Google Enters Blog Search Space

It was only a matter of time. Today Google launched its Blogsearch
engine at http://blogsearch.google.com. It is fast, but reviewers say
it is not comprehensive enough. It looks like they started indexing my
blog RSS feed a few weeks ago, but my early posts have not been
crawled. When they start spidering all the old blog posts, and have the
most comprehensive index in addition to their fast search, then they
will be the most formidable blog search engine, in my opinion.

I was glad to see 92 hits on the search “paul allen internet
entrepreneur” — some from my blog and some from links to my blog. You
always like new search engines when they include you. 🙂

As I mentioned last week, many of the blog search engines haven’t found my blog yet.

I have started using Pingomatic, though, so that should help.

If I update the comparison chart I did last week, Google’s blog search has the most hits for my sample query “San Francisco
1906”, coming in with 3,225.

Search Engine Alexa Ranking Search Results on query: San Francisco 1906 My blog indexed
Technorati 1209 1,834 no
Bloglines 1529 32 no
Feedster 4738 1,922 no
Ice Rocket 4761 1,400 no
Blogpulse 11668 1,058 yes
Daypop 21331 75 no
Google BlogSearch too early 3,225 no

In a few weeks Alexa should start registering blogsearch.google.com’s traffic, like they do with other google features:

Alexa chart on Google:

Where do people go on google.com?
(what’s
this)
  • google.com – 80%
  • images.google.com – 7%
  • mail.google.com – 6%
  • news.google.com – 2%
  • groups-beta.google.com – 1%
  • gmail.google.com – 1%
  • maps.google.com – 1%
  • froogle.google.com – 1%
  • Other websites – 1%

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Most August IPOs (30) in Five Years

This morning I woke up with three ideas that I believe could be
developed and sold to one of the major search engines within the next
three years. I started wondering if the best exit strategy for an
internet based startup these days is to position yourself to be
acquired by Google, Yahoo, or Microsoft. And maybe even eBay. There is
so much capital in these companies and they all seem to be anxious to
do acquisitions. And the IPO market has seemed so sleepy for so long.

But then I came across this article from yesterday’s Business Week that says there were 30 IPOs in August,
the most for any August in five years. And it claims the market is just
heating up. Here are some of the tech companies that could go public in
the coming months:

  • Vonage: the leading VoIP provider, with more than 1 million subscribers in the U.S. (Business Week story)
  • TellMe: voice recognition for customer service calls. Hoovers estimates $19.2 million in 2004 revenue.
  • Alibaba: Yahoo paid $1 billion for 40% recently
  • eBags: expected to sell 1 million bags in 2004
  • Ritz Interactive: online speciality retailer, just filed S-1 with $20.8 million in 2004 revenue
  • iRobot (S-1 shows revenue of $94 million in 2004)
  • Facebook: raised $13 million in May from Accel; has 3.65 million registered users

They also mentioned Skype, but of course, this article was written before the announcement that eBay is buying Skype.

So in addition to being a great time to start a high-tech company (the best time in history,
in fact), it appears that it might once again become a great time to
harvest a high-tech company, with both M&A and the IPO market
looking quite promising.

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eBay acquires Skype

This is an incredible move. I would never have predicted that eBay
would purchase Skype. But it will be very interesting how they
integrate free VoIP into their auction business, and how much eBay will
be able to accelerate the world-wide adoption of Skype. Especially when
Google, Yahoo and MSN are all getting into this space as fast as
possible. The bottom line is that consumers will win (great services
for free) because of new technology and aggressive competition.

eBay’s stock is moving up slightly, while Google is up $8 and nearing its all-time high.

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The Power and Speed of “We The People”

Last week I blogged about how individuals and communities can solve problems faster and better than government agencies can:

We are Americans. This is a land of liberty and self-government. It’s all about
“we the people.” We have never hired our central government to take care of all
of our needs. We are a free people and a generous people. Our history is filled
with examples of private individuals caring for one another through private
charity, churches, and organizations. We can solve problems and create
solutions. We the people can do more than we have done to prepare for the next
tragedy that strikes our people.

I hope Americans and our media will stop
blaming the central government for their failures and instead spend more time
and energy donating to and promoting and volunteering in organizations and
churches who do so much good at times like this.

The American Red Cross
was not formed by the U.S. Government. It was founded in 1881 by Clara Barton
and other humanitarians. Funding came from John D. Rockefeller and many
others.

According to Wikipedia, the American Red Cross
responds to 67,000 disasters per years. It’s one million volunteers and 30,000
employees assist victims of disasters throughout the United
States.

Churches and non-profit groups abound in this country, and they
are all pitching in, giving aid and comfort to those who have lost loved ones
and property.

Let’s all give what aid we can, let’s use our energy and
resources to assist the victims, to help them rebuild their lives, and to return
the Gulf Coast areas to their former beauty.

Rather than blaming the
President, the Governor, the Mayor, or anyone else for what has gone wrong, and
rather than expecting our government and military to provide all the relief in
times of crisis (although thank goodness for what the military has done!), let’s
hope that God will inspire Clara Bartons everywhere to step forward and support
organizations that give aid and comfort to millions now and in the future.

Little did I know that some Utah web designers had launched Katrinahousing.org a few days earlier. Americans have offered more than 130,000 beds to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

And through KatrinaCaravan.org volunteers are providing free transport for hurricane victims. The two sites have already partnered.

The actions of a few creative people can mobilize thousands more, and
so much good can be done. Please check out these two web sites and help
out if you can — it’s not too late to help provide long-term support
to those displaced by this horrific storm.

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Google’s Amazing Hires–Now Include Vinton Cerf

The founder of LinkedIn.com recently complained that the cost of a good
engineer in Silicon Valley is skyrocketing because Google’s demand for
top talent is creating a shortage for everyone else and wage inflation.
Now Google has hired Internet pioneer Vinton Cerf
who helped develop TCP/IP. He is going to be Google’s Chief Internet
Evangelist. (I guess that relegates me to the role of chief unpaid
google evangelist. For an example of my enthusiasm for this company,
check out this “7 Reasons Why Google Will Rule the World” post from February.

I really hoped Google would buy Skype, but now they’ve launched Google Talk and a silly rumor has it that eBay is in talks to buy Skype for between $2-3 billion. That would be very strange.

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Contingent Value Rights

When a company is publicly traded and has a high daily trading volume,
the market continually prices the shares, and buyers and sellers can
trade the shares at any time.

But when a company is privately held, there is usually little or no
market for shares, even though the shares have some value. It is
difficult to find buyers of privately held shares, precisely because
there is no ready market for the shares if the buyer decides later to
sell them.

And pricing shares in a privately held company is also extremely
tricky. I have heard of people overpaying wildly for privately held
shares because their value was misrepresented. But I have also heard of
shareholders having to sell shares in a fire-sale, for pennies on the
dollar, because they had to sell and couldn’t find a reasonable market
for the shares.

There are a few private equity firms like Millennium Technology Value Partners in NYC who specialize in providing liquidity for holders of generally illiquid assets.

But I have recently come across a financial instrument that I think
could be very useful for holders of illiquid assets who want to create
a fair transaction with a buyer, where the buyer is protected in case
the assets aren’t worth as much as was hoped, and the seller is
protected in case the assets are worth more than was assumed.

I think it could be deemed a “Two Way Contingent Value Rights Agreement.”

I have found many references to “contingent value rights” such as this
reference in the book “Expontential Functionals of Brownian Motion and
Related Processes” which I found on Google Print (an unbelievably valuable and little known resource) today. The book was published in 2001.

“To give an example very relevant in
corporate finance, we can also mention the so-called contingent value
rights: suppose a firm A wants to acquire a firm B. A is not willing to
pay too high a price for the shares of company B but knows that this
may lead to a failure of the takeover. Hence firm A will offer the
shareholders of company B a share of the new firm AB accompanied by a
contingent-value right on firm AB, maturing at time T (say two years
later). This contingent-value rights is nothing but an Asian put
option. The put provides the classical protection of portfolio
insurance; the Asian feature protects firm A for an exceptionally low
market price of the share AB on day T, as well as the shareholders B in
the case of a very high market price that day. These contingent-value
rights were used when Dow Chemical acquired Marion Laboratory, when the
French firm Rhone-Poulenc acquired the American firm Rorer and more
recently, when the insurance company Axa merged with Union des
Assurances de Paris to form the second largest insurance company in the
world (in the last case, the corresponding contingent value rights are
still trading today).

I can envision a time where illiquid assets can be bought and sold more
easily if sellers and buyers entered into a Two Way Contingent Rights
Agreement, where the future value of the assets (once they are more
liquid and the market determines pricing) leads to a modifying payment
to the buyer or seller so that the original deal turns out to be fair
for both parties.

This would be ideal, for example, to help shareholders of privately
held companies that are venture backed, where an exit is almost certain
to occur through an IPO or acquisition.

A silicon valley friend once told me he thought this was called a
“waverly loan.” Has anyone heard of pre-IPO shareholders using a
“waverly loan” or a “contingent value rights agreement” in selling
shares?

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Is Your Blog Indexed by the Blog Search Engines?

I should have done this a while ago, but I just did some research on 6
of the top blog search engines. They are listed below and sorted by
Alexa Ranking:

Search Engine Alexa Ranking Search Results on query: San Francisco 1906 My blog indexed
Technorati 1209 1,834 no
Bloglines 1529 32 no
Feedster 4738 1,922 no
Ice Rocket 4761 1,400 no
Blogpulse 11668 1,058 yes
Daypop 21331 75 no

In August my web site www.infobaseventures.com got 32,000 unique visitors, mostly to my blog at www.infobaseventures.com/blog/

But because my blog posts don’t show up on 5 of the top 6 blog search engines, I’m missing out on huge amounts of traffic.

So now I have to figure out how to get indexed by all these engines.
It’s probably very simple. Then, I’ll report back on how much
additional traffic I receive when my posts can be found on the other
engines.

My advice to other bloggers (including my BusM 457 students!) is to do the same thing–make sure your posts are being indexed.

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Parents Using High Tech to Keep Track of Kids

Excerpts from Associated Press story:

The Schmidts use a service called Teen Arrive Alive, one of a few companies
that work with Nextel wireless phones and a tracking service from uLocate
Communications Inc. [This lets parents track where their children are driving and how fast.]

Other devices that track on-the-go kids include the Wherifone, a specialized
locator phone that uses the Global Positioning System, and the CarChip, a device
about the size of two nine-volt batteries stacked together that, installed in a
vehicle, monitors speed, distance and driving habits.

Interest in the United States is growing quickly, as it already has in other
countries Â? Canada and the United Kingdom included. Teen Arrive Alive, which
began offering its tracking service in May 2004, now has subscribers in every
state and is particularly popular in the South and the East, company officials
say.

These days, it’s just one way technology is helping parents monitor their
kids.

Georgia-based Mealpay.com began two years ago, for instance, as a way for
parents to electronically prepay school lunches. Now Â? at the request of some
parents Â? the service allows them to monitor what kids order in the
cafeteria.

Meanwhile, Boston-based MobileLime allows teens to use a cell phone to buy
items at fast-food restaurants, grocery stores and other participating
retailers. The cell phone is linked to a credit or prepaid card, so parents can
check.

Then there’s “alerts” from U.K.-based Langtree SkillsCenter Ltd. Parents are
notified by text message, e-mail or phone whether a student has shown up for
class and can get progress reports (good and bad) on schoolwork. Just starting
up, the company has signed about 10 U.K. schools so far and is expanding to the
United States.

Beginning as early as the introduction of the automobile and telephone,
new technology has let children escape the watchcare of their parents.
They could go places and talk to people without their parents knowing.
How many teens have made major life-changing mistakes because they were
empowered to go places and do things because of an automobile, but they
weren’t old enough to use good judgement?

I know some youth will be troubled to think that their parents can use
technology to track their movements, speed, and behavior (online or in
school, for example), but since when do children have the right to go
wherever they want as fast as they want, and do whatever they want?

Especially in a day when courts are holding parents liable for their children’s criminal behavior (here’s a link about Texas law),
parents have the right to use technology to help them in their parental
role. Of course, parents may also misuse technology and it may
backfire. They may go too far using threats and penalties as they try
to “control” their children’s behavior, instead of the better
approaching of loving them, communicating with them, and rewarding them
for their good behavior.

There is great power in text messaging an “i love you” message on a
cell phone, for example. I think we need to mix the parental monitoring
with parental messages of love, if we want this new high tech parenting
to work.

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Hire Students to Run Your First Pay Per Click Campaign

Memo: Pay Per Click Help Available
To: Business Owners of the World
From: Paul Allen, Instructor of Internet Marketing at Brigham Young University

More than fifty students have enrolled in the Internet Marketing course
at BYU this fall. In an effort to give each student hands on experience
with internet marketing, I am hoping to find businesses who will let us
set up and run their first pay-per-click keyword marketing campaign for
them.

My goal is to have at least a $100 budget for each student or student
team. The money you provide us will all be spent to drive traffic to
your web site from search engines like Google and Yahoo.

Our students will create a list of keywords for you, they will manage
your bids, and they will measure the traffic that you get. If you have
a technical contact that can implement conversion rate tracking on your
web site, then we will also be able to report how many sales or new
registered users we generated for you from this campaign.

Please email me at paulballen “at” yahoo.com if you are interested in
our class setting up your first pay-per-click campaign. Your budget for
this project should range from $100 to $1,000.

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Kuwait Pledges $500 Million

I just learned that Kuwait has offered $500 million in donations
for Katrina disaster relief, following Qatar’s pledge of $100 million.
This is the best news I have seen so far, an amazing gesture from US
allies in the Middle East (including the nation we we liberated from
Iraq in 1991.) Other countries are also offering assistance. There is
good in the world. This is a story that all our media should be
reporting.

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