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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Facebook With (More) Egg On Its Face

Facebook recently updated its Terms Of Service to effectively say - "we own your data in perpetuity, even if you go ahead and leave Facebook.  Complain all you like."  

(Ok, I took some liberties with my summary).  Anyway, Shades of Beacon!, they got slammed in the blogosphere, and had to bow down to the public's wishes.  Here's what I saw on my Facebook home page yesterday:

"Over the past few days, we have received a lot of feedback about the new terms we posted two weeks ago. Because of this response, we have decided to return to our previous Terms of Use while we resolve the issues that people have raised. "

What does this mean for Facebook?  Without oversimplifying, they do need some of the updates in their Terms of Service, to better manage their network.  And they would like to add some of the other updates, to be able to use data on their network better - specially for monitoring and monetizing. 

My guess is that they'll slowly start adding a tweak here, a sentence there, and gradually update their Terms of Service to include most of the  changes they wanted.  It will just take them some time now.

Passing 80,000 Visits On Blogs

Earlier this month (February, 2009), I crossed the 80K visits mark on my blogs.  Nice. 

My blogs are:

And on a smaller scale, my profile on blogger has now been viewed over 1,000 times. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Nissan In Pain

The current economic meltdown is taking down another Japanese Automaker.  Nissan fell to a full-year loss, its first in almost 10 years.  In this, it followed in Toyota's footsteps

About 20,000 employees (9% of its workforce) are being let go. 

Directors will have salaries reduced by 10%, and will not get bonuses, while Managers will have their salaries reduced by 5%.

Nissan, more than the other big Japanese auto makers, is rushing towards the future, as evidenced by the awe-inspiring GTR (I just saw it on the street - nice).  Lets hope they can get back to their profitable ways soon.  Their new lineup is quite exciting, with a number of speedy looking cars, including the 370Z and the Altima coupe.

nissan gtr coupe

Friday, February 13, 2009

iPhone App Review - Perfect Girl

The Perfect Girl app on the iPhone ($0.99) is hilarious.  Its one of those perfect simple ideas - and is copied (natch) by that beer ad all the guys love.

The interface is simple - one "Speak" button.  By either pressing it, or shaking your iPhone, you get the Perfect Girl to give you a perfect line.  Some examples include:

"I love ninjas"

"Wear what you want"

"I'll try anything once"

"I hooked up the surround sound",  etc.

(My favorites so far are the first and last ones).

the perfect girl

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Layoffs At Wal-Mart, Too

Recession-proof no more?  Wal-Mart is cutting 800 jobs at its Arkansas (Bill Clinton!) headquarters.  Mainly, the cuts are in the departments responsible for building new stores - as only 125 - 135 are planned for 2009,  a 20% - 25% drop from 2008. 

At the same time, I guess they'll add a lot more folks when these new stores do get built.  So at worst, this is a bit of a re-alignment.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Toyota Sees Net Loss For 2008 Fiscal Year

Even the mighty are falling (and I'm not talking about the oblivious mighty, like Detroit's Big 3).   Toyota, which has been profitable each year since 1950, is turning in its first annual net loss ($3.85 Billion,  or 350 Billion Yen) for fiscal 2008, ending in March.

toyota logo

At a broad level, there are two strategies Toyota can adopt to fix 2009-

a) Increase revenues.  Very tough, but Toyota is well situated, with its leadership in hybrid/ economical cars, as well as TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) cars.    As long as it can hold off challenges from Honda and Ford's eco-friendly cars...

One thing that is obvious is that Toyota's marketing efforts need to take a big leap here.  The Scion was a very smartly played game - they need to extend that to their breadwinners.

b) Reduce costs.  Yes, Toyota is the guru of Lean, Six Sigma, TWM, and any other buzz-words you know, plus a host of others you don't know.  They will probably figure out a way here, again, and hopefully without affecting their full-time employees (sorry contractors)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Google Blog Post On Eye-Tracking

This is a great post, specially for the real-time video showing how users' eyes move on a search page.

I'm not putting up any summary/ synopsis - most people in the business will know the basics of this post.  You'll still learn a little somethin' somethin'.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Changes At Webaroo - Now SMS GupShup

Webaroo, which over the years morphed into SMS GupShup, has long been a company I've liked.  (Anand, one of the Kosmix co-founders, and one of the investors in Webaroo, likes them too - check out his blog post on them). 

Webaroo, though, is finally moving their entire team to India.  That means those on the US team who aren't moving over, are moving on.  I believe Rakesh Mathur, their CEO, might also be taking some time off from Webaroo.

This comes after some good traction news from Webaroo -

  • SMS Gupshup has a user base of 12 Million people (I believe this is all in India.  I have the Webaroo tool installed on Firefox, but they don't seem to be working on that any more)
  • Helion Ventures and Charles River Ventures just put another $11 Million into the company, in October 2008.  Very good!


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What Else Do Kosmix And Google Have In Common

Kosmix is similar to Google in a few ways - we're both in the search space, our founders are from the same Stanford research group.... and now this. 

I was at a dinner with a few friends, including one from Google, at Palo Alto's Counter Burger (amazing burgers, I kid you not!), when the folks around us noticed what you see below.

vikram singh kosmix

I'm taking this as a great sign for Kosmix following in Google's growth curve!  Woohoo!