Recent Updates Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • feedwordpress 03:53:38 on 2019/07/30 Permalink
    Tags:   

    Introducing Recount Media 


    Warning: preg_match_all(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 7 in /homepages/23/d339537987/htdocs/ec/wp-content/themes/p2/inc/mentions.php on line 77

    More than a few of you have been wondering why I’ve been so quiet here these past few months, and today I can finally reveal at least part of what’s kept me so busy. Today we’re announcing a public beta product from the company I’ve been building with my longtime friend and collaborator John Heilemann and many other talented folks. We’re starting with an email newsletter featuring a new approach to video journalism covering political news. I’ll have more to say soon, but for now, sign up here for our first product, The Recount. I hope you’ll share with friends—and let me know what you think. More soon, I promise, and thanks for reading. (CNN coverage here).

     
  • feedwordpress 14:46:33 on 2019/07/21 Permalink
    Tags: 2019, ,   

    Halfway Through: How Are My Predictions 2019 Shaping Up? 


    Warning: preg_match_all(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 7 in /homepages/23/d339537987/htdocs/ec/wp-content/themes/p2/inc/mentions.php on line 77

    I like to keep myself honest when it comes to predictions. Now that six months of 2019 are in the books (well, nearly seven given how intermittent my postings have been this year), it’s time to see how things are tracking.

    Regular readers may have noticed I’m not really written much this year. This pains me, but it’s because I’ve been deep in a new project, one focused on a new market and a new media format. There’ll be news on that soon enough, but for now, let’s review my 2019 predictions and see how I’m doing.

    First up: 1/ Global warming gets really, really, really real.  I predicted that 2019 would be the year that climate change would become impossible to ignore. I’m writing this as more than half the country is suffering from a massive heat wave, and in the first six months of the year, we’ve seen so many extreme weather events, it’s hard to keep track. Floods, draught, monsoons, tornados, the Green New Deal, you name it, it’s all over the news. I think we’re on track for this one, sadly.

    #2: Mark Zuckerberg resigns as Chairman of Facebook, and relinquishes his supermajority voting rights. Related, Sheryl Sandberg stays right where she is. Well, so far, not happening. There have been many calls for exactly this, including a shareholder revolt that went nowhere. There’s still time, but this isn’t trending in the right direction.

    #3: Despite a ton of noise and smoke from DC, no significant federal legislation is signed around how data is managed in the United States. This is trending exactly where I thought it would be. Lots and lots of smoke, no fire whatsoever.

    #4: The Trump show gets cancelled.  Wishful thinking, but so far, not happening. But there’s still time, and I expect the Fall to be quite eventful. And who knows what might come of “Mueller Day” this coming week…

    #5: Cannabis for the win. I predicted federal legalization, and while there have been some milestones this year, and many are talking about making it happen, I think I was overconfident here. It’s going to take longer than any of us would like.

    #6: China implodes, the world wobbles. If you read the Wall St. Journal, you’d have thought this has already happened. The signs are all there, and I think it’s still entirely possible this will occur this Fall.

    #7: 2019 will be a terrible year for financial markets. So far I’ve been utterly wrong. It’s been a great year for stocks! But I think we’re at peak market and most indicators point to…bad news ahead. Trump, of course, will pull every lever he can – including bullying the Fed and claiming victory in his various trade wars – but I think we’re overdue for a correction. Again, let’s wait for the Fall to see what comes of this one.

    #8: At least one major tech IPO is pulled, the rest disappoint as a class. Several tech IPOs have been pulled, but none of the bellwethers have been yanked. Uber was a disappointment, but overall, 2019 has been a great year for tech IPOs. The year is not over, and if things go south overall (see #7), I very much doubt tech will be spared.

    #9: New forms of journalistic media flourish. I wrote this one because, well, that’s what I’m working on, and so are many other media entrepreneurs. I’ll wait till the end of the year to count them up, but I’m feeling bullish about post-platform media in 2019.

    #10: A new “social network” emerges by the end of the year. Tik Tok broke out this year (it launched in 2017), but a Chinese owned meme machine certainly wasn’t what I had in mind. I still think there’s an opening for a new challenger to Facebook, and who knows, it might emerge before the year is up.

    So where does that leave me, half a year in? Batting about .500, it seems. I’ll be taking notes as we head toward Dec. 31st. Thanks for reading, and keeping me honest. I hope to be writing a lot more in the coming months.

     
  • feedwordpress 15:59:20 on 2019/04/24 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , terms of service,   

    Mapping Data Flows: Help Us Ask the Right Questions 


    Warning: preg_match_all(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 7 in /homepages/23/d339537987/htdocs/ec/wp-content/themes/p2/inc/mentions.php on line 77

    I’ve been quiet here on Searchblog these past few months, not because I’ve nothing to say, but because two major projects have consumed my time. The first, a media platform in development, is still operating mostly under the radar. I’ll have plenty to say about that, but at a later date. It’s the second where I could use your help now, a project we’re calling Mapping Data Flows. This is the research effort I’m spearheading with graduate students from Columbia’s School for International Public Affairs (SIPA) and Graduate School of Journalism. This is the project examining what I call our “Shadow Internet Constitution” driven by corporate Terms of Service.

    Our project goal is simple: To visualize the Terms of Service and Data/Privacy Policies of the four largest companies in US consumer tech: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. We want this visualization to be interactive and compelling – when you approach it (it’ll be on the web), we hope it will help you really “see” what data, rights, and obligations both you and these companies have reserved. To do that, we’re busy turning unintelligible lines of text (hundreds of thousands of words, in aggregate) into code that can be queried, compared, and visualized. When I first imagined the project, I thought that wouldn’t be too difficult. I was wrong – but we’re making serious progress, and learning a lot along the way.

    One of the most interesting of the early insights is how vague these documents truly are. The conditional (“might,” “could,” “may” etc) seems to be their favorite verb tense. It likely comes as no surprise to dedicated readers, but despite the last two years of public outrage, tech companies can pretty much do anything they want with your data, should they care to. Another interesting takeaway: The sheet amount of information that *can* be collected is staggering. A third insight: Even if you can find the data dashboards that give you control over how your data is used, cranking them to their fullest powers often won’t limit data collection and use, but rather will limit their application in very specific use cases. It’s all about the metadata. Lastly, it’s fascinating to see how similar these documents are across the top four companies, and how Apple, for example, has pretty much exactly the same rights to use your data as, say, Facebook.

    I could go on, but what we really want to know is what *you* wish you understood about these companies’ data practices. That’s why we’ve built a very short, very subjective survey that we’re hoping you’ll take to give us input and feedback as we start to actually build our visualization.

    I’ve buried the lead, but here’s the ask: Will you please take a minute to give us your input? Here’s the link, and thanks!

     
  • feedwordpress 15:21:14 on 2019/03/21 Permalink
    Tags: , business affairs, job, job posting, recruiting,   

    Lead, Business Affairs 


    Warning: preg_match_all(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 7 in /homepages/23/d339537987/htdocs/ec/wp-content/themes/p2/inc/mentions.php on line 77

    Do you know this person? Might it be you?

    Over the years I’ve found some of the best business partners by posting on this site. The overall audience for Searchblog has waxed and waned, but I’m deeply appreciative that there’s a core group of you who still watch this feed to see whatever it is I happen to be thinking about.

    You may have noticed I’ve not been posting as much as I normally do, and there’s a reason for that. Back when I wrote about moving to New York, I promised to keep you updated on what I’m working on now that I’ve settled in. While I continue my work at Columbia and my engagement with NewCo (more on that soon), one my projects has become central, a new company I’m working on with several New York-based journalists and entrepreneurs. We’re keeping the focus of the company under wraps for now, but we’ve started hiring, and I’m looking for a business side partner who can handle any number of key functions as we build the company. I’m posting the role below. As the weeks progress, there’ll be any number of other roles we’ll be looking for, across technology, partnership/sales, and more. So stay tuned for that. But for now, I’m looking for what I’m calling Lead, Business Affairs. If you or someone you know is interested, please reach out. I’m jbat at battellemedia dot com. I look forward to hearing from you.

    ***

    The Business Affairs Lead will be one of the earliest founding team members of a hybrid media/technology company, responsible for crucial business functions throughout early launch. The qualified candidate can competently tackle nearly any business task related to starting a company, and has familiarity with media business models, in particular subscription, advertising, and social media. The Business Affairs lead will manage the company’s accounting, finance, contract, reporting, development and other key functions. As the company grows, any number of opportunities to either specialize, take one or more P&Ls, or grow into any number of senior functions will emerge. The company has already secured seed financing from a well known NY-based venture firm.

    The company is in pre-launch and not promoting itself. The founding partners each have more than three decades of deep experience in media, technology, and venture finance. Qualified candidates will be briefed in detail. This is a full time position starting immediately, in New York, with market compensation and early equity.

    Qualifications

    At least five to ten years experience.

    Ability to manage a budget/accounting.

    Demonstrated comfort and experience handling contracts and interference.

    Strong communication skills and attention to detail. Confidence, humility, passion.

    Industrious, self-motivator with demonstrated ability to take initiative, make firm decisions, manage projects, in a fast-paced environment.

    Excellent people skills and ability to develop and maintain productive business partnerships. Startup/media experience a major plus.

    Curiosity and willingness to tackle matters outside their area of expertise.

    Again, I’m jbat at battellemedia dot com. Thanks for reading!

     
  • feedwordpress 17:48:09 on 2019/03/12 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , ,   

    With Privacy as Its Shield, Facebook Hopes To Conquer the Entire Internet. 


    Warning: preg_match_all(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 7 in /homepages/23/d339537987/htdocs/ec/wp-content/themes/p2/inc/mentions.php on line 77

    Never mind that man behind the privacy curtain.

    I’ll never forget a meal I had with a senior executive at Facebook many years ago, back when I was just starting to question the motives of the burgeoning startup’s ambition. I asked whether the company would ever support publishers across the “rest of the web” – perhaps through an advertising system competitive with Google’s AdSense. The executive’s response was startling and immediate. Everything anyone ever needs to do – including publishing – can and should be done on Facebook. The rest of the Internet was a sideshow. It’s just easier if everything is on one platform, I was told. And Facebook’s goal was to be that platform.

    Those words still ring in my ears as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the web today. And they certainly should inform our perspective as we continue to digest Facebook’s latest self-involved epiphany.

    Last week Mark Zuckerberg declared privacy the new black, and committed his multi-hundred-billion dollar company wholeheartedly in favor of it. Employing the now familiar trope that “people I’ve been talking to have been saying privacy’s a thing they care about,” Facebook’s monarch appeared to be pivoting his entire company around this newfound insight, and much of the press seemed to buy it.

    But this isn’t a pivot, it’s a panic born of crisis. Facebook’s core business model has plateaued, and absent new channels into which the company might stuff toxic algorithmic advertising, Zuck and crew have had to find a new cash cow. After all, those record-breaking Wall St. earnings won’t keep writing themselves – not with users leaving the service and regulators sharpening their swords for battle.

    So Facebook needs to find a new revenue source, one that’s really, really big, and ideally, one that also manages to solve its lousy image as the lusty barker at the surveillance capitalism carnival.

    The company has found its answer in the form of WhatsApp, the famously privacy-loving messaging app which Facebook paid $19 billion to acquire five years ago.

    So why WhatsApp, and why now?

    • WhatsApp was built on entirely different DNA from Facebook. It’s end to end encryption practically screams privacy. Before Zuckerberg’s come to Jesus, Facebook had attempted to turn WhatsApp into another advertising play, which drove WhatsApp’s founders to leave in a very public huff. Since then, WhatsApp has failed to become an advertising channel of any significance. Leveraging WhatsApp’s brand sheen to polish Facebook’s privacy turd is a mad genius move.
    • Going five years without figuring out monetization for a $19 billion acquisition is…embarrassing. Now Facebook can answer Wall Street’s incessant questions about WhatsApp’s contribution to the company’s bottom line.
    • Of all the tech giants, Facebook is most likely to suffer regulators ire here in the United States, including very loud calls for antitrust action. But by pivoting to privacy first and claiming WhatsApp as its new cornerstone, Facebook now has an excuse to integrate Instagram, Messenger, and Facebook, making a breakup technically and socially challenging, if not impossible.
    • Most importantly, WhatsApp has the potential to realize Facebook’s long sought dream of *becoming* the Internet for billions of customers around the world.

    But how, exactly? To answer that question, Facebook had only look to China’s Tencent, which in two short years has turned its wildly popular WeChat service into a revenue geyser, a new kind of platform where advertising represents just a fraction of the business model.

    WeChat has become an ecosystem unto itself, an essential service used by nearly two billion customers to pay for just about everything in China. It features millions of “mini programs,” essentially apps built on top of the WeChat service. Tencent is making billions on top of this new ecosystem, taking a small cut of transactions inside its internal “Tenpay” system, nudging tens of millions of users to level up inside its gaming system, and yes, by offering advertising inside its popular “Moments” feed. Tencent even built a new search engine inside WeChat, a “walled garden” version of search that should prove insanely profitable if done right. Oh, and it gets all the data.

    Put simply, WeChat is a universe unto itself, a perfect mix of app store, commerce, social, payments, and search. It’s as if the entire Internet was shrunk into one app. Exactly the kind of world Facebook would like to see happen here in the United States.

    Only…WeChat evolved in China, where the concept of individual privacy is utterly foreign, where the state has complete control over the levers of the economy, and where Facebook has been banned for years. It’s a stretch to believe that Facebook could mimic Tencent’s meteoric rise here in the US (not to mention Western Europe and the rest of the world), but if there’s any conclusion to be drawn from Zuckerberg’s latest manifesto, it’s that his company is certainly going to try.

    Once Facebook has created an integrated WeChat-like platform reaching billions, it’d be a cinch to lure app developers – perhaps by undercutting Apple and Google’s 20-30 percent take rate, for starters. And anyone in the business of selling anything would also rush to the platform, posing an existential threat to Amazon’s portal-like model of e-commerce dominance. An obvious step would be to build search to unite it all, a necessary move that would dramatically undercut Google’s control of that market as well. The only safe place to be in this scenario seems to be Apple’s hardware business – except that company is itself in the midst of a pivot to services, exactly the kind of services that a Facebook WeChat clone will challenge.

    So, to summarize: By declaring “private conversations” as its new business model, Facebook can undermine the app store model driving all of mobile, unseat Amazon as the king of e-commerce, hollow out Google’s control of search, nip Apple’s transition to services in the bud, take a vig on every transaction across its ecosystem, and insinuate itself into the private, commercial, and public lives of every citizen on the Internet. If the company pulls this off – and yes, that’s a big if – we’ll look back on the past ten years, replete with all our fears of the social media’s dominance in our lives, as positively quaint in comparison.

    Never mind that man behind that curtain, folks.


     
c
compose new post
j
next post/next comment
k
previous post/previous comment
r
reply
e
edit
o
show/hide comments
t
go to top
l
go to login
h
show/hide help
esc
cancel