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A Book Focused On Google

By - November 15, 2005

Congrats to David Vise on publication of his book “The Google Story.” Gary has more here.

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Yahoo Debuts New Search/List Driven Shopping

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It’s the “Shoposphere.” From the blog posting:

The Shoposphere and Pick Lists are examples of social commerce. We believe the community of shoppers is one of the best sources for product information and advice. The Shoposphere is a place to discover interesting and cool products thematically arranged into Pick Lists by other shoppers.

Meanwhile, the LA Times has a piece (reg required) on how the Hollywood culture is clashing with Yahoo’s culture in its new Santa Monica offices.

B2 on Yahoo's "Flickrization"

By - November 14, 2005

The magazine covers how Flickr and other acquisitions has changed Yahoo. From it:

Indeed, the Flickr purchase helped ignite a larger strategy. Thanks to a new generation of managers like Butterfield and Fake, Yahoo is starting to see how user-generated content, or “social media,” is a key weapon in its war against Google (GOOG). ….

Social media “is going to be a gigantic piece of what we do,” says Yahoo CEO Terry Semel. “I don’t think old media is what people are going to spend most of their time doing on the Internet. This paradigm needs its own inventions, its own methods, its own way to go forward.”…

COO Dan Rosensweig had to overcome a lot of internal grumbling. There was no real business behind Flickr, and no unique technology either. So why did Yahoo need it? Says Rosensweig, “We could only justify it when we realized how big the vision could be if applied to the Yahoo network.”….

If Yahoo is to get social media into every nook and cranny of its business, extending it to search could have the greatest benefit of all. Targeted search ads are projected to be a $9 billion industry this year, according to S.G. Cowen. To that end, Fake took over My Web in September…..

If social search pans out, it could give Yahoo a much-needed edge over Google. Google takes an automated approach to search, throwing armies of Ph.D.s and thousands of servers at the problem. It wants to make search more relevant by creating better algorithms. Yahoo also does algorithmic search, but it can’t beat Google at that game. So it’s gambling that tapping into the collective intelligence of its audience will produce more relevant search results….

“I still think Yahoo has a heritage to overcome,” says tech book publisher and pundit Tim O’Reilly, referring to the decade-old habit of directing traffic to its site…..

More Database of Intent and the Law

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The content of a suspect’s Google searches were used in a murder trial. Story here, Slashdot ponders here. From that post:



Will police in the future simply serve a subpoena to Google to find out what you’ve been thinking about? While this use of that information makes sense, at what point does your privacy give way to public concerns? Should police be able to search through your search history for “questionable” searches before you’ve been arrested for a crime, and what effect would this have on the health of society?”

From the story:

Robert Petrick searched for the words “neck,” “snap,” “break” and “hold” on an Internet search engine before his wife died, according to prosecutors Wednesday.

London This Week

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Searchbloggers –

I am heading to London Weds for a few days, culminating in the FT/Goldman award dinner Monday night. I’m pretty booked throughout the time I am there, but if any of you Londeners are around and about, ping me!

News of the Day

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Good Morning….Today:

– Google announced it is making its web analytics (Urchin, which it purchased some time ago) free to all. My big beef with Urchin is how much disk space it uses (it keeps everything so it quickly eats up your storage). So I hope this hosted solution will solve that.

Update: Not a swift rollout...

– AOL announced a big video deal (not surprisingly, with Warner). Clearly it intends to compete here.

SJMerc Op Ed

By - November 13, 2005

Reg required, but here’s an op ed I wrote for the SJMN today…

From Service to Application

By - November 12, 2005

Late last week – and it was certainly an odd week for all sorts of reasons – I had the honor of appearing before the SDForum’s Search SIG in Mountain View, on the Microsoft Valley campus. First I was interviewed by Dan Farber about the book (here’s Dan’s write up), then I got to interview four entrepreneurs in the search business – folks from Trulia (real estate search), Truveo (video search), Healthline (medical) and Simply Hired (jobs). Om has more on that here (though I have a rant in me about the “exit” – more later).

As usual, Dan focused his write up on what proved to be, for me anyway, the most interesting comment of the night. It came from Simply Hired CEO, Gautam Godhwani, when I asked him if he feared Google. “Google does search very well, but we have yet to see Google do applications well,” was his reply.

Interesting. As I thought about that, it struck me that what we are seeing right now is indeed the evolution of search companies from their roots providing a single service – one thing, done well – to a application suite that does many things. What does that mean, exactly?

Well, in Google’s case anyway, let’s give credit where credit is due. Google does do a few applications pretty well. Gmail, for example, is still considered by most to be a very good mail application. Blogger, while not for pros, is also a pretty successful application (“AOL for blogs” is how one pundit put it at Web 2.0).

But neither of those are really executions of search as an application – even though Gmail has really good search. Huhm. What Godhwani was saying is that in the search field, applications are the next thing, and Google is just as new at this game as his company – if not more so in certain vertical fields.

Dan further quotes him: “Finding a job takes a few weeks or months, doing research and using the power of referrals. You can’t do it on a basic search engine, so we are complementary to search.” As Godhwani said this, I was thinking to myself – “Well, as soon as there is an economic reason to do it, Google will do it, and then what?”

By then, I sense, Simply Hired (and all the other vertical search engines on the panel) hope to be so far along that the only logical move would be an acquisition, or direct competition in which the upstart actually has a chance of winning. It’s how it’s been for ages in this industry.

But back to this larger idea of search becoming an application. It’s probably obvious to you, but for some reason this idea provides me with a way of grokking a much larger trend – why is it that Google is so focused on Toolbar, Desktop Search, Accelerator, Local, and Ajax-y things like Maps, etc.? It’s because to create a decent search application, you need to have a far more robust interface, and you need to know far more about the intent of the person that is using your application. A web-based service, on the other hand, does one thing well, and does it the same for everyone. Search is becoming an application, indeed, and that more than anything else explains very well Google’s recent moves.