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A Look Back

By - December 20, 2004

Nostrad-TmOne year ago, I made a bunch of predictions. Today I call myself out and see how I did. Tomorrow (or maybe a little later in the week) I’ll post some predictions for 2005. That will pretty much round out my posts for 2004 – during the holidays I’m focusing on writing the book. But I couldn’t resist this little exercise first.

So…How did I do? Not bad, all told. Possibly because my predictions were facile, but still, we all have our own bars, don’t we? I managed to limbo under mine pretty well. So, to the specifics.

My first prediction: “The Web becomes a platform (again).” I think with the buzz around desktop search and the Google OS, the strong performance of the major platform players like Amazon, eBay, and Yahoo, the happy and well attended buzz around Web 2.0, this seems to be coming to fruition.

My second: “Blog ecologies of like-minded folks will garner increasing cultural and social power.” With the rise of political bloggers, the rising communities of Scoble, Zawodny, and others, and Time Magazine even considering naming “bloggers” as their person of the year (and the dictionary folks making “blog” their word of the year), I’d say this one was pretty much dead on.

Third prediction: “The Dutch auction/OpenIPO model will be validated.” Check.

Fourth: “We’ll see a major IPO ($100 million+ sold to public) in search that isn’t Google.” Well, I sort of got this one, and sort of did not. We had Tom Online in March, and Navteq in October. Whether Navteq is search related is debatable, but certainly search drove its valuation. The company raised $880 million. We also had Marchex, but it didn’t make my $100 million in proceeds limit (though it did very well…). Perhaps I could argue that Shopping.com, which raised $137 million, is search related (they sure would not have gone out without search…) Also of note: there was Websidestory, $42 million, and Gurunet, which raised $8 million. I probably missed a couple here…

Fifth prediction: “There will be a “Tylenol Scare” in search…There will be much harrumphing, then everyone will calm down, learn from the incident, and move on. ” Yep, that about tells the Gmail story.

Sixth: “Once a month, a new search player will be crowned in the press as ‘the next Google.’” This one was way too easy to predict. More like once a week…the examples are too profuse to mention…

Seventh: “Second generation blog/RSS aggregation sites will come close to combining directory functions with LinkedIn- and recommendation-engine-like features – think Amazon+Yahoo for the blogosphere….” Yup. Bloglines, Rojo and others did just that.

Eighth: ” …at about the same time Yahoo, AOL, MSN, and Google will build or buy second-generation blog/RSS aggregation sites.” Well, I was mostly wrong here. But Yahoo is sure doing some interesting things with RSS, and MSN did introduce MSN Spaces and got very serious about blogging, among other things.

Ninth: “The world will realize the importance of our digital artifacts, and takes further steps to to preserve them.” I think Google Print is a step towards this (once we realize that books are worth saving, we might also realize that websites are as well), and the Internet Archive did a world of good this year, but we’re still in the digital dark ages, for the most part. This was wishful thinking on my part.

Tenth: “Cable companies will control more than 75% of the PVR market, but a backlash/new TiVo-like device (possibly from Apple) will develop by the end of the year.” This is on its way to becoming true, but the cable companies have been slower than I expected in rolling out PVR services. Meantime, there was a new launch, Akimbo, but alas, no Apple moves, yet.

Eleventh: “Microsoft will have a surprise hit product that has nothing to do with Office or Longhorn, causing a minor fire drill in Redmond.” I think Halo 2 qualifies as a major hit that has nothing to do with Office or Longhorn…

And finally: “I’ll finish my book, try to stop writing this blog, but find it impossible to do so. Meanwhile, a deeply cool, once-in-a-decade-magazine-I wish-I-had-thought-of will launch.” Well, I’m close to finishing, but I’d say I missed this one by two or three chapters. I sure didn’t stop blogging, and as far as the magazine launch – I’m sort of happy to report, I was wrong. There were plenty of new magazines, but none that made me wish for my old job back. As for cool new magazines that look promising but are not in my personal sweet spot, I was really pleased to see the launch of Chow, from former TIS editor Jane Goldman, and Breathe, from pals Lisa Haines and Deanna Brown. But most of the new magazines were market-driven pap. As for that deeply cool new magazine which I wished I thought of, I’ve got my money on Make, launching early next year. At least I’m involved in a small way!

Well, 2005 promises to be a very interesting year. Happy Holidays, everyone!

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  • Ash Thakur

    John, what exactly is Tom Online? Is it just what’s at http://www.tomonline.com? It looks like someone’s personal home page.

  • TAP

    I would hardly count Halo 2 as a “suprise” hit…

  • http://battellemedia.com John Battelle

    For more on Tom Online, here’s their Investor Relations page:

    http://ir.tom.com/en/index.html

  • http://dmehus.blogspot.com/ Doug Mehus

    Hi John:

    I’ve been keeping a running list of technology-related IPOs. (Note: Some of these are tech-related, but are noteworthy nonetheless.) Choose which one(s) you want as mentions.

    Advance America, Cash Advance Centers, Inc. (NYSE: AEA)
    Blackbaud, Inc. (Nasdaq: BLKB)
    Blackboard, Inc. (Nasdaq: BBBB)
    Blue Nile, Inc. (Nasdaq: NILE)

    CallWave, Inc. (Nasdaq: CALL)
    Cambridge Display Technology, Inc. (Nasdaq: OLED)
    Celebrate Express, Inc. (Nasdaq: BDAY)
    Cogent Communications Group, Inc. (AMEX: COI)
    Dex Media, Inc. (NYSE: DEX)

    Domino’s Pizza, Inc. (NYSE: DPZ)
    DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. (NYSE: DWA)
    eCOST.com, Inc. (Nasdaq: ECST)

    Freescale Semiconductor, Inc. (NYSE: FSL)
    Genworth Financial, Inc. (NYSE: GNW)
    Google, Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG)
    Greenfield Online, Inc. (Nasdaq: SRVY)
    GuruNet Corporation (AMEX: GRU)
    Huron Consulting Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: HURN)
    Interchange Corporation (Nasdaq SmallCap: INCX)

    Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, Inc. (NYSE: JTX)
    Jamdat Mobile, Inc. (Nasdaq: JMDT)
    Motive, Inc. (Nasdaq: MOTV)
    Navteq Corporation (NYSE: NVT)
    PlanetOut, Inc. (Nasdaq: LGBT)

    PortalPlayer, Inc. (Nasdaq: PLAY)
    RightNow Technologies, Inc. (Nasdaq: RNOW)

    Salesforce.com, Inc. (NYSE: CRM)
    Shopping.com, Ltd. (Nasdaq: SHOP)
    WebSideStory, Inc. (Nasdaq: WSSI)
    ZipRealty, Inc. (Nasdaq: ZIPR)

    Cheers,
    Doug

  • http://dmehus.blogspot.com/ Doug Mehus

    Eek! The spaces were where I inserted my comments but MT erased them because I didn’t use ‘lt;’ and ‘gt;’ so it thought they were tags.

    Oh well…

    Doug

  • Vanilla Chin

    Doug, thanks for that list. It is really helpful!

  • http://www.vintagetech.com Sellam Ismail

    Ninth: “The world will realize the importance of our digital artifacts, and takes further steps to to preserve them.” I think Google Print is a step towards this (once we realize that books are worth saving, we might also realize that websites are as well), and the Internet Archive did a world of good this year, but we’re still in the digital dark ages, for the most part. This was wishful thinking on my part.

    You were actually more correct than you think. There have been great strides made in preserving digital artifacts. But most of the work is still under the radar.

    Just rest assured that digital preservation is well under way, just not yet in the mainstream.

    Sellam Ismail
    Curator of Software, Computer History Museum
    Proprietor, VintageTech