The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Can You Call Yourself A Business If You Make No Money?
January 7, 2010, 6:37 am
Filed under: Comment

Youtube is a bit like the biro … it’s become something many of us now take for granted.

When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing given it’s a relatively new brand using a relatively new technology … however it’s not as amazing as thinking that once upon a time, the biro was potentially seen by some as a radical – and commercially pointless – innovation.

Of course part of this shift from “new” to “natural” is the speed in which it has been adopted by the masses … but the one thing that still hasn’t changed is Google’s quest to find a business model that actually works for it.

I know for a fact a huge amount of work has gone into trying to find a solution, however despite some incredibly interesting concepts by some brilliant people, nothing has stuck as of yet.

Whilst Google can absorb and justify its costs, the reality is that as a business – like many hyped digital concepts – it’s a money vampire, however it will continue to see huge amounts of money poured into it because there’s always that hope that one day they can find a way to monetize it’s huge audience … and whilst I am fairly confident they can develop a model that will at the very least, off-set a large proportion of its costs, I doubt it will ever be a truly self funding business.

Of course anything can be justified [see Fallon’s “Gorilla”] … and the fact is Google’s future is not inherently linked to the financial success of Youtube … however I can’t help but feel we’re heading back to the time when anything ‘digital’ was deemed a brilliant investment which we all know is just plain bollocks, because getting a return on your cash requires more than just an ‘ad revenue’ business model or holding out for the IPO.

Haven’t people read Fucked Company yet?

Jeez …

Anyway, this post isn’t about the realities of business … nor is it a reminder that what may appear ‘radical today’ could be part of the mainstream tomorrow [so clients should stop being such scaredy cats whenever something other than bloody television is presented] … it’s the fact that despite all the business issues YouTube may or may not have, the one thing it does offer is a none-stop home for human delusion.

Don’t get me wrong, I know I’ve done my fair share of stupid [thanks Marcus!] however amongst all the Rick Astley and soft porn clips … there lies a sea of weirdness that puts even the people who appear on the early rounds of American Idol/X Factor to shame.

For reasons I really don’t want to go into, I think the best thing to do is introduce you to my latest ‘find’ … a man called David who, for reasons only known to himself, calls himself Gildragon … and before you experience his unique approach to entertainment, you should know he takes himself VERY seriously, as checking out this link demonstrates.

Happy errrrrm, listening.

40 Comments so far
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lets hope for your sake campbell that jonathan, george and the rest of the mountain view happy clappers are distracted by the least sexy human being since bernard manning in a thong or youre going to have your head caved in for daring to suggest youtube will be as big a drain on resources as tiger woods circle of margarine leg spreading female “friends”.

id agree with you but i want my payout so i think you’re talking a load of shit. talking of shit, how fucking crap is gildragon?

hes shitter than a toilet after a vindaloo and laxative diet. hes one of those middle america zealot god botherers too which explains something but you should put up one of his smugfucker clips up so people can see how underneath it all he really thinks he has the voice of fat opera iti “pav”.

this is an acceptable post. im impressed. for you.

Comment by andy@cynic

“hes shitter than a toilet after a vindaloo and laxative diet” … there’s not much I can really add to that is there.

Oh, yes there is … and that’s if you weren’t as technically inept as a whale caught in a Japanese trawler net, you’d know I DID put up a link to one of David’s [I refuse to refer to him Gildragon] “smug” posts but for the benefit of you, I’ll post it here …


Good … right I have to go and hide because it’s still work hours in San Fran and I just know you will have called George & John to cause some mayhem. Supergrass Boucher!

Comment by Rob

I love this post Rob. I was actually thinking about all the successful “internet businesses” and came to the – admittedly somewhat stupid – conclusion that one should aim to “fail better”.

YouTube might not be a successful business venture for Google in terms of revenue, but I’d be willing to bet you the co-founders who sold it off would tell you otherwise. It’s been quite a lucrative little project for them.

So it might be a bit counter intuitive, but maybe the best thing to do is not expect these things to last forever and either (1) Make as much money while it’s saveur du jour; or (2) Make something that Google will want to buy. Maybe, I am really not sure about this haha.

I think this is my first comment in 2010, so I will wish a happy happy one to everybody.

Comment by rafik

Hello mate – hope you’re well.

You’re right – for the original founders of Youtube it has been a very profitable venture for them, but then I think they always set it up to sell [which tends to change the approach to how a business acts and evolves] … and whilst the brand does have some real benefits to Google, if the company was reliant on Youtube’s financial success to grow, I think we’d see either a very different approach or a bankrupt brand and that’s my problem with a lot of the hyped digital brands, they are trying to claim financial potential even though there is no real business model to them.

Fair play if some super rich, more-money-than-sense company buys them [which might of been their strategy all along] but when brands talk about their financial power even though they make no money at all – it makes me feel a bit ill … hence my love of the Fucked Company book.

Now did you get my email to your email?

Comment by Rob

Yes! I got it. I was waiting to have a bit more update-worthy news before I…errr….update you. Hopefully it won’t be long.

Thanks for lending an ear as always!

Comment by rafik

To paraphrase one of your favourite quotes Robert, audience is vanity, profit is sanity.

Having a loss leader only works if it drives profits for other areas of the company. Google achieves that but I am unsure whether that’s the case for twitter which is why I am confident somewhere within their business plan is a page entitled “sell (to google/microsoft/apple)”.

Another excellent post though the Gildragon character is alarming.

Comment by Lee Hill

You’re no doubt right about the sell option, but it’s also been mooted that Twitter’s ubiquity might make it be seen as a platform and that would allow them to take a share of all revenues from businesses built on top of it.

Comment by John

Wouldn’t “proving it” be a massive issue? And, depending on the % that would be charged, could that mean it’s ROI be destroyed?

Comment by Rob

Not sure I understand – at the moment twitter doesnt have an ROI. While services built on top of it would surely be happy to trade ROI for access.

Comment by John

this is foreplay for you 2 isnt it? get a fucking room you filthy fuckers.

Comment by andy@cynic

some backround to nicely round this discussion off.

and selling, while perhaps the obvious path might not happen. Yelp! being a somewhat similar scenario which took a unexpected turn.

Comment by niko

Thanks for that Lee. The thing I’d be interested knowing is whether companies like yours would still use Twitter if you were charged a CPM rate. I always find ‘cost’ puts a different perspective on how value is perceived. 🙂

And yes, David is very, very alarming indeed.

Comment by Rob

Much like people think doing ads is a strategy, they think free is a business. Though that thinking should not come as a surprise as it is often the product of the same training and backround.

seems you are turning into Ruper M, Rob. the irony being quite obvious

Comment by Niko

Stop using my words against me Niko! Ha.

But you’re right, too many people think ‘free’ is the answer but if you don’t appreciate they need to continually have money to give money, you are ultimately shooting everyone in the foot.

Hence I love Tesco’s … but I appreciate I might be the only one.

Comment by Rob

Tesco’s? elaborate plz..

Ebay and Skype comes to mind as another deal for the books…(even if they did kind of break even by selling of parts).

Is it ego that drives most diversification projects rather than sound strategy? The above mentioned Enron is another case of pride over pennies.

Is there research on this?

Comment by niko

Hi mate … I’m Mr Thicko today so can you tell me what you are looking for research on?

And I love Tesco’s because of the way they have taken on social causes and driven profit at the same time – though I appreciate they may, in some areas, overstepped the mark.

Comment by Rob

The vast majority of merger and acquisitions destroy shareholder value – there is research on this out there.

Comment by John

better not fucking destroy mine.

Comment by andy@cynic

That comment point is interesting. Now companies that are knowingly unviable for a small business are started in the knowledge that if the idea is good they will be bought out.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I don’t think that’s a new strat Mr M … I just think more companies think they can achieve it because technology allows easier aquisition and publicity than ever before.

As an aside, if you haven’t seen it, you should check out the doco … a wonderful doco about ideas, friendship, greed and the stupidity of the supposed ‘genius’ investment community.

Comment by Rob

True, it isn’t new. But it does seem to be much more prevelant, plus we notice them now before they are bought up.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Google must take their public ethos very seriously.

David and his ilk would be much more trouble without Youtube to keep them off the street. It’s a social service.

Comment by Chris

Thank you Chris … George has to present to our Google ‘lord & masters’ about Lab’s role/successes and I think you’ve just saved his/our life.

Feel free to contact George for your fee, ha!

Comment by Rob

Thanks, Rob. That will pay for the new Jag.

Comment by Chris

it will if you get one from dubai otherwise youre shit out of luck chris

Comment by andy@cynic

It’s the thought that counts.

Comment by Chris

you need some lessons from my ex wives chris. theyll tell you the thought never fucking counts, just the goods.

Comment by andy@cynic

make sure the fucker pays out of his own wallet, im not subsidising his inability to be brilliant

Comment by andy@cynic

Instead of being abusive Andy, can you please call me as you promised you would AN HOUR AGO!

Comment by Rob

you big fucking woman. anyway youve been on the fucking phone for the last hour boring some poor fucker to tears about something that means nothing to no one but you. probably jill. ring me you whining bastard.



Comment by andy@cynic

I would just like to point out Andy is not in charge of any HR issues at cynic. Thank you.

Comment by Rob

What a great sitcom.

Andy HR. The hilarity never ends as pseudo-Tourettes sufferer Andy Stiflemoan takes over the human resources department of a major Advertising Conglomerate. Angry ex-wives, pissed off colleagues and a raging boss make sure this is one job Andy won’t forget in a hurry…

Coming this Fall on NBC.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

fuck mortimer, that sounds like a hit. where the fuck is my agent?

Comment by andy@cynic

I believe you firing your agent is episode 3 – ‘Percentage This!’

Comment by Rob Mortimer

i assume you didnt say “fucking percentage this” because its going out pre watershed hour? so it fucking should, kids could learn a lot from listening to me. playschool 2.0

now go earn your fucking pay mortimer before sorrell gets the shits.

Comment by andy@cynic

your agent called Andy..

Comment by niko

It’s a series about you, the swearing is more than implied! As if anything about Andy could possibly go out before the watershed, would be cut to shreds.

Oh I’ve been earning it this week!!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

i dont know what the fuck happened with the comments on this post but i like it. almost like old times where we used to make everything campbell wrote more interesting.

Comment by andy@cynic

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at being greeted with this madness when I wake up.

Probably laugh … but only because it’s Friday.

Comment by Rob

Its WonderFul Post, Excellent work, keep it up

Comment by inshasoft

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