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Inside ontheinside.info

Twitter grows first, monetizes second: Should the publishing world ever think this way?

The NYTimes recently brought up the notorious Web2.0 question — should we ever start an online business with the intention to make money? They pitted Twitter vs. Yammy, a new micro-blogging platform, that unlike Twitter is aimed exclusively at corporations and is charging for its use from the onset. Twitter currently makes no money at all, and is kept afloat by legion of really rich venture capital firms.

The argument for the Twitter’s strategy is rooted in the idea of “network effects”, where the real value of the company is reaped once the whole world is onboard, and anyone who isn’t might as well be on Mars. Twitter wants it to be a necessity for everyone to be part of its matrix; like finally getting internet for the home to send and receive emails, or getting a telephone line to have phone conversations, or joining facebook just to use it as the modern day Yellow Pages.  With that kind of power, viable business models would stream in very quickly — monetizing would not be difficult. Hence, Twitter is focused on growth and is not even tempted to enable advertising on their blogs.

Should new online publications think this way too?  Should web magazines focus on growth first and sell ads later?

Well, yes and no. The “stickiness” of an online publication like Huffington Post, Techcrunch, or even the NYTimes is a lot less than a blogging platform, although the comments section and community based approach that a lot of these websites are moving into helps create loyalty. The stickiness matters because if people can leave (i.e. stop going back) to the website too fast and easily, then there is less reason to focus on purely growth initially.  

The second question is whether creating a “critical mass” helps a publication. Advertising dollars, espacially for Google ads, is rather linear and scalable. This means if 10 views gets you 1 cent, you might as well put up the ad in the first place even with such a low readership. Having a higher tranche of readers do mean that you can sell to higher paying advertisers, and can negotiate for better rates. Having a larger regular group of readers also help in profiling, hence helping to sell ads. 

It also boils down to whether advertisers prefer quality or quantity of hits. Do advertisers prefer a good returning group of readers, or would rather sacrifice repeated hits for a higher volume of hits. A preference for quality–which would also mean more accurate profiling of each impression–means there is more of a case for publications to build a critical mass upfront. Hmm…does this matter at all?

The Daily Beast just launched with no advertising. I think they are definitely working towards a respectable readership before a publication of their weight (Tina Brown, no less) would want to approach advertisers. 

How different is a blogging platform, where readers come in aily to be updated, different from a web newspaper? What are the business implications?

For one, with blogs, one has the luxury of asking more questions than answering them.

How to scare your guests with a fake fire: Turn on a long-dormant heater.

It was a wierdly cold fall day and we turned the themostat all way over to the red portion, waking the heater from its year-long slumber. After a couple of minutes, there was a dangerous whiff in the air, one akin to smoke, one that is sometimes associated with fires. Nothing was visible though — no smoke, no haze, no sudden onset of cateract. It conjured images in my mind, this smell, mostly of Marshmallows, damp picnic towels, my high school science lab, my pretty and squeamish lab partner — ah, all the associations from this woody, oaky smell with a high-note of smoky. Yet, gradually and subtlely, my warm memories were slowly being replaced by terabytes worth of media-soaked images – I thought of the movie Backdraft, of 9-11, of the latest Rambo, of bush fires in Australia. 

I tend to overthink. Because right then, I looked up and there were already firemen all over the office.

Thank God everything was alright!

Camera only managed to capture 5% of our empire

From left: 
Philip Kor — Producer (i.e. champion of Google Docs, odd-job laborer)
Jason Chan — Videographer (i.e. the man with the cam)
Alvina Collardeau — Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief (i.e. the boss)
Zoe Woodbury — Features Editor (i.e. voicemail and Wordpress extraordinaire; “it’s relaxing”)  
(missing from photo)
Kimmy Ratican — Writer/Producer (i.e. gets to meet famous people)
…and the other 95% of the empire. 

 

Start-up world looks at Wall Street; tries not to laugh.

It seems the start-up community feels pretty insulated from the crisis on Wall Street. According to this article in the NY Times, there is sufficient funding, the credit markets have not affected lending, and many venture-backed companies are not dependent on the financial services or housing industries. 

But that’s just all big media news: what’s really happening on the grounds in Silicon Valley? Happy, jolly Google engineers are giving their engineering-labmates-turned-investment-banker friends a call: “Well, I hope investment banking has been ‘more challenging’, ‘multi-faceted’, ‘real world’, and ‘human facing’ all these years. Really hoped you saved some of your bonus for the months ahead. By the way, don’t bother dropping your resume with us: we require at least 3-5 years of coding experience.”

We are alive!

I know it has been quite a while.

Things have been ramping up quite a bit here OnTheInside — we have added staff, scheduled a packed pipeline of personalities, and been exploring partnerships with big name publishers.

But who cares about all that magazine stuff, right? The most important development has got to be the relaunch of this blog: Here to bring you the Insides of OnTheInside! (…plus some tech news, and a little New York).

To whet your appetite, here are some big names we would be featuring in the coming weeks. Look out for their full interviews on this blog.

Giorgio De Luca, of Dean & DeLuca fame who, with business partner Joel Dean, single-handedly imagined the gourmet supermarket industry with the opening of their first SoHo store in 1977, which eventually turned into a hundred million dollar business. They understood New Yorkers’ better taste for fine grocery way before subsequent faux-organic supermarket chains, with their tacky decor that says Disneyland more than farmer’s market, popped up all over the city over the past decade.

Carmen del’Orifice, longest serving model at Ford Agency, who in her 70s, still models for clients like Rolex. She has been modelling since she was 14 and carries herself with an air of untouchable elegance and grace. Yet, she comes across as a most warm and humble person during our interview with her. Carmen had some riveting stories to tell of her childhood, and I cannot wait for her interview to be published (also because I was the one that had to transcribe the 3 hour long interview). 

Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia. Visionary and evangelist for “free knowledge”, Jimbo, as people call him, currently owns and runs the non-profit company Wikia, a website that hosts a variety of individual wikis on different subjects. Constantly fighting the controversy surrounding the reliability and use of Wikipedia, Jimmy takes a breather with us, as he tells us about his favorite places to hang out in New York. I’m curious: Do you think he ever goes to the New York Public Library?

Some quickie recommendations!

Hello all,

I’m Zoe, the Features Editor here at On The Inside. I moved to the city in 2005 to study psychology at NYU, where I expect to graduate in May 2009. I grew up in Austin, Texas, but now I call it’s analagous Brooklyn neighborhood, Williamsburg, home. Hopefully, we will be getting some staff picks up on the site soon; in the meantime, however, here is my quick and dirty guide to my ‘hood…

 

 

 

For barbecue to-die-for… Fette Sau (354 Metropolitan Ave)
For cheap vintage finds… Beacon’s Closet (88 N.11th St)
For a weekend dance party… Royal Oak (594 Union Ave)
For artsy nightlife… Zebulon (258 Wythe Ave.)
For weekend brunch… Diner (85 Broadway)
For cheap falafel… Oasis (161 N.7th St)
For DIY shows and dancing… Death by Audio (49 S.2nd St)
For amazing sushi… Bozu (296 Grand St)

…and of course, my favorite place in Williamsburg, my house. But I can’t tell you where that is…

xoxo
Zoe

Q & A with web designer Laia Prats

OnTheinside is in a full-on expansion spurt. And we are lucky to have The 7th Art, one of New York’s premiere luxury marketing and branding firms in the city contributing to our design look & feel. Be on the look out for some major navigation improvements as well. In the meantime, we are pleased to introduce Laia Prats, one of The 7th Art’s key designers developing ontheinside.info’s newest features to be unveiled in the coming months.

Originally from Spain, it didn’t take long for Prats to fall in love with New York. She relocated here after graduating from a top graphic design school in her native Barcelona. Within months, the artist landed her dream job at The 7th Art. Ontheinside.info caught up with the busy web designer for a quick Q&A.

What brought you to New York originally?
I’ve been living here a year and half. I grew up in Spain and after graduating in graphic design from one of the top design schools in Barcelona, IDEP, I decided to try something new and I came to New York. I love it here and I love my job.

Tell us about The 7th Art.
We specialize in luxury real estate, branding and marketing but we’re working on smaller accounts like the Green Canteen and Dogmatic, both in the food industry, that are owned by a company called Blum Enterprises. I am a web designer, so I come up with everything and let the programmers do the rest of the work.

How did you get started there?
I actually started as a photo retoucher but when they saw I did some cool graphic and web design, they gave me a chance. So now I’m more involved in projects and get to lead some. When I started at The 7th Art, I was working on The Plaza account. There were two sides to The Plaza project, one- the Pied-à-Terre, I didn’t really get to work with so much. But the second one I did – The Private Residences. And I liked that job. It was interesting to work with all those images that showed the renovations. I did some other luxury real estate jobs like Jasper and The Renwick and I also collaborated on Trump Dubai.

What do you love the most about your job?
I like designing! I like seeing that you can make something work. Putting together unrelated images and texts and making it all come together and work.

Is working with high-end real estate clients any different from working with a smaller company like us?
I like it because it’s different. You get to see there’s a world outside of real estate which can become a little boring. And you guys are interesting because you work with so many personalities.