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24
This morning at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, Jyri Engeström, co-founder of Jaiku and now Google employee, spoke about building sites around social objects. What this means is that the social sites we visit today are not just friend networks - they're also built around objects that connect people with shared interests. These social objects could be anything from a photo on flickr to a video on YouTube or a track on Last.fm. This concept may not be new info
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rmation to some of you - Jyri has been talking "social objects" for years now. What is interesting, though, is how well this information has held up over time.
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During his presentation, Jyri talked about his five key principles for building sites around social objects. They are:


Define Your Object: This is the easy part, but perhaps most important. The social object will be the center of your network. On eBay, it's whatever item you're selling or buying. On Amazon, it's a product. On Flickr, it's a photo and so on. 

Define Your Verbs: This means what do you want people to do with your social object. Do you want them to comment? Rate it? Share it? Watch it? Etc. Make sure whatever action they should take it clear and highly visible on the site.

Make the Objects Shareable: This is almost a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many sites have not made it easy (or even possible!) to share the object which their site is centered around.

Turn Invitations into Gifts: Want your friends to join you on the network? Don't just spam them with an invite, send them something of value. Jyri mentioned how a purchase of a Skype headset years ago also included a set for a friend. Also, PayPal had originally offered a small amount of money posted to the account of your friends who signed up for the service.

Charge the Publishers, Not the Spectators: On any network, there are those who are creating and those who are passively consuming the content. You shouldn't charge the latter, only the former. The people who are actively using the service and are getting value from it in some way are the ones who would be willing to pay for additional features or, in some cases, just to use the service itself.


An interesting parallel to #5 is the online news industry. Today, many publishers are tossing around ideas about charging for their online content. This actually goes against his final key principal, which may be why some of those ventures won't be as successful as the publishers hope.

Although Jyri Engestrom has not published the slideshow that he used during the presentation, the one embedded below has many of the exact same slides, including the five principles. However, you may be surprised to learn that this one was uploaded to Slideshare two years ago. Even though, it seems the subject matter is still as relevant today as it did back then.



Do you agree that these principles have held up over time? Or does this list need to be modified or changed in some way?
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5
The topic of the night here in the US is a rumored deal in the works between Google and Twitter. Michael Arrington reported tonight that acquisition talks are in late stages, then revised his report with another source close to at least one company saying that the talks were in early stages.

Whatever stage these talks are at - there are some big issues raised by the possibility of such a deal happening. We'll be posting a ReadWriteWeb staff round table discussion on the topic i
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n 7 or 8 hours, but we thought we'd ask our European readers just starting a new day for your thoughts in the meantime. We'd love to wake up to some fresh thinking on the topic.
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RSS readers can click here to participate and see the results of the poll on this page. Some perspectives we've begun to consider so far:

"Since adding the Twitter On Google Greasemonkey script, I click on Twitter links far more often than Google links. People are searching for what happened on American Idol last night, for what Obama just said, for that crazy video people are talking about. Those are all real-time searches that Twitter is well suited to serve. Calling Twitter a Google killer is not accurate but it is a new kind of search. But Google owns so much already! Couldn't they just let me have this one thing that they didn't own?"
-Sarah Perez, ReadWriteWeb

Google Buying Twitter: Good or Bad? ( online surveys)"It makes no sense to me. They have the smartest engineers in the world and could reproduce Twitter no problem. They could have integrated Jaiku into Android, Gmail and general presence info if they gave a crap about real time search."
-Lidija Davis, ReadWriteWeb

"It's a pure platform play. Google understands platforms and Twitter is a powerful platform. The network effects are already there and they'd be buying while there's momentum."
-John Musser, founder of API and Mashup directory and blog ProgrammableWeb

"I bet that Google won't buy Twitter but instead will find a way to make an Adsense deal with them...Google doesn't need Twitter for real-time search. They can set up a crawler for the RSS feed today for next to nothing."
-Steve Rubel, Edelman Digital

My perspective (Marshall Kirkpatrick) is that this would be at least as big a tragedy as when Yahoo! bought and suffocated Delicious; I don't know why Evan Williams would be willing to sell to Google.

What do you think? Could this be good? Will it be bad? How do you feel about it and what do you think it might mean?

You can find ReadWriteWeb on Twitter, as well as the entire RWW Team: Marshall Kirkpatrick, Bernard Lunn, Alex Iskold, Sarah Perez, Frederic Lardinois, Rick Turoczy, Sean Ammirati, Lidija Davis and Phil Glockner.
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5
OneRiot, a relatively new real-time search engine, launched a new Twitter search engine this morning that takes a very different approach to Twitter search from similar ventures we have seen lately. Instead of surfacing specific tweets, OneRiot focuses on shared links instead of just doing a keyword search on Twitter. While Twitter's own search, for example, will show you
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the conversation around the leaked copy of Wolverine, OneRiot will actually find the latest shared links about this topic on Twitter.
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On the search results page, OneRiot emphasizes links, though you can also click on a small link at the bottom of each result to see the tweets that included this link. From there, you can also reply to a tweet. If OneRiot finds new tweets that fit your search, it will automatically prompt you to reload the page.

To get data about current trends on Twitter, OneRiot uses both Twitter's own API, as well as data it gathers from users who have installed OneRiot's own toolbar in their browsers.

Looking for Feedback

As OneRiot's GM Tobias Peggs told us yesterday, the company decided to test its new Twitter search feature on a separate page for now (twitter.oneriot.com), in order to get feedback from customers.

We, for one, would like to see the ability to organize results by how many users have linked to a certain page, for example. It would also be nice if OneRiot gave us the option to search for conversations around a specific link by copying and pasting a URL into OneRiot's search box.



Overall, we like OneRiot's approach to searching Twitter. In some ways, it is similar to MicroPlaza's search functionality, though OneRiot's results focus more on the real-time experience.
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30
Some of us know what hitting the front page of Digg can do: send 20,000 - 200,000+ clicks through to a site. Some of us have even felt the curse (or blessing depending on how you look at it) of the Digg Effect. digg_url = 'http://digg.com/tech_news/Want_Success_on_Digg_Think_Chocolate_Chip_Cookies';digg_bgcolor = '#ffffff';digg_skin = 'normal';But how much do you know about integrating social media, specifically Digg, into your site, and what the benefits of doing so can bring to publishers?
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Bob Buch, VP of business development for Digg spoke at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco today and explained that if you want successful social media integration, you need to think chocolate chip cookies. "Much like social media, choc chip cookies are made up of five key ingredients," he explained, "and if you want to succeed, you need to know what those ingredients are."
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5 Ingredients for Social Media Success

Sharing: If you love something, set it freeIntegration: Don't try to do everything yourselfPeople: People who know: ROFLCopter, LMAO, PWND, NoobPlatform: One to one is now one to manyAuthenticity: Stay true to your core competency

Although Digg has 4.1 million registered users, there are in excess of 35 million people looking at and consuming what registered users are doing. "If you're lucky enough to have Digg users looking at your content, you'll hit front page," Buch said; a tip that should not be dismissed too quickly.

Give Visitors a Customized Experience

In a recent experiment with Conde Nast's Wired, Digg tracked changes on Wired's site to see what, if any effect they would make. Originally Buch explained, the site had a 'share this' button but upon close inspection of traffic logs, discovered the majority of traffic came from Digg, Yahoo! Buzz and StumbleUpon. So they pulled those buttons out of the 'share' widget and displayed them prominently. In doing this, they effectively told their audience - at a glance - "these are the sites we want you to focus on."



Result? An increase from 500,000 clicks from Digg, to over a million.

Another option is to go the College Humor site route and "hit your users with a sledgehammer approach," Buch explained. Particularly noteworthy, is that the site doesn't use the sledgehammer approach with everyone. "They sniff what domain you're coming from, and if you're coming from Digg, they'll hit you with the Digg button - the sledgehammer," Buch explained.

"I haven't seen many publishers do this, but it could be a good way forward; knowing where those users are coming form and giving them a customized experience."

Hire Smart People

The Telegraph, a UK based news site employs social media experts. "In the middle of the newsroom, the Telegraph has two flatscreens. One shows Twitter, the other Digg," said Buch. "These people are focused on Digg. They implemented Smart Digg and have seen page views increase from 500,000 per month to 5.5 million per month."

Automatic Syndication

Buch points to the recent changes at Facebook and talks about Facebook Connect as a great example of integration possibility.

The beauty of Facebook Connect is that it gives you a one stop login when it is implemented on a site. "There is no e-mail; there is no verification process," explained Buch. The advantage of this is that Facebook has recently integrated Facebook Connect into its news feed. "So if you have a share capability on your site - even commenting, that can automatically be placed on a wall; automatic syndication," said Buch.

Results:

Registration up 30 - 100%Engagement up 15-80% comments - other ugcTraffic - stories published to newsfeed average 40 friends and 0.8 - 2 clicks

Note: Digg has not yet implemented Facebook Connect, but has Facebook Import (Facebook syndication on Digg) which allows you to automatically update your Facebook wall when you digg a story.

Make the Most Out of Widgets

Time, which wanted to show top stories on Digg had a proviso; it wanted to only show content that originated on Time. It was made possible using the Digg widget and according to Buch, extremely effective. "What we've found is that this tends to be more popular than even home spun 'most popular' widgets." While he explained that it's difficult to know why the Digg widget works better, he speculates it may be the sizing of the font used.

Make it Raw

Buch recommends using the various platforms for corporate communications. "We have a Digg blog, to which we post about once a month," he explained, "and Twitter is a great way to stay in touch with your users between blog posts." Follow @digg to get the latest news from Digg.

"Facebook has given publishers new opportunities," Buch explained. Pages, now public profiles are similar to the Twitter model in that they allow a one way friendship. When talking to Facebook, Buch learned that the most successful publishers were doing more than posting stories, they were using is as a way to share a little more 'intimately.' "Let your reporters upload photos from the field," Buch said. Although they may not make the actual publication, "it's a little more raw."

Find Your Sweet Spot

The real key to success according to Buch is to find out what your core competency is and being true to that. "The Internet is the ultimate bullshit meter. You can not pull anything over anyone on the Internet. They will call you out and make you feel like an idiot. Figure out what your chocolate chips are."

"Digg played with that," said Buch. "We posted RSS feeds for every single category and when we looked at traffic, one feed as much as 100 times exceeded traffic than other feeds. People were engaging; that was the digg2000 feed." "That was where we found our 'sweet spot.'"
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42
Rapleaf's Auren Hoffman says that hiring is harder in a downturn because the noise goes up but the quality stays the same. That's a pretty strong statement to make, but if it's true then it's all the more remarkable to see which companies are making hires now.

Our site ReadWriteHire covers new hires in tech and new media. Today we're publishing our aggregate numbers for the first 3 months of 2009. Who's hiring? Software an
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d IT companies, social media and social networking companies and marketing and advertising firms.
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Leading Sectors

We've reported on a total of 420 hires since the first of January. The top 10 sector categories have been:
Software/IT (24%)Social Media/Social Networking (15%)Marketing/Advertising (11%)Publishing/New Media (7%)Hardware (6%)Mobile (4%)Gaming/Entertainment (3%)Search (3%)Government (2%)Security (2%)
These numbers are quite similar to the trends we identified in the final months of 2008. The "other" category includes sectors like research and testing, VOIP and tech consulting companies.

News of those positions getting filled came from press releases and personal tips, but also from mentions of new jobs on Twitter and blog posts. We scour the web daily for cool news about people getting cool new jobs.

There are far more hires going on in total than we can currently report on, but we're working on expanding our capacity and we believe that this is a valuable data point as a semi-representative snapshot at least. We hope that the particular hires reported on ReadWriteHire will also be of interest to companies in each of these sectors. Knowing who your competitors have hired is valuable information.

If you've made a new hire or gotten a new job recently, drop us a line to let us know! You can reach us by email at [email protected]

Congratulations to everyone who secured these increasingly difficult positions to land. Join us over at ReadWriteHire for more stories of exciting new hires every day of the week.
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20
A new online community site called Lunch.com has just launched into private beta here at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco. The site, essentially a recommendation network, aims to bring the sort of casual conversations you would have with friends over lunch to the online arena. Using a proprietary "Similarity Network Engine," Lunch calculates what you have in common with other site members so you can share recommendations with those who have your same interests and perspectives.

Click through for an exclusive invite code to this new s
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ite!
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In a way, Lunch is somewhat like a "Yelp 2.0." But unlike Yelp and other sites like it, Lunch's network aims to make user-generated reviews more of a personalized experience. By discovering your passions and interests, Lunch lets you connect with people who are more like you - and therefore, people who will be recommending and reviewing products and services in a way that you can trust (at least in theory). This idea has merit because it provides a personalized, filtered view of these online reviews.

Why We Need This

Sites like Yelp, Amazon, the iTunes store, and others have been coming under fire for not having trustworthy reviews. Thanks to anonymous user IDs on some sites, reviewers can be anyone with any agenda. Often they are. On Lunch, however, those drive-by reviews contributed by someone associated with the company or product being reviewed (or with an axe to grind) will not be prominently featured. The reason? Lunch.com's Similarity Network.

10
Sprout, developer of a unique drag-and-drop widget creation service, announced today that its development platform now supports the Facebook Platform, Facebook Connect, and OpenSocial. According to the press release, this will "enable brands and agencies to focus their time on the creative campaign development and still reap the rewards that social netwo
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rking applications offer.." Which means, if you are using Sprout for your ad campaigns already, you now instantly have access to three more social platforms to deploy on. If you aren't using Sprout, why not?
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We covered Sprout's widget creator, product SproutBuilder at the DEMO '08 conference. Since then, it had to withdraw their free offerings to concentrate on remaining profitable. The good news is that recently, it is putting a toe back in with the availability of a limited free account type that allows for up to 3 projects (widgets) without reporting features or support. This is perfect if you have an idea for a Sprout widget but you want to try before you buy.




Details on how Sprout's foray into social media campaigns will work on a technical level are not outlined in the provided documentation. But if it is telling us that a marketing or advertiser can use their product and deploy it cross-platform without any coding skills, it could potentially add up to a big cost savings overall and may make the difference between Sprout and one of its competitors. Plus, one of those platforms is Facebook, which means instant viral exposure to millions of active user accounts.
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14
Ribbit, the VOIP platform that was bought by British Telecom last year, announced the winners of its $100,000 KillerApps challenge today. The contest was obviously meant to stimulate interest in Ribbit's APIs among developers, and judging from the line-up of winning applications, a lot of developers came up with highly creative ways of using Ribbit's platform in their apps.
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.openx.org/ck.php?n=14439&cb=14439' target='_blank'>

Ribbit opened up its API about one and a half years ago, but even though the company was quickly bought up by British Telecom in July 2008, it was only after this year's SXSW, where Ribbit won the Innovative Web Technologies category in Microsoft's BizSpark Accelerator, that it appeared on our radar again.

We spoke to the Ribbit team yesterday, and while Ribbit is currently focused on providing SDK's and toolkits for Adobe's Flex and Flash platforms, it is also currently testing a RESTful API in private beta, which will soon allow developers to integrate Ribbit's platform into numerous other programming languages as well.

Winners

Here are the winners of the five categories in Ribbit's KillerApps challenge:

Media, Advertising, Entertainment: Lucid Viewer

Lucitd Viewer is an authoring tool that allows developers to create interesting, immersive experiences. This demo here, for example, shows a 3D, Google StreetView-like view of a street in Rome, with the ability to call up stores directly from the Flash interface through Ribbit's service. Lucid Viewer also won the Grand Price in Ribbit's KillerApps contest.

Business: Sugared Frog

Similar to Ribbit's own integration with Salesforce, Sugared Frog integrates Ribbit with SugarCRM. With the help of Sugared Frog, users of SugarCRM's open source solution can use Sugared Frog to organize their voicemail, and dictate notes and memos right from their mobile phones.

Social Networking and Communication: Save A Life

Save a Life is an interesting Adobe AIR application that allows you to quickly reach a group of friends or community members by phone. Currently, the application focuses on blood donations (you can download the application here), though the program could be used for other donation campaigns or emergency services as well.

Breakthrough: CYHAA

CYHAA won Ribbit's free-form 'breakthrough' category. CYHAA, which stands for Control Your Home, Anytime, Anywhere allows users to control their smart home devices with their voice right from their phones.
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37
Link shortening services are so common you can't throw a stone online without hitting one, but TinyURL is the undisputed champ. It's one of the oldest, its name says what it does and despite repeated outages - its downtime is small enough that millions of people keep using it.

TinyURL has also allowed incomprehensible amounts of value, both in terms of technology and in terms of money, sit on the table unclaimed. For years. Now a group of some of the web's hottest investors are betting a few million dollars that a smart TinyURL competitor called
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a href="http://bit.ly">Bit.ly can take advantage of being the conduit through which millions of people visit sites of interest to them.
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Today Bit.ly announced that it has raised about $2 million in its first round of funding. The round was led by Tim O'Reilly's venture fund and included money from Mitch Kapor (the inventor of Lotus), Jeff Clavier (portfolio), Ron Conway (early Google investor), the Accelerator Group and Howard Lindzon's new fund Social Leverage. All of those names are some of the hottest in the startup scene and all the companies in those various portfolios will now have a close business connection to Bit.ly.

We reviewed Bit.ly when the project launched last July and urged readers to use this service to shorten their long links instead of other services like TinyURL. Why do we care what service people use? Because we're fans of innovation and Bit.ly is aiming to be a platform for innovation like TinyURL should have been. If web 2.0 is about democratizing publishing, the next step is machine leveraging all the resulting data.

The Bit.ly Magic

What does Bit.ly do that's so special? They use all the data they see and make it available to third party developers who want to build on top of it. They keep track of the clickthrough numbers and can tell you what the hottest links on the web are at any time. See this @bitlynow Twitter account for one display of that information. Bit.ly says it resolved 20 million distinct URLs last week. That's the beginning of a really large database.

Bit.ly also uses Reuters Calais to extract semantic terms out of the pages that shortcuts are created to. That's valuable information. Want to see the most popular web pages that talk about Dancing With The Stars, or the Federal Stimulus Package, or some other topic, in the last 30 minutes? Somebody wants to, you'd better believe, and that's the kind of real-time information that the Bit.ly API aims to make available. (Disclosure: Calais is an RWW sponsor.)

We've had some concerns about the clickthrough numbers that Bit.ly has reported but the company says they are going through a list of reporting sources that give them problems and eliminating them one at a time. The company says it is now reporting real-time traffic stats that are within 10% of what Google Analytics reports much later. We've been watching the numbers improve in accuracy when it comes to our numbers and can confirm that they are getting much better.

A number of people have looked at today's news and thought it was ridiculous that a link shortening business could raise $2 million in funding. We don't think it's ridiculous at all. Show us a service that can report in real time how many people are visiting millions of pages around the web and what those pages are about, that exposes that data in an API, and we'll show you a platform we're very excited to see work.

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27
Skype does not get the respect it deserves, because eBay not only publicly admitted to overpaying for it but is making a mess of its core business. Another reason may be that Skype flies in the face of conventional Valley wisdom that says it has to be all about social media. digg_url = 'http://digg.com/software/10_Reasons_Skype_is_the_Biggest_Winner_of_the_Web_2_0_Era';digg_bgcolor = '#ffffff';digg_skin = 'normal';Or maybe the fact that Skype came from Europe, and we all know that Europeans are just lunch-eating dilettantes. Whatever the reason, a company tha
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t has $500 million in revenue, is profitable and growing, and has a shot at becoming the largest player in what is now a $2 trillion (yes, "t" for trillion) market, should get more respect.
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Ten Reasons

In ten years time we may look at Skype in the same way we look at Amazon and Google, as a huge built-to-last company, for these ten reasons:


It has revenue, about $500 million in 2008. Ahem, only in the strange world of Web 2.0 is that considered remarkable. I love using Twitter, but without sustainable revenue their future has to be in question.

It is profitable. We're talking "high-teen margins," according to eBay's CEO at the Accel Symposium. That does put it in a different league. It means they can survive the harshest of economic climates. If Facebook is having to raise money in these markets their model must be fundamentally flawed, which means their time as an independent company maybe limited. To control your own destiny, you need to be profitable.

Skype's growth is accelerating in a tough market. Skype is publicly talking about growth rates of 30% to 40%. That's not bad in an economy where flat is the new 30%. Skype has the perfect recession pitch: cut costs now! This shows in its most recent numbers. In the last quarter, Donahoe told us that Skype-to-Skype grew 73% and Skype Out grew 63%.

Disruptive technology. Disruptive technology is an over-hyped term, but in this case it really fits. Skype's peer to peer technology enables them to dramatically under-price the competition and still make money. New users don't cost much money - compare that with Facebook and YouTube. Even better, each new user that comes on improves the service for others - the core P2P proposition.

Viral marketing. Skype is the perfect viral business. I have lost count of the number of people I have told about Skype, for the simple reason that I want to communicate better/cheaper with them. Many of them are doing the same.

Massive market with vulnerable incumbents.$2 trillion is a lot of money. That is the size of the global telecom market. As to vulnerable, how many people feel so loyal to their telephone company that they won't switch to get lower prices? Yes, when Skype dominates the market it won't be worth $2 trillion any more. Even if it is worth 25% of that, say $500 billion, that is OK for the dominant player. Faced with the Skype threat, incumbents have a horrible innovator's dilemma. To really match Skype will destroy their current business even faster.

Just wait until it bites into those cell phone bills.Skype on mobile phones - really native Skype you can use for free wherever there is WiFi - has been possible technically for some time. This has been held back by the mobile operator's head lock on the device manufacturers. At some point the damn will break. Consumers pent up anger over nickle and diming cell phone bills will ensure that a real alternative will be welcomed.

Skype is totally mainstream. This is not about being hip or early adopter. Just show the video conversation to anybody with loved ones in distant places. You will see the surprise and amazement that makes it seem like magic.

It is a sticky service. Google still gets my business because they are better than the alternatives. But switching to an alternative will be totally simple. When somebody suggests using something other than Skype, I resist. I have my contacts in there, know exactly how it works and have integrated some external tools. Skype can continually add new features to make the experience better as our hunger for communication is pretty well limitless.

Skype can do an IPO. For anyone younger than 30, we should probably spell that out: Initial Public Offering. We keep being told that the IPO market is moribund because of Sarbanes-Oxley. Baloney! The IPO market is moribund because we have lacked profitable high-growth companies that move into huge markets.


My prediction is that as soon as market conditions improve, eBay will sell Skype through an IPO. Their shareholders will pressure them to do so. There is no synergy logic being part of eBay. The value of Skype is obscured by the problems in eBay's core business. The Skype IPO can be early in the market recovery as their story resonates so well in a recession (markets usually recover well before the economy recovers).


Who Else?

Who else can take the title "biggest winner from the Web 2.0 era"?


Google: not really Web 2.0, though; born in 1999.

YouTube: still losing money, no clear monetization model, and video-serving costs are substantial. It is hard to imagine YouTube as an independent company

Facebook: how long can the great hope remain the great hope? At some point, it has to demonstrate a sustainable revenue model and some profit. It still doesn't have a native revenue model that makes sense to both users and advertisers.

Twitter: see above.

Salesforce.com: not really Web 2.0 either; born in 1999. More revenue than Skype today, but smaller addressable market.

Discuss


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