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|Wednesday, May 30, 2012|
BY LINDA BAKER
Everyone has an opinion about Facebook’s IPO mess and what it means for the Zuckerberg enterprise, tech IPOs, and civilization as we know it. For Astrid Scholz, executive vice president at Ecotrust, a market based environmental nonprofit, Facebook’s botched public offering yields two lessons. The first: “you can’t make money off platforms per se.” Instead, successful digital companies are those that actually sell tangible products and services: Amazon and Apple, for example.
Scholz’ second conclusion is more provocative. Most internet business models revolve around one of three things: getting more eyeballs on the page, selling things or meeting people. But perhaps “that phase of technology is running its course,” says Scholz. The next phase, she suggests, will be “to create software solutions that actually do useful things.”
Here one catches the whiff of the moralist. After all, one person’s use value is another person’s junk. Yet Scholz’ point is well taken. What value has been created by Facebook, Google and the dizzying array of mobile apps? How can we harness the power of the digital world to add more value — and then monetize that value with innovative business models?
I spoke with Scholz last month as I was researching my June cover story on green transformation; we followed up with another chat this week. (The Facebook IPO was just a happy coincidence). In the past few years, Ecotrust has been developing or co-developing its own digital tools, several focused on nurturing a more sustainable, or resilient, marine and fisheries sector. “The questions we were asking weren’t addressed by Windows or Google, so we decided to build them ourselves,” Scholz says.
These tools include Digital Deck, a mobile technology tool that provides real-time access to catch information — collected from the boat deck — to help consumers, wholesalers and conservationists learn if fish is sustainably harvested. Another is Marine Map, a web-based open source platform that helps users, including fisherman and conservationists, visualize social ecological, and regulatory features of the marine environment.
These technologies serve a variety of data collection and consumer functions, offering marine planners fine grained information about the ocean environment and potentially offering more information to the consumer about the origins and quality of the fish they are buying. To that end, Ecotrust’s tools are similar to the "Smart Farmer" trend described in my green story, in which emerging mobile apps enable farmers to convey information to consumers and regulators about environmental and food safety.
MarineMap won a 2011 Tech Award — an international award that honors companies and nonprofits using technology to “benefit humanity.”
Many things benefit humanity: food, water, clothes, games, even social networks. For Scholz, one of the lessons gleaned from the Facebook debacle is “the Internet hasn't grown up yet." It’s also a call to arms: harness digital technology to create a new generation of value added web platforms and mobile apps.
Linda Baker is managing editor of Oregon Business.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN
Agriculture businesses ramp up to meet international demand as workforce and succession challenges loom.
Monday, July 14, 2014
BY TERRY "STARBUCKER" ST. MARIE
I really didn’t know that much about angel investing, but I did know a lot about the entrepreneurial spirit.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
By Kim Moore | OB Editor
The 2015 survey launched this week. It is open to for-profit private and public companies that have at least 15 full- or part-time employees in Oregon.
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
The New Yorker recently published a sharply worded critique of “disruptive innovation,” one of the most widely cited theories in the business world today. The article raises questions about the descriptive value of disruption and innovation — whether the terms are mere buzzwords or actually explain today's extraordinarily complex and fast changing business environment.
Update: We caught up with Portland's Thomas Thurston, who shared his data driven take on the disruption controversy.
Monday, July 07, 2014
BY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
Named after the 2010 experiment by Thomas Ryan, "Robin Sages" are fake social media profiles designed to encourage linking and divulging valuable information.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY KIM MOORE
The ubiquitous fast-food restaurant may be on the decline.
Wednesday, July 09, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
Scott Kveton, the CEO of Urban Airship is taking a leave of absence from the company. As the story continues to unfold, here’s our perspective on a few of the key players.
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