Category Archives: Business Talk

Spam Fast, Die Hard

Everyone has heard the expression ‘crime doesn’t pay,’ but spam used to seem so different; from the comforts of their home, spammers send millions of unsolicited E-mails hoping to get a bite from a small percentage of them and cash in on the results based on the numbers. Using a common affiliate program, they get paid $X for every transaction, so if they can convert N% of Y spam E-mails, all they need to do is send out enough spam E-mail to live the good life. The countries that spammers typically reside in make it a more attractive job.

In Russia, there has been a second case of spammer assassination – not to be confused with Spam Assassin. The first case was in 2005, when Russian spammer Vardan Kushnir was taken out of the spam scene. This article points to the death of Alexey Tolstokozhev, estimated to be responsible for 30% of all Viagra and penis enlargement spam E-mails, as the second case.

Note: Estimated conversion rates for spam are around 0.0036 (stated here and here), and Alexey Tolstokozhev was likely making more than $2 million a year.

Web 2.0 is Dead

That’s right. Finished. Over. End of Life. Move over Web 2.0; the next phase in the web, Web 3.0, the new “Semantic Web or the Intelligent Web” is here. Or is it? There is definitely a lot of blogging and articles being written on the subject. Articles about the Semantic Web, a term coined by Tim Berners-Lee (the man who invented the first World Wide Web), as being the next evolution, promising a more organized, easier to use, intelligently searchable web are popping up everywhere.

So is this the way to be able to take on Google – “Is Semantic Technology the Anwser?”. Companies like Microsoft and others are suggesting it is.  Even Scobeleizer has admitted that “I finally get “semantic” Web“. He does admit that attempts to read the various hypothesis were of no real help. It took someone like Nova Spivack of Radar Networks to demonstrate it is even possible. While taking a trip into the stratosphere in a MiG-25, Spivack was told when asking about the eject button:

Don’t worry about eet. At the speed you will be going, even if you could eject, first your body would explode into vapor, then the vapor would freeze into ice crystals, and then the crystals would burn up on reentry.

This is a great analogy for what he is attempting to do; break down and re-organize the cloud that is the Internet today.  He is trying to build a web that thinks the way people do, to get computers to understand and be able to differentiate between the nuances and relationships in information they encounter on the web. Hakia, has launched its meaning-based Semantic search engine, and is quickly gaining new believers. Another talked about company in this emerging new technology is San Francisco-based PowerSet; while they are yet to launch publicly, they have begun “invite-only beta testing.” However, it is Nova Spivack and Radar Networks, backed by no less than Paul Allen (as recommended by his favourite turtleneck), who is leading the way.

Couple this with the fact that, while Google is looking at the technologies, it is becoming increasingly pre-occupied by other interests outside of search. “That leaves an opening for upstarts – if they can provide users with a good enough reason to switch from Google’s powerful simplicity, said Greg Sterling of Sterling Market Intelligence. “These engines need to create incentives to change and reward people for their behavioral change,” he said. “If (semantic search engines) deliver, people will likely respond.” So there you have it. Web 2.0 is dead. Just not yet.

Last 10 Years: Apple’s Dell-ivered

Ten years ago, Dell was virtually the king of the computer Industry, and from that throne, Michael Dell made a brash remark at ITxpo97. He was asked what he would do if he were the CEO of Apple:

“What would I do? I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.” (link)

Obviously making a statemtent like that has the potential to come back and bite you, especially when making it about a company that had been so important to its industry. Although Apple’s resurgence can largely be attributed to the success of the iPod and their trendy, aesthetically pleasing designs, major improvements were made in the hardware and software platforms. The first step was the upgrade from OS 9.x to OS X, and a few years later that was followed by the announcement that all Apple computers would use Intel microproccessors.

In the last 10 years, Dell has become stale and Apple has become stylish, and while I don’t imagine Steve Jobs will make suggest that Dell shut down, he might suggest that Dell take a look at some of the creative and innovative moves that his company has made in the last 10 years.

Apple vs. Dell: 10 Year Stock Comparison

Facebook the Next Skype?

I never really thought I would be coming up with a completely original idea when I started writing this post, but to see a near-identical article posted on the famed Valleywag site just yesterday (when the idea for the post actually planted its seed) was a bit deflating. However, having read that article, I will chalk it up the same way writer Owen Thomas did when pointing to articles by Bernhard Warner and Kara Swisher: Great minds think alike. With the recent revelation that eBay paid too much for Skype (only by $1 billion dollars or so, by their estimates), it may cast a shadow of doubt on recent valutations of social networking site Facebook hovering around $10 billion. While there are arguments that the purchase of Skype may have been more profitable or advantageous for a company other than eBay, it’s difficult to make a similar argument with Facebook. Comparing it to other recent, similar acquisitions (YouTube and MySpace come to mind), the price seems significantly inflated. The MySpace team may have sold early, but could the price somewhere around 20 times the amount News Corp paid for MySpace and 10 times the amount Google paid for YouTube be realistic? Facebook has some legal issues that still need to be resolved and the site only seems to generate around $30 million in profit on $150 million in revenues (see Kara Swisher’s article).

I hope the best for the site and will follow the rumours of it’s inevitable sale, whether it is for a piece or the whole site. Hopefully this doesn’t become the next Skype, or worse, the next GeoCities.

Happy Birthdays

Google Birthday logosThe online world was abuzz yesterday with the official 9th birthday of search engine giant Google – I’m sure you’ve heard of it? Although co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin registered the domain in 1997, the site was officially launched a year later. As usual, Google’s trademark logo was adapted for the event. For an overview of Google’s history, see this link.

In other birthday news, Dreamhost celebrated their 10th birthday on September 24th. Another one of the old boys in the hosting industry, there is a great post on the Dreamhost blog chronicling their evolution over the last 10 years. Although I’m not sure it competes with Google’s birthday logos, it’s not a bad (light) read. (For the record, I’ve already put my name in for the 12.5 PB of storage and $1.95/month bandwidth that will be offered in 2017.)

Congratulations to both these companies on these landmarks that would make them ancient in terms of online/Tech companies – but neither as old as Superb!

UPDATE: I almost forgot – Superb had some birthdays that are definitely important enough to mention alongside Google and Dreamhost; Happy Birthday to Andree, David, and Lindsay. 🙂