Only a moron listens to Mark Cuban

As my friend Mark Evans points out, billionaire sports-team owner and media mogul Mark Cuban is often a refreshing blast of sanity amidst the hype and hoopla surrounding Web 2.0 and Internet business models in general, but his recent diatribe on YouTube and how only a moron would buy it is a little off the mark, I think (pardon the pun).

I wonder what someone like Mark might have said about a little Internet venture called Broadcast.com way back when the first Internet bubble was being inflated. Would they have said that only a moron would pay $5.7-billion for such a wild dream about the future of online video? I bet they would have. Luckily for Mark, Yahoo wasn’t listening and it coughed up enough cash to make him a billionaire, and now he can play with his sports team and tell everyone else how stupid they are. I think Don Dodge and I are on the same page.

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As Umair points out at Bubblegeneration, YouTube is trying disrupt the entire video value chain, and has gotten a least a couple of rights-holders interested in pursuing that opportunity, and others such as NBC seem to be thinking along the same lines. That doesn’t mean YouTube will necessarily succeed, nor does it mean that someone should pay $2-billion for it. But there is value there.

Update:

Fred Wilson says we should stop the YouTube hating, and points to a great rant from music industry gadfly Bob Lefsetz, as well as a recent piece on YouTube with comments from Chad Hurley in the New York Times. And Jason Calacanis has some further thoughts on the issue, in which he says that YouTube’s genius has nothing to do with technology, and everything to do with distribution.

Things get busy in Second Life

Herewith, a roundup of recent Second Life-related news events, as the virtual world continues to get more “real” (for better or worse):

  • The Economist has a long piece on Second Life, including a fascinating tale of a psychology professor who set up a place in Second Life where his students could experience something akin to schizophrenia firsthand.
  • Professor Charles Nesson of Harvard Law School recently held his first class in Second Life as part of an online-only course called “Law in the Court of Public Opinion.”
  • IBM recently held an alumni meeting on the island it owns in Second Life.
  • CNet has launched a presence in Second Life which consists of a virtual replica of the company’s offices in San Francisco, where the news agency says it plans to interview both real and virtual people.
  • A Swedish online dating company has made the natural leap from dating site with photos to Second Life dating world with avatars.
  • Scottish girl-rockers The Hedrons are the latest to put on a virtual gig inside Second Life.

Reader is nice — I’m sticking with Netvibes

It’s about time that Google gave its feedreader an update, and I think some of the features it has added are pretty good, although I’m not sure I would go so far as to call it “stunning”, as Richard MacManus at Read/Write Web does. It is pretty slick, though. It handled the importing of my OPML file just fine, and I like the fact that it marks items read as you scroll past them.

The sharing is not a bad idea either, and I like the way you can incorporate shared items into a blog widget, as Peter Upfold has done here. But maybe I’m just not cut out for the pure “river of news” approach, as Dave Winer calls it. I’ve tried just about every feed reader out there, including Bloglines and Newsgator and Rojo and Live Bookmarks, and I’m still kind of partial to Netvibes.com.

I like the way I can see about 20 different feeds in a single glance, with five or six headlines per feed, and can mark each individual one read with a single click (which reinforces the fact that I think headline writing has become even more important than it already was, but I digress). The new Google Reader is definitely an improvement, but I think I’ll stick with Netvibes for now, even if Paul says the new Reader rocks.

We need to stop this kind of thing

Didn’t we learn anything from Bubble 1.0? Apparently not — or at least some of us seem to be determined to jump right back into it with both feet, regardless of the consequences. Guys like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook could be forgiven, since they were probably playing on the swingset or learning long division when the first tech bubble came around. But how do you explain someone like RBC Capital analyst Jordan Rohan?

He apparently thinks that MySpace (which does not have 100 million users after all, as ForeverGeek tells us) could be worth $15-billion in a few years, or at least that’s what he told clients in something ironically called a “research note.”

As Pete Cashmore over at Mashable notes in a post, this estimate of MySpace’s theoretical value is predicated on a whole series of loony assumptions, including the alleged $1-billion value of Facebook and YouTube, multiplied by the market value of Google and the CPM (cost per thousand) ad rate that a premium show such as The Simpsons fetches.

In other words, Mr. Rohan’s argument (if I can even call it that) amounts to what philosopher Jeremy Bentham referred to as “nonsense on stilts.” Take some fictitious number that someone else has plucked out of the ether and multiply it by some other ridiculous number that can’t (or shouldn’t) be extrapolated — yup, that’s quite the “research” note, alright.

I know that getting attention is seen as a good thing in the brokerage business, as my friend Paul Kedrosky points out, but this is ridiculous. And former analyst Henry Blodget, who did his own bit to help inflate the first bubble, isn’t helping with a post that effectively says MySpace might be worth more than Yahoo, or not. Rob Hyndman is similarly unimpressed, as is Duncan Riley.