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More Google News

By - April 30, 2009

Should have noted David Rosenblatt leaving Google yesterday, yet another senior, well regarded exec finding Google not the place to be these days, also, Tim Armstrong has hired a Google colleague to replace the head of AOL sales, so there’s a trifecta.

Also buzzing: Time Warner is looking to buy back its AOL shares from Google (remember that deal?!) so it can spin the puppy out. I swear, if folks just listened to this guy back in 2004, we’d all have saved a few news cycles (and lord knows how much bleeding.)

Meanwhile, Google is “on a charm offensive” to try to stave off becoming the Microsoft of this decade, in terms of antitrust, Biz Week says.

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That Which I've Missed While Paying Attention

By - March 27, 2009

Fridays have become days where I catch up on all that I’ve missed during a hectic week of travel and focused meetings with the team at FM and tons of really interesting partners.

The past week has been particularly rich in travel and meetings, which means I’ve not noted nearly all the things I’d like to here.

So in no particular order, here are a few thoughts about things I’ve seen lately.

First, I’ve been talking with Richard Rosenblatt at Demand Media quite a bit, he has a model that is really gathering momentum. A caveat, we share an investor in Oak, but it wasn’t Oak that created the lucky coincidence of Richard and I sharing a flight from LA to San Jose earlier in the week. Demand is based in LA, and like many successful companies there, is often overlooked up here in the Valley or out in New York. But Richard and his team are quietly building a major media company in the flats of Santa Monica. I won’t give away all of Richard’s secret sauce, but he has a content strategy that really groks search and social media (you can see on example of it here, with YouTube, and get a sense of what he’s all about here, in his talk at Web 2 last year).

Next, I met with the CEO and CTO of Aardvark this week. There is a really, really, really long post in that company and its platform, and how it changes the framing and the game in terms of mixing conversational interfaces, out-of-the box approaches to scale, and more. A few big ideas: leveraging the deep knowledge that is buried not in the web, but in each of our heads (real time, conversational search platform); building a service that is not in any way dependent upon becoming a destination; giving someone your email is the equivalent of allowing them to add something to your To Do list; the implications of the data that this service creates; and much more. My spidey senses go off about once every year or two. They are off the chart on this company.

I spent a good couple of hours at HP this week as well. FM has done business with nearly every division of HP over the past four years, and it’s remarkable to spend time simmering in the culture of a company that is, in just about every way possible, Really Grown Up. HP has more than 300K employees, but it was founded on the base principles (and with the base narrative) to which nearly every Valley startup aspires. Every time I visit I am struck by the sterility and grayness of the company’s initial appearance, and then how warm, innovative, and driven the people working there turn out to be.

Which leads me to Google. I’ve been getting a lot of feedback from folks about troubles and growing pains there, and have done a fair amount of thinking about it. I’ve been sort of hard on the company of late, but there is a much longer thought piece to be written along the lines of themes I’ve been all about for the past five years – how does the company become, well, more like HP? I met this week with Katie Stanton Jacobs, a former Google who is now Director of Citizen Participation at the White House. (How cool is that title?!). Our conversation reinforced my thinking about the pros and the cons of working at Google now. The company has a very hard transition to make, to my mind, in terms of talent retention and management style. But that’s not endemic to Google, it’s endemic to any great company that has reached the lofty position in which Google finds itself. And by the way, what Katie is doing – leaving a very good job with tons of stock to work for the government and try to really change the world – well that’s just really, really inspiring.

I gave a keynote earlier in the week at the OMMA conference, and then sat on a panel about social media. OMMA was pretty well attended, just as IAB was in February, reminding me once again that our industry, while deeply impacted by this recession, continues to be optimistic and focused on investment in the future.

While in LA I met with several large clients, including an auto manufacturer, a major New York agency and brand, and representatives of several large entertainment brands. I can’t say much about the meetings other than to report that while the economy may be in the dumper, there is still a lot of spending, a lot of innovation, and a lot of excitement about the future.

Earlier I met with the founders of Livescribe and am currently testing their Pulse pen. This device initially seems like a “nice to have” gadget but the implications are profound. Like Aardvark, it pushes the web and computing out of the boxes we are comfortable with. Ideas to note: the paper Internet; capturing the investment of hundreds of years of writing culture (in all its manifestations as reflective of our minds and fingers); binaural microphone and privacy/social implications; “pencasting” and the concept of “authoring a flash movie using pen and paper.” Mind bending. Both companies will be at our CM Summit, FWIW.

Speaking of Summits, I did a lot of work on both the CM and Web 2 Summits this week. The lineups for both is really coming together. I don’t write much about how I do this kind of work, but it’s a lot like reporting – I make a lot of phone calls to a lot of people, and brainstorm about who might have something to say that will resonate with the program. This was a particularly fruitful week on both conferences, we’re nearly through blocking out the entire CM Summit program, and we’re very close to announcing the theme and initial line up of speakers for Web 2. Stay tuned, as they say.

Oh, and it was a big week for innovation with Twitter. With our partners McCann and Microsoft, we launched a first – ExecTweets, an experiment in collaborative publishing that reflects a lot of innovative (and ongoing) thinking – big props to Marc Ruxin at McCann and his partner at Microsoft Bill Capodanno, who both had the vision to lean into this program in a way that works for the Twitterverse, and are committed to ongoing iteration and learning.

We launched a second Twitter program yesterday as well – MarchTweetness, which is focused on college basketball, as you might expect, and big props go out to AT&T for also seeing the value of adding value to the Twitterverse.

Now, on to more writing, thinking, and Friday-ing. Hope yours is going well, and have a great weekend.


By - March 05, 2009

I am going to be offline for the next few days, heading to hear the crack of the bat in Spring training with my son. Bliss. But a couple of very notable things:

– Yahoo is playing ball again. Read RWW’s summary of Yahoo’s FB Connect competitor. So good to see the company back in the game.

Googlers leaving to start social sites. Readers of this site will not find this in any way surprising. Read this quote: In her opinion, the reason former Googlers focus on community-oriented is because they, “know that it is very difficult to take on Google on a pure technology play,” and, “when it comes to community based sites, Google doesn’t do all that well. Google’s infrastructure, most of it built in-house, makes it really difficult to iterate rapidly. Google Video, a product that I worked on comes to mind. Part of the reason Google Video failed miserably against You Tube was that the team couldn’t iterate rapidly and build some of the community and upload features as rapidly as they wanted.

Welcome to Being a Big Company, Google. A Big Company that is Not That Good At that Community (ie Human ie Media) thing…..

And Other Tidbits

By - January 21, 2009

YouTube as a reference site and search king (yes, video is grammar).

Microsoft’s (and others’) Plot to Kill Google. Good luck with that.

A survey underwritten by MSFT finds advertisers are wary of Google. Despite the source, I can’t imagine this isn’t true. If only they also weren’t wary of Microsoft.

Google Knol isn’t working. Yes it is. Maybe it is.

Search is off 8 percent quarter to quarter in Q4. So says one source. I’m waiting till the real numbers come in.

Google tests
preferred site preference.


By - January 06, 2009

A few (older) things I wanted to post before heading to CES:

The head of the IAB, Randall Rothenberg, on measurement (I am on the IAB board). In essence, he says we are measuring too many things. I am not sure I agree, but I see his point. At FM, we are measuring a lot of different things, including what we call amplification and engagement. I think these things are really, really important. Sure, they might all roll up into “reach and frequency” if you will, but not paying attention to them is nuts.


Three Tips For Discipline In A Nomad Life by Scott Belsky, writing on the Digital Nomads site (a site sponsored by Dell). I was struck by the calendar image. I almost wanted it to be reversed: THINK five days a week, DO two days. Unless writing, which I consider thinking, is actually doing…huh. Also like The Paradox of Face Time from Hugh. Creative work requires loneliness.

A not so cheery piece on the ad “depression” via All Things D.

I always read the Google Policy blog, find interesting things there. Google is doing a lot of work on policy, and this post, early last month, responding to the telcos’ claim that Google is “unfairly consuming bandwidth” was sharply worded and fun to read.

Know, Really

By - October 05, 2008

So many things to miss when you’re not reporting news anymore – some of these are old, but they stood the test of time:

Larry Page, Google, Watch these White Spaces, and Prop 8 in CA Is Deeply Dumb and cel phones suck, we can reimagine them, right because after all, we are already reimagining sustainability, see?

When Google starts arbitrating fact from interpretation, we must all think deeply. This is about Yahoo and Google. More here.

Yahoo could be the next platform. If only it could get out of its own way. Oh, and it should own display too, wait, doesn’t it already? After all, digital marketing is recession proof, right?

One man anecdote machine declares the storm of the century. Welcome to every seven years, Robert. Funny how Jason agrees.

What's Happening

By - September 17, 2008

With my travel and flu, I’ve missed a lot that’s been going on. Here’s some of the stories I found notable:

The Search Engine Rap Battle (funny if you’re in to that kind of thing)

Google invests in O3B Networks“O3b’s mission is to provide high-speed, low-cost Internet connectivity to the “other 3 billion” people in emerging markets in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.”

Jarvis on Google monopoly – Summary: Nope. But it has to be trusted. Yep. Been saying that for years. Apparently Google has more work to do to gain that trust. More here.

Microsoft cuts deal with RIM for Blackberry – It’s ALL about distribution to try to outpace Google’s reach.

Speaking of Microsoft, I’ve said in the past the company was lying in the weeds. Reading this piece from Liveside, I still believe it. The company has so many apps, so much ripe low lying fruit. Apparently, “Wave 3” of Live is coming. Remember Windows version 3? Yep, that’s the one where the company got it…right enough to win.

Marissa on the Future of Search. Folks have picked up on her claim that search is 90% done, given that most folks said it was only about 5% done just a few years ago. I think it’s apples and oranges – 90% of the easy stuff is done, but when it comes to the hard stuff (which she covers in some detail), we have a long, long way to go.

Links, Etc.

By - August 29, 2008

Friday linkday:

Via Churbuck, a nice walkthrough of how to use Google search tools to understand site acquisition and traffic patterns.

As long as we’re in a learning mode, here’s a post on using FriendFeed as a business tool.

The IE8 beta is out. I need to grok this. It’s got some stuff in it that effects the advertising ecosystem in serious ways that I have yet to grok, and am not seeing much coverage of. More at Forbes and Ed Bott.

Mashable reports on a bucket of money for JumpTap, a competitor in the mobile search arena, an area I am increasingly finding interesting.

Like reggae? Me too. Given it’s Friday, check out Steel Pulse via BBtv.