Release 4.0

Saturday, July 19, 2003

syndication and branding - preliminary thoughts
Intel made a huge success of its Intel Inside! branding program. Although few consumers knew what a microprocessor was, they wanted one in their personal computer. Now Intel is trying to do that again, with the Centrino for WiFi.

As we drove up Highway 101 to SFO, we saw the billboard for Auctiondrop ( funded by Draper Fisher and Mobius): You drop it off; we sell it on eBay. In other words, we don’t just sell it for you and give you the money (minus a commission). We sell it for you on eBay, and then we give you that, eBay-enhanced money. Is the money really worth more if it comes from eBay? Well, presumably you trust that you will get a fair deal if your things are sold on eBay…

The power of branding on the Internet is amazing. More and more, we have the process of syndication, which is a sort of distribution of a service just as a reseller can resell goods. But of course there are a variety of different business models, reflecting market position and logistics, just as in the physical channel. Who owns the brand name? who takes the risk of owning the products? Does the reseller work on commission or does it actually take title to the goods or pay for the service upfront?

The word syndication itself has many meanings. IN publishing, a content-owner, such as the New York Times syndicate, will license its content to other publishers, such as YOUR PUB NAME HERE, . IN finance, one lender will syndicate a loan or an insurance contract, laying off the risk (and the profits) to a set of partners. And then there’s the whole ad-network business, where tk wording.

And finally, as I sit here on Aeroflot, I’m bemused by a world without branding. There’s no menu, just a flight attendant offering me chicken or fish. (Maybe I’ve been flying FC too much to expect anything more…) There are no brand names on the food, either: no little promotional flyers, no packaged potato chips or cookies, no attempt to leverage any other brand name. On other airlines, the menus are prepared by the chef of some famous restaurant. As airlines get into the business of selling food, they are wise enough to understand that their own brand names might not cut it…

So back to We’re seeing an interesting evolution where services are branded on the one hand, and deconstructed and syndicated on the other. One service is “powered by” another. more later.

yours from Moscow

posted by Esther 11:27 AM

Monday, July 14, 2003

Palo Alto-bound
I just spent the first weekend day in my office without an issue of Release 1.0 hanging over me; I finished the one on RFID some weeks ago, and the next one isn’t until September…and R1ter Eric Dean will be doing most of the work, anyway.

So, it was a great day. I pared my inbox from above 4000 to under 3000 (no, I didn’t exactly read them all!), I cleared a path from the door to my desk, I filled up three trash carns….it was great!

But I didn’t quite get around to doing my blog until now – sitting at O’Hare, and waiting to upload in Palo Alto. I’m heading for a couple of board meetings – Graphisoft and – and then the AlwaysOn conference, where I’m moderating a panel on “community” – in essence, applying the open-source, community model to software businesses. Panelists are Dan Ciporin, CEO, DealTime; Erick Hachenburg, General Manager, Electronic Arts Online Publishing; Lorna Borenstein, Vice President, Category Management, eBay; Tim Sullivan, President, It should be fun. And it will be a nice opportunity to catch up with a lot of friends without scheduling in advance.

Meanwhile, Meetup is deeper fun; rather than pontificate, I’m working on how we navigate our strategy as the political side of our business gets great exposure, mostly because of Howard Dean (no relationship to Eric Dean!). It’s wonderful, but we don’t want to become all politics, all the time. Should we form a separate unit? What’s the difference between a political rally and a Meetup? And so on…

Last week, lots of meetings, including with Frank Chisholm, an old friend, at Aptsoft, and a long meeting with Mark Foster and Richard Shockey of Neustar, in preparation for September’s issue on registries. (They do telephones, domain names and soon ENUM.) Dinner with David Johnson, who’s working on some interesting social software, and Elliot Maxwell, who among other things is a policy advisor to the Auto-ID Center. Speaking of RFID, Wal-Mart has pulled back slightly on RFID for individual items, focusing more on tagging containers, where its enthusiasm continues….

The week before last, I was in England, and saw a sign in a Cambridge University building that bears noting (paraphrase):

“It is inadvisable to use the automatic lift during hours when the maintenance staff are off-duty.”

posted by Esther 5:45 AM

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