Sunday, April 26, 2009

Down for maintenance: apologies for zero notification

FunAdvice is down for the moment, we'll be back shortly, as we're doing some urgent database maintenance.

As the Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy says:
Don't Panic.

:)

Monday, April 20, 2009

On the radio twice this year, thanks, DJ's everywhere

You might have noticed our news page however, you might not have seen radio mentioned there. Why? Well...radio buzz is harder to track and doesn't always leave a digital trail. As a result, some people might think that we *don't* get love from radio DJ's & on air personalities.

In fact, we do and last year, we had more than a half dozen such shout outs, two that we know of this year so far (thanks La Kalle & 106.5, both). However while this happens, we don't include it (yet) on our news page, as we don't know who to thank, what DJ mentioned us, what show it was, etc. We just find the radio station as a result of their audience going back to the station website & searching for us.

The only time this happens is when we get on air promotion...is there a way you know of to track this better? And for a budget of approaching zero? If so, please drop us a note. I'd love to thank them better & give them the same shout out that they're giving us.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

VC returns...sorry, but this is a bit of a rant :)

So..ok, reading the article (nope, I'm not going to mention, just some idiot on VC returns & how they are down), doesn't this mean that those companies FunAdvice is kicking the a$$ of who raised (cough, sodahead, cough) $16 *million* and are getting, at best, 50% of the traffic of my bootstrapped start up...

...shouldn't these guys be running to the door to hand their money back to those VC's who invested? OR even better: shouldn't the VC's be clamoring to take their money OUT of such start ups?

Seriously...it's just business anymore, it's not longer an exponential growth market where you throw up anything & it'll hit jackpot. Outside of twitter & facebook...do you guys EVER cover something with a chance at a hefty VC return? Take hunch, for example.

The market cap of Answers.com is $54 million and they lose money, quarter after quarter...if the #2 guy in a category has *zero hope*...why would you throw money at it?

Just because Yedda & Answerology got lucky (and answerbag got lucky, twice?)...? Seemingly, this is the case.

I've sold more companies than Catarina Fake...and while we both worked at Yahoo, she wouldn't give me the time of day to help the company, overall...she's sold *one* business, but you guys have done multiple posts on her stealth mode, not accessible to the unwashed masses start up.

Imho, tech journalists are in part to blame, covering companies incessantly that have no hope of achieving anything like a venture return...and ignoring those, like ours, Fanpop and plenty of fish that have successful businesses.

Seriously, get a clue and drink your own kool aid for once, eh?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Remember the newspaper Advice Columnist?

So i just finished reading Clay Shirkey's excellent treatise on the demise of the newspaper industry. Its pretty long, has over 850 comments at last look, but is literally a must-read.

His thesis is that the printing press was the best way to get in-depth information out to a mass audience. Printing presses were expensive. Only a few companies could afford them. So in any given town, you had just a few newspapers running these expensive beasts. Also, co-incidentally because it was a mass media, you could sell display ads. It was permanent! Not transient like radio or TV. You could always keep your newpaper hanging around for days, weeks, months, or even years.

Also, because it was the only game in town, display advertising was expensive!!! So the newspapers -- incidentally -- were able to pay reporters handsomely to do the kind of investigative journalism from Brooklyn to Baghdad. Good stories sold more newspapers! Could this ever end? Yup, along came the internet.

In this newspaper, you had:

* The News (tm)
* Classifieds
* Personals
* Advice Columnists
* Sections such as travel, technology, gadgets, stocks, business, etc.

Check it out... all those things are better done by other websites now. Except for news, we could never stop counting the number of websites who have taken over all the other sections of a newspaper. So, predictably, circulation drops, less people want to buy a physical newspaper now. Ever worse, all those revenue streams are now being done much better by websites.

You don't have to write into the Advice Columnist in a newspaper, and wait a week to hope that your letter gets published by Dear Abby, instead you can head over to Funadvice and post it right away. Get it pushished right away, and get advice in as little as a few minutes.

Ditto for classifieds (craigslist.org), personals (match.com), technology (engadget.com). Why the heck do we even need a newspaper now? Yeah, that pesky thing called the news. Inarguably, they've built up great and famous newsrooms on the back of that display ad revenue.

So, you're thinking I'm contradicting my last post her, but no. There is nothing that says that newspapers can be the only places that have great newsrooms. Many internet sources do that these days. TV is getting better and better. And lots of smaller news sites are starting up HuffPost, TPM Media, Politico, etc.

The role that newspapers used to play is going to get more fragmented now. Instead of buting a 50 cent paper in the morning to get a little piece of it all, you'll log into maybe 20 websites during the course of the day to get all of it together in one place. Each one of those places will be better then that section of the newspaper. There's no way that the NYTimes can compete with Engadget.com for technology news.

So is this a good thing? Are we losing that shared consciousness that newspapers used to give us? Yes. At some point, in the U.S. we had just 4 or 5 TV channels, the big networks. That shared consciousness dissapeared completely around 10 years ago. A similar thing is happening to the newspapers now.

Information sources are gonna get more fragmented. This is truly the era when its no longer in the hands of any one person.

I, for one, am trembling with excitement, and welcome my new Internet overlords.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

When did you last read a newspaper?

I've been reading quite a lot of stories recently about the demise of the traditional newsprint distributed newspaper. Time was, when i'd have to take the #4 subway from its start point in New York City, to almost the end of the line, and the New York Times kept me engaged.

But, hey, I grew up with newspapers back in my home country. I wrote the first weekly computer-related column in the two major dailies there. We also got the NY Times and the WSJ every day too if we wanted it (it was flown in). There's nothing that beats the ability to scan a newspaper for interesting stories as you read it. I've published a magazine, and a weekly newspaper. I've helped published lots more. I know the drill.

Still, I have not read a physical newspaper in maybe 10 years. And I only read Wired Magazine -- when on a flight. Most of my news are from the newspapers online sites, and blogs. Increasingly, the blogs that I follow tend to break the news, and the papers follow up with stories a few days later, usually on par with the blogs, sometimes better, a lot of the times worse. It all shows up in Google reader for me. I scan maybe over a thousand headlines per day, reading the snippet that comes with many, and clicking through to read the complete article on a few that interests me.

Now the newspapers are complaining that Google is the source of their woes. Last night some idiot (Phil Bronstein) was on Stephen Cobert, and suggested half-jokingly that people should go to jail for not paying for the news. Watch it yourself and see:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Phil Bronstein
colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorNASA Name Contest

I was never so angry when he said that Google should be paying for linking to newspapers. And that brings me to how at Funadvice, we depend on search traffic. Just imagine if Google had to send us traffic, and also pay us for linking to us. Ha ha ha ha ha.

The problem is that it used to cost tens of thousands of dollars for a full page ad in one of the premium papers for a day. People no longer want the physical paper. And advertisers are steadily going online where the effectiveness of advertising can actually be tracked (wonder of wonders!).

So the old age of ink-stained wretches is almost at an end. I predict that investigative journalism will move to the web. Check out the stellar job that Josh Marshall is doing at TPM Media. They're not complaining. They're completely online. They broke the Justice Department firing scandals, and tons of other stories last year. The thing about TPM is that its (as far as I know) a completely bootstraped operation. They do thing that they can afford. Josh experiments with media, new sites, new ways to do thing constantly. I read stories there every day, because they kick ass with hard hitting news and opinion.

Trust me, the days and the ages of people like David Broder are going away, but not as quickly as i'd like. I just wish they would dissapear and evolve faster.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

If somebody else won't beat it for you: beat it yourself ;)

Get your mind out of the gutter, btw...yes, the blog post title was clickbait & yes, you fell for it. However, the point here is that FunAdvice had 155K visitors yesterday...oh, ya, is that birds I hear chirping? Crickets?

Either way, if somebody else won't beat it for us...I'm happy to beat it myself! Beat what??? The drum, the gong the table clamoring for applause, for kudos...for recognition.

Meanwhile, some large social networking site finally makes itself work for the blind...when we've been compatible for blind people for a long time now. They get kudos for doing the right thing, long after they should have...in essence, chasing our tail.

In a world where getting kudos means that your company finally did something that you should have done at launch or at least, a long time back, it's no wonder we get ignored. Seriously. Call us guilty: we've been trying to build a business & do the right thing. Maybe if the founders of these other social networks had children they'd feel a little more civic responsibility and actually care more?

I know that's an unfair comment, however sometimes it takes raising a child to see how important it is to do the right thing, to make the short term trade off for that long term gain. The Google guys didn't have kids when they (Larry / Sergey) decided to take the money from the IPO & setup Google.org...so yes, I realize there are exceptions. But isn't the exception that proves the rule?

Back to the topic of the title: we're happy to publicize ourselves, even if others won't. Besides, it's not the snarky tech industry insiders that we're trying to surprise and delight with our product: it's the people, you, me and everybody, who could use a little fun, or a little advice, in their lives. And on that score, we're winning, even if nobody is there to report on the game.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Twitter - Why should Google buy it?

So, some of the digerati are talking about the "real-time-search" capabilities of twitter. Forgive me, but what real-time-search?

Does the fact that some Ajax puts up extra search results in the stream count as real-time-search? Does searching across twitter's database count as "real-time-search"? Nope. Almost every site, including Funadvice does that. We can show you questions you asked 30 seconds ago in the search engine.

So why should Google, buy Twitter? Simple: an advertising opportunity. Google shelved Jaiku because it was not getting any traction. If google put a link unit in the right column of Twitter, then they stand to make a lot of money, and they can keep it free, forever. It's also a prestige acquisition. It stands to make a lot of money, maybe more than YouTube because its text driven, not video driven. Google can target ads a lot more successfully that way.

And yes, the content of Twitter could be extracted into another "tab" for google search -- "People talking about xxxx now", thus growing twitter exponentially, and more ad revenues.

So for all those blog posts talking about Twitter's real-time-search capability as if it were the be-all-and-end-all of Twitter, thats just a load of crap. It's just a search engine people. That's all. A search engine that looks for everything posted on twitter. With the results sorted not by relevance, but by recency, then relevance. Jeez!