Archive for May, 2006

Can’t Resist This Stat

Posted: May 30, 2006 in Uncategorized
Bambi Francisco, one of the best tech reporters in the business, had a great stat this morning:
     In the first quarter, online advertising soared 38% as advertisers devoted a record $3.9 billion to target consumers on the Web, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
In fact, the dollar amount marketers spent in the first three months represents 80% of the dollars spent during all of 1999 – the bubble years of the Internet era.
What bubble?
Earlier this month David Kesmodel of the Wall Street Journal Online did a great piece on the return of brand advertising to the web
Here’s the best summary of the article:
     At the same time, analysts say, display advertising appears to be making a comeback, on track to grow faster than search ads over the next few years. The resurgence is being driven by an unlikely source: brand advertisers. Those are some of the same companies that first experimented with — and later abandoned — banner ads during the Web’s early days.
 My favorite quote is from John Vail, director of interactive marketing for Pepsi-Cola:

     "It’s all about getting incremental exposure," Mr. Vail said. "We basically use online as an overall extension of our communication. Consumers are spending nearly 20% of their time online, so we’re going where the consumers are."


(Reminds me of what Willie Sutton said when a reporter asked him why he robs banks:  "Because that’s where the money is.")


So much of my time in the last six months (last few years?) has been spent thinking about how to monetize small formatted things (like our Alerts). 
I’ve come to the conclusion that the only effective — and non distracting — way to do this is with small, simple "sponsored by" brand advertising.
‘Nuff said for now. <smile>

Tipping Point?

Posted: May 26, 2006 in Uncategorized
Had lunch with a really smart MSFT guy who recently had dinner with a really smart GOOG guy. 
Apparently, this smart GOOG guy said he was contemplating leaving Google.
Since Google’s inception in 1998, I haven’t heard of a single person wanting to leave Google. 
This is my first.
Historically, a stake-in-the-ground event for me.
Note, this doesn’t diminish what I think of GOOG as a company (nor my $541.30 price target), but today things just got harder than yesterday.
Yep, that was the headline a year ago yesterday… happy anniversary, everyone!
With this day approaching, I’ve been fielding a lot of questions.  The big ones are:
Q:  How was it?
A:  Lots of pros and cons.  Overall invaluable.  I feel lucky to have had a front seat watching MSFT wake up and start acting like an underdog again.  Amazing.  Frightening.
Q:  Would I do it again? 
A:  Heck, I’m hoping I’ll do it again. <smile>
Q:  What’s next?
A:  Extending my time here to help finalize transition.
Q:  After that?
A:  Time for me to be an entrepreneur again.  Hard for me not to.
(P.S.  I wrote this last night… just forgot to hit the PUBLISH button… d’oh!)

Balmer Speaks

Posted: May 11, 2006 in Uncategorized
Was one of the few non-venture folks that got invited to Steve Balmer’s presentation to Silicon Valley VC’s today… in fact, he’s expounding now. 
A couple observations:
(1)  Never ceases to amaze me how SteveB (as he’s called around here) doesn’t lose his voice each and every day… man, this guy speaks with e-n-e-r-g-y… with personality.
(2)  I’ve CEO’ed a few companies.  I’ve done more than my fair share of 16-hour days.  But, I can’t even imagine what his days are like… can’t imagine how many directions he’s torn into.
(3)  Every third question seems to be able stock price… no doubt, he continues to pound a very bullish drum… and, no doubt, MSFT continues to be widely followed — and held (hence, all the questions).
(4)  ‘Tis true:  MSFT is really, truly stepping up its M&A activity.  (Hey, our old MessageCast logo just flashed on the screen!)
(5)  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  GOOG is the best thing that has happened to MSFT.  MSFT is at its best when it’s the underdog.
Steve just gave out his email address… nice touch.
Dinner should be interesting. <smile>
An ordinary woman passed away on Friday. 
An ordinary person who had an extraordinary husband, credited with some of the early pioneering work with video tape…
…and three extraordinary kids…
…one of which is one of the very best programmers I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with and who graciously gave a still wet-behind-the-ears college graduate a shot in the software industry…
…and the other a friend who’s more like a sister, my business partner of a dozen years, and someone who I know will go down in history as this era’s First Lady of Silicon Valley.
What’s more, this ordinary woman has extraordinary grand kids… who in turn gave birth to extraordinary great grand kids.
I worked with this ordinary woman for many years.  Like many of us that strive to accomplish, she displayed a range of emotions — passion, creativity, strong-headedness, and unrelenting focus — sometimes all at the same time!
What I observed most from working with Giselle Roizen was a person that loved her family intensely… would do anything for her family.
And now I have finally put 2-and-2 together:  I don’t believe it’s an accident that greatness surrounded Giselle. 
I believe — in a very odd and sometimes disguised and baffling way — it’s how she planned for everything to turn out.
In the end, I’m filled with great admiration and warmth about just how extraordinary that is.
Rest well, dear woman.