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Andy Beal Wants To Give You An iPod

Andy Beal is giving away an iPod Shuffle to an eagle-eyed RSS subscriber, with readers who spot a special RSS ad being entered in a drawing to get the super-tiny music player. The idea is to drive RSS subscriptions, and to encourage people to spread word of the contest, the prize gets better the more people that subscribe. If 2,500 people subscribe (Feedburner currently reports 1,219 readers), the prize becomes the new metal nano, and if 4,000 subscribe, it will be a shiny video iPod (presumably the 30-gig version).

It’s a pretty good way to get subscribers, assuming contestants spread the word (as I am doing right now). Another good thing to have are backlinks, so I would suggest Andy also ask readers to link to the giveaway on their blogs, and counting new Technorati links to the total for upping the prize. Imagine getting 1,000 neww Technorati links; that would be worth an iPod to me.

November 20th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Blogs, General | one comment

PayPal 2 Google: We Can Throw TWICE As Much Money Down The Toilet!

One of the most god-awful stupid promotions I’ve ever seen was when Google started offering $10 off $30 or higher purchases made with Google Checkout at select stores. The savings were great for the consumer, but it inspired zero loyalty in anything, just a huge loss-leader that may turn out to have accomplished nothing.

Well, PayPal has decided it needs to throw away twice as much money as Google did! Between November 23 and December 15, purchases of $50 or more at participating retailers, including Dell, Sharper Image and Barnes & Noble, will earn a one-time $20 credit to their PayPal account. Google’s discount was good an unlimited amount of times, but it was only ten dollars and at less stores, so eBay’s PayPal unit stands to lose a hell of a lot more money.

I don’t understand it. I may not have an economics degree, but I can’t see what the benefit is in giving away free money. The retailers aren’t stupid, and know that any increased sales are due to the savings, and thus have no reason to be loyal to PayPal, and the customers don’t care, since they’re just looking for the latest bargain. Have both companies just gone off the deep end?
(via Ben’s Bargains)

UPDATE: Jeez, Google has a response: $10 bonus for signing up for Google Checkout. Sign up before this Sunday, and get ten dollars off your first purchase (expires at the end of the year). Really, will this (a) be a great way to save ten bucks, or (b) drive billions of dollars into Google’s pockets and inspire customer loyalty? Oh, the first one? Really?
(via SlickDeals)

November 20th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | eBay, Checkout, Services, General | 2 comments

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What List Are You On?

Frank Arrigo links to Kineda, which now has a widget which queries Technorati to determine where you go in the blogging hierarchy, from the A-List to the D-List. Frank’s happy to be on the B-List, but I’m shocked that I am apparently an A-Lister:

A-List Blogger

Basically, the widget’s determination of an A-List blogger:

The Very High Authority Group (500 or more blogs linking in the last 6 months)
In the final group we see what might be considered the blogging elite. This group, which represents more than 4,000 blogs, exhibits a radical shift in post frequency as well as blog age. Bloggers of this type have been at it longer – a year and a half on average – and post nearly twice a day, an increase in posting volume of over 100% from the previous group. Many of the blogs in this category, in fact, are about as old as Technorati and we’ve grown up together. Some of these are full-fledge professional enterprises that post many, many times per day and behave increasingly like our friends in the mainstream media. As has been widely reported, the impact of these bloggers on our cultures and democracies is increasingly dramatic.

Plus, it’s nice to know that InsideMicrosoft is firmly on the B-List:

B-List Blogger

How many people can claim to have one of each?

Personally, I think the site’s determination of an A-Lister is too broad, but I’m not gonna complain about my personal results :-)

November 20th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Blogs, General | 4 comments

Yahoo Facing A Crossroads

For a weekend, Yahoo sure has been busy.

The thing everyone needs to pay attention to is a memo by Yahoo Senior VP Brad Garlinghouse, one that lays out what the rest of the world is complaining about Yahoo, its flaws and mistakes, and demands a new direction before things sort of fall apart.

One mistake he focuses on is Yahoo’s redundancies (Flickr/Photos,, Music/Musicmatch, Messenger plugins/Widgets), several products doing the same thing. While there is nothing wrong with taking more than one shot at a particular problem, Yahoo is showing a crisis of confidence, unable to believe in anything and put their support behind some great products. Instead, they compete with themself, and don’t win anything because their customers have no idea in what direction they are heading.

Paul Kedrosky prints the entire memo. A selection:

We lack a focused, cohesive vision for our company. We want to do everything and be everything — to everyone. We’ve known this for years, talk about it incessantly, but do nothing to fundamentally address it. We are scared to be left out. We are reactive instead of charting an unwavering course. We are separated into silos that far too frequently don’t talk to each other. And when we do talk, it isn’t to collaborate on a clearly focused strategy, but rather to argue and fight about ownership, strategies and tactics.

I’ve heard our strategy described as spreading peanut butter across the myriad opportunities that continue to evolve in the online world. The result: a thin layer of investment spread across everything we do and thus we focus on nothing in particular.

I hate peanut butter. We all should.

There’s so much in there that is right on, and needs to be read by everyone at every tech company. Yahoo is a great company in a bad dry spell, but is filled with so much talent that it can rise again. If leaders like Brad take control of the wheel, we are going to see something amazing. Microsoft is in the middle of a recovery, one that is working, albeit slowly, and I’m convinced Yahoo’s depression is shallow enough that they can still recover before Microsoft does.

Otherwise, with a $36 billion (and shrinking) market cap, Yahoo will get bought by somebody who sees the real opportunity there. I’ve got news: Yahoo has so many pageviews, any large company can justify the acquisition.

Everybody’s talking about the memo. John Battelle says that Yahoo’s COO has asked Garlinghouse to head a group looking into these issues. A VC notes the lost opportunities in Yahoo’s acquisitions. Arrington says it may be more of a power move by Garlinghouse, to grab credit if already proposed changes are a success, and at the very least, either Brad or Terry Semel will have to go. Mini-Microsoft has great comments about how this pertains to and reflects on Microsoft. Dave Winer goes the other way.

The Times says Yahoo’s problem is monetization, that it reaches more people than any other, but can’t make the money it should from those eyeballs. That makes me wonder: What if several major web companies all bought Yahoo together, in order to run it as a central web portal that pointed to all the partner’s properties? While I don’t think the web needs to be centralized, I do think a lot of money could be made in a concerted effort. Imagine Google running search, video and e-mail, News Corp running social networking and old media, and other companies providing other services, all in some sort of “Mall of the Internet”? It’s an awful idea, creatively and innovatively, but think of the money!

Beyond that, it looks like Yahoo seems to think the holiday shopping season applies to corporate acquisitions. Valleywag reported Yahoo picked up MyBloglog, a blog stats/community site; Download Squad reported that Yahoo bought Bix, a social contest service, and GigaOm reported that Yahoo acquired Kenet Works, a Swedish mobile company. It turns out that Yahoo didn’t actually buy MyBlogLog, but is in talks to do so. Still, everybody’s talking about Yahoo, but is anyone willing to bet on them?

November 20th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Yahoo, General | 4 comments