[Previous] [Next] - [Index] [Thread Index] - [Previous in Thread] [Next in Thread]

Subject: UKNM: Conference Report: Red Herring on Hollywood
From: azeem azhar in la
Date: Tue, 3 Aug 1999 15:43:02 +0100

Dear all,

I'm currently at the Herring on Hollywood and I thought a brief report on
the conference might be interesting.

We're sited in the Century Plaza hotel, stuck just outside of Beverley
Hills, it was used by Ronald Reagan as his Western Whitehouse during the "I
don't recall" days. The doorman was complaining of the 250th day of
sunshine in a row. It's a tough life.

The key theme of the conference is content. LA is the world's capital of
entertainment content. (Useful content comes from New York and London). So
expect a great deal in the way of interactive tv plays, content-commerce
splashes and getting rich media down thin pipes with a splash of magic dust.

Overall headline from day one: a great deal of clever stuff is happening.
But single-source rich content is just that: single-source content. It's
expensive to produce and, frankly, as a business is no more challenging
than making mini-series or turning out TV shows. It just isn't as exciting
as a hot technology play, clever aggregation businesses or those
gotta-love-'em natural monopolies of marketspaces (like Chemdex,
www.chemdex.com; and eBay, www.ebay.com).

Message two: investors seem to get this. Valuations are less explosive than
Silicon Valley businesses. There are no $100m raises here (yet), and very
little that looks like it'll go stellar when the time comes. More some tidy
businesses and trade sales.

With bikini girls and banana-hammocked boys gyrating, rotavating and
culminating in full view on an 8th floor balcony, Load Media
(www.loadmedia.com) made a splash at the launch party at the Sky Bar Monday
night. They exploded a banner from one of the suites, and then flew an
illuminated Load-emblazoned helicopter over the Mondrian. The after-party
they held at Chateau Marmot spun through the night. Load's presentation was
less impressive: the company delivers pre-cached video to a users desktop.
To be honest, I still don't know what it does

The companies
eStyle.com is create a range of women's shopping services. Backed to the
tune of $13m they've launched their first product, BabyStyle
(www.babystyle.com). This is the first play to get to American women, who
control 80% of household spending in the US. (That's a lot). The next
series of services will be to grow the knowledge and learning into a range
of related sites (so something aimed at women with children older than
toddlers). The model is intended, from the start, to be extensible to other
parts of women's purchasing.

B3TV (www.b3tv.com) provides service and infrastructure to enable
interactive television. I know you're all thinking "That sucks dude", in
fact the opportunity is fairly clever. B3TV relies entirely on set-top
boxes that comply with the ATVEF standard and needs no modifications to
cable operators networks. ATVEF is support by Microsoft/WebTV, Liberate
(NCI), Sony, DirecTV, NBC, Disney,Hitachi, Cable and Wireless, Panasonic
and Playboy so looks like it will be a standard within American homes soon.
Essentially, by partnering with a network B3TV can enable click-to-buy (or
click-for-more-information) on programmes and advertisements. With stateful
sessions, it could remember the last pizza you ordered, for example. This
is essentially the kind of functionality that BIB/Open will provide only it
is not a proprietary system and requires much less development--and is
cheaper--than the BIB/Open closed platform. (B3TV is funded to $6m with 13
employees: BIB is more than an order of magnitude greater, and enabling a
smaller market.) Looks like a candidate for a trade sale rather than an IPO.

Replay Networks (www.replaytv.com) is a fairly well-known property so I
won't go into their business. (Tomorrow's World has even done a show on

The star for me thus far has been Magnifi (www.magnifi.com). Backed by
Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Magnifi is developing a business-to-buiness hosted
application service for the marketing community. The size of this market is
around $750bn in the US annually. The service is a platform that allows
collobarative working across the whole of the marketing value chain
(conception, creative, media buying, execution, performance measurement),
and solves a problem currently addressed by a mish-mash of e-mails and
faxes. It's also good to see the service bureau model (per seat annual
charges) being adopted by big players like Omnicon, Disney and Young and

The market
The venture market in SoCal is a lot less active than in the Valley or New
York. Their are fewer VCs and a lot more people pushing entertainment
content around. I can't help feeling this is less mind blowing than
watching a Zefer come attacking the global strategy consulting space, or a
Moai delivering auction (and other dynamic pricing models) software to
dozens of web sites. No good marketspaces here, either.

It's a glamorous, fun and, frankly, hedonistic environment full of B-list
Hollywood stars. They future of a lot of rich media is here, because the
stars and talent are getting into it. They will create some compelling
content and addictive applications for the DSL-enabled world. But I'm sure
they are only going to be bit players in a world dominated by stellar
networked-economy businesses like eBay, BigStep and others waiting in the

p.s. you may have read that Chuck D opened up with a presentation. He did.
I was having breakfast at the time, so I've no idea what he said.

azeem azhar | www http://azeem.azhar.co.uk/ (*)
tel 07958 544 593 | icq 315460
fax 0207 691 0464 | pgp http://azeem.azhar.co.uk/pgp/

* downdated

UKNM is sponsored by Excite UK, visit us at http://www.excite.co.uk.
Email Khalil Ibrahimi khalilatexcitecorp [dot] com (mailto:khalilatexcitecorp [dot] com) to advertise on Excite.
Change your UKNM subscription use http://www.chinwag.com/uknm.html

[Previous] [Next] - [Index] [Thread Index] - [Next in Thread] [Previous in Thread]