free html hit counter October 2007 - Page 4 of 7 - John Battelle's Search Blog

Facebook: Seen This Movie

By - October 15, 2007

God, it felt like I was watching the fifth installment of a familiar action flick when I read this:

(Facebook) execs are also trying to nail down a big funding that will potentially give the hotsy-totsy social network a giant slug of cash, as well as a lofty $15 billion valuation.

No deal as yet, but sources close to Facebook said it was now a horse race between Microsoft, which already serves Facebook’s ads in the U.S., and Google. Yahoo, sources said, is a long-shot dark horse in the bidding.

One year ago, it was the same horse race, but for AOL’s search and remnant business. And before that, it was the bidding for Facebook’s IAB ad units. Or Myspace’s search/remnant. Or … or… or….

Well. It should be quite an interesting Web 2 this week, no?

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Web 2: The Google Alumni Club

By - October 14, 2007

Leaving Google

One of the more freewheeling, I hope, and fun sessions at Web 2 this year will be “The Google Alumni Club“.

This idea for this panel came from the observation that 1. Google is getting very big, 2. Folks are vesting out, and 3. Startups are often more fun/lucrative/stimulating/free than big companies.

That means interesting folks are leaving Google and doing new things. I’ve got four of them on the panel

Franck Poisson, CEO and Founder, Webwag (ran Google France)

David Friedberg, CEO, WeatherBill (ran a chunk of AdWords, and was a key Biz Dev dude)

Patrick Keane, Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer, CBS Interactive (was a key ad strategy man)

Bret Taylor, Entrepreneur in Residence, Benchmark Capital (key developer guy, and also launched Local, Maps, etc.)

Each of these folks had senior positions at Google, but left. What would YOU ask them?

DomainWatch: MSFT Goes Hyper

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Ballmer Developers

What would we do without Gary and Resourceshelf? Well, we’d be dumb about domains, for one. He’s got new domains registered by Google and Microsoft. Runes, they are, runes.

Perhaps most interesting is Google’s registration of the domain,, last Tuesday. Nothing is online at this domain the the last time we checked. …Once again, Microsoft shows no signs of slowing down registering domains. Here’s a web page that lists what’s been registered in the past week.

Something is clearly going on around the word “hyper” in Microsoft land. I like the best, personally.

Or…maybe it’s just Steve covering his brand image as hyper about developers

The Value of A Google Search: 27 Cents. What's the Cost?

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My pal Kevin Kelly loves to pull on a string. Here’s him wondering out loud: What’s the value of a Google search, and then, what’s the cost?

And where he goes is great Kelly-esque musings…

I have made a clumsy attempt to estimate the full value of search by using the market cap of the largest search provider. This is unorthodox to say the least. Some folks would say you have to value a service on its revenue or its price on the street. My logic goes like this. What is the value of a car? You can say it is whatever someone will pay for it. But a car is not only valuable to the person driving it. It is valuable to employers to have mobile employees. It is of value to real estate developers to have mobile residents who can drive to your subdivision. There is societal-wide economic value to the product that are not caught by its price tag on the window. (And there are societal-wide costs to automobiles — death and pollution — that are also not captured by the price tag.) I was attempting to use a company’s market value for that service as a surrogate for the value of that service in the marketplace. In some ways, this market cap does incorporate the product’s liabilities, risks, and downsides since those are concerns to investors, if not to its buyers. This number is crude, it’s flawed, it’s not kosher, but in the absence of another I’m using it…

…According to the same ComScore research, people around the world searched the web — using all search engines — some 67 billion times in one month (August 2007). Taking this for a rough monthly average, humans now make 804 billion searches in one year. If each search increases the efficiency and serendipity of our lives by 26 cents worth (assuming Google is a guide and it may not be), then the total yearly worth of web search is $209 billion. That’s not web search investment, that’s the increase in intangible wealth to society yielded by the collective searching of humans in one year.

..Perhaps we will reach the time when we share our thinking with this answer machine, so that “search” becomes synonymous with “think.” Cognitively, “think” is just search for a solution in a high-dimension of variables, so we can consider all thought as a type of search. I have often wondered what we would do with petahertz/petabyte computers. Or exahertz/exabyte computers after them. YouTube won’t max it out. Even with mashing hi-definition 3D virtual reality 24 hours a day, there may be a lot of spare cycles. I think we are going to fill that extra room with thinking-like search. Our 444 billion searches per year will happen in a few seconds.

…I asked Google how many seconds in a year and it instantly told me: 31.5 million. That means that today 14,000 searches are performed on the web every second. Considering the web as its own global machine, search is running at 14 kilohertz. If we could audibly hear each click of the mouse as everyone searched, the resulting sound — vibrating at 14 kilohertz — would be a high pitch hum right at the edge of human hearing. Hear it, hmmmmmm?

Update: Insights from KK and an unnamed Googler in this new post.

Ballmer the Aspirant

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Interesting report from Ballmer’s speech at the ANA (advertising) confernce:

“In world search and advertising, Google is the leader; we’re an aspirant,” Ballmer said. “We have a lot of work to do in search and advertising.”

Your Help: The Wireless Debate

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Radio Tower

This coming week at Web 2 I am leading a discussion on the wireless market. This is not my area of expertise, but I am fascinated by the ongoing fight between Google and its allies, on the one side, and the telecommunication companies on the other. (Background here and here).

To that end, I’ve got a very interesting panel of experts gracing the Edge: Wireless session. On the side of Google and an more open approach to the 700 Mhz spectrum is Ram Shriram, an early Google investor and board member, and also a Board member at Frontline Wireless, a holding company of sorts which exists to leverage the 700Mhz spectrum should it be able to acquire licenses. (Reed Hundt, former FCC chair, is Vice Chair of Frontline).

On the other side of the issue is Thomas Tauke, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs at Verizon Communications. Tauke is a former Iowan congressman and member of the House Telecommunications Subcommittee. He has the rather unenviable job of defending his industry in front of what will most likely be a skeptical audience.

To add another element to the conversation, I’ve also asked Martin Varsavsky, CEO of FON, to join the panel. FON represents a novel approach to blanketing the world in wireless spectrum – leveraging WiFi as a grass roots platform, the goal being bypassing the telcos through mass adoption. FON has some good stories to tell in parts of Europe, but not a lot of traction in the US, so far.

Now, with a panel such as this, there’s sure a lot to discuss, but I fear my own ignorance will stunt the conversation. What would you like to hear? I could really use your help. Thanks!

Oh My. Qwest Exec Says NSA Was Spying Before 9.11

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WaPo Via Digg:

A former Qwest Communications International executive, appealing a conviction for insider trading, has alleged that the government withdrew opportunities for contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars after Qwest refused to participate in an unidentified National Security Agency program that the company thought might be illegal.

…Nacchio’s account, which places the NSA proposal at a meeting on Feb. 27, 2001, suggests that the Bush administration was seeking to enlist telecommunications firms in programs without court oversight before the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon. The Sept. 11 attacks have been cited by the government as the main impetus for its warrantless surveillance efforts.

Layering Commentary Onto Google Earth

By - October 11, 2007


Google announced today the integration of YouTube videos into Google Earth. From the release:

The integration of YouTube functionality into Google Earth offers a

new way to experience destinations as seen through the eyes of YouTube

users who have visited them, enabling people to watch, hear and feel

what’s happening in locations they may never have otherwise visited.

Recall my riff on how I think Google will dominate in the world of Second Life, version 2.0:

Second Life is all about play, and fantasy, and alternative realities. I’m going to guess that Google’s version is going to be all about reality, and mashing up AdWords, Google Earth, Sketchup, and the Yellow Pages/Google Local. The two will live quite nicely one next to the other, and most folks who use one will probably not see using the other as even vaguely competitive.