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Sunday, September 28, 2008

And Now For Some PAGE RANK!

Ah, it took its own sweet time getting here, but four of my blogs now have some Page Rank. 

The older Autos blog is the leader, with Page Rank = 3

The younger Autos blog and my Travel blog have Page Rank = 2 each

And my main, all-purpose blog has a Page Rank = 1

Still waiting for the baby of the group, the Technology/ Startups blog, to get some love from Google.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

New High - Daily Visits for my main Blog!

I'm quite proud of my baby blog - Capoeirista.  Yesterday (Tuesday, September 23, 2008), this blog received 855 visits (per StatCounter). 

Well done!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Tesla Manufacturing Plant in San Jose

Good news for motor-heads (and electric-heads?) in the bay area.  Tesla is planning a factory spread across an 89-acre plot of land in San Jose.  This factory should bring about 500 - 1,000 jobs to the area, although half of those might be relocations from current locations. 

The new factory should be set up to churn out about 300 of their new sedans a week.  This doesn't sound like a number to put the words "churn out" in front of, until you realize they are currently producing only 10 coupes a week in two locations.   That should help them finally come closer to matching demand.

There is something that could be a snag in the plans - Tesla is looking at a quarter of a billion dollars in financing from Goldman Sachs and the Department of Energy to set all this up.  They're also counting on Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's tax breaks to the tune of over $15 Million.  With all the current financial turmoil, lets hope there are no snags.

Tesla sedan

Thursday, September 18, 2008

And Google's Market Share Goes Up Again

So it seems the US search market is up for grabs...... NOT.

For August 2008 (per comScore), Google gobbled up 63% of the US search market.  That's a 1.1% growth over July 2008.  And 33% growth from August 2007.  Those are scary statistics, given that US searches grew by almost 20% year over year!

Monopoly on search.  Monopoly on text ads, deal with Yahoo.  For the world's sake, MicroSoft needs to do something.  It is the main competitor losing market share.  And unlike Yahoo, MicroSoft is a strong company, with pots of money. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Microsoft Stopping Seinfeld-Gates ads

Darn.  MicroSoft is reacting too quickly, and is stopping the Jerry Seinfeld - Bill Gates ads.   And just as folks were starting to yammer on about them  (ok, not all the yammering was positive). 

Is this too quick?  I'm not fully sure... but I will miss the ads.  Even though I didn't get them,  I did enjoy watching Seinfeld in something other than endless reruns of the show,  and Bill G was funny too.  Ah well,  there goes a $300 Million experiment, and a $10 Million signing bonus.

WebMD Acquiring Quality Health

Consolidation in the Health space continues, and now at bargain prices.  WebMD, the gorilla in the space, is acquiring MTS (Marketing Technology Solutions) and its subsidiary Quality Health for about $50 MM.  

quality health homepage

Given that MTS had revenues of ~$21 MM in 2007, this is indeed a poor price for their shareholders. 

Why does this make sense?  Well, WebMD is far and away the leader in CPM advertising, and sponsored sites/ areas.  And Quality Health is the best at CPA for health advertisers,  or what they like to call 'performance-based marketing'.  So the theory would be that health advertisers and agencies now need only make one stop to find their advertising dollars.

Cons - by the same token, though, now advertisers and agencies suddenly find a large part of their budgets in one publisher's hands.  That will probably not be viewed in a positive light; after all, marketing 101 includes lessons on diversification for risk mitigation as well as spreading your message across more eyeballs.  You wouldn't just advertise on NBC on TV now, would you?  You would also keep some budget for comedy central, for the young crowd, for the Oxygen channel, for women, and finally for Monday Night Football... because we're in America, and not advertising on football programs gets your TV advertising license revoked.  So this should make things easier too for the other publishers, such as RightHealth, which is owned and operated by Kosmix, my employer.

The announcement took away the thunder from Steve Case's Revolution Health and Everyday Health.  Let the shake-ups continue!

webmd homepage

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Louis Monier leaves Cuil

Cuil has barely launched, and they're already airing out some dirty laundry.  Louis Monier,  their VP of Product, is departing (he is no longer on their About page). 

TechCrunch reported that he and CEO Tom Costello had different ideas about the product road map;  one would have hoped they were on the same page, given they had similar backgrounds, and that Monier was barely a year old at Cuil. 

Monier is considered one of the leading authorities on Search, having worked at Google, eBay for search, and of course having co-founded AltaVista.  So this is a blow.

Forget the botched launch.  I think Cuil has a lot of potential... potential it is not easy to see currently, since whats visible is their lack of relevancy in their search results.  But getting relevant search results takes a long time and lots of money (Kosmix knows!).  What Cuil's main claim is to index faster and cheaper than the mother-ship, Google (see the number of web pages they claim to have indexed, below their search bar, below).  And if that is true, then it has a huge amount of value.... and can potentially be the right piece of the puzzle for Microsoft to bring out the best from its acquisition of PowerSet. 

Cuil search bar

Cuil also has $33 MM in funding, so hopefully are set for a while (their last round of $25 MM was around April of 2008).  I don't know how much of their money is left, but I would guess that with ~30 employees (per Crunchbase) and being in the Search space, they're probably burning about $700K/month.  So they can weather this storm.

Good Feedback on Kosmix from my Lecture at SFSU

I talked about Kosmix, the company I work for, during my lecture at SFSU's MBA class MGMT 831: The Entrepreneurial Process, which is taught by Professor Geoffrey Desa. 

The students had some good feedback on Kosmix in their (anonymous) class feedback, which I have written down below:

  • It was interesting to learn of the new search engine Kosmix.  I liked the different approach that it used in that it contained a list of related items.
  • In addition to his presentation, I also enjoyed the discussion about Kosmix.  It was rather interesting to see that someone had actually developed a search engine for people who don’t have a clear vision of what they’re searching for.  I think it’s helpful to know that such a search engine exists and I would definitely support the usage of it.  For some key terms and projects, I often only pick up a few important keywords and it seems that from those keywords, I would be able to search up the related topic I’m looking for.
  • Learning about Kosmix and how the idea was born was a good example of the creative process in action. An idea to offer something beyond the norm often leads to something great. I believe that Kosmix offers something the Googles and Yahoo's can't.

Feedback on my Lecture at San Francisco State's MBA Class

I got some great feedback from the class on my lecture on Creativity and Idea Generation for the class MGMT 831: The Entrepreneurial Process.  This feedback will help me refine the way I deliver a lecture the next time.  

Lets start with The Opportunities for Improvement:

  1. Need to have more real-world examples - good point.  In the future, I will try to balance each concept or point I present with a real-world example, even if that reduces the number of concepts presented.
  2. Presentation was rushed - I had a little less time than planned, but still tried to cover all the content I had planned on.  A good learning for next time.
  3. The slides were too wordy, needed more videos, pictures, etc. - yes!  If I feel compelled to put a lot of points on paper, next time I will put them on the speaker notes instead of the main slides
  4. Need to vary tone of voice more - I hadn't realized this.  Something to be said for not watching a tape of yourself  :).  I will aim for more dynamic delivery in the future.
  5. "There were some technical words he used such as "bisocialization" where he could have substituted something more simple, if possible." - next time, I'll include definitions if I use new terms.

And now the good stuff, the things I should keep the same, or do more of  (the details are given below instead of just the synopsis, if you care to read them; the feedback is not attributed, but quoted near-verbatim with some trimming from the students' notes):

Positive feedback:

  1. I felt that he had a lot of knowledge and was a good communicator.
  2. After I listened to this speaker, I realized the significance of group discussion. The group discussion provides a working environment for group members to generate and discuss business ideas. We can draw new insights from other people, although they do not have expertise in the specific area.
  3. It was helpful to learn about the different factors of creating a new concept or new idea for a business.  And ideas that helped current business sustain itself.   After coming up with an idea, it is also helpful to share those ideas and get feedback.  There may be factors that may not have been considered.  I enjoyed listening to Vikram Singh and he seemed to really enjoy presenting.
  4. Mr. Singh did a good job of talking to the class, and not at us.  His examples were easy to swallow and the material he was presenting was easy to follow.  The strength of his presentation was in his speaking and involvement of the class.
  5. I liked Vikram's definition of Creativity: The ability to transcend traditional ideas to create a meaningful new ideas. This approach encourages people to think more and be more creative. A lot of us think we are not creative but truth is, we all are. We can be creative by observing the products we have available in the market, and transpose them to another product that provides different value.   The presentation was interesting, and having well-prepared ppt slides gave deeper impression of the presentation and the speaker.
  6. It was good to have someone who was so knowledgeable come in to speak to us.  I particularly enjoyed listening to his feedback on our team feedback regarding our business ideas.  He really emphasized the importance of teamwork and how it’s extremely beneficial to have a variety of people who think differently on the same team.  Not only did he cover the importance of a good team when starting a new business venture, but he also touched upon many important aspects of selecting a correct opportunity.  Opportunities are only available during a certain window but we must be prepared to seek out those opportunities as they unravel.  Overall, I very much enjoyed the discussion and presentation by Vikram Singh.
  7. Overall, I really enjoyed our first speaker.  Vikram seemed very informed and spoke from experience.  I especially liked when he mentioned that, at times during group meetings/discussions, you have to think "outside of the box" or in ways that contradict your usual train of thought to help advance ideas as a whole.  He also seemed up to date on the most current events in regards to his field and made me wonder where he gets his information from.
  8. It is great to have a guest speaker who is in the real business world come and share experiences with respect to the topic in the textbook. It helps me understand the concept more clearly. I liked that he let the class share ideas and opinions freely. And one of the most interesting and useful things I learnt is the "idea matrix". It can be applied to our project in helping screen out our business ideas.
  9. It was interesting as he was very excited to share it with the class. I like how he put everything in bullet points and made it easy to understand and like a "theory".
  10. I thought this was an excellent talk.  He was interesting and clearly passionate about the topic.  He provided great information.  I really enjoyed his presentation and learned a lot.
  11. I really enjoyed what Mr. Singh had to share with the class. He gave us insightful information along with examples of real-life experiences that will be helpful to us all in the future. I thought his ideas on group dynamics were very interesting along with how they compare to individual participation. I also thought his ideas on the creative process gave me a better understanding on how to foster an idea into something more.
  12. Very good presenter, I wish to have a copy of his slides. He knows what he's talking about and not just theory, but practical insights about business. Overall I liked his emphasis of team work that uses different skills of every individual to get things done. And I got a chance to talk with him after class and was very informative.
  13. The speaker raised the discussion about the roles in 6 hats. It's very useful to find that some people placed their roles by the hat. They had a chance to think and present their ideas that they may not ever realize that they are good at. This is useful to our project because each teammate has to play various roles in the group so that our work will be on the right track. For example, cautious role is very important because people cannot always support ideas which may be good but not feasible at the same time. Also the speaker gave an idea about creativity. We know that in order for us to be creative, implementing the idea is important because it will help us see many ideas, possibilities etc.. of a particular thing or idea. In addition, we've learnt that it's important to know ourselves such as strengths & weaknesses, analyze rules of the game by understand group dynamics, assertive ideas, set structure, goal, timeline and finally don't just wing it so that the idea will be effectively. These are very useful as well since we can apply these ideas to our group project and make it successfully.
  14. I think it was a good opportunity for us to have the speaker visiting in the last class. He mentioned about many theories and concepts such as the creative process and knowing yourself. Listening to what he said, I think he helped me see things in different aspects which I think are really important for the entrepreneur to obtain.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mazda Furai Spy Shots - the Future of Cars is Here!

Normally, I leave my musings on cars to my Autos blog  (  But this time the blog is about the future of car design, so it belongs on this blog too.

The Mazda Furai concept car is among the top reasons Mazda is going to become a force to be reckoned with in car design - it is mind-blowingly awesome! 

The Furai is the fifth 'Nagare' car, and the final one.  Furai means "sounds of the wind", and thats where the entire car's concept comes from.  Lets just say this - in design, in looks, in sound, this car captures that!  Check out the photos below, followed by the videos - yes, its a real, running car, and only has relatively minor changes needed to turn it from concept to reality!  Amazing.

And yes, it has gull-wing doors.  Sweet!

It has a 450 bhp rotary engine - I'm not sure if that will be kept in the final version of the car.  But listen to the sound in that video, just listen to that engine!  That is what driving is all about.

Mada Furai

Mada Furai

Mada Furai

   Mada Furai

Mada Furai

Mada Furai

Mada Furai

Revolution Health's Traffic - How to Play the Traffic Game

There was a comment on my earlier post on Revolution Health raising a good point - viz that I should check different traffic sources, and not just quote Quantcast. 

Quantcast, alexa, compete, comScore, hitwise - they all have different methodologies, and generally have different measurements for sites, even the big ones.  comScore is the one most advertising agencies prefer - but if you use comScore, be aware of what you're seeing. 

As an example, Revolution Health in comScore shows up as the third largest Health site;  this is because there are sites such as, Daily Strength, and SparkPeople (which also runs SparkRecipes and SparkTeens), with a total of about 5.4 MM unique visitors, that assign their traffic over to Revolution Health.  Revolution Health represents these sites in ad deals, and in exchange gets to report their traffic in its "network". 

Revolution  Health also bought a few sites - CarePages in April 2007, and HealthTalk in December 2007.  It of course gets to report these sites under its traffic in comScore, and shows bump ups in traffic as a result of these acquisitions. 

If I were to take an impartial stand, I would (a) definitely remove 'ad representation' sites when reporting a site's traffic, and (b) put an asterisk next to traffic bumps due to acquisitions... but still include them.

Here is my take on comScore info for Revolution Health's traffic (leaving out smaller and sub-sites that don't contribute enough).  These are estimated numbers, of course!

revolution health traffic

Friday, September 12, 2008

Revolution Health Sale to Waterfront Media - update

Following my older blog post on Revolution Health possibly looking for exit strategies  (,  now there is talk of them merging with Everyday Health, which belongs to Waterfront Media.  

I'm not sure how much conjecture there is in this news - the Washington Post was the only major news outlet that seemed to carry this article.   Plus, we've heard stuff like this before - layoff news from Revolution seems to come every couple of months.  And around August, there was talk of them merging with Glam,  which would have been funny.

So why might this merger make sense?  Well, to begin with, WebMD is the big bully in the online Health space.  Most Health sites need to sell display and other advertising to make money, and everyone plays second fiddle to WebMD.  With the market softening, this starts hurting even more.

Everyday Health and Revolution Health could merge, and start showing their combined traffic to potential advertisers and media agencies - this at least shows them  having traffic levels comparable to WebMD. 

At the same time, though, there is one issue - this would be the same as the old Daily Strength-Revolution deal, where Revolution signed up to have their ad sales team represent Daily Strength.   And they would get to show DS metrics under the Revolution name in comScore, if they needed to.  But if agencies thought about it, they would really be paying not for this combined set of eyeballs, but a lower number, since the sites would have a large overlap of users.  i.e. the true unique visitor traffic would need to be figured out, to ensure that advertisers and their agencies were getting the best deal.

Both sites were already doing this anyway - Waterfront Media operates a plethora of websites, including the one-dimensional-but-very-popular site.

In terms of other strengths, Everyday Health is much better than Revolution at SEM, getting more traffic at lower cost.  And I like Revolution's branding and web 2.0-is look better.  So maybe there are synergies.... I just don't feel the combination will be greater than its parts.

Where does RightHealth,  my employer Kosmix's big Health property (#2 Health Information site per HitWise) end up with all these changes?  Well, for one thing, competition suddenly goes down in all aspects, if EveryRevolution is formed.  In my job, I'll fight against one less sales team and one less Business Development team  (I'm ignoring the benefits of more competitors right now, they are outweighed by the cons),  we'll get more traffic, the online Health space loses one major contributor to fragmentation....

To end this post, I'll throw out some potential names for the combined entity; pick your poison:

  • EvolutionHealth  (my current favorite
  • EveryHealthRevolution  (a close second)
  • RevolutionDay
  • EveryRevolution

If one of these is picked, I expect a royalty check.

Lecture at San Francisco State University MBA class

On Tuesday September 9th, I was an expert speaker/ guest lecturer at San Francisco State University's MBA class, for the course:

MGMT 831:  The Entrepreneurial Process

I spoke on 'Creativity and Idea Generation',  and wove my talk in with the class's professor (Geoffrey Desa).   (slides are attached below).  The class was very interesting - I learnt one new tool, and got some great examples from the class of products and companies they considered creative. 

Another of my favorite parts of the class - we had some group discussions and role plays.  Coming from a company and surroundings immersed in tech, it was very interesting to hear the different ideas being discussed, which covered retail, gambling and the food industry, among others. 

I also demo'ed our new Kosmix site;  I loved the reactions of the class.  We also got to talk about Cuil's launch, and I could give some info as a search insider.

Finally, I thought through how I could have improved my part of the talk.  The class will also send feedback next week, which will help me further refine my part.

Overall, the experience was amazing, and I'm looking forward to next time!

creativity and idea generation

creativity and idea generation

creativity and idea generation

creativity and idea generation

creativity and idea generation

creativity and idea generation

creativity and idea generation

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Moving up the Google rankings!

I'm quite happy - I'm crawling up the Google ladder.  eg:  search for "Revolution Health up for sale", and my main blog is the second search result.  Sweet!

Or search for "Revolution Health in trouble" - my blog is the third result. 

Wish I could bottle this formula.  Next step - getting my individual, focused blogs (Tech, Cars, Travel) to move up the rankings too.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Sony Vaio recall

Over 400K Sony Vaio laptops are being recalled,  due to an issue with burning up. 

Poor Sony.   This is quite bad.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Revolution Health up for Sale, or just in Trouble?

Tongues are wagging across the valley about Steve Case's Revolution Health being up for sale.  Is this true?  Or is Revolution just in a bit more trouble (after all the rumors of folks being unhappy and leaving, no health insurance for quite a while, etc. etc.). 

Either way, their traffic is dropping precipitously - see the graph below, from Quantcast.


This is quite the drop-off.  However, it could also be a function of Revolution slowing down their SEM efforts - they grew their traffic aggressively using SEM (and who doesn't today?), but early estimates held that the Revolution gurus were spending between $400K - $800k/month between October 2007 to May 2008, without getting a proportionate return.  If that was the case, then it makes sense that they ramp down their SEM activities until they can run them profitably, or at break-even.... or even at a loss that is sustainable, given their overall burn-rate.

There is, of course, another option - that Google changed their algos with respect to Revolution Health, temporarily destroying their SEM strategies.  It happens quite often,  much to the detriment of Google advertisers. 

(Its not just SEM players who get taken to task every now and then; SEO companies also get whacked when the big G changes its ranking algos - witness what happened to last year).

By the way, on a totally separate note,  the graph above shows why I love Quantcast;  comScore, which is the metrics provider of choice for most advertisers and agencies (specially in the Health industry), shows a company's total network.  A few months earlier,  Revolution signed a deal with Daily Strength, to supply ads to DS.  comScore would probably show Daily Strength Page Views and other metrics under Revolution Health.

Mexico to have Mobile Payments

(posted August 27, 2008)

Mexico is following in the footsteps of Asia and Europe, and beating the US at enabling new payment systems and methods. 

Folks can now link their savings accounts to their cell phones, so they can use them to make payments in participating vendors, which include quite a few stores, some restaurants, and even taxis.  Thats quite cool.

Most of the big Mexican banks are on board, including Citigroup and BBVA.  But less than a third of the cell phone carrying folks will be covered, since not all mobile operators have signed up yet.  Telefonica SA and Lusacell are on board, but the big gorilla in the market, America Movil, isn't on yet.  And America Movil has 65% or so of the mobile market in Mexico.  So hopefully they'll sign on soon.  If this becomes big, I'm hoping the movement can move north of the border to the good old US of A as well.

The payments, by the way, are supposed to be sent via text messages.  I guess that easier than creating a new app or system.  But it doesn't seem to be the most elegant solution possible.  (But then again, Paypal uses email - and I do love using that)

Jerry Seinfeld likes Bill Gates (and Henry Blodget is a fogie)

(posted August 21, 2008)

I hate those stupid Apple ads, where they have a guy like junior Steve Jobs acting superior to a guy meant to be Bill Gates.  I like PCs, I like Bill Gates, and compared to Apple, I also like MicroSoft.  Ok, my opinion, fueled also by all the trouble I have with my iPhone.

Anyway, MicroSoft is trying to make over its image (again), and is paying Jerry Seinfeld...... TENN MEEELLION DOLLARSSSSS ...... to appear on ads with Bill G.  I would have done the ads for ten thousand dollars, but I guess MS didn't get my email.

So the first part of this blog post is about the fact that I like this move.  I love Seinfeld, quote lines from the show and his stand-up routine all the time, want to own as many Porsches as he does, and can totally buy him being pally with Bill Gates.  Good.  Lets all buy Vista. 

Second part of the post - an article by Henry Blodget today, on Yahoo Finance Tech Ticker.  The article is titled - "Microsoft, Trying to Be Cool, Hires Uncool Comic for Ad Campaign".  In the article, he even says he expects Seinfeld to appeal mainly to "fogies like us". 

You know what?  That just proves to me that Henry "Securities Fraud" Blodget knows as much about pop culture as he does about tech issues.  Seinfeld is popular among everyone from 16 - 60 years of age (I'd go further, but didn't check the comScore or Nielsen NetRatings data).  Seinfeld "uncool"?  Puhleeze! 

iPhone 3G Solar Charging Case

(posted August 12, 2008)


Lets face it, the 3G iPhone has a battery life problem.  This is exacerbated by the fact that there are now so many new toys, apps, what have you to play around with all the time.  People at my office keep the phone charging all day, connected to their laptops.  Some have car chargers, to be able to utilize the time they spend driving during the day. 

This is all quite silly, isn't it?  Well, there's now a $54 solar charging case for the phone.  It is okayish looking, and with dubious product value, specially for the cube-dwellers among us.  But if there's a way to sneak a little more juice into your phone, then $54 might not be a bad price to pay for it.

iPhone App Review - Flashlight

(posted August 13, 2008)

Some iPhone apps are handy,

Some iPhone apps are tight

One app I liked a lot today

Was John Haney's FlashLight.

This app essentially turns your phone into a flashlight - and hey, you can have nice bright colors, too!  I played around with it in a dark walk-in closet.  Quite fun, and actually works well. 

Watch out, for those who need to be aware - there is a strobe-light version that is quite jarring.  Definitely don't use if you are susceptible to attacks. 

XBox 360 price cut

(posted July 14, 2008)

Good for everyone, and in time for E3 - Microsoft on Sunday cut the price of the Xbox 360 Pro model game console with a 20 gigabyte hard drive to $299 from $349.

They also introduced a new Xbox 360 model with a 60 gigabyte hard drive, which will go on sale in stores in the U.S. and Canada for $349 in early August.

Buy it, folks, and buy ($10 cheaper now!) Gears of War!

Funny - Googling Chuck Norris

(posted August 14, 2008)

This is really funny!  On,  enter the term:

Google Chuck Norris

without any quotation marks.  Then instead of the "search" button, click on the "I'm feeling lucky" button. 

Pandora, bookmark songs and artists

(posted June4, 2008)

Pandora is allowing users to bookmark favorite songs and artists.
Check out profile pages
This is incredibly powerful - not only does it add a lot of value to the users (obviously, and very late in coming), but also in the wealth of data that Pandora can mine.

Earlier, all they had were thumbs-up or thumbs-down marks that a user could give when a song played on a station, thereby helping Pandora's algorithms in refining the station. Now there is a second level of preference available - which songs, among those the user already liked, does he/she like enough to bookmark for the future?

And as an aside, there is also the more plebian opportunity to ask users if they want to buy these songs...