Tuesday, May 29, 2007
  • Ross Fadner, May 29, 2007, 11:00 AM
  • The well-respected business magazine is mulling the idea of a "business YouTube" that would allow would-be moguls to pitch ideas to the paper's readers, who would vote on a winner to receive $500,000 in venture-capital funding. Speaking at a conference in Miami, John Byrne, the acting editor-in-chief for Businessweek.com, said the company was looking to purchase a new technology platform to help create the interactive competition.

    Byrne said the idea behind the move is to both widen the site's audience and boost repeat visits among existing users. Like a reality show, the idea's success hinges on quality production and editing. It simply won't do having camera-shy tech geeks outline their ideas in a monotone. Most likely, this kind of project would require a host, and filtering out the particularly bad stuff. Otherwise, you may only get a few VCs-which are a small portion of the BW audience--to watch. Make no mistake, this is content, which means it has to be solid to fly, or advertisers won't care. Read the whole story...
  • Google may be in legal trouble again. The search giant may be violating European Union law by storing information on its customers' queries for as long as two years. After a stretch of high-profile acquisitions, all the big Web firms, including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL, have come under scrutiny for the way they capture user-surfing information. EU regulators last week suggested such practices might violate civil liberties.

    "Google may have initiated personalization efforts which are more advanced in some ways, but it's an industrywide issue," said Greg Sterling, an analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence in Oakland, California.

    The next meeting in June of the EU group, the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, could prove to be decisive. The party is now giving Google time to respond. The party admitted the company's recent decision to keep users' search data for under two years is "very much a step in the right direction, but that still goes against EU Internet law. The report said privacy-law advisers are also reviewing the policies of Microsoft and Yahoo. Read the whole story...
  • Cyberattacks are possibly even scarier than terrorist attacks, because so many people can be affected by the efforts of so few. Last month, Estonia, one of the European Union's most promising emerging economies, got its first big taste of this, as protesters organized a massive attack, flooding government, newspapers and banking Web sites with data, effectively shutting many down. The cyberattack came in retaliation for the Estonian government's decision to relocate a Russian World War II-era statue. Estonia is a former member of the Soviet Union.

    The Times noted that "for people here, the Internet is almost as vital as running water; it is used routinely to vote, file their taxes, and, with their cellphones, to shop or pay for parking." Which is why government agencies feared the violent protests could spill over to the Internet. As a result of the DOS attacks, Hansabank, the country's biggest bank, was forced to shut down its online banking network.

    Authorities believe Estonians of Russian descent orchestrated the attacks with help from the Russian government. They found a Web address involved in the attacks belonging to an official in Russian President Vladimir Putin's administration. Understandably, the attacks have federal officials worried: "This may well turn out to be a watershed in terms of widespread awareness of the vulnerability of modern society," warned Linton Wells II, a Pentagon IT official. Read the whole story...
  • Facebook just took giant steps toward expanding into a global technology company. The social network's decision to extend its technology platform to software developers should "create a raft of new opportunities for companies of all sizes," Kirkpatrick says, because it now allows anyone to build applications for social computing. In conjunction with the announcement, Facebook announced that 65 partner companies were unveiling more than 85 applications its members could install immediately.

    Sounding Google-like, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said "we want to make Facebook into something of an operating system, so you can run full applications" similar to how Microsoft's Windows provides a platform for developers. Use of the Web-based platform doesn't require any permission or business relationship with the social network, though Facebook's total user-base--a little over 24 million--is far smaller than Windows.

    "This is likely to result in an explosion of creativity," says Kirkpatrick, and if the tools are cool enough, it could potentially draw users away from its chief competitor MySpace, which has a user base that's nearly 10 times as large. The idea--and it could be a brilliant one--is to draw more users and more page views per user. Kirkpatrick believes other social networks will be forced to follow suit. Read the whole story...
  • Why are Google, Yahoo and Microsoft putting money and resources behind online ad exchanges? Yahoo recently purchased Right Media, while Google, pending approval, will acquire DoubleClick, which announced it would offer its own ad exchange shortly before the Google deal.

    Online ad exchanges aim to bring ad buyers and sellers together into an open marketplace where unsold publisher inventory is assigned a value based on advertisers' interest. Advertisers set the price they're willing to pay for the spot, then the exchange notifies the publisher, which will run the spot if the price meets publisher expectation. By bringing together a lot of sellers--which means bigger targeted audiences--exchanges believe they can help advertisers and publishers get better returns from non-premium inventory. Advertisers also like the transparent pricing and the neutral, Nasdaq-like approach to selling.

    But it's still very early days; exchanges need to build their networks--usage is the key--and consolidate. Then, Q Interactive CEO Matt Wise hopes, "One technology platform can cover an enormous swath of the Internet." It's a pain buying ads from so many ad networks, he says. DoubleClick CEO Dave Rosenblatt agrees: "The exchange concept will have the same impact on the display market" as Google's AdWords had on search, he says. That would be some impact Read the whole story...