The Patents I Never Filed…Multicast Networks, Personalized Streaming and Advertising and Self Service Hosting

Anyone who follows me on twitter or reads this blog knows I’m not a big fan of technology patents or patent law. I think they inhibit innovation and have become a weapon of small business destruction rather than a foundation of progress.  But that is not the point of this post.

Way back in the 1990s Audionet/Broadcast.com was always having to invent new ways of streaming audio/video , presenting them to consumers and generating new revenue opportunities.  You know those pop up windows that Netflix has used for years ? We created those. Called them “Guaranteed Click Throughs” because we guaranteed that when a user clicked on them they would take you right to your website.  We sold them for 25cents EACH. That is how valuable traffic was back then.  Sure wish I patented them so I could prevent anyone else from ever using them !

There were some other things we were working on that I put together notes on. My lawyers wanted me to go through the entire process of patenting them. I just wanted to compete. So the patent applications never got past my note taking.  But in the interest of helping anyone who may ever face a patent troll on these topics, these are my notes.  (And FWIW, I’m not saying these would definitely have gotten patents, and the in depth tech information is not in here. These were just notes to start a process that was never completed)

#1 A Network of Multicast Networks

Invention Disclosure Form

Abstract (2-4 sentences): MultiNetworkMulticast Network – A commercial network of multicast enabled networks. The composite of multiple Multcast enabled networks that terminates at a single point that enables digital content to be distributed in a one to many fashion across multiple networks from a single initiation point.                                                 This enables providers of digital content to enable broadcast of those bits to an unlimited number of networks and hence, endpoints on that network of the content while only needing to enable a single source                                             

Conception date (describe any available written evidence of conception):                           

                        Oct 1996                                                                                                                    

List all contributors to the project from which the invention arose:                                     

                                    Mark Cuban, Kevin Smith                                                                                                     

Has the invention been disclosed, or is it likely to be disclosed in the near future, to people or parties outside of the company?  For example, has the invention been described, demonstrated or made available (i) to a vendor or customer; (ii) at a beta site; (iii) at a technical conference or trade show; (iv) or in a printed publication?  If so, provide the date and a description of each such disclosure and state whether the disclosure was subject to a non-disclosure agreement (NDA):                                                

            Yes, the network is in use, and has been disclosed since Dec 1996                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Identify each company project or product that utilizes or may utilize the invention.  Also list the current status of each such project or product, including any known or anticipated release, sales, shipping, beta testing, demonstration or public disclosure dates:                                          All streaming media and media distribution products used by the company benefits from this invention. The company has been working with commercial networks since 1996 to aggregate them into a single network. We have been building the network internally to link those networks, and have been testing the integration of application software to distribute those bits across multiple multicast enabled networks since January 1997.

We are currently actively working with Internet Service Providers and Network Backbone providers to integrate them into the process. Once integrated, the invention will allow us to distribute digital content in real time to a potentially unlimited size audience                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Identify and describe any prior references that are relevant to the invention (e.g., known products, patents, publications, etc.):      There exists a non profit network known as the Mbone. The mbone is a loosley coupled network of networks which can be joined or left at anypoint, without initiation or notice of departure. However, because it is not controlled or owned by any organization, there is no consistency for distribution on the network. There is no single point from which a content provider can go, link to  or integrate in order to assure the delivery of their digital content to all endpoints. We looked at this configuration and enhanced it by  creating defined links and destinations, creating the network of networks so that a content provider knows exactly what destination network endpoints are available, and the capabilities of those links                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

State the problem that motivated or required the solution provided by your invention and briefly describe how your invention solves this problem:                                    In distributing digital content on the internet today, there is a huge problem of scale. Digital content is transmitted by sending a continuous stream of bits from an origination point, directly to a destination point in a 1 to 1 fashion. The problem is that number of destination points is limited by the amount of bandwidth available to the provider. So , to deliver 1gb of digital content to 100,000 users would require 100000000000000 bits of bandwidth !

The multicast protocol enables those same 1gb of content to be broadcast in a one to many fashion. However in order to receive those bits, users must be on a network that has been multicast enabled, and all the multicast networks that the desired audience exist on, must be linked to a common network. If the multicast enabled networks are not linked, then the content provider must originate content on each multicast enabled network seperately.                                                                                                                                        By creating our network of networks, we enabled content providers to broadcast content one time to multiple multicast enabled networks,. As a result, in the above example, only 1gb of bandwidth would be needed to reach those 100k users.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Describe how others have tried to solve the same or similar types of problems, and describe how your invention differs from those solutions:               Others have tried to create organizations that encouraged people to work together to try to solve this problem, but it has not happened until we did it.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Strategic Importance: Briefly state why this invention is strategically valuable to the company.  In other words, explain (i) how it would benefit the company to be able to prevent one of our competitors from using this technology; or (ii) why the company would care if one of our competitors could prevent us from using this technology:                                                                             The company has spent considerable dollars and resources to enable this invention and offer the benefit to our customers.  We have contractually tried to protect ourselves. However, if a company were to copy our efforts, they could offer the same level of savings to digital content providers thereby injuring our profit potential and market position.

#2 Personalization System – 1998 – This was a system we had designed and had implemented a simple version of, with the below enhancements in progress

The goal of this system is to find out as much as we possibly can about our users by asking them questions, track  exactly what they listen or watch and for how long, to allow them to create a My.Yahoo.Com  that lists their favorite content, with reminders for scheduled programs/events and recommendations for comparable content along with community items such as related newsgroups, chats, and the like

It starts with a user going to to a  webpage where they provide us demographics information, and then choose the categories of content they like. They also pick their favorite teams, artists, companies they follow  and schedules.

From there a custom Player SMIL file is created so that the user can have their personalization features presented to them inside the player. It will look like My.Yahoo, only in the player. A comparable HTML page will be created as well. So they can interact in either way

In addition to listings , there will be a calendar feature that can be local on the harddrive, or on a webpage , but it is personalized with games , shows, events based on the items chosen and reminders requested.  The user should also be able to go to a master calendar and drag and drop to the personal calendar

There also needs to be a personalized ticker with hot text ads, prices of selected stocks, and alarms or reminders of events chosen.

There shouldbe a search feature in the player, that allows the user to search Broadcast.com  for other items , whether live or on demand

There must then of course be personalized advertising. Based upon the demographics information provided and upon the content, audio and video that the user accesses. This of course means that we will need to keep multiple master databases of users,  their unique id, the unique ID assigned by the mediaplayer,. This will allow us to say that sample user, who has these characteristics, is now about to watch  this music video, so deliver this specified gateway ad , and during the content, deliver these following types of ads. The ads will be defined based upon category like zones. There needs to be an unlimited number of these categories for us to sell.

There must be a means of commerce. Commerce entails two levels, one is to buy  impulse merchandise associated with the content. So it could be a trip to Dallas when listening to the zone if the user is from out of town, or a free coupon to a restaurant if the user is in town, and of course if the user is listening to a CD from the jukebox, they must be able to buy the CD.  There must also be the option, in certain instances to save the audio or video to disk for a fee. This requires us to define the content as an object with characteristics that enabled depending on the geography (some content may only be available to local residents), or on whether we have the download rights,  or whether we have it available for sale as a product.

 The goal is to offer personalization, track, suggest and sell.

We will sell products, ads, gateway ads, in content ads, and who knows what other types of digital opportunities that arise.

#3 Self Service Hosting 1998 – Broadcast.com Personal Broadcast Network

The goal is to allow a person to come to simplenet (Broadcast.com’s hosting subsidiary) and select a hosting option that allows them to offer ondemand or live streaming content. To make a choice as to the size audience they would like to reach, and to have options as to how they would like to be promoted.

The system must also have a calendar component so that content can be included in a schedule if live, or as part of a search engine of on demand.  The content must also have the option of being private and having a password assigned that the user can hand out to whoever they want, and that will secure the stream.

The system must accommodate what happens on the backend server as well and of course the whole thing must happen WITHOUT any hands on intervation. Each service/offering must be handsfree, completely selfservice so that it can scale. The only exception is for encoded of sent items, which will be charged on a per hour basis for handling.

  1. User Gets a Welcome to the Broadcast.com Personal Broadcast Network
  2. Please download Your Personal Broadcast Station. This is our custom  version of the real and netshow encoders combined in a single package. When you run it, it asks the following questions.

 Do you want to broadcast in Audio or Video ?

  1. Live -

Ask them for a description of the show. Different questions for audio and video. Video, is it from a camera, VCR, is it music, talk only, news, lots of motion, little motion, sports, whatever we can think of . This helps us determine what kind of quality and encoder settings to suggest, and what speed PC is necessary to encode  The assumption is that all feeds will be delivered via a dialup internet connection

  1. The user is asked if this is the PC that will deliver the live feed
    1. If yes, a tracert is done and the network they are using is determined. It is compared to a list of good and bad networks and an interpretation is made of the likelihood of good connections. ie, if its AOL, or if tracert is over 250ms, then a warning is issued.
    2. The software then  reads the hardware config, the cpu config, who the ISP is from the Wininet, and the speed of the connection and reads their modem configuration, and then sends it to us or allows them to upload the file it creates to us

A, If its video, what kind of video card they are using to capture (To determine compatibility of encoders)

1. If they don’t know, or don’t have a compatible card, they are offered a list of cards that we will sell them, with an option to have a local reseller install for an additional $99.95. In addition, they are offered a complete PC setup with all the required pieces ready to go for $2495 for video.

2. They are asked what the video source is , camera, vcr,

3. They are asked what kind of computer and configurationit is to make sure it has enough horse power to encode live video

B. If its audio, same kind of questions as above. Ask them if they will be using the mic that came with their computer. Ask them if they will be mixing multiple sources. Ask them if this is talk, news, sports,  music, what level of quality they want.

C. Give them the option of buying multiple radio station setups. From software to program a music station, software only, or computer included, to devices to do remotes, devices to take phone calls, etc.

D.Promotional  Options

  1. Be listed in the Broadcast.com Personal Broadcast Network Schedule – $5 per month
  2. Have a featured time that appears in the whats on now homepage of the Personal Broadcast Network . Only one per scheduled time. Each time has a specific price, and once its taken, its gone. So Monday, 5pm is , lets say $60, Tuesday 2am is $5

Be listed in the Main Broadcast.com Live Events Listing  $ 100 per month

4       Buy Banners on Broadcast.com

General Rotation $ 30 CPM, minimum of $100

Specific Location $50 CPM, minimum of $100

  1. Select the pricing option

On demand – Per Month $ 29.95 for 14.4, 59.95 for 28.8. , for up to 4 hours of content. Up to 50 simultaneous users. 25% discount if they run our gateway ads prior and use our SMIL template

Live – 24×7

28.8 audio or video 19.95 up to 10 simul users, if they run gw

ads, 29.95 if not.

288 audio or video, 99.95 up to 25 simul users, 149 up to 50

if they run our gateway ads. Without gateway ads, $149 and                                                               $199.

Option to save and make available as archive is priced same as o                                                          on demand.

Final option (Till we think of more things), is the reporting option Its another $10 for monthly reports, $30 for weeklyreports.

On the backend, once a user completes the information and their credit card is approved, the backend software checks our server farm to find the next available server.This server has its config file modified to create a user block (this is already setup to work in real, not sure about netshow), and assign a password for the user, and an IP range based upon the tracert done from the software. This range (since its dialup its not a specific ip) limits the box the feed can come from . From there the user is emailed a server config file, along with an instruction manual on how to start the encoder and what directory to put the server config file. Then away they go !

If its on demand, and they send encoded file, same thing happens. They encod the file and the destination is  our server. One difference is that we will set a disk quota basedupon the number of hours and bit rate purchased. So if the user bought up to 4 hours of encoded 28.8 video, they get 25kbsx60x4 or 6mbs of disk storage.

The user is then sent complete instructions on how to link to the file. Or we can just license the RealNetworks publisher which has this built in.

44 thoughts on “The Patents I Never Filed…Multicast Networks, Personalized Streaming and Advertising and Self Service Hosting

  1. Live musician competition streaming Mark. MusicianCompetition.com what type of video infrastructure am I looking at for 512kbps 50 concurrent viewers? I’m trying to figure out how to make this happen. Any perspective? Thanks.

    Comment by Rob (@DomainFlipGuy) -

  2. Patents make my stomach turn.. its like your competitor analyzing and saying, “HEY! YOU MISSED A SPOT!” Then taking a patent out on the part you forgot.

    Comment by ritzmill -

  3. 19.Thanks for sharing, this is a fantastic article.Much thanks again. Fantastic. Regards

    http://www.geziadresi.com

    Comment by Turgut Aydogdu -

  4. .

    Comment by samhoots -

  5. You remind me of brett wilson when he was on dragons den you do have a heart. Not sure if that could be taken awkwardly but its coming from a canadian and I feel that you feel for the achievments of the common folk.

    Comment by samhoots -

  6. HELP MARK! “Patent troll” alert! I just want to market it!

    Everywhere we go, sports fans love our innovation for basketball, baseball, soccer…
    but I need to get it in the hands of sports fans now but I don’t have the connections to do it quickly. YOU could make that happen if we worked together. You’re gonna love it.

    Did you see the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in London?

    At one point, a few fans started waving their cell phones, then more and more. Pretty soon, sports fans from all over the world were waving their glowing cell phones and it was sensational… made for great television too. That’s what we can re-create. BUT… our product has the team logos, corporate sponsor logos, can be autographed by players. And it doesn’t have to be dark, stadiums and arenas are perfect. NO, it’s nothing like a cell phone. It’s a cool LED glow.
    One more key benefit: Because of it’s design, it stays in consumer households for a long, long time with logos prominently displayed, expanding the brand impression and adding value to sports sponsorships. Glowing memorabilia. There’s nothing like it out there. Could we talk?

    Comment by Ellen Kelley -

  7. Mark i love you —-> idol.

    watch this again, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4cH2T3Nw6E
    :) , greets from austria

    michael berkmann

    Comment by luxhedgefund -

  8. This continually is amazing to me how bloggers such as yourself can find the time and also the dedication to keep on creating fantastic blog posts. This is wonderful and one of my have to read on the web. I simply want to say thanks. video production

    Comment by tkffilms -

  9. Mark, Im one of your biggest fans, love Shark Tank! saw this blog post .perfect dicussion, as Im trying to do something in the online TV industry.. I was wondering if you would help me develop http://www.seetobelieve.tv ?wanted to make it different form ythe rest…ONLY “SEE TO BELIEVE” TV allowed.. I have been working on a few ideas regarding live streaming, and offering tv channels over the internet as well…I own the rights to seetobelieve.com .tv.biz.us.net, .info, etc.have them trademarked…Please email me at scottgregory@seetobelieve.tv if you think you want help me..I warn you ahead of time I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky..I hope IU’s coach doesnt ask Louisville to turn this years NCAA Championship sign around like coach Knight did back in 87?. Ha!..

    Sincerely,
    Scott Gregory

    Comment by Scott Gregory (@seetobelievecom) -

  10. Do you think that professional sports industry is ready for an online revolution? Fans are the most important asset of any team, wouldn’t you agree? The future is in reality sports. The future is http://basketball-united.com. Let us know if you’d like to become part of it, just like you took part in the online digital revolution back in the 90’s.

    Comment by Stoian Dimitrov -

  11. http://www.parakazanmaninadresi.com/ thank you..

    Comment by Uğurcan Harputlu (@NetteParaKazan1) -

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  13. http://www.sinemafullhd.com I love blog ^^

    Comment by mervan dincer (@mervandincer) -

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  15. This post is so informative and makes a very nice image on the topic in my mind. It is the first time I visit your blog, but I was extremely impressed. Keep posting as I am gonna come to read it everyday!- http://www.commodityfreetips.com

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  16. This post is so informative and makes a very nice image on the topic in my mind. It is the first time I visit your blog, but I was extremely impressed. Keep posting as I am gonna come to read it everyday! Mcx Tips

    Comment by Mcx Tips Free -

  17. Hey Mark, recently heard you on Howard Stern and thought I would see if you were online. Came across your blog and I love it. You seem like a really down to earth type of guy and I love you on Shark Tank. I really look forward to reading your blog and I have signed up to your newsletter.

    Comment by Bryan Knowlton (@BryanKnowlton) -

  18. i get the point considering what you did do with broadcast.com

    Comment by under the skies of -

  19. the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog

    Comment by John Chalekson -

  20. Here are some questions…. Why is it that “making the market more efficient” somehow negates stealing ideas and compensating people for their innovations and hard work? How come the simple idea of CONTACTING a person who owns a patent that would be beneficial to your product’s innovation and offering said person some compensation scale based on your product’s development asking too much? Right now ( call it what you want ) you have an over abundance of web sites and pages that maybe dedicated to some widget. The person searching for the widget will never know who actually invented it because there are more knock offs of this thing being sold and everyone selling them says they “are the original”. This has been hurting big and small business’s every day. The difference is… the big guys have the money to get lawyers to go after the copycats…. The whole idea of confusing innovation with stealing ideas is pathetic.

    Comment by blaccard -

  21. I think the moral of the story is that there is a lot of money to be made through innovation and adaptability – without the perceived “requisite” step of patenting an idea. The idea of a patent is to have protection in Court – which inherently means undesirable legal feels and inconsistent valuations provided by people outside of the industry. This litigation-based “protection,” when applied in a rapidly developing industry like software, simply makes the entire market less efficient. I applaud Mark for putting his “money where his mouth is” on this issue.

    Comment by Stevie Ray (@StrobelWise) -

  22. Thanks Mark. Brilliant

    Comment by Rex Hodges (@baghdaddy) -

  23. Reading this post again, is this Mr. O’Brien from the Tree of Life writing this blog?

    Comment by Savannah Trades (@SavannahTrades) -

  24. Why not change the system to a drug company model and provide a term expiration for the patents? Gives the inventor a head start on the market and a payday that promotes discovery while providing an opportunity for future innovation and cost efficiencies. Do you believe in copyright law and brand name preservation?

    Comment by Troy Mertz -

  25. Excellent blog! Looking forward to following.
    All the best.
    Shane

    Comment by Small Businesses of America -

  26. Thanks for sharing, this is a fantastic article.Much thanks again. Fantastic.
    Regards
    http://www.isolcertificationtraining.com/cisco-training/

    Comment by johnpeterapps -

  27. as a small business owner there are countless things that demand your attention which makes it hard to do anything well. We all know the importance of understanding our data but we aren’t particularly good at it.

    Comment by Mukesh Kumar (@Mukeshseo) -

  28. Gods, yes.

    In 1993 (!), when I was working for Spry.com, I did something unique: using OraPerl, I wrote a CGI script the let customers of a small power company search for their ZIP code and learn what businesses in their area provided insulation services.

    Imagine if we’d patented that: “Producing a Hypertext Document via the Query of a Relational Database over a Wide Area Network.”

    Nobody had a patent on that. I’d be rich. I’d be hated. Spry would still be around. And the Internet would be very, very different today.

    Comment by Elf Sternberg (@elfsternberg) -

  29. I believe technology should be a canvas on which someone can create anything, but also believe patents have their place in protecting the little guy. There should be some process to crowdsource and democratize the distinction of ‘novelty’, and make sure the USPTO isn’t empowering the wrong monopolies.

    Comment by random dude (@trendstery) -

  30. Mr. Cuban

    Mark my name is Drew Tuiasosopo, I have an idea on a new league you can OWN. Rugby is to Football what UFC was to boxing 20+ years ago and what MLS was to the American sports scene 10 yrs ago. Mark the game of rugby is the ultimate sport, 90 minutes of speed and crushing action, no huddles, no showboating and no timeouts. When football players turn to rugby for off season training they don’t want to play football any longer but it is a way to get a scholarship. Mr Cuban here is the plan summary, We set up teams in the MLS team cities, Los Angeles, Salt Lake, Seattle, Portland etc, we piggy back during the MLS games. The teams can be the 15 man teams or the fast pace 7 man teams. We play 7-10 min halves at the beginning or at halftime of the MLS soccer match. MLS fans will love it period. Rugby is a big international sport. MLS matches are full of foreign transplant fans.

    Mr Cuban tell me your thoughts on being the new MLR owner. Me? I just want a job at the Cuban MLR office.

    Thanks

    Drew Tuiasosopo Date: Fri, 15 Mar 2013 19:06:06 +0000 To: tuibuilt@live.com

    Comment by andrew tuiasosopo -

  31. To Mark Cuban’s comments:

    Fair point on the success of Broadcast.com. It was certainly a successful exit for the founders :-)!

    I strongly disagree on the reason for the reduction in eCPM rates for publishers. RTB and other recent technologies that reduce friction, and increase efficiency, in the ad sales process, have actually slightly increased the net rates to publishers versus contemporary ad networks (the indirect sales model that immediately preceded it and was pioneered by Flycast during the bubble). A study by Forrester concluded that “CPM trends (from RTB) are positive, especially compared with other indirect monetization sources” (http://www.google.com/doubleclick/pdfs/Insights_From_Buyers_And_Sellers_On_The_RTB_Opportunity.pdf). Even though RTB is more efficient and results in increased rates to publishers when compared with traditional ad networks, and the quarterly IAB report shows huge growth in the overall Internet ad market $ since the bubble, those factors are more than offset by the explosion of inventory. Econsultancy published a report late last year arguing that the glut impacts pre-roll video now in addition to banners (http://econsultancy.com/us/blog/11307-are-pre-roll-video-ads-going-the-way-of-display-ads). I have never heard anybody of Mark Cuban’s stature in the digital world argue that the “analog dollars to digital pennies” problem is not materially driven by an inventory glut. Whether you argue that there was a “shortage” before or a “glut” now (or both), the net result is that the inventory has expanded faster than the rapidly expanding demand causing a reduction in market-clearing CPM rates (even though the Internet advertising market is much larger today in gross $ terms).

    Comment by Lenny Grover (@lennygrover) -

  32. Bro… you just wrote a book. That wasn’t a blog post ..;)

    Awesome share!

    Remember… be a servant,

    Cory

    Comment by Cory Boatright (@coryboatright) -

  33. It will be interesting to see if patent trolling gets worse with the ‘first to file’ rule starting next week.

    Comment by Bryan Hellard (@bryanhellard) -

  34. I invented the first Android Tablet (was in the JCP Christmas catalog 2009 as simplicit.E). My wife, depending on how drunk she is when you ask her, invented Spanx whilst in college.

    I would imagine most who follow someone like Mark tend be hopeful entrepreneurs who have had more than a few good ideas before their time. Maybe the point is that some ideas are best left open. Patent them and you limit their full potential. *shrug* Maybe in some cases. I would prefer the $billions, given the choice.

    Comment by Tommy Galloway (@tommygtwo) -

  35. my man. awesome post.

    Im building an audio streaming app serving direct from the phone. Have been stressing about filling our stream management process before we submit the app.

    On Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 3:06 PM, blog maverick

    Comment by Kevin Kliman -

  36. Your description sounds like a huge financial sink hole.. Meaning that it would cost an absurd amount of money to generate such a patent and defend it. Personally I have had patents created by my competition and these said patents reference my designs in them, I never had a knowledge of this until I stumbled upon it doing an internet search of one of my brand names.. I was amusing to see my competitors dump money on such a senseless patent…

    Our world economy sadly focuses too much on technology and not enough on brick and mortar type business’s, It saddens me to see VC’s invest in unproven technology backed by patents….. I always see people on Shark Tank spending huge money on patents in the US for crap that they can’t defend if it was knocked off in China anyway. Your most important advantage is to implement a technology and grab the market share rather than build a pipe dream on paper.

    Comment by blaccard -

  37. Thought you might enjoy Cuban’s blog post today below Charlie.  You were 12 when I worked at Broadcast.com  ;)

    ________________________________

    Comment by brianzimmerman -

  38. Mark,
    I have a product that would sell fantastic at your games, but I can’t patent it. I sold $80,000. in volume last year from home. How can I protect my product/idea without a patent? Thanks Tarl

    Comment by Tarl Michael -

  39. It’s interesting how many “Web 2.0″ innovations were actually Web 1.0 failures:

    Social networking: SixDegrees.com and theGlobe.com -> Facebook

    Video streaming: Broadcast.com (“Self-Serve Hosting”!!) -> YouTube

    Ad Networks: Flycast/CMGI -> ValueClick and many others

    Pointcast (news aggregation) -> RSS, Reddit

    Health content online: DrKoop.com -> WebMD, Healthline, Quality Health, PatientsLikeMe, etc.

    Grocery delivery service: WebVan -> PeaPod

    High-speed wireless broadband: Ricochet -> high speed cell carrier data plans, Boingo, iPass

    Music: Napster, Kazaa, eMusic, MP3.com -> Pandora, Spotify, etc.

    Online “currency”/payment processing: Flooz -> PayPal (though these were briefly contemporaries), BitCoin

    The business models became viable once broadband and the Internet were more widely adopted and the technology evolved. The high ad rates Mark alludes to were a function of too little inventory for all the new dot-com startups (and brand early adopters) to advertise on. Compare that with today’s mobile and web ad inventory glut (a function of the larger Internet population) that causes traditional publishers like newspapers to be unable to be profitable when they go digital.

    In the case of SixDegrees, Facebook actually felt the need to acquire the original patents (from an investment group including Zynga’s Mark Pincus) to avoid the threat of litigation. Imagine if the web 1.0 companies had all established a minefield of patents that could be used to blow up future upstarts for 20 years (long after they went out of business). Patents would undoubtedly inhibit innovation rather than facilitate/encourage it. Given how much more dynamic and fast-moving the innovation ecosystem is today than 1787, shouldn’t the patent duration at least be shorter?

    From MC> A failure , not quite. As far as ad rates, the lower prices are due to greater efficiency in selling than in amount of inventory. There was no shortage of inventory. But you are right. If we did patent everything, a lot of major players would never exist

    Comment by Lenny Grover (@lennygrover) -

  40. Think of all the notes and ideas of the free thinkers who have not been as successful as you. Thanks for sharing. You’ve inspired me to go back and rethink how Angie’s list kicked my a$$ from the millionaire club.

    Comment by Savannah Trades (@SavannahTrades) -

  41. So the message is…not everything in life should be patented. Now how does someone get that to stand up in a court of law?

    I wonder if videotape editing masters could also have been patented for purposes of pre-dating the Internet. Once the videotape master exists, it becomes completely agile for purposes of any compression scheme one wants to use as it is encoded online.

    And Videotapes could also be “streamed” via distribution amplifiers to thousands at a time for purposes of duplicating.

    Sometime in the very early 80’s, I was invited to a CBS special preview of a new technology called interactive digital. CBS was going to take their bandwidth and turn it into multiple channels and have some interactive features included as well.

    It was fascinating to watch but it seemed too complicated back then, at least the way in which it was presented. I wonder if CBS also had some some patents they never pursued.

    Comment by alexlogic -

  42. Looks good on Paper!

    Comment by John Chalekson -

  43. So Mark, Always good reading. Looks like you cold have been Youtube, LinkedIn, GoDaddy and who knows what else. Good lessons, Thanks
    PS- The kids Luv Shark Tank

    Comment by Alan Fluhrer (@AlanFluhrer) -

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