on the first night and came straight back up with the flexibility of an Olympic gymnast. The only blemish was that he popped his fly. But quick as you like he did a spin and zipped it straight back up again without missing a beat.

What a show! What a band! What a legend.

Here's a sample from the 70s

Friday, December 15, 2006

Glamming it up to the tune of $18.5 million

I've got a particular interest in this story because of a project I'm working on at the moment - of which more later.

Glam Media have raised a lot of capital and secured a partnership with Hearst magazines, which is going to do a lot of business for Hearst. Glam claims 8 million visitors a month.

The key is in this quote from Glam's founder, Samir Arora: “In 2004, under 50 percent of ecommerce was targeted towards women and in real life, that’s not the case, it’s more like 80 percent. But when you go online, these magazines’ Web sites have largely been places to drive subscription to the print magazine. So whenever there is a medium change, it’s rare that someone that is dominating one medium also dominates the new medium.”

True. And publishing models like Glam's are presenting real challenges to the old media giants.

edgio has a few interesting things to say about the trend towards new style publishing. The rising foothills analogy is a good one:

"Publisher driven revenue models will increasingly replace middlemen. There will be no successful advertiser driven models in the foothills, only publisher centric models. Successful platform vendors will put the publisher at the center of the world in a sellers market for eyeballs."

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Brisbane Morning Herald?

... Or the Brisbane Times?

The Oz is reporting Fairfax will launch an online product in Queensland early next year.

Apparently it's a done deal. The Brisbane unit will act as a bureau for Fairfax as well as running a news web site against News Ltd's Courier Mail.

South east Queensland is a dynamic growth region and one Fairfax has been eyeing for a while, so it's no great surprise.

The Oz piece speculates that Adelaide and Perth are also on the cards, and maybe they are. But it's a fact that the Brisbane operation is closest to launch.

Fairfax has wanted to cover the west for a long time, but you'd have to question the value of chasing a market the size of Adelaide.

Perth is an interesting case, particularly given News' efforts there this year. One of the overlooked media stories of 2006 has been Brett McCarthy's initiative in turning the Sunday Times print operation into a daily news site via Perthnow. It's a unique achievement and makes any brand new Fairfax effort there that much more difficult.

Crikey had a few words to say on the subject today: "Will the sites be subscription-based, will they rely solely on online advertising or will there be a combination of both? Where do they see the ads coming from?"

Subscription based sites would be the height of stupidity, and Fairfax isn't stupid. As to where the ads are coming from - well, that's not particularly mysterious. But how a sales team that's already stretched is going to service clients in these new markets - now, that's a question worth asking.

Crikey contacted Mike van Niekerk, Editor in Chief of Online at The SMH and The Age but he offered no comment. "All I can can say at this stage is that there are communities in this country who are desperate for alternative local news and information," said Niekerk. "If and when Fairfax Media has an announcement to make about serving those communities we will let them know."

Despite his coy statements Mike's little empire is about to expand, sort of. If only he could get access to the product development budgets then he'd really have something to talk about. Of course, Fairfax Digital isn't silly enough to let that happen. Instead the commercial dynamo Pippa Leary maintains the real power over Fairfax Digital products whilst Mike is merely allowed to project the illusion of glory.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Telecom NZ's ISP joins with Yahoo!7

Telecom New Zealand has formed a joint venture with Yahoo!7 to be called Yahoo!Xtra. It will deliver a range of online content and application services for New Zealanders and will replace the existing XtraMSN site with the initial Yahoo!Xtra services that are due to go live around March 1, 2007.

This takes the Yahoo!7 v ninemsn stoush into a small, but intense arena where until recently ninemsn have had the upper hand. The ones to watch now are APN.

2006, What a year!

... It was Nuckin' Futs, according to JibJab.

What price Facebook?

Techcrunch have published these internal Yahoo! documents that show management's assessment of the value of Facebook - albeit from a couple of months ago. The social networking site has been an acquisition target for most of its existence, but the interesting thing is the range of prices that get quoted: US$10 million back in 2004 through to $37.5 million for 5% in the first quarter of this year, with Yahoo! prepared to pay up to $1.62 billion for the full business by the middle of 2006.

According to Techcrunch "Facebook flatly rejected the $1 billion offer, looking for far more. Yahoo was prepared to pay up to $1.62 billion, but negotiations broke off before the offer could be made."

The growth projections are huge and you have to wonder how sustainable it really is, let alone the global potential a buyer would need to squeeze out of it for this price.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Social networking awards

I suppose this is a good idea, it just feels premature. I'm not sure the criteria on which to base an awards are properly established yet. OK, Myspace, Youtube, and Facebook are popular but what does that actually mean?

Mashable! promises to "provide more details once nominations begin next week".

Start your engines!

From the Department of Wishful Thinking ...

... Comes this bit of silliness (with a serious subtext).

News Ltd's veteran South Asian correspondent, Bruce Loudon, reports that Indian men are using condoms at least 5cm too large for them. The resulting failure rate is causing chaos with HIV/Aids prevention programs as well as birth control efforts.

Apparently a two year study by the Indian Council of Medical Research "showed 60 percent of men in the financial capital Mumbai had penises about 2.4 cm (one inch) shorter than those condoms catered for. For a further 30 percent, the difference was at least 5 cm (two inches)."

5cm! What's going on there? Who was kidding who when they agreed to adopt the "international standard" for condom sizes? I mean, 90% of the male Indian population is out of range - so to speak.

Maybe the condom importer got a cheap deal from Jamaica?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Got a media business to sell?

Well, Fairfax is buying.

The latest in the end of year media buying binges has been all over the papers yesterday and today.

But one small, yet to be publicised, web purchase by Fairfax adds an interesting twist to the current slate of big deals. It's an independent online operation that has been running for six years, quietly building an audience and a solid business in a space the majors just can't seem to get right.

So they buy it.

On Tuesday, sources tell me, Fairfax finalised a deal to buy Essential Baby for around $1.5 million. It may be that FXJ got a bargain. Then again, it's almost certain that they'll break it once the founder serves out her payout period. (These guys really don't know how to do social media.)

Tip yer hat to a smart mum in Bronte.

You heard it first here.

Added 9/12:
"I'm sick of these chump change deals," says Ernie Entrepreneur (currently raising finance for his own, very smart web 2.0 start up).
"Fair enough," says I. "But given this is a single owner operation with one sales staff, and has been taking in $50,000 a month in ad revenue, they ain't having to spread it too far."
"Sheesh, they could have worked the multiples a bit harder. Anyway, how far does $1.5 mill get you in Bronte?"
"Oh, you're a cynic, Ernie. It's a site about baby stuff. Even in Bronte that'll buy you a lot of nappies."

Monday, December 04, 2006

Walkley shenanigans

I have nothing to add to this except to say I was sitting in the middle of the room and the smile on Stephen's face as he got to his feet and looked up at Milne ranting on the stage was electric: You can't buy publicity like this!