Video is taking over the web, with a few exceptions

A German version of this article can be found here.

Nowadays, a few seconds on Facebook or Twitter are usually enough to end up staring at a self-starting video clip. Often, a minute later, one is still (and against the initial plan) watching. More than 8 billion videos views are generated on Facebook daily. To accelerate video growth, both Facebook and Twitter are now betting on live broadcasting video. Snapchat, albeit much smaller than Facebook in regards to the total number of users, also says it serves 8 billion views a day, meaning that videos are playing an even more crucial role for the Snapchat experience. Procrastinating with YouTube videos has been the default mode for people all around the world for years. Instagram also is stepping up its video game, enabling users (and advertisers) to upload longer videos. And even the social media darling Buzzfeed, which initially thrived thanks to the “listicle” article format, nowadays has its own video app.

The direction could not be more clear: Video is where every social media giant sees its near future. For several reasons:

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Facebook ends YouTube’s unrivaled dominance of online video

You can find a German version of this article here.

Not everyone has realized it yet, but a fight about one of the most important sectors of the digital industry is getting increasingly intense and dramatic. I am talking about video platforms. For ten years, the name YouTube has been synonymous with user generated videos as well as with video on the web in general. But while the Google-owned site just celebrated its 10th anniversary, another player is questioning the dominant position of YouTube, attacking the pioneer with full force: Facebook.

Only two years ago Facebook did not have a lot to do with video. Users have certainly been able to upload clips to the site for a very long time. But this never was a crucial element of the social network. And definitely not a strategically important feature. Until 2013. Around that time, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the management team must have made the decision to make video one of the core parts of the Facebook experience and monetization machine. The incentives for such a move are obvious: Videos are a very suitable media type for ad placements. Furthermore they make users stick around and spend more time with Facebook instead of other sites or apps. Continue Reading

3 short talks from the DLD conference that are worth watching

Once a year, the German publishing giant Hubert Burda Media hosts a big conference about digital innovation in Munich, called DLD. This year’s main conference took place this week. One should mention that Hubert Burda Media has been a driving force behind a highly questionable German ancillary copyright for press publishers. This law is widely seen as yet another obstacle for the German Internet industry, which notoriously lacks global impact. However and despite the contradiction between motto and actions, Burda’s DLD regularly manages to get a bunch of big names from the international technology and startup world on stage.

I watched a couple of these talks on YouTube and want to recommend three of them. The clips are embedded below, but here are some short remarks:

The Internet is not the Answer (Andrew Keen, Mike Butcher)
The author Andrew Keen presents himself as a pessimist who believes that the impact the Internet is having on people, society and economy is causing much harm and little good. He comes across as loud, arrogant and condescending. Even though I disagree with Keen’s one-dimensional view, the 27 minute talk with Mike Butcher is very entertaining. Keen also makes a couple of good points, especially about Uber and its CEO Travis Kalanick. Keen uses the opportunity to heavily promote his new book. I read an hardly enthusiastic review by the German blogger Felix Schwenzel (German only) after which I concluded that watching this talk is sufficient.
YouTube link (27 minutes)

It’s Only the Beginning (Albert Wenger)
Like Keen, Albert Wenger of Union Square Ventures sees issues with what the accelerating digitization and automation do to our way of living and doing business. But unlike Keen who really has nothing else to offer than asking for more regulation, Wenger is more creative and thoughtful in his suggested solutions. A bit utopian too, but not in an absurd way. Keen somehow wants to use the strategies of the past to handle the future. Wenger wants to create new strategies. I find that more promising.
YouTube link (12 minutes)

Future of Work (Stewart Butterfield, Jochen Wegner)
Stewart Butterfield is the CEO and founder of Slack. The chat service for teams is quite a phenomenon. Everybody who uses it seems to love it – which does not come as a surprise considering how well it works. I cannot remember when I last time have used an app that caused me so little frustration. Butterfield has managed to make enterprise software sexy. He turned customers into fans. Learning a bit more about the guy who pulled this off cannot be wrong. Also because we probably will hear a lot about him and Slack in the future.
YouTube link (19 minutes)