Posts Tagged Yahoo

Searching for Answers in Search

There has been an influx of announcements in the search world lately – Wolfram Alpha, Bing, and Siri among the most high profile – so our upcoming panel at SemTech 2009 really couldn’t come at a better time. Set for next Wednesday, June 17 at 8:30am at the San Jose Fairmont, our Executive Roundtable on Semantic Search will pick some of the biggest brains in the business to share their insights on where search is now, where it should be going and what role semantic technology should play in this complex sector.

With both Microsoft and Google represented, we’re sure to discuss Bing and its new place in the search game. Yahoo and Ask.com will share their experiences as legacy sites that must constantly innovate to stay viable. And up-and-comers True Knowledge and Hakia can give perspective on what it’s like to battle the behemoths in a space that is always hungry for more. In short, we’ve got every aspect of the search game covered so you won’t want to miss it.

If you’re not already registered for SemTech, do so now. Friends of Guidewire Group get a $300 discount on a full-conference pass. If you’re only interested in semantic search, the conference is offering a special Semantic Search Day pass for $195. This gets you access to our panel, a one-on-one Wolfram Alpha interview by Nova Spivack, and access to the exhibit hall.

Hope to see you all in San Jose next week!

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The Vortex: Partying like it’s 1995

The problem with neglecting to post The Vortex on a weekly basis is that it easily spins out of control. I’m staring at a raft of links I’ve saved up, wondering which ones will flag me as Out of Date, the ultimate sin in the technosphere. If you see something past its sell-by date below, just pretend you’re in a time machine.

News from the Social Media Vortex

-The social network we all forgot, MySpace, lost its founding CEO Chris DeWolfe this week. The rumored replacement is – surprise! – a former Facebook exec. Owen Van Natta, who hasn’t been confirmed officially, will hopefully figure out how to unseat his former employer as the top global social network. Also on his list – lose the wallpaper.

-In other news from the 20th century, Yahoo is shutting down GeoCities, in a move that likely had many commenting, “But how will my cat blog now?”

-In a Wall Street Journal piece, Mark Penn discovers that there are now almost as many bloggers in the US as there are lawyers. Bloggers of course quibbled with his math but the point is clear: we must defeat them! Quick, someone start a blog comparing the merits of frivolous lawsuits versus writing opinion pieces in your mom’s basement.

Apps on the Radar

-In place of an app I’m liking, I’m issuing a plea for an app I can’t seem to find. Anyone know of a translation app for the iPhone that *doesn’t* need a data connection to work? The ability to translate umpteen languages into English doesn’t do much good if you’re abroad with no data plan or Wifi.

Ephemera

-In the category of Horrifically Inappropriate Technology, we nominate ‘Baby Shaker,’ the new (approved!) iPhone app. So to confirm: cursing in iPhone apps – hell no; assault and battery of infants – welcome to the App Store!

-And in the category of I’m Thinking He’s an Atheist, we nominate John Soden III of Thomas Weisel Partners in San Francisco. This little gem is a bit old but you’ve got to love a guy who sends an office-wide email on Good Friday saying, “Unless you’re an orthodox something, please get into the office… Join Wells Fargo and become a teller if you want to take bank holidays.”

Tweet of the Week

-My Tweet of the Week section was thrown a curveball this week with the launch of Tweetingtoohard, a site that honors self-important tweets. Of course the flip side is that Twits will now be jockeying for position on the site, leading us even further down the Me Me MEEE abyss that is Twitter.

-In lieu of highlighting the self-important then, I’ll just settle for the funny. Which is apparently hard to find, as my nomination goes to Jason Kottke on April 1st: “Why is the Internet taking so long to tell me what to think about latest episode of Lost? It’s been over for 32 minutes!”

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The View from Guidewire

I got a bee in my bonnet this week to start a regular feature on The Guidewire, posting each Friday and giving a peek into how things look from where we sit in emerging tech. There are plenty of great week-in-review blog posts out there but, frankly, I just wanted to have a little fun. Chris and I spend most weeks deep in conversation with startups, whether they’re applying to DEMO, auditioning for Innovate!Europe, or just giving us a download on their products. But I’m always keeping an ear to the ground under social media.  There’s just so much inanity lying there fallow. So I think it will be a bit of trend-watching, a bit of news update and a bit of humor to highlight the absurd parts of the Web that sometimes get lost in the shuffle.

News from the Social Media Vortex

–It was only a matter of time. The Shorty Awards are officially established, to honor those folks who achieve excellence in… tweeting. I scoff but do acknowledge that there is a fair amount of wordsmithing involved in making your point in 140 characters. (I think my most successful tweet to date involved, not technology, but a spilled pickle jar in the frig.) Keeping with the democracy of the blogoverse, you can nominate your own categories. The current breadth of categories on the site seemingly ensure a nomination to most everyone on Twitter.

Apps on the Radar

–My productivity took a dive earlier in the week when I downloaded Monopoly for the iPhone. That and Centipede should ensure hours of time-sucking during international flights next week.

–If your time-sucking tastes trend more toward inebriation, may I suggest GiveReal, a Facebook app that lets you give redeemable real-world drinks to friends. To be serious, though, I hope to see GiveReal expand their repertoire into all manner of real-world gifts. Could this be a potential revenue stream for Facebook? One can dream…

Money Money Money

–On the one hand, Accel Partners announced two new funds this week, adding a total of more than $1 billion to their coffers. On the other hand…

–The axes fell at Yahoo, with 1,500 workers affected Monday and Flickr in the crosshairs just today. Seems like interested parties should start wearing a hole in the road to the South Bay for a fire sale. Take the money (and a bit of your dignity) and run, Yahoo.

–On that note, one of my favorite tweets this week came from @xobni: “former yahoo – if you are an engineer, apply @xobni – we are hiring.” Go for it, coders. I am increasingly falling in love with my Xobni sidebar. Not to mention their new method of recruitment.

The “I Don’t Get It” Department

–Microblogging service Tumblr closed a Series B, $4.5M round.  I’d think smarter investments right now would lie in technologies that answer real-world needs for mass consumers or enterprises. Is microblogging honestly gaining enough traction to support this?

DEMO Trends – Where the innovation is with DEMO 08 applicants**

–Web discovery – A new way to find related content online, from a deep database of existing bookmarks.

–Content aggregation – information sharing built around subject, rather than the URL

–Search – Make searches more personal by building your own multi-layered concepts

**With the caveat that we can’t reveal too much about the companies at this stage. Let your imagination run wild.

Ephemera

–Condolences to Kevin Fox, who had his light-up Christmas Flamingo stolen from his yard. If I lived in the area, I’d be a prime suspect.

–Tweet of the Week award goes to @kmonson for “It was too loud in the other room, what with all the tranny opera singers.” I must start hanging out with him more.

–I’ll be headed to court soon, if this guy has any say. I am an egregious user of the ; )

That’s it for the inaugural View from Guidewire. Comments, suggestions and mild insults welcome.

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We May Not Know Where the Web is Going But These Folks Sure Do

As reported in ReadWriteWeb last month, we’ve been working on a fantastic roundtable for DEMOfall and I’m thrilled to finally be able to reveal details. Nova Spivack, the session’s moderator, and I have worked overtime to secure a stellar and diverse line-up of thought leaders to answer the very tough question:  Where the Web is Going?

Though everyone can agree that we’re on the cusp of the next Internet revolution, its exact definition is one of frequent and vigorous debate. Is Web 3.0 about semantics or user-generated content? Innovate search engines or cloud computing? Where does the enterprise fit in all this? And what about big media; are they adapting sufficiently and flexibly?

To address these issues for and with DEMO’s business-minded audience, we thought we’d go straight to the big guns. As Nova says,

My goal for this panel is to find out where the major Web incumbents think the Web is going. If their stock valuations do not fluctuate one way or the other by at least a few hundred million in market cap after this panel then I have failed.

He sets manageable goals, no?  Without further ado, our lineup for ‘Where the Web is Going: Web 2.0, 3.0 and Beyond.’ There is sure to be lively debate with this group, so make sure you’re registered for DEMOfall 08; you won’t want to miss a thing.

Moderator: Nova Spivack, Founder and CEO, Radar Networks

Panelists:

Ross Levinsohn, Partner, Velocity Interactive Group

Howard Bloom, Author, The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century

Peter Norvig, Director of Research, Google Inc.

Jon Udell, Evangelist, Microsoft Corporation

Prabhakar Raghavan, PhD, Head of Research and Search Strategy, Yahoo! Inc.

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Hey Ladies

It’s time for another look at the womenfolk and what makes them tick, technologically speaking. We return to this topic often on The Guidewire, most recently when Ask.com decided to paint their search engine pink and call it targeted. Women are a lucrative yet elusive demographic and the entrants in this space always seem to launch with the same messaging: We’re different! Women are complicated! We get that! In the end, though, the sites all seem pretty much the same – horoscopes, fashion tips, and recipes packaged in a magazine-style format that continues to look dated in the face of current design trends.

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke with Deborah Piscione, CEO and founder of BettyConfidential, a destination site targeted to women. I’d been contemplating my post about that site when the news broke yesterday of Yahoo’s foray into the space, Shine. (More on BettyConfidential momentarily.) Shine comes equipped with all the obligatory “We’re different!” messaging. According to their site, Shine wants “…to avoid all of the common categories that advertisers or marketers tend to put us in.” Great, I’m on board. But perhaps you could better achieve that by emblazoning your homepage with a headline other than, “Fancy lingerie you can actually afford.”

Epicenter‘s Betsy Schiffman hit the nail on the head in her review:

Shine… will cover parenting, sex and love, healthy living, food, career and money, entertainment, fashion, beauty, home life and astrology — pretty much everything we hate about women’s magazines.

Amy Iorio, general manager of Lifestyles at Yahoo, misses the head, the nail, and the entire carpenter’s bench in an interview with CNET:

This is really a key audience for Yahoo. We’ve been calling them ‘chief household officers’ internally.

This is the problem. You’re trying to recreate Good Housekeeping online. It will work for women who read Good Housekeeping. But it will not work for the rest of us. Most of the women I know don’t like women’s magazines. They’re fluffy, condescending, and poorly written . (Lip gloss reviews, anyone?) So the logical solution would be to build a site that strays as far from the magazine path as possible. Yahoo obviously doesn’t agree with this, as they’ve loaded Shine with content and advisors from Conde Nast and Hearts publications. Read the rest of this entry »

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Your Life Is in My Stream

You no doubt heard the raves for FriendFeed in the last week, as the lifestreaming site opened up to the public and people quickly became addicted. As an early beta user, my addiction was broken somewhat with the public opening. The trickle of items became a torrent and, though I still check it multiple times daily, my explicit actions have slowed down. I’m only following 10 people at the moment and find it too much. (I can’t even fathom how Scoble is managing his 500+ streams.)

FriendFeed obviously hit a nerve, appealing to all the social junkies who had tired of visiting myriad sites every hour to plug into their networks. The market has been headed this way for a while; once social services expanded beyond Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn, all bets were off. It was every user for themselves and woe to anyone who couldn’t maintain active personas across the board. In fact, back in March of 07, I predicted as much in a market analysis for The Guidewire Report.

…the verticalization of [social networking] will continue for the immediate future, until users reach a point of saturation and discover that they have run out of time with which to devote. It will be then that a new kind of… service/technology will need to step up, an aggregator of all our… content in one place. A master account…from which users can generate the content that feeds into the various and sundry vertical spaces…

That last sentence may be why users are beginning to struggle with FriendFeed. Maybe lifestreaming services are pointed in the wrong direction. Instead of feeding dozens and sometimes hundreds (competitor Profilactic has 135 services) of varied sites into an aggregator, why not reverse the feed and point the aggregator outward? Write your blog posts, add new media, post links and comment on items from one central site. Then your lifestreaming site plug-in blasts it all out to the hundreds of services. We already have favorite sites on which we spend most of our time – Facebook pages or personal blogs. Add FriendFeed as a plug-in to your favorite site and have it do all your socializing for you.

FriendFeed and Profilactic aren’t the only ones honing the lifestreaming model; for an excellent analysis check out Mark Krynsky’s Lifestream Comparison Matrix. Yahoo’s MyBlogLog just launched its entry into the space and iStalkr presents its lifestreams in a visually appealing timeline. And those are just the tip of the iceberg. The sector that set out to ease our social overload is already beginning to groan under its own weight. There is a very real, almost urgent, need for lifestreaming services. But perhaps we should stop and rethink the philosophy behind them before they become yet more noise in the social graph.

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One More Thought on Yahoo’s Rebuff

So much has already been said and speculated about Yahoo!’s rejection of Microsoft’s $44.6 billion offer that it would be screaming in the echo chamber to add my analysis  and prognostications about the offer and its rebuff.  Except I can’t help making one (hopefully) original observation:  This episode may be the best thing to happen to Yahoo! and its employees in a very long time.

When the proposed deal was announced 11 days ago, I wrote – assuming Yahoo! to be a willing recipient of the offer – that getting the deal past regulators would be a challenge and one that could demoralize an already struggling Yahoo!

Now, Yahoo!’s decision to reject the offer could have the opposite affect on the company and it’s employees.

From the press release issued by Yahoo this morning:

After careful evaluation, the Board believes that Microsoft’s proposal substantially undervalues Yahoo! including our global brand, large worldwide audience, significant recent investments in advertising platforms and future growth prospects, free cash flow and earnings potential, as well as our substantial unconsolidated investments.

Roughly translated: “Microsoft is out of its friggin’ mind if it thinks for a minute we’re some kind of cheap date.”

And therein lies the motivation. Nothing energizes an organization and galvanizes employees quite like righteous indignation.  Now, Yahoo! has something to prove, damn it!

Sure, Yahoo! left the door ajar for counter offers and other “strategic options,”  but the Microsoft bid – and its rejection – might be the best thing to happen to Yahoo! in a very long time.

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