Kawasaki: Paid Content is Major Venture Opportunity

(By Peter Krasilovsky) Panelists speaking at MIT Enterprise Forum’s meeting in San Diego on June 22 argued that paid content and the tools surrounding paid content might be one of three major venture opportunities, alongside wireless and open source. The meeting marked the MIT Forum’s 25th anniversary and was broadcast to local MIT Forum chapters in 25 cities.

“The free ride (for content) is over,” said Guy Kawasaki, CEO of Garage Technology Ventures, an investor in BitPass, a processor of micro content sales. “There are many scenarios in which people are willing to buy content. But the mechanisms for buying have been so heinous, it is hard to ask people to do it.

Kawasaki especially derided monthly subscription plans as an unsuitable alternative. “It is like being forced to buy 15 cases of Sam Adams (beer) when you want just one.” He added that “there are lots of Greenfield opportunities related to the idea that people will buy content”.

Fellow panelist Ann Winblad, Co-founder, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, noted that companies tied to content management as well as content analytics will probably find their fortunes tied to the burgeoning paid content environment, although she said it was hard to say when paid content would show a real impact. Winblad added that her company has tracked $5.1 billion of venture capital being invested in 1Q 2004, marking a comeback for the industry, which had fallen off dramatically during the dotcom and telecom collapse. Local venture capitalists speaking on a panel at the MIT Forum in San Diego suggested that much of the new investment was likely in Biotech and Life Sciences, rather than software, telecom or hardware.

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