In defense of bloggers

Much has been discussed about the “death of journalism”.

I won’t get into the full story but many of you are familiar with the issues. In a world of low cost distribution, google search, aggregation, freemium, fragmentation of classifieds and an increased supply of content, the traditional way of producing news (with layers of management, layers of costs and layers of rules) just isn’t as compelling (economically or content-wise) as it once was.

We all care about favorite sources of mainstream media. I love the New York Times. I’m sure many of you feel the same way about your favorite traditional media source. I believe the best ones will survive with a cost model and content model that is rationalized in the current world we live in. There is no going back.

As we all try to figure this stuff out there seems to be a backlash against bloggers. Maybe it’s been out there for awhile. I don’t think this backlash is healthy or accurate. The anti-blogger feels that quality, honesty and lack of bias are missing in our blogs.

This assumes that mainstream media gets it right which we know isn’t the case. Let’s not forget, there are many examples where mainstream media gets it wrong.

One of worst examples of this was the rush to war in Iraq. The drumbeats were on full blast on mainstream media after 9/11. When President Bush decided to go after WMD’s in Iraq, our press bought it hook, line and sinker. Generals became advisers and on air personalities. The American flag graphic was overlayed on news broadcast every night. To this day, I haven’t seen mainstream media apologize for fucking this up.

The best part about blogs is the relationship between the writer and the reader. Powerful and vibrant communities build within blogs in ways that doesn’t seem to happen with mainstream media. The blogger doesn’t need to impress or ask permission from their editor. They engage with their readers in comments or tweets. They get feedback with analytics. They have a debate with the community and often they follow up their posts with updated data and opinions. Each learns from the other.

Many bloggers do their best to give us great information. Talking Points Memo ( often breaks stories that mainstream misses. Fact checking is done at a massive scale that shows the power of the wisdom of the crowd. Many bloggers review consumer electronics much faster AND better than mainstream tech journalists.

And we know bloggers are more important than ever. Take a look at the NYT and WSJ online. They both have blogs of their own and link to other blogs. I’m guessing but most of the links i click on from my Twitter timeline go to blogs.

Yes, there are some pretty bad bloggers out there. There are some bad apples everywhere. But the best ones reveal themselves. And the sum of all of these blogs in action everyday is a thing of a beauty.

I am thankful

This is my favorite holiday by far.

I am thankful for my kids, wife and my family. I am the luckiest man alive.

And I appreciate all of my dearest friends that mean the world to me.

It’s so great to see all of the thankful posts on my Tumblr dashboard and my Twitter timeline today. A lot of positive energy from folks spending time with their loved ones and taking it all in.

Happy thanksgiving everyone.

Some thoughts about mobile apps vs the mobile web

Long before the itunes app store there was a third party app market for mobile phones.

Ten years ago jamdat brought bowling, tetris and tiger woods golf to low cost mobile phones.

Then the Treo was born and palm os developers were able to bring those apps to a cellular phone.

But now we have an evolved different model for mobile apps and distribution.

The app store model.

There is no doubt the app store model provides tremendous value for the user (aggregation, reviews, discovery). The app store also gives developers distribution and an ability to monetization (advertising, pay per download or in app purchasing). In app purchasing is now delievering a highly scalable moentization system to mobile apps that isn’t easily available in a non app store world. Some iPhone apps are now doing over $0.05 per daily active user (DAU). And some developers have tens or hundreds of thousands of dAUs. That’s a big deal.

This in app purchasing system also gives developers a built on distribution network since apps can be promoted inside of other apps. It’s a new layer on top of a new layer.

But we know there are drawbacks to the app store model. The store belongs to someone else. It’s their rules , plain and simple.

So a number of developers and creators are hedging their bet. Many developers are porting their apps to android os. Many of them are also creating mobile web apps instead of native apps.

Consider the NYT iPhone app vs Techmeme’s new mobile interface for android and iPhone browsers.

Both are rich and compelling.

The nyt app can benefit from a number of monetization models. The techmeme’s mobile version benefits from the ability to innovate quickly and without a gatekeeper.

As the mobile browser gets better it will be interesting to see how this plays out. I’m guessing these browsers will support offline functionality that is beyond read only mode. And they will get a lot more.

It’s interesting to think about what mobile platforms and browsers will look like 5years from now.

One thing we can count on – it will be much different than today.

(pls excuse typos and lack of links. Wrote this quickly on my iPhone).

People Meeting Business

I am a venture capitalist. I do my best to invest in the best people pursuing their best ideas.

As a result I’m in the people meeting business. I try to meet as many great people as possible and as often as possible. It could be online, on this blog, in my office, in your office, 3k miles away or in the park. The location doesn’t matter much.

I encourage entrepreneurs in our portfolio or outside our portfolio to also be in the people meeting business.

I am often surprised when I meet a founder that says he doesn’t like the VC on his board and he never took the time to get to know this investor beforehand.

Fund raising can be exhausting and a distraction even under the best conditions. But it’s critical to take the time and make sure it’s a good match. That’s true if you are a VC or a founder.

Consider that it could take weeks or months to find that killer vp marketing or engineering. Why shouldn’t it take that long to find the right investment partner.

The best way to get to know people is to meet them early and often (im talking about the ones that are the most interesting or helpful or provacative etc).

That way when it’s time to raise that round you will already have much more data to balance out your gut or basing the big decision solely on the firms reputation.

(excuse any typos. Wrote this post quickly on my iPhone at the airport)