We haven't heard much recently about so-called virtual worlds such as Second Life, in which you move around with your own avatar. Critics must be hoping they have disappeared up their own ether. Actually, they are booming. The consultancy kzero.co.uk reports that membership of virtual worlds grew by 39% in the second quarter of 2009 to an estimated 579 million. Not all these members are active but I can't think of anything, anywhere, that has grown so fast in the recession this side of Goldman Sachs bonuses.
There's another curious thing: Facebook and Twitter are lauded to the skies, but neither has found a way to make money – whereas virtual worlds such as World of Warcraft, Entropia Universe, Habbo Hotel, Club Penguin and Second Life are all profitable because their business models are based on the digital elixir of subscriptions and micropayments, a formula that other websites, including newspapers, would die for. Twitter makes the noise, Second Life makes the money.
One of the things small businesses (and anyone looking for work or to build brand recognition ) struggle with is branding and more importantly, the role of their personality in their brand. It's one thing to set up your company, decide on your product line, website, and marketing but it's another entirely to work out how your business is different to the next small business who is selling roughly the same thing. Often, the answer is, You.
Small businesses have the natural advantage of being able to build their personality into their customer's experiences. That personality is unique and a great point of distinction in cluttered marketplaces. Consumers are also increasingly looking to do business with someone they can trust and find a connection with. So how do you make sure that your brand is reflecting your personality well and how can you communicate that brand to a wide audience?
Learn from the experts
Cue Kirsten Dixson, personal branding guru, consultant and author of Career Distinction: standing out by building your business brand. Kirsten not only helps individuals and businesses define their "authentic" brand but also helps them communicate it effectively.
Join our free branding webinar
We are excited to announce that Kirsten is joining us in the TypePad Small Business Center tomorrow (Wednesday 29 July) at 11am PST to talk to us about personal branding at a webinar that is open and free to any one who wants to join.
The New New York Times, or NNYT, would have a writing staff of say 50 people. These are among the best journalists in the world, and lets say they wanted to pay themselves $200,000/year, a top salary for a reporter of that stature. That’s just $10 million a year in payroll expenses. Call it $12 million with benefits. Plus, they all have stock options in the new comapny
How many private equity funds would kill to put $100 million behind the NNYT to make sure the company had plenty of money until it reached profitability?
My guess is plenty. And Marc Andreeseen, who has already backed two blogs, may be the first in line to invest. And I know a couple of hedge funds that would be right there, too. I know this because they’ve pitched me on a vision not much different than this one.
Of course, none of this is going to happen. Those 50 top journalists aren’t going to be able to self select and organize themselves even if they had the inclination to do something like this. But the interesting thing is that I think something like this would work, really work, if anyone tried it. And the guys at Politico and AOL seem to be doing just that. Lean journalism, for the win.
In retrospect, my choice of Movable Type was a fortunate one. Although I also use and appreciate WordPress, it's a bit of a CPU hog. Given the viral highs and lows of my blogging career, there's no way this modest little server could have survived the onslaught of growth with WordPress. It would have been inexorably crushed under the weight of all those pageviews.
So, if you're considering a blogging platform, I can vouch for not only the Movable Type software, but the Six Apart team, and the community around it. In all honesty, blogging changed my life. I'm not sure that's directly attributable to me choosing Movable Type, exactly, but I can give it the highest praise I give any software I've used:
If Twitter can engineer its way out of the scaling dilemma, we’re still looking at a platform that is owned by one company. One of Dave Winer’s original message as a proto-blogger in the mid-90s was to warn us about such platform ownership and to celebrate the arrival of the Web as the platform that nobody owns. Today Winer is sounding the same alarms about Twitter, and they are worth weighing. While I find Twitter far more open to the Web than, say, Facebook — which really feels like an AOL-style walled garden — it’s still just one company, with one “namespace,” or set of unique names for people to claim (good Twitter IDs will probably run out even faster than domain names).
"A Trick of the Tail" was the album probably more than any other that first got me not only into Genesis but the entire genre of progressive rock. It was also the first album without Peter Gabriel and with Phil Collins on lead vocals. It was notable because had it stunk, who knows what would have become of the post-Gabriel Genesis. Rediscovering it now in iTunes and just wanted to share. My favorite track, other than the title, is "Entangled."
PS if you want the title track totally ruined for you, check out this video, and note especially the cutting edge music video special effects.
Alex has an interesting take on the MSFT/YHOO deal: "I have no idea of what type of discussions have happened between Microsoft and Yahoo! in the past two years, but as things stand right now, I feel like Microsoft had a strategy all along and it just worked."