When financial times are REALLY bad

Here at Jack of All Blogs we already established that Techcrunch is broken but things seem to get worse and worse every day for the once so popular Tech/Web2.0 blog.

For months TC has been adding authors and quantity to it’s arsenal, but sadly no quality. One could argue that former blogging Guru and TC full-time contributor Duncan Riley was not the best author either, but at least he knew how to stir some controversy. Ever since DR left TC has gone downhill.

Last week (community) blog Mashable passed TC to become the new #1 tech blog. But things do not only seem to be bad on the quality front, especially the financial department seems to have suffered.

Since weeks, TC has had several adblocks in its feeds. Ads in feeds are nothing new and several bigger blogs do have several ads in their feed. But today TC updated the feed and now comes with not 1, not 2, not even 3 but 5 (FIVE!) ads in the footer.

A whopping 720px*425px of ad space in your feedreader!

bad-economical-times

Punch a Hole in Their Golden Parachutes

Once again big business has gambled with money that isn’t their own and are expecting American citizens to bail them out. After all, what choice does the middle class, tax-paying citizen have?

As we watch our 401k plans evaporate before our very eyes and shell out $5 for a gallon of milk, we are forced to watch as helpless bystanders as corporate giants suck us dry.

The next wave of the news cycle wll center around unemployment and number of employees laid off or put out to pasture.

While newcomers at Lehman Brothers are certainly handsomely rewarded (many entry-level gigs start at $60k), I’m willing to bet – dollars-to-donuts – that there is very little in place to help ease their fall. P In fact, these less experienced workers, don’t know from an economic downturn, and have probably saved very little cash. The best they can expect is a month or two of severance pay.

Likewise, fat cat CEOs have done little to protect their assets too. And why should they? Many of them will land soft and flawlessly, thanks to their cushy Golden Parachute.

Designed to help firms hire and retain ‘top-tier’ executives, it’s ironic that this exclusive benefit is made available to those who need it least; the already over-paid.

Enjoy that $23.5 million, Kerry Killinger, former WaMu CEO.
After an 85-percent decline in stock price and moves that eliminated thousands of jobs, you deserve to be rewarded for last quarter’s $3.3 billion LOSS.

At least the federal government grew a sack when it came to ousted Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac CEOS; declining to pay $24 million in exit packages.

If this is how they treat those who have failed, how are successful individuals rewarded? I don’t think I even want to know.

A Union For Bloggers, Exactly What I Need

By now everyone already knows that bloggers have a pretty exciting life! Exciting and relaxing. Just like Franky, I’m sitting here naked from the waist down and haven’t shaved for weeks.
But as if all that wasn’t enough, a Union to protect my rights, both on insurance and financial level is exactly what I still need! I want a Union! My kingdom (and the overused wheels of my office chair) for Unionized bloggers!.

Let me explain.

A blogger’s life is hard, it’s the epitome of every professionalized freelance dream. Unionized protection IS needed!
Here’s why.

Blogger’s wake up hours need to be protected
One of the biggest advantages of being a blogger is the freedom to decide my own working hours. And start working whenever I want. With the growing amount of wannabes, it becomes important to protect this advantage: no blog network owner should be allowed to impose me to publish entries before 6.00PM (my local time!)

Coffee is expensive and should be paid for by the network owner
Bloggers are notorious coffee addicts and belong, together with (web) designers, to the resident group of $tarbuck$ squatters. Both $tarbuck$ and good coffee beans are expensive. Those expenses have to be covered by the blog network owners. No coffee beans below Lavazza or Segafredo quality should be accepted. Daily at least 3 outdoor Mochaccinos should be paid for.
Every blog entry hitting the Digg/Reddit/Netscape/Techmeme front page should be rewarded with a bonus kilo of exotic Arabica coffee beans!

Fruity hardware, allowing anytime wireless access has to be provided
How can you call yourself a decent blogger if you use a box equipped with Redmond software? Of course you need the shiniest gadget, allowing you to be online at any time. You never know you might just get that stroke of genius while you’re in the middle of the pampas, far away from your internet connection. Your iPhone will save you and allow you to publish your marvelous entry at anytime. Fancy touch keyboard inclusive.
If you live outside of the distribution area of new, shiny gadgets, it’s the blog network owner’s task to hire a bunch of hackers and make sure anyone, anywhere can access and use those oh so shiny gadgets. And brag about them on their blog. Paid by the network owner of course.

Maximum working time has to be minimalized
It is important for bloggers to be allowed to whip out quick and dirty entries. Entries that only need 4 minutes of work, proofreading inclusive. Actually, the maximum time devoted to an entry should be limited to 4 minutes. If a blogger wants to work longer at an entry, this should only be goodwill-based, not expected.

At least 200 social contacts has to be provided by the network owner
To make sure that bloggers have enough of distraction and IM noise, every network owner has to provide at least 200 active social contacts to newly hired contributors. Minimum 40% of those contacts voluntarily have to cyber on cam whenever the blogger feels the need to go dirty!

Travel equipment and expenses have to be paid for.
Being the overactive, glued to the office chair or couch, blogging species we are, I demand that every 3 months a new set of pillows and ‘soft wheels’ for my office chair and couch are provided. More experienced bloggers will get a new duvet and new bedding every 6 months.

It is obvious that we bloggers, freelance contractors, special working requirements have and those need to be protected by our future Union!
Furthermore, we shall continue to enjoy the right to decide ourselves not to work under a certain rate/entry. But that… that’s a freedom we already have.
Maybe we can oblige blog network owners to include links to at least 5 of our own sites as well. On every network blog of course!

Please give me that Union now! Let my own voice, personality and (in)competence be oppressed (protected) by the strong voice of an Union, putting everyone on the same level. Obviously Union leaders will be the best paid ones among us!!!

For a more serious take on the topic, go read Jeremy Wright’s view on the economics of unionized blogging.

Who Has a Job for Scobleizer?

Yesterday’s cat fight between Nick Denton and Robert Scoble seems to have deeper foundations. Although The Scobleizer denied that he’s looking for a new job, this seems to become the biggest public secret.
Why would anyone otherwise suddenly remind the whole blogosphere plus his wife of all the social networks he is present at? With a bonus mention to LinkedIn as well

No, I still don’t do LinkedIn or Plaxo and I rarely use Skype anymore. I’m going to Plaxo on Tuesday to look at a new version coming out. But LinkedIn is close to getting me back.

LinkedIn only because he really tries to ignore all those platforms???

Damn, it seems like everyone in the world wants me to join it. I try to ignore these things, I really do.

I guess the Zooomr flirt with Sun didn’t work out for Scoble and the team around Zoho are an experienced bunch and already have an evangelist.
Certainly no blogger who forgets his work in favor to read feeds. If only I could find that entry I read yesterday, where Scoble mentions he is addicted to feeds. 31000/month isn’t it, Robert?

It must be sad if you’ve already blogged for half the technical blogosphere, gotten presents from Intel (I still wonder what happened to disclosure and the Intel notebooks!) and your content really isn’t that compelling.
I wished I just knew as many people.

Nevertheless Robert, I’m sure you’ll find something appropriate for your needs and if not… there’s always PPP.

Sincerest,

Franky.

Truemors: No Business Model, Eh?

We bashed Truemors earlier last month, but I was surprised to learn this from Guy Kawasaki himself: Truemors doesn’t even have a business model.

0. I wrote 0 business plans for it. The plan is simple: Get a site launched in a few months, see if people like it, and sell ads and sponsorships (or not).

0. I pitched 0 venture capitalists to fund it. Life is simple when you can launch a company with a credit-card level debt.

Sure, it’s okay for startups and Web 2.0 companies to run just because of raw passion for the medium and for the technology. But coming from a venture capitalist himself, it sounds like Truemors was one big (or small?) experiment. I would agree that if an entrepreneur presented a plan without a business model, then most likely Guy the VC would boot that guy out of his office.

And Guy even admitted that it was a stupid idea.

In total, I spent $12,107.09 to launch Truemors. During the dotcom days, entrepreneurs had to raise $5 million to try stupid ideas. Now I’ve proven that you can do it for $12,107.09.

Hey Guy, you can even do it for less!

But then it got me thinking, Guy’s an entrepreneur, and also a capitalist. He’s one of those people who can afford to lose money. As long as he learns from the experience, then he ends up richer in the long term (money and experience wise).

Here’s the bottom line: Whether Truemors succeeds or not, I learned a helluva lot. One thing is for sure: no entrepreneur can tell me that he needs $1 million, four programmers, and six months to launch this kind of company. With products like WordPress, MySQL, and Salesforce platform, things are a whole lot cheaper and easier these days.

Suddenly, Truemors doesn’t sound so silly to me.

[via Wired]

Think Global, Sue Local

You thought running a big tech giant is easy? Well, it’s probably easy enough if your company deals with manufacturing tech goods and the like. But when you’re main business mostly involves the Internet, and thus spans countries and continents, it’s sometimes difficult to deal with laws and whatnot in those countries.

Take for example the Youtube fiasco involving Thailand and its revered king. Or what about Microsoft getting successfully sued in the EU for antitrust? Remember “Gmail” vs. “Googlemail”?

What’s the common denominator? The business is global, but the issues are local. Youtube was blocked in Thailand because of a single video offensive to the Thai monarchy. Microsoft was asked to unbundle Media Player and IE from Windows in the EU. Someone else owned the “Gmail” trademark in the UK, so Google had to use “googlemail” instead in some European countries.

Here’s another fairly recent one. Google is currently in trouble in the EU for potential violations of privacy laws. The BBC says that an advisory group to the European Union has asked Google to clarify its policy of retaining users’ search data for up to two years.

So now Google may find the need to again tailor-fit its policies and services to conform to the law in the EU.

I don’t think this is an issue elsewhere. Or if it is, this has likely been resolved. Frankly, I don’t care whether this affects my country or not. I’m not doing anything illegal or incriminating anyway.

$100 Mil for FeedBurner?

Recently, there were rumors that Google plans to buy FeedBurner for $100 million. And even more recently, TechCrunch has posted that an insider confirmed the acquisition.

Rumors about Google acquiring RSS management company Feedburner from last week, started by ex-TechCrunch UK editor Sam Sethi, are accurate and are now confirmed according to a source close to the deal. Feedburner is in the closing stages of being acquired by Google for around $100 million. The deal is all cash and mostly upfront, according to our source, although the founders will be locked in for a couple of years.

My first thought when I read this: What? Only $100 mil?

I’m thinking a hundred million buckaroos might be too small an amount for such a web app that’s big in the blogging community as FeedBurner. Sure, FeedBurner is mostly a silent player when it comes to blog software. It’s not a blogging package itself, and it even works behind the scenes, burning your feeds for your readers, and then giving you statistics when you need ‘em. But it’s this ubiquitousness that I think makes FeedBurner valuable. It’s the data that they are able to gather about blogs and bloggers that is powerful. Sure, Google can index your blog, and Google can even track your searches. But FeedBurner can track which blogs are popular (by the subscription metric), and which topics are popular (by the number of clicks on an item).

So it’s not just the potential Feedvertising business and traffic that Google is buying into. As usual, they’re buying into the rich warehouse of information they can mine later on.

At any rate, my congratulations go to all who are involved. It’s not as big an acquisition as, say, YouTube. But it’s big enough.

What’s next? WordPress?

Google Wants You To Report Paid Links. WTF?

Matt Cutts, de facto spokesperson of Google in the blogosphere, posts here how to report paid links to Google. The meat of the discussion (although quite implied) is that Google wants to downgrade sites that sell links. Now I’m not one to question Google’s methods, but this sounds like discrimination to me. And it sounds like Google is admitting that their algorithm still cannot match human intelligence when it comes to filtering content.

Tony Hung, over at Deep Jive Interests, wonders whether this is Google’s Achilles’ heel.

Personally, I’m beginning to wonder whether or not if Google will EVER be able to meaningfully track paid links if they’re not overtly notified as such on your blog. Google’s worries are valid: paid links are fine for traffic, but not when it comes to alerting search engine results — or page rank. The problem is that links can be paid for and sold without any notification on your blog, and there would be impossible to tell. For example, not that I would do it (or AM doing it for that matter), but there is no way of knowing whether or not reviews of anything, including web2.0 properties, have been discretely paid for behind Google’s back. The presumption is that the link is “organic” and that its ranking in Google is based on the worth I’m placing towards the link destination.

Wait a minute. So does this mean each and every blog that sells links–yes, even through Text Link Ads and other similar link programs–run the chance of getting downgraded in their pagerank/trustrank? We are opening a very big can of worms here, so to speak. It’s not only the ethical issues (i.e., what constitutes link spamming? How many paid links is too much?). It’s also the business issues I’m concerned with.

Is this the end of TLA, ReviewMe, and even other paid link/review programs? Is this the end of private link sales on sites and blogs? A lot of blogs and sites thrive on paid links and affiliate marketing. And I don’t think all sites that sell links and ad space are bad. Yes, some sites live solely for the purpose of selling links. But this doesn’t mean all sites that sell links are like that.

Then there’s the question of abuse. It’s like DIGG users ganging on certain other DIGG users, burying stories en masse. What if a group of no-gooders decides to gang up on sites they don’t like, and report to Google as link sellers? What if competitors report each other? What if I decide to report sites out of the blue?

This might make people who write PayPerPost or ReviewMe articles choose not to disclose their writing for compensation.

Google Has Aces Up Its Sleeve

rss.jpgJust when you thought that Google has been putting on a show of strength with its dominance (not inly in the search industry, but also in web apps and new media), it pulls up another ace from its sleeve. Google Reader, which has been lagging behind other popular RSS feed reading clients like Bloglines and Netvibes in terms of user base, has recently started releasing reader statistics. This is mostly important for letting feed service providers and analytics software get a more accurate representation of its readers.

And guess what people found out: Google Reader actually leads the pack! A lot were surprised when their feed readers suddenly jumped up several times over.

Apparently, when Google Reader was still not releasing feed subscription stats, it had been bundled in along with “others” in statistics. But it was actually better than, say, Bloglines, which many consider to be the more popular reader, in terms of the number of people using it.

So then what does this mean for us? It means there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to Google. Google may be the 950-pound gorilla that smaller service providers and web app creators may have to face, but then it’s not only the big things that one has to watch out for.

Blog Internet Marketing, Yawns

JOAB Editorial image

Over the last months one thing has been annoying me pretty much in the b’sphere : internet blog marketing.

You also know them and admit it, you hate them too.
Or are you one of those people who believes everything they say/write?

They promise you that their tricks will bring you lots of traffic, you will be long-tailed aso. Thousands of marketeers all leading their readers to the Alexa Top 1000.
They tell you all the tricks you need to know. For free!

But why are they the biggest internet community whores you find online?

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