free html hit counter November 2008 - Page 2 of 4 - John Battelle's Search Blog

Did You Used to Work at Google? Laid Off?

By - November 24, 2008

I am not so sure about articles like this one, which claim Google is quietly laying off 10,000 workers (all contract but still full time), but has not a single direct source. If this is true, why, ping me here or in email. If 10K of you are “afffected” I am sure one of you can drop a dime.

Update: A few very interesting emails have come in, I will post them when I confirm they are real, meanwhile, you can reach me here. Email addresses are always kept in confidence.

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Eric Schmidt on 2009

By - November 23, 2008

Given the economic collapse, 2009 is widely seen as a lost year, it seems. But Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s an optimist, here’s his take on the year.

Google Blog write up here.

Google SearchWiki

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So here we go – Google is jumping into the social media search world. “SearchWiki” is Google’s answer to the question “Why can’t I make search work the way I want it to work, and share/learn from others doing the same thing?”

But one wonders if Google searchers have that question to begin with. As I’ve argued elsewhere, Google search had become a bit like the morning newspaper of yore – social glue that all of us could depend on because the results were pretty consistent. I don’t believe that search shouldn’t change – I’m a major proponent of change, particularly in the interface. But as Mike points out, many folks may not want this kind of change.

From Google’s announcement:

Have you ever wanted to mark up Google search results? Maybe you’re an avid hiker and the trail map site you always go to is in the 4th or 5th position and you want to move it to the top. Or perhaps it’s not there at all and you’d like to add it. Or maybe you’d like to add some notes about what you found on that site and why you thought it was useful. Starting today you can do all this and tailor Google search results to best meet your needs.,,,Today we’re launching SearchWiki, a way for you to customize search by re-ranking, deleting, adding, and commenting on search results.

..The changes you make only affect your own searches. But SearchWiki also is a great way to share your insights with other searchers. You can see how the community has collectively edited the search results by clicking on the “See all notes for this SearchWiki” link.

Clearly Google will learn a ton about search behavior through this new set of features, and presumably that will improve core search results. But what I find interesting in all this is what is says about what Google knows, and therefore decided to do. Google knows folks come to the site for repeat navigation – to find places they have already visited. And they know that they go there for discovery – to find things they’ve never visited but hope to find. A move like this seems to point Google toward bringing the two together, and potentially, re-portalizing the web.

What do I mean by that? Well, it’s clear that Google is the starting point for a very large percentage of folks on the web. But while many of us start there, we don’t spend much time there – we use Google as a way to jump from place to place. If, however, we can customize Google to become a one stop shop with all our favorite places, as well as comments and social connections, we may well change our behaviors and spend more time at that start place. While Google has never announced numbers, it’s commonly assumed that its iGoogle start page is getting less than stellar traction. But iGoogle + SearchWiki? That just might do it.

I’d like to post more thoughts on this development but the SearchWiki code has not propagated to my account, so I can’t really test drive it. I’m sure when it does, more thoughts will come up….

IAB: Online Is Still Pretty Healthy, But…

By - November 20, 2008

Pwc Chart Q3 08

News from the IAB (caveat, I am on the Board)…

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB ) and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) today announced that Internet advertising revenues reached almost $5.9 billion for the third quarter of 2008, representing an 11 percent increase over the same period in 2007. While double-digit annual growth continues, the quarter-to-quarter curve remains relatively flat compared to recent past performance

…The Q3 2008 figures, published in the IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report, are 2 percent higher than the Q2 2008 results. Set against strong economic headwinds in the U.S. economy, Q3 ’08’s $5.9 billion represents nonetheless the second-highest quarter results ever. For the first nine months of 2008, revenues totaled $17.3 billion, up from $15.2 billion in the same period a year ago and surpassing the record set in the first nine months of 2007 by nearly 14 percent.

The one everyone will be watching, and most expect will be very bad news, is the Q4 spend. It feels like there is a pause in the market as advertisers rethinking how they are spending, and what ROI means in a world of engaged media. Long term, this is a good thing, I think.

Yahoo Search Takes Another Blow – Lead Engineer Leaving

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And the rumor is he’s going to Microsoft.

Should that prove true, another reason to make that Yahoo/MSFT search deal happen. Details at All Things D:

Yahoo–which has stuck to its guns by staying in the search business, even though many think it is a losing game and should be sold off to Microsoft–has lost a key engineer in that arena to, uh-oh, Microsoft.

Sean Suchter, the VP of Search Technology at Yahoo, was also deeply involved in Yahoo’s efforts to open up its search platform, initiatives the company has touted aggressively as a bright spot in its not-so-lustrous landscape.

CEO Bingo – Some Thoughts on The Yahoo CEO Search

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Lots of speculation continues around who might be the right CEO for Yahoo, both on my original post here (I am honored by the readers who suggested it but, come on, guys, I am not the right person for the job), as well as across the ‘sphere. Kara has some interesting ideas here, including David Rosenblatt, former CEO of DoubleClick, now at Google (see my interview with him at CM Summit here), former Viacom chief Tom Freston, and Richard Rosenblatt (see his presentation at Web 2 here).

I think all these are fine candidates, and Forbes called me today asking me for more. As I chatted with journalist Elizabeth Corcoran, Bruce Chizensome themes came out. It seems there might be three types of CEO candidates – leaders from “orthogonal” companies – not media or direct Internet, for example, but folks who grok the overall technology and business space. My candidate from here is Bruce Chizen, former CEO of Adobe, who has successfully competed with Microsoft and gets the B2C software/Internet as platform space (at left, and in conversation at Web 2 last year).

Another type of candidate might be folks from major ad platforms. David Rosenblatt falls in that category, but he’s got a very big job at Google, and I’m not sure he’d want to go boil another ocean. But what about Brian McAndrews, who sold aQuantive to Microsoft? (Web 2 video).

A third type of candidate might be a visionary in the space of open platforms, where Jerry – rightfully I believe – has pushed Yahoo in the Vj Jinoshpast year. It’s harder to find easy candidates for this category, because most leaders in the world of “open” are more visionaries than operators. But it led to to wonder about folks who might be inside great companies like Dell, HP or IBM, leading huge divisions. After all, those companies have seen the impact of open – Linux in particular – and closed – Microsoft – and have learned lessons that could really guide a maturing Internet world.

That’s when another name struck me – Vyomesh Joshi, EVP of HP’s Imaging and Printing Group (at left and in conversation with me here). Widely seen inside HP as visionary, VJ (as he is known) is also an accomplished operator – he runs a $30 billion business, after all. But does he have knowledge of Yahoo? Yep – he’s on the Board.

Whoever ends up running Yahoo, I think, will not be someone to come in, fix it, and sell it. Why? Because honestly, besides Microsoft, which has declared it’s not interested, who else is a buyer of *anything* right now? And I may be showing some bias here, but I believe Yahoo is a great company that has lost its way, not an asset to be packaged and sold to the highest bidder in a low market. The right person can come in and prove that. I wish whoever it is good fortune.

Search Deal Back on the Table

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SEL reports on a Journal piece:

The search collaboration that Ballmer referred to would presumably be similar to the search (as opposed to acquisition) deal previously offered to Yahoo — essentially to have Yahoo outsource search and SEM to Microsoft in exchange for guaranteed revenues over a several year period. Danny did a detailed post on the prior Microsoft search offer to Yahoo (compared with the now defunct Google deal).

That offer, as with the larger acquisition offer itself, was previously rejected by Yahoo as undervaluing the business. It was also rejected because it was seen by Yahoo as removing a strategic component of the company’s larger suite of advertising capabilities.

Circumstances have dramatically changed since Yahoo rejected Microsoft’s offer.

I have believed in a deal like this for a long time. I think it may well come to pass now. But I think the key is how to integrate the two offerings (Yahoo’s is generally seen as more battle tested and robust, and has a far longer history of monetization) and how to tie both companies’ massive traffic to the engine.

Ads In New Places

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Another example of Google as a publisher. “Ads In New Places“:

If you’re based in the U.S. you may already have spotted or clicked on the different text and image ads we’re testing on the results pages of Google Image Search. And last week you may have noticed we launched Sponsored Videos on YouTube — a great example of matching ads to content.

In addition, we are today launching text ads on Google Finance in the United States. We’re also looking at how best to show display ads on Google Finance. And later, in the very near future, we will start testing text ads on a small number of news refinements within Google Search — so if, for example, you type “iPod” into and then click on the news link on the upper left-hand side, you might see text ads alongside those results.