Ev Williams’ content creation platform Medium has made its first acquisition: Matter, the Kickstarter-backed science and technology journalism startup cofounded by former GigaOM reporter Bobbie Johnson last year.
Read-it-later-service Pocket announced a partnership with Matter, the Kickstarter-backed science journalism startup. This is Pocket’s first publisher partnership. Subscribers to Matter can also access the stories from Pocket.
Kickstarter-funded science and technology journalism startup Matter is releasing its first story Wednesday for $0.99. It’s available as a Kindle Single and can also be downloaded from Matter’s website. Matter was cofounded by former GigaOM European correspondent Bobbie Johnson.
Should the tech hubs of Europe — or anywhere else desperate to become a center of innovation, for that matter — ignore Silicon Valley or mimic it? There are good reasons to try and start over, but don’t throw everything that we’ve learned away, says Dan Crow.
From today we have a new addition to the family: GigaOM Europe — a home for breaking news and analysis on European startups, technology companies, venture capital and digital media. But what does that really mean?
Bobbie Johnson seems sympathetic with Pinboard founder Maciej Ceglowski’s manifesto that the social graph we have today is neither social, nor a graph. His argument mostly centers on a lack of standardization and a focus on marketing objectives. As a guy that used to have “Unix” on his business card, I’ve seen “open systems” and standards body-driven technologies come and go. The recurring theme: He who ships, wins. And if only Facebook had designed its graph from the bottom up for marketers, well, then social media marketing might actually work. I don’t dispute that there are many, competing definitions of how to describe social relationships out there. Or that better ones that lots of developers and – yes, marketers – can use will arise. But the marketplace is looking pretty efficient at building them right now. Kind of like how we never needed a Dewey Decimal system for the web, because search and linking and folksonomies worked pretty well.
It’s great to see life in digital music. Spotify, Pandora, and now MOG and Rdio, and, perhaps next week, Facebook hosting them all. Bobbie Johnson wonders if free will ever replace retail music – the old “rent versus own” debate with advertising on top. Historically, business models were hard-wired to music experiences: users paid to own music, and ad-supported radio was promotion. Artists, labels and publishers got very little money from terrestrial radio. But satellite radio and digital services broke those models. MOG tells me that ads are merely a way to subsidize free services it hopes to convert to premium subscriptions. It has been selling ads for a network of music blogs for some time (the blogs contribute to the music-related content that comes with the service). To-date, on-demand music subscription services have never surpassed a couple million users in the U.S. Free trials are a great thing – I’ve done research that shows trial users convert to paid six times higher than average. And now users will have more choices, and more chances to try them out.
Everyone’s favorite – but still not in the U.S. – music streaming service Spotify has capped its ad-supported product with number of listens and hours limits. Bobbie Johnson thinks it’s the end of ad-supported on-demand music, and PaidContent wonders if its relative success in converting free users to paid – 1 million subscribers in Europe – will suffer. Forrester’s Mark Mulligan thinks it’s a wise move to improve margins, and possibly set up Spotify’s long-awaited US entry by making a limited service seem less Spotify-lite. Spotify was never going to get the record label deals in the U.S. that it got in Europe, and so far licensing requirements limit ad-based digital music to a radio-like experience. (Full on-demand rights cost more.) Nor have the labels and publishers taken to discounting for scale. There’s a reason on-demand subscriptions haven’t gotten past a few million subscribers, even though Rhapsody and Napster are solid offerings. Unless the rights holders are willing to experiment with price elasticity, this is what digital music is stuck with.
There’s irony aplenty when comparing Google-related discussions going on today. Bobbie Johnson adds color and describes Microsoft’s contribution to anti-competitive investigations of Google going on in Europe, where Google is even more dominant in search than in the U.S. Yet the company just can’t get any respect from Matthew Ingram and most other observers for its efforts in social media, including its latest initiative, +1, that looks suspiciously like a Facebook Like. The discussion under Matthew’s post is interesting: commentors wonder about Google’s “layer” approach in contrast with social media destinations. Don’t count +1 out just yet. Its results will show up on a very powerful “destination” – Google search results pages – and Google will likely get widespread site adoption if it uses +1’s as signals for results ranking. SEO agency iCrossing ponders search marketing implications, and says there’s still time for marketers to wait and see.