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Alan Murray Groks The Google Stock Sale

By - August 24, 2005

A free link in the Journal. The guts of the piece:

In recent months, the top Googlers have sold off nearly $3 billion of their own holdings. These insider sales all have been on the up and up, conducted under a so-called 10b5-1 plan that allows them to sell a predetermined number of shares over a given period. Diversifying their riches in this way would be a wise strategy for the Google boys under any circumstances. But it is particularly wise if you suspect your stock has a touch of hot air.

They also have been changing their compensation plans, moving away from reliance on stock options, which become worthless if the stock drops. Instead, they have started using Google stock units, or GSUs. That is Googlespeak for restricted stock that takes four years to vest, but will continue to hold value even if the share price swoons. The company issued 61 million GSUs in its second quarter.

If that isn’t evidence enough that Google is preparing for the bubble to burst — or at least deflate a bit — then the new stock offering should be. The company says it has no specific plans for the cash. “The principal purpose of this offering is to obtain additional capital,” Google lawyers wrote in their registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission. “We have no current agreements or commitments with respect to any material acquisitions.”

Like George Mallory and Mount Everest, they are taking the money “because it’s there.”

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Kottke Hits the Web OS Memebar Again….

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And it’s another fun read. Jason ties together the Google Desktop (which he reminds us was launched as “Desktop Search” but is now just, well, your “Desktop…..”), local web servers, and next generation web apps and browsers. In short, he is saying, the Web OS is nearly here. It’s why Yahoo bought Konfabulator, and why MSFT is integrating the web into Vista, it’s Apple’s strategy too. A good overview….

Other Shoe on Google Talk

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GoogtalkadIt’s here, it’s Windows only (so far), and it’s got folks talking (just not me, cuz I’m A Mac Guy.) And it comes with its own Adwords campaign, natch….

Businessweek: Georges Harik, Google’s director of product management, says the company has opened communications with AOL and Yahoo, offering them interoperability on the Google Talk network free, and it will soon contact Microsoft. It remains to be seen whether these big players, especially AOL, which runs both its AOL Instant Messenger service and the globally popular ICQ service, will take Google up on its offer.



“WE’RE WORKING ON IT.” “Our network will be open. We want to make all instant messaging networks interoperable,” Harik says. Users of other IM clients would be able to connect friends to Google Talk just by adding their Gmail user names. No agreements have been struck yet. “We don’t know what their reaction will be,” Harik says.

Oh really? I mean, really!!!?

This issue has been a hot potato for, what, five years? And Google is claiming to not know what happens when you poke a stick into a beehive? Please!

SEW: The entry sees Google directly competing against the much more mature clients and established user bases of competitors Yahoo and MSN, not to mention its own partner AOL. The move also opens Google up to accusations that it is way off its mission of “to organize the world’s information.” Heck, Google Talk doesn’t even feature a box to let you search for things, as rival products from AOL, MSN and Yahoo do.



Of course, the failure to launch an instant messaging product would leave Google at a competitive disadvantage. In the end, while the company may not like the P word, but a portal Google effectively is.

Downloadsquad review: Another big feature they’re working on is “joint search,” which would allow two or more Google Talk buddies using Google and surfing the web together. This would be a natural segue to the fabled Google Browser, but there is as yet no confirmation from Google.

Google also tells us that they don’t yet have solid plans on making money with the service, but plan on using it to drive users to Gmail.

Slashdot – nearly 700 comments so far.

Press release is in the extended entry.

Update: Of course, readers remind me, Mac folk can use this via a Jabber app like iChat….

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The Times Does the Google Backlash Story

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It’s nearly as predictable as rain in November (at least, in Marin…): the Backlash story. It’s my sense that the Google backlash had its peak strength back in 2004, after Google hired its first 1000 new folks and everyone who did not get hired, or who did not get in on the IPO in some way, or did not see any viable competitors on the horizon, or never got a freaking phone call back from the Adsense group, started grousing about how Google was getting too big for its britches.

Now, Google has serious competition, can’t hire whoever they want, and its founders have learned to say the right things in public about past practices (Sergey, for example, told me he regrets the seemingly haphazard way his company hired in the past few years, and Omid told me he is 100% focused on Adsense service issues).

But this is Gary Rivlin’s story, so he got some interesting folks to talk on the record, including Joe Kraus, Reid Hoffman, and Craig Donato. To wit:

Google, Mr. Hoffman said, has caused “across the board a 25 to 50 percent salary inflation for engineers in Silicon Valley” – or at least those in a position to weigh competing offers. A sought-after computer programmer can now expect to make more than $150,000 a year.

and:

“When I meet with venture capitalists, or if I’m engaged in a conversation about going into partnership with someone, inevitably the question is, ‘Why couldn’t Google do what you’re doing?’ ” said Craig Donato, the founder and chief executive of Oodle, a site for searching online classified listings more quickly.

In any case, the Times piece marks the top of a sine wave of coverage, in my estimation. It’ll get worse from here, then get better again. The cycle of spin….

Google Talk

By - August 23, 2005

GoogletalksmIs leaking out…audio and IM…more to come

I’m on Google Talk Right Now” reports smashsworld.com.

Apparently all you need is a Jabber-compatible IM client (like iChat) and a gmail account. Now folks, tell me this is not a major community play. Just tell me.

JetEye Launches

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JeteyeDavid Hayden, of Critical Path and Magellan reknown, today launched a new search engine called JetEye. The concept is interesting – you can create your own set of search results (“jetpaks”), which you can share with others and make searchable. This combines the idea of the architecture of participation and the force of many with the currently in vogue concept of social search.

David gave me a tour of Jeteye late last week, and as with many of these ideas, it really all depends on whether or not folks pick up the habit (the Wondir QA engine comes to mind, for example.) For now, it’s a promising start up, and the key will be whether it reaches critical mass.

MediaPost coverage.

What Will Google Talk Be?

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Dirson (he found talk.google.com is live, but not responding) and many others, including the NYT yesterday, have been speculating about a new communications tool promised out of the Googleplex for tomorrow. I’ve heard it’s anything from an IM client to full blown free WiFi for the masses. I have no special insight into this, but I do believe IM is a no brainer. MSFT, Yahoo, and AOL all have IM clients. IM ties folks to a platform, and that’s what Google is building with Desktop et al. VOIP is another possibility. Om and others have found that Google is running a Jabber client, for example, and speculate that Google is about to introduce a VOIP/IM meta client that works with multiple IM clients. That would certainly be cool.

In any case, stay tuned. The other shoe will drop Weds.

Who Doesn't Want to Buy This Company?

By - August 22, 2005

From a Times (UK) article:

Now Google and Yahoo!, two of the internet’s most important pioneers, are to do battle over a deal that would see them embracing the world of “old” media for the first time.

The two US-listed companies, which between them had a market value of more than $126 billion (£70.2 billion) at close on Friday, are understood to have each approached Trader Classified Media, the Euronext-listed owner of 575 print titles, ranging from Canada’s Auto Trader magazine to Buy & Sell Chinese in the US, about a possible corporate tie-up.

Sources familiar with the discussions say that other firms, possibly including Ebay, the online auctioneer, have also made approaches.

New Google Desktop

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Gdlogo-TmGoogle rev’d its Desktop application today. Again, I can’t run it as I’m a Mac guy, but I’m told the new features include:

– A customizable “Sidebar” interface for easier results viewing (in other words, Google floating on top of Windows, all the time. Gates is really happy about this…)

- Email (Outlook) integration and offline Gmail searching

- More API support

- Better encryption

- “QuickFind” which sounds a lot like a UI hack on top of Windows to make it easier to launch applications.

What does this sound like to me? Sounds like Google acting like a software developer, strengthening a product in anticipation of it becoming a standard interface to your data. But that’s just me.

My first post on Desktop is here. SEW/Gary on the app here.

More on NCSA Study

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I am still percolating on a mountain of input about the Yahoo Google size matters debate, but in the meantime, several readers have pointed me to the fact that the NCSA has distanced itself from the “study” done last week which concluded that Yahoo’s claims were possibly false. From the new disclaimer:

The following study was completed by two of Professor Vernon Burton’s students at the University of Illinois. Though one of the students previously worked with Professor Burton at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), the study was done outside the scope of any NCSA core projects. When first published online, staff at the NCSA noted several issues with the study, and some revisions have been made to the document to reflect several of these concerns. Changes are detailed at the bottom of this page.

Please note again that this study is not an NCSA publication and was not conducted as part of any NCSA project or under the supervision of NCSA.

Many folks have contacted me pointing out the possible pitfalls of the study’s approach. This does not mean, however, that there are not conclusions which can be drawn from it.



There is much more to this issue (of size, bragging rights, etc.) than meets the eye, and I do intend to write a longer piece, as I said before. I’ve spoken to senior folks at both companies, and also am tracking down third parties. But as I am supposed to be on vacation early this week, I’m going to not rush this one. Stay tuned.