Anthony J. Pennings, PhD


LinkedIn Social Media IPO Raises Questions of a Global Internet Bubble

Posted on | May 26, 2011 | No Comments

Linkedin and the recent slew of Chinese Internet IPOs have both revitalized the IPO market and raised concerns about a new “dot-com” bubble. This time, though, it’s global. LinkedIn, the social media site for professionals was priced at $45 last Wednesday May 18, 2011 and closed Friday at over a $100 a share. The social media company was originally planning to offer 7.8 million shares at $32 to $35 giving the company a valuation of over $3 billion but the equity markets thought differently and collectively valued the company at $80. Is a company with last years earnings of $15.4 million worth some $8-9 billion? What does it mean for upcoming planned IPOs such as auto and mortgage lender Ally, embedded semiconductor device maker Freescale, coupon coordinator Groupon, material science innovator Momentive, and retail brand ToysRus? Not to mention media darlings Facebook and Twitter? Are we headed for another Internet bubble with its inevitable crash?

Here are 5 factors driving social media stocks:

First. The good news is that the benefits of social media and e-commerce are proving significant and real – largely due to their global reach, rich multimedia, cloud storage capabilities and viral strategies that utilize network effects to reach huge numbers of people quickly and cheaply. The Internet’s new mobility has gone beyond laptops to netbooks, smartphones and tablets such as the Apple iPad and Blackberry Playbook and have meant much more activity on the net and many more clicks for content providers and eyeballs for advertisers.

Second. Social media continues and accelerates the Internet’s globalization imperative. Although censorship exists and countries can and often block aspects of the Internet such as Facebook and Twitter, the web has continued to become an important part of the daily lives of people from countries around the world. As the above video mentioned, Linkedin has over 56 million of its 100+ million users from outside the US. Cities like Abuja, Cairo, Bangkok, Jakarta, and Rio de Janeiro have some of the most prolific social media user populations.

Third. We continue to see an economic recovery in the US since the financial crises of 2007-2009 and even faster growth in the BRIC countries. Lower interest rates have been a factor due to the to the US Federal Reserve’s “petal to the metal” financial intervention and mediocre fiscal stimulation by the government have placed the US on a firmer though still shaky economic foundation. Meanwhile growth around the world has proceeded on a faster pace despite rising commodity prices.

Fourth. Global exchanges and investment banks are hungry to list the new social media companies and for the trading activity they can bring in, especially with peaking asset prices. The lower interest rates have meant that cheap money has been scooped up by big speculators who have been able to borrow a lot of money due to liberal margin requirements to ride a number of other appreciating assets, including the stocks of the DJIA that has gone from a low of 6,470 on March 6, 2009 up to the current trading range around 12,300. Traders have also sent gold to over $1450 and oil to $100 a barrel for an unprecedented period of time. With these assets reaching significant valuation heights, investors are starting to look elsewhere. Why not social media?

Fifth. Another factor is the role of the so-called secondary markets that facilitate the exchange of shares in privately held companies. Much of the action is taking place in online exchanges where companies like Facebook or Zynga are not required to disclose financial information. One of these private exchanges, reported more than $100 million in private stock transactions during the first few months of 2011, primarily in shares of social media companies like Facebook and LinkedIn. These secondary markets have gone online to provide an environment for buying and selling previously illiquid assets like unregistered stocks and warrants, commercial loans, and a variety of corporate and residential mortgage-backed securities. Employees of these unlisted companies, for example, are often tempted to cash in their shares. Social media stocks of pre-IPO companies have proved to some of the most popular as companies delay listing on major exchanges because the threshold for listing is so high. Add the fact that the hype on these stocks has gone viral and the actual amounts available are low, the high demand for limited supply is forcing prices to rise.


Anthony J. Pennings, PhD has been on the NYU faculty since 2001 teaching digital media, information systems management, and global communications. © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Producing Digital Content Synergies

Posted on | May 14, 2011 | No Comments

The convergence of production, storage and distribution with the proliferation of digital technologies has had a dramatic effect on both the consumer as well as the corporate supplier side of the media business. Digital technologies have generally been very positive for the media consumer, who has access to much more content via more channels during more times of the day. However, it has been harder for media businesses to be successful in the new digital media markets because of the increased competition due to reduced barriers to entry and lack of competitive advantages.

In The Business Of Media (2005) by David Croteau and William Hoynes, they discuss some of the challenges and opportunities facing The Making of Avatardigital media businesses and the strategies of the larger media firms. In particular, they point to synergies obtained by utilizing resources across multi-divisional and multi-company media giants. The growth of media firms through acquisition or internal investment gives them considerably more options when it comes to producing and promoting their products. In trying to advantage of vertical and horizontal integration growth strategies, media companies have looked to find new ways to utilize their vast resources to efficiently produce and promote digital content. Some of the large media conglomerates like Disney, Fox, Comcast/NBC Universal, Viacom, etc. have the capacity to take advantage of multiple sources of expertise and production facilities as well as advertising, public relations and other promotional capabilities.

Media firms in the new digital environment are increasingly utilizing all available resources to develop and package a single content concept. In the process of cross-production, media companies try to utilize production and post-production capabilities across the organization to promote and commodify a concept in a wide range of media. This might include any combination of the following: film, DVD, TV show, comic book, novelization, action figures (and Happy Meal toys), soundtracks, and computer games. They might also license the rights to images and likenesses of major characters and props to other organizations. All these products can add to revenue streams while also further promoting the digital property.

A related process called cross-promotion is also a critical strategy to ensure the concept’s success. This involves promoting a single concept via different media across the scope of an organization or in cooperation with other firms. Through a wide range of advertising, public relations and marketing techniques, media firms take advantage of internal resources and joint ventures to saturate the media space with images, sounds, and personalities associated with the concept.

An interesting example is James Cameron’s science fiction epic Avatar (2009), a blockbuster movie that made enormous profits for News Corp, the global media company started by Rubert Murdoch with operations in film, television, book publishing, cable programming, magazines and satellite television. Avatar was the most expensive movie to date with production costs in excess of $300 million. Cameron’s own production assets were central and other parts of the global film production circuit were recruited including Peter Jackson’s visual effects studio Weta Digital in New Zealand that also included government tax credits. Parts of Fox’s own 20th Century Fox were involved as well as IMAX and Panasonic. Luckily, the movie became the highest grossing movie in history after only 41 days in the theaters.

No doubt the film’s success was also due to the estimated $200 million for distribution and promotion taken on more directly by Fox and NewsCorp’s substantial properties including The Wall Street Journal. Probably the most controversial was the saturation of the 2009 World Series that Fox broadcast with advertisements and images from the movie. In another event promoted as “the world’s biggest live trailer viewing”, promotional clips were shown on the four-sided, center-hung, Mitsubishi high-definition video display screens at the Dallas Cowboy’s Stadium just before kickoff against the Seattle Seahawk’s on November 1, 2009. Millions saw the trailer through the Fox sports simulcast of the ad as the game was being broadcast on Fox. Social media was also an important part of the marketing campaign, utilizing Facebook, Twitter, and of course, Murdoch’s rapidly eroding MySpace.

This post does not pretend to cover in detail all the cross-production and cross-promotion strategies used in construction and marketing of Avatar, but it is important to recognize the extraordinary measures involved in releasing modern media concepts.

I wanted to list some of the products available on that promote the Avatar brand and contribute the concept’s revenue stream. In fact, Amazon has a dedicated store for Avatar.


AnthonyAnthony J. Pennings, PhD has been on the NYU faculty since 2001 teaching digital media, information systems management, and global communications.

Browser Wars: Chrome on the Offensive

Posted on | May 7, 2011 | No Comments

Despite the increasing popularity of mobile applications, the web browser on desktop and laptop computers remain important instruments of the digital infrastructure. An interesting set of statistics involves the competition among these browsers and the emergence of Google’s Chrome as a major competitor to Mozilla’s Firefox.

The latest figures from confirm the continual decline of Internet Explorer with 25.8% of the market while Firefox has plateaued as the clear leader with 42.2%. Chrome continues to have the fastest growth and at 25% is about to overtake Microsoft’s IE for second place. Apple’s Safari is consistent at about 4% with Opera keeping the stable 2-2.5% share it has maintained over the years. I actually use Flock, designed specifically for social media applications, but it never really caught on, socially.

Browsers are important because they can determine the future of web applications, services and standards. An example is the adoption of HTML5, the new version of Hypertext Markup Language that is challenging the viability of Flash.

Web development requires making sure your work looks right in all the main browsers. Here are some useful tools for checking your cross-browser work.

  • For checking your code on Internet Explorer:

  • and everything else on the desktop:
    (Hint: Try unchecking some of the browsers for a faster response time)

  • And if you are doing a lot of mobile web development:


    Anthony J. Pennings, PhD has been on the NYU faculty since 2001 teaching digital media, information systems management, and global communications. © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

    Measuring the Popularity of Programming Languages

    Posted on | May 2, 2011 | No Comments

    I was reviewing the latest statistics about the most popular programming languages on the TIOBE Index this morning. While disagreements exist about the methodology they utilize, TIOBE’s results seem to be consistent with others in that Java and C are by far the most widely used with C++, C#, and PHP also popular. Python is also an important language while Visual Basic‘s stock seems to be falling.

    Java was developed by Sun Microsystems in the mid-1990s and has seen renewed viability due to it being the preferred language of the Android operating system central to Google’s expansion plans. C is a relatively old language that was developed by AT&T Bell Labs in the 1980s but has remained viable due mainly to numerous Unix legacy projects. confirms the popularity of Java and C although it also includes Javascript in its top 5 of aggregated “normalized compression” statistics. This includes data from Craigslist, Freshmeat, Powell Books (previously from, and Ohloh.


    Anthony J. Pennings, PhD has been on the NYU faculty since 2001 teaching digital media, information systems management, and global communications. © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

    Mysteries of Facebook Optimization: EdgeRank

    Posted on | May 1, 2011 | No Comments

    Probably the most important part of the Facebook experience is the News Feed, the list of items (called objects) from your friends, fans and groups on the main page. But what you may not realize is that not all the news that is fit to print shows up directly in the ‘Top News’ because of an algorithm called EdgeRank that determines what makes the cut and what doesn’t.

    EdgeRank operates a bit like time, it keeps everything from happening at once and overwhelming you with content. Still, Facebook wants you to get the objects it thinks you are most interested in and wants to reduce the clutter from objects it deems less important. A simple rule is that you can increase the likelihood of a friend’s objects showing up by interacting with them. This is what is called an edge. Likewise, you can “optimize” the chances of your own objects showing up in the Top News feed portion of others by following the rules of “engagement”.

    Whether you are an individual or represent an organization of some kind, the visibility of your posts are important. The EdgeRank algorithm is based on three factors: affinity, weight and time decay. Affinity is a lot like it sounds like – commenting on or liking an object, visiting a friend’s profile, viewing pictures, sending messages, etc. Weight is a score given to each type of edge with some actions more important than others. This is determined exclusively by Facebook so it’s a good idea to follow some of the discussions about EdgeRank on the web. Time decay is largely a factor of staying current by logging in and regularly interacting with the friends and likes you, well, like. All these factors are calculated to give an object an EdgeRank score that will determine whether the object shows up in someone’s Top News.

    If you are a marketing or social media manager for a brand, it gets complex as you are looking to more aggressively push your objects. Until recently your major concern has probably been the acquisition of new fans with the “Like” button. Now, “brand managers” are using a variety of techniques to engage their fans. These include call to action (CTA) techniques that urge a response, such has asking questions or sending invitations.

    Buddy Media has recently developed a White Paper on EdgeRank that presents ideas on how to push your content to the top of the News Feed’s ‘Top News’. Download it for more details on the following:

    1. Ask questions
    2. Post games and trivia
    3. Interact with fan engagement
    4. Incorporate wall sapplets (polls, coupons, etc.)
    5. Incorporate relevant photos
    6. Relate to current events
    7. Incorporate videos
    8. Post content for time-sensitive campaigns
    9. Include links within posts
    10. Be explicit in your posts

    Unfortunately, you will also see more movement on Facebook’s part to get brands to advertise in order to reach their fans as they look to increase their revenues.

    Here is a tool to help you calculate your EdgeRank:


    Anthony J. Pennings, PhD has been on the NYU faculty since 2001 teaching digital media, information systems management, and global communications. © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

    Florida’s Creative Class Thesis and the Global Economy

    Posted on | April 30, 2011 | No Comments

    I had a chance to live in Wellington, New Zealand for a few years teaching television production and a graduate class on the geopolitics of Directing student productionscommunication at Victoria University. Besides being the capital of the country, it’s a great little city that has used its English heritage to effectively draw from the British Commonwealth as well as America to create rich art, design and theater cultures. The city is mentioned in Richard Florida’s Flight of the Creative Class as an example of one of the enterprising nodes around the world that now compete in the global “creative economy”. After an interview with New Zealand native Peter Jackson, the Academy Award winning auteur of such films as King Kong and the Lord of the Rings series that was shot in New Zealand, Florida reflected on the role New Zealand’s capital city. Jackson was able to use the incredible profits generated by the Rings trilogy to build his Weta Digital studio and help catapult the kiwi capital into the global circuits of creative production and attract significant talent to “the land of the long white cloud“. [1]

    The World is Spiky

    Florida critiques the central theme of Thomas L. Friedman’s The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century, arguing instead that the world is “spiky“. With this he means that economic activity tends to concentrate around economic regions and particularly cities such as Wellington that attract creative people and projects.

    Richard Florida’s works on the importance of creativity in the global economy has received mixed reviews but stand as an impressive body of work. Among his books addressing the creative class thesis are:

    He contends that the creative class is a key driver of economic growth in our modern economy, particularly when they use the new technologies. This group consists primarily of scientists, engineers, designers, professors, architects and even poets but also includes legal, business, and policy strategists. To compete effectively in the spiky world, countries need to be talent magnets.

    9/11 and the Closing of America

    Florida is an urban economist and theorist who began his query into the creative class in the wake of 9/11, when the Patriot Act and other security measures began to put pressure on immigration of creative talent into America. He has a high regard for the scientific and entrepreneurial talent coming in from other parts of the world. This led to his triple T list of crucial factors for the creative economy: technology, talent, and tolerance. He places a particular emphasis on the latter, stressing that economic regions and nations need to be open to different ethnicities, religions, and sexual orientations.

    To develop economically, Florida encourages nations and regions to support their universities, particularly faculties that do science and technology; cultivate new industries that capitalize on creativity; prepare people for a creative global economy, and foster openness and tolerance to attract the creative class.

    It’s an intriguing thesis, not one that is central to my own research agenda, but it does inform some of my interests, such as the fate of New York’s “Silicon Alley”. Primarily I use it to to remind my digital media students we live in a globalized political economy and they need to organize their education around that fact.


    [1] Richard Florida’s website is


    AnthonybwAnthony J. Pennings, PhD is the Professor of Global Media at Hannam University in South Korea. Previously, he taught at St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas and was on the faculty of New York University from 2002-2012. He also taught at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand and was a Fellow at the East-West Center in Hawaii in the 1990s.

    Global E-Commerce Report Focuses on Logistics

    Posted on | April 27, 2011 | No Comments

    It’s one thing to have your customer peruse your site, pick a product, and pay for it; it’s another to have it delivered quickly and safely.

    The recent Global E-Commerce Delivery Report 2011 focuses on the latter, getting your physical product to the customer. The report was produced by the Hamburg, Germany market research firm and shows that the efficiency and speed of logistics have become important e-commerce factors in the competition for customers and sales. It presents facts, figures and trends about e-commerce deliveries within 22 countries with the recognition that online delivery performance can serve as a source of competitive advantage.

    Some of the topics include an evaluation of free shipping days, delivery options in different countries, the ecological footprint of various delivery options, and the role of store-pickup programs. It also has a number of case studies of both e-commerce sites and deliverers in different countries. For example, American Apparel, Borders and French’s 3 Suisses e-commerce site as well as German logistics companies supporting e-commerce such as Deutsche Post / DHL, DPD, GLS, Hermes and UPS.


    Anthony J. Pennings, PhD has been on the NYU faculty since 2001 teaching digital media, information systems management, and global communications. © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

    United Nations Looks to Transform with Integrated ICT and ERP

    Posted on | April 10, 2011 | No Comments

    When I visited the Situation Room at the United Nations (UN) a few years ago, I was underwhelmed with its technological whiz-bang. For a number of reasons it was difficult for the UN to computerize adequately. However, it is currently moving forward with an ambitious strategy to use ICT (Information and Communications Technology) and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) to reform its organizational DNA with unumojoa program it calls “Umoja”. The word means “unity” in Swahili and the UN will strive for it by re-engineering administrative and business practices in a wide range of activities including finance, human resources, procurement, program management, travel, reports to management and stakeholders, as well as supply chain services. As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon put it:

      Umoja is the cornerstone of UN administrative reform, and presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to move the UN away from administrative practices on which it was built in the 1940s, and equip it with 21st century techniques, tools, training and technology. A fundamental tenet of the initiative is that lasting reform is built, firstly, on changes of attitudes and skills of staff members; secondly, on modification of processes and organizational structure; and, thirdly, on deployment of a global information management platform. Umoja is fundamentally a people- and process-driven initiative enabled by modern technology.

    The UN is facing a number of challenges in additional to continual budget concerns. Peacekeeping operations have continued to grow in complexity, scope, and size, and often operate in remote regions with underdeveloped infrastructure. The current IMIS system is outdated and fragmented, making it difficult to achieve adequate returns on investments in maintenance and training. It also lacks much-needed capabilities for management information, decision-making, and planning. One of the recent additions Umoja is offering is the Programme and Project Management (PPM) workstream. It is designed to provide the UN staff with more tools for planning, monitoring and evaluation of UN programs and projects and to provide the Secretariat and and Member States with more information about program results and project expenditures.

    The UN is also adopting the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) as mandated by the UN General Assembly which passed a resolution in 2006 urging its adoption by all United Nations organizations. IPSAS is an accrual-based accounting system that is being implemented by public sector bodies around the world due to its best-practices for clarity and transparency. This list includes the EC (European Communities), ESA (European Space Agency), INTERPOL (International Criminal Police Organization), NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) among many others, including over 80 countries.

    Among the biggest challenges to implementing the Omoja changes is internal acceptance of the new procedures and requirements. Its success will be measured by how well it is used by all the different UN organizational bodies and staff. This will not be an easy transition and will require the mobilization of support for Umoja by all the different stakeholders, including vendors and people working in the field.


    AnthonybwAnthony J. Pennings, PhD is the Professor of Global Media at Hannam University in South Korea. Previously, he taught at St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas and was on the faculty of New York University from 2002-2012. He also taught at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand and was a Fellow at the East-West Center in Hawaii in the 1990s.

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  • About Me

    Professor at State University of New York (SUNY) Korea since 2016. Moved to Austin, Texas in August 2012 to join the Digital Media Management program at St. Edwards University. Spent the previous decade on the faculty at New York University teaching and researching information systems, digital economics, and strategic communications.

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