Sramana Mitra: That is very interesting. What do you charge? What does ESPN pay you for something like this?
Khris Loux: It is use based. It is like a cellphone plan – according to page views. Up to $100 million is a certain price. Up to a billion is another price. It is like a cellphone plan. If you access the Cleveland page, you open up one stream and that stream costs the company a unit of one.
SM: Besides show business, sports, and entertainment, where else do you see applications?
KL: It is our position that the entire web will be rebuilt on top of real-time flows of information. That includes every website. Whether it is e-commerce, an individual page or a media company, essentially if you wanted to read some of the early thinking on it, there is a paper I co-wrote called “The Synaptic Web.” It basically describes how all of the nodes on the web will be interconnected and that all of the information in any given piece of content will flow to that piece of content. If it is an individual, I should be able to see everything: my driving record, my school records, things an old girlfriend said about me, or photos of me that were shot – everything on the planet should accrue back to me, so that there is a canonical view of objects related to me, for example, a running shoe, a blender or an album.
SM: Given that world view, what happens to search engine optimization? Today people worry a lot about how to optimize their sites and portals so that the search engine traffic flows to those places. How does your world view look at that?
KL: There are drastic changes that will take place over the coming years. One change is that SEO presumes a crawler comes to your site and reads or consumes each page, indexes it and gives it some rating, so that someone might search for that content. In a stream economy, the search engines are going to need to crawl the streams. That is not happening on a reliable basis right now. That is one change.
Another change is that the entire model is based on ad views. One page view is one ad view. If we consider that Facebook is one page – you don’t surf 50 pages on Facebook, you stay on one – how do you get more ads on the page? So the page view/ad view model will need to be reworked, maybe more like a taxi cab: You get charged by the mile, and if the cab is sitting at a light, you get charged by the minute. It might turn from ad impressions to ad minutes.
I think the biggest [differentiation] this model might provide is as follows: If I subscribe to everything I need, such as my friends, my sports teams, my church, my stock, etc., then the need for search diminishes. The world is coming to me. I no longer go to Google and ask for everything on the San Francisco 49ers. I have already subscribed to them, and everything I think is relevant about the 49ers is already coming into my stream. This is really the biggest opportunity and potential threat, depending on how you look at it, going from the old world to the new world. How does a search-based economy survive in a subscription-based economy?
SM: That is an interesting question from many points of view – not the least being the business model point of view. I don’t think Facebook today is charging on a minute-based ad block basis, is it?
KL: Not that I am aware of.