Cuil, a much-hyped search engine, launched yesterday. The blogosphere, after eager anticipation, has not been kind to Cuil. Web 2.0 is all about throwing things out there and seeing what works, but if you're going to drum up hype, you have to feed the hype monster tasty morsels. The reaction from bloggers and commenters seems all the more vitriolic for having been promised foie gras and fobbed off with crackers instead.
At the risk of seeming to jump on the bandwagon of Cuil-bashers, I must confess that Cuil didn't do a great job finding me on the web either: the search results for "Vineet Buch" seemed of tertiary interest and didn't discover my professional page (that I am a Partner at BlueRun Ventures), or my LinkedIn or Facebook profiles.
Mashable's Stan Schroeder expounds an interesting theory: that Google's current (and expanding) dominance in web search, at least in the English-speaking world, has trained websites to do all they can to show up high on Google - to such an extent that no upstart search engine can hope to do better than Google for broad horizontal search.
Stan's review of recently launched, well-funded search startup Cuil, as also the TechCrunch review, are lukewarm at best and support Stan's thesis - but this thesis assumes that Google has the best possible knowledge of a user's intentions, and since websites will compete to match Google's algorithm that expresses that intention in a query, Google is by default the winner in any search competition.
The flaw in this argument is that Google has very little information about a user's intention - indeed, Google doesn't even seem to use all the information it could have about the user, because of privacy and latency considerations (for instance, I doubt if Google looks up my interests in my Facebook profile when I search as a logged-in Google user, to discover that by typing the search term "kayak" I probably mean a watercraft and not a travel search engine). Google is constantly refining its approaches to divining intention, of course ... and the masses of data generated by user searches help it get better every day.
But web search is far from perfect today, and it stands to reason that Google's own momentum - and success - will lock it into the innovator's dilemma of doing little more than tweaking its existing algorithms. And some enterprising startup will bring a refreshing new take to searching the web. Wonder what it could be?
The inconvenient truth is that for all its new-media spin, display
advertising is "old" media -- a commercial message to be placed next to
editorial or entertainment content.
part of why large companies such as P&G spend so little on the web
is because of the feedback they get from the marketing-mix models they
still use to determine media outlays: TV and other old media still
work. (P&G increased its magazine budget by 7% last year.)
For all its glory, the internet still has not proven itself capable of
being a primary branding medium. Most ads online are response-based and
work best for brand marketers when they complement a branding campaign
in other media.
"The biggest gating factor to internet ad growth is the
obsession of the players, the [venture capitalists] and the press with
'bottom of the funnel' marketing in a world where the big money is
spent at the top," said Rob Norman, CEO of Group M Interaction. [OUCH!]
I had the privilege of attending an informal presentation by Marten Mickos, CEO of MySQL, last week at SAP Labs. Marten was his usual candid self, and spoke frankly about the challenges of making money in Open Source, why MySQL sold to Sun and the ups and downs after the acquisition closed. Key takeaways:
Open Source really is a smarter way to create software; somewhat because of community code contribution, but even more because the omnipresent threat of public scrutiny makes everybody produce better software
By trying to buy Yahoo, which is built mostly on Open Source tools, even Microsoft has indirectly affirmed the value and longevity of Open Source. Nokia's acquisition of Symbian and subsequent open-sourcing of its software, and Oracle's acquisition of InnoDB and BerkeleyDB are other affirmations.
You can't build Open Source businesses on services and support alone; the love and passion of your users is great, but open checkbooks are even better.
Nothing sells itself. Not Coke, not Pepsi, and certainly not software, Open Source or proprietary. Most Open Source companies underestimate the need for a sales-force that can generate lucrative leads and close meaningful deals, and that's why so few Open Source companies make money
Sun buying MySQL made MySQL much more appealing to big enterprises - they appreciate the backing and commitment of a large player. This is reflected in the warmer reception MySQL's sales team gets at large accounts
MySQL sold to Sun instead of going public for a couple of reasons, but the most important one, apart from the immediate financial return, was the great cultural fit with a company whose tagline is "The Network is the Computer" - ideal for MySQL, which has long billed itself as the database for the Web
As the software industry matures and buyers get more power vis-a-vis vendors, software providers will have to cooperate more in a bid to provide workable solutions rather than shelfware. Sun is already doing this in its relationships with Oracle, IBM, HP ...
Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures just wrote a very informative and articulate post on how he made it as a VC. Here's what Fred thinks you should do (as opposed to what he did):
The way you do that is you work for at least ten years in the industry,
getting operating experience, building a killer rolodex, and learning
how the business works from the inside. Then in your mid to late 30s,
you can make the move to the venture capital business, as a partner,
not as a wet behind the ears associate who doesn't know anything other
than how to push numbers around a spreadsheet.
A number of VC firms do, in fact, hire precisely based on this profile. If you're not prepared to take such a circuitous path, here's a post I wrote a while back on finding a job in venture capital.
It's pretty well known that Amazon Web Services' EC2 and S3 initiatives have taken off and are gaining users not just in startup land but in Corporate America as well. Amazon provides a compute and storage cloud, and the rush of companies big (e.g., Google) and small (e.g., Nirvanix) beginning to compete with Amazon in providing clouds has spawned a term and a movement - Cloud Computing.
Dealmaker Media is offering readers $100 off the Under the Radar Social Media and Entertainment event on June 3rd in Mountain View, CA.
Click here or on the image below to register with the discount.
Here's the conference description (I'm a judge, btw):
Under the Radar: Social
Media and Entertainment June 3, 2008
| 8:00am – 6:00pm Microsoft Campus |
If you can't beat 'em, buy 'em. No
longer is big media trying to compete with the content companies that were
stealing the show - instead, they're offering them a premium channel. From
YouTube to Bebo and MySpace to Club Penguin, every media mogul, Hollywood tycoon
and Silicon Valley innovator wants a piece of this pie. But even Toto knows
we're not in
anymore - technology has changed,
business models and ad metrics are being reinvented, and the pressure to turn
millions of eyeballs into billions of cash is on. Blink once and they just might
get side-swiped by a startup with a better product, a smarter model and, even
worse, nothing to lose.
Radar will uncover 32 startups in the entertainment and social media space
that have launched within the year. Covering social networks, advertising, casual gaming, virtual
worlds, measurement tools, video, commerce, publishing and more,
Under the Radar is the only forum that empowers its audience to discover
tomorrow’s leading tech companies. PRESENTERS:
33Across - Identifies
influential online users Animoto - Create
personalized, professional-quality videos from images and music, offering a new
alternative to traditional online photo slideshows AudioMicro - Stock music and sound effects licensing platform Aviary -Suite of web-based
applications for people who create and a marketplace to sell that content Dizzywood - A virtual world that allows kids to dress up 3D avatars,
play games, explore worlds and meet new friends in a safe environment Comedy.com - aggregated comedy entertainment site CrowdSPRING - crowdsourcing of creative talent. ffwd - Organized, multi-platform, video
content delivered via a browser, with social network awareness, and predictive
recommendations. Jygy - mobile social networking GumGum - A licensing and distribution platform for online content
Hollywood Interactive Group - A mass casual mmo based on reality TV
stardom. Jacked - Browser-based “second screen”
for TV viewers, which provides synchronized content and a real-time interactive
experience that complements what they’re watching on TV Keibi - moderation and classification of user generated content
(UGC) Kosmix - Categorization engine that
crawls billions of Web pages in a unique manner to create algo-generated home
pages Loomia - Social recommendations bridging established social
networking sites with media websites Mochi Media - Provides
independent game developers with analytics, distribution, tools and monetization
while providing advertisers with turnkey opportunities to reach the one in three
Internet users who play online games. MovieSet -Platform that brings behind-the-scenes
filmmaking online, giving fans authentic access through its proprietary toolkit
for Producers. Mytopia -Social gaming community for Web,
, Smartphone and TV
Overlay.tv - video commerce platform that overlays contextual
information directly onto online video content PlayCafe - Online game show
network PutPlace - Media storage all the way from