Musing

Away from witnesses

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My favorite thing about this blog is that many of the readers are practitioners. People actually out making money by using marketing to sell products or generate leads.

I spend a lot of time daydreaming about the future, and one of my primary heuristics is a belief in progress, that things will become better, faster, more efficient. Others call it wishful thinking. But when I get out on a limb, the practitioners pull me back in (or, oftentimes, push me off.)

I spend a lot of time talking to very early stage companies, and they have world-changing ideas, but often don’t really know what the world looks like in detail right now. And how could they? They aren’t in business yet. So without feedback from the people who are actively engaged in actually doing the work, I would lose touch with what is feasible, practical, economical and as-yet-undone; things the “official” numbers and mainstream blogs obfuscate or simply don’t understand. This is a trap I think a lot of investors–professional VCs more than angels–fall into.

At about the same time I posted on AdMob/GOOG, so did my friend Niki Scevak. Niki’s POV is different than mine about the deal.

I think that for the smartphone ecosystem to succeed, there needs to be advertising to support mobile media. Since there needs to be advertising, somebody will find a way to make it work. But I don’t know how–if I knew that, I’d be starting a company right now, not investing in other peoples’ companies.

Niki looks at mobile advertising and says it’s not going to work. There’s no point, he says, because advertising supports commerce. Online advertising supports online commerce; mobile advertising will support mobile commerce. In supporting mobile advertising rather than commerce, GOOG has put the cart before the horse.

The interesting thing to me, in talking to people like Niki, is the tension between what is possible today and what I think the world will look like in three years. Getting from here to there is what makes this business exciting.

The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses–behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights. — Muhammad Ali