Archive for the ‘strategy’ Category

Google Launches iGoogle - No, It’s Not an Apple Thing…

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

iGoogle logoLast week, Google officially launched iGoogle. This is nothing overly dramatic. It was a simple rebrand of the old Google IG with some added features, including comprehensive widget support. Google is looking to make a splash in the personalized, AJAX homepage space, which is dominated by such players as Yahoo, Netvibes, and Pageflakes.

What intrigues me the most is the new name… iGoogle. Of all the names Google could have chosen, they went the ‘Apple route’ and chose to throw an “i” in front of their brand. A smart move? Or a blatant attempt at jumping on the bandwagon? Who knows… but don’t tell me they hadn’t thought of the potential consequences or discussions that would come about before choosing the name.

I will say that placing an “i” before any word or name has been around on the net for quite some time. In these cases, the “i” was meant to signify “Internet”. But nowadays, everyone attributes the “i” to Apple products such as the iPod or iPhone (lawsuits aside).

Is Google looking to cause a stir and build PR? Is the “i” simply meant to convey the idea of a personalized page? Am I entirely crazy and this post is a waste of time? Any one of these may be plausible. But I would never underestimate or overlook the foresight of this search engine powerhouse.

MySpace - Photobucket Acquisition

Monday, May 7th, 2007

PhotoBucket logoIt was made official today… MySpace buys Photobucket for $250 million.

PhotoBucket had been looking for a buyer for months now with little luck. Upon hiring Lehman Brothers, the company was seeking a price tag of $300+ million, but to no avail. In the end, it was reported that only MySpace and IAC were in the running.

Not too long ago, MySpace began blocking PhotoBucket embedding. This caused quite a stir in the web world and blogosphere. After all, the explosive success of PhotoBucket has to be largely attributed to MySpace. In any case, MySpace lifted the ban and began unblocking PhotoBucket embeds once again. Was this because they knew something we didn’t? Were acquisition talks in the making already? Who knows, but my suspicions tell me that there is more to the story than we know.

PhotoBucket controls the image space with an estimated 40%+ market share. Compare that to Flickr or WPhotoBucket logoebshots whom are believed to have no more than 10% market share each, and this just goes to show you the penetration power of PhotoBucket.

By the way, PhotoBucket earned $6.3 million in revenue last year and is projected to generate $25+ million this year. Furthermore, they have a user base of 40 million users, with 85,000 more being added every day. Not bad for a ‘web 2.0′ company. This one is legit - it has revenues. for Sale

Thursday, May 3rd, 2007

Recently, the domain went up for sale. Obviously the site receives a lot of unqualified traffic from users trying to reach the misspelled photo-sharing site Flickr. The domain (with the proper spelling) claims it receives over 150,000 uniques per month via direct website visits. Let me iterate yet again that this traffic is unqualified and usually looking for the misspelled sibling.

In any case, someone is bound to buy the property sooner or later. Obviously Yahoo, who owns Flickr, would seem like an ideal candidate. The search engine giant would then redirect all the traffic to the appropriate photo-sharing property. But my guess is that this is exactly what the owners of want - they are looking to fleece Yahoo for as much money as possible.

The second possibility is that some sort of photo/camera/digital media presence is established on the property. That way, the unqualified traffic looking for Flickr may become qualified traffic and stay a second to further investigate. If an appropriate revenue model can be implemented, there may be a valid case for a purchase.

According to the site, six offers have been put forth already. They range from $10,000 to $90,000, in ascending order. All have been declined. Apparently, the seller is holding out for a price tag in the six-digits. But at what point will he/she decide to sell? $100,000? $200,000? $500,000? My guess is that the seller wants a juicy offer and won’t sell for any less. Bah… you gotta love capitalism.

Digg Just Buried Itself

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

Digg logoThe irony is simply extraordinary.

The past day in the life of Digg has been chaotic, tumultuous, and earth-shattering to put it mildly. If you are unaware of what has gone on, please familiarize yourself with the events of the past day or so before reading on.

Digg has based its success and premise on the power of ‘the crowds’. Irony entered the picture when the crowds decided to turn against the site. Sound familiar? Drawing from similar offline events, this sounds like a civil war or a revolution of sorts. Who ever thought Rome would fall?

This is the day many have been waiting for. This is a day that had to happen in evolution of the net. This is the day we find the flaws of social media.

Up until now, people have rejoiced and praised the advantages and benefits of wikis, social media, and crowdsourcing (among other things). These trends not only create community and a sense of belonging, but also viral growth within the user base. But what happens when the community feels disjointed and betrayed? An uproar of mammoth proportions.

Digg users felt betrayed by the ‘corporate entity’ that is behind Digg. Though I’m sure the decision to remove the stories was made with the best intentions, the stories were not the concern in the first place (for the users). The decision was. When Digg decided to delete those stories, it jumped into the shark tank.

So what does the future of Digg look like now? Doubtful in my mind. The company valuation plummeted in a matter of hours. A lot of money was lost due to a little bit of information. My guess is that the site will stay up and the company will fight all allegations in court til the bitter end - but will lose. The day’s events also bring up other questions. How are Digg’s investors going to react? What about the VC’s? There are so many questions to be answered in the days to come… My mind is running at 100mph.

What is Digg at its core? An amazing product? No. A sophisticated program that took years to build? No. It’s a simple concept, an algorithm. The magic enters the equation when users begin to interact with the site. And this aspect becomes more true and more powerful (for good or bad) as the user base increases. Previously, good was all that had come of the site. But now we are seeing the dark, ill-fated side of Digg that many were scared to see, but are now forced to live with.

This story truly hits home as it deals with so many different angles, perspectives, and notions. I think that a lot of people fail to see the psychology behind the events. This is the most interesting aspect to me. I hope to see case studies and research done on this matter. How can a site that garners 1% of all U.S. Internet traffic fall in a matter of hours? The magnitude/amplitude/reach of the Internet is undeniably scary and this is evidence of that.

The true significance of the Digg story has nothing to do with Digg. It has to do with the future of the Internet at large. Digg is merely the introduction to this never-ending story.

As they say, don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Or in this case, don’t f*ck with your users. I wish Digg all the best and I hope we can all learn from its mistakes. All the best, Kevin Rose.

Blogs and Elections

Monday, April 30th, 2007

Is there any significance between blogs and elections? Maybe not in the past, but I would wager that blogs will play an important role in future elections and politics in general. Having said that, the upcoming U.S. presidential election comes to mind. Candidates who choose to leverage blogs may be at an advantage. Those who choose to ignore this communication vehicle may find themselves behind in the polls come election day.

I had the pleasure of listening to John Edwards’s keynote speech at Gnomedex 2006. He spoke about the future of politics and how the Internet/blogs/podcasting will play a huge role in democracy. Edwards expressed a deep interest in podcasting. He said it would play a vital role in his campaign. Furthermore, Edwards has become known as a Twitter power user. Now, I am a huge advocate of the use of blogs, podcasting, and the Internet in general. But my concern is this: are politicians simply ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ with respect to these technologies? Are they simply trying to appeal to a new (perhaps younger) crowd? Or do they truly believe in the technology and the power that it instills? My hope is obviously the latter of the three.

Having said that, I do believe that blogs can play a siginificant role and have a huge impact if used sincerely and strategically. A full developed campaign, with open communication and a strong support team, can make huge strides on the net and produce exponential effects given the resources at hand. The breadth and leverage of the web cannot be ignored.

Many of the most popular and highest traffic blogs on the net are U.S. political blogs. These sites attract millions of visitors every day. Should a candidate successfully tap these online strongholds, their campaigns would immediately be given a boost. Dissemination of information and PR are two major advantages to any front-runner who succeeds at forging relationships with these online political powerhouses.

Stepping back a bit, the success of the candidate must lie in their platform and their presence. No Internet technology can make up for these important characteristics. Even if a candidate does outline a strong platform, my guess is that the Internet and blogs will sway elections in the future and play a bigger role in politics than people currently realize.