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Groupon: That's More Like It

By - November 30, 2010

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ATD is reporting that Google is offering well more than twice what had been previously offered – $6 billion, instead of $2.5 billion. That sounds more like it. As I wrote yesterday, $2.5 billion sounded very low for this particular asset. (And this from the guy who thought YouTube was overpriced.)

Clearly, that leak to Vator.tv last weekend was timed to push a deal point, I’m guessing.

Key to this deal is Marissa Mayer, who recently took over local for Google and was promoted to boot. This would be her defining deal, and the integration of the acquisition would be critical. Google has had mixed results in this department so far – YouTube is clearly on its way to being a winner, but took far too long to get there. Many small pickups have proven to be big winners – Applied Semantics comes to mind. And Blogger, FeedBurner, and many other small acquisitions never really found their footing, but DoubelClick was a huge win.

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Groupon Is Worth More Than $2.5 Billion

By - November 29, 2010

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Today’s big rumor, so far at least, is that Google may be buying Groupon for a reported $2.5 billion. This sale has been rumored for some time, but the figure – and story – is based on a rather thin piece by VatorNews which broke early this morning. The headline is honest in its lack of, er, definitiveness – Google buys Groupon for $2.5 billion?   - but it does claim one “reliable source.”

Whether or not this story plays out, my first thought was that the company is worth far more than $2.5 billion. If, as many have reported, Groupon is doing $50mm in revenue a month, that’s a mere 4.2x multiple on current run rate. Given the insanely strategic nature of the purchase to not only Google, but just about every other major player in the game (Microsoft, Yahoo, eBay, Amazon, hell, American Express if they wanted to play, not to mention Facebook), I’d be utterly stunned if Google won the company for that price. Location is a key signal connecting commerce, search, social, and small business. It’s a big, big deal, and Groupon is the leader in the space.

My spidey senses tell me someone is shopping this deal through a leak to the press, seeking to drive an auction. We’ll see.

Not Proof, but Another Lead: WikiLeaks' Latest Includes Google/China Tip

By - November 28, 2010

Screen shot 2010-03-24 at 9.33.21 AM.pngAccording the the NYT’s coverage of today’s WikiLeaks trove (only a small percentage have been released publicly, the rest have been reviewed by the Times):

China’s Politburo directed the intrusion into Google’s computer systems in that country, a Chinese contact told the American Embassy in Beijing in January, one cable reported. The Google hacking was part of a coordinated campaign of computer sabotage carried out by government operatives, private security experts and Internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government. They have broken into American government computers and those of Western allies, the Dalai Lama and American businesses since 2002, cables said.

However, there is nothing in this reporting that justifies how TechCrunch headlined its coverage:

WikiLeaked Diplomatic Cables Confirm China’s Politburo Was Behind Google Hacking Incident

No, guys, it does not confirm it. Re-read that paragraph. It says one source told another that it was the government. That does not qualify as a “confirmation” in any journalistic sense.

I searched for the original cable, but it has not been released yet. All we have is the summary above.

The Final Web 2 Conversation: Evan Williams

By - November 19, 2010

Ev recently turned over CEO duties to Dick Costolo, but it’s clear he’s still very, very engaged. Highlights for me included when Ev spoke of his mission to lower barriers to publishing, avoided talking about financing, and needled me a few times, in a humorous way, of course.

FCC Chair Julius Genachowski: This Is Getting Very Real

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If I could sum up the overarching theme of our conference this year, it’s that “this sh*t is getting real.” Plucky startups with funny names have consolidated power, and are disrupting the entire global economy. This, of course, means things are “getting real” from the point of view of government and policy as well. Here’s a candid conversation with one of the key policy chiefs, FCC Chair Julius Genachowski.

Carol Bartz at Web 2: Yahoo! In The Midst of Transition

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Carol Bartz has been under fire for nearly two years, and it shows in her responses to my questions – she’s ready to look forward and not defend what Yahoo has been in the past. My sense is that it will take another year or so before the real changes at Yahoo – in key areas of infrastructure, management, and products – will really take hold.

Mark Zuckerberg at Web 2 – A Maturing CEO

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This third conversation with Mark Zuckerberg was, to my mind, the best so far, and YouTube seems to agree, as it’s got more plays than nearly any other save Eric Schmidt (who was featured by YouTube on the homepage). See if you agree.

Speaking with Yuri Milner – Business But No Politics

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My conversation with recently emerged super investor Yuri Milner was fascinating, and it got a bit tense when I brought up the recent trial of former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky and its implications for doing business out of Russia. I felt it was a pertinent question, but I’m not certain Milner agreed. What do you think?