Is VentureBeat Really Independent Journalism?

Executive Summary

  • VentureBeat is a very popular site that covers the venture capital area and the companies that are funded by VCs.
  • VentureBeat claims to be independent journalism, but is it?

Introduction

We ran into VentureBeat when analyzing a separate story. The articles we read at VentureBeat seemed to repeat claims made by the entity they were covering and noticed that a large amount of information published in the article was false.

We will begin by analyzing one of their stories in this article.

VentureBeat Covers Scoutbee

The article begins as follows:

Procuring parts and settling on suppliers are two of the most challenging undertakings in supply chain management, it’s safe to say. Companies aren’t always transparent about their networks and capacities, and short of conducting exhaustive searches and validating each candidate individually, the solutions are few and far between.

That’s why, in 2015, four German entrepreneurs — Christian Heinrich, Fabian Heinrich, Gregor Stühler, and Lee Galbraith — founded Scoutbee, which develops and sells access to a uniquely AI-driven supplier discovery platform. They’ve caught the attention of investors, evidently — Scoutbee today announced that it’s raised $12 million in series A funding contributed by HV Holtzbrinck Ventures, 42Cap, and Toba Capital, bringing its total raised to $15.5 million.

This article begins by making the case for AI in supplier management and then describing the amount raised for Soutbee.

Repeating What the Company Says

The company says the bulk of the fresh funds will be put toward customer acquisition in the U.S. and Europe, as well as further development of its AI-powered apps.

“This investment fuels our focus of growing our customer base and operations on two continents,” said Galbraith, Scoutbee’s managing director. “The reception from procurement executives in the U.S. has matched what we’ve seen in Europe — leaders want to see deeper supplier insights, perform strategic scouting faster and profit from faster time to market and innovation. Here in the U.S. where manufacturers are scrambling to respond to imposed tariffs, we can help purchasing leaders evaluate suppliers with speed and precision to remain competitive.”

There is no comment from the author of this article. Everything up to this point has been provided by Scoutbee. This is undifferentiated from a press release.

Scoutbee’s Central Product

Scoutbee’s suite — which is underpinned by Artemis, the company’s AI engine — can benchmark existing suppliers from their sourcing behavior with the competition, and find new products and suppliers efficiently thanks to a streamlined catalog. Every 10 weeks, Scoutbee analyzes up to a terabyte of supply chain data, sussing out the relationships among more than 14 million companies, their customers, and over 3,400 OEMs globally.

One customer — Audi — discovered 329 potential suppliers compared with the 38 it found through traditional channels, and completed the “scout-to-source” process in just seven weeks while saving 68%. Other satisfied clients include Adelfiolzener, DMG MORI, Knauf, and Bosch Group’s Rexroth.

“The procurement market is hungry for a disruptive and easy-to-implement solution like Scoutbee’s,” said HV Holtzbrinck Venture partner Jan Miczaika. “While there are many procure-to-pay technologies for chief procurement officers and their teams, Scoutbee, with its AI-powered technology, bridges a huge gap in supplier visibility and the process of sourcing strategic projects.”

Scoutbee is headquartered in Würzburg, Germany, but in January opened offices in Arlington, Virginia.

After reading what is nothing more than a press release, and does not really have a VentureBeat author, as the content was provided to VentureBeat by Scoutbee, without VentureBeat performing any analysis or contradiction, we then noticed a peculiar item in the upper right hand corner of the website.

That was independent journalism?

In fact, lets back up even further.

That was journalism?

If the author does not write the article, but the article is written by a company trying to promote itself, that is not considered journalism. That is either called PR or some contract marketing.

Secondly, why does a reader have to contribute to reading press releases from a company — shouldn’t the company be paying the reader?

This contribute button looks like an artifact that makes the reader THINK that VentureBeat is not a rigged affair and distributing PR releases for paying companies. And that this article was not paid for by the subject of the article, in this case, Scoutbee.

The link actually goes to a subscription page. VentureBeat appears to be asking the target (the readers) to contribute in addition to what VentureBeat has already charged Scoutbee. 

Conclusion

VentureBeat writes articles that do not a journalistic entity, and they are the exact opposite of an “independent” entity but are dependent. They are a dependent PR website. They run paid placements, however, there is no mention of the funding of the site. This means they do not disclose that they are paid by the entities being promoted.

Its all secret and behind the curtain. However, their funding is obvious from reading their articles, but we are extremely experienced in media analysis.

Independent journalists question what sources of information provide them, they don’t simply allow the sources to write the article for them.

Not all articles are like this at VentureBeat, some that cover policy seem to have an actual writer and do not simply repeat covered entity quotes. But readers, of course, must discern which are which, and there is no indication of which articles are industry-funded and which are not. Even Forbes, which is now owned by a China based company, as we cover in the article Can You Trust IDC and Their Now China Based Owners?, declares which articles provided by contributors (which means outside writers that paid to have the article carried)

And again, you can’t be paid for by industry sources and call yourself independent.

How Media Entities are Forced to Sell Out

However, here is the problem. How else is VentureBeat supposed to make money? It can’t sell its magazine as it would have in pre Internet era. It can’t get much money from advertising, because that has mostly been gobbled up by Google (you know, the company that does no evil). Media entities now have no other choice but to harvest its income from the industry side, and this means that readers no longer have their interests represented. This is the point we have found repeatedly in analyzing a wide variety of IT media entities — each one of them is dependent upon industry for nearly all of their income.

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Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.

References

Scoutbee raises $12 million to match companies with suppliers

Why Most IT Media Will Prefer AI Authors For Their Corporate Friendly IT Articles

Executive Summary

  • IT media has become so robotic and advertiser driven, then it’s a perfect fit for AI to replace many current journalists.
  • The IT media has clearly demonstrated they prefer to be PR outlets for vendors.

Introduction

We analyze the IT media and we find that many of the articles are written by journalists without domain expertise, without the time to investigate the story, and for entities with enormous financial biases.

This natural next step to AI writing articles is covered by the following quotations.

Many of these being financially focused news stories since the data is calculated and released frequently. Which is why should be no surprise that Bloomberg news is one of the first adaptors of this automated content. Their program, Cyborg, churned out thousands of articles last year that took financial reports and turned them into news stories like a business reporter.

The Washington Post also has a robot reporting program called Heliograf. In its first year, it produced approximately 850 articles and earned The Post an award for its “Excellence in Use of Bots” from its work on the 2016 election coverage. However, The Post is using their system to not replace journalists, but to assist them and make their jobs easier and faster. – Forbes

AI for Articles Versus Books

Articles, particularly fast paced article coverage is perfect for AI. This is because even without AI, many articles are simply a combination of snippets of quotes from “official sources,” with some transitory text which serves to point to the next quotation. This allows the journalist to write an article, but without knowing anything about the topic. Insert “official source,” and the journalist at many an IT media outlet can feel as if they have done their job.

The Useless Nature of IT Media

This is a primary reason that we have stopped accepting media invitations to be interviewed. There is little point in taking the time to explain a topic to a journalist for a major IT media outlet if they only go and speak to a PR representative who then lies to them — and the journalist then simply presents “both sides.”

Naturally, a book would be very difficult to write with AI, but short articles are quite easy to write with AI. If we look at the example of the media coverage on McDonald’s purchase of an AI company as we wrote about in the article How Awful Was the Coverage of the McDonald’s AI Acquisition? Most of the coverage was already undifferentiated from a robot. There were zero attempts to fact check what was really just a press release from McDonald’s. And naturally, the story was filled with falsehoods and PR positioning that none of the media sources caught.

Conclusion

The ultimate goal of AI is to displace workers and to reduce costs so that the savings can be diverted to the billionaire class. The vast majority of media entities look at publishing as simply a way to make money and have no connection to publishing what is true. For them, AI is a perfect fit for their corporate friendly neutered coverage. AI robots have zero critical thinking ability and simply configure stories in digestible from, and they work 24 hours a day for no pay. They are therefore what IT media entities like ComputerWeekly or TechTarget consider “perfect employees.” Authors can be “constructed” by simply using images from stock photography sites and then creating a fake name to go with the image.

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Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.

References

https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicolemartin1/2019/02/08/did-a-robot-write-this-how-ai-is-impacting-journalism/#677b3b007795

*https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/05/business/media/artificial-intelligence-journalism-robots.html

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/mar/25/the-rise-of-robot-authors-is-the-writing-on-the-wall-for-human-novelists

How PR Firms Act as Parasites on the Media System

Executive Summary

  • PR firms help companies get positive press by manipulating media entities.
  • In this way, they function as parasites on the system, allowing companies with money to get positive and deflect negative press.

Introduction

We recently received this email from a PR firm. (Bold in the quote indicates replacement of the actual noun to provide anonymity.)

Happy new year! When you are back at work in January, I was hoping I might interest you in a telephone briefing with XYZ Software CEO John Doe.

XYZ is an SAP Solution Extension Partner whose ____ software enables organizations to see and analyze exactly how their employees are interacting with their SAP enterprise software suites — including any activity that leads to errors, apps that are never used, workarounds used because the software is bad, etc. By providing complete visibility into software use, XYZ makes it much easier to correct any issues that are hindering employee engagement or productivity. It is especially useful when implementing new suites – for example, companies migrating to S/4HANA – because it helps management understand which applications need to be migrated first and then, post-migration, ensures that employees are adopting and understanding the new software.

XYZ has more than 350 customers, including Coca-Cola, Clorox, Comcast, Disney and GE.

BTW, XYZ works with any enterprise software suite – including Oracle. However, most of their business currently comes through their SAP relationship.

Please let me know what you think!

The Objective and What PR Firms Tell Their Clients

We then went out to this PR firm’s website and found the following text.

ABC helps clients build bigger stories in top tier media, broadcast and the most important tech blogs. We are the media whisperers who connect clients — ABC’s strong relationships, tech-savvy and creativity help us connect clients with reporters, influencers and stories that make a difference.

Apparently this PR firm was going to “whisper” to Brightwork Research & Analysis and we were going to be placed under their spell and motivated to give their client very positive media coverage.

The idea is that the media entity covers the story for free, and the PR firm gets paid for manipulating the media entity. Notice this list of “top PR firms.” We had another vendor reach out to us last year, and we could not figure out what they wanted. Finally, it became apparent they wanted positive coverage, which is not something that we offer. We offer different services, such as competitive intelligence against SAP or Oracle, we offer analytical services, but we don’t produce content for money. I was told that I was quite frustrating and that I was also difficult. Later I revisited their website and found several glowing reports written by some of the analysts, around the same timeframe that they reached out to us.

That is what they were after.

These PR firms don’t really do all that much. They do a little writing, but they are mostly just schmoozers. One of their biggest weapons is complimenting members of the media and salesmanship. They have no adherence to a concept of writing what is true but are mercenaries that can be hired to get out any story for money. That is they lie for a living. 

It is increasingly difficult for media entities to make money, and nearly all have had enormous staff cutbacks. However, these PR firms are doing great. There are PR firms that specialize in specific industries. These are some listed on the Odwyer PR website.

Agriculture | Beauty & Fashion | Entertainment | Environmental & PA | Financial & IR Food & Beverage | Healthcare | Home Furnishings | Professional Svcs. | Sports | Technology | Travel & Economic Dev.

You can see all of the companies they have listed in each category.

There are PR firms that specialize in tech startups, and no doubt have connections to IT media. There are PR firms just for luxury brands, that specialize in connections to the luxury media (Vogue, Vanity Fair, Cigar Aficionado, etc..)

Each PR firm advertises its ability to manipulate the media in their specific area.

Conclusion

Brightwork Research & Analysis we don’t go to wine cellar parties with PR firm employees, and we don’t do “vendor briefings.” For some strange reason, many vendors assume that we do, just because we research the enterprise software market.

We created this response to this PR firm.

John Doe,

An analyst briefing normally applies to analysts like Gartner or Forrester, analyst which have a business model where they receive payments from vendors in exchange for helping vendors getting the word out about their applications.

However, Brightwork Research & Analysis does not follow that model, so we don’t allocate time to vendor briefings.

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Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.

References

https://www.odwyerpr.com/pr_firm_rankings/hightech.htm

Poll Results: Should Brightwork Sell Out to SAP?

Executive Summary

  • SAP resources are often displeased with Brightwork for not being sufficiently pro-SAP.
  • This poll was created to ask the question of how many readers would prefer if we sold out to SAP.

Introduction

In this poll, we asked several questions around not only selling out to SAP but also how readers fell about media and research entities being controlled by software vendors through things like paid placements and advertising. And the results were surprising.

Are the Answers Representative of the General IT Readership?

Unlike the publications of IDC Takes Money to Publish SAP Provided Sample on S/4HANA, How Accurate Was The Forrester TCO Study?, or How Accurate Was ASUG on its S/4HANA Poll?, who immediately present any sample they have as representative (or like ASUG, don’t even mention how many samples are included in the poll), we are not presenting this poll as representative of the general IT readership.

First, readers of the Brightwork Research & Analysis website come to the website to get the non-industry funded perspective on technology. At least, that is our impression. So the only thing that can be said is that this poll is representative of those that read our website. The only way to determine the applicability to the general readership is for the establishment IT media websites to run this poll on their sites, which of course the would never do as the questions are not things that they want any of their readers even contemplating. Media entities ranging from ComputerWeekly to TechTarget to Forrester hide their financial relationships with vendors.

This poll had 49 responses.

The Poll Questions and Results

Question #1

The first question sets the situation of the IT media system as it presently runs.

Just about every entity that providers information on SAP is financially connected to SAP.

Without subscribers, most entities must either sell paid placements, sell consulting for software or write sponsored research.

Is that a good thing?

Answer Analysis

Most of the respondents (76%) oppose all of the information about SAP being published by those with a financial bias. But a small percentage (6.5%) seem to think its a good idea.

Question #2

Question #2 specifically asks the question of the poll.

Should Brightwork Research & Analysis sell out to SAP?

That is should we serve as similar function as other consulting and media entities and repeat information from SAP?

Answer Analysis

This is an encouraging response. The vast majority (85.7%) would prefer that we do not sell out to SAP. I can only assume that the (14.3%) that think we should are connected to SAP financially.

Question #3

Question #3 deals with the ownership of media entities.

Both Forbes and IDC (read details here Can You Trust IDC and Their Now China Based Owners?) were recently purchased by Chinese media entities.

China is four spots higher in press freedom from the bottom out of 180 countries than North Korea. And more than ever Forbes and IDC publications simply rent out their websites to the highest bidder.

Should Brightwork Research & Analysis look for a buyer in China or North Korea and get in on this highly profitable business?

Answer Analysis

This is an encouraging response. The vast majority (81.6%) would prefer that we do not sell out to a company based in a country that scores on the absolute bottom of the press freedom rankings. What are the (18.4%) thinking that this would be a good thing? Seriously, do these respondents really want their information controlled by North Korea or China? What a strange response.

Question #4

Question #4 deals with how accessing funding can impact accuracy.

If we sell out to SAP or a China-based entity, our accuracy will have to decline…but we will be able to use the funding to grow. Would a decline in accuracy be a problem for you as a reader?

Answer Analysis

Who answered “No” on this question? The respondent is “No” whether this would impact out accuracy. So these readers would trust our content as much as if we had not sold out to an entity based in North Korea or China? Even if the resource is pro-SAP, it is difficult to see how they would trust the content the same as before selling out.

Question #5

Question #5 is multiple choice and is a tongue in cheek question as to where to spend these newfound riches.

If Brightwork Research & Analysis were to sell out to SAP or to a China-based media company, what should we spend the money on?

Answer Analysis

This is a humor-based question. But the real stuff here is the write-in comments, which we have included in the table below.

Write in Comments

 
Write in Comment
Our Comment
1Please don't get sold)
Encouraging
2Hire a good copywriter to clean up the poor gramma
Ohh that hurts. Actually we check our grammar with a grammar checker -- so many people out there think they know more about grammatical rules then they actually do. We would point out there is no period at the end of this sentence.
3Just don't
Encouraging
4Do not sell. You are doing a great work, pointing out the real problems. I just saw and article about discrimination in job. Well this exactly is happening and immigration through H1B is larger problem than Mexico or Trade deficit with China.
Encouraging
5Scientology membership.
Yes, Scientology memberships are a great use for excess cash.
6Buy SAP shares
Hmmm...that is one option.
7Invest the money to research and investigate technological phony claims.
This is a curious one, because we already do this. And we would not be allowed to do this if we took money from SAP -- unless we only investigated non-SAP false claims.
8Create Brightwork-2 and continue like you did before the sellout
So this is using the money to start a fresh research entity.
9On me. I then probably don't need accurate information any longer...
Very good -- this is the only response where the respondent places themselves into this scenario.
10Do you really think you are worth buying by anyone let alone by a company like SAP? OMG. Pull your head out of that hole right away..
We did not say sell the company, we said sell out. Forrester, Forbes, IDC and Diginomica and others sell out to SAP, without being owned by SAP. This means they allow paid placements or simply rig study results as part of sponsored research. Our media popularity indicates we could in fact sell our articles to SAP and other entities.
11Pls stick to independent research
Encouraging
12expand your coverage
Right, with money from SAP we could cover other areas honestly, but no longer SAP of course.
13continue to give accurate analysis on sap products. if sap doesn't like it, ask sap to pay more.
Encouraging
14continue to give accurate analysis on sap products. if sap doesn't like it, ask sap to pay more.
This is sort of a pressure strategy.
15I don't want you to be sold but if you do, then buy a yacht and sip pinacolada in Carribean.
Encouraging, and considerate.
16Oracle Cloud Credits
This wins the award for the funniest. Everyone knows Oracle Cloud credits are useless.

Question #6

Question #6 is a question related to the concern the readers have regarding media sources being controlled.

Should industry sources control all media? Is there a benefit to having information providers that are independent?

Answer Analysis

If this is most readers, this response is scary. For (40.8%) of the respondents, it shows no concern for independent information.

Conclusion

We hope the participants and readers enjoyed this poll as much as we did. It provides a non-representative, but still interesting and amusing observation into what some people who filled out the poll think.

One issue with the poll, which we realized after we designed it, was that some individuals, for instance, those that work for large vendors, may want biased research as the company they work for is in the best position to buy off media and analyst firms. This brings up the question — if the information is false, but it helps you achieve your personal objectives, are you in favor of its publication? We may need a future poll which divides the respondents by those that benefit from false information, and those that are harmed by false information.

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Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.

References

Why SAP Resources Do Not Critique False SAP Sponsored Research

Executive Summary

  • SAP sponsors firms like IDC or Forrester to produce false research.
  • SAP resources, who claim to be data-driven, do not critique this research in public.

Introduction

As stated in the article IDC Takes Money to Publish SAP Provided Sample on S/4HANA, this is the pattern of sponsored research from SAP. Notice that the sample was rigged for Forrester when they were paid by SAP to minimize S/4HANA implementation costs based upon a sample of three implementations. Described in this link How Accurate Was Forrester’s TCO Research on HANA? The same trick was applied to the ASUG poll where the ASUG numbers were entirely out of line with all other numbers was described in the article, How Accurate Was ASUG on their S/4HANA Poll? 

SAP’s History with Sponsored Research

SAP has a long term history of feeding sponsored entities with non-representative samples. The entire intention of the sponsorship of the IDC research into S/4HANA was to make S/4HANA uptake look better than it is. When SAP or an SAP-sponsored entity quotes some analysis, that analysis will be distorted. 

Notice this explanation of how Hasso Plattner referred to 200 “peer reviewed” research papers that proved HANA supported the claims in his SAPPHIRE slide. None of these studies exist as we cover in the article How Accurate Was Hasso Plattner on the HANA Peer-Reviewed Publications? 

SAP Resources are Silent on False Research

IDC can publish this research, and they can be sure that it will not be critiqued and that it will mostly be reshared and repeated. All of the SAP consulting firms will support it, and IT media entities do not critique research. Furthermore, these IT media entities count SAP as a customer for advertising and paid placements, so they know to keep their mouths shut. IDC also owns IDG, which owns 8 of the top 20 media IT brands (CIO, ComputerWorld, etc..) — so they would certainly not critique it. This is in the minds of many the perfect end state. All major IT media and analyst entities remotely controlled by the largest software vendors and consulting firms. This is referred to as “Synergy” as we covered in Can you Trust IDC and Their China Based Owners? 

The evidence for my proposal can be found both in looking for articles that critique this study and on the comments that come on this article’s share. There will not be a single individual from an SAP friendly entity that will agree that the IDC research is rigged or otherwise looks suspicious. The most they will say is that it “could be better.” Watch the comments and see if I am correct.

This is also covered in the following quotation.

This reminds me of my article about critical thinking and questioning the motive of sources. There is an entire industry around paid advertorial reports and awards that are nothing more than paid advertisements.  – Jen Underwood

Critical Thinking Skills Are Little Desired in the IT Employment Market

We talk about the importance of teaching critical thinking, but my observation of every vendor and consulting company I ever worked for or with is that companies aggressively oppose critical thinking. What they want is people who will do exactly as they are told. When I performed research into topics, if it did not turn out as the entity desired, I was threatened that if I did not hide the results I would be removed. If the official line is that the moon is made of cheese, then this narrative must be repeated, and to not repeat it is to put one’s career at risk. As you know, we frequently discuss “math and science” education, but like IDC employers in the IT space want people who will falsify the math when they so desire. So there is very little market for honest mathematics or honest statistics.

I completely concur regarding critical thinking being unwelcome. I’ve experienced my fair share of attacks by cult-like vendor advocates in varied attempts to destroy and silence my fair, valid evaluations. With the tech consolidating and big tech dominating digital communication channels, shadow banning, censoring, etc., honest voices get drowned out.– Jen Underwood

Conclusion

The strategy deployed by SAP resources is to ignore and never publicly comment on obviously false research that is funded by SAP, except sometimes to try to e up with an excuse for the research. This is a type of non-observance, and it is also related to confirmation bias. SAP resources minimize the incorporation of the data point of the fake research item from their observation.

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Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.

References

Which IT Media Information Sources are Controlled by SAP?

Executive Summary

  • SAP tightly controls many more IT media information sources than is generally understood.
  • We cover which are controlled by SAP.

Introduction

The IT media space is dominated by entities that do not declare their funding. They do not have any disclosure statements because they simply never bring up the topic. Readers often think they are reading real articles, when in fact they are reading paid placements or advertising motivated articles, or articles designed to help promote lead generation. TechTarget and ComputerWeekly and G2Crowd all work for vendors to collect customer information.

Listing Some of the Popular IT Media Entities and Their Relationship to SAP

 
Company
Coverage that Reinforces SAP Marketing?
Financially Independent from SAP?
1ComputerWeekly
Yes
No
2Forrester
Yes
No
3Diginomica
Yes
No
4ASUG
Yes
No
5CIO
Yes
No
6Gartner
Yes
No
7TechTarget
Yes
No
8InfoWeek
Yes
No
9G2Crowd
Yes
No
10Forbes
Yes
No

Serving Readers or 100% Industry Funding Entities?

As can be seen, none of these popular IT media entities provide unbiased information on SAP.

The intent of the websites is to hide the relationship to the actual funders. Readers think they are reading an article by the media entity that seems authoritative, but they are normally blind to the relationships behind the scenes.

Conclusion

To see how these businesses work, just review our article on IDG titled The Problem With IDG’s Media Conflict of Interests.

Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.

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References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forrester_Research

https://www.similarweb.com

How Does Brightwork’s Web Influence Compare with Other Sites?

Executive Summary

  • We decided to compare the statistics for our website versus the other entities in the space.
  • Find out how much we stacked up.

Introduction

This article takes the best-known entities in the space that cover the same area as Brightwork Research & Analysis.

Developing the Method of Comparison Between the Websites

There are a number of statistics that could be used, but we normally use two basic statistics when evaluating a website’s performance with readers.

  1. Number of Visitors: This is the number of people that visited the website. We often use page views, but the statistics website we use counts number of visitors.
  2. Average Time on the Site: This is the number of minutes that on average a visitor spends on the site.

The way we rate Brightwork’s performance is the Number of Visitors * Average Time on Site. This gives us a Total Minutes on Site. These statistics are compiled monthly by the statistics website we use, so it makes sense as the measurement interval as it is the data that is available. One could, of course, do a three-month average, which would give a more accurate value, as website volume and time on site goes up and down per month. For this reason, we took an average of three months for each of the other entities, but we used just one month for the Brightwork value. This is because we want to track our performance per month to see if we are going up or down and how this compares to the other information providers.

The Total Minutes on Site Per Website Per Month

Below y0u can see how Brightwork compares against what we consider information providers that cover a similar space.

This means that of these websites, Brightwork Research & Analysis (for May) had more than all of these sites combined. There were several other entities with websites including Mint Juras and Josh Greenbaum, however, their web traffic is so low that it is in effect not measurable.

Comparing Forrester’s Monthly Website Minutes

The picture changes a bit when Forrester is added to the mix.

Forrester, which is one of the three big IT analyst names (the others being IDC and Gartner).

We did not include IDC as they don’t cover the same topics, and Gartner is so large that it would dwarf any other of the entities, including IDC and Forrester.

Forrester ends up being twice in web influence as large as Brightwork Research & Analysis. This is just web influence, Forrester’s offline influence is far larger than Brightwork’s. Forrester has constant meetings with customers, phone conversations, etc.. These are interactions that are not captured as online statistics. However, Forrester distributes their research through their website, as can be seen in the following screenshot.

Viewing research online would be captured by online statistics. While a PDF is downloaded will also be counted by online statistics, if a customer opens the PDF from their computer after downloading it, that would not be counted.

  • Another interesting point is that Forrester also covers more areas than does Brightwork.
  • This is very clear by reviewing their material.
  • They show 62,165 items that can be searched, and when one searches for just SAP, we get the following result.

5,272/62,165 (the total items that can be searched) is 8.4%. Of our coverage, while we have never run the statistics, at least 50% must be SAP. 

Therefore, for the areas we cover (and this was surprising to us) Brightwork more likely has more web influence than Forrester. (and of course, Brightwork is entirely absent from many areas that Forrester covers)

All of this is amazing by itself as Forrester has 1,345 employees according to Wikipedia.

The Status Quo Nature of Material Published on the Websites

Brightwork stands apart from most of the other information providers on the list in that we challenge the status quo. Probably the main thing that Brightwork is known for is for challenging the largest authorities in the enterprise software space.

This led us to analyze which of the information providers on the list do this.

Type of Media Coverage

 
Website
Coverage that Reinforces the Status Quo ?
Financially Independent from Vendors?
1Brightwork Research & Analysis
No
Yes
2Forrester
Yes
No
3Diginomica
Yes
No
4ASUG
Yes
No
5Vinnie Mirchandani
Yes
No
6E3Zine
No
Yes
7Constellation Reseach
Yes
No
8House of Brick
No
Yes
9UpperEdge
No
Yes
10Third Stage Consulting
No
No
11Palisade Compliance
No
Yes

Conclusion

This is, of course, both interesting and encouraging for us.

Brightwork has proven something that had not been proven previously (at least for the time we have been analyzing IT media and IT analyst output), which is that there is a market for non-status quo information around enterprise software. Notice that all of the other non-status quo websites are significantly smaller in web influence. And this is unrelated to content quality. In our view, UpperEdge produces the best content on IT (and often SAP and Oracle) contract negotiation. But UpperEdge’s coverage is narrow — and this limits their readership. UpperEdge is not a research entity like Brightwork but publishes to gain interest in their contract and IT legal services.

IT media entities, consulting companies and IT analysts operate under the assumption that their readers can be easily tricked, and therefore they can write articles that provide them with often misleading information, and or information that leaves out areas of analysis that those that are friendly to the entities would not want to be published. This is the outcome every time industry sources are courted as customers for advertising or to support content. This is true in IT media, but also in other categories of media. The IT media space is dominated by extremely poor information. For example, AI has been massively oversold by vendors, consulting, IT media and IT analyst entities. There is only a very small amount of information published that questions the status quo. IT media entities like ComputerWorld has 4.5 million visitors per month. ComputerWorld is paid by vendors and consulting firms to publish information that both get their stories out, and provides them with information about readers that is collected from visitors.

There is no doubt that providing status quo coverage is profit maximizing. It allows that entity to raise money from vendors. But of course, in most cases, the status quo information is incorrect, precisely because it is controlled or at least influenced by industry sources.

The Necessity of Fact Checking

We ask a question that anyone working in enterprise software should ask.

Should decisions be made based on sales information from 100% financially biased parties like consulting firms, IT analysts, and vendors to companies that do not specialize in fact-checking?

If the answer is “No,” then perhaps there should be a change to the present approach to IT decision making.

In a market where inaccurate information is commonplace, our conclusion from our research is that software project problems and failures correlate to a lack of fact checking of the claims made by vendors and consulting firms. If you are worried that you don’t have the real story from your current sources, we offer the solution.

Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.

Search Our Other Paid Off IT Media Content

References

https://diginomica.com/asos-profit-collapse-highlights-the-importance-of-animal-print-skirts-as-well-as-working-tech/

https://diginomica.com/asos-and-ocado-why-warehouses-matter-in-an-e-commerce-retail-world/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forrester_Research

https://www.similarweb.com

How Bob Evans Enables PR Placements as Real Looking Articles for SAP

Executive Summary

  • Bob Evans runs a PR firm that publishes fake articles for SAP, Oracle and IBM.
  • In this article, we describe how he seeds articles into various media sites to make them appear authentic.

Introduction

Bob Evans has published several articles in cloudwars.co that promoted the benefits of the Qualtrics acquisition. We review what Bob Evans does and how he makes money to distribute press releases.

Bob Evans and Evans Strategic Communication

Bob Evans runs a PR firm. PR means that you are open for business to influence media for money. PR firms don’t care what is true. They push any narrative they are paid to push. For instance, Harvey Weinstein had many of the biggest PR firms on the Weinstein Company payroll, and they are the dirtiest underbelly of the media system.

Qualtrics was a ridiculously overpriced acquisition, which we covered in this article Does SAP’s Qualtrics Acquisition Make Any Sense? However, since its acquisition, Bill McDermott has faced criticism because the price was so illogical. This seems like almost a directly Bill McDermott motivated placement.

The way it works is as follows.

  1. SAP told Bob Evans what they wanted the article to say. When you work with any marketing department, they tell either tell you what to write or they change your material until it is exactly what they want it to say.
  2. Bob Evans PR firm Evans Strategic Communications then paid to place the article in cloudwars.co. This would have cost very little as cloudwars.co has a small site volume. Bob Evans’ favorite distribution point for PR releases is Forbes, which will allow you to publish anything for money, particularly since they were purchased by a China-based company in 2017. We analyzed another paid placement by Bob Evans in this article http://bit.ly/2O6RVHv. This article was completely false from top to bottom. But again, you don’t hire a PR firm to say things that are true, PR firms are in the disinformation business. Apparently, the budget was not there for a Forbes placement this time.
  3. The media source, Forbes or Cloudwars then violates the trust of their readers by not declaring that they were paid to publish the placement.
  4. Then SAP can refer to this article as evidence that “the market is acknowledging SAP’s strategy with Qualtrics.” SAP has routinely referred to a Forrester study that lauded SAP’s translytical database” but again, without mentioning that SAP paid Forrester to write that study. http://bit.ly/2NR9Jr3 And SAP quoted that study in a quarterly call to Wall Street using it as evidence of their progress.

Notice the primary thrust of the article, that Qualtrics will eventually be considered a high-value acquisition. This is precisely what McDermott needs the marketplace to think because the general impression is that SAP completely overpaid.

What is Cloudwars?

I started reading Cloudwars, which I had never heard of. I noticed three sort of over the top pro-SAP/Qualtrics acquisition articles all written by Bob Evans. Then I noticed other articles clearly written for Microsoft. At the bottom of the site, it states “Evans Strategic Communications.” So this is just the website for the PR firm. There is no go-between. Vendors pay the PR firm and the PR firms publish the articles on this site called Cloudwars. Then need to get these same articles published on sites with reach, which is where Forbes or other high volume sites come into play.

Conclusion

The issue is that if you want to make money in media, you have almost no choice but to sell your media presence to industry sources. This is what in part allows the largest entities to rig the system in their favor drastically reducing the competitiveness of the overall market. Only a very few media sources in IT have been able to resist this model.

References

These are the articles at Cloudwars. They are all information written by SAP and released through Evans Strategic Communications that poses as independent articles.

*https://cloudwars.co/x4-summit-sap-qualtrics-enterprise-software/

*https://cloudwars.co/sap-ceo-qualtrics-growth-opportunity/

*https://cloudwars.co/sap-stunning-transformation-qualtrics/

Google’s Hollowing Out of Media and Corruption in the IT Media Space Now Controlled by Vendors

Executive Summary

  • IT media is now nearly entirely funded by industry sources.
  • What does this mean for the interests of readers and reporting accuracy?

Introduction

The history of media globally is quite established on this topic. The media output will reflect the interests of its income sources. In the era when cancer was still not broadly known to be caused by smoking, it was the publications that did not take tobacco advertising that reported the emerging research about the link. We found the following quote interesting.

“I do not believe that IT media is so corrupt you seem to think. I think it is more a matter of having very little resources, which makes them dependent on “news” that are provided by PR firms (which in turn are paid by IT vendors). As long as people expect journalism to be free they get journalism that someone else has paid for. If we want unbiased journalism we as readers have to pay for it. “

This quotation used the term corruption — which is interesting. Because any media entity can now make the argument that they can only stay in business by reflecting the interests of their funders — which is industry sources. One cannot find a significant IT media source that is not almost entirely funded by industry.. IDG publications, TechTarget, the model is the same at each of them. The application rating entities like G2Crowd and GetApps work the same way. They exist only because they can provide lead gen to vendors.

What Google Did to Media

First the Internet, then Google wiped out the subscription income of media entities. This caused them to go to industry for virtually 100% of their funding. This is explained in the following quotations.

Google’s Little Helper in Hollowing Out Media — Craigs List

Next came the dot-coms. Craigslist went online in the Bay Area in 1996 and spread across the continent like a weed, choking off local newspapers’ most reliable source of revenue: classified ads. The T&G tried to hold on to its classified-advertising section by wading into the shallow waters of the Internet, at telegram.com, where it was called, acronymically, and not a little desperately, “tango!” Then began yet another round of corporate buyouts, deeply leveraged deals conducted by executives answerable to stockholders seeking higher dividends, not better papers. – The New Yorker

The Rise of BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed surpassed the Times Web site in reader traffic in 2013. BuzzFeed News is subsidized by BuzzFeed, which, like many Web sites—including, at this point, those of most major news organizations—makes money by way of “native advertising,” ads that look like articles. In some publications, these fake stories are easy to spot; in others, they’re not. At BuzzFeed, they’re in the same font as every other story. BuzzFeed’s native-advertising bounty meant that BuzzFeed News had money to pay reporters and editors, and it began producing some very good and very serious reporting, real news having become something of a luxury good. – The New Yorker

Getting Advertising and Paid Placements

Any article that makes any funding source look bad is bad for business and reduces the leverage of the entity during advertising and paid placement negotiations. So the media output increasingly takes on a fantasyland aspect, that is most appealing to marketing departments of vendors.

A single datum provides a startling view of the challenge: Through the first half of 2012, Google by itself took in more ad dollars than the entire U.S. print media, magazines and newspapers, excluding only the ads on newspaper websites, which even today generate only about 25 percent as many ad dollars as print advertising. – Media Complicity

This has done nothing but further increase in Google’s favor since this time.

In this country, the FTC has already dismissed an opportunity to do a full antitrust review of Google, in part, we can speculate because there is no great public support for the news media generally. Indeed, a Pew poll, released on July 11, found that only 28 percent of respondents believe that journalists “contribute a lot,” down from 38 percent four years ago.  And a Gallup poll, published on June 17, revealed that only 23 percent of the public have “overall confidence” in newspaper and TV news. – Media Complicity

Readers seem to be confused — whatever they think of journalists, without something being done about Google, the media will continue to be concentrated and continue to be reliant on industry for their funding.

At a time when the Internet is obliging mainstream news outlets to publish online, it is not yet clear whether a way can be found to make up, in that process, for the necessary advertising revenue that once came their way – a problem not confined just to the legacy media but to prospective newer entrants in the news reporting business as well. – Media Complicity

Cutting Journalist Jobs

Increasingly journalism jobs are cut, as is explained in the following quotation.

In the days that followed, what was harder than losing my job was having to watch the whole industry start to crumble along with it. BuzzFeed laid off 15 percent of its staff the day after Verizon eliminated my job at HuffPostVice layoffs came soon after. Gannett, the largest newspaper publisher in the country, cut 400 jobs from local papers. In April, more job cuts hit the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which has shrunk to less than a tenth of its former size over the past few years, leaving just 33 journalists to cover a metro area of two million people. Last week, the New Orleans Times-Picayune was folded into a competitor, ending a 182-year run, with its entire staff, including 65 editors and reporters, let go.

Tech companies are well aware of their negative impact on journalism and have pledged $600 million toward efforts to support it. But this is a drop in the bucket compared to the damage they have caused. $600 million is a small price to pay to ensure publishers become more reliant on the data Google and Facebook harvest from users across their multiple platforms. It would be far more helpful for them to facilitate a flow of digital advertising dollars back to the publishers who hire the journalists and create the content, instead of tweaking their policies in ways that make it even harder for a digital news site to sell an ad. – Prospect

This is further highlighted by this quote.

There are a few reasons for the job losses. Local newspapers have seen much of their advertising revenue vanish as readers move online. They’ve also struggled to attract many digital subscribers after past rounds of layoffs and buyouts eroded their quality. Digital media startups, funded by venture capitalists seeking growth, aggressively hired journalists then scaled back to focus on profitability. Almost everyone is struggling to compete with Facebook and Google, which accounted for three-fourths of U.S. online ads sales last year. – Bloomberg

How Much Google Make from News Created by News Organizations..$4.7 Billion in 2018 According to the News Media Alliance

That $4.7 billion is nearly as much as the $5.1 billion brought in by the United States news industry as a whole from digital advertising last year — and the News Media Alliance cautioned that its estimate for Google’s income was conservative. The journalists who create that content deserve a cut of that $4.7 billion, said David Chavern, the president and chief executive of the alliance, which represents more than 2,000 newspapers across the country, including The New York Times. – New York Times

But Google and Facebook don’t steer news consumers to news sites out of altruism. Rather, their middleman role allows them to take a huge proportion of online ad revenue. As a result, legacy news outlets have lost a crucial source of income over the last couple of decades, which has led them in most cases to shrink or disappear.

The big tech companies “like this business,” Mr. Chavern said. “It’s a good business, where you write for them.” – New York Times

How Google Paints Itself as a Freind of Media

Tech companies are well aware of their negative impact on journalism and have pledged $600 million toward efforts to support it. But this is a drop in the bucket compared to the damage they have caused. $600 million is a small price to pay to ensure publishers become more reliant on the data Google and Facebook harvest from users across their multiple platforms. It would be far more helpful for them to facilitate a flow of digital advertising dollars back to the publishers who hire the journalists and create the content, instead of tweaking their policies in ways that make it even harder for a digital news site to sell an ad. – Google Transparency Project

Facebook has taken notice. In January 2019 it announced it was setting up its own $300 million fund to make payments to journalism projects.30 – Google Transparency Project

Giving to Push More to Reliance on Google

A recipient of a 2017 Google News Lab grant was generally appreciative of Google’s interest in supporting journalism but said “it seems as though many of their programs, unsurprisingly, lean heavily towards subsidizing/promoting the use of Google’s tools, which always raises my concerns about long-term sustainability.”

The scope and scale of the funding shows that the media is growing increasingly dependent on Google for cash, technology, training and other essentials. – Google Transparency Project

How Facebook is Copying Google’s Media Influencing Strategy

And even now, Google has been able to avoid the type of scrutiny that Facebook has endured over the past year. Facebook has taken notice. In January 2019 it announced it was setting up its own $300 million fund to make payments to journalism projects.30 – Google Transparency Project

News Media Alliance tries to fight against the way that Google and other online platforms continue to push out journalism. 

Conclusion

In this environment, the term corruption becomes almost a perplexing term. As soon as I read it, my brain froze up, because I am not even sure what it means in the context of a 100% industry funded environment. Any media entity that reflects the interests of the readers cannot stay in business. There are areas of coverage that pay, like new product announcements, and those that don’t like reporting on project realities.

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References

https://prospect.org/culture/digital-media-suffocating-and-facebook-google-s-fault/

*https://www.mediacompolicy.org/2013/07/22/googles-impact-on-journalism/

*https://www.newsmediaalliance.org/statement-senator-mcconnell-cosponsors-journalism-competition-preservation-act/

*https://www.newsmediaalliance.org/

https://www.googletransparencyproject.org/articles/googles-media-takeover

*https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/09/business/media/google-news-industry-antitrust.html

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/01/28/does-journalism-have-a-future

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-07-01/journalism-layoffs-are-at-the-highest-level-since-last-recession?sref=tnzoy5oH