Archive for the ‘marketing’ Category

Digging for a Deal

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

Digg logoSocial news site Digg is up for sale. VentureBeat first reported the story, claiming a reliable source confirmed the company’s plans. The source goes on to say that Digg has hired Allen & Company, a private investment firm, to help broker a potential deal. The asking price is said to be in the range of $300 million.

The story really comes as no surprise to the blogosphere. Speculation about an acquisition has been swirling for months. The difference this time is that Digg is actively seeking an acquisitor, rather than fielding potential offers. This new tactic seems a bit desperate to me.

What is the company’s motivation to sell? Is traffic slowing down? Is Digg worried about the threat of new entrants and/or current competitors? Are revenues bleak at best? My guess is that Adelson and Rose figure the company is at its peak, both in terms of popularity and dominance. If that is the case, then Digg, in theory, should be able to negotiate the highest possible valuation. Having said that though, shopping around seems to put the acquisitor in a position of bargaining power.

I love Digg and I hope it sticks around for a long time. I also think it’s a great consumer-oriented, media play for any large company looking to make a mark in the space. What is currently happening behind the scenes is beyond me. But as I say, I think Adelson and Rose may be looking for a change. The world of venture capital may be awaiting. What about new start-ups? Oh yeah… then there’s Pownce

Google Search? Google Results.

Monday, December 17th, 2007

Google logoUnless you live under a rock, you are aware that Google launched “Knol” late last week. Immediate comparisons are being made to Wikipedia and Mahalo. However, a more accurate comparison can be made to Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger’s latest project, Citizendium, which focuses exclusively on the submissions of industry experts.

I’m not going to go into detail about the general concept (you can read this Mashable review if you’d like). Rather, I’d like to focus on the advantages and disadvantages of Knol. 

First off, the most apparent benefit of such system is the idea of a single, expert voice. This (in most cases) ensures that the article is not only credible, but also properly structured. Secondly, there is motivation for the publisher, both in terms of notoriety and monetary compensation. Lastly, community features, such as reviews, comments, and publisher profiles add credibility, authority, and validation to the entire system.

From a negative perspective, Knol articles are only presented from the point-of-view of one author. This means that bias and opinion are highly likely. Furthermore, there may also be conflicting information on a given topic from editor to editor. Finally, it may take extra time for a viewer to sort through all the articles on a given topic to locate the necessary information needed. 

Most important of all, Google results will start to appear in Google searches. This creates a huge conflict of interest, as well as head-to-head competition with SEO-dominant properties (i.e. Wikipedia,, etc…). A little algorithm tweak here, a little tweak there… next thing you know, Knol pages are dominating the first page results. Now, I’m not saying this is going to happen, but it does pose a very lucrative opportunity for Google. If Knol pages are able to rank higher than Wikipedia pages, Google’s ad revenues will skyrocket. Nevertheless, I’m sure many will be keeping a very close watch on the entry of Knol pages into the search results…

For those interested, here is a screenshot courtesy of the official Google blog: Google Knol screenshot.

The Evolution of LinkedIn

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

LinkedIn logoAs announced earlier this week, LinkedIn is getting a facelift. The plastic surgeons, otherwise known as web developers, are reshaping the experience in an attempt to create a more ’sticky’ experience. The business social network believes that user engagement and attention need improvement. Therefore, the new launch is focused on creating that ’sticky’ experience that will have users returning on a more regular basis.

As expected (by me at least), the changes look like they drew inspiration from Facebook. Most notably, a ‘news feed’-like feature highlights the home page. Emphasis is also being placed on internal messaging. This function has been given the most prominence on the home page.

Here is a link to a screenshot (courtesy of TechCrunch): New LinkedIn home page screenshot. At present, the new changes are in BETA… of course.

On a side note, the company is looking to launch an API in the very near future as well. Stay tuned for that…

My guess is that LinkedIn was stuck in a conundrum. Like Facebook, LinkedIn placed tight controls on the system. A lack of customization ensured that the network didn’t end up looking like MySpace. However, the company is beginning to loosen their stance on this issue for obvious reasons. First and foremost, Facebook proved that it can be done in an elegant, yet functional manner. So why mess with something that works?

Let’s pull back for a second here. There is an important, recurring trend that I’d like to highlight:

Everything in the social network space seems to be moving in the direction of Facebook. After all, Facebook arguably pioneered two of the biggest advancements in social networking history - the news feed and the platform. These paved the way for huge progress in the industry. Consequently, rivals followed suit. Now they are playing catch-up…

Now, I’m not a LinkedIn power user. Don’t get me wrong - I think it’s a great service that has a lot to offer. But it’s all about connections and contacts. Almost all of my colleagues (and friends) use Facebook. Not only that, but I also find it much more productive and less confusing than LinkedIn.

For further analysis, be sure to read posts from my fellow Canadian tech bloggers Mark Evans and Mathew Ingram.

In addition, for those interested, I wrote an article a couple months back begging the question, “Is Facebook the new LinkedIn?” Feel free to give it a read.

YouAre.TV is For Sale… on eBay

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

Once again, the eBay M&A machine continues to churn out potential takeover candidates. YouAre.TV has put itself up for sale on the popular auction site. This isn’t the first time a company has done such a thing, and it definitely won’t be the last.

The company doesn’t go into much detail about the sale on their blog. However, in the auction description, the founders go on to say, “We are only selling b/c we have moved on to new a project, and we don’t quite have the resources to support both anymore.” I’m not a cynic and I hate to jump to conclusions, but it sounds like this project didn’t pan out. If the site is indeed growing like they say, then they should still be hammering away at it.

One big downfall of the site, in my opinion, is its close semblance to YouTube. Both share the term “you” in their names. Both share a similar TV-like logo. Both compete in the ‘video community’ space. I’d wager that many new visitors immediately come to the conclusion that YouAre.TV is simply another YouTube clone. It’s sad, but true.

Kiko was one of the first small start-ups (that I can remember) to put itself up for sale on eBay. It received a huge amount of PR and press, and was eventually sold to Tucows for over $200,000. Not bad. My guess is that YouAre.TV is trying to capitalize on the same type of PR scenario. The difference is that the novelty is gone - it’s been done before. A new way to sell your online business is via Sitepoint Marketplace. This is how TechCrunch bought InviteShare.

What’s most interesting of all is that the company claims to have received a $100,000 offer for the domain itself by a major media firm. The company says they refused that offer. That seems like a ridiculously high offer for a mediocre domain. If indeed the offer were legitimate though, why would the company turn it down?

Currently, the whole package is up for sale on eBay at a starting price of $25,000 and there are NO bids thus far. Perhaps they should have just taken the $100,000 and cut their losses…

Do you think eBay is a legitimate, respectable way to sell a company? Or do you think that such a strategy takes away from the brand value and perception?

Disappointment in Big Blogs

Friday, December 7th, 2007

BlogsI’ve been extremely disappointed with some of the big blogs recently. Their lack of interesting content and regurgitated material is uninspiring to say the least. I’m not going to name any blogs in particular, but you can come to your own conclusions.

My biggest concern revolves around blog owners, formerly known as the original blog publishers. I say this because most have given up writing (to some extent) to focus on management. These big blogs usually employ several full-time writers, as well as an assortment of part-time and guest publishers. Add to that the fact that ad sales and management take up a considerable chunk of time. This leaves little, if any, time for writing.

Another criticism I have for many big blogs is their habit of going off topic. Instead of focusing on the content that formed the basis for the blog, the author(s) choose to venture in a new direction - one that is often focused on gaining new readers rather than saitsfying the current ones.

Generally, it just seems that the priority has shifted from the content to the marketing and business processes. I’m not saying this is true for all big blogs, but it is definitely apparent on a couple.

All the above issues point to one thing: many big blogs are beginning to look like magazines or newspapers. Wait… Weren’t blogs supposed to be the medium that destroys these traditional media outlets? Yes, but it seems this argument has turned full circle. With less opinion and more conservatives views, these blogs are toning down the content in an attempt to appeal to a larger market. It also seems like they are trying to churn out quantity rather than quality. This may come back to bite them in end.

What is your take on this matter? Do you think that some big blogs are “selling out”?