February 28, 2006
Overstock.com = Subpoena's.com
So they issue subpoena's to Herb Greenberg and Jim Cramer. Not that I am a fan of Cramer, but how about just listening to the conference calls before you issue the subpoenas. Patrick pretty much buries himself. You don't need any witnesses.
The faster they take the company away from him, the better! Unless you are short like Mark Cuban - kudo's
February 27, 2006
My Space - pleaaaaase
Note to News Corp - give it back to them.
If there ever was a brand that was paid $600 million for more complete crap, please tell me.
I am old and maybe will never get it, but if there was ever a more niche, useless, completely replaceable brand than this, I would be shocked.
On another front, thought the facebook interface - the myspace for college kids, was clean and cool.
The Whole Foods store in the Time Warner building is awesome as is the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in the upper floors of the same building. Funny - all these great brands in the corporate headquarters of the lamest brand - Time Warner/AOL (snoooooze).
By the way, in the battle of the lamest brands that still have potential despite their lameness, Time Warner/AOL is passing Disney.
Microsoft is a close third.
Tee time content - Go GolfNow.com
The company is building out the sales force and the courses remain happy with our efforts to help move tee times.
I am excited about our push into web 2.0 distribution channels. For example, we have been testing an RSS feed where anyone can receive our best tee time deals vis RSS if they subscribe. By doing so, we were able to push our inventory into individual emails and websites and onto the edge with companies like www.Edgeio.com. I can't tell you whether Edgeio will be a huge success or not - the media claims that it is an Ebay killer. I can say, that it will help push the service and the GolfNow.com brand and will drive traffic. We have positioned ourselves to aggregate tee times and sell them over a vast open network. I believe in our service enough to know that this is a great thing to embrace web 2.0.
Go check it out at www.edgeio.com.
Another example is www.eventful.com. This web 2.0 company aggregates local events and distributes them to anyone that wants them. A very cool and useful service. Not to be overlooked by the titans for long. I know that posting our local tournaments to this service will build transactions and customers. This is gooooood from so many levels. Eventful wants our content - good - they distribute it for us to new customers - good - they do so building our brand - goooood.
The key to success in this new web 2.0 world is to have a good web 1.0 model and leverage the new cool web 2.0 applications.
GolfNow.com is in the sweetspot. Anyone that can build content on a detailed, in depth, drilled down method is always going to be successful, even more so in this web 2.0 world we have entered. The titans have plenty of cash to buy the new leaders. Our model works by itself and as a nice buy for the internet leaders.
Google vs. Yahoo vs. Ebay - the winner is------YOU AND ME
In the last few days, Google has launched a payment system and Edgeio has launched, what the media has slated, an Ebay Killer (LOL). In my opinion, the days of a totally dominant platform, like Microsoft had with it's operating system (95 plus percent), are over.
I have read that as well branded as Google is, they control but 38 percent of the search market.
The consumer is the real winner. We get more features, more choices, more platforms, lower costs of business(especially communication), more customer's to choose from, and lower prices for purchased goods.
Let the war continue..........
February 25, 2006
GPS, GPS, GPS
I have written about all four in the past so will spare the review, but Barron's had a nice piece on the proliferation and "tipping point" in GPS and I though it was worth enclosing:
Monday, February 27, 2006
Finding True North
By JAY PALMER
THINK BACK TO WHEN CELLPHONES, DVD players and big-screen plasma TVs became popular. In each case, when prices fell just far enough, the products moved from being the play things of wealthy early-adopters to hot-selling mass-market items. This year, there's a very good chance it will be the turn of portable satellite-based navigation devices for cars, boats and hiking trails.
These gizmos, which can be held in the hand or mounted on dashboards, have been plunging in price. Many models are priced not far above $500, down from well over $1,000 a few years ago, setting the stage for a surge in demand. Industry analysts and executives figure that total sales could double this year, from more than $2 billion worldwide in 2005.
That's good news for Kansas-based Garmin International (ticker: GRMN) and its two European rivals -- Tom-Tom, based in Amsterdam, and Magellan, a unit of French defense contractor Thales (THLEF). Increased sales volume for the firms should offset the effect of lower prices on profitability, at least for now. In fact, Garmin last week reported an 82% jump in fourth-quarter profits, to $87.1 million, or 80 cents a share -- far ahead of analysts' expectations. Earlier, TomTom reported a threefold increase in fourth-quarter net.
It's sometimes said that real men don't have to ask for directions. Now, no one has to. Finding your way on the road, in the woods or along a hiking trail is easy with model like these from TomTom (top left), Garmin (top right) and Magellan.
Garmin, with a market value of $7.1 billion, is probably the best bet for U.S. investors. The company commands more than half of the U.S. market, which is growing faster than the larger, more mature European market. And the stock is easier to trade, since TomTom shares are listed only on European bourses. Thales, meanwhile, is far less than a pure play, and its Magellan unit has been losing market share.
Although the consensus among analysts has been that Garmin will earn $2.86 a share this year, up 4.4% from 2005, that may underestimate the surging demand for navigation devices. John Bucher, an analyst at investment firm Harris Nesbitt, figures that earnings will more likely be $3.11, up 14% from 2005. He sees the stock heading to nearly 80, from 65 now.
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"We think this will be a year of the mass market," adds Kevin Rauckman, Garmin's chief financial officer "There are tremendous opportunities for growth."
Indeed, fewer than 5% of all relatively new, actively driven cars in the U.S. have any kind of satellite-navigation device, Bucher says. Even in Germany, the European country with the highest penetration, the figure is only 15%.
The devices, increasingly compact and stylish, come with built-in road maps, marine charts or trail guides. Taking readings off the U.S. Defense Department's network of 24 global-positioning satellites, they use a small LCD screen to display a moving map that shows exactly where you are. Punch in an address, and the unit will calculate and display the best route to get there.
Prices of basic models -- like Garmin's Quest, TomTom's Go300 or Magellan's RoadMate 300 -- are falling to close to $500, although upscale models still go for close to $1,000. By the end of this year, some industry observers expect prices at the low end to approach $300. "At some point -- no one knows exactly where -- we will come to a point where we see a completely new explosion in demand," says Alexander Ribbink, TomTom's chief operating officer
Of course, there will be challenges, too. As cheaper units come to account for a greater share of total volume, profit margins inevitably will be squeezed. At the same time, the market's strong prospects are attracting new competitors. Outfits like Alpine (APNI.OB), Blaupunkt, Cobra Electronics (COBR) and Kenwood are zeroing in on the market, along with Asian giants like the Panasonic unit of Matsushita (MC). Next month, Sony (SNE) is due to launch its first Nav-U unit, at $600.
Neither Garmin nor TomTom plays down the threats, but both figure the tide will rise fast and furiously enough to lift all boats. The established firms, especially, should do well in the short-term, not least because they've forged strong ties to big retailers like Best Buy and Wal-Mart.
Another potential challenge: the market for built-in navigation devices on new cars. Although available for many luxury cars, this gear is expensive -- sometimes $3,000 -- and hasn't caught on in a big way. If the approach gains popularity, however, the leaders in portables may have to vie with such instrument makers as Honeywell (HON) for car makers' allegiance. For now, however, the action is clearly in portables, which a consumer can use in multiple cars, including rental cars for business trips.
It's true that Garmin's stock isn't cheap. It trades at about 21 times analyst Bucher's earnings estimate for '06, versus a multiple of 17 for the Standard &Poor's 500. But the company's earnings growth could go a long way in justifying that premium.
Portable navigation isn't Garmin's only growth engine: It also has a thriving business in navigational instruments for aviation, accounting for about one-quarter of total sales. For instance, it's boosting sales of "glass cockpits," which combine navigation aides and other instruments in one panel, for both light jets and smaller commercial aircraft.
TomTom, by contrast, is totally focused on the auto business, where it continues to expand. The company last year stormed the U.S. and, following a marketing blitz, gained nearly 25% of the market by year end, according to data that research firm NPD provided to TomTom.
Garmin, however, has begun matching TomTom's prices, and it's holding its market share roughly even, leaving Magellan to feel the pain. "We have not lost any market share to TomTom," says Garmin's Rauckman.
As the skirmishes heat up, one thing is clear: The market for navigation gadgets is about to find true north.
February 20, 2006
It is hard not to get wrapped up in their enthusiasm about their businesses.
The trade show I am attenting - Mash Up Camp - is being held at he Museum of Computer History which is a must see for anyone interested in computers. It is amazing how far the industry has come in 40 years.
Next to GolfNow.com, edgeio.com and eventful.com looked to be the coolest. Not far behind is flyspy.com.
Tonight we had a chance to present GolfNow.com to fellow internet developers and the response was good.
Looking forward to the conference tomorrow.
February 18, 2006
Tech Crunch party
Why does CNN and specifically Lou Dobbs take such a simplistic approach to outsourcing. Jobs moved from cities like Pittsburgh to California. Eventually all humans will follow the sun anyway. At least those that have a choice.
The people that start tech companies are young, unjaded and relatively simple. They have HOPE! Their businesses are rather simple to get going from a cost basis AND they are not covered in grime. Is that not a good thing for us and our children? All free cultures will end up consuming commodities and than the useless byproducts. We are all guilty of that.
What is most interesting about the "Web 2.0" companies represented at the parties is that the models get simpler and simpler and live or die in moments. It breathes or it doesn't and the young people that start them have the energy to pick up and start again if they fail. Further, they are basic lead generation companies focused on selling names to old stodgy companies.
If CNN wants to connect, they should lead into angry and irrelevant Lou Dobb's show with a high energy, no whine show from the teenager creators of wealth that keeps the country going right now. They give us hope - but definately not someone to hang out at clubs with.
Keep it coming. Kudo's to Tech Crunch's Michael Arrington. Thanks to my wife Ellen for watching the homefront and letting me explore. I am a lucky man.
February 17, 2006
Time Magazine on Google
I wonder what happens when all the Google employees that helped build this company decide to take their cash (upon selling their Google stock) and start leaving, just like they left Microsoft. This time, it will happen exponentially faster - like soon!
Doogle - Jimmy Fallon should be ashamed - Putz!
Than, I have to hear Jimmy Fallon - whose careeer died like 100 years ago, talk about his new crap movie Doogle. Am I missing something. How many chances and how much money do bad actors and comedians get to have and spend?
I am assuming that the movie sucks and I am sure that is a KIND review. The guy is too freakin' lazy to come up with a title - just rides off the greatest brand of the modern century (I could write 500 in a week). Can you imagine how uncreative and unfunny this movie is.
I have no idea what his name was other than he was once on Saturday Night Live - so I GOOGLED, not Doogled - "David Lettermen guests". With a few more clicks (more time than he spent putting the movie together).
No wonder the media companies other than Yahoo and Google - suck.
San Fran - soooo civilized
Kwel Bashir - honest cab driver
As a jewish man, the name Kwel sets of the obligatory stereotypes. Further freaking me out, Kwell took off like a bat ot of hell. I am used to dry and sunny - 120 days straight for me in Phoenix - instead I have rain and a cab doing 120 miles per hour.
I didn't say "step on it".
What is it with cab drivers these days - where are they rushing too. I figured Kwel had some serious plans for tonight. Me - just hang on and survive!
Get safely to San Francisco, stiff him a little on the tip because of the death ride and 10 minutes later at my room, can't find my blackberry.
"Holy %&)^)&*_(* ker"
Now if you know me, this is where it gets funny. Just last week I broke my trusted crackberry and had not backed up in about 6 months. Putz! Just got the new one, loaded it after a week and now it's gone again. Note to self - BACK IT UP .
KWEL!!!! I am saying it like Seinfeld says "Newmannnnn" - all that negative energy and Kwel owns my ass now. Calls to Yellow Cab were answered by Morgan Stanley. Let's just say that I was looking for a Verizon store at the hotel concierge.
Than, out of what seemed like dream like cloud, in barges Kwell to the hotel lobby.
Case closed. Let's just say he got his tip!
Rachel starts Peter Pan tonight
I am so proud of her. I hope it goes off perfectly.
February 16, 2006
Gold Stocks rally 3-5 percent
There is just no doubt we have massive inflation. Consumers are not seeing it directly - unless they eat out as much as me, or ship, or fly, or stay in a hotel. Inflation does not mean the stock market crashes- yet!
Now this is a holiday
February 15, 2006
Hey Senate IDIOTS - how much is enough
You motherfu$^&%&*^^(*ers. You idiots could'nt earn $140,000/year if not for your senate jobs.
Tell me, what is the number. Yes, I bought GRA into the recent pullback and woke up today to further losses and now have booked my loss. So, I am impartial to this announcement. But, even without the trade, the headline is just ridiculous. The tort guys are just killing this country. If we had leadership, they would see the headline and talk to a few people and say - "hey - what the fuc$%^%*&%* . Than, if you were too busy fishing, call your pal Cheney. HEY DICK, when you get back from visiting that pal you shot in the ass (by mistake?), and the Haliburton meeting, can you just overturn this and take the cash. Let's buy some armor for the kids in Iraq.
Putz's and Yutz's.
Oprah just mentioned that 15 million Americans have web cams as if that is a shockingly high number. I say - thanks Oprah for pointing out the upside - there are about 500 million to be sold in the next few years worldwide. Gotta dig into that opportunity tomorrow. Got to find some companies that benefit from that explosion.
Oh yeah - APPLE and their built in webcams inside their Intel based iMac and laptop Power Mac's with BUILT IN CAMERA's.
I hope Apple falls back to the low 60's again.
Ringing the Register on Apple and Buying Gold
Gold is now in a rapid decline from $575 bucks nd no one wants it at $530, except me. Buying some shares in selected miners tomorrow.
Shameless GolfNow.com pandering by yours truly
But wait - an opportunity!
Please buy all future golf goods through any of our GolfNow.com websites. You can click on Golfsmith - a great golf web retailer and new partner. That would be a nice and responsible thing for all to do going forward. Thanks in advance.
February 14, 2006
I love my wife
That beats any crap my brother-in-law is giving.
I might as well review. It really sucked. Who cares about this kind of stuff. Heath Ledger could have been played by a grizzly bear. I did not understand a word he said. Bigger problem - I didn't understand it for an excruciating 2 plus hours.
Happy Valentine's day sweetie - by the way - does that mean we go see a hot lesbion movie on my birthday; better yet, can I go see a hot chick movie with my friends?
Zip code marketing and localized web content
Restaurants good and bad need the same help increasing "Butts in Seats" - especially off hours.
I am looking at a local Phoenix company called Lunchclub.com and Dinesmart.com - please check out the website and sign up for their daily e-mails. A great service. If you use it, let me know what it is missing. I have a good idea, but I need feedback.
Thanks - Howard Lindzon
email@example.com - complain by email
Jeffrey B. You are in!
By the way, we are married to twins and he should have warned me as he was married first. Again, he is a lawyer and that explains things.
I got a way better deal! My wife runs laps around yours! :) :) :)
You bought her off this Valentine's with a robe and slippers, big deal! Walgreen's was open all night.
February 12, 2006
Rocketboom.com - genius "outside" the box thinking - Congrats!
From Jeff Jarvis:
February 11th, 2006
Read More: Ad, big, Book, vlogs
So Rocketboom’s ad auction came off with a rather obscure advertiser — TRM, an ATM and photocopy vending company — getting the privilege to be the first to promote on the hottest vlog … and to get free publicity because of it. Good for TRM and good for Rocketboom, valuing a week’s worth of commercials at $40,000 (and good for me not being made a liar predicting in The New York Times that they would be worth a high CPM).
But this is bad for big ad agencies and big advertisers who missed this boat bigtime. I’m not talking about any specific brand or company (disclosure: I know of some advertisers but I’m not talking about them; I’m talking about the ones that didn’t even have the courage to try). They should have been falling over themselves to grab this unique bargain. And they should be slinking off with their long tails between their legs now. Advertisers constantly whine that they want to do something new, but when something new comes along, they freeze because they can’t fit the new thing into their definitions of old and safe.
And here we have in a microcosm the explanation of why media is so horribly out of sync today: The public is valuing new media much more than the old, but the advertisers still value the old. Most every newspaper and in many cases TV networks and magazines have much larger audiences online, but the revenue for their old media properties remains much higher because the advertisers and agencies still value the old and the safe. They want metrics. They want control. They want guarantees. This, in turn, makes big publishers and producers play it safe because they don’t want to mess with the cash cow. And that means that advertisers miss the opportunity to reach a larger, younger, smarter audience in the new medium, which is — supposedly — what they’re dying to do. And that means that big media companies now face competition from a thousand Rocketbooms and a million Gawkers. That allows a TRM to come along and snatch away an opportunity from the big, lumbering giants. That is why small is the new big. Small be nimble, small be quick, small jumped over the conglomerates.
Or let me summarize the problem in one word. Big advertisers and big agencies are chickenshit. They need to grow some balls or else they’ll find new competitors running circles around them. The explosion — the rocketboom — that has already come to newspapers, magazines, TV networks, the music industry is coming next to the ad business.
Please take this, advertisers, as a friendly kick in the pants.
February 11, 2006
Bought some Apple
Yes it is expensive, and YES, how could things get possibly better.
I believe that video is just going to be a monster and that the Apple stores, opening at a rapid click, offer the perfect showacse for the video products and slick Intel Mac computers.
The next few ipod releases should be staggering with respect to screen size, memory and battery life.
Just an opinion.
Blogging - making traditional media irrelevant.
Case in point - Barron's cover story on Google being overpriced. Duh and stale! Barron's has long been my favorite weekly read. Who has the time anymore. This Google story was broke by Henry Blodget and Jeff Matthews, one month ago, with plenty of insight that could have made you serious dollars. Heck, Barron's weekly stories will soon be barometers doing the opposite, much like Time and Business Week have been for a while now.
This is old news even for "seroius investor's" like those of Barron's.
Skype and Vonage - Good and BADDDDD
Henry Blodget sums it up perfectly below. Like recent IPO's CROX (of shit) and Under Armor (odor), Vonage will be a stinker as a public company down the road. By the way, I just bought the most awesome Nike shirts for half the price it would cost for an Under Armor shirt. I can't see them survivng Nike long-term.
Vonage Not Far Enough Ahead
The Vonage S-1 finally provided a detailed look at the VOIP leader's financials, which aren't pretty. Given that the company is spending more on marketing than it is generating in revenue, one would hope that at least it would be miles ahead of its dinosaur cable co competition. Alas, it isn't.
According to a table published today in the WSJ, Vonage had 1.2 million subs at the end of 2005, versus 1.1 for Time Warner, 700,000 for Cablevision, and a smattering for other competitors. That Vonage is still No. 1 is good. That it's only No. 1 by the skin of its teeth isn't, especially given that marketing budget.
Time and again in Internet land, nimble upstarts have grabbed the early lead in a product category and, despite the eventual bellowing of incumbent elephants, have managed to hang onto it (Amazon, PayPal, eBay, Google, Yahoo!, AOL, etc.) The difference between each of these cases and Vonage, however, was the size of the lead. After Barnes & Noble finally got around to opening an online store in 1997 (which was widely expected to put Amazon out of business), Amazon continued to grow far more rapidly in the book market and gain even share. Same for all the rest. The early experience of cable companies suggests that there is significant synergy between cable TV, broadband Internet, and VOIP, with customers preferring to purchase VOIP as an add-on service instead of a stand-alone product.
Bottom line, although Vonage certainly grabbed the early mindshare in cable/VOIP, this mindshare did not translate into market share. If a company as lumbering as Time Warner can flick a switch and catch right up, this doesn't bode well for Vonage's competitive position long-term. All is not lost: With its subscriber base and experience in a hot market, Vonage will probably make a nice acquisition, but its days as a stand-alone market leader are probably numbered.
Interestingly, the one VOIP player that does seemed to have translated mindshare into marketshare is Skype. Each day that goes by without a credible competitive product from Yahoo, Microsoft, and AOL--the only companies that have a legitimate shot at derailing Skype--the less likely such a derailment becomes.
Trouble ahead for Google?
Google: “Thesis Schmesis”
Far and away the most interesting—and meaningful—conference call I’ve listened to the last couple of weeks was the Blue Nile on Tuesday night.
Blue Nile is what investors like to call “a nice little company”—with good sales growth, healthy margins, actual earnings, and real free cash flow.
Blue Nile also happens to be an internet retailer (of jewelry), and it learned about real free cash flow the hard way, having started up during the internet bubble and survived the internet crash thanks to the extreme diligence and sharp focus of its founder, Mark Vadon.
Unlike, say, Overstock.com, whose CEO went out and bought $7 million worth of diamonds and cobbled together a clunky “Design Your Own Jewelry” site to attempt to sell the stuff, Blue Nile operates as a virtual jewelry store with a terrific, user-friendly site and a well-developed supply chain.
Gross margins are half the brick-and-mortar model—but because Blue Nile carries almost no finished inventory and gets paid via credit card before whatever it sells (usually an engagement ring) is assembled and shipped, it generates good margins and real free cash flow that piles up on the balance sheet and goes into share buybacks when the stock gets beat up, as it occasionally does when the company misses quarters, which it occasionally does.
As it did this week.
Being an Internet pioneer that survived the bust, Blue Nile has also witnessed the rise of the Google/Overture keyword advertising model, whereby advertisers buy “keywords” and then pay Google or Overture (now Yahoo!) every time a user “clicks-through” the ad that pops up during a search of those keywords.
And ever since Google came public, Blue Nile has been answering questions about click fraud, cost-per-click and Microsoft’s intentions in the space, always reaffirming the value of keyword advertising to Blue Nile’s business model.
Just last November, Vadon told analysts the following:
And what we really have to do is not go out and run television commercials like an Overstock.com, but what we need to do is stay focused on delivering a great experience and let the market mature and let people grow comfortable with the Internet. If we do that, I think you’ll see us continue to grow at the rates we’re growing now for at least five more years.
But that was then, and this is now. Blue Nile missed its fourth quarter revenues and earnings by a wide mark, in large part owing to higher search-related marketing expenses. Specifically, Vadon said the following:
During December, we saw extremely aggressive increases in the cost of online advertising. Our cost per click on Google, for example, rose by over 50% from a year earlier. While the cost of online marketing grew significantly in Q4, we remain disciplined in our spending, in order to maintain profitability on new customers rather than to chase unprofitable growth, as some of our competitors have done.
If this sounds familiar, it should be. In “The Most Interesting Press Release You Didn’t Read” I highlighted comments from FTD Group in late December, which said essentially the same thing.
When asked for specifics, Vadon discussed “irrational behavior” in Google search pricing:
To give you perspective, in our top five keywords, our cost per click was up over 80% compared to a year ago. To us, it looks like, frankly, some irrational behavior in the marketplace. I think, if you follow our business, you know that we monetize Internet traffic for jewelry better than anybody in the world, and if we are getting nervous about the pricing of search, it means there's some people out there who are deficit spending and perhaps are back to the mentality of 1999….
As far as who is out there bidding, it's slightly different in Q4 as opposed to Q1. I think in Q4 -- you asked about Amazon. We haven't seen them at all in the online search market. We saw a couple larger players; I think Zales was pretty aggressive, Macy's was pretty aggressive. And then we see just a tremendous number of small players, and these are very small companies. And they don't play for very long. They will come into search for a week or a couple weeks. And I think there's just a lot of -- and then I think they burn through their budget fairly quickly and fall off the screen. But we just saw a lot of those types of players coming out.
The problem is not limited to the cost of keywords themselves: it extends to the diluted quality of the internet users clicking through to the Blue Nile web site, following Google’s move last summer to place more paid ads per search:
So an important matter is how well you can convert. Over time from search, we see slight declines, and it's not tremendous but slight declines in the conversion rate. I think, to some extent, that has to do with the search engines placing more ads. So, when you went to a search term a year ago versus going to it today, you are going to see more paid search placements today than you did a year ago.
Furthermore, as more companies advertise on search engines, the value of the incremental customer is dropping:And as there's more people there competing for the same traffic, if one consumer is shopping -- so if you're shopping for a plasma TV, you are probably going to go to many merchants, or at least a handful of merchants, before you make your purchase. And so you will be clicking on multiple ones of those, but only buying one plasma screen. And the more paid placements there are, probably the more click-throughs you're going to have.So what that results in for merchants is downward pressure on the value of those customers
Having always thought highly of the Blue Nile CEO and his company’s business model, I’d say something has changed, quickly and significantly—in ways not discussed on Google’s own quarterly earnings call last week.
This is most apparent in the fact that Blue Nile, which has almost exclusively marketed online, is, like FTD Group, considering a shift away from online search:
Given these results, we will be looking to broaden our marketing efforts beyond search in the future. As we seek alternative marketing vehicles to complement our efforts in paid search, I would expect growth to be relatively conservative as we ramp our efforts toward broadening our marketing outreach. This is the right long-term solution for our business. As I've stated before, throughout all of our marketing efforts, our focus is on the maximization of gross profit contribution, in keeping with our overarching objective of free cash flow generation….
So what that results in for merchants is downward pressure on the value of those customers. So just as bidding is going up, you're seeing downward pressure in conversion. Again, this points to our desire in the channel to be less aggressive with our bidding. And if that means giving up some volume to other people who perhaps are not measuring that and doing that ROI calculation, as well, we will do that until it rationalizes somewhat.
I’ll be the first to say I didn’t expect to hear comments like these for another year or two. Just two weeks ago ("Google: 'Our Thesis is Still Intact'") I reported that various sources within the corporate Google-using community, with one exception, saw no FTD Group-style slow-down in their marketing spend on paid search.
But with Blue Nile easing off the Google search pedal, it looks like the internet search market is indeed rationalizing—not because of Microsoft and not because of click fraud, but because of good old-fashioned free markets.
And it’s happening now, in Internet Time.
I Am Not Making This Up
February 10, 2006
Senator John McCain
XMSR over Sirius - part two
Yesterday, they proved it again.
Let's assume that money is no object (it is of course)
Sirius (losing badly) signs Howard Stern to a 5 year $500 million contract and hands him a couple hundred million in performance targets for his first batch of subscribers. There were only 12 million free listeners (I recollect).
Yesterday, XMSR signs OPRAH and FRIENDS (Dr. Phil vs Pot smoking Jackie the Joke man reject) for a three year $55 million run. 49 million television users (posssibly hearing promos for xmsr Oprah every day), new XMSR demographic, female and men driving alone and not scared to listen to King Oprah and 19 years at number 1.
Which company cut a better deal. My 6 year old Max picks XMSR.
I hope their stock keeps falling. It is actually getting nteresting to me. If they finally give me a show, I am buying some shares.
Google or AT&T - Skype or Verizon
The results will be different.
Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures outlines the real issues and likely outcomes better than me so I have enclosed a part of his piece. By the way, my read of it further entrenches my belief that EBay is the best of breed internet 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 Company and beyond. They are built to grow through anything I can think of. Enjoy:
Let’s talk about Skype. It’s a fantastic service. It is more efficient than VOIP services that don’t run on P2P networks. And it is ten times easier and better to use than the crappy plain old telephone service (POTS) that still generates most of the revenues for these carriers. Skype tells me if the person I want to talk to is available BEFORE I make the call. And it lets me IM with the person if they are on another call. Why didn’t the carriers invent this service? Because they were getting fat and happy by charging exorbitant fees for bad services.
If the government lets the carriers get away with this greedy move, I will discontinue Internet service from any carrier who seeks to get paid by the value added services. And I will encourage everyone else I know to do the same.
Surely there is some new carrier eager for AT&T’s customers who will align themselves with these value added services. I’d rather buy my Internet access from a company who understands how valuable Google, Bit Torrent, and Skype is to me and how much of a commodity their Internet access is.
Frankly I don’t really care what the government concludes on this issue. Because I am confident that the market will speak. The web services companies aren’t going to stand for a tax without putting up a big fight. And they have way more customer loyalty than the carriers. Who has a better brand – Google or AT&T? Skype or Verizon?
What the carriers need to do is develop better and more reliable services. EVDO is a good example of something they’ve done right. Give us more bandwidth in more places with more price/value options. Why don’t we have a 12mb down/3mb up Internet service in NYC? Apparently they have it in France. Why doesn’t Verizon spend money on developing that service? I’d glady pay more for a true high bandwidth service. That’s how the carriers should be looking at things. But instead they are trying to take money from the wrong side of the table. And it’s not going to work.
February 08, 2006
"Operation Slapshot" - genius
This is the best name they can come up with for a hockey sting.
It is laughable. How about operation "Find a putz".
The Eyeball Fantasy of Web 2.0
Re: ALL I SEE IS $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ BOO Y
Long-Term Sentiment: Strong Sell 02/08/06 08:15 pm
Msg: 111079 of 111084
UP YOUR BITCH MOM'S ASS, FUCKING FAGGOT
Now this is some good old fashioned research. Cramer style! Tonight I missed the Akamai earning's announcement. I own Akamai. I think they are the shizzle. Occassionally, like tonight after earning's - I like to see what others are saying, get a feel for the call maybe that I could not listen too. I get to see this crap.
It reminds me that the old internet eyeball (screwball) bonanza is generally a load of CRAP. Transactions and gross margins. Scalable businesses that don't just rely on advertising. Good old fashioned data gathering from real customers. Not the data that Yahoo is gathering from this buffoon. This whole Web 2.0 hype could be ripe for some serious decompression.
Addicted to Oil - part deux!
What if Hunter S. Thompson Ran a Country?
“We have to defend our fatherland.”
Who said that recently—Hitler? Stalin? Hunter S. Thompson?
Of course not—they’re all dead. So here’s a hint: the man who said that also said this:
“We still need a higher number of rifles. The 100,000 Russian rifles are not enough, Veneuzuela needs to have one million well-equipped and well-armed men and women.”
That’s right: it was Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela, the largest oil exporter in the Western Hemisphere.
I’m not making this up. The leader of a country in the Western Hemisphere actually said he needs a million well-armed men and women, to prepare for an invasion by the United States.
But that leader, who just as well might be Hunter S. Thompson, what with all the guns and paranoia flying around, does not lead just any country—he runs Venezuela.
And Venezuela, as I have discussed before (“Instability Adds Up”) supplies 11% of the crude oil imports to which we are “addicted,” as our President, who has heretofore done exactly zero to reduce that addiction, noted in his State of the Union speech recently.
Not only does Venezuela supply crude oil, but years ago that country bought Citgo, the United States-based refining and marketing company which happens to operate four refineries with about a million barrels-a-day capacity.
In other words, Venezuela produced about a gallon of the gasoline currently sloshing around in the average American’s gas tank.
And Chavez has threatened to close down those refineries:
“I could easily order the closing of the refineries that we have in the United States…I could easily sell the oil that we sell to the United States to other countries in the world…”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, the leader of another major oil producing country—slightly less daffy and therefore more scary—is moving ahead with plans to develop nuclear weapons. Oh, and he has said, publicly, that Israel should be “wiped out.”
Finally, and being perhaps the Reggie Jackson of this dangerous mix—the “straw that stirs the drink,” as the Yankees ex-slugger once described himself—Muslims are burning embassies over cartoons.
Yet, in the midst of what looks to me like the most combustible mixture of political, social and religious issues since the Shah of Iran fled his palace in 1979, private equity firms are rushing to buy up U.S. companies—not at bargain-basement prices in the midst of depressed operating conditions—but at all-time record prices in the midst of all-time record operating margins.
Jon Huntsman, the cancer-surviving, charity-supporting family man from Utah whose chemical company survived a harrowing brush with bankruptcy during the last down-cycle in that notoriously cyclical business put it well in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:
“It appears to me that many of the private-equity shops are going to reach into some very marginal businesses with all the available capital,” he said. “Any time you have to reach too far to put your money to work, you’re going to take a higher risk.”
And with the Latin American Hunter S. Thompson running Venezuela and his soon-to-be nuclear-equipped counterpart running Iran, the risks may be higher than anyone thinks.
I Am Not Making This Up
I am working on updating the blog so that I can link to past posts.
China, Brazil, India, Mexico, Russia can all be taken to the next level of communication and computing efficiency, with advances in the voice space.
With today's purchase of privately held dictaphone, Nuance entrenches themselves in the medical field of that space.
I am sure the ride will be a volatile one, but I have been an owner since 5 and with today's purchase and more important, positive reaction to the news, the stock should trend higher.
Nuance Buys Dictaphone for $357 Million
Wednesday February 8, 1:26 pm ET
Nuance Buys Dictaphone for $357M to Expand in Health Care Transcription Services Market
BURLINGTON, Mass. (AP) -- Speech recognition-software maker Nuance Communications Inc. said Wednesday it will buy Dictaphone for $357 million, enabling Nuance to expand further into the $15 billion global market for health care transcription services.
Nuance and privately held Dictaphone said both companies' boards have approved a deal expected to close by March 31. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals.
Shares of Burlington-based Nuance were up 20 cents to $8.20 in morning trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market.
Stratford, Conn.-based Dictaphone will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Nuance, which is financing the all-cash deal with a $355 million loan and a $75 million credit line.
The deal is the latest in a series of acquisitions for Burlington-based Nuance to gain a bigger piece of the market to convert doctors' recorded dictation about patients and other medical data into electronic transcripts.
Nuance's technology is used by call centers for voice-driven menus and by financial services companies to recognize customers. Nuance also makes document imaging technology.
Last spring, Peabody-based ScanSoft Inc. agreed to acquire its former speech recognition rival Nuance for $221 million, and operate under the name of Nuance, which had been based in Menlo Park, Calif.
Dictaphone traces its roots to a company formed in the late 1800s by telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell, and says it now provides dictation and transcription services to more than 4,000 medical centers with about 400,000 doctors.
February 07, 2006
Mohammed Shmohammed - Why I watch Letterman for my news
All these riots show me is that these idiots need jobs and something to do, because if they don't soon, we are fucked.
As to our stance on the Danish cartoon - Jeff Jarvis sums it ip best:
The radical culture of offense
February 5th, 2006
Read More: No Tags
I have complained often that America has become a culture of offense, where anything that might offend anyone now must not be said, as if we have grown afraid of speech, debate, disagreement, and different viewpoints. I find that attitude itself unAmerican, offensive.
Of course, the American culture has nothing on others when it comes to viewing offense as a forbidden crime, witness the violent uproar over cartoons depicting Mohammed and daring to criticize or question. Some Muslims are boycotting products from the countries where the cartoons have been published and rioting and burning European embassies; others in the community are questioning this behavior. And more publications across Europe and even now in New Zealand are running the cartoons, often in solidarity with the Danish publishers, to their own peril.
In America, the Bush Administration says it, too, finds the cartoons offensive:
The State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, reading the government’s statement on the controversy, said, “Anti-Muslim images are as unacceptable as anti-Semitic images,” which are routinely published in the Arab press, “as anti-Christian images, or any other religious belief.”
Still, the United States defended the right of the Danish and French newspapers to publish the cartoons. “We vigorously defend the right of individuals to express points of view,” Mr. McCormack added.
Well, I’d hope so.
And U.S. news organizations are generally not showing the cartoons, arguing, as The Times summarizes the stance: “Representatives said the story could be told effectively without publishing images that many would find offensive.” See also an Editor & Publisher roundup.
Well, I emphathize with the fear of violent wrath, but this still leads to many questions:
: Shouldn’t we be more offended by violent reaction to speech than we are by speech? Shouldn’t we express that?
: Are we — governments, publishers, journalists, citizens — intimidated by the violence?
: On the one hand, would there be equal offense to images of Christ? Well, we have seen images of Christ deemed blasphemous and heard anger and political storms but have not seen riots. On the other hand, wouldn’t there be offense to images deemed anti-Semitic? Given history, there would be.
: So then where is the line in hate speech? And isn’t that line itself perilous?
: Should American journalists be publishing these images in solidarity with European publishers? Or would that be pandering? Or are those images part of the story that need to be seen to understand? Is there a right to see them, a journalistic responsibility to include them in reporting?
: Am I a chicken by asking these questions and not answering them? That’s the one answer I’ll give: Yes.
But I think we need to see this episode as the frightening extreme of a culture of offense. When offensiveness becomes a sin and a crime and a cause for retribution and even violence, it’s never clear where the line is. When speech is free, that line is quite clear.
Big Media -What it must do to survive
What Comes After the Blockbuster? The Nichebuster
I am at the Entertainment Gathering conference in LA and there is a lot of talk about the death of the blockbuster. Wired editor Chris Anderson showed some nifty charts from his upcoming book on the Long Tail documenting the decline in hit albums, TV ratings, newspaper circulation, and the percentage of the movie industry's revenues contributed by the top-25 blockbusters. The chart for the music industry is the most dramatic:
In the past five years, the number of gold and platinum albums have been cut in half. Part of this no doubt has to do with the rise of illegal file sharing, but part also has to do with the greater variety of music now accessible in digital form, and the ease of searching and discovering that music. Anderson suggests that the hit album may have peaked with the March 21, 2000 release of 'N Sync's "No Strings Attached," which sold more than 11 million copies. Contrast that with Green Day's more recent "American Idiot," which sold less than 5 million. As the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg (another speaker here) puts it:
There is a continuing breakdown in the power of the people who package this stuff for us.
At least, that's the new conventional wisdom. If people like Anderson are right that the long tail of content "collectively represents a market that rivals the hit-driven market we have known for a hundred years" and that "small is the new big," then where does that leave traditional media companies? Is all media going to be replaced by stuff that appeals only to an audience of one or two?
I don't think so. There is an opportunity here for media companies (as well as new professional-amateur entrants into the industry) to create content that appeals to targeted audiences of tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions. I think the best of this content will come to be known as nichebusters: movies, songs, and stories that become extremely popular within certain, large niche audiences.
In other words, media companies will need to shift away from creating a few blockbusters every year, and instead try to create hundreds of nichebusters. Admittedly, this will be a big challenge. But if they do it right, media companies could actually reach more people and create deeper connections to many different audiences than they do today. Because for every blockbuster today there are at least three or four flops. That's often what happens when you try to appeal to everyone with generic, mass-market drivel: you end up pleasing no one.
Finely-tuned nichebusters might have a better chance of reaching smaller audiences. We just need a lot more of them than we have today, and find a way to create them more cheaply than today's blockbusters.
If media consumption is fragmenting, then so must the media industry.
Posted by Erick Schonfeld on Feb 02 at 10:51 AM in Culture of Participation, Media & Marketing | Permalink | Comments (4)
GM and CNBC - shit squared - again!
I was watching some retard on CNBC - I know (I am a putz for watching!) - who manages the North Carolina pension fund going on and on about how they own a piece of every stock in the American exchange. He gets paid?!!! Do we not have monkeys or lab rats to do the same thing and send this guy to IRAN. Anyways, he is talking about how they are being patient in GM because that is what they do and yada yada yada. Actually, he did not really even know that much about GM - even though thanks to his management, the trusting pensioners of North Carolina have lost a few billion in this beauty of a security while he has owned it. And it may be a pretty worthless common stock (hy but he owns the bonds as well). Pretty sickening interview.
Putz of the week for sure, maybe the month.
CROX - how about JOKE! or RUN - for T-Bills.
The fact that there is a market for a piece of shit security (not the company) like this says something for the speculative nature in the market for anything that COULD grow.
I love Chipotle's but can't pay up for it. I guess CROX makes a cool sandal, but what have they really proved out. Over time, Chipotle's is the real deal and CROX will most likely become takeover bait at a much lower price.
Yet another sign that US markets are just going to be tough and are generally being distributed.
Stick with hard assets still I think.
Fast market and I would be back buying long-term positions in the $530's.
I still think we are in a massive commodity boom for oil and metals so you have to hope for carnage like this to rebuild positions. Don't watch the news - there isn't any!
At noon today, most commodities are down 3 percent and the stocks are down 5-10 percent. Sometimes you get lucky - punk!
Lately, as I trade less and sit back more, the markets seem easier to follow.
I hope that I can keep it up.
Other than some Apple last night, I am nibbling on a few oil stocks (GW) and looking at an asbestos play that has been pummeled today (GRA).
The real key though is to look at market strength as we enter corrections in the market, which we are definately in. I mentioned a week ago that the eighth tier China and Indian stocks were doubling overnight. Never a good sign.
February 06, 2006
Apple in the 50's.
If you believe in the growth story as I do, Apple in the 50's is a good entry. Might as well start early.
Gold at 575!
They are benefitting from good and bad news and act like they will never go down. That is how Google looked at $470 and Apple looked at 80. Both have fallen 20 plus percent from their respective highs.
SuperBowl Ads - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
If you are an ape, last night had good news. a Gilette razor with 5 blades and fancy colors - wooooooo.
Now, I will never know if this is a BAD product because I don't need a ten dollar razor to shave, but once the apes get blogging, I am sure the feedback will be positive. Regular human beings do not need this and likely will not buy.
Fedex stole the show and did not need boobs to sell it. A few great ones from bud as well. Congrats to both.
February 05, 2006
"Addicted to Oil"
George Jr. - Talk about stating the obvious. Worse still, the obvious is not really a problem if you believe in a growing economy. It is what makes an economy grow in the first place. The Iraqi's and Palestinian's are not addicted to oil. Lucky them! We are not addicted to oil, we are addicted to freedom and commerce - you putz. Millions of hardworking Americans commute hundreds of miles a day to help feed their families. Corporate America has made monumnetal strides with e-commerce and other technology to help employees work at or closer to home. Wait until videoconferencing becomes mainstream!. What is your plan? How about a different stance on environmental policies. For 30 years, the country has cowtowed (is that a word) to the likes of Greenpeace. Maybe we are finally seeing the great effects of this. No new refineries as oil hits $70/barrel. Good news though - we saved a spotted owl. How about YOUR plan!
Your government gives tax breaks to cars over 2,000 pounds. Sounds like you work for Procter and Gamble and don't really care about our "addiction". How about a tax break for Hybrids and Honda Element drivers - like me! How about a tax break if your third home is less than 20,000 square feet! Way like me.
Fat people are addicted to Lay's chips - yet Proctor and Gamble does not complain about a shortage of corn syrup and a shortage of Elestra. They just make more toilet paper and bigger bags. Works for me.
Useless soundbites from what has become a useless ceremony. What a shame.
February 04, 2006
Postage on the Internet - a tax on legitimate businesses!!!
The government has failed us here. It seems simple to me. Tax and prosecute the senders of spam. If Google can create search, the government can track spam. Period!! It goes back to the topic of gambling. It is stupid to legislate it, but smart to punish and tax email and spam offenders and those that allow minors to participate.
AOL and Goodmail teaming up to charge for postage is a joke. Those that can afford to pay, are the very same companies I don't want to hear from in the first place. I hope I misunderatnd what is going on here, but from what I am reading, I will be receiving CERTIFIED SPAM if it is up to AOL.
A risky gambit for AOL if and when they follow through. I hope they rot for this idea, along with the people that promise to enlarge my penis.
February 02, 2006
The shit is rising
Unless of course this is the beginning of something big. I doubt it!
February 01, 2006
America - Cheer Up!
Here are some stats on how far we have come in the last 100 years. Stop bitching about the ozone and the rain forest. And as it relates to the deficit - pass it on.....
One hundred years ago.
The average life expectancy in the U.S. was 47 years. Five leading causes of death in the U.S. were: Pneumonia and influenza, Tuberculosis, Diarrhea, Heart disease, and Stroke
Ninety percent of all U.S. doctors had no college education. Two out of every 10 U.S. adults couldn't read or write. Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.The average wage in the U.S. was 22 cents per hour. The average U.S. worker made between $200 and $400 per year. An accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.
Sugar cost four cents a pound. Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen. Coffee was fifteen cents a pound. 14 percent of the homes in the U.S. had a bathtub and 8 percent of the homes had a telephone. There were only 8,000 cars in the U.S., and only 144 miles of paved roads. The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph. With 1.4 million people, California was only the 21st most populous state in the Union. There were about 230 reported murders in the entire U.S.
The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower.
posted by SeatCover @ 5:52 PM
Last Year - relief for genital herpes, 8 ply toilet paper
Last 3 years - golfnow.com:),
How about the last 10 years - e-mail, internet and communication (skype) explosion, global bazzar (Ebay), Ambien - so I can sleep, Speed, so I don't have to.
Last 20 - cell phones, fax, zit cream.
last 50 - mainframe to tablet PC, oh and according to CNN - nuclear weapons
NEXT YEAR - Taser's for everyone
I am such a putz
Japan (Honda, Sony), Mexico, Canada, India, China.
Gold, Silver, Platinum, Copper.
Financials (ABN, Goldman etc...), always a good sign, hitting all-time highs.
Tape is so strong - you need to look deeper than the headlines.
Wish I was long and not thinking.
Google - now I am pissed
If you have to check every little text message that they are popping into your various sites to make sure your competitor's are not sneak attacking you, than forget it.
To me, it seems like a big problem and a reason to blacklist them from your home page until they can explain it.
Better yet, make sure we are doing these type of ad attacks on our compeitor sites until they figure it out!
Google - the day after
I said turn off CNBC for three days and see where it settles.
Day 1 - $401 and change
For the record, I sold ten minutes after the open at $386 - putz! But, have not turned on CNBC - half putz?
I do have a reason and that is I like Yahoo better. I tend to agree with the analysis of Kessler which I also chronicled last night. More in a bit.