Archive for the ‘new technology’ Category

How do you justify a $10 Billion Valuation?

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

by Geoff Lovatt

This article was contributed to CongRegation 14 (#cong14) at congregation.ie in which the author participated. Visit the website to view this great social media gathering event!

 

geoff-lovatt-43--image1_med_hr

Astronomical valuations for tech companies are nothing new, in fact it’s commonplace nowadays. The tricky part is justifying these sky high estimations and that problem becomes even harder when the company doesn’t have any real turnover to date. This is Snapchat’s problem. Yes Snapchat, the app made famous for being used by teens and others alike to send each other disappearing sexts, is apparently worth US$10 Billion! Maybe proving once and for all that there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

So how do you attempt to validate, and more importantly monetise, an app with such a large estimated worth but no real turnover? Snapchat might just have the answer. Earlier this year Snapchat added a new feature called Our Story to its Recent Updates section. The Our Story feature is a central live feed of user generated videos and pictures usually lasting 2-3 minutes from a particular global event. Users can contribute to the Our Story feature by having their location services enabled to prove they are at the event before submitting their content for review by Snapchat. All of the content from the live feed can be viewed multiple times but only lasts for 24 hours or the duration of the event.

geoff-lovatt-43-image2_med_hr

Initially Our Story was tested at a handful of music festivals like EDC and Lollapalooza and after great engagement with users was rolled out to more events such as American College Football games, The FIFA World Cup and even things a bit more obscure like Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0BclkfvvZ0) in Mexico City and the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the world’s largest hot air balloon festival. The addition of the Our Story feature has proven a roaring success for the company. According to Snapchat the number of daily views for their Stories has now surpassed the number of daily views for individual snaps and stands at over 1 billion.

geoff-lovatt-43-image3_med_hr

What’s more impressive than the numbers though is the thinking behind the move towards live events. In doing so, Snapchat has created a new era of event participation and live broadcast by giving users the chance to experience, and contribute to, global events from multiple points of view in near real time with ease and convenience. The Stories are always expertly edited and deliver exactly what the name implies, a story of the given event from beginning to end, and for the first time ever allows users access to what in the past would have gone unseen. The American College Football Stories usually show fans en route to the game, behind the scenes footage from both teams dressing rooms shot by the players themselves, a fans view of a touchdown from the packed crowd, songs being sung by the fans and finally who won! According to Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel more people are watching College Football on Snapchat than on TV (100m vs. 2.6m). This high level of engagement not only helps to build a sense of community for Snapchat it also attracts new users who may have been turned off in the past by their unjust seedy reputation.

geoff-lovatt-43-image4_med_hr

In October the company expanded its Stories feature to include College Campus, a brief insight into daily college life at 4 US colleges, UCLA and Penn State among them, with a live feed of campus generated content. Except this time Snapchat tried a bit of clever marketing by limiting the ability to both post and watch the feed to users actually on the college campus. Creating exclusivity around the College Campus Stories feature is a great way to increase demand for it and who knows maybe even improve class attendance rates for fear of missing out!

By making the move into live broadcast Snapchat has not only diversified its product and strengthened its brand, they’ve also managed to figure out a way to monetise an app for self-destructing photos and videos. One option available might be to offer sponsorship of a live event in the Our Story feature. This would be less intrusive to users than sponsored ads on or before individual snaps and also offer advertisers better targeting and fit for their brand. In October this year Snapchat rolled out its first sponsored ad. A twenty second trailer for the horror film Ouija, paid for and specially edited by Universal Studios to play in a similar fashion to other Stories. And this is what excites marketers and advertisers most about Snapchat, it’s not their 100 million monthly active users, although that sure helps, it’s the similarity to TV advertising that their platform provides. For now the Stories only last for between 2-3 minutes, but this could easily be increased as could the 24 hour lifetime.

Snapchat has also reportedly held negotiations to distribute other media content from both traditional mass media outlets like Time and CNN as well as new media from Vice, Spotify and Vevo in a new section within the app called Discover. And the news earlier this week could give a hint of another possible revenue stream Snapchat has in mind for the future, SnapCash. A joint venture with Square to offer users a Peer-to-Peer payment feature that has initially been advertised as being a handy way to send friends money. But who’s to say it couldn’t one day be used to pay for admission to an event, or extended behind the scenes footage, or a new music video not available elsewhere. The possibilities are limitless, much like Snapchats future seems to be if they can continue to grow and innovate with such ease. $10 Billion could even end up looking like a bargain in a couple of years!

Internet has created a new economic model

Thursday, July 18th, 2013
Douglass Rushkoff headshot

Douglas Rushkoff – photo by Johannes Kroemer

Douglas Rushkoff, media theorist and author of the new book “Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now“, in an interview with Strategy + Business argues that our current economic model goes back to the 12th Century and was good enough for the Industrial Age, but since the internet has evolved so has the need for a new economic model. He claims that the Industrial Age brought in the idea of of “time is money” and that the “always on – always connected” reality we now live in has destroyed the linear sense of time. Our sense of time itself has changed – rewind, replay! Choose which bits of time you want too. So his arguments begin to show their meaning to us.

The old model was based on linear time and had a beginning, a middle and an end. This is a story of sorts. The digital age breaks the storyline and allows us to pick and choose.

In a way, Ruskoff calls for a return to basics. Pay attention to how the consumer market really works. See the ups & downs and patterns, and follow them. The current old model is too “profit & progress” focused. Ruskoff claims that won’t work anymore. Given the global financial crisis, there seems to be truth in this.

Go read his interview – http://www.strategy-business.com/article/00212?pg=all – and let me know what you think about it below. Rushkoff’s book can be bought on Amazon – click here.

Which? delivers “satisfaction”, on the phone too!

Friday, January 27th, 2012

I recently visited Which? to look up a product, and took up their offer of £1 membership. This allowed me to get into the members area where most of the articles and reviews reside. Within the week I got the latest issue of the magazine and a cover letter. After reviewing my product and looking through the website I realized that Which? is UK-centric and whilst the product reviews are still apropos much else simply doesn’t apply. I wanted to cancel my subscription before the standard monthly charges begin!

The Which? cover letter had 5 color blocks on the right with all the contact details I need, plus my details and Membership Number. All very handy & practical. So I called the Which? Helpline and met their automated phone system. I fully expected the usual hellish experience. The first thing that struck me was the calm, level male voice giving me 5 options. They were clear and unhurried. Reassuring. I chose option 2 to cancel my subscription. A brief moment of music and “Richard” came on the line: “Hello, how can I help? Do you want to cancel your subscription?” He confirmed my name and address, gave me a cancel ref code and thanked me for telling him why I didn’t want the subscription. All done.

I came off the phone thinking this is the smoothest automated phone system I’ve encountered in a long while. Everything worked. There was no rush. No barrage of options. No wrong clicks – no dead ends, wrong department, try again. It just worked. I’m sure the folks at Which? know they have a great system. I would encourage any businesses that use automated phone help and directory systems to dial up the Which? Helpline on +44 1922 822 800 and listen to how they do it. Which? has proved their goal is quality. They focus on creating satisfaction for their customers. Even the ones who are signing off. That’s class!

Which? website - which.co.uk

Which? integrates website, print and phone with customer satisfaction as priority.

WiFi Lightbulbs – are here

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

Dim those lights! Each has an IP address.

What’s the IP address for that lightbulb? NXP, a Netherlands-based semiconductor company has invented Greenchip technology that will be in many Wi-Fi connected lightbulbs on sale by early 2012. What? WiFi lightbulbs? Well, crazy as it sounds, it will let you “talk” to the lightbulb – for example from a smartphone or iPad or laptop. Not home? No bother. Bring up the IP Manager for your house and turn on all the lights, or dim the front room and boost the upstairs.

Thanks to microchips and the new ‘limitless’ range of IP addresses under the IPv6 protocol, it won’t be long before the fridge really does talk to Tesco’s. This is a world emerging faster than Bill Gates millions. And he’s the man who turned his house into an experimental electronic abode. How that plays out in the everyday world remains to be seen. But we can expect some dazzling light show examples in the next couple of years.

It may be too much fiddly technology for the average person, but the ability to micro-control all the lights in your place opens up all sorts of creative potential. Lighting designers are going to have a fantastic new toolkit. At home WiFi lightbulbs could save you money too, because you don’t need to waste it if you’re not around to enjoy it… just open your smart device and turn ’em down!

For the whole-r story, go to FastCompany’s website here. Ten years ago FastCompany was the fattest internet/interactive magazine in the world. It still publishes interesting and breaking tech, social and marketing news. Enjoy!