Thursday, March 23, 2006

A night with hollywood

Some thoughts on last night's panel discussion.

We had a pre-dinner with the speakers and moderator at the Palomino in Westwood. Calacanis is a funny guy, as expected, but so is Zittrain (a law professor, go figure!). WIRED editor Jeff O'Brien did a fair job of not picking on Yahoo or AOL (Calacanis is at AOL since they bought his blogging company) as collaborators with bad governments.

The panel was held in Lawrence Bender's beautiful Bel Air home. The crowd was about 70 people, mostly young film and media people of all types, including actors, producers, directors, agents. I joked to someone that I thought you should be able to tell the actors and actresses from across the room, since they had to be exceptionally good looking, but then even the executives here seem to be good looking. I may have met more documentary film makers than anything else (Bender is currently working on a documentary film on global warming with Al Gore). I guess people interested in social causes tend to be interested in that type of project.

Although the topic was rather geeky the audience was very engaged. The panel went for 90 minutes, with lots of questions, but it seemed to me like it was over in an instant. People got most interested when the topic turned to privacy issues here in the US. Both Calacanis and Scott Moore (Yahoo VP of content, formerly in charge of MSN content like Slate) thought there would be a big market for privacy services going forward. In principle I agree, but the devil is in the details. Since the average person's understanding of their digital privacy is so amorphous it is hard to know what exactly they are willing to pay for.

They recorded the whole panel using pretty fancy equipment, including what seemed to be professional lighting and a nearly high-definition camera. I think a compressed version will be available from the Hollywood Hill site in a short while.


wolfgang said...

I would think that companies offering anonymizers etc. should do well in the future (but the quality [=speed] of such services needs to improve).
I would also suspect that off-shore companies should have an advantage.
If a large percentage begins to use those services it could be bad news for Google et al. to the extent that they rely on IP adresses to identify repeat visitors.

steve said...

I think the speed can be quite fast if the proxy servers are colocated in the right way. We had both an east and west coast facility.

A service today which generated the traffic we were getting in 2001 would be quite profitable based on advertising. The ads would be targeted based on the URL the user is viewing, or keywords on the page.

Too bad Symantec owns all of our old IP on this. They aren't at all interested in a privacy service as far as I know.

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