I apologize for the silence lately, but I’ve been cranking pretty hard on my new project, Degree3 Q&A. It’s a social Q&A system that sites can quickly and easily integrate into their site, helping visitors find answers more easily than using comments or forums. I’ll be talking more about it later, but for now, if you’re interested in trying it out, drop me a line or apply for our Private Beta at Degree3.com. In the meantime, try it out on this page, just to the right of this post, and let me know what you think!
Category Archives: Me
That’s right, last week Demand Media bought my site, Answerbag, from InfoSearch Media, and I will be going along with it. It was just eight months ago that I sold Answerbag to InfoSearch, and now we’ll find a new home again on Santa Monica’s 3rd Street Promenade with Demand Media.
The deal is somewhat bittersweet for me. I am excited to be working with Demand Media, particularly with Rich Rosenblatt and Joe Perez, both of whom I worked with at Intermix Media. They have a large network of sites that will open a lot of opportunities for Answerbag, so that’s a Good Thing.
I am, however, saddened to be leaving InfoSearch Media. The team at ISHM understand the Q&A space as well as just about anyone, with several execs coming from Ask Jeeves including George Lichter (CEO), Claudio Pinkus (Chairman), and David Warthen (CTO, former CTO and co-founder of AskJeeves). Alas, I go with Answerbag, so I’m starting tomorrow at Demand, and I’ll be looking to build Answerbag as much as possible with Demand’s support! They have demonstrated a strong commitment, and indeed they were willing to shell out $3M for it, so I believe Answerbag and I will have a good home.
I am happy for ISHM as well. They made 2x-3x on their investment in Answerbag, and now have a nice little pool of cash to fund their future projects. As George put it, “InfoSearch Media is small company with limited resources — we didn’t want to under nourish either Answerbag or ContentLogic. We saw the opportunity to work with Demand Media as a way to ensure that both groups could have what they needed. Itâ€™s kinda like having kids and learning to let them go. A tough decision though, to be sure.”
On to world news – after months of specuation, Google buys YouTube! Google has a lot of smart people, and they must have some secret plan for it, but I just don’t understand the purchase. Youtube has 2 strengths: Brand awareness and traffic. It has no technological or design differentiators over other video sharing sites. What makes YouTube special? Nothing, really. There are dozens of other video sharing sites that do the same thing, but YouTube is just the best recognized one.
So why would Google buy them? They don’t need the traffic, and their brand is already better than YouTube’s. The only thing that makes sense is if they’ve finally figured out a business model for YT, one that has eluded YouTube execs for two years now.
The most obvious route would be to drop video ads before or after the video clips they serve up, and given Google’s recent history of trying to broaden their AdWords/AdSense advertising platform to other mediums, this would be my guess.
The challenge for GooTube will be to integrate ads in a way that doesn’t drive people away from the service. Google revolutionized web advertising once before when they started using text ads that actually performed better than the increasingly annoying graphical ads, such as the infamous “Punch the monkey” or X-15 wireless camera ads. Perhaps this will take the shape of AdSense-style text ads showing at the end of videos. This would reduce the inevitable annoyance from graphical or video ads, and it would allow their existing customer-base to target their ads to YouTube videos with no extra effort.
So, yes, this has great revenue potential for Google, but enough to justify a $1.6 B price tag? And Google is sure to get sued for the copyright infringements on YouTube that went unpunished up until now because YouTube had no cash flow to go after. Only time will tell if this is a good move for Google or a debacle, but it will obvious one way or another in the next year or two.
I discovered early in my life that I have a gift for criticizing things. No matter what you’re talking about, I can find a downside to it. If I won the Lotto, I’d complain that I have to pay 1/2 of it in taxes, and that Bush will probably spend that money paying Halliburton to build another prison in Iraq, next to the still broken-down water purification plant. When Christmas rolls around, I lament the commercialization of the holiday and how sick and tired I am of hearing the same carols year after year. When I travel, I criticize the ever-changing security procedures at LAX and how poorly documented they are, so you only know what’s going on if you actually ask a security guard.
Does all this mean I’m a pessimist? Perhaps. You can make up your own mind from this blog as I progress.
I’ve been working on this creature we call the Internet for 10 years, and only now am I getting around to starting my own blog. To tell you the truth, I don’t really like blogs. I don’t even read my friends’ blogs, and honestly I’m not expecting my friends to read this blog. There are far too many bloggers who go on and on about their family or what they had for lunch that day or what movies they want to see this weekend. I only care about such things if I’m already a close friend of yours, and if I am a close friend of yours, I’d rather talk to you to catch up with your life than read about it on the web.
Perhaps we can chalk that up to my ADD. We’ll discuss that later on. Personally, I think it’s because you don’t get the “color” by reading something on the web – if I want to learn about your life, I want to hear what you have to say, ask you questions, and have a real conversation. Reading a blog is primarily a one-way conversation, aside from the highly asynchronous “comments” that lend an iota of life to the whole institution.
But here I am anyway. And now that I think about it, why am I doing this? I believe that, despite any pessimistic leaning, I have some observations on the world that I’d like to share. Particularly, observations about Media, Marketing, and Technology, probably the three professional/industrial worlds that I’m closest to in my everyday life. This unholy trinity does have some great things to offer, but they are also abused, and I’d like to take this opportunity to examine how MM&T affect our lives. More often that not, I find that they have a bigger impact than I first recognized.
My next post: Why Wikipedia just doesn’t matter