Thursday, December 28, 2006

No thanks for the tip

One of the founders of Firefox has taken issue with how Google Tips work, pre-empting natural search results (blog post here). Take a look at the result for "Wordpress blog" below:

Fairly certain the Wordpress team wouldn't be too excited to see an ad for Blogger better placed than their top natural search result and #1 paid-search link. More amazing still is that comments on Slashdot about this issue aren't all completely behind Google.

What makes Tips faintly nefarious is that they're not algorithmically derived (like the rest of Google results, both natural and paid). It's a fairly blatant marketing decision to drive traffic to contextually relevant Google products. Normally this would be a non-issue, since any company staffed with at least one marketer would attempt to do the same.

But Google's famous "do no evil" stance, and the trust users place in Google that the site will represent the most relevant results for specific keywords, aren't aligned with Tips. Simply put, if a Google product is actually not as relevant or popular as measured by its own algorithm, it shouldn't have top billing over those results (Wordpress blog as a keyword is a great example since the only relevant result should be Wordpress or results related to Wordpress).

Leveragedsellout strikes again

Another funny post from LeveragedSellOut on an investment banker's night life. This was in response to a businessweek article from some Goldman analyst on his daily work routine. A couple of thoughts. Sadly, both posts are actually fairly true :( In my short stint at an investment bank, the 10-2AM workday wasn't uncommon (at least as an analyst). We didn't use "Rolling hard" back then, but the idioms were just as dumb.

This is the best line from Goldman analyst guy:

"The typical work week is around 80 to 100 hours, including time on weekends. It's tough to manage such a rigorous schedule in addition to relationships with friends and family. On the other hand, I'm exposed to more corporate executives at companies and senior bankers within Goldman than I anticipated, which is a fair trade-off."

Hee-hee. Only a first year analyst at any professional firm (IBanking, Consulting, Law) would say something like that. The best folks I knew at Bain/Morgan Stanley were the folks that got all their crap done from 8-6 and had the ability to stand up, leave and live a semi-normal life.

80-100 hours a week doing something you really love or have a passion for is obviously worth it. Most entrepreneurs live that. However, there is simply no number of corporate executives, senior bankers (or in my case $$$) worth 80-100 hours spent sitting running models :P.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Best MySpace codes

Just wanted to announce our newly launched Corkboard code for MySpace, Bebo, Friendster and all other sites we work with. One of the things we're trying to do at RockYou is maximize the interaction of social network users. Corkboard lets folks set aside a place on their profiles where their friends can not only leave shared comments, but shared photos and objects as well. Check it out and make sure to put it on your blogs and social network profiles :D

RockYou Corkboard - Add a Note - Get Your Own

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Stumbleupon Video

Stumbleupon Video is freakishly addictive. Check out this documentary on Hugo Chavez (warning -- its long). I'm no fan of his politics (I'm one of those left-leaning Republicans, fiscal conservative and social liberal), but the story is pretty fascinating. The documentary covers the underlying impact of (and trust placed on) the media and captures an actual coup d'etat on film. No easy feat.

Stumbleupon has something significant here. Where most sites are limited to Youtube-capped 5 minute videos, a lot of content on Stumbleupon Video ranges over 30-90 minutes. The videos are also much less focused on gag or shock value. If you choose All Channels, there's a lot of political content (like this Stephen Colbert report). I'm assuming like any good Web 2.0 startup, as Stumbeupon gets to know me better, the content will become increasingly relevant. It solves one of my main frustrations with Youtube, MySpace and the like. While the most popular videos on Youtube can be funny, a lot of times I'm surfing through content which, frankly, I personally find is crap (given I'm no longer aged 13-20).

Dave (VP Marketing at Stumbleupon), one suggestion. Make it easier to take the great content from your site and embed it on blogs, MySpace and other sites. The email sharing function is fine, but in order to embed the URLs above, I had to email myself. Content with an embed code (ala MySpace layouts on Freeweblayouts and photo sharing & slideshows on Rockyou) would be useful...

Friday, December 15, 2006

Bebo Widgets

Wanted to announce Rockyou's integration to Bebo! Beboers can now upload Rockyou's widgets with a couple of clicks, with photo upload from Bebo albums and embedding of widgets on Bebo profiles all fully automated.

We're big fans of the Bebo team and site. Huge thanks to Michael, Xochi (cofounders), Jim and Darius. For those of you who haven't checked out Bebo, it's a super engaging site. It only takes a few minutes to get fully set up with layouts, video, pictures & albums, music and now Rockyou slideshows :). Everything is fully integrated/seamless and requires no copying of html for layouts, slideshows or other codes like on MySpace. They've got a massive number of bands on Bebo as well. Rock!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Dappit - Scraping at its Finest

If I hadn't worked in eBay's Platform Solutions group, I wouldn't have a true appreciation for this. Go check out Dappit. While I have some questions whether the publishers/owners of targeted web content will be too happy with the service, Dappit essentially converts any html content (images, listings, text, etc) into a web service available via XML, RSS, alerts and more useful developer stuff. For all you scrapers out there this means not having to continually issue fixes to your scraping tools when a site's formatting changes. You can build an application to work off a true XML or RSS feed and let Dappit/Dapper do the heavy lifting of scraping site content.

What's truly cool about Dappit is its ability to group together content across multiple URLs/sites and bundle it into one web service group called a 'Dapp'. The Dapp is then made public and discoverable to any developer. Check out how many "eBay" Dapps that already exist. Scraping has always been the poor man's web service. Dappit has made scraping into a true web service platform -- which is both awesome (for developers) and frightening (for content owners) all at the same time.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Most Popular Websites

Interesting post on's blog referencing the top 20 most visited U.S. sites for October 06. Notice that only 20 sites have traffic over 20MM unique visitors a month. Our friends at Photobucket nearly break into that category as well. These stats track closely to Comscore's results for October, so kudos to Compete's algorithms for traffic monitoring. Now if only they gave daily results for the data-starved... :D

Friday, December 08, 2006

Translating Women Talk

Great post from my pal Cindy translating 'women talk'. Unfortunately I hear "Fine", "Five Minutes", "Nothing", "Go Ahead", "Loud Sigh" and "Whatever" fairly often :(

Monday, December 04, 2006

Top MySpace Layouts

Part of the fun of working at Rockyou as the biz dev guy is doing research on the social networking industry. While Rockyou leads in providing slideshows and other flash-based personalization widgets to MySpace, hi5 and other social network users, profile layouts (from the likes of Freeweblayouts and Pimp-my-profile) are actually more popular than slideshows, countdown timers, GIF icons, alphas or any other single 'pimp' application.

Over the past two months I've been compiling a running tally of MySpace profiles, getting to know how Rockyou sits with competitors and potential partners. Now that I've run past 1000 profiles, thought it'd be interesting to share some data.

First off, over 52% of MySpace profiles have some 'branded' layout embedded. That leaves nearly half of MySpace users without a formatted layout, or with a picture they uploaded themselves as a background. In addition, across those ~1000 profiles, there were over 100 layout providers. Think about that for a sec. For anyone interested in entering the profile layout space, there's obviously a TON of competition (if not a lot of startup cost). That said the top 10 layout providers accounted for a third of all layouts, so concentration is definitely occurring as the viral marketing effect takes place. The top 10 were as follows.

Layout Provider Market Share
1) Freeweblayouts 7%
2) Hotfreelayouts 7%
3) Pimp-my-profile 3%
4) 2%
5) myspacesupport 2%
6) 2%
7) Pyzam 2%
8) MySpacePimper 2%
9) Freecodesource 2%
10) Nuclearcentury 2%

Obviously, Freeweblayouts and Hotfreelayouts are leaders in the space, with Pimp-my-profile growing quickly as a strong third. Hotfreelayouts (owned by states they have 6.5MM unique users per month alone. What differentiates these providers from the rest? For all three, each have thousands of highly stylized, design-rich layouts for social network users. Pimp-my-profile also offers users to build and submit their own layouts to their site as well. But frankly, what maintains leadership in this hotly contested social networking 'pimp' space is viral marketing. All three were some of the first entrants to providing layouts and their early lead, coupled with a wide variety of dynamic, rich designs, generated significant enough buzz to drive and keep ongoing growth.

At Rockyou we're big believers in the impact of viral marketing, having spent $0 in marketing to reach over 6MM registered users and nearly 10MM unique visitors per month looking for greater self-expression online. We're currently working to support the growth of partners and branded sponsors looking to drive awareness and adoption with social network users (a significant % are women ages 16-30). If we can help, just send me an email at

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Shitshow

Now that I no longer work for a public company requiring employees to maintain a fairly pristine image (my blog is once again all my own! woowee.) , I feel emboldened to refer folks to a profane but funny blog post (gasp) The Shitshow. It's hard to tell whether its satire or truth, but either way, anyone who's worked in consulting, investment banking or private equity, or worked with anyone in those fields, will get a chuckle. In summary, the author is a supposed private equity analyst from Deerfield/Wharton, poking fun at a recent hire from Bain, a well-regarded strategic consulting company (I'm biased since I worked there for 3 years post Duke). Best line from the post:

"Bro, I know you only made like $55k traveling to Bumblefuck, Idaho every week to provide 'strategic insight' and 'thought leadership,' but please, at least go to TJ Maxx and get some some slightly imperfect Brooks Brothers. Get on eBay or something and buy that shit used for God’s sakes. Yes, your Mom and your broke-ass girlfriend both got you gift certificates to Banana for Christmas, but that doesn’t mean you wear that Middle-America shit to work, son! This is FI-nance. FI as in 'FIx me a drink, Jeeves.' FI as in 'FIlling my wallet with Benjamins.' FI as in 'FIckle with my private jets.' Not FI as in 'FIt really well when I tried it on at the mall in Piscataway." Ugh."

Hard to imagine that at one point in my career I was gunning for a PE associate post, got the offer and was about to go. My girlfriend (now wife) convinced me to join a startup and my life has gone c0mpletely orthoganal to being "FI" focused :) (Meaning I actually pay for mortgage and daycare -- no yacht, place to 'summer', or live-in cook yet -- but also spend my time pursuing my passions/interests in technology, growing startups and weekends with the family).
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