Muschamp Rd

Yesterday’s New Media BC Event

June 24th, 2007
Digi BC Logo

To show support for Dennis Chenard and the really great industry association that is New Media BC I got up extra early to attend their event at Steamworks Uber Room. This was my fourth “event” of the week, I found time to blog about Joyce Groote and the Stella CFA thing already.

There were a lot of speakers at this event and their was a strong Virginia theme. I used to correspond with someone from West “By God” Virginia. He always referred to his state with a “By God” between West and Virginia. And I managed to not crack any jokes or break into an acapella rendition of Split Lip Rayfield‘s “Movin’ to Virginia”.

The first speaker was Daniel P. Harris who is the founder, Chairman, CEO all around number one guy at MediaPass.net. This company is out of LA, he might have been the token non-Virginian presenter if it wasn’t for someone from the Canadian Embassy in Washington. He liked to refer to his company as “the catalyst for independent top-teir prosumer content creators”.

The company started in the dark days of 2001 focusing on the Electronic Dance Vertical, they webcast music shows, including one with P.Diddy who signed the webcasting agreement just before he went on stage the night the US launched its war on Iraq. A strange evening for Mr. Harris. They have relationships with all the major music labels in the US so they have no trouble getting content. They are advocates of short (5 seconds or so) ads before online video content.

Daniel had some good advice for would be entrepreneurs who may be reading my blog, get good board members. He says don’t ask them for anything, just get them on board and associating their name with your brand, concentrate on executing and keeping them updated.

Daniel also noted that venture capital people hadn’t previously seen content as a viable economic opportunity, now a company like MediaPass can be more selective in who they take their money from.

The next speaker was from a company with a four letter acronym for a name. I hadn’t heard of them, but when he said they had 8 billion in revenue last year, well lets just say I noted down their name. SAIC stands for Science Applications International Corporation and they just went public last year. They are a 38 year old company. They are a member of the Fortune 500 but they keep a low profile, they are in the defense space, they’ve done some cool stuff like participating in the DARPA challenge on the red Carnegie Mellon team.

How they fit into a New Media BC event is their work in “Modeling, Simulation, and Training” which is where Richard Bensinger hangs his hat in the organization. The video game “Real War” and its sequel was a commercialization of their “Joint Force Employment Training Game”.

They are looking for unique partners to make them more competitive against the Boeings and Lockheed Martins who they compete with for large US Federal contracts.

Gaming as training is an idea that is taking hold in the DoD. Just after making this point Richard had some trouble getting his video clip to play and the long haired pierced guy in the audience who I would later learn was Mike Wuetherick rushed forth with some sort of Windows workaround to make it go. Richard said “Virtual World Training” was the wave of the future.

One of the best pieces of advice he had was look for people with “business development” on their business card.

The next presenter was Bob Shaffer of Verizon who used the New Media BC provided Mac even though he was a PC guy. His presentation had slight technical difficulties, luckily their were Mac guys in the audience to sort things out.

Do any PowerPoint Presentations go smoothly?

Bob told us all about FiOS TV and explained the internal struggle at Verizon between Wireline VS Wireless. Maybe struggle is too strong a word, friendly rivalry might be better. Bob is on the Wireline side and they are starting to do better. They lay a lot of fibre to customer’s homes and sell them content. This includes video on demand, HD, games, all over the Internet Protocol.

Verizon is happy to talk up their upstream bandwidth, they see that as an important differentiator. I also learned Verizon spends a day at a customer’s house setting up a complete home network, including the ability to offer multiple room DVR. He used the phrase “long tail” in his presentation and talked about the possibility of a “turbo button” you could hit someday in the future to increase your bandwidth temporarily, for a price of course.

The gaming contingent in the audience asked him some questions, this included a smart guy in a purple shirt at the back who I would later learn was Kelly Zmak of Vancouver’s own Radical Entertainment.

Next up was Tom Osha who would tell you everything you ever wanted to know about Old Dominion University and more. He was a nice guy I talked to him before breakfast and then he sat at my table, I had gotten there early and strategically chosen a great table from which to watch the presentations. I was a bit disappointed that some audience members were talking during the start of his presentation. He talked about university relationships, public-private partnerships, commercializing research, concepts of that nature. I couldn’t help but recall the presentation I attended on the Tsinghua Science Park.

Tom also had the foresight to work Wayne Gretzky into his presentation saying in business you don’t want to go where the puck is, you want to go to where the puck will be. He also noted you don’t want to be the first and only person to market with a product or service that you need 1 to 3 competitors to validate your idea. He too used the Mac and it was actually his presentation that had the biggest Mac glitch, making it four presentations in a row with PowerPoint or video clip related difficulties.

The reason his presentation reminded me of one I saw while a student at Tsinghua was his repeated use of the word “ecosystem”. He also used a phrase I liked “the culture of entrepreneurship”.

ODU is also a world leader in Modeling, Simulation, and Training which is where they fit into the New Media BC event. The idea he talked about was the “virtual operating room”. This could be used to simulate battlefield conditions when training field medics for instance. ODU is looking for partners to help commercialize their ideas and research. He also touted the ideas of students working for free or “negligible cost” on your products and technologies who could then become a valuable full time employee. This is the Co-op concept which I’m very familiar with from my time at UVIC.

Last up was the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority who both sponsored the breakfast and possibly organized this roadshow along with the Canadian Embassy in Washington, a trade commissioner from there also spoke. The most impressive fact about Fairfax County is their are over 40 universities within a four hour drive. It is also the center of the Federal Procurement Business.

The one last thing I want to mention is the Masters of Digital Media program being offered at the Great Northern Way campus. People still ask me questions about doing an MBA and their are a lot of specialized programs, this one is really new and seems really cool. If it was available in 2003-4 my life might be a lot different…


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