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If You're Ever In Montana…

By - March 26, 2006

Newwest…or near those parts, you have to go say hello to my pal Jonathan Weber, who was my Editor and partner at the Standard, and is one of the overall great folks in journalism. Last week he closed a series A financing for his wonderful regional blog/publishing company New West, and I’m thrilled that both he and I are still at it, even after fate (and a lot of other things) forced us apart five years ago. Congrats, Jonathan and the New West team! (caveat, I am an informal advisor for Jonathan’s biz….)

Local Matters Going IPO

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LocalmattersI’ve spoken off and on over the years with Local Matters‘ CEO Perry Evans, and watched as he rolled up his company, formerly Aptas, into a major online Yellow Pages and directory play. I missed it due to all my travels, but last week Local Matters filed to go public. Perry was the founder of Jabber and always struck me as extremely thoughtful. Though he’s in a quiet period now, I’ll be pinging him to see if he’d like to speak with us…

CME – The GOOG of Chicago

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Cme LogoJust found an interesting piece comparing the red hot Chicago Mercantile Exchange Holdings (ticker: CME) to Google’s explosive stock price.

…Chicago Mercantile Exchange Holdings (CME), now trading at $435.25, more than 12 times its IPO price from December 2002. The price is at the same high altitude as GOOG, and people understandably wonder if there’s a kind of dot-com fever infecting both issues. ….

Profit margin: 31.4 percent for CME, 23.9 percent for GOOG; return on equity, 31.8 percent for CME, 23.8 percent for GOOG; forward estimated price/earnings ratio: 32 for CME, 28.8 for GOOG. GOOG’s revenue growth is greater, but CME has less competition. And both balance sheets have piles of cash with no debt.

CME, though, has one clear advantage over GOOG. Its progress is transparent. With more than 70 percent of its revenue coming from trading fees, all an investor has to do is check the daily volume reports. GOOG has been criticized for not being forthcoming about revenue sources. With CME, its an earnings “surprise” only if you haven’t been paying attention.

Interesting point about that transparency…

Higest Paying AdWords

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I love lists like this. Recently updated highest paying keywords from Google. Top Ten:

$54.33 mesothelioma lawyers

$47.79 what is mesothelioma

$47.72 peritoneal mesothelioma

$47.25 consolidate loans

$47.16 refinancing mortgage

$45.55 tax attorney

$41.22 mesothelioma

$38.86 car accident lawyer

$38.68 ameriquest mortgage

$38.03 mortgage refinance

Found on Xooglers.

GOOG Loves the S&P

By - March 23, 2006

GoogspOr, vice versa? From Reuters:

Shares of leading Web search company Google Inc. (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research) jumped 8 percent in after-hours trading after Standard & Poor’s said the company’s stock listing would be added to the S&P 500 Index on March 31.

Actually, now it’s up more than 35 bucks. Fickle, fickle, fickle. Of course, when a company makes the S&P, it makes the index buyers, and that drives demand, and demand drives the stock up.

TVRank: Tell Me What People Are Watching

By - March 22, 2006

TvI’ve been thinking about television lately. It’s not like I spend an inordinate amount of time watching TV – my relationship to the medium is mostly moderated by Tivo. The damn thing crashes every two to three days (I know, that’s not normal, I need to figure out why, but WHY do I have to figure out why?!). But still, I love it. Never would give it up. It’s like the Macintosh, you know? Finicky, but great in bed.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about television. And here’s why.

The other day I was at my gym, on my way back from a yoga class. Yeah, I know how that sounds, but don’t bash it till you’ve tried it. OK, so I’m walking past the communal flat screen in the men’s locker room, the screen that is usually tuned to CNBC or ESPN – both lowest common denominators of male communality. From time to time an old movie might be on, or a perhaps a rerun of Cheers, but 98 percent of the time it’s sports or business. Given that the remote is shared among half-naked men who barely know each other, CNBC and ESPN are pretty much the safest bets to be found.

But that day, as I strolled past the screen in a post yoga haze (it’s not unlike getting stoned, without the tendency to talk like a Berkeley sophomore), sports and business were nowhere to be found. Instead, the set was inexplicably tuned to Fox News.

Now, I will acknowledge a bias here. I don’t like Fox News much. It strikes me as an intellectually dishonest form of news, but then again, one could argue that about any news outlet. Regardless, what the damn channel had on was simply impossible to ignore.

At first glance it was clear that Fox was covering a trial, and the coverage was live (that was declared in traditional cable news fashion – an unavoidable “LIVE” in the upper right hand corner of the screen, if I recall.) Fox had split the remaining real estate into three windows. In the lower right was a man, head down, clearly a beaten soul, clad in what appeared to be a prison jumpsuit. He had the demeanor of an admonished child, but this child had the countenance of an alcoholic, or an insomniac, or possibly both.

In the center was a live feed of a judge, a man who was, well…. struggling to explain his point. Watching him speak, it seemed he was attempting to justify a decision he didn’t much like: he seemed to be praying for an eloquence that escaped him, some way to express the reasoning behind the decision he was about to impart. He had been speaking for some time, it seemed, and given he had not yet found his groove, he also seemed prepared to speak for some time to come. An air of impossibility encumbered his demeanor – this was a man grasping to explain something that, in the end, simply cannot be explained.

In the lower left corner were the victims. They were nameless, mute, anxious, determined. I recall the central figure was a motherly woman, but I could be wrong. For this telling, it matters little.

And in the center at the bottom, as is the practice of cable news, Fox had placed a headline, something along these lines: “Murderer To Be Sentenced For Killing 14 Year Old Girl.” To the right of the headline was a thumbnail picture of an adolescent woman, clearly the victim. She was blond, as I recall.

In a second or less, Fox News had communicated this simple fact: A Man Will Be Condemned Today. Stay Tuned, And Watch It Live.

At that moment, in that locker room, there wasn’t a man – clad or not, dripping wet or dressed and ready to leave – who didn’t stop and stare at the screen. It was a captivating – and exploitative – moment. We were watching, “LIVE”, mind you, a judge struggling with whether or not to sentence a man to die. How could you NOT watch?

So what happened? I have no idea. I turned away. I couldn’t watch anymore. Maybe that’s just me, but it felt, well, too intimate. But as I showered and got dressed, I thought about that moment. And it made me wonder – what might television be like if moments like that Fox News coverage became, well, instantly searchable? What if there was some kind of TelevisionRank that noticed, in real time, what people were paying attention to, right now? Where moments like the condemned man rose to the top of a television index in real time, so that at any time, anyone could ask of the web: What are people watching, right now?

Wow. Now that would be powerful. Is it possible? Oh hell yeah, it is. And it’s coming in the next five years, I’ll wager. It’s pretty much Technorati mashed up with Neilsen, YouTube, and Comcast. And when it happens, we’ll never see television in the same light again. I, for one, can’t wait.

Cloudy Vista, and More News of Note

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Everyone knows by now that MSFT has delayed Vista (I can only imagine the glee at the ‘plex). But there’s much more afoot lately, and since I’ve been running around having meetings all day in NY, I’m not posting about it as much as I’d like. The stuff I find notable:

Tim interviewed Bill Gates on Monday at Mix06. His questions are here, webcast here. The interesting thing is that Tim even got the chance to do this, given what an open source and web2 advocate he is. Cool.

Tempest in teapot about Blogger banning MSN Search bars turns out to be false.

Google does a deal with Nike for a soccer social networking site called Come on. Let’s have a debate about whether Google is in the publishing business….

Philipp notices what folks are doing with “Google Page Creator.” Sigh. Tragedy of the commons.

Xeni notes the wonderful world of the DOJ w/r/t teabagging and Google.

Claria is “exiting the adware business by Q2.”

Podzinger (podcast search) has launched.

Google appears to be testing an interesting new approach to SERP layout in Italy, more here.

Jonathan Says…

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Reader Jonathan says: Google and Amazon are both customers and partners – neither are presenting computation as a service (it turns out to be infinitely more complex than simple storage – esp. for enterprise deployment).

In the long run, we don’t want to be in the retail web service business…]]> Read More Read More