Saturday, March 29, 2008

Will Playboy (Philippine edition) fly?

On 3 April 2008, Playboy magazine will hit the Philippine streets, promising to be an engaging read for the “mature” audience. I’m intrigued how “mature” it would be. If it could capture the essence and spirit of the old Playboy I knew, it would be interesting.

The Playboy I knew had investigative reports on politics and economy, poetry, short stories, and really very, very good essays by good writers. The quality of its fiction and poetry was a blast. Could the Philippine version deliver on those types of content as well? If not, there’s really no sense buying a copy.

Way back in college, I delivered a crisp but really juicy political science class report on Chilean politics, including the death of president Salvador Allende and the assassination of his finance minister, Armando Letelier. Our professor was impressed.

“What’s your main reference, Mr. Llorito?,” he asked.

“Ah, uhmmm, sir, Playboy magazine, sir,” I answered meekly expecting a negative reaction. But the class erupted in appreciative laughter.

“Really?” His eyes shone like a hundred-watt incandescent bulb. “Could you please hand it to me?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Thanks. I’ll return it after a week,” he said, smiling.

I never heard anything from him about that magazine again.

That was in the mid-80s. In this day and age of the Internet, I’ve read lots of reports about Playboy’s declining circulation. FHM and its copycats emerged and it seemed Playboy was destined for the dustbin of journalistic history. Launching a Philippine version at this time therefore is a courageous decision for its financiers here. I’m intrigued how it’s going to differentiate itself in a niche market that is too crowded for comfort. (Photo credit:

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The demise of social networking?

Nah, I don't really mean that. What I'm saying is that social networking sites really have to evolve innovative revenue models to keep on thriving. Right now, many of them, according to the Economist are not making money.

Consider the premise behind these social networking sites: it’s all about profits, about making big someday, by getting being purchased by the big shots like Rupert Murdoch. And the likes of Murdoch are buying these sites by the billions hoping that someday, they could earn more billions from online ads. But it seems the premise or the assumptions about the business potentials of social networking are not necessarily accurate. Says the Economist:

"The big internet and media companies have bid up the implicit valuations of MySpace, Facebook and others. But that does not mean there is a working revenue model. Sergey Brin, Google's co-founder, recently admitted that Google's “social networking inventory as a whole” was proving problematic and that the “monetisation work we were doing there didn't pan out as well as we had hoped.” Google has a contractual agreement with News Corp to place advertisements on its network, MySpace, and also owns its own network, Orkut. Clearly, Google is not making money from either."

Same with Facebook. Economist observes:

"Facebook, now allied to Microsoft, has fared worse. Its grand attempt to redefine the advertising industry by pioneering a new approach to social marketing, called Beacon, failed completely. Facebook's idea was to inform a user's friends whenever he bought something at certain online retailers, by running a small announcement inside the friends' “news feeds”. In theory, this was to become a new recommendation economy, an algorithmic form of word of mouth. In practice, users rebelled and privacy watchdogs cried foul. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's founder, admitted in December that “we simply did a bad job with this release” and apologised."

“So it is entirely conceivable that social networking, like web-mail, will never make oodles of money,” says the Economist. And if they couldn't make lots of money, what’s the incentive of maintaining them? Are we going to see consolidation, of one site being gobbled up by the other? Scary thought, isn’t it.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Holy week hibernation

I practically hibernated in the last four days, doing nothing except reading, sleeping, and transcribing some past interviews for the Entrepreneur Magazine. Yeah, I finished two issues of The Economist, digested various topics like "economics and rule of law," China’s global quest for raw materials, and fund management. I also started getting back to some old Jonathan Franzen titles. I should have done some writing but my son was reviewing for his final exams (Calculus, and Physics); I had to yield the best working space in the house up to him. No worries there. Especially after waking up to a headline like this: “Filipina wins science award for ‘black holes.’”

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Who says jobs are scarce?!

Indeed, jobs are not hard to find, if you have the skills. Writing skills, for instance. I mean, if you think you have the passion for writing, and some skills, and the right attitude for that kind of work, you may contact me. There's one lifestyle magazine for instance that is looking for one full time writer. I also need some part time writers for our magazine, Entrepreneur.

See? Life is not hopeless, ZTE or not! lol!