Showing posts from December, 2010

A New Year's resolution for Google: buy MySpace, stat!

This post was also published in VentureBeat. For all the money Google has thrown at MySpace over the years, the search giant of Mountain View might as well have bought the troubled social network. For years, News Corp. CEO liked to brag that Google paid him more in its landmark $900 million search deal than he paid to buy MySpace in the first place. Oh, sure, no one’s bragging now. News Corp. executives are openly talking about dumping MySpace, and Google only recently renewed its advertising agreement with MySpace , after months of delay, in a deal that smacked of throwing good money after bad. But that’s a sunk cost, as economists like to say, and chump change for Google’s multibillion-dollar money machine. What Google really needs is a convincing social strategy to get Wall Street and Silicon Valley’s collected punditocracy off its back. MySpace is for sale. And Google should jump at the chance to buy it. The stratospheric success of Facebook in 2010 has put Google on edge. Five hun

Why Google needs the video digital-rights technology behind Netflix

This post was also published in VentureBeat. Google announced yesterday that it’s purchased Widevine , a video digital rights management company mostly known as the technology behind Netflix’s video protection . Widevine gives video sites the tools to license, encrypt, and distribute videos to a variety of device platforms. So why does Google suddenly need a credible DRM solution? It’s all about gaining the trust of the networks. Bear with me, and I’ll explain. People have been saying for years that hordes of consumers would soon unplug their cable boxes and rely exclusively on streaming video. In the last few weeks we’ve seen signs that might actually happen. Cable subscriber numbers have dropped two quarters in a row , accentuating that last quarter’s first-ever drop in subscriber numbers was no fluke. And organizations like HBO have made the leap to online streaming and may soon charge direct subscription fees that skip cable providers once the price is right, thereby maintaining t

Groupon is Google’s $6 billion Facebook hedge

This post was also published in VentureBeat. Why is Google willing to spend over $6 billion for Groupon ? The local advertising market is massive — yellow pages ads still bring in more revenue than Google’s annual revenue. Local has been an extremely difficult market for online ad solutions to capture. Consider how a yoga studio in Cleveland can advertise. With Google AdWords, the yoga studio can target people searching for the keyword “yoga”, but this is an expensive, nationally bid-up keyword, and not a word the people search every day. Adsense provides a bit more context, and the ad could be placed in websites that talk about yoga, but there aren’t that many people looking at pages like that to click on the ad. Google Maps lets the yoga studio ad coupons to its location, but it has not had much uptake. The incredibly large local ad market has remained primarily elusive to Google, to the point where it considered purchasing Yelp for a large sum even though it did not have that much