Google Shares Drop: Can you say Volatility?

Volatility. Risk. They go hand in hand.  I shudder to think about the roller coaster ride in store for Google shareholders if “concern that the outlook for holiday sales may not be as strong as investors had hoped” can hurt the stock so badly.

The holiday season is (the next) five weeks in length.  Last time I checked shrewd investors invested in stocks for the long haul. 

Here is the article.

BarCamp Toronto – Session #1

Levi and I attended barCamp Toronto this weekend – hat’s off to David Crow for making a real success out of this event.

For those who don’t know, barCamp is a movement in cities around the world to get the technology development community out of their respective holes and in touch with one another.  It’s a reaction to Tim O’Reilly’s FooCamp which was invite only and alienated a whole bunch of folks (Foo is the opposite of Bar).

Anyhow, it was great to get out and meet people like Rob Hyndman who I had met previously in Cyberspace (through email), but not in person.  I also managed to meet and alienate my first “blog reader” within an hour of arriving.  How? 

I was in a session where we were discussing RSS when we got into some of the social networking aspects of services like del.icio.us and blogs.  From the corner, Ken Schafer  piped up, “…for example, I’ll bet Michael doesn’t know I read his blog’. I was stunned(!), and he was right – I had no idea, nor did I know who Ken was.  The next session was on money and business models.  I went on a rant about Adsense driven portals and how I don’t agree with them as a viable business model.  Of course that’s Ken’s business model.  Way to go Mike.  Meet your first blog reader and alienate him all in a span of 40 minutes… 

Seriously though, it was great to meet Ken.  We both teach Internet Marketing here in Toronto and Ken is a real asset for BarCamp because he organized a similar community (AIMS) in the past and knows all about the growing pains of such an undertaking.  Ken is also a wealth of knowledge and a very approachable guy so it was fun to meet in such a forum.

It was also great to hear from Albert.  He is a living breathing success story for Web 1.0 and on his way to a second success with BubbleShare.  Albert said some things which will be the foundation to another essay in the web 2.0 essay.  (Subscribe to his feed or email me and I’ll let you know when it’s done.) By the way, judging from his name tag, Albert is hiring Ruby + C# developers if you know anyone who fits the bill. 

Finally, I’d like to say a word of thanks to Ken King who could not attend because something came up at the last minute.  Ken is a marketing guy who is developing a series of web services.  I asked Ken to add them to my list of Canadian Web 2.0 apps.  He said “I’m too Canadian to add them myself”, so I’m glad to do it here for him.

Thanks again to David Crow and John Lax for hosting.  Great to get out with our peers; lets do it again. And is anyone out there sitting on their hands, waiting for someone else take the initiative and provide a medium for your peers to meet?  Why can’t you do that yourself? Surely something good will come out of it…

End of the Sustainable Competitive Advantage?

Has Web 2.0 brought an end to the sustainable competitive advantage?  Look at Flickr, Delicious, even Salesforce.com (read their prospectus and  they admit to have no patents and no sustainable competitive advantage) – none of these companies has a defensible technology position. 

When I speak with savvy business people they ask: “What is 2ndSite’s sustainable competitive advantage?”  Well … we don’t have one… does that mean we cannot build a successful company and a cash cow? No.

I do NOT think Web 2.0 is the end of the sustainable competitive advantage and I think that any investor would do well to explore this criteria in their investment evaluation.  I also think a sustainable competitive advantage is not be all and end all.  Today you can scale a business faster and more cost effectively than ever before (online at least).  First mover advantages exist in many categories for many businesses.  Therefore you can establish a sustainable advantage through scale if you invest in the right opportunity at the right time.

Things are changing for investors and VCs.  Read Paul Graham’s “The VC Squeeze”  for some ideas on how VC’s may need to change to keep up with the times.  I think that sustainable advantages and new ways that look at the issue of sustainable advantages are going to be industry “personal” growth issues for the venture capital community – at least into the foreseeable future. 

There are going to be more opportunities surfacing that leverage sustainable competitive advantages in the Web 2.0 space.  I just hope it is not only Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and other monoliths that secure them.  Here is a great post by Dion Hinchcliffe on that subject.  In the comments he and I get into it a little.  It might be worth having a look at.

The final word: if you find someone who believes the sustainable competitive advantage is dead, you’ll know we’re in a bubble.

Search Engine Expert Witness – Toronto, Canada

Disclaimer: this post concludes on a moral note. Apologies in advance it that is not your thing.

I got an interesting call on Monday from a lawyer looking for an expert witness on the topic of search engines. It’s not the first time I have been asked.  I turned down the last request due to other commitments.  That said, when I get these requests, it is hard to say if I would have been a good fit for the job. I have been in the industry for 6 years and that is pretty much the lifetime of the industry.  Also, since I teach Search Marketing at Humber College and for other organizations, and consult on it, I am probably appropriate for the majority of cases.

To be honest, I am not sure how many people in all of Canada can really qualify for the “search engine expert witness” title.  As I say, I can’t be sure I do either.  I asked Kathy (who manages Anicon now) to call back and learn a little more about the case to see if I was a suitable expert in this instance.  Kathy is well on her way to becoming a Canadian search engine expert herself, but you never know what knowledge will be relevant in a case.  For certain either of us could testify about the principles and best practices surrounding ranking a website, but if the case demanded someone who would be willing to comment on the intricate changes in search engine algorithms, that is not something we could do beyond speaking in general terms.  The fact is only those who work within the walls of the Googleplex or at Microsoft or Yahoo! can really speak to those kinds of specific changes, and I’ll bet you they are legally bound to keep their mouths shut.  Therefore, Kathy, I or Jeff (also an Anicon team member and search expert) are as likely to be certified as anyone to be an expert search engine witness.

But the point of all of this is that when Kathy called to find out more information on my behalf, this is what the lawyer said:

“I only want to go through this once.  I am a lawyer.  I don’t have time for this.”

That was just plain rude – and she clearly did not know who she was talking to (i.e. a very qualified person).  Guess what?  Kathy does not have time for you anymore, and I’ll back her up on that one.  I feel sorry for the client of this lawyer because her lawyer does not have a winning attitude and does not appear to be on track to build a team for a successful defence.  Nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes.  What else is true?  We’re all tight on time and you catch more flies with honey.  It’s important not to forget these things…

Canadian Web 2.0 Companies / Entrepreneurs

Do you know any Canadian Web 2.0 Companies and/or Entrepreneurs?  If you do please comment on this post (see below) and tell me about them or email me (see above).  Please be sure to include the company name and a URL. I’m trying to get a list together and I am hoping this is a good way to start.  (It’s also an experiment…so please participate!)

Thanks!

The Gloves Are Off

Wow – It’s getting nasty.

Google is now paying you $1 for every user Internet Explorer user you convert to the Firefox browser.  This is consistent with Google’s strategies as it works towards weakening Microsoft’s chance of using IE to take a shot at fortifying its virtual monopoly through the web browser.  People have long speculated that Google would develop its own browser.  This move seems indicate otherwise.  That said, the move should help encourage ongoing development of the Firefox browser and Google themselves may get actively involved in that development at some point in the future.

So, it’s officially WAR if you ask me.  The gloves are off. 

Here is the catch though, the “switchers/converts” must install the Google Toolbar for you to receive a credit and that means Google will be “watching you” and your online behaviour like they do with today’s toolbar users.  Therefore switching is sort of like selling your credit card information – Google will profile you, get smarter and make it easier for themselves to sell you services. 

Google’s powers are growing.  It is now a public company and so it serves the Street.  If absolute power corrupts absolutely, and if Google could be headed for (nearly) absolute power over the internet, then how much longer can they hold out before they are corrupted and their “don’t be evil” mantra rings hollow?

I'm for I Cringely

I’ve been sort of stuck on Mircosoft this week.  I can’t say why, but I have been.  Here are two great posts from I Cringely conerning Mircosoft’s future and their current activities.

1) Concerning Mircosoft’s “leaked” documents:

http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20051110.html

2) Concerning Google’s Walmart style strategy (I REALLY like this one) to disarm Mircosoft:

http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20051117.html

If you like the posts, revisit this site and post comments here as there is no facility to do so on the site iteself.