‘ Business ’ category archive

Conferences, Meetings and Training

August 19, 10 by Bharani

Early this month, there was a 3-day SEO Training programme conducted by Bruce Clay (One of the Prominent thought leaders in Search Engine optimization industry) in Gurgaon. I decided to attend the training to crystallize my learnings, to learn new techniques and tips and to meet people with Similar Interest. It was quite useful and comprehensive. I would say the 3-day training gave me a structure and discipline towards how we approach SEO. And Bruce Clay did warn everyone of us about the brutally tough SEO world! As he put it, “every monday it’s (SEO) a new industry” (Google apparently makes 500 changes every month and on good day it might make 20 changes!). It’s like solving a 200 variable non-linear equation, which changes every day! It’s like chasing a moving target! Get the drift? Add to this, the new search result pages which google is experimenting with. The new SERPS (Search engine result pages) apparently show more of google content (google maps, google local, google news, google real-time, youtube, images and what not?) than external content. Alright, I am making myself nervous again :)

There is a Open source conference coming up in chennai next month. If you are interested in open source, PHP, Mysql, web development trends, mobile computing, cloud computing etc., you should try and make it to the event! Checkout more details at www.osidays.com. I am sending my developers to attend the event at company’s expense. Needless to say, they are mighty-excited and looking forward to learn some new things! If they learn, its good for company too :)

I always wanted to attend a TED Event. But being an super-expensive event and going by the difficulty to get ‘invited’, I was giving up on it. Then came along the concept of TEDX (local TED Clubs). TEDX Chennai is the chennai local chapter for TEDX. I am attending the event and have booked my tickets. Hoping to hear from some great speakers and gather some insight into their minds. Not to forget the opportunity to meet some really interesting attendees!

Now Godaddy pulls out of China!

March 26, 10 by Bharani

Western companies pulling their business roots out of china is becoming a hot trend these days. Just few days after Google officially pulls out of china, Godaddy follows suit and closes down its operations in china. Citing the new regulations which requires domain registrars to gather relevant document proofs such as photographs, residence proof, email address, telephone numbers and signed forms (!), godaddy stops offering “.cn” registrations.

The world’s largest registrar of internet domain names said Wednesday that it was pulling out of China in the wake of strict new laws that allegedly will increase government surveillance of web sites…

Jones [Christine Jones, general counsel for Go Daddy] said the new Chinese policies required every website owner to submit photographs, business information and individually signed forms, as well as their physical address, email address and telephone numbers.

‘We didn’t want to act as an agent of the Chinese government,’ Jones said. ‘We can’t let them be strong and us be weak all the time. We just have to stop it, and then we’ll start offering .CN domain names again.’

link

Is china trying to enforce the closed economy even on the internet turf? I guess so..They are not doing directly, but they are doing it through indirect means such as regulations, strict guidelines, tight web monitoring etc., For now, we will have just observe the cyber-war between the western supremacy (read US) and the new rising power China. Who is next in-line to close the operations? Dell (they are already showing some signs)?

Internet Report 2009 from JP Morgan

November 03, 09 by Bharani

JPMorgan Internet Report 2009

Google Compare Ads - Hunt for best offers!

October 31, 09 by Bharani

Google launched yet another important feature today - this time in adwords - called as “Compare ads” which allows users to compare multiple offers from various advertisers and choose the best. This goes one step beyond the current structure where ads compete with one another for users attention through ad title, ad description etc., Now users can compare interest rates for mortgage loans as shown below:

https://www.google.com/comparisonads/mortgages

This feature is currently available for mortgages only in US (in select cities). But it’s just a question of time before Google rolls this out across various industry segments and geography. All those comparison shopping engines in travel, loans, insurance, books, products will be definitely affected. The middlemen will be eventually eliminated and Google will become the central hub between sellers and consumers. The users will definitely be happy about this feature. Google is beginning to deliver more and more content from within its site. I am having a bad feeling about this trend…

What’s your take on this…?

Great Interviews with Google Folks!

October 09, 09 by Bharani

Recently Businessweek came up with a very interesting story on Google and how it is planning to stay ahead of the competition and whether it can stay on top of the web. Anyone interested in Search and Google should definitely read these articles. It throws lot of light on how google takes things seriously and why Search is still an unsolved problem and the challenges associated with Search. Worth Reading…

Can Google Stay on Top of the Web?
http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/09_41/b4150044749206_page_2.htm

Interviews with Google Folks
Google’s Udi Manber: Search Is About People, Not Just Data - BusinessWeek

…Udi Manber, Google’s vice-president of technology for core search, joined the company almost four years ago after stints running Amazon.com’s A9 search project and serving as chief scientist at Yahoo. He, like some other leaders on the search quality team,……

Google Search Guru Singhal: We Will Try Outlandish Ideas - BusinessWeek

…Inside Google’s search quality group, Amit Singhal runs the core ranking team, which is responsible for those algorithms you hear so much about. The team ran some 6,000 experiments last year that tried tweaking those mathematical formulas, ultimately producing between……

Matt Cutts: How Google Deals With Web Spam - BusinessWeek

…It’s up to Matt Cutts and his team at Google to keep search results as free as possible from Web spam, those pages full of Viagra ads or even malware. A 10-year veteran of the company, he got into this……

Google’s Scott Huffman: Many More Search Features Coming - BusinessWeek

…Scott Huffman runs one of the least-known units at Google: the evaluation team that measures the impact of every little proposed change to the leading search engine. And with some 6,000 experiments run annually, he’s pretty busy. Not to mention,……

Why are we so critical?

July 08, 09 by Bharani

I have been following the internet space very closely for the past few years and it’s been my observation that people are so critical on the blogosphere about internet start-ups. If anyone else have similar observation, would love to hear your thoughts. If anyone has counter thoughts, even then I would love to hear your opinion :)

There are handful of blogs in India which cover the digital space in india, especially internet. The prominent ones I can think of are medianama.com, pluggd.in, watblog.com, alootechie.com, trak.in. All these sites cover product launches, company announcements, new features, corporate activities and internet trends. Amazingly, a very large proportion of posts attracts only critical comments. The product/feature would have been launched after months (in some cases years) of hardwork, pressure and toil. But as soon as an user reads about the product news, his fingers involuntarily types “Whats new?”, “Oh! not again..yet another…”, “No innovation”, “Bad product” and so on! The benefit of doubt is never given to the product/startup! Even if the criticism is constructive, there’s some merit in it….Invariably, most of the comments are thoughtless ramblings…Non-constructive feedback. It’s very rare to see a thoughtful, constructive and open-minded feedback.

Why are we so destructively critical? Running a startup or launching a product is not a joke! You need to have balls to run the show! If we have to nurture the spirit of entrepreneurship and develop an environment for research and innovation, then we have to learn to be constructive in our feedback.

Feedback is essential for evolution and improvement. But if the feedback is just ‘NOISE’, it’s not going to benefit anyone, except may be to the commenter whose ego might get an illusionary boost!

Thoughts?

Studytimes.com - A Comprehensive Education Portal

July 06, 09 by Bharani

Studytimes.com - A Comprehensive Education Portal




Last week, we soft-launched a comprehensive Educational Portal Studytimes.com. Studytimes contains information regarding 25000+ colleges and more than 400,000 courses. We have spent the last 10 months to research, gather and curate this content. To facilitate user to find colleges and courses easily, we have also provided a good search facility where we have classified colleges into various ranks.


We have also incorporated a thorough discussion forum where users can discuss anything about colleges, courses, career options, entrance exams, admission procedures, travel related queries etc.,


There are exclusive sections for Test Prepartion, Educational Events (like admission deadlines, college events, conferences, educational fairs etc.,), Career Counselling where a counseller from studytimes will get in touch with you to solve your queries.


Since “Study Abroad” is a huge section in itself, we have created a sub-site for the Study-abroad section.


To keep up with the openness of the web world, we have all the user-favoured elements like reviews, ratings, suggestions, feedback, forums in place. The whole idea is that the users - predominantly students and parents - should have CONTROL.


There are already few players in online education space like studyplaces.com, shiksha.com, pagalguy.com and various online test preparation sites. But no one is offering a comprehensive solution. Studyplaces is focussed on study abroad, while Shiksha doesn’t have complete coverage of institutes and courses, Pagalguy is focussed too much on MBA crowd!


It’s our humble attempt to provide that ‘missing’ 360 degree, comprehensive, high-quality educational website for Indians. I guess, we Indians deserve that…After all, education has been our strength :)


Being an online education portal, there is only so much you can differentiate on the user interface element. We do not want to fiddle around with things that have been well-established and proven. We cant differentiate on every single User Interface elements and classification system, just because we have to be unique. So, we have chosen the Classification systems and User-interface elements that would make the life easier for the users. However, we have focussed our efforts on putting together a high-quality content and making studytimes a user-powered site, which in the long-run would make us unique and useful.


Play around with site, let me know your feedback. We would be glad to take every single feedback, however minor it may be.


PS: Studytimes is still in beta.

Google Blunder!

September 27, 08 by Bharani

Yeah, blunder by Google! According to the adsense reports of individual publishers, google has sent out cheques with conversion rates of 1:1. In case you have earned 100$ you are supposed to be paid 4500 rupees (assuming a conversion rate of 45), but they have sent a cheque of Rs.100 (assuming a conversion rate of 1:1! Same problem across the globe in all countries!

The major pain point that every publisher faces with Google adsense is the 45 days to 60 days delay between the amount credit and amount realization. If Google takes another cycle to fix the recent conversion problem, then there will be major loss of goodwill against Google! Entire thread can be seen here

http://groups.google.com/group/adsense-help-earnings/browse_thread/thread/8691ce9f9deb34d1/cfbbceecc22e04c3

BTW, if at all Google can be beaten down in publisher network game, one of the ways is ought to be credit cycle. If some network can settle payments faster with publishers, there is a good chance to convert the existing customers!

P2W2 - Online Marketplace for Services

August 03, 08 by Bharani

P2W2 is an online marketplace for accountants, writers, graphic designers, software vendors, tutors, researchers and other major professional services. P2W2 stands for “People To Work with”!

Who is the target audience?
Small businesses and Individuals can use p2w2 to post project requirements or to bid for the projects.

How it works?
As a services vendor
1. You can create your detailed profile by describing your service offerings, your capabilities, your portfolio, your testimonials etc., Creating a good profile is very important to successfully win the project bids. As a service provider, you need to pay 13 USD or 500 Rupees to create profile.

2. Once you have created a profile, you can search for projects posted on p2w2 and bid for the projects.

3. Once the client is convinced about your profile and your bidding price, client will give a green signal to start the project. P2W2 provides you great tools to manage the project and client communications. Some of the features are sharing files, project tracking and feedback module.

4. Once the project is complete, P2W2 will ensure that the payment is settled between client and the vendor. P2W2 takes a commission of 4.5% of the project value.

As a Buyer of services:
1.You can create your detailed profile by describing your Company information, your capabilities, your portfolio, your testimonials, your credibility etc., There is no cost to create a profile. FREE!

2. You can search for professionals or vendors. Go through detailed profile and initiate contact with shortlisted vendors. P2W2 maintains a track record of vendor performances. Through this history, P2W2 helps buyers to decide on the software vendors.

3. Once the project is started, buyers can track the progress of the project, review the work and assign requirements through P2W2’s tools.

4. Once the project is complete, P2W2 ensures the payment settlement.

Major Features:

* Reputation management:
* Selection Tools:
* Online Project Tracking:
* Payment facility:

Innovations:

* They have launched a voice-enabled service wherein a client can express his requirements through his own voice by audio recording the requirements/feedback. The Vendor then can go through the audio and gather a very good understanding of the client requirements.

P2W2 is founded by ISB alumni. Chaitanya Sagar from Class of 2005 and Amit Mullerpattan from Class of 2006.

Existing Players [Few examples]
elance [www.elance.com]
ebay [www.ebay.com] yes, ebay has a facility to connect buyers and sellers of services.
Guru [www.guru.com]
rentacoder.com [For software services]
and quite a few freelance exchange sites

My Verdict:
The success of an online marketplace is dependant upon the the familiar network-effect. Unless there are more vendors of high quality, there is no real benefit for buyers of services to use this service and vice versa. This whole cycle of building the userbase takes time and good community building strategies. I am not sure about the current status. But cracking this is of utmost importance.

Moreover, weeding through fake profiles, fraudulent buyers and protecting the interests of both parties (buyers and services) is not an easy task. There are lot of security and trust issues to be taken care of.

Services like elance.com is generally considered good for buyers and bad for seller of services. Because sellers compete fiercely on prices and sometimes the prices are close to nothing. This makes it a place to find cheap sellers or service vendors rather than a quality and reliability-based hunting ground. So, P2W2 should focus on quality, reliability, trust and security if they need to create a niche and success. Will have to wait to see how it all pans out…But they have all the right elements in place…Wishing them lot of success

What is your take on P2W2?

How you can control the internet? - An Amazing Story!

April 14, 08 by Bharani

I came across the story of Kevin Ham, while I was researching some facts. Kevin Ham, is the most powerful domainer in the world with over 300,000 domains under his belt!

* He is earning around $70 million in revenue from the domains that he owns (primarily through ads served on the domains that he has parked)! A small example: He owns a domain name called “weddingshoes.com” and he earns around $9,100 per year through that domain. He incurred $8 to register the domain and spends $7 per year to maintain it!

* He is the man behind a very smart domain scheme - Many people mistakenly type “.cm” instead of “.com” in the browser URL bar. “.cm” is TLD for the country Cameroon. He stuck a deal with the prime-minister of Cameroon, wherein, he received rights to redirect all “.cm” domains to a website called Agoga.com. The site is filled with ads from Yahoo!

* His team installed a line of code called “wildcard” to redirect all unregistered “.cm” domains to “agoga.com”. The code is installed in the servers owned by Camtel, Cameroon’s domain registry. Revenue generated from “agoga.com” is shared with Cameroor government!

* He is in the process of extending the same scheme to countries like Columbia (.co), oman (.om), Niger (.ne) and Ethiopia (.et). These TLDs have spelling variation of “.com” and “.net” respectively! He is fighting out the legal suits relating to the idea..nevertheless, he exploited the loophole very well!

* Agoga.com receives 8 million unique visitors every month!

* He exploited the concept called “Domain tasting”. Most domain booking sites offer a free trial period (to protect the customers who mistakenly purchase a wrong domain name). He used this mechanism to book more domains and to see which ones are bringing traffic and which one’s aren’t!

* Ham, figured out that revenue based on CPC model may not be sustainable in the long run. So, he is converting some of his best “domain names” to mini-media companies. He is hiring more than 150 designers, engineers, salespeople and editorial folks!

Other learnings:

* Verisign publishes a “root zone” file, a file containing a list of millions of registered domain names.

* Typo-squatting: A term referring to the act of grabbing domain names with typographical variations of established trademarks

* Lots of people type keywords that they are looking for in the URL Bar of the browser and combine them with “.com” or “.net”. This is called as “Direction Navigation”. There are other lots of people, who prefer typing the actual url/website address in google search box/bar and navigate to the actual website from there on. Those are called as “Navigational Searches”!

* Some browsers are capable of fixing url typos! (Curious how this is done?)

* Internet explorer catches unregistered domains and redirects to a microsoft page

Read the actual story here: