Category Archives: Investments

After Samwer brothers Nokia is also going to invest in Facebook

It has been deal time for Facebook over the past months, or year? After Microsoft, the Honk Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing  and the Samwer brothers Nokia is now rumored to be in talk to invest in Facebook. Let’s however first take a look at what the Samwer brothers have gotten last week for their money.

The Samwer brothers, Marc, Oliver, and Alexander, have reportedly taken a stake in the social networking site, according to online sources including Reuters. The three German Internet entrepreneurs, the Samwer brothers, have taken a stake in the social networking site Facebook, Alexander Samwer said. Mr. Samwer, who declined to reveal the size of the stake, said the brothers would now become Facebook’s strategic partners in Europe. “We are going to support the expansion of Facebook in Europe,” It has also been disclosed that the Samwer brothers have offered up less than the $240 million that Microsoft paid for a 1.6% stake in Facebook, but the Samwer brothers’ investment amount, was rumored, is still sizable. Samwer have basically given the following comment: it was a “significant” amount, and less than the $240 million Microsoft paid for a 1.6 percent stake in Facebook in October, which valued the site at $15 billion. Analysts are left to speculate on the exact numbers.

“We think Facebook is, after Google, the most innovative company to have emerged in the last few years. We think it will be the phenomenon for the Internet that Windows was for the desktop,” Samwer said. Pretty serious claim, but it has to be taking into consideration the huge amount of money being poured in Facebook on reportedly less than $200M in revenues for 2007.

More about Samwer brothers

After selling the German Internet auction site Alando.de to eBay for $50 million in shares, the brothers have made names for themselves and have become even more involved with startups since. After a brief spell working for eBay, they then set up ringtone firm Jamba, which they sold to the U.S. company Verisign for $273 million in shares and cash in 2004. Little later they have also invested in the German Twitter clone, Frazr, and a handful of other startups. Interestign fact to note is that the Samwer brothers also invested in the Facebook clone StudiVZ, which was sold about a year ago for $112 million. Taking these facts and achievements into consideration we would not be that far in our conclusions if we say the guys are successful serial entrepreneurs and they have something to do with the social networking, at least in Europe. It already comes as no surprise they are interested to bring the most popular social site into Europe and lock down exclusivity for the market.

As the Samwer brothers are becoming the strategic partners for Facebook in Europe means that Facebook is getting even more serious about its European expansion. With the Samwer brothers having a large, vested interest in the success of Facebook’s growth across Europe, this seems like a pretty good fit considering the interests for all parties involved.

Just a week later and we are seeing today Nokia is also ready to jump the bandwagon of Facebook investors. However, this deal seems to be structured/offered in a little bit different way than pure investment where Nokia is rumored to be in talk for a deal with Facebook to bring the social site on to Nokia handsets in a major way. The Facebook placement could be as prominent as the YouTube button on the main screen of iPhone, online sources indicate. In addition, the deal is said to involve giving Facebook a major slot within Nokia retail products’ displays.

Nokia purchasing a stake in the company was said on several news sites and professional blogs is something yet to be confirmed. This now makes a little more sense in the light of Facebook’s recent strategic funding by Sawmer Brothers, in an effort to expand in Europe. The Nokia-Facebook deal would probably give the social network instant big-time mobile distribution: Nokia is the world’s largest maker of mobile phones after all.

A senior Nokia executive, speaking on background, declined to go into details about the pact with Facebook: “There is talk of a partnership in the works… it’s safe to say we’re testing the waters and things still have to be worked out.”

Nokia has of late been working on a number of services for the mobile, including its mobile web service Ovi, its mobile social network Mosh, and its most recent acquisitions in the larger media applications space. In October last year, it bought digital mapping provider Navteq for $8.1 billion to eventually offer customers location-based services. Also in October, it announced a deal to provide a year’s free access to Universal’s music catalog on certain Nokia phones. Also, it bought three other smaller companies last year: Avvenu (file sharing on mobiles and between mobile-PC); Twango (media sharing service for the hefty amount of $100 million); and Enpocket (mobile advertising and marketing services). 

On the content side, the potential deal with Nokia could be seen in very positive light for Facebook to drive the site’s usage on the mobile web.

The investment side, although nothing is for sure yet, isn’t that surprising given how many companies and high profile investors have already bought stakes into the Facebook over hyped site. “The remarkable part is how many companies are willing to invest in Facebook at a $15 billion valuation. At best Facebook may be worth even more than that, particularly when you consider sites like Baidu have a market cap in excess of $9 billion.”  Said Duncan Riley, who is an author at Techcrunch.

We don’t know when Facebook may move to an IPO; in his 60 Minutes interview a week ago Mark Zuckerberg said that it might be this year, or next year, or even 2010. What we do know is that an IPO in the current market will unlikely provide a strong valuation for Facebook.

Taking into serious considerations the current stock market conditions and all the US recession talk lately Facebook is highly unlikely to IPO this year. 2009/ 2010 are spoken out as the earliest dates for the Facebook’s IPO, presuming that the market eventually recovers.

Other less optimistic people are commenting that an investment at that $15B valuation is nothing less than idiotic and give the following details in support of their claims.

  1. When MSFT made investment in FB, YHOO was trading at $25/share. That is 20% higher than todays price. No way is FB worth 55% of Yahoo’s valuation of $27B today.
  2. Yahoo has revenue of over $6.5 Billion. FB generated $150M.
  3. Yes, FB is growing. But, YHOO has a real business and FB is trying to figure out how to make money.
  4.  Competition: FB has more competition than YHOO. YHOO has to deal with GOOG, MSFT and ASK. FB has to deal with the 15+ social networking sites plus GOOG and ASK (expected soon!?). 

In opposition to these claims and comparisons, other people find it quite shocking that this isn’t apparent to most people why FB is put at such high valuation and is being chased by major companies.

A stake in FB to certain companies is a priceless gamble. They are not trying to own a stake so that if/when FB becomes a revenue source they too can share in the benefits and see an incredible ROI. What they are doing is trying to solidify a relationship (as exclusive as possible) so that as FB carves out their experimental business model these companies will be able to couple themselves to it somehow. It’s more of a bribe than an investment, sources claim.

Companies like Microsoft and Nokia are essentially saying “We will pay you a few hundred million to establish the beginnings of what will be a mutually beneficial and exclusive relationship. A small portion of your company will be an added benefit and you can use that to broadcast a large valuation to the world to further legitimize your business despite an unproven and incomplete model”.

Facebook would like to continue to own and exploit their users’ private data without sharing in these profits and simply providing a useful service. Unfortunately, consumers are quickly learning that this may be something to be concerned about. There is a fast growing demand for openness that will hurt their walled garden philosophy. At some point an open and selfless alternative will arise and Facebook will shrink in order to remain a viable player for the long run. The catch 22 will lead to the inevitable deflation of Facebook.

Facebook is hugely popular social networking site, second only to MySpace in terms of users. Other popular social networking sites are Bebo and Friendster, the second one tried to acquire Facebook in 2004 for just $10M.

The latest comScore metrics, we have seen, revealed that Facebook is actually site #16 (others claim it is #6 today) in US with nearly 70M unique visitors per month and more than 50M registered and active users.
 
Peter Thiel, cofounder of PayPal and managing partner of the Founders Fund was the first angel investor in the company. He invested $500,000 into Facebook in early 2004. Later Accel Partners poured $12.7 million more in funding, at a valuation in the $100 million range.

The next year [2006], Facebook received $25 million in funding from Greylock Partners and Meritech Capital, as well as returning investors Accel Partners and Peter Thiel. The pre-money valuation for this deal was in the $525 million range.

Facebook is reported to have turned deals down from Friendster, Yahoo, Viacom  and the mighty Google a couple of months ago when Zuckerberg has chosen Microsoft to partner with. Microsoft de-facto has invested $240 million into Facebook for just 1.6 percent of the company in October 2007. This put the company’s valuation at over $15 billion on just $150 million in annual revenues.

Total funding for the company is now exceeding $400M as this number is highly speculative given the fact no public information is available for both the Samwer brothers’ investment and the Nokia’s eventual equity purchase.

It would really be interesting to find out what’s the equity position Mr. Li Ka-shing, Samwer brothers have secured and eventually Nokia will have for their money considering what Microsoft has bought for their $240M.

More

http://www.facebook.com
http://www.nokia.com/
http://mashable.com/2008/01/15/facebook-samwer-brothers/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/20/nokia-to-invest-in-facebook/
http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-nokia-and-facebook-working-on-mobile-deal-could-involve-investment/
http://www.reuters.com/article/rbssTechMediaTelecomNews/idUSL1562367720080115
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/01/16/facebook-hits-europe_n_81730.html
https://web2innovations.com/money/2007/11/30/hong-kong-billionaire-li-ka-shing-invests-60m-in-facebook-funding-totals-33820m-to-date/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/facebook
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/11/30/another-60-million-for-facebook
http://kara.allthingsd.com/20071130/facebook-nabs-60-million-investment-from-li-ka-shing
http://www.hutchison-whampoa.com/eng/about/chairman/chairman.htm
http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/12/03/business/brothers.php
http://venturebeat.com/2008/01/15/samwer-brothers-invest-in-facebook/
http://www.moconews.net/entry/419-nokia-to-buy-navteq-for-77-billion/
http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-facebook-gets-investment-from-german-online-entrepreneurs-samwer-brothe 
http://www.moconews.net/entry/419-nokia-buys-file-sharing-service-avvenu

Massive second round of funding for Freebase – $42 Million

Freebase, the open and shared database of the world’s knowledge, has raised a whopping amount of money in its Series B round of funding, $42 Million, in a round that included Benchmark Capital and Goldman Sachs. Total funding to date is $57 million.

The investment is considerable, and comes at a time when a number of experts are betting that a more powerful, “semantic” Web is about to emerge, where data about information is much more structured than it is today.

In March 2006, Freebase received $15 million in funding from investors including Benchmark Capital, Millennium Technology Ventures and Omidyar Network.

Freebase, created by Metaweb Technologies, is an open database of the world’s information. It’s built by the community and for the community – free for anyone to query, contribute to, build applications on top of, or integrate into their websites.

Already, Freebase covers millions of topics in hundreds of categories. Drawing from large open data sets like Wikipedia, MusicBrainz, and the SEC archives, it contains structured information on many popular topics, including movies, music, people and locations – all reconciled and freely available via an open API. This information is supplemented by the efforts of a passionate global community of users who are working together to add structured information on everything from philosophy to European railway stations to the chemical properties of common food ingredients.

By structuring the world’s data in this manner, the Freebase community is creating a global resource that will one day allow people and machines everywhere to access information far more easily and quickly than they can today.

Freebase  aims to “open up the silos of data and the connections between them”, according to founder Danny Hillis at the Web 2.0 Summit. Freebase is a database that has all kinds of data in it and an API. Because it’s an open database, anyone can enter new data in Freebase. An example page in the Freebase db looks pretty similar to a Wikipedia page. When you enter new data, the app can make suggestions about content. The topics in Freebase are organized by type, and you can connect pages with links, semantic tagging. So in summary, Freebase is all about shared data and what you can do with it.

Here’s a video tour of how does Freebase work. Freebase categorizes knowledge according to thousands of “types” of information, such as film, director or city. Those are the highest order of categorization. Then underneath those types you have “topics,” which are individual examples of the types — such as Annie Hall and Woody Allen. It boasts two million topics to date. This lets Freebase represent information in a structured way, to support queries from web developers wanting to build applications around them. It also solicits people to contribute their knowledge to the database, governed by a community of editors. It offers a Creative Commons license so that it can be used to power applications, on an open API.

This is one of the biggest Series B rounds for the past 12 months. And probably what Google tries to do with its Knol to Wikipedia is the same what Freebase tries to achieve too – replicate and commercialize the huge success of the non-profit Wikipedia.

Other semantic applications and projects include Powerset, Twine, AdaptiveBlue, Hakia, Talis, LinkedWords, NosyJoe, TrueKnowledge, among others.

Peter Rip, an investor in Twine has quickly reacted on the comparison between the two Freebase and Twine the VentureBeat’s Matt Marshall made.

As an investor in Twine, allow me correct you about Twine and Metaweb’s positioning. You correctly point out that Metaweb is building a database about concepts and things on the Web. Twine is not. Twine is really more of an application than a database. It is a way for persons to share information about their interests. So they are complementary, not competitive.

What’s most important is that Twine will be able to use all the structure in something like Metaweb (and other content sources) to enrich the user’s ability to track and manage information. Think of Metaweb as a content repository and Twine as as the app that uses content for specific purposes.

Twine is still in closed beta. So the confusion is understandable, especially with all the hype surrounding the category.

Nova Spivack, the founder of Twine has also commented on.

Freebase and Twine are not competitive. That should be corrected in the above article. In fact our products are very different and have different audiences. Twine is for helping people and groups share knowledge around their interests and activities. It is for managing personal and group knowledge, and ultimately for building smarter communities of interest and smarter teams.

Metaweb, by contrast, is a data source that Twine can use, but is not focused on individuals or on groups. Rather Metaweb is building a single public information database, that is similar to the Wikipedia in some respects. This is a major difference in focus and functionality. To use an analogy, Twine is more like a semantic Facebook, and Metaweb is more like a semantic Wikipedia.

Freebase is in alpha.

Freebase.com was the first Semantic App being featured by Web2Innovations in its series of planned publications where we will try to discover, highlight and feature the next generation of web-based semantic applications, engines, platforms, mash-ups, machines, products, services, mixtures, parsers, and approaches and far beyond.

The purpose of these publications is to discover and showcase today’s Semantic Web Apps and projects. We’re not going to rank them, because there is no way to rank these apps at this time – many are still in alpha and private beta.
More

http://www.metaweb.com/about/
http://freebase.com
http://roblog.freebase.com
http://venturebeat.com/2008/01/14/shared-database-metaweb-gets-42m-boost/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/16/freebase-takes-42-million/
http://www.dmwmedia.com/news/2008/01/15/freebase-developer-metaweb-technologies-gets-$42.4-million
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/freebase
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/10_semantic_apps_to_watch.php
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danny_Hillis
http://www.metaweb.com
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaweb_Technologies
https://web2innovations.com/money/2007/11/30/freebase-open-shared-database-of-the-worlds-knowledge/
http://mashable.com/2007/07/17/freebase/
http://squio.nl/blog/2007/04/02/freebase-life-the-universe-and-everything/

LogMeIn files for an IPO hoping to raise $86M

It seems it is time for small-sized Internet and technology IPOs. After Internet Brands, Inc. went public on NASDAQ it is now turn of yet another second-tier technology company LogMeIn, Inc. to do the same looking for pretty much the same amount to raise. It has filed to trade on the NASDAQ under the symbol LOGM.

In times when the IPO market isn’t what it was even a few months ago the remote computer access service provider LogMeIn has filed to raise up to $86.3 million through an initial public offering, according to a filing late last week with the SEC. This happens despite the fact a growing crowd of other technology companies are being forced to pull or postpone their IPOs. Some popular and web 1.0 Internet companies that have recently pulled off their IPOs include GoDaddy, Classmates and Accoona (Planned on $80.5) among others. By contrast, looking to capitalize on the Apple halo effect, three former company executives, including co-founder Steve Wozniak, took their new company, Acquicor Technology, public 2006 in an IPO raising $150 million. The money they raised is purely based on their reputation, as Acquicor Technology, is officially designated as a “blank-check” company, meaning they don’t have any principal activity or business model yet and can do whatever they want with investor money, when raised.

LogMeIn intends to use the net proceeds from this offering for working capital and other general corporate purposes, including the development of new services, sales and marketing activities and capital expenditures. They may also use a portion of the net proceeds for the acquisition of, or investment in, companies, technologies, services or assets that complement their business. They also intend to invest the net proceeds from this offering in short-term investment grade and U.S. government securities.

LogMeIn is a leading provider of on-demand, remote-connectivity solutions to small and medium-sized businesses, or SMBs, IT service providers and consumers. Businesses and IT service providers use our solutions to deliver remote, end-user support and to access and manage computers and other Internet-enabled devices more effectively and efficiently. Consumers and mobile workers use their solutions to access computer resources remotely, thereby facilitating their mobility and increasing their productivity. Their solutions, which are deployed on-demand and accessible through a Web browser, are secure, scalable and easy for the customers to try, purchase and use. The company’s customer base has grown from approximately 48,000 premium accounts in November 2006 to approximately 92,000 premium accounts in November 2007.

They believe LogMeIn Free and LogMeIn Hamachi, their popular free services, provide on-demand connectivity to more users than any other on-demand connectivity service, giving them access to a diverse group of users and increasing awareness of our premium services. Our users, they claim, have connected over 30 million computers and other Internet-enabled devices to a LogMeIn service, and during November 2007 the total number of devices connected to their services increased at an average of over 60,000 per day. They complement their free services with nine premium services, including LogMeIn Rescue and LogMeIn IT Reach, the company’s flagship remote support and management services, and LogMeIn Pro, their premium remote access service. Sales of the premium services, the company claims, are generated through word-of-mouth referrals, Web-based advertising, expiring free trials that they convert to paid subscriptions and direct marketing to new and existing customers.
 
LogMeIn delivers each of their on-demand solutions as a hosted service that runs on their proprietary platform called Gravity. Gravity establishes secure connections over the Internet between remote computers and other Internet-enabled devices and mediates the direct transmission of data. This robust and scalable platform connects over 4.2 million computers to the company’s services each day.

The company sells its services on a subscription basis at prices ranging from approximately $40 to $1,900 per year. During the nine months ended September 30, 2007, the company has completed over 159,000 transactions at an average transaction price of approximately $160. During the nine months ended September 30, 2007, LogMeIn generated revenues of $18.4 million, as compared to $7.3 million over the same period in 2006, an increase of 151%.  

Principal stockholders in the company as of December 31, 2007 are as follows:

  • Prism Venture Partners IV, L.P.- 23.98% 
  • Polaris Venture Partners – 21.16% 
  • Technologieholding Central and Eastern European Funds – 15.96%
  • Integral Capital Partners VI, L.P. – 8.98% 
  • Intel Capital – 5.47%
  • Michael K. Simon – 7.92%  
  • Marton B. Anka – 6.94%
  • Kevin K. Harrison – 1.35%

As it uses a peer-to-peer data transfer model after it makes the connection between the home computer and the remote user, LogMeIn faces less of an infrastructure burden as it grows. The company has a patent-pending service delivery platform called Gravity, which reduces their bandwidth and other infrastructure requirements, which, they believe, makes their services faster and less expensive to deliver as compared to competing services.

The company sells primarily to enterprises, so the IPO may also be an effort to gain some credibility with corporate buyers. Some of that credibility may also come from a deal LogMeIn signed with Intel in December 2007. The previously undisclosed deal involves Intel investing $10 million in LogMeIn and an agreement to tightly integrate LogMeIn’s services with Intel hardware. Based on the prospecutus filed with SEC, it turns out that Intel took only 5.47% for its $10M investment. The chipmaker will also market and sell LogMeIn’s service to its customers and share that revenue with LogMeIn. Polaris Venture Partners, Prism Venture Partners, Integral Capital Partners and Intel Capital are backing the five-year-old company.

Over the past weeks I have seen lots of online ads of LogMeIn all over the Web. I guess this is meant to fuel the company’s growth as it is approaching its IPO.

LogMeIn Hamachi, the company’s popular free services is actually a result of an acquisition done back in 2006. By that time LogMeIn has acquired the based VPN provider, Hamachi as the terms of the deal were not disclosed publicly. Hamachi has by that time about three million beta users, and the company claimed it is adding 400,000 computers a month.

A disturbing fact popped up on Web while we were researching for the company. Experts by that time gave the following explanation: “the technical side of this service establishes a VPN tunnel via a gateway server on Cocos Island. If this service were to ever embrace port hopping technology like Skype-uses, you’d have a peer to peer link established from your corporate network to foreign soil. This is problematic for many businesses.”

More about LogMeIn

LogMeIn, Inc. was established in 2003 by the creators of RemotelyAnywhere, the award-winning remote control and administration software. The company develops and markets innovative remote access, productivity, management and security products that serve mobile professionals and system administrators with a suite of SSL, TLS and SSH-encrypted products.

Based outside of Boston, Massachusetts, LogMeIn also maintains a development center in Budapest, Hungary. In February 2003, the company incorporated under the laws of Bermuda. In August 2004, they have completed a domestication in the State of Delaware under the name 3am Labs, Inc. and later changed their name to LogMeIn, Inc. in March 2006.

LogMeIn, Inc. has the following trademarks or registered trademarks: Gravity™, LogMeIn® Backup™, LogMeIn® Free®, LogMeIn® Hamachi™, LogMeIn® Ignition™, LogMeIn® Rescue®, LogMeIn® Rescue+Mobile™, LogMeIn® Pro®, LogMeIn® IT Reach® and RemotelyAnywhere®.

Some of the company’s major clients include 3M, BestBuy, AMD, DHL, HSBC, IBM, Konika Minolta, Rolls-Royce and SAP.

Management Team

Michael Simon, CEO
Simon was the founder, chairman and CEO of Uproar Inc., a Nasdaq – and Easdaq – listed company that was acquired by Vivendi Universal in March 2001. He has a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA from Washington University St. Louis.

Marton Anka, CTO
Anka was the original creator and principal architect of RemotelyAnywhere. Anka has been at the forefront of Internet technology since 1995. He created the first high-volume, real-time, secure-transaction platform in Java that was commercially launched in August 1996. Anka earned his diploma in Information Technology from the Szamalk Institute (Hungary).

Jim Kelliher, CFO
Kelliher has more than 20 years experience in key financial roles in the high tech industry. Most recently, he was Chief Financial Officer of IMlogic, Inc. , a venture backed start-up in the enterprise instant messaging market. Prior to Imlogic, Jim was Sr. VP of Finance and Operations at Parametric Technology and was European Finance Director of Cullinet Software. He began his career with PricewaterhouseCoopers after receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Accountancy from Bentley College.

Kevin Bardos, VP Product Development
Bardos, a 15-year high-tech veteran, manages the development team for LogMeIn’s suite of IT support tools. He led business development efforts for ERP company Scala Business Solutions (now Epicor) and was co-founder and managing director of the Central European online media agency Red Dot. Bardos received a B.A. in Economics from Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada.

Andrew Burton, VP Product Marketing
With more than a decade of industry experience, Burton has driven product strategy, product marketing and product management for a number of market-leading technology companies. He was previously with Symantec Corporation, where he held a senior product management position. Prior to Symantec, Burton delivered new products and innovative solutions at IMlogic, Groove Networks (a Microsoft company), USinternetworking (an AT&T company), and Accenture. He earned his MBA from Boston College, a Masters in Information Systems from University College, Dublin, and a BS from Oregon State University.

Michael J. Donahue, VP and General Counsel
Donahue is responsible for all the company’s legal affairs. Previously, he was vice president and general counsel for C.P. Baker & Company, a Boston-based venture capital and management services company. Prior to that, he spent six years with Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Dorr LLP – leaving as a junior partner in 2005. Donahue has a BA from Boston College and received his JD from Northeastern University School of Law.

Kevin Farrell, VP and GM, Digital Living
Farrell has driven strategy and product management for several successful start ups and is responsible for extending LogMeIn’s award-winning remote connectivity service and future initiatives. He was formerly Sr. VP at Ensim Inc., a software startup in the hosted Web, VoIP, messaging and collaboration space after serving as VP, Product Management and Marketing for TeleGea—which was acquired by Ensim. He has a BS in Mechanical Engineering and a MS in Computer Science from Villanova University, and a MBA from Seton Hall University. Farrell also holds several patents.

Kevin Harrison, VP Sales
Harrison drove the worldwide sales strategy and organization, including enterprise, partner, and direct sales channels, for Ximian, a leading Linux application company. Before Ximian, Harrison had sales leadership roles with MapInfo, Netegrity, and NetCentric. Harrison received a BS in Accounting from Boston College.

Richard Redding, VP and GM, Mobile
Redding worked in strategy and business development at AT&T, and previously was at Excite@Home in international business development and operations. Excite@Home was the leading broadband Internet company offering high-speed Internet access and producing a network of web properties including the Excite portal. Redding graduated with honors from the University of California at Santa Cruz and has his MBA from the University of Santa Clara.

Conan Reidy, VP Business Development
Reidy is responsible for identifying key technology partnership opportunities for LogMeIn. He was previously with Symantec Corporation, where he held a senior business development position. Prior to Symantec, Reidy ran business development for IMlogic, Inc., an instant messaging management vendor, and was instrumental in the sale of IMlogic to Symantec in early 2006.

Board of Directors

Dave Barrett, Polaris Venture Partners
Dave joined Polaris Venture Partners after a 22-year operating career. Prior, Dave served as chief operating officer of Calico Commerce, where during his tenure, the company evolved from venture-backed startup to a $45M, publicly-held corporation, helped to pioneer the e-business market, and with market value in excess of $3 billion, was both one of the top-performing IPOs of 1999 and 6th most successful offering in the history of NASDAQ. Before that, he served as senior vice president of worldwide operations for Pure Atria Software Corporation, continuing in that role after the company was acquired by Rational Software Corporation for $1 billion in 1997. Prior to Rational, Dave spent twelve years with Lotus Development Corporation, where among many roles, he served as vice president of field sales and services, leading the build-out of the company’s global sales & services effort. He also served as general manager of worldwide federal systems, the company’s then-fastest growing division. Lotus was acquired by IBM in 1995 for $3.5 billion, the largest merger in software industry history up to that time.

Woody Benson, Prism VentureWorks
Benson is a general partner at Prism VentureWorks. He joined the firm in 2004 and primarily invests in digital living companies. He also focuses on mobile and on-demand business models. He came to Prism from Lazard Technology Partners, where he managed the firm’s Boston office. Career highlights include serving as Chairman, President and CEO of MCK Communications, which went public in 1999 and completed a secondary offering in 2000.

Kenneth Cron, Midway Games
Cron is chairman of Midway Games, a Chicago-based developer and manufacturer of home video game entertainment products. He has held key leadership roles in businesses that have been instrumental in transforming the contemporary technology, media and entertainment markets. His involvement steering both public and private companies to success includes overseeing and growing stable organizations into global enterprises, revitalizing large companies, and launching start-ups with eventual public offerings. As interim Chief Executive Officer of Computer Associates International Inc., Cron was instrumental in stabilizing the company following a challenging period. Prior to Computer Associates, Cron was Chairman and CEO of Vivendi Universal Games, Inc., a global leader in the publishing of online, PC and console-based interactive entertainment.

Irfan Salim, MarkMonitor
Salim is president and chief executive officer, of MarkMonitor, the global leader in enterprise brand protection. He brings more than 20 years of experience growing and leading world-class Internet security, fraud prevention, and domain registrar companies. Prior to MarkMonitor, he was president and chief operating officer of Internet security company Zone Labs, which was acquired by Check Point Technologies. Earlier, Salim was president and CEO of NameSecure.com, an Internet domain name registrar and services company as well as serving as president of US and European operations at security leader TrendMicro.

More

https://secure.logmein.com
http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1420302/000095013508000171/b67378lmsv1.htm#116
http://gigaom.com/2008/01/14/logmein-files-for-86m-ipo-gets-money-from-intel/
http://gigaom.com/2006/08/08/logmein-buys-hamachi/
http://ipadventures.com/?p=1124
http://gigaom.com/2006/08/08/logmein-buys-hamachi/
https://secure.logmein.com/go.asp?page=pressrelease&id=49
http://redmondmag.com/features/article.asp?editorialsid=2400#neverwas
http://www.tmcnet.com/planetpdamag/articles/16929-logme-enables-remote-tech-support-smartphones.htm
http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/columnists/story.html?id=6e9a2720-cdac-4366-bb94-3c71a728bcc8
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2704,2219740,00.asp
https://secure.logmein.com/corp/pressrelease.asp?id=99
 

Internet Brands, Inc. went public on NASDAQ

Internet Brands, Inc., the smaller brother of IAC in terms of Internet strategy, and an Internet holding company with a number of second tier e-brands went public in the last weeks of 2007. They filed for their IPO back in July 2007 and were then planning to raise $100M/$115M million.

Internet Brands, Inc. was by that time planning to sell 3,750,000 shares of Class A common stock and the selling stockholders named in this prospectus are selling 5,816,454 shares of Class A common stock. We will not receive any of the proceeds from the shares of Class A common stock sold by the selling stockholders. The company and some of the selling stockholders have granted the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to an aggregate of 1,434,968 additional shares of Class A common stock, to cover over-allotments, if any. This was an initial public offering of our Class A common stock. They have an expectation the initial public offering price of our Class A common stock to be between $10.00 and $12.00 per share and they have applied for approval to list our Class A common stock on the NASDAQ Global Market under the symbol “INET.” 

The company revealed no specific plans for the use of the net proceeds of this offering. The principal reasons for the offering are to provide their stockholders liquidity in the public equity market, raise cash for general corporate purposes, which may include working capital and capital expenditures, and support the company’s general growth plan, which includes possible future acquisitions of complementary products, technologies and businesses. The timing and amount of their actual expenditures will be based on many factors, including cash flows from operations and the anticipated growth of the business. Pending these uses, Internet Brands Inc. intends to invest the net proceeds of this offering primarily in investment-grade, interest-bearing instruments.

The company was founded in 1998 as CarsDirect.com and, reflecting its growth and diversification, changed its name in 2005 to Internet Brands, Inc. and is a subsidiary of Idealab. Credit Suisse and Thomas Weisel Partners were underwriting the IPO. Investors include Idealab, the company’s largest shareholder, Foundation Capital, Clearstone Venture Partners, among others. It is interesting to note the fact that Idealab Holdings, L.L.C., through its ownership of our Class A common stock and exclusive ownership of our Class B common stock, will have control of approximately 67% of the votes represented by our Class A common stock, on an as-converted basis, and Class B common stock outstanding as of September 30, 2007. Thus, Idealab Holdings, L.L.C. will be able to influence or control matters requiring approval of our stockholders, including the election of directors and the approval of mergers, acquisitions and other significant corporate transactions.

What happened since then?

In times when the IPO market isn’t what it was even a few months ago the El Segundo, Calif.,-based operator of small, consumer-focused Web sites managed to go public, unlike a growing crowd of other technology companies being forced to pull or postpone their IPOs. Some popular and web 1.0 Internet companies that have recently pulled off their IPOs include GoDaddy, Classmates and Accoona (Planned on $80.5) among others. By contrast, looking to capitalize on the Apple halo effect, three former company executives, including co-founder Steve Wozniak, took their new company, Acquicor Technology, public 2006 in an IPO raising $150 million. The money they raised is purely based on their reputation, as Acquicor Technology, is officially designated as a “blank-check” company, meaning they don’t have any principal activity or business model yet and can do whatever they want with investor money, when raised.

Interestingly, instead of going further with its initial plans to sell 9.57 million shares between $10 and $12 a share, Internet Brands, Inc. settled for selling 6 million shares at $8 each. This put together with the fact their three quarters of 2007 resulted in a $2.5 million loss, which is not a good way to kickoff an IPO.

Second, instead of raising as much as $115 million, the company took in $48M or about 42 cents for every dollar it had hoped to raise. Internet Brands closed its first day of trading at $8, unchanged from the offer price — despite trading volume of 1 million shares, which was more than 10 times the average daily volume since then.

The company’s today (January 14, 2008) market capitalization is $260.63M where the 52Wk High was $8.87 while the 52Wk Low is $5.84. Today’s stock quote is at $6.20, way below its IPO stock price.

The company had revenues of $85 million in 2006 while the 2007’s revenues have actually declined from $65.2 million to $64.9 million. Its Q107 revenues declined to $19.1 million, compared to $21.9 million in Q106. This has been attributed to the slowing interest in the consumer Internet segment, especially for the auto industry. With 35 acquisitions during 2007, including Jelsoft Enterprises’ vBulletin, ApartmentRatings.com, DVD Talk and ePodunk, it has been looking to improve the communications technology across its growing network of commerce sites.

The acquisitions made by Internet Brands, Inc. total $84.8M as of today.

The guys behind vBulletin (JelSoft Enterprises)  have said by that time “We are pleased to announce that Jelsoft Enterprises Limited has been acquired by Internet Brands, Inc., a leading provider of automotive, travel and home-related sites and communities. As part of a larger organisation, with more than 500 employees, Jelsoft has access to additional resources, support and business expertise which will ensure that we can continue to grow and flourish. Products will continue to be actively developed and fully supported, and as time goes on you will begin to see noticeable changes and improvements that are made possible by being part of a larger organization.” The vBulletin’s co-founder, John Percival, left the company.

The company is leveraging over 27M unique visitors per month and is having agreements and relationships with the various vendors that benefit through their sites. CarsDirect does, for example, collect money from the dealers that are signed to their network. These dealers provide the vehicles to the shoppers on the site. The larger dealers clearly source more vehicles and are therefore likely to be paying more to CarsDirect. Some public sources claim the dealers pay anywhere from $35-$75/CPM, which is fairly high price and is perhaps brining in solid ad revenues to the company. More than 3,000 local car dealers have joined its nationwide network and it has alliances with Penske Automotive Group (formerly United Auto Group).

In general, Internet Brands Inc. seems to have some clear strategy problems. Their intent is to be a leading provider in community based research and transactions in the areas of automotive, real estate and travel, and they certainly own enough web properties in the respective categories to be the leader.  However, what Internet Brands Inc. has not done well is to leverage the 40+ brands they own to create an ultimate experience in any of those sectors. Online sources claim that the teams, part of the many acquired companies, were forced to integrate to their corporate structure way too quickly resulting in the opposite situation where Internet Brands Inc.’s companies seem disjoint, disintegrated with little to no ability to create game changing synergy. 

Maybe even more concerning is that Internet Brands Inc. owns many so called web 1.0 or web 1.5 brands, websites that are community driven, but are doing so with a look and feel of the past Internet decade. What makes this concerning is that Internet Brands Inc. is in a dangerous position of gradually losing its various communities to new-comers that take full advantage of web 2.0 technologies and functionality. Internet Brands Inc. should use the money they’ve raised from the IPO to either develop or acquire better positioned web properties towards the web 2.0-age if they want to retain and expand their online offerings and reach.

By contrast, Jefferies & Co initiates INET with a Buy and a $10 target saying as an owner-operator of a broad portfolio of vertically-oriented sites, INET is benefiting from the fragmentation of online audiences, and advertisers’ quest for highly targeted consumers. The investment firm says traffic growth, in part through acquisitions, and improvement in monetization should continue to drive INET’s prospects long-term.

Below are some of the recent sales of unregistered securities, including acquisitions and stock option plans. Since January 1, 2004, the company has issued the following securities that were not registered under the Securities Act of 1933:

1.  On December 31, 2004, we acquired certain assets and liabilities of LoanApp, Inc., and all of the stock of LoanApp, Inc., an affiliate of Myers Internet, Inc., for $2.4 million, including 212,563 shares of our Class A common stock. The 212,563 shares were issued to Warren H. Meyer, the controlling stockholder of Myers Internet, Inc. and the then sole stockholder of LoanApp, Inc., as follows: On December 30, 2007, January 31, 2005, February 2, 2005, and June 10, 2005, we issued 152,284, 15,863, 22,208, and 22,208 shares, respectively.

2.  On April 26, 2005, we exchanged 2,200,000 shares of Series D preferred stock for 2,000,000 shares of Class B common stock, pursuant to a Share Exchange Agreement with Idealab Holdings, L.L.C.

3.  On June 1, 2005, we acquired the assets and certain liabilities of 1-800 Communications, Inc. and Advanced Lead Generation, Inc. for $8.5 million, which consideration included 89,392 shares of our Class A common stock issued on June 1 to Jonathan Kratter and 89,392 shares of our Class A common stock issued on June 1 to Stuart Heller, the sole shareholders of the selling corporations.

4.  On July 15, 2005, in connection with the acquisition of VacationHomes.com, we issued 15,000 shares of Class A common stock to Kurt Leinbach.

5.  On February 22, 2006, we acquired certain assets and liabilities of Client Shop, Inc. In connection with this transaction, we issued 14,113 shares of Class A common stock to Client Shop, Inc.

6.  On September 13, 2006, we issued 5,000 shares of Class A common stock to Heidrick and Struggles, Inc. pursuant to a warrant exercise at $0.70 per share.

7.  On February 27, 2007, we extended the expiration date for four warrants to purchase 1,554,314 shares of Series F preferred stock, issued to Penske Motor Group, Inc. (formerly Penske Automotive Group, Inc.), Penske Automotive Group, Inc. (formerly United Automotive Group, Inc.) and Penske Corporation, to (i) as to three of the warrants, the earlier of December 31, 2008 or the termination of Roger Penske’s service as a director and (ii) as to one of the warrants, December 31, 2008.

8.  Between January 1, 2004 and the date hereof, we granted stock options to purchase 3,519,755 shares of Class A common stock at exercise prices ranging from $0.50 to $9.50 per share, with an average price per share of $3.31, to employees and consultants pursuant to our 1998 Stock Plan.

9.  Between January 1, 2004 and the date hereof, we granted stock options to purchase 95,500 shares of Class C common stock at exercise prices ranging from $0.50 to $4.70 per share, with an average price per share of $1.12, to employees and consultants pursuant to our 2000 Stock Plan.

10.  Between January 1, 2004 and the date hereof, we awarded stock options to purchase 16,750 shares of Class A common stock at an exercise price of $9.70 per share, and 386,702 shares of our restricted stock, valued at $9.70 per share, to directors, officers and employees pursuant to our 2007 Equity Plan.

11.  Between January 1, 2004 and the date hereof, we granted stock options to purchase 181,806 shares of Class A common stock at exercise prices of $1.50 per share to employees and directors outside of our 1998 and 2000 Stock Plans and 2007 Equity Plan.

12.  Between January 1, 2004 and the date hereof, we issued an aggregate of 2,293,378 shares of Class A common stock upon exercise of options under our 1998 Stock Plan, of which 532,569 shares were reacquired through repurchase of restricted (unvested) shares, promissory note repayment and exercise of right of first refusal.

13.  Between January 1, 2004 and the date hereof, we issued an aggregate of 20,641 shares of Class C common stock upon exercise of options under our 2000 Stock Plan.

14. Between January 1, 2004 and the date hereof, we issued an aggregate of 106,806 shares of Class A common stock upon exercise of options granted outside of our 1998 and 2000 Stock Plans and 2007 Equity Plan, of which 29,748 shares were reacquired through repurchase of restricted (unvested) shares.
 
15. Between January 1, 2004 and the date hereof, we issued an aggregate of 1,042,985 shares of Class A common stock upon the exercise of a warrant held by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

More about Internet Brands, Inc.

Internet Brands is a leading Internet media company that builds, acquires and enhances a rapidly growing network of branded websites in the automotive, travel and leisure, and home and home improvement categories. Utilizing a cost-efficient, proprietary operating platform, the Company operates and enhances websites that attract consumers through rich content, opportunities for participation in strong online communities, and user-friendly functionality, which enables the company to sell targeted advertising through various formats, such as cost per lead, cost per thousand impressions, cost per click, cost per action, and flat fees. Internet Brands operated 45 principal websites as of September 30, 2007, and attracted 27 million unique visitors during the month of September.

The company is based in El Segundo, CA and as of 2006 it had 559 employees. Major competitors include Autobytel, AutoNation, IAC, among others.

Some of the more popular brands of the company are:

Other web properties include:

  • Autodata
  • NewCarTestDrive.com
  • BBOnline.com
  • CruiseMates.com
  • VacationHomes.com
  • Loan.com
  • Mortgage101.com
  • RealEstateABC.com
  • AudiWorld.com
  • CorvetteForum.com
  • Ford-Trucks.com
  • FlyerTalk.com
  • TrekEarth.com
  • Wikitravel.org
  • BrokerOutpost.com
  • DoItYourself.com

And more…

Management team

Robert N. Brisco / Chief Executive Officer

Bob Brisco has been CEO, President, and Director of Internet Brands since 1999. He has led the growth of the company from an early stage to a position today of significant and rapidly growing profitability. Brisco has extensive experience in building high performing organizations and consumer brands, has led business turnarounds, and has been instrumental in the success of several Internet businesses.

Brisco joined Internet Brands from Universal Studios Hollywood and CityWalk, where he was President of one of the largest entertainment destinations in the world, hosting 10 million visitors per year. He oversaw all aspects of the business, including operations, marketing, sales, technology, finance, and entertainment. Prior to Universal, Brisco was senior vice president of advertising, marketing, and new business development for The Los Angeles Times. At The Times, he was responsible for over $1 billion of revenue. He oversaw all of The Times’ new media operations, directing the launch of LATimes.com, and leading acquisitions such as Hollywood.com. As a corporate officer of Times Mirror, Brisco was central in the company’s new media investments. He was a founding board member of Classified Ventures, which has launched Internet services in the real estate, rentals, and automotive categories. He also served as a Director of La Opinion, the largest Spanish language newspaper in the U.S. Previously, Brisco was a consultant with McKinsey & Co. and the Boston Consulting Group. As a consultant, he specialized in media and consumer products and developed winning business strategies for many clients. Brisco received an MBA from UCLA and a BA from USC (summa cum laude) in economics and journalism.

Lisa Morita / Chief Operating Officer

Lisa Morita oversees the company’s day-to-day operations including sales, customer service, pricing, and product and business strategy for the Automotive and Home Divisions. Prior to joining Internet Brands in March 2007, Morita was Senior Vice President of Customer and Content Solutions at Yahoo! Search Marketing. She was responsible for leading the customer and editorial operations that supported online advertisers who spent billions of dollars in search marketing. She led the customer operations team through the successful migration of its hundreds of thousands of online advertisers onto an entirely new platform, “Project Panama.” Morita joined GoTo.com in 2001 and scaled the operation during its rapid growth as Overture Services. Morita has extensive marketing and general management experience in companies ranging from early stage to Fortune 500 companies. She was SVP of Marketing at eMind, LLC, where she was part of the team that grew the start-up company into a leading provider of eLearning solutions. Previously, Morita was Vice President of Advertising and Marketing at The Los Angeles Times, responsible for retail ad sales and marketing. She began her career at Carnation Company/Nestle USA in brand management running brands including the most profitable in the division. Morita received an M.B.A. from Stanford University and earned a B.A. from Occidental College.

Debra Domeyer / Chief Technology Officer

As Chief Technology Officer, Debra Domeyer oversees information technology, creative services, development and architecture for Internet Brands. Prior to joining Internet Brands in 1999, she served as Vice President and Chief Information Officer at PG&E Energy Services. There, she created Web-based information products in support of a $220 billion nationwide industry initiative promoting commodity products. Prior to PG&E, she was Vice President of Information Systems for Times Mirror Company. Domeyer also has extensive experience in the mortgage industry. From 1989 to 1993, she directed information systems operations for the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation during a year of record growth, then led re-engineering improvements at Countrywide Home Loans, one of the country’s leading mortgage loan companies. From 1983 to 1988, Domeyer served in the White House, supervising development of distributed applications and secure communications for the President’s trips worldwide, including the Japan Economic Summit and the US/Russia Summit in Iceland. Domeyer has a B.A. in Business from Loras College and a master’s degree in Information Systems Technology from George Washington University.

Alexander E. Hansen / Chief Financial Officer

Alex Hansen is responsible for the controllership, operational accounting, finance, planning and treasury functions for Internet Brands. He has been a Chief Financial Officer for over 15 years, serving as the finance executive for both public and private companies ranging in size from start-ups to middle-market companies with revenues over $800 million. Companies he has served, spanning the consumer products, software development, advertising and entertainment industries, include CreativePlanet, Quisic, J. Walter Thompson and GROUPE DANONE. Hansen is a partner and board committee member of Tatum LLC, a CPA (former manager with PriceWaterhouse), a member of the AICPA and the CSCPA, and a graduate of Williams College and Princeton Theological Seminary.

B. Lynn Walsh / Executive Vice President, Corporate Development and General Counsel

Lynn Walsh is responsible for structuring and negotiating acquisitions and strategic partnerships and oversees all human resource, legal, and regulatory aspects of the company’s business. Prior to joining Internet Brands in 2000, Walsh was a partner in the Technology group at Alston & Bird LLP in Atlanta, Georgia, where she specialized in public and private offerings of securities, mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance. Previously, Walsh was a partner at Hunton & Williams in Atlanta. She received her B.A. from the University of Michigan and her J.D. from Wayne State University Law School.

Chuck Hoover / Senior Vice President, Marketing and Business Development

Chuck Hoover oversees Internet Brands’ marketing including online and offline advertising, consumer and product research, acquisition and retention strategies, and PR. He is also responsible for Internet Brands’ business development initiatives to create relationships with strategic partners and oversees advertising sales. Hoover joined Internet Brands in December 1999 from Homestore.com, operator of the nation’s largest real estate Web sites. At Homestore he was responsible for consumer marketing including management of distribution partnerships with top portals and product development. Prior to Homestore, Hoover was Vice President of Marketing for PeopleLink, the first company incubated by Idealab and the leader in providing business to business community services. Previously, Hoover worked at the Los Angeles Times in the Marketing and New Business Development group developing new advertising products for major retailers and entertainment companies, including the acquisition of Hollywood.com. Hoover received an MBA from Stanford University and a BA in economics Phi Beta Kappa from Occidental College.

Gregory T. Perrier / CEO & President, Autodata Solutions Company

As President and CEO since 1993, Greg Perrier has built Autodata Solutions into one of North America’s largest software and services boutiques focused on the automotive industry. The company, which Internet Brands acquired in mid-1999, serves every manufacturer in North America from Acura to Volvo through its diverse suite of products and services. Autodata’s products and services help auto manufacturers throughout all stages of the selling-chain from market analytics, product planning, vehicle configuration management, order placement, in-dealership retail systems, and dealership personnel training, to consumer-facing web sites. Perrier earned an honors degree in business from the Ivey School of Business in 1984 and immediately following served as a consultant with Price Waterhouse.

Board of Directors

Dr. Howard Morgan

Dr. Morgan has served as a Director of Internet Brands since February 1999 and as Chairman of our board of directors since September 1999. He is also a Director of Idealab, a creator and operator of technology companies. Since 1989, Dr. Morgan has also been President of Arca Group, Inc., a consulting and investment management firm specializing in the areas of computers and communications technologies. He serves as a director for a number of private and public companies, including Franklin Electronic Publishers, Inc., Segue Software, Inc. and Unitronix Corp. Dr. Morgan holds a B.S. in Physics from City University of New York and a Ph.D. in operations research from Cornell University.

Robert N. Brisco

Bob Brisco has been CEO, President, and Director of Internet Brands since 1999. Mr. Brisco joined Internet Brands from Universal Studios Hollywood and CityWalk, where he was President of one of the largest entertainment destinations in the world. Prior to Universal, Mr. Brisco was Senior Vice President of advertising, marketing, and new business development for The Los Angeles Times. He oversaw all of The Times’ new media operations, directing the launch of LATimes.com, and leading acquisitions such as Hollywood.com. Previously, Mr. Brisco was a consultant with McKinsey & Co. and the Boston Consulting Group, specializing in media and consumer products.

Roger S. Penske, Sr.

Mr. Penske has served as a Director of Internet Brands since May 2000. He has also been Chairman of the Board and CEO of Penske Corporation since 1969. Penske Corporation is a privately-owned diversified transportation services company that holds, through its subsidiaries, interests in a number of businesses. Mr. Penske has also been Chairman of the Board of Penske Truck Leasing Corporation since 1982 and of UnitedAuto Group since 1999. He serves as a member of the Boards of Directors of General Electric Company and Universal Technical Institute, Inc.; and is a director of Detroit Renaissance and a member of The Business Council.

Marcia Goodstein

Marcia Goodstein has been a member of the board of Internet Brands since August 2004. Ms. Goodstein founded Idealab with Bill Gross in March 1996 and serves as the company’s Chief Operating Officer and President. Prior to joining Idealab, Ms. Goodstein worked in business development and marketing for Enfish Corporation, a software development company. Ms. Goodstein was also an early employee of Gemstar Development Corporation and was responsible for media licensing for North America, as well as marketing and distribution in South America.

Gerald Greenwald

Mr. Greenwald has served as a Director of Internet Brands since September 1999. Mr. Greenwald is Chairman Emeritus of United Air Lines and served as the Chairman and CEO of United Air Lines from 1994 to 1999. From 1979 to 1990, Mr. Greenwald was employed by the Chrysler Corporation, where he worked in various positions including Corporate Controller and CFO before being promoted to Vice Chairman, a position in which he shared responsibility with the CEO for the operations of the company. From 1957 to 1979, he was employed by the Ford Motor Company, where he worked in several positions including Controller, Director of Ford’s operations in Europe and as President of Ford of Venezuela. Mr. Greenwald is one of the founders of Greenbriar Equity Group.

Bill Gross

Bill Gross has served as a Director of Internet Brands since its inception. He is the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Idealab, a creator and operator of technology companies. A lifelong entrepreneur, Mr. Gross has launched a number of successful companies, including GNP Development (acquired by Lotus), Knowledge Adventure (acquired by Havas Vivendi) and Overture Services, to name a few. A well-known visionary and entrepreneur, Mr. Gross sits on the Board of Directors of Overture Services (NNM: OVER) and the Board of Trustees of the California Institute of Technology. Mr. Gross received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology.

Kenneth Gilman

Kenneth Gilman has been a member of the board of Internet Brands since January 2002. Mr. Gilman joined Asbury Automotive Group following a 25-year career with the Limited Inc. where his most recent assignment was CEO of Lane Bryant. From 1993 to 2001, Mr. Gilman served as Vice Chairman and Chief Administrative Officer of The Limited, Inc. with responsibility for finance, information technology, supply chain management, production, real estate, legal and internal audit. From 1987 to 1993, he was Executive Vice President and CFO. He joined the company’s executive committee in 1987 and was elected to the board of directors in 1990.

Martin Melone

Mr. Melone has served as a Director of Internet Brands since August 2005. Mr. Melone was a partner of Ernst & Young, LLP from 1975 to 2001, where he was responsible for global clients in a wide range of industries. He now serves on the Board of Directors of Countrywide Financial Corporation, where he is Chairman of the Audit and Ethics Committee. Mr. Melone also serves on the Boards of Directors of the California Science Center Foundation and Public Counsel Law Center. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the California Society of Certified Public Accountants.

James Ukropina

Mr. Ukropina has served as a Director of Internet Brands since February 2006. He is also a director of Lockheed Martin Corporation, Pacific Life Corp, Trust Company of the West, Central Natural Resources and the Keck Foundation, and is the CEO of Directions, LLC, a management and strategic consulting firm. Mr. Ukropina formerly served as Vice-Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Stanford University and as an advisor and board member of numerous other public, private and non-profit entities, including IndyMac Bancorp, Santa Fe International, Security Pacific Corp., Occidental College, and the California Chamber of Commerce. He has chaired various board committees, including the audit, compensation, nominating and special committees, and has authored a number of articles on corporate governance and executive compensation. He was a partner with the international law firm, O’Melveny & Myers LLP until 2000 and has served as Of Counsel since that time. Mr. Ukropina holds a B.A. and a M.B.A. from Stanford University and a LL.B from the University of Southern California.

More

http://www.internetbrands.com
http://finance.google.com/finance?q=INET
http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-idealab-backed-holding-firm-internet-brands-files-for-100-million-ipo
http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1080131/000104746907008138/a2179214zs-1a.htm
http://mashable.com/2007/10/31/internet-brands-ipo/
http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-internet-brands-to-raise-up-to-45-million-in-ipo/
http://mashable.com/2007/07/10/vbulletin-acquired-by-internet-brands/
http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-internet-brands-acquires-real-estate-community-site-apartmentratings
http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-message-board-software-vbulletin-bought-by-internet-brands
http://www.techcoastreview.com/2007/11/internet-brands-goes-public.html
http://stocks.us.reuters.com/stocks/fullDescription.asp?rpc=66&symbol=INET.O
http://www.hoovers.com/internet-brands/–ID__59923–/free-co-factsheet.xhtml
http://www.pehub.com/article/articledetail.php?articlepostid=8919
http://www.thestreet.com/s/internet-brands-ipo-suggests-return-to-normalcy/newsanalysis/techstockupdate/10391500.html
http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1080131/000104746907008138/a2179214zs-1a.htm#toc_dk79101_1
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20060808/1526256.shtml
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20060727/0843233.shtml
http://www.vbulletin.com/forum/showthread.php?p=1383883#post1383883
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Brands
http://news.moneycentral.msn.com/provider/providerarticle.aspx?feed=BCOM&date=20080111&id=8025636

Technorati’s total funding revealed – $21.6 to date in 3 rounds

Technorati, the blog search engine, has always been quite secretive about the funding it got over the years leaving people like us, always interested in the money behind the Web 2.0, speculate about the right numbers.  

Things changed the last month when we have read over multiple trusted sources on Web that the company has raised $21M so far in three rounds of financing. Those numbers are believed to be the right ones. Our attempt to dig some more information about what are the different numbers for the 3 rounds yielded some results. Who the Technorati’s investors are, anyway?

Technorati is now known to have raised $4.58M in its series A round of funding. However the particular date and who the investor both remain unknown. In September 2004 the company has already gotten its Series B round of funding, which today is known to be $6.50M from Draper Fisher Jurvetson as the only participant known to date. 2 years later, in June 2006, the company already needed to raise more capital and has closed its Series C round of funding this time raising $10.52M from August Capital, Mobius Venture Capital and the returning investor Draper Fisher Jurvetson. Total funding for Technorati to date seems to be already $21.6M.

The company is most popular with the fact that it was smart enough to be the first one to try and tap into the newly born and rapidly growing trend by 2002 — the blogging and its grown community of bloggers. It then became the first search engine for bloggers and blogs on Web. Today the company is facing huge completion by a number of companies like Google blog search, IceRocket, Feedster, Bloglines, Yahoo! Search Blog, Ask.com’s Blogs, Blogdigger and let’s put it that way – pretty much every other company out there that used to be once a search engine has now added a blog search too. You can here find a basic list of blog search engines.

The rivals were some of the leading Internet companies and it was hard for Technorati not to lose market share. And in December 2006 it happened, for the first time, Google Blogsearch surpassed Technorati in total visits. It then was said that Google Blog Search had passed 0.0025% of total internet traffic, according to Hitwise, versus 0.0023% for Technorati. The reason for the surge seemed pretty straightforward: Google linked their Blog Search product to Google News in October, which had an immediate and significant impact on traffic. Google also added a Blog Search link in the “More” section on the Google main page. It was not enough to take the lead, but a recent Technorati decline in traffic put Google’s Blog Search on top.

Allen Stern from CenterNetworks, by contrast, said by the time that Google blog search is not what Technorati should be compared to anymore. Google integrates blog searches into their main search and so therefore, if anything, the comparison should be between Google search vs. Technorati. The majority of people searching for terms are looking for the summation of all types of results: “standard” web sites, blog, video, image, etc.

Whatever the case is one thing is today for sure, the blog search is already an integrated part of the general search that hundreds of millions of people perform on daily basis on a number of search engines from Google to Ask.com, most of them done on Google, and Technorati cannot anymore claim exclusivity on blog searches, even though it was the first one in the field. That’s why Technorati was forced to evolve too and is now searching for social media too like photos, video and music, posted on online sharing sites, and a tag cloud on the home page shows you the hot topics of the day.

In early 2007 Technorati was rumored to be trying to sell itself. By that time Technorati’s CEO (and founder) Dave Sifry responded “I’ll be very clear about it – Technorati isn’t for sale.” As the practice shows when one claims his company is not for sale it always this company is for sale, but for the right buyers and price. By that time Dave has revealed some more numbers on the site’s usage. Technorati, he said, has had 9 million unique visitors over the last thirty days, up from 3.5 million two months ago. And while he did not disclose the actual page views, he said they increased 53% in March, and 141% over the last three months. Those are quite impressive numbers and are perhaps meant for the eyes/ears of some potential buyers, despite their claims of not selling themselves.

In May 2007, Technorati completely re-designed their home page to respond to their more mainstream users. They now have a single search box instead of using search types like keyword search, tag search and blog directory search. Results are returned in categories like videos, blogs and music.

In few months, in October 2007, Technorati has announced its search for a new CEO was over, with Richard Jalichandra being appointed to the role, some 6 weeks since Technorati’s founding CEO David Sifry stepped down and 5 months since it was publicly confirmed that Technorati was seeking a new CEO.

Several months later, in December 2007, Technorati re-launched again as this time trying to focus, again, on core blogging audience. The recently changed home page, just three months old, is gone. In place of the streaming blog posts is a news aggregator that, like TechMeme and the New York Times’ Blogrunner, uses linking behavior on news sites to determine headline news. In addition to the Front Page news aggregator, Technorati has made two other big additions to the site. The first is a resource page for bloggers called, fittingly, Blogger Central. The second is a new product called Today In Photos.

On the other hand Time magazine has recently named Technorati one of the 25 sites for 2007 they weren’t able to live without.

More recently, Technorati started downsizing staff (9 people have been laid off in August 2007) as the approx. $21 million raised over three rounds started to dry up. We have also discovered some technical details about the current IT infrastructure that backs Technorati up. They have more than 20TB (Terabytes) of core data in their MySQL running on over 20 machines. With replication they add 200TB and 200 machines more. No matter how you look into this, it is for sure adding up a serious burden over the company’s budget.

Well, we have seen a lot of numbers for Technorati’s site usage, from Comscore’s and Hitwise’s to Quantcast’s and Compete’s but how the numbers look like today. This is what we have discovered. According to Quantcast Technorati is presently reaching over 8M unique global visitors per month and only 2.8M of which are Americans. We can take that number for real since Technorati is quantified publisher at Quantcast. We have seen in the past numbers in the 22M/mo range reported for Technorati and if it turns out to be true the present numbers represent a serious decline in Technorati’s site usage.

Nonetheless, we think Technorati worth anything but $100M, at least, as of today.  We know the guys at Technorati won’t like that number and just like Digg (looking for over $300M) they are also thinking their business worth much more and are probably looking for much higher valuation than $100M. Technorati was definitely and unarguable the first one to define the market but is also not anymore the leader in the space. The company has strong brand awareness but everyone knows it is relatively easy (compared to traditional businesses) to make and easy to ruin an online brand. On the other hand Technorati has no strong technology and is facing huge competition and a potential buyer would eventually consider them only because of their traffic and reach. What Technorati needs to convince their future suitors is whether they will preserve and grow their traffic or not. Buyers are interested in what the site would look like in future in terms of traffic and revenues and are not really looking in the past, aside perhaps overseeing trends.

We have no idea what the Technorati’s revenues are as of today but Sifry has said in August 2007 that Technorati is now a revenue stage business – we’ve been hiring up sales folks, as well as building much more detailed roadmaps and product pipelines. Customer-driven needs, pipeline management, operational management, and expense control are now a much bigger part of our life as a company than it was when we were running on a couple of servers in my basement. 

Or in the case with Technorati we talk for valuation without revenue? Great examples from the past of high-profile acquisitions of companies with little to no revenues are both Hotmail (1998) and Skype, the second one managed to drive multi-billion dollar valuation at little to no revenues in its deal with eBay in 2005. Could the Technorati’s case be the same? Don’t forget here the YouTube’s deal.

A proven monetization model over Internet is segmentation. Technorati, especially, needs to ask itself the question: What is my segmentation strategy, around which I can offer my advertisers a compelling marketing vehicle? Technorati has clearly lost its momentum and peak traffic times and is today more declining rather than expanding. Today, Yahoo is a portfolio of haphazardly organized content and services which don’t clearly align with segments desired by advertisers. Neither, for that matter, is Google, although it managed to drive huge sales off its AdWords/AdSense strategy. Technorati, for example, is also having a pretty much generic traffic, which makes the effective monetization a hard task for the company.

We can draw a basic conclusion here. Before everything, Technorati has been a symbolic web site for the blogging world ever since and based on its present traffic of more than 8M unique visitors per month could be a great add on to the Web portfolio on each company from the big 6 Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, eBay, AOL and Amazon. We would exclude Google from the list. Other potential acquirers would include media companies like New York Times, which once btw was reported to be interested in Digg, and since there are synergies between, it is not completely out of sense. Fox Interactive, IAC (potentially merging with their Bloglines), among others could also be interested in potentially having Technorati part of their web properties. We would take the chance to predict that a potential sale of Technorati this year would command a price in the $100 / $150M range. The given price tag is only valid if Technorati preserves its current traffic of 8/10M unique visitors per month.

More about Technorati

Technorati is currently tracking 112.8 million blogs and over 250 million pieces of tagged social media.

Technorati is the recognized authority on what’s happening on the World Live Web, right now. The Live Web is the dynamic and always-updating portion of the Web. We search, surface, and organize blogs and the other forms of independent, user-generated content (photos, videos, voting, etc.) increasingly referred to as “citizen media.”

But it all started with blogs. A blog, or weblog, is a regularly updated journal published on the web. Some blogs are intended for a small audience; others vie for readership with national newspapers. Blogs are influential, personal, or both, and they reflect as many topics and opinions as there are people writing them.

Blogs are powerful because they allow millions of people to easily publish and share their ideas, and millions more to read and respond. They engage the writer and reader in an open conversation, and are shifting the Internet paradigm as we know it.

On the World Live Web, bloggers frequently link to and comment on other blogs, creating the type of immediate connection one would have in a conversation. Technorati tracks these links, and thus the relative relevance of blogs, photos, videos etc. We rapidly index tens of thousands of updates every hour, and so we monitor these live communities and the conversations they foster.

The World Live Web is incredibly active, and according to Technorati data, there are over 175,000 new blogs (that’s just blogs) every day. Bloggers update their blogs regularly to the tune of over 1.6 million posts per day, or over 18 updates a second.

Technorati. Who’s saying what. Right now

Technorati Management Team

Richard Jalichandra
President & Chief Executive Officer
Richard is a veteran Internet executive whose media experience includes leadership roles across the media spectrum: as a client, at an agency, as a publisher, and with an advertising network. Most recently, he worked as an M&A and strategy consultant for several Internet properties and investment firms, and also served as SVP of Corporate Development for Exponential Interactive, Tribal Fusion’s parent company. Previously, he was SVP of Business Development for Fox Interactive Media, and was the Vice President of Business & Corporate Development at IGN Entertainment (acquired by Fox Interactive), where he led the company’s M&A, business development and international activities. Before joining IGN, Richard led national accounts sales at Lycos, was Vice President of Business Development at Neopost Online, served as Senior Vice President/Managing Director of Answerthink, and founded K23 Creative Services in Singapore. His early career included management roles for Ford, IBM and Siemens, and he has a B.S. in business administration from the University of Southern California and an M.B.A. from the University of Washington.

Dorion Carroll
Vice President of Engineering
Dorion Carroll is a 20-year veteran engineer with deep experience developing product and services in areas including search, email processing, e-commerce, personalization, ad targeting, CRM, data warehousing, order management and financial services. Prior to joining Technorati, Dorion was director of engineering at Postini, Vice President of Engineering and General Manager of Neomeo (which was acquired by Postini), Technologist-in-Residence at Softbank Venture Capital, and Senior Director of Engineering at Excite@Home, among other roles. Dorion has a Bachelor of Arts from Pitzer College, with four years Mathematics / Computer Science at Harvey Mudd College, in Claremont, California.

Peter Hirshberg
Chairman of the Executive Committee & CMO, Technorati Inc.
Peter Hirshberg is an entrepreneur and marketing innovator who has led emerging media and technology companies at the center of disruptive change for more than 20 years. As Chairman & Chief Marketing Officer of Technorati, he oversees the company’s sales, marketing and business development activities as well as its partnerships with the media, entertainment and marketing industries. Previously Hirshberg served as president and CEO of Gloss.com, the online prestige beauty business co-owned by Estee Lauder Companies, Chanel and Clarins; he was Chairman of Interpacket Networks, the global leader in Internet-by-satellite (sold to American Tower in 2000), and was founder and CEO of Elemental Software (sold to Macromedia in 1999). Peter was at Apple Computer for nine years where he held a number of leadership positions, including Director of Enterprise Markets. He is a Trustee of The Computer History Museum and a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute. Peter earned his bachelor’s degree at Dartmouth College and his MBA at Wharton.

Joi Ito
Vice President of International Business and Mobile Devices, Technorati Inc.
Joichi Ito is in charge of international and mobility development for Technorati. He is founder and CEO of Neoteny, a venture capital firm which is the lead investor in Six Apart, and is on the board of Creative Commons. He has created numerous Internet companies including PSINet Japan, Digital Garage, and Infoseek Japan. In 1997, Time Magazine ranked him as a member of the CyberElite. In 2000 he was ranked among the “50 Stars of Asia” by Business Week and commended by the Japanese Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications for supporting the advancement of IT. In 2001 the World Economic Forum chose him as one of the 100 “Global Leaders of Tomorrow” for 2002. He was appointed as a member of Howard Dean’s Net Advisory Net during the Dean campaign.

Teresa Malo
Chief Financial Officer
Teresa is a CPA with over 17 years experience in finance and operations, and she’s responsible for Technorati’s financial, legal, and HR organizations. She has worked with technology startup companies such as Calico Commerce and Zambeel, as well as with established companies, including Arbor Software and Silicon Graphics. Teresa started her career as an accountant with Pannell, Kerr, Forster, a national public accounting firm. She holds Bachelor’s degrees in Accounting and Computer Information systems from Arizona State University and the University of Washington.

Technorati Board of Directors

David L. Sifry
Founder & Chairman of the Board, Technorati, Inc.
David Sifry is a serial entrepreneur with over 20 years of software development and industry experience. Before founding Technorati, Dave was cofounder and CTO of Sputnik, a Wi-Fi gateway company, and previously, he was cofounder of Linuxcare, where he served as CTO and VP of Engineering. Dave also served as a founding member of the board of Linux International and on the technical advisory board of the National Cybercrime Training Partnership for law enforcement. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins University. Dave can often be found speaking on panels and giving lectures on a variety of technology issues, ranging from wireless spectrum policy and Wi-Fi, to Weblogs and Open Source software.

Peter Hirshberg
Chairman of the Executive Committee & CMO, Technorati Inc.

Joi Ito
Vice President of International Business and Mobile Devices, Technorati, Inc.

Ryan McIntyre
Principal, Mobius Venture Capital
Ryan McIntyre joined Mobius Venture Capital in 2000 as an Associate Partner and was promoted to Principal in 2001. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. McIntyre co-founded Excite in 1993, which went public in 1996 and later became Excite@Home (Nasdaq:ATHM) following the merger of Excite and @Home in 1999. There he held the role of Principal Engineer and was a key technological contributor to the company’s search engine and content management systems, and also led the design and implementation of Excite’s community and commerce platforms. Mr. McIntyre holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Symbolic Systems with a concentration in Artificial Intelligence from Stanford University. While at Stanford, he published research on genetic algorithms in the The First IEEE Conference on Evolutionary Computation, and studied at Stanford’s overseas campus in Berlin, Germany.

Sanford R. Robertson
Principal, Francisco Partners
Sanford R. Robertson is a principal of Francisco Partners, one of the world’s largest technology buyout funds. With a focus on structured investments in technology and technology-related businesses, Francisco Partners is a pioneer in the private equity category of Technology Buyouts. Prior to founding Francisco Partners, Mr. Robertson was the founder and chairman of Robertson, Stephens & Co., a leading technology investment bank formed in 1978, and sold to BankBoston in 1998. Mr. Robertson was also the founder of Robertson, Colman, Siebel & Weisel, later renamed Montgomery Securities, another prominent technology investment bank. He has had significant financing involvement in more than 500 growth technology companies throughout his career, including 3Com Corporation (Nasdaq: COMS), America Online, Inc., Applied Materials, Inc. (Nasdaq: AMAT), Ascend Communications Inc., Dell Computer Corporation (Nasdaq: DELL), E*Trade Securities, Inc. (Nasdaq: ETFC), Siebel Systems, Inc. and Sun Microsystems, Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW). Mr. Robertson received both a B.A. and an M.B.A. with Distinction from the University of Michigan.

Andreas Stavropoulous
Managing Director, Draper Fisher Jurvetson
Mr. Stavropoulos focuses primarily on software investments (enterprise infrastructure and consumer/Internet), wireless networking, and technology-enabled services. Prior to joining DFJ, Mr. Stavropoulos was with McKinsey & Company’s San Francisco office, where he worked with senior management teams of corporate clients with an emphasis on information technology. Prior to McKinsey, he was a Senior Analyst at Cornerstone Research, a financial and economic consulting firm that helps resolve complex issues arising in high-profile business litigation. Mr. Stavropoulos holds Bachelor’s and Masters degrees in computer science from Harvard University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he was a Baker Scholar and graduated first in his class.

More

http://technorati.com/
http://technorati.com/weblog/
http://www.sifry.com/alerts/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/04/exclusive-technorati-relaunches-to-focus-on-core-blogging-audience/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/technorati
http://www.niallkennedy.com/blog/2006/12/google-blog-search-technorati-market-share.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/11/05/technorati-drops-content-older-than-6-months-old/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/12/28/google-v-technorati-and-hitwise-v-comscore/
http://www.centernetworks.com/why-comparing-technorati-to-google-blog-search-is-not-valid
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Blog_search_engines
http://www.sifry.com/alerts/archives/000492.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/04/03/technoratis-mating-dance/
http://www.sifry.com/alerts/archives/000492.html
http://atomicbomb.typepad.com/
http://www.centernetworks.com/web-apps-customer-service-face-off#technorati
http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1638266_1638253_1638241,00.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/01/new-technorati-ceo-has-a-challenge-ahead/
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=prnw.20071001.AQM180&show_article=1&lsn=1
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/08/16/watching-technorati-and-podtech-fall-apart/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/09/30/techmeme-leaderboard-to-launch-attacking-technoratis-last-stronghold/
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/0/2/9a2 (Richard Jalichandra)
http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-thu_tagsjun14,0,3843733.story?coll=chi-business-hed
http://valleywag.com/tech/rumormonger/technoratis-search-247549.php
http://markevanstech.com/2007/04/03/talking-up-technorati/
http://www.guardian.co.uk/weekend/story/0,,1937507,00.html
http://www.time.com/time/globalbusiness/article/0,9171,1565540,00.html
http://sramanamitra.com/2006/02/23/technorati-valuation-without-revenue/
http://www.iac.com/businesses.html
http://mysqluc.com/presentations/mysql06/carroll_dorion.ppt

Can Google lead amid its ever growing infrastructure and computation expenditures?

While reading our daily dose of news, stories and events from the web sector we came across an interesting fact worth reading and mentioning further. Google seems to be processing huge amounts of data per day in their daily routines – 20 Petabytes per day (20,000 Terabytes, 20M GBs).

The average MapReduce job is said to run across a $1 million hardware cluster, not including bandwidth fees, datacenter costs, or staffing. The January 2008 MapReduce paper provides new insights into Google’s hardware and software crunching processing tens of petabytes of data per day.

In September 2007, for example, the white paper document shows Googlers have made 2217 MapReduce jobs crunching approximately 11,000 machine years in a single month. Breaking these numbers further down shows that 11,081 machine years / (2217 job.s x 395 sec = .0278 years) implies 399,000 machines. Since this is believed to double about every 6 months one may guess Google are up to about 600,000 machines by now.

Google converted its search indexing systems to the MapReduce system in 2003, and currently processes over 20 terabytes of raw web data.

Google is known to run on hundreds of thousands of servers – by one estimate, in excess of 450,000 (data as of 2006, today more likely 600,000) – racked up in thousands of clusters in dozens of data centers around the world. It has data centers in Dublin, Ireland; in Virginia; and in California, where it just acquired the million-square-foot headquarters it had been leasing. It recently opened a new center in Atlanta, and is currently building two football-field-sized centers in The Dalles, Ore.

Microsoft, by contrast, made about a $1.5 billion capital investment in server and data structure infrastructure in 2006. Google is known to have spent at least as much to maintain its lead, following a $838 million investment in 2005. We estimate 2008’s Google IT expenditures to be in the $2B range. 

Google buys, rather than leases, computer equipment for maximum control over its infrastructure. Google chief executive officer Eric Schmidt defended that strategy once in a call conference with financial analysts. “We believe we get tremendous competitive advantage by essentially building our own infrastructures,” he said.

In general, Google has a split personality when it comes to questions about its back-end systems. To the media, its answer is, “Sorry, we don’t talk about our infrastructure.” Yet, Google engineers crack the door open wider when addressing computer science audiences, such as rooms full of graduate students whom it is interested in recruiting.

Among other things, Google has developed the capability to rapidly deploy prefabricated data centers anywhere in the world by packing them into standard 20- or 40-foot shipping containers.

Interesting fact from the Google’s history can be found back in 2003 when, in a paper, Google noted that power requirements of a densely packed server rack could range from 400 to 700 watts per square foot, yet most commercial data centers could support no more than 150 watts per square foot. In response, Google was investigating more power-efficient hardware, and reportedly switched from Intel to AMD processors for this reason. Google has not confirmed the choice of AMD, which was reported two years later by Morgan Stanley analyst Mark Edelstone.

Basically Google is mainly relying on its own internally developed software for data and network management and has a reputation for being skeptical of “not invented here” technologies, so relatively few vendors can claim it as a customer.

Google is being rumored that they would eventually start to build their own servers, storage systems, Internet switches and perhaps, sometime in the future, even optical transport systems.

Other rumors claim Google to be a big buyer of dark fiber to connect its data centers, which helps explain why the company spent nearly $3.8 billion over the past seven quarters on capital expenditures.

That’s tremendous amount of information and IT operations and based on our basic calculations, as far as we are correct in our human computation, it turns out that Google is facing IT expenditures in the $2B range per year, including for their data centers and the people.

Even though Google’s completive advantage is not only because of its infrastructure but also employees (Google has what is arguable the brightest group of people ever assembled for a publicly held company), proprietary software, global brand awareness, huge market capitalization and revenues of more than $10B per year, we think $2B burn rate per year on computing needs alone is “walking on thin ice” strategy at breakneck pace. Companies like Guill, who are claiming to have invented a technology 10 times cheaper than Google’s in terms of indexing and storing the information, Powerset working in hadoop/hbase environment, IBM, Microsoft and Yahoo! could potentially take an advantage over Google as Web grows further, so the Google’s computing expenses too.

Btw, we have also found on Web that Google processes its data on a standard machine cluster node consisting two 2 GHz Intel Xeon processors with Hyper-Threading enabled, 4 GB of memory, two 160 GB IDE hard drives and a gigabit Ethernet link.

Yahoo! and Powerset are known to use Hadoop while Microsoft’s equivalent is called Dryad. Dryad and Hadoop are the competing equivalent to Google’s GFS, MapReduce and the BigTable.

More about MapReduce

MapReduce is a programming model and an associated implementation for processing and generating large data sets. Users specify a map function that processes a key/value pair to generate a set of intermediate key/value pairs, and a reduce function that merges all intermediate values associated with the same intermediate key.

Programs written in this functional style are automatically parallelized and executed on a large cluster of commodity machines. The run-time system takes care of the details of partitioning the input data, scheduling the program’s execution across a set of machines, handling machine failures, and managing the required inter-machine communication. This allows programmers without any experience with parallel and distributed systems to easily utilize the resources of a large distributed system.

Google’s implementation of MapReduce runs on a large cluster of commodity machines and is highly scalable: a typical MapReduce computation processes many terabytes of data on thousands of machines. Programmers find the system easy to use: hundreds of MapReduce programs have been implemented and upwards of one thousand MapReduce jobs are executed on Google’s clusters every day.

More about Hadoop

Hadoop is an interesting software platform that lets one easily write and run applications that process vast amounts of data. Here’s what makes Hadoop especially useful:

Scalable: Hadoop can reliably store and process petabytes.

Economical: It distributes the data and processing across clusters of commonly available computers. These clusters can number into the thousands of nodes.

Efficient: By distributing the data, Hadoop can process it in parallel on the nodes where the data is located. This makes it extremely rapid.

Reliable: Hadoop automatically maintains multiple copies of data and automatically redeploys computing tasks based on failures.

Hadoop implements MapReduce, using the Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS). MapReduce divides applications into many small blocks of work. HDFS creates multiple replicas of data blocks for reliability, placing them on compute nodes around the cluster. MapReduce can then process the data where it is located. Hadoop has been demonstrated on clusters with 2000 nodes. The current design target is 10,000 node clusters. Hadoop is a Lucene sub-project that contains the distributed computing platform that was formerly a part of Nutch.

More about Dryad

Dryad is an infrastructure which allows a programmer to use the resources of a computer cluster or a data center for running data parallel programs. A Dryad programmer can use thousands of machines, each of them with multiple processors or cores, without knowing anything about concurrent programming.

The Structure of Dryad Jobs
 
A Dryad programmer writes several sequential programs and connects them using one-way channels. The computation is structured as a directed graph: programs are graph vertices, while the channels are graph edges. A Dryad job is a graph generator which can synthesize any directed acyclic graph. These graphs can even change during execution, in response to important events in the computation.

Dryad is quite expressive. It completely subsumes other computation frameworks, such as Google’s map-reduce, or the relational algebra. Moreover, Dryad handles job creation and management, resource management, job monitoring and visualization, fault tolerance, re-execution, scheduling, and accounting.

More

http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1327452.1327492
http://www.niallkennedy.com/blog/2008/01/google-mapreduce-stats.html
http://labs.google.com/papers/mapreduce.html
http://research.google.com/people/jeff/
http://research.google.com/people/sanjay/
http://research.microsoft.com/research/sv/dryad/
http://lucene.apache.org/hadoop/
http://labs.google.com/papers/gfs.html
http://labs.google.com/papers/bigtable.html
http://research.microsoft.com/research/sv/dryad/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/09/google-processing-20000-terabytes-a-day-and-growing/
http://feedblog.org/2008/01/06/mapreduce-simplified-data-processing-on-large-clusters/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MapReduce#Uses
http://open.blogs.nytimes.com/tag/hadoop/
http://www.baselinemag.com/print_article2/0,1217,a=182560,00.asp
http://www.stanford.edu/services/websearch/Google/
http://gigaom.com/2007/12/04/google-infrastructure/
http://gigaom.com/2005/09/19/google-asks-for-googlenet-bids/

Online storage sector is hot, yet another player is entering the game

Just it was a couple of days ago when we reported and analyzed the two major acquisitions within the online storage sector IBM announced it has acquired XIV, an Israeli company for what is believed to be $350M and some months ago EMC Corporation has snatched up Mozy for $76M. Today we have dug up yet another deal from the same industry.

Intronis Technologies, the parent company of eSureIt’s online storage and backup services, has raised $5 million in Series A round of funding. eSureIt claims to have about 5,000 customers. The funding comes from OpenView Venture Partners, a small Boston based investment fund. 

The sector is under no doubt overcrowded and there are many companies offering similar solutions and services yet the business has proved lucrative with recently some major exit hitting the sector. While eSuireIT has been launched in 2003, we think the real entrance for the company into the online storage and back up market is today after getting the crucial funding.

More about eSureIT

The founders of Intronis have more than 30 years of combined IT consulting, computer system and software design and network installation for small and medium sized businesses and individuals. In the late 1990’s, the founders, after talking with dozens of their clients and other IT professionals came to the realization that most small businesses were not backing up their data at all. The few companies that did backup, often did not properly rotate backup tapes, did not verify that backups were successful, and almost always stored their backup storage devices onsite, often right on top of their computers. This recognition led to the creation of Intronis Technologies and after three years of research and development, software design and testing, the launch of the eSureIT online backup service in 2003.

Essentially eSureIT is an online backup service that allows you to backup your valuable computer data over the Internet. eSureIT automates the process of backing up your data offsite.  Backups begin automatically and your data is sent to and stored in two redundant storage facilities located hundreds of miles apart.  Your data is encrypted, and always remains encrypted using a unique 256 bit encryption key that only you have.  Moreover, with this data backup solution, you can restore your files as often as you need to and at any time day or night, in as easy as a few clicks of your mouse. eSureIT has pricing plans starting at $9.95 for home users and $24.95 for businesses.  They are also offering a free 30-day software trial with no obligation whatsoever.

More about OpenView Venture Partners

OpenView is an expansion stage venture capital fund, with a focus on high-growth software, internet, and technology-enabled companies. Much of the team’s success has been driven by its active role in providing its portfolio companies with strategic value-add services and highly practical operating expertise. OpenView Venture Partners is based in Boston, MA, and invests globally. The current OpenView fund encompasses $100M in committed capital from leading institutional and private investors worldwide, as well as from the members of the OpenView team.

More

http://www.esureit.com/
http://www.intronis.com/
http://mashable.com/2007/10/10/esureit-funding/
http://www.thealarmclock.com/mt/archives/2007/10/online_backups_1.html
http://www.openviewpartners.com/
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/01/03/two-major-acquisition-deals-within-the-online-storage-space/

Some of the web’s biggest acquisition deals during 2007

As the end of the year approaches us we would like to briefly sum up some of the web’s biggest acquisition deals for the 2007, as we know them. 

All deals will logically be ranked by their sizes and less weight will be put on the time the deal happened through out the year. Deals from all IT industry sectors are considered and put in the list, from Web and Internet to the Mobile industry as well. The size’s criterion for a deal to make the list is to be arguably no less than $100M unless the deal is symbolic in one way or another or either of the companies involved was popular enough at the time the deal took place. Otherwise we think all deals are important, at least for its founders and investors.

Under no doubt the year we will remember with the number of high-profile advertising company acquisitions for large-scale companies like DoubleClick, aQuantive, RightMedia, 24/7 Real Media, among others. Putting all acquisition deals aside, one particular funding deal deserves to be mentioned too Facebook raised $240 million from Microsoft in return of just 1.6% of its equity. The Honk Kong Billionaire Li Ka-shing later joined the club of high-caliber investors in Facebook by putting down $60M for unknown equity position.  

Other remarkable funding deals include: Alibaba.com raised $1.3 Billion from its IPO; Kayak raised $196 Million; Demand Media took $100 Million in Series C; Zillow totaled $87 Million in venture capital funding; Joost announced $45 million funding from Sequoia, Index, CBS & Viacom, among others. 

Yet another noteworthy deal is the Automattic (wordpress.org) turning down a $200 Million Acquisition Offer. 

And the 2007 Web 2.0 Money winner is… Navteq for its deal with Nokia for $8B. Apparently Microsoft has this year lost the crown of being named the deepest pocket buyer.

Nokia Buys Navteq For $8 Billion, Bets Big On Location-Based Services

Nokia (NOK), the Finnish mobile phone giant with nearly a third of the global handset market, has decided to bet big on location based services (LBS), and is buying Chicago-based digital map company NAVTEQ (NVT) for $8.1 billion. That works out to about $78 a share. This is one of Nokia’s largest purchases to date — the Finnish mobile giant has a mixed track record when it comes to acquisitions. This is also the second megabillion dollar buyout in the maps (LBS) space.

SAP Germany makes its biggest deal ever – acquires Business Objects for 4.8B EURO (around ~$6.8 billion)

SAP, the world’s largest maker of business software, has agreed to acquire Business Objects SA for €4.8 billion euros, which was around ~$6.8 billion at the time the acquisition deal was announced. The deal is amongst the largest for 2007 alongside with Oracle’s Hyperion deal for over $3.3B and the Nokia’s Navteq for over $8B. [more]

Microsoft to buy Web ad firm aQuantive for $6 Billion

Microsoft Corp. acquired aQuantive Inc. for about $6 billion, or $66.50 a share, an 85 percent premium to the online advertising company’s closing price at the time the deal was publicly announced. Shares of aQuantive shot to $63.95 in pre-opening trade, following news of the deal. The all-cash deal tops a dramatic consolidation spree across the online advertising market sparked when Google Inc. agreed to buy DoubleClick for $3.1 billion.

Oracle to buy Hyperion in $3.3 Billion cash deal

Oracle Corp. has acquired business intelligence software vendor Hyperion Solutions Corp. for $3.3 billion in cash. Oracle has agreed to pay $52 per share for Hyperion, or about $3.3 billion, a premium of 21% over Hyperion’s closing share price at the time of the deal. Oracle said it will combine Hyperion’s software with its own business intelligence (BI) and analytics tools to offer customers a broad range of performance management capabilities, including planning, budgeting and operational analytics.

Cisco Buys WebEx for $3.2 Billion

Cisco has agreed to acquire WebEx for $3.2 billion in cash. In 2006, WebEx generated nearly $50 million in profit on $380 million in revenue. They have $300 million or so in cash on hand, so the net deal value is $2.9 billion.

DoubleClick Acquired by Google For $3.1 Billion In Cash

Google reached an agreement to acquire DoubleClick, the online advertising company, from two private equity firms for $3.1 billion in cash, the companies announced, an amount that was almost double the $1.65 billion in stock that Google paid for YouTube late last year. In the last month for this year the US Federal Trade Commission has granted its approval for Google to purchase DoubleClick.

TomTom Bought Tele Atlas for $2.5 Billion

It took $2.5 Billion dollars for TomTom to buy mapping software company TeleAtlas, this will set the stage for TomTom to be big rival of Garmin across Atlantic. Tele Atlas went public in 2000 on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, and last year, it bought another mapping firm, New Hampshire-based GDT.

Naspers acquires yet another European company – Tradus for roughly $1.8 Billion

Simply put a fallen dot com star with eBay ambitious, once worth more than 2B British pound (around $4B) and collapsed down to £62M at the end of 2000 is now being basically said rescued by the South African media company Naspers that is spending money at breakneck pace. The offered price is £946M (more than $1.8B) based on just £60M annual revenues. [more]

HP acquired Opsware For $1.6 Billion

HP has acquired IT Automation company Opsware for $1.6 billion. Whilst any acquisition of this size is interesting in itself, the back story to Opsware is even more so; Opsware was originally LoudCloud, a Web 1.0 company that took $350 million in funding during the Web 1.0 boom.

AOL acquired TradeDoubler for $900 Million

AOL has acquired Sweden-based TradeDoubler, a performance marketing company, for €695 million in cash, which was about US$900 million at the time the deal took place.

Microsoft acquired Tellme Networks for reportedly $800 Million

Microsoft Corp. has announced it will acquire Tellme Networks, Inc., a leading provider of voice services for everyday life, including nationwide directory assistance, enterprise customer service and voice-enabled mobile search. Although the price remains undisclosed, it is estimated to be upwards of $800 million.

Disney acquires Club Penguin for up to $700 Million

Club Penguin, a social network/virtual world that has been on the market for some time, was acquired by The Walt Disney Company. An earlier deal with Sony fell apart over the Club Penguin’s policy of donating a substantial portion of profits to charity. The company, which launched in October 2005, has 700,000 current paid subscribers and 12 million activated users, primarily in the U.S. and Canada.The WSJ says the purchase price is $350 million in cash. Disney could pay up to another $350 million if certain performance targets are reached over the next couple of years, until 2009.

Yahoo acquired RightMedia for $680 Million in cash and stock

Yahoo has acquired the 80% of advertising network RightMedia that it doesn’t already own for $680 million in cash and Yahoo stock. Yahoo previously bought 20% of the company in a $45 million Series B round of funding announced in October 2006. The company has raised over $50 million to date.

WPP Acquires 24/7 Real Media for $649 Million

Online advertising services firm 24/7 Real Media was acquired by the WPP group for $649 million. The old time internet advertising firm had its origins serving ads for Yahoo! and Netscape in 1994 and was formerly founded the following year as Real Media. After numerous acquisitions it took its current name and grew to have 20 offices in 12 countries, serving over 200 billion advertising impressions every month.

Google bought the web security company Postini for $625M

Google has acquired e-mail security company Postini for $625 million, a move intended to attract more large businesses to Google Apps. More than 1,000 small businesses and universities currently use Google Apps, but ‘there has been a significant amount of interest from large businesses,’ Dave Girouard, vice president and general manager of Google Enterprise, said in a Monday teleconference.

EchoStar Acquires Sling Media for $380 Million

EchoStar Communications Corporation, the parent company for DISH Network, has announced its agreement to acquire Sling Media, creator of the Sling suite, which lets you do things like control your television shows at any time, from their computers or mobile phones, or record and watch TV on your PC or Windows-based mobile phone. The acquisition is for $380 million.

ValueClick acquired comparison shopping operator MeziMedia for up to $352 Million

ValueClick has acquired MeziMedia for up to $352 million, in a deal consisting of $100 million in upfront in cash, with an additional sum of up to $252 million to be paid depending on MeziMedia’s revenue and earnings performance through to 2009.

Yahoo Acquires Zimbra For $350 Million in Cash

Yahoo has acquired the open source online/offline office suite Zimbra. The price: $350 million, in cash, confirmed. Zimbra gained wide exposure at the 2005 Web 2.0 Conference. Recently they has also launched an offline functionality.

Business.com Sells for $350 Million

Business.com has closed another chapter in its long journey from a $7.5 million domain name bought on a hope and a prayer, selling to RH Donnelley for $350 million (WSJ reporting up to $360 million). RH Donnelley beat out Dow Jones and the New York Times during the bidding.

AOL acquired online advertising company Quigo for $350 Million

AOL announced plans to buy Quigo and its services for matching ads to the content of Web pages. The acquisition follows AOL’s September purchase of Tacoda, a leader in behavioral-targeting technology, and comes as AOL tries to boost its online advertising revenue to offset declines in Internet access subscriptions.

eBay bought StubHub For $310 Million

eBay has acquired the San Francisco-based StubHub for $285 million plus the cash on StubHub’s books, which is about $25 million.

Yahoo! Agreed to acquire BlueLithium for approximately $300 Million in cash

Yahoo! Inc. has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire BlueLithium, one of the largest and fastest growing online global ad networks that offers an array of direct response products and capabilities for advertisers and publishers. Under the terms of the agreement, Yahoo! will acquire BlueLithium for approximately $300 million in cash.

CBS to buy social network Last.fm for $280 Million

CBS is known to have paid $280 million for the Last.fm site, which caters to music fans. CBS Corp bought the popular social networking website organized around musical tastes for $280 million, combining a traditional broadcast giant with an early leader in online radio. Last.fm, claims more than 15 million monthly users, including more than 4 million in the U.S.

AOL Acquired Tacoda, a behavior targeting advertising company for reportedly $275 Million

AOL has announced the acquisition of New York-based Tacoda earlier this year, a behavior targeting advertising company that was founded in 2001. The deal size, which we haven’t had confirmed, is likely far smaller than Microsoft’s $6 billion for aQuantive , Yahoo’s $680 million for RightMedia , or Google’s $3.1 billion for DoubleClick. The price might be low enough that it isn’t being disclosed at all.Jack Myers Media Business Report has confirmed the $275 million price tag

MySpace to acquire Photobucket For $250 Million

MySpace has acquired Photobucket for $250 million in cash. There is also an earn-out for up to an additional $50 million. Oddly enough MySapce has dropped Photobucket off its social networking platform. The dispute that led to the Photobucket videos being blocked on MySpace letter also led to acquisition discussions, and the block was removed. They have hired Lehman Brothers to help sell the company. They were looking for $300 million or more, but may have had few bidders other than MySpace.

Hitwise Acquired by Experian for $240M

Hitwise, the company that performs analysis of log files from 25 million worldwide ISP accounts to provide relative market share graphs for web properties, has been acquired by Experian for $240 million.

$200+ Million for Fandango

Comcast paid $200 million or perhaps a bit more. Fandango revenue is said to be in the $50m/year range, split roughly evenly between ticket sales and advertising. Wachovia Securities analyst Jeff Wlodarczak estimated the multiple-system operator paid $200 million for Fandango, whose backers include seven of the 10 largest U.S. movie exhibitors.

Intuit Acquires Homestead for $170 Million

Small business website creation service Homestead, started out in the web 1.0 era, announced tonight that it has been acquired by Intuit for $170m. In addition to Intuit’s personal and small business accounting software, and the company’s partnership with Google to integrate services like Maps listing and AdSense buys, Intuit customers will now presumably be able to put up websites quickly and easily with Homestead. [more]

Naspers Acquired Polish based IM Company Gadu Gadu (chit-chat) for reportedly $155 Million

South Africa’s biggest media group Naspers Ltd offered to buy all outstanding shares in Polish Internet firm Gadu Gadu S.A. ( GADU.WA ), a Polish IM service, for 23.50 zlotys ($8.77) per share. The current majority shareholder of Gadu Gadu has agreed to tender its 55% shareholding in the public tender offer. The price is $155M. [more

Studivz, a Germany Facebook clone, went for $132 Million

German Facebook clone Studivz has been sold to one of its investors, Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH, a German publishing group, for €100 million (about $132 million). Other investors of Studivz include the Samwer brothers, founders of ringtone company Jamba (sold for €270M) and Alando (sold to eBay for €43M in 1999).

Feedburner goes to Google for $100 Million

Feedburner was acquired by Google for around $100 million. The deal is all cash and mostly upfront, according to sources, although the founders will be locked in for a couple of years.

Answers.com has purchased Dictionary.com for reportedly $100 Million

Question and answer reference site Answers.com has acquired Dictionary.com’s parent company, Lexico Publishing, for $100 million in cash. Lexico can really serve all your lexical needs because it also owns Thesaurus.com and Reference.com.

Yahoo Acquires Rivals for $100 Million

Yahoo has acquired college sports site Rivals.com, reported the Associated Press in a story earlier this year. The price is not being disclosed, although the rumor is that the deal was closed for around $100 million. Rumors of talks first surfaced in April 2007.

UGO Acquired By Hearst for reportedly $100 Million

Hearst has acquired New-York based UGO. Forbes reported the price should be around $100 million. UGO is a popular new media site that was founded in 1997 and, according to Forbes, is generating around $30 million/year in revenue. UGO media is yet another web 1.0 veteran and survivor.

Fotolog Acquired by Hi Media, French Ad Network for $90 Million
 
New York-based Fotolog been acquired by Hi Media, a Paris-based interactive media company for roughly $90 million – a combination of cash and stock, according to well-placed sources. 

Online Backup Startup Mozy Acquired By EMC For $76 Million

Online storage startup Mozy, headquartered in Utah, has been acquired by EMC Corporation, a public storage company with a nearly $40 billion market cap. EMC paid $76 million for the company, according to two sources close to the deal.

eBay Acquiring StumbleUpon for $75 Million

The startup StumbleUpon has been rumored to be in acquisition discussions since at least last November (2006). The small company had reportedly talks with Google, AOL and eBay as potential suitors. At the end of the day the start-up got acquired by eBay. The price was $75 million, which is symbolic with the fact the site had only 1.5m unique visitors per month at the time the deal took place. The company was rumored to be cash-positive.

General Atlantic Has Acquired Domain Name Pioneer Network Solutions

General Atlantic has acquired Network Solutions from Najafi Companies. Network Solutions was founded decades ago in 1973 and had a monopoly on domain name registration for years which led Verisign to pay billions to buy it. Najafi Companies purchased NS from VeriSign in November 2003 for just $100M. No financial terms were disclosed for the deal and no price tag is publicly available, although we believe it is way over $100M, but NS made our list due to its mythical role for the Internet’s development. That deal is symbolic for the Internet. 

MSNBC made its first acquisition in its 11-year history, acquired Newsvine

In a recent deal the citizen journalism startup Newsvine has been acquired by MSNBC, the Microsoft/NBC joint venture, for an undisclosed sum. Newsvine will continue operating independently, just as it has been since launching in March of 2006. The acquired company also indicated there would be little change in the features of the site.  We think the price tag for the Newsvine is anywhere in the $50/$75M range, but this is not confirmed. [more]

Google to buy Adscape for $23 Million

After some rumors of a deal earlier this year, Google has expanded its advertising reach by moving into video game advertising with their $23 million acquisition of Adscape.

Disney buys Chinese mobile content provider Enorbus for around $20 Million

Disney has bought Chinese mobile gaming company Enorbus , for around $20 million, MocoNews.net has learned. Financial backers in the company included Carlyle and Qualcomm Ventures.

BBC Worldwide Acquires Lonely Planet

BBC Worldwide, the international arm of BBC, has acquired Lonely Planet, the Australia-based travel information group. The amount of the deal was not disclosed, but Lonely Planet founders Tony and Maureen Wheeler get to keep a 25% share in the company. We truly believe this deal is in the $100M range, but since no confirmation was found on Web and therefore we cannot put a price tag for the sake of the list. Even though a global brand their site is getting just 4M unique visitors per month.

AOL Acquires ADTECH AG

AOL has acquired a controlling interest in ADTECH AG, a leading international online ad-serving company based in Frankfurt, Germany. The acquisition provides AOL with an advanced ad-serving platform that includes an array of ad management and delivery applications enabling website publishers to manage traffic and report on their online advertising campaigns. No details about the acquisition price were found on Web but we would suspect a large-scale deal and rank it very high. 

Amazon Acquires dpreview.com

Amazon have announced the acquisition of the digital camera information and review site dpreview.com. UK based dpreview.com was founded in 1998 by Phil Askey as a site that publishes “unbiased reviews and original content regarding the latest in digital cameras. Dpreview.com has in excess of 7 million unique viewers monthly. The value of the deal was not disclosed but we believe the purchase price should be in the $100M range (not confirmed).

HP Acquired Tabblo

HP announced the acquisition of Cambridge, Massachusetts based Photo printing site Tabblo this morning. The price was not disclosed.

eBay Gets Stake in Turkish Auction Market

eBay announced yesterday that it has acquired a minority stake in Turkish-based GittiGidiyor.com, an online marketplace structured in a similar manner to eBay. GittiGidiyor reportedly has more than 400,000 listings and 17 million users, which is a considerable percentage of the Turkish population. With the stake in GittiGidiyor, eBay now has the opportunity to enter the Turkish market via a system that’s already similar to theirs in functionality and purpose. Istanbul-based GittiGidiyor.com was founded in 2000. GittiGidiyor is Turkish for Going, Going, Gone. Terms of the deals were not found publicly available. Looking at the size of the Turkish site and the buying habits and history of eBay, the price should be considerably high, at least for the region.

Microsoft Acquiring ScreenTonic for Mobile Ad Platform

Microsoft is acquiring ScreenTonic, a local-based ads delivery platform for mobile devices, for an undisclosed amount. Paris-based ScreenTonic was founded in 2001, and has created the Stamp platform to deliver text or banner links on portals, text message ads and mobile web page ads, that vary depending on the recipients’ geographical location in a so called geo-targeting approach. 

~~~

Behavioral recommendation service for shoppers raises $10 Million, market heats up

A couple of months ago MyBuys raised $10 Million in Series B funding aimed to help online merchants sell more by utilizing behavioral targeting techniques. The company provides software to ecommerce stores that allows them to serve up ads and products based on your behavior – for example, tracking what you search for and showing related items during a future visit. Lightspeed participated in this latest round, which was led by Palomar Ventures.

“The funding further validates MyBuys’ unmatched targeting ability using our proprietary, patent pending technology,” said Robert E. Cell, CEO of MyBuys. “This investment will enable us to significantly increase our market momentum.”

MyBuys, which introduced MyBuys 3.0 earlier this year, delivers the industry’s first 1:1 behavioral recommendation service that targets consumers both while they are shopping and in follow up emails. MyBuys presents products a consumer is truly interested in buying, which enables online retailers to achieve extraordinary 300% higher revenue per customer interaction.

“As pressure grows to maintain high growth rates in ecommerce, MyBuys’ service will become a competitive requirement for online retailers,” said Amanda Reed, partner at Palomar Ventures. “With this financing, MyBuys will have an opportunity to further its ability to provide the greatest revenue lift for online retailers.”

“With its innovative approach to targeting and optimization, MyBuys offers the most effective solution to this burgeoning market,” said Peter Nieh, partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners. “MyBuys can significantly improve the profitability of online merchants by enabling them to more fully monetize the website traffic that they have spent substantial dollars to generate.”

These services are used by online retailers to show you potentially interesting merchandise, by tracking what you have already been looking at or buying before. If you do a lot of online shopping for designer jeans, a service like MyBuys may recommend especially popular or discounted designer jeans to you.

The company makes money by receiving a cut of revenue from the retailer when users purchase suggested products.

Mybuys is already being used in retail sites such as camera site Ritz Interactive, urban style site Karmaloop, and fabric site Hancock Fabrics. The company also said it builds behavioral profiles on each consumer.

More about MyBuys

MyBuys is a 1:1 behavioral recommendation service for online merchants. MyBuys builds deep behavioral profiles on each consumer resulting in the highest converting recommendations. By reaching consumers on a client’s web site, through email, and in RSS feeds, retailers realize more repeat visits, increased conversions, and larger order sizes. MyBuys generates revenues at 300% the rate of traditional marketing programs, with no upfront costs and a pay for performance model, so customers realize immediate results with no risk.

MyBuys 1:1 behavioral product recommendation service is a truly comprehensive service proven to deliver real results such as:

• Increasing conversion rates with relevant, personal recommendations

• Re-activating former customers by targeting their interests

• Increasing basket size through relevant, personal cross sells and up sells

• Recovering lost sales due to shopping cart abandonment or items out of stock

• Increasing overall lifetime customer value by driving your customers to your site more often to make more purchases

MyBuys is based in Redwood City, California and is managed by Robert Cell (CEO), Mark Weiler (VP of Engineering), and Paul Rosenblum (VP of Marketing).

Management team

Robert Cell
Chief Executive Officer

Robert Cell is an expert in retail, advertising, and consumer products. Most recently, Robert was Chief Executive Officer of AdSpace Networks, where he led the company through rapid growth and strategic restructuring to focus on becoming a mall advertising network while also growing, and subsequently, divesting its CoolSign video merchandising enterprise business. Under his leadership as Chief Operating Officer at Blue Martini Software, a pioneer in e-commerce solutions, the market capitalization tripled, license revenue doubled, and net results increased by $40M. Prior to Blue Martini, Robert served as the Vice President of Corporate Development for Kellogg Company and as General Manager for its Lender’s Bagel Division. In addition to leading Kellogg’s external growth and acquisitions, he led the turnaround of the Lender’s Bagel Division, tripled its value, and divested the unit for nearly $300M. Preceding his tenure with the Kellogg Company, he was Managing Director and co-founder of Deloitte and Touche LLP’s Midwest Corporate Finance practice responsible for advising the region’s clients on acquisitions and joint ventures. Robert holds an MBA with High Distinction and a BSE from the University of Michigan. 
 
Paul Rosenblum
Vice President of Products and Strategy

Paul Rosenblum has over 20 years of experience defining the strategic direction of successful products for the retail industry. Prior to MyBuys, Paul was Entrepreneur in Residence at Redpoint Ventures. Earlier, he was responsible for product strategy at Pay By Touch, the leading biometric payment system for retailers. Previously, he served as Vice President of Marketing at Movaris, where he repositioned the company as an early leader in Sarbanes-Oxley compliance systems for Fortune 1000 companies. As Vice President of Product Marketing at Blue Martini Software, he was responsible for defining retail eMerchandising. Prior to that, he was Senior Director of Product Marketing at Siebel Systems where he was responsible for the definition of Siebel’s flagship sales effectiveness products and launched Siebel’s first vertical market solutions. Paul holds an SB in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Lisa Joy Rosner
Vice President of Marketing

Lisa Joy Rosner has over 16 years of experience launching, rebranding, and driving revenue for high-tech companies in Silicon Valley. Lisa joined the MyBuys team from BroadVision Inc., an early innovator of personalized e-commerce solutions. During her four-year tenure as Vice President, Worldwide Marketing, she re-launched the company, introduced three new products into the global market, and was part of the team that returned the company to profitability. Previously, as Vice President, Marketing, at DecisionPoint Applications, a financial performance management software provider, she transformed the company brand, aligned sales and marketing processes and added industry-leading companies to the customer base. Prior to that, Lisa launched Market-Touch Corporation where she pioneered and evangelized a new category in CRM – Sales Effectiveness. She has also served in senior business development, marketing and education management roles at Brio Technology, SGI, and Oracle Corporation. Lisa graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Maryland with a BA in English Literature. 

Mark Weiler
Vice President of Engineering

Mark Weiler provides the technical and visionary leadership to MyBuys Engineering team. He brings over 16 years of experience in building high quality solutions in the areas of Web Applications, Enterprise Applications, Infrastructure, and Systems software. Most recently, Mark was Vice President Engineering at NorthStar Systems Inc., where he was part of the founding team and was responsible for first 8 versions of the company’s leading Wealth Management and Asset Management solutions. Prior to joining NorthStar, he managed the teams responsible for building B2B connectors and EAI adapters for Extricity (acquired by Peregrine) whose Alliance B2B product line was used to automate supply chains including RosettaNet processes for several major electronics vendors. Before Extricity/Peregrine, he developed a number of products at Microsoft, notably Exchange Server, MAPI, and LAN Manager and he was a key member of the Exchange X.400 Message Transfer Agent on the first four releases of Exchange Server. Mark holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara. 
 
Len Eschweiler
Vice President, Sales

Len Eschweiler has over 13 years of sales leadership experience in the e-commerce sector. Prior to joining MyBuys, he was an early team member of MarketLive, an industry leading e-commerce platform and solutions provider where he served as Vice President, Sales and Marketing, and most recently headed up European expansion efforts as Vice President of Strategy, Europe. Previously, he was Director of Sales and Marketing for IMS-Net, a start-up focused on serving the needs of commodity trading via an Internet based trading marketplace. Before entering the software arena, he founded one of the first online music distribution sites for unsigned artists. Len studied computer science at Colorado State University and holds a BS in Finance with a minor in Music from Sonoma State University. 

Shaun Schooley
Vice President, Client Success

Shaun Schooley is charged with ensuring MyBuys clients receive the most efficient deployment and the highest performing implementation of the MyBuys service. He brings over 20 years of senior management experience in marketing. Most recently, he was Vice President of Strategic Marketing at Naehas, a web-based marketing solution to create customized and personalized web pages, where he maintained major client relationships and led follow-up programs for Fortune 500 firms. Prior to Naehas, Shaun spent over 19 years in financial services and technology marketing with companies such as Charles Schwab, Amazon.com, and Wells Fargo. Shaun is a frequent industry speaker at 1:1 marketing events sponsored by the DMA, U.S. Postal Service, and the National Center for Database Marketers. He holds several patents in electronic payment technologies and he holds an undergraduate degree from Hastings College and an MBA from Arizona State University.

More about Lightspeed Venture Partners

Lightspeed Venture Partners is a technology-focused venture capital firm that manages $1.3 billion of capital commitments. We closed Lightspeed VII, a $480 million fund, at the end of 2005. Over the past two decades, our partners have invested in more than 120 companies, many of which have gone on to become leaders in their respective industries. Our team invests in the U.S. and internationally from offices in Menlo Park, China, India, and Israel.

We are proud to have partnered with many exceptional management teams. Our investment professionals have contributed domain expertise and operational experience to help build high-growth, market-leading companies such as Blue Nile (NILE), Brocade (BRCD), Ciena (CIEN), DoubleClick (DCLK), Informatica (INFA), Kiva Software (acquired by AOL), Openwave (OPWV), Quantum Effect Devices (acquired by PMCS), Sirocco (acquired by SCMR), and Waveset (acquired by SUNW). Some of our recent exits include the top-performing tech IPO of 2006, Riverbed Technology (RVBD), and the top enterprise software acquisition of 2006, Virsa Systems (acquired by SAP).

Lightspeed is known to be all about ecommerce. We are only seeing the “tip of the iceberg” in e-commerce, the firm’s top blogger Jeremy Liew wrote in June — he thinks there will be “many more” e-commerce companies that grow to make more than $500 million in revenue by using behavioral targeting and other methods of matching purchasers with products they’re most likely to buy.

More about Palomar Ventures

Palomar Ventures was launched in 1999 by veteran venture capitalists to focus on early stage information technology companies that demonstrate the potential for exceptional growth and market leadership. The founding principle of Palomar is teamwork; we work closely with our portfolio companies to assist them in achieving their objectives. The partners at Palomar have contributed their strategic insight, network of corporate relationships, and recruiting skills to assist in building nearly 50 public companies.

Palomar Ventures is currently investing Palomar III, a $225 million fund, bringing total capital under management to over $500 million. A typical investment involves $2 million to $5 million in capital, and we prefer to act as a lead or co-lead investor early in the process of value formation. We believe that beginning early with a company is the best way to utilize our experience in building value rapidly by focusing the company on a small number of key milestones.

The market

Behavioral advertising and behavioral targeting are both lately becoming yet another hot area in the online marketing space, with Tacoda recently acquired by AOL for an estimated amount of $200-300 million. Start ups are trying to analyze every move you do online and try to hook you up with the right ads, products and services. MyBuys is making no exception it tracks user behavior to help online retailers make better recommendations.

Competition in the field is staggering and some of the names include StyleFeeder relying on community recommendations and raised $1M so far, Wunderloop, Baynote, Matchmine, which also raised $10M recently and not last Aggregate Knowledge, which once used to be a hot start-up in the Silicon Valley.

The demand among online retailers for better behavioral tracking is so high right now that MyBuys and its startup competitors are all able to gather this “low hanging fruit” –Lightspeed Venture Partner’s Peter Nieh explains further.

The market shakeout in behavioral targeting will resemble search engines startup in the 1990’s, Nieh, a Lightspeed Venture Partner, thinks: Many companies were able to search the web, but Google ended up doing it way better than the others, and captured the largest portion of the market.

More

http://www.mybuys.com/
http://www.marketwire.com/mw/release.do?id=778293&sourceType=1
http://mashable.com/2007/10/08/mybuys-funding/
http://www.pehub.com/article/articledetail.php?articlepostid=8085 (requires subscription)
http://venturebeat.com/2007/10/08/mybuys-behavioral-targeting-for-online-retailers-raises-10-million/
http://pulse2.com/2007/10/08/mybuys-raises-10-million-series-b/
http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/stories/2007/10/08/daily7.html?ana=from_rss
http://www.lightspeedvp.com/
http://www.palomarventures.com/
 

Naspers Acquired Polish based IM Company Gadu Gadu (chit-chat)

South Africa’s biggest media group Naspers Ltd offered to buy all outstanding shares in Polish Internet firm Gadu Gadu S.A. (GADU.WA), a Polish IM service, for 23.50 zlotys ($8.77) per share. The current majority shareholder of Gadu Gadu has agreed to tender its 55% shareholding in the public tender offer. In order to gain 100% acceptance of this tender offer the total investment will amount to around $155 million. Gadu Gadu (GG) is listed on the Warsaw stock exchange (Poland), and Naspers will launch a public offer to buy the shares. As a side note Poland became a European Union member in early 2004.  Poland is the EU’s fifth most populous country with 38 million inhabitants, exhibiting fast growth in the penetration of broadband connectivity, usage of the internet and online internet advertising.

Gadu Gadu is one of Poland’s largest instant messaging companies, with millions of unique users, mainly in Poland, and a 43% share of the Polish market. It also has a social network mojageneracja, which has just under million uniques. Gadu Gadu is one of the many entrants for the instant messaging market. Should Naspers get this public tender offer, it will be adding to its global reach, especially in Europe, where it’s somewhat less influential than some of the other countries it has a presence in.

Gadu-Gadu stands for “chit-chat” in Polish and is commonly known as GG or gg and is a Polish instant messaging client.

Gadu-Gadu runs under Windows 98/2000/Me/XP/2003/Vista and is operating under the license of adware. Gadu-Gadu makes money by displaying advertisements. Just like with ICQ, users are identified by their serial numbers. There are numerous add-ons available to provide extra features. The official version provides over 150 smiley icons, and allows off-line messages, data dispatch, and VoIP. Since version 6.0, an experimental SSL secure connection mode can be used.

One of the most popular features of Gadu-Gadu is the status option, allowing users to display short text messages visible under their buddy icons on other users’ contact lists. Gadu-Gadu uses its own proprietary protocol. Many unofficial plug-ins have been created to expand its capabilities. Even though Gadu-Gadu service provider officially forbids to access the network with 3rd party applications (changes in use Terms and Conditions introduced in 2006), several other instant messengers have the ability to communicate with GG protocol such as:

  • Kadu, an open-source instant messenger similar to Gadu-Gadu (Linux/Macintosh)
  • Tlen.pl, a Polish instant messenger (Windows)
  • Miranda IM (Windows)
  • Adium (Macintosh)
  • Proteus (Macintosh)
  • Pidgin / Finch (multi-platform)
  • Kopete (multi-platform)
  • AmiGG (AmigaOS and MorphOS)
  • EKG (Linux/Macintosh) console client
  • GNU Gadu (Linux/Macintosh)

Gadu-Gadu is the most popular IM in Poland. There are over 7.8 million registered accounts, and every day approximately 6.5 million users are online.

Many users consider the latest version too overloaded by unnecessary addons (Gadu-Gadu Radio Station etc.), so the older versions (especially 6.1 build 158) are still as popular as the new one. However, the new version is generally regarded as being much more stable.

Gadu Gadu S.A. was established in 2000.

About Naspers

Naspers is a multinational media company with principal operations in electronic media (including pay-television, internet and instant-messaging subscriber platforms and the provision of related technologies) and print media (including the publishing, distribution and printing of magazines, newspapers and books, and the provision of private education services). Naspers’ most significant operations are located in South Africa, where it generates approximately 76.4% of its revenues, with other operations located elsewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa, Greece, Cyprus, the Netherlands, the United States, Thailand and China. Naspers creates media content, builds brand names around it, and manages the platforms distributing the content. Naspers delivers its content in a variety of forms and through a variety of channels, including television platforms, internet services, newspapers, magazines and books. Many of Naspers’ businesses hold leading market positions, and Naspers capitalises on these strong positions when expanding into new markets.

As a side note early this year Naspers announced voluntary delisting from NASDAQ and instead Naspers Limited Received Listing Approval for London Stock Exchange. Naspers is listed on the stock exchange in Johannesburg and up to date stock quote can be found over here: http://stocks.us.reuters.com/stocks/overview.asp?symbol=NPNJn.J

With the current acquisition Naspers is hoping to expand its instant messaging services beyond what it already owns in the sector. Naspers operates local IM/online services in Russia (Mail.ru), China (Tencent) and Thailand (M-Web/Sanook).

The company is headquartered in Cape Town, RSA. 

More

http://www.gadu-gadu.pl/
http://www.naspers.co.za/pdfs/press_04_october_2007.pdf
http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-south-africas-naspers-offers-to-buy-polish-im-service-gadu-gadu-for-155/
http://mashable.com/2007/10/04/naspers-gadu-gadu/
http://www.naspers.com/English/home.asp
http://www.reuters.com/article/mergersNews/idUSWEB835920071004
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gadu-Gadu
http://finance.paidcontent.org/paidcontent?GUID=3379356&Page=MediaViewer&Ticker=NPSN
http://stocks.us.reuters.com/stocks/overview.asp?symbol=GADU.WA

Small round for Mesmo.tv

The social video bookmarking and recommending service Mesmo.TV and provider of a very popular Facebook application, has secured over half of a $900,000 round of Series A financing.

Mesmo.TV’s Davin Miyoshi informed the public that Aydin Senkut’s Felicis Ventures, Mike Maples’ Maples Investments, Naval Ravikant’s The Hit Forge, and Georges Harik participated in the round. Simply put their tool allows users to rate and tag the videos that they enjoy. Mesmo.TV is then recommending videos to you and introduces you to other viewers with similar viewing habits and interests.

This tool, however, has not turned out to be the most successful part of Mesmo.TV’s business. The company’s TV Show Trivia  Facebook application, which launched in August, has garnered over 1.3 million users and over 125,000 daily unique visitors. This puts the application amongst the top 45 applications on Facebook, and made Mesmo.TV the largest TV show community on that social network.

Mesmo.TV plans to continue focusing on its social network efforts and looks forward to expanding to other networks, such as MySpace, who might open up in the near future. The company is also talking with TV networks to bring online videos to its users.
About Mesmo TV

“Mesmo TV” (formerly called TV Show Trivia) is the largest social TV application and community on the Facebook Platform. On Mesmo TV you can play TV trivia, discuss your favorite shows and share your favorite characters and quotes with your facebook friends. MesmoTV is building highly engaging, fun, social TV applications that that allow you to engage with your friends and favorite shows.

Mesmo.TV has been funded by a group of talented and successful entrepreneurs and some of the key people are listed below.

Davin Miyoshi Co-founder/CEO 
Jesse Hull Co-founder/CTO 
Debarshi Kar Co-founder/VP of Engineering 
Daphne Carmeli Board Member 
Auren Hoffman Board Member 
Cindy McCaffrey Board Member 
Munjal Shah Board Member 
Ben T. Smith, IV Board Member 
Aydin Senkut Investor 
Mike Maples Investor 
Naval Ravikant Investor 
Georges Harik Investor 

More

http://www.mesmo.tv/
http://blog.mesmo.tv/2007/05/about-us.html
http://apps.facebook.com/tvtrivia/?entrySource=mesmohomepage
http://apps.bebo.com/mesmotv/?entrySource=mesmohomepage
http://apps.facebook.com/tvtrivia/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/mesmo.tv
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/04/social-video-company-mesmotv-raises-900000-of-series-a-funding/
http://www.pehub.com/article/articledetail.php?articlepostid=8047
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/07/17/mesmotv-discovers-videos-you-like/

Hakia takes $5M more, totals $16M

In a new round of funding Hakia, the natural language processing search engine has raised additional $5M. The money came from a previous investor, some of which are Noble Grossart Investments, Alexandra Investment Management, Prokom Investments, KVK, and several angel investors. With plans of fully launching some time next year, Hakia has been working towards improving its relevancy and adding some social features like “Meet the Others” to their site. Hakia is known to have raised $11 million in its first round of funding in late 2006 from a panoply of investors scattered across the globe who were attracted by the company’s semantic search technology. As far as we know, the company’s total funding is now $16M.

We think that from all alternative search engines, excluding Ask.com and Clusty.com, Hakia seems to be one of the most trafficked engines with almost 1M unique visitors as we last checked the site’s publicly available stats. If it is us to rank the most popular search engines I would put them the following way: Google, Yahoo, Ask.com, MSN, Naver, some other regional leaders, Clusty and perhaps somewhere there is hakia going.

On the other hand and according to Quantcast, Hakia is basically not so popular site and is reaching less than 150,000 unique visitors per month. Compete is reporting much better numbers – slightly below 1 million uniques per month. Considering the fact the search engine is still in its beta stage these numbers are more than great. However, analyzing further the traffic curve on both measuring sites above it appears that the traffic hakia gets is sort of campaign based, in other words generated due to advertising, promotion or PR activity and is not permanent organic traffic due to heavy usage of the site.

In related news a few days ago Google’s head of research Peter Norvig said that we should not expect to see natural-language search at Google anytime soon.

In a Q&A with Technology Review, he says:

We don’t think it’s a big advance to be able to type something as a question as opposed to keywords. Typing “What is the capital of France?” won’t get you better results than typing “capital of France.”

Yet he does acknowledge that there is some value in the technology:

We think (Google) what’s important about natural language is the mapping of words onto the concepts that users are looking for. To give some examples, “New York” is different from “York,” but “Vegas” is the same as “Las Vegas,” and “Jersey” may or may not be the same as “New Jersey.” That’s a natural-language aspect that we’re focusing on. Most of what we do is at the word and phrase level; we’re not concentrating on the sentence. We think it’s important to get the right results rather than change the interface.

In other words, a natural-language approach is useful on the back-end to create better results, but it does not present a better user experience. Most people are too lazy to type in more than one or two words into a search box anyway. The folks at both Google and Yahoo know that is true for the majority of searchers. The natural-language search startups are going to find out about that the hard way.

Founded in 2004, hakia is a privately held company with headquarters in downtown Manhattan. hakia operates globally with teams in the United States, Turkey, England, Germany, and Poland.

The Founder of hakia is Dr. Berkan who is a nuclear scientist with a specialization in artificial intelligence and fuzzy logic. He is the author of several articles in this area, including the book Fuzzy Systems Design Principles published by IEEE in 1997. Before launching hakia, Dr. Berkan worked for the U.S. Government for a decade with emphasis on information handling, criticality safety and safeguards. He holds a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Tennessee, and B.S. in Physics from Hacettepe University, Turkey.

More

[ http://venturebeat.com/2007/12/12/hakia-raising-5m-for-semantic-search/ ]
[ http://mashable.com/2007/12/12/hakia-funded/ ]
[ http://www.hakia.com/ ]
[ http://blog.hakia.com/ ]
[ http://www.hakia.com/about.html ]
[ http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/hakia_takes_on_google_semantic_search.php ]
[ http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/hakia_meaning-based_search.php ]
[ http://siteanalytics.compete.com/hakia.com/?metric=uv ]
[ http://www.internetoutsider.com/2007/07/the-big-problem.html ]
[ http://www.quantcast.com/search/hakia.com ]
[ http://www.redherring.com/Home/19789 ]
[ http://web2innovations.com/hakia.com.php ]
[ http://www.pandia.com/sew/507-hakia.html ]
[ http://www.searchenginejournal.com/hakias-semantic-search-the-answer-to-poor-keyword-based-relevancy/5246/ ]
[ http://arstechnica.com/articles/culture/hakia-semantic-search-set-to-music.ars ]
[ http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9800141-7.html ]
[ http://searchforbettersearch.com/ ]
[ https://web2innovations.com/money/2007/12/01/is-google-trying-to-become-a-social-search-engine/ ]
[ http://www.web2summit.com/cs/web2006/view/e_spkr/3008 ]
[ http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/18/googles-norvig-is-down-on-natural-language-search/ ]

Digg guys are up for sale again, quietly

The situation around Digg is heating up, but not because there are many potential buyers bidding for the company, but it seems the rumors are all around us telling stories where Digg is in desperation to sell out. It has happened before; it happens today again, the only difference is the price tag. Digg is again getting serious about a sale and has hired Allen & Company to shop the site for what rumors claim to be anything in the $300 million range.

Investment bank Allen & Company has been involved in a number of high profile mergers and acquisitions in the past. Interesting for the Allen & Company is the privacy the investment firm seems to be working in as argument for which is the absence of even a basic site for the company on Web. Perhaps they don’t like publicity. Yet, we have found the firm’s contact details, which can be found among the other links on the end of the story’s page.

For Allen & Company, there’s no business like financing show business. The investment bank serves variously as investor, underwriter, and broker to some of the biggest names in entertainment, technology, and information. Viewed as something of a secret society, the firm has had a quiet hand in such hookups as Seagram (now part of Vivendi) and Universal Studios, Hasbro and Galoob Toys, and Disney and Capital Cities/ABC. The firm’s famous annual retreat in Sun Valley, Idaho, attracts more moguls than a double-black ski run (Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and eBay CEO Meg Whitman have attended). Brothers Herbert and Charles Allen founded the company in 1922.

Key people and executives for Allen & Company LLC are as follows:

  • Non-Executive Chairman Donald R. (Don) Keough
  • President, CEO, and Director Herbert A. (Herb) Allen
  • Managing Director and CFO Kim M. Wieland

The obvious question is will Digg sell with a $300 million valuation given that it has been on the market (quietly) for months, even year or two, with no serious interest to date?

According to Quantcast, which we believe is very accurate, Digg.com is hugely popular site and is reaching morethan 22 million unique visitors per month.

Here we go again with lots of speculations for one of the top and most popular web 2.0 websites: digg.com. In our understanding there must be something wrong with either Digg, its business/revenue model or the momentum is simply lost, or something else.

Here are our thoughts on why Digg.com did not get sold so far:

  1. Not profitable enough towards their claims of having 22M visitors a month; in other words too many visitors, too much popularity that seem hard to be monetized.
  2. Digg.com is Slashdot.org 2.0., how much did Slashdot.org go for? As far as we remember it was bought for $20M something.
  3. Their technology and concept is not distinctive and definitely not defendable. There are too many followers and competitors, including Netscape.com (now Propeller.com). Digg set the standard but it seems too many old media companies are building up the same technologies within their web properties which will additionally undermine Digg.com’s popularity.
  4. Digg.com was and still is widely criticized for being corrupted in getting manipulatively different news stories promoted to the home page by a handful savvy Digg.com users.
  5. Geeks are not clicking on ads, as what many people say, so the advertising model seems highly unlikely to be the panacea for Digg.com.
  6. In the past Digg.com and News Corp negotiations have failed for one reason or another, which might have negative impact towards other potential acquirers.
  7. Digg is in one way or another under the control of its top users like Dmoz.org and Wikpiedia. What helped those sites grow to such popularity levels is what seems to be their setback. The new owner has to deal with this issue and it is not a small one.
  8. Top Digg users are often requested to help stories get the home page, sometimes in return for cash payments.
  9. Digg has issues with spam, scam and gaming of their system.
  10. When you have a system that works like Digg, of course there will always be people wanting to organize and promote stories that they like or have interest in. You can’t expect people to vote as an individual, they have friends, they have jobs, and they are involved in communities. Digg should have focused into the tech news at first and stay there. Now Digg is becoming mainstream with inaccurate, sensationalist, boring news mostly recompiled by bloggers from other news. As some people say: the front page posts are recycled news of web, nothing new there. Unless you want to see articles about Digg or the newest Free collection of fonts, the stories are crap. The only stories and news that make it to the home page appears to be the ones submitted by the top users.
  11. Digg is a great idea which has grown faster than its creators’ ability to administer it. In a perfect world, they’d be ahead of these sort of problems, rather than playing catch-up trying to fix scenario after it’s proven to be broken. I suppose broken is a bit harsh actually, but the site is definitely being gamed with Rose et al trying their hardest to implement some rules/policies that will keep it together without destroying the essence of what the site is all about.
  12. Being forerunners in this sort of self-run community, they get to sort out all the pain for those similar sites that will follow later and improve on the idea. Slashdot lead the way for a long while in this regard, and Digg.com came along and improved on the model without having to figure out a lot of the issues Slashdot had already been through. Now Digg is leading the way and having to wade through the mire themselves.
  13. We think that Digg is great success, and with the success all the issues come along, but it takes on old media outlets, which puts fire under their feet and unless they figure this out and find their niche, they are under the risk to have their concept and popular site ruined.
  14. Most users are around and gone after few months, short-term loyalty with revolving door.
  15. Mob mentality crowd which creates abusive comment section.

Despite anything said above, Digg.com, in our view, does cost more than $300M at the very current moment, with or without steady revenues, simply because of its popularity, leadership, reach and target audience. 22 Million unique visitors per month is almost a mainstream site and we have seen sites with less that traffic getting acquired in the 10 digit range.

Yet we cannot get rid from the feeling there must be something wrong that the general public is not aware of, which might be the key reason behind the decision of so many suitors so far to have backed off.

More

http://digg.com/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/17/for-sale-used-social-voting-site-asking-price-300-million-goes-by-the-name-of-digg/
http://www.hoovers.com/allen-&-company/–ID__51026–/free-co-factsheet.xhtml
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/12/28/no-acquisition-for-digg-raise-series-b-round-instead/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/11/07/just-sell-digg-already-jay/
http://nextnetnews.blogspot.com/2006/12/why-nobody-buys-diggcom.html
http://venturebeat.com/2007/12/17/source-digg-hires-bank-hoping-to-sell-for-300-million-or-more/
http://nextnetnews.blogspot.com/2007/02/diggcom-fights-spam-scam-games.html
http://www.quantcast.com/digg.com
http://www.pronetadvertising.com/articles/latest-digg-payola-exposed.html
http://valleywag.com/tech/rumormonger/digg-close-to-a-300-million-sale-320145.php
http://valleywag.com/tech/sun-valley/whos-selling-whos-buying-at-the-allen-confab-276716.php
http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2004/06/28/374371/index.htm

Sequoia Funding for Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Firm Kenshoo

Kenshoo, a search engine marketing firm, has received an undisclosed amount of funding from Sequoia Capital. The end-to-end search marketing solution aimed at advertisers and ad agencies operates on an automated technology for advertising campaigns, and a core feature of the company’s suite of offerings relies on the longtail keyword expansion. It is an exclusive search formula using patented multilingual keyword expansion, automatically identifies thousands of related keywords from real user search terms with no need for manpower and hours of effort. Updates are provided on a constant basis on the campaign ensuring updated information on the exact keywords.

The basic idea behind their concept is to minimize the amount of man power needed to run a successful and informed advertising campaign online. Running an AdWords or related CPC text ad campaign is a time consuming and hard science process

Those advertisers that are savvy into it run up against the mind numbing tasks to entering data over and over again so they can run side-by-sides and constantly improve their dollar efficiency, and changes based on one cent’s move in either direction can sometimes mean the difference between a profitable ad campaign and one that ends up losing tons of money.

So it seems there is a growing need for automated tools in regards to online advertising and marketing, especially with the growing number of ways in which campaigns can be distributed across the web.

Their flagship product is called KENSHOO SEARCH(tm) and provides automated management for campaigns across multiple search engine platforms such as Google, Yahoo and MSN.

KENSHOO SEARCH(tm) is an end-to-end SEM platform, which automates the process of building and optimizing cross channel search campaigns.

Quality Management with KENSHOO SEARCH

Quality Management is a unique approach which automates all aspects of Search campaigns. Bid management is not enough anymore! In today’s search engines arena, creating a successful SEM campaign consists of a wide array of elements;

  • Selecting relevant keywords
  • Updating deep links URL’s
  • Creating effective ads
  • Providing and constantly updating bids
  • Monitoring the traffic
  • Structuring cross platform campaigns
  • Reporting and analyzing data on-time

Long-tail keyword expansion

Kenshoo’s exclusive search formula guarantees every search engine marketing campaign a long tail. By using patented multilingual keyword expansion, KENSHOO SEARCH(tm) automatically identifies thousands of related keywords from real user search terms- with no need for manpower and hours of effort.

Dynamic Sites

Website content perpetually shifts as new and improved products reach the cyber-shelves. The need for updating multiple campaigns is vital in order to keep up with this ever-changing environment. With the unique ability to automatically update itself as web content changes, KENSHOO SEARCH(tm) enables the client high ROI SEM campaigns. By staying in tune with this constantly changing environment, KENSHOO SEARCH(tm) seamlessly index a site and upload the exact model/brands or other keywords and data together with the deep link URL to the search engines. This enables the upload of the merchant’s products onto the Search engines as well as updating it as the site changes. The added bonus is the low cost per click, high CTR, high conversion rates and maximized ROI that result from the highly relevant landing page.

Intelligent Bid Management

Featuring an easy-to-use and configurable Bid Management solution, KENSHOO SEARCH ™ allows your bids to be flexible, applying its’ logic to all major search engines, it even allows you to create your own bid policy. Whether your products require maximum exposure or a positive ROI on any level, KENSHOO SEARCH(tm) follows campaign behavior in real time, detecting changes and reacting to the competition, insuring high ROI on your SEM campaigns.

Click Fraud

KENSHOO SEARCH(tm) offers the invaluable asset of identifying click fraud in real time. With the ability to manage multiple campaigns all at once, KENSHOO SEARCH(tm) reports the detection of Click Fraud immediately, protecting advertisers from over clicking, and allowing clients to obtain a refund. In addition, KENSHOO SEARCH(tm) has ability to pause campaigns when sites malfunction.

Quality Reporting

Stay on track with comprehensive reporting of your campaigns. KENSHOO SEARCH(tm) understands the importance when it comes to reporting. With Kenshoo search, in-depth reports are created that analyze traffic from different networks, displaying click distribution and ROI geographically, daily, and hourly, to take your campaigns to the highest level of success.

Kenshoo’s service enables advertisers and agencies to reach high volumes and optimize campaigns.

To utilize their services you simply give them your URL, and a designated account manager will assist you wit the process. They work hard to understand your targets and goals, analyze your website, assess your campaign, and optimize it to suit your individual needs.

The company is based in Israel. In August 2007, Kenshoo began applying its search engine marketing analytics on behalf of its first large client, AOL-owned IM company ICQ, also based in Israel. It also works with agencies such as McCann-Erickson and AlthogetherDigital. A representative for the company said one-year-old Kenshoo is focused on bringing its business to the UK sometime early next year. Once it’s up and running in Europe, Kenshoo then plans to build a U.S. presence.

Yoav Izhar-Prato, CEO and co-founder of Kenshoo adds, “We are thrilled to be joining forces with Sequoia, a partner with an unsurpassed track record of successful Internet investments such as Yahoo!, Google, Apple, PayPal and YouTube. Kenshoo is determined to be the leading provider of innovative Search Marketing solutions; harnessing our in-depth knowledge of the industry, our clients’ constructive feedback, technological strengths and continuous innovation- I believe we are well positioned to do so.”

Sequoia Capital is the Google backer and it is coming as no surprise they are funding a company that is helping in particular users and customers that are spending their ad money on Google.

Although Moritz sat on the evaluating committee, he is not the investing partner from Sequoia. Yuval Baharav, a partner in Sequoia’s Israeli office, is the one who invested and will take a board seat. This is Kenshoo’s first venture round. Terms were not disclosed, although one report in an Israeli paper puts it at a few million dollars. Previously, the startup raised about one million dollars from angel investors, and has been funding itself from operations.

More about Sequoia Capital

Since 1972, Sequoia Capital has provided startup venture capital for very smart people who want to turn ideas into companies. As the “Entrepreneurs Behind the Entrepreneurs,” Sequoia Capital’s Partners have worked with innovators such as Sandy Lerner and Len Bozack of Cisco Systems, Jerry Yang and David Filo of Yahoo!, Gaurav Garg of Redback Networks, Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google, Dan Warmenhoven of Network Appliance, T.J. Rodgers of Cypress Semiconductor, Lou Tomasetta of Vitesse Semiconductor, Steve Jobs of Apple Computer and Larry Ellison of Oracle. The companies organized by Sequoia Capital now account for about 12% of the value of NASDAQ.

More about Kenshoo Ltd

Kenshoo is a provider of end-to-end search marketing automated technology for advertisers and agencies worldwide.

The company’s flagship product KENSHOO SEARCH(tm) provides automated Quality Management for cross- platform search campaigns. Kenshoo’s unique technology and approach enables advertisers and agencies worldwide to reach high volumes, optimize campaigns and to boost ROI.

Kenshoo is an innovator in Search Engine Marketing with extensive industry knowledge and a dynamic approach. Kenshoo’s strength is in developing SEM technology to increase ROI on search campaigns.

Kenshoo’s flagship product, KENSHOO SEARCH(tm) is an end-to-end SEM platform, which automates the process of building and optimizing cross channel search campaigns. KENSHOO SEARCH?utilizes Quality Management, the company’s unique approach to search marketing that automates much of the labor intensive search marketing operations.

As a Google Qualified Company, a Yahoo! Ambassador and Microsoft adExcellence, Kenshoo provides its licensed SEM platform and services to publishers, agencies, blue-chip advertisers, and affiliate marketers world wide.

Management Team

Yoav Izhar-Prato, CEO & Co-Founder- As a founder of several start-ups around the globe and former manager of ECI Thailand, Mr. Izhar-Prato brings over ten years of business management to Kenshoo. Mr. Izhar-Prato carries an Executive B.A., Business management from Ruppin College.

Alon Sheafer, VP Marketing & Co-Founder- Mr. Sheafer brings over ten years of internet experience to Kenshoo. Alon has a strong Technological background combined with sales and marketing experience. Formerly founder and CEO of Bazman, a price comparison website. Mr. Sheafer holds a B.Sc in Computer Science from the Academic College of Tel-Aviv Jaffa.

Nir Cohen, CTO & CO-Founder- As former founder and CTO of Bazman, a price comparison website, Mr. Cohen carries years of experience in leading design and development teams for companies such as Demantra and Imperva. Mr. Cohen holds a B.Sc in Physics & Computer science from Ben Gurion University, Israel.

Andrey Shirben, Head of Campaigns- A former VP in marketing with Storewiz Ltd, Mr. Shirben brings a history of technology experience to Kenshoo. As Head of Campaigns, Mr. Shirben’s background lies in business management and computer science with a BA in Management & Computer science from Open University in Israel.

Udi Broyer, CFO & COO- Mr. Broyer brings over ten years of Financial and operational experience to Kenshoo. Mr. Broyer previously served as the Director of Finance of Metacafe a leading UGC Video web site. He held various executive financial positions such as financial consultants for JVP a Venture Capital firm and VP of Finance at Fundtech. Mr. Broyer is a CPA and served as a Senior Audit Manager in the high-tech group at “Ernst & Young” Israel. Mr. Broyer holds a B.A in Accounting and Economics at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel.

The market

SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is the younger brother of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). In general who fails to perform well on the SEO scene is forced later to rely on the SEM. SEO promises organic results and traffic while SEM does that for paid campaigns. On the other hand we think there are thousands of large-scale corporations and millions of small ones that have little to no ideas on how to develop white-hat SEO practices for their web based businesses and are in one way or another going to rely and depend on SEM and companies like Kenshoo for instance.

Otherwise the SEM market is very crowded and the environment is extremely competitive; there are literally thousands of small and mid-level SEM firms in the sector, yet having Sequoia on your side might be one step in the right direction for Kenshoo. I remember one firm in particular called Fathom Online. Fathom Online received $6 million in financing in its first round of venture funding a few years ago. The financing came from Constellation Ventures and private investors. As part of the funding, Constellation managing directors Virginia Turezyn and Dennis Miller have joined Fathom’s board of directors by that time. What we know Former Ask Jeeves executives Chris Churchill and Chris Raniere founded the San Francisco-based search engine marekting firm in 2002. Fathom also helps clients design and run paid search campaigns as clients include Hilton, Covad and Microsoft..

More

[ http://www.kenshoo.com/ ]
[ http://www.kenshoo.com/blog.asp ]
[ http://www.kenshoo.com/news_sequoia_invest_in_kenshoo.asp ]
[ http://www.linkedin.com/pub/0/172/967 ]
[ http://mashable.com/2007/12/13/kenshoo-funded/ ]
[ http://www.venturecapitalupdate.com/node/970 ]
[ http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/10/sequoia-invests-in-sem-automator-kenshoo/ ]
[ http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-israel-sem-provider-kenshoo-secures-first-round-in-support-of-european-/ ]
[ http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/071211/uktu014.html?.v=101 ]
[ http://www.fathomonline.com/ ]
[ http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum5/5033.htm ]

MyPunchBowl gets angel funding, relies on algorithm to recommend best dates

MyPunchBowl, the event planning site that has joined the new crowd of Evite rivals, has recently been angel funded. According to some sources like VentureBeat and Mashable, the exact amount of funding has not been disclosed, but it’s less than $1 million, and is enough to keep the team in development for another year, at least.

MyPunchBowl is known to have had a pretty good year, with several developments and feature upgrades to its event-planning service. More niche templates have been added to its collection, and they released their new Facebook application called “Party Animal.”

Partnerships with traditional media companies like the Boston Globe could also help to establish MyPunchBowl as a viable option for planning your next event.

In technological aspect they’ve been building out tools for each step of planning a party: finding supplies, inviting friends, setting a date, and the after party. MyPunchbowl has also made setting a date that much easier through the help of an algorithm that recommends the best date for your party. Connecting party organizers with suppliers in an algorithmic approach (supplies on-demand, recommendations in context of the party, individuals, events, at the right time and place etc.) could be a viable business model in our understanding and this is where the site is planning to make money from, see below comments.

More about Punchbowl Software

At Punchbowl Software, we believe that planning an event or party should be enjoyable and easy.

For the host, there are typically lots of pieces to organize: picking a date, sending invitations, choosing catering and entertainment, purchasing party supplies, and renting party equipment just to name a few. It can be a time-consuming process, and it usually isn’t much fun.

To solve this problem, we’ve created MyPunchbowl, a new web application for event and party planning. MyPunchbowl provides software for every stage of planning. With MyPunchbowl.com you’ll actually enjoy planning while saving time.

“They are the developers of one of the hottest websites in America and around the world. These are the folks that are at the vanguard of web development” – one reads at CNBC. 

For now, MyPunchbowl is avoiding monetizing the site through display ads. Instead, it plans to open partnerships with vendors, helping users secure any party supplies they need. To make money, the site is working on opening more relationships with vendors. A guest asked to bring the turkey to a Thanksgiving event, for example, might receive a targeted offering from Butterball.

According to Quantcast the site’s reach is less than 12,000 American visitors per month and compared to Evite.com’s 7 million uniques / mo MyPunchbowl looks like it has way too much to do in order to be called even close competitor to Evite, despite the press attention it gained over the past year http://corp.mypunchbowl.com/news.php

The company was founded by software and user interface experts who are fanatics about simplicity and ease of use. As they say “they were frustrated with the current tools, and knew there had to be a better way”. The funding came from Intel Capital and eCoast Angels.

As far as we know MyPunchBowl’s competitor Planypus has recently been funded as well.

Other competitors include Skobee or Renkoo although they have differentiated themselves by helping plan the casual outings for drinks or dinner. Socializr is taking a social networking approach.

The company’s founder is Matt Douglas. Douglas, whose principal offices are based in the Boston Metrowest technology center (Natick, MA), has three employees for now. Formerly of Adobe Systems and Bose Corporation, Matt Douglas has 12+ years in product management and marketing with expertise in software product development. At Adobe, Matt was responsible for Adobe Premiere where he grew revenue from $15M to $50M in four years. At Bose, he was a senior manager in the professional division where he led a hardware and software product team. Matt has a degree in music from the University of Rochester and an M.B.A. from UNC Chapel Hill. Matt’s favorite reason to party is Groundhog Day–he and his wife held their 11th annual Groundhog Day party in 2007.

Otherwise Punchbowl Software is a privately held Delaware Corporation.

The competition in the event planning sector looks intensive, but the vast majority of the startups being active in the arena have chosen specific niches, and will be trying to secure their own markets without invading each other’s territory.

More

[ http://www.mypunchbowl.com/ ]
[ http://corp.mypunchbowl.com/ ]
[ http://venturebeat.com/2007/01/15/mypunchbowl-joins-growing-list-of-evite-rivals/ ]
[ http://mashable.com/2007/10/02/mypunchbowl-funded/ ]
[ http://venturebeat.com/2007/10/02/mypunchbowl-lands-seed-funding-for-online-invitations/ ]
[ http://www.quantcast.com/mypunchbowl.com ]
[ http://www.quantcast.com/evite.com ]
[ http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/05/21/mypunchbowl-the-algorithm-schedules-your-event/ ]
[ http://www.boston.com/business/technology/articles/2007/07/22/will_boston_ever_catch_up/?p1=MEWell_Pos5 ]

Hakia takes on major search engines backed up by a small army of international investors

In our planned series of publications about the Semantic Web and its Apps today Hakia is our 3rd featured company.

Hakia.com, just like Freebase and Powerset is also heavily relying on Semantic technologies to produce and deliver hopefully better and meaningful results to its users.

Hakia is building the Web’s new “meaning-based” (semantic) search engine with the sole purpose of improving search relevancy and interactivity, pushing the current boundaries of Web search. The benefits to the end user are search efficiency, richness of information, and time savings. The basic promise is to bring search results by meaning match – similar to the human brain’s cognitive skills – rather than by the mere occurrence (or popularity) of search terms. Hakia’s new technology is a radical departure from the conventional indexing approach, because indexing has severe limitations to handle full-scale semantic search.

Hakia’s capabilities will appeal to all Web searchers – especially those engaged in research on knowledge intensive subjects, such as medicine, law, finance, science, and literature. The mission of hakia is the commitment to search for better search.

Here are the technological differences of hakia in comparison to conventional search engines.

QDEX Infrastructure

  • hakia’s designers broke from decades-old indexing method and built a more advanced system called QDEX (stands for Query Detection and Extraction) to enable semantic analysis of Web pages, and “meaning-based” search. 
  • QDEX analyzes each Web page much more intensely, dissecting it to its knowledge bits, then storing them as gateways to all possible queries one can ask.
  • The information density in the QDEX system is significantly higher than that of a typical index table, which is a basic requirement for undertaking full semantic analysis.
  • The QDEX data resides on a distributed network of fast servers using a mosaic-like data storage structure.
  • QDEX has superior scalability properties because data segments are independent of each other.

SemanticRank Algorithm

  • SemanticRank algorithm of hakia is comprised of innovative solutions from the disciplines of Ontological Semantics, Fuzzy Logic, Computational Linguistics, and Mathematics. 
  • Designed for the expressed purpose of higher relevancy.
  • Sets the stage for search based on meaning of content rather than the mere presence or popularity of keywords.
  • Deploys a layer of on-the-fly analysis with superb scalability properties.
  • Takes into account the credibility of sources among equally meaningful results.
  • Evolves its capacity of understanding text from BETA operation onward.

In our tests we’ve asked Hakia three English-language based questions:

Why did the stock market crash? [ http://www.hakia.com/search.aspx?q=why+did+the+stock+market+crash%3F ]
Where do I get good bagels in Brooklyn? [ http://www.hakia.com/search.aspx?q=where+can+i+find+good+bagels+in+brooklyn ]
Who invented the Internet? [ http://www.hakia.com/search.aspx?q=who+invented+the+internet ]

It basically returned intelligent results for all. For example, Hakia understood that, when we asked “why,” I would be interested in results with the words “reason for”–and produced some relevant ones. 

Hakia  is one of the few promising Alternative Search Engines as being closely watched by Charles Knight at his blog AltSearchEngines.com, with a focus on natural language processing methods to try and deliver ‘meaningful’ search results. Hakia attempts to analyze the concept of a search query, in particular by doing sentence analysis. Most other major search engines, including Google, analyze keywords. The company believes that the future of search engines will go beyond keyword analysis – search engines will talk back to you and in effect become your search assistant. One point worth noting here is that, currently, Hakia still has some human post-editing going on – so it isn’t 100% computer powered at this point and is close to human-powered search engine or combination of the two.

They hope to provide better search results with complex queries than Google currently offers, but they have a long way to catch up, considering Google’s vast lead in the search market, sophisticated technology, and rich coffers. Hakia’s semantic search technology aims to understand the meaning of search queries to improve the relevancy of the search results.

Instead of relying on indexing the web or on the popularity of particular web pages, as many search engines do, hakia tries to match the meaning of the search terms to mimic the cognitive processes of the human brain.

“We’re mainly focusing on the relevancy problem in the whole search experience,” said Dr. Berkan in an interview Friday. “You enter a question and get better relevancy and better results.”

Dr. Berkan contends that search engines that use indexing and popularity algorithms are not as reliable with combinations of four or more words since there are not enough statistics available on which to base the most relevant results.

“What we are doing is an ultimate approach, doing meaning-based searches so we understand the query and the text, and make an association between them by semantic analysis,” he said.

Analyzing whole sentences instead of keywords would indefinitely increase the cost to the company to index and process the world’s information. The case is pretty much the same with Powerset where they are also doing deep contextual analysis on every sentence on every web page and is publicly known fact they have higher cost for indexing and analyzing than Google. Taking into consideration that Google is having more than 450,000 servers in several major data centers and hakia’s indexing and storage costs might be even higher the approach they are taking might cost their investors a fortune to keep the company alive.

It would be interesting enough to find out if hakia is also building their architecture upon the Hbase/Hadoop environment just like Powerset does. 

In the context of indexing and storing the world’s information it worth mentioning that there is yet another start-up search engine called Cuill that’s claiming to have invented a technology for cheaper and faster indexation than Google’s. Cuill claims that their indexing costs will be 1/10th of Google’s, based on new search architectures and relevance methods.

Speaking also for semantic textual analysis and presentation of meaningful results NosyJoe.com is a great example of both, yet it seems it is not going to index and store the world’s information and then apply the contextual analysis to, but rather than is focusing on what is quality and important for the people participating in their social search engine

A few months ago Hakia launched a new social feature called “Meet Others” It will give you the option, from a search results page, to jump to a page on the service where everyone who searches for the topic can communicate.

For some idealized types of searching, it could be great. For example, suppose you were searching for information on a medical condition. Meet Others could connect you with other people looking for info about the condition, making an ad-hoc support group. On the Meet Others page, you’re able to add comments, or connect directly with the people on the page via anonymous e-mail or by Skype or instant messaging.

On the other hand implementing social recommendations and relying on social elements like Hakia’s Meet the Others feature one needs to have huge traffic to turn that interesting social feature into an effective information discovery tool. For example Google with its more than 500 million unique searchers per month can easily beat such social attempts undergone by the smaller players if they only decide to employ, in one way or another, their users to find, determine the relevancy, share and recommend results others also search for. Such attempts by Google are already in place as one can read over here: Is Google trying to become a social search engine.

Reach

According to Quantcast, Hakia is basically not so popular site and is reaching less than 150,000 unique visitors per month. Compete is reporting much better numbers – slightly below 1 million uniques per month. Considering the fact the search engine is still in its beta stage these numbers are more than great. Analyzing further the traffic curve on both measuring sites above it appears that the traffic hakia gets is sort of campaign based, in other words generated due to advertising, promotion or PR activity and is not permanent organic traffic due to heavy usage of the site.

The People

Founded in 2004, hakia is a privately held company with headquarters in downtown Manhattan. hakia operates globally with teams in the United States, Turkey, England, Germany, and Poland.

The Founder of hakia is Dr. Berkan who is a nuclear scientist with a specialization in artificial intelligence and fuzzy logic. He is the author of several articles in this area, including the book Fuzzy Systems Design Principles published by IEEE in 1997. Before launching hakia, Dr. Berkan worked for the U.S. Government for a decade with emphasis on information handling, criticality safety and safeguards. He holds a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Tennessee, and B.S. in Physics from Hacettepe University, Turkey. He has been developing the company’s semantic search technology with help from Professor Victor Raskin of PurdueUniversity, who specializes in computational linguistics and ontological semantics, and is the company’s chief scientific advisor.

Dr. Berkan resisted VC firms because he worried they would demand too much control and push development too fast to get the technology to the product phase so they could earn back their investment.

When he met Dr. Raskin, he discovered they had similar ideas about search and semantic analysis, and by 2004 they had laid out their plans.

They currently have 20 programmers working on building the system in New York, and another 20 to 30 contractors working remotely from different locations around the world, including Turkey, Armenia, Russia, Germany, and Poland.
The programmers are developing the search engine so it can better handle complex queries and maybe surpass some of its larger competitors.

Management

  • Dr. Riza C. Berkan, Chief Executive Officer
  • Melek Pulatkonak, Chief Operating Officer
  • Tim McGuinness, Vice President, Search
  • Stacy Schinder, Director of Business Intelligence
  • Dr. Christian F. Hempelmann, Chief Scientific Officer
  • John Grzymala, Chief Financial Officer

Board of Directors

  • Dr. Pentti Kouri, Chairman
  •  Dr. Riza C. Berkan, CEO
  • John Grzymala
  • Anuj Mathur, Alexandra Global Fund
  • Bill Bradley, former U.S. Senator
  • Murat Vargi, KVK
  • Ryszard Krauze, Prokom Investments

Advisory Board

  • Prof. Victor Raskin (Purdue University)
  • Prof. Yorick Wilks, (Sheffield University, UK)
  • Mark Hughes

Investors

Hakia is known to have raised $11 million in its first round of funding from a panoply of investors scattered across the globe who were attracted by the company’s semantic search technology.

The New York-based company said it decided to snub the usual players in the venture capital community lining Silicon Valley’s Sand Hill Road and opted for its international connections instead, including financial firms, angel investors, and a telecommunications company.

Poland

Among them were Poland’s Prokom Investments, an investment group active in the oil, real estate, IT, financial, and biotech sectors.

Turkey

Another investor, Turkey’s KVK, distributes mobile telecom services and products in Turkey. Also from Turkey, angel investor Murat Vargi pitched in some funding. He is one of the founding shareholders in Turkcell, a mobile operator and the only Turkish company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Malaysia

In Malaysia, hakia secured funding from angel investor Lu Pat Ng, who represented his family, which has substantial investments in companies worldwide.
From Finland, hakia turned to Dr. Pentti Kouri, an economist and VC who was a member of the Nokia board in the 1980s. He has taught at Stanford, Yale, New York University, and HelsinkiUniversity, and worked as an economist at the International Monetary Fund. He is currently based in New York.

United States

In the United States, hakia received funding from Alexandra Investment Management, an investment advisory firm that manages a global hedge fund. Also from the U.S., former Senator and New York Knicks basketball player Bill Bradley has joined the company’s board, along with Dr. Kouri, Mr. Vargi, Anuj Mathur of Alexandra Investment Management, and hakia CEO Riza Berkan.

Hakia was on of the first alternative search engine to make the home page of web 2.0 Innovations in the past year… http://web2innovations.com/hakia.com.php

Hakia.com is the 3rd Semantic App being featured by Web2Innovations in its series of planned publications [  ] where we will try to discover, highlight and feature the next generation of web-based semantic applications, engines, platforms, mash-ups, machines, products, services, mixtures, parsers, and approaches and far beyond.

The purpose of these publications is to discover and showcase today’s Semantic Web Apps and projects. We’re not going to rank them, because there is no way to rank these apps at this time – many are still in alpha and private beta.

Via

[ http://www.hakia.com/ ]
[ http://blog.hakia.com/ ]
[ http://www.hakia.com/about.html ]
[ http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/hakia_takes_on_google_semantic_search.php ]
[ http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/hakia_meaning-based_search.php ]
[ http://siteanalytics.compete.com/hakia.com/?metric=uv ]
[ http://www.internetoutsider.com/2007/07/the-big-problem.html ]
[ http://www.quantcast.com/search/hakia.com ]
[ http://www.redherring.com/Home/19789 ]
[ http://web2innovations.com/hakia.com.php ]
[ http://www.pandia.com/sew/507-hakia.html ]
[ http://www.searchenginejournal.com/hakias-semantic-search-the-answer-to-poor-keyword-based-relevancy/5246/ ]
[ http://arstechnica.com/articles/culture/hakia-semantic-search-set-to-music.ars ]
[ http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9800141-7.html ]
[ http://searchforbettersearch.com/ ]
[ https://web2innovations.com/money/2007/12/01/is-google-trying-to-become-a-social-search-engine/ ]
[ http://www.web2summit.com/cs/web2006/view/e_spkr/3008 ]
 

Force.com takes $25 million from Bay Partners & Bessemer Venture Partners

Bay Partners and Bessemer Venture Partners have teamed up with Salesforce to invest $25 million in businesses building on the recently announced Force.com application platform over the next three years. Investments will be around $500,000 each where some convertible notes are also included. Investments may go as high as $2 million depending on the company’s stage and needs.

Force.com is owned by Salesforce.com, Force.com is presented and offered as platform as a service (PaaS).  Force.com is the world’s first Platform as a Service (PaaS), enabling developers to create and deliver any kind of business application, entirely on-demand and without software. It’s a breakthrough new concept that is making companies radically more successful by letting them translate their ideas into deployed applications in record time.

With Force.com Salesforce is planning to enter the custom software market. It is a new platform that will allow developers to create database driven applications and deploy them as services. So if Salesforce doesn’t offer what you are looking for, and no one has built it for you on Salesforce’s AppExchange, you can simply build it yourself using the Apex framework.

Basically there is a number of rival start-ups that are focused on offering users easy way to create and deploy database driven applications – DabbleDB, Zoho Creator, Rollbase (from former Taleo executives), LongJump, Coghead  and WyaWorks, among others. Unlike some experts predicting that this is sort of game ending for some of the start-ups above, we think this is just a step towards improving the custom software market’s environment and competitiveness among the players from which the end users would only benefit from. Also, some of the smaller companies within the sector are cost-effective and are positioned towards different market niches by targeting different customers when compared to the Salesforce.com. To me it looks more like a beginning of the game.

Many experts in enterprise SaaS right now know that ultra-configurable platforms such as Force.com are the envy of the industry for many reasons. Suffice it so say they enable extremely rapid expansion of the core and beyond into adjacent market segments as well as completely new markets – even long-tail micro-markets driven and executed entirely by end-users.

Bottom line is that users are being given more and more power to develop their own on-demand apps. This is a mega-trend in enterprise software and all significant players will need a strategy to deal with it. Users are becoming much more empowered to design, build, deploy and even distribute their own custom business apps without even knowing how to program.

Highly configurable do-it-yourself SaaS for business users is the future of software and Force.com is a fantastic example of where things are headed. Just about every enterprise software company, especially those targeting SMBs, will want to be running on their own version of this kind of platform over the next several years in order to compete.

Again, this is by no means a game-ending proposition for any of the companies working in this space. Oppositely, some great strategic acquisitions will emerge here as enterprise software companies figure out how to deal with this phenomenon. Multi-tenant, meta-data-driven, configurable SaaS is difficult stuff to build right. The startups that can and are doing a good job now will command a premium in the near future.

On the other hand Salesforce.com has always been seen and known as an aggressive company.

Salesforce.com is the worldwide leader in on-demand customer relationship management (CRM) services. More companies trust their vital customer and sales data to salesforce.com than any other on-demand CRM company in the world.
 
Why? Perhaps it’s because we deliver integrated, completely customizable enterprise applications for companies of all sizes. Or maybe it’s because Salesforce is so easy to learn and use, and thanks to the power of the on-demand Force.com platform, it can be up and running in weeks or days—not the months or years required by traditional client/server CRM software. Or it could be the unprecedented speed with which our customers see real, tangible ROI. Or maybe it’s because of our 100-percent dedication to the success of our customers.

In fact, more than 35,500 companies worldwide depend on Salesforce to manage their sales, marketing, customer service, and other critical business functions. We are proud to be contributing to the success of companies of all sizes, in all industries, around the globe including:

  • Corporate Express
  • Daiwa Securities
  • Expedia Corporate Travel
  • Dow Jones Newswires
  • SunTrust Banks
  • Kaiser Permanente

Salesforce.com was founded in 1999 by former Oracle executive Marc Benioff, who pioneered the concept of delivering enterprise applications via a simple Web site. Salesforce.com is constantly building on that legacy by improving and expanding our award-winning suite of on-demand applications, our Force.com platform for extending Salesforce, and our one-of-a-kind AppExchange directory of on-demand applications.

Salesforce.com has received considerable recognition in the industry, including:

  • Technology of the Year (InfoWorld, 2004, 2005, 2006)
  • Editors’ Choice Award (PC Magazine, 2002, 2003, 2004)
  • Visionary Award (SDForum, 2004)
  • Best of the Web (Forbes, 2003)
  • CRM Excellence Award (Customer Inter@ction Solutions, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006)
  • Top 100 Innovators Award (BusinessWeek, 2006)
  • Innovation Award (AMR Research, 2005)
  • CODIE Award for Best CRM (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006)

The growing list of global business partners dedicated to providing complementary products and services to salesforce.com customers includes IBM, Microsoft, BEA Systems, Sun, TIBCO, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Miller Heiman, and dozens more.

It is believed that the partnership will provide Bay and Bessemer early leads to new companies and Saleforce’s assistance during due dillegence.

Bay Partners have already invested in many Appexchange integrated companies (Xactly, Eloqua, Cornerstone, eProject) and are looking to get in earlier this time around. Notably, Bay Partners has also invested in Facebook’s platform by putting aside funds for 50 investments. So far they’ve closed three, as far as we know.

The investment program has been underway over the past couple of months. Bay has been looking at 12 deals and already committed to one. The deals are judged on a case by case basis.

The Force.com venture program is being led by Neil Sadaranganey and Salil Deshpande from Bay Partners and Byron Deeter from Bessemer Venture Partners.

Saleforce.com is one of the first web based companies to go against the practice to sell software as a product. Instead, they do believe that the software is best to be offered as a service – Software as a Service or so called SaaS. Marc Benioff is salesforce.com’s Chairman & CEO. 

The company is publicly traded on NYSE.

 SALESFORCE.COM INC (NYSE:CRM)  
 
After Hours: 56.73 0.00 (0.00%) on 11/30/07
 
Last Trade: 56.73
Trade Time: 4:02PM ET
Change:  1.47 (2.66%)
Prev Close: 55.26
Open: 55.62
Bid: N/A
Ask: N/A
1y Target Est: 59.36
 
Day’s Range: 55.29 – 57.73
52wk Range: 35.55 – 58.00
Volume: 3,314,902
Avg Vol (3m): 1,694,100
Market Cap: 6.70B
P/E (ttm): 630.33
EPS (ttm): 0.09
Div & Yield: N/A (N/A)

The company’s current market capitalization is more than $6 Billion. Larry Ellison is one of the early investors in Salesforce. 
 
Ok, when people speak for SaaS (Software as a Service), we should take into consideration the following aspects, as some SaaS entrepreneurs are pointing out.

1. Enterprise Software companies which have not yet switched to SaaS are feeling the pressure and in many cases this is already affecting their bottom lines.

2. In order to adopt a SaaS strategy a quick way to do this is to partner with SaaS and build on the Force.com platform, but this is not an end-game strategy, it is a stop-gap measure. Ultimately Salesforce will want to own all major categories, Benioff (Salesforce.com’s Chairman & CEO) wants to build the next SAP/Oracle/PeopleSoft on – demand and why wouldn’t he? However, this causes a fundamental conflict with a partner who would ever consider Force.com their primary platform.

3. It is hard to believe that other enterprise software companies out there are going to bow down to Force.com, give up, and hand over the keys to Benioff. Every enterprise software company will need a strategy to compete with this kind of platform and allow their own applications to be customized, expanded, and even new apps created in an ecosystem, in order to remain competitive. And there is much more of a business case for a successful stand-alone enterprise software company to build or buy to get there versus give up and run on Force.com. There could also be a number of consolidations within the sector of some of the smaller players.

Force.com is a fantastic platform, but it represents a very new very big change that is happening in enterprise software today. It represents an incremental shift in power to end-users in terms of their ability to customize and build applications specific to their business needs. It is the intersection of the do-it-yourself web with enterprise software (e.g. YouTube ==> YouSoft). To say that Salesforce.com has and will continue to have a monopoly on this sector is short-sighted.

Some of the Salesforce.com’s latest press releases, news and announcements:

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff Named 2007 Agenda Setter and Top Ten Business Leader for Championing Software-as-a-Service (http://investor.salesforce.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=141811&p=irol-newsArticle&t=Regular&id=1081407&)

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff Named 2007 Agenda Setter and Top Ten (http://investor.salesforce.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=141811&p=irol-newsArticle&t=Regular&id=1081140&)

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff Named 2007 Agenda Setter and Top Ten Business Leader for Championing Software-as-a-Service (http://investor.salesforce.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=141811&p=irol-newsArticle&t=Regular&id=1080863&)

Salesforce.com Executive Vice President of Products and Marketing to Present at the Credit Suisse Technology Conference
(http://investor.salesforce.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=141811&p=irol-newsArticle&t=Regular&id=1081140&)

Toyota Motor Europe Standardizes on Salesforce across Europe (http://investor.salesforce.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=141811&p=irol-newsArticle&t=Regular&id=1080863&)

Via

[ http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/09/30/bay-and-bessemer-add-25-million-in-monetary-muscle-behind-forcecom/ ]
[ http://www.salesforce.com/company/investor/ ]
[ http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/09/13/salesforce-enters-custom-application-market-with-forcecom/ ]
[ http://www.salesforce.com/company ]
[ http://www.salesforce.com/platform/ ]