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David Jackson

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  • Blogonomics: The Seeking Alpha Model [View article]
    The comparison between our economic relationship with our editors (or transcribers or hosting company) and our contributors actually clarifies why SA works for its contributors:

    For most contributors, their marginal cost cost is zero, because they have written their articles already, as part of a newsletter, research service, or just for fun on a blog. The opportunity cost of syndicating content to SA is also zero, because contributing to SA doesn't stop the author giving or selling the content to anyone else, and SA doesn't try to lock contributors into a long term relationship so they can pull out at any time.

    In contrast, the marginal cost to working full time as an SA editor is extremely high: if you work full time as an SA editor, you can't do other job. So our editors must be paid a salary.

    In a free market, economic agents tend to act rationally. That's why it's important to stress test analysis of an economic relationship with actual data. In this case, the numbers are as I mentioned in my post above:
    - The cumulative number of contributors to Seeking Alpha surpassed 1,300 in March.
    - Fewer than ten regular contributors chose to cease publishing on Seeking Alpha during the entire first quarter.
    - Over 100 new contributors joined each month in January, February and March.

    Michelle, you're in an unusual situation, because unlike most of our contributors you're a professional journalist and your blog is your full time work and source of income. So the opportunity cost of syndicating all your content to anyone might indeed be high. This is exactly what I meant when I said that "we never imagined we’d be attractive to bloggers who want to build media businesses", and is why I actually encouraged you to find a subscription based business model and use SA as a marketing platform only if doing so doesn't cannibalize your paid service or the ad revenue from your own site.

    That said, we have found that Seeking Alpha has worked for people in the media business, but only if they use the platform carefully. Specifically, you need to syndicate only a limited percentage of your content to SA, so you don't cannibalize your subscription service.

    Remember also that since you pulled out of SA over a year ago, our audience has grown enormously and we've redesigned the side bar of our article page to optimize exposure for contributors. Look at this article and see how we're promoting Dick Davis and his book: seekingalpha.com/artic...

    Syndicating content as a source of lead generation is what many major media companies do with the large finance portals. Some of those companies are now on Seeking Alpha as well.
    Apr 12 04:29 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Blogonomics: The Seeking Alpha Model [View article]
    Doron, you clearly have an amazing business. Why don't you add your website to your profile, so it will appear under your name when you comment and people can check it out?
    Apr 11 11:22 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Blogonomics: The Seeking Alpha Model [View article]
    Shaun, Jason and others raise a legitimate concern: As the number of contributors to Seeking Alpha rises, doesn't that mean that there's less exposure for each one, and it's harder to stand out?

    I think this question goes to the heart of our vision for Seeking Alpha. If all we ultimately offered was a front page highlighting the most interesting articles of the day, then there would indeed be a negative correlation between the number of contributors and the exposure they get.

    But the biggest readership in financial content is not the readers of the "front page" -- it's the millions of investors, firms and individuals that follow specific stocks and companies. Yahoo! Finance gets massively more traffic to its quote pages and portfolios than to its front page.

    So far, I'd estimate that Seeking Alpha is about 50% of the way there. First, the content is in place: there's amazing coverage across stocks on SA, as you can see if you search for a stock in the search box on the site and see what comes up. Second, we offer email alerts that are fully customizable, so tens of thousands of readers get email alerts on stocks they are watching. The comment from Asif that I quoted at the end of the article is a great example: the executives are Netsuite are watching what is being written about their company on SA.

    Where we've been slow is in fully enabling ticker-based personalization on the website. That's about to change. In a couple of months, we'll be rolling out watchlists on the site. They will enable readers to easily view headlines of the stocks they're tracking, and that will be a massive upgrade for readers, and thus for the exposure contributors get as well.

    This is the sort of thing I was alluding to in the article when I said that we're aiming for a really huge audience, and it takes a large investment and commitment to do that.

    I think that many people don't understand this point. Some people have even suggested that a "best of" or "linkfest" site is an alternative to Seeking Alpha. But the barriers to entry for that product are literally non-existent. James Altucher published one on TheStreet.com, Barry Ritholtz used to do one every weekend, Charles Kirk does one, Abnormal Returns also. They're all great, but they don't answer the massively larger demand for tickerized content and there's nothing to stop hundreds of imitators popping up tomorrow.

    By the way, I think that this is a key element causing friction with Barry Rithotz. Barry mostly writes about the overall market and economy, so he doesn't gain from the infrastructure investment we've made in tickerized distribution. We tend to feature overall market and economic commentary on our home page, but for people who want to read Barry specifically they can find him more easily on this site than ours. He gains from the traffic we get to our home page and US Market page, and from the thousands of subscribers to our "Daily Digest" email alert. But that might not be enough for him.

    I'm very optimistic about the new personalization and watchlist products we'll be rolling out. The design and tech teams did an amazing job of the forums -- they incorporate a ton of innovative features that overall provide a fantastic user experience. I'm hoping we'll see the same with our watchlists and portfolios. If they're successful, the distribution for contributors will grow dramatically.
    Apr 11 02:48 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Blogonomics: The Seeking Alpha Model [View article]
    Shaun, I was actually going to ask No Doodah's Bill, in response to his comment that "it's just that I saw y'all getting money off of my work, and I wanted a cut", whether he wants a cut of the quarterly loss or the commitment to the upfront investment and full time job. :-)

    More seriously, if we'd have paid contributors in cash or stock or a rev share, the amounts we'd have paid would have been (and probably would still be) discouraging for contributors, because our traffic still isn't large enough to support a split.

    I think we need to grow to the point where participation in Seeking Alpha is even more of a no-brainer for contributors, whether with direct cash payments as Bill Rempel wants, customer lead generation, brand building or other forms of monetization.
    Apr 10 05:30 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Blogonomics: The Seeking Alpha Model [View article]
    Donald, I think you're right that we can drive a lot more traffic to contributors if they link to each other, so that their posts on SA contain outbound links to other blogs.

    There's one issue we want to be careful about: we don't want contributors to include gratuitous links to drive traffic, because that would damage the reader experience.
    Apr 10 05:15 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Blogonomics: The Seeking Alpha Model [View article]
    Shaun, thank you for your comment and feedback. I'll leave it to Mick to address the editorial issue you raised.

    On the new website: we've designed it to provide much greater exposure for contributors, but a look at your article pages shows that you're not getting the benefit of it. As a first step, we should add your company name to the link, another couple of links, and a large logo for your firm. I'll email our contributor relations manager and ask her to contact you to follow up.
    Apr 10 04:46 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Blogonomics: The Seeking Alpha Model [View article]
    Yazz, we went the other way precisely to increase the exposure for contributors. Devoting the left-hand side bar to the contributor, immediately below the title, allows us to include a larger photo, a logo for the contributor's business, and a bunch of links. Look, for example, at the side bar on a Barry Ritholtz article:
    seekingalpha.com/artic...

    And here's a contributor with a book in their sidebar, linking to their own Amazon affiliate account:
    seekingalpha.com/artic...

    Part of the reason we designed the page this way was to leave open possibilities for future monetization and promotion for contributors. If you have any ideas, let us know.
    Apr 10 12:15 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Blogonomics: The Seeking Alpha Model [View article]
    "Just a small private investor", I'm glad you noticed the forums. We've kept quiet about them as we're still seeing how they perform. If you have any suggestions for improvement, let me know.

    For anyone who hasn't tried them, here's a link to the forum on Citigroup:

    seekingalpha.com/symbo...
    Apr 10 11:13 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Blogonomics: The Seeking Alpha Model [View article]
    Yazz, we have about 12 companies doing transcription for us. It's a huge and expensive project, but we think that opening transcripts to a broader readership is compelling.
    Apr 10 11:05 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Blogonomics: The Seeking Alpha Model [View article]
    Bill (No DooDahs), I think your strong antipathy to Seeking Alpha clouds your judgement, and leads to consistent factual errors in your analysis. For example, I remember when we announced the Yahoo Finance partnership, which originally involved blog posts appearing in their entirety on Yahoo Finance with zero payment to us. That was a real milestone for stock market bloggers. But you were totally condemnatory, and claimed that the deal was only for posts from the A-List bloggers, and that somehow we'd supplied Yahoo with a list of the chosen few. That was factually incorrect.

    Similarly, your posts about the economics of advertising and revenue shares have consistently underestimated the investment required to build and run a serious website and sell ads on it.

    Most significantly, I've never understood your core argument: "Obviously, it's not a good business model for writers that don't fit those categories." But most bloggers don't have a "business model", just as I didn't when I was blogging and you don't (otherwise you'd have a lot more ads on your site.) Our contributors who don't have money management, investment newsletter or consulting businesses blog because they love blogging and want to be part of a wider discussion. Given that the opportunity cost is zero, it's a no lose proposition.

    In many of your posts, you've tried to create the impression that there's an exodus of bloggers from Seeking Alpha; totally bizarre from our perspective when we look at the numbers. That's why I published our contributor numbers at the end of my post.

    Ask yourself a serious question: Given that becoming a contributor to SA is totally voluntary, wouldn't most stock market bloggers at the very least want the *option* to have their articles published to a vastly larger audience?

    Why would you want to campaign against that option existing?
    Apr 10 10:57 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Blogonomics: The Seeking Alpha Model [View article]
    Davis, you're totally right about links. We're figuring out this model as we go, and we've definitely made some mistakes. Redirecting links was one of them. The rationale was that we needed to reach critical mass and we wanted to provide a consistent user experience, so we didn't want readers hitting the same article in two locations. But as you said, links are the currency of the Internet, and tampering with them is the same as tampering with someone's article. So (I believe) Mick and his team no longer change links. In your latest post for example ( seekingalpha.com/artic... ), there only seems to be one internal link to your articles, and that's to your own blog.
    Apr 10 10:28 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Blogonomics: The Seeking Alpha Model [View article]
    b3rkut -- Here's the link to Barry's post, in which he set the stage for the comments in a way that guaranteed that every single one would be negative, and sure enough they were:
    bigpicture.typepad.com...

    And here are two responses we've seen:

    Felix Salmon:
    www.portfolio.com/view...

    Joseph Weisenthal:
    www.thestalwart.com/th...
    Apr 10 09:08 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Blogonomics: The Seeking Alpha Model [View article]
    Frank -- that really brings back memories! Tech Uncovered turned into a TypePad blog, then a WordPress blog, then Seeking Alpha... It's an honor to have kept you as a reader all these years.
    Apr 10 09:00 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Explore More Core [View article]
    Roger, what I love about your articles is how they reflect a real understanding of how investors behave in the real world, as opposed to in theory or ideally.

    When I wrote the ETF Investment Guide ( seekingalpha.com/artic... ) my goal was to prove to investors that they could do it themselves. But I received a ton of feedback from investors saying "I still need help, even wtih a portfolio of only a few ETFs".

    That seems to be what you're saying in this comment -- that even managing a simple ETF portfolio and rebalancing it is too much for many people, and they might want to look at other options to reduce volatility.


    On Apr 07 01:32 PM RogerNusbaum wrote:

    > David, two ways to possibly address your question.
    >
    > One is how lazy does one want to be? also how often would someone
    > rebalance? I'm not sure it is economical for people to rebalance
    > based on a 5% move, for example. There is some number for each person
    > where it does makes sense. With $50,000 total 5% is probably no,
    > with $5 million it would be economical.
    >
    > Despite that it might not be economical people do feel, emotionally
    > a 5-10% decline so the right absolute fund could help.
    >
    > Another thing about rebalancing is that people seem to become reluctant
    > to buy more stock when the market drops, just normal human nature.
    >
    >
    > It is possible an absolute fund could lessen the blow for people
    > who are not good at rebalancing.
    >
    > Lastly, its just a theoretical example:-)
    Apr 9 07:49 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Is the New Generation of Financial Content an Opportunity or Threat for Investor Relations? [View article]
    Thanks Penny, that's helpful.


    On Apr 08 10:56 AM PennyHerscher wrote:

    > Sure thing, David. FirstRain finds our subscribers (institutional
    > PMs and analysts) qualitative data points and trends that they would
    > not otherwise see -- from the web. We do this by generating daily
    > reports that are personalized to the universe of each subscriber
    > and collecting a database of searchable web results cetagorized by
    > investment topics. More recently, we've added the ability to extract
    > and graph trends in events like executive departures, refusals to
    > comment, etc.
    >
    > In terms of comparison to SeekingAlpha, we author no original content
    > ourselves. We address the need for unique, pertinent data and perspectives
    > with research models (software developed by our analysts) and technology
    > to automatically glean unique data from the entire web in a bottom-up
    > fashion. Whereas I believe SeekingAlpha approaches the problem by
    > selecting the best of the best, and organizing it to make it impactful
    > to the reader.
    Apr 8 11:07 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
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