FORBES-Will Facebook’s IPO Mark The Beginning Of The End?

YESSSSSSSSSSSS!

article here.

Quote:

Remember when Netscape went public in 1995, kicking off a torrent of investment in new Internet companies that lasted for five years? Well, now we’re waiting for another Netscape-caliber IPO: the first public stock offering by Facebook, which is expected to come sometime next year. The deal will no doubt value the company at tens of billions of dollars, or more, and make many, many people into multi-millionaires, if not billionaires.

Except this IPO will spell the end of the party, not the beginning. I’m convinced that the frothiness we’re seeing right now in Silicon Valley cannot last. And it won’t last, I believe, past the point at which Facebook finally sells shares to the public.

Why? One would have to be blind, or have no friends in New York, London or Shanghai, to not realize that Silicon Valley is currently operating in a different reality. In Silicon Valley, office space is scarce, engineering graduates are commanding record salaries and homes are being purchased before the “For Sale” sign has even gone up. The number of startups formed in the last two years dwarfs the company formation pace of the late 1990s. And high-growth companies are receiving private financings at valuations – many over $1 billion – that could only have been achieved a decade ago by going public and beating Wall Street’s estimates over several years.

But here’s the disconnect, which is obvious to everyone: We are in midst of the Great Recession, with 9% U.S. unemployment, European default risk, growth in China slowing and state governments on the brink of bankruptcy. Yet young technology companies with unproven management teams and business models are commanding nosebleed valuations. The most recent example is blogging startup Tumblr, which raised money valuing it, reportedly, at $800 million. This despite the fact that the company doesn’t have its business model figured out yet. Many of these investments are being justified by the anticipation of some highly lucrative, initial-public offerings for tech companies in the coming 12 months. If standouts like Facebook, Zynga, Groupon and Twitter are going to go public for tens of billions of dollars, the argument goes, surely lesser tech stars can command a premium in their financings as well.

Totally true, but what’s more important is that people are simply reluctant to buy any story, not with their own cash at the very least.

A Lie Detector Test for Online Review (repost link)

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/a-lie-detector-test-for-online-reviewers-09292011.html

Well, the article is about online reviews for consumer electronics and the likes, which are products that could potentially inflict some serious “buyer’s remorse”.

However, it somehow reminds me of certain less-than-sincere  approaches to writing reviews on anime titles… There is no money involved for this one of course, but people sometimes seem determined to keep their true feeling to themselves. Come on, we all know you’ve shed a couple of tears watching 5cm/s, and get emotionally attached to those “cheap romantic plots” more than once!

A quote from the  article:

“At Cornell University, researchers focused on finding semantic tics unique to fake reviews. Like the Texan, they went online and hired people to write 400 fake reviews of hotels. Then they used a computer model to compare those reviews with 400 real ones. The truthful reviews tended to talk about the actual physical space, using specific nouns like “floor” and adjectives like “small.” Since spammers weren’t familiar with the look of the hotel, they spent more time talking about themselves, the reasons they went on a trip, and their traveling companions. “The word ‘husband’ is very indicative of deception,” says Myle Ott, a PhD candidate and co-author of the study. When the researchers trained a computer to look for the linguistic signs, it detected 90 percent of the fake reviews. Ott says several websites, including TripAdvisor, have inquired about the team’s findings. ”

We should totally do this for anime reviews!!!!!

Random cute Nyanko sensei ftw!!!!!!

Anime events in China: boom or bust?:

So, another anime event shall hit Beijing. The “12th International Comic Convention and 2011 Beijing Anime/Comic Week” is going to be held between 21st and 25th of October, in the near-suburb region of Shi Jing Shan, Beijing. Detailed outline of the event is to be found in this China TV report (in Chinese).

According to the outline, the event is going to cover pretty much everything from A(nime) to C(omic, i.e. Manga) to G(ame), with celeb meeting, cosplay contest, screening of anime titles and e-sport events, etc. The event is also infinitely more commercial and industry-centered, involving an exhibition on the advances of Chinese anime industry (which is very mainland-Chinese, if you know what I mean), private business meetings, and a career fair. On the fun side, the exhibition also features programs with more “neta” elements, such as the parody Chinese dubbing group for Gag Manga Biyori series who has received huge popularity among the Chinese online community.

An interesting fact is that a sponsor of the anime/manga event is the Capital Steel Group, a state owned industrial giant in a sector obviously irrelevant to anime. Well, the connection is that the event is going to be held on their land, which were heavy iron and steel industrial complex redeveloped into parks during the  “factory migration” before the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Mascot of 2011 Beijing Anime/Comic Week

As a country sharing numerous cultural elements with Japan, China already is a power base for anime/manga businesses. During the one and a half decade between 1985-2000, China was mostly a consumer of anime products, and has been close to nothing on the production/publishing side. Despite the on and off tensions (both historical and political) between Chinese and Japanese nationalist sentiments, anime/manga have nevertheless found a strong fan base in the mainland market. Familiar to those who grew up in China in the late 80’s and 90’s, titles such as Doraemon and Slam Dunk enjoyed practically universal popularity and become an integral part of the generational identity. Eventually, China started to see a group of young, talented home-grown manga authors appearing in the past decade. It is growing fast.

To be sure, anime and manga were extremely marginal in China and were used to be seen as “unhealthy” for school aged population. However, the perception somehow turned 180 degrees in recent years, after the government deemed anime/comic industry a focus of the Chinese “soft power” build-up. Receiving unprecedented recognition by mainstream media, Chinese cos-ers no longer have to practice strict Otaku-ism and could take your much-loved Haruhi dance (to the tone of Hare Hare Yukai) onto bigger stages- if they wish to, of course. I mean, with the flourishing internet media in China (though heavily censored, strangely, “flourish” is still an understate for China’s internet frenzy), you could even find middle school students cosplay-ing characters from Shinban (新番, new programs)animes on their school cultural festival. Darn, during my time at school this kind of stuff was a little far off, to say the least.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government is encouraging domestic anime production with huge resources input (after, this is where the business is), and rather aggressive industrial protection methods such as setting quotas for Japanese animes on air and put Chinese production at prime hours. Guess what? Chinese studio churn out works like crazy, with an allegedly 1000 RMB incentive fee for each minute longer than standard episode length (a rumor I cannot independently confirm). Like your typical Chinese products, along comes the dark side: low quality, non-innovative, rip-offs. Certain rip-off cases on Japanese anime titles are, frankly speaking, quite horrendous even by Chinese standards, such as the infamous Gao Tie Xia (High Speed Rail Hero?), which is practically a screen by screen rip-off of a 15 year old Japanese production. Considering the China High-speed Rail accident two months ago has been enough of a disaster, further negative PR is seriously not helping the Railway Ministry. Wait, did I say Railway Ministry? Yes, though they didn’t make the anime, but have indeed endorsed it. Talking about unintentional liabilities.

original below, rip off top. Even mainstream media in China expresses their frustration about this blatant act of copying

I would still recognize the upside to China’s anime industry though. These days it is no longer a rarity for Japanese animation studios to contract out works to China. If you watch carefully at EDs of Japanese anime, it is really easy  to spot Chinese illustration studios participating. Also, China sure does have its share of devoted, honest, and highly talented anime brains. The small indie anime work below by L-key, an independent studio gives us a good example. Though low on resources and limited in production techniques, those guys sure have the necessary passion to churn out some quality work that really tells the story they want to tell. Eventually, this is what’s important.

Online streaming is the way to go?

This article titled Daniel Ek’s Spotify: Music’s Last Best hope from a July edition of Bloomberg Businessweek on Spotify is a real eye-opener for me. First of all, I have never heard about Spotify before, for all my ignorance on the world of online music streaming. Second, the experience of Spotify gives us a powerful example of discovering profitable business model out of what seems to be a dead end. By the way, this is usually impossible without a certain level of passion involved.

Link to the article here:

Daniel Ek’s Spotify: Music’s Last Best Hope: The Swedish streaming service, about to make its U.S. debut, may be the industry’s best shot at remaining profitable and relevant

To sum the article up, the biggest challenges to Spotify are 1. to maintain a highly reliable and stable service, which the company already do quite well; and 2. to convince people to stream/rent rather than to own, which is both critical to Spotify’s future and extremely difficult. Some of the largest markets for the music industry, namely North America and Asia, are still considerably conservative with strong “collection” mentality, as mentioned in the article. In these markets, people still love the feeling of having CDs on their shelves (as in North America), or carrying a 150GB mobile hard drive brim with illegal downloads around (as in China). Money is not the critical issue here, habit is.

On a side note, animes are actually being distributed in a very “spotify” manner in Japan: free, fast, and straight to your cell phone. Check out Niconico douga’s anime section, for example, it is really something.

2ch Forum’s Anime Saimoe 2011 Round 1 E,F (repost from Anime News Network)

The interesting thing here is being an anime watcher for years, I have never really looked into “Saimoe” (“most moe” xD) vote on 2ch… And the result is that the vote has grown to such a scale and treated quite seriously by people, while being entirely oblivious to me…

It is quite an interesting grass-root anime activity with certain questionable taste (and pure akushyumi at times?!) involved. Well, doesn’t hurt to take a peek at what’s happening out there:

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Myspace article from Bloomberg

This Bloomberg Businessweek article is not directly related to anime but I still want to share it with all of you:

The Rise and Inglorious Fall of Myspace

Anyone who is interested in internet business should see this article, which has good history and solid analysis. The age of .com bubble is long gone, and internet is now a large, well-consolidated sector. Social network or not, people from industrial moguls (e.g. Murdoch) to individual investors (e.g. YOU) need to take internet more cautiously. Of course, big websites (think Facebook, Youtube) are fundamentally different from the likes of Bank of America, Shell or General Motors, but nowadays their potential to crunch (and create) incredible amount of wealth is no less than that of any traditional business. Continue reading

An interesting article on internet anime “pirating”

I have stumbled across this interesting piece of article yesterday. Thought it’ll be cool to share:

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/02/why-anime-fans-pirate-the-shows-they-love.ars

To be perfectly frank, I believe that no “anime fan” (real or semi-real or fake) out there could honestly claim they have no experience undermining the integrity of this delicate little concept called “intellectual property”. Personally I am very interested in discussions on this topic, be it built around anime or the more mainstream music, movie and software industries. I won’t go into details here today though, or it runs the risk of growing into a 10,000 word essay which would spell certain doom for me at work tomorrow…

As a matter of fact, I almost created a new category in this blog named “legal and compliance” about a minute ago. Yet on second thought it’s most likely to be an eyesore and never clicked upon, so never mind : P Continue reading