78 posts from October 2007
Brad has a great post on the Union Square Ventures weblog about the ways in which markets are likely to impact philanthropy. Brad went back and read the entire Hacking Philanthropy transcript and is going to post some of his thoughts. This is the first of those posts. Brad observes:
Recently we have seen the emergence of a new type of charity, one that radically changes the relationship between donors and recipients. Nonprofits like DonorsChoose and Kiva behave more like marketplaces than traditional charities. This new model allows people in need to post a request for a gift or a loan to the site, and donors to chose which of those needs they would like to fund.
We spent a lot of time talking about why this is happening now, the strengths and weaknesses of this approach, and how the emergence of these markets might impact philanthropy in the future.
We have had the opportunity to experience the impact of a marketplace for philanthropy right here on this blog with the Donors Choose bloggers challenge. To date, 84 readers of this blog were able to click on a link, sift through dozens of public school classrooms in need of help, and make a donation.
My favorite moment at Hacking Philanthropy is described by Brad in his post:
Leslie Crutchfield stunned the technologists and entrepreneurs in the group when she pointed out that the in the last 40 years, only two organizations, Habitat for Humanities and AmeriCares , have broken into the top twenty five of the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s annual list of top philanthropies – the Philanthropy 400. The stability of this group was a surprise to the folks on the for profit side who are used to a world where one third of the top 25 companies on the Fortune 500 were not in business in 1965 and companies like Google that did not exist 15 years ago. The emergence of marketplace oriented nonprofits could well be the disruptive force that leads a reshuffling of the Philanthropy 400.
To me that level of stability is problem. And so I hope marketplaces start to do their thing and bring Philanthropy into the 21st century. We are doing our part and I am very pleased about that.
I've made a lot of investments over the years with corporations as partners in the investor syndicate. It's never a perfect fit. I shared some of my thoughts on the subject last week with Matt Richtel of the New York Times and he included a couple of them in this article which ran late last week. I just saw it today.
I knew the fix was in the minute I arrived at the most recent Wallstrip shootout. I just didn't know how they were going to do it. This video shows how the victory was stolen from me. I am vindicated.
Neil Young has a new record coming out this week called Chrome Dreams II.
Back in the mid '70s, Neil worked on a record called Chrome Dreams that never saw the light of day. That record had Pochahontas, Like A Hurricane, and Powderfinger on it. Here's a blog post that has the entire track listing and the original tracks from Chrome Dreams on it. That blog post alone is reason to get the download them all firefox plugin!
Chrome Dreams II takes its inspiration from the Chrome Dreams project. I listened this morning on Rhapsody which apparently got a preview of the record. The CD comes out on Tuesday. It's always hard for me to form a reaction on first listen, but this is a strong record. It was recorded using analog gear, with Crazy Horse drummer Ralph Molina, pedal steel guitarist Ben Keith, and Rick Rosas on bass. If you are a Neil Young fan, you have to get this record. If you aren't, hold off, and I'll let you know after a few more listens.
Here's my favorite track so far, an 18 minute jam called Ordinary People (hype machine link).
Blogged with Flock
The Four Fellas have added a new band member, Taliana, who can really sing and she showed her stuff last night at the Coffee House at Elizabeth Irwin High School in Soho.
Now they have to come up with a new name. Good thing they don't need the .com URL. That will make it easier.
Blogged with Flock
Longtime readers know that I've had a thing about TimesSelect from the day it launched.
I have a lot of scars in my back and one of them is the decision we made at TheStreet.com to charge a subscription while our competitor, MarketWatch, went with the free ad supported model. That lesson was painful as we watched MarketWatch take a leadership position that they have never relinquished, even after being purchased by Dow Jones.
Nick Carr brings up this subject today with a post defending TimesSelect as a smart revenue maximation strategy while online advertising caught up with print advertising. Maybe that's what it was, but I don't think so. I think it was print newspaper thinking at work in online media, which is a bad idea.
Online media can take advantage of network effects which offline media cannot. Nick benefits from being picked up heavily in Techmeme (#25). It drives more readers to his blog and incents people wanting to get on Techmeme to link to him. It's a virtuous cycle. But the Times' opinion pages, possibly the best raw material for blogging and online discussion, didn't participate in that virtuous cycle for the past several years because of TimesSelect. They let others take that position from them.
Would the Huffington Post be what it is today if it weren't for TimesSelect? I don't know, but that's the kind of thinking I try to do instead of traditional economics/revenue maximization when I think about stuff like this.
I particularly like this comment from Sidney to Nick's post:
BTW, in late 80's, Larry Ellison, nobody's fool as a businessman, enunciated it thusly: in early markets, maximize marketshare, not profits. NY Times should have become *the* go-to place for news & views online. They always had the breadth & depth of content. The fact that they let a whole lot of other sources jump ahead speaks volumes of their failure of vision.
If they had that vision, it is possible that most respected bloggers (like you!) would have found it profitable to channel their content through the NY Times online site, which got, say, 50 million readers a day. In that world, it is also possible to envision that they spin out the print division itself, becoming an all-online operation.
As a businessman, I can tell you that these are the types of fundamentally unmeasurable opportunity costs that visionary leaders are aware of at a gut level.
George sent me a message on twitter today suggesting I check out the new Flock 1.0. I did that just now and I am intrigued by the people sidebar I now have in my browser. It's the first time I have seen all my friends from Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube aggregated in one place.
I am not yet sure how useful it will be, but at a minimum I am going to use Flock for a little while to see how this works.