Monday, January 25, 2010

Genesys Partners dinner and speakers

It's always a pleasure to join Genesys Partners at the Union League Club in New York for their annual Venture Dinner. Speakers this year included Dick Harrington (ex-Thomson), Andy Lack (Bloomberg), David Eun (Google), Mark Anderson (SNS), Gordon Crovitz (ex-WSJ, now Journalism Online), John Patrick (ex-IBM, now Attitude LLC) and Mark Walsh (Genius Rocket). I'll give you my 'back of the napkin' notes in no particular order.

John Patrick spoke about the 7 desirable properties of the Internet he outlined in his book (Net Attitude) and how we are doing: fast, always on, everywhere, natural, intelligent, easy to use, and trusted. Speed and ubiquity continue to be a problem in the US, thanks to cable companies, but we are seeing gains in the other 5. Semantic Web isn't happening very fast, but the whole area of analytics is becoming huge. Thanks to advances in architectures and algorithms, large computations can now be done in hours that would have taken years. As I have written elsewhere, everything worthwhile is becoming data driven.

David Eun also talked about volumes of data and gave us some numbers. It is estimated that up to 2004 the human race produced a little over 4 exobytes of information; we are now generating this same amount every few days. On YouTube, a billion videos are viewed every day, while 20 hours of video are uploaded every minute, which is the equivalent of over 130,000 full length movies per week.

Mark Anderson marveled at old media's inability to grasp that control has shifted into the hands of users, that people won't be told what to watch when, what ads to endure, and how to consume media. Newspapers were singled out for some fairly harsh criticism, and he opined that the Wall Street Journal had "lost its way."

Gordon Crovitz talked about Journalism Online, which seeks to replace at least some of the ad revenue behind news with a freemium subscription model, whereby 10% or so of customers pay for access to premium information. He stated that: "News is going to have to be paid for by the people who consume it", which is a position I have taken elsewhere in this blog.

Mark Walsh satirized the recent SCOTUS decision in Citizens United (which I have pilloried elsewhere), Andy Lack bemoaned the lack of good digital business models, while Dick Harrington reminded everyone that the same rules of business concerning strategy, planning and execution apply in the digital world as elsewhere.

Altogether an entertaining and informative evening that augurs well for Jim Kollegger's CEO Panel on business models at the SIIA Information Industry Summit tomorrow, featuring Lack, Harrington, Eun and Anderson. (Disclosure: I represent Thomson Reuters on the board of the Content Division of the SIIA.)