Sept. 28, 2000, 'Vision' for UPI



Here's is an internal UPI memo:

From: Tobin Beck
Sent: Thursday, September 28, 2000 3:12 PM
To: All UPI Employees
Subject: UPI Vision and Plan
As we move ahead to expand and target our news products, here is
Arnaud's plan:
FROM: Arnaud de Borchgrave
SUBJECT: The Vision & The Plan for a reborn UPI

UPI is a distinguished, respected global brand name in the international news arena. But it cannot compete with AP/Reuters/Bloomberg/AFP/DPA. So we must break the mold of conventional news agencies, create our own arena, and force the others to compete with UPI. The others will always be able to out-personnel and out-resource us. But we can outthink both. AP and Reuters are focused on the past. They are slowly adapting to the 21st century, but it still takes them months or even years to make a decision and change. UPI is the PT Boat to the others' supertankers.

UPI can succeed in this unfair competition if:

a. UPI shows unbiased editorial integrity and independence.
b. UPI consistently produces high value quality content in
sufficient volume.
c. UPI markets itself.
d. UPI focuses on the Internet and new media distribution channels,
including emerging markets, to gain a competitive advantage.

In short, UPI can effectively compete nationally and internationally if it markets the kind of high value content that will appeal to aggregators. If we 1) drive the news and 2) dominate the 'Net, success will be ours.

To make this happen, UPI must develop and consistently produce the high value content that can be shown to prospective customers and then get them to sign up. We also need to produce in significant volume so that the market place will accept that this is a truly reborn UPI that will be around for many years to come, and not the same "retread new UPI" story they have heard for the past 10 years.

UPI, which also stands for Unlimited Possibilities and Ideas, will consign the humdrum to oblivion, think out-of-the-box and look over-the-horizon.

UPI will restore the journalist's duty of arousing public interest where it did not exist before, and of taking what is important and making it interesting, bearing in mind that the number of people now getting their news in the inkless world of cyberspace is growing by leaps and bounds (up from 11 million to 40 million in the United States in three years.)

UPI will position itself at the cutting edge of the knowledge revolution by breaking through the information clutter. UPI takes seriously the admonition of INTEL's Andy Grove when he warned conventional media two years ago to "adapt - or die."

The stern reality is change or be changed.

That means:

* Creating a UPI environment that values better performance
above all else.
* Structuring the organization to permit innovative ideas to
rise above the demands of running the business.
* Knowing where to look for good ideas and how to leverage them
once they are found.
* Focusing the company to channel its innovative ideas.
* Involving top management deeply and personally in the process.
* Creating a mix of creative minds and experienced operators.
* Installing a process that moves ideas quickly so they get
top-level endorsement.

UPI must use its news credentials, brand, history and unique position to report on the most important new areas of public policy (lawmaking, regulation, judicial proceedings etcetera in Information Technology). This is the convergence of technology and politics, a field where UPI should excel.

We have to make a splash at something critical to our growing market, something that combines our best potential assets. And this is the unsettled world of IT, from Silicon Valley to Europe and to Japan, and to Washington. This new world of instant global communications, in which UPI must now operate, is described more fully in the appendix to this letter.

Suffice it to say here that it looks more and more as if the epicenter of this new world is now moving to Washington, as things usually do. "Techtopia" in northern Virginia and along the Dulles Toll Road, and the biotech industry in Rockville, Md., have now overtaken Silicon Valley, both in terms of the number of employees and companies. The government is now deeply involved in IT regulation and prosecution, as well as politics. IT is already deeply entrenched in lobbying. UPI must get a leg up in this field - which we can do if we hurry.

There is a market for this product from here to Bangalore. There are not yet any knowledgeable, respected voices with continuous coverage. The best are still at magazines - e.g., WIRED, RED HERRING, INDUSTRY STANDARD - or at the WSJ and NYTimes, but they do not have continuing coverage from Washington, nor do they have a newsletter/content channel. With some creative partnering and tie-ins, we can carve out a leadership position.

As John Hagel says in "Net Gains," early Web success most often translates to longer-term success. However, delay always means failure.

We must ensure that innovation is systematic and perpetual, built into UPI's culture and processes. There is a big difference between shaking up the status quo and changing it. What I wish to create with proper backing and the new editor in chief is something that is sustainable and profound rather than a quick shot in the arm.

We need an "idea factory" within UPI, an environment conducive to creativity and innovation, culture, religion and community. To do things differently, one must see things differently.

Look, therefore, at these new opportunities:

Cybercrime, cyberterrorism and cyberwarfare are so many hot subjects these days. And there is a vast market for information in these fields - e.g., law enforcement agencies everywhere.

Education is a hot issue in the U.S. presidential election and a growing issue worldwide. The Heritage Foundation recently issued the book "No Excuses" on how 21 schools in high-poverty areas are succeeding. UPI could shine with one editor and about a dozen stringers around the world who could compile reports on what works in successfully teaching children, and why it works, in schools worldwide. This would be a web-friendly, non-partisan product accompanied by summaries/explanations of the major educational issues.

Biotech will turn the world on its ear in the next decade. Startling new developments occur almost daily. Any activity on biotech that UPI sponsors will be content laden. It will not only burnish the UPI image, but will set the image boldly for content with context.

Religion should become one of our strongest components. It is staging a major comeback in the United States. Religion is the missing dimension of statecraft as the powerful forces of fundamentalism, nationalism and globalism do battle to shape our shrinking planet.

A reborn UPI must work out an interface with key research centers here and abroad - e.g., CERN in Geneva.

I envisage in-depth content with embedded links over a variety of subject "channels" - each an inch wide and a mile deep when required for niche markets - that would target busy professionals, senior executives, and decision-makers who have little time to search for all the important pieces on a specific topic.

UPI should outperform its competitors in areas neglected by them. There are currently 4,000 to 5,000 radio stations on the 'Net from all over the world. The BBC's streaming business is growing 100% every four months. Streaming video is catching up. Streaming over wireless networks to cellular handsets and fixed nets is increasing at a rapid pace. The increase in mobile phones among seniors and children has created a new social dynamic.

The emergence of video pictures along with e-mail, streaming of home video to connect families, and the tie-ins of e-commerce, present considerable synergistic forces. "SeniorNet" exists in the U.S. But there is plenty of room for more. Senior citizens are the fastest growing and wealthiest demographic group in the world.

The societal challenges that lie ahead are formidable. UPI has to become the pathfinder with the roadmap for the ever-faster pace of change lest these problems overwhelm our ability to decide the ethical, legal, social and moral issues.

The advantage is that there is no shortage of partners. And there is also a natural extension for the old UPI to morph into the new UPI. This, in turn, leads back to UPI and our content channel as the channel of choice.

UPI should look to partner with companies, such as those that allow us to get our materials to a cell phone for executives on the move.

In this context, the Atlantic Video (AV) partnership means, by definition, multicasting. Compared to traditional IP unicasting and IP broadcasting, multicasting is more efficient and economical, consumes less bandwidth and processing power, scales better, and helps eliminate network congestion as the number of clients grows.

Henceforth, audiences and advertisers will find more and more of their needs met by news and ads that flow round-the-clock through e-mail and the Web.

But one of our first priorities is to focus on upgrading the UPI website with graphics, design and content to make our mark in the E-world. We must find the right partners for a variety of synergies.

It will be UPI's webpage, its content and the image that will anchor us to other partners in the Web business. We can provide significant value-added to the right strategic partner. The new Webpage and UPI's wire business, as well as the various elements of the new TWT global information sources, will make UPI more valuable.

But Web content users won't pay for the best brand in the world unless the site delivers a perceived value. Depth is what people want, even more than currency. Brand is an advantage to draw users initially - and UPI is an international brand. The challenge is to make the UPI brand synonymous with unique valuable content.

I am confident we can meet that challenge.

Appendix: The New World of Instant Global Communications

The new force that is fundamentally changing the news business is called "disruptive innovation." This occurs when simple, but innovative technologies disrupt and disintegrate entire industries that are unprepared for them.

The processes of focusing on the way we've always done it can cause a company to miss the emergence of technologies that turn their industries upside down - and leave that company out in the cold.

The New World of pervasive computing will extend to every strata of the enterprise and human connectivity. The whole universe of IT will be in the palm of your hand and at your ear. The market for cell phones and pocket computers should top one billion by 2003. More than half a billion people already have mobile phones. Four years ago, 52% of humanity had never made a phone call. Soon now, one sixth of humanity will be equipped for the mobile Net. In the information-everywhere society, an immense portion of the globe is logged on at all times as the old system of logging on-and-off is retired.

The world of the small is also upon us - MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) and Nanotechnology - five to 10 years ahead of schedule. Anything that can be built to macro scale can be built to micro scale. MEMS is the world of the small; nano, the world of the ridiculously small. Think of 80 million pages per square inch and you have MEMS; think of the entire Library of Congress stored in something the size of a sugar cube and you have nanotechnology.

The world of tomorrow, which UPI must anticipate to get ahead of the curve, is of mighty machines the size of invisible mites, micro-electromechanical gears the size of a blood cell; microscopic hinges one tenth the size of a red blood cell. MEMS will also allow the manufacture of substances - called "nanotubes" - that have 10 times the strength of steel at a fraction of its weight and will be produced by self-replicating nanobot self-assemblers.

I have heard this country's leading scientists say that the world is ripe for a new Einstein as the laws of physics are on the verge of revolutionary change. They also expect the human species to be "reinvented" within 10 to 20 years.

Bill Joy, founder and chief scientist at Sun Microsystems, can see nanobots making things that are neither machines nor life, but hybrids. Before the end of this decade, computer chips will have more processing capacity than the human brain. Thus, human evolution may morph into a co-evolution to create IT-supplemented humans. "Enhanced" humans are quite different from human cloning. We already have the ability to combine integrated circuit technology and biology to begin to create body parts and chip-supplemented organs.

We are moving into an age where electronics will be worn, implanted or ingested. IA (Intelligence Augmentation) will multiply the functionality of the human brain while robotics will produce intelligent machines.

The National Nanotechnology Initiative is now in the federal budget for $500 million, up 83% in one year. There are 17 start-up companies in Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems and major corporations are pouring billions into acquisitions as they know there will be a humongous market for MEMS. Keyboards will be replaced by virtual keyboards, or sensor gloves that will enable you to type while showering.

Sensors will be so cheap and abundant that they will become ubiquitous; they will be everywhere - e.g., fibers in clothing will double in brass as sensors and turn each individual into a receiving and transmitting communications center.

Data over optical fiber is now doubling in volume every nine months. Lightwave networks with multi-faceted, pin-sized mirrors acting as switches - all-optical switches - are about to displace how the Internet works today.

Integrated circuitry, now 41 years old, is being reinvented with molecular computing, quantum computing, DNA computing. Scientists see today's DNA-based biocomputer prototypes as steppingstones to computers based on neurochemistry. Neurobiology knowledge will allow them to grow appropriate circuits that will be made out of nerve cells and will process information faster than today's supercomputers that already do 10 trillion operations per second.

Professor Kris Pister of Berkeley's Sensor and Actuator Center has invented "Smart Dust," devices one cubic millimeter in size that contain a communications device, a power supply and a sensor. And Pister has managed to make these miniscule devices communicate with each other six miles apart.

It is like Los Alamos before the first atomic explosion. And I want UPI to break all this news before anyone else.

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