MISSION

THE BUSINESS
The Company
History
Publications
Uniqueness
Production
Strategic Partnership Development

 

THE MARKET
The Internet Industry and Market
Market Segment
The Arts Industry and Our Market Segment
Marketing
Position

OPPORTUNITIES

MANAGEMENT TEAM

PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT

CONCLUSION

 

 

MISSION

towerofbabel.com, the multilingual, multicultural online journal and community of arts and ideas, is redefining the scope and purpose of worldwide websites. Our mission combines goals for product development, social and cultural impact, and profitable growth. These goals complement one another in our efforts to create a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization similar to National Geographic (which also is a non-profit organization) which will become a catalyst in the online and physical art communities, spanning the physical and the virtual, the local and the international through the medium of the Internet. towerofbabel.com's primary product is the creation of Babel, a multilingual, multicultural arts Web publication that is built around interactivity, vibrant personality, and a global outlook toward the arts, under the aegis of Babel Publishing, which plans to make the online content available as a widely distributed print magazine as well.

Company growth and profitability are the business goals of the company and the engines behind success in our other aspirations. We can achieve this through a commitment to our product, audience, innovation in content development and marketing based on a close understanding of market trends and needs. To create our product and capitalize on these opportunities, towerofbabel.com needs startup and working capital, creative and management talent, office facilities, and equipment. Our success will fuel profitability for the company, expansion of our audience and influence, and a unique global dialogue about the arts.

towerofbabel.com recognizes the potential of the Web to fulfill and expand upon the original intent of increasing communication within and between artistic, scientific, and academic communities. The growth and commercialization of the Internet, however, are the result and the engine of this new communication medium and the attendant opportunity for profit. While the commercialization of the Web by major marketers is bringing mainstream products to the once academically cloistered Net, this funding is also supporting companies and technologies which have a tremendous capacity to change how people are informed and entertained, how they communicate and relate to one another. The mainstream is moving. The global connectedness of computer networks is bringing people of different cultural backgrounds in contact and increasing interest in foreign culture. Democratized access to powerful information tools in countries with more recent histories of technological development can provide greater visibility for artistic expression than is presently marginalized by the economic power of the mainstream media of North America.

We aspire to carry a reputation in the marketplace for developing new, international perspectives on the world of the arts through the use of innovative technology and design in their presentation and the entwining of user interaction and editorial cycles. This creative process will grow out of collaboration across computer networks. towerofbabel.com's outlook allows for the discussion of the great diversity of viewpoints within the world of the arts.

The team concept is integral to success in the product, business, and social goals of towerofbabel.com. Our cross disciplinary approach to production, combined with a progressive view of business as an inclusive learning entity will help us incorporate a richer variety of viewpoints into our creative direction. Our goal is to give all of our employees a financial stake in the company and a discernible voice in the decision making process. In return for a practice of participatory management, we will be able to bestow more personal responsibility on our employees, the company owners. We view the role of leadership as one of expediting team learning and contributing to the creation of the online journal and community; our management focus is on participation and facilitation rather than supervision.

Business relations, publicity and marketing efforts are crucial to the articulation of our mission. towerofbabel.com will develop business relationships with a potential for creative yield; our view of strategic alliances encompasses traditional business activities and extends toward artistic collaboration, essential to maximizing the possibilities inherent in our location and medium. Our attention to interactivity carries over into the spirit of our marketing efforts. towerofbabel.com’s marketing campaigns will emphasize our mission to build an international community of arts devotees by building name recognition and visibility of our site, informing users about the site’s offerings and upcoming activities, and directing these two activities to create an online community.

 

THE BUSINESS

The Company

towerofbabel.com is a publisher of translated branded online content and experiences which was founded in January of 1996 to create and market a multilingual, multicultural online journal and community of arts and ideas.

Languages currently featured on towerofbabel.com:

Basque Brazilian
Portuguese
Bulgarian Catalan Croatian Czech
Danish Dutch English Esperanto Finnish French
German Glosa Greek Hungarian Italian Japanese
Korean Luxembourgish Mandarin
Chinese
Norwegian Polish Portuguese
Romanian Russian Serbian Slovenian Spanish Swedish
Swiss French Swiss German Tagalog Turkish Ukrainian Welsh

The business has evolved through several online community projects involving an extensive group of over 50 artists, writers, and programmers, and 165 translators representing 35 of the world's languages. Each one translating into only their native language to maintain the highest quality, and bearing either certification from translation schools and/or bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees in linguistics, as well as previous work and references from companies they've worked for all over the planet. Presently, our product is in the implemented stage after three successful Web site prototypes: projectionmag.com, speakeasy.org/siff and the previous incarnation of the highly rated Web site uspan.com/u-movies. CEO, founder and Editor-in-chief Malcolm Lawrence has led towerofbabel.com through its infancy and the refinement of its vision. towerofbabel.com is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization

 

History

Through the development of the site, towerofbabel.com has gained critical experience in the growth, production, and management of an online publishing business. Initial development of the towerofbabel.com site commenced in January 1996 when we began assembling a sizable content base ranging from original fiction to art, music, and film commentary. towerofbabel.com has since developed and managed a worldwide network of contacts and contributors.

Our focus on the arts was the result of our desire to publish a complete site within finite limits. In 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999 we capitalized on the opportunity presented by the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) to marshal our resources for its annual month long run. For each of the respective years' festivals, three weeks of intense planning by our staff yielded complete Festival coverage, including reviews, interviews, Festival guides and a comprehensive wrap-up. Over the course of SIFF we established working relationships with Speakeasy Internet Cafe, Cinema Seattle, Landmark Theaters and Scarecrow Video.

Over the course of these projects, towerofbabel.com has solidified a core team from those who’ve shown determination and resiliency. The journalistic and technical experiences have proven invaluable to the team. Our efforts have brought together a community of people some of whom are now in top web design firms in Seattle. towerofbabel.com’s seed stage funding is anticipated by our contact base of eager, proven contributors.

 

Publications

Our flagship publication, Babel, is a multilingual, international online journal based on the World Wide Web. Its content will be features-based and focus on the myriad personalities and disciplines which contribute to the creation of the arts. Babel’s stand-out approach acknowledges that the arts do not occur in a vacuum, but are reactions to social reality and to each other, engaging talents from the full range of literary, musical, and visual arts. The unique advantages of the Web as a publication medium are central to our creative conception. Interactivity, a global outlook and reach, timeliness, and multimedia expression combine to form the backbone of our publication.

The multilingual content of Babel will make it the first truly international arts online journal, involving the audience in a unique phenomenon. The Internet’s full potential for worldwide communication is not, as of yet, being realized. True dialogue between cultures only becomes possible when the participants are able to communicate in their native tongues. towerofbabel.com takes an essential step toward the realization of this potential by translating the site’s textual content into as many languages as possible.

Languages currently featured on towerofbabel.com:

Basque Brazilian
Portuguese
Bulgarian Catalan Croatian Czech
Danish Dutch English Esperanto Finnish French
German Glosa Greek Hungarian Italian Japanese
Korean Luxembourgish Mandarin
Chinese
Norwegian Polish Portuguese
Romanian Russian Serbian Slovenian Spanish Swedish
Swiss French Swiss German Tagalog Turkish Ukrainian Welsh

Our commitment to global communications goes beyond the difference of language to the rich variety of cultural aesthetics. Babel’s editorial outlook draws from our administrative, journalistic and translation staff of over 200 people (150 of whom are translators) in the countries:

Argentina Australia Brazil Bulgaria Canada
Chile Denmark El Salvador England France
Germany Israel Italy Poland Portugal
Romania Russia Slovenia Spain Switzerland
The Netherlands Turkey Ukraine USA Venezuela
    Yugoslavia    

and in the cities:

Aarhus Ankara Arlington Athens Austin
Berlin Beaumaris Belgrade Berkeley Boston
Bozen Bucharest Buenos Aires Caracas Carlton
Cernier Chicago Delft Gilroy Hollister
Horst Kailua-Kona Leeds Liverpool Ljubljana
Madrid Manchester Melbourne Modena Montpellier
Moscow Mt. Waverley Naples Olathe Oporto
Ottawa Pontevedra Portland Poznan Pyatigorsk
Quebec City Ranica Rome Rosario San Antonio
San Salvador Santiago Sao Paulo Sarasota Suceava
St. Vincent de Tyrosse Ste-Brigitte-de-Laval The Dalles Toronto Tucson
Untersiggentha Vanderhoof Varna Sao Vinhedo Vitoria-Gasteiz
Waterloo   Woodstock   Zaporozhye

Eventually all present and future content on the site will appear in every one of the world's languages. Each version will contain translated editions of all content created in the other embassies, while having an editorial emphasis on articles pertaining to the country or region of origin.

Content:

Welcome
(in 15 languages)
Blueprints Construction Crew Contributors Translators
Language Center Internships Money Converter World Time Zones Webrings
Search Engines Daily Reports Banners Dedication Mailing List
The Neighbourhood Patronage Chat Room Bulletin Board Submissions
The Links Library:
Architecture Links Art History Links Film/Photography
Links
Literature Links Theatre Links
    Bazaar    
    Cathedral:    
  Environmental Links Humanitarian Links Political Links  

 

Table of Contents
Features Columns Op-Ed Roundtable Seahorse
Fiction Gallery Film Travelogue Masque
Bard Tome Green Serial Dance
  Erotica   Exquisite Corpse  
    Music:    
Amped Baton Honky Tonk Lungs Troubadours

 

The Our Man In Havana section which features international stringers located in or from:
China Tokyo Hong Kong Moscow Bombay
Jerusalem Singapore Paris Rome Prague
Cologne South Korea Guatemala Puebla Jamaica
Arabia New York City Chicago San Francisco Oakland
Raleigh Tacoma Louisiana Tennessee Hawaii
  prison utopia church  

Use of multimedia will be integral to our content, style and personality. We will use video clips and audio footage to bring the user closer to the personalities, events, and news of the global arts community and the the arts themselves. We will use streaming video and audio technology to allow fast access and minimal download times for these multimedia. Interviews, festival updates, news clips, arts footage, and feature montages would all use sound and video to enhance the experience. Article text can be synchronized for timed display with audio and/or video streams to create a new Websurfing experience. Babel will distinguish itself as a broadcasting-style presence like radio by recording spoken, musical, and video promo clips from the arts personalities ("Hi, this is David Cronenberg. When I’m looking for exotic pleasures on the Net, I stop by Babel at towerofbabel.com.") We will combine our artistry and multimedia experience to create news and entertainment related segments that will emulate broadcast production values. In all of these applications, we will respect users’ bandwidth limitations by using streaming technology and keeping file sizes down—as better technologies arrive and bandwidth problems decrease, we will focus more on multimedia.

While Babel will not be presented in issues per se, articles will be posted on a regular basis. The Internet is a fast-moving medium and people expect frequently updated material and content. The other side of the coin is that speed is too frequently emphasized at the expense of quality content and design; the Web and Internet are also notoriously poorly organized. Babel will strike a balance between frequently updated material and publishing quality content in a well designed information architecture. Given the vast quantity of mostly unorganized information available on the Internet, a Web publication needs to maintain editorial focus while providing in-depth, comprehensive information. Babel will mediate between these two forms of information by focusing on a traditional editorial calendar-based publication while providing searchable access to archives.

Babel's interactive nature mirrors the incredibly collaborative, cross-disciplinary fields which comprise the arts. Most sites accommodate their audience as an afterthought. Our interactivity is built onto the front end. Specific interactivity events will be scheduled on a regular basis to build familiarity, bringing the advantages of predictable programming characteristic of television to the sometimes maddeningly disorganized realm of the Net. Through email notification, we will keep our audience informed of current and future interactivity sessions. Although it may not be possible to translate all of these sessions due to financial and technical reasons, it will be crucial for the creation of a truly international community to share the thoughts from the various language and country versions with the larger global audience. We will translate a good cross-section of opinions and comments from important and high profile chats and discussions.

We will fuse interactivity, information, and artistic design as an integral part of the creation of our identity and community. Identity design, the expression of a company or publication’s vision and intent, becomes especially important when building a community. A community needs a center and a way to define itself through its own imagery and structure. Form, content, and purpose are too often divorced in the design schemes pursued by contemporary publications, businesses, and communities. Artistic form is not a container of content, but an outward expression of a common purpose. The challenge of identity design is complicated by the two- or multi-directional nature of Internet communication. The solution must be fluid and flexible enough to accommodate rapidly changing sites, an information architecture allowing multiple navigational flows and user preferences, and an international range of sensibilities. towerofbabel.com will use its connections to the Seattle art scene to attract in-house and freelance graphic artists who are more than Photoshop wizards to develop a rich, expressive graphical look which will separate us from the bulk of sites which clone each other in pursuit of a limited, tech-looking design scheme.

Babel’s design will find its purpose, variety, and breadth from an approach which regularly seeks artistic input from different corners of the globe. Our sense of purpose, character, and place, developed both graphically and environmentally, will accommodate multicultural artistic sensitivities and adaptation for possible future expansion of our content base. A unified design will reflect not only a common graphical look and feel, but will be the expression of our goals and mission. As a means of communication for multiple locations and media, it must represent well across the Web, print publicity, and company locations, online and physical. These objectives demand a team of editorial, journalistic, technical, multimedia, and design experts who collaborate within a sense of common purpose and community. Our participatory, distributed approach to company ownership and management will contribute to this form of working environment. We will also have to be successful in hiring to find employees capable of working toward a common creative goal while maintaining this focus above the pressures of the editorial and production calendars.

 

Uniqueness

towerofbabel.com's singularity will translate into competitive advantage, bringing larger audiences and greater advertising revenue possibilities. The multilingual content of towerofbabel.com will make it the first truly online international arts journal, involving the audience in a unique phenomenon. The Internet’s full potential for worldwide communication is not, as of yet, being realized. Though English may remain a lingua franca of the Net, true dialogue between cultures only becomes possible when the participants are able to communicate in their native tongues. towerofbabel.com takes an essential step toward the realization of this potential by translating the site’s textual content into as many different languages as we can.

towerofbabel.com’s international outlook and reach positions it apart from the majority of other arts sites largely devoted and directed exclusively toward Americans. towerofbabel.com will set itself apart and gain a reputation through its involvement outside of the virtual, participating in the global arts community. By placing one foot in the virtual and one foot in the real, towerofbabel.com will establish a physical presence lacking in other, entirely virtual businesses. We will join forces with other businesses to bring the arts and the artists into local communities and our offices. This will help develop the loyalty of our customer base and our network of business relationships and sales contacts.

One trend amongst our competition in the industry is to make daily or more frequent updates a primary objective, which we feel is ultimately self-defeating. Web use is not the same as watching television—as it is more active than passive, users ultimately will pursue quality over quantity. Insignificant, overly frequent updates simply contribute to a glut of poor quality information on the Net. Babel will pursue an editorial focus and schedule which provides the users with some direction; our content will be pointed and relevant, not just a jumble of endless updates. Many sites which offer a wealth of information turn users away by failing to present a cohesive direction to their site. While allowing users to choose their own navigational path through a site and to find information which is relevant to them is important, publications still must act as coherent information filters. This entails having a strong, purposeful and apparent editorial direction. It is possible to change focus and information so often as to discourage any real connection with your site.

We believe it is better to concentrate on engaging, well-written, designed and researched pieces which have well thought out interactive follow-ups. Consistent design and information structure are also essential to building relationships with users. Providing a coherent and easily understandable navigational system and visual representation goes a long way toward attracting repeat users, given the horribly jumbled structure and look of the overwhelming majority of the Web. Babel will pursue a strategy of in-depth features and articles developed within an editorial framework and a visual information structure which provides a sense of permanence. By doing so, we will have a means of building a community of interest and will avoid turning away visitors by contributing to information overload. We feel this is the best long-term strategy for sustaining an interested, involved usership base.

Most sites accommodate their audience as an afterthought. We will stand out by offering more than just "shovelware," or content meant for the print medium "shoveled" onto a Web site. Our interactivity is built onto the front end. Interactive elements will be organized by the Interactivity Editor in conjunction with the international team of editors as an integral part of the content planning process. Specific interactivity events will be scheduled on a regular basis to build familiarity, bringing the advantages of predictable programming characteristic of television to the sometimes maddeningly disorganized realm of the Net. Our approach to content development will be unique in its complete commitment to expanding the scope and purpose of online publications.

 

Production

towerofbabel.com’s multilingual and multicultural ambitions for our publication will require innovative approaches to the production process. towerofbabel.com intends to maximize the possibilities inherent in our location. Seattle’s position as the nexus of a vibrant arts community and a booming local computer industry presents many possibilities for attracting high caliber artistic and technical talent. Our connections within these circles will facilitate our hiring processes. Finding and retaining an excellent staff will be made easier by our city’s status as an economic boom town. We hope to find employees who have an interest in the arts and build with them a company where they use that passion in ways not normally allowed by strict job descriptions. Outside of our employees and freelancers, we will work to create a type of fellowship program, somewhat like guest editorship of online journals, to bring new ideas into the company.

Our cross-disciplinary approach to production, combined with a progressive view of business as an inclusive, learning entity, will help us incorporate a richer variety of viewpoints into our creative direction. As one facet of this approach, we will develop business relationships with a potential for creative yield; towerofbabel.com’s view of strategic alliances encompasses traditional business activities and extends toward artistic collaboration, essential to maximizing the possibilities inherent in our location and medium. Our attention to interactivity as part of the creative process will guide our management and working environment. We view the role of leadership as one of expediting team learning and contributing to the creation of the online journal; our management ideal centers on participation and facilitation rather than supervision. Leadership will focus on involving all of our employees in the creative direction of the online journal. Part of this will be to keep employees up to date on the ideas developed in the interactive sessions—the Interactivity Editor will work with marketing and technical staff to distribute synopses and reports of this activity on the Intranet.

The intersection of effective working spaces and communication technologies will be critical to our production process, spread between our main Seattle office and embassies around the world. We anticipate finding main office facilities in the downtown Seattle area with good visibility and accessibility for visiting artists and from neighborhoods which represent our usership demographic of younger, educated people. We plan to create a working office environment that encourages and enhances collaboration. Collaboration holds dynamic, cross-functional, multi-disciplinary teams together. We will create a space which allows frequent, informal communication, critical to the effectiveness of dedicated work groups. Our work setting will encourage spontaneous interaction and the easy exchange of ideas and information. At the same time, our plans for a flexible setting will allow for the sheltered spaces necessary for intense creativity and private thought. The Seattle office will be the locus of most production activities, so an effective setup will be crucial; we will emulate this as much as is financially possible for the embassy locations.

These same forms of collaborative, creative communication will need to take place between team members continents apart to form a common editorial and design direction. The necessity of frequent contact between geographically far-flung team members will define our daily workflow patterns and technology needs. Many of the conferencing tasks of our offices can be accomplished with Internet software which allows document sharing, text/voice/video chat, and a shared whiteboard. Daily discussions and weekly meetings between a variety of positions at different locations will be possible with this technology. Much of the necessary routine information and file sharing, however, will take place across an Intranet—resources and archival information can be accessed from any of our international networks within the context of a searchable database. Digital documenting and indexing of articles, research, business and technical information will contribute to a learning environment where the knowledge accumulated by one team member can be easily accessed by others, even months after its original use. The workflow application of a higher end Intranet suite will allow Babel members across the world to keep track of the editorial, technical, and production processes. Finally, we will use an overhead system in our Seattle production office to keep the production status and goals in front of all the teams.

towerofbabel.com's production process will be centered around the pursuit of a unified design scheme, both graphically, architecturally, and as reflected in our marketing and promotional efforts. It should not only reflect a common artistic look and feel, but should be the expression of our ideals as a company and as an international creative community. As a means of communication for multiple locations and media, it must represent well across the Web, print publicity, and company locations, online and physical. These goals demand a team of editorial, journalistic, technical, multimedia, and design experts who collaborate within a sense of common purpose and community. Our participatory, distributed approach to company ownership and management will contribute to this form of working environment. The office and work settings must support this type of team interaction. The people who make up this environment, of course, are of paramount importance—we will have to be successful in hiring to find employees capable of working toward a common creative goal while maintaining this focus above the pressures of the editorial and production calendars.

The relationship between the editorial and interactivity process will be circular in nature; each activity will feed the other. Chat sessions, discussion groups and other interactive elements will be organized by the Interactivity Editor in conjunction with the international team of editors as an integral part of the content planning process. Specific interactivity events will be scheduled on a regular basis to build familiarity, bringing the advantages of predictable programming characteristic of television to the sometimes maddeningly disorganized realm of the Net. Through email notification, we will keep our audience up on current and future interactivity sessions. Although it’s not possible to translate all of these sessions due to financial and technical reasons, we feel it’s important to share the thoughts from the various language and country versions with the larger global audience. We will translate a good cross section of opinions and comments on important and high profile chats and discussion.

 

Strategic Partnership Development

towerofbabel.com’s view of strategic alliances encompasses traditional business activities and extends toward artistic collaboration, essential to maximizing the possibilities inherent in our location and medium. Seattle’s position as the nexus of a vibrant arts community and a breeding ground for technology ventures presents many possibilities for content development, promotional activity, and marketing relationships.

Beyond this, towerofbabel.com intends to cultivate this fertile geography to bring online and physical arts communities together; we plan to create synergistic relationships between ourselves and others working creatively, both on and off the Internet, with the arts and international issues. The local business Speakeasy Internet Café exemplifies the kind of organization with which we plan to work: they are bridging virtual and physical communities with an eye to the evolving nature of entertainment, sociability, and nationality. Likewise, Scarecrow Video and another upstart company, WigglyWorld Studios, are building their businesses out of the wishes of the arts community.

We are not content to exist purely in the digital. By placing one foot in the virtual, and one foot in the real, towerofbabel.com will establish a physical presence lacking in other, entirely virtual businesses. Participating with other businesses to bring the arts and the artists into local communities and our offices, towerofbabel.com will develop the loyalty of our customer base and our network of business relationships.

We hope to develop relations with video, laserdisc, and DVD production companies and stores, theaters, arts societies, museums, galleries, opera houses, cinemas, clubs, taverns, cybercafes, and similar organizations promoting the arts from the local to the global level. The ambition and range of activities of local organizations such as Scarecrow Video are behind Seattle’s ascendance as an important arts town, and the resultant synergy fuels further opportunity. towerofbabel.com plans to develop our existing relationship with Speakeasy to promote local and international arts in our area. We hope to use this activity as leverage and testing ground for expansion of our influence outside of the local area. Our embassy cities and regions would be bases for such activity outside of the United States. Co-sponsorship of the arts events with other organizations would be mutually beneficial and would help towerofbabel.com in the areas of promotion, image and market visibility, and content development. Our sponsorship of creative arts programs would increase the size of our potential audience through the artisan's education and help us achieve the social goals of the company.

Lastly, towerofbabel.com will seek strategic partnerships at the middle to larger geographic scale to facilitate targeted marketing efforts. We hope to develop a cross-promotional alliance with one or several organizations wishing to reach university and other educational markets worldwide. Market visibility within these demographic groups is crucial to our success.

towerofbabel.com has demonstrated success in combining personal contacts, organizational ability, and our position within varying artistic milieus to develop important professional relationships. The scope of these connections may be limited, but have potential and have been a training ground for development of further alliances. Some of our local accomplishments are detailed hereafter. We have helped bring Internet access into coffeehouses around the Seattle area by building interest among the store owners, finding terminals and having them decorated by local artists, and cooperating with the Speakeasy to organize funding for their installation. Our cooperation with Cinema Seattle during our Web promotion of the Seattle International Film Festival extended our press credentials and presence and led to work relationships with Scarecrow Video and the Seattle Art Museum. We hope to gain additional expertise and advice from within our staff, including a Chief Operations and a Financial Officer, and from our Board of Directors and Advisors.

 

THE MARKET

The Internet Industry and Market

towerofbabel.com fits within the current SIC industry classification of 2741, the publishing segment of the manufacturing sector. More specifically, we define our industry as the electronic distribution of media content on the Internet. Within this industry, we define our market as the publication of international, interactive, online arts content and the sale of advertising on our service.

The Internet publishing industry has passed very rapidly from the development stage (1993 – 1995) to the growth stage (1996 – 1999), with accelerating market acceptance and a corresponding rapid expansion of sales. Profits have followed in many sectors, though not all—the largest online content services continue to operate with heavy losses. The unsteady nature and intimidation factor of the technology and steep learning curve of interactive marketing that characterized the development stage of the industry added up to very high costs of production and marketing. Many companies abandon business and publishing fundamentals such as cost control, market understanding and visible promotion, and editorial focus. As a result, many of the pioneers are now facing significant debt. While technologies and practices still remain in flux, the current stage of Web publishing is much more stable. This stage of industry growth offers excellent opportunities to companies proposing innovating products and services, such as our own, to the marketplace.

While the commercialization of the Web by major marketers is bringing mainstream products to the once academically cloistered Net, this funding is also supporting companies and technologies which have a tremendous capacity to change how people are informed and entertained, how they communicate and relate to one another. The mainstream is moving. Computers and the Internet are steadily becoming important sources of entertainment in the United States. Many entertainment sites offer information about passive entertainment formats such as television sitcoms; as computers teach people the merits of self-directed, engaged activity over casual entertainment, the Web will gain importance as a medium for original expression. The very nature of writing intensive, self directed entertainment and activity should continue to make a decent level of education a standard for serious Web users. towerofbabel.com expects that the engaging, interactive nature of its publications will support a well educated usership base, even as this broad demographic’s representation among Net users decreases.

 

Market Segment

Within the original Internet content publication market, there is a further segmentation. Sites like search engines, lists, and other encyclopedic, database and pure information services lie outside of our market segment. We might currently include any entertainment oriented site within our market segment, but this definition would be too broad within a matter of months. The rapid pace of growth on the Web drives an increasingly fine market segmentation, as the number and kind of services increases. Our likely medium-term market niche includes all other serious arts and culture related, editorial sites. During this period, much of our strongest competition will come from sites which are not directly related to the arts. We have not found any figures which show the size of this niche as a percentage of the total Internet advertising and subscription market, but we estimate that it represents around 5-7%. This figure will likely remain stable or grow slightly, as entertainment and cultural aspects of the Web usurp some of the popularity of technology-oriented sites in a more consumer-oriented Internet. We have prepared a loose estimate of towerofbabel.com’s worldwide market share of the online arts publication niche at 43% by the year 2000.

Our international approach will give us greater access than English-only sites to the Net users who will come from outside of the United States. In February 1999, Computer Industry Almanac reported that there are 147 million people worldwide who are currently accessing the Internet. The number is projected to rise to approximately 320 million by 2000 and 720 million by 2005. Currently, Americans make up 70% of the traffic at advertising supported sites, but the foreign usership is growing at twice the pace. In December 1998, Ziff-Davis's Technology User Profile reported that there are 60 million PCs connected to the Internet in The US, but 32 million Americans switch from English to another language when they get home at night - primarily Spanish. The value of goods and services sold via the Internet is expected to reach anywhere from $175 billion to $200 billion by the year 2000.

 

Top Markets - Current Internet Users

Due to our foresight, early entry to these markets, and the talent and ideas we can bring to the table, we predict that towerofbabel.com will be able to capture a majority of the arts enthusiasts in markets outside of the United States for the next few years and beyond.

 

The Arts Industry and our Market Segment

In the short and medium term, the global popularity of the Net as a whole will be a primary factor in our success. We can expect greater market share in countries into whose languages we translate, countries whose users are limited to fewer browsing options due to the overwhelming percentage of English-only sites on the Web. The rapid foreign Net usage growth rates are encouraging for towerofbabel.com.

These indicators are not only encouraging for the development of more diverse domestic and international arts markets, but anticipate an increasingly arts literate audience among Internet users, which is a demographic already inclined toward spending money and leisure time pursuing the arts. Interest in the arts is on the rise, whether through theater screenings, or reproduced on video, laserdisc, or television. New technologies like the DVD should continue to fuel this success. Growth trends in the the arts industry and the Internet will make room for more original creative content and bring a promising future for the arts coverage on the Web.

 

Marketing

Identity design becomes especially important when building a community, because a community needs a center and a way to define itself through its own imagery and structure. Our site’s design must be able to represent well across a number of different media, to tie advertising and marketing efforts to the content and feel of the Web site. towerofbabel.com recognizes that identity design also concerns relationships to customers, building a loyalty base among readers and finding a successful cohabitation between editorial content and publicity. Our advertising framework should emphasize sponsor relationships with like-minded business as much as possible; it should focus on providing them possibilities to associate themselves with something unique and well-respected. Possibilities exist to carry online advertisers into promotion of our physical activities, as well.

We hope to develop relations with video, laserdisc, and DVD production companies and stores, theaters, arts societies, museums, galleries, opera houses, cinemas, clubs, taverns, cybercafes and similar organizations promoting arts activity from the local to global level. Seattle’s position as a leader in both the arts and cyber culture presents towerofbabel.com with a rich source of exciting opportunities. Our embassy cities and regions would be bases for such activity outside of the United States. Co-sponsorship of the arts events with other organizations would be mutually beneficial and would help towerofbabel.com in the areas of promotion, image and market visibility, and content development. Our sponsorship of creative arts programs would increase the size of our potential audience through the artisan education and help us achieve the social goals of the company.

Our marketing efforts will be targeted toward building a group of involved users who regularly visit the site and participate in its shaping. Web sites succeed when they can consistently attract an audience of repeat, engaged users—an active community builds recognition much more than a static site. "Actualizers" and "experiencers," groups which lead social change and gravitate toward parts of society associated with innovation, are the involved users we seek. While the mainstreaming of Internet use will likely reduce this psycholographic group’s representation among Net users, this will remain the most important group on which to focus our marketing efforts. "Actualizers" are most likely to have an interest in the arts, and in the arts in general, will appreciate our innovative approach, and will be most easily engaged in networked discussions and chats.

towerofbabel.com will seek strategic partnerships at the middle to larger geographic scale to facilitate targeted marketing efforts. We hope to develop a cross-promotional alliance with one or several organizations wishing to reach university and other educational markets worldwide.

 

Position

We aspire to carry a reputation in the marketplace for developing new, international perspectives on the world of the arts. The combined use of innovative technology, design presentation, and the entwining of user interaction and editorial cycles will be our trademark. We hope to leverage a reputation as key influencers, a global audience, and a fairly priced rate card to attract the advertising revenue needed to reach our goals. We can achieve this through a commitment to our product and audience, innovation in content development, and marketing based on community building and a close understanding of market trends and needs. The most significant element of towerofbabel.com's market position is our international scope. Communicating the importance of this to our advertisers will be central to positioning our sales and marketing message.

towerofbabel.com's international outlook and reach are what set it apart from the majority of other arts sites, largely devoted to and directed exclusively toward North Americans. towerofbabel.com will set itself apart and gain a reputation through its involvement outside of the virtual, participating in the global arts community. We will join forces with other businesses to bring the arts and the artists into local communities and our offices. This will help develop the loyalty of our customer base and our network of business relationships and sales contacts.

towerofbabel.com’s multilingual content and international perspective will give us a larger potential, global audience than that of any of our current competitors. Our wholly unique focus will set us apart from everything else going on in print arts coverage or on the Web. The novelty will attract attention and opportunities for publicity. We will build and maintain our audience through our commitment to user interaction and consistent and relevant coverage of the arts, the artists and festivals. Because of our early entry into international markets and the quality of our content, towerofbabel.com will establish this standard to follow and gain a competitive edge.

 

OPPORTUNITIES

The opportunities before us are significant; founders, investors, the board of directors, and employees have the opportunity to change the scope and purpose of online publications, becoming leaders in the industry and catalysts in the virtual and physical arts community. These same people will benefit from the creation of a profitable business and return on investments. Success in planning during seed and subsequent stages, financing, hiring, and management; originality of artistic, interactive, and editorial direction will bring these opportunities to fruition.

towerofbabel.com can radically expand the collaborative processes of publication and business ownership through the pioneering scope and vision of our venture. We will be able to bring a firsthand perspective on international and independent arts through our global embassies and staff. The rules, structure, and nature of the Net are malleable to the influence of a commanding vision such as our own. We can bring the use of innovative technology, interactivity, and design to the arts discussion and to a new way of doing business. Our inclusive approach to business involvement in the community can enhance the physical and virtual locales touched by towerofbabel.com.

Now is the time to capitalize on the opportunities presented by the Internet’s growth. Due to our foresight, early entry to these markets, and the talent and ideas we can bring to the venture, we predict that towerofbabel.com will be able to capture a majority of the arts enthusiasts in markets outside of the United States for the next few years and beyond. Our pioneering entry into the international and multilingual market for Web publications will allow us to set the competitive standard in an untapped niche, attracting customers unreachable to English language only sites.

towerofbabel.com has the chance, during its seed stage, to build the structure of a business around a core group of founding members and employees. Starting around our common working experience, a talented pool of contacts, advisors, and potential hires, and the ideas in this plan, we can avoid the corporate baggage that suffocates the creation and flow of original ideas in so many businesses. Most experienced business advisors and investors see the seed stage as an opportunity to fully refine, elaborate, and test ideas before approaching the market, thereby avoiding mistakes that could have been averted with more preliminary planning. We can bring the knowledge and experience of successful professionals to this process via a Board of Directors and Advisors culled from our present contact base. This same contact base will allow us to successfully recruit the creative, technical, management, marketing, and sales talent we need to fulfill the promise of these opportunities. Careful planning, accompanied by professional wisdom, will allow us to mediate the risks associated with starting an untested, pioneering publication and business.

 

MANAGEMENT TEAM

The team concept is integral to success in the product, business, and social goals of towerofbabel.com. Our goal is to give all of our employees a discernible voice in the decision making process and in turn bestow more personal responsibility on them. By doing this we hope to facilitate more initiative and productivity on their part. This will allow us to do away with unnecessary middle management positions, saving money, time, and creating a better working atmosphere for all of towerofbabel.com’s employees. We will accomplish this by eliminating the corporate hierarchy that hinders initiative and flow of ideas by giving employees from all departments the opportunity to share in the creative and management process. We view the role of leadership as one of expediting team learning and contributing to the creation of the online journal; our management focus is on participation, education, and facilitation rather than supervision.

With the assistance of the CFO, towerofbabel.com’s founders will take an active role in company management, with attention to recruitment decisions and operational habits. In addition to their key roles in company management and direction, the founding team of towerofbabel.com will comprise the core of the editorial staff. Some production tasks will be shared equally, such as: setting editorial tone, direction, and policy; the coordination of communication with international editors and staff; and evaluating and recruiting freelance talent. Again, employee owners will be entrusted with key responsibilities in production, editorial, and management processes.

 

Professional Support

We are in the process of putting together an experienced and enthusiastic team of professionals. We will benefit from their input and support, but also by increased stature, credibility and the resultant advantages in recruitment.

 

CONCLUSION

Based on our projections, we feel an investment in our company is a sound business investment. Now is the time to capitalize on the opportunities presented by the Internet’s growth. This is an exciting time, not only to be a part of the building of the next communications revolution, but to make a pioneering impact on the social and economic fabric of the next century and millennium. The commercial growth of the Net is supporting companies and technologies which have a tremendous capacity to change how people are informed and entertained, how they communicate and relate to one another. There is an opportunity to significantly impact the Web, which has already gained importance as a medium for original expression. The rules, structure, and nature of the Net are being decided by those who are most enterprising today.

towerofbabel.com has the chance to redefine the scope and purpose of worldwide websites. We will radically expand the collaborative processes of publication and business ownership in four distinct ways. Via online interaction, our audience will collaborate with the artists and writers, Babel’s editors, and other users to pursue new and diverse directions in the world of the arts. Firsthand international perspectives will fuse and mingle to bring varied cultural aesthetics to our publication. Company management will follow the same collaborative model. Our international team, given ownership and a large degree of responsibility, will bring their voices to the decision making process. Similarly, towerofbabel.com’s view of strategic alliances ties business interests to local and international arts communities in a spirit of artistic collaboration.

Given the market situation, towerofbabel.com can capitalize on these extraordinary creative and business opportunities. We have already assembled a group of creative, talented advisors and prospective employees who could guide us and provide content, technical expertise, and essential contacts. We will be able to attract a highly skilled team of professionals in artistic, technical, legal, managerial, and financial fields to carry out our well elaborated plan.

If you are interested in providing funding for towerofbabel.com please contact Malcolm Lawrence at [email protected].