eBay 2.0

Fortune writes:

Whitman knows that eBay’s only alternative is to keep moving. The company has started its own international classified site, Kijiji, which operates in 11 countries but hasn’t started charging for listings. It bought e-commerce sites Shopping.com and Rent.com to dig into the retail and real estate worlds. It has bulked up PayPal and Skype with acquisitions. Whitman says her strategy boils down to three critical synergies among eBay’s properties: that eBay buyers and sellers will talk over Skype (generating ad revenue for eBay); that Skype callers will use PayPal to pay for their calls (the ones that aren’t free, that is); and that Skype will encourage PayPal’s expanding cross-border remittance business. It’s all part of a plan to define eBay 2.0. “What it takes in the first ten years is a little different than what it takes in the next ten years,” says John Donahoe, president of eBay’s worldwide marketplace businesses, which account for 73% of the company’s revenues.

Vendor Relationship Management

Doc Searls writes:

It’s important not to understand VRM (Vendor Relationship Management the reciprocal of CRM, or Customer Relationship Management) as the reciprocal of advertising. Or the opposite of advertising. Or even the opposite of marketing. I don’t think it helps to frame it in terms of any of those things.

It’s something new. Rather than advertise, we notify. We assert. We express. I don’t care what we call it, as long as what we do doesn’t come across as individuals being just as bad-mannered as advertising has been for the duration.

VRM isn’t just about conversation. It’s about relationships. And transactions.

Vinod Khosla on Ethanol

Wired has an article by Vinod Khosla:

While ethanol may not be ideal, Im convinced its the best first step on the biohol trajectory. Ethanol offers one thing no other oil substitute can: a clear path from where we are to where we hope to be.

There are other scenarios we can imagine say, wind-driven hydrogen generators powering our cars but they are just that: blue-sky flights of imagination from academics and dreamers with no notion of reality.

Ethanol is the first step on the biohol trajectory for three reasons. The first is economic: Ethanol can be produced and sold cheaper than gasoline. Most ethanol facilities can produce their fuel for about $1 a gallon almost half the production cost of gasoline. And innovative producers like E3 Biofuels claim to make it for 75 cents a gallon. Its true that American ethanol today benefits from agricultural subsidies for corn farmers. I would like to eliminate ethanol subsidies gradually in conjunction with the removal of tariffs on imported ethanol. For kicks, we might consider removing the substantial direct subsidies to oil, too. Free markets demand level playing fields.

US MLB as TV’s Future

Tom Evslin writes about the Major League Baseball website on the Internet:

Major League Baseball has taken a big step towards the future of what we now call TV. That future doesnt include channels. More importantly, it turns cablecos (and telcos trying to be cablecos) into dumb pipes. Theyre not going to like that but we will.

The service is good but not great. You cant use it like a DVR to record games you arent there to watch. Because the games arent recorded, you cant fast forward over the commercial spots (which, ironically, dont have commercials in them (yet)). You can buy archived games for $3.95 each and watch them however you like but these arent included in the subscription.

Voice-Enabled Mobile Search

SearchEngineWatch writes:

Local media research firm The Kelsey Group just forecast “portal-backed wireless voice search [will] reach 1.45 billion queries in 2010” and cause “a significant disruption of the directory assistance market.” On one level, this is self-evident. Because of increasing competition and free alternatives, consumer-pays wireless directory assistance (DA) will eventually go away, unless it becomes incredibly valuable and useful. Cingular is trying to do just that with help from Tellme.

Right now, voice is not “the killer app” for mobile. But it could well accelerate usage of mobile data services and mobile local search if it works well. There will probably be a range of applications and user experiences that gain traction with mobile users, chiefly because of the range of devices out there and their capabilities and limitations. The optimal mobile interface and user experience will involve some combination of “modalities,” perhaps with voice as an option but certainly the ability to use the keypad to enter text and save listings and/or browse content.

TECH TALK: The Rise of YouTube: Success Secret

YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley spoke about how it all began in an interview to Fortune in May 2006: Steve and I were at a dinner party in January 2005, and we were taking digital photos and videos. The next day we found it difficult to share the video files because they were too large to e-mail and it took too much time to get them online. We thought there could be a better way. In February we started developing the product. In May we had our first public preview. And in December we officially launched YouTube. By that time we were serving over three million videos a day. Co-founder Stev Chen added: More important, it’s the community of users themselves. They feel like they’ve built it up, so they want to try to keep it clean. They let us know when there’s content that shouldn’t be there, and we take it down.

What did YouTube do that others did not? A story by Marketwatch captured the essence:

Two things seem to be at work. The first is the incredible desire people have to share video clips with each other. That’s now apparent.
What’s not so apparent, unless you actually have tried to use the various video sharing sites, is that nobody — and I mean nobody — made it easy until YouTube.

By merely combining a pent-up demand with ease-of-use you get the YouTube phenomenon. It’s brain dead simple, but I’m telling you that is all there is to it.

The hardest part of the process is the user managing to get the video onto a computer where it can be uploaded to YouTube. Nowadays with digital camcorders and still cameras that shoot .MOV files it is not that hard and most cams come with software to make it easier.

Then comes YouTube. The first thing you notice about YouTube is the lack of barriers to entry. You can sign up quickly and upload anything in any format right away.

Some argue that YouTube has been built on a platform of copyrighted content that users have put on the site. They believe that any acquirer would have to face lawsuits from the video copyright owners. (In fact, a number of Hindi movies are available in full in chunks because YouTube limits the maximum length of a single clip on YouTube.)

Mark Cuban wrote recently:

Youtube’s rapid ascension to the top of the traffic ranks can be attributed to two and only two reasons:

1. Free Hosting from any 3rd Party site: Hey, why pay for bandwidth for a video if you dont have to ? A blog, a myspace page, an email, any website. Just throw in some html in Youtube.com foots the bill for bandwidth. Sure you are limited by size of file, but so what. Just chop it up into parts 1 through N. Its fast, easy and free. Come to our website and use our video hosting services, we can party like its 1999 all over again !

2. Copyrighted music and video. I dont have a count, but i bet Daniel Powters’ Bad Day is attached to some video snippet of every sporting event ever played , with links sent to fans of every losing team. PIrates season, You had a Bad Day. Spurs vs Mavs. Mavs vs Suns, Mavs vs Heat , Yankees vs Red Sox, etc, etc, etc. Bad Day, Bad Day , Bad Day. If Daniel had a nickel for every time his song was used in a YouTube sports video, he would be a much richer man.

This so reminds me of the early days of Napster.

Take away all the copyrighted material and you take away most of Youtube’s traffic. Youtube turns into a hosting company with a limited video portal. Like any number of competitors out there that decided to follow copyright law.

The New York Times wrote: YouTube says it is different from Napster because it removes content when a copyright holder informs the company of a violation. It points to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which in general does not require Internet companies to screen material in advance. Despite these legal uncertainties, YouTube holds obvious appeal for any potential acquirer. Buying YouTube would instantly vault Google to the lead in the business of online video, which is drawing increased interest from advertisers. Its own fledgling offering, Google Video, remains a relatively small player.

Tomorrow: The Future

Continue reading