Wednesday, May 23, 2007
  • Ross Fadner, May 23, 2007, 11:30 AM
  • CBS Corp. on Wednesday acquired 6-month-old Wallstrip, a daily Web show, a la Rocketboom, devoted to irreverent stock market news. The acquisition was cleverly announced this morning on WallStrip's show, drawing even more attention to it in the process.

    Most attribute WallStrip's success to show host Lindsay Campbell, who's drawn comparisons to video blogger Amanda Congdon, formerly of Rocketboom and current producer/host for ABCNews.com. Campbell will continue in her role as host of the show, while producers Adam Elend and Jeff Marks will produce original Web content for CBS.com.

    Another key to WallStrip's success has been its distribution. According to Ad Age, WallStrip is syndicated on YouTube, Veoh, Blip.tv, iTunes, Yahoo! Podcasts, Google Finance, TheStreet.com, AOL Uncut, vSocial and Revver. It attracts a predominantly male audience in the financial industry. Read the whole story...
  • Newspaper publishers are taking Google to task for indexing their headlines and offering synopses of their stories without paying for it.Sam Zell, new owner of Tribune Company asked, "If all of the newspapers in America did not allow Google to steal their content, how profitable would Google be?" The answer is not very. Imagine if Web publishers charged Google a per page fee for indexing their content?

    It's an interesting question, and the fact that American publishers haven't asked it until now is vexing, say print industry analysts. "The search engines are supposed to be sending traffic to newspapers. But on the other hand, [journalism] is hard work," says Aly Colon, an instructor at The Poynter Institute. "There is going to be some sort of attempt by newspapers to figure out how they can be fully compensated for their work."

    Google, however, would trash those claims; in all likelihood, the search giant has driven more traffic to newspaper publisher sites than it's taken away. The real problem for publishers is that search engines make the competition for eyeballs stiffer. Not only do major news outlets report on the same stories, but they're also competing with blogs, aggregators and social networks. But that's not Google's problem, and it's certainly something that charging search engines for indexing pages would fix. Read the whole story...
  • Kevin Ham is the most powerful dot-com mogul you've never heard of. He is a master of the game that Google vowed recently to clean up: Ham buys domain names, often typos or ones you would think belong to a major company, or those whose registration recently expired. He writes software, in fact, to ensure that he buys those domains as soon as they become available. To make money, Ham either resells them for a profit, or in the case of typo domain names, he sells Yahoo pay-per-click ads that often direct users to the Web site they intended on going to in the first place.

    Google recently informed its publishers in the AdSense network that it would be cleaning up this "unsuitable business model." Ham, a devout Christian, doesn't see it that way. He benefits from traffic generated by the millions of Web users who mistakenly type ".cm" instead of ".com" each day. He owns Newyorktimes.cm or Beer.cm, all of which direct users to a site called Agoga.com, a Web portal composed of Yahoo ads. Incidentally, Ham shares the revenue earned from ".cm" with the tiny African nation of Cameroon, which owns ".cm" as its country code. If he has his way, Ham will soon partner with Colombia (".co"), Niger (".ne") Oman (".om") and Ethiopia (".et.")

    Ham's business exists in the gray area of Internet law--which is partly why it's thriving. Because some of his practices aren't useful to contextual networks operators like Google and Yahoo, it could jeopardize its future. That said, Ham probably won't worry much--he's already amassed an estimated fortune of $300 million. Read the whole story...
  • Nepotism, perhaps? In an SEC filing Tuesday, Google revealed a $3.9 million investment in a search service for Anne Wojcicki, wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin. This thing has teeth, however, which means the investment can't really be nepotism; it certainly has synergies with Google's goal of organizing the world's information.

    Called 23andMe, the search engine encourages individuals to learn more about their own genetic information, with the goal of creating a resource for understanding one's personal genetics, which the company says creates the potential for "personalized medicine."

    In a press statement, Wojcicki, a former health-care industry analyst, said, "Our goal is to allow individuals to gain deeper insights into their ancestry, genealogy and inherited traits and, ultimately, the option to work together to advance the overall understanding of the human genome."

    Read the whole story...
  • In the wake of the high-profile acquisitions of competitors DoubleClick, 24/7 Real Media and aQuantive, it's no surprise that ValueClick, one of the last big ad networks still standing alone, has seen its stock shoot-up. Investors may believe a buyout and a big pay day are on the horizon, but the spotlight is on the company, which means that several of its practices are coming under intense scrutiny.

    One of these, the Consumer Promotion Center, generates customer leads through the use of aggressive promotional packages. The newspaper uses the example of a $300 package that includes a dozen different products, from monthly shipments of wine, to a free phone subscription from Vonage, to a free laptop computer. When a customer received everything but the laptop, valued at $1,100, he filed a false advertising report with the Better Business Bureau. The Federal Trade Commission is now investigating lead generators Consumer Promotion Center, which gain business for their clients through the use of promotions touting everything from flat-fee product packages to "free iPod" and "free Xbox360."

    In a regulatory filing, ValueClick confirmed that it was part of the investigation, but investors don't seem to care. After initially falling on the news, its stock hit a 52-week high on Monday, as speculation of a possible acquisition heats up. What investors aren't considering is how repellent federal investigations can be to would-be buyers. Read the whole story...