Thursday, September 27, 2007

Google Might Not Be Invincible After All

Very interesting development here on the Google and Doubleclick deal.

If this deal falls through, you can bet Steve Ballmer will be laughing himself silly as one of his chief rivals experiences the bitter taste of anti-trust cases...

LinkedIn Introducing Photos...Seriously?

So this morning I open up my Google Reader to find a few articles about LinkedIn introducing photos starting tomorrow, Sept. 26. After blinking a few times to check whether or not my coffee had kicked in properly, I read the articles to discover a little more about the rationale behind this latest move by the professional networking site.

First off, LinkedIn is stipulating that the photos be "serious-looking" headshots...the kind that you normally see accompanying executive bios. Apparently the suits at LinkedIn are worried about degrading their website and taking away from the professionalism.

Second, it appears that LinkedIn is taking some measured steps towards opening up their site to the development community. But, much like the photo feature sounds like this is not going to be anywhere near the open community that the Facebook platform has created. Moreover, this initiative isn't going to see the light of day until Spring 2008.

With all this said, here's my take on this whole thing. The "serious" photos? How can one NOT think that this is a deliberate step towards creating a more sticky website in response to Facebook's growing popularity amongst the tech illuminati? LinkedIn's PR reps can talk all they want about how this is not in response to Facebook's increasing web presence, but I'm more than a little skeptical given the fact that LinkedIn's own co-founder (Reid Hoffman) said in August that "photos and business don't go together." Huh? What's with the turn around?

And from early indications, I'm not a huge fan of LinkedIn's cautious approach towards drawing in the development community through its site. If the new web has proven anything, it's that the sites which leverage crowdsourcing tend to flourish and grow beyond even the founder's expectations. Why? Because they're engaging. They're sticky. You need to be sticky if you're a networking site.

Like I've been ranting for a while now, LinkedIn needs to be a little more innovative and a little less serious if it intends on being around for the long haul. While these latest developments are a step towards that, I still feel like they're moving too slow while their competition moves a lot faster. With Facebook adding 200,000 users per day compared with 36,000 for LinkedIn, each day literally counts.

For right now, I'm leaning towards Facebook winning this war. There. I said it. ;p But LinkedIn still has some time to change my mind. Hopefully they do.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Riding the Insanity Train

So apparently I'm not the only one raising my eyebrows at the latest rumors swirling around Facebook and Microsoft. Kara Swisher of the WSJ (ironically the same publication that broke the news first regarding this odd marriage) goes even further by saying that this potential deal qualifies as a sign that the end is near.

But in all seriousness, she has some interesting points regarding the logic behind Facebook's proper valuation. I tend to agree with most of her points--although, I think she is somewhat underestimating the whole geek factor in Point 3. It's these same geeks that are capable of creating some major game-changing apps for the Facebook platform that will separate it from its competition, after all.

And her conclusion from all this, I think if Mark Zuckerberg manages to squeeze as much as $500 million from Microsoft's pockets...he should run. Run as fast as he can while having a giggling fit away from the tech giant after stuffing his pockets full of that cash. :o

Monday, September 24, 2007

Microsoft: A Case of Throwing Money at Your Problems

So apparently Microsoft seems to think Facebook is worth $10 billion. Yes, this after analysts gave the social networking platform a valuation of $4.5 billion a little over a month ago. According to the WSJ, Microsoft is in the early stages of talks with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg about possibly buying a 5% or less stake in the company worth around $300-$500 million.

I'm scratching my head on this one. Mark Zuckerberg, in the meanwhile, is laughing himself silly.

Microsoft hasn't proven too adept at taking advantage of the social web thus far--and this latest move has me wondering how exactly they would integrate Facebook's community into their own products and services. This is the same feeling I had when Microsoft purchased aQuantive back in May. Steve Ballmer really has some work ahead of himself in light of these recent seemingly disconnected moves.

But here's an interesting thought: the fact that Microsoft is even thinking of buying a stake in Facebook is telling on some levels. For one, it could possibly mean that Microsoft is still suffering from the halo-effect that Google has created on the Internet which has caused Ballmer & Co. to react (in some cases) very irrationally. Second, I wonder if Microsoft is in fact worried about Zuckerberg's aspirations for his exploding site. Earlier speculation had Facebook potentially becoming a next generation OS, if you recall. Is this Microsoft's way of keeping the enemy nearby?

It'll be very interesting to see how this discussion between Microsoft and Facebook turns out.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

We're on to you, Mark Zuckerberg!

Has anyone been keeping up with the Facebook media frenzy? Actually, has anyone been able to avoid any of the Facebook hype machine in the last 4-6 months? ...this is nearly analogous to how Lakers fans must feel about Kobe Bryant--it's nearly impossible to go too long without hearing something about the NBA superstar. But I digress. :o

So here's the latest in the whirlwind of activity happening within the walls of this social networking site: Facebook is taking a page out of Amazon and offering data storage to developers of Facebook applications. The news in of itself isn't too shocking; it's the most logical step in their evolution from niche social networking site to major Internet portal.

Internet portal? Yes...I truly believe that Mark Zuckerberg and company are devising a strategy to become THE Internet destination of choice. We're beginning to see the pieces slowly coming together. The first major move was releasing their API to the development community. Since then, we've seen a flurry of activity around the creation of applications on the Facebook platform. This in turn has led to a mass movement of developers to the Facebook community vs. other social networking sites like Myspace or LinkedIn (if you can even count them in this category).

And now this latest news about offering data storage to developers? Something tells me this is the second major move in a long term strategy that Facebook has up its sleeves. I'll talk more to this point in future postings.

But for now, I'll just throw this out there: what's LinkedIn, Myspace, or Xing doing? What about the job boards? For the time being, they're looking on the sidelines as Facebook races past them. LinkedIn has already stated that they will be releasing their API to the development community later in the year to early next year. But my gut tells me this is too little too late.

It's a classic example of copying a competitor's strategy as quickly as possible...however on the new web, this strategy fails miserably because the name of the game is innovation. It's about jumping from one S-curve to the next. Not riding on the tails of another model. And no matter how much LinkedIn believes that they are different compared to pure social networking sites like Facebook...let's face it: Facebook's strategy includes going into LinkedIn's sweetspot of professional networking.

Which means something has to give.

My bet? Without some true innovation from within, sites like LinkedIn are going to be looking quite out-of-date as new sites pop up...or existing ones innovate past them.

Which begs the question: are recruiters really following all this? They've become quite comfortable with LinkedIn's pool of talent. What happens when that well dries up because it's no longer popular (ala Xanga or Friendster)?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Yes, I'm Still Here

As the title implies, I wanted to let everyone out there know that I am still here. Although, if you were to gauge that based on my posting'd probably have a different conclusion. :P

So to make amends for not posting in what seems like forever, I at least have a new site to offer to those digging the new social networking trend that is taking over corporate America: digFoot. So what is digFoot? It's a directory of social networks around the world.

It's an interesting little site that allows you to find social networks that may not be on the mainstream radar just yet. From a recruiting perspective, it's also a great way to educate yourself on the networks if you're not at all familiar with them since the directory gives you a high-level synopsis of each site when you search.