It was a splendid event, but it left me exhausted, and I’m taking much of today off. However there is much to report from Web 2.0, and plenty of other news as well. I expect to get on it starting Saturday. Thanks for your patience with my time off. And to all the Searchbloggers I met at the conference, thank you so much for coming. It means the world to me.
TITANS OF TECH
A Man Who’s Going Places
Erik Blachford controls half of the online travel market — and Barry Diller’s Net ambitions are riding on his shoulders. So why is the CEO of IAC Travel so relaxed?
By John Battelle, October 2004 Issue
Within Barry Diller’s online empire, InterActiveCorp, there’s no business more vital than IAC Travel — which makes Erik Blachford his most important lieutenant. Overseeing Expedia, Hotels.com, Hotwire, and other travel properties, Blachford is responsible for 37 percent of IAC’s revenue and more than two-thirds of its profits. Still, even as IAC Travel’s growth has been extraordinary — it’s now the third-largest travel agency in the world — it’s feeling the pressure from any number of competitors, including its suppliers, competing online services, and even portals and search engines. To keep growth going, Blachford is expanding into Europe and Asia and has dived into the $100 billion corporate travel market. But what he’s really dreaming of is re-creating the perfect travel agent online.
Barry Diller was once asked about IAC Travel, and he replied by saying something to the effect of “You think this is the future of travel; I think it’s the future of everything.” Does he see what you’re doing in travel as indicative of the future of the entire Internet?
InterActiveCorp, at the highest level, is just a big bet on consumers using the Internet for more stuff. If you fundamentally believe that the Internet is going to provide people with richer and better information for making decisions, then you have to make bets across a pretty wide variety of things. We’ve got high airline ticket prices, and hotel rooms are expensive, so the dollar figures involved get pretty eye-popping pretty fast, and that’s one of the reasons people like to point to the travel category.
I understand that more than 20 percent of the travel business is now booked online.
It’s closer to 25 percent this year. It’s probably going to around 35 percent by 2006. By the time you get to 2010 or 2011, we think between one-half and three-quarters of leisure and unmanaged business travel — everything not handled by corporate travel agencies, that is — should be online.
With growth prospects like that, why did IAC take a hit in the last quarterly earnings? Why does Wall Street not give it the same earnings multiple as its peer group?
Well, you had a couple of different things going on. On the one hand, the whole category did get beaten up pretty badly. So there is something to be said for people just looking at the overall growth trends quarter over quarter in online travel and saying, “Boy, that didn’t seem quite as quick as we were expecting.”
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Today, Google announced the beta release of Google SMS, a new offering that enables people who are away from their computers to quickly and easily get instant, accurate answers to specialized queries through text messaging. Using a cell phone or handheld device such as a Blackberry, users can obtain local business listings, dictionary definitions, product prices and more–all available through Google.
Google SMS returns specific information related to a user’s query as a text message to their mobile device. For example, to find a pizza joint in a specific neighborhood, users can send a text message to the 5-digit U.S. shortcode 46645 (also GOOGL on most mobile phones) with the query and city or query and zip code, i.e. [pizza 94043], and immediately receive the name, address, and phone number of local pizzerias in that area. This type of concise information can help mobile users find exactly what they’re looking for anywhere and any time.
Using Google SMS, people can:
. Find names, addresses and phone numbers for local businesses and residences
. Look up dictionary terms to get definitions, expand their vocabularies, or even settle bets
. Compare online product prices with those they find in retail stores, i.e. to find the price of an iPod, users can enter the message [price ipod 20gb]
Google SMS, currently in beta on Google Labs at http://sms.google.com, extends the reach of Google’s search services to mobile phones and devices, while staying true to Google’s mission to bring more of the world’s information directly to users. Google SMS currently works with wireless providers in the U.S. only, including AT&T Wireless, Cingular, Nextel, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint PCS.
Google is continually developing innovative ideas to improve our users’ search experience, and as always, we welcome your feedback. For instructions on how to get started, users may send a text message to 46645 with the word [help]. More information about Google SMS can be found at http://sms.google.com.
Really cool of the folks at Feedster to give the Web 2.0 feed such prominence on the home page, and to create an XML feed for coverage! Here’s the link, and thanks guys…It’s been a great event so far.
In the tradition of Dan Gillmor, I’m going to ask that you readers comment on this post, and add a twist – how about you guys tell *me* what the news is? I’ll be in the haze of Web 2.0 all day, but I know big things are brewing, and I’ll check into this post. Go ahead, comment away! (You might start with the Google Print news – migod, as if A9 wasn’t enough reason to call Amazon a competitor…)
Wow, what a first day. Amazing workshops, and then really fun sessions. Bill Gross unveiled Snap, a very cool new engine that you can check out here (yeah, Snap, uh huh, in an earlier incarnation it was a failed Web 1.0 portal from CNet and NBC). And then early Google investor and Board member John Doerr, in a great interview with John Heilemann, let us know that Google was not going to sit on its hands w/r/t personalization, in fact, he said there will be announcements very shortly about Google’s next phase of personal search. Also, Rojo debuted, and we still have Marc Cuban to go tonight…
More to come, and much more on the web 2.0 site, where coverage is aggregated….
Kanoodle today launched BrightAds, an AdSense like play that differentiates on categorization. Wish I had more time to talk about it – Boing Boing is playing with it. As soon as I have the time post-conference I’ll post on this again. Release in extended entry, quoting from it:
Kanoodle, a leading provider of sponsored listings for search results and content pages, today announced the launch of BrightAds™, a self-service tool for small- to medium-sized content publishers that will enable them to run Kanoodle’s content-targeted sponsored links on their sites. With the launch of BrightAds, it is now easy for independent Web publishers to add highly relevant sponsored links advertisements to their sites and generate immediate revenue.
Kanoodle’s listings have until now only been available to the Web’s largest content publishers, currently running on a number of the Internet’s most well-known and respected sites, including CBS MarketWatch, MSNBC.com, USAToday.com and others.
A unique benefit of BrightAds is that it maps ads by “topics” rather than keywords, which prevents core keyword mapping challenges and provides publishers with ads that are more relevant to their site’s content.
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This release marks a major step in Yahoo’s commitment to the concept of what I’ve dubbed the PersonalWeb – it supports the creation of a “personal web index” (via “saving searches), search “communities,” annotation, and sharing of search results. Interestingly, the beta also lets you block sites, a form of refinement that may prove important as this whole field starts to march forward. So does all this sound familiar? Yup, it should, you’ve seen versions of this movie before, and quite recently – A9 last month, Ask Jeeves even more recently, the sale of Furl to Looksmart, and reliable sources tell me more is on the way. (IE: Watch this space).
From the PR info I was sent:
My Yahoo! Search is an extension of Yahoo! Search, to help users better find, manage, and share search engine results…. Yahoo! understands that users want greater flexibility and control of their media and information, and is committed to providing a personal search experience that can be tailored to meet the highly specific needs of the individual.
I won’t promise it, but I’ll wager Searchblog will be looking pretty unlived-in this week, as I’ll be focused on producing Web 2.0. When I am doing a conference, I tend to get in a kind of zone, and I forget about pretty much everything else. It’s three straight days of live stagecraft, and we have more than 60 speakers presenting, which is the most I’ve ever managed in one event. We also have evening events, from Google, Morpheus, and Yahoo, so the usual burst of late night items might be slow as well.
We invited a lot of press and bloggers, so I expect there will be plenty of places to grok the goings on. In fact, you might start with Google News, and perhaps check out who’s linking to us over at Feedster. Andy, Ross, Jeff, Wade, and I am sure others will also be blogging it. We’ll also put a link to all the coverage on the main site, once the event gets going.
I’m excited that this event, which began as an idea Tim and I shared nearly a year ago, is actually happening, and is so well attended. We hoped for 400-500, and we have more than 550 registered (yes, you can still come, but today is the deadline for the pre-show price. Walk in tix are quite dear). We hoped for 5-6 sponsors, and we have 15. And much of the support came in the last couple of months, as momentum built. It’s been a great education preparing for this. Thanks to everyone who is coming, and to all you Searchbloggers for putting up with my absence. There will be a killer search panel on Weds afternoon, and some news on search from Bill Gross, Yahoo, and others – so stay tuned!