Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Eric Schmidt: Google Has Secret Plan To Mint Money With YouTube (GOOG)

ericschmidt.jpgCNBC is hyping a Eric Schmidt/Maria Bartiromo interview that airs today at 4pm, but they're already released the transcript from the chat, taped yesterday.

Predictably, there are no shockers: Eric stays on message about
Google's growth opportunities, costs, etc. He says the DoubleClick
integration will take about six months. And he says he doesn't have any
idea what will happen with Microsoft-Yahoo, but sure hopes Steve
Ballmer doesn't get his way. Etc.

Most interesting to us: His allusion to new, previously undisclosed
plans to extract money out of YouTube, which cost Google (GOOG) $1.65
billion in 2006 but hasn't generated more than a trickle of cash to

BARTIROMO: Which is a huge priority,
clearly. A lot of people feel like this is an amazing opportunity for
you. So, as far as monetizing that business on YouTube, do you think
that takes a year? Does it take the next five years? What's your time
frame on that?

Dr. SCHMIDT: We believe the best products are coming out this year. And they're new products. They're not announced. They're not just putting in-line ads in the things that people are trying.
But we have a number--and, of course, Google is an innovative place.
The Yahoo! team are trying various new forms of advertising, ones which
are much more participative, much more creative, much more--much more
interesting in and of themselves. Google believes that advertising
itself has value. The ads literally are valuable to consumers. Not just
to the advertisers, but the consumers.

Article Link

AOL Dumps Targeting Tech For Tacoda

Tacoda's top execs are gone,
but AOL still likes its behavioral targeting technology enough to adopt
it across all of its ad sales unit, Platform A. That means dumping
competing technology from "We'll replace all of's existing behavioral technology with Tacoda's
behavioral product," says Platform A president Lynda Clarizio, a former exec.

We were previously under the impression that AOL meant to integrate behavioral tech with Tacoda's, and didn't think that much of the idea. So this move, at least, makes sense to us.

The shift to Tacoda will be complete in June, part of the
integration of $1 billion in advertising acquisitions including Quigo
and AdTech. AOL acquired Tacoda in September. Clarizio called the
adoption of Tacoda "a small step forward" in the integration, which
remains an issue for the company.

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes blamed slow integration for AOL's drop-off in display ad revenue in Q1.

Article Link

LinkedIn: We're Selling Ads For $75 CPM

LinkedIn (SAI 25 #8) may have been trampled by the likes of Facebook (SAI 25 #1) and MySpace in terms of users, but at least it can sell advertising. Kevin Eyres, LinkedIn's managing director for Europe, told IDG
the social network for careerists is earning $75 CPMs (cost paid per
thousand viewers) for advertising in the US and $50 CPMs in the U.K.
Prime reason: the site's average user is 41 and makes $110,000.

Since LinkedIn knows the professional histories of its users, and
can target sales execs, c-level managers, or certain industries, we can
imagine high ad rates for advertisers looking for a business niche.
Still, we have a hard time believing this is an average CPM for
LInkedIn. But we don't have a hard time believing that LinkedIn's
average CPM crushes that of Facebook, MySpace and other social networks
who routinely struggle to get CPMS above a buck.

Facebook (70 million) and MySpace (200 million) have an enormous
scale advantage over LinkedIn (17 million); Facebook in particular is
encroaching on its user base. But if LinkedIn can profitably establish
its niche of working professionals, which advertisers covet, they have
a franchise.

Article Link

Monday, April 28, 2008

What makes a design "Googley"?

A small team gathered to discuss these questions and define the Googley Design Principles:

1. Focus on people—their lives, their work, their dreams.
2. Every millisecond counts.
3. Simplicity is powerful.
4. Engage beginners and attract experts.
5. Dare to innovate.
6. Design for the world.
7. Plan for today's and tomorrow's business.
8. Delight the eye without distracting the mind.
9. Be worthy of people's trust.
10. Add a human touch.
Article Link

Google Experiments With Next Generation Image Search

Two Google scientists presented a paper (pdf embedded below) at the World Wide Web Conference in Beijing last week that outlines their vision for the future of image search.

Notably, the new image search technology doesn’t just index text associated with an image in determining what’s in it. Google is now talking about using computers to analyze the stuff in photos, and using that to associate it in a ranked way with keyword queries. In effect, they’re talking about something similar to PageRank for images (but without the linking behavior).

Today when we talk about search all we really mean is text search. That’s sort of like only being able to see in one color. And when we search for image, video and audio content, the only data that search engines use to do those searches is the text that is associated with those files. That’s like trying to describe the color green when you can only see in red.

To date Google and others have spent a significant amount of effort on making the metadata around rich content better. One example of this is Google’s Image Labeler game that uses human labor to properly tag images. Innovative, yes. But it’s still trying to “describe green” when you you can’t actually see it.

Once computers are able to analyze rich content as easily as they can analyze text, a whole new dimension to search will emerge. Humans will no longer be needed to do the heavy lifting in describing what is included in rich content, and that means that content will no longer be invisible on the Internet.

PageRank For Image Search

Googlers Yushi Jing and Shumeet Baluja argue that Google is now ready to see beyond text. In their paper they talk about their efforts to apply state of the art image recognition software to figure out what stuff is in an image. “Commercial search-engines often solely rely on the text clues of the pages in which images are embedded to rank images, and often entirely ignore the content of the images themselves as a ranking signal,” they say. Their experiments in actually digging into the images themselves “show significant improvement, in terms of user satisfaction and relevancy, in comparison to the most recent Google Image Search results.”

Google is looking at the visual characteristics of popular images and then determining rank based on similarities between images. In the figure below, the largest two images contain the highest rank.

Article link

Friday, April 25, 2008

Powerset Will Launch In Coming Weeks

San Francisco based Powerset
will be publicly launching a long-awaited beta version of the service
in the coming weeks, the company told me yesterday. They are working on
a new kind of search engine that will understand natural language searches and compete with keyword matching engines that dominate search today.

An early version of the search engine, which was demo’d to me
yesterday at their offices, has been available to some users of their Powerlabs site. But for the most part, it’s been kept very quiet.

The early version of the service will serve as a showcase for the
user interface and engine itself, but it will not have a full web index
behind it. For now, Powerset will query only Wikipedia and Freebase.
But when I tested the service I had something very similar to the
“Aha!” feeling that ran through me the first time I ever used Google.
In short, it is an evolutionary, and possibly revolutionary, step
forward in search.

I’ll temper that statement since the company is not putting anything
more than a tiny index of two sites behind the service for now. In
particular, the fact that Powerset doesn’t have to bother with spam
control and other relevance issues (which is what made Google so great
when it launched), means it can’t yet be considered any kind of
challenger in the search space. But anyone who uses it will be able to
see the potential value of the engine when it is placed in front of a
full web index.

For now the company is keeping specific features of the engine confidential, but I can say it has evolved significantly since a screen shot was released in mid-2007.

In preparation for the launch, some of the Powerset team have vowed
not to shave until the product is released. They are chronicling their
facial hair adventure on a site called Powerstache, which has been covered by Jessica Guynn at the LA Times.

Rumors have also been swirling around the company in general. A
number of sources have said that Powerset is pitching for additional
capital. And the company also appears to have put plans to hire a new CEO on hold - founder Barney Pell is still firmly in charge at the company.

Powerset is one of three new search engines that we’re keeping a close eye on. The other two, Cuill (pronounced “cool”) and Blekko, are still deep in stealth mode.

Article Link

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Wine, Film and Books: Adaptive Blue Offers Open Format to Make the Web Smarter

Semantic web company Adaptive Blue has published what it hopes will become a standard for publishers who want to signal in their header tags when a webpage is primarily about a particular book, film, wine or other type of objects. From search to trend analysis to a richer browsing experience - the developments that could come from adoption such a standard are many.

Called AB Meta, the format was developed in concert with a number of other web companies and is aimed to be part of a larger effort to pick up where existing Semantic Web and microformats markup leaves off. It's simple and extensible.

When the meaning of web pages becomes machine readable - magical things can happen.

Bloggers who want to mark up particular pages or post pages with AB Meta can do so using Dougal Campbell's HeadMeta WordPress plugin. Some post-level meta data editing is possible with Typepad but Blogger users are out of luck. Hopefully someone will build a UI for self-publishers.

For commercial publishers and retail sites, the AB Meta standard should be much easier to implement across their sites. In addition to the new spec drawn up to describe objects, AB Meta also leverages existing Dublin Core markup when available.
Picture 107.png

Above is a sample of some simple AB Meta, below is an extended version.
Picture 108.png

AM Meta is based largely on Adaptive Blue's work developing its BlueOrganizer smart browser plug-in and SmartLinks contextual reference tool. Now that the company has come up with a robust, simple and extensible format for designating the primary object of a web page and describing its various characteristics - the next logical step is to open that format up and do some biz dev building adoption in web pages themselves. Though anyone will be able to index AB Meta, Adaptive Blue's products will presumably be the most advanced at first in what it can do with the markup of its own creation.

We're big fans of the semantic web here at RWW and (disclosure) Adaptive Blue CEO Alex Iskold writes some of the smartest posts about it that you'll find here or anywhere.

Article Link

Monday, April 21, 2008

Semantify Your Web Apps with Triplify

Alright, "semantify" may not be an actual word, but you can probably guess at its meaning: "add a semantic layer to." In this case, we're looking at a small plugin called Triplify that reveals the semantic structures of web applications by converting their database content into semantic formats.
About Triplify

To grasp what this all means, we'll translate into plain English:

A large part of the content on the web is generated by web applications that are driven by databases on the back-end. For example, look at the top 15 most popular web apps hosted at Sourceforge:

Sourceforge Projects, Image via

However, the structure and semantics in these relational databases behind apps, such as those above, are not accessible by search engines. What Triplfiy does is use the structured nature of the databases behind these and other, similar apps to generate semantic data.
How It Works

The Triplify plugin generates database views by performing a small number of queries against the web app's database. These views are then converted into a semantic format - either RDF, JSON, or Linked Data representations. Once in this format, data can then be shared and accessed on the Semantic Web.

Triplify Overview, Image via

To install the plugin, you download and extract the folder containing the script into your web app. Then download a Triplify configuration matching your Web application or create a new one. There's an example file to get started with, or you can use one of the files already available, like this one for WordPress or this one for Joomla.

Finally, integrate the plugin into your web application. (More info here).

Once the web app has been "triplified," search engines can better evaluate the content, and semantic search engines, like Sindice, SWSE, or Swoogle can do the same.

But even better, once Triplify is installed, your web app becomes easily mashable with other web data sources via a tool like Yahoo! Pipes, for example.
The Challenge

Because those behind Triplify feel strongly about expediting the deployment of the Semantic Web, they're posing a challenge to the web developer community: develop the most innovative and promising semantifications and win fabulous prizes!

The first prize is a MacBook Air, second prize is an Asus EeePC, and third prize is an iPod Touch.

To get a better idea of what they will be looking for, check out the Challenge page of the Triplify site.

Article Link

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

13 Seed Funding Options For Entrepreneurs

One of the most difficult parts of starting
a startup for any entrepreneur is finding that small bit of seed
capital to get things going. As evidenced by small seed funds like Y Combinator,
a little can go a long way for startup entrepreneurs, but raising that
chunk of change to get started can be tricky. Luckily, there are a
number of different roads you can take to get from concept to Series A.
Below is a list of 13 seed funding options for startup entrepreneurs.

This list is a mix of old, borrowed, new, and blue:

  1. Bootstrap from revenues. You will exit for an EBITDA multiple.
    Forget about crazy high multiples unless you have that magic formula
    that really can create high growth + low costs on almost zero capital
    -- but if you really have that you won't need/want to exit. Don't worry
    about what anybody thinks other than users and customers. No, this does
    not have to mean enterprise products; consumer ad-supported works fine
    as well -- just ask the founder of Plenty Of Fish.
  2. Self-fund on credit cards and a second mortgage. You are brave,
    maybe brilliant, and maybe stupid. Just don't expect any VC to give you
    more than words to recognize your courage. And also remember: it will
    take more capital than you think. Self-funding is not bootstrapping, it is just using your money and not somebody else's money.
  3. Do consulting on the side to self-fund. This is less risky than
    using credit cards. One partner works for a Big Old Dinosaur on
    contract for $20k per month and splits it 50/50 with the other partner,
    who builds the company which is shared 50/50 between the two. It gets a
    little more complex with more than two people.
  4. Rase funds from friends and family. This can augment any of the
    above options. Richard Branson (a man who knows a thing or two about
    starting companies) can help with formalizing the relationship to avoid emotional damage.
  5. Already a successful entrepreneur? Self-fund from cash via your
    last exit. VCs will be beating down your door to co-invest. Your
  6. Go from concept directly to $3m Series A. Wait, you did say your name was Marc Andreessen, right? No? Oh, sorry.
  7. Use angels as a bridge to Series A. This is the perceived
    traditional route. If the angels know the VCs that is fine, but if not,
    then the VCs may cram down the angels, and that's tough on you and
    those early investors that you've built a great relationship with. This
    works best if VCs tell you early, "We like the space/concept/you,
    develop it a bit and we'll be interested. MyFavoriteAngel can help you
    get there."
  8. Use angels to augment bootstrapping. You have a to show a really
    clear path to profitability that is not dependent on VC funding.
  9. Use angels as a bridge to a flip. Angels who know the target acquirers can make this a sweet deal for all.
  10. Spray and pray models. A fund or incubator that puts tiny sums into
    lots and lots of ventures in hope of finding one star in the bag (see this post). Sounds a tad random to me.
  11. Seek out founder-only evergreen seed funds. These are slightly more
    formalized versions of angel networks that aren't managing other
    people's money (i.e. LP=GP). Exits get re-invested into the fund, so
    there is no fixed time horizon for exit. There should be more of these.
  12. Get a convertible loan from a VC to develop your concept to a level
    where Series A is appropriate. Charles River Ventures led the way with
    their CRV Quick Start program. More of these would be great.
  13. Check out one of the paid links when you search for "seed funding" on Google. Not.

The good news: I planned my usual 11-point list and had to go to 13
(well 12, if you leave out that last one -- which you shouldn't). The
bad news: none of these options are easy. But then, you already knew
that, right?

Article Link

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

hi5 Platform Proves to be Insanely Viral

While hi5 may not have beat out Facebook for the number one social platform, they have taken the spot of number two. Eric Eldon points out
that the hi5 platform has been more successful in attracting users.
Rock You, for example, has received a whopping 2 million installations
since the launch. Compare this to Myspace where the total number of
installations for the top application is just over 100,000. While the
hi5 platform doesn’t appear to have launched their application
directory yet, the apps have been spreading virally.

Article Link

Friday, April 11, 2008

Qitera - Stealth Semantic App Sounds Like Twine Competitor

The Economist published a short article
about the Semantic Web today, picking up on apps we've covered here
many times - like Reuters Open Calais, Twine, Hakia and AdaptiveBlue.
But one app right at the end caught my eye, as I'd not heard of it
before: Qitera. Its homepage
describes it as "a next-generation information engine - a semantic web
service that connects everything you know to everything you read." The
company is German, but based in San Francisco. Qitera is currently in private beta, so it's hard to know what this app does. But it sounds a lot like Twine.

Here is a further explanation from their website:

"Qitera is a web service empowering you to build and
access your personal knowledge (the geeks call it “knowledge graph”).
So you can organize, remix and search all the data dealing with the
companies, business partners, friends or projects you track in a more
productive way. Additionally, we let you share your wisdom with your
peers and publish to blogs, websites and cell phones."

There is little mention of Qitera on Technorati, Google, or other sources. I did however find a slideshow on Slideshare, which featured this graphic illustrating its open standards support:

Article Link

Using Semantic Search to Cure Disease, Prevent Animal Testing

One of the big trends in 2008 has been the emergence of what I call Semantic Apps - a kind of 'Web 2.0 Meets Semantic Web' app typified by startups like Twine, Hakia, Quintura, Powerset and others. Another growing trend is health 2.0, web-based health apps and services. What's interesting is that those two trends are crossing over, with semantic health search engines beginning to make an impact.

Two such apps to cross our desk lately were 1) CureHunter, which claims to be able to find cures for diseases using semantic technologies; and 2) Go3R, an app that claims to provide information transparency "for the prevention of animal testing".

Health is an area where Semantic technologies can be put to great
use, due to the overwhelming amount of data in the healthcare industry
and the fact that it's largely inaccessible to the general public
(despite most of it being our data).

CureHunter - Can it Really Cure Diseases?

CureHunter is an example of
the new semantically-charged health search engines popping up. As the
name suggests, it is a web service that aims to find cures for
diseases. Judge Schonfeld is the CEO and Chief Scientist of CureHunter
and he described it to us in an email as a "Medical Data Mining engine
system that uses an intelligent semantic processor linked to a network graph theory module to read the scientific literature (entire NLM archive 1949-2008 >) and compute new cures
for human diseases completely autonomously." That's a mouthful, but
I've highlighted the key points: it uses semantic processing, network
graphs and most interestingly claims to "compute new cures"

The following graphic (excerpted) illustrates CureHunter's approach.
Essentially it tries to analyse health research data and compute cures:

Click here for full image, with extra detail

CureHunter is pretty complex, but I did some tests for diabetes type
1 to see if I could find a "cure". The results were overwhelming, in an
'info overload' kind of way:

It outlined some interesting "cures", but much of the information
was not something patients would understand. It seems like a great
resource for doctors and physicians though. So to answer the question
in the subheader, can CureHunter really cure
diseases? Probably only if you're a doctor or physician who knows how
to interpret the wealth of data that CureHunter serves up.

Go3R - Prevents or Amplifies Animal Testing?

The idea of having a health database that includes animal testing
results isn't something most people would find very appealing. However Go3R, developed in four months by a company from Germany called Transinsight, claims to be a "knowledge-based search engine for alternative methods to animal experiments."
(emphasis ours) The site aims to enable scientists to "take advantage
of the benefits of semantic searches for the area of alternative
methods in accordance with the 3Rs principle [Replacement, Reduction
and Refinement]." Transinsight is already known in the web 2.0 world
for GoPubMed, a health search engine that AltSearchEngines has covered before.

You could view Go3R in two ways. The first is the version
Transinsight pushes in its press release: that this app makes it easier
to find alternatives to animal testing. However the second point of
view is that this is a big database that includes animal experiment
results, and so it might be seen to amplify the practice of animal
testing. For example I searched for "diabetes" and the number 2 result
was a test on rats:

Whether you see this as further exploitation of animal testing, or
(as Transinsight says) an app that will "lead to a significant
reduction of animal experiments", it is an interesting use of semantic


Health search engines are nothing new - indeed both Google and
Microsoft have made important announcements in this domain over the
past year. In October 2007 Microsoft unveiled HealthVault, a consumer health and search site. In February this year Google announced a pilot program of their health records application called Google Health. A week later, Microsoft acquired Medstory - a vertical search engine for health information. There is also a lot of interest among startups - see our report from the Health 2.0 Conference in March and another report from a healthcare panel at SXSW later that month. Also our network blog AltSearchEngines continuously covers health search engines.

But I'm liking this latest trend for semantically-powered health
search engines. If ever there was a compelling need for Semantic Apps
to help users make sense of and organize data, it's in health.
CureHunter and Go3R are two apps to look out for.

Article Link

Friday, April 4, 2008

FamilyBuilder Hits 10M Profiles, Links Trees Across Facebook, MySpace, Bebo

FamilyBuilder, formerly
known as iFamily, has reached a major milestone this week, with the
creation of 10 million family tree profiles through its genealogy
service, specifically through its Facebook and Bebo applications. What’s more, is the recently funded FamilyBuilder has also launched its MySpace application, so there’s now even more room for growth.

As strange as it may seem, FamilyBuilder has its integrated social
network applications to thank for its rapid growth and recent
milestone. In leveraging users’ social graphs, the ease of building out
a collaborative family tree is emphasized with FamilyBuilder’s

Now, FamilyBuilder is taking things to the next level, by connecting
all of its integrated applications, across the major social networks.
This should make things even easier for end users who would like to dig
into their social spheres in order to build their family trees, and
share them with others, including friends. Surely, more developers will
be using similar cross network approaches to the aggregation of data
and use cases for the end users.

Article Link