Everyone's getting into harnessing crowd intelligence these days. (For instance, you can help us predict the future of business at BizPredict). Over at the Motley Fool, there is an interesting beta service called Motley Fool CAPS where anyone can make a stock prediction and get ranked based on their accuracy. Motley Fool founder David Gardner recently came by to talk about the initiative. He sees this as a way to update the stock discussion forums that the Motley Fool has always been known for. But now, since you can see how someone's past stock picks have done versus the market, you can use their ranking to help you decide whether they are worth listening to or are simply blowing hot air.
To make things interesting, CAPS pulls in stock recommendations from professional Wall Street firms via Briefing.com, as well as those of well-known financial columnists like Money's Michael Sivy (player score: 82 out of 100) or Jim Cramer (player score: "under 20). Out of the top stock pickers, only one is a Wall Street firm. The rest are Motley Fool members (including one who lives in Monte Carlo). This is the democratization of Wall Street research in action. Call it investor-generated stock picks.
The big question here is whether or not the Motley Fool can tap into this group intelligence to make better
stock predictions. My initial impulse is to say that it cannot because
it will never be able to match the intelligence that is already
reflected in the real financial markets, which will always have more
participants and more liquidity. But Fool CAPS could be useful in
identifying those select individuals who can outperform the
market and bring them to greater prominence. Additionally, it can pool
the recommendations of those top outliers and serve them up to
everybody else. Gardner is excited about one day offering up such
user-generated research reports.
Of course, any fool can have a lucky streak.
Virgin Galactic unveiled the design for the interior of its SpaceShip 2, due to roll out in 2008 and be operational for sub-orbital flights in 2009. Reports Space.com:
The air-launched SpaceShipTwo is designed to seat eight people – six passengers and two pilots. For an initial ticket price of $200,000, Virgin Galactic passengers will buy a 2.5-hour flight aboard SpaceShipTwo and launch from an altitude of about 60,000 feet (18,288 meters), while buckled safely in seats that recline flat after reaching suborbital space. A flight animation depicted passengers clad in their own personal spacesuits as they reached a maximum altitude of at least 68 miles (110 kilometers).
While the spacesuit designs are not yet final, they will likely be equipped with personal data and image recorders to add to SpaceShipTwo’s in-cabin cameras.
Virgin Galactic will also be accepting Virgin Airways miles (2 million of them) for flights.
Voodoo PC, the Ferrari of PCs for the gaming crowd, is now part of HP. That's one way to inject a little high-margin mojo into the low-margin PC business.
The best thing HP can do with this brand is leave it alone.
A whole slew of new VoIP companies like Jajah, Rebtel, and GrandCentral (which uses VoIP to create a universal number for you by rerouting all of your other phone numbers wherever you tell it to) are sprouting from the woodwork these days. (Call them VoIP 2.0, as opposed to VoIP 1.0 companies like Vonage and Skype which first took advantage of free or cheap calls over the Internet). With VoIP 2.0, we are seeing different attempts to merge Internet calls with the regular phone networks (both landline and mobile).
TechCrunch's Michael Arrington questions whether some of these VoIP 2.0 services are ready for primetime because they generally require some sort of change in consumer behavior. In the case of Jajah, you need to enter both numbers in a Website (or get a software download for your mobile phone) and wait for the service to call you back. In the case of Rebtel, you are assigned a new number and, to avoid extra charges, the person you are calling needs to hang up and call you right back.
Since I just wrote about Rebtel and still had CEO Hjalmar Winbladh's Rebtel number in my cell phone, I decided to call him back and ask for his response. He was a bit frustrated at the whole debate. Yes, he is asking people to change their behavior, but he doesn't see it as being that complicated:
The only thing we ask you to do is press the red button and then the green button.
Last month, I tried to cobble together a list of the top video sites on the Web based on comScore traffic numbers. But it wasn't definitive, and it didn't measure whether people actually watched the videos. Today, comScore has come out with a much better list, based on the actual number of video streams watched per site. Here it is:
Look at the stats for MySpace. More people watch videos on MySpace (37.4 million) than on YouTube (30.5 million), and it's almost caught up to Yahoo (37.9 million). But if you look at the actual number of video streams watched, MySpace tops the least with 1.5 billion streams per month—nearly twice as much as Yahoo's. In terms of potential advertising revenues, it's the number of streams that is the more relevant number since you could theoretically serve an ad with each stream. No wonder Yahoo is beefing up its video assets. (Also note that there should be no double-counting here because comScore attributes the streams to the original site where it comes from. So if you are linking to a YouTube video on your MySpace page, that counts towards YouTube's total).
Adding to its arsenal of Web 2.0 startups, Yahoo just bought Jumpcut. This gives Yahoo a whole new Web-based set of video remixing tools. I called up Jumpcut CEO Mike Folgner to ask him what this means for his company. He says:
Yahoo wants us to continue doing what we are doing right now—be the online video editor for the Internet. Jumpcut will stay Jumpcut.
So just like Flickr or del.icio.us (which has tripled its registered users to more than a million since it was acquired, BTW), Jumpcut will remain a standalone entity. No details on the price, but Jumpcut has 15 employees and Yahoo does not like to overpay for these things. I first spoke with Folgner about a month ago. At the time he explained his business to me this way:
Our goal is to have every video created for the Internet created with our tools, through our Website. In a few years video is goingtio be everywhere. We want to teach a large amount of people out there how to edit with Jumpcut. We want people to come to Jumpcut or elsewhere and create video and share it wherever they are on the Web. Our goal is to be easier than desktop editing.
Who gets paid more, bloggers or journalists? Wondering whether to spend two years on an MBA or eight years getting a PhD? According to a nifty new salary search tool at Indeed, job listings for bloggers advertise higher salaries than those for either journalists or reporters. (Yes, you can get paid to blog). And MBAs are paid more than PhDs:
You can type in any job description and the online tool will tell you the average salary for listings indexed by the Indeed job search engine with that keyword—by city or area code. More details here.
Crocs are so hot right now. It's become my default gift. The stock is doing nicely too. But what made me realize that they've truly hit the big time is that I am now getting spam e-mail that is offering a free pair of Crocs (as opposed to a free iPod or a free laptop).
Former Microsoft blogger Robert Scoble has launched his Internet TV show at the new startup he now works for, PodTech. Called the Scoble Show, it's basically a video blog where each post is a video segment ranging from five minutes to half an hour. The initial topics include a photowalk with blogger Thomas Hawk, JotSpot CEO Joe Kraus giving a demo of his enterprise wiki, and (my favorite) a tour of PrintingForLess.com's massive print shop in Montana. (Check out the million-dollar printing press towards the end). There are also some hardcore geek topics on programming and technology.
While the segments could use some more editing (some of the footage is pretty raw), this is definitely a step up in terms of quality and production values compared to most other videoblogs I've seen. When you click on the video links, a small cinema screen pops up to play the video. As with all Web media, stuff that appeals to tech geeks usually comes before more mainstream fare. Scoble knows who his core audience is, but has some videos that will appeal to a more general audience as well as he tries to expand his brand (just as Digg is trying to do by moving into non-tech topics).
As an alpha geek himself, Scoble is an early indicator. He was one of the first bloggers, and now he is early in being a professional Web videographer I can't help but feel that five years from now (or likely even sooner), a lot more of us will be doing video on the Web.