WebSideStory Files for $57.5 Million IPO

WebSideStory files for $57.5 million IPO. NEW YORK – Web site analytics company WebSideStory Inc. added its name Thursday to the growing list of tech companies planning to go public, filing registration papers to raise up to $57.5 million through an IPO (initial public offering). [InfoWorld: Top News]

“Last year it had a net loss of $1.9 million on revenue of $16.4 million. The company squeaked into the black last quarter, turning a profit of $141,000 on revenue of $5 million.” (InfoWorld)

Omniture, which is probably WebSideStory’s leading competitor is a Utah-based company which�raised $14.5 million recently from Hummer Winblad and other investors. The Salt Lake Tribune reported Omniture had revenues�of $8 million�last year and is shooting for�$20 million in 2004, which puts it right on the heels of WebSideStory with it’s recent $5 million quarter.

Mistakenly, however, the Tribune also reported that Josh James and John Pestana sold MyComputer.com for $57 million in 2000. They probably learned that�from the Utah Technology Report.�What that report didn’t say is that the sale to NetObjects�did not actually close. Oops. That’s why I subscribe to the Deseret News. (Just kidding)

Actually, Dave Politis’ article in the Deseret News was far better, but it was also slightly inaccurate. Omniture has had a connection with Hummer Winblad for a long time through Eliot Jacobsen, who was until recently COO of Omniture. But I’m sure the John Mellor connection also came in handy.

Omniture is an outstanding company with superb web analytics services. I’ve helped several companies implement Omniture SiteCatalyst and have found the service extremely powerful. When they landed MyFamily.com as a client, they actually used one of our best internally generated ideas to make their service even better.

With Omniture’s momentum in landing big clients and likely its stronger revenue growth, it will be interesting to see if�WebSideStory can actually make it out this time around. (They pulled their previous IPO in about October 2000).

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Learning on Location: WorldHistory.com from anywhere

From Wired.com, May 18th:

Technologists have long dreamed of a clickable world, where machine-readable tags link physical objects to the universe of information on the Web. That dream came closer to reality this month with the release of Semacode, a free system that lets camera phones convert bar codes into URLs.

From Smart Mobs by Howard Reingold (pp. 91-93), a must-read book.

[Rheingold met Jim Spohrer in October 2001] . . . Spohrer had taken a sabbatical from Apple . . . in 1994 with the intention of finding something new to work on. He was particularly interested in the future of education. Walking on a trail, he asked a fellow hiker the name of a plant. “The hiker said that he didn’t know, but his friend probably did. While I waited for the friend to come down the trail, I realized that I had a cell phone and a computer. It occured to me that if I could add a global positioning system, then the person who knew the plant could geo-code the message. Why not make the entire world into a geo-spatial information bulletin board? I got back to Apple and started building prototypes.”

What emerged what a proposed infrastructure called WorldBoard. In 1996, Spohrer wrote:

What if we could put information in places? More precisely, what if we could associate information with a place and perceived the information as if it were really there? WorldBoard is a vision of doing just that on a planetary scale and as a natural part of everyday life. For example, imagine being able to enter an airport and see a virtual red carpet leading you right to your gate, look at the ground and see property lines or underground buried cables, walk along a nature trail and see virtual signs near plants and rocks.

Rheingold has looked for similar research elsewhere and has “found it everywhere.” Sweden has a GeoNotes system, “which enables people to annotate physical locations with virtual notes, to add signatures, and to specify access rights.”

“Jun Rekimoto and his colleagues at Sony described in 1998 ‘a system that allows users to dynamically attach newly created digital information such as voice notes or photographs to the physical environment, through mobile/wearable computers as well as normal computers. . . “

At Infobase Ventures, we are hoping to see Worldhistory.com become a leader in the field of geocoded history. We envision a world history database that can be accessed on location either with a gps-enabled portable device or with a physical bar code (using something like Semacode) that triggers a lookup in a local database (stored on your PDA, for example) or does a wireless query to a remote database.

The key challenge with any “augmented reality” system described by Rheingold is providing individuals with information that they are truly interested in. Who wants the “annotated world” to be as cluttered as modern-day chat rooms–full of useless garbage?

The key to a useful system will be to find those educated and wise people (probably for our system historians) whom former BYU President Jeffrey R. Holland said could “sift, sort, prioritize, integrate, and give some sense of wholeness, some spirit of connectness” to the great stories and truths of history. (Educating Zion, p. 151).

If I am visiting Pearl Harbor or Gettysburg, do I want to see a virtual guest book that has thouands of comments left by random visitors? Or do I want to hear a re-enactment or listen to eyewitness accounts of those who fought in these historic battles? If I belong to a certain religion, or ethnic group, will I want my visit (including the texts I read and the audio I hear and the video I see on my portable device) to be customized based on my personality and profile? Or perhaps do I want to tune into a recorded guided tour given by the leading living expert on these famous 19th and 20th century battlegrounds?

Creating a “learning on location” system of history that is user-friendly will be a very challenging task, especially since it is impossible today to predict what future portable devices will look like and which of the many combo cell phone/PDA/mp3 player/game device systems we will need to build for.

Will Apple include cell phone capabilities in its future iPod or iPod mini? I think they’ll have to in 18-24 months when standard cell phones start shipping with hard drives. Will Sony or Nintendo’s new portable gaming devices that can feature full-motion video and other content as well as wireless connectivity be carried by teenagers all over the world? Could they tie into a “learning on location” historical database?

Lots of questions remain to be answered. Our primary concern is to position Worldhistory.com as one of many players that can help shape this incredibly interesting and rich future. The whole planet will become a learning device capable of teaching us everything that is known to have happened in the past. We’re hoping to have our piece of the “learning on location” puzzle working in the next 2-3 years. Stay tuned.

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Will Google Netscape Microsoft?

Last November, Google released its Deskbar, which allows you to search the web from your Windows toolbar without using a browser. I use it occasionally; but when I first learned about it I blogged a memo to Larry Page and Sergey Brin with what I thought was a brilliant idea, but probably one that had occured to them long before. I suggested that Google provide a free search tool that would index all your personal email and all the files on your desktop. If they did this two years before Microsoft releases Longhorn, with local and web search integrated into the OS, Google’s chances for survival would dramatically increase.

Well the NY Times reported yesterday that Google is doing exactly this with a project code-named Puffin, a project that reportedly has been in the works for about a year (several months before my memo!). Google will soon offer a free download of a local search engine tool that will index all the content on your hard drive and give you instant access to old and new files.

I bought X1, a local search engine, for $99 a couple of months ago and have recommended it to friends as a great way to search all the content on your hard drive, especially email. When Google offers its free download, I’m not sure X1 will have a prayer, unless Microsoft buys X1 and starts giving its tool away for free to compete with Google.

Long term, what is Microsoft to do to avoid being Netscaped? Microsoft gave away its web browser (and later bundled it with Windows) when Netscape

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Yahoo Gaining Subscribers But Google Mail is Threatening

Yahoo does a great job supplementing its advertising revenue with a growing subscription revenue. I like companies that offer valuable free services and then upsell you on additional premium services. I’ve been using Yahoo email for years and about 2 years ago started paying them $30-50 per year for additional storage space and spam filtering.

But even more, I like companies that offer valuable free services that are supported by other business models.

I’m beta testing Google’s new email service (gmail.com) and I will likely switch to it soon and stop paying Yahoo the $30-50 per year that I pay now. I wonder how many other paying Yahoo subscribers will drop them, even though Yahoo announced today it will give away 100 MB for free and give paid subscribers virtually unlimited storage space. Google’s free offering is 10 times better; and I bet Google will invent a better spam filter than any other free email service. So I think Yahoo will lose a lot of folks.

Even so, Yahoo is having incredible growth in their subscription revenue (they have dozens of separate services) and CEO Terry Semel now sees Yahoo eventually getting 15 million subscribers to their various subscription services.

From Wall Street Journal (5-13-04)

… a research-firm estimate that Yahoo has 40 million e-mail users in the U.S. Separately, Yahoo’s Chief Executive Terry Semel raised his long-term target for paying subscribers to Yahoo consumer services by 50%, to 15 million from 10 million. Mr. Semel offered the higher target, which isn’t tied to any particular timeframe, during an analyst meeting Thursday. He didn’t change Yahoo’s subscriber forecast for this year, which is set at 7.5 million to eight million paying subscribers. Yahoo ended the first quarter with 5.8 million paying subscribers, double its year-earlier levels.

Notes from February 2003

Yahoo ended 2002 with 2.2 million subscribers, up from 375,000 subscribers at the end of 2001. Yahoo for the first time also disclosed that a partnership with SBC Communications to provide Internet access accounted for about half, or 1.1 million, of its subscribers at the end of 2002. The rest of Yahoo’s subscribers pay for a hodgepodge of other services, including deluxe e-mail packages and online matchmaking. Yahoo executives said demand for high-speed Internet access through the SBC partnership has been particularly strong, which the company is counting on to meet its goal of adding 1 million subscribers annually.

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Online Content Spending

Spending by U.S. consumers for online content rose almost 19 percent to $1.56 billion in 2003 from 2002, largely fueled by increases in the two top categories, the Online Publishers Association and comScore Networks said on Monday.

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The Arbinger Institute

Yesterday I attended an excellent full-day leadership training session in Salt Lake City sponsored by the Sutherland Institute and presented by Jim Ferrell of the Arbinger Institute. Several state legislators and prominent community leaders also attended the workshop. As I see it, the goal was to help people with different opinions to learn how to see each other (even their opponents) as people, not as objects, so that civil dialogue can take place and lasting solutions can be found.

The Arbinger Institute bases its work on philosophy professor Terry Warner, whose work I have admired for nearly 20 years. My mother first introduced me to his work, and my wife (then fiance) and I took a marriage preparation class based on these teachings in 1987. I strongly recommend Leadership and Self-Deception as well as other works by Terry Warner and the Arbinger Institute.

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E-Myth Author Speaks in Utah Valley

The Deseret News reported on Michael Gerber’s speech at UVSC. I attended this along with three CEOs of Infobase Ventures companies. It was outstanding. He has influenced me greatly along with hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs. I spoke with him for several minutes after the speech and thanked him for helping me grow my first two companies without any formal business training. His E-Myth book had a tremendous impact on how we built Infobases and MyFamily.com.

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Free Seminar on Raising Capital in Utah

How to Raise Money in Utah Seminar – May 5, 2004

This free seminar is two hours long, featuring venture professionals and an anything goes Q&A session. The next seminar will be May 5, 2004 from 4:30-6:30pm at the Miller Business Innovation Center in Sandy. May’s presenters are: Blake Modersitzki of UV Partners, A. Robert Thorup of Ray Quinney & Nebeker, and Will West of Control4.

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