November 3, 2011

Save The Euro: Bring Back the Franc (A Modest Proposal)

The problem with Europe is that everyone there has one and a half monetary systems. You can have one, two, or fifty, but you can’t go halfway.

Every country has the “one” monetary system that constitutes explicit use of the Euro and implicit use of Germany and France as collateral. But each country also has about half of another monetary system: the implicit one they develop when investors analyze their debts with a Euro dissolution in mind. It doesn’t have to be this way, and it doesn’t have to end with a split: why not create a system where the Euro works by the Euro’s rules, and everyone brings back their home currencies to finance their financial misdeads? Read the rest of this entry »

May 6, 2011

Digital Due Diligence

I’m pleased to announce that I’m now working full-time as co-founder and CEO of Digital Due Diligence, an advisory firm focused on helping investors evaluate online assets.

(Note: A previous version of this post had a rather significant typo. I’m now working at Digital Due Diligence. Not “I’m not” working there.)

February 7, 2011

Blogs are Here To Stay—Are Bloggers an Aberration?

It’s hard to say when the “blogger” phenomenon peaked. In the runup to the 2004 election, the media meta-narrative centered around “the blogger”—a possibly psuedonymous individual whose commentary was upending the traditional news cycle.

In the next few years, something strange happened: blogs became ubiquitous. But “the blogger” lost influence; the personalities that originally defined blogging never became as influential as most people expected.

I suspect that three forces sapped the blogging trend of most of its strength:

•Social media sites replaced low-traffic blogs.

•The right economic unit for high-traffic blogs is the blog network or the content farm, not the blogger.

•The only use for a blog qua blog is as an extended résumé or biz-dev pitch. Read the rest of this entry »

November 8, 2010

The Iron Law of Online Marketing: Why Your Ads (Almost Always) Can’t Be Your Competitive Advantage

There is only one interesting way to make money, in any field: develop and exploit a durable competitive advantage.1 Berkshire Hathaway wins because they are the buyer of first resort for good businesses that want to sell, and they can get cheap capital through superior underwriting; Facebook wins because to achieve parity with them, you have to recreate a 500 million-node social graph; the corner bodega turns a profit because that particular corner has a bodega and a half’s worth of foot traffic. In every one of these cases, it’s theoretically possible to compete with the incumbent, but there’s a better ROI in just letting them dominate the industry.

One thing these companies have in common is that their competitive advantage applies to the product or the process—either they can make the same thing for less money, or they can make something nobody else can make. What they don’t rely on is superior advertising. With good reason:

In the long term, the best advertising—the best creative, the best placement—will be sold to the high bidder. And the high bidder is whoever’s competitive advantage lets them earn more from a given customer. Read the rest of this entry »