The BBC’s role in community-driven storytelling

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Many of the far-reaching ideas proposed by the Culture Secretary may not have made it into the BBC White Paper, but the coming Charter period marks a moment of change for an organisation that needs to reestablish its role as a champion of wider public interests. Continue reading

Power shifting once more to aggregators in their duel with news publishers

On Wednesday, Recode.net published a story suggesting Twitter is in talks to acquire the news aggregator app Flipboard. The article cites Flipboard’s stagnant growth and Twitter’s inability to satisfy the continual cycle of product innovation demanded by Wall Street as the key drivers for the move. On the face of it this sounds like good news for consumers – a proven product development team, compelling content, a personalised user experience and deep analytics to drive relevant advertising. But as yet another aggregator looms on the horizon, publishers will be wary that their control of the reading experience may once again be slipping away. Continue reading

Bootstrapping your way into (or beyond) a £250k to £1m funding round

On Wednesday I was invited to mentor 66 startups that have been shortlisted by the London Co-Investment Fund (LCIF) as their top candidates looking to raise rounds of between £250k and £1m. A room full of eager-eyed entrepreneurs who have built good products and are supported by strong teams, and now need that next boost of capital to set them on their journey to commercial success. All of them have the same problem: unanimously the question they all asked was, “where do I find investors who will invest in my round?” (and more acutely in the lower range of £250-500k)

The market for bridge and seed-extension rounds has always been tough. Startups get caught between not having enough proof points to qualify for VC investment, but having built a team and operating model whose burn rate requires 6-figure investment to keep going. But is it getting worse? Continue reading

Where is the next shift in the Internet coming from?

I’ve been introduced to a blog written by Benedict Evans who works at Andreessen Horowitz. And in particular I’ve been reflecting on a recent piece he wrote about the next phase of the mobile internet. Here’s the link: http://ben-evans.com/benedictevans/2014/11/20/time-for-new-questions-in-mobile

It’s a thought-provoking piece which starts to open some doors to where the next phase of the development online is coming from.

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Vodafone’s TV and broadband proposition could all be part of a wider IoT strategy

Fascinating… After the 5+ year wrangle with Government that was the radio spectrum auction and with 4G services finally rolling out across the UK, now Vodafone follows EE’s lead in launching home broadband and TV services. It’s a nod of appreciation to BT, the only other telecoms operator to have successfully launched a TV service in the UK and offer (genuine) competition to Sky and Virgin, albeit at significant cost. But what do mobile operators want with TV…?

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The Taylor Swift-Spotify saga (2/2): value of distribution

The saying goes “content is king”, and if you take that literally it would suggest Taylor Swift’s decision to remove herself from music streaming service Spotify would leave the platform’s execs reeling with fear that consumers will abandon the platform because “king content” is no longer available. In a previous post, I highlighted the catastrophic challenges Aereo had experienced in circumventing the wishes of the broadcast networks to bring high valued content onto their platform. And yet again we’re seeing the same debate played out in the UK where the dominant rights holder for Premier League football, BSkyB has been forced to offer its channels on rival platform BT YouView on grounds of competition.

But if you look at total footprint of content, less than 1% has truly earned the status of “king”. And music offers an interesting case study with hundreds of thousands of artists (if not more) fighting for exposure, recognition and ultimately a slice of the action.

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The Taylor Swift-Spotify saga (1/2): streaming royalties and lifetime value

Yes, you heard correctly – Taylor Swift has removed her entire back catalogue from the music streaming service Spotify; apparently because in her words, “Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is. I hope they don’t underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.”

There are very few artists in the music industry that can cause such a stir as Taylor Swift. She is one of the most successful artists for a generation, with her new album 1989 expected to exceed 1.3m copies in its first week, beating Eminem’s The Eminem Show which was released in 2002.

Two really interesting themes emerge from this debate:

  1. The value of royalties on streaming services versus other digital music services, and whether the lifetime value of a track means these royalties are truly comparable, and
  2. The underlying value of distribution (and discovery) countering the assumed mantra of the industry that “content is king”.

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