Yahoo-Overture Deal

Yahoo bought Overture for USD 1.63 billion in cash and stock, or about 10% of its market cap. WSJ interviews Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Watch, who says:

The main thing that surprises me, is having just talked to people at Microsoft’s MSN, and hearing them continue to be so positive about working with Overture, without putting any qualifications out there to prepare the audience. It makes you think MSN didn’t realize this was happening.

I think ultimately, you will see things like you get at Google Inc. (www.google.com). If you do a search at Google, everything you get back — paid and unpaid — comes from Google. I would expect by the end of this year, when you do a search at Yahoo, the things that come back will come from Yahoo, and by some time next year, when you do a search at MSN, the results you come back will come from MSN, including paid listings.

For Google, it opens new possibilities of being able to partner with other people. Google probably didn’t have a chance of being a partner with MSN because MSN had been positioning itself so much as a competitor. Now, it’s a completely different situation, because Overture is owned by an MSN competitor.

News.com: “Yahoo for now will face off most directly with Google, but analysts said the wild card will likely be Microsoft. MSN is Overture’s biggest partner, delivering as much as one-third of Overture’s revenue this year, or an estimated $350 million. As a result, many industry watchers say that it is only a matter of time before MSN takes stock of its alternatives, including replacing Overture with Google on its Web sites and hastening efforts to build its own Web search technology.”

Interesting times in the Search Kingdom. I wonder why Microsoft still cannot make an open all-cash offer for Overture, along the lines of what Oracle is trying to do with PeopleSoft. All that Yahoo’s offer means is that Overture is in play – am not sure it is the last world. Having Overture out of the game would leave it a race between Google, Yahoo and MSN, with the latter now having a lot of catching up to do.

Wonder what Microsoft Research with all its multi-billion dollar spends was doing as the world of search was evolving. Goes to show that money does not necessarily translate into good ideas. It is still possible for the small, smart companies to win.

I had pooh-poohed Overture’s model of paid search placements when they had started many years ago. I was wrong. I always felt that search is what you give on the basis of what’s there on the web, not what people are willing to pay for it. Today, paid search is the fastest growing segment of the business.

Continue reading

Our Info Aggregator tops RSS Aggregators Review

About.com (Heinz Tschabitscher) has a review of 10 RSS/News Aggregators, and our very own Info Aggregator is tops! We got a rating of 4.5/5. Here is what Heinz has to say.

Pros

  • BlogStreet Info Aggregator is RSS via IMAP email
  • Offers server-side filters and web-based access
  • Lets you easily forward, organize and archive news

    Cons

  • BlogStreet Info Aggregator has no custom styles
  • Can’t organize feeds in folders automatically
  • No POP access

    The Bottom Line

    BlogStreet Info Aggregator is a great and highly recommended service that lets you read (and filter, organize, share and archive) RSS feeds via email. Info Aggregator comes with IMAP and web access.

    Description

  • BlogStreet Info Aggregator is an RSS to IMAP gateway.
  • Info Aggregator aggregates news from subscribed feeds and makes them available as emails.
  • BlogStreet Info Aggregator can be accessed via any IMAP email client or through a webmail interface.
  • Server-side filters let you file, forward or delete news items automatically.
  • BlogStreet offers a large directory of RSS feeds and can build feeds for sites that don’t offer RSS.
  • Info Aggregator lets you post to a Blogger or MT blog by moving items (emails) to a special folder.

    Guide Review

    It’s so simple: turn RSS feeds into emails and you have the perfect feed reader, your email client. BlogStreet Info Aggregator makes subscribed RSS feeds available via IMAP and through a webmail interface. Now you can use the great features to organize, share and archive of your favorite email client to deal with news even more efficiently. Info Aggregator even offers flexible server-side filters that let you file certain feeds in folders or forward them to another address automatically.

    Unfortunately, Info Aggregator has no option that would put newsfeeds in folders automatically, by default it all turns up in your Inbox. And, as useful as Info Aggregator is, one thing it is not: pretty. Templates to customize the messages would be great.

  • Great day for us! And we have to start working on the drawbacks that Heinz has pointed out.

    Continue reading

    Web is the Place

    ongoing Tim Bray: “All computer applications fall into one of three baskets: information retrieval, database interaction, and content creation. History shows that the Web browser, or something like it, is the right way to do the first two…If you want to develop software, you can build for the Web and/or Unix and/or OSS platforms; or alternatively, you can be a sharecropper.”

    Web Services

    Doug Kaye writes: “Services are rapidly gaining ground in the IT world as well. Services are a new way of building distributed applications. We have five decades of experience with traditional applications, but just a few years with those built from services.” He considers an example: the calculation of sales tax or VAT.

    In traditional applications, the shipping-rate information is obtained via electronic transfer in batch mode, perhaps using FTP. Suppose, instead, that the tax- and shipping-rate data were available over the Internet in real time. And suppose that through the use of web services, the algorithms that computed the tax and shipping rates ran at the sites of their respective vendors rather than at the application’s site.

    As compared to the traditional architecture, one based on services has two distinct characteristics. First, the algorithms and data are no longer parts of the application’s local infrastructure, but are located off-site instead. The second and subtler distinction is that integration of changes to the tax- and shipping-rate portion of the application have been deferred until runtime the last possible stage.

    In fact, this e-commerce application is now immune to even ignorant of any changes in the rate algorithms or data. There will never be any new code modules or database updates to worry about. The service-oriented architecture has future-proofed the application.

    Loose coupling is the way of the future.

    Dashboard

    DJ Adams writes about the Dashboard project of Nat Friedman.

    Dashboard shows itself as a little GUI window on which information sensitive to what you’re currently doing (receiving an IM message, sending an email, looking at a webpage, for example) is shown.

    The heart of dashboard is a matching and sorting engine that receives information (in the form of “cluepackets” – how evocative is that?) from frontend applications (like your IM and email clients) and asks the plugged-in backends to find stuff relevant to that information, which is then displayed in the sidebar-style window, designed to be glanced at rather than pored over. It’s a lovely open architecture in that you can (build and) plug in whatever frontend or backend lumps of code you think of.

    Managing Email

    Dennis Kennedy writes: “There are four points in the email process at which you can have a significant impact on email management: before a message sent to you, when you send a message, when or as you receive a message, and when you store or delete a message. An approach that attacks each of these four points will bring you the greatest benefit, but taking steps at any one or more of them will also help you.”

    TECH TALK: Useful Concepts: Development Economics

    I know very little of Economics. Supply, Demand, Pricing are things which came in a text book almost two decades earlier in my life. Much of my decision-making has been drive more by gut and trial-or-error. Development Economics is a branch of Economics dealing with the economic transformation of developing countries, and so is even further removed from me. So, when I was discussing the problems of Rural India recently with Atanu Dey, I realised that while I can look at a very techno-centric view of the world, if that view of the world can get embellished by an understanding of some economic concepts, it will help me understand the problems and possible solutions better.

    A book I came across was Debraj Rays Development Economics. As I started reading it, I realised that this is something I should have tried to understand long ago. Many of us live in developing countries. The challenges of poverty, rural-urban migration, agricultural dependence may seem far removed from our lives in cities, but nevertheless do have an indirect impact. And if we decide to work on solutions to transform rural areas, we need to understand the issues well, lest we take half-measures and make the problem worse.

    Here is an excerpt from the book dealing with co-ordination failure. While the context may be from the point of view of rural areas, the problem is true of many other areas too where many elements of a solution have to all come together simultaneously to be able to make a difference.

    Pervasive complementarities (the fact that a single individual takes some action increases the incentives for others to take the same or similar action) might lead to a situation where an economy is stuck in a low-level equilibrium trap, while at the same time there is another, better equilibrium, if only all agents could appropriately co-ordinate their actions to reach itAccording to this view, economic underdevelopment is the outcome of a massive co-ordination failure, in which several investments do not occur simply because other complementary investments are not made, and these latter investments ae not forthcoming simply because the former are missing!

    This concept provides a potential explanation of shy similar economies behave very differently, depending on what has happened in their historyTo the extent that the formation of expectations is driven by past history, it may well be that a region that is historically stagnant continues to be so, whereas another region that has been historically active may continue to flourish.

    In the case of an economic co-ordination failure, going first means taking economic losses. Unless there are entrepreneurs who deliberately run against the economic tide, either because of overoptimism or simple arrogance, we cannot break a co-ordination failure in the same way as old fashions are broken.

    Rural India (and rural areas in most other developing countries) need such entrepreneurs.

    Tomorrow: Game Theory

    Continue reading