Archive for July, 2010

Just a quick post here to answer two investors’ question about our affiliation with Goldfinger Creative Services, the marketing agency based here in the Atlanta area. Press releases that we put out in mid-May and late June mentioned the relationship only in passing.

The affiliation is in good shape, and bearing more fruit than I had realized. Our CEO Frank Connor just told me that Goldfinger has sent us a couple of partners who are likely to use FargoTube. By “partners,” I mean content owners who use or plan to use FargoTube, our revolutionary platform for the profitable online video distribution. We don’t call them “clients” or “customers” because end users are typically the ones who pay the monthly subscription fees.  We split that revenue with the owner of each respective tube on FargoTube. Goldfinger and other affiliate organizations receive a percentage of the revenue generated by the content those new partners post on FargoTube.

Our biggest “sales” efforts so far have been in signing up these partners so they’ll create tubes, post content and draw lots of users. Our broader marketing campaigns, including the one we expect to launch in August, will also target end users.

Back to Goldfinger C.S. — Goldfinger has helped us out with branding messages, including catchy slogans like FargoTube’s “Reap what you show,” a reference to FargoTube’s ability to monetize online video through subscriptions and other fees. Goldfinger has also given us input on some of our logos.

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Paul and Stephanie got back Wednesday evening from Nashville, where they made progress on several fronts for FargoTube. As you may know, FargoTube is F3’s revolutionary platform for profitable online distribution of videos (and now music and hi-def photos).

I was especially gratified to hear that country musician Coles Whalen, one of our first partners in the industry, plans to have an August 6 gig in Denver filmed and uploaded to FargoTube. This is the sort of content that we believe FargoTube helps to bring into existence. Musicians won’t necessarily hire a videographer and video editor without an outlet for distribution and a way to cover the costs, but FargoTube is both: Artists can direct their fans to FargoTube by mentioning it at a concert, as Coles plans to do, or by integrating it into an existing fan site. Fans can pay a few dollars for access to a single video or sign up for a monthly subscription.

Another country musician with Nashville ties, Nik Wyllie, told us he plans to begin uploading content as soon as next week, when FargoTube takes on a set of new features. Nik is set to release an album both through iTunes and through FargoTube; he plans to add video content to his FargoTube tube in the next few months.

While we don’t know whether FargoTube will take the place of iTunes, we do think our service is advantageous for Nik and other artists in several ways that Apple’s isn’t: FargoTube is a social network built around video and other content, so it keeps fans in contact with the tube owner’s content for longer and also provides owners with quicker and more complete feedback on fans’ buying habits. And FargoTube offers music in the universal mp3 format that plays on devices other than the iPod.

Paul also met with a couple of potential clients who themselves serve the country-music industry. One of them, a public-relations representative, is considering FargoTube as a way to distribute the four-minute video tutorials he makes for fellow musicians. The other is a video-production company that F3 may enlist to make a promotional video for FargoTube. We hope that company, too, could become a source of content partners for FargoTube.

(This post has been updated with details of Coles Whalen’s concert)

Our developers are making the last few tweaks to FargoTube Version 2.2 in time for an updated version to go live next week. The update will include several significant usability enhancements and a couple of major new features. We’ll also be launching a broader online advertising and marketing campaign, for example through Google, MySpace and Facebook, once the update is available at http://www.fargotube.com.  This will be our first time marketing the FargoTube platform on a mass scale.  Accordingly, we expect an influx of digital content added in coming weeks and months.

An especially important update is the new technology that F3 developed to prevent illegal copying of videos that content owners upload to FargoTube. Most streaming videos on the internet can be easily downloaded as digital files, through third-party capture programs such as RealPlayer with a plug-in. FargoTube prevents such copying, in keeping with our mission of putting creators back in control of their works. “The content owners and artists can rest, knowing their content is secure,” CEO Frank Connor said.

The owners of “tubes” — the social networks built around video and other entertainment — will still be able to offer their videos and other media in the form of downloadable files. We plan to make them able to prevent illegal sharing of those files by the end of the year. We expect this protection to be crucial for attracting new partners because fear of copyright infringement has kept many content owners from fully embracing the Internet.

As we’ve promised in a couple of recent press releases and blog posts, artists will now be able to upload music files and high resolution still photos to their tubes, and offer that content free or for a charge. Music will be streamed in mp4 format and offered for download in the mp3 and mp4 formats that are compatible with the vast majority of digital music players. We believe FargoTube’s music capability will complement the core video service and allow it to compete more effectively against the likes of iTunes and MySpace Music

Here’s a screen shot of the new page from our staging server: 

The music files are especially important for FargoTube as our sales team continues to make inroads in “Music City USA” — Nashville. FargoTube recently signed its first major partner, Strange Celebrity Entertainment, LLC, a country music label (Click here for more information on our sales trip to Nashville this week).

The other major feature to debut next week is FargoTube’s fourth revenue model, the “Contributor Tube,” which is aimed partly at film and art schools. This model allows instructors to sign up their students for the tube, where they can upload films, graphic designs, photos and other artwork. Students will typically pay for this access along with their tuition. In turn, they’ll be able to promote and sell their creations from the tube, much as other content owners sell their videos and video access through FargoTube.

Other new features include:

  • buttons that allow users to post their favorite videos to their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. We expect this to make FargoTube more fun for users and to introduce FargoTube to potential new user;
  • as many as 20 new themes that owners can use to customize their tubes;
  • a categorization system for tubes. Though a substantial number of FargoTube users will come to the service as fans of a particular video instructor, musician, or other entertainer, the categories will help both new and existing FargoTube users to find their favorite content on our site.
  • Tube owners can now categorize their content — their music, for example, by artist and album.
  • Tube owners can manage multiple tubes more easily, thanks to new buttons that let them click from one tube directly to another
  • Paul Campbell, COO

    Posted: July 26, 2010 by chrisbagley in F3 Technologies, Uncategorized
    Tags: ,

    If you’ve been following F3’s progress, you probably already know that Paul Campbell has taken on a number of new duties since coming on board in August. A few minutes ago, we put out a press release about those duties and about his promotion to chief operating officer, but I’ll sum up here.

    Paul started with F3 as executive vice president and national sales manager. In the last few months, he successfully arranged affiliate relationships for our new FargoTube online entertainment distribution platform and our jointly owned Interactive Defense public-safety communication platform. Affiliate agreements like these are vital because the two services rely on affiliates as a primary means to acquire paying customers.

    “Paul’s addition to the team has greatly enhanced the company’s ability to succeed through greater efficiency and tighter relationships with our vital partners in all business lines,” CEO Frank Connor told me last week.

    Frank isn’t kidding about the tighter relationships. Paul has spent three or four days of each of the last few months in Nashville, where we’re developing a cluster of users for FargoTube, and he’s there again today. Most other days, he’s zipping around the Atlanta area to meet with prospects, including a large client we’ve signed for Interactive Defense.

    Paul has also begun to expand F3’s sales and marketing efforts, for example by hiring me to manage social-media marketing and help out with our overall information strategy.

    A bit more information from the release: Paul has 22 years of senior-level experience in the banking and software industries. He was the general manager of the commercial-banking group at Digital Insight, an Intuit, Inc. company.

    We’re going to have lots of news about FargoTube and Interaction Community Systems next week, so stay tuned. The short version: We’ve made major progress on several partnerships for FargoTube and one major partnership for Interaction.

    In the meantime, you may have noticed that we’re continuing to refine our corporate presence online. Our new website went live at the beginning of the week, we’ve added a few new tools to this WordPress blog, and we’ve polished up our Twitter page with the logos of our three major services. The tweets are only going to get better from here, so we’d love for you to retweet them to your own followers.

    F3′s sales team is back from a productive trip to Music City USA and preparing for yet another Nashville trip, its fourth in two months.

    Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were busy for Paul Campbell, our chief operating officer; and Stephanie Miller, our SVP of business development. They met with a talent-management agency, a public-relations firm, a large music-licensing firm, and a couple of country musicians who have become television stars.

    We expect some of these meetings to have indirect but very important results for our FargoTube entertainment service. The licensing agency, essentially a group of sleuths that track down unlicensed use of songs, could eventually give FargoTube enormous credibility as a force for the rights of musicians and other content owners, who are trying to break their addiction to free online distribution.

    “A lot of things we’re doing are not just short-term,” Paul said. “They’re things we’re doing to ensure that the site has longevity. Everything we do as a company is about getting to the point where we have sustainability.”

    With some of the other meetings, the goal is a partnership where the content owner makes FargoTube a key part of distribution strategy. After signing Strange Celebrity Entertainment, LLC, and its country musicians last month, we’re aiming for a second major content partner. We expect that to happen soon because we’ve drawn a lot of interest from a lot of different content owners, who range from Nashville musicians to producers of instructional videos.

    The sales process is a bit like planting a tree and waiting for it to bear fruit, even for the discussions with content partners and potential content partners. For one thing, FargoTube is pioneering a new business model that content owners are only beginning to understand. Artists have been using their online presence mainly to promote their concert tours and sales of physical albums, and the costs of such promotion are often larger than the revenue they generate. And while free music videos have helped generate advertising revenue and have probably aided in the sales of digitial music files through third-party websites such as iTunes, those two sources have replaced only a fraction of the loss from declining CD sales. In short, online distribution hasn’t been a smashing success, so content owners are having to become more judicious in how they fit the internet into their business models. F3 Technologies is working with them to ensure that FargoTube is the online source of the future.

    This post from MoneyTalksNews made me think seriously about nixing my own cable television service, and wonder how long the cable industry will survive in its present form. The post included plenty of interesting insights about the industry, but it was basically a how-too guide for finding free video entertainment.

    One key point: You no longer need cable access to get prime-time shows in high definition, thanks to rules that went into effect last summer. So viewers now have incentive to go back to advertising-supported television, except that off-the-shelf digital recorders can skip the ads for them. The post also gives pointers on the other hardware for catching and viewing HD signals.

    Enjoy it while it lasts, folks. Studios won’t keep producing indefinitely for no payback — not on television and not on the Web. They’ll eventually restrict their programs to paying subscribers. Some are already doing so: Witness the advent of Hulu Plus, a $10/month version of the Hulu free television site, earlier this month. Expressing disappointment with Hulu’s ad sales, the media conglomerates that co-own it have been pushing it for a subscription version for a year or more. This looks like a validation of FargoTube and any other subscription-based models.

    In contrast, television producers and cable networks that keep offering free online content will almost certainly find that the decision comes back to haunt them.