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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A New High

This Monday, November 24, my blogs hit a  new milestone - 1,240 visits.  Woohoo! 

Normally, between them, my blogs get around 500 visits/day, so this is a nice new rise.

This occasion calls for a random photo - how about one from Kosmix' 2007 holiday party.  Nagraj and Sailesh are flanking me.

vikram singh

Monday, November 24, 2008

Alza's Changing Face

J&J's Alza division, over the last 7 years, has been a dismal place to work.  They started by helping Google out, shutting their offices near the search giant.  Google of course immediately snapped up those facilities. 

Alza's Vacaville location has been a not too happy place to be at, since.  In the last couple of years, there have been two massive layoffs.  A large part of this is due to J&J methodically moving facilities and costs overseas.  But in Alza's case, there is a lot more going on. 

Its very sad.  Right now, I can't even get their website to load.

alza website

Apple's Gigantic Ad Budget


This shouldn't come as a surprise, given that Apple's ads are always everywhere you look;  Steve Jobs and crew apparently have an ad budget of close to $485 Million for this year. 

I would love to have Apple put a part of that ad budget online on Kosmix

Personally, by the way, I hate the Mac vs. PC ads.  So, Mac is cool, eh?  And PC is nerdy, geeky, stupid.  To me, Mac is like the high school jock picking on the nerd.  And when they both graduate, PC is going to work in a startup, while Mac will ask if you want fries with that.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Buzz Kill - Buzznet Layoffs

Damn economy.  Damn Sequoia.  Now they've made Hollywood-based Buzznet lay off 10 - 15 of their 90 employees.... today.  That's Friday.  

What a buzzkill.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

WebMD Not Buying Quality Health After All

With WebMD's share price free-fall ($32 to below $20), the erstwhile online Health leader is trimming some of its upcoming investments.  Its latest is to stop its proposed acquisition of Quality Health, which I covered earlier


This explains why, even after 3 months of announcing the deal, WebMD had not yet integrated Quality Health's traffic into its own in comScore.  As such, Waterfront Media's Everyday Health, which now reports Kosmix's RightHealth metrics under its own (see my earlier post), has a better chance of holding on to its new #1 ranking in comScore.

WebMD and Quality Health have signed an ad deal, with WebMD's sales team representing Quality Health as well.  As part of this deal, there is still a possibility that WebMD negotiates to report QH's metrics under itself in comScore.  Thats when the race begins again.

quality health

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New Milestone For My Blogs - 50,000 Visits

On Tuesday this week, my blogs passed 50,000 visits.  Sweet! 

The blogs, of course, are:

And on a smaller scale, my profile on blogger has now been viewed 550 times. 

Jerry Mandering - End Of A Yahoo Era

Its finally over.  Jerry Yang has stepped down as Yahoo's CEO

jerry yang yahoo

I feel bad for him.  Everyone else has savaged him mercilessly... while I can see that through all the tough times, he still talked about "bleeding purple", and did his best to shield his employees from harm, including laying off a smaller number than should have been appropriate.

Which of course points out that he wasn't a good CEO - a good CEO of a company as big and as troubled as Yahoo would need to make merciless, dispassionate decisions.  But in these tough economic times, saving some jobs (even if its only temporary) has to be looked at favorably.

Anyway, I want to nominate someone for the now vacant CEO post, someone who I believe has what it takes to take Yahoo to the next level....

vikram singh

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Slydial - The Polite Way To Avoid Someone

Remember the Seinfeld episode where George is trying to avoid a girl, so keeps trying to call her home or office depending on where he thinks she isn't?   Of course, he gets caught... its George. 

Now Slydial is what he really needed.  These guys (still in beta) offer a service (downloadable through apps on the iPhone, BlackBerry, WindowsMobile) where you can directly reach someone's voice-mail. 

Not bad, not bad at all. 


Monday, November 17, 2008

Twittering Trouble

Why am I using Twitter?  I do want to like it.... but I keep getting the message below:

twitter issue

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Sun Is Setting

An analyst with Sanford Bernstein, Toni Sacconaghi,  had estimated that Sun needed to cut 20% of their workforce to be able to get closer to righting themselves, mainly by raising operating margin by 5% - 7%. 

sun microsystems

Well, Sun has now announced a restructuring, which is hopefully realigning the company to be leaner and more efficient, while also laying off between 15% - 18%  (translated, 5,000 - 6,000 employees)

 sun office

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Every Right Revolution Health

I've been writing about the consolidation in the online Health space.   My last three blog posts were:

Everyday Health had started the whole thing off by stating that their goal was to become the number #1 online Health site.  Well, they just did that!  Everyday Health has now become the #1 Health site, per comScore  (and yes, this is still playing the traffic game). 

top healthSo how did EverydayHealth/ WaterFront Media manage to do this?  Since the dawn of time, WebMD has been the #1 Health site, with no one else coming even close.   EverydayHealth and Revolution Health, in their quest to gain on WebMD, kept acquiring other health sites, or representing them for online sales, in exchange getting their traffic assigned to themselves in comScore.  And then, of course, EverydayHealth acquired Revolution.... and they were still lower than WebMD.

Well, this week, we've just announced that RightHealth, Kosmix's flagship Health site (we were #2 in Health through most of this year, per Hitwise), is now also going to be represented for display ad sales by EverydayHealth.  RightHealth traffic is the biggest contributor to Everyday's traffic - woohoo. 

I guess the online display ads world is going to be a little different.

everyday health breakup

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Accel and MC Hammer

I was at last week's Accel party for portfolio companies and partners at San Francisco's Fluid lounge

fluid lounge

Apart from our investors, the most interesting person I saw there was MC Hammer.  He, of course, started DanceJamdancejam

Who cares how long its been since his last hit, I'll visit any startup of MC Hammer's!

 mc hammer startup

Here's MC Hammer at the TechCrunch party.  And below, the old, wilder, balloon pants Hammer!

mc hammer pants

Friday, November 7, 2008

Linked To Layoffs - LinkedIn Trimming Staff

Bay Area's very own LinkedIn surprised everyone by being the first startup to announce layoffs..... ok, maybe this is not a joking matter.

Anyway, LinkedIn is also laying off staff.  I am a bit fan of the service - I prefer it greatly over FaceBook, Friendster, MySpace, Hi5.  I hope this means the company is growing up, trying to get its act together, because the rumors out of their campus are not favorable.  And they did raise a lot of money recently, so the layoffs are a pre-emptive move, hopefully (I really don't want LinkedIn to disappear!)

By the way, surprise surprise - LinkedIn has Sequoia as one of its funders.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Signs Of A Downturn - Veoh Layoffs

San Diego-based online video site Veoh is laying off 20 of their 110 employees.

Veoh has brought in $70 Million in funding, including $30 Million last June, so this sounds like yet another pre-emptive move to manage costs during the slow economy.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Time For A Second Life - No More Business Development

Linden Labs (Second Life) is laying off its Business Development group. 

I keep forgetting that Second Life is still around.  Maybe this will refresh my memory - an old Thriller video recorded on Second Life during the early days

And to show the kind of excitement Second Life can generate, check out the huge crowds at the Obama Campaign

second life campaign

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Effects Of The Economy On Advertising

The prevailing economic conditions are having predictable waterfall effects.  Take the case of ad agencies;  their value stream begins, of course, with advertisers.  In times like these, advertisers (in general) do two things -

a) Tighten their belts - they reduce budgets, reduce staff, reduce expense accounts.  Marketing folks generally fly high, compared to many other parts of most companies.  So it is relatively easy to reduce spending on both the advertising expenditure, as well as non-ad related expenditure. 

b) Focus on ROI - traditionally, ROI on ad spend is not easy to measure.  Efforts are continually made to better understand the effects of advertisements, and media channels used to deliver a message.  Everything from immediate buying decisions, deferred buy decisions, perceptions of competitive brands, to brand lift need to be measured and used to refine ad spend.  But ROI on ad spend, to quite an extent, is a black art. 

Consider this - the effects of online advertisements are easier to measure than television or radio ads (with online ads, there are direct actions that can be immediately measured, such as clicks on ads, how long the ads were visible on the page, etc.). 

And in the world of online ads, CPM (cost per thousand impressions) ads have the least immediately measurable ROI, compared to CPC (cost per click) ads, which are second to CPA (cost per action) ads.  Of course, I am assuming that brand lift is not the most important metric here; when brand lift is the metric, you have to look for more esoteric metrics.  But when action is directly required, and ROI is top of mind, CPA ads are the clear winner, followed by CPC ads. 

So what do I think will happen?  Well, first of all, based on the points above, there will be layoffs and budget cuts in all marketing departments, and secondly, ad budgets will be moved to areas and agencies that can promise a deeper focus on ROI.  This of course should imply that print and TV ads will give some ground to online ads.   (see my earlier blog post about some layoffs already announced)

As part of my job at Kosmix, I am already starting to see some of this.

And in online ads, we should see a higher proportion of CPA ads, then CPC ads, both taking away from CPM ads.  This will also drive a slightly less desirable behavior in websites - where CPM ads give a guaranteed revenue for impressions, one needs to drive users to click on CPC ads; and with CPA ads, you have to drive either qualified users (who will end up completing a desirable action on the landing site after clicking on the ad), or send over a lot of users and hope a fair proportion of them complete a required action.  That should make sites less user friendly, unfortunately. 

Monday, November 3, 2008

Bad Google Ads

On my main blog, I have Google ads turned on, as a small experiment.  Now I'm going to turn them off. 

On all my pages, I see those foolish ads asking people to vote yes on Prop 8, which is fundamentally and morally incorrect - these idiots want to foist their version of laws onto everyone.  I hope Prop 8 gets turned down by the largest margin ever recorded, only so these fools get so embarrassed they never try something like this again..

The worst part - in no way are these ads targeted even slightly to my content;  the only connection is that I am in California, where this proposition is up for vote. 

prop 8 ad

Google, fix this immediately!

What's En Haut, Google?

Google is still not stable.  I guess I shouldn't expect it to be, specially since most issues are too minor, or too obscure for most users to notice.  But today's was a funny one - for some reason, Google took me to Deutschland - everything was in German, including the results, until I clicked on the "Google in English" link.   Fun times

google germany

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Advertising Downturn - Microsoft Razorfish Layoffs


Razorfish, which Microsoft acquired as part of last year's $6 Billion aQuantive acquisition, is laying off 40 of its 2,000 staff members.  The layoffs are all from their New York office, which has lost quite a few clients in the recent economic downturn. 

At the same time, Razorfish is looking to expand its presence in Europe, and is buying Wysiwyg, one of Spain's largest online ad agencies. 

Add to these two the rumors that Microsoft is looking to sell off Razorfish (which used to be Avenue A/ Razorfish before a recent rebranding), and you have an enigma wrapped in a conundrum. 

The rumors around Razorfish's potential sale have quite a bit of meat to them.  Add to them the following facts, that bolster the rumors:

a) Microsoft was really looking to buy aQuantive, in response to Google snapping up DoubleClick.  Razorfish came as part of the package, and didn't really fit with Microsoft's overall strategy. 

b) Microsoft puts almost $250 Million a year into digital advertising.  You read that right!  And they use other agencies, mainly (as far as I know) Universal McCann for a lot of their digital media plans.  Now, if Razorfish was strategically a fit, wouldn't this be different?

c) Razorfish represents a broad spectrum of clients.  But they aren't really selling them on advertising on Microsoft pages front and center.  That stands to reason - without objectivity, Razorfish would not be able to keep their clients for very long.  But then how does it serve Microsoft to keep them around?


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Thanks Zecco - 225 Trades in October

Thanks to Zecco's unlimited free trades month, I completed 225 trades in October.  Yep, I managed to make a tidy profit.  I'm not sure how I'm going to manage with only 10 free trades/month from now on.

And of course, still staying true to my original plan - no short sells, no options trading, nothing except straight out stock trades that kill the bear's buzz

online trading