Come On People, The NewsCorp Announcement Isn’t the End of Google

It was with much brouhaha today Rupert Murdoch explained that he was going to pull NewsCorp from the Google search spiders.  This of course is interesting, but I hardly think that it spells the end of Google and I believe that the impact on NewsCorp will be significantly more negative.The general sense is easy to comprehend, NewsCorp owns the content.  Google is spidering it and sending people there for free.  Obviously, NewsCorp is in business to make money, but wants to make more.  Journalists at the Wall Street Journal aren’t free.So I get it, but I also get that Google drives more traffic than anyone on the planet right now and I’d suspect that it would be better to get that traffic than not, but what do I know.  Since they didn’t ask me, I’ll offer my suggestion – offer 1/2 the article as a teaser and a micropayment for the remainder.  This leads to the micropayment issue not being resolved, but hey, we are a race of short term thinkers.I don’t think that, in Jason Calacanis‘ view point, that this is the most important story of the year. Nor do I believe that this is going to impact Google in the least.  I’m just guessing right now, but looking Compete, I only see 14M monthly unique visitors to the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and the Times.  14 million uniques.  Google gets 145M uniques per month, which is where Jason probably got the 10%.But I’d suggest that people that go to sites that are owned by News Corp, go there directly more often than not, and not through search.  If I want to find out what is going on in San Jose, I don’t go to Google and search for it, I’ve been trained over the past 15 years to go to MercuryNews.  Likewise, if I’m looking for financial information (and want to get really good writing), I don’t search for it, I go to Wall Street Journal.  I’d guess I’m not alone in this.Jason does paint a great picture of this playing out though, with Microsoft’s Bing coming in to serve NewsCorp content as a premium:

So, for a moment, imagine a world where Bing could say in their TV commercials:“Want to search the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and 3,894 other newspapers and magazine?”“Well, then don’t go to Google because they don’t have them!”“Go to Bing, home of quality content you can trust!”

He also asks 3 pretty good questions about this rejection of Google and a potential partnership with Bing.  Here they are with my answers:a) If 1,000 major publications pursued this strategy, would it work? The vast majority of the 1,000 major publications have completely missed the bus when it comes to online strategy.  I have a really hard time believing that they could pull themselves out of their scotches and build a vision for this type of collusion and then execute on this.  By the time that they are able to even see this happening, 50% of them will either be acquired or will have gone out of business.b) If you would only search the top 1,000 newspapers and magazines on Bing, would you use it? How often? No.  I get my local news from 1 news source (Mercury News) mentioned above and I get my national news from CNN or WSJ, or NYTimes or something with a bit more credibility.  Everything else comes from blogs and citizen journalism.  At some point, the line between blogs and major news outlets will change, but that is a different story.c) What is the percentage chance this will happen (I need a #), and why? Less than 10%.  First off, Rupert Murdoch views this as a competitive advantage.  Other news outlets will see this as a similar strategy, but won’t go the way of NewsCorp and may look for other outlets for their online distribution.  Second, there is no way that the logistics of this could be managed.  Getting 1,000 (or some other large number) organizations to work together is damn near impossible.  Finally, I think that organizations would rather figure out a way to monetize their content more effectively based on Google sending traffic, rather than cut off their noses to spite their face.What do you think? Leave me a comment and tell me if I’m nuts or inline with this thinking.Here is the video to learn more:


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5 Reasons That Google ChromeOS Should Focus on SMB, not the Enterprise (at first)

As always, Sameer Patel has a great post on Enterprise 2.0 and the impact that Google’s announced, but still vaporous, operating system.  He even paints a fantastic picture of what having Google Chrome OS would / could look like in the enterprise:

Google packages up a Netbook  with ChromeOS, Google Apps, Umbrella Analytics, Google Gears and and Wave-enabled Enterprise 2.0 capabilities. The full enchilada along with a developer platform to enable customization for specific use cases in the enterprise. Now that’s a software distribution model that in theory can give SharePoint bundled with Exchange, a serious run for its money. And that also speeds up commoditization of Enterprise 2.0 solutions.

Which would be awesome! But again, Google is talking about 2010.  We know that Google apps stay in beta for about a millennium, so assume that Chrome OS is actually ready for prime-time in mid-2011. Sprinkle some Google Wave on that, which also won’t be ready until 2010ish, and all of a sudden we are talking about stuff that is 2 years out.  Cool stuff, but so are flying cars.  No enterprise is investing in Google Chrome OS or Wave until late 2011.Flip the equation on it’s head though and rather than focus on enterprises, focus on absolutely owning SMB.  If you have less than 50 employees, Chrome OS, with the apps package that Sameer laid out, is a no-brainer.

  1. With self-service, SMB is a much easier market to penetrate. Small businesses don’t have large IT departments if they have any IT department at all. Really small businesses are just a few folks trying to deliver a service that they are good at and don’t want to have to deal with hiring some guy at $100 an hour to ensure that the drivers on their XP system work with the new color printer that they just got.  Small businesses don’t care if a service is in the endless Google beta cycle.  They want to know if it works? Is it always available? Is it relatively secure? Can I afford it?
  2. Google Checkout and Payment Systems are already there. Google has the payment system figured out. Buying this stuff will be insanely easy.  While at the same time being able to provide Checkout to a wide number of small businesses to help modify their payment system out of the box. This could be a huge thorn in the side of PayPal.
  3. Open Source will create an abundance of apps. While it will take forever for the enterprise to bring ChromeOS on board, because it is open source, there will be a ton of applications for SMB right out the gate. Think about Google Forms, Google SFM, Google Finance, Google Tax, the list goes on and on.  Companies like DreamFactory will make a bunch of easily ported applications and development tools.  Think of iPhone apps, but with more power.  Go into the Chrome Store (like Force.com), find your apps, order them and pay via Google Checkout and they are already running.  Again, keep it simple for the small business owner.
  4. SMB doesn’t care about beta – I mentioned it above, but most people recognize that Google beta and other beta aren’t the same thing.  SMB owners want their machines to boot up, they want to be able to access their apps, they want their data to be there.  If GMail’s beta period is any indication to the performance of ChromeOS in beta, there won’t be any issues at all.
  5. Google can connect SMB’s together via Wave or Orkut. It’s been amazing that MSFT hasn’t figured it out yet.  If you own the OS, you should own the social network.  Xobni recognizes that the best social network is in your inbox, but imagine being able to easily connect to other like businesses.  How powerful would it be if auto body repair shops were able to connect to other auto body repair shops to share ideas, trade parts, develop joint marketing plans or make referrals?

It’s a long way out, but it was a big announcement this morning.  I don’t know if it was a nuclear bomb, as TechCrunch called it, is quite right, but it certainly was big and will be a thorn in Redmond’s side for the next 18 months.

YHOO + MSFT: Did You Hear?

I’ve been thinking about MSFT & YHOO ever since Steve Souders went to Google about a month ago. Not so much in regards to an acquisition, but for what MSFT did to Borland during my first year there back in 1996 (I’m old).If you aren’t familiar with the history, during the battles between Visual Basic (MSFT) and Delphi (Borland), MSFT recruited away 30 members of the Delphi development team, including Paul Gross and Anders Hejlsberg, essentially killing Delphi and with it, Borland. MSFT threw obscene amounts of money at the Borland Delphi team. Literally, tens of millions of dollars.Why wouldn’t MSFT & GOOG do the same thing? Why not just identify a few dozen of the key people within the company, throw a ton of money at them and kill YHOO from the inside? Facebook did it to the west coast sales team a few years ago. Why not keep that going?  It would be cheaper than doing an acquisition.Then I started thinking about the old Bill Gates spam that came out in the early days. Remember that?  If you forwarded an email, Bill Gates would give you a few dollars for each person you sent it to because he was tracking some new email service?For $45 billion, MSFT just paid about $55 per user for YHOO’s 800 million users. MSFT may have been able to extend an offer to pay key users $100 to migrate their usage to MSN and generate some pre-defined number of page views. They would have still paid out a bunch of money, but it would have been far less than the $45B that they are paying for YHOO and they would have killed YHOO, possibly making them more intimidating to GOOG (maybe). It also would have gotten users on MSN faster than the integration will happen.Alas, Ballmer didn’t call me for guidance and selfishly announced the acquisition before I could offer my two cents. Two of the more perfect metaphors that I’ve heard are ‘two elephants mating’ (Paul Kedrosky) and ‘Tying the Titanic to the iceberg’ (Andy Baio).The problem that YHOO has faced, with few exceptions (Flickr, MyBlogLog, Upcoming), for at least a couple of years is that YHOO needs to pander to the lowest common denominator. YHOO needs to make 800 million people come back to their pages on a regular basis.  Not an easy task, but it is hard to release services that are unique and innovative that 800 million people will adopt (Twitter is awesome, but only has 800K users).  In other words, YHOO has become the Wal-Mart of the internet.There is nothing wrong with being Wal-Mart mind you.  Wal-Mart is a big, consistently profitable company, but don’t expect the next big thing to come out of it. The company will be too conservative or too slow.In the end, the MSFT acquisition of YHOO will go through.  The integration of 3 different ad plaforms (YHOO, RightMedia & MSN) will take a really long time.  This will frustrate advertisers who will migrate to GOOG (for contextual) and Facebook (for display).   The really good people within YHOO (the people they should have targeted in the first place), will get frustrated with the stock price, the direction of the integration and the idea of working for ‘the man’.If there is a negative impact for my friends, I’ll be bummed.  They are smart, they will land on their feet.  I’ll be more disappointed if the YHOO services that are really interesting, like Flickr, like MyBlogLog, like the stuff coming out of Brickhouse, gets mitigated to the back burner in favor of less exciting services that pander to the masses.

Yahoo to Lay Off 20% of Workforce

Per Techcrunch this morning.

Silicon Alley Insider is reporting that Yahoo is preparing to lay off up to 20% of its 12,000 strong workforce, a big purge as the Sunnyvale based company attempts to become more profitable.

Talks of staff downsizing at Yahoo have been doing the rounds since former CEO Terry Semel left Yahoo in June.

Despite traffic to Yahoo properties remaining ahead of Google (according to comScore), YHOO stock has performed poorly over the last twelve months months as the company has failed to convert that traffic to strong profit growth, unlike Google.

SAI’s source claims that the move is about improving the outlook for Yahoo and strengthening its position so it can remain a standalone company by increasing the share price. We don’t know directly but this seems to be logical reasoning. There will be a lot of Yahoo employee’s who will not be enjoying their Martin Luther King holiday long weekend now this news has leaked.

If you’re working for Yahoo and know more, drop us a line.

Update (Arrington): I’ve been on a plane all day, but have some additional facts on this (we were holding the story until early this week per our source’s request): The layoffs will be 10%-20% and are being recommended by the executive team after a recent offsite. The board will make the final decision at a meeting two days before the next earnings call on January 29. Layoffs will likely be announced then.

This is a drag.  I hope that my friends are okay.

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Yahoo Music Unlimited – ???

*As a disclaimer, I am a Yahoo employee, but don’t work with Yahoo! Music.  I love their service, but have no insight into the future of it.*I always take what Valleywag & Silicon Alley Insider say with a grain of salt.  Especially when it comes to Yahoo.  Both sites tend to be less than friendly, but hey, it drives page views.But I have to say, I was really bummed out when I read their posts on the future of Yahoo! Music Unlimited, Yahoo’s music subscription service.  In essence, both posts feel that the service is going the way of Yahoo! Bill Pay, Yahoo! Enterprise Solutions and Yahoo! Picks.It’s really sad. I love Yahoo! Music Unlimited (YMU).  I’ve been a subscriber since day one and continue to pay for it.  Ian and team have built an outstanding service.  I listen to it all day at work.  I listen to it at home on a PC that I have hooked up to the home AV system.I like my music in small digestible chunks.  I’ll go years without listening to a particular artist, then one day, I’ll go crazy and absorb a whole catalog.  I did this recently with Bob Dylan.  I don’t even really like Dylan that much, but for some reason I had a hankering to listen to him (Dewey Cox had something to do with it, I’m sure). I would never, ever, ever pay for a Bob Dylan record.  I’d never even pay for a couple of singles to get my fix.  With YMU, I was able to get through my craving without paying anything extra.  Of course, I could have used BitTorrent to get it, but I really want to support legal methods of obtaining content.  I probably could have gone to last.fm and found it.  I could have spent some time finding old video on YouTube (again, legal???), but the set it and forget it of YMU is priceless.  Frankly, all of those options require more work than I’d want to put into getting Subterranean Homesick Blues out of my head.I really like the freedom of getting a craving for Bob Dylan, listening to a few songs and, when my desire for his nasaly, hippie poetry is over, and a new craving for Sepultura arises, I can meet my needs.  Don’t laugh, it happens more than you’d think.As for the Yahoo catalog, it seems that they have everything.  Well, almost everything.  No Gorilla Biscuits (but who does?) and no Minor Threat (Dischord issues), but they do seem to have everything else. The service is exemplary for exploring new artists too.  I’ve discovered more cool bands (probably not cool if I think that they are) thanks to YMU.  I’d be disappointed if I paid for some of the songs that I’ve found (Jay Z’s American Gangster), but with YMU, no harm no foul.  One set price per year, it’s all good.Ultimately, the downfall of the service will be associated with not being available on the ipod.  Many people point to the fact that they don’t want to pay for music as a subscription.  This is just dumb.  People pay for everything as a subscription (cable, internet, news, trash, phone, etc.). I have a closet full of CDs collecting dust.  Thousands of dollars worth of CDs.  I own them, but there is no way that I want to listen to them.  Most of the music, I don’t even like or I purchased them for one song.  I’ve sold many of them back to the record stores where I purchased them who in turn sold them again (thus making money of off something that they shouldn’t have, but that is a different post).  In the end, because tastes change, you end up getting rid of the music anyway.  Sure there are some classics, but within a few years, all you have is a closet full of $14 plastic discs (or a hard drive full of $0.99 songs) that you don’t listen to anyway.  Subscription music totally makes sense. If Valleywag & Silicon Valley Insider are correct, it’s a shame that it may not be an option much longer.  YMU is a great service.  I’d hate to see it go away.

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