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NYT Op Ed

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I penned an op ed for the Times which runs today. They’ve chose to run it outside of Times Select, so you can get it without paying, but registration is required. From it:

It sure feels like a bubble, doesn’t it? Let’s tick off the signs: a red-hot market for Internet stocks (Google, for example, has more than quadrupled since it went public in 2004); fawning articles celebrating entrepreneurs; a glut of venture capitalists elbowing one another to invest in companies with no plans on how to make money past some hand waving about “advertising” and plenty of vague claims about how their technology will “change the world.”

The Internet is exciting again, and once again folks are rushing in. In some categories – like search or social networking, for example – there are scores of start-ups vying for pretty much the same market, and it’s certain that, just like last time, most of them will fail.

But regardless of all this déjà vu, we are not in a bubble.

Update: In fact, all outside contributors (like me) are not part of Times Select, my editor tells me…

London Meetup

By - November 16, 2005

I’m in the airport waiting for my flight to London, and since my last post on my travels, a lot of Londoners have pinged me asking to meet up while I’m there. Funny story: I was very briefly the Publisher of Wired UK, and it was my distinct regret to have to close down that office when the US company decided it was never going to make a profit. So what did I do? I invited the entire London staff to a bar off Picadilly, called the Atlantic, slapped down my corporate card, and got the whole team well and truly pissed, as they say over there.

So, in honor of my past trials and tribs, I’d like to meet any and all of you who care to meet at the Atlantic this coming Saturday. As far as I can tell it doesn’t have a website, but here’s some info, and a Frommer’s link:

Sat Nov. 19th, 6:30 pm ….

Atlantic Bar & Grill Ltd

020 7734 4888

020 7734 5400

20 Glasshouse Street

Westminster, United Kingdom

Hope to see you all there, Michelle (my wife) and I will be there with bells on….

UPDATE: This has MOVED to Floridita, more detail here…..

Fred Says: Google Is Lame

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Why? Because it can’t respond in web time. Link.

All Your Base Are Google, The Launch

By - November 15, 2005

Googlebot Earth-3

It’s happening: Google Base is launching. (Check the Google Blog for a post, I am sure there will be one.) I plan to talk to Google about this, though what with leaving for London and all, I may not be able to. Suffice to say, this is a major undertaking by Google, and it remains to be seen if the public will take to it. In fact, this is a test of sorts – how large will this get? Will folks trust Google with their data? Will folks see the value in it? Will Google Base become the first application that forces Google to….gasp…market its offerings? As in “List your data on Google Base, the “it” place to represent reality”?

Google is saying this is simply a new way to augment their search results. Google’s right. And that alone makes it one Very Big Deal. From the PR note emailed to me just now:

Today, we launched Google Base a free online service where users can submit all types of online and offline content that Google will host and make searchable online. ….Google Base is an extension of Google’s existing content collection efforts such as our traditional web crawl system, as well as Google Sitemaps, Google Print and Google Video – all which enable content owners to easily make their information searchable via Google. The goal of Google Base is to improve the overall quality and breadth of Google Search results by collecting even more information about a wider diversity of content. ….Similar to a database, Google Base enables content owners to describe and assign attributes to it the information they upload and uses this meta-data to better target search results to what users are looking for. For example, if a chef chooses to upload their very best recipe for tamales he/she can further describe that recipe with a photo or by assigning attributes such as “medium-spicy” or “spicy.” When a user searches for the word [tamale recipes] from the Google Base homepage they will be presented with a list of recipe results accompanied by a list attributes at the top of page which enable them to further refine their search to “medium-spicy” or “hot” tamale recipes.

Rarararararghghghghghghg…this kind of disingenuous exemplar text makes me grind my teeth. This has as much to do with tamales as, well, forget what I have to say about it. Go back to the basics, and once again, read Paul Ford.

Again, from the email:

Google Base also creates a new opportunity for content producers to submit any kind of information even if it’s not a web page or online.

Behold, the physical world rendered as information. One of the main arguments in my book is that if it’s not in the index, it’s not considered valuable in a search-driven world. This, of course, is a new way to Get Into The Index. We’ve only just begun….

Paid Search Numbers

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So I’ve been watching revenue estimates for the paid search marketplace lately, and I’m confused. The target for 2006 was $6 billion, set a few years ago by Piper. We’re clearly past that – and a year early. But the numbers are all over the place lately. Here’s a quote from the Kelsey Group, for example:

“Paid search advertising may well reach $7 billion in 2005,” said Neal Polachek, senior vice president, research and consulting, The Kelsey Group.

OK, so…Google is going to do about $6 billion in revenues this year. Toss out AOL and Ask, as they are in that gross number. But Yahoo is not. They do at least a billion and a half more in search revenues. Then there are the second tier players, who have to throw in a few more hundred million bucks here and there. And what about the Yellow Pages folks?

Anyway, with just Google and Yahoo’s results to date, we’re way past $7 billion. Right? Or maybe Kelsey is not counting AdSense as paid search? Whose numbers do you believe?

Comscore: Search Drove $6 Billion in Travel

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And you wonder why Google changed its interface to incorporate travel information? Comscore’s study (jointly sponsored by Yahoo, never shy about its ambitions in the travel segment):

In April, 35 million U.S. consumers used a search engine to initiate travel planning, and those who bought travel online ultimately spent an estimated $6.6 billion in the category during the eight week analysis period.

(Hat tip: SELowdown)