Gmail: The Video

For those still stuck on Yahoo Mail or lousy Hotmail, get a life. =D

Made by the Gmail team, this video is great for pple who dunno about its kickass features. Especially in Asia where so many pple are still stuck on oter crappy email apps. Having used Gmail for a long time, I like the video cos I was able to see why a new user will like Gmail cos it really solves problems in sorting out the mess in your inbox.

Credit to Tony Chung’s Geekwhat.


Youtube founders cash out of Google

Update: The Google SEC filing and registration of the Youtube equity beneficiaries can be seen here (see page 5 onwards). Apologize for the sensationalistic title. Its not really a “cashout per se” but a “registration for (potential) resale”. 

googleyoutubelogo.jpgFrom Reuters, this is breaking news from Web 2.0 Central in Silicon Valley.

Two of YouTube’s founders stand to divide shares of stock now valued at around $650 million, Web search leader Google Inc. said in a regulatory filing on Wednesday… Chad Hurley, chief executive of the online video sharing phenomenon YouTube, received 694,087 of Google common stock worth around $326 million, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

Steve Chen gets a similar amount of $300M+.

Jawad Karim, the 3rd co-founder walks away with $64 million.

Sequoia Capital (VC Backers) – $442 million.

Julie Supan (YouTube’s principal spokeswoman) – $4.8 million. (Note to self: become a spokesman)

Friendster Hitches Up with Google

My earlier post on Friendster has a new significant update. Bambi Francisco of Marketwatch informs us of the outcome of an interview with Kent Lindstrom, CEO of Friendster.

The skinny of this interview is that Friendster will now partner Google in making the latter its default search provider, in addition to an advertising deal akin to the Google-Myspace where ads are provided by Google.

Looks like Google gets them all, popular sites like MySpace, legacy ones like Friendster, to boost its online reach and its revenue, without the wholesale purchase of entire communities, an approach favored by Yahoo. This is a smart move by Google to increase its advertising inventory since its current web real estate are not really the destination sites on the web. It needs to literally get on as many online webpages as possible, considering that its hardly the No. 1 in content being served over the web, ceding that title to Yahoo, MSN AOL and MySpace. At the same time, it focuses on doing what it does best, the technical innovation of its web products without dabbling into its weak areas like content development or social networking site management.

*GASP* Has Google Won the War?

Rich Skrenta has this amazing article on his blog that proclaims Google as the undisputed leader of the Third Wave of Computing after IBM and Microsoft. According to him, the search industry has sorted itself out such that no other competitors, not even Yahoo or Microsoft, can face up to Google’s dominance in search technology, revenue monetization nor brand perception.

So, has Google really won the war?


No way. I am not going to argue that at this current time, Google search is superior in the 3 areas i pointed out in the last paragraph. But i dispute the fact that Google’s position as the leader in search is dominant to the extent Microsoft and IBM had for the PC and mainframe industries.

Search Market Share

Google’s next step: owning the rest of the page views on the netJust as Microsoft used their platform monopoly to push into vertical apps, expect Google to continue to push into lucrative destination verticals — shopping searches, finance, photos, mail, social media, etc. They are being haphazard about this now but will likely refine their thinking and execution over time. It’s actually not inconceivable that they could eventually own all of the destination page views too. Crazy as it sounds, it’s conceivable that they could actually end up owning the entire net, or most of what counts. — Rich Skrenta

For one, Google does not have dominant market share of the search market. According to the latest (?) Comscore ratings of August 2006, Google’s market share of search is just under 50%, while, dominating Microsoft and Yahoo in head-to-head comparisons (at 12.5% and 28.7% respectively), do not grant it dominance to the extent of Microsoft’s near-monopolistic share over PC software, or even IBM’s share in their heydays. Of course, Rich Skrenta cites Google’s true search market share at 70% based on his own analysis here, which makes for compelling reading as that is closer to my own analytics on this blog and elsewhere too, but its still hard to dispute comScore methodology without deeper analysis. Google has to fear a resurgent and cash-rich Microsoft buying over a Yahoo that is looking vulnerable after recent management revamps and strategic missteps in its bid to become an online media giant at the expense of search.

If Microsoft and Yahoo combines, not only do they form a formidable threat in terms of search market share, they also bring large audiences and strengths in content (through the MSN and Yahoo sites) under the same roof. This effectively kicks the wind out of Google, especially if they intend to diversify into areas other than search, such as social media, photos, mail or finance (as listed y Rich Skrenta). We know how Google fares in those verticals currently, it has already exited the user-dependent Google Answers service while Yahoo Answers roars ahead. While I am a rabid fan of Gmail, Yahoo Mail and Hotmail still have overwhelming numbers of users that are unlikely to convert their loyalty in any significant way to Google soon.

Transfer of Brand-Trust

The brand perception of Google might be strong, but it is only limited to search, and not in email as yet, and similarly for other services other than search. How users will translate their trust in the Google search service to other Google-affiliated services is an open question even Googlers must be asking themselves too. As it stands, Google has launched an amazing number of services under its Google Labs, few of which have truly stuck on that metaphorical wall of user-consumer acceptance. While its culture of innovation is laudable here, doubts have crept as to how Google intends to curb its dependence, in terms of revenue, upon search as its sole revenue driver. If we are to take revenue generation as a reliable symtpom of brand equity, Google is only good in search, so far. Period.

All in all, I think its still premature to say Google is the dominant search engine for this Third Age of Computing. It has been the first to get search truly right (first-right-mover advantage) but the jury is still out on the success of Microsoft’s new advertising platform AdCenter and Yahoo’s Project Panama. Furthermore, the search engine marketing industry is not just limited to CPC ads which Google totally rules, but also CPM and CPA ads (Dave McClure made a strong case for CPA here). There’s still a long way for Microsoft, Yahoo or even NewsCorp to muscle in and determine the path for search engines to lead the evolution of its advertising-reliant monetization model. I think 2007 will shed more light on the final destination of the Crown for Search, especially so if Microsoft and Yahoo hook up.

The war for search engine domination is not over because monetization lies at its root, and the best man who figures out how to sell effectively (CPA ads) to an intent-based activity like search, wins.

Google is the New Coke

40772937wa149_colawars_web.jpgBecause Yahoo has officially become Pepsi.

And we might be looking at an internet industry with only 2 giants, if you believe MSN and Yahoo might merge under a Microsoft takeover.

Whats the deal with so many acquisitions, one might ask? There has been more than an avalanche of deals made in the past 12 months in the internet industry as Google, Yahoo, MSN, along with lumbering media dinosaurs behind eating their dust, jostled to make their way into college dorms (ok, not quite) for pizza-fueled, beer-guzzling young entrepreneurs with the Next Big Thing. The doomsday believers and closet Nostradamus groupies among us are even mentioning the feared “B” word – Bubble.

But Yahoo has really been the loser in this round, as their one-time protege in web search, Google has swiftly taken over Yahoo’s dominance as the first major search giant and gone on to corner the search and online advertising markets. The number of victories keep piling up for Google since their IPO in July 2004; Quarterly Revenue, Market cap on Wall Street, Market Share for Search, AOL, MySpace, Youtube… Its making Terry Semel and his merrymen in Sunnyvale wonder if they are losing their mojo in deal-making.

The latest rumor has it that Yahoo is now thinking of revisiting an old battle won by Google over AOL and mulling a buyout of that unit. Click here for CNN Money article.

In other news, Google may have truly grown too big for its size and exhausted Earth’s resource for intelligent people. Not too long ago in Feb 2006, they were still pretty anal about their GPA qualifications. Click here for Valleywag article. They have relaxed their GPA requirements for new hires, albeit only for sales positions. Click here for article from John Battelle.

Google-Youtube: The Aftermath

Following the mega deal of the week, TimeWarner CEO Dick Parsons had this to say:

“The YouTube deal demonstrates the power of user-generated content today. “The question is,” Parsons said, “where is it going and how do you make a business out of it? Is it going to take over edited or professional content? No. I don’t think its going to overrun TV or movies.”

Parsons went on to note that for a “traditional” media company, like Time Warner, “This would be a tough acquisition to justify at this price, But for Google, it’s in their sweet spot. They are our partner on AOL Video, we know their vision. They’re trying to acquire anything that generates traffic—they monetize Internet traffic. None of the other media companies could have been in that ballpark.””

From the advertising industry, Organic Inc’s CEO Mark Kingdon:

“…thought the online video-sharing startup would have made more sense as a Yahoo Inc. property.

Google is strong as a “link and list business,” Kingdon said Wednesday during a conference call organized by UBS. Yahoo, on the other hand, is expert at organizing content into channels — and that is exactly what the fledgling YouTube site needs right now…

…Web companies haven’t figured out how to make video advertising appealing to them, he said. Yahoo’s structured display advertising allows companies to create big brand splashes on its content pages. In the same way, Google, YouTube and others hoping to make money in the video space need to come up with a new way for advertisers to reach video viewers, Kingdon said.

And 30-second commercials tacked on to a video aren’t going to cut it. “People today are walking TiVos,” Kingdon said, referring to the digital video recorders that makes it easy for viewers to skip advertising spots. “If they see something that looks like an ad, they mentally look beyond it.”

And a post-takeover Eric Schmidt had to play shrink to hyperventilating media bigwigs from NewsCorp, Viacom, CBS among others, fearful of a “Youtube-on-steroids” competing with their expensive media content (article here):

“Eric Schmidt is barnstorming New York this week to assure traditional media companies that the internet search company’s $1.65bn (£889m) acquisition of YouTube, the video start-up, will not turn it into a content competitor.

The Google chief stressed… that the YouTube purchase was intended to increase Google’s ability to distribute advertising and video on the internet. “We are not in the content business and partnerships really show the application of our advertising network to the content and media abilities of our partners. We want those partners to put their media content into this emergent [system].”

The driving force behind the decision to buy YouTube was Google’s belief that video is “one of the most important new media types on the internet”, he said.”

So there you have it, a round-up of the CEO view of the Google Youtube deal.

Related Article here.


50 Mins of Marissa Mayer

I just spent the past 50 mins of my life listening to this ETL video-cast of Google’s Marissa Mayer where she was sharing her lessons on innovation from her past 7 years of working experiences there.

During these 50 minutes, i wrote down stuff, thinking of recapping the lessons by blogging and thinking as i write.

And I spent the next 10 thinking what to actually blog about.

I wasn’t going to just do a point-by-point summary of what she said. Thats not blogging, thats called reporting, (like how secretaries take down notes mindlessly during meetings)

So my key takeaway wasn’t thinking about her lessons in the context of innovation, but of culture. Specifically, building a conducive culture in any organization.

Its a no-brainer that we spend about 50 years of our life working. For educated people with access to key information troves such as the internet like yourself, we are the educated strata of society who have the choice to decide what life, or rather working life, we want to have for a significant portion of our lives. Our companies become our “families” for a good part of the day and as we are emotional creatures since we are humans, we tend to bring the same emotions we have from our work back to our homes and the rest of our non-working lives. Which also means its very important to work in a positive work environment because it extends naturally to your ENTIRE life. Its not just the job function you are performing, not just the money you are in for, but its a lifestyle you choose when you choose to work in one particular company.

Which is why I think Google is great. The same theories that they learnt and applied to innovation or from their own product development extends beyond their applications in the workplace and can be used for personal enrichment too. I will highlight some useful ones.

SHARING –The Good Type

Marissa talks about the case, based on an analogy from Tom Kelley’s book Art of Innovation, of a hypothetical employee telling all his colleagues this great idea he/ she has for the main purpose of taking personal credit. This sounds great, pple are sharing ideas in the organization but the lesson is there is good and bad sharing. While sharing ideas are very important in any organization, a company should emphasise the message that:

  • no one shld get territorial over ideas because it doesn’t matter who thought of them in the first place
  • cultivate the culture that no one and nobody has any control over ideas and are free to conceptualize, daydream and contribute
  • focus on what the idea and how it can add value to their daily way of doing things

EXPERIMENTING — Because Innovation is not instant perfection

  • When you build something, can you really learn quickly about yourself, learn quickly from your users such that you can iterate more efficiently the next time?
  • Every time you make a mistake, you iterate out of it. Make more mistakes but make sure you learn and get smarter every time.

Google encourages failure. Because hope springs eternal when an organization has dreamers that act on their dreams and constantly try to make them realities. Nobody succeeds by doing the same thing all the time. You got to be different, which means you have to innovate, and when the correct approach towards innovation is adopted and this becomes something synoymous with the Google culture, pple join the company believing they can do the same experimenting and thats when the founder’s habits and beliefs become immortalized as the culture of the company.

Data is A-Political

TO eradicate office politics, take a very quantitative process towards decision-making and even suggestions. Numbers dun lie, and using them to back up statements creates a meritocracy that is not based on relationships but your ability to use number-crunching abilities to support your thought process.

The QnA session took up half the 50 mins. I love Socratic dialogue style of learning by discussing, not preaching. Thats why E27 events are great!

This guy asked what was one of the toughest questions for Marissa:

Q: What are some personal characteristics that made you successful?


  • Passion to work
  • Her Decision Process: Compile a list of the best decisions you have made and try to find out what is common between them. Especially when some decisions are really different from each other.
  • Work with people smarter than you are so you learn.
  • Challenge yourself by doing things that you are really not ready to do. Because you acquire new skill sets.You know your boundaries and you expand them.

Just a parting note, she had a really amusing gigglish laughter that is almost self-deprecating at times, endearing her to the crowd. 6 months away from Silicon Valley have almost made me forgot how much personality and charisma top executives like Marissa Mayer have compared to the many dour figures we have in Singapore where speakers seldom break out of their self-imposed shells once they step onto that stage to make a public presentation. Personalities like Marissa Mayer are icons and rallying points of a company culture.

They inspire. And thats another important hallmark of a good company culture.

Thanks to SGEntrepreneurs for cross-listing this too!