free html hit counter August 2004 - Page 8 of 10 - John Battelle's Search Blog

Big Brother, Inc.

By - August 09, 2004

TIA-tmThe ACLU has issued a report on a trend I often ping, that of corporate data gathering practices and how the government can bypass restrictions on domestic spying by requiring companies, in essence, to do the spying by proxy.

The ACLU report includes a suggested “No Spy Pledge” that they hope consumers will ask companies to take. The ACLU site includes a sample letter to send to companies which requests:

1. You will not turn individually identifiable data on your customers over
to the government for security purposes unless legally required to do so.

2. You will use every legal means to fight government demands for data
that are not authorized by current law, or which violate your
Constitutional rights or those of your customers.

3. If the government serves you with a legally binding request to turn over
customer information, you will notify customers that our information has
been turned over (unless you are subject to a gag order prohibiting you
from doing so under the Patriot Act or other legislation). In addition, companies
called data aggregators are increasingly becoming a means by which the
government accesses information on individuals. I would also like to ask whether
you provide information about your customers to data aggregators or any other
companies that are in the business of consolidating customer information. If so,
which ones?

What I wonder is, will any search related companies be pledging?

Wired News covers this, and more here and here and here.

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New Twist on Local Search Engine

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setyuup.comWay back in 1996, before I left Wired and started the Standard, my wife and I had a little brainstorming session. I thought it’d be really cool if we started a website where local merchants could list their wares, so folks could check to see if a local business had what they were looking for before going down to the store. We decided against the business, but I’ve remained fascinated by this concept. It just seems to make sense, that at some point you will be able to check into the inventory of your local stores to see if what you want is there, and even reserve it or have it delivered to you.

A new search engine is now launching that promises to bring part of this concept to the world. Called, it’s “A unique new web tool that helps shoppers find products locally.”

From their release: Now, for the first time, the Internet’s 80 million web shoppers can easily find popular retail products near their current location and avoid waiting for online purchases to arrive by mail. In addition, offers merchants a simple and economical way (free, for a limited time) to easily list their products online, driving web shoppers to their physical locations. combines the benefits of online shopping with local commerce, providing consumers and local merchants a powerful new tool.

“We founded because local shopping is broken, and our mission is to fix it. Currently, half of the 80 million web shoppers in the U.S. prefer to purchase offline, but the Yellow Pages, the most-used local shopping resource, only list generic categories and force customers to call around in order to find specific products. This makes local shopping tedious at best,” said Kendall Fargo, President and CEO of “At the same time, businesses have been frustrated trying to promote their local store inventory to the growing number of online shoppers. For those merchants, we developed simple patent-pending Internet sales tools, making it easy for them to drive new ‘walk-in’ business from local customers who use the web.”’s sales tools include a client that automatically uploads inventory information continually from QuickBooks, the leading financial management product from Intuit Inc., so businesses have a hands-off way to drive sales from Internet shoppers even if they do not currently have a web presence. Businesses can easily register as member stores and will be able to begin merchandising their products immediately. For a limited time, is allowing businesses to sign up as charter member stores for free, allowing them to merchandise their products without paying any product listing fees.

Tip o the hat: Gary.

UPDATE: Clickz has a review here.

Blogs and Business

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Recall back in November, I wrote a column in Business 2.0 about “Why Blogs Mean Business“?

Businessweek now agrees.

Blogs, until recently almost exclusively the domain of geeks, alternative media, and celebrities, are turning into the cyber equivalent of the corner office.

I love it when a monthly beats a weekly to a story by nine months or so.

Future of Search Overview

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Cnet rounds it up, with pings to UCB, Brewster, MSFT Research (MyLifeBits), and WebFountain.

“Universal access to all human knowledge is within our grasp,” Kahle said. “It could be one of the greatest achievements of all time.”

More on Patent Suit

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Reuters has a short story here.

Under the settlement, which includes the dismissal of the patent suit, Google will license a patent held by Overture Services, which Yahoo acquired last year. The dispute over that patent had threatened Google’s lucrative AdWords program, which serves up ads with search results linked to certain keywords.

In its complaint filed in April 2002, Overture alleged that Google’s keyword system violated its 2001 patent entitled “system and method for influencing a position on a search result list generated by a computer network search engine.”

Google will issue Class A stock for the patent license and to settle a dispute over a warrant issued to Yahoo to purchase Google shares. The companies did not elaborate.

And the Businesswire press release is here.

One of the most significant lawsuits standing in the way of Google’s future is now gone, Google now has a license to Overture’s IP, and Yahoo garnered another 2.7 million shares of its competitor’s stock. Was it a good deal? Hard to say, but I’m looking forward to seeing the details of that license.

Holy Sh*t: Google and Yahoo Settle Patent Lawsuit

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This just in from the Journal(sub required):

Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc. settled disputes over patents and service agreements, with Google agreeing to issue 2.7 million shares to Yahoo.

Google warned that it will take a charge of $260 million and $290 million related to the settlement, which will lead it to post a net loss for the current quarter.

Google agreed to license a patent held by Yahoo’s Overture unit related to the way advertisements are attached to search results. Such advertising is a lucrative part of Google’s business, and Yahoo had filed a patent lawsuit alleging that Google was inappropriately using a system developed by Overture. As part of Monday’s agreement, Yahoo agreed to drop that lawsuit.

Yow. More to come.

News: Yahoo Buys FareChase

By - August 06, 2004

farechaseYahoo recently closed a deal to purchase a company in the Travel search space called FareChase. The acquisition was alluded to in a post on Yahoo Finance. I got the tip from competitor Sidestep. I have calls in to confirm (so far this has not been formally announced), but I think this is a done deal. I am told a news report has hit a registration only travel site called Travel Weekly, but I can’t find it at the moment as I am not registered.

UPDATE: Update: Yahoo has confirmed they bought the company, more than a month ago. Why was this kept quiet? SEC rules did not require disclosure due to the small size of the deal…the statement they sent to me: “FareChase’s travel expertise will help further Yahoo!’s goal to create the most comprehensive and relevant travel experience on the Web.” Yahoo stressed this will not impact the Yahoo Travel! property in which Travelocity continues to be the exclusive partner. Well, maybe, but…I’m not sure about that long term!

Good Clean Fun

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beerEach year at SES, Google throws a party called The Google Dance, named after the “dance” that optimizers and marketers go through when dealing with Google’s frequent updates to their index. Anyway, apparently this year they ran our of beer early. Yahoo took the opportunity to poke fun at Google for that fact. A Yahoo search for “ses party rule #1” yields a special hand coded top result: Never run out of beer.

Thanks to SEORoundtable for the tip.

GOOG Headline Roundup

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sharks.jpgThere’s blood in the water. WashPost (reg required) rounds up the scathing headlines and commentary here. The Merc, NYT, WSJ, the Post, the FT….the list goes on and on. The journos are piling on. And Google is in a quiet period, so it can’t defend itself. But there are plenty of folks willing to say nasty things, especially those on Wall St. who felt snubbed by Google’s middle finger of an S-1. As I wrote in April when the S-1 was first filed:

They’ve set themselves a very high long-term bar, claiming they will best the system, in essence. I think it will be very interesting to see how Wall Street responds. There is a chance, in the end, that the Street will feel slighted, and turn its back on the company.

Report: Google IPO Delayed, Auction "Logistics" Blamed

By - August 05, 2004

WSJ (sub required) breaks the story with a hat tip to CNBC:

NEW YORK — Google Inc. is delaying its IPO by a week because of logistical problems related to institutional investors registering to bid on the shares, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The delay isn’t being caused by a technological problem or a lack of bidders, the person stressed. Rather, the process of registering bidders for the auction-style IPO is taking longer than anticipated, the person said.

Part of the problem, the person said, was that Google’s IPO, which is being led by Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse Group’s Credit Suisse First Boston, is being run through an auction format that had never been tried before. “It’s all new,” the person said. “We just hit a speedbump.”

News of the possible delay was first reported by CNBC.

Officially, Google had never set a date for the deal, though people familiar with the matter had pegged the date for next week. What’s more, Google had said it would be about a week from the time it activated the Web site on which investors can register until they priced. That site was activated last Friday.

Interesting that this is a one source story.

Update: The buzz on this is pretty negative, I sense folks want to believe the mighty has stumbled.