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Google to launch social web Friend Connect May 12, 2008

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Following Facebook and Myspace, Google will join the social network data portability crowd to allow its users to port user data to partner sites, media reported Monday.

Google’s Friend Connect will be a set of “APIs for Open Social participants to pull profile information from social networks into third party websites,” speculated TechCrunch.

Google has been taking a more open and distributed approach with its OpenSocial API, which allows compliant applications to work across any social network. By extension, Friend Connect would provide glue to allow any site to add a social dimension and build connections to other social networks.

Facebook Connect announced on Friday it would make it easier for people to share their favorite pictures, information and applications with family and friends anywhere on the Internet. MySpace on Thursday announced Data Availability, with Yahoo, eBay, Photobucket, and Twitter as initial partners for its effort to let members port their data.

The key for all the data portability efforts is that users have granular controls to manage their data and to maintain privacy and security. Facebook and MySpace have not fully disclosed how their privacy controls will work yet.

David Glazer, Google director of engineering, said in March the big challenge isn’t the technology but applying existing and emerging standards, such as OATH (secure API authentication), OpenID (identity management) and OpenSocial APIs (application integration).

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Salesforce adds Google e-mail, office programs April 17, 2008

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Salesforce.com Inc, a maker of business software for tracking sales calls, on Monday started integrating its products with Google Inc’s e-mail service.

Google’s Gmail – as well as its word processor, spreadsheet and other office productivity programs – were scheduled to be available to Salesforce customers on Monday morning, the two companies said in a press release.

Salesforce is not charging customers for the Google office applications. The programs have long been available for free from Google.

The advantage of accessing the Google programs through Salesforce, which distributes its software over the Web, is that customers will be able to automatically integrate information from the Google documents with data entered into their Salesforce accounts, the companies said.

Who google for sex and who for money March 1, 2008

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Indians, Egyptians google for ‘sex’, Chinese for money

Sex was the keyword most frequently used by Google users in Egypt, India and Turkey, the search engine giant has said, but in mainland China people hunt for money and technology.

A list recently released by Google China showed four of the top six favorite search topics in China were wealth-related: Three banks and “stock.” China Merchants Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and China Construction Bank, ranked second, third and sixth, all having listed in 2006 and proving a big draw for investors. Fourth on the list was “stock”, not unsurprising with Shanghai shares having risen 97 percent last year after more than doubling the previous year.

Google users’ passion for stocks was also reflected in another list, which ranked blogs that were most searched. The top two were written by securities analysts.

Besides, on the list of the 10 most googled sentences that start with “what is”, seven were about stocks, including such questions as “what is a blue chip” and “what is an open-end fund.”

In an information-driven age, the others on the list were: “QQ”, a Chinese instant message service and also an automobile brand, at No 1. The others were: “game” (5th), “Google Earth” (7th), download tool “Thunder” (8th), the Chinese anti-virus software “Kaspersky” (9th), and “MSN” (10th).

But when it comes to Chinese, food can’t be far behind. Foreigners might be voting with their chopsticks for Kung Pao Chicken, but the most googled dish was sweet-and-sour ribs, followed by fish-flavored shredded pork, home-style braised pork and braised eggplant.

And for unexplained reasons, the most googled English word was “wire mesh”, followed by “crystal”, “china”, “mushroom” and “ballast”. Among entertainment stars, Taiwan R&B star Jay Chou was No 1 followed by Chen Chusheng, the champion of the television contest Happy Boy last year. 

Microsoft eyes deal to buy Yahoo July 21, 2007

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Microsoft Corp. has stepped up its pursuit of a deal to buy Yahoo Inc.

The two companies re-enter talks to strike a deal and fend off a common competitor in Web search leader Google Inc. Yahoo shares jumped 17.96 percent to $33.24 in Nasdaq trading on Friday, while Microsoft shares fell 1.26 percent to $30.58. The two companies have held informal talks over the years, but the latest approach comes as Microsoft seeks a deal to counter Google’s rapid growth.

“It’s been talked about for a long time, ever since Google came into the picture. I can’t imagine a more perfect deal,” said Peter Lobravico, vice president of risk arbitrage sales/trading at brokerage Wall Street Access. “You can’t find a stronger buyer than Microsoft and while it would spur a lot of political and regulatory noise, everyone knows in the end that the deal would go through.”

Analysts often dismiss a takeover of Yahoo by Microsoft since the two companies have such different cultures and Microsoft usually prefers to buy small companies with interesting technology.

The New York Post reported early on Friday that Microsoft made an offer to buy Yahoo a few months ago, but Yahoo spurned the advances. The paper, putting a price tag of $50 billion on a Yahoo takeover, said that discussions continue between the two companies. Microsoft and Yahoo declined to comment on the reports.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs is advising on the process, the paper said. The bank declined to comment. One banking source said that investment banks had been pitching Microsoft on the idea of buying Yahoo for months.

The Wall Street Journal followed with its own story, saying that the two companies are in early-stage talks about a merger or some kind of link-up.

The renewed talks are a sign of Google’s power, the Journal said, and are also an indicator of problems with in-house efforts at Yahoo and Microsoft. A deal could help Microsoft attract advertisers to its online businesses.

“We’ve been a significant believer in a Yahoo-Microsoft combination because both Yahoo and Microsoft both need to create a bigger presence in advertising to compete with Google,” said Marianne Wolk, an analyst with Susquehanna Financial Group.

Google agreed to buy DoubleClick Inc. last month for $3.1 billion, accelerating a push into the graphic ad market. Google beat out Microsoft and Yahoo to win the deal, sources said.

StatCounter rakes in the clicks July 21, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Google, Internet, Internet Software.
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The booming Irish Web analytics startup was launched by the top vote-getter in BusinessWeek’s young entrepreneur contest when he was just 16

Aodhan Cullen got off to an early start. The top vote-getter in the Business Week’s annual contest to find Europe’s most promising young entrepreneurs started his first business, a resumé-typing service, when he was just 12 years old. Then, as a teenager, he began designing Web pages for paying clients, who often wanted to know how many people were visiting their sites.

Lightbulb moment. In 1999, at the age of 16, Cullen launched Dublin-based StatCounter, an online service that lets clients measure the number of hits they get on their Web sites, plus the geographical location of visitors, the pages people view, and the keywords they use to find a site.

That turned out to be a smart move for the young Irishman, now 24. Web analytics, a field which grew rapidly doing the dot-com boom and then fell out of favor, is “exploding again,” says Bill Gassman, a research director specializing in Web analytics at tech consultancy Gartner. It’s already a $400 million market, and analysts expect it to more than double in size by next year. Big players in the field, such as Omniture, in Orem, Utah, are growing at more than 50% year over year.

The Votes Are In > Latching onto such a hot growth market may have been what gave Cullen the edge among voters in our second annual contest to identify the most promising young entrepreneurs in Europe. Out of a field of 16 companies run by 19 Europeans age 25 or younger, StatCounter rose to the top. But not far behind were equally promising startups such as communications firm JT International of Sofia, Bulgaria, and software social-networking site Wakoopa of Amsterdam.

These and other winners were likely helped by a strong show of support from friends and colleagues. Thanks to a new screening system, this year’s poll was free of the manipulation that dominated the contest in 2006, later eliminated by filtering. And not being ranked in the top five takes nothing away from the promise and achievement of startups such as BytePlay, Moneytrackin, and Friend Media Technology Systems. (For the original list of nominees, see BusinessWeek.com, 6/1/07, Slide Show: “They Set Their Minds on Success.”)

Ahead of Household Names Like Dell > Still, Cullen’s company stood out for its strong growth. StatCounter currently has more than 1.5 million users and tracks more than 9 billion page views per month across its network of 2.2 million Web sites. Cullen won’t discuss revenues for the privately held company, but says he’s signing up 1,500 new members per day.

That helps explains why Alexa Internet Web Search, which ranks sites by traffic, currently lists StatCounter as the 34th-most-visited site in the U.S., ahead of household names like Adobe, Dell, and Wal-Mart, as well as Internet fixtures such as CNET Networks, Ask.com, and Expedia. To keep up, Cullen has opened an office in Dublin’s Guinness Enterprise Center, hired six employees, and added 80 powerful servers.

StatCounter doesn’t really compete with Omniture or other players such as WebTrends that target multinationals and big corporations. Rather, it’s going after small and midsize firms that don’t need highly sophisticated analytical tools, and can’t afford to spend $10,000 and up to buy them. The StatCounter service is mostly free, supported by ads, and works remotely over the Internet rather than by being installed on client PCs. High-volume customers with more than 250,000 monthly pageloads pay anywhere from $9 to $29 a month for StatCounter.

Google Has Taken Notice > Cullen does face one rather formidable competitor in the entry-level market: Search giant Google, which bought a Web analytics company called Urchin Software in 2005 and now offers a free, advertising-supported traffic tracking tool called Google Analytics.

Cullen doesn’t dismiss the competition, but argues there are key differences. Google Analytics, for instance, is tightly integrated with the company’s AdWords advertising service, and users are limited to tracking 5 million hits per month unless they are AdWords customers. “Google Analytics’ goal is to increase their advertising business,” he says. “StatCounter’s goal is to provide the best tracking possible.”

Alan Boydell, Goodle Analytics associate for Google France, disputes Cullen’s claim about Google’s motivations and says its goal likewise is to provide “the best possible free tracking service.” He acknowledges the 5-million-page-view limit for noncustomers, but notes that AdWords clients can track unlimited page views.

StatCounter, Cullen adds, also offers live tracking, which lets customers monitor and spot problems on their Websites as soon they happen, a feature Google Analytics lacks. And it also displays live visitor path reports to show how each visitor is navigating a Web site and what paths are leading to customer conversions. Google’s services are similar, but only display what happened about three or four hours ago. “There is room in this market for new players,” says Gartner’s Gassman. Though Google has far broader brand recognition, he says, StatCounter “appears to be very good at listening to users and it is growing very fast.”

Saying No to VC, for Now > Among its paying customers is Mathaba, an online, international news agency based in Hong Kong, London, and Washington, D.C., that gets 2 million page views a month. The company’s Web master, Adam King, says Mathaba uses StatCounter several times a day to check for problems on its site, to see where visitors are coming from, and to measure the popularity of the site’s toolbar. He also uses the StatCounter tool to verify which news items are doing well, how long people spend on the site, and how many come back regularly.

So what’s next for Cullen? Venture capitalists have been beating a path to his door but so far the young entrepreneur says he isn’t interested in being bought out. He says he wants to continue growing the company, which has been profitable from the start, on his own, by improving the services he can offer his customers. That’s the spirit!