Scoble on Scoble’s Business
Yesterday, while I was on a panel discussion at LeWeb3 talking about the future of video something happened that discussed my future. I was driving the computer during the panel discussion, demonstrating bleeding edge video technologies like Seesmic and Kyte on stage when someone wrote in my Kyte.tv channel’s chat room that I should check out TechCrunch. So, in front of everyone I pulled up the post. You’ve probably read it by now. It said simply: Scoble to Leave PodTech, Heading for Fast Company.
I’m sorry I didn’t break the news on my blog, but breaking it in front of thousands of people at a major industry conference is OK too (Arrington, who wrote the post, was in the audience) because people got to see my real, unfiltered, reaction.
UPDATE: I didn’t know that Arrington was going to post about it then. Dave Winer was sitting next to him in the audience and gives his point of view.
I told everyone that it was true that I had decided to leave PodTech, but that Fast Company hasn’t been signed yet and that I’m still considering two options, one of which is Fast Company. My last day there will be January 14th. I am working on a number of PodTech initiatives, including the CES BlogHaus as well as a Blogger Bus Tour to CES from San Francisco to Las Vegas which is sponsored by Microsoft (more on the bus, as well as how you can get a seat, next week when I get back into the office).
So, what will happen on January 15th? I told the audience at LeWeb that things haven’t been wrapped up yet. I have two options I’m considering on the table and will announce what I’m doing on January 15th.
How did it leak? Well, I needed advice between these two options and so I ask my friends to give me advice (actually, Rocky and I have been thinking a lot about this and have turned down a half dozen other options). I talk too much, which is my downfall, but also I got some world-class advice from people all over the industry.
Why didn’t I blog about it? Because I had family and other committments between the panel and now (it’s currently 2:24 a.m. and we’re packing to come home now).
Why not be transparent on the blog? Wasn’t that the lesson of Naked Conversations (our book that studied how 188 businesses used blogging)?
If you read Naked Conversations you’d know that we don’t recommend putting everything about your life on your blog. We even have a whole chapter about people who’ve gotten fired because they put inappropriate things on their blogs.
Certainly discussing career moves on a blog is inappropriate if you don’t have a clue what moves you’ll make (staying at PodTech was always on the table as one of the options until a week ago, for instance, when Rocky and I made some decisions about what would be best for our careers going forward).
Why not stay at PodTech? PodTech went through a lot of managerial chaos earlier this year and I was trying to help PodTech get to profitability and help it get some focus, business wise. You’ve seen some of those moves already as PodTech has moved away from an editorial focus and toward an corporate media development one, which is where much of PodTech’s revenues (which are in the millions per year now) are coming from. That’s a decision I helped PodTech make and I think they are good ones and will help it avoid the TechCrunch Dead Pool. Companies need a lot of help creating media, so PodTech has a pretty good future opportunity ahead of it, which is why its investors continue to support it.
When did I make this decision? In the past week. I know that back in October I said I wasn’t going to leave PodTech, but a lot has changed in that two-month period. PodTech’s new management team has been working together a lot better, and the direction it’s been going is different than it was back in October.
Now that PodTech is getting some focus I found that my show needed a new home in order for it to get to the next level, too.
Before I go on, I want to thank Seagate for sponsoring my show, which enabled me to interview more than 300 people over the past year or so. Looking back at that year it’s amazing how many people have come in front of my lens.
I’m a geek, a user advocate, and enjoy doing my show more than anything else in the world other than hanging out with Milan, Patrick, and Maryam. This week I got to do all three together in Paris thanks to Loic Le Meur, and I’ll always be in his debt for that. I’ll also, too, always be in debt to PodTech and John Furrier for hiring me and encouraging me to do a daily video show and giving me the resources to do that.
I’m also seeing significant changes to how you all interact with each other. Over the past year we’ve seen Twitter, Facebook, Kyte, Seesmic, Ustream, Justin.tv, Pownce, Jaiku, and quite a few other technologies get popular.
This interview with Mogulus’ CEO and Chris Pirillo’s pioneering efforts with his own live TV channel played a key role in getting me to see that there’s a new kind of TV channel possible — one that’s participatory instead of one-way — and one that would be very low cost and potentially have high revenue possibilities compared to the cost.
Remember, you don’t need a large audience to make a lot of money in this industry. I used to help edit a computer magazine, Visual Basic Programmer’s Journal (which later became Visual Studio Magazine) and that only had 100,000 subscribers, but millions in revenues. I also love the Demo series of conferences. There the audience (usually more than 1,000 people) pays more than $1,000 each to attend and everyone on stage pays $18,000 to present to that audience.
Another thing that opened my eyes? The Google Open Social press conference where I had the only video, thanks to Kyte.tv and my cell phone (they had asked for me to leave my professional camera in the car — funny that’s a story I’ve heard several times, including on the panel discussion yesterday where Jeff Pulver showed off video he shot on a small pocket camera of the recent Led Zepplin concert. He told the audience that Led Zepplin wants to buy his photos and videos because they were better than the professional ones).
At the Google Open Social press conference, instead of doing “professional journalism” and cranking out an article like other bloggers and journalists in the room I opened up Twitter and started telling people what I was hearing. Then I listened to them and asked questions during the press conference that they wanted answered. It changed how press conferences should be done in my eyes forever. Add streaming video, like AMD used the other day in another press conference, and things would be dramatically different.
Which gets me back to the headline I used here: it’s your business.
I’m watching how Loic Le Meur is building Seesmic by including the community into every decision he makes. His software doesn’t have the most features out there (Kyte.tv beats it by a mile, particularly on the mobile phone side of things, which is why I love Kyte so much) but Le Meur is building up a ton of love in the community for his approach.
The participants are in control there. It is your business.
I’m tired of getting used by companies who just use and use and use without giving me anything in return. I remember three years ago when I first heard the words “user generated media.” That term still pisses me off. I’m not a user, I’m a participant. I actually love it when Christopher Coulter calls it “loser generated media.”
So, whatever I do next will place that philosophy at the center. It is your business.
One other thing: I really have hated not being open and transparent the past year. Whatever I do next will have to put up with me talking with my friends, telling you openly what’s going on in the business and in my life, and we’ll build something fun together where we’re all equal participants. Our Photowalking series gets damn close to what I’m thinking of. It’s not lost on me that our videos in the photowalking series has more comments per video than the average ScobleShow videos do and those generally have more comments than other PodTech videos do. That’s media made by participation, not by some committee or some gatekeeper or some “A list blogger” somewhere. But using the newest technologies we can even bring participation in a photowalk to a whole new level. Justin.tv demonstrated that to me.
How will we make revenues? Well, there’s a variety of companies that are leading the way in participatory philosophies: You know, those that design products with their customers, or treat their customers as participants the way that Loic does with Seesmic. HP, for instance, is bringing its customers into help design its products. I saw a laptop at HP that was partially designed by a customer. A participant. HP is far from alone in leading that charge as well.
So, anyway, thanks for all the nice notes and let’s talk again about this on January 15th after I make my final decision and start my show down a new path.
Oh, and in late January I’ll be going to the World Economic Forum, where we’ll kick things off.