Friday, December 2, 2011

FairPay: "Better Strategies for Monetizing Digital Offerings" MIT Enterprise Forum 12/1/11

It was very gratifying to present FairPay to an audience of about 100 at last night's MIT Enterprise Forum of NYC panel session on "Better Strategies for Monetizing Digital Offerings: Thinking Out of the Box while Looking across Industry Silos."  (more commentary below...)

Video and slides of FairPay presentation:


(If any problem viewing the slides, click the "slideshare" button above)(Links to full session below)
After a nice overview by our moderator Dr. Howard Morgan (Co-Founder and Partner, First Round Capital) we got into the perspectives of a diverse array of panelists.  
  • Paul Smurl (Vice President, shared insights into the closely watched Digital Subscription paywall strategy at the Times, which has gone even better than they expected to meet the challenge of generating reader revenue without loss of ad traffic--and given a boost to print as well.  
  • Betsy Morgan (President,, formerly of HuffPost and CBS Digital) noted how they were  monetizing Glen Beck's TV offerings with direct OTT (Over The Top) subscription services, that are already generating $10 per month from 230,000 subscribers.  That may seem small compared to the Fox audience, but when you consider the share to Beck, that gets very interesting.
  • Shawn Price (President, provided insights on what Zuora calls "The Subscription Economy," based on work with over 500 companies.  He noted the power of a flexible platform like Zuora's to adapt in real time with some 100 different control parameters, and how it makes it manageable for content and service providers to apply very advanced and nimble e-commerce strategies.
  • I provided a more radical perspective on how we might rethink the whole structure of how we monetize digital offerings, including basic issues of transaction and pricing architecture, to create a new kind of deep real-time dialog with customers about value.  Key themes were
    --the need to take a holistic view of relationships, not just transactions,
    --the power of a simple shift to "Pay as You Exit," an opportunity that has generally been ignored, and
    --the opportunity to apply a new level of detailed market research that is fully integrated with every transaction.
All of the speakers noted how important it was was know your customers and track them in real time, and how some aggregators/distributors (notably Apple) impede that critical task in a way that can ultimately be very limiting to sellers of digital offerings.

I was very pleased with the response to my presentation of FairPay, and to my latest attempts to make it easier to understand.  The challenge is that while FairPay is quite simple in its basic concept, it changes many of our core assumptions about doing business at many levels, and has very deep ramifications in ways that take some thought to fully understand and appreciate.  The discussions and questions on how and where FairPay works indicated that many people found food for thought.

The posted slides may show some of this, and I expect the video should be available soon (to be linked below).  I also plan to adapt this presentation to add better explanations to the Web site and this blog.

My thanks to the other speakers, and to the audience for a very stimulating session.

...And for anyone who wants a really detailed preview of what I suggest are groundbreaking ideas on where the future of digital media business will go (or just needs help getting to sleep), the USPTO published my FairPay patent application yesterday.

Video (full event, by speaker)
MITEF-NYC event page, with video and slides
FairPay Presentation


  1. I totally agree about PWYW scheme working for digital products. These have low overhead costs and can be mass produced. Though some industries like restaurants and hotels, having high costs are adopting this payment model too. I've seen news in CNN and BBC about restaurants and hotels, particularly in Paris that venture on this. Like this interview here

    I'm not sure how that will turn out, but they seem optimistic about their customers. I've also seen other countries like Lebanon apply this in a restaurant. Quite interesting.

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