Why we’re going to FastCompany.tv

Ahh, Andy Plesser broke my career news again (he was the guy who broke my news about leaving Microsoft too). Louis Gray got the story first, though, I think, although I told dozens of people at the BlogHaus last week at CES.

First of all, thanks to John Furrier, James McCormick, and the entire PodTech team. I grew a lot over the past year due to the opportunities they gave me and that turned into hundreds of interviews on ScobleShow.com.

Wednesday (today) Rocky Barbanica and I are moving to work for Mansueto Ventures. They are the producers of Fast Company and Inc. magazines. What will we be doing? Helping to build a new, interactive, online video community called FastCompany.TV which will open on March 3.

UPDATE: Here’s the official Fast Company press release and Lynne Johnson blogged about it here.

UPDATE2: Andy Plesser, this morning, interviewed my new boss, Ed Sussman.

Back when my career moves were leaked over on TechCrunch I said I was considering another option. What was it? Starting my own business. Here’s why I chose FastCompany.tv instead.

But, first let me back up and talk about what I’ve learned about the media business. Here’s the four things you need to have to see success.

  1. Content. This should be obvious, but you’ll see where I’m going with this point later. Key here is to make content that no one else has. Content that’s better quality. “Special” in some way. Gets viewers access to something they couldn’t otherwise get access to.
  2. Revenues. If you don’t have them, it’s hard to buy cameras, lights, microphones, or take the time to do things right. Yeah, you can bootstrap for a while like Rocketboom did in its early years, but at some point if you don’t have cash coming in you’ll need to find a real job and stop working on media production.
  3. Distribution. If no one sees your videos you won’t get revenues, so getting viewers/participants is key. Now, you can either get viewers by doing stunts (like Gawker Media did at CES) or you can get it by making deals to distribute your videos into places that have high viewership. Revision3, for instance, has reportedly made deals to distribute its videos into several airplane video systems. Mansuetto’s magazines have more than a million readers, which will make it easier to get people to come visit the new network.
  4. Scale. The SuperBowl has all the above three, right? But the place it really makes sense? Is part of a network. Why? Because then there’s more for audiences to engage with than just one football game a year. Also, there’s economies of scale since the camera crews can work on other stuff while they aren’t working on the Super Bowl.

As I considered job opportunities I kept these four things in mind. Could the new company we’d join deliver on all of these? How about working for myself? Could I be successful? Both Mike Arrington and Om Malik (and others) urged me to start my own company. But, when I looked in the mirror I just didn’t have that passion for doing it all myself. Why not?

  1. I don’t love doing much except for interviewing and blogging and my family. I’ve run the books at UserLand Software. I hated that. I’ve tried managing people at PodTech and found that I wasn’t particularly interested in doing more of it (which is one reason why Rocky’s going to play a key role in the development/production of the network — it’s important that we build a strong team, but I’d rather focus more of my energies on getting great content than on finding and keeping great people).
  2. Building a diverse set of income requires a sales crew and attention to client happiness. It’s one thing to take care of one sponsor. It’s a whole nother thing to make magic happen for a wide range of sponsors. That takes a team of professionals. I don’t have the time, nor the skills, to build a world-class sales team and if I took the time that’d cause me to take my eye off of doing my videos, which would be the life-blood of the organization.
  3. Setting up a business requires a ton of other tasks. HR. Banking. Invoicing. All the other drudge work that takes time away from doing interviews, going on photowalks, reading feeds, hanging out and networking with industry leaders, etc that leads to great content.
  4. Doing a business is stressful on everyone involved. Om Malik’s heart attack had an impact on me. So did Marc Orchant’s death. Life is too short and if that means I leave a few million on the table because I gave up equity in my own thing, so be it. I’m happiest when behind a camera talking with someone like Doug Engelbart or taking Patrick, my son, to MacWorld. Anything other than that I’m going to outsource, ala “the Four Hour Workweek.”
  5. Brand extension is hard when running your ass off to build your own business. For instance, I want to build communities that lead to interesting events. But if I did my own business, running an event team would have to wait until I got my business on solid ground. That could be a year or more. That would mean opportunities lost. Fast Company and Inc have awesome event and marketing teams — I’ve been to their events and if I wanted to build a team like that it’d take capital, time, and talent that I don’t have.
  6. Getting access to things, when running your own business, is tougher. Yeah, I can get access to a lot of things, but did Steve Jobs invite me to attend his keynote at MacWorld? No. If I was part of a bigger team with a more established brand, would it be more likely that I’d get invited? Yes.

So, why FastCompany.tv? Why not something else? Several reasons.

  1. Fast Company (the magazine) has seen a resurgence in the past year. The content has gotten better. Ad sales were way up. They have new offices in New York City (I won’t be moving, rather staying in Silicon Valley).
  2. The editorial team at Fast Company and Inc. Magazines is getting cover articles that few others are able to get and the whole team will drive a lot of great content that’ll show up on my show and on the network.
  3. They have invested in a major new social networking site that’ll be revealed soon. Fast Company was one of the first magazines with a social network, called “The Company of Friends” and the new site, built in open-source Drupal, excited me because of the distribution and community it brings.
  4. They are working on a new magazine aimed at startups, too, which obviously I’m interested in.
  5. They have a sales team that’s already successful in selling to clients outside the tech industry (getting diversity is important to protect independence and also to bring fresh approaches to events and advertising).
  6. They liked my participatory style of video better than other companies and want to expand it. Excited about technologies like Qik, Kyte, Seesmic, Mogulus, DotSub, etc. Other people/companies I talked with had blank stares when I talked about these technologies and how they might change the media business.
  7. They have a tech team who understands how to integrate various Web technologies together. My column’s page on Fast Company , for instance, has a calendar from Upcoming.org and a feed from Google Reader integrated into it along with video interviews and other things. We’ll expand that kind of integration on the new network.

FastCompany.tv is not just me. They made a commitment to getting a great lineup of other stars in the industry to be part of the network — my show won’t be the only one on FastCompany.tv and we’ll be adding more shows even after our March 3 start date.

Anyway, what’s next? FastCompany.tv will start on March 3. Between now and then we’re working on finding some great content (I’m working with editors of the magazines, as well as looking for the hottest emerging tech companies along with leading business executives/strategists and visionaries). I’ll be going to the World Economic Forum and then to LIFT in Europe to find stories that are outside the United States and the “tech bubble.”

We’ll have lots of surprises too, and will be stepping up the quality of my shows — Rocky’s already working on that as we speak. But most importantly I haven’t seen a business network that treats viewers as partners. See, most of the TV (either mainstream, like CNBC, or “new” like that from Revision3 or elsewhere) treats viewers as, well, viewers. The thing is that the new technology lets you PARTICIPATE with the people who are in front of the camera. You got a taste of this while I was walking around CES with a cell phone and you could ask questions WHILE I WAS FILMING LIVE. That really changes the equation a lot and that’ll be a key differentiator on FastCompany.tv. After all, if we’re talking to Fast Companies, why shouldn’t they answer YOUR questions live as well as mine?

Anyway, to wrap this all up. This was the best “win-win” for you, for me, my employers, and for my sponsors. That’s why I’m proud to be a member of the Fast Company and Inc. families today and I’m looking forward to participating with you on March 3 on fastcompany.tv.

In between now and March 3? I’ll continue to post videos (yesterday alone I posted about a dozen videos on my Qik channel from MacWorld conference) and other items I see in the industry on my blog on scobleizer.com.

293 thoughts on “Why we’re going to FastCompany.tv

  1. Anyone know what ihype.com is about. I am getting many calls from them about signing up

  2. Anyone know what ihype.com is about. I am getting many calls from them about signing up

  3. Well, congrats. Least more stable (mentally, politically and fiscally) than Podtech, and the Scoble Curse, at least here, has more fuel for the eventual burn-out rate. Wish you woulda been here, before. No more crazy start-ups for you. Sigh. :)

    My advice (for what it’s worth) in no particular order.

    1. Make them buy you a Steadi/Glide cam. Tripods are so directional limiting. And plus, Steadicam’s allow cameramen to get away with your jump-hop style.

    2. Stop surrounding yourself with ‘worshipping’ yes-men. It’s nauseating and self-defeating. Rocky (and others) should rake over coals, over the hyper-active puppy-dog lapping. As they say, iron sharpens iron.

    3. Walk-Thru’s and Demo’s are better than talking-heads.

    4. Run-on mega-paragraph sentences are bad, as are, videos.

    5. No inside baseball games. I don’t give an iota of a care what Mike Arrington or Om Malik had for breakfast.

    6. Think Subject Matter Experts, over Tech Celebrities.

    7. Incestuous navel-gazing is bad. Moving photo’s of people taking still photo’s, wheee. Stop covering the bloggers/techies covering themselves, covering themselves.

    8. Impossible perhaps, but background yourself. Let the work speak for itself. Edit as if you aren’t there. Conversations are endless and pointless. Focus and cut. History Channel over mindless never-ending Charlie Rose.

    9. Prepare. The ‘who are you’ fumbling dumb Scoble Show questions, makes for a rough start. Do thy homework and get to the point, fast. Elevator pitch’es, if they can’t do it, they have to learn.

    10. Go documentary thematic, over personality-cult-of-the-moment.

  4. Well, congrats. Least more stable (mentally, politically and fiscally) than Podtech, and the Scoble Curse, at least here, has more fuel for the eventual burn-out rate. Wish you woulda been here, before. No more crazy start-ups for you. Sigh. :)

    My advice (for what it’s worth) in no particular order.

    1. Make them buy you a Steadi/Glide cam. Tripods are so directional limiting. And plus, Steadicam’s allow cameramen to get away with your jump-hop style.

    2. Stop surrounding yourself with ‘worshipping’ yes-men. It’s nauseating and self-defeating. Rocky (and others) should rake over coals, over the hyper-active puppy-dog lapping. As they say, iron sharpens iron.

    3. Walk-Thru’s and Demo’s are better than talking-heads.

    4. Run-on mega-paragraph sentences are bad, as are, videos.

    5. No inside baseball games. I don’t give an iota of a care what Mike Arrington or Om Malik had for breakfast.

    6. Think Subject Matter Experts, over Tech Celebrities.

    7. Incestuous navel-gazing is bad. Moving photo’s of people taking still photo’s, wheee. Stop covering the bloggers/techies covering themselves, covering themselves.

    8. Impossible perhaps, but background yourself. Let the work speak for itself. Edit as if you aren’t there. Conversations are endless and pointless. Focus and cut. History Channel over mindless never-ending Charlie Rose.

    9. Prepare. The ‘who are you’ fumbling dumb Scoble Show questions, makes for a rough start. Do thy homework and get to the point, fast. Elevator pitch’es, if they can’t do it, they have to learn.

    10. Go documentary thematic, over personality-cult-of-the-moment.

  5. Hi Robert,
    I learned about you through my boss, Bob Giampietro. I am currently reading your book, Naked Conversations, and was happy to hear about this new assignment you’ve taken up with Fast Company. It’s one of my favorite magazine – I read it religiously and it completely makes a difference in my career. All the best on your new adventure.

  6. Hi Robert,
    I learned about you through my boss, Bob Giampietro. I am currently reading your book, Naked Conversations, and was happy to hear about this new assignment you’ve taken up with Fast Company. It’s one of my favorite magazine – I read it religiously and it completely makes a difference in my career. All the best on your new adventure.

  7. If FastCompany is looking for video production talent, I would suggest checking out Ricky Montalvo from Yahoo! Developer Network, he is their video producer and has a lot of skills behind the camera. His fresh look at how video for tech can be made interesting is what we need more of. Congrats on the new gig!

  8. If FastCompany is looking for video production talent, I would suggest checking out Ricky Montalvo from Yahoo! Developer Network, he is their video producer and has a lot of skills behind the camera. His fresh look at how video for tech can be made interesting is what we need more of. Congrats on the new gig!

  9. Congratulations, Robert. Life balance, passion and purity of spirit – along with the clarity you shared on the decision you faced – clearly shows very well.

    I look forward to viewing more Qiks and those from the FastCompany.TV on March 3.

  10. Congratulations, Robert. Life balance, passion and purity of spirit – along with the clarity you shared on the decision you faced – clearly shows very well.

    I look forward to viewing more Qiks and those from the FastCompany.TV on March 3.

  11. Robert, I wish you would stop for five minutes and listen to what you’re saying, which is:

    1) You can only make money from the Web if you can personally create a large audience.

    Do you really think you would have such a large audience if it wasn’t for the fact that you worked at Microsoft and were one of the first bloggers? I honestly like you, Robert, and I think you deserve your success, because you were in the right place at the right time and took the right actions. Nobody handed success to you, you made it.

    But let me just ask you something: If you were starting today in the techfield, and you had zero contacts and zero visibility and nobody knew you from Adam, do you honestly think you’d make it so high now? If you do, then I think a lot of people would like to hear how you would do it and how long you think it would take to get back to where you are now if it all went away tomorrow and you started from zero.

    I still strongly believe that people who are not A-type personalities, people who just want to create and not be salesmen, should have as much opportunity to make money from the Web as you hyper-social guys do.

    2) You can only expect to make money from digital content if you can get it into material form somehow, like your book. Give it away digitally for free, but sell hard copies, because PRINT copyright is still valid, but online copyright doesn’t count. Like you often say, “copyright is dead.”

    Just think about the longterm consequences of your stance as print continues to decline. Why will people buy books for the The Kindle, for example, when they’ve been trained by you not to respect copyright law?

    Look, newspapers could have stolen content, too, way back when they formed. But they didn’t. They paid people for it. There was A CULTURE OF RESPECT for creatives. Even now, online newspapers will pay me $250 and up for an editorial cartoon, but places like TechCrunch (which makes a lot more money than a lot of online newspapers!) have NO expectation AT ALL of having to pay for content they use.

    And why? Because of your “copyright is dead” attitude that puts unrealistic expectations on creators, MOST of whom are not salesmen like you are.

    I do think I have the solution to all this. My company is going to work hard to resuscitate copyright and I do think we’ll be successful, though it’s going to take us a few years to get fully there.

    In the meantime, it just upsets me that we can’t be on the same side here. It’s like you’re making me your enemy and vice-versa.

    Esstentially, this is what you’re saying, Robert: Give it up, *I* have *my* dream, but yours died with copyright law.”

    Is that REALLY what you want???

  12. Robert, I wish you would stop for five minutes and listen to what you’re saying, which is:

    1) You can only make money from the Web if you can personally create a large audience.

    Do you really think you would have such a large audience if it wasn’t for the fact that you worked at Microsoft and were one of the first bloggers? I honestly like you, Robert, and I think you deserve your success, because you were in the right place at the right time and took the right actions. Nobody handed success to you, you made it.

    But let me just ask you something: If you were starting today in the techfield, and you had zero contacts and zero visibility and nobody knew you from Adam, do you honestly think you’d make it so high now? If you do, then I think a lot of people would like to hear how you would do it and how long you think it would take to get back to where you are now if it all went away tomorrow and you started from zero.

    I still strongly believe that people who are not A-type personalities, people who just want to create and not be salesmen, should have as much opportunity to make money from the Web as you hyper-social guys do.

    2) You can only expect to make money from digital content if you can get it into material form somehow, like your book. Give it away digitally for free, but sell hard copies, because PRINT copyright is still valid, but online copyright doesn’t count. Like you often say, “copyright is dead.”

    Just think about the longterm consequences of your stance as print continues to decline. Why will people buy books for the The Kindle, for example, when they’ve been trained by you not to respect copyright law?

    Look, newspapers could have stolen content, too, way back when they formed. But they didn’t. They paid people for it. There was A CULTURE OF RESPECT for creatives. Even now, online newspapers will pay me $250 and up for an editorial cartoon, but places like TechCrunch (which makes a lot more money than a lot of online newspapers!) have NO expectation AT ALL of having to pay for content they use.

    And why? Because of your “copyright is dead” attitude that puts unrealistic expectations on creators, MOST of whom are not salesmen like you are.

    I do think I have the solution to all this. My company is going to work hard to resuscitate copyright and I do think we’ll be successful, though it’s going to take us a few years to get fully there.

    In the meantime, it just upsets me that we can’t be on the same side here. It’s like you’re making me your enemy and vice-versa.

    Esstentially, this is what you’re saying, Robert: Give it up, *I* have *my* dream, but yours died with copyright law.”

    Is that REALLY what you want???

  13. Dawn: no, they won’t. Here’s why. Copies never get very much distribution, nor trust, nor audience.

    By the way, we put our entire book up on our blog. Did that affect sales? Yes, it is still the #1 blogging book, outselling all other corporate blogging books combined. Why? By giving the thing away it created market interest.

    And, yes, I’ve discussed this with them.

    Also, there’s ways to embed advertising into the content so it’s hard to remove if you’re using automated copying tools.

    Does an advertiser really care if you see their message here or there? No.

  14. Dawn: no, they won’t. Here’s why. Copies never get very much distribution, nor trust, nor audience.

    By the way, we put our entire book up on our blog. Did that affect sales? Yes, it is still the #1 blogging book, outselling all other corporate blogging books combined. Why? By giving the thing away it created market interest.

    And, yes, I’ve discussed this with them.

    Also, there’s ways to embed advertising into the content so it’s hard to remove if you’re using automated copying tools.

    Does an advertiser really care if you see their message here or there? No.

  15. It’s good to know what you like to do and equally important what you don’t want to do.

    I wish you lots of luck. I’ve really enjoyed your shows.

  16. Robert,

    First of all, congrats on your new start! Its great to have self awareness and above all I have your family as a priority. You have some gifts of information filtering and connecting that need to be fully leveraged. I’ve been thinking about how I can cultivate those skills as well (or are they simply natural talents that some people have and others don’t?)

    Also, thanks again for your encouragement around blogging about the Chinese blogosphere. We opened hour blog at http://cnreviews.com and will get in touch with you about stuff you might find interesting. Thanks again for your good ideas and inspiration.

    and an early wishes to you for a great HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

  17. Robert,

    First of all, congrats on your new start! Its great to have self awareness and above all I have your family as a priority. You have some gifts of information filtering and connecting that need to be fully leveraged. I’ve been thinking about how I can cultivate those skills as well (or are they simply natural talents that some people have and others don’t?)

    Also, thanks again for your encouragement around blogging about the Chinese blogosphere. We opened hour blog at http://cnreviews.com and will get in touch with you about stuff you might find interesting. Thanks again for your good ideas and inspiration.

    and an early wishes to you for a great HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

  18. Robert, congrats. Clearly when it comes to gadgets and widgets you will continue to be on top of things I hope though you do focus a bit broadly. On my other New Florence, New Renaissance blog http://www.florence20.typepad.com I track innovations in over 50 categories from virtualization to telemetry…yes many of those applications are in boring old enterprises, but we need innovation in our corporations even more so than in our consumers…good luck

  19. Robert, congrats. Clearly when it comes to gadgets and widgets you will continue to be on top of things I hope though you do focus a bit broadly. On my other New Florence, New Renaissance blog http://www.florence20.typepad.com I track innovations in over 50 categories from virtualization to telemetry…yes many of those applications are in boring old enterprises, but we need innovation in our corporations even more so than in our consumers…good luck

  20. Robert, you too want control over what you want control over. Just like in this post, you said content producers should be able to keep their content off link blogs:
    http://scobleizer.com/2007/09/11/techcrunch-linkblogs-are-evil/

    Clearly, if somebody tried making a mirror Scoble blog so that they could run advertising on it, you’d be up in arms and you know it.

    Copyright isn’t dead, but it IS dying because people like you keep ringing it’s death chimes and making people feel like it’s okay to steal other people’s content while deriding those who stand up and say no.

    Note: Nobody is “stealing” your content when you allow them to have it for free. If you don’t want them to do that, if you’ve made it plain that you don’t want them to help themselves to your stuff, THEN it is stealing.

  21. Robert, you too want control over what you want control over. Just like in this post, you said content producers should be able to keep their content off link blogs:
    http://scobleizer.com/2007/09/11/techcrunch-linkblogs-are-evil/

    Clearly, if somebody tried making a mirror Scoble blog so that they could run advertising on it, you’d be up in arms and you know it.

    Copyright isn’t dead, but it IS dying because people like you keep ringing it’s death chimes and making people feel like it’s okay to steal other people’s content while deriding those who stand up and say no.

    Note: Nobody is “stealing” your content when you allow them to have it for free. If you don’t want them to do that, if you’ve made it plain that you don’t want them to help themselves to your stuff, THEN it is stealing.

  22. Congratulations! It’s nice to hear some good news in the IT publishing industry for a change… especially given the big-picture macro-gloom-and-doom being painted by mainstream media.

    As someone who watched so many great IT trade pubs fail during the bubble-burst, it’s great to see Fast Company and Inc still alive and kicking.

    And you definitely went through the right thought process of deciding whether building your own venture, vs. joining a bigger-ship, was the way to go. So many people just make the decision by the seat of their pants without thinking through pros/cons, personal likes/dislikes, family issues, etc.

    Looking forward to tuning in with your broadcasts real soon!

  23. Congratulations! It’s nice to hear some good news in the IT publishing industry for a change… especially given the big-picture macro-gloom-and-doom being painted by mainstream media.

    As someone who watched so many great IT trade pubs fail during the bubble-burst, it’s great to see Fast Company and Inc still alive and kicking.

    And you definitely went through the right thought process of deciding whether building your own venture, vs. joining a bigger-ship, was the way to go. So many people just make the decision by the seat of their pants without thinking through pros/cons, personal likes/dislikes, family issues, etc.

    Looking forward to tuning in with your broadcasts real soon!

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