May 23: Talking content and its future at paidContent 2012

On February 8, 2012, we acquired paidContent, a media industry publication. As I explained at the time, our decision to buy the site — and its stellar editorial team — continued GigaOM’s strategy: If we see a hot market, we double down on it. We knew the iPhone will lead to an Apple boom, so in 2008 we acquired TheAppleBlog. We were resolute in our belief that mobile broadband and rise of smartphones was inevitable, so we acquired jkOnTheRun, which became our mobile channel. And now we have doubled down again, because “content” is an industry that is going through a renaissance.

Sure, newspaper revenues are tanking and layoffs are happening. And there’s no doubt that there is pain and chaos everywhere else in the industry. Radio, television and magazines — all are facing trying times. But as people say, amidst chaos lies opportunity. Over the past few years, we’ve seen mobile devices like smartphones and tablets explode and the emergence of e-paper, astonishing new screens, global distribution platforms, new payment systems such as Amazon and Apple’s stores, and social amplifiers like Facebook and Twitter. We are in the forest after a downpour, and we are ready for new ideas to mushroom.

I admit there are more questions than answers at this point, but these questions are the raw material we can use to write a better script for tomorrow’s content business. These threats and, more importantly, opportunities will be part of the discourse at paidContent 2012, which will be held on May 23, 2012, at the TimesCenter in New York City.

Fred Wilson, Union Square Ventures

In conversations with industry leaders such as Bob Saureberg of Conde Nast, Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures (an investor in revolutionary companies such as Kickstarter and Twitter) and Amy Banse of Comcast, conference chair and paidContent editor Staci Kramer — along with GigaOM senior writer Mathew Ingram — will ponder the future of the business. No surprise, Staci has labeled this conference: At the crossroads. Here is the schedule. (Click here to register.)

Other speakers at the event include Vivian Schiller of NBC News, Lisa Gersh of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Jon Miller of News Corp., John Borthwick of Betaworks, Matt Mullenweg of WordPress/Automattic and Anil Dash of Expert Labs. Read the full list of speakers here.

I am looking forward to this event and figuring out the future of the industry I love so much.