Posts about Business

Splat

The NY Times Dealbook gives it ot Mark Cuban over his Register.com hissy fit.

: Mike Orren in the comments links us to the entire email interview, which, of course, Cuban puts online.

More bad news

Just caught up with Nikki Finke’s column in LA Weekly warning that newspapers — already hit with huge ad declines in classified and retail — are about to be hit with a wollop to their entertainment ads:

Every major movie studio is rethinking its reliably humongous display ad buys in those papers because those newsosaur readers are, to quote one mogul, “older and elitist” compared to younger, low-brow filmgoers — so it makes no sense to waste the dough.

Wait, it gets worse: I’ve learned that at least two Hollywood movie studios have decided to drastically cut their newspaper display ads as soon as possible….

According to the Motion Picture Association’s 2004 U.S. movie attendance survey, overall, 12-to 39-year-olds accounted for 57 percent of total moviegoers, 40- to 59-year-olds only 31 percent, and 60-plus-year-olds only 12 percent.

Look at the demographics for newspaper readers and it’s almost exactly the reverse. The Scarborough Research Top 50 Market Report found that 35- to 54-year-olds are the biggest readers of daily newspapers, followed by those 55 and older. A much smaller portion of readers came from 25- to 34-year-olds, followed by the barely there 18- to 24-year-olds. And despite the newspaper industry’s efforts to reach a younger audience, the Readership Institute notes that the biggest decline in daily newspaper readers was in the 18-to-34 group….

But, studiowide, it’s on everyone’s to-do list. “We’re rethinking our newspaper ads and I mean, literally, on every movie. Everybody is,” one movie mogul tells me. “The only people who read newspapers are older and elitist. Movies like Sky High don’t need ads in The New York Times. But the studios did it because newspapers were seen as a necessary evil.

“But I don’t think it’s as important anymore.”

Now the box office bust, combined with bloated promotion and advertising budgets to market every film, are forcing Hollywood to change the way they look at these expenditures….

First came TV Guide and then…. [via Commonsense Journalism]

We’ll sell you water… and then sell you a bridge

This morning, I saw a hospital worker on his way to the job carrying a one-gallon jug of water and I thought, how silly it is to haul all that weight when you can just turn on a tap.

And then I opened the NY Post and saw an ad required under law with city water authorities disclosing that they’d lost backup for their chlorine system sometime ago. The guy with the jug suddenly looked smarter.

And then I read an ad from some sodamakers’ association bragging that they were going to pull the sweet stuff out of middle schools and sell more water in high schools.

And then I saw the Freakanomics blog puncturing a hole in that gallon of sanctimony:

It’s enough to warm your heart — the thought of a gigantic trade organization deciding to forego sure profits to help slim down the next generation. Or maybe something else is at play. Bottled water is the fastest growing major beverage category, and much of that growth has come at the expense of soda. (Pepsi-Cola makes Aquafina, the No.1 bottled water; Coke makes Dasani, which is closing the gap.) Logic would suggest that water is cheaper to make than soda, and probably cheaper to market as well (especially now, with all the obesity watchdogs talking about the terrors of soda). It may well be the ABA’s decision to pull soda from elementary schools is a perfect one-two punch: a p.r. coup and a savvy shift from a mature, besieged product to a booming one.

And then I went into Starbucks and found their new EthosWater brand, promising to give “at least $1 million to fund humanitarian water projects” around the world. What better than slapping a brand on a bottle of plain old water and promising purity from contaminants than promising purity of the soul?

It’s just water.

Googlopoly

Google is selling shares to raise about $4 billion. What could they be buying?

: LATER: See this tidbit from the later Wall Street Journal story:

While Google’s plans for the cash remain a mystery, the company left a clue that suggests the size of the offering wasn’t arbitrary. The number of shares Google plans to sell is 14,159,265. Those are the first eight digits that follow the decimal in the value of pi (3.14159265), which is an infinite number that represents the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. It’s a figure that Google’s cofounders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who were both raised by math teachers and studied computer science, no doubt are familiar with. Asked about the figure, a company spokesman simply replied, “the document speaks for itself.”

Am I the only one who finds that too-cute-by-half? If this bubble ever bursts and little old ladies are left penniless, this is the kind of arrogant business-as-playground that doesn’t sound so darling on the other side of the curve. In itself, it’s no big deal, of course, just an inside joke. But it’s another of many signs of Google’ arrogance.

By any other name…

Take heart, Dell. Your customer service could be worse. At least you aren’t calling your customers “bitch dog” or “jew couple.” Then again, I don’t know what you’re calling me….

The open source life

Via the Bubble Generation, I came to The Business Experiment, which aims to start the first open-source company, its fate decided by its — we’ll need a new word for this — members. I was going to nay-say the notion that inspiration and passion for a new business idea can come from the often-leveling effect of the wisdom of the crowd. But whatdyaknow, I go to the site and its creator says that’s precisely the lesson he has learned: He wished he has started with an idea (or, I’d say, even a problem to solve) and then turned it over to the community because inspiration and execution are different muscles. This will be well worth following. I also emailed pal Steve Baker, who’s following it here.

Drink me!

Iconoculture reports that an Italian label company has created a wine label with an rfid that transmits info about the wine.

I’d love that. I now go to a wonderful little wine store near me called Discover Wine that carries only a few dozen wines they know and taste. They have great notes on the wines but by the time I get home, I’ve forgotten it all. I suggested that their receipts should include the info; their system isn’t made for that. Come to think of it, their web site should carry the narrative. Or the bottles could do the job…

Everybody’s a middleman

I’ve been arguing that the internet kills the middlemen — home brokers, head hunters, editors….

But in another sense, the internet makes everyone a middleman in the sense that any of us can be a trusted source of a recommendation.

Tech Crunch (a wonderful blog that profiles new companies… beats what Red Herring tried to be) writes up YorZ, which enables employers to pay bounties for recommendations that end up filling jobs. I wonder how this could be gamed (my friend recommends me and I get a kickback) but it’s still a fascinating execution of an obvious notion. It takes LinkedIn and puts your money where your mouth is. I suspect this works uniquely in employment, since that’s about personal recommendations. I hope it won’t work in dating, since that comes dangerously close to pimping. I doubt it works in consumer products and services, and there the potential for corruption is high. But it’s a fascinating exploitation of an opening in the new marketplace.