David Beisel’s Perspective on Digital Change
David Beisel’s Perspective on Digital Change
Five years ago this month, the Nasdaq hit an all-time high. Then, the bubble burst. Out went the capital markets. Out went the media spending. Out went the unsustainable businesses.
But, also out went the baby with the bathwater. For a number of years, the word “internet” was a dirty word. It was the punchline of jokes. I was embarrassed to tell people that I founded an internet company.
I am happy to officially state that the Internet is now raised from the dead. No, this shouldn’t be news to anybody who is in the industry. And, in fact, anyone who has ever purchased media from Google’s Adwords in the past few years knows that the Internet really never perished.
Sure, it’s broad category. “The Internet.” It’s content, it’s e-commerce, it’s advertising networks, etc. – it’s so many things. But generally-speaking, it’s back.
Google’s IPO last year didn’t open the floodgates for other initial public offerings. But it did help facilitate the mergers and acquisitions market, albiet a few months later. Yes, online mergers are hot again. The New York Times $410M purchase of About.com from Primedia, one of my former employers. Then, last week’s IAC/InterActiveCorp’s agreement to pay $1.85 billion for Ask Jeeves. Flickr. Snapfish.
But it’s not just a “Google effect,” as some would argue. It runs much deeper than that. Yes, Adsense and Adwords have provided a technology platform for monetizing “free” content and search on the web. However, other models are flourishing – subscription-based content on dating sites, a la carte pricing for mp3’s on iTunes, and downloadable try-before-you-buy executable games on gaming and general portals – just to name a few. And new technologies and applications are just emerging, like RSS, social tagging, and vertical search.
Yes, the Internet is back. And I am happy to be here.
There are many dramatic shifts in the way that technology-enabled services are changing the online world. However, I think of one of the most important meta-trends is the paradigm shift that the CEO of Topix.net, CEO and co-founder Rich Skrenta, iterated in a recent post. In fact, when I first heard him make this argument at the NYC Search Engine Strategies conference earlier this month, a light-bulb went off in my head.
Plainly put, we are in the midst of a paradigm shift from the “Reference Web” to the “Incremental Web.” Currently the web is transforming from a reference medium to an incremental medium.
For the past ten years, the web has been filled with static content using the HTTP protocol. Search engine relevance from for the past five years was derived from link analysis – how many pages have linked to a particular page. The offline model equivalent of this structure is a yellow pages or encyclopedia.
Now, the web is becoming dynamic and ever changing. RSS is a more appropriate protocol to deliver this information. Relevance of content isn’t just about how popular it is – it’s about timeliness. So traditional search relevance is turned upside-down. The offline model equivalent is a newspaper.
(Too?) many called 2004 the “Year of the Blog,” but the opportunity is so much greater than just blogging-related – RSS and the Incremental Web will transform the way that all information is created, aggregated, and delivered. Individuals and corporations alike are now able to “RSS” anything. The key question: what does this mean for the creation of new content and the new enterprise value associated with that content? It’s very exciting.
From a VC perspective, investment opportunities are presenting themselves in all aspects of this content value chain – not just the with much-hyped readers – places like creation, publishing, aggregation, search, contextualizing, advertising, personalization, etc. It’s in this area that I am spending a lot of my time thinking these days.
I mentioned in my last post that, I am a venture capitalist. I have been an entrepreneur, and hope to return to wearing an entrepreneur’s hat again in the future. But for now, I am a VC. And I love it – it’s a great job to have.
But what about “genuine?” Why include that word in the title of this blog?
There are different three levels to the meaning of genuine that pertain to this site:
1. Valid & True: One a fundamental level, the facts about my own background and the topics I write about will be entirely correct to the best of my knowledge.
2. Applicable & Relevant: The thoughts conveyed will relate to venture capital, entrepreneurship, and technology-enabled change. My hope is that they will be applicable to others and relevant to present scene.
3. Open & Authentic: Most importantly, my expressions will be an authentic and faithful reflection of my own real beliefs and opinions. They may not necessarily prove out to be correct – in fact many will not – but they will be an accurate reflection of my current thinking. I’m going to call it like I see it, without any sugarcoating. More on this important subject in future, but the bottom line is that I try both here and in my life to be sincere and open without any undue outside influences or motives.
My thoughts here will be genuine. I myself strive to be genuine. I like working with and for other people that are genuine. I’ve only ever tried to hire people that are genuine. And I want to help find and build companies with other genuine entrepreneurs.
Last year, I started working as a venture capitalist. And after reading many VC’s blogs over the past few months, I became eager to engage in the active dialog online. So I am started my own weblog: GenuineVC – Beisel’s Perspective on Digital Change.
My intention is to provide my own commentary on the how digital technology is currently transforming both businesses and our own lives. My hope is to provide a unique perspective through the lens of a young venture capitalist, trying to find and help build new companies that will further shape and change the way we work and play.