This Career Will Self Destruct in 10 Seconds (or "Hey, Let's Close Our Deals in Second Life")

Steve Rubel, whose opinion I respect, says he believes 3D virtual worlds are going to become a place where people will increasingly spend time and conduct business online.

Spend time, probably.  Conduct business?  Depends on what you mean by business.

If by business he means sell virtual land and houses, OK.  If he means maybe sell some real-world books and records, OK.  If he means PR business, which I suspect he does, maybe.  In a let’s build a cool structure, put our flashy logo on it and hire an intern to chat up the people and animals that fly over sort of way.

But if he means business as in the kind of big corporate business run by that gigantic percentage of the population who have never heard of Second Life and/or think it’s some online video game (which largely it is, all the square peg stuffing notwithstanding), he’s smoking crack.

Steve says Nasdaq should start an exchange in Second Life.  It seems they might actually be interested in doing that.  What’s next, NYSE in World of Warcraft?  AMEX in Sims Online?  CME in Webkinz World?

I’m trying to imagine how it would go if I called up one of my clients and told him/her that we should start doing business in Second Life.

[Ripple effect as we fade to a dream sequence, which begins with Kent dialing a phone number from his chaotic office.  Several people stand by nervously, with reams of paper in their hands.]

Kent: Hey Bob, how ya’ doing?
Client: Fine, how ’bout you?  Are we ready to close the acquisition of that office building portfolio?
Kent: Just about, that’s why I’m calling.  I think we should call the seller’s representatives and see if they want to have the closing in Second Life.
Client: What?
Kent: You know, that virtual world that was on the cover of Business Week a few months ago.  We could all create some avatars.  I think I’ll use a zebra head.  Then we could meet over at this castle I built and shake virtual hands.  Then maybe we could take a spin on my dance pads.  I found this great 80’s station that streams to my parcel.
Client: What in the world are you talking about?
Kent: It’s the new thing.  All of the A-List bloggers are talking about it.
Client: What’s a blogger?
Kent: It doesn’t matter.  Look, just get on the internet.  It’s that little blue “e” at the bottom of your computer screen.  Click over to Second Life and register.  I have to wait until I get home to do it, because our corporate firewall blocks Second Life.  They don’t realize it’s a business tool.
Client: Stop messing around.  Do we have wiring instructions from the seller?
Kent: No, I told them we’d pay with Linden Dollars.
Client: Have you been drinking? C’mon, man, we’ve got a big deal to close.
Kent: Look, I’m just trying to drag you into the 21st century.  Remember when you said email was too hard?  Now you can send emails even when your secretary is at lunch.  Second Life is the same way…only you have to ignore all those XXX rated stores on every corner.  Just pretend you’re in Houston and walk right past ’em.
Client:  Look, I need you to stop goofing around and get my deal closed.
Kent: Did I mention that you can fly in Second Life?
Client: [click]
Kent: Bob…hello…Bob…are you there?

Somehow, I don’t see it happening.  Sure, 3D worlds tap into the human need to fantasize and socialize.  A need that likely arises due to the real world stresses of real world jobs.  Jobs that, for most of us, are about as far away from Second Life as possible.

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Freddy vs Jason: On YouTube

freddy jason

Not since Godzilla vs King Kong, or Alien vs Predator or at least Pee Wee Herman vs Mr. Rogers have we seen a battle like the one that took place today in the blogosphere. Teens of people sat glued to their computer screens as Freddy and Jason went to battle over how many millions of dollars of annual net revenue could be generated by that IPO-in-waiting, YouTube.

Freddy came out swinging, with an estimate of around $150 million, thereby making everyone associated with YouTube giddy with Monopoly money joy. About adding a 10 second ad to the beginning of videos- Freddy says that won’t reduce YouTube’s user base or the amount of views because 10 seconds isn’t very long and- I’m almost too excited to type- users might be able to tag their favorite ads. I can’t wait to retirement age so I can spend all my time tagging ads.

Imagine Freddy backing Jason into a corner by beating him over the head with orange $500 bills.

But then, in true Hollywood fashion, Jason flipped Freddy over his shoulders and started chasing him with a chainsaw made of low CPM rates and content provider lawsuits. He lunged at Freddy, wielding his business acumen like a mighty sword:

If I was a video holder I would go to YouTube and say you can have all our stuff for an $8 CPM and you keep all the upside and we want an upfront, non-refundable advance of $3M a year.

And then he tried to finish the battle with a thrusting irony: “If YouTube did that they would be a real business. Of course, of other folks tried that and never got there.”

But Freddy ducked and the battle raged on in the comments to both posts. Freddy, correctly, calling Jason a “YouTube hater.” Jason parrying with another “pay users for their content” speech.

It has been a mighty battle, not yet won or lost. Meanwhile the onlookers place their bets and wait for the sequel.

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Lawsuits Gone Wild: Meow Edition

First, a couple of kids litigate the case of the missing iPod. This case might be too small for Nancy Drew, yet somehow it is an appropriate use of judicial resources.

Even better, a court in Pennsylvania will soon determine whether cat talk is protected speech. I asked a random sampling of cats how they felt about this attempt to stiffle their expression. They all had the same answer.

And while I’m thinking about it, if the fact that “every time he sees me, he meows” is a problem, shouldn’t we also outlaw “hello” and “howdy”?


Don't Google Google Says Google

In what Steve Rubel correctly calls “one of the worst PR moves in history,” Google has apparently sent letters to certain media asking them not to use the word google as a verb.

This is another example of the troublesome crossroads between marketing and intellectual property law. I’m sure these letters are Google’s reaction to the recent inclusion of the word google as a verb in recently released dictionary editions.  It’s all about protecting the trademark.  Whether or not Google cares about the use of google as a verb, if it wants to maintain control of the trademark, someone is advising Google that it needs to write these letters as a token of diligence.

Coca-cola has undoubtedly faced this problem in the past, as to many people coke is a synonym for a carbonated beverage.

From a marketing perspective, however, it’s hard to understand why Google would be anything less than giddy to hear someone say “I googled it on Yahoo and here’s what I found out?”  I expect Yahoo would gladly consent to the substitution of yahoo as the new search verb- but only because yahoo isn’t that verb.  If it were, Yahoo would probably feel compelled to toss out a similar letter in the name of trademark protection.

I don’t know beans about intellectual property law, but speaking here as a layperson, if I were Google I’d try to craft some sort of a public license for the use of google as a verb.  Being the verb for the space you’re in is a mightly powerful thing.

In other words, I’d try very hard to have my cake and eat it too.

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