HP’s Hurd

The Economist writes how Mark Hurd has effected a turnaround:

The new chief executive is an understated operations geek, the type of manager that excels at HP, the epitome of an engineering-driven company. Vision without execution is nothing, he says. Whenever anyone asks me about vision, I get very nervous. You’ve got to be able to tie it back to strategy; you’ve got to tie accountability to things.

How did a cash-register guy arriving from the Midwest manage to achieve all this at a Silicon Valley information-technology firm? Mr Hurd learned some valuable lessons at NCR. He made his mark there by scrutinising the firm’s operational data the better to understand its performance, and uncover inefficiencies. That is what he has in effect done in his first year at HP.

Accoona

The New York Times writes about what Acconna does differently in search:

Accoona says its search engine is different from others on the market. When users type “Oscar winners” into the search box, for instance, Accoona delivers stories about Academy Award winners, whether or not the stories mention the word Oscar. Google didn’t return e-mail messages seeking comment on Accoona, and Yahoo said that without knowing specifics of the technology, it would be difficult to comment.

Furthermore, users can refine the search results using a short list of scroll-down menus, including “people mentioned” and “publisher,” among others. Each menu offers a maximum of 50 choices, and denotes the number of times each choice is mentioned in the results.

As interesting as Accoona’s search approach is, some Internet executives are more intrigued by an advertising service it is to introduce alongside its Web search debut later this spring. The service is similar to that of LendingTree.com, or even Priceline.com, where consumers indicate a willingness to buy a certain service or product, and companies essentially compete for their business.

Accoona’s version looks like this: if a user searches for plumbers or airline tickets, the search results will include a line of text asking if the user would like to be contacted by three companies selling services related to the query. If the answer is yes, the user is prompted to enter contact information, and is told to stand by for either a call or an e-mail message from a company.

Media Companies Buying Websites

The New York Times writes in the context of the recent buyouts of Internet companies by media companies:

The media companies’ interest has to do with the continuing shift in the ways Americans consume entertainment and shop. Just as the advent of cable television carved up a once-concentrated block of network TV viewers, so has the Internet with its literally millions of Web sites created highly fragmented niche audiences.

For big companies, the key is to build or buy Web sites that attract those niche audiences, but in substantial numbers. For a Web site to pique the interest of mass-market advertisers, it needs to have at least a million unique visitors a month; to be considered a major takeover candidate, it needs to have five million unique visitors, said Sharon Wienbar, a managing director with BA Venture Partners, a Silicon Valley venture firm that invests in Internet content companies.