Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category


Oct

6

clintonI attended a talk by the 42nd President of the U.S., William Jefferson Clinton last night at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, part of the Distinguished Speaker Series. Packing a wealth of stories, stats and a good sense of humor, he promised and then delivered a framework we can all use to make sense of today’s complex world in which we live. Wondering about what caused the financial meltdown of September 15, 2008? How about our education crisis (according to Clinton we slipped from first to tenth in the past decade)? Or how we’re to “win” in Afghanistan?  For most of us, it takes every bit of our energy to deal with life’s immediate challenges, let alone trying to sort fact from fiction from all the information we’re bombarded with in today’s fragmented and often biased media ecosystem. His talk gave a fresh perspective on how to interpret the world today and some guidance on what we can do to affect change.

The number one definining characteristic of the 21st century is our global interdependence.  The result of our diversity and new technologies like the Internet carry with it both good and bad consequences. Posit for a moment that we know the good things, namely technology. Most of the bad consequences of our interconnectedness are defined by inequality and instability.

Inequalityis presented primarily in education and income. One billion people live on less than $1 per day, one billion people will go hungry tonight and one billion don’t have access to clean water. One quarter of everyone who dies on the planet this year will be due to tuberculosis, malaria, AIDS or dirty water. And of the dirty water victims 80 perent will be under five years old. In the U.S., 90 percent of our growth in recent years has gone to 10 percent of the population.

Instabilityis created by how quickly thing can spread, from terrorism (easy access to information) to Swine Flue (permeability and uprootedness) to the world financial crisis (inter-connectedness of financial systems). Even with $3 trillion in cash, a whopping 2 million factory workers in China are unemployed because the rest of the world is not buying as much of their exports.

In light of the complexities in our interconnected world, we need a framework from which to act. How do we respond to these many challenges? Not more liberally, but in a more “communitarian” fashion — more succinctly put, by focusing on creating win-win situations. For every situation or decision, he asks “will this  bring us closer together or tear us further apart?” 

Prime examples where “win-win” has worked are in Iraq where the people ultimately declared a common enemy in Al Qaeda. In Tanzania where our continued efforts to finance AIDS and Malaria relief have demonstrated our commitment their children. And in Rwanda, where the Tutsi leader insisted his post-genocide successor be a Hutu, and engraining in his people the need for win-win by granting land to those who would live next door to someone from the rival tribe.

Another timely example of searching for win-win was through a clear explanation of health carereform, including the back-story on “death panels,” and distinctions between terms like “public option” and ”socialized medicine.”  Every year we spend 17 percent of our income on health care– money consumers aren’t investing in other things, which gives other countries that much more of an advantage over us on the world economic stage.  The bottom line: if you’re not for some kind of change in health care, you are a proponent of win-lose, not win-win.

One of the things that stood out for me most was Clinton’s commentary on the differences between being a sitting president and a former president. “The good news is, you can say anything you like,” he said. “The bad news is that nobody cares about what you have to say…that is, unless your wife happens to be Secretary of Sate.”

While this was met with laughter, it was obvious everyone should care about what this former president has to say. He is using his clout and connections through the William J. Clinton Foundation to make a difference in the lives of millions through several thoughtful initiatives. And while he has raised hundreds of millions from the wealthiest people in the world, he stressed the importance of each individual being called into service in some way. He spoke of the secret of the U.S. economy having always been the strength of our middle class, and how this group must now stand and help the U.S. regain its footing in our inter-connected world. “It’s not enough to work and pay taxes, raise a good family and show up to vote.” There are one million public service groups to which we can donate our time and expertise, over half of which were started in the last year.

While it’s of course possible to donate to the Clinton Foundation, he did not make a direct pitch but rather spoke about Kiva.org, where for $25 you can make the difference in the life of someone anywhere in the world whom the group has already vetted as qualified for needing assistance.

Something else that resonated with me personally, and I don’t think he would have said as president, is how we treat others is dependent upon our own identity and what we think about ourselves. Identity is highly complex, but we need to realize how much we are all alike. In fact, the argument in genomic circles is whether we are genetically 99.5 or 99.9 percent alike. By continually forcing ourselves to communicate with the other side we become more comfortable with one another. When we see how alike we are, we eventually decide that it’s less costly to work with together than to keep killing each other and we collaborate in the interest of finding win-win situations. It is imperative in the modern world that we leave the door open.

While everything President Clinton had to say was in line with my own opinions, I hope his thoughtful presentation gave those of every political persuasion a new perspective on tolerance and possibility. It was awe-inspiring for me to hear this brilliant mind, speaking in his familiar and reassuring tone of so many examples of hope and of what is possible if we work together and apply ourselves to overcoming our collective challenges, be they local or global.

Think win-win and dedicate yourself to some form of public service. And when you do, I hope you’ll let me know about it.

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Posted in Culture, Economy, Education, Environment, International, Internet, Philosophy, Politics, Science


Aug

5

la_skylineThe Los Angeles Business Journal article referenced in my last post came out yesterday and I thought Charles Proctor did a superb job profiling the current state of the technology industry in Los Angeles. The article, entitled “Special Report: Plugged In, Charging Up” goes into great detail comparing employment trends in the technology sector in Los Angeles with that of Silicon Valley, including how our diversified market helped LA recover faster from the dot-com crash and the way aerospace engineers transfered their expertise to industries like computer science and medical devices in the post-Cold War era.

Carrying the technology industry in 2009 is a robust games industry, alternative fuel vehicles and renewable energy and digital media and marketing. I’m quoted as saying “This is a major media location and it has a big, big talent pool,” said Tony Winders, a vice president at Westlake Village-based ValueClick Inc., a publicly traded Internet advertising company. “So the tech community settled in here as a hub for the digital advertising business.”

It was fun being asked to contribute to this piece, but even more encouraging to read an article with some quantifiable details about how well our local technology community is faring these days. Hats off to Mr. Proctor for his thoughtful, quantitative analysis, and A BIG THANK YOU to Nicole Jordan for the introduction.

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Posted in Community, Economy, Friends and Colleagues, Marketing, Online Advertising, Online Marketing


Jun

21

make_money_on_computerI’ve been thinking a lot about the economics of online entertainment lately, in part based on a June 15, 2009 LA Times article entitled ‘Hollywood hits the stop button on high-profile Web video efforts.” Despite many failed attempts at monetizing online entertainment content, ranging from DEN, Icebox and POP.com in the late 90s to Stage 9 Digital and 60Frames in recent months, I’m not convinced there isn’t a profitable model for making the studio model of the future a reality.

Whatever the successful combination, it is certain to be as complex and dynamic as the changing media landscape itself. It will include both traditional and yet untested advertising and sponsorship models, but it won’t be fully reliant on them either. It will include brave new brand extensions and cross-platform integration and ways to interact with audiences that result in them eagerly spending their hard earned money on e-commerce and subscriptions and engaging with sponsors.

It will also include strategies with no intent of directly driving revenue, but still being accountable to some other practical revenue stream — offline purchases, participation in events, engagement in online communities, etc. Or for large media carriers to support membership/subscription-based services and any myriad of other business objectives.

Making quality online entertainment content is hard, but building an audience for it from scratch is even harder. This reality has been part of what makes it difficult to monetize the emerging category of web video content with any scale. The model that works will include an innovative way for content producers to attract and retain large new audiences in a way that presents clear value for each of the key stakeholders: content creators, distributors  and consumers.

Many more layers of this oninion to be peeled in the weeks ahead I’m sure.

Speaking of identifying good online entertainment content, as a fan of Weeds, I was interested to learn from Tubefilter about University of Andy, a series of short videos in which Andy Botwin (played by Justin Kirk) lectures on various life skills that are not likely to be offered at the local community college, but are guaranteed to make you laugh.

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Posted in Business, Content, Economy, Entertainment, Online Entertainment, Video


Jun

10

new-iab-logoI’m impressed by how the Interactive Advertising Bureau has stepped up to answer the call for industry self regulation and the creative ways it is demonstrating to Congress and the FTC the importance of online advertising to the U.S. economy. In a a report out today entitled “Economic Value of the Advertising-Supported Internet Ecosystem,” the IAB suggests online advertising is responsible for employing 3.1 million Americans and generating $300 billion, or 2.1 percent of the U.S. GDP.

Coinciding with the release of the report, this week the IAB is hosting a series of meetings and a press conference in Washington, D.C. dubbed the “IAB Long Tail Alliance Fly-In.” The event is intended to put real faces to the individuals and small businesses that benefit from online advertising and comprise a portion of the revenue and jobs cited in the Economic Value report. Some of those faces are represented in this video called “I Am the Long Tail.”

The report and this week’s activities in D.C. are a testament to Randy Rothenberg’s leadership and have created a strong foundation for demonstrating that our industry takes seriously the call for self-regulation. But the rubber will meet the road when the IAB and other trade groups with whom it has partnered publish more formal recommendations about how to allay consumer and regulator concerns surrounding behavioral targeting and consumer privacy protection.

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Posted in Behavioral Targeting, Economy, Online Advertising, Privacy


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