Back in the (Blog) Saddle Again

Should I be embarrassed not to have posted a blog entry since February 2008?

Maybe not so much, according to a recent article I read in the NY Times, “Blogs Falling in an Empty Forest.” It’s certainly not uncommon, apparently, according to these excerpts:

“…many people start blogs with lofty aspirations — to build an audience and leave their day job, to land a book deal, or simply to share their genius with the world. Getting started is easy, since all it takes to maintain a blog is a little time and inspiration. So why do blogs have a higher failure rate than restaurants?

According to a 2008 survey by Technorati, which runs a search engine for blogs, only 7.4 million out of the 133 million blogs the company tracks had been updated in the past 120 days. That translates to 95 percent of blogs being essentially abandoned, left to lie fallow on the Web, where they become public remnants of a dream — or at least an ambition — unfulfilled.”

…Richard Jalichandra, chief executive of Technorati, said that at any given time there are 7 million to 10 million active blogs on the Internet, but ‘it’s probably [only] between 50,000 and 100,000 blogs that are generating most of the page views.‘ He added, ‘There’s a joke within the blogging community that most blogs have an audience of one.'”

So why was I gone so long?

First, out of loyalty to my former employer, Nami Media. I mean, should I really post articles like “Google: Monopolist in the Making?” when Nami actually partners with companies I might mention? I’d really rather see Nami succeed, and while I was President, I didn’t think it was a good idea.

Second, I’ve been frustrated with my blog host, Yahoo Small Business.  Why do they keep their WordPress stuck on version 2.02 from, like, 2007? My blog got hacked into, because Yahoo won’t keep the platform up-to-date. Yet it’s such a hassle to switch – any suggestions?

Finally, with all my focus on Nami, I found that inspiration and activities with my typical subjects, namely lead-gen, Internet security and angel investing, had not really been there. But no more. The energy is back.

Here’s to re-starting my blog. Look, I’m happy just moving my blog audience audience from ZERO back to ONE!

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Nami Media Entrepreneurship Award and Interview on socalTECH

A few days ago, we learned that Nami Media had been selected as a Finalist for the PricewaterhouseCoopers Entretech Entrepreneursip Award 2008. Only three finalists made our category of emerging companies with annual revenues of $1-$8 million, and after attending the presentations, I can say that Nami is definitely the company which has come the farthest with the least external funding. We’ll learn if we won our category at a dinner on March 6….

PricewaterhouseCoopers and Entretech Announce Finalists for 5th Annual Entrepreneurship Awards 2008

Also, SoCalTech published an interview where Gary Mittman, CEO / Co-founder of Nami Media, and I offered our views on Nami Media’s progress, direction and benefits of being funded by the Pasadena Angels. This exposure is critical for Nami to gain in the LA area, not so much to win more business, but to hire more and better people — we’re growing a great team, and it’s key that people see they’re joining a winner.

Interview with Ken Hayes and Gary Mittman, Nami Media February 8, 2008

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Solving the Writers Guild Strike?

That title is definitely presumptuous, but the panel presentation I participated in today was meant to help inform members of the WGA about the Internet advertising industry and to discuss how writers might be able to exploit their creative skills without being dependent on the traditional studio structure.

I was the token non-WGA member. In fact, I have no agenda and frankly don’t understand the issues well enough to take sides in the strike. To me, it’s like Denmark declaring war against Sweden – made sense in the old days, but not in today’s environment. But I do have some good friends who are writers and were open-minded enough to want to understand what makes “new media” tick (thanks to Ken LaZebnik for organizing!)

I was told to expect 50 people in the audience, but there was more like 300. The other panelists were really good, but my favorite was Kent Nichols, who with a partner launched “Ask a Ninja” a couple years ago and now has a thriving Internet video business.  It was a lot of fun, and the audience members were kind and curious and energized.
My presentation is here: InternetAdvertising2008WGA.ppt

The WGA is putting together its own web video site, called StrikeTV, to showcase how writers can be successful without a studio. I wish them good luck. They will need a good viral marketing team to get enough traffic to this site to really make a significant impact (either political or monetary). Anyone want to step up?

As to solving the strike? My own idea is probably too radical. I’d take a cue from the Silicon Valley / Tech / Internet industry and form any new creative project (e.g. a complete television show) as a corporation, just like a tech startup. Every participant (e.g. employee), from the actors, to the writers, to the cameramen to the makeup artists would receive stock options, rather than royalties. The financiers would get their stock too, but spreading the potential wealth around just makes modern sense — that opportunity to hit it big really drives the industry forward and creates super motivation.

Thus the complete “brand” of a show becomes the value, rather than an individual episode. Whether it is ever re-broadcast, syndicated overseas, streamed over the Internet or makes money in t-shirts and mugs – if money is coming into the corporation, the shareholders would get dividends rather than royalties. This puts the creative and production people on the same level as the financiers and reduces the risk of hiding profits.

In my industry, this is equivalent to granting stock options to the Google masseuse.

Go ahead, call me crazy.

Posted in Internet | 1 Comment

Explaining the Absence: Full-time at Nami Media

One of the ironies of writing a blog is that the busier I am, the less time I have to write blog articles.  Not being a professional writer, or even a paid journalist, I can really only write in my free time, even though I enjoy writing about my industry.  Paid work (and kids and wife) come first.

Free time has been at a premium lately, since I joined Nami Media Inc. as President in July 2007.  Nami is in the “Internet Advertising Technology” business, and we develop and run systems which online advertisers and site publishers use to manage PPC Search campaigns and CPA Affiliate campaigns.  PPC (pay-per-click) and CPA (cost per action) are known as performance marketing:  advertisers only pay for their ads when customers perform an action.  This is the hottest growing area of Internet advertising, led by Google.

Nami Media, which started in 2001, has developed very effective platforms which help marketers manage their advertising.  Most of these marketers are quite sophisticated, but they are in smaller companies without the technology resources which are needed to compete in a rapidly-changing, innovating marketplace. 

For example, a key technology from Nami is click-fraud detection and filtering, which is necessary to protect advertisers from paying for fraudulent clicks.  Another key technology is optimization (generating maximum performance by tweaking various inputs).  By aggregating many smaller marketers, Nami has achieved critical mass in systems development and management. 

It’s an exciting time, and I’ll keep everyone posted on developments.  The fact that our revenue is exploding shows we’re on to something good.  And, okay, I’ll try to write a few articles along the way…

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Hot Tip for Domainers: 853-1212

Hilarious article in the LA Times this morning about how at&t (formerly SBC, formerly PacBell, formerly AT&T with big letters) is abandoning their automated time service on 853-1212 in California, active since 1948. Apparently, there are too many other ways to figure out the correct time.  Funny, because I’ve always relied on the good old phone company to be the most reliable.  No more.   So much for public service.  at&t (now rebranded with small letters) wants to free up the prefix “853” to regular subscribers.

What does this have to do with domainers, those guys who buy generic web names and place ads on them?  Well, the most valuable domain names are those which get “natural traffic”, for example is a user types “creditreports” into their browser, and goes to creditreports.com.  Valuable, because the domain owner doesn’t have to pay to drive users to the site.  All ad revenue is pure profit.

How valuable is 853-1212?  I’d be willing to bet that hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people have hard-wired into their brains to call 853-1212 whenever they need the time. Now they will be frustrated at the phone company (get it, at&t?).  These callers represent free traffic.  Why not run an ad-supported time service?  If at&t had any brains, they’d sell off 853-1212 or lease it out on a revenue-share model. Some enterprising domainer could figure out how to run short radio-style ads before the service would speak the time.

Who’s the biggest, smartest domainer out there? Google, of course. They’re willing to try new things – they’ve already set up a free 411 service (try 1-800-GOOG411) – purely to learn how users search by voice for local businesses. Let some smart techie at Google play around with 853-1212.

The most difficult task of this entire venture? Finding who the right person among AT&T’s 301,840 employees who has the authority to sell this particular phone number. If you know who he or she is, please let me know!

L.A. Times, Consumer Confidential column on August 29, 2007 by David Lazarus:
Time of day calling it quits at AT&T

Posted in Internet, Rumors | 4 Comments