This, the first of our regional blogs, is authored by the technology and financial journalist Dominic Basulto. Dominic is a New York native, has been a senior editor at Corante since day one and has written for a number of online and offline media companies. Send tips or story ideas to: email@example.com.
About this weblog
Here we'll report daily on the latest tech and business developments in New York City. Impossible we concede: comprehensive coverage of the city's every story. What we hope you'll find: tips, tidbits and perspectives you won't find elsewhere. As well as unique insights, original interviews and more that should be of interest to New York's vibrant community of technologists and those who track, invest in and report on them.
Over at CBS MarketWatch, Jon Friedman admits that bloggers frighten him: "I haven't reached the point where I can completely trust them to be accurate or comprehensive or analytical or, especially, fair. Sometimes, I'm not even sure if they worry about such conventions of journalism." Yes, it's the never-ending question of whether bloggers are indeed journalists, and if they are -- should they matter?
While Friedman admits that some bloggers are increasingly influential, he's quick to dismiss the other 99% of bloggers: "From where I sit, the rants of the vast majority of bloggers have about as much impact on the public's understanding of the daily news as the shrill eccentrics I encounter everyday on the subways in New York City." (Thank you, I'll take that as a compliment.)
Obviously, Friedman has encountered one too many of these journalist-wannabes (or else it's a cry for attention and readers): "Bloggers remind me of people who call into an all-sports talk-radio station and yell out their opinions. They have no new information to present. They aren't witty or clever. They're simply shrill. And that's no longer good enough..."
Writing in the Times Online (U.K.) last week, Andrew Sullivan explains how the "iPod people" are changing the look and feel of the city. The usual insane mishmash of yells, chatter, clatter, hustle and chutzpah that makes New York the urban equivalent of methamphetamine" has been replaced by an eerie quiet as a growing number iPod users walk down the street in their own MP3 cocoon, bumping into others, deaf to small social cues, shutting out anyone not in their bubble "
It's no different underground, where iPod users exchange blank looks with one another: "Get on a subway and youre surrounded by a bunch of Stepford commuters staring into mid-space as if anaesthetised by technology. Dont ask, dont tell, dont overhear, dont observe. Just tune in and tune out.
On the Red Herring blog, Mitch Ratcliffe weighs in on the rapidly shifting competitive landscape for traditional media companies like Viacom, which recently posted a $18.4 million quarterly loss. The loss, which included a huge write-down of the company's radio assets, is nothing less than another watershed event in the transition from old, centralized media to something new. Viacom and other media giants may play an important role in the new media landscapethey most likely willbut their valuations are going to take a beating during this process of rapid media evolution."
While companies such as Viacom believe that consolidation, cost-cutting and a re-focusing on traditional media like radio and TV will be enough to pull itself out of a financial mess, the reality may be much different, writes Ratcliffe: Media is in flux at every level and in every niche. Viacom is easing investors into a new reality, one where highly centralized programming processes probably don't fit as comfortably as they did in the broadcast era. The retreat has only just begun, as the mobility of personalities like Howard Stern to new channels has only started, and with the talent the value will go.
As the electronic trading of stocks continues to grow in popularity, brick-and-mortar exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange are becoming increasingly anachronistic. As if to underscore how some fledgling electronic exchanges are disrupting the traditional Wall Street way of doing business, some money managers are calling Liquidnet, an e-marketplace that allows institutional investors to trade large blocks of stock anonymously, a "Napster for stocks." According to one equity trader, "Liquidnet was the first to bring the liquidity to you rather than us carving up our order flow and sending it out. The beauty is anonymity, lower rates than full-service brokers, and it comes to you--versus you having to go out.
The valuation of Liquidnet is staggering: based on a recent financing deal, the three-year-old company is already valued at $1.8 billion. By way of comparison, the NYSE is worth about $1.3 billion, Nasdaq is worth $794 million and Archipelago is worth about $873 million.
After six months of testing, New York-based search advertising firm Kanoodle is rolling out a new product offering to help small online publishers (e.g. bloggers) make some money. Kanoodles new product offering, BrightAds RSS, searches RSS feeds for key words and then uses its proprietary keyword advertising system to match relevant ads to the content. In order to make the product widely available to smaller publishers, Kanoodle will partner with Moreover Technologies to deliver RSS feeds (and sponsored links) to a Web sites readers.
The CEO of Moreover, Jim Pitkow, encouraged by early test results, is calling the new RSS-based advertising system the democratization of content" since "small publishers now have a choice as to if and how they make money from their content.
Newsday has more details about the Origins of Cyberspace auction at Christies last week that brought in more than $700,000 from the sale of 133 out of 254 lots. Among the top sellers at the auction was a 1946 business plan by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly with designs for the first electronic computers ($72,000). As noted earlier on Corante, the highest-selling item was a sketch of an analytical engine by Charles Babbage from 1843, which sold to a private buyer for $78,000 ($65,000 plus a 20% auction house commission).
The New York City Council has unanimously adopted Resolution No. 669, which "calls upon City agencies to use their funding and regulatory power to support and encourage the provision of affordable high-speed Internet service and computer purchases for the benefit of residents of affordable housing."
Gale Brewer, the chair of the city council's Committee on Technology in Government, comments on the need for affordable broadband access: "This resolution will help us bridge the digital divide -- lack of access to the economic, educational and financial tools that the Internet provides. By encouraging new affordable housing developments to be built with high-speed Internet access, we can accelerate the entry of low-income people into the economic mainstream. At a cost as low as $175 a unit, this is an investment New York can't afford not to make."
To learn more about other initiatives to bring technology to lower-income citizens in NYC, check out the Web site for One Economy Corporation.
The MTA is considering putting flat-screen TVs in the New York subway, says the New York Daily News. Based on a similar plan already underway in Atlanta, straphangers would be able to tune into local television news broadcasts, one of three different music channels, or an MTA informational channel.
Perhaps the only thing worse than a call from the IRS is a call from the SEC asking you to "explain a few things." The SEC has launched an insider-trading probe at Sirius Satellite Radio and the first person brought in for questioning was gossip journalist Chaunce Hayden, who was "grilled for two hours yesterday by five SEC attorneys." Sometime before the October 6 announcement that Howard Stern was joining the company, insiders actively bought shares of the company in anticipation of a run-up in the stock price. (In the five trading days before the deal was announced, in fact, Sirius shares soared by 26%)
Hayden says that he's innocent - and that he's never even owned any shares of Sirius stock, which leads to the obvious question: who's next to face the SEC inquisitors?
Entrepreneurs need to stop thinking so much and start acting, advises New York VC Fred Wilson. Call it "analysis paralysis" or the "Hamlet complex" or whatever you want, but the fact remains that it's impossible to analyze every action and every possible contingency before making an important decision. Venture backers will applaud an entrepreneur who acts and takes risks, even if the action turns out to be misguided later, says Wilson. As Teddy Roosevelt once said:
"In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing."
In an article about ads embedded within online news stories, the New York Times points out that the New York Post is giving serious consideration to the adoption of the ever-controversial IntelliTXT. The system, developed by Vibrant Media, is the latest (and most intrusive) evolution of keyword advertising: when visitors use a mouse to view words that are underlined in green, a small box labeled "sponsored link" appears with an advertising message and a link to more information.
Forbes.com experimented with the system for about two months before passing on it, "citing unease among its reporters." A spokesperson for the New York Post cautions that plans to use IntelliTXT (already in use by 400 other online publishers) are still in a trial phase: "That was a test of new technology that was not intended to be live. They have not debated or discussed it internally. They are not making any prediction whether they are going to use it."
The Deal (publisher of TheDeal.com) and CNET News.com are joining forces to publish a bimonthly magazine, Tech Confidential, starting in May. The magazine will cover the "business and finance aspects of technology" and cater primarily to executives and entrepreneurs within the tech sector. Some content from the print magazine will also appear on the flagship CNET Web site, according to Crain's New York.
Paid Content shares the news that independent Wall Street research firm Majestic Research has landed a first round of institutional venture capital. A number of Internet heavyweights -- like Nick Nicholas (former Co-CEO of Time Warner), Josh Kopelman (founder of Half.com) and Bill Hambrecht (of WR Hambrecht + Co) -- are lending their public support to the venture, so if you haven't already done so, check out the Transparent Bundles blog from Majestic Research's Seth Goldstein.
The most important paper in the history of digital computing
A sketch of the Analytical Engine invented by Charles Babbage sold for $65,000 at the Origins of Cyberspace auction at Christie's on Wednesday. (By way of comparison, Christie's had posted an estimate of between $30,000 - $40,000 for the item.) So what do you get for $65,000? "The first separate edition, extremely rare, of the most important paper in the history of digital computing before modern times," according to the Christie's auction catalogue.
Gizmodo points to a story from Wired News about some of the whizbang tech toys on display at the New York Toy Fair this week. One of the highlights: the Cyber Gear Expressions! Digital Radio, which "clearly took its design inspiration from the 1957 Gibson Les Paul Stratocaster or from someone else who is dead and not holding any lawyer on retainer."
Citysearch now offers reviews of restaurants, bars, coffee shops, book stores and hotels in New York City with free wireless Internet access. By now, everybody knows that Bryant Park offers free Wi-Fi access -- but did you know that Coliseum Books (located across the street) also offers wireless Internet access in its "homey" cafe? (Hat tip: NewYorkology)
Sirius Satellite Radio inked a five-year, $107.5 million deal for the broadcast rights to NASCAR races, effectively pulling the rug out from under XM Satellite Radio, which currently broadcasts the races. According to the New York Post, XM CEO Hugh Panero exploded in a "volcanic" rage when he was informed of the deal. Starting in 2007, Sirius plans to offer a 24/7 NASCAR channel supported in part by advertising.
Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. held a meeting of the minds last week in New York to work out a comprehensive Internet strategy for the company's diverse media holdings. As Paid Content points out, though, about the only thing the company's top executives agreed upon was that it was time to bring in some third-party consultants to sort through the muck:
"Rupert Murdoch figured none of his lieutenants were any good at coming up with a Web strategy, and has hired management consultants McKinsey to help come up with a new global strategy... The consultancy firm is advising News Corp on improving co-ordination between its network television, publishing, film and newspaper assets...the firm has initially advised the company should use existing websites to exploit the trend towards internet downloading and online advertising."
Jay Rosen of PressThink weighs in on the $410 million acquisition of About.com by the New York Times. The business rationale for the deal, says Rosen, has to do with About.com's search engine expertise -- something the New York Times currently lacks:
"They know how to show up in search; we don't. Let's buy them. Then we'll know too."
While About.com, with its 500 or so niche content sites, currently has 22 million monthly readers, the New York Times only has 13 million readers. That's because About.com and similar sites "know how to design pages that find their way into search engines, and thus have a second life." By some accounts, only 20% of readers see an article when it is new and featured -- the other 80% see it only after it's been archived. Once the New York Times learns to optimize its pages for search (such as by including permanent links to older archived content), its monthly readership will likely increase significantly -- and that means more advertising dollars as well.
BuzzMachine reports that Bill Keller, the executive editor of the New York Times, addressed the subject of blogs and blogging during a recent talk at Columbia University:
"Keller also sees 'blogging,' or online writing that blurs news and commentary, as a mixed blessing. While he celebrated the blogger's ability to uncover breaking news, he noted that a blog's inherent bias might be detrimental to the reader. "A blog is still a view of the world through a pinhole," he said."
Gothamist admits to being fascinated by the popularity of cellphone jammers, especially after an article in the New York Post speculated about certain illicit ways that these jammers are being used:
"The Post talked to a couple spy shops and jammer purchasers. Restaurateurs are buying them, and some suspect hotels buy them to make people use the expensive hotel phones... Would you jam people's cellphones? Or are you in need of jamming? Of course, jammers are illegal, but isn't music sharing, to a certain extent?"
How much money can a talented blogger make these days doing nothing but blogging? Jason Kottke of Kottke.org is about to find out -- he's quit his Web design job for a chance to become a full-time blogger. Blogging for blogging's sake, you might call it. He's tightening the belt and asking his faithful readers to lend him a hand by becoming micropatrons. It's probably easiest to explain what he's attempting to do by stating upfront what he's not trying to do:
"Kottke.org will also not become any less personal or any more professional. This is still my personal web site and is not going to mutate into a vertical blog about tech, design, politics, pop culture, or even asbestos. I'm not turning into a journalist. I'm still going to write and post almost exclusively about things I am interested in, whatever those may be at any particular moment. Just so you know, I may occasionally post cat photos, as is my right as the editor of a personal web site."
The New York Daily News has an exclusive on the proliferation of pre-paid porn cards that are being "peddled by bodegas and newsstands across the city - even to underage kids." The so-called PPP cards ("pre-paid porn") cost anywhere from $5 to $50 and have been widely available in the city for the past four months.
XM Satellite Radio and New York-based Sirius Satellite Radio may both still be losing money, but investors are willing to look the other way as long as subscriber growth projections remain optimistic. According to a best case scenario, the number of satellite radio subscribers could grow ten-fold over the next five years; however, some analysts warn that these projections are way too rosy, especially since "the industry is new and demand is difficult to gauge."
For investors, that means keeping a close eye on subscriber growth figures. Says one media analyst, "Subscriber growth is the key and critical driver for satellite radio. Any snag in obtaining that growth could cause a sharp correction in the stocks of these companies." For Sirius, the magic number is 2.5 million subscribers by the end of 2005. Failure to meet that goal could torpedo the company's stock price.
New York-based Poindexter Systems, which helps advertisers improve the profitability of their online marketing investments by analyzing consumer behavior, announced that Dr. Andreas Weigend would become the company's new chief scientist. Weigend, a former business school professor at NYU, was also the chief scientist at Amazon.com, where he "ran hundreds of simultaneous experiments to gather and analyze information to predict user behavior." By analyzing this behavior, Amazon was able to develop predictive models for recommendations and cross-selling.
The Wi-Fi Salon, which is "dedicated to changing New York and improving its communities economically and socially through Wi-Fi technology," plans to create as many as 26 free wireless hot spots on the Upper West Side and the Upper East Side by the end of 2004. According to Crain's New York, the company is still putting the finishing touches on a business model that will enable it to break even within the next 18 months:
"The Wi-Fi Salon has not yet started generating revenues, but expects to make money from nearby companies that pay for Wi-Fi access to run voice-over-Internet-protocol systems, or pay to be included in a business directory that pops up when someone logs on to free Wi-Fi at a particular hot spot."
The company places a huge emphasis on community involvement, and with that in mind, Wi-Fi Salon invites New Yorkers to call or e-mail them with a story about how Wi-Fi has made a difference in their community.
A number of New York restaurants like Bed and Uncle Jack's Steakhouse are using their Web sites to flog anything and everything -- from shirts and CDs to jewelry and steak knives. The e-commerce efforts have two results -- padding the bottom line with non-food-related sales and acting as a source of buzz for possible expansion into new markets, says the New York Times. In fact, one lecturer at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration thinks that some restaurants may be so successful selling over the Web that the restaurant business eventually becomes a sideline endeavor:
"The restaurant could stop but the products could go on. If you make enough money this way, you might come to the point where you just get out of the business of waking up in the morning and spending all day cooking and being behind the stove."
The Chicago Tribune publishes a fun piece about New York's own TheSmokingGun.com, which is back in the national spotlight, thanks to the Michael Jackson child-molestation case. Over the past eight years, the "tart, celebrity-centric Web site has found and posted original documents about the missteps of the rich, famous and those who aspire to the same..." Now, The Smoking Gun -- one of the 28 most-quoted sites on the Internet by bloggers despite having only three employees -- has once again scooped the nation's major media outlets with a 1,903-page document related to the Jackson case.
In 2002, dot-com survivor Mike Daisey adapted his successful off-Broadway monologue about life at Amazon.com into the book "21 Dog Years: Doing Time @ Amazon.com." He's back with a new production ("Monopoly!") at the Ohio Theater in SoHo; the play combines a short history of the origins of the board game Monopoly, observations about Microsoft's antitrust suit and insights about the scientific cult figure Nikolai Tesla to create a humorous send-up of corporate greed and unchecked ambition. New York Times theater critic Jason Zinoman obviously enjoyed the show, noting that Daisey is "so much fun to look at. He furiously chops the air with his hands, contorts his rubbery face and, when things come to a climax, pops his eyes out in a laughably cartoonish expression."
Since the play "takes aim at the unchecked power of corporations," it's even "tempting to call Mr. Daisey the Michael Moore of the New York stage - they are both roundish regular guys with a history of stalking C.E.O.'s." But, as Zinoman points out, Daisey is more like an earnest graduate student than a real political activist.
As the mega-merger spree continues, leading to more deals like Verizon's multi-billion-dollar bid for MCI, employees are wary that companies could be preparing to shed thousands of jobs. With that in mind, the New York Daily News takes a look at what steps rank-and-file office workers can take to avoid a layoff. According to some experts, the main priority is to solidify existing relationships at the office with people willing to go to bat for you: "The more people who know about you and your accomplishments - and feel comfortable with you - the more chance you have that a person will be in a meeting where decisions are made about who to save, who to let go, who to promote."
It's also not too late to brush up on brown-nosing skills: "Learn to be a 'company person,' 'yes man,' or however you define it, very quickly. You begin with a blank slate. Agree to anything new management says, do extra assignments and work others don't want."
The SEC has launched an insider-trading probe of Sirius Satellite Radio related to Howard Stern's announced decision on October 6 that he was making the move from traditional radio to satellite radio. Two weeks before Stern made the announcement, shares of the company soared by as much as 40%, leading to some speculation that "someone who knew the deal was coming started buying up stock in anticipation of shares skyrocketing when the news got out." In order to figure out who knew what and when, the SEC has already issued a subpoena to New York gossip journalist Chaunce Hayden, a frequent guest on the Stern show, seeking information about trading in securities of Sirius Satellite Radio.
The New York Stock Exchange as we know it -- the "iconic brick-and-mortar exchange" -- may soon no longer exist, says the New York Post. Quite simply, "proposed regulations, technology and competition from other exchanges are changing the way stocks are bought and sold, who sells them when, and where." The most obvious change is that electronic trading will eventually make floor trading obsolete. Says one enthusiast of electronic trading: "We always joke saying that the exchange would make a great bowling alley one day."
In a case of "that's not what I really said," it looks like media pundit Michael Wolff may - or may not - have written on the I Want Media site that The Wall Street Journal stopped mattering when it started charging for its online content. According to FishBowlNY, the site took down the article under pressure from Wolff.
Wolff explains: "It wasn't an interview. It was a talk I gave that somebody recorded and then transcribed. Beyond being purloined, it was poorly transcribed, unedited, and not meant to be a piece of written work, so I asked that it not be published."
"You break it, you own it... The same is true of a company. The VCs on the board often have the power to change out the management of a company. But if they do that, they are responsible for fixing the management and the company... Don't go into a company thinking you can swap out management easily. And don't make a management change unless you are willing to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty for a while. Because that's what's required when you "own" the business."
Internet phone service provider Fusion Telecommunications, based in Manhattan, recently raised $23.2 million in an IPO. According to the company's Web site, "Multinational corporations, government agencies, Internet service providers, cable operators and carriers with strategic opportunities - and challenges - in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean count on us to drive high-quality, cost-effective global solutions into the world's hardest to reach places-fast."
If you're a New York blogger looking to get paid for your thoughts, you might want to check out BlogAds, which is developing a NYC-centric BlogAds network: "Reach 300,000 New York blog readers each week by advertising on the NYC Blogads network. Order them all, or pick and choose. Readers come for the New Yorkers' take on restaurants, nightlife, college life, religion, politics, sports, travel, local news and celebrity gossip." And, of course, tech news. (Hat tip: NewYorkology)
The New York Times Company announced plans to acquire About.com from parent company Primedia at a price tag of $410 million. The deal will have a two-fold impact --it will add a "fast-growing, highly profitable" Internet destination to the company's portfolio and enable the New York Times to boost its revenue from the rapidly-growing online advertising business. By adding About.com's 22 million monthly users to its stable of over 40 Internet sites, the New York Times is poised to become the 12th-largest presence in the online world.
Paid Content, as usual, has an exhaustive source of details, data and facts about the deal. (On February 8, they correctly predicted that the New York Times would emerge as the victorious bidder for About.com). A quick snippet from Rafat Ali of Paid Content:
"Make no mistake, it is about search/CPC ad revenues in the short term, first and foremost. Then, of course, the benefits of added traffic over long term. It will be very interesting to see how they execute on the integration of NYTimes.com and About.com. The phrase "adding an alternate model of content creation and aggregation" is a peculiar way to put it, but it denotes blogs and the whole blog media world, so to speak. In short, this is NYT's blog strategy, on the editorial side. Whether they want to characterize it as such, that I doubt... "
Gothamist recommends checking out Todd Gross's photoblog Quarlo.com for a new batch of stunning New York City photographs. The site has been mentioned in Slate, the New York Times, Forbes and USA Today, so it's worth a look.
Crain's New York, citing a report in the Financial Times, says that Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. (the owner of media assets such as the New York Post and Fox News) is "in the process of crafting a new Internet strategy for the media empire." Murdoch and about 50 senior executives at the company met in New York on Wednesday to discuss how to leverage the power of the Internet.
According to the Financial Times, "the company is taking the most serious look at its online operations since Mr. Murdoch's son James spearheaded a failed high-tech push in the 1990s. News Corp. is refocusing on the Web amid declining readership for newspapers, a sharp rise in consumer broadband use, and growth in Internet advertising, especially in the area of paid searches."
Barry Diller's online travel businesses may be experiencing some tough sledding, but he apparently has a few tricks up his sleeve... According to informiTV.com, Diller is now predicting a revolution in interactive television. One of the linchpins of this strategy could be HSN (Home Shopping Network), which could add interactive capability sometime in 2005.
Diller on the future of interactive TV: "There is no question that interactive TV is going to be in a lot of homes within the next few years and I think were going to be very, very early in the process.
InterActiveCorp's CFO also is talking up the concept: HSN has the ability to talk directly to 85 million consumers directly in their homes. Thats an amazingly powerful communication and selling device and one of our goals is figuring out how to leverage that... We think [interactive TV] will provide both ease of ordering and also potentially a gateway to new and interesting ways of doing business through the television and internet channels. Were excited about it but its very early.
Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp (which owns Internet properties such as Expedia, Hotels.com and Match.com) posted a loss of $46 million for the quarter, primarily as a result of two massive write-downs: a $185 million write-down of the value of its call center services business and a $33 million write-down in the value of a U.K. travel channel. Without the charges, InterActiveCorp had earnings of $250 million, a 10% increase from the year-earlier period.
According to Wi-Fi Net News, Boston is experimenting with Wi-Fi access in four subway stations: "Park Street, Downtown Crossing, Government Center, and State Street (and tunnels connecting stations) will have Wi-Fi access provided by InSite. The city may extend the network to the whole system." The fact that Boston could soon have Wi-Fi access throughout the entire subway system raises the obvious question: if Beantown can have Wi-Fi access in the subway, why not New York?
The New York Academy of Sciences has a great "Science & the City" calendar of upcoming science-related events in NYC. On the 17th, for example, there's a discussion and demonstration of robot-based art at the Museum of Natural History as well as the 2005 "NYC Brain Bee" competition at the Rockefeller University, where high school kids test their knowledge of neuroscience (!). For those with more mainstream tastes in science, there's always the James Cameron IMAX show ("Aliens of the Deep") on the Upper West Side.
If you have anxiety about going into work on Mondays, you're not alone, says the Wall Street Journal. For many workers, the anxiety starts on Sunday night -- just as it did during the years of grade school and high school:
"People who suffer from the Sunday-night doldrums don't necessarily dislike work, but they sure don't like the thought of it. For many of the afflicted, the pre-Monday funk is yet another workplace echo of grade school. The only difference between this one and fire drills, cafeteria trays, bullies, teams and report cards (a.k.a. performance reviews) is that it happens every week, and yelling "Force field!" won't protect you."
James J. Cramer of TheStreet.com thinks that Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp should make a bid for Cendant: "Together, they would become the unstoppable destination portal for both travel and real estate. It won't happen now because it's too logical; not enough money has been lost yet, but it should happen."
From Crain's New York: the Internet unit of Manhattan-based Major League Baseball will acquire Tickets.com, an online seller of sporting events and entertainment tickets, in a deal valued at $66 million. According to Crain's, "the acquisition of Tickets.com will allow MLB Advanced Media to centralize its online operations."
Only in New York: the iPod subway mugging. In some parts of the city, the number of students who have been the victims of iPod robberies on the subways in recent months has almost doubled. In one neighborhood of Brooklyn, NYC transit cops even distributed fliers offering to engrave students' iPods and cellphones with ID numbers.
"Yahoo set up an eight-foot tall model of a haystack stuck with giant needles. Finding the right mate can seem as hard as finding a needle in a haystack... but in Yahoo's haystack, the needles were in plain sight, and everyone who grabbed a needle won a prize. The gifts ranged from one-pound bags of ground coffee from Dunkin' Donuts and heart-shaped boxes of Godiva chocolates to the top prize: diamond-encrusted hoop earrings - the real thing."
Not to be outdone, online dating rival Match.com displayed classic Magnum photos of couples on a digital billboard at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. The company also hired a photographer to take pictures of real-life New York couples as well in order to display them on the billboard.
In the wake of Verizon's $6.75 billion acquisition of MCI and SBC's $16 billion acquisition of AT&T, the New York Post takes a closer look at the rise of the new telecom behemoths -- and in the process, coins a new term ("teleclom" = telecom conglomerate). Bigger is better, writes the Post: there are already rumours that SBC may attempt to merge with BellSouth now in an attempt to counter Verizon's latest move.
The Paid Content empire establishes another outpost: the Digital Media Events Blog. A quick scan of upcoming events in NYC: the Digital Music Forum on March 2 and the Billboard Music & Money Symposium on March 3.
NY1's Adam Balkin reports on "high-tech twists" for some favorite gadgets and gizmos. According to Balkin, "a television remote, a USB drive, a computer, even a food scale - new technology can put a twist on just about anything to make it more useful for you, or at least try." One of the more useful items mentioned in the report is the Lexar Jumpdrive Touchguard USB drive: it gives users secure access to all websites that require a username and password -- even when "you can't remember what all those user names and passwords are."
On the homeland security front: Thirteen/WNET New York is gearing up to demonstrate a live test of the Smart Dissemination Networks (Smart Nets) digital emergency response communications system to federal officials. According to Unstrung, the Smart Nets demo will give these officials their "first look at the operational capabilities of the system as it is field-tested in the challenging urban environment of New York City." Smart Nets make use of the Instructional Television Fixed Service Band (ITFS) to provide two-way wireless broadband communications to fire, police, EMS, and other personnel in NYC.
In the Wall Street Journal, Lee Gomes looks at the role of municipal governments in setting up city-wide wireless Internet networks. The problem that local governments are attempting to address, says Gomes, is that "the speeds at which houses can link up [to the Internet] has plateaued at current DSL and cable rates, badly lagging behind the speeds available in many other countries, notably in Asia."
With this mind, is government intervention of some kind required to bring broadband Internet access to its citizens? Philadelphia has already struggled with this issue, and now it appears that New York also will wrestle over the issue. Ordinarily, the Wall Street Journal would be aghast at the suggestion of government involvement. This case might be different, though:
"Incumbent players don't usually have an incentive to build these faster new networks because they are tied to their wired networks, which also deliver telephone and television services. And that's one reason that networking speeds in the U.S. are stuck in the rut they are in... It's easy to bash city governments as being full of maladroit bureaucrats eager to manhandle a new technology, and even economists who support municipal networks say cities shouldn't rush into them. But well-thought-out city plans could help everyone by acting as a catalyst and shaking up the status quo."
"Public relations specialists are scrambling to adjust to a time in which the Internet revolution and a boom in alternative media sources are rewriting the parameters of the communications industry and challenging traditional sources of authority. So, despite an avalanche of freely available information, the truth is becoming harder to discern..."
Cablevision chairman Charles Dolan may have lost the boardroom fight with his son over the future of Voom, but that didn't keep him from launching a personal bid to take over the troubled satellite TV service as a privately-owned business. Investors still have plenty of questions, though, about what will happen with Voom: "The announcement of the plan late Thursday left many unanswered questions that could dramatically affect Cablevision Systems Corp., its founding chairman and its chief executive James Dolan, who split with his father Charles over Voom."
Manhattan-based Emerging Pictures is setting up a cross-country digital cinema network, says Crain's New York. The cinemas, slated to appear primarily in museums and performing arts centers in "smaller markets," will show a mix of independent and foreign films. The guy bankrolling the venture is Internet entrepreneur Jeff Skoll, best known as one of the co-founders of eBay.
A sweet valentine for Verizon: the company announced plans to acquire MCI for $6.6 billion in cash and stock, beating out a rival bid from Qwest. (Apparently, Qwest offered a higher bid of $7.3 billion, but couldn't put all the financing pieces together.) The lesson in all of this? MCI may be "a shadow of its former self, but its high-margin corporate customers and worldwide telephone and data network make it quite valuable."
"The Blackberry 7270 has Wi-Fi built in as well as a VoIP client, but theres no cellular radio inside... Instead, its designed as a campus-wide enterprise tool that combines voice and messaging. Campus-wide pager systems have been widespread and theres a growing use of VoIP over Wi-Fi; this is a neat combination of both. But it means some executives will now have to carry two Blackberrys."
A brief item in today's New York Post: New York Model Management is collaborating with teen Web site company Bolt Media to launch a "coast-to-coast model search" that will include a "cybersearch" for four new supermodels. The article hints that all aspects of the model selection process - or at least, the submission of pics - will be handled online. If nothing else, writes the Post, the models selected will be "younger and more cyber-friendly" than the types of models currently appearing on shows hosted by Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum or Sports Illustrated. After all, Bolt bills itself as the "#1 youth hangout on the Web."
Getting business development deals done can be a real nightmare, writes Ed Sim. You might talk to a series of high-level executives about a deal, and each one seems jazzed about it. Then, somehow, almost inexplicably, the deal craters. It doesn't get done, and you've just wasted a lot of time and energy on nothing.
With that in mind, Ed Sim offers a few key tips on how to improve the success rate of your biz dev sales pitches. The key factor is finding out who owns the relationship. In other words, which high-level executive is willing to take ownership of the idea and push it along? This is different than just signing off on the idea and passing the hat to someone else -- it means championing the deal, shepherding it through the rough patches, and making sure all the incentives are properly aligned.
Actually, a classic book for understanding this process is Leading Change from Harvard Business School's John Kotter. In step-by-step fashion, Kotter walks through all the key steps of driving change within an organization. Leaders must establish a sense of urgency, create a guiding coalition, develop a vision and a strategy, communicate that vision to others, generate short-term wins, and empower employees for action. That type of person, though, is hard to find -- and that's why so many business development deals stall.
As seen on I Want Media (at the top of the rightmost column): the editor & founder of the site is teaching an undergraduate class in digital journalism at NYU and wants your input, suggestions, and ideas:
"The course covers Internet culture, online magazines, blogging, and more. Scheduled guest speakers include writer/editor Kurt Andersen, Slate editor Jacob Weisberg, WSJ.com managing editor Bill Grueskin, and several bloggers. What topics in digital journalism do you think students should explore? Your suggestions are welcome and appreciated..."
There's been a rash of "gee-whiz, that's cool" stories about new product offerings (usually in beta version) from innovative companies like Amazon and Google. Google Maps, for example, launched on Tuesday and just a few days earlier, Amazon's A9 subsidiary unveiled a form of photographic Yellow Pages. In this week's Circuits section, the New York Times profiled two more sites worth checking out: LiquidInformation.org, where "text is parsed into a forest of hyperlinks," and Wikinews.org, an "experiment in collaborative news gathering and reporting." Both sites are hoping to change forever the way that Internet users use online information and news.
DeWitt Rehabilitation and Nursing Center has tapped 5G Wireless Solutions to deploy a Wi-Fi network throughout its Upper East Side high-rise facility. Apparently, 5G Wireless found a way to use only 7 indoor wireless access points to cover all 499 beds in the 17-story facility. (Not sure how this was done -- for now, we'll just speculate about the presence of outdoor access points) Not only will the long-term care patients at DeWitt now have wireless Internet access, the management of the facility will now be able to track more accurately (and in a more timely manner) the completion of nursing tasks.
Apparently, Gawker was tipped off by an unnamed source that Levi's is doing a casting call for New York bloggers who look good in a pair of jeans:
"Hello, I am doing a casting for Levis, the 2005 Brand campaign be shot in NY March 4, 5th and 6th and need bloggers to appear as themselves to model. It is part of a branding campaign called A Style for Every Story. See ad attached. If we use you, you will get $10,000 and your name will appear next to it. I need your photo if you are interested . My email is [redacted] or I can be reached at [redacted]. I look forward to your response. Thank you."
Kinda a variation on the IBM ThinkPad commercials: Where do you do your best thinking? where they profile hip entrepreneur-types. Gawker calls the rumored Levi's blogger branding campaign "jumping the shark" -- but we like the idea. Hey, if IBM was able to make people like planetary scientist Jill Tarter (director of the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence Institute) and Jesse Sheidlower, principal North America editor for the Oxford English Dictionary, look cool using their ThinkPads, I don't think Levi's will have too much trouble with some hepcat bloggers.
The New York City Department of Buildings has given the go-ahead to Santiago Calatrava's $35 million townhome "cubes in the sky" project. It's the latest - and most expensive - twist on "skyscraper living": a dozen glass and stainless steel cubes (four stories each) stacked one on top of the other. Calatrava, of course, is also the visionary behind the new World Trade Center Transportation Hub. (Hat tip: Curbed)
According to Business Week, Donald Trump was the author of two of the seven best-selling business books of 2004 -- TRUMP: HOW TO GET RICH and TRUMP: THINK LIKE A BILLIONAIRE. It's all the reason we need to watch tonight's Apprentice.
Unsure whether IAC/InterActiveCorp is over- or undervalued at $24 a share? Kiplinger takes a quick look at Barry Diller's far-flung empire, hinting that investors should keep in mind Diller's track record as a deal-making "dot-com mogul" and a close eye on the company's travel-related businesses. Wall Street analysts are now predicting that IAC/InterActiveCorp will turn the corner in 2005, with the stock price rising to $31 or even $34 a share.
Fast Company also has a nice overview on how the various parts of the IAC/InterActiveCorp empire fit together: "Barry Diller's InterActiveCorp aims to acquire top businesses in a bunch of markets, then get them to work together to build a winning suite of online brands. So many companies crash on the rocks trying to create synergies. How do IAC's leaders do it?" There's commentary from a number of executives who run some of Diller's highest-profile businesses (Match.com, Hotwire, Evite, Hotels.com, LendingTree).
"In New York, where being the first to know about new trends is nearly a blood sport, virtual stylistas are increasingly prominent, sending daily or weekly emails that aim to give readers an intimate look at the latest designers, sales, restaurants and nightspots." That means premium, mainstream advertisers (Nike, Jeep, Apple) -- not just pure fashion brands -- are lining up to place ads on the sites. By some estimates, as many as 20,000 people a day visit the most popular of these sites.
In "You There, at the Computer: Pay Attention," Katie Hafner of the New York Times suggests that the "siren call of distraction" -- whether it is checking e-mail, reordering a Netflix queue, downloading iTunes or responding to an IM -- is ever-present for today's computer user. In fact, some psychologists already refer to this problem as "pseudo-attention deficit disorder." What's interesting is that a number of computer science experts are working on ways to solve this problem, such as by designing new interfaces or working on ways to make e-mail less intrusive. Psychologists are even coming up with ways to describe why leaving a task for even a few minutes can break up the flow of thought (i.e. "deep cognitive immersion").
From Paid Content: Rumors are swirling that the New York Times is currently the frontrunner to acquire About.com (recently put on the auction block by Primedia): "They are the most natural owner, focused on content where as the others have a broader mix of business, and they badly want to boost growth of their successful but slower growing online properties. I put the odds at 5-to-2 that NYTimes emerges as the buyer."
Paul Conley, a former senior executive at About.com, also weighs in on the prospect of the New York Times buying the company: "The Times has been late in adopting the ethos of citizen journalism. Buying About would give them a leap forward. More importantly, About is the king of the targeted ad."
At the McGraw-Hill Media Summit in New York, Sirius Satellite Radio CEO Mel Karmazin mentioned that he's spoken with Apple Computer about ways to add satellite radio to the iPod. Karmazin conceded, though, that Apple doesn't seem to be interested right now: "They don't need to put a satellite radio in their box." It almost goes without saying that "for either Sirius or XM Satellite Radio Holdings, a deal with Apple would be huge..."
Among the other tidbits from Karmazin's speech: Sirius is building a retail store in midtown Manhattan.
When you don't check your RSS reader on a daily basis, news like this is bound to slip through the cracks... On February 4, Jay Rosen of Press Think announced that his new book ("Gatekeepers Without Gates") on how the Internet is changing media has been greenlighted for publication.
According to Rosen, the book (due out sometime in 2006) will be "a 'secret book' behind the week-to-week posting at PressThink. Of course, that's just a figure of speech. I could also say: the book will be the backstory to the story you can follow by clicking in here. A different figure of speech. For a preview of sorts, see Bloggers vs. Journalists is Over..."
We suddenly have more confidence in the MTA. The subway tracks may still be a mess and future fare increases may still be on the way, but at least all the back-end IT applications are in good hands after IBM signed a five-year, $65 million IT services contract with the MTA. Under the terms of the agreement, IBM will manage a data center that handles MTA's fare-collection system. In addition, IBM will manage the systems running other key back-end applications, including the database that tracks parts for subways, buses, and other equipment, as well as the applications that oversee crew schedules, procurement, contracts, and other tasks. IBM will also establish a disaster-recovery site at a company facility outside New York City.
Less than 12 months after the company filed for a $57 million IPO (which was subsequently pulled), Long Island's Sybari Software announced plans to be acquired by Microsoft for an undisclosed sum. According to Newsday, Sybari is "expected to become a major lynchpin of Microsoft's widely anticipated movement into the consumer and corporate security market." On news of the deal, shares of rival security software makers, including Symantec and McAfee, sank -- the clearest indication that Microsoft's acquisition of Sybari will change the competitive picture for the enterprise security software market.
The Gates @ Central Park blog mentioned in today's New York Times is "a free-for-all critique of Christo's Central Park art exhibit." Some of the language is a bit flowery ("The gates seem engaged in a stately dialogue with each other, and strangers stop and talk in wonder about the artful aliens in their midst"), but the photos are sure to be amazing.
If Sirius Satellite Radio is thinking about adding commercials to its programming mix, it's worth taking a look at a recent JPMorgan study showing that "the major promise of satellite radio is its ability to deliver commercial-free content." In other words, original content from the likes of Howard Stern is great, but consumers really like the idea of no commercials more than anything else. JPMorgan also surveyed consumer appetite for satellite radio, noting a "healthy level of demand." The investment bankers estimate that XM Satellite Radio could achieve at least a 35% penetration level at its $10 price point and that Sirius could reach at least 19% penetration at its $13 subscription price.
Gizmodo has pictures of the JVC-made Sirius satellite radios that are now included in the swankiest suites of the W Hotel New York Times Square. With any luck, these will become standard-issue at every high-end hotel in the city.
Hotel Chatter likes the idea: "What a cool idea, we have to think that other hotels will line up quickly to adopt this room perk. Think about it, you are from out of town, and have no idea what radio stations to listen to, and usually have to deal with a static filled in-room clock radio, a satellite radio can solve your problems. It also is a great way for Sirius to demo their service to potential customers."
GM and Shell are linking up to bring hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen refueling to New York. As part of the agreement, GM will provide 13 fuel cell-powered minivans and fuel cell-powered SUVs to New York State, while Shell Oil will develop hydrogen refueling capabilities (presumably, at existing Shell gas stations). The first hydrogen fuel cell vehicles could arrive as early as 2006 in NYC. It's all part of an attempt to create an East Coast Hydrogen Corridor between Washington and New York.
David Pogue of the New York Times discovers how a wiki works: "I'd heard of the Wikipedia, but I'd never quite understood it. It's supposed to be a free online encyclopedia, written and edited by EVERYBODY... It sounds like a cool idea, but I just never understood how it could work." That is, until he watched a Web movie about the heavy metal umlaut narrated by Infoworld blogger Jon Udell.
Scott Gottlieb, a former FDA senior official and the editor of the Forbes/Gottlieb Medical Technology Investor, says Long Island-based OSI Pharmaceuticals is a buy, primarily due to the potential of the company's new cancer drug Tarceva. What's interesting is that Tarceva may have a "much broader medical utility" than originally thought. (It's just a "clinical hunch," says Gottlieb -- so don't go out and invest every last dollar in OSI.)
"OSI has other cancer drugs on the market, and a few in its pipeline, but the reason to buy the company's stock right now is Tarceva and the drug's untapped potential," says Gottlieb. "Even after the December runup in OSI's stock price, I still believe that the projections for Tarceva are underestimating the product's therapeutic potential, and by extension, OSI's true value."
At the urging of its majority shareholders, New York-based publisher Primedia is looking to sell Internet portal About.com -- the company that was "once a central part of the corporation's old media/new media strategy." Valued at approximately $690 million during the peak of the Internet boom, About.com will fetch significantly less in today's market (in the "several hundred million" dollar range). It's not just publishers like the New York Times that have expressed interest in the company -- both Yahoo and Google have also poked around in the past few months, says the New York Post.
So how would Google be able to integrate the site into its current offerings? Susan Mernit lists four different ways that Google could mix-and-match the pieces of the About.com properties.
Sometime during the summer -- just in time for the tourist hordes -- Nokia Theatre Times Square will open its doors in the Viacom/MTV building on Broadway. The new 2,100-seat theater will "attract the hottest names in entertainment, yet still provide an intimate experience for patrons." The Nokia Theatres in Los Angeles and New York are part of the "Nokia Unwired" marketing platform.
A Nokia marketing VP comments on the move: "Nokia Theatre Times Square will allow us to reach out to music fans among the lights and excitement found only in the crossroads of the world -- Times Square. In much the same way that music, gaming and video is becoming increasingly common on wireless devices, the Nokia Theatre concept is allowing us to further the goal of bringing the worlds of entertainment and mobility closer together."
The latest mini-scandal at the MTA: blueprints of the Atlantic Avenue subway station - complete with diagrams of the location of station air ducts, manholes and electrical systems - were allegedly found on a windblown street corner in Brooklyn. (Hat tip: NY1 News via Gothamist)
If you've got the tsunami jitters, you might want to check this out: New York-based PubSub is now offering customers nearly instantaneous access to data on global earthquake and tsunami activity. Until now, the data feed from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) was unintelligible to the layperson. Not any more: PubSub developed a system to translate the USGS technical feed into XML, a mark-up language easily read by PubSub's proprietary matching and notification system. In a few simple steps, a user can start receiving earthquake notifications via RSS or e-mail.
Shares of Manhattan-based electronic bond trader eSpeed fell by more than 11% after a judge ruled that technology used by Jersey City-based rival BrokerTec did not infringe on an eSpeed patent. At issue, it appears, is the amount of time of trading exclusivity that the two bond trading systems give buyers and sellers: BrokerTec's gives a buyer and seller three seconds of trading exclusivity before allowing others to participate, while eSpeed's does not put a time limit on exclusivity.
How would New York City be able to deliver medicine to tens of thousands of citizens in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack? The New York Times takes a look at several plans that city emergency planners are considering, including one that deploys postal workers to distribute medicines door-to-door and another that uses drive-through windows at restaurants and banks. More than three years after 9/11, city officials are mixed about the proper response tactic. In fact, one official from a Washington, DC nonprofit says that, while NYC is "way ahead of the curve in terms of readiness... the planning for actually delivering medicines and food to individuals is at a surprisingly rudimentary level."
The New York Post reports that an ex-Wall Street executive and an ex-record label marketing executive are launching Alpha Mom TV, the first video-on-demand 24-hour parenting channel. The channel will be available to an estimated 10 million digital-cable subscribers sometime in April -- giving busy alpha moms another way to access parenting information. According to the two co-founders, "Video on demand is the perfect medium because a mom can watch a segment that interests her at 3 p.m. or 3 a.m. instead of waiting through a TV show for her two-minute segment."
In the New York Daily News, Lawrence Reuter (the president of the MTA and the former head of the Washington Metro) squares off against City Councilman Lewis A. Fidler on the need for computerized subway trains. Reuter is a proponent of the "robo-train" (also known as the Communications Based Train Control System, or CBTC, in bureaucrat-ise), claiming that the "integration of computer technology into the subways is a logical step to bring the city into the 21st century... This system will also allow us to safely increase line capacity, operate trains at safe speeds and provide precise dispatching, which will alleviate the problem of trains waiting outside of stations... As an added benefit, CBTC will allow stations to be equipped with audible public address systems and customer information screens that will provide real-time arrival information."
It all sounds good, but given the track record of the MTA, who knows? As Fidler notes in his counter-response: "How can I believe the MTA can make this technology work? They are already a year behind schedule amid cost overruns and reports that they can't get the robo-train to work. The C train fiasco doesn't inspire confidence, either."
The L line will have the city's first robo-train at the end of June, while the 7 line will become computerized in 2010 and the F line in 2012.
Cash Fetch, a new eBay drop-off store in Queens that has been open only three weeks, is already turning into a "haven for people who want to pick up a few extra bucks by ridding themselves of unwanted household items, buy bargains or even make charitable donations - all via eBay, but without the hassle." Among the items available for sale: vehicles, computers, electronics, sports memorabilia, comic books, antiques and art. From the article, it sounds like business is booming. However, a quick look at the company's eBay auction page shows only four items currently up for bid: three pieces of furniture and a "hair supply special."
The Industry Standard reports that Interactive Taxi, a subsidiary of a New York-based advertising company, plans to install hundreds of wireless interactive devices in the back seats of cabs across the nation over the next few months. As a result, taxi passengers in Boston, Chicago and San Francisco will soon have access to news, movie trailers and restaurant listings via a touch screen.
By November, over 12,000 New York City cabs will have similar interactive devices. According to the New York Taxi & Limo Commission, in fact, it will be mandatory by late fall for each medallion cab to be equipped with vehicle location technology and an interactive passenger information monitor.
After a 16-year-old Long Island girl was abducted by a 24-year-old convicted sex offender she met over the Internet, Newsday offers concerned parents some tips about how to control their kids' cyber-surfing activity. "What you want to do is be collaborative with your son or daughter,"says one Internet safety expert. "That means talking with them. Know who their cyber friends are as you would their school ones; know what chat rooms they visit as you would which homes they frequent. When they roam the Internet at all hours, view it as if they are strolling the streets."
The lesson is clear: "Parenting in cyberspace is no different than parenting in the real world." Computers don't cause cyber-stalkings, people do.
Mega-publisher Conde Nast is making "its largest effort ever to promote the power of print as a medium," according to the New York Times. Concerned that advertisers are forgetting about print magazines at a time of renewed hoopla about Internet advertising, Conde Nast Media Group is launching a $3.5 million advertising campaign to "promote the ability of magazines to forge strong emotional bonds with readers, and by extension, of magazine ads to form similarly potent connections with consumers." At a time when more and more consumers can be found online, the move is a curious, even reactionary, one. Look for lots of ads showing readers "hugging, cuddling and snuggling with their Conde Nast favorites."
BuzzMachine is among the first blogs to notice the launch of CampusJ, a new "big-time blog" that covers Jewish news at a handful of New York schools (Columbia, Hunter, NYU and Yeshiva). The goal of the CampusJ project is to "train a young generation of Jewish journalists in the reporting styles and methods of new media, while giving them the training and opportunities to enter the journalism workforce better-equipped than many of their fellow-classmen."
Who said that Wi-Fi networks in New York City are not in the public interest? The New York Post tells the story of the laptop squatters who are clogging cafes (err, well, that's if you consider Starbucks a 'cafe') across the city. People stopping by cafes for a hot chocolate or coffee are finding that there are no seats available "because all the tables were occupied by people pecking at their Powerbooks." In some cases, power users are staying for 8-hour days at the local Starbucks, turning coffee shops into de facto offices.
While the story sounds a bit 2002-ish, there's no mistaking the fact that Wi-Fi-enabled coffee shops are becoming "the most popular destination for this new generation of cubicle-averse... entrepreneurs."
Big-box electronics retailers in the city like Circuit City, Best Buy and P.C. Richard are doing their best to convince New Yorkers that they absolutely, positively must have HDTV in time for the Super Bowl. Everybody else is doing it, the prices have never been lower, and if you don't have it, nobody will want to attend your Super Bowl party. That's the line being used by retailers around the city, if the New York Daily News article "Super Demand for HDTV" is to be believed. According to a senior buyer from P.C. Richard: "It's incredible what's going on out there, everyone has to have one..."
The real pull quote, though, comes from Best Buy: "We've come to see Super Bowl week as the second Christmas." That's the key. Not content with Valentine's Day in the month of February (what guy buys his girl a TV for Valentine's Day?), retailers are going full-out to create another made-up holiday: Super Bowl Day. Or, better yet, Super Bowl Week. A whole week of loading up on electronics, what could be better for juicing sales?
Fed up with employees using too much bandwidth during working hours on non-business-related tasks, more and more firms are experimenting with high-tech devices that measure how much bandwidth each employee uses and what Web sites they visit, says the New York Post. It's all part of a plan to cut down on extra costs and improve office productivity: "With these monitoring systems, companies can quantify just how much of the fiber-optic cables' space the employee was using then ask them to pay for it..." Bills sent to employees surfing dubious or illegal Web sites would also include a "please explain memo."
Not surprisingly, this brutish Big Brother abuse of employer-employee trust is not going over so well with cubicle dwellers. According to one analyst interviewed for the piece, "The bandwidth used by employees doing non-business related work is so small and the cost so tiny, companies, by charging employees, would be doing more harm than good..."
From Crain's New York: Manhattan-based Primedia has acquired Americanhomeguides.com, a Web site for homebuyers, from Internet advertising firm American Home Guides for an undisclosed price. The site features new homes from professional home-builders and developers nationwide (including Northern New Jersey) and also provides information about communities and floor plans. According to Primedia Consumer Guides CEO Bob Metz, the acquisition will give the company a "strategic platform from which to launch additional print versions of its New Home Guides in new markets."
Looking for those "rare and one-of-a-kind manuscripts, essays, and ephemera relating to the birth of the Internet"? Be sure to check out the upcoming "Origins of Cyberspace" auction at Christie's on February 23 (20 Rockefeller Plaza).
Auction highlights include Edmund C. Berkeley's Giant brains or machines that think, Karel Capek's R.U.R. Rossum's universal robots and Joseph Marie Jacquard's manuscript on the Jacquard loom. If you're feeling particularly adventurous, take time to browse through the Christie's auction catalogue.
American Airlines plans to offer passengers flying out of LaGuardia Airport in-flight personal entertainment devices in an effort to rival hip, low-cost carriers like Delta Song and Jet Blue, reports NY1. The devices will be available starting this week on flights from LGA to Miami and from LGA to Dallas. (Hat tip: NewYorkology)
A spokesperson from American Airlines comments on the new product offering: "It's called a personal entertainment device but we're going to brand it later and what it does is provide passengers with a whole range of entertainment and information options. The device is yours to rent for the duration of the flight. All you have to do is slip a credit card through the slot and the credit card in this case will take $7.95 off your credit card. You will have 12 feature movies, out of first run, but not yet on DVD, you will have 12 music videos, you will have games, you will have music and a vast array of options."
Mayor Bloomberg is not taking any chances with the O.G. He's leading the charge to cover the city with advertisements for the 2012 Olympics, all part of an effort to convince the 13 members of the International Olympic Committee's evaluation commission that New York wants the Olympics real bad. The campaign already ranks as "one of the most expensive and extensive municipal advertising campaigns ever tailored to such a small group of people."
Bloomberg on the need to cover anything that moves with 2012 ads: "You're going see ads on phone kiosks and bus shelters and subway entrances and street poles and open spaces in each of the five boroughs. You're going to see them on 7,000 subway cars and 4,000 city buses and 13,000 taxis. You'll hear them on the radio, you'll see them on television - newspapers, magazines, Internet - we're not going to slack on anything..."
From Byte and Switch: Sun Microsystems is making a serious push to become the grid computing vendor of choice for Wall Street: "The Holy Grail for Sun, at least as far as grid computing is concerned, is the financial sector. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based firm is keen to tap the immense compute and storage demands of Wall Street firms, but it faces stiff competition from rivals IBM and Hewlett-Packard, which have already made inroads into this space."
At the Web Services on Wall Street conference this week, one IT director of a leading Wall Street investment bank talked up the appeal of grid computing (but only on the condition of anonymity): "There is a market for the Sun grid strategy... It could be particularly relevant for areas such as mortgage analysis and credit derivatives where calculations need to be done in a timely manner."
The New York Times asks whether the current Internet bubble is "half empty or half full." Ignoring the mixed metaphor for a second, the article does raise a good point -- some Internet stocks like Google and Yahoo are going gangbusters, while other Internet stocks like eBay and Amazon continue to slide downward. Google's stock, for example, is up 142% in just the past six months while Amazon's stock is down 33% from its mid-2004 highs.
On Wall Street, that's called a "market of stocks," not a "stock market."
Noting that a number of A-list bloggers (like Andrew Sullivan) are putting aside their blogs at least temporarily in order to focus on upcoming books, Corante's Zack Lynch admits that he, too, is finding it "relatively difficult to write an interesting daily blog while simultaneously write a engaging, well researched book." It's the blog/book writing paradox, says Lynch.
So what's a busy book-minded blogger to do? Maybe the solution is to partner with a group of other like-minded bloggers to work on a collaborative effort. Lynch, for example, is partnering with 100 other bloggers on an upcoming new book -- "101 Bloggers: The Power of A New Conversation."
The new Stony Brook-Calverton Business Incubator, operated by SUNY-Stony Brook on the site of an old Grumman air-test field, will focus on nurturing start-up companies with innovative agricultural, aquacultural and environmental technologies. The first two companies to take up residence at the incubator, says Newsday, will be Lumen Technologies (liquid crystal display systems) and Master Computer (educational-testing software) -- and there are more on the way -- including a cool-sounding outfit called Atlantis Aquafarm.
Joint Effort New York (JENY) is a new online community that encourages open sharing of best practices in order to improve health care quality in New York. The forum was launched in August 2004, and already has nearly 1,000 users from throughout the states health care community, including more than half of the states hospitals.
Paid Content has exclusive audio clips from the SIIA (Software & Information Industry Association) Summit in New York, including a 77-minute clip on Strategies in the Age of Google, iPod and TiVo and a 48-minute clip on how media companies and business sites view search engines.
Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees recently inked a multi-year contract to become the spokesperson and cover athlete for Take 2's licensed baseball simulation series. The move comes after Manhattan-based Take2 Interactive signed a long-term, third-party exclusive licensing deal with Major League Baseball that will give the company the exclusive right to distribute interactive, officially licensed video games.
The New York Post reports once again that the push to make the New York Stock Exchange a for-profit entity is gaining momentum: Forty-one seat owners are asking their fellow Big Board owners to block any action taken by the NYSE board of directors that would hinder the move away from non-for-profit status. The issue for these 41 rebels, as might be expected, comes down to money. They might talk about the advantages of converting to a for-profit status by citing issues like the need for a more proactive management and the need to remain competitive with electronic exchanges. But, the real issue is money, with NYSE owners attempting to overcome a multi-year trend of shrinking seat prices.
Business Week sounds off on the idea of municipal Wi-Fi in cities like Philadelphia and New York, emphasizing that city governments shouldn't be in the business of running wireless broadband networks. After sorting through a number of reasons -- ranging from network maintenance costs to cost overruns in rolling out other city-funded Internet access initiatives -- the piece questions whether Wi-Fi networks of any kind are even needed:
"Also, what I don't understand is, why we would want to have 135 square miles of Wi-Fi coverage in the first place? Sure, city-wide coverage sounds nice. But some of these hot spots might be never used (My elderly neighbors are unlikely to hook up to the Web any time soon). And in places like parks and public libraries where lots of people might want to use Wi-Fi, chances are that private companies like Wayport have already installed their access points. So, what's the point?"
Not surprisingly, Wi-Fi proponents like Glenn Fleishman are devoting quite a bit of bandwidth to dissecting the inconsistencies and fallacies of the Business Week piece. As Fleishman points out, "The fine folks at BusinessWeek seem to have fallen for tropes, sock puppets, and strawmen... " He then proceeds to attack each assumption of the anti-municipal Wi-Fi camp, item-by-item.
In Why New York Loses Jobs, Brian McMahon (executive director of the New York State Economic Council) points out that New York must market its high tech strengths more aggressively:
"State investments have helped create technology assets, but New York spends nothing to tell this story to the world. The survey showed that the state's high-tech strengths beyond New York City are underestimated even though the state has invested some $2 billion in technology centers and incentives for high-profile, high-tech projects. New York needs a marketing program to promote its technology advantages to business leaders worldwide and to venture-capital sources closer to home.
Getting around the city by public transportation can be a nightmare, so it's not surprising that a number of popular Web sites attempt to solve this problem. There's the government-backed Trips123.com, of course, which offers 24-hour assistance on how to plan a trip around the metro area. Or MapQuest, which offers directions and a graphical map interface.
But here at Corante New York, we've been taking a look at a new site, HopStop.com, and we like the results thus far. It's a simple, user-friendly interface that offers transportation directions in a number of different languages (Russian or Swahili, anyone?). Plus, best of all, it's been updated to reflect the recent changes to the V, A and C trains resulting from the fire at Chambers Street on January 23. There's even a new Hopstop Mobile option to get directions via cellphone or PDA.
That price could be too steep for many consumers, though, warns Paid Content: "How much will consumers be willing to pay for premium content when they have to pay for the phone service and the V CAST subscription and what happens to consumer behavior after they get the first bill for their impulse phone buys? As a consumer, I'd be more likely to try some of the premium content if one or two downloads a month were part of the subscription."
Well, looks like those two-headed dog advertisements popping up all over town were for MTV2... The New York Post explains that the two-headed dog is "the new logo for MTV2 and the creature behind MTV's viral-marketing campaign to create all-important buzz for MTV2's new look and programming." Look for more buzz about MTV2 during the Super Bowl, when "all secrets will be revealed."
The New York Times reports on the grand opening of the Software Freedom Law Center, a nonprofit legal center in New York that will "focus on helping the leaders of open-source software projects organize and manage their work in ways that anticipate and avoid potential legal pitfalls." It's backed by $4 million from the Open Source Development Labs and will be headed up by Columbia law professor Eben Moglen. In addition, two full-time intellectual property lawyers will provide pro bono legal advice.
"There's the obligatory suckup quote to Dr. King ("In Memory of a Giant"), windblown "action" pictures of Eliot on the go, and tailored platforms to fit both a motorman from Brooklyn and a closeted Bush voter in Saranac. Funniest of all, though, is his "friend meter," which currently reads an exact 8500. Uh, no, Eliot, that's called a counter..."
In response to rumors that Craigslist will start charging rental brokers for each listing, real estate blogger Property Grunt weighs in with a fascinating look at why rental brokers both respect and loathe Craigslist.
"What does the future bring for craigslist and rental brokers? Whatever the outcome, Craig is going to be sitting on the catbird seat because his site gets a ton of traffic and eBay already owns a percentage of the site... For rental brokers its a completely different story. The Grunt has already heard rumblings from the grapevine that certain rental brokerages have no desire to play by Newmarks rules and will be forbidding agents to use craigslist. Agents who primarily use craigslist for their business will feel the pinch and will have no other option other than to use whatever internet ad space is available to them or buying ads in the New York Times."
ClickZ reports that Gawker Media has signed up Sony as the sole sponsor of a new software blog called Lifehacker. In addition, another blog in the expanding Gawker Media empire, Gridskipper, has lined up CheapTickets as an exclusive sponsor. Wagging tongues say the Sony deal was brokered by BlackInc Ventures, an interactive sales and business development agency.
Tech Central Station was kind enough to publish "A Little Bit Broken, a Little Bit Perfect" -- my response to an article about the information literacy movement that appeared in the New York Times recently. The title of the article is from one of the Internet's inventors, Tim Berners-Lee, who once remarked that, "The Web will always be a little bit broken..."
The gist of the piece: "Information will continue to flow to the edges of the Internet and the pace of technological change will continue to occur at a breakneck pace. In the process, experts will appear in places you might not expect. Controlling access to information is no longer possible as it was even fifteen or twenty years ago. More importantly, controlling the way people think about information is no longer possible as it once was. Information, as many have pointed out, wants to be free, and the desire for freedom is a powerful force that can not be denied."