GigaOm, one of the leading tech blogs, launched its Structure conference recently. We’re going to be getting involved with the conference, helping to find speakers and vet topics.
In fairly sharp contrast to technology conference that focus on the “how” of infrastructure, Structure looks at the “why.” As one of the GigaOm folks told us, this event is more about the ways changing infrastructure can fundamentally alter an online business.
Calling something an online business is a bit of a travesty in its own right. We might instead use “offline business” as a badge of dishonor; who wants to be offline?
Online business has better marketing (because with analytics you know where your money’s going); better distribution costs (just compare iTunes to traditional retail); and the ability to grow and shrink without huge capital (particularly in an age of virtualization and on-demand computing.)
But it’s more than just that. Tomorrow’s businesses have a far wider range of options for how they make money. Traditional economics holds that you deliver a product or service to a buyer in return for compensation. But many of today’s online ventures are complex interactions of affiliates, open-source projects, subscriptions, and ad revenue. Understanding their cashflow is less about accounting and more about understanding derivative financial instruments.
Structure should be a great opportunity to understand how new operating costs, revenue streams, and capital expenses change the nature of everything from new ventures to industry stalwarts.