….is certainly flattery. I don’t speak Chinese, but a former student pointed me to this new search site: Sogou – which means “search dog” in Chinese. This is the proprietary search offering from China net giant Sohu. Looks like Google meets Yahoo with Lycos’ mascot. First covered at China Digital News, a Berkeley-based site I helped launch last year.
Now that it’s official, the new owner of Lycos, Daum, gave an interview to the WSJ (sub required).
Daum is South Korea’s biggest Internet-service provider, with more than 35 million registered members. It caters to a Korean audience with a vernacular Web portal that features shopping, games, chat rooms and job-hunting services.
In acquiring Lycos, Daum believes it can succeed in the U.S. market by introducing some of the hallmarks of its Korean service, such as features that allow users to build personalized multimedia Web sites. Daum also said it plans to upgrade Lycos’s e-mail and search engine.
Hmmm…sounds familiar. Sounds just like another company with aspirations to enter the US market by buying a portal….oh yeah, Terra, former owner of Lycos. I dunno, but it seems like a rough time to be entering the portal wars in the US. Yahoo, Google and MSFT have fistfuls of cash and monster brands. Good luck Daum…but I smell another sale – maybe of component parts – in Lycos’ future.
Nanosys, the nanotech start up light on revenues but full of promises, canceled its IPO this week due to “adverse market conditions.” I’ve seen this movie before, in 1996, and again in 2001. I’ve been wondering what’s up with the IPO economy lately, a fragile place built on the tenuous foundation of investor psychology. And my gut says it’s not a wonderful time to be going out. 2003 was a good year, overall, especially in the internet space. People started to believe again, interesting companies started making interesting products. And a slew of companies filed to go public, one right after the other.
For the most part, it’s still true that great companies are still making great stuff, especially in the internet space. But right now, things look pretty grim in the world, and I sense as a society we’re retreating once again into a somewhat grumpy, fearful place. As a result, IPOs leveraged over the future, like Nanosys, are being cancelled, IPOs that have narrow profit histories, like PlanetOut, are seeing their price range cut, and blockbusters, like Google, are being savaged by the pundits. Certainly it’s a good thing that there’s no appetite for hype in the world. But if I had my druthers, we’d still have a taste for hope.
Cnet bought search.com a long time ago, and had big plans for it back in the Snap days. When I visited with Halsey (the founding CEO) a while back, he told me a story of how he got tons of guff for thinking that search was going to be a big deal. Now Cnet has updated search.com, now a metasearch site, with various bells and whistles. Gary, though, is not impressed…in a brief review, he concludes there’s not too much that’s really new in the update.
Former ML analyst Henry Blodget, the high flyer who fell from grace, is finding his voice over at Slate. He’s got a barn burner up right now on the Google IPO:
If we were acting rationally, we would just decide to invest in Google (or not) after the stock started trading, when we knew what we could buy it for, rather than now, when we have to guess. Because one goal of the auction is to reduce or eliminate the first-day pop, “winning” the auction won’t likely lead to the instant bonanza that usually makes people salivate about getting IPO shares. But, then again, other forms of entertainment—dinner and a show, say, or a visit to the circus—also waste money and time, and they’re wildly popular….
…There are multiple ways we can lose the Google game, and only one way we can win. We can lose—money, time, and/or potential profits—by:
1) bidding within the “winner” range, getting shares, and having the stock drop (likely);
2) bidding so high that our bid is dismissed as “speculative,” not getting shares, and having the stock rise (less likely); or,
3) underbidding, not getting shares, and having the stock rise (less likely)
The only way we can win, meanwhile, is if we bid in the “winner” range but below the price at which the stock trades in the aftermarket (highly unlikely). One reason IPO auctions have essentially been abandoned worldwide is that these odds stink. (Good thing we’re not acting rationally.)
…As for what other bidders will do, I suspect that many will play the Google auction game for the same reasons I plan to: out of curiosity and fun and/or the remote possibility of getting shares at a reasonable price. Some others, unfortunately, will probably participate because they “like the company” or “want to make money” or some other idiotic reason, and regardless of the outcome, some percentage of this group will probably sue.
My favorite quote? Plays off the “Don’t touch the Google IPO” meme we’ve all seen in the press lately:
For the sake of balance, it bears noting that we will have the best odds of winning (making money, not just getting shares) if most potential bidders are so terrified of losing that they don’t bid: This will allow us to aim low, get stock, and then benefit when the great prudent majority—which refrained from bidding on the auction—piles on in the aftermarket. To maximize our chances, therefore, we should preach (preferably on national television) that participating in the auction is a terrible idea. In the months since Google announced the auction, scores of experts have done this. Many of them are probably now formulating bids.
Tip o’ the hat to JH….
This week is SES San Jose, a monster of an event that I usually attend. But I’m denying myself all sorts of things in order to focus on the book, so unfortunately I won’t be there. However, Beal’s site is doing a fine job covering the event, including this interesting summary of “Inside the Searcher’s Mind” session featuring Google’s Marissa Mayer.
Update: Very comprehensive coverage can be found at SEORoundTable.com as well….
I’m slow to report the news here (the embargo lifted last night at 9 pm) but today Yahoo launched its local search product. I was on an informal “advisory board” for this product, but I have to admit that my focus on the book did not allow me to be very engaged. However I did get to play with it early, and found it pretty damn good.
Chris Sherman of SEW agrees, his write up is here. He notes the major features, the clean interface, and the elegant “refine” features that let you zero in on lists of search results. He quotes Jeff Weiner on the goal:
“Our mission is to understand intention of user, to help them complete tasks as quickly as possible,” said Jeff Weiner, senior vice president, search and marketplace, sharply contrasting Yahoo’s approach with Google’s mission “to make the world’s information universally accessible and useful.”
You know what a sucker I am for intent-based media. Net net: I like Yahoo Local, and plan to use it, at least for now.
(full release for Yahoo Local in “continue reading” link…)
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Mark Cuban is banging the drum for IceRocket, the latest metasearch tool to challenge the Google/Yahoo hegemony. In his post “Watch Out Google…Here We Come!”: Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, founder of Broadcast.com, soon to be TV star (The Benefactor, this Fall), and Web 2.0 speaker, claims any number of innovative features in the new site:
Im not involved in the day to day, Ive offered to help come up with some unique features that hopefully can allow them to seperate from the pack. To me, this is a unique way to “design my own search engine”. The features that are and will be included, are the things I look for when Im doing my searches.
Some of the things you can already find at http://www.icerocket.com are:
– Thumbnail photos of results homepages…..- one of the things i hate about all search engines is that you click on a site hoping for a quality site, and you get an empty or shell website. The photos of the site give a quick look so you can see before you click. This can be turned on or off
– Quick View….Without leaving the results of search page, you can see the top 40 pct of the destination page as a short cut to deciding if the site is what you are looking for. If its what you want, a quick click and the page opens up completely
– Info – This is the traffic ranking from Alexa. It lets you know before you click whether anyone else goes to the site according to Alexa.
The site also offers news and picture search, and “Find a Friend” – which searches personals, far as I can tell. My quick take: nothing really unique here, but it’s great to see yet another player in the field. And yes, Mark invested in Mamma.com just a year or so ago…he offered no comment on why he’s all over IceRocket now….If you want a quick take on the service, read the comments on Mark’s post, they are mixed…