about this episode
This week, Jason greets guest Adam Curry, host of The Big App Show and founder of Mevio.com. Plus an all-new edition of Jason’s Shark Tank and the latest startup news.
Today on This Week in Startups, Dan of Tip-Top Websites wades the Shark Tank, We’ll chat with legendary entrepreneur Adam Curry and Facebook has this whole town on lockdown, today on This Week in Startups.
Help everybody welcome to today’s show. We just got back from London-town, correct Tyler? How did we do? They loved it. A little controversy but they loved it.
They have a slightly different way of doing things, but it worked well.
They actually pay attention during the presentations.
[Jason talks about some of his keynote speaking dates]
JC: Welcome to the program Adam Curry. Friends for 20 plus years. We’re going to talk about our old Silicon Alley days.
AC: I feel so old when you do that.
JC: Back to the 70’s. We have to do it to look at you excellent career. In addition to your excellent career we have an excellent sponsor in .CO.
Tweet us a .CO domain name that you’ve registered with the #TWiST hashtag, and will pick someone at random and pay for their .CO registration.
Today on Shark Tank we have Dan from TipTopWebsite.com of Florida. You have 60 seconds to present your idea. Are you ready to go?
[TipTopWebsite.com is an easy to use website creation and hosting platform boasting the ability to create a website in under 60 seconds and host it for a very economical price. They currently have over 7000 active users. The are search masters.]
JC: You are a click and build a website and you have 7000 users. Pretty clear as to what you do. Pretty common idea.
AC: I liked that he had a comp in there, the prices start at 1.95 so doing a little math we can calculate the profit.
D: The base price is $1.95. Most customers pay $9.95. We’re close to $1M a year right now.
JC: Well that’s a good number to lead with. I just increased my score. So finish your assessment. The ideas not the most revolutionary.
AC: No, but I can see that from a marketing standpoint I like that you can be done in 60 seconds. I would use that. Kinda like SquareSpace. I think that could be pretty valuable. On the other hand I ask myself, what kind of website can I get in 60 seconds.
D: Our websites look 100 times better than SquareSpace.
Insights from Tyler
TC: It feels a bit like a sundae in a snowstorm. In some ways it’s great, but you can’t fully enjoy it.
JC: It’s got a little Billy Mays to it.
[Jason and Dan discuss the future of the business and how they want to grow the business towards a successful exit. Dan challenges Adam to a ‘Gold Coin Challenge’, which is to see if Adam has his challenge coin with him. No idea why.]
[Jason and Adam continue to discuss Dan, and TipTopWebsite (and his pitch)]
JC: Hosting is not my business, but I’ll tell you who does a great job…
AC: I moving away from advertising. I think if you give people great content, I think people are willing to pay for it.
[Jason and Adam discuss the challenges of delivering great content and getting your support/feedback directly from the users. They discuss The Social Network movie.]
JC: You were one of the largest pod-caster for many years, how did you get involved in pod-casting?
AC: It wasn’t called pod-casting back then. That name came much later. I was reasonably good friends with Dave Weiner, and we actually met in 2000. He was pushing RSS and those technologies. So we discussed the horrible experience back then of having to download the file before listening. We discussed why couldn’t the computer that’s always on, be bringing these down in some sort of background process.
[Jason and Adam discuss the early days of downloading audios and some of the technologies (RSS) that updated iTunes and then made the information downloadable to an iPod. The maturity of the receiving software/process facilitated the need for an everyday broadcaster. Adam explains why he thinks the name pod-cast is the worst name ever.]
AC: The subscription model of the pod-casts have turned into the ‘follow’ of today. Twitter is no more than subscribing to an RSS feed.
JC: Of just headlines with no body.
AC: Twitter is my news now. I don’t need anything else. I just follow the right people.
[Jason and Adam discuss meeting with Steve Jobs and how incredible the meeting was. Jobs asked permission to use the content. Adam says he was start-struck. Bigger than meeting any rock star. He demoed iTunes using Adam’s pod-cast. 2007-2008 timeframe. Adam discusses his new company which is now cash flow positive.]
[Jason and Adam discuss the early days of the Internet, and MTV. Adam was the one who built the original MTV site and registered the MTV domain. They discuss how new email was, and some of the early Internet technologies. Adam discusses how he learned by fire.]
JC: You were a VJ then? Isn’t it funny how they (MTV) had to be pulled into the technology age by the on-air talent?
AC: Yes. But I’ve always been geeky.
[Jason and Adam discuss the early days of the Internet and how ‘commercial’ applications were prohibited. Adam recalls getting a cease and diciest letter from the University of Minnesota. He argued that he was making no money. Adam discusses how he struck a bargain to get a license to use the server. Adam also discusses the early Internet browser he received from Marc Andreessen.]
JC: Back in those days everything was called ‘cyber’. Cyber-casting.
[Jason and Adam discuss the evolution of many of the technologies we take for granted today. Adam discusses some of his early consultancy work for Budweiser, include the functionality for telling when your beer was ‘born’. The ‘Born on date’ was actually our idea.]
AC: Fastforward. Omnicom wanted to buy us and a couple of other agencies. (Razorfish, Agency.com, Organic). But we got an opportunity to go public so we took it. We built the company to the point where we ended up selling it for 450M dollars. We had 700 people.
JC: This is back when building a website was a couple million dollar expense.
AC: Yes. And it had to be because you had packages and servers.
JC: And you did OK from the sale?
AC: Yes. We sold just before everything came crashing down.
JC: So you’re set for life.
AC: Well, then I got into helicopters and airplanes. Burning money in the air is a good way to get rid of a lot of it.
[Adam talks about a european venture with high end helicopters. He talks about his partner admitting he was a fraud and had skipped to Cambodia. Then 9/11 hit and nobody wanted to fly. Then his pilot got a fear of flying. Adam admits he took a bath on that venture]
JC: So you basically got your ass kicked for a couple of years. Then you got back into a new startup.
[Adam admits he loves ti do development and has done some iPhone app development. Doing so made him realize that there are so many apps out there that just like a DJ or VJ you need an App-J. That’s how he started the App show. Adam discusses the format of the show.]
[Adam discusses the early days of broadcasting on MTV, and that he actually broadcast in Europe earlier than his MTV tenure. They discuss ‘Pirate Radio’, back when the guys actual broadcast Rock-n-Roll from ships off the coast of England. Adam talks about Sammy Haggar cluing him into the MTV revolution and how he got a call shortly after that. 3 months later he was in NYC on MTV.]
JC: What is it about Adam Curry that allows you to spot a trend?
AC: I want to broadcast. I just want to build a message and get an audience. If the audience responds, I know I’ve got something.
[Adam gives some final insights on where media is going]
Apple Music Subscription Service?
According to the New York Post, Apple is talking to major record labels about starting their own response to music subscription service. For a monthly fee, users would theoretically get to download unlimited songs from within iTunes. An anonymous source is saying that the service could start as low as $10-$15, although that’s yet to be finally determined.
The move is suspected of possibly being a response to European music service Spotify’s plans to move to America with its free ad-supported streaming music business service. Apple apparently believes that the labels will prefer subscription as a model.
Will all these other music services possibly be able to compete with Apple? Think the record labels will go for it?
AC: This is about money making. It’s very hard to get people to pay for non-physical products. Cool stuff is not going to come from an all-you-can-eat network.
JC: It’s definitely a response to Spotify.
TC: I love it. I’ve got a social music site.
[They talk about how the new iTune ‘BLOWS’]
Rumors were spreading this week of high-level talks in San Francisco between Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen which may have included discussion of an acquisition. According to the New York Times, Microsoft may be considering acquiring Adobe, despite concerns about potential opposition from regulators. The Wall Street Journal countered that it’s more likely the deal would result in collaboration between the companies in the hot areas of cloud and mobile computing.
Adobe’s stock climbed by 11.5% as news of the meeting spread and then fell 6% the day after when the deal didn’t actually happen. Microsoft declined to comment while Adobe said:
“Adobe and Microsoft share millions of customers around the world and the CEOs of the two companies do meet from time to time. However, we do not publicly comment on the timing or topics of their private meetings.”
Thoughts on what this all might be about? What kinds of deals might these two enter into?
JC: Conspiring to compete with Apple.
Obviously, we have to talk about Facebook’s new “Groups” option. After going into “lockdown” for several weeks, Facebook emerged with a suite of new features, including the ability to download materials that you have stored in Facebook and a new option to form “groups” for sharing documents, e-mail and chat.
Many, yourself, criticized the fact that it appeared individuals could be included in groups without having the opportunity to opt-in. As a result, people can be “Force Joined” into groups in which they don’t want to participate, such as, say, the North American Man Boy Love Association. Now, it is possible to “unsubscribe” if someone pushes you into a group, and this will essentially disable that person’s ability to force you into a group in the future.
Is this intentional on the part of Facebook? Does this keep happening because the benefits of violating people’s privacy outweighs the negative PR impact? What can be done about this except taking yourself out of Facebook? Could it become a legal issue?
JC: Somebody forced Mike Arrington and me into the Man-Love group. I emailed Zuckerburg and told him he might need to look at this feature to force someone into a group.
AC: I think Facebook made a big mistake when they allowed people to download all your stuff. I think doing so was a big mistake. They gave away the farm.
[They all discuss the ongoing problems with Facebook]
According to Reuters, Hulu is preparing to IPO in the first half of 2011. The company is allegedly looking to raise between $200 and $300 million in a deal valuing the company at around $2 billion.
Considering the criticism of Hulu Plus’ subscription service, the heavy competition from sites like Netflix, Google TV and Apple TV, and their ongoing issues with studios (you still can’t watch CBS shows on Hulu, and Viacom has pulled Comedy Central shows from the site), is this premature? How profitable will Hulu eventually be?
JC: The ads on google are more effective than the ads on TV. They don’t pay for the content, they do a revenue share.
AC: I don’t know if the revenue they have is enough to deal with the SOx compliance issues etc.
Thanks to .CO and GoDaddy.com. We will end with the Tri-Caster video. It’s your duty to download the Big App Show content, which is free.