SOUTH AFRICA — CEO of Johnnic e-Ventures (JeV), Neil Jacobsohn, is
a fan of the dot-com meltdown.
Speaking at the
InternetBreakfastForum this morning, Jacobsohn aired his views on
the knowledge economy correction, the future of e-business and
JeVs place in that future.
In his opinion, the “dot-bomb” swept aside a pile of “rubbish,”
showed bad advice for what it is and demonstrated that, contrary to
hype the Old economy and the New Economy are, in fact, One
Economy. And this economy has laws that are, in fact, laws and not
just good ideas. Its first law is “walk the path to profit”, with free
eventually translating into bankrupt.
Freedom Isn’t Free
Freedom of access is one the great things about the Internet, but to
offer accessed data for free will not cover the costs of creating or
acquiring that data. Costs that need to be controlled as you go for
the real revenue – and forget about the exit strategy. Exit strategies
result in unsound businesses in Jacobsohns view and are grounds for
immediate dismissal of a business proposal.
But while some things are just the same, Jacobsohn stresses that
the Net has changed some things irrevocably. Notably it is radically
improving the efficiencies of internal company processes, processes
like customer relationship management, procurement and inventory
control, administration, training, etc.
Giants Among Us
One thing it hasn’t changed is the tendency for giants, even
monopolies to form. Jacobsohn cites Amazon, Yahoo, AOL and, closer
to home, mentions that Johnnic Communications (Johncom), JeV’s
holding company, is itself slowly becoming a giant of almost
Johncom’s interests span the media, entertainment and
telecommunications sectors, owning the Times Media Limited stable
of publications, Nu Metro, MTN, Ananzi, CareerJunction and I-Net
bridge, among others. I-Net Bridge, which sells financial information
to more than 6000 companies, charging over 30,000 users a monthly
subscription fee, earned more revenue last year than the entire
online adspend in South Africa.
Next year, they intend to tender for the second fixed line license
when Telkom loses its monopoly a monopoly that Jacobsohn says is
the single biggest obstacle to e-business, and thus business, in this
Know Your Market
JeV focuses on the corporate market, rationalized by the fact that
1,6 million access the Net from work vs. 782,000 from home, and
that businesses are far more likely to pay for content and services
that they believe will add value to their business.
Even Ananzi, the consumer oriented portal, is being groomed as a
corporate portal that will allow businesses to control which Web sites
their employees are able to access. And CareerJunction, free to
consumers, is not free to the agencies seeking employment.
Content is Still King
What JeV is selling, to corporates and consumers, is information a
synonym for content. Free content is here to stay, which Jacobsohn
refers to as commodity content. This content will be added value to
an existing service, bundled together with an offer to make it more
Standing apart from commodity content is high value content, not
easily available except from a single source and for money. It is this
kind of information that I-Net Bridge derives its income from.
High value content is intel
lectual property that can be plagiarized.
Jacobsohn admits he does not know the solution to the dilemma
posed by file sharing. But perhaps the fact that companies and
individuals will be paying a lot of money for information they’re hoping
will give them an edge will prevent them from giving it away for free.
In the business arena, with high value content, free means