Monday Morning Quarterback 3: The Promiscuous Edition
I always pay attention when anyone calls a media executive smart and, when it is a newly minted one, I pay particular attention. In a post today, BuzzMachine’s Jeff Jarvis points to a story in The Wall Street Journal also today about CBS’s renewed efforts to plunge into the digital space under the leadership of Quincy Smith, its new Web guru whom I have known since he was doing investor relations for Netscape back in the day.
While he was impossibly young then, looking like a 12-year-old except for the sideburns, Smith is still the same jumping bean of a person he always has been, all frenetic energy and rat-a-tat-tat patter.
The Journal piece discusses Smith’s strategy of placing bets all over the Web by putting CBS content just about everywhere, across a wide range of sites. “CSI” on MSN! “CSI” on Bebo! “CSI” on AOL! “CSI” in your glove compartment! (It could happen.)
This approach of Internet promiscuity is in contrast to other big media companies, many of which think they need to build and control their own video and content portals. (CBS CEO Les Moonves, by the way, will be onstage at the D conference in a couple of weeks.)
Jarvis likes Smith’s looseness, as I do (and always have), even though Valleywag recently and amusingly compared Smith to a “charming cad who makes every girl thinks she’s The One” in a recent post. Money quote from Jarvis (although he has to explain better the inside/outside thing to us thickheaded old-media types):
Why not encourage your audience to recommend and distribute your good stuff. It’s free marketing. It’s the endorsement that matters most. It’s only wise. But media has always been about control, about selling scarcity. So it’s damned hard for these guys to shift their mental map of the world and realize that they are not at center, we are. What they defined as inside is outside. This requires them to turn their world inside out. CBS is doing that.”
San Francisco’s controller’s office gave the thumbs up last week to a plan for EarthLink and Google to blanket the city with free wireless access, which moves the proposal another step closer to reality.
I interviewed the city’s Mayor Gavin Newsom, along with EarthLink founder Sky Dayton onstage at D last year (you can see pictures and video about the session here under “Wireless Panel”) about the effort, which is controversial here (and elsewhere) as costly and problematic, even as cities have been aggressively pushing such measures.
And so are tiny states. According to a story last week in the Burlington Free Press, Vermont and Rhode Island are vying to be the “first state to have border-to-border high-speed Internet.” While big states like Texas would have a hard time wiring their vast expanses, smaller is better for weensy states and some not-so-small ones, like Kentucky and South Carolina.
The competitive Vermont’s House and Senate just gave final approval this weekend to a bill to make it the first “e-state,” throwing in statewide cell coverage along with the broadband by 2010, using both public and private delivery methods.
Finally, in yet another link to the super-friendly Smith, the San Jose Mercury News picks five “hot” venture capitalists under 40 years old in a story last week. Thankfully, hot refers to their record, and included in the group is London-based Danny Rimer of Index Ventures, who has been involved in sexy (because of piles of money involved) companies like Tellme and Skype.
And, now, with CBS’s Smith and others, a recent $45 million investment in Joost, the online video service (from the founders of Skype, in fact) that I wrote a post about last week. Rimer, whom I met when he was an Internet analyst at Hambrecht & Quist, also worked hand-in-glove with Smith as a VC at the Barksdale Group, which closed at the end of the last bubble popping.
Other “hot” VCs under 40, by the way, are: Founders Fund’s Peter Thiel; Peter Fenton of Benchmark Capital; Accel Partners’ Kevin Efrusy; and, of course, the ubiquitous Roelof Botha of Sequoia Capital.
Please see this disclosure related to me and CBS.