On Business Week, Kevin Rose, Valuation and Marketing By Podcast

Kevin Rose of Digg.com and the Digg Nation Podcast has been getting some very nice press lately. The 10k foot overview, Business Week is saying he’s worth kabillions and a bunch of very jealous types disagree. One sane voice out there, Chris Pirillo, but I’m not too hot on his math either.

I offer here a few thoughts on the numbers and some general freeflow of information on why this stuff might even be more important than the valuation.

First of all, I think Kevin’s a great guy. Never met him but he’s got an honesty about him (since the TechTV days) that you don’t see in most of your Geekonaires (paper or otherwise). He’s got the mind to make things happen and the work ethic to see it through. That’s a rare combo people. The DiggNation Podcast is one of the best examples of where this industry is doing – but we’ll discuss that later.

Side rant, what would have happened if TechTV was still around and they owned TWiT, Digg, and everything else coming from that group? Getting fired was the best thing that ever happened to those guys.

Economics 101 – the concept of worth only comes from what people will pay for it – the money game is a game. In today’s Bubble 2.0 environment, I’d bet good money that there are some VCs out there willing to pay that much. I’ll bet even better money that they’ve already tried, and I’ll bet the big bucks that Kevin and Co have declined more offers than we’d bet they have. They’re worth what they can get a check written for – not a dime more or less. And, yes, I think they could get a check written in 24 hours for the amount of scratch BusinessWeek was throwing around. Smart move for the VCs? Don’t know, I’m not a VC. Enough of the economics lesson.

Want to read an amazing, non dotcom book about valuation? Any Old Iron by Anthony Burgess (wrote Clockwork Orange). Book blew my mind before I plugged in my first modem and I still think about it today.

The argument from Chris: He says the real value is the community – not the technology. I agree, but I have to point out that community moves on a regular basis. Remember when Delicious was all the rage? Remember when Slashdot owned the geek eyeballs? Remember the first time you said “Google is the name of a search engine? Really?” In short, communities move. I haven’t seen a site yet that couldn’t lose their community if something better came along.

Let’s talk about Digg’s marketing campaign.

Oh yeah, they never spent a dime.

But they had this thing called the Digg Nation Podcast.

Kevin and Alex sit around, drink beers, and talk about the top stories at Digg.com.

Single camera shoot – nearly an hour every time.

They break every “rule” in producing video.

Yet the show is more compelling than anything else in the long-form video Podcast space (which I’d define as over 5 minutes).

Why? Here’s my take: news delivered by a fancy gun in his (or now her, thanks to Katie) fancy chair in some fancy studio does something to make it “unreal.” How much can an anchor really care about the war they’re reporting on when they just had makeup applied by an ‘artist’ read a script from ‘writers’ they’ll never meet and get driven home from ‘work’ by their driver after the broadcast because it took so much out of them? The news is more like a Hollywood movie every day and the most popular television shows are shot to make them look like documentaries.

Traditional media is fake all over. The traditional news media is the worst.

Kevin is Kevin. Alex is Alex. Swear words pop up, beer makes them burp, a pretty girl walking by distracts them and they do their own tech support on their own computers that die during a “taping.” They love what they’re reporting about, it impacts their lives directly and they’re having a blast.

And, the best part is, you get the idea that they’d be taping this show even if they weren’t kabillionaires (yes, on paper).

I visit Digg on a regular basis because of the show. It reminds me that the stories are real (often times hillarious) and that it’s people that matter.

The Podcast did that for me – and I’d bet a number of other people as well. It ain’t popular because of the beer reviews. Yes, they have sponsors on the show and see some decent scratch from that but … the show serves Digg, which is paying the bills.

How many other products or services like that could benefit from a buddy show format? Imagine Mike and Doug sitting around drinking beer talking about the shows that they have in their network. I bet you viewership would double in a year. Get out of tech and imagine a 10 minute Podcast of teens talking about the shows on the WB’s schedule next week or the designers at Toyota talking about the next hybrid.

Podcasts offer us the chance to get a lot closer to the source and get a lot more real than we’ve ever been before. Fortunes will be made as a result of this opportunity.

Who will take it next?

Congrats Kevin.

Enough rambling. WWDC is coming quickly and I want to blog long at home for fun, profit, and a little Google juice if done right.

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