Getting Noticed by The Street

On Saturday I got a big spike in traffic to my blog (which I didn’t post to all last week because I was on vacation), because I got two mentions in the Daily Blog Watch at TheStreet.com. He linked to my post about Provo Labs 11 investments and how we are using Craigslist, and he also linked to my post about Yahoo Finance containing errors.

On Saturday, I had a great email exchange with a (different) writer for TheStreet.com. Next time he is in Provo, we’re going to get together. The benefits of blogging include having interesting conversions and meeting new people.

BTW, I have noticed that the Yahoo Finance market cap error for Omniture has been corrected. They have the correct number of outstanding shares now. And my blog post no longer ranks #1 on Google for “Omniture Market Cap.” Instead, Yahoo Finance does.

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Marketing Training with RoMay

My sister is one smart cookie. She has helped me with data prep projects since the early 90s and has built web sites for me and done internet marketing for me. When I need help, I can turn to her. One site she built for 10x Marketing generated $7,000 in revenue just a couple months after it was built–and with no extra maintenance.

So now RoMay is doing marketing training classes, emphasizing internet marketing. She was one of my top students in my BYU Internet Marketing class last fall. (I think she got 100% on almost evey quiz.) She is outstanding.

Based on what other attendees have said, this class is totally worth attending, especially if you need to learning marketing and internet marketing skills to grow your business.

Check out her class (Saturday and Monday) at www.romayallen.com

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Utah Valley Entrepreneurial Forum: Top 25 Under 5 Next Week

Please put this on your calendar–a great annual event celebrating fast growing young companies in Utah. 25 companies will be highlighted that are under 5 years old. Visit the UVEF web site to learn more about the organization that runs this program. This is kind of a pre-Utah 100 and pre-Inc 500 celebration, since it honors even younger companies.

“TOP TWENTY-FIVE UNDER FIVE” TO BE ANNOUNCED ON July 13th!

(Please note change of location from Provo Novell Building G to Building A)

The applications came in, and the data has been calculated. Your company could be one of the winners!!! Be sure to attend the meeting where UVEF will be announcing its top 25 companies in Utah that were under five years old at the end of 2005.

UVEF Thanks “Top 25 Under 5” Event Sponsor UTFC Financing Solutions

The meeting will be held at 11:45 a.m. on Thursday, July 13th, at the Provo Novell building A (Directions below). Luncheons are free to sponsors and members as a part of their annual memberships/sponsorships. Guests are welcome at $20 each. RSVP to Michelle at 801.226-1521 or michelleolsen AT cedo.org. To keep Forum costs down, please RSVP before Tuesday, July 11th, PLEASE.

The luncheon will be held at noon (come at 11:45 a.m. for networking) in the Novell complex in East Bay (Provo). Directions: Take I-15 South to 1860 S. University Avenue in Provo. Go South on 1860 South to the light at about 100 E. in front of the 8 story tall Novell building. Enter the Novell parking lot and turn left at the front of the tallest Novell Building. Head West to the end and then turn North in the parking lot. Park anywhere in that lot. Enter Building A. Note: Signs will be posted.

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Provo Lab’s Eleven Bets

So in the past 7 months, Provo Labs has started or invested in 11 companies. It’s been a bit wild.

So for the next 6 months at least, we are going to stop investing and incubating new ideas and focus 100% of our energies on helping our current portfolio with revenue growth, with the goal of getting each company to cash flow positive without any additional investment from Provo Labs.

Our companies are in the following areas: online genealogy (vital records), online history, LDS search, ebook publishing, corporate networking and relationship management software, mp3 audio books, angel investing, entrepreneurial training, Web 2.0 development outsourcing, real estate web tools, internet marketing (including SEO) and audio messaging services.

I emailed all the portfolio company CEOs yesterday with a success that one of our companies had using Craigslist. I shared the case study with each of them and asked them to come up with a quick-to-implement craigslist strategy for promoting their products and services. I intend to spend most of my time finding sales and marketing strategies that work and then encouraging all the companies to test them as well. Almost all of the companies use web analytics from Omniture and I’ll have an assistant who works in the Philippines compile daily key metrics for each of them, using a shared spreadsheet from Google.

So the focus now is on execution, not new ideas. This is a big shift for me, but one that I’ve done before and look forward to doing again. It’s all about tactics that work, that are easy to implement and measure, and trying new marketing and sales tactics every day. It’s about resurrecting my old 10x Marketing Scorecard and making sure that each company gets an "A" with each element of their online marketing strategy — that they are using PPC, SEO, affiliate marketing, email marketing, conversion rate marketing, web analytics, online PR and online auctions in the best possible ways. It’s about testing, learning, sharing and executing, portfolio-wide.

Wish us luck!

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It’s Scary That Yahoo Finance is Wrong

A couple days ago I blogged about Omniture’s (OMTR) market cap being half that of Web Side Story (WSSI). I based my blog post on Yahoo Finance. They put Omniture’s market cap at $102.7 million today. Fortunately, two of my readers have commented that Yahoo Finance was wrong. The number of outstanding shares is not 14 million, but 40-50 million. They point out that according to other finance sites (such as Marketwatch) Omniture’s market cap is $327 million, higher than Web Side Story like it ought to be, based on revenue and revenue growth.

I take responsibility for writing a blog post based on inaccurate data on Yahoo Finance. I’ve learned my lesson: don’t trust a single source for financial data, or more specifically, don’t rely on Yahoo Finance for financial data period. I remember Yahoo Finance being inaccurate some time ago for something else I was researching. So I think I’ll switch to Google Finance (their OMTR data is accurate), but I’ll try to remember to always check multiple sources before coming to any conclusion and especially before blogging.

To compound the error, my web site ranks #1 on google for the search “Omniture market cap” based on my earlier post. (Yahoo finance ranks #2 because of my link to them.) So for a couple of days, before my readers corrected the error, web users worldwide would have read my blog post, which was based on faulty data and therefore had a faulty premise–that Omniture’s value was lower than Web Side Story’s–or they could have gone to Yahoo Finance and found the same data that I found.

Thank goodness for blog readers and for the blogosphere in general which tends to be very self-correcting over time. And thank goodness for a semi-efficient market which values a great company higher than a good one.

Someone at Yahoo should comment here and explain why a company with their size and reach can possibly get away with having inaccurate data on a highly visible company that recently went public. There is no excuse for this. Unless they correct their problems, they ought to be slammed pretty hard by some mainstream journalist. Maybe I’ll email my friend at the SF Chronicle…

(Note: I still own shares in Omniture, as I said in my earlier blog post as well.)

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Self Publishing: First Books, Now Videos

Bob Young, the founder of Red Hat formed lulu.com a few years ago to enable authors to self publish books. The site has an Alexa ranking of 3,386. It has a nice 3-year Alexa chart.

Last week Lulu Enterprises launched lulu.tv, an online video sharing site where 80% of the revenue from subscribers will be shared with those who have uploaded video content. This revenue share is extremely generous. It will be interesting to see how many content providers will take the time to upload content here. There might be a catch-22 here: until there are enough paying subscribers, content providers might not want to make the effort to upload. But why would anyone pay $14.95 per month to subscribe when there is so much free video content on Google Video and YouTube, and dozens of other sites.

But content providers should be really happy that Lulu is pushing the envelope in terms of generous revenue sharing.

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2 great podcasts: Robert Scoble and Gil Penchina

This past week I’ve listened to an excellent businessjive.com podcast featuring famous blogger Robert Scoble, who just left Microsoft to join podtech.net. Judd Bagley did a great interview. You learn how Robert’s background in journalism has positioned him to be a major player in the blogging and podcasting movements and how his father’s relocating to Silicon Valley gave him phenomenal opportunities, even while he was in junior high or high school.

Also, today I listened to a 55 minute recording from Stanford University made on June 6th I think, a discussion with Gil Penchina, new CEO of Wikia, the for-profit wiki company founded by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. Wikia is going to make its mark. Gil was with eBay for 8 years, has been an angel investor for 8 years, and has invested in 30-40 startups (including LinkedIn.com). Now he is running one. He gives some excellent insights into the culture of startup companies, the importance of friends and connections, and why he thinks Wikia will succeed with content coming from volunteers. This podcast was sponsored by DFJ and is part of a Stanford weekly lecture series.

My favorite part was when he was talking about learning more from failures than from successes and he described one of his biggest failures, a near melt-down while he was at eBay. He learned some really valuable lessons from it. He had a great quote he learned while an engineer at GE: “If at first you don’t succeed, bury all the evidence that you even tried.” None of us want the world to think we’ve had failures, but we all have. And there are some great lessons to be learned from talking about them.

I downloaded both podcasts from iTunes.

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Omniture vs. Web Side Story

So if Yahoo Finance is correct, Omniture has a market cap of $106 million on trailing twelve months revenue of $51.2 million. Their quarterly revenue growth rate (year over year) is 104.4%.

Compare that to Web Side Story, another web analytics company. WSSI’s market cap is $237 million, more than twice as high as Omniture’s. Their revenue is lower, with TTM revenue of $45.94 million and their quarterly revenue growth rate (yoy) is lower, at 93.2%. WSSI does have a positive EBITDA of $9.9 million, while Omniture’s is negative. But with a higher revenue base and a higher revenue growth rate, it could be just a matter of time before Omniture is worth significantly more than Web Side Story.

I think it is also significant than both companies growth rates are near 100% even with Google Analytics in the picture. I’ve tried Google Analytics and find it lacking in some critical features. So my companies continue to rely on Omniture, as do many of the largest and most profitable internet companies in the world.

I own a very small stake in Omniture. As a customer and shareholder, I think it will be interesting to see if the market cap gap between Omniture and Web Site Story narrows in the coming months. I think it probably will, one way or another. There were 2 million short shares on Web Side Story as of June 12th, and it will be interesting to see how that plays out.

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Blogging Just Landed Her a Job

Carolynn Duncan used an ingenious approach to convince me and Phil that she was the right person for our latest position at Provo Labs. After finding out about the opening from her friend Adam (who works at our online video company 10Speed Media), she started a blog called “Why Provo Labs Wants to Hire Carolyn Duncan” at blogspot.

She instantly won us over with her creativity and courage. She will be helping Phil get in front of dozens of executives at large companies, including Fortune 500 companies, as he takes Provo Labs Consulting (our web 2.0 consultancy and development company) on the road, so we need a smart communicator with a creative streak who can help Phil open doors wherever he goes.

Welcome aboard, Carolynn!

Has anyone else ever landed a job by creating a blog specifically to convince the hiring executives that they were the right person for the job?

With all the press coverage that comes when bloggers get fired for writing something they shouldn’t have written, it’s about time we see some press coverage about people actually getting a job because of their blog.

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YouTube hailed as advertising medium of the future – vnunet.com

YouTube hailed as advertising medium of the future – vnunet.com

My next Connect magazine article will focus on the power of online video in marketing and advertising. (I’ve been working on it today.) So I was glad to discover this article quoting Leo Burnett’s Chief Creative Officer saying YouTube is the ideal advertising platform of the future.

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