Opportunity Awaits

As it ponders a $6 billion acquisition offer from Google, the executives at Groupon are nervous, says Mr. Vacanti, because…

“[T]he brands of these [old] media companies, while not having deal authority, do have product and service authority. They’ve been telling their audience how to spend their money for years. For example, you are much more likely to trust a golf magazine’s recommendation of a specific golf course outing than Groupon’s recommendation. Plus a golf course would rather be recommended by a golf magazine than Groupon.

These large, old media companies with millions of users and strong brands will create real competition for Groupon.”

Put another way: Imagine you want to buy a new digital camera — say, a Nikon D3000. Would you rather buy the camera via Groupon, which might find you a bargain price but which doesn’t know diddly about photography. OR, would you rather buy the camera via National Geographic, which has millions of existing members (“collective buying power”) and which could contribute its photographic expertise to the transaction. Plus, once you buy the camera, you’d have the technical and creative support of thousands of other photography enthusiasts who made the same purchase, and who you’d be able to contact via National Geographic’s robust online network (which exists only in our imagination).

Buying the camera is only the beginning, of course. The real benefits to the Society would come when people started taking pictures and making videos — and sharing them. But to realize these benefits, John Fahey needs to stop chasing advertisers, and start catering to the Society’s real — but rapidly vanishing — power base: NGS members.

We floated this idea when we first launched Society Matters 18 months ago, and we were planning to ask John about it — but he recently rescinded his long-standing invitation to stop by his office for a visit. Why the cold shoulder? We’re not exactly sure. We have many more great ideas that we’d love to share, and that we’re confident could help our Society.

John rarely, if ever, gives interviews.
But we’re asking for one, partly to explore this idea.
If you think John should join us for an extended Q&A,
then please click “Recommend,” below.

Don’t have a Facebook account? Or prefer not to show your face? That’s okay.
Just email me — alan [at] societymatters [dot] org — and
I’ll raise our Anonymous But Curious tally by one.
(It’s under the Facebook widget in the right sidebar.)

NO NEW POSTS will be published here after February 6, 2014. THIS IS WHY.