Wired Reveals First Buyer Of The Techdirt Reviews Your Business Plan Offering

from the cwf+rtb dept

Wired's Epicenter blog has a nice writeup all about our Connecting with Fans Experiment, and got to break the news about the first buyer of the Techdirt Reviews Your Business Model offering, Didier Mary. We'll have more details on the overall program shortly, but wanted to make it through at least the first month to have enough data to start sharing some of our lessons. Still, I'll say that the program has been a success well beyond what we expected...


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    identicon
    Just saying, you know?, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 12:11pm

    On the surface, the first person putting the money down appears to be paying to hear the choir sing.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 12:22pm

    Interesting to wonder what business model applies to the experiment it's self. I thought I'd start by trying to decide which of a few rudimentary plans it most resembles but would appreciate your opinions :

    1 - Disruptive start-up; Comes to market with new innovation and/or product which disrupts the economics and/or business plan of an existing industry. If successful the startup can quickly revolutionize an industry.

    2 - Industry incumbent; takes actions to resist new entries into the market and remain competitive against established competition. Can promote extreme behavior if the incumbent approaches monopoly status.

    3 - Industry association; May start out with a mission such as "..to foster a business and legal climate that supports and promotes our members' creative and financial vitality....", but the focus on the original mission may fade as the association approaches dominance and/or control of the whole industry.

    4 - Charity; Collects money to promote a good cause. To maintain credibility needs to provide feedback of tangible achievements with clear relationship to the actions of the charity. Donner satisfaction is due to association with the achievements of the charity.

    5 - Rip-off; Some deceit is involved, e.g. pricing a product at significantly more than it is worth and targeting the advertising at a market that probably won't check, or not delivering the product exactly as advertised etc. Often the rip-off is so blatant as to be illegal.

    6 - Begging; Often a situation where the beggar has no options but to beg. However it is also true that significantly often the use to which the donation is put is not aligned to the intentions/hopes of the donner. Donner satisfaction can be left to the imagination and ingenuity of the donner.

    7 - Cult; The cult devises mechanisms to extract the maximum possible donation from it's followers with the reward being primarily raised profile and status within the cult. Mature cults often develop quite sophisticated status hierarchies with the achieved status being essentially a function of the value of he cult member's donation.
    The use to which the donations are put are usually kept opaque to the extent that is possible, and/or misrepresented to the followers.

    8 - Innovative/Original - Always has some twist or original aspect to the business model and involves some risk - innovative business models that pose no risk usually turn out to be just cynical marketing devices by incumbents.

    9 - Entitlement - Usually lacks ability to establish a proper business plan but is insistent that the target audience owes something while offering nothing tangible in return. Surprisingly successful

    10- Opportunist - No real plan or strategy, just spots a possible wheeze to make money and goes for it.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 12:32pm

      Re:

      While this is a lovely bite of humour, I'm going to have to heckle you a little.

      No one cares what you call a business model, or what you describe it as. I'm going to call mine "Neo-nazi fascist communism that spits on capitalism", but if I start raking in the legitimate big bucks without any backlash to come bite me later, guess how many business people will care.

       

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      Hephaestus (profile), Aug 11th, 2009 @ 12:43pm

      Re:

      "1 - Disruptive start-up; Comes to market with new innovation and/or product which disrupts the economics and/or business plan of an existing industry. If successful the startup can quickly revolutionize an industry."

      Thanks AC I can use that ....... GRIN ..... Its going to need some rewording though

       

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      Bubba Gump (profile), Aug 11th, 2009 @ 1:15pm

      Re:

      "Interesting to wonder what business model applies to the experiment it's self. I thought I'd start by trying to decide which of a few rudimentary plans it most resembles but would appreciate your opinions :"

      Wow. Just wow.
      With all these wonderful options, I don't know why ANYONE would go into business.

      This has to be the most pessimistic comment I have ever seen.

      Perhaps, given that this country's greatness was BUILT on successful companies and hardworking individuals, things are not as bleak as you make them out to be.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 3:48pm

      Re:

      There are only two business models:

      1.- Do clever stuff. Get money. This is the successful one, and reserved for smart people.

      2.- Do stupid stuff. Get nothing. Write about how much model 1 sucks and is begging. Or cheating. Cheat3rs! This is not as successful as the first one.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 7:42pm

        Re: Re:

        3 do stupid stuff, but pass it off as clever stuff (aided with quality koolaid) and get rich, usually selling t-shirts.

         

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    Anony1, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 12:34pm

    @AC: Thank you for your PATHETIC attempt to try and insult this plan. It will only further motivate people.

     

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    David (profile), Aug 11th, 2009 @ 1:15pm

    Can't help but work

    It seems to me that this plan can't help but work. Techdirt is basically begging for money. If they get anything at all, it's a success, right? I mean, 10 bucks is 10 bucks. They aren't really out much of anything regardless of how much they finally end up earning, and hopefully they've determined the dollar amounts so that if they have to produce something (say a T-shirt), that the donated amount is greater than the item or work involved to pay up.

    So it's not really much of a "gamble" for them to try this. Maybe that's the point?

    As for me, I don't wear T-shirts, so it doesn't matter much to me.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 1:29pm

      Re: Can't help but work

      The idea isn't to see if this can succeed, it's to see how well this succeeds.

      This is Mike putting his money where his mouth is, showing that his business model really does work. That's also part of the "CwF": building a credible reputation.

       

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        David (profile), Aug 11th, 2009 @ 2:31pm

        Re: Re: Can't help but work

        Well, my point (sorta) was that it doesn't matter how well it succeeds. It like the PBS channels that beg for money. You can get a book or DVD, but if you really wanted the book or DVD or T-shirt or whatever, you could just go out and buy it yourself and save a bunch of money. At least donating to PBS is tax-deductible.

        Mike is not putting any money where his mouth is. He was apparently doing okay already, since the blog is been around for what, 12 years now? This is just a way to get extra money at absolutely no risk. And this isn't a business model, because Techdirt is a blog, not a business. Maybe he's trying to turn it into one? Selling what? Mike has already gone out and been a speaker, and I assume he gets paid to do that. This might give him "cred", but he can still do it whether he blogs on Techdirt or not.

        Actually, by making it seem like a "membership" thing, he's probably making more money on a T-Shirt than if he had just sold them out-right. $25 for a T-shirt that might have cost him $2, and you could get for $10, if that. So his "business model" is really a lesson in how to rip people off and get them to thank you for it. "How much to let me white-wash your fence?"

        It is all so obviously a joke that he included the $100,000,000 option.

        Honestly, what does selling hoodies at high prices have to do with the blog in any case?

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 3:06pm

          Re: Re: Re: Can't help but work

          You are correct David, the entire part of CwF is "trick them into thinking you like them and care". Sincerity is important, and once you learn how to fake it, you can make money.

          Look at Amanda Facepalm Palmer, who's "unplanned shot in 20 minutes" video required 2 days of sending emails and invites, asking people to show up, just happening to have a stage manager, someone with an HD camera, a great location, and a song she just happened to learn that morning... sincerity, faked to the n'th degree.

          But hey, as long as her fans are buying it, she can keep shoveling it out, and just like Mike, she can make more selling a t-shirt and a smile than she can just selling t-shirts.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 5:48pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Can't help but work

            Ah, the innocence of youth.

            When you realize that this attitude is the motivation behind almost everything in the world, make sure to take a snapshot of your face, because I'm sure it'll be priceless.

             

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      JJ, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 6:38pm

      Re: Can't help but work

      > Techdirt is basically begging for money.

      Can you explain how selling stuff to people who want it is begging for money? By that definition every store on earth is "begging for money". I see Techdirt's experiment as finding stuff to sell.

      > As for me, I don't wear T-shirts, so it doesn't matter much to me.

      Perhaps you haven't looked, but there are lots of things other than t-shirts. If you're going to insult your host, at the very least, you should at least know what you're talking about.

       

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        David (profile), Aug 12th, 2009 @ 7:41am

        Re: Re: Can't help but work

        To be honest, I didn't think I was "insulting my host". I did think I was (loosely) trying to imply that he was being disingenuous.

        Mike is implying that he is doing his CWF+WTF campaign as a "business model". To show others how it is done, apparently. I don't see what his business is, other than selling expensive T-shirts. The blog is not a business, unless he puts up a pay-wall. The free blog came first, so how can you have a business model and no business?

        I don't see any problem with asking people for money if they like what you are doing. If you're going to do it regardless, then it's nice to also get paid. But lets call it what it is, and that is begging. As far as I know, Mike is not in the T-shirt business. What he's doing now is pretty much the same as the guys on the street playing the guitar and having a hat out for donations. Do something for people and hope they feel guilty enough to toss a coin your way. Right?

        Or have I misread something? Is Techdirt really just a way to sell expensive T-shirts? If nobody bought the T-shirts, would Techdirt go away? How long has Techdirt sold expensive T-shirts anyway? Is the business model "write a blog for 12 years and then Bam! sell them T-shirts"?

         

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          LeBleu (profile), Aug 12th, 2009 @ 10:36am

          Re: Re: Re: Can't help but work

          The blog is not a business, unless he puts up a pay-wall. The free blog came first, so how can you have a business model and no business?

          Apparently you haven't gotten the memo, but is possible to build a business around things that are free. For example, broadcast over the air television. So unless you want to claim that CBS and their local affiliates don't have business models, I don't see how you can claim that a free blog can't be a business. If you look closely, you might notice that Techdirt is not truly a free blog, it is an advertising supported blog that makes money both by drawing clicks to the ads listed down the right side of your screen, and advertising Floor 64's other businesses.

          Specifically, I believe the businesses that Floor64 (the producers of Techdirt) are in currently are analysis and marketing (more precisely creating a market to hire experts to write articles around topics you wish to draw attention to called the "Insight Community"). If you dig around enough, you would also see that Floor64 "analysts provide corporate blogs of customized business and trend analysis for individual companies such as Volkswagen, Sprint, SAP and Nuance. ", which I assume they charge the companies suitable fees for. Techdirt seems like an excellent way to advertise the abilities of the analysts they want you to hire.

          Now, presumably Techdirt and Floor64 are currently profitable, given the long time they have been around. However, like any business, they want to increase their bottom line. So, they decided to put their expert market analysis into place on their own product, looking for new ways to monetize. So, they picked a list of scarce goods that they thought would have increased demand due to being complementary to the free, unlimited distribution of Techdirt content. One of these goods is custom T-shirts, but there are a lot better deals on the list than just expensive T-shirts, such as the consulting or publishing services at the $5,000+ level. These better deals are priced appropriately for companies, not individuals.

           

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          Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 12th, 2009 @ 10:45am

          Re: Re: Re: Can't help but work

          Mike is implying that he is doing his CWF+WTF campaign as a "business model". To show others how it is done, apparently.

          That's incorrect. We said it's an experiment, based on the business models others are using, to see what we can learn from it.

          The blog is not a business, unless he puts up a pay-wall. The free blog came first, so how can you have a business model and no business?

          Um. This blog has been the basis of our business for about a decade now... Poke around the site a bit.

          I don't see any problem with asking people for money if they like what you are doing. If you're going to do it regardless, then it's nice to also get paid. But lets call it what it is, and that is begging.

          I'm confused. How is offering something that people can buy if they want to "begging." Begging is asking for a donation for nothing in return. We're selling things -- and if people find them valuable, they'll buy them. That's not begging any more than any store selling any product is begging.

          Or have I misread something? Is Techdirt really just a way to sell expensive T-shirts? If nobody bought the T-shirts, would Techdirt go away? How long has Techdirt sold expensive T-shirts anyway? Is the business model "write a blog for 12 years and then Bam! sell them T-shirts"?

          Um. T-shirts are one tiny part of this. Did you even look at the site?

           

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            David (profile), Aug 12th, 2009 @ 3:07pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Can't help but work

            Yeah, yeah, yeah. I did "poke around the site". You also sell hoodies! Wow.

            Okay. Your "business model" is "Give people stuff for free and then sell them expensive T-shirts". Is that right? You didn't used to do that. You used to have ads at the side. Maybe you still do. I don't see them, because of Adblock. So the ads weren't working out so well, or you wanted more money. Fine.

            However, selling T-shirts is not a business model. You can claim you are "giving fans access", but really, who is going to pony up $10000 for "a theme for a week"? $20000 for you to speak at their business? How much do you usually charge to speak? It sure as hell isn't $20000. So most of your offerings are jokes. Why did you make the last one $100,000,000? Why not something a bit more down to earth, like say $250,000? Because you are worried some rich guy that doesn't like you might actually pay up?

            So all I can conclude is that most of the offerings were just jokes, and you have no real intention of having to pay out for most of them. Even asking $25 for a T-shirt is a joke. It seems like it is all a joke to me, and not a "business model".

            Are you going to get some suckers to pay up for some of the levels? Sure. Will this model apply to say, my website? My blog? Unlikely. As someone else above jokingly pointed out, the real business model is "be clever and make money, or be stupid and don't". You are clever, you are first, you have something unique. Hey, I like the site, I even agree with you sometimes. But I don't really like it enough to pay, and if it went away I'd say "Oh well" and move on.

            It's really nice that you've made some kind of living doing this. I'm envious, really. I wish I was as clever, or had been in the right place at the right time. But honestly, don't pretend that selling T-shirts is a business model. It's just selling T-shirts.

             

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              Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 12th, 2009 @ 3:19pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Can't help but work

              Hi David,

              Appreciate the comments, but could do without the sarcasm. I'm not sure why you keep arguing that "selling stuff" is not a business model. It seems like the oldest business model around.

              As for our full business model, you should look at our corporate site: http://www.floor64.com/ and http://www.insightcommunity.com/ That's where we make our money.

              But we've made some money from the tiers as well. I understand that you don't like the $25 option (which, by the way, is for more than just a t-shirt), but I can't see why you think that because you dislike the price on one single tier it means that the whole thing is a joke. You keep picking different tiers and singling out one thing in the tier, ignoring everything else that's included.

              You don't have to like what we're selling -- that's fine. You don't have to buy it. But I'm confused by your claims that we're somehow being dishonest. Selling stuff (goods and services) is a business model. How is it not a business model?

               

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    Philip (profile), Aug 11th, 2009 @ 1:21pm

    ... don't close it!

    I've actually been eying the book club option for a bit now. But the $150 drop down is stalling me out for a short bits. Once a couple extra things are taken care of, I plan on getting it. So .. don't close it! I don't know if you plan to close it or not...I just know it is an experiment and well, all experiments do come to an end.

     

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    Philip (profile), Aug 11th, 2009 @ 1:23pm

    Now, the real question ....

    I guess nobody's bought the ultimate top tier, eh?

     

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      DJ (profile), Aug 11th, 2009 @ 1:57pm

      Re: Now, the real question ....

      top tier is a lose/win conflict management.

      Lose: Whomever once had $100,000,000 to throw around, now no longer has it.

      Win: Mike is now $100,000,000 richer.

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 2:35pm

    Still waiting for the CwF 'Smoke a joint with Mike' and 'Do some downloading with Mike' options...

     

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    Bob Vila, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 3:33pm

    If I had any money and/or talent, I'd buy his plan.

     

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    minijedimaster (profile), Aug 11th, 2009 @ 7:06pm

    How about an option of Techdirt will pony up for a defense attorney when I get sued for copyright infringement?

     

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    ulle53, Aug 12th, 2009 @ 3:44am

    I am beginning to wonder if any of the people who paid for any of the CwF items actually received them, I know my CC was charged real quick, but so far no delivery or even word of impending delivery.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2009 @ 4:23am

      Re:

      > I am beginning to wonder if any of the people who paid for any of the CwF items actually received them

      The website says:

      Please allow 8-12 weeks for delivery. This is an experiment, so we need some time to send this stuff out to you. In the meantime, please enjoy your Techdirt Crystal Ball.

      I don't think it's been 8 to 12 weeks yet... so give them some time.

       

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