free html hit counter October 2003 | Page 2 of 3 | John Battelle's Search Blog

Sprinks Sold

By - October 26, 2003

Not surprising, and in the works for sometime, Primedia sold Sprinks to Google Thursday of last week. My posting software was wacky for a few days, so I’m posting this late, I’ll have more on this if I talk to the parties involved, probably later this week. Side note: This past week, Kelly Conlin, my old boss at IDG, took over at Primedia. Saw him in NY, and he looks happy. It was good to reconnect.

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The WSJ Gets Hip to Search

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The Google IPO story last week got the Journal’s attention (as this sub-required article shows) and a later follow on by the “Real Time” online column does a decent job of bringing folks up to speed. The main point that is worth watching – the Journal now understands that Amazon, EBay, and Interactive Corp. are all search driven businesses. That marks progress for the “Search is the new interface for the Net” meme.

Wolf on Amazon

By - October 25, 2003

Yesterday I meant to note Gary’s latest piece of wonderful writing, The Great Library of Amazonia. It’s in the upcoming issue of Wired, and it relates a key insight that authors really grok (thanks Steven Johnson) – in the age of Google, books are increasingly valuable as resources for contextualized knowledge. Books are highly processed, extremely linked texts, but their power has been largely absent from mainstream search engines. Chalk one up for Amazon Book Search, which was first to bring this power to search. I imagine it’s driving folks at Google and Yahoo nuts.

Again With The IPO

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I was in LA Friday, and offline, but even there folks were buzzing about the FT.com report on the Google IPO, which claimed that Google was close to going public, and was seriously considering WR Hambrecht’s auction process as its path to the public markets (caveat: The Hambrechts are friends, so I am inclined to support the auction process). Two quick thoughts: First, the reporting on this is extremely thin, with one unnamed source in the FT piece spawning a media feeding frenzy (105 articles on Google News within 24 hours), none of which had any more information, as far as I could tell, save this WashPost piece that quotes Andy Bechtolsheim, one of Google’s first investors. There’s no question Google is and has been talking to investment banks, it’d be irresponsible for them not to be, and they’ve been doing it for months. You have to wonder if that one source was an investment banker, looking to prod Google into action.
Secondly, it’s kind of fun to note that for whatever reason, the Google IPO news leads Google News itself, at least today, thanks probably to the frenzied linking around the story from the blogosphere.

Where Are All the Viewers?

By - October 23, 2003

While I was in NY this week talking to media types this article was published in the NYT, asking why the new network shows (such as The Next Joe Millionaire et al) were not drawing in the young viewers they were designed to snare. “It’s a mystery” seemed to be the theme of the article, which went on to blame everything from Iraq (!) to complicated television hardware. Please! Doesn’t anyone at the Times realize these folks are online, and on cell phones, or simply not interested anymore? If a show sucks, or seems to suck, or – particularly – if their friends are not *talking about it*, they will tune it out, or watch The Daily Show on TiVo, or whatever.

The article has a built in presumption that whatever is heavily hyped by a network will certainly draw its appointed Neilsen rating. After all, they hyped the new shows during the baseball playoffs, and those had great ratings! What went wrong? Steve Outing points (in E-Media Tidbits) to the lack of interactivity in these shows, but that’s only part of it. It’s also that the networks have failed two basic tests of making good media in the Internet age – connecting with a built in community (as all great magazines, sites, and blogs do), and promoting through trusted channels. The only real promotion Fox does for its shows is…during other Fox shows. And the only thing they are selling is the same kind of television experience as everyone else – titilation and escape. That’s not exactly a diverse ecology, and audience members are wising up.

It’s interesting to note that “hits” like Queer Eye or Trading Spaces have devoted audiences in the hundreds of thousands – audiences that look remarkably like magazine readerships. Hmmmm. More on this to come.

The Google IPO, again

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The favorite topic of many a wag in the Valley, the Google IPO has once again been revived, this time by Barrons, and Eric Savitz, no less, The Standard’s old EE. Eric is conservative in his reporting of the numbers (I’ve heard estimates of a hell of a lot more profit than $100 million this year, and more revenues than $700 million), but in any case it’s a lot. Speculation about the triggering of section 12(g) of the 1934 SEC Act (more than 500 shareholders = public filing requirements similar to an IPO) has been rife for nearly a year, given the number of Google employees – I recall the same issues being raised at Wired and The Standard (not that we had to worry in the end!). So, as Eric concludes, we finally have a time horizon for The IPO That Will Cure Cancer, Save The World, and Tie Your Shoes For You, Spring 2004.

Google Use Tips

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Speaking of Tara, here’s a good summary of the best tips in her book Google Hacks. Worth anyone reading who uses Google quite a bit. 20 Great Google Secrets.

Microsoft and Overture (Yahoo): Wed till 05

By - October 21, 2003

Many thought (including me) that MSFT would boot Overture as soon as they could once Yahoo bought the company, but not many thought it would take another two years to happen.
This is clearly a marriage of convenience, but it points to two realities: one, it creates a timeline: Microsoft now has two years to get its own Adwords/Overture type product ready for market (probably to coincide with the introduction of their algorithmic search ), and two, any predictions that Microsoft might buy Google are now looking increasingly unrealistic.