August 12, 2010

Demand Media’s IPO: Everything You Need to Know

Demand Media is the biggest pure-play SEO company in existence. And SEO is one of the fastest-growing marketing channels. So if you want to know what the marketing industry as a whole will look like, the best way to do it would be to take a look at Demand Media’s financial data. That information was available to investors and executives at the firm, but not to everyone else—until now.

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August 4, 2010

How Platforms and APIs Debugged the Technology Labor Market

Every career has an “efficient frontier” of compensation. On one end, there’s a job that pays you what you’re worth; on the other end, there’s a job that you know will pay for next month’s rent. In some sectors, you can switch from one to the other at the same company (being a full-commission salesperson instead of a salaried “account manager”). In the technology industry, there’s not a strong tradition of pure incentive-based compensation; I don’t know any designers who will get 10% of the extra revenue from a successful A/B test.

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July 26, 2010

DuckDuckGo and Quora: Two Companies That Could Wreck Google Search

Online businesses compete by being the default. You want to connect with friends, so you default to Facebook; you want to waste five minutes, you default to Zynga; you want to talk about stocks, you default to Stocktwits.

Google is the Big Default. If you want to find something, but you’re not precisely sure what, Google is where you start. For about eight years, that’s where I’ve started, too. But recently, two sites have started to replace Google. And what’s especially dangerous about them is that they’re both encroaching on Google, starting at opposite ends of the spectrum of services that Google Search provides.

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September 25, 2009

Bit.ly’s Next Feature: The Other 99% of the Internet

The first few times I tried to use Twitter, it was enormously frustrating: here’s a fairly cool tool that lets me instantly communicate—with nobody.

Using bit.ly means a different kind of frustration: if you’ve ever posted a link to Facebook and Twitter, and watched in real time while the clicks add up, it can get annoying to post a link without using bit.ly. Which is why I think I can guess bit.ly’s next feature. The feature that, in a few months, will make people forget that it was ever a URL shortener.

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September 15, 2009

Bing Visual Search is not a Revolution—It’s a Coup

“Why type when you can see it?”

Because I’m probably not a genius, and I’m definitely not a moron.

Bing’s visual search is doesn’t do anything useful. It doesn’t make your searches any easier, and it certainly doesn’t make it faster. It adds a layer of visual appeal, but even that appeal isn’t so appealing. For example, try searching for Obama in the list of US politicians, which they suggest as a good search. Here’s what I see:

Bing US Politicians Search, showing Barack Obama and a bunch of generic people

(Click for a larger image)

Compare that to the normal Bing search results:

>Bing's organic search results for Barack Obama, including a spam site

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August 28, 2009

Metcalfe Was a Pessimist

The value of a network grows at roughly the square of the growth rate of the users. That makes sense for telephone networks—add one more user to a network, and the number of new connections available goes up by the number of existing users.

Classically, this breaks down because the first people to add it get the most out of it. Maybe a phone was crucial for the first few people to use it—but the next phone sold today is probably going to replace an old phone, replace borrowing somebody else’s phone, or complement an existing Skype connection.

But Metcalfe’s law can break in the opposite direction, and I think we’re seing that in social media. In fact, I think we’ll see a lot more of it. Read the rest of this entry »