I went to the PaidContent Mixer tonight in London. It’s their third. ContentNext Media, Inc. now includes the sites paidcontent.org, moconews.net, contentsutra.com, and paidcontent.co.uk.
The speaker at the mixer was Martin Stiksel, one of the three co-founders of Last.fm. Stiksel and company sold to CBS in one of the highest-profile start-up UK-US deals of late for $2.8 million. Interesting comments about licensing. They have to get rights for every country to which they broadcast. Uh, they’re on the Internet, so that’s practically every country in the world! Wow! That’s quite a challenge! He also said the merger with CBS was going well.
During the cocktail hour following the talk, Raj Kotecha, ConentNext’s director of sales and business development for Europe, announced major changes to the corporate structure. Rafat Ali is stepping down as CEO. Taking that position will be Nathan Richardson, whose credentials include previous positions with Dow Jones and Yahoo Finance. Pat Dignan will leave Forbes.com to become the chief sales officer and Charlie Koones, ex-publilsher of Variety, will join the board. Although Raj announced this in halting terms, telling us it was a premature announcment because of a pending Reuters story, the full details were posted to the PaidContent website about an hour and a half before the mixer began. Check there for details.
As a fan of mystery stories, I’m quite taken by a new Penguin initiative called We Tell Stories. I’ve been reading 21 Steps, a story by Charles Cumming, that starts at St. Pancras station where a man, Jack Kalba, is shot and drops dead at the feet of the story’s protagonist, Rick, who then runs into the British Library to use their computers to read what’s on the memory stick given him by Kalba. It’s hardly a conventional means of telling a story, since it’s actually a mashup with Google maps. As you read, you follow the path of the narrator. From the British Library, he goes to the National Gallery, then Heathrow, and onwards. I confess that at times the map whizzes by a bit too fast for me, but it’s still an interesting way to present fiction.
21 Steps is the first week of a 6-week series of stories that Penguin is presenting. The next one will debut on March 25th. They are based on classics, according to Penguin–this first one is a homage to 39 Steps, both John Buchan’s book and Alfred Hitchcock’s film, I think. This whole idea of digital fiction brings Web 2.0 to stories. Of course, it’s going to be difficult for libraries to "shelve" these kinds of new media stories, but I doubt Penguin cares.
As someone who read Smilla’s Sense of Snow with a map of Copenhagen next to her, I like Penguin’s digital fiction idea. And as one who will be in London next week, the setting for 21 Steps is perfect for getting reacquainted with that city.