Archive for the ‘markets’ Category

Wednesday was Acquisition Day

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

Yesterday proved to be a big day in the web 2.0 world, as two of the biggest names were scooped up by two of the Internet’s heavyweights. Here is a recap of the day’s events:

It will be interesting to see what CBS and eBay planned to do with their new purchases and/or how they plan to integrate them with currents services.

I have to yet to grasp a good understanding of how these takeovers play a role in the grand scheme of things for both companies, but my mind is churning through the possibilities. In any case, there is always the potential to simply let the service or site live on its own. This model is more from an ‘investment’ approach for the company with the prospect of generating revenue in the future via the external, mutually-exclusive property. Another possibility is the re-sale of the site/service to a willing party at a later date for a greater dollar value, creating a reasonable ROI.

My hope is that the brand power and ‘corporate’ atmosphere of these giants don’t disrupt and ruin the communities built by these web 2.0 gems. Their tight cultures are what make them so special. Destroying those synergies would, in essence, destroy their very nature and DNA. Brings Vertical Search to the Tutor Industry

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007 hopes to simplify the process of finding a tutor. The service is tailored for both students and parents. The site claims to have a directory of over 9,000 tutors, who pay nothing to post their profile. For this reason, I believe that the revenue model can be summed up in two words: Google Adwords.

Each search query comprises two elements - the subject and region. Examples include:

  • Math - Phoenix, Arizona
  • Biology - Dallas
  • Literature - 08647

The interface and layout are fairly clean, intuitive, and easy-to-use. The company logo could use some work, but the concept is strong.

Setting Tutorz aside for a second, the notions of ‘local’ and ‘vertical search’ work together in a very relevant, pertinent manner. I expect to see more of this in the near future. ZipLocal is a very good Canadian example of this.

Vertical search is extremely similar to specialized directories, if you can imagine that for a second. The only difference is the method of discovery for the user. In one case, the user browses for a particular product or service. In the other case, a search is performed. In other words, vertical search isn’t entirely re-inventing the wheel, but perhaps making it easier and saving time for the user. 

Profiling Canadian Start-Ups

Friday, May 25th, 2007

It can be tough to get PR on the web - especially if you’re a Canadian start-up. I know this from personal experience. I’ve worked or consulted for several Canadian start-ups. Residing in Victoria, BC, I can understand that Canada isn’t exactly Silicon Valley. But this great country should not be overlooked when it comes to new technology. Numerous successful web 2.0 ventures can trace their roots back to Canada.

For this very reason, I am excited when new, Canadian technology blogs sprout up. A recent entrant into the space, StartUpNorth, is looking to put the spotlight on little-known Canadian start-ups. This should help shine some light on entrepreneurial ventures of the North. Having said that, it is not the first of its kind. Other popular Canadian technology blogs that profile start-ups include Maple Leaf 2.0 and Mathew Ingram’s blog. I highly recommend both. Add them to your RSS reader.

MappingTheWeb also profiles Canadian start-ups from time to time.

The point is that new blogs or entrants in the space should not be considered competition, but rather added coverage and exposure for the Canadian tech industry. This benefits us all and solidifies Canada’s reputation for innovation on the web.

Watch out Silicon Valley… Beware the black sheep of the Internet…

Ad Network Acquisition Fever Continues…

Friday, May 18th, 2007

Ad network acquisition fever is reaching epidemic levels. This widespread phenomenon is sweeping the web landscape like a hungry flock of locusts. Just yesterday I wrote about the 24/7 Real Media acquisition by WPP Group. Then today, the last of the big three search engine players finally made a move - Microsoft acquired aQuantive for $6 billion.

This just about cleans out the entire ad network space. It appears as though no big Internet powerhouse wanted to be left behind with the big 3 and AOL all grabbing a piece of the pie.

And I always thought that the Internet signified freedom and diversity… This consolidation of sorts further solidifies the foundation of the big guns. Now, with less reliance on outside ad networks, these monoliths can focus on internal systems and strategies to expand the business.

What strikes me as funny in this situation is the order of events. Google usually strikes first, snatching up the biggest player in the industry. This not only provides solid positioning for Google with the industry, but also provides the best PR bang-for-buck. Yahoo jumps second, buying a secondary player at a slightly higher valuation. Some PR exposure may ensue, but this is usually drowned out by initial move of Google. Finally, Microsoft lags and lethargically purchases a tier-two firm at a huge premium. In most cases, the takeover turns out to be nothing more than a copy-cat action by Microsoft with little or no positive outcome.

Microsoft definite lags with respect to its Internet strategy. Saying it is weak is putting it mildly. The company needs to step up and start making smarter, more strategic moves in a more timely fashion.

Yahoo needs to focus on services. Trying to dethrone Google from the top search engine spot will be next to impossible. Maintaining a similar level of search engine quality is necessary, but innovation and re-invention should not be a priority. Yahoo needs to focus on core areas such as finance, travel, and shopping among other things.

And Google… well… Google just needs to be Google…

Facebook Classifieds- The GOOD and the BAD

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

Facebook new logoLast week, Facebook launched an internal classified ad system. All new listings are free. For this reason, the launch appears to be more a marketing avenue than a revenue stream. Posting a new listing is extremely simple. The inteface is intuitive to the point that my 5 year old cousin could use it. As is the case with any newspaper classified ads, the major categories include:

  • Jobs
  • Housing
  • For Sale

Using the system, you can view your listings, as well as your friends. In addition, you can also list things you want - like a reverse marketplace.

At first glance, my initial thought was… Aha, another Craigslist competitor. But upon further analysis, I do not think this is the class. Facebook is STILL a social network at its core. This new launch simply provides a value-added service to the main offering. On the other hand, Craigslist IS a classified ad system and although community plays a huge role on the site, many users prefer to remain anonymous and avoid the social features.

Another major difference is around the actual posting process. With Craigslist, a poster can remain anonymous and there is no need to register. Whereas with Facebook, an account must be registered. This is much more of a barrier to entry for some.

In any case, I see some definite advantages and some small disadvantages (or short-comings) to this new Facebook offering. First of all, the “For Sale” section is ingenious. Students/young adults are always buying and selling textbooks, furniture, bikes, electronics, etc… For this reason, there is a stunning value proposition. There is also a case to be made for the “Housing” section as well. This demographic is akin to living with others and is usually frequently on the move. Therefore, creating a strong communication tool to facilitate the process is powerful.

Where I see short-comings is in the “Jobs” section, and to some degree, the “Housing” section. As we all know very well, the Facebook demographic is young for the most part. Having said that, most employers or company executives tend to be of an older age bracket. There is some incongruence here. Most of the employers looking to hire students and/or young adults will not possess a Facebook account, nor will they want to have to go through the steps. This is of my opinion. Some call this added security or an extra layer of protection that Craigslist does not have. I call it a barrier to entry.

Furthermore, the same can be said for many potential landlords looking to rent their places. Facebook needs to streamline a process for these individuals to quickly and easily post listings without a registration. Otherwise, these potential posters may be missing out on a huge market and Facebook users may be missing out on potential job opportunities or housing.