by Jason McCabe Calacanis
[Silicon Alley Reporter editor/publisher Jason McCabe Calacanis is in
Cannes for MILIA www.milia.com, The International Content Market
for Interactive Media, and is filing regular reports on his trip to the
Silicon Alley Reporter listserve.]
I knew I was in trouble when the moderator of the “TV Meets Online” panel
said she had never heard of the company called Progressive Networks, or
their RealAudio and Video player, although she did say she “heard their
products were very cool.” I guess I should have known what I was getting
myself into by the name of the panel (uhhh, ever heard of the term
On average the level of dialogue at the conference is somewhere around that
of a Jupiter conference back in ’95. Walking around the conference space is
like taking a time machine back to Silicon Alley in early ’95. There are
all of these European startups that are doing localized websites (think
Total New York), as well as a number of two-person shops doing hip
websites. They are just starting to make money and are trying to figure out
how to get to the next level (reminded me of meeting Jeff Dachis of
Razorfish at Pseudo party a couple of years ago when they were a two person
One of the few good panels was Intel’s “Media’s Role in Electronic
Business”, which was moderated by Ron Whittier, a Senior VP at Intel.
Larry Rosen of N2K explained how they are selling a bucket load of CDs by
partnering with folks like Excite, AOL, and StarMedia. He also illustrated,
with the help of a few slides, how N2K was trying to reinvent the music
industry’s existing distribution system. N2K is taking songs from labels
and independent artists and selling them as atoms (CDs) or bits through
their destination sites including Jazz Central Station. Rosen gets it,
unfortunately he was one of the few.
Questions from the audience ranged from extremely basic (“how do you
promote your site?”) to wacky (“how do we stop American culture from
dominating the Internet.”).
One person asked Rosen how small eCommerce websites in Europe were going to
survive given N2K’s size and momentum. I was hoping he would just come out
and say they were not, but Rosen took a softer tone and said N2K hoped to
partner with those sites. Hello? Does anyone really think that N2K is going
to partner with a site selling CDs that is getting 10,000 page views a
month? N2K is smart, they are partnering with the websites with the largest
number of eyeballs. Let’s be realistic, no small CD retailer is going to
compete with N2K, CDNOW or Tower anytime soon.
On the social side of things, I hooked up with Andrew Rasiej and Ted Werth
of the Intel New Music Festival and the Digital Club Network. Andrew was
nice enough to invite me to dinner with about 15 of his closest friends. It
was power crowd including (amongst others) Gene DeRose of Jupiter; Fabrice
Sergent, the CEO of Grolier Interactive; Jeffrey Amorosana, the Director of
Business Development at Viacom Interactive Services; and David Wolff, the
Director of the Interactive Media Group at PBS television station
I ran into two of Silicon Alley’s wounded warriors who were busy pitching
their new start-ups. Bob Stein, formerly of CD-ROM producer Voyager, is at
Milia promoting his new software company Night Kitchen. Night Kitchen is
creating “tools for the next generation of electronic publishing” according
to Stein’s business card. The four person startup has already landed seed
capital and is perusing a venture round. I’m going to visit their booth
tomorrow and I’ll let you know.
Catherine Winchester, the former CEO of Wunderlust is also at the show.
You’ll remember that Wunderlust was one of the first companies in Silicon
Alley to IPO. It tanked shortly there after when they bet the farm on their
Pink Panther CD-ROM title.
Her new company is called Soliloquy Inc. They are building middleware that
couples voice recognition with AI. Think of pulling up Yahoo! and telling
it to search for music, and having it say back to you “would you like to
buy some music, search for a band, or play some music?” Like Stein, she has
landed some seed capital and is looking for VC money.
[Jason McCabe Calcanis is the Editor and Publisher of the Silicon Alley
Reporter and host of the Silicon Alley Reporter web show on Pseudo Online
Networks @ www.pseudo.com. For more information about or to
register for Silicon Alley ’98, check out their website @