My name is Ken McCarthy and I want to start off today by talking very briefly about E-Media's most recent project, one that I'm very excited about, and I believe illuminates something important about the Internet. Then I'm going to pass the microphone to our eminent speakers. This is a remarkable group. In my business, I'm fortunate to be able to meet a lot of people in the Internet business and I greatly admire all the people on this panel today.
How many people here listen to jazz OK. How many of you recognize the name Ornette Coleman? He's one of the greats and he happens to be a friend of mine. Ornette has a slight problem -- his music is very demanding. It's not bubble gum chewing music; it's not toe tapping music. You really have to be involved. And that doesn't fit into the music industry paradigm very well. So he has bounced from one label to another, to another, to another.
We know he has fans all over the world, and we know a lot of these fans are super dedicated but it's hard to reach them. You can reach them through a traditional fan club mechanism like direct mail but that gets very expensive.
So just last night we put up "HARMOLODIC-COM". Right now it's just a mailing address, but on the first day we already have 25 inquiries. He put a short message on his latest record which just came out a week ago. People already contacted us from the UK., from Germany, from Canada.
Our dream, and I know we're going to be able to do it because we finally have the right tools, is to weave together every person on the planet who loves Ornette's music. We're going to build an economic base for him because we know there are already thousands of people that love his music. Eventually, we're going to sell the music to them direct. Then he'd would be able to do whatever he wants to do, and I'm excited about that. That's why I love the Internet: these kind of projects that simply wouldn't have been possible before. (Editor's note: As of July 1, 1996, the Ornette Coleman web site is receiving an average of over 4,500 file requests per week and has been awarded a three star rating by Magellan and a four disc rating by Net Noir, ratings equivalent to those earned by Sony and PolyGram Records.
So let me pass the microphone over to Marc Fleischmann. Marc is with the Internet Distribution Services. He's one of the early, early Webmasters, but he doesn't like to be called a Webmaster.
Internet Distribution Services got started in August '93. We design, build and operate web sites. We have put up over one hundred web sites since then including Career Mosaic and Shopping 2000. Our core business is not entertainment; our customers are selling products. A lot of our customers are out there to enhance the sales of their products. And having done this long enough, one of the things we have found is to the contrary of what a lot of press say that this is not "Get Rich Fast".
We get phone calls all the time, saying: "I have this great idea. How can I make a lot of money and not spend anything?" The answer is: you can't. But another thing that we have figured out after two and a half years is that people who have time to surf the Net have no money. And people who have money have no time to surf the Internet. The fact of life is that most people who are gainfully employed are busy. And so we see over and over again: putting up a web site isn't like other promotions and work that people are doing.
Let me ask you this: how many people read the yellow pages every night? Ok. How many people reed the newspaper? Ok.
Here's the difference: say you want to look up some place to buy shoes. As opposed to looking at my newspaper or the yellow pages, I'm going on the Internet and I'm going to look up shoes. Then at the bottom you see a URL address and you're going to a look at that. That's the model we see working. Not that putting this web site out and not spending any money does anything.
Another thing that we've found: lousy products, lousy prices and lousy services are still lousy on the Internet. This is not magic. This is marketing, this is promotion. There is no magic in this. In fact we go to a lot of agencies and PR firms and after talking to them for a day or two they say, "this is what we do all the time", and we say, "that's right."
How many people have bought shoes mailorder?
How many people buy most of their shoes mailorder? Ok.
We wondered the other day about an article in the Mercury News. There was somebody who convinced some woman's shoe company to build a web site. My wife looked at that and said, "why would anybody look at a shoe site given that: I want to put my foot into it."
The other thing is also understanding the products. Let me ask you this: How many people buy condoms by mailorder? Ok.
Before I got married it was more of a spontaneous decision. So if somebody says, "see I told you the Internet doesn't work!" So CONDOMNET or the guys at MIT that did CONDOMCOUNTRY said, "see, no one's buying it." We looked at that and said, "yes, but probably not many people buy condoms by mail anyway. They go down to the drugstore."
(Sombody from the audience: "they wanna put their foot into it!") (Laughter & Applause)
So the point is, if the product can be sold remotely and if it's a product that can be delivered (unlike software that you might download), and the product can't be bought at arms length, we think there's a lot of success. We've seen a lot of success with CAREER MOSAIC, SOFTWARE.NET, DOCUMENT CENTER, etc. Anything that in essence would be bought by mail order makes a very good model under one other condition -- that the consumers have access to the Internet. So we know somebody wants to sell architectural plans to construction companies over the Internet. Now I know a lot of contractors that all have PC's for doing their accounting and spreadsheets and invoicing. But they don't have time to sit on the Internet.
So if the customers can buy the product by mail order and your customers are on the Internet then we think there is a lot of success. If not we don't think it's worth doing.
Another thing we keep running into is that people are interested in products, price and availability; not the state of the traffic on the Bay Bridge or the weather or the sports. When I want to look at something I want to look at what that coat or something else costs, not a lot of other things. I want to buy something, and I want to get as fast as possible to the thing I'm looking at. Whether it's a job or a piece of software, I want to get to it. Not things that get in my way. But we've seen a lot of web sites where people put up about their dog and their vacation and press releases and a lot of stuff that people aren't interested in from a customers point of view.
Now, we have customers that put up web sites with a lot of press releases that are targeted towards the press. They put a lot of financial information up for their investors. They put up a lot of stock information and things like that. But that's not geared for people buying products. It's geared for other uses. So that's pretty much it. I think most of the talk should be from people who have specific success stories of actually putting up sites. The only thing I'll wrap up with is this: most companies understand that the marketing and promotion of their business should be left to their marketing and promotion departments. What we've seen in a lot of companies on the Internet is that suddenly, because it's computers, the MIS department is now in charge of their marketing campaigns on the Internet.
The other thing is: this is advertising. These are customers, not users. And what I wanted to make sure you understand is, if I buy a complicated product like Photoshop or Quark XPress or even Microsoft Word, I would invest the time in learning how to use it because I'm going to be using it for the next couple of years. I'm making an investment because I'm using it everyday. Well, these are not users. They're coming into your store. They want to buy something. If it's not intuitively obvious how to go find what they want, order it, and get out you've lost them. They are not going to come back to spend an hour to figure out what your language means. Those pages on Netscape that use flashy things, background colors, rotating text all on every page we think go a little bit too far.
So I'll let the people with the specific success stories to go on.
First I'm going to tell you what kind of product we sell. We sell specs and standards, technical information that manufacturers use when they are going to create a product. An example might be: if you are going to make a bolt, you would get a spec from me that would show you what that bolt looks like. Then you get another spec from me that tells you what the composition of the metal is and another spec on how to test that bolt.
Traditionally people call us up and ask for that kind of documentation by number. We give them a price. They give us an authorization, we ship it out the same day and bill on the same day. Because we have engineers that use our product, engineers are the first who make use of what I call Computer Aided Documentations and there is a great big gap between the way that standards are delivered to them on paper and the way that they would like to use the electronic world. And so we have a disparity in the market place. That is, users want to be working and operating in an electronic environment and people that hold the copyright of these documents want to be working in a paper environment. This is a wonderful opportunity for a business person.
I met with Marc Fleischmann in 1993 and I knew that my customers were asking for better standards to develop their models; they were asking for electronic document delivery. The Internet couldn't do these things for me in a direct way. But indirectly, it could allow me to take the electronic assets that we had in our database and turn those electronic assets into something that could show the customer that we are serious. We took our database and created an electronic catalog out of it and we've been on the Internet ever since. It was an extraordinarily easy decision to make because the cost was relatively low compared to other options. When I went on the Internet in September 1993, I spent a year being an Internet applicant and I had to learn a lot about the Internet and I had to tell my user
community and my vendor community about the Internet and convince them that it really was there and that it was safe.
However, that brought me a lot of attention and got me an article in Forbes Magazine. That really identified the Document Center in the minds of customers as a company that was at the right place at the right time. Our model was, at first we spent a lot of time encouraging people to use the medium. The first year we had to tell the people about the Internet. The second year I started giving people the Internet address and then finally people started to use the product as designed. So it took some time but it has been extraordinarily fast expanding.
You can see the lessons we have learned in the new edition of the server. Being an early adapter really teaches you a lot about the medium, which is extraordinarily different from the paper medium, and the earlier you get involved in the electronic medium the earlier you're going to understand just how different it is. It gave us a migration strategy. We took things that we already had and leveraged that into an electronic product without a lot of cost and that was a very smart move. We decided that we wouldn't try to out-pace the technology; we just used the Internet tools to do the things that the Internet was capable of doing. And that turned out to be a very good move. We've tried not to get too far ahead of the market place. It always takes people some time to catch up with the technology.
You can do a lot with technology but that's not the issue. For us, the issue is people. For us, using an outside vendor to help us with the web page really helped us to maximize the amount of money we spent on it. The other thing is that people have a different perspective of it than you do and we've learned to live with that and accept their ideas.
Benefits for us have been the perception people have with the company. The fact that we're getting orders, the fact that it has forced us to re-engineer how we do business and prepare for the future says that we are probably more ready for the migration into the electronic medium than any of the other standard organizations. We have marketplace leadership. I would say probably the biggest mistake was that it took us so long to get personally involved with the actual updating of the site itself. And again, for my business that is: selling information on the Internet. Because there are copyright issues, security issues, etc. technology is not really the main point for us. People is the main point. There is a lot of resistance but because we had a strong business model and we're not expecting the
technology to drive the business, but rather the business just to make use of the technology, this has turned out very successfully.
I want to point out that the National Center for Super Computing Applications came out with MOSAIC in April 1993. Claudia's site was up in August 1993. It's really incredible to me that you had the insight to go for it so early on and you've had the benefit of learning a lot over two years. Thanks a lot!.
Our next presenter is Bruce Moore, the developer of Career Mosaic -- the biggest career site on the Web.
Bernard Hodes Advertising is the largest recruitment advertising ageny in the United States and one of the largest in the world. We are part of an even larger communications cooperation called Omnicom, which is BBDO, DBD, Chiat Day and a whole bunch of agencies. What we didn't realize we had was this huge franchise that was begging to be leveraged in this new medium.
Anybody here read Wired Magazine? A handful of folks? I get my issue in mail. The two things I read first are Nicholas Negroponte column at the last page, and I think it's because of the content. The second thing I read is page in front that lists all the staff of Wired. At the very bottom there is a little picture of Marshal McLuhan; some of you may be old enough to know who he is. He said that the medium is the message. He is the Patron Saint of Wired Magazine and in every issue they have a little quote and one I always remember is that, he said, "in business, it's the little secrets we need to protect."
As Ken mentioned, we buy more newspaper space than any single entity in the United States, year after year. And that is because we run more "help wanted" ads on behalf of all kinds of companies in our markets than anybody else does. So our business is to help companies hire people by advertising their jobs and, more strategically, to market them as the employer of choice; to help them establish employer preference within their industry and their geographic area. So week after week, we place thousands of ads in newspapers and those ads would live for a day or two and then go away. And we're really managing thousands and
thousands of little documents, little files and one day it occured to me that what we had was probably the largest database of jobs in the country.
It was refreshed weekly and it was representative of all industries and all markets. And this was in late 1993. We saw the commercial online services growing in popularity and we saw IBM pumping a lot of money into Prodigy, helping market to Middle America so that it would make sense to have an online service.
So we started to have meetings with them. It turned out we didn't deal with any of them because they all wanted to do non-revenue dances where we gave them our content and they made money by keeping people online and charging them for the time in the database, and we made money by charging our clients more for distribution. That just wasn't appealing. One day we were flying back to New York and actually saw in the New York Times the article about MOSAIC being released. None of us are technical people, we're marketing people, but we could see immediately that the commercial services were going to have to gateway their people to the Internet. Or they would start losing their subscription dollars. So we decided that we would create our own site. We looked at our franchise of companies -- we have 5000 clients. And we knew if we took content that we're already producing for them and repurposed it (that's the only Multimedia term I use today) into this new medium that what we would have potential for was
contextual density. And on the Internet contextual density creates gravity. Much like the earth. And gravity is measured as audience. So we began to take what has always been considered "classified" content, sort of back of the news paper content that has no editorial support, and we presented it as editorial content.
So our clients pay us like they always have paid us to create content that markets them as employers, talks about their value sets and their locations. They pay us to host them on the server and provide bandwidth and to market it to the Internet community. So we started with information about companies. We wanted to avoid the job aspect. We purposely held our database capabilty back and I think that this was an important move for us because we established ourselves as a place where people could learn about companies as opposed to learning about jobs. Our clients were always looking for people who aren't neccessarily actively seeking work. There is an assumption that the less active you are the more desirable you are. So it follows then that these people who aren't actively seeking work are people who have choices and they may consider decisions. Therefore they need information to make those decisions. So that was our first objective.
Then we saw competitors start to crop up. They took the database route. So we had to defend our feature position and we looked at existing content on the Internet. We looked at all the Usenet groups identified with JOBS, OFFERED and we saw that there are literally thousands and thousands of jobs being posted everyday. So we invested a little in infrastructure and started downloading all those jobs to our server and parsing them into a full text index, making them searchable with a gateway. So now all of a sudden the Internet community could search full text on these articles instead of just searching subject lines. And it became an instant hit. We did three things:
- We helped establish ourselves as good Internet Citizens. Entering this world as a commercial entity we were giving something back.
- We began to train people who would come to our URL to search for jobs while we built our database and our interface.
- We immediately neutralized all of our competitors' databases. Now what we've done is we've wrapped this database with the content and we've integrated it using features and functions so that people could come to Career Mosaic and go to the employer directory, learn about a company, become predisposed, look at their jobs, pull the jobs to their database, be connected to response forms. Or they could go to the database and do non-company specific searches, find a job and then learn more about the company. We've structured our rate card in such a way that companies are incented to work on both sides. We don't want the database to grow at the expense of the content and we don't want the content to grow at the expense of the database. It's proven to be very successful.
Now the online services are coming to us and trying to figure out how we could make our content native in their service. And people from all over the world are coming to us wanting to brand Career Mosaic. So we now have a license of our product. And all we did was help meet an objective that our client really didn't know they had and that was to extend the reach of their message.
So now we've gone from being the newspaper industry's biggest client to being one of their biggest competitors. They never really did treat us like a customer but now they treat deal of discomfort and distrust. We're still their biggest client and we will continue to be their biggest client. We don't want to get out of the cash flow business. But now we are at an 85 percent end of the stick instead of15 percent and after some expenses there is very little cost of money. The stuff that we publish is published with no liabilty. So when we run an ad for a client it costs a thousand dollars. What we essentially do is we take a little bit of information , we manage it through a brief value, add quality control and approval process against the deadline. It appears in the newspaper we flow $850 for 60 days until the client pays us the thousand; we make a $150 gross revenue.
With Career Mosaic we create content, more information, longer process and we publish it ourselves. Its a much better model.
(Audience is laughing)
We are going to continue to add features. We have always been in the business of helping companies find people. Now we are perceived by the consumer to be in the business of helping people find jobs. And the only difference is perception and we will protect that perception. We'll start by finding new ways to help companies and people engage each other. And as that works more and more from the corporate side, we have a success story that we can tell the consumer and the consumer will begin to pay for what is now free to optimize their chances of engaging these companies. So we see it as a way to use technology to bridge our business into the next decade. We don't think the newspapers are going to go away for quite a while. It's, in fact ironically enough, one of the tools that we've used to market our site. All of our clients who run ads in the newspaper now pay for a little
more space and we get a little more commission on that ad to include their URL to refer people to our web site. And all of their URL's start with WWW.CAREERMOSAIC.COM. I guess the first lesson to learn is not to forget what you already know about your business, to understand what your clients' objectives are, and in some cases teach them what they are. You can build market share, you can build a whole new business if you go out and tell people that they need something that they didn't know about. What have we learned? I'd reinforce what Marc said about Netscape. I look forward to the day when we have stable browser standards set and we can do a lot of cool things. Right now I'm in the publishing business and my job is to deliver audience to my client. When you come upon a site that says "Optimized for Netscape 1.1" and "click here to download," basically you're saying "If you
don't have it, we don't really care if you read this information. But go ahead and download it and spend 45 minutes in installing it and then go ahead and read." So we are very conservative in our approach and we are often criticized for that and that's fine because we're making money.
I'd like to talk a little bit on how we did our web site. We've done a lot of things that worked and I'd like to share some of them with you. What we started out to do was create a new media company that had a different kind of model. We think of C/Net content as an iceberg and above the waterline is our television show; TV is a sort of window into a lot of homes. But the base of that iceberg could not reside on television. In the earliest days, we thought it would be great to do a TV show about technology; and that's our niche by the way. When we were looking at various models three years ago we tried to create a link with our audience and there was this talk about interactive television and other trials. But here was this Internet that was already there that people were actually linking to everyday and we started thinking about this. Is the television going to be just a
TV three years from now? So we decided to build our company from the ground up that took advantage of the Internet and television and tried to see what happened if we combined the two. So we started to give tasks to our TV people who were great in producing really cool video and multimedia. They met with the editors who are great at creating words and figured out what they could come up with for the new media -- the Web. And a lot of those developments are only now beginning to create themselves.
Another thing that really worked is we've been able to get great advertisers. When we talk about success stories, that's the bottom line for us. We can talk about great web sites and TV shows all day long but if it is not producing any revenue, it's been a wonderful experiment; we've got to find something else to do. The advertisers love it. We also told them, "Look, this isn't something that you can instantly measure with a Nielson. It's not something that's going to be instantly there. And you have to believe that we have a selected audience. It will take a while for the audience to come, but they will. And they did.
My name is John Pettitt. I'm the Vice president and Chief Technical Officer of CyberSource. I want to talk a little bit about what we do. We're kind of different from the other people at this table. We were brought into existence purely to sell bits on the net. We don't have any other business, and that makes us a little unique as one of the first successes for purely net-based businesses. We are not consultants doing things for other people.
Our first service is SOFTWARE.NET. It happens that software is a type of information that people are willing to pay for. And they are happy to pay for it right now. There are lots of other information you can digitize right now but either the content owners are a problem like in the music industry or the perception of the consumers are difficult to sell digitally.
We're the leaders in electronic distribution and right now sell software over the net. We are not just another catalog. We actually deliver the software over the net. One of the things that looked fundamentally silly to us was the idea that you buy bits on a piece of plastic and you ship it around in a big box to get bits from one computer to another. So our idea is if you want bits called software delivered to your machine, you'd send me some bits called your credit card number and I'll send you the bits called the software and we'll be happy. And it works really well now.
We are a latecomer by the standards of this group. We opened our web site in November 1994. We actually started development in August 1994. SOFTWARE. NET is now the biggest project; there are 45,000 pages on the site. One of the things we decided very early on was that we are not going to write static HTML pages. There are about 100 HTML pages -- everything else is generated dynamically out of a database. That has allowed us to be very flexible with serving different content. About 9,000 pages are products. Most of those products you can order. We do the traditional mail order thing; we FedEx your box. And we don't touch the boxes. You order something from me, I talk to some of the actual distributors, they drop-ship for me, and it arrives on your doorstep the next day. Two out of those products we deliver electronically. You order it, we ship it back across the
network and it lands on your hard disk in 5 minutes to two hours. It depends on how fast your connection is and how big the product is. That's the model we want to use in future and which is growing fastest.
We've also introduced something called "Smart Apps" which we're doing on our site. We are looking at multiple revenue streams. One of the things that we've learned is just doing one thing and looking at one revenue is not a good model. We make a margin in selling software but we also make money selling advertisements to the software providers.
In the beginning we made some mistakes. We were kind of doing a missionary sell, both to consumers that you can buy software without getting any money and to software authors so that they could put software up on our site and sell it that way. And we were charging software authors about $5,000 to put their product on our site to sell it electronically. But what we've found was that nobody has a budget for converting products for electronic distribution. It was really hard to find companies to do this, so we don't do this anymore. Putting up your product on our site now is free. What we now do is we sell them advertisements which cost ,coincidentally, about the same amount of money. They've all got budgets for that. And they all understand that you can sell by putting a product in a catalog and pay catalog pages to go with it. So everybody is happy to pay us money to do that. It works very well and it's a great margin.
Also we underestimated the consumer market. We really thought that the way we were selling to government agencies, universities and so on, that it would be the same for people with Internet connections. Between April and June this year, AOL, Compuserve and Prodigy all launched web browsers and dumped 5 million users on the Web. It essentially doubled the Web's population.
We also underestimated people's tolerance of sitting and watching stuff download. For an AOL customer, things may take over an hour to download, and we thought people wouldn't do that. Our perception was that people's download tolerance was 20 minutes. It turns out now that it is about an hour, which is really great for us because we can sell more.
The last mistake is that we looked at the wrong area for security risks. We had the perception that is shared by most of the media that the big security risk is that your credit card will be stolen getting from your machine to mine. That is not the risk. The reality is that the Internet backbone is run by phone companies. It's pretty secure. And the endpoints of the big risks in that scenario is your local LAN and my local LAN. My local LAN is secure. Your local LAN may or may not be depending on if you're a corporation or in a terminal room like at the University of Berkeley or whatever. If you're in a terminal room, you're better off. If you're using a provider or AOL or those sort of people what's between you and me is MCI, Sprint or AOL, which you trust. They carry the financial transactions for all the banks. At some point you have to trust the phone company.
The real security risk is that there are a lot of people out there with otherwise stolen credit card information. And the big news to us was that as the merchant, we get to eat the charges. So if we take a stolen credit card in a mail order transaction and it turns out that wasn't the valid cardholder, then we get to eat that. And that gets really expensive really quick. And the margins in the software business are not good. I make 5 points with Microsoft. And now I take two and a half of those to the credit card company. So I only have to lose a couple and it hurts.
Early on, when we were small, we got hit and we were losing around $1,500 a week to fraud. What we now have is technology that looks at transactions and does a lot of very sophisticated credit screening on transactions. Two things came out of this: one, we put people in jail for credit card fraud because we're very aggressive about backtracing people on the net to find out where they're from. The other thing is if we now get one fraud a month we're upset. We really don't get any now. The thing is, you can't rely on VISA or MASTERCARD to do it because their authorization system sucks. It's not designed for an online world where you have no way of easily tracing back who's presenting the transaction. And they know it. If you're look at the SDT technology that Microsoft and VISA announced, it has a long way to go to address that.
Another big surprise for us is that we don't have any competition. In November, we said we'd give ourselves three months before we'd have serious competition delivering software electronically; it's still not there. There are a lot of people running catalogs on the Web. Some of them are good; some of them are lousy. But nobody is doing serious electronic distribution.
Speed of the growth rate is also surprising. We completely underestimated. We've made some assumptions about not making money for a period of time much longer than it appears now. We kind of viewed that the Web is like Desktop Publishing. When it first came out, everybody bought a copy of Pagemaker and a laser printer and thought they were graphic artists. The Web is a bit like that. Everybody is buying a copy of Netscape Commerce Server and think they all can do online commerce. But it isn't like that. You got to be good at it.
For us, one of the big success stories is narrow cast marketing. We divide our customer, we profile them. For instance, we don't sell Windows products to Mac users or Mac products to Windows users so our Windows and Mac appearance is different. People who have a corporate account with us will get custom pricing. If you come from a Motorola account you get Motorola custom prices. One of the big things for us is big corporate accounts. What we've found is that purchasing agents in corporations really love having their price catalog at their desk all the time. So we have lots of different pricing levels on our site. It prompts with your corporation's name and it's completely transparent because we know who you are, we know where you're coming from on the Net. And it's been very successful.
That's about all I have to say. Thank you.
I'd like to make a couple of brief points about some of what we've heard. For those of you who'd like to start an Internet venture, here's my suggestion. Look for things that are successful in the real world that are not on the Web yet, but should be,. Things like associations and trade centers and catalogs. That's what I would do. I would not try to create the coolest site on the Web or some mind-altering place that everyone goes to and raves over. I'd find things that already making money, that already have been established in the real world and put those things on the Web. And the time to get started is right now. As John pointed out, there really is no competition. In my opinion, for intelligent people with some business sense, the Internet is still wide open. Like John, I also expected people would be sharpening their knives by now, but they're not.
The big companies, like Microsoft and America Online, don't have the intelligence in-house to go after all the small, but lucractive niche markets that exist. They have bright people in-house and they organize them well, but they don't have the kind of creative intelligence that can move into an unstructured situation and create something new that works and generates cash flow. They're good at taking something like that and pumping it up to a large scale. But they don't have the spark that comes from individuals and small teams of people who are dedicated to creating something from scratch. You have the opportunity to go into a new field, the Internet that doesn't have a lot of competition and has a wide open panorama of opportunities. There are people with really deep pockets who will be delighted;
if you come up with something successful, to give you a lot of money for it. Look at Global Network Navigator. They created a web site; a good web site but not the greatest and they got eleven million dollars for it when they sold it to America Online, two million in cash and nine million in stock. And there are other stories like that and there will be many more.