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Media & Mobile Shine at LAUNCH Silicon Valley Event June 7, 2012

Posted by Bipul Sinha in mobile.
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Earlier this week I had the opportunity to help judge a session on Media & Mobility at the LAUNCH Silicon Valley Conference in Mountain View. Five companies presented:

  • AppSmyth which provides a mobile loyalty platform for retailers and brands
  • KlickEx, a currency exchange service that helps consumers in markets around the world avoid paying banking fees
  • Moodstocks provides an API and SDKs that brands can use to build image recognition into your apps
  • Notous develops application software for NFC (near field communication and RFID software and hardware integration services.
  • Wiz Communications which describes itself as a “disruptive cloud-based over the top push mobile messaging exchange”

It was an impressive group and while each company had a unique offering, there was one a common theme that many shared:  enabling brands to reach their customers on mobile.

Where we are today in mobile reminds me a lot of the early days of social media when many big brands were struggling to figure it out.   A number of interesting start-ups emerged that helped companies not only understand how to better engage with customers, but also how to mine the information they were getting from them to build better products and experiences.

Fast forward to today and brands are now challenged with how to reach and engage with their customers now that they are spending more and more time on their mobile devices.  It’s an exciting time and space and I look forward to see which players emerge as the leaders.

Until then, congratulations to KlickEx for being named one of the day’s companies “Most Likely to Succeed” and to all of the companies for a job well done.

Internet/Media: 5 things that will define 2011 December 8, 2010

Posted by Bipul Sinha in advertising, Consumer internet, social media, social networks, startups.
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Some observations from Bipul Sinha about the internet and media industry in 2011.

1.  Year of Social Utilities

With over half a billion users and open graph integration, Facebook is the Internet with social graph at its core. This is as much of a game-changer (due to a new distribution model based on the social graph) as going from offline to the Internet was in the 90s. A number of startup companies, I call them social utilities, are leveraging the social graph to potentially disrupt traditional online businesses such as dating, e-commerce, travel and recruitment. Yardsellr, Branchout, and Mertado are examples of such companies and we will witness a few scale companies emerging out of this space in 2011.

2.  Display Advertising Enters a Golden Era

Innovations in media transaction platforms along with a better understanding of target audience have brought an amazing level of scale and efficiency in display advertising market. The use of data and technology will disrupt the premium, guaranteed media buying segment in the coming year resulting in an open, transparent marketplace for audience-based transactions. This marketplace will help bring price equilibrium to media supply and demand thereby further increasing the marketing budget spent on this medium. Startups to watch in this space are Legolas Media, Krux Digital, and BrightTag, among others.

3.  Social Media based Discovery Traffic Breaks Out

In the traditional marketing parlance, Google directed web traffic represents bottom-of-the-funnel users who are ready to take an action now. The aggregation of such high-intent traffic is what makes Google a formidable force on the Internet. However, the emergence of social media in the past few years has created a new web where people are the nodes, connected through the social graph. The traditional advertising formats such as display lack both context and intent to be effective in the social media environments. New advertising platforms are emerging to enable advertisers to leverage engaged followings and connections on social media for brand and discovery advertising. The resulting web traffic represents top-of-the-funnel users who are interested in learning more about the products/services, but not ready to commit just yet. This discovery/intent web traffic will grow fast in the coming year to become a significant source of users/customers.

4.  TV Goes Social via Mobile Devices

Since the advent of the Internet, media has been abuzz about web-connected living room. There have been several unsuccessful attempts to bring the web to TV, but the user experience hasn’t matched the lean-back, simple remote controlled TV watching. The new-generation mobile devices such as iPhones and iPads could bridge the gap between the web and the TV, and make TV watching a truly social experience. A number of startups including Peel, Umee, and Miso are attempting to turn this vision into reality and the implications are huge since the winner would essentially influence the content promotion and consumption. I believe that TV will finally go social in the coming year and we will witness a breakout company in this space.

5.  Online-Offline Commerce Accelerates

The astronomical growth of Groupon and LivingSocial* in the past two years heralded the integration of local businesses into the efficient marketing machine of the Internet. This online-offline commerce trend will accelerate in the coming year as more startup companies figure ways to leverage location capabilities of the smart phones to drive foot traffic to the local businesses. This acceleration would largely be driven by discovery via location based social experience sharing. The explosive growth of Instagram is an early sign of the experience sharing trend and we will witness a whole lot more in the coming year.

The New Year will create tons of opportunities. Are you ready?

*A Lightspeed Portfolio company