Saturday, November 29, 2008

A New High

This Monday, November 24, my blogs hit a  new milestone - 1,240 visits.  Woohoo! 

Normally, between them, my blogs get around 500 visits/day, so this is a nice new rise.

This occasion calls for a random photo - how about one from Kosmix' 2007 holiday party.  Nagraj and Sailesh are flanking me.

vikram kosmix

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Apple Of My Advertising Eye

apple logo

I would love to have Apple put a part of their apparently humongous ad budget online on Kosmix

Apple's ads are always everywhere you look;  Steve Jobs and crew apparently have an ad budget of close to $485 Million for this year.  That's Microsoft territory

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bugatti Veyron Top Speed - James May

Top Gear has showcased the Bugatti Veyron, the  world's fastest car, a couple of times.   I specially loved the episode where they had "Captain Slow", James May, try to get the Bugatti to its top speed, 253 Miles per Hour.  Whooo

The segment has everything - a likeable, muddle-headed protagonist set against impossible odds, an incredible goal, a magnificent machine, top speed driving, and an emotionally charged soundtrack threatening to bring tears to your eyes.

Forget your local movie-plex, just watch this episode a few times instead.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Friday Buzz Kill - Buzznet Layoffs

Damn economy.  Damn Sequoia.  Now they've made Hollywood-based Buzznet lay off 10 - 15 of their 90 employees.... today.  That's Friday.  

What a buzzkill.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

WebMD Not Buying Quality Health After All

With WebMD's share price free-fall ($32 to below $20), the erstwhile online Health leader is trimming some of its upcoming investments.  Its latest is to stop its proposed acquisition of Quality Health, which I covered earlier


This explains why, even after 3 months of announcing the deal, WebMD had not yet integrated Quality Health's traffic into its own in comScore.  As such, Waterfront Media's Everyday Health, which now reports Kosmix's RightHealth metrics under its own (see my earlier post), has a better chance of holding on to its new #1 ranking in comScore.

WebMD and Quality Health have signed an ad deal, with WebMD's sales team representing Quality Health as well.  As part of this deal, there is still a possibility that WebMD negotiates to report QH's metrics under itself in comScore.  Thats when the race begins again.

quality health

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Supercar Photos Of The Week - MC1

David Hilton is the man behind the designs for the Ford Mustang, Focus RS and S-Max.  That's a nice resume.

He is now working on the MC1, a British supercar.  Britain is not too bad at building supercars and concept cars - witness the latest batmobile.   And the MC1 is very drool-worthy.


mc1 supercar

  mc1 door


mc1 top

   supercar lights

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Jerry Mandering - End Of A Yahoo Era

Its finally over.  Jerry Yang has stepped down as Yahoo's CEO

jerry yang yahoo

I feel bad for him.  Everyone else has savaged him mercilessly... while I can see that through all the tough times, he still talked about "bleeding purple", and did his best to shield his employees from harm, including laying off a smaller number than should have been appropriate.

Which of course points out that he wasn't a good CEO - a good CEO of a company as big and as troubled as Yahoo would need to make merciless, dispassionate decisions.  But in these tough economic times, saving some jobs (even if its only temporary) has to be looked at favorably.

Anyway, I want to nominate someone for the now vacant CEO post, someone who I believe has what it takes to take Yahoo to the next level....


From Jodi's Blog - My Top 5 Tuna Steak Destinations

Jodi Olson, Kosmix's new head of Public Relations, likes to interview folks for their top 5 lists for her blog.  This week, she put up my list - and quite an arbitrary one it is!  I am very flattered.   Her blog is here, and I have also reproduced the post below. 

Vikram Singh's Top Five List of Cities to Eat Great Tuna Steak

kosmix vikram
Blogger and tuna steak connoisseur Vikram Singh is the author of Information Overload.
1. Poughkeepsie, New York: The Hilton in Poughkeepsie has a restaurant that serves really, really good Ahi tuna steaks. They pan-sear it, and the crust on the outside is made with seeds or something that’s just amazing. The portions are small—you’ll probably have to order two. I recommend following the meal with the house bread pudding. It goes really well with the tuna for some reason.
2. Boulder, Colorado: You can get great Ahi tuna steaks in Boulder. Order it rare there. Most places have really good wasabi- based sauces to go with the steak, and they don’t muck about with vegetables. St. Jillian’s Hotel in Boulder has a particularly good tuna steak—both for a starter and a main dish.
3. Chicago, Illinois: Ruth's Chris steakhouse in Chicago has the best Ahi tuna steaks compared to any other Ruth's Chris. I wouldn’t use any sauce because their fish has a lot of taste on its own, and they don’t make a good wasabi sauce.
4. Mountain View, CA: The Cantankerous Fish on Castro Street. This is the only salad entry in this whole selection. Their Ahi salad is really good, and they have a really good miso sauce with it. Here’s what you do: ask for two extra helpings of the miso sauce, so that you have three in total, and then ask for two separate helpings of the wasabi cream sauce, so you can try the steak two different ways. The dish comes with a lot of vegetables. Very tasty.
5. New York, New York: Most places in New York city that are mid- to upscale have really good Ahi. They cut it too thin and too small to be considered a steak—it’s more like slices of fish. Because of that, you have more surfaces exposed for taste, which makes up for the smaller portion size. I especially like the Ahi in Anthony Bourdain’s restaurants.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Polite Avoidance - Slydial

Remember the Seinfeld episode where George is trying to avoid a girl, so keeps trying to call her home or office depending on where he thinks she isn't?   Of course, he gets caught... its George. 

Now Slydial is what he really needed.  These guys (still in beta) offer a service (downloadable through apps on the iPhone, BlackBerry, WindowsMobile) where you can directly reach someone's voice-mail. 

Not bad, not bad at all. 


Chuck Norris fact of the week

A cobra once bit Chuck Norris’ leg. After five days of excruciating pain, the cobra died

Chuck Norris fact

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Twittering Trouble

Why am I using Twitter?  I do want to like it.... but I keep getting the message below:

twitter issue

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Sun Is Setting

An analyst with Sanford Bernstein, Toni Sacconaghi,  had estimated that Sun needed to cut 20% of their workforce to be able to get closer to righting themselves, mainly by raising operating margin by 5% - 7%. 

sun microsystems

Well, Sun has now announced a restructuring, which is hopefully realigning the company to be leaner and more efficient, while also laying off between 15% - 18%  (translated, 5,000 - 6,000 employees)

 sun office

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X - Aggressive Styling

My brother-in-law, Mr. A (a former rally driver), bought his Evo X around the same time I bought my BMW 335i convertible.  We love our own cars, and have mutual admiration/ drool-factor over each other's cars too.  So this is my homage to the Evo X's amazing functional and extremely aggressive styling. 

mitsubishi lancer evo 10

Amazing, isn't it?

evo grill

Check out that hyper-aggressive grill! 

lancer evo

evolution 10

the side and rear look better than this photo shows

And now some action shots:

evo 10

evo x

The engine, the culprit that powers this monster

evo engine

Brembo brakes, of course,  for this monster of a car

brembo brakes

evo brembo brake

Recaro racing seats, to keep you from flying out of the car on turns

recaro seats  

A big old spoiler to keep the Evo on the road, exhaust pipe to funnel away the baaad gaaas

evo spoiler

 high performance exhaust

Friday, November 14, 2008

Every Right Revolution Health

I've been writing about the consolidation in the online Health space.   My last three blog posts were:

Everyday Health had started the whole thing off by stating that their goal was to become the number #1 online Health site.  Well, they just did that!  Everyday Health has now become the #1 Health site, per comScore  (and yes, this is still playing the traffic game). 

top healthSo how did EverydayHealth/ WaterFront Media manage to do this?  Since the dawn of time, WebMD has been the #1 Health site, with no one else coming even close.   EverydayHealth and Revolution Health, in their quest to gain on WebMD, kept acquiring other health sites, or representing them for online sales, in exchange getting their traffic assigned to themselves in comScore.  And then, of course, EverydayHealth acquired Revolution.... and they were still lower than WebMD.

Well, this week, we've just announced that RightHealth, Kosmix's flagship Health site (we were #2 in Health through most of this year, per Hitwise), is now also going to be represented for display ad sales by EverydayHealth.  RightHealth traffic is the biggest contributor to Everyday's traffic - woohoo. 

I guess the online display ads world is going to be a little different.

everyday health breakup

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Accel and MC Hammer

I was at last week's Accel party for portfolio companies and partners at San Francisco's Fluid lounge  (Accel is one of Kosmix's investors)

fluid lounge

Apart from our investors, the most interesting person I saw there was MC Hammer.  He, of course, started DanceJamdancejam

Who cares how long its been since his last hit, I'll visit any startup of MC Hammer's!

 mc hammer startup

Here's MC Hammer at the TechCrunch party.  And below, the old, wilder, balloon pants Hammer!

mc hammer pants

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Chuck Norris fact of the week

When an episode of “Walker, Texas Ranger” aired in France, the French surrendered to Chuck Norris just to be on the safe side

Chuck Norris fact

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Linked To Layoffs - LinkedIn Trimming Staff

Bay Area's very own LinkedIn surprised everyone by being the first startup to announce layoffs..... ok, maybe this is not a joking matter.

Anyway, LinkedIn is also laying off staff.  I am a bit fan of the service - I prefer it greatly over FaceBook, Friendster, MySpace, Hi5.  I hope this means the company is growing up, trying to get its act together, because the rumors out of their campus are not favorable.  And they did raise a lot of money recently, so the layoffs are a pre-emptive move, hopefully (I really don't want LinkedIn to disappear!)

By the way, surprise surprise - LinkedIn has Sequoia as one of its funders.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Signs Of A Downturn - Veoh Layoffs

San Diego-based online video site Veoh is laying off 20 of their 110 employees.

Veoh has brought in $70 Million in funding, including $30 Million last June, so this sounds like yet another pre-emptive move to manage costs during the slow economy.

online video site

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Time For A Second Life - No More Business Development

Linden Labs (Second Life) is laying off its Business Development group. 

I keep forgetting that Second Life is still around.  Maybe this will refresh my memory - an old Thriller video recorded on Second Life during the early days

And to show the kind of excitement Second Life can generate, check out the huge crowds at the Obama Campaign

second life campaign

Friday, November 7, 2008

Photos Of The Week - BMW 335i Ambient Lighting

I love the BMW 335i Convertible, I really do.  One of the really nice and warm features - the ambient lighting.

bmw ambient lighting

door sill lighting

And finally, a gratuitous view of the interior, with red leather.  You know when a red leather interior looks good?  When it looks like this!

bmw interior

Thursday, November 6, 2008

How Does The Economy Affect Advertising?

The prevailing economic conditions are having predictable waterfall effects.  Take the case of ad agencies;  their value stream begins, of course, with advertisers.  In times like these, advertisers (in general) do two things -

a) Tighten their belts - they reduce budgets, reduce staff, reduce expense accounts.  Marketing folks generally fly high, compared to many other parts of most companies.  So it is relatively easy to reduce spending on both the advertising expenditure, as well as non-ad related expenditure. 

b) Focus on ROI - traditionally, ROI on ad spend is not easy to measure.  Efforts are continually made to better understand the effects of advertisements, and media channels used to deliver a message.  Everything from immediate buying decisions, deferred buy decisions, perceptions of competitive brands, to brand lift need to be measured and used to refine ad spend.  But ROI on ad spend, to quite an extent, is a black art. 

Consider this - the effects of online advertisements are easier to measure than television or radio ads (with online ads, there are direct actions that can be immediately measured, such as clicks on ads, how long the ads were visible on the page, etc.). 

And in the world of online ads, CPM (cost per thousand impressions) ads have the least immediately measurable ROI, compared to CPC (cost per click) ads, which are second to CPA (cost per action) ads.  Of course, I am assuming that brand lift is not the most important metric here; when brand lift is the metric, you have to look for more esoteric metrics.  But when action is directly required, and ROI is top of mind, CPA ads are the clear winner, followed by CPC ads. 

So what do I think will happen?  Well, first of all, based on the points above, there will be layoffs and budget cuts in all marketing departments, and secondly, ad budgets will be moved to areas and agencies that can promise a deeper focus on ROI.  This of course should imply that print and TV ads will give some ground to online ads.   (see my earlier blog post about some layoffs already announced)

As part of my job at Kosmix, I am already starting to see some of this.

And in online ads, we should see a higher proportion of CPA ads, then CPC ads, both taking away from CPM ads.  This will also drive a slightly less desirable behavior in websites - where CPM ads give a guaranteed revenue for impressions, one needs to drive users to click on CPC ads; and with CPA ads, you have to drive either qualified users (who will end up completing a desirable action on the landing site after clicking on the ad), or send over a lot of users and hope a fair proportion of them complete a required action.  That should make sites less user friendly, unfortunately. 

Car Companies In Trouble


GM - October sales have fallen 45%


Ford - down by 30%


Toyota - down by 23%


Honda - down by 25%

Given how bad terms for financing are becoming, new car sales will probably take some time to adjust back up.  On the other hand, people selling used cars are probably getting great offers right now.

Car makers are quite good at advertising - it will be interesting to see how they respond, and try to change the market.  Look for lots of great deals around the new year! 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Bad Google Ads

On my main blog, I have Google ads turned on, as a small experiment.  Now I'm going to turn them off. 

On all my pages, I see those foolish ads asking people to vote yes on Prop 8, which is fundamentally and morally incorrect - these idiots want to foist their version of laws onto everyone.  I hope Prop 8 gets turned down by the largest margin ever recorded, only so these fools get so embarrassed they never try something like this again..

The worst part - in no way are these ads targeted even slightly to my content;  the only connection is that I am in California, where this proposition is up for vote. 

prop 8 ad

Google, fix this immediately!