Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Mark Cuban Makes the Best Point of All About Charging for Content: Use Your Imagination!


Yesterday–in a somewhat rambling but also riveting blog post about charging for content–serial entrepreneur and perennial gadfly Mark Cuban made a very important point that execs at every large media company should take to heart as they try to cope with the digital challenge.

Use your noggins, why dontcha?

Cuban aimed the piece at News Corp. head Rupert Murdoch, who has been the most vocal media mogul of late about the issue of getting paid online for the copious amount of original content the various parts of the media giant he runs make.

(Such as this site, which is owned by Dow Jones, which is owned by News Corp.)

“Rupert, you didn’t ask my opinion on this, but since when has that ever stopped me,” wrote Cuban in his post titled “My Advice to Fox & MySpace on Selling Content–Yes You Can.” “First the good news. You can sell content on the internet. People pay for content on and off the internet every second of every day. It’s easy to do. If you do it right.”

Then, Cuban followed up with a long series of suggestions–in general, Cuban had more interesting ideas in one post than I have collectively heard in a while.

Like all good brainstorms, some are defensive moves, some offensive, some very interesting and some probably unworkable.

But, in this time of massive change, all are well worth considering because Cuban’s piece had the feel of throwing a whole bunch of ideas on the table and just knocking anything around–with the goal of creating a more important sense of discovery and entrepreneurialism.

It’s kind of like that great scene in the movie, “Apollo 13,” when the engineers had to come up with a solution for a dire problem, so they threw a pile of doodads on the table and started tinkering fast.

I dearly hope that is precisely what’s going on inside all the various media companies as they seek to maneuver the storm-tossed seas of change they find themselves in instead of the more typical inclination to throw blame in a time of crisis.

The problem, as it always turns out, is that industries in trouble always tend to shoot down ideas as they arise rather than embrace even the truly insane ones–one of which might turn out to be the innovation needed.

As Cuban correctly pointed out, that is often due to infighting at big corporations.

To the negative, I saw that up close and personal a half-dozen years ago as AOL was systematically dismembered at Time Warner (TWX), due to very real wounds from the disastrous merger, at the exact moment when everyone should have been pulling for it.

To the positive, it is clear that the many failings of Microsoft (MSFT) in the search game were what finally got it to take a greenfields approach with its recently announced Bing, which is finally a competitive product.

I like that kind of gumption, and it was nice to see that in just one blog post Cuban could come up with at least 10 ideas, many of which would doubtlessly not fly.

In fact, after one, Cuban wrote: “I don’t know if it will work, but it is sure worth exploring!”

It sure is.

Here is that clip from “Apollo 13,” as well as the full video of the interview Walt Mossberg and I did with the voluble Cuban on the issues facing media giants at the seventh D: All Things Digital conference in May:

Apollo 13

Cuban at D7