Monday, November 01, 2004

Unforeseen consequences

Recently a very well-known analyst at one of the major Wall Street firms wrote a piece about RSS and its implications, which someone in our corporate finance arm found (probably via one of their subscription research services - I don't know, so thick are the Chinese walls which separate us) and duly forwarded to me. I wrote something very similar, but less hand-holding and more personal, back in the spring, but I nevertheless took receipt of the Bulge Bracket note with interest a few hours after a post I made here regarding a notion I have that RSS and other emerging communications tools pose a significant challenge to the way the thousands of people in my line of work typically do business.

Given that the first, and much more detailed, piece I wrote on this issue was back in July, I have been somewhat taken aback at the response to my post from Friday. Firstly, the traffic to my humble site is nearly three times higher than it would be on a normal Monday. Secondly, I have received emails from a number of heretofore unknown people saying something like: "I like it, have you seen X?" or "Very cool. We are working on something similar," (more on this later). Thirdly, the post seems to have provoked discussions and coverage in places I never expected or knew about (here, here, here, here, and here [check out the comments section of this one too]). Fourthly, of the three companies I name-checked in the title (purely because they sounded good - there was no intended specific criticisim of any of them, or their research efforts), only one URL has turned up in the site, and I am 99.99999% sure that this is a "friendly" on the buy-side who has been reading EuroTelcoblog for some time. From the financial media incumbents, only one URL turns up (not one mentioned in the original post).

I find all of this very interesting, because it seems to offer some validation of the scenario that I'm arguing in favor of: a relative unknown, with some fairly heretical views, can write something which gets people in various parts of the industry talking/debating the issue. The debate moves on well beyond the author, and the coverage spawns a further dissemanation of the information, which creates feedback loops/knowledge exchange opportunities which could not have existed otherwise (not least of all for me, the author). This is at odds with the "I'll tell you what I know/think, if you'll give us some commission" angle of traditional brokers' research (and of many of the "newbreed" boutiques, who charge an annual subscription based on the same premise). Based on traffic to my site today, the incumbents in the space, i.e., those with most to lose on the surface of it, so far seem to be peculiarly absent from this transaction, further suggesting that while some major banks/mediacos may be talking the RSS talk, they are not neccessarily walking the RSS walk, even though many of their clients clearly are.

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