What media companies can learn from Walmart

What drove Walmart to acquire OneRiot and make it part of Walmart Labs is the same thing plenty of other companies — particularly media entities — should be interested in: namely, making sense of all the data that is coming in from users on social networks.

What Is Taking a Sip From the Twitter Firehose Going to Cost?

Twitter today gave seven real-time search and discovery companies that “range from funded startups to part-time, one-man operations” access to 100 percent of its tweets. The announcement is part of a new, yet-to-be-standardized initiative of metered access for people and companies that build on Twitter.

Kosmix Gets $20M

I want to take a moment to congratulate Venky Harinarayan and Anand Rajaraman, both of whom are angel investors in the parent company of this blog (see disclosure below), for raising $20 million for their Mountain View, Calif.-based startup, Kosmix. The new funding for the company, which has built a topic-based search service, comes from Time Warner, former Motorola CEO Ed Zander and previous investors, The Guardian of UKreports. To see how the service works, check out the topic page about me, which is far better than my own extended bio. Anand has details on his blog.

Full disclosure: Venky Harinarayan and Anand Rajaraman are angel investors in Giga Omni Media, parent company of GigaOM.

Kosmix Eschews the Needle, Delivers the Haystack

Like many web workers, I spend a lot of time searching online, and I try to expand my set of tools for doing that well beyond Google. One of my latest finds in this area is Kosmix, a search engine that’s still in Alpha but does what it does very well.

As described in this post, Kosmix is based on the following notion: “Search engines are great finding the needle in a haystack. And that’s perfect when you are looking for a needle. Often though, the main objective is not so much to find a specific needle as to explore the entire haystack.”

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Venture Capital, Angels or Bootstrap?

Greg Linden was one of the key developers behind Amazon’s recommendations system, which recommends books, movies, and other products to Amazon customers based on their purchase history. He subsequently went to Stanford and picked up an MBA, and in January 2004, he launched a startup named Findory, which offers personalized online newspapers. It’s hard to imagine anyone more qualified to make a startup like this a success, yet Findory shut down in November 2007. In a brilliant post-mortem, Linden says his big mistake was to bootstrap his company while trying to raise funding from venture capital firms — he just couldn’t convince them to invest. He should have raised his funding from angel investors instead.

Where to raise funding is an important decision every startup founder has to make. The three viable sources at the very early stages of a company are: Read More about Venture Capital, Angels or Bootstrap?

Obama Girl Directors Get Feature Gig

Larry Strong and Kevin Arbouet, who directed the first few Obama Girl shorts for Barely Political, are shifting gears this summer — the two have tipped NewTeeVee that they’ll be producing a feature film tentatively starring DJ Qualls (Road Trip, Hustle and Flow) and Jerry Stiller (King of Queens, Ben Stiller).

Strong and Arbouet were already experienced media pros before responding to a Craigslist ad searching for Obama Girl directors — but it’s their work in online video that has really helped open doors for them in Hollywood. More details about the project, which is titled The Last Day of Summer, to come. In the meantime, for more information about the two, check out their web site.

And, just for old times’ sake — Obama Girl vs. Giuliani Girl:

UPDATE (5/21/08): Larry Strong writes in with a few more details:

Last Day is a dark comedy about a confused and angry young man who decides to take revenge on the people that hurt him. The script was written by Vlad Yudin, who is also directing. Kevin and I plan on doing a series of viral videos from the set of the film.

Apple iPhone ads make you want to stand in line now


If you haven’t seen the Apple iPhone television ads just yet, you can view them directly on the web; even in high-def. James and I were chatting on Skype this morning and both of us came to similar conclusions:

  • Aside from designing products with ‘wow factor’, Apple is excellent at marketing that ‘wow’
  • A similar interface approach could go a long way with Windows Mobile devices and UMPCs or other touchscreen Tablet PCs
  • Regardless of the missing 3G support (a stable for us on the run), the ads just make you want this device

Neither of us is a current AT&T customer, but come June 29th….well; who knows?!?

Comcast expects 250,000 VoIP Users

Comcast, the cable godzilla had only 7000 VoIP/Phone service subscribers at the end of the first quarter, but the company expects to end 2005 with nearly 250,000 subscribers. Clearly cable guys are taking a lead in the VoIP space, leaving behind the independents. In addition, the company added 414,000 broadband subscribers, bringing its total to 7.4 million. In other words, it put more distance between itself and its rivals, especially the bells. When it acquired Adelphia, it will have nearly 10 million broadband subscribers. That’s pretty huge, and for that reason alone, one needs to track their movements closely. I think, their recent DNS screw-up, and falling customer service standards are a sign that the company is not geared for broadband growth in scaling sense.

“You’re continuing to see high-speed Internet drive growth,” Tim Gilbert of Des Moines, Iowa-based Principal Global Investors, which manages $125 billion in assets, and owns 4.8 million Comcast shares told Bloomberg.com. Still 21.5 million cable subscribers, $5.6 billion in sales (up 9.4% from same quarter 2004) and tripling of profits to $313 million makes an impressive quarter. Tip of the hat to Brian “Da Broadfather” Roberts.

PS: Da Broadfather is not the number one Brian Roberts on the planet. That is Baltimore Orioles second baseman. You may own this big a slice of the Internet, but you can’t own your Google rank.