free html hit counter April 2005 - Page 4 of 8 - John Battelle's Search Blog

Fortune on Gates and Google

By - April 20, 2005

Fred Vogelstein has penned a piece on MSFT and Google for Fortune (sub required) and taken the tack of Google’s push into software, generally. A good overview of a subject covered often here – the idea of search becoming the interface to all data, and therefore, the “Windows” of the web platform. He’s got Gates on the record on Google, which is a pretty big deal.

From the opening:

He was poking around on the Google company website and came across a help-wanted page with descriptions of all the open jobs at Google. Why, he wondered, were the qualifications for so many of them identical to Microsoft job specs? Google was a web search business, yet here on the screen were postings for engineers with backgrounds that had nothing to do with search and everything to do with Microsoft’s core business—people trained in things like operating-system design, compiler optimization, and distributed-systems architecture. Gates wondered whether Microsoft might be facing much more than a war in search. An e-mail he sent to a handful of execs that day said, in effect, “We have to watch these guys. It looks like they are building something to compete with us.”

Other tidbits:

All of which helps explain why inside Microsoft, the battle with Google has become far more than a fight over search: It’s a certifiable grudge match for king of the hill in high tech. “Google is interesting not just because of web search, but because they’re going to try to take that and use it to get into other parts of software,” says Gates as he leans forward in his chair, his body coiled as if he could spring to his feet at any second. “If all there was was search, you really shouldn’t care so much about it. It’s because they are a software company,” he says. “In that sense,” he adds later, “they are more like us than anyone else we have ever competed with.”…

…Forced to watch Google’s stock soar the way Microsoft’s used to, and Brin and Page enjoy their roles as tech’s new rock stars, Gates brings to the fight a ferocity that nobody has seen since the Netscape war a decade ago. Their popularity gets under his skin. “There’s companies that are just so cool that you just can’t even deal with it,” he says sarcastically, suggesting that Google is nothing more than the latest fad, adding, “At least they know to wear black.”

…Trying to build a Google killer, however, has turned out to be truly humbling for Microsoft. The effort has taken longer, cost more money, and exposed more big-company problems at Microsoft than anyone imagined.

BTW, I have to say, I HATE the Time Inc. sub wall. I am a subscriber, and it NEVER remembers me, and I always have to re-register. It’s deeply lame, in too many ways to mention. Time Inc. folks reading this, get your shit together and join the point to economy, please!

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Yow. GOOG 250

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Goog420Safa Rashtchy, whose opinion I value, just came out with a his first report on Google (so far I only have the PDF), setting a price target for GOOG of 250. The stock has been moving up alot, it went up on anticipation of Yahoo’s good numbers yesterday, and today it’s up again, to nearly 200. But 250? Safa says why:

Initiating with Outperform rating and a $250 price target;

We believe Google will become the segment leader and the must-own stock in our sector, as sustainable growth pattern becomes clear to investors;

We believe there is substantial new revenue opportunity for Google as it leverages its major technology and brand assets, beyond current search revenues;

Google remains the No. 1 company in search with more than 50% global market share;

Global search revenues will reach $22 billion by 2010; growth continues to be robust.

Rojo Officially Launches

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RojoChris Alden and his team have been laboring over Rojo for nearly two years, and have learned quite a bit during the site’s beta phase, which required an invite. The site is now public.

Rojo is an RSS feed reader with a community twist – it allows its users to search, share, tag, and publish the content they read. Learn more about it here, to sign up head to Congrats to Chris.

Yahoo Earnings Jump

By - April 19, 2005

It looks like everyone will have a good quarter in the search sector. Google reports Thursday.

Read Seth on Media Futures….

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It’s worth a looksee. Lots of good stuff. I particularly like this part:

Now transpose people for web pages, and you see how the race for the next great search algorithm has less to do with organizing static HTML content than with coordinating the constantly changing expressions of millions of distributed people.

And this, which relates to FM:

The question is, then, whether a PeopleRank algorithm that uses community driven tags as its input, could do to, Gawker Media, and Weblogs what Google did to Alta Vista, namely deliver a superior end-user experience that requires only incremental server bandwidth to scale.

Thanks, Fred.

Wondir Launches Revamped Site

By - April 18, 2005

WondirI first wrote about Wondir back in November. I really liked the promise of the site – a sort of community based Q&A service, but since then it seemed the site, which was in beta, had been quiet. Well it’s back, and I had a chance to catch up with founder Matt Koll recently.

Koll has learned a lot tweaking Wondir over the past few months. The site recently crossed its millionth question and answer, and is doing around 6-7,000 questions a day. Back in the Fall, they were doing 2-3,000, so clearly something is working.

Sure, Google recently incorporated answers into their index, but Wondir is an entirely different beast. Google’s (or MSN’s, or Ask’s) question answering is a very broad and very shallow play, Wondir is the vertical engine of Q&A. And why not? If Koll can manage to get a really useful community working on creating base pairs of questions and answers, he’ll have quite a content play on his hand – and that means all sorts of possible business models. For now, he sees AdWords as his friend. His AdWords CTR has been impressive – reportedly 4%. Clearly, answering specific questions is good business.

But Koll has his work cut out: he has a chicken and egg issue with traffic, and he has to determine where to place his resources – should he focus on the syndicated model (placing private label Wondir implementations on other sites like ichef) or pursue a model where Wondir becomes a massive destination? I suggested he try to populate each with the other, creating a kind of Q&A Commons, and he liked the idea, but publishers tend to like to keep their answers to themselves.

There’s more to come: Koll has instituted a rating system for answers which has helped him in formulating a ranking algorithm of sorts for his base pairs. Consider it a “helpfulness index” – like PageRank for Answers. It’s not quite baked yet, but it should be worth watching. Also, expect some interesting RSS news from Wondir soon, Koll hinted. Net net: I’m going to keep tabs on Wondir. If they can get a full head of steam and create a community of intentional traffic, there’s much to learn there.

Release in extended entry.

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Snap Does Suggest One Better

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SnapsuggestWhile I was away I got a note from Bill Gross, founder of Snap (and Overture, and Picasa, and…anyway). He was brimming with the news of a neat new hack on his home page – a suggest feature that offers searches based on the letters you type in. Sounds like Google Suggest, no? NO! Gross told me. In his words:

Google suggest is awesome, but doesn

The Winning Subtitle

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Those of you who have read Searchblog for a while may recall my plea for a better subtitle (I think in fact it was two pleas). You kindly gave me more than 200 possible subtitles, ranging from hilarious (Results 1-10 of about 17,300,000) to the pretty darn good (GETTING EVERYTHING: Search in the Age of Google).

Believe it or not, my publishers read *every single entry* on the site, and were really stoked to get so much feedback. As I said before, I had pretty much given up on the idea of controlling the outcome of the subtitle, it’s like the author of a magazine piece arguing about the cover line. The goal is to sell books, and what do I know about that?

So after reading all your input and talking to their salesforce, the publishers have settled on a subtitle:

THE SEARCH: The Inside Story of How Google and Its Rivals Changed Everything

We went, well, big on the promise – “Changed Everything.” Well, probably not everything, but certainly everything in the media/tech/culture/business nexus, which after all is what the book is about.

The publication date is early September, but review copies are going to be ready pretty soon. I’m taking this final week to do one last major line edit, and then it’s all up to the fates. It’s like giving birth in excruciating slow motion. Bleah.


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TivoFrom Cnet, a longish piece on the intersection of search and Tivo, with an emphasis on reporting from anonymous sources claiming something of a competition between Yahoo and Google to do an exclusive deal with Tivo for “bridging television and the web.”

From the piece:

A partnership between TiVo and a major Internet search engine would offer expansion opportunities for both. TiVo has long talked about becoming the “Google of TV,” eventually enabling its 3 million subscribers to search for and watch any broadcast or broadband media. Though TiVo opened the door for video downloads straight from the Web, it does not yet offer such a feature.

Meanwhile, Google and Yahoo are investing heavily in video services.

For my riff on tv and search merging, head here. For my interview with Tivo CEO Mike Ramsay, head here.

The Week That Was

By - April 17, 2005

Come with me as I wade through 9 days of back reading…

Google adds feeds to Gmail. About time, and probably just the beginning….

Google also launched Google Local for Mobile. Watch this space as well. The mobile world needs bridges to the web.

Joe Beda (Googler) on his 20% time presentation at CFP. There is one question – Why 20%? – which I can answer – Sergey did a math proof showing that to be the most efficient percentage. Don’t ask me to verify his math.

Yahoo launches its beta of its redesigned News site. Oh, and gives out free hosting to small biz. All in a day’s work.

The WaPo take a mainstream look at clickfraud (not a lot of ground broken here…for a riff on media coverage of clickfraud, head here)

Josh’s funder reveals himself to be Fred

Oh to be a fly on the wall for this conversation…Tim and Jeff are both search titans.

Speaking of Tim, he wonders, are tags useful?

Google tests some new layouts for Adwords.

What, you haven’t seen the craigslist/GoogleMaps mashup yet? (I wrote about it here) launched formally this week.

Ask upgrades its MyJeeves personalized search.

And this ZabaSearch is some odd shit…this one feels like it may turn into a real story…here’s the Chron in it…(thanks Xeni)