Posted on March 29th, 2006 No comments
Business Week is reporting that Facebook, a MySpace-like site for college students, is for sale for $2 Billion after the founders rejected an offer for $750 Million. Viacom is believed to be interested.
These numbers sound preposterous until you remember that Rupert Murdoch’s New Corp. bought MySpace for $580 Million last year and is retooling its entire business around the site. Also, the fact that Viacom owns MTV can’t be discounted. Before long, Facebook users may be complaining about how their profiles are being overrun by ads for Next (which I’m only slightly embarassed to say I watch when I’m traveling).
At this point I should probably be expected to mention that the Bakomatic platform that powers Bakotopia.com, NorthwestVoice.com and others does all the same things as these sites at an infinitesimal fraction of the $2 Billion you might pay for Facebook, and at a local level, but I don’t want to send out any mixed signals. And of course we would not accept anything less than $5 Billion
Posted on March 28th, 2006 No comments
An old colleague named Mike Sansone just tagged me with the “Four Things Meme.” Apparently I’m just living in the stone age and have never heard of this, but here’s how it works. You answer four questions like “four jobs I’ve had” and “four places I’ve lived”.
Sounds pretty boring to me actually (especially my answers), so I’m going to ignore that part.
What is interesting is that people now tag four individuals they’re watching in Technorati watchlists, then list them on their blogs. OK, now that’s kind of cool. Here I go!
Four People I’m Tagging Right Now:
- Nancie Meng, Director of Community Member Experience at AOL. We go way back, and she knows that many of my ideas about community came from discussions with her. Plus, you just gotta love her blog: Iamnotabot. She has deep conversations with IM bots and posts them into the blog. Some of them are quite hilarious!
- Elizabeth Osder, Yahoo’s Director of Social Media. I first heard about Elizabeth at the Citizen’s Media Summit in College Park, Maryland. I never had a chance to talk to Elizabeth there, but I will be on a panel with her at the International Online Journalism Symposium in Austin, Texas next month. I find it fascinating that Yahoo has a position like this, especially considering its recent purchases of Flickr and Del.icio.us. I’m looking forward to finally meeting her and finding out just what else Yahoo is up to!
- Josh Petersen of the Robot Co-Op (creator of 43things.com). I think 43things is one of the most original and addictive community applications I’ve seen in a long time, and since that’s my business I have a huge amount of respect for these guys. I also heard a fascinating interview with Josh on 37signals.com where he related everything the Co-Op does back to the ideas of Benjamin Franklin. Listen to it, and you’ll become a Josh fan too.
- Mike Sansone of Copywritingwatch.com, because a) he tagged me, and b) I worked with him for a short time back in the day at AOL. He also knows better than anyone how to build a successful sports community, and communities in general, if you’re ever looking for advice on how to do that.
OK, that’s it for my four people tags! Hope I didn’t screw it up …
Posted on March 28th, 2006 No comments
Want to know what’s hot in the growing trend referred to as “Web 2.0″? A Seattle marketing company called Seomoz has compiled a pretty good list of companies that are making the Internet more useful by leveraging shared knowledge, social interactions and more. You can peruse the list from their Web 2.0 Awards here.
Posted on March 22nd, 2006 No comments
I just about choked on my Cheerios this morning when I pulled The Wall Street Journal out if its little plastic bag and saw Bakotopia right on the front page! The full story is accessible via this link if you subscribe to the online version of the Journal. Here’s a scan of the story on today’s front page:
First, we’re actually starting to sell ads on Bakotopia now! We’ve intentionally held off on doing this for a while because one of our goals for year one was to to build a large enough niche audience that would be attractive to specific types of local advertisers. We’ve done that, and users will soon start to see a few strategically placed (but not obnoxious) ads and sponsorships on Bakotopia. These ads are really just the tip of the iceberg, and we won’t go full force with ads on Bakotopia until we have some other important things in place.
Second, as frequent readers of this blog can tell you, Bakotopia is just one of a growing number of sites that are running on a homegrown platform we call “Bakomatic.” All user data is in one database, and each site essentially presents the same functionality in a differently designed “skin” with its own categories and business rules. We now have 6 “mini brand” sites running on it, as well as the user registration system of Bakersfield.com, and we can easily share content between brands (and we do with events). Besides Bakotopia, the other brands are Northwest Voice, Southwest Voice, Masbakersfield.com, NewtoBakersfield, and soon the Tehachapi News (a Californian-owned newspaper in a nearby mountain resort community).
Having everything on one platform and datbase that we control opens the door to new types of advertising that go way beyond banner ads. I think that’s worth mentioning because people often tend to look at Bakotopia as merely a “free ad play.”
While that’s partly true, it’s only one small part of a larger picture. In reality, Bakotopia is just one constellation in a growing galaxy of local, audience-driven products. Everyone has a home planet that uniquely meets their needs and interests, but the real power for advertisers will be in being able to reach like-minded individuals across a galaxy of sites. Or another way to think about it: we’re simultaneously embracing audience fragmentation and aggregation.
Posted on March 20th, 2006 No comments
It’s been a busy few weeks, as our team just popped out two more Bakomatic sites: one for The Southwest Voice (a companion to The Northwest Voice that launched two years ago), and another for newcomers to Bakersfield. I’m especially excited about the newcomer’s site, because it seems like such a natural fit for social networking.
We also took a major leap into supporting core products. The registration system on Bakersfield.com is now — you guessed it — Bakomatic! There are a lot of other implications to this that I won’t talk about until it’s all public, but if you look at what we do on our “mini” brand sites and connect the dots, you can figure it out. Exciting times!
Posted on March 2nd, 2006 No comments
If you’re a parent, watching the MySpace Movie should explain better than anything why you should both fear and respect this site (and why your kids are hooked on it).
And while I’m talking about that, I find it very interesting that this movie is being hosted on MySpace competitor YouTube — a MySpace clone built around video-sharing. Any fan of South Park can easily waste hours on this site.
Technorati Tags: myspace
Posted on March 2nd, 2006 No comments
MySpace.com is increasingly coming under fire in the media for an issue that has plagued the Internet and online communities since their inception. To the shock of many (but not to me and many others), people are finally starting to realize that the social-networking site that’s wasting hours of their teenagers’ daily lives is also attracting sexudal predators.
I recall how AOL had a similar spate of coverage about the same child safety issues in the mid-1990s. They responded quickly, going so far as to hire one of the original authors of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act — COPPA — which was created partly in response to a similar media focus on sexual predators in AOL communities. AOL then went on to create one of the “safest” online communities for kids and teens, culminating in AOL Parental Controls. This was exactly the right thing to do, and in fact many households now continue to subscribe to AOL at a premium because of its safety and security features. Competitors to AOL, such as MSN and Earthlink, have followed this model.
Meanwhile, what happened? Kids and teens, being smarter than their parents, perceived “safe” as, basically, “lame.” They learned how to bypass parental controls and find other ways to connect with friends away from protective eyes. They congregated at many different community Web sites, but in just a few years MySpace has succeeded in attracting the biggest party of young people anywhere. Why is that? I have a ton of respect for MySpace and other social networks, but even I have to admit that part if its success is undoubtedly due to the fact that it hasn’t paid enough attention to COPPA.
Now that MySpace is owned by a major media company, the COPPA watchdogs are starting to pay more attention. And Rupert Murdoch, ever the businessman, is taking notice and taking action. News Corp. recently announced that it will be appointing a safety czar. This curiously comes at the same time as Playboy is planning a “Women of MySpace” calendar.
We’ve tried to get ahead of this issue on Bakotopia.com and our other community and social-networking sites by requiring users to be 13 years of age for reviewed participatory-media sites like Northwestvoice.com, and 18 for open common-carrier community models like Bakotopia.com. If anyone should ever notify us of inappropriate contact — which so far has not happened — our policy is to promptly suspend the accounts of all parties and turn over any evidence to the proper authorities.
As a father of two, I understand the importance of online kids safety more than anyone. However, I think it’s always important to keep in mind that, just as you can’t prevent one person from shooting another on any given sidewalk, there’s no way to keep sexual predators out of an open online community. Any attempt to do so would prevent any meaningful type of community experience — like outlawing sidewalks! It doesn’t work. But there are precautions you can take that reduce the risks.
I suspect Rupert Murdoch is wishing he’d thought more about this issue before he decided to spend more than $500 million to purchase Myspace.com. He’s not the first. AOL went through the same transition 10 years ago.