Archive for the 'techbiz' Category

17
May
08

comScore’s microsoft sites ranking is so flawed

Check out this chart out from comScore via Paul Kedrosky:

Surprise!

The top two sites are probably not a surprise to anyone. But look at the third ranked entry: “Microsoft Sites.” If you haven’t followed comScore before, you probably would be surprised by the high ranking of Microsoft, given its generally lacking performance of its web properties. But before you jump to the conclusion that MSN or Windows Live (or whatever their latest brand is), you should know that this number includes microsoft.com. Microsoft.com is the corporate home page for Microsoft, visited by people to check for the latest Windows or Office patches, searching for support info, finding out about their product offerings, etc. I have no idea why comScore combines two very different sets of content, msn.com/live.com, and microsoft.com, into one measure. This just seems wrong to me, particularly if I’m an advertiser. The traffic to microsoft.com does not show ads, nor does it give my ads any impressions. So why combine the measure?

Ok, you may argue that microsoft.com is probably not a very big traffic driver compared to say msn.com/live.com properties. But you would be completely wrong. Just look at Apple.com, which is entirely about their product lines (perhaps with a very small contribution from .Mac). Apple generated ~48M unique visitors in April. In contrast, Microsoft, which owns about 95% of both the desktop OS and office productivity apps market, and also has a much wider product line than Apple, should in theory generate alot more unique visitors to microsoft.com. And yet the “Microsoft Sites” number is just 2.5x of the Apple numbers.

So the question is: just how many uniques is going to hotmail.com, msn.com and live.com properties, the real competitors to Google and Yahoo? I think comScore will be well served by tallying msn/live separately from microsoft.com.

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05
Mar
08

riaa/mpaa should go talk to monsanto

reading michael polan’s excellent “omnivore’s dillemma” and found this quote fascinating:

“it’s difficult to control the means of production when the product you’re selling can reproduce itself endlessly.”

what he’s talking about is that when two varieties of a crop are crossed to produce an improved hybrid, it’s hard to profit from the hybrid “discovery”, as once you sell a few of these improved hybrid plants, the buyer can collect the seeds by these plants themselves to start next year’s crop. there’s no easy way to monopoly or control over the hybrid design. except, it seems, for one species in the common food corp. for this particular species, the offsprings of two of the hybrid plants produces seeds that are nothing like its parents, making the offspring useless to the farmer. so every year the farmer is forced to go back and buy more seeds. that’s how monsanto makes millions by selling its special hybrid variety seed, which grows into plants that can withstand the weed killer roundup.

it seems that nature is much better at developing rights management than anything that microsoft, apple, real networks, riaa, and mpaa can together conjured up. maybe they should pay a visit to monstanto, or better yet, go directly to the species known as “zea mays”, or what is commonly called corn. for it holds nature’s answer to copy protection.

16
Jan
08

Sun buys the M in LAMP

Sun Microsystem just bought MySQL AB, the company that services MySQL. Reading it this morning sent chills down my spine: is this the end of MySQL?

Though two positive thoughts help settle me down: 1. MySQL is under GPL license, which means that if Sun does anything too funny, the open source devs will fork it and Sun is left without the support of the community, probably devalues the whole thing. 2. Jonathan Schwartz, CEO of Sun, seems to get it as he was quoted as saying:

CTO’s at startups and web companies disallow the usage of products that aren’t free and open source. They need and want access to source code to enable optimization and rapid problem resolution (although they’re happy to pay for support if they see value). Alternatively, more traditional CIO’s disallow the usage of products that aren’t backed by commercial support relationships – they’re more comfortable relying on vendors like Sun to manage global, mission critical infrastructure.

So maybe this isn’t so bad afterall.

13
Oct
07

battelle ask the right question that microsoft shareholder needs to know

battelle asks the pertinent question: how will microsoft get 25% of its revenue from ads in a few years’ time:

Let’s put that one in perspective. Microsoft is currently a $51 billion business. Twenty five percent of that is nearly $13 billion. Given that he’s talking about a few years out, with current annual revenue growth rates, one can safely assume that’d be 25% of around $65 billion, or more like $16 billion. That’s two and a half times Yahoo’s current size, and north of where Google will probably end up this year.

it’s clear that to me that ballmer was sold a bill of goods on the advertising business from kevin johnson and others that make no sense. just imagine what kind of answers ballmer/kj has been getting from mcandrews on the incredible bright prospects of advertising for microsoft, after he got ballmer to pay for a very much over-priced acquisition in the advertising space, namely, his company aquantive. (and it’s not just me calling it overpriced, it’s overpriced based on the market’s evaluation of aquantive stock and future prospect) mcandrews simply isn’t going to say anything other than microsoft will more than make back the rich price paid for aquantive, and that it will transform microsoft into an advertising powerhouse, and thus will squeeze google’s cash cow and prevent it from funding attacks on microsoft’s software business.

i think this advertising initiative will be the equivalent of steve case’s time-warner merger with aol. not as bad a fiasco because microsoft still has a robust software business, but it’ll be the downfall for ballmer.

the question that battelle should ask is: is this 25% a replacement of other microsoft revenue in the software business, or is it new reveneue that’s not currently accounted for? if they are switching 25% of their current software licensing revenue to advertising based, that’ll be nice to know as it is a purely defensive move.

05
Oct
07

ebay and skype, you screwed up

star fund manager peter lynch of fidelity magellan fund in the 80’s used to talk about companies that diversify into areas that they have no business being in, calling it “di-worse-ification.” that’s exactly how i see the failed marriage between ebay and skype. there is absolutely no reason why ebay had to buy skype to benefit from skype’s voip technology. they could have done an strategic partnership and both sides would have been happy and reaped the reward; but oh no, ebay went shopping happy and bought a business they know nothing about. they distracted themselves with running skype, took just enough attention away from their core business, and at the same time distracted skype’s crew on focusing on their business to work on silly integrations.

it’s not unusual to have asset rich companies get too ambitious and buy stuff that they shouldn’t, but it’s a surprise that the seller didn’t lock in the price of the sale better. under the earn-out agreement, it is reported that niklas zennstrom and company will only get $1.7B instead of the $2.6B. that’s a pretty big haircut. zennstrom should have just taken the $1.7B at the time of the sale and saved himself two years of time and grief.

obviously there’s a lot of monday morning quarterbacking, but i think alot of blogger saw it when the purchase was announced:

Let’s Talk About Skype: “i can’t help but think that the wrong company bought skype. imagine if Nokia had bought them or even Verizon or even Google.”

(A VC : Venture Capital and Technology.)

my advice to meg: talk to microsoft, get them to take skype off your hands for a percentage of ebay, they could integrate it with their not-successful VoIP offerings. i know steve and meg are friends, sure you can work something out.