In my recent post about Long Tail economics, I wrote about the value of aggregating and/or filtering Long Tail content. There's no question that there will be a lot of money flowing to successful content aggregators and filterers. But by focusing on the Long Tail content that already exists on the web, I missed a hugely valuable category of Long Tail companies -- content creation tools.
While a big part of the Long Tail story is the vast, widely disseminated nature of content on the web today, the other piece of the story is the incredible ease of content creation. Not only is it easier to distribute content via the web, it is easier to produce it in the first place. What once took thousands of dollars worth of equipment and huge numbers of hours to create, can now be produced on an inexpensive computer in a fraction of the time.
The power of simple and cheap content creation tools is that they democratize the content business. They empower the average Internet user to become a content creator and publisher rather than merely a consumer of professionally created music, video, etc. I am a huge believer in the value of user created content. The massive growth of content on the web has been fueled by tools that ease the process of content creation and dissemination. In fact, while I rarely write about my investments on VentureBlog, I think that two such investments strongly reflect my belief in user generated content.
I am an investor in Six Apart, the makers of TypePad, LiveJournal and Movable Type. Each of these blogging platforms vastly eases the process of content creation and dissemination. It is hardly worth beating the well-flogged blogging drum but suffice it to say that the amount of content (not to mention the breadth of that content) created on Six Apart's blogging platforms continues to grow at a staggering rate.
I have also recently invested in a company called VideoEgg that enables drag and drop video publishing. In some ways, VideoEgg does for video what Six Apart does for the written word -- it eases the process of video creation and dissemination. Innovative companies will continue to make publishing to and from the web increasingly simple and accessible to the public at large. User generated publication will include text, pictures, audio, video, perhaps some day holographs, who knows. And the companies that are the most successful at facilitating the creation and dissemination of that content will reap significant economic rewards (not to mention positioning them to better aggregate and filter Long Tail content as well).
So while there is big money to be made filtering and aggregating the burgeoning Long Tail content on the web, it is worth also keeping an eye on the content creation and dissemination tools that are fueling that content explosion. User generated content is an important driver of the Long Tail and the tools that enable that creation will be increasingly valuable.