Sunday, July 22, 2007

ThoughtPolice 2.0: How Umair Haque & Stowe Boyd Censor their Reality

Lame "industry analyst" Umair Haque likes to claim he is fully 2.0, at the edge, where comment is free, where the user drives the content, etc etc.

But he's not so keen on edge content when it contradicts his world view, and neither is his sidekick, the ridiculous Stowe Boyd.

Far from being open to debate, they delete comments at will, or stop them being posted initially.

What is insidious is that they not only censor their comments for civility, they actively reject/delete posts that argue against them with evidence.

A classic would be one I posted to Stowe Boyd's /Message site countering his assertion that Apple's business model depending on iTunes. I qouted evidence that Apple's business model was fine and depended on iPod/iPhone hardware units, countering his own argument in a post on iTunes stating that music sales where the driver of growth. You just have to check the 10K for the numbers for the reality - iTunes revenue is about 1/10th of that of iPod.

Ther are dozens of other examples; Umair doesn't even dare to mention this site, he is so afraid of being found out as a charlatan. BAAAWKKK!!!!

n. ThoughtPolice2.0 : to completely delete any comments that interfere with your own precious and factually un-supportable position

Friday, April 13, 2007

Umair Haque won't even link to me. What is he afraid of - debate? Surely not!

"In fact, I also have an anonymous dude who attacks me ...he's devoted almost an entire blog to attacking me (not linking)."

This is the blog that Umair is afraid of, and actually not because it attacks him, but because it demonstrates how wildly idiotic his theories actually are.

I find this hilarious.

Every blog post Umair writes attacks someone for "not getting it", so how he gets the balls to criticize someone else for taking on his ideas is unclear.

Umair himself actually advised me to get my own blog, as he decided that - despite all his meowling about Web 2.0 "edginess" and "user freedom" - he wanted full control of the opinions expressed on his blog, in a very dictatorial, 1.0 way. Funny how his stated theories about the edge break down when applied to his own website, isn't it?

And now I have a blog that covers what I want to cover, i.e. Umair's idiotic theories, he doesn't like what I write about him and his silly theories. Well, tough luck. This is the essence of Web 2.0 edginess; I am creating and publishing quality content about the little niche in the long blog tail that I care about. How totally hilarious that Umair, the hyper-proponent of the edeg-generated content model doesn't like being the subject of that model in action!

Maybe if Umair wrote something that borders on real analysis and not just nonsensical, vague, ill-thought-out BS and I'd back it up. Umair's theories are complete, utter rubbish, as the simplest of analysis, and billions of dollars of real investment by serious businesses reveal. Frankly I think Umair has been drinking too much of the Web 2.0 Koolaid as served by people like Stowe Boyd - people who set themselves up as critical geniuses, but who in reality have very few truly successful ventures behind them; Umair has zero track record of success, and intellectually his work doesn't stand up to the slightest review.

So far he has dodged the issue of how incredible his theories are by stating that they will only work if:

a) property rights laws change to allow appropriation of anyone else's property - except his own ideas, which he should be paid for by analysts who "rip hiim off";

b) fundamental economic laws, such as Ricardian rents, that are about as stable as gravity, change 180° to suit him;

c) everything grows at an exponential rate, which as Warren Buffet says, "even an idiot knows can't continue forever".

If Umair wants to be credible, show us the money; as any student of game theory knows, talk - including Powerpoint showing hocky stick charts, adding hyper as a prefix to everything and simply stating unproven, wildly inaccurate theories as fact - is cheap.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Umair admits he is wrong. The world shakes it's head.

More than a year and a half after it was pointed out to him that quality of content matters more than audience attention, Umair is getting around to discussing - and agreeing - with it.

Oh dear, oh dear.

Finally he understands that the real search problem that all this content is creating is the finding of that quality content nugget amongst the dross, something this blog has been pointing out to him since it was founded, only to get rambling, deeply ill-thought-out über-theories in response.

Now he just has to take the next step and realize, finally, that being able to serach for it is meaningless if you don't own the rights to exploit it - the very same reaons why Google, or any other search firm, will not make money from entertaining content if they don't pay the piper.

I had a the chance to talk with some Google people last week, by chance, and they openly admitted they are free riding, a classic economics problem. The thing is that at some point someone will ask to see their ticket.

Poor, poor Umair.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Umair Haque explains property rights in his fuzzy little cloud world

"What's needed is a rights shift - for a radical innovator to fundamentally redefine the nature of property rights in an industry (which is really what YouTube and Myspace are doing)" says Umair Haque in response to the Viacom vs. Umair Haque controversy.

So: Umair is saying that his economics theories depend on a change in the law.


What kind of change did you have in mind, Umair? Legalizing property theft? Revising the copyright laws such that everything ever produced now belongs to the collective? Making one law for everyone else's work and another for your own?

Umair, Umair, Umair: how can it be right for you to pontificate on everyone else being willing to give up their IPR when you don't want analysts "ripping off" your own? How does your property rights revisionism proposal stack up anywhere outside the bubble of your über-ego? Even China, one of the last bastions of The People's property, thinks you are wrong.

You are, unsually, right that the law needs to change. But the most likely change is a tightening of the DMCA to remove the gaping loopholes that exist today - fair use abuse and the need for the copyright holder to police the abusers with desist notices. Ignorance is no defence, and defiant, persistent, unlawful ignorance - like that displayed on certain bubbleblogs - should be criminal.

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Umair Haque's Vagueness vs. Old Media Execs' Focus on ROI

This juicy little post from Techdirt shows just how little the Web 2.0 crowd understand the quicksand they are standing upon.

The very fact that the industry is turning to tried and true managers shows how the real action is not in the "new" part of the phrase "new media".

Techdirt sounds immensely surprised that "Levinsohn's been with Fox for nearly 20 years, most recently working on rights issues and revenue-sharing agreements", concluding "he doesn't sound like a guy that's going to be any sort of visionary new-media leader".

Quite right, just the opposite; he sounds like a guy who's focussed on making some money for the shareholders. What's interesting is that that last sentence fragment can be taken both ways - either as damnation (how Techdirt meant it), or as strong praise.

To the guy who did the hiring, it was almost certainly a highly valued quality; what music it must be to their ears to hear someone talking about exploiting their rights to actually make some money from their business assets...

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Viacom vs. Umair Haque : Umair gets it so wrong (again)

The news that Viacom is suing Google for copyright infringement is no surprise for those who understand basic Ricardian corn law economics or simple property rights, the things that underpin the civil society as we know it.

Viacom owns the unique resource - the entertaining content people log on to YouTube to watch - and content servers like Google cannot live without that kind of attraction. Google's entire business is based on the ability to find the quality needle in the mainstream haystack, sift the good from the mediocre, deliver it to your desktop - and then subtly monetize it. Is it then any surprise that copyright holders object to Google piggybacking for free on their assets to make serious money?

Don Dodge understands this, and so do many other publishing copyright holders, who are queueing up to sue Google. Even Steve Ballmer gets it:

"Is there a business model? Right now, there's no business model for YouTube that would justify $1.6 billion. And what about the rights holders? At the end of the day, a lot of the content that's up there is owned by somebody else.The truth is what Google is doing now is transferring the wealth out of the hands of rights holders into Google. So media companies around the world are all threatened by Google."

You know something is rummy when you find yourself agreeing with Microsoft's cheerleader-in-chief. Steve has an axe to grind, but on the principle, he's right: it's like I own a house, and those boys and girls from Google set up a stall outside and decide to rent out rooms in the house to tourists, but without paying me - or even asking me for permission. And they tell me "don't worry, it's for your own good really, rents will rise and there will be more renters in the long run". Oh. OK. That makes sense. Thanks, Googleers.


Once again that shamen for hair-brained über-economics, Umair Haque, is tilting at bogus windmills, pretending that the fundamental industry shift is deeper. But the fact is that YouTube is Napster for video, and unless they pay those copyright holders for their content, they are going to find themselves on skid row, just like Napster.

Dave Ricardo rocks.

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Michael Grade's 8,000,000 vs Umair Haque

With all the critiquing Umair does, you'd think ITV would have at least given him and his outlandish theories a sniff when selecting their new chairman, Michael Grade.

But no.

Let's examine why not:-

Jerry Hill, group chief executive of Initiative, said: "The network is a content and entertainment enterprise in transition. His standing in the industry will attract the top creative and commercial talent vital to accelerating them into an entreprenural business that will prosper in the new economy."

Sir Martin Sorrell, whose WPP is responsible for almost a quarter of ITV ad revenues, said: 'All in all this is very good news. Grade is just the right person and we and our clients would expect him to spend more on producing good programmes.'

Last night one TV executive said: “Perhaps Michael’s best skill is hiring good, creative people.”

Poor, poor Umair.

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Time magazine vs Umair Haque: What attention scarcity?

What would make Time think they can guarantee 19.5M readers?

Could it be their No.1 position amongst the magazine sales rankings?

Could it be that they know they have access to the best and brightest contributors, and therefore the really good stuff readers want to read, because of their reputation?

Could it be they are not a client of some hyper-hyped consultant?

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Guido Fawkes sticks it to Umair

In a bitter blow for Umair's idiotic hypergrowth theories, Guido Fawkes is pretty emphatic about why his blog and those of closely related commentators are top of the pops:-

"the reason is that the editorial is superior, ConservativeHome and Comment Central are both tightly edited and on the ball, Iain has more newsworthy gossip"

In other words, finding the good stuff and separating it from the chaff. When will that dummy Umair learn?

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Monday, November 20, 2006

A Web 2.0 reality check...

Umair has been in a tizzy over online advertising figures recently, proclaiming all sorts of value shifts.

I wonder if he has seen this interesting set of comparisons from Telefonica O2?

Maybe some of those webbies are just a little itty bit ahead of themselves?

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

BBC ignores Umair Haque's advice.

Look what the BBC has decided to do.

They are willing to start paying for that edge-generated Web 2.0 type content, solving a problem that has long been the issue with the altruisitic blogging community - getting paid for what they create. Even Umair has been moaning about his inability to make his blogging pay.

But the kicker is that only some of it is worth paying for; editors will select what gets published. And in doing so they are providing an extension to their usual trusty A1 service - cutting the time it takes you to find the good stuff, i.e., reducing your search costs.

Umair must be having some sleepless nights when his own country's national broadcaster bucks his hyperadvice and starts to filter all that edge-generated content, looking for the nuggets of gold that people will tune in to watch.

And with more than the magic number of contributors required to ensure they will find gold in them thar' edge-generated contributions, the BBC is in the catbird seat when it comes to finding what they call "particularly editorially important or unique" content, i.e., the good stuff.

Applause from the aisles.

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Universal vs. Rupert. Another Umair Haque play-of-the-week gets owned by the copyright holder.

Oh my God, Universal Music must be laughing in their socks at News Corp's refusal to continue negotiations on MySpace copyright infringements.

It used to be asset light startups like Kazaa and puny little sole-users. Now they have Rupert Murdoch -the man who set the entire model for locking up content when he went after the world's major football leagues and then used that content as the basis for the growth of his satellite empire - firmly in their gunsights.

Those lonesome Kazaa founders settled for $115M, but MySpace is way out there in terms of users (over the magic number, hence the key reason it is popular) and has a rich sugardaddy just sitting there waiting to be taken to the cleaners.

I asked Umair some weeks ago how he would demonstrate that YouTube could survive without access to copyrighted content owned by someone else, and the exact same question pops for MySpace. YouTube sensibly settled for a chunk of equity. News Corp will settle too, but I'm betting the sums are going to be a hunky chunk of change that will put the valuation of MySpace into severe context...

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Murdoch's $2B bet on content; more bad news for Umair.

Now why would James Murdoch buck the Web 2.0 fashion started in earnest by his father Rupert by splashing almost $2B on a stodgy old TV broadcaster?

As one banker put it, "'BSkyB is obviously rattled by the idea of an NTL take-over of ITV that could compete with them in a world that is increasingly moving in the direction of broadband and cable, not satellite. Probably they were afraid, too, of a situation developing where ITV's back catalogue would only be available on NTL".

Just look at that last sentence. BSkyB just spent a large chunk of $2B protecting their access to unique resources, the juicy content they stuff down their channels, ensuring it is available for their use in the future, and not locked up by someone else.

It doesn't matter what the network is, how the content is disseminated - that audience-pleasing content is the key to ensuring you get the bums on seats, and hence the big bucks.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

David Beckham and Tom Cruise vs. Umair Haque : Can you pick the winner?

Umair Haque thinks that attention is a scarce resource.

Oh dear. No.

Some pretty basic analysis will tell you that the scarce resource is actually the talent that creates the content for which media companies are forced to pay exorbitant sums to attract large audiences.


Would you rather be the one selling the rights to Tom Cruise's services, or the one with the obligation to acquire them in order to compete for attention in a packed media market?

Would you rather be the one selling the services of David Beckham, or the football club paying through the nose to get top goalscorers to keep winning the league cup?

It's obvious who has the real power in those relationships, and that is exactly why Sumner Redstone fired Tom - Viacom lost money, Tom made a fortune. Owning Manchester United or Viacom is not the same as owning talent; Katie Holmes has realized this, as have the Scientologists.

David Ricardo was right: the unique resources attract the rents. Does Umair have the smarts of a numpty like L. Ron Hubbard?

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Trolling Poor Umair

Knowing Umair is desperate for any unique resource / content he can find at the moment, I posted this nonsensical monologue to his election comments:-

Boston Upper Bellingham: bloggers log entry: going east/north; exit: running all through into Orient North. Sorted under clearing "K" scheme - usually many additions in realtime, including some additions counted only/cast knocking.
// Anonymous // 6:42 PM

Keen students of trolling will enjoy the message made up from the first letters of each word.

I have avoided outing this for several days to allow it to permeate the common record. And I have some nice screenshots of it should it magically disappear, if you know what I mean, eh Umair?

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Goodbye royalty, hello equity: there's nothing "advisory" about this capital.

This deal between YouTube and 4 of the major content owners is really, really interesting.

What we are seeing here is the worm turning - the content owners are grabbing a slice of the new media networks.

When Doug Morris calls YouTube a copyright infringer and then signs an equity deal with those self same infringers, you are seeing the owner of the unique resource firing a warning shot and then strongly asserting their rights to a big upside in the success their content helps create.

Why would YouTube/Google give up serious equity to some guy with no rights, and not give any to advisory capitalists? Simple: the content owners actually bring something unique to the party, something YouTube really cannot live without. Take it away and you have the burnt out shells that are Kazaa, Napster etc. Take away advisory capitalists and you might have a business model worth a bean....

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Jeff Jarvis nails it. Weep, Umair, weep.

Jeff Jarvis,

"The editor of a magazine finds the good stuff and the people who make it. That attracts the rest of us, who like the same good stuff they like. That has always been the essence of the magazine value and brand."

As it always was, so shall it ever be.

Without quality content, audiences fade away. There is no attention shortage for content that doesn't suck.

Hence, the First Law of Entertainment Economics:-

Everybody loves the good stuff.

Of course, what "good" means is the crux of the matter. All content can be in some way unique; defining quality - or understanding the magic numbers - is critical to ensuring you actually have control of the good stuff.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Dear Umair, please pay me a royalty.

Why would Microsoft pay per unit Zune royalties to Universal Music?

For the same reasons that 70c of every dollar spent at ITunes goes to the record company - they own the unique resource, and if you want to use those resources (legally), you have to pay the monopoly rent they demand.

Keen students will note that the margin for ITunes is a mere 30c per download; projecting that competition, primarily based on end-user price, will arrive from Napster, Zune etc. who are the only parties in this collaboration likely to be long term winners?

That's right: those pesky copyright holders, the record companies.

Margins for the reseller will be eroded over time, as the dumbest player on the block tries to capture share by dumping their margin. Do you think it is likely the record companies will drop their prices? Not at all; in fact, they are already trying the opposite.

If you analyse this carefully, the real money for MSFT in digital music is in the sale of the device, not the music.

Without a device to drive real profits to them, resellers like Napster are going to get squeezed, just like Intel squeezed their entire value chain more than 10 years ago with Intel Inside. They will be squeezed by end user price cuts and squeezed by supply side input price hikes. Napster have been good enough to mention these risks in their most recent 10K SEC filing:

"We rely on content provided by third parties, which may not be available to us on commercially reasonable terms or at all. "

"If we lower our prices [to compete with lower priced competition], our gross margins and operating results will be adversely affected. If we do not lower our prices, we may be unable to compete with discount services."


MSFT may just have hit on a smart way to avoid at least one end of that squeeze.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Poor old Umair Haque.

After spending months denying the cold, hard logic of David Ricardo - logic that he should have picked up at London Business School, but apparently failed to grasp - he's desperately looking for ways to spin his flawed "insights" onto the latest content-related mini-deal between Tier 1 VCs Accel Partners and the Mind Candy team who run Perplex City.

This miniscule $7M investment in the unique resource i.e., content, seems to be driving Umair crazy. He is in paroxysms trying to justify why this deal is different.

But it isn't. It's simply an investment to buy the things that cannot be easily replicated - creative minds producing unique content. Thank God Accel hire people like Bruce Golden, who seems to have attended the Stanford MBA classes where fundamental analysis of industry stucture was being taught, unlike certain other hyperstupid überidiots.

Bets are now being taken on how long it takes Umair to do a complete 180° volte face and tell the world he has always been part of Content 2.0, it's just that we didn't understand him...

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Friday, October 20, 2006

A challenge to Umair Haque.

I'll bet you cannot demonstrate that YouTube will survive in the long run without access to copyrighted content owned by someone else.

You can use any examples you like to make your case: Napster, Kazaa, ITunes...

UPDATE: Predictably, Umair has not responded. Is he able to respond intelligibly?

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Another VC Content Deal Signals Death Knell for Haque-ing.

Report arrive of another VC signing up the creative talent behind the content.

Jon Flint has made a smart move for Polaris. It will not be long before we see more VCs moving into content, esp. content that has created a large, loyal following. I warned Umair months ago that there is a magic number (40,000,000), but he denounced this as silliness from the keyboard of someone who did not understand simple accounting terms...

Oh dear. I'll bet my worldwide top 5 MBA against Umair's reputation that he's crying in his beer over this one. I sense a trend...

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Umair Haque's somewhat ironic views on comments.

1) The value's in the conversation.

2) If you can't have a conversation, you can't create much value in the attention economy.

3) Pretending a conversation never happened isn't just kind of infantile, it's actively destroying value.

4) Now, I'm not saying that lunatics should be given free reign to comment. But neither should editors and execs think they have, anymore, totally free reign to dictate how the resources of the firm are used. In many cases, they're much better off thinking of those resources as common resources - in this case, editors are much better off thinking the paper belongs to both readers and writers.

5) The lines between public and private are necessarily blurred in a conversation. It's not rigidly controlled business meetings that takes place in communities, markets, and networks, at the edge. It's raw, sometimes a bit brutal, often full of crap conversations - but from an economic point of view, they're hyperefficient.

6) Not to learn how to leverage this is going to be fatal - you can't fight an economic discontinuity.

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