Three Questions for Peter Horan: New Google Deal Next Year

As I posted yesterday, Peter Horan (image credit) is heading to IAC to run a suite of its media and advertising businesses, including Citysearch, Ask.com, and IAC's other media assets. I emailed him three questions, here are his answers. So, what drew you to this job? The door was…

PeterhAs I posted yesterday, Peter Horan (image credit) is heading to IAC to run a suite of its media and advertising businesses, including Citysearch, Ask.com, and IAC’s other media assets. I emailed him three questions, here are his answers.

So, what drew you to this job?



The door was opened by a personal relationship. Jason Rapp lead the team at The New York Times that acquired About.com in 2005. During that process and the integration, we came to know, like and respect each other. Jason joined IAC in the fall as SVP of M&A and suggested that I talk to them about this job.

As those conversations progressed, I was very impressed with IAC and realized that this job would let me focus on several things that I am passionate about: the evolving relationship between search and content; developing mobile solutions; and local web products that work. We have the resources, the team, and the brands to really advance the state of the art in all of these areas. There’s also a proven sales team to help with the monetization.

It’s a unique opportunity.

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Ask CEO on AskCity

OK, let's start from scratch. What is AskCity?
 OK. Here we go: AskCity is a new local search application from Ask.com. You can find it in one of two ways: through the AskCity link on our homepage, our automatically, at the top of our standard results page, in response…

Lanzone-Tm-1

OK, let’s start from scratch. What is AskCity?


OK. Here we go: AskCity is a new local search application from Ask.com. You can find it in one of two ways: through the AskCity link on our homepage, our automatically, at the top of our standard results page, in response to your local queries.

AskCity is the fifth major search vertical we’ve launched this year, following Image, Maps, Blog/Feed, and Mobile search, and we’re really proud of it. It stands out from the crowd because it seamlessly integrates four types of local search – business/service, events, movies, and maps – with the best local content on the Web, along with ergonomic design and features, to form an “all-in-one” resource. AskCity users won’t have to bounce around to multiple sites in order to find, and take action with local information. In short, we get you from Point A to Point B faster.

Local has been around for ages. Why now?

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A Brief Interview with Google’s Matt Cutts

Matt is the man who the SEO/SEM world looks to for answers around most things Google related. Over the past month Melanie and I have been having a wide-ranging email exchange with him on spam, the role of humans at Google, and other things. Here's the result: Let's say…

Matt-Cutts-Logo

Matt is the man who the SEO/SEM world looks to for answers around most things Google related. Over the past month Melanie and I have been having a wide-ranging email exchange with him on spam, the role of humans at Google, and other things. Here’s the result:

Let’s say you decide to leave Google and are asked to write an exact job description for a replacement to do exactly what you do now. What does it say? (We told Matt to be honest, or his options will not vest!)

My official job is to direct the webspam team at Google. Webspam is essentially when someone tries to trick a search engine into ranking higher than they should. A few people will try almost anything, up to and including the mythical GooglePray meta tag, to rank higher. Our team attempts to help high-quality sites while preventing deceptive techniques from working.

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Interview: BIll Gross

A while back I posted a note asking you all who you'd like to see interviewed here on Searchblog. The top vote getter was Bill Gross, of Goto/Overture, Picasa, Knowledge Adventure, and Snap fame. (He also starred in Chapter 5 of my book). Bill was gracious enough to agree…

B GrossA while back I posted a note asking you all who you’d like to see interviewed here on Searchblog. The top vote getter was Bill Gross, of Goto/Overture, Picasa, Knowledge Adventure, and Snap fame. (He also starred in Chapter 5 of my book). Bill was gracious enough to agree to an email interview, and even more gracious to agree to answer some of your questions in the comments section, when time permits.

As those of who who’ve read The Search know, I’m a fan of Bill and his work. From Chapter 5:

By his own account, Gross has been starting companies since he was

thirteen. His problem was never ideas. No, he, in fact, has way too

many of those. His problem was scale—how could he possibly start

companies as quickly as he could dream them up?

Gross started in a linear fashion, building companies one at a

time. He’d grow them till he got bored or distracted (or both); then

he’d sell them. He funded his first year of college by selling solar en-

ergy conversion kits through ads in the back of Popular Mechanics.

While still an undergraduate (at the California Institute of Technol-

ogy in Pasadena), Gross hacked up a new high-fidelity speaker de-

sign and launched GNP, Inc., to sell his creations (GNP stood for

Gross National Products—an indication of Gross’s sense of humor

as well as an underdeveloped sense of modesty).

But Gross had reason to boast: GNP, Inc., grew to claim number

seventy-five on Inc. magazine’s 1985 list of the 500 Fastest-Growing

Companies. When he graduated, he sold the speaker business to his

college partners and started a software company that presaged much

of the rest of his life’s work. The company, GNP Development, al-

lowed computer users to type natural language commands that the

computer would translate into the arcane code needed to execute spe-

cific tasks. In other words, Gross’s company created a program that

in essence let you “talk” to the computer in plain English, as opposed

to computer code. Gross’s program was a small step toward Silver-

stein’s Star Trekinterface (as discussed in Chapter 1)—the holy grail

of nearly everyone in search today.



Searchblog: You’ve had tremendous success over your career, and in particular with search (Magellan, Goto/Overture, Picasa, etc.). But the world has woken up to search – and Google seems to gain market share monthly. Yet you are trying to once again take on the world with Snap. What makes you feel like there’s still an opportunity there?



Grosss: I’ve always thought that search is extremely important, but my interest in it has always been very personal in that I’ve always been trying to make things that “I” would really want. With Magellan, I wanted to be able to view my files faster than DOS allowed back then. With Goto, I wanted a way to remove the spam at that time from the Top 10 listings at the search results I was seeing. The pay model seemed like the best way to do it, and although ridiculed at first, really took off. And then again with Picasa, we really wanted a way to browse and organize our photos better than the PC-based tools allowed at that time.

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Cerf, Part 1: Excuse me, but we don’t get a free ride at all

Fortune recently ran an interview with Google's Vint Cerf (I think it's in the current issue, it's not up on the site yet). That was unfortunate for Business 2.0, the magazine where I do interviews, because I had recently completed an interview with him as well. Given that B2…

Vint Cerf Lg-1

Fortune recently ran an interview with Google’s Vint Cerf (I think it’s in the current issue, it’s not up on the site yet). That was unfortunate for Business 2.0, the magazine where I do interviews, because I had recently completed an interview with him as well. Given that B2 is monthly and Fortune comes out every two weeks, Fortune scooped B2, and now the magazine doesn’t want to run my interview.

Well, that’s great for us. Because B2 said I can run it here, a full month ahead of when it would get through B2’s production process, and at greater length.

Vint, who is Chief Internet Evangelist for Google and is widely regarded as one of the fathers of the Internet, does not mince words in this interview. He’s clearly got a point of view, and he is not afraid to explain it. Of note – Cerf understands the Bellhead point of view personally, he spent a fair amount of time at MCI before joining Google….

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Interview: Jonathan Miller, AOL

My interview with AOL's Jonathan Miller is up now on CNN/B2.0. Excerpts: ..it's true that too much of our innovation was locked behind the subscriber wall. It was less than a year ago that AOL moved out onto the Web, launching AOL.com, which is such a good broadband portal…

Millerb2

My interview with AOL’s Jonathan Miller is up now on CNN/B2.0.

Excerpts:

..it’s true that too much of our innovation was locked behind the subscriber wall. It was less than a year ago that AOL moved out onto the Web, launching AOL.com, which is such a good broadband portal that our friends at Yahoo (Charts) have redesigned their homepage to look a whole lot like it.

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My Ray Ozzie Interview On Biz 2

I'm still not used to the idea that my stuff at Business 2.0 is not behind a paywall. But it ain't. Here's my interview with Ray Ozzie. From it: When the deal went down, people wondered, Was it Groove that was getting acquired, or was it Ray Ozzie? The…

OzzieI’m still not used to the idea that my stuff at Business 2.0 is not behind a paywall. But it ain’t. Here’s my interview with Ray Ozzie. From it:

When the deal went down, people wondered, Was it Groove that was getting acquired, or was it Ray Ozzie?



The answer’s “Yes.”

At such a big company, there’s so much to tackle. What did you do first?



The first few months I spent doing what anyone who sells a company should do – make sure the acquiring party doesn’t screw up the acquisition. Fortunately the culture that we had built at Groove matched the Microsoft Office development culture, and Groove will be part of Office moving forward. After a few months, I started spending a lot more time in Redmond. Before doing anything, I just wanted to get to know people and understand the map of projects. It’s very broad. Every organization is the product of its leaders and its culture and the negative and positive things that have happened to it over time. So I tried to just learn from people there.

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Another Q&A: Toni Schneider of OddPost, Yahoo, and Now Automattic

This is from my Biz 2 column, which just posted on CNNMoney. From it: So you've left Yahoo, with thousands of employees, to run a company with–how many people? "There's five of us." In the Valley, some entrepreneurs like to build things and run them. Others like to build…

Toni S

This is from my Biz 2 column, which just posted on CNNMoney.

From it:

So you’ve left Yahoo, with thousands of employees, to run a company with–how many people?



“There’s five of us.”

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A Frank Interview With Jim Lanzone

You may recall my interview with Gary Flake, which ran earlier this month. I titled that "A Frank Interview With…" and mentioned that it would be one of a series, and just to show I'm not slacking off, here's the second edition. This time our victim is Jim Lanzone,…

LanzoneYou may recall my interview with Gary Flake, which ran earlier this month. I titled that “A Frank Interview With…” and mentioned that it would be one of a series, and just to show I’m not slacking off, here’s the second edition.

This time our victim is Jim Lanzone, Senior Vice President & General Manager of Ask.com. I’ve known Jim for quite a while, and always appreciated his passion for defending, well, the underdog. Read on to see what I mean…..

Google recently acknowledged that it finds the approach Ask has taken with Zoom at least worthy of a hire. What do you make of that?

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A Frank Interview with Gary Flake

Today marks the first of what I hope will become a regular series of Q&A interviews on Searchblog. The format is simple – I send an opening question to the luminary in question via email, they respond, and we go from there. First up is Gary Flake, a veteran…

Gwf-SmallToday marks the first of what I hope will become a regular series of Q&A interviews on Searchblog. The format is simple – I send an opening question to the luminary in question via email, they respond, and we go from there. First up is Gary Flake, a veteran of Overture, Yahoo and now Microsoft’s vaunted research labs (he’s founder and director of the new “Live Labs.”) Gary and I have known each other since I first began work on the book, and he’s always had a refreshingly frank outlook. I expected that to be tempered by a year at the world’s largest (and oft-criticized) software company, but I was wrong. If anything, Gary has become more outspoken. I’ve bolded the really juicy bits, but see for yourself….

You’ve been at Microsoft for nearly a year now. Are you satisfied with the pace of development on the core search product?

Broadly speaking, yes, but there is always room for improvement. We’ve been laying a foundation for the past year, trying to solve the hardest problems first. Frankly, we’ve left some low-lying fruit hanging on the vine, so to speak. On the good side, we have a rock-solid 64-bit backend architecture (probably the only one in the industry) that can scale almost indefinitely on multiple dimensions. Our relevance framework, built with machine learning technology from Microsoft Research, is now picking up steam and is getting close to parity with the competition. We even have some real product differentiation that we’ve just launched with virtual earth maps, search macros, and the image search experience. But to be honest, we pretty much blew it with the GUI for the past year. Why? There’s no good reason, really. The truth is we’ve had so much going on over the past year that it was simply more fun to focus on the core issues first, which is a mistake typical of engineers. I think the whole industry has been in a bit of a rut with respect to the user experience, and we are more guilty than most, but the good news is that there is a lot of room for improvement and we are now in pretty good shape to experiment more.

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