The eMoney Ribbon Cutting

Welcome to the grand opening of eMoney.

I’m Tricia Duryee, one of the latest additions to All Things Digital. You may know me from the three years I spent at mocoNews, where I wrote about the mobile industry, or before that, as a technology reporter at the Seattle Times. Going forward, I will write about e-commerce and gaming, as well as all sorts of financial machinations.

As you might expect, I will be reporting on some of the more traditional companies in the space, such as Amazon, Walmart, Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony.

But there will also be strong emphasis on a handful of start-ups that are currently doing their best to upset the status quo. In this bucket, I see three categories emerging: Virtual goods, social-and-group-buying companies and mobile payments.

The dollars are really starting to ring up in these areas, even after such a short period of time. In just three years, Zynga has signed up 320 million registered users, has hired 1,300 employees and is estimated to have $500 million in 2010 revenues with a roughly $5 billion private-market valuation.

Likewise, the two-year-old Groupon is being sought by Google, which BoomTown’s Kara Swisher reports may offer up to $6 billion to get a foothold in the social-buying business and gain a local sales force across the country.

And finally, mobile will be an increasingly hot topic as consumers use their devices for every part of this value chain–from discovering deals to researching recommendations to substituting their wallet for a phone. Among other topics, there’s a flurry of contenders challenging Visa and MasterCard for its merchant fees, which were estimated to have totaled $7 billion in the U.S. over the past year.

Generally, when I think of this coverage area, I see one central theme: How will people make money, and how will consumers pay? Will games be purchased, or will they be ad-supported? Or, will consumers buy one virtual tractor at a time?

The debate reminds me of what Zynga’s CEO and founder, Mark Pincus, said at a recent event, where Kleiner Perkins announced a new fund dedicated to social.

Said Pincus:

“We are massively under-invested across the board in the ‘user-pay economy.’ There’s been this wrong assumption for first-generation Web services that it has to be free with ads. We believe in a model that is supported by users. That’s not just games and virtual goods. There’s a lot of newly created valuable digital goods and services products.”

What will these new services and products be? Will these new models be sustainable? How will they evolve over time? As I look at how it all adds up, I’ll be relying on a lot of you to tell me the important stories that illustrate how we’ve gotten here and where we are going.

And I’ll be wasting no time, as I immediately jump into one of the busiest times of the years–the holiday shopping season!

Online, of course.

[Photo Credit: donebythehandsofabrokenartist]

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