I’m joining the team at Snaps

Snaps is a creative platform for brands.  The Houston Rockets are using Snaps for fan engagement.

Like many of us in the New York tech and media communities, I’ve tried to invest my time working with world class entrepreneurs, incredible visions and great businesses. To that end, I’m thrilled to share that I’m joining the team at Snaps as its CEO.

When I first met Vivian Rosenthal, she described her view of a world where social communication had shifted from text-based, desktop conversation, to mobile-first visual channels like Instagram, Vine,Tumblr, Pinterest and others. We talked at length about how this shift will continue to create new opportunities and challenges for marketers, and how software can help create better conversations between consumers and brands in this new, visual space.

Our conversation didn’t end at mobile. We also talked a about where that visual world is headed. With the emergence of new platforms like Google Glass, Oculus Rift and Magic Leap, new channels will continue to emerge that will transform the way consumers and brands communicate, and they’re only becoming increasingly visual and immersive.

I believe that Snaps is perfectly positioned to help create, capture and amplify the visual conversation on the web. The current Snaps offering is a fun, engaging, creative solution that has already empowered some of the world’s best consumer brands in social media, including SecretKraft, Kate Spade, Sony Pictures, Nestlé and The Houston Rockets.

Snaps has made incredible progress towards becoming a robust creative platform for brands, but we’re just getting started. I’m thrilled to be joining the team at this phase, and hope to share more about our product soon.

Mobile Advertising Sucks and That Needs to Change

I was not surprised to see a recent report from Trademob finding that 40% of mobile ad clicks are either accidental or fraudulent.

When I interned for Jerry Neumann, he had me take a look at the mobile vs. display ecosystem, which I did. Back then I was interested in the differences between mobile and desktop traffic with respect to audience buying.  My conclusion from that exercise was that existing DSPs were best-positioned to figure this out when mobile ad buying demand was big enough, so the risks of creating a mobile DSP probably outweighed the opportunity.

But after reading the recent Trendmob report on click results, I’m starting to think that we haven’t been looking at the ecosystem in the right way.  I previously thought of mobile the way a lot of people look at mobile: a smaller version of our desktop experiences with some nuanced differences in cookie technology. I’m building some new theories about mobile advertising.  I’m starting with the statement that mobile advertising fundamentally sucks, but also that it’s important for  it to eventually not suck.

Related to my point above about DSPs, even if we get better at audience targeting on mobile, we haven’t solved the engagement problem. Selling clicks on mobile is not an indicator of anything other than a bot or my fat thumb accidentally hitting a banner.  What’s worse: more and more, we’re consuming our content on mobile devices.  If your primary revenue driver is advertising and your customers are increasingly consuming your product in a medium that’s a bad format for advertising, you are going to have a big problem on your hands in the near term.

According to Mary Meeker’s 2012 Internet Trends Report,  here are a few disparate data points that, in my opinion, spell disaster for the ad-supported media industry:

  1. Mobile Internet Usage surpassed desktop internet usage in India this year.  I’m betting that much of the world is moving in the same direction.  While mobile traffic won’t replace desktop access in more developed countries, it’s going to become an increasingly bigger piece of the pie.
  2. eCPMs on mobile are $0.75 vs. desktop which are about $3.50. Based on The Law of Shitty Clickthroughs, this isn’t a great start to the relationship between advertisers and consumers on mobile.  It will likely improve, but probably not by much.
  3. Mobile monetization levels could surpass desktop in three years (but not through advertising).  Most revenue in the mobile ecosystem is commerce-based, whether through game in-app transactions, app purchases, etc.  So, while monetization levels will increase, there’s no indication that media companies will take part in that.

I see this as an ominous sign for publishers, as well as an opportunity to create value.

Joining the team at K2

K2 Media LabsI’m very excited to announce that I’ll be joining the team at K2 Media Labs on a full-time basis in the coming weeks.  K2 is an early stage private equity fund that invests in startups focused on the connected consumer.

The Company is a bit of a hybrid, in that it makes early-stage investments and also incubates companies in-house.  My day-to-day job will include working with CEO Daniel Klaus and Chairman Kevin Wendle on due diligence, planning and implementing strategies around new startup investments, as well as working in a supporting role with the current portfolio companies.  On the investing side I hope to build on what I’ve learned from Joe, Nikhil and the rest of the team at Softbank Capital, and from my time learning from Jerry Neumann at NEU VC.  From an operations perspective,  I’m hoping my time in business development, social marketing, product development, and my background in media & entertainment has given me a foundation of experience to be a value add to the incredibly talented group of entrepreneurs at K2.  I’ve spent lots of time selling services to businesses, and building in mobile and on Facebook.  While I still have limited knowledge and tons to learn, I hope that the skill set and network that I’ve built will be helpful to the entrepreneurs I will work with.

Aside from the in-house team at K2 , the fund has a phenomenal group of investors and advisors. Overall, I could not be more excited by the opportunity to learn from this team.  There aren’t many opportunities to work on both the investment and operations sides of early stage businesses, so I feel incredibly lucky to be here and I can’t wait to hit the ground running.

I plan to invest more time and energy into this blog, posting more often on topics covering startup operations and early stage investing.  If you ever want to connect, you can find me at christian[at]k2medialabs.com, or on twitter @nycsteady.

The Media Generation (M2) Means CPMs will Change

I really enjoyed checking out this writeup on Silicon Alley Insider about the media habits of 8-18 year-old American kids.  The study was released a few months ago by the Kaiser Family Foundation (you can see the full study here).

There are a few choice statistics in this report.  The most interesting piece to me is the amount of media exposure that tweens are exposed to today, and the exponential growth rate that they’ve experienced.  At 10.5 hours in 2009,  kids are essentially spending every waking moment consuming media.  What’s more, this represents an increase of 43% from media consumption levels from just ten years ago.  I’m unsure how kids can find this kind of time in their days.  It would seem to leave little time for anything else.

Studying is wasting XBox time (teen interviewee)

In most interviews taken, kids are talking about texting, listening to iPods, watching TV and playing video games, often at the same time.    Social networking takes up over 2.5 hours per day.  Other top time-consuming activities include playing video games and watching online videos:

I propose that this level of media exposure greatly lowers the value of advertising, in general.  Let’s look a t a 30 second television advertisement.  In a 10.5 hours media consumption day, that’s 1/1,260th of the media “real estate” that a kid is consuming today; is that worth the price of admission?

Additionally, it seems that kids are multitasking more than ever; which lowers the amount of attention an advertiser gets with their spot.  I believe this is why media buying will move further towards measuring interactions instead of impressions.  The value of simple impressions has dropped significantly in the past few years, and probably with good reason (CPMs can be purchased for less than $2 in some networks).  How can advertisers be certain anyone is even exposed to their ads if  they take up such a small piece of the attention pie?  The only answer seems to be inserting an interaction qualifier:  using QR codes, measuring clicks, using tracking URLS and other interaction-based measurements are going to increasingly become the standard.  The downside of this, as Chris Dixon points out, is that buying performance tends to rewards content light sites where users go often, and click through quickly (at least for any cost-per-click or affiliate marketing programs).  This creates new challenges for the media industry as a whole, as advertisers will continue to search for ways to become signal in an increasingly noisy environment.

My Product Development Experiences

It’s been quite a while since I’ve had time to post here…but I can explain!!

For the past 8 months, aside from my standard fare of corporate finance and macroeconomics classes, I’ve been spending much of my time outside of work a building a web-based product, as well as the business requirements that developing and releasing a new product entail.

What I’ve been building with a partner is an enterprise software suite. I’ll get into greater detail in future posts (breaking Chris Dixon’s recommendation for being un-secretive), but I’m primarily interested in talking about what I learned, rather than the product iteself.

To sum up my recent experience, we had an idea for a tweak on an enterprise software suite. We had a philosophy, and approach, to the user experience that was pretty unique from what everyone else in the space was doing. We were confident that there was a market need and that it was not being addressed. So, in August, 2009 a partner and I started building our solution. Fast forward today– we were beat to market last week by a major player in the space.

I want to share two key items I’ve learned from my experience to any entrepreneurs out there:

Don’t over-think it: Share your ideas and get feedback. You really need to take ideas out of a vacuum as soon as humanly possible; to get in front of people and talk about your idea. I learned so much from people who weren”t anywhere near the industry that our product was being bult to service. Why? If you cant explain what it does quickly and clearly, you have no idea what it does and you should stop what you’re doing. This goes for functionality and value proposition. Even if your product is insanely complicated, the value proposition should be clear and simple.

Get to market at (almost) all costs You can never build anything in your garage that will be better, or even as good, as what an existing competitor can develop. All you get to be is first. The benefits of first-mover advantage are debatable, especially when network effects come into play. Being market ready is not a function of having every feature complete and bug-free, it’s about having it good enough to get people using it, and allowing it to change dynamically. I’ve recently enjoyed reading posts and editorials from the 37 signals team. I think they have a lot of smart things to say about the dev process.

That’s about it. We’re still moving along and the product is still great, but if I could repeat the process, we would have dropped features and gotten it out quickly.

Dont be overly-precious with your ideas. Involve people early and change as you go.

More to come.

The distance between zero and one

by Christian Brucculeri

A friend of mine once told me that this distance between zero and one is infinitely greater than the distance between one and two. I completely agree and, in homage to this statement, I am filling this space with my first blog post.

I’ve been holding off publishing anything due to the fact that I couldn’t think of a title for this blog, grab a vanity URL or even find a decent graphic to post in the header- all simple tasks, none of which I’ve been able to achieve. I can chalk it up to any number of reasons: I’m too busy, I’m too busy and of course, I’m way too busy to start a blog.  At the end of the day that’s starting to feel like a pretty lame excuse.

I am hoping that this post will serve as a swift kick to get me started. Hello empty space!!

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.

All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in ones favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

Begin it now.”