TalkingPointz and Comedy


I love comedy. I’ve learned more about life and what’s important from Seinfeld than anything else. My pseudo nannies were Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett. When my grade school buddies were buying Led Zeppelin albums, I was buying Bill Cosby. My favorite films are by the Marx Brothers  and brothers Zucker. So what’s this got to do with Telecom?

Last month, comic Louis CK taught us an important lesson about content creation and the Internet. A lesson I am testing with TalkingPointz.

If you are not familiar with Louis CK, he is a hilarious, brilliant and offensive comic. Probably his most famous clip on the Internet is this clip from Conan about everything is great but people are miserable. His comedy is raw, and mostly makes fun of humans. He has produced many specials, movies, and television shows – and last month he took a chance on the Internet: the comsumerization of content creation. He filmed a recent stand-up special, with new material, and produced his own video which he sold on his website for $5 a download. To cut to the chase, he did great. The venture proved profitable in just a few days. You can read the details here in his own words.

But allow me to call out a few very important parts of this tale.

  • He didn’t skimp. The project cost him about $200k: “this was a premium video production, shot with six cameras over two performances at the Beacon Theater, which is a high-priced elite Manhattan venue. I directed this video myself and the production of the video cost around $170,000….The development of the website, which needed to be a very robust, reliable and carefully constructed website, was around $32,000.”
  • He sold the video for $5, and figures a professional production company would have sold it for $20.
  • He also figures the $20 version would be less valuable than his $5 version. “They would have given you an encrypted and regionally restricted video of limited value, and they would have owned your private information for their own use. They would have withheld international availability indefinitely. This way, you only paid $5, you can use the video any way you want, and you can watch it in Dublin, whatever the city is in Belgium, or Dubai. I got paid nice, and I still own the video (as do you). You never have to join anything, and you never have to hear from us again.”  I added the bold formatting.

When I shared my idea of TalkingPointz independent reports, I got some mixed feedback. People generally liked the idea, but I heard several times “you are no Gartner.”  This is true, I am not Gartner. I respect Gartner – the folks I have met there are really smart. Their research and peer review process is impressive – but it’s expensive and thus not for everyone. UC buying  assistance is not just for enterprises. UC is a mess, the value prop is transforming, the vendors are shifting, the channel is liquid, and terms such as consumerization, virtualization, and mobility have huge ramifications.

Voice in particular is a semi-decade decision – you can’t expect your typical CIO and IT staff to be savvy in all the nuances, trends, and shifts at decision time. Even the tried RFP process is a disaster as vendors have never been so hard to compare. Most PBX era vendors are selling voice with UC options and add-ons such as presence. Microsoft starts with collaboration and presence and positions voice as an add-on.

If these are all changes in the tide – the sea is the Internet. For the first time, information is directly available to those that seek (search) it. For those that turn to the Internet for ad-hoc UC vendor research and validation, there were few if any options – that’s the TalkingPointz opportunity.

I do research for major analyst firms. I’m proud to be part of such a quality production and I don’t consider TalkingPointz a competitor to them any more than grocery stores are competitive to Starbucks. Louis CK continues to work with major studios and producers. I’m following his model:

  • Don’t skimp. My reports are professionally edited (my blog is not). The reports will evolve over time as I do more and get more feedback.
  • The price is right. TalkingPointz reports are cheap – about $2k. The major analyst reports are $25k ad-hoc, but typically only sold via a subscription.
  • I am working to make them more valuable than the name brand reports – they are longer, contain money saving tips,  a full SWOT and other analysis. I’m also including a live conversation to address any questions the reader may have.

Louis CK is a celebrity and I am not. He sold a consumer product to the masses – my product is targeted to a specialized business buyer. He had fans that instantly learned of his product, my prospects don’t know I exist. However, I am not looking to sell 110,000 copies ever, much less in a few days. I’m no Louis CK or Gartner: I’m just a tele savvy professional that loves this stuff. It’s a confusing period and I intend to clarify. I won’t know if I am on the right track or not with these reports for quite some time – but it doesn’t matter. Because in the meantime I am learning an extraordinary amount of information. It’s all good.

I think you can learn a lot from a comedian.

For more information: There is no shortage about what Louis CK did, but this one covers it pretty well. This one has an interesting angle on the pirates that feel guilty.

Also See: Announcing TalkingPointz

Dave Michels