free html hit counter August 2006 - Page 2 of 7 - John Battelle's Search Blog

News: Google Apps Targeting the Enterprise

By - August 27, 2006

Gooapps

Question: Where’s the big money in the IT business?

Answer: The enterprise.

Question: Who owns the enterprise desktop?

Answer: Microsoft.

Question: What should Google do about it?

Answer: Here’s a start, an email forwarded to me about a new Google service which is clearly the start of a targeted offering for the enterprise:

On Monday August 28th we are announcing Google Apps for Your Domain. This brand new Google service allows everyone in an organization to collaborate and stay up-to-date through e-mail, calendar and instant messaging – anywhere, anytime.

Everything is hosted by Google, so there’s no hardware to buy and maintain or software to manage, deploy and patch. The applications are fast, reliable, work from anywhere, anytime and have the elegant simplicity everyone has come to expect from Google. And they’re free. The applications we’re releasing at this time represent only the beginning; we’re working hard to add more. We know you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

We thought that as a Google Mini customer you’d be interested in taking a look at this exciting new service from Google. You can read more about this service and sign up at http://www.google.com/a. We are also working on an Enterprise version of Google Apps for Your Domain that will include features, integration options, capacity and support offerings designed to meet the needs of larger organizations.

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Damn, Too Much Liquidity, Google

By - August 25, 2006

Money2

Bloomberg reports that because Google has so much cash (more than $10 billion and growing very quickly), it’s subject to SEC regulations as a mutual fund. Why? More than 40% of its assets are liquid, and Google wants to invest those funds in high yielding instruments, just like a mutual fund might.

Time to buy someone, Google…

round up

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Picture 7-4Flickr images enter Yahoo

Yahoo begins to integrate Flickr images into search results. A corresponding new tool in Flickr allows users to remove their pictures from search listings. Everyone is asking: how are the images in results ranked? and how is Yahoo determining which keywords to use? Instead of all tags, only queries like “interesting photos” will return Flickr thumbnails. link

Checkout Affliates

Google Checkout launches an affiliate program with integration incentives for “e-commerce providers.” Checkout is also running back-to-school promotional, accompanied by themed reasons to shop, like: “Jockey.com: Extra Underwear, Starbucks Store: All-Nighters.”

Ask’s new hire

Ask announces their new VP of Technology and Engineering, Chuch Geiger, former CTO at PayPal.

Comcast search

Comcast’s Google-based search gets a new look, and is possibly a new deal. Tail Rank follows the trail, more

“A high class problem”

Google seeks an exception to invest in R&D, rather than securities, as its investments grow so large it risks regulation as a mutual fund– a bid which Microsoft successfully secured in 1988. link

When it’s good for all, who pays?

A viral AdWords ad for Honda in MySpace displays in Gmail, sparking Garret French’s curiosity as he asks: Who is paying whom here? link

The Theme Here Is Humans, Editorial Opinion Parameters Be Damned

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The recent news that Google has been granted a patent on “System and method for supporting editorial opinion in the ranking of search results ” has been taken generally as a sign that Google may delve deeper into the world of social search, which was a hot topic of conversation at the recent Search Engine Strategies Conference (the one I missed due to my shoulder surgery).

But what I find interesting about it is the core: editorial opinion. At some point, algorithms have mothers, and those mothers have opinions. In the related art section, the patent application notes that Ask uses real editors to help it determine results, but that those humans don’t scale:

AskJeeves (www.ask.com) generalizes the application of editorial opinion to a collection of pages. Their editors identify a set of pages that share a common theme (e.g., home pages of airports) and associate this set of pages with specific trigger words (e.g., the word “airport”). When one of the trigger words appears in the query, they present the user with a concise representation of the associated set of pages, allowing the user to choose one. Again, the scope of this technique is restricted to the set of pages that were reviewed by the editors, which tends to be many orders of magnitude smaller than the set of useful pages on the World Wide Web.

Yet this patent very clearly keeps the door wide open for samesaid humans. Quoting from the patent again:

Query themes refer to topics found to be commonly occurring in search queries deployed by users in the network … Editors may, in an implementation consistent with the present invention, develop these query themes based on an examination of search query logs and determining categories of information for which people are entering queries. Exemplary query themes may be “sites that provide free software downloads” or “sites that help people find an accommodation.”



Also critical to the patent is the development of “favored” and “non-favored” sources of information and “editorial opinion parameters”: “the editorial opinion parameter causes the rank of those objects corresponding to favored sources to be increased and a rank of those objects corresponding to non-favored sources to be decreased.”

In short, this is a patent for an algorithm of editorial judgement. It turns on human input, and will, if implemented, but tuned by humans as its shortcomings are exposed.

Fanpop!

By - August 24, 2006

Picture 2-18Another social site with web 2.0 goodness? Yes. Fanpop may standout, however, by picking the best qualities from a number of leading social sites and bringing them together in a neat integration. As they say, “We’re a little bit of Digg, MySpace, Yahoo! Groups, del.icio.us and Yelp all mixed into one.”

Users can create topical federations on just about anything, giving it a resemblance to Tribe’s flexibility. With 24 broad ‘channels’, Fanpop leaves room for communities to cluster around a long tail of interests. In the Fanpop spots, users can add links to relevant websites or news links, like Delicious. But in addition, submitted websites gain momentum from user voting— giving Fanpop the interactive push of Digg and Reddit.

For search fans, there’s the built-in “more on the web” option of out-bound searches keyword tied to the Fanpop title page you’re on, to Google, Delicious, Wikipedia, eBay, Amazon, Flickr, YouTube—probably a list that will grow.

Fanpop also offers forums— which delicious lacks, and presents them in a more central way than Digg. It also has an internal messaging system — a feature not offered on Digg and in a more developed version than in Delicious or MySpace.

Rewarding the active members is key for maintaining a loyal membership base, and Fanpop looks like it’s learned that lesson. Fanpop rewards the most active members as “top fans” on the mainpage. It also features fans in a permanent way, versus the epherma of Digg, building communities more like MySpace, Tribe or Facebook. The main page also highlights recently updated pages, and displays a recurrently refreshed flip through existing fan bases.

What is this missing? Music and video, which are doing well on Digg and MySpace.

There are many social sites out there, too much to all survive, but aggregating the best features from specialized social sites may help this start-up rise to face the the largest player(s).

Fanpop brings together features I don’t remember having seen aggregated elsewhere: If anyone has seen this all before—please let me know—because I’d be interested in comparing. (And yes, there is a Search Engines spot.)

Google search market share: up, side, down?

By - August 23, 2006

Compete says up, alongside conflicting data from Hitwise (reporting a fractionally smaller boost) and NetRatings, recording a slight slip down. By Hitwise’s measure, Google search share grew .4%, to 60.2%, in June. Neilsen-NetRatings shows a tiny dip of .2% in July. Tracking different metric sources, Compete reports that Google’s market share actually increased by .5% in July.

As mentioned earlier, Danny Sullivan is sharing some thoughts as he carefully picks through the details in a skeptical survey of all this. In response, ComScore wrote: “We agree with your assessment that a single-month decline does not constitute a trend. In fact, comScore also observed a similar seasonal decline for Google during the same period last year,” before ascribing it to seasonal fluctuation.

Search/Ad Landgrab:MSFT gets Facebook

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From Cnet:

Microsoft failed to sign MySpace to an advertising deal, so the software giant went out and landed Facebook, the second-largest social networking site.

Late Tuesday evening, Microsoft announced that Facebook had agreed to allow the software company to provide search and advertising listings to Facebook’s 9 million users. The Wall Street Journal reported that the arrangement was for three years.

round up

By - August 22, 2006

SalesForce for AdWords

Today Salesforce launched AdWords campaign management technology. The new service allows users to directly buy keywords, place ads, and create performance reports in realtime. link

Spreadsheets makes the cut

In the wake of Video’s upgraded status on Google’s search page, Spreadsheets beta becomes an option for services in Google Mail.

Music Trends in GTalk

Google is releasing new data on Talk users’ music listening tastes in the Labs. Within the Google Talk client, users can activate Google to mine and categorize their music habits. Other Talk upgrades, here.

A dip in Google’s search share

Danny Sullivan discusses the first dip in Google’s market share in search in nearly a year, based on data from comScore and NetRatings: a fluctuation does not a downfall make. Sullivan agrees with comScore’s assessment that Google may have a greater seasonal tie, adding that it may be due to a larger academic audience. Tomorrow he makes sense of a conflicting Hitwise report that Google gained share between June and July 2006.

Gauging Google’s investment in India

“Rumor has it” Google plans to invest $1 billion into expanded R&D in Bangalore, India, in addition to Hyderabad. link

Yahoo Answers API

Yahoo releases an API for Yahoo! Answers that doesn’t require proxy. Answers also adds additional search fields to access content, including by user, topic, and category.

Google Base API

Google Base releases an API for new applications that could create, edit and delete data, or specify queries.

Orkut’s souring relationship with Brazil

Brazil may close Google’s Orkut offices in Sao Paulo in regards to a federal injunction to release user information, reports Search Engine Watch.

Checkout back-ups

Google Checkout glitches caused an unintended sharing of discounts and delays for users. “For a short period last night [Tuesday], the Google Checkout icon was inadvertently assigned to ads for U.S. AdWords clients who are not Checkout users,” Google tells ComptuerWorld. more

AOL cleans house

Following the privacy violation debacle regarding the release of users’ search histories, AOL cleans house by firing the CTO Maureen Govern and two employees. link, Cnet follow-up

Failure to Fail

By - August 21, 2006

Bubble

“The strangest and least economically rational technology bubble I’ve ever seen.”

Those are Paul Kedrosky’s words, discussing what now nearly everyone agrees is, well, some kind of bubble in the Web 2.0 space. I’m hearing it everywhere, and even more to the point, I feel it as well, in some odd and uncomfortable way.

Hold on, Battelle! Aren’t you the guy who wrote an Op Ed in the New York Times claiming we’re NOT in a bubble? Yeah, that’d be me, and I still hold to my arguments in that piece. We don’t have a bubble in IPO markets, and despite a few questionable deals, the major companies aren’t on a nutty buying spree either, so there’s no bubble in M&A exits infecting large company stock prices. The only folks who might lose thanks to the current Web 2 funding rush are the VCs – and, well, they can afford it.

And yet….as I think about this a bit more, I realize that perhaps we are losing in a way – all of us in this Internet/Web 2.0-related market. We may be losing the lessons a healthy market teaches us when companies fail quickly. Allow me to explain.

First, I am noticing an uptick in the kind of behavior that got us into trouble last time – specifically, spending untethered to value by companies with unproven models. Also, I’m noticing companies out there that have the veneer of success, but to my mind are riding a wave of short-term infatuation buoyed by easy money and near-term enthusiasm, rather than long-term value creation bolstered by valuable customer relationships. As Paul noted, we have a bubble in company creation – there are far too many companies with very similar models and market niches. Now, at first blush should not be a problem. After all, I’ve argued that one of the really cool things about Web 2 is that you can keep making new companies, see if they work, then disassemble them and try again.

Only, that won’t happen if the companies are kept falsely alive by a preponderance of venture capital and VC-related spending. And it doubly won’t work if those companies have an average burn rate of a million or less a year. A million bucks is nothing to most VCs. A VC pal recently told me that there were more than 200 funded companies in the video search space, for example.

In short, we don’t have a company creation crisis. But we might have a company destruction crisis. Something is off in our ecosystem – there’s simply not enough failure out there right now. For an ecosystem to be truly healthy, bad ideas (or good ideas poorly executed) need to fail, so we can all learn from the failure, incorporate the lessons, and move on.

This failure to fail can’t last forever. VCs, even the ones that funded video startup #200 and 201, won’t keep funding non-performing companies over and over again (wait, well, maybe they will). But at some point, reason will creep back into the ecosystem. Right?

Help Us Find The Companies That Will Launch at Web 2.0 2006

By - August 20, 2006

Web205Logo-1-TmLast year marked the debut of a new feature at the Web 2.0 Conference, an event I have chaired since its inception in 2004. Called the Launch Pad, it highlighted a baker’s dozen of companies that either launched a major new service, or their entire company, at the annual Fall event.

Earlier this year we announced the opening of the submission process for the 2006 event. And just like last year, I ask for your help (last year more than 50 submission streamed in after my post). But unlike last year, this year I am getting some help. Instead of me making all the decisions, this year I’ve recruited a stellar group of Launch Pad advisors, who will be helping me find the next group of companies to launch this November. The Launch Pad Advisory Board is comprised of:

Jim Bankoff, AOL

Ross Levinsohn, Fox Interactive

Megan Smith, Google

Shana Fisher, IAC

Allen Morgan, Mayfield

Bryce Roberts/Marc Jacobsen, O’Reilly Ventures

Chris Albinson/Mike Jung, Panorama Capital

Michael Hirshland, Polaris

Mike Arrington, Techcrunch

Fred Wilson, Union Square Ventures

Bradley Horowitz, Yahoo

Jim Lussier, Norwest Venture Partners

I’m honored to have such an august group of folks helping us find the best companies to highlight at Web 2 this year. Some of the members are venture capital partners (partners of mine in FM, or at O’Reilly, or pals), others are responsible for charting the M&A strategies for the major platform companies, and still others (like Mike Arrington and I) are entrepreneurs and publishers. All are very experienced at grokking a new company’s potential.

We’re in the final stages of reviewing submissions (more than 100 have already come in), and I’d like to ask all of you to help us. If you or someone (or someone you know) are running a company that might want to launch a major product or service this November, please let us know!

Update: Submissions for the Launch Pad will close August 28!

Full disclosure: There is a fee if you are chosen, but we’ve kept it commensurate with the costs of producing the Launch Pad session. There is no fee to enter!