Remember the late '90s, when dotcoms bid on Bay Area billboards up and down 101? Well, they're back. On my way to work this morning I spotted a gigantic billboard for HotorNot.com, the online picture-rating site. Whatever happened to viral marketing? For what it's worth, Eight Days Inc., the proprietor of HotorNot, may have gotten a deal: the billboard is on the building where its Web servers are hosted.
A year and a half ago, I interviewed Ned Stringham, CEO of SBI Group, a little-known consultancy that was snapping up the remnants of dotcom consultants like Scient, Lante, and Razorfish for next to nothing. Sure, he wasn't paying much, I asked him, but isn't it true that you get what you pay for? Check back in a few years, said Stringham. We didn't have to wait that long: Today, SBI sold SBI.Razorfish, as its Internet-consulting unit is now known, to aQuantive for $160 million. So that's how you make money in this business.
AT&T's announcement this week that it would stop signing up customers in seven states was a shocker. Not because AT&T said it would stop marketing local-phone service -- everyone expected that move after a regulatory decision that freed local-phone monopolies to raise rates on the lines they rent to AT&T. Ma Bell went further, though, saying it would also no longer compete for consumer long-distance business in those states.
Why such a draconian move? If you ever needed proof that there's no money left in the long-distance business, this is it. If it can't sell a package of local and long-distance service, AT&T is saying, it might as well not sell to consumers at all. That would be a shame for consumers like me; I signed up for AT&T's local service here in California, over a line rented from SBC, and I'm pleased to say I'm getting a better deal than I could otherwise.
Of course, AT&T will continue to sell its voice-over-IP CallVantage service, which works over any broadband connection -- and doesn't require a line rental.
Comdex -- once the tech trade show -- has been cancelled. (The show management's spin: We could do it profitably, we just don't want to do it this year; the show's not dead, it's 'taking a breather,' is reminiscent of Monty Python's dead parrot sketch). What went wrong? Comdex grew too large and too expensive, and then collapsed under its own weight as newer shows like CES stole its thunder. Here's our take.
Salesforce.com’s delayed IPO is expected for tomorrow; lucky for us, Siebel’s PR shop is happy to point out their upstart rival’s supposed problems.
Sent: Tuesday, June 22, 2004 11:52 AM
To: Caulfield, Brian - Business 2.0
Subject: IPO tomorrow?
What’s your first reaction when you see these comments from a reputable analyst about a software product?
_ "functionality too limited"
_ "lacks functional depth for customer service and marketing"
_ "will find this release’s functionality and cost restrictive"
_ "limit its appeal in larger or complex environments"
Assessments like these call into question whether Salesforce.com’s stock or its products are a solid long-term buy.
How helpful! Of course, Siebel's PR agency, knowing that Salesforce.com wouldn't comment because it's in an SEC-mandated "quiet period," neglected to mention that the same analyst feels that Salesforce.com's "immediate future is very bright."
Amazon's millions of shoppers got a surprise recently: Amazon introduced its new search engine, A9, to its highly trafficked homepage, replacing Google. The shift won't shock highly obsessive Google-watchers, of course. That crowd doubtless already know that A9 builds on top of Google's own search results, combined with Amazon's personalization techniques, to deliver tailored results. Amazon's move is telling all the same: The world's largest online retailer has deemed its own search technologies ready for prime time.
When I was in physics class, we learned about three spatial dimensions (height, length, width), and a fourth chronological dimension (time). I understand the idea of theoretical extra dimensions like those proposed in string theory -- but the world's first 5-D video game? What does that even mean? Further down, G4techTV's article reports that in the upcoming Blinx 2 game, a feline adventure for Microsoft's Xbox, "just like using a VCR remote control, players' customized cats have the power to slow down the action, pause, review, fast-forward, record and even combine them in challenging situations." Is the fifth dimension supposed to be backwards time? So you can review (rewind?) or pause the game -- where's the fun in that?
Google this, Google that! For past two months, all we have heard is Google and nothing else in Silicon Valley. Today, I saw what could be the next big thing, and it is called BlinkX. For sake of space, I have posted the detailed review elsewhere, but BlinkX is a "contextual" search agent which is pretty effective when it comes to looking up relevant information on the web.
Recently in my telecom column, I pointed out that despite the marketing hype, Cisco's latest super-router, the CRS-1, lagged behind equipment made by rivals such as Procket and Juniper. Of course, the company disagreed at the time. However, now comes the news that Cisco has snapped up some assets of Procket for about $89 million. I had reported on the rumor last week on my personal weblog, GigaOm, because I could not get three people to confirm the news. I could only nail down two sources who were close to the deal.
The bigger question in my mind is: why did Cisco need Procket? After all, it supposedly had a really great product. Only yesterday, Cisco CEO John Chambers had told attendees of a Bear Stearns investor conference: “I’m not going to buy another router company for a router. I could not be more comfortable with our routing strategy." Well, Cisco's acquisition team thought otherwise, perhaps taking into consideration that CRS-1 was at least a year away from commercial sale, and during that time Juniper Networks could possibly take over the market for core routers. There could be two explanations for the deal: Either CRS-1 is all hype and no reality, or Cisco simply wanted to take Procket out of the core-router equation. And for that $89 million is a small price to pay.