10 Ways to Create a Billion Dollar Media Brand

  1. Write snappy headlines that include no information. Link those headlines to a four-hundred word article which, if properly edited, would be two sentences long.
  2. Make people who try to read your website on a mobile phone dismiss a request to install your App. Every. Damn. Time.
  3. Include multiple, paid links beside every article. Do not label them as “paid”. Better yet, apply a misleading label like “Articles Recommended for You.”
  4. Write lots of top-N lists and implement them with slide shows.
  5. Hijack the “Copy” function of the web browser so that anyone who tries to quote a single line of the article will paste in twenty lines of garbage.
  6. Share buttons. Everywhere!
  7. “Syndicate” your posts so that “marketers” can re-use them in their “content marketing” efforts.
  8. Create articles that consist of nothing but twitter conversations and snappy commentary. Report on said conversations as though they were news.
  9. Be outrageous. Failing that, be outraged. Failing that, be snarky.
  10. Ensure good search engine placement by making the URL of each article more/informative-than-the-headline-or-body.

Is the open internet dead?

I was fortunate enough to get online in the mid-90’s. I wrote some terrible software to configure Dial Up Networking in Windows 3.1, and then sold it to a local ISP for years of free access.

At that point, consumers were rapidly adopting what I’ll call “open” technologies, including email, forums (USENET), messaging (IRC) and file transfer (ftp). The web was about to be littered with millions of consumer home pages, hosted by Geocities and people’s internet service providers.

Since then, nearly all consumer technology growth has moved from open to closed systems. Facebook and Google are “closed” in the sense that those companies exert total control of the platform, in a winner-take-most marketplace.

It’s hard to find recent examples of new, open technologies that had a lot of direct consumer adoption. The few I could think of are:

  • Firefox (which went mainstream in the U.S. around 2004)
  • Bittorrent (2005)
  • RSS (2005)
  • SMS (2008)
  • open video formats (2010, when YouTube added support)

Of these, I’d argue that only open video is thriving. Of the rest:

  • Firefox is suffering under pressure from Chrome
  • Bittorrent is being replaced by Netflix, Spotify and Hulu
  • RSS has been all but abandoned, replaced by twitter and weibo
  • SMS is under heavy attack by closed platforms like WhatsApp and Skype

Today, the fastest-growing platforms are all closed and controlled by large corporations.

Very few start-ups go public. This means that if you’re a successful new company, built on an open platform, you’re likely to be acquired by one of the incumbents and merged into their closed platform.

Is it still possible for open to win? Or is it time to give up, and search for a political solution?

Privacy, Trust and Identity

Privacy, Trust and Identity are now at the forefront for all consumers, and have wide-ranging impact on technology and media businesses. From tech companies, expect lobbying actions, new tools, new policies and more personal control to rebuild users’ confidence, and from the policy world expect more guidelines around use of personal data and stricter repercussions for violations of user trust.

The Best “Sleeper Ideas” For Trends, Stocks, And Private Companies To Watch In 2014 – Forbes

Eric Jackson’s roundup of Sleeper picks includes this nugget from Michael Wolff (which of course I agree with), as well as a few thoughts from yours truly.

(via gregcohn)

Dog loses airline – now THAT’s a story!

I think I would just ignore, it is local news doing a story on a lost dog. Their entire government is shut down and about to default and this is how the US media spends its time.

Continuations: Wattpad’s Fanfunding Experiment


I have written a lot about the challenges of charging for content as digital content production and distribution has skyrocketed. The fundamental problem from here on out is that the supply of content far outstrips the demand which means that at the margin the price for content will be zero….

I commend Wattpad for giving this a try, but I don’t think that their authors have a large enough audience of the right kind of people to make this a huge business. I hope I’m wrong.

Continuations: Wattpad’s Fanfunding Experiment