Techdirt's Has A Quarterly Report?!

from the who-would-have-expected-it? dept

We're going to try something new here on Techdirt going forward, so a quick explanation is in order. Techdirt, as a news service, started seven years ago, in August 1997, originally over email only. It picked up the name Techdirt in February 1998. In late 2000, we turned it into a full time business, with Techdirt Corporate Intelligence, blogging our analysis of the latest news, but focusing it internally for companies who want to stay on top of very specific information within their industry (competitors, new technologies, market changes, etc.). We create a similar blog to what you read here everyday, but focused entirely on what that company wants, stocking it with daily news and analysis designed to match their needs specifically.

We barely mention this service on the main site at all. There are obvious reasons for that. You don't come here to hear us pitching our business every day, but for our discussions on the news of the day. Also, the original corporate website, which we tossed up hastily soon after launching the business... wasn't the greatest -- but that all changes today, as we've launched the brand new Techdirt Corporate Intelligence website (go check it out). Before this, however, whenever anyone at Techdirt ran into a reader in person, they always asked us how the business was going (or, if it was still going at all!) and wondered why we never mention anything related to the corporate side of Techdirt on the site. Meanwhile, since I tend to post the vast majority of posts to the publicly viewable sites, there's some confusion when people realize that Techdirt is a whole lot bigger than just a one-man show. In considering the question over whether or not we've been too shy in talking about the business, I was also working on an internal summary for our staff on how the business advanced over the first half. Seeing as we're coming to the close of Q2 earnings season for public companies, it occurred to me that we might as well do a "public" quarterly report as well, to update those of you who care about the corporate side of the business, while also looking back at some of the trends and news items from Q2 that have been important or noteworthy both for our public reading audience and for the trends we highlight for our corporate customers. So, in the future, expect some sort of semi-regular (most likely quarterly) update on how the business is going. Otherwise, don't expect any changes to the site.

If you don't care, and I'm sure some of you don't, feel free to skip on to the next story. However, for those who are interested, click on through for a quick update on Techdirt Corporate Intelligence in the first of these reports. For those who care, but don't want to click, the summary is that we are growing aggressively. While there have been plenty of articles recently about whether there are any real "business models" for blogging, we've been happily making money blogging for nearly four years, and we intend to keep it up.Summary of Q2:

It always seems like a cliche to start with the good news, but we've been building staff and gaining momentum, which allowed us to exceed our expectations for Q2. The bulk of staff growth came with the addition of several new analysts, while we also built up our sales and marketing resources.

Good media coverage and growth opportunities in new sectors helped fuel Q2 gains. An explanatory piece about us in CIO Magazine (late in Q1) and being named to the Best of the Web list by Forbes.com for the second year running are examples of the type of media coverage we're increasingly seeing as the business grows and people start to sit up and take notice of us.

The second quarter was clearly our best quarter to date, in our core business -- the delivery of daily news and analysis blogging services to well-established companies. We were extremely successful this quarter at building the business with a new crop of Fortune 100, Blue Chip companies in a variety of sectors.

As mentioned above, part of the reason for Q2's success was our ability to expand into new market segments, including the financial services and insurance arenas. We also continued to build up our biotech & nanotech practice, bringing on additional expertise in this area, and have designated it as one of our core areas of focus for the next few years.

We were able to grow the business in almost every one of our traditional business segments. Our largest market remains telecom & broadband, and we continue to expand our market presence significantly in this space signing some of the top companies in the wireless market, and expanding our solution for many existing customers. We also signed new customers in our internet and new media group, a market segment that seems to have really heated up in the last six months, opening many new opportunities for us, as well. This market segment covers internet, e-commerce, search, online advertising, games and digital entertainment. The consumer and enterprise software segment remains something of a mystery. We continue to grow this area, signing a few, smaller deals within the space, but sense that there is still some sluggishness among companies here. We signed one major deal in the hardware market, even though we have not been putting that much emphasis on the space recently. Finally, our automotive and industrial technologies segment has remained constant. This seems to be cyclical more than anything else, and it looks poised to grow during the second half of the year, as interest in this segment picked up near the end of Q2.

One focus going forward will be to upgrade our technology: adding new features for both our internal analysts and our corporate customers to give them more value in turning our analysis and information into action items. We have also begun planning on our next generation (Version 3) of both our information gathering tools and our content management system.

While we're basking in the glow of a good quarter, it's of course, important to remember that quarters, good and bad, come and go. The real challenge and continuing focus on the business must be accelerating growth tempered by sustained profitability.

Through the rest of the year and into 2005, the challenge will be to continue to build on the momentum we've achieved in the first half of the year and to sustain increasing growth while maintaining our current margins and level of profitability. We'd like to thank everyone who has helped us out, whether as a customer, a reader, a partner or an employee. We couldn't have gotten as far as we have without you. We'd like to put in a special thanks to the regular readers of Techdirt, especially those who are constantly challenging us and keeping us on our toes. Thanks for keeping us honest!

Analysis:

Now that we've gotten out of the business section (answering all those pesky questions people have been asking...) we get to move on to the much more enjoyable analysis section, where we cover some of the more major trends that we've been following or noteworthy stories. While we're pulling stories from the public Techdirt sites (obviously), many of these themes are incorporated into the analysis that has been done for our corporate clients. Often, we will discuss these same themes with our clients prior to discussing them publicly on Techdirt, where we will also put them into context for their businesses, and also make suggestions concerning how to respond to various threats and opportunities in the market place.

Here are just a few areas that appear to be key trends and milestones from Q2 that we'll be carefully following for customers in Q3 and onward.

The Triple Play +/- Wireless:
The telco/cable world has been talking about the "triple play" of voice, video and data over a single connection for years. However, the space really exploded over the last few months, partly due to a growing acceptance for VoIP among cable companies, and various regulatory issues that are forcing companies to re-evaluate how they fit into the space. One interesting element of this is that some companies are suddenly realizing wireless connections may play into this more than most people originally suspected. While the original triple play was focused on voice, video and data over a single pipe, most expected that pipe to be wired. When the wires are cut, it opens up a whole new world of possibilities, and not all the major players are prepared to deal with a world without tethers. This is going to lead to increased deal making as relationships and "virtual" systems are brought together to solve product line gaps, but which could lead to a lot more consolidation in the industry.

Articles of note:
What Happens Next In The US Broadband Market
Your New Phone Company Is The Cable Company?
Cablevision Gets A Clue, Gives VoIP Away
Time Warner Still Considering Adding Mobile Service
Disconnecting The Holy Grail

Spyware and Spam Go From Annoying To Evil
Spyware and spam are nothing new at all. Both have been around so long that (unfortunately) it's tough to remember an internet without them. However, recently, they've moved over from the annoying past time of script kiddies or small time crooks to big business and organized crime. Spyware products are getting installed surreptitiously. New phishing scams are talked about nearly every day with no clear solution in sight. Zombie machines are tricked into spamming, such that Comcast's users, together, are technically the largest spammer in the world. So far, companies and individuals haven't done much to stop this craze, either ignoring the problems, or trying to fight small fires, rather than tackle the big problem. Our politicians are of almost no help on this at all, not understanding the issues, and not willing to tackle difficult questions in an election year. A concerted effort is need to tackle all of these problems, and no one has taken the lead to do anything. The longer the world waits, the worse the problem is going to becoming, impacting businesses and individuals worldwide.

Articles of note:
Do We Need A Pure Software Act?
Is Fighting Spam More Profitable Than Spamming?
Should We Blame Security Victims?
Trying To Unravel Study About IT/Employee Security Disconnect
Anti-Spam Legislation Makes Spam More Malicious
Latest Spyware Even More Evil
Yahoo's Famed Anti-Spyware App Allows Spyware From Partners
ISPs Teaming Up To Standardize Plans To Stop Zombies

The Internet Roars Back to Life:
After a few years of doom and gloom (but certainly not boom) in the whole dot com world, things have started to get exciting again. While some suspect it's a case of temporary irrational exuberance, there's increasing evidence that there really are some internet-based business models that work. Not only that, while they're about half a decade past the original predictions, some really are changing the way traditional firms do business.

Articles of note:
Google Launches Email Service - Tons O' Storage Included
Pushy Salespeople Showing Up Online... In Pop-Up Boxes
Paid Search Battles Get Nasty
Amazon's A9 Search Project Launches
As Expected, Google Announces IPO Plans
Look At That: There Are Women Online Too
That Other Big Tech IPO
Blue Nile Gets Dot Com Stock Enthusiasm Bump

Politics and Innovation: Mutually Exclusive?
While many think that ongoing legal battles over intellectual property are mainly focused on a bunch of kids who want stuff for free, there are much bigger issues at hand, concerning whether or not companies will be allowed to innovate over the next few years, or if everything will need to be approved by a oligopoly of established competitors and their political friends. This isn't a battle over free music or how to protect good ideas, but about misusing intellectual property laws for anti-competitive purposes, which could impact our economy in drastic ways.

Articles of interest:
No Joking Matter: Today's Bad Patents
Quentin Tarantino Admits That Film Copying Isn't Always So Bad
EFF To Proactively Try To Bust Bogus Patents
Music Sales Haven't Really Dropped
Patent Reform In The Wrong Direction
More Musicians Realize Free Can Be Profitable
Acacia Gets Cocky - Sues Satellite And Cable Companies
Tech CEOs Say Artificial Barrier Are Bad (Unless They're Protecting Us)
Patent Problems Creep Into WiFi

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  • identicon
    Piper, 10 Aug 2004 @ 10:13am

    keep up the good work

    hey mike... it's great to see you building a solid biz so i can get my daily fix on techdirt... keep up the good work..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Aug 2004 @ 10:54am

    No Subject Given

    where is your pricing information for tech ci?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Grier, 10 Aug 2004 @ 1:49pm

      Re: No Subject Given

      Pricing for the corporate service depends on the scope of the service, which may vary greatly depending on the needs of each customer. When we get an inquiry regarding the service, we work together to conduct an assessment of the scope based on the company's requirements, and derive pricing from that assessment. I'm sorry there isn't a more precise answer.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Richard Prosser, 11 Aug 2004 @ 2:40am

    It's not just about patents

    Trademarks are also being abused. I found one via the uspto.gov site recently for 'WebZine', which is clearly a well-established concept and cannot be considered as a product, which is (or so I thought) what trademarks are meant to be about.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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