Grokking Furl: Storage, Search, and the PersonalWeb

Today I finally got to talk with Mike Giles, the fellow behind Furl. He's based near Amherst, Mass, but used to work out in California, most recently at Vitria, a businessprocessenterpriseapplicationsoftware (ie, BigBoringButImportant) company. He started there when it had 20 employees, rode it out as it went to 1200…

furlToday I finally got to talk with Mike Giles, the fellow behind Furl. He’s based near Amherst, Mass, but used to work out in California, most recently at Vitria, a businessprocessenterpriseapplicationsoftware (ie, BigBoringButImportant) company. He started there when it had 20 employees, rode it out as it went to 1200 and went public, then bailed (it’s now at about 300 or so). Before Vitria he founded a startup, then, closed it. In other words, he’s one of us – he’s been through the roller coaster, and he’s wiser for it.

Something tells me he’s pretty happy in his current gig. He’s the only full time employee, but works with a small cadre of contractors and friends. He’s got between 5-10K users since announcing the beta in January.

Mike started Furl about a year ago to solve a problem he – and a lot of us – had with bookmarks. Namely, bookmarking is a lame, half-assed, unsearchable, flat, linkrotten approach to recalling that which you’ve seen and care to recall on the web. Now, a lot of folks have made stabs at solving this particular problem, but Mike’s got a lot of very cool features built into his beta, and more on the way.

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MSFT’s Sandbox

A sort of consumerized version of MS Research, MSN Sandbox is where they roll out social software and search-related betas for test runs. (thanks Tara)…

msft_118x35.gifA sort of consumerized version of MS Research, MSN Sandbox is where they roll out social software and search-related betas for test runs.

(thanks Tara)

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Hey, Napster’s back, why not Netscape?

AOL might have some play left after all. According to this Infoworld piece (hey, didn't there used to be a NetscapeWorld?), AOL is planning to release a new version of the browser, based on Mozilla, and, to quote the piece: In addition to a browser suite update, AOL has quietly…

netscapeAOL might have some play left after all. According to this Infoworld piece (hey, didn’t there used to be a NetscapeWorld?), AOL is planning to release a new version of the browser, based on Mozilla, and, to quote the piece:

In addition to a browser suite update, AOL has quietly started beta testing a new product called the Netscape Desktop Navigator that offers access to localized Web content — based on the user’s zip code — through a round user interface that resembles a coaster. The beta version of the Netscape Desktop Navigator is available for download at: http://navigator-stage.netscape.com/.

The content in question will be from AOL and partners. Mozilla is pretty good stuff, especially the browser. I wonder….will this be the start of AOL having a true play in the browsing/search/local ad space?

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Google Filing Watch: Many Say April 30 Is Deadline

Last year Barron's reported that it appeared that Google would have to file statements with the SEC by April 30th of this year, because it had more than 500 shareholders. SEC rules require that private companies with 500 or more shareholders (including option holders) have to file within 120 days…

IPOLast year Barron’s reported that it appeared that Google would have to file statements with the SEC by April 30th of this year, because it had more than 500 shareholders. SEC rules require that private companies with 500 or more shareholders (including option holders) have to file within 120 days of the year after the 500 mark is reached. The deadline is approaching, and the curtain raising has begun. The Merc has the first one I’ve seen.

Google may not want to undergo the cultural shift that takes place in companies when they have to meet analyst and shareholder expectations every quarter. Google may turn out to be the rare company that willingly files public financial reports but doesn’t publicly trade its stock.

Levi Strauss is one company that does this. Its stock is privately held — mostly by descendants of the Strauss family — but the company files quarterly reports with the SEC.

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Loads O’ News

Getting caught up, in case you missed it: MSN Newsbot has new personalization features, including search history (hmmm!). (CNET) (Gary has details…) Lycos' HotBot has a new toolbar that incorporates desktop search. Cool! But…will it gain traction? (SEW) University researchers are hacking up 3-D image search. (CBS) Tim Berners Lee…

newsboyGetting caught up, in case you missed it:

MSN Newsbot has new personalization features, including search history (hmmm!). (CNET) (Gary has details…)

Lycos’ HotBot has a new toolbar that incorporates desktop search. Cool! But…will it gain traction? (SEW)

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Search Engine Loyalty, A9 Prognostications…

Mediapost reports fresh search engine loyalty numbers, concluding that "Google gets the gold again" – 65 percent of Google users use only Google, as opposed to just 55 percent of Yahoo users. I'm not sure I buy the whole search engine loyalty thing. I think folks aren't loyal, they're lazy….

Mediapost reports fresh search engine loyalty numbers, concluding that “Google gets the gold again” – 65 percent of Google users use only Google, as opposed to just 55 percent of Yahoo users. I’m not sure I buy the whole search engine loyalty thing. I think folks aren’t loyal, they’re lazy. As Yoda might say, not until a compelling choice they have, switch will they.

Which brings me to A9. Over at his blog, Rex points out I missed the most compelling potential A9 feature, that of collaborative filtering.

To me, A9 is not designed as an Internet search engine, but as a knowledge-searching tool to end all knowledge searching tools…..As you look for information, Amazon will provide you the results that “people like you” have found most helpful when searching for the same information, product, place, answer, etc

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Super, Man

It's been a while since I've beaten one of my favorite dead horses, network television advertising. But this ClickZ story (thanks Pam) had the grist for my mill: I've been wondering what the stats look like for the Seinfeld/Superman film, I figured if they were low, we'd hear very little…

supermanjerryIt’s been a while since I’ve beaten one of my favorite dead horses, network television advertising. But this ClickZ story (thanks Pam) had the grist for my mill: I’ve been wondering what the stats look like for the Seinfeld/Superman film, I figured if they were low, we’d hear very little about it (no reason to trumpet it), but if they’re high…

According to the story, which quotes Comscore data, the site is drawing upwards of 30,000 visits a day, which is about what a major blog pulls in. The traffic trend is building, the story notes, and Amex claims it’s had more than a million viewers so far.

These are not huge numbers, by any measure. In fact, I expected them to be far higher. Amex is hyping the site in any number of ways using more traditional marketing. What I wonder is what the numbers are that makes this a success. If traffic keeps building, and as they release the next installment it will, the site will certainly cross 2, 3, and probably 5 million viewers. WIll it be a success then? From a traditional ad buy perspective, most likely the answer is yes. You have 5 million viewers who all *opted into* watching your message. You’d need to buy Superbowl ads to get such a devoted audience. Your message is five minutes long (ten times longer than the 30-second spot) – buying that kind of time on network TV is prohibitive. The branding experience is far better. Etc. etc.

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