Perspective, Pontification and Propoganda about Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital, brought to you by David Hornik of August Capital.

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I guess you're right in guessing that Toyota would love to advertise to an individual who tweets about shopping for a new Honda Hybrid. However, what prevents them from tweeting to that person (via an @reply) directly, without paying Twitter anything for the "ad"?

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The balance of power on twitter is different from television, radio or billboards were it is more difficult for me to select an alternative source of the sought after content. The current price is free and the advertising minimal due to the intense competition of the internet where a competitor is always only a few clicks away.

People can of course stop a twitter bystander with an @reply or include advertising in a message stream and some do but they do so at the penalty of loosing some of their existing followers. It's the competition for followers that is limiting the inclusion of advertising into peoples message stream. Twitter could present advertising on their web site and have to a small extent done so but most readers are using tools such as Tweetdeck and the tool publishers are competing for users so are going to minimize the extent of advertising on their own account.

The balance of power would allow for some advertising but never to the extent that was possible in other channels such as in print or television. Hopefully they can create greater mind share by focusing their energies on producing meaningful conversational content as part of a gift economy to enrich their brand.

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I personally believe the 'free' web services towards ad revenue will sizzle and is not a concept that will hold much longer. I can only take as example myself and every single friend I know. Not a single one of us ever sign-up to buy anything from free web services. I've used yahoo for years. Have I ever paid a single cent for any of their offered 'features'? Nope. Once its free I don't want to pay. Have I ever followed a link or paid for a single feature in Facebook? Nope. I intentionally avoid it for the simple fact that once my psychology has become used to free, I certainly will avoid to pay. Have I bought anything, or paid for subscriptions in newspaper sites? Nope. In fact, that newspapers are free online has stopped me buying them altogether and most people I meet do the same. I swore two years ago that the free web-service for ad revenue would fizzle. Just recently newspapers claim they have enormous losses from having their news free on the web. Some have started charging, but that will take time to build up because people just redirect somewhere else to get their news. No newspaper is that good today that you "just gotta" have their news!

The more ads I get drowned in on the internet, the less I am interested to look at them. I, in fact, don't respond to any ads whatsoever. A few years ago I did react and respond, but nowadays there are too much of them and I therefore don't bother with any of them. Everyone I know ignores ads. Because my entire circle of friends have this opinion, I cannot but think that millions of other people also go along these lines.
I also think that tweets are another overrated application that will eventually fizzle. The only ones on tweets are the people trying to market to a consumer - but consumers don't give a hoot about Twitter! No one really cares about the useless two liners tweet offers so is the actual target audience met or not? Worthless! To try and save themselves before they die with a crash, they should allow people to post longer sentences instead of their useless one liners.

What's your feedback on this?

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Freemium is a difficult trick though for most it is more plausible than advertising. There needs to be enough value both at the free and incrementally at the premium level to be a business. Charging initially is a tough sell. Free evaluation periods is another option.

Many of the free tools do fizzle out. Think about the URL shortners. You need a huge reach and some barrier to competition (Maybe due to community size or cost of providing the content) to sustain advertising. Another alternative model is to be sufficiently useful that some bigger brand wants to maintain you to improve its brand karma (Like many of the free Google products which have primarily a marketing and technical moral function)

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The film is a great history lesson -- not just on the venture business, but also on the tech industry and Silicon Valley. If anyone is interested in getting an early peek at the film, WAVC (the Western Association of Venture Capitalists) is holding an advanced screening of the documentary at 6pm on March 25th at the Computer History Museum.

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