VC McNamee: new media to help recover personal time

Well-known venture capitalist Roger McNamee said that the Internet has released the chokehold media companies used to have over content distribution, creating investment opportunities that could affect everything from education to politics.

McNamee, who founded Elevation Partners in 2004 to invest in media and entertainment, spoke at the Technology Review's Emerging Technology Conference at MIT on Thursday.

He said that the notion of community in integral to his view on media.

"The Internet we see today is about aggregation, but that's just the first step. The thing that's forming now is community," he said. "In community mode, you need trust and authority and you need to move up the stack to insight and knowledge."

McNamee spoke specifically about Elevation Partners' investment in Forbes, the venerable business magazine. He said that he hopes to introduce more personalization at Forbes's Web site in order to provide readers with valuable insight, rather than only news.

For example, a news story on changing mortgage rates could be a signal for a reader to refinance. In order to do that, the Web site needs a lot of personal information on the reader, which is valuable to advertisers.

"That is what business journalism has to aim for: personalization, trust and authority. I think all of journalism has to do that because people don't have enough time," McNamee said.

He said that he is investing in media because it has the potential to affect a large number of people and improve political discourse in the country.

But at the same time, he said that quality of information, specifically news coverage, is going down. That is a by-product of the self-publishing happening on the Web.

"If you look around today, the best sources of news are dying," he said, citing National Public Radio and the New York Times as high-quality, global news gatherers. "The average quality of what passes for news has declined dramatically."

 

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