Google’s Recession Antidote: Innovation

26 August 09

Google's Recession Antidote: Innovation

Since last fall, the news has been dominated by tales of woe: companies going under, layoffs, downsizing, restructuring, billions of dollars lost. It’s no wonder that organizations today feel handcuffed to the point that innovation takes a back seat to simply staying afloat. But a few companies are bucking the trend and seem to be more focused on growth and innovation than ever before. One of these companies is Google.

In the last 3 months alone, Google has announced groundbreaking new projects such as Google Voice, the Chrome operating system, and Google Wave. These projects, which have been brewing for as many as five years now, are major growth opportunities for a company whose core search business is beginning to plateau. While some companies have chosen to stop work on major, untested new projects, Google has opted to charge forward and is planting a number of important seeds for its future. Will all of these new projects be runaway successes? Probably not. Will at least one of them take off? No one can be sure, but given Google’s track record, it’s very likely. We’ve all read the snippet about Google launching its search business during the dot-com bust in 2000. Read the rest of this entry »



17 September 08

GOOD Magazine, which we’ve been enjoying since it launched in 2006, recently launched a new Website and a revised subscription plan. The magazine used to charge $20 for a 6-issue annual subscription. 100% of the subscription price went to charity, and got the subscriber into a year’s worth of GOOD events and parties. 

The new Website is focused on the publication’s active community. Users can create a free account and profile, and then comment on blog posts, create original content, and get invitations to GOOD events and parties. The magazine has also changed its subscription plan—users can pay-what-you-wish model. Subscibers can pay as little as $1 for an annual subscription, though $20 will get you free access to events. Like before, all subscription proceeds go to the charity of the subscriber’s choice (out of 12 pre-selected non-profit organizations). Read the rest of this entry »

Innovation and Media

2 September 08

After a relaxing, relatively-unplugged holiday weekend, I started the day off with a couple of good reads to get the innovation juices flowing. First, an article from the New York Times (brought to my attention via that new LinkedIn widget) on how Google is jumping through hoops these days to cozy up with advertising agencies and pacify their fears about Google’s (imminent?) plans to take over the world. Here’s the cliff noted version:

Ad agencies are unsure what to make of Google because the search company is about a lot more than search these days. Every day, Google continues to launch, acquire, and refine new Web properties that compete with “old media” and the advertising models that support it. Many agencies fear that Google is ultimately trying to make inroads into the agency world in order to steal clients by offering a whole new suite of media planning services. Google claims it has no such plans in the works. While Google may very well have no plans of competing with agencies, the agencies have every right to be scared.  Read the rest of this entry »

Pepsi Puts Its Money Where Its Mouth Isn’t

1 February 08

Whether you’re pulling for the Giants or Patriots this Super Bowl Sunday, it’s likely you’ll be checking out the high-priced ads.  One of Pepsi’s spots is called “Bob’s House,” and takes quite a risk: not a sound will be heard for its entire 60 seconds…

How viewers will react is anyone’s guess.  (I happen to think the quiet will attract a more concentrated attention.)  The spot features deaf actors and is apparently based on a joke in deaf culture.  From Pepsi’s press release:

Slated to air on the pre-game show on FOX, the commercial features Pepsi-Cola and Lay’s Potato Chips, but its real mission is to bring awareness of the American deaf community to a wider audience.  PepsiCo also will sponsor the closed captioning of FOX’s entire Super Bowl broadcast.

Great to see innovation in advertising stepping in this direction (as opposed to more talking frogs, flatulent horses, and mud-wrestling super-models).

Check out more here.

Go Ahead – Be Heard

17 January 08

CreateSpaceIt’s no secret that the future of media is – how shall we put it – uncertain, at best. Despite DRM and law suits and copy protection, media of every type is going digital and being distributed on the internet. Bigger players, like the record labels and television networks, are trying their hardest to figure out a scalable distribution model that will allow both them and content-producers to earn money off of digital content, but at the end of the day, anything digital can very easily be shared for free. And when something’s available for free, most people aren’t going to shell out for it, no matter how ethical they are. But I digress…

Content creation isn’t any easier than before – people still need talent of some kind in order to create work worth reading/listening to/watching. Distribution is the easy part. And it’s getting easier everyday. Read the rest of this entry »