Funny or Die

April 29, 2008

On the heels of my post about Jonathan Schwartz CEO plugging Aggregate knowledge, I was reminded about another event from the past. Sequoia Capital partner Mark Kvamme was speaking at the Stanford Venture lab panel. As part of the discussion, he announced that the site funnyordie was going live. His spin on it was that it was an amateur effort by his teenage son who had spawned the idea and had roped in actor Will Ferrel into the project as well.
This had the intended effect on me and I was wowed by the ingeniousness of the folks involved. However, I later found that it was a well-orchestrated start-up and not a serendipitous accident as it was projected to be. No doubt Mark had full reason to plug his start-up, but I felt this was a mis-representation.

I am checking an email account that has not been used for the past few months. The inbox had a preponderance of emails from New York & Company. I have received 19 emails in April from them. Ditto for March. I wonder what their click through and unsubscribe rates look like, given this spamming.

New York & Company

At the web 2.0 conference, Sun CEO Jonatha Schwartz brought up Aggregate Knowledge’s technology and its sophistication. I was quite impressed by the traction that AK was receiving. But later on, I got to know from their competitor Baynote that Schwartz is a Limited Partner at Kleiner Perkins, one of the investors in Aggregate Knowledge. Another connection being that Kleiner Perkins was also one of the investors in Sun in its early days.

Great Public Relations for AK. But the plug did not feel good after knowing the facts.

OLPC

January 10, 2008

Undoubtedly an interesting twist to the long running OLPC – Intel saga. See techcrunch article below. Ironically, this new outfit is for-profit and the founder has previously worked at both Intel and OLPC!

http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/10/pixel-qi-towards-a-75-laptop/

GOOG and IPTV

January 10, 2008

Google announced that it is tying up with Matsushita to launch Internet TV. While this had immediate pop out effect on Matsushita’s shares, GOOG did not show the same effect. Perhaps because of market conditions that day, in addition to the fact that this may not have significant and immediate revenue impact for Google.
However, in the medium term, I see this as a tipping point for you tube. Google proactively bundling some of their more TV-friendly offerings (aka video and photos) with TV makers out there is a smart move that will sit well with the natural upsurge in interest in viewing online video content on TVs. One can only speculate on the ad revenue implications for you tube once this convergence gathers steam.

Hot off the press:

Google has just announced “Universal Search” (Sergi Brin was in attendance), a moniker for an effort to integrati several channels into the Google search results: Google local, videos, images, books etc. This is bringing together several parts that seemed apparently disparate until now (You Tube, Publishing project, Google Local etc.).

To make this happen, Google has implemented a new scoring algorithm that will be able to compare information from different media (comparing Apples and Oranges as they put it). An example would be whether to rank a video of Martin Luther King higher than an text article about him. Youtube and Google videos will be integrated into the search. The vidoes will be embedded in the search page and the user can view the video without leaving the page. In the initial phase, they will also be pulling in videos from select video sites like Metacafe. This will be a thumbnail that will direct the user to the third-party video site.

Clearly, this will increase the time spent/user on the Google.com site. It’s as if the search results page is becoming a content page to some degree.This may have interesting Advertising implications and may open the door for Google to experiment with display ads on the search page.

Google will also start offering experimental search pieces at www.google.com/experimental
Users will be able to sign up to integrate these experimental features into the search results they see on their screen.

The Google stock is already showing a spike today. It almost seems like Google timed the announcement to prop up the sagging stock price (the YTD growth has been under 2% for 2007).

May 10, 2007

Google has started showing some sponsored search ads at the bottom of the page i.e. below the organic search results. Here is a screenshot –

May 2, 2007

In case you are looking for traffic trends, the following three sites are generally accepted as standard for free sources. Couple of them have traffic growth graphs:

alexa
Data sourced from tool bar downloads by users.

statsoholic
Formerly Alexoholic. It sources data from Alexa, but has better presentation. Amazon (which owns Alexa) is trying to block statoholic from having full access to their API.

compete
Toolbar download by users.

quantcast
Arrive at numbers based on statistical calculations on internet traffic data. Quantcast have a very good interface in my opinion. Taking a different tack from others, they are encouraging and giving companies the capability to correct the traffic numbers that quantcast is reporting for the particular company. However, it is not very clear what incentive companies have to correct/share this data with the general public.

You will see differences in numbers between these sources, but their direction of trend should be in the same direction. However, here is a case where Peter Rip found the numbers were moving in different directions.

Starbucks has received lot of negative publicity lately for not using fair trade coffee. According to consumer watchdog organicconsumers.org, only 3.7% of Starbucks coffee purchases annualy are Fair Trade Certified. This does not bode well for Starbucks suppliers who may hail from Costa Rica, Ethiopia or other developing countries etc. Of course, Starbucks contention is that requiring Fair Trade certification will make their coffee more expensive.

It appears that Starbucks’ new Ad campaign, “I am Starbucks” is aimed at deflecting this negative publicity and to promote a farmer-friendly image. Takers anyone? 🙂