Friday, January 07, 2011

Sacramento News Meme

It's been a while since I've blogged on this site and I thought I'd add a little update. Still have this Blogger based blog after all these years even with the new upstarts Tumblr and Posterous doing some interesting innovation in the micro blogging space. It seems Twitter has grabbed my attention and become a real source for curated content and social networking.

Built a little side project this week. A Sacramento News and Blog Meme in the style of Digg or Techmeme. Currently aggregating 14 local news sources mostly tv, newspapers, and a couple web only news sites including my 3 in the Metro Media network of course.

The site Sacramento Meme is updated hourly and includes voting buttons and top this month and top this year views. It will be interesting to see how a local aggregator/meme would generate some interest and if a community develops around it. I haven't started curating the content yet, but that's an easy next step if there's interest. I'm curious to see if users will be interested in curating themselves through the submissions and voting features which is much better than pure aggregation I think.

Hard to tell if there's strong enough interest in Sacramento based news to support a aggregated/curated site, but I think this is where news is going along with Branded media which I think I'll devote another post to as I've been thinking a lot about the future of media and Branded media seems to be the next logical step. I'll explain more later.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Play Defense and Pass the Ball

Recently, my wife and I decided to clean out our guest bedroom. The closet was overflowing with photos collected over two lifetimes and one seven year marriage. Among those photos were some relics from my high school past. My father came for a visit a few months back and brought me a box of photos and old school records.

As we began sorting through photos of yesteryear I can across some old high school basketball team photos and interestingly enough my junior varsity stats dropped out. Now, I remember JV basketball quite vividly. I played on the team as a sophomore and junior. Our junior season the team went 17-2, losing only twice to the same team. What a rivalry!

In looking at the stats and seeing who the top scorers and the top rebounders were my name was middle of the pack. Maybe the third leading scorer and fifth in rebounding. Nothing special right. By just looking at the stats you would think this guy's not the MVP, but you'd be wrong.

I learned very early on from sports that the MVP on any team is the person who passes the ball and plays defense. These are the skills which win championships. As I write this I think of teams like the Sacramento Kings era with Chris Webber, Vlade Divac, Doug Christie, Peja Stoyakovic, and Jason Williams.

Just like that Kings team I always had a game plan in my head to pass the ball to setup my teammates for the easy shot first. They enjoyed playing with me because I gave them easy shots and made them look good. Only when they all were struggling did I take matters into my own hands and shoot or take the ball to the hoop. I saved my energy for defense.

I loved d'ing up the best guy on the other team, putting my chest in his and frustrating the heck out of him. There's nothing better than shutting down a top scorer or forcing turnovers for easy buckets. I'd get so close on defense he'd think he had a siamese twin. Forced shot, rim, grab the rebound and run the floor. Easy two!

Mimimize the other teams strength and exploit their weakness was my approach. It's very Sun Tzu and the Art of War. I know this is a technology blog, but my point here is simple.

To compete in sports, life, and business we need to do the dirty work which minimizes the advantage others have and delegate responsibility to our team rather than being a one man show. I loved teams with one cocky, big headed star who thought he could carry the team alone. Shut him down and the team falls to pieces.

Do the dirty work to make the team's job easier. Play defense. As a business owner or manager delegation is hard. Mistakes happen, the job doesn't get done exactly like you would have done it, but many times people will surprise you with brilliance. Give up control and instill trust in your team. Pass the ball.

Remember these two things and all the other good things will fall into place.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Feedly Kills Google Reader and Most News Readers

Feedly, the new Firefox addon is absolutely fantastic. Admittedly, I'm still trying to figure out how this beast works, but it is so easy to use, fast, powerful that it is most surely a game changer in the news reading world. Feedly has quickly become my default start or home page.

Just recently heard about Google Fast Flip from the TC50 conference. Tried it and just don't get it. I use Netflix and wirelessly download their movies and TV shows to my tv through Wifi. Ocassionally I visit and browse through movie and tv show title looking for good content. Interesting that I cannot do that from my TIVO interface on my tv, but that's another story.

The point is that when searching through massive amounts of data pictures have no meaning. Text is easier to browse quickly and determine what is relevant and what is not interesting. Try it. Search on Google images or Netflix and try to decipher meaning form the images alone. Then begin focusing on the text alone ignoring the images.

Google Fast Flip sucks in my opinion and Feedly is going to be the aggregator of choice. I've been looking for a home page/start page service like this and thinking about this very interface for months. Feed readers never took off because the user interface was terrible.

Watch for feedly to gain mass adoption in 2nd qtr of 2010. The limiting factor is that this is a firefox addon and is not available, as far as I know, for IE or Safari.

I'm going to continue my deep dive into the guts of this beast and see what I can find.

Friday, July 31, 2009

McClatchy Financials Mixed: Specialty Sites Bright Spot in Earnings

"McClatchy continues its transition to a successful hybrid print and online company. Our digital audience continues to grow impressively. Average monthly unique visitors to our websites were up 30.1% in the second quarter following 26.7% growth in the first quarter of 2009. Still, the recession is impacting our digital business. Our digital advertising was down 2.9% in the second quarter of 2009, hurt particularly by declining employment advertising. Excluding employment advertising, which has declined nationally both in print and online, our online advertising revenue grew 24.7% in the second quarter of this year.

"Our digital performance has been aided by ownership stakes in CareerBuilder,, and, leading companies in the digital classified advertising arena. And our growth in digital retail advertising of 50.7% in the first half of 2009 is fueled in part by our partnerships with Yahoo! and other technology companies.

"As we continue our successful migration to a multimedia company, we are less vulnerable to print declines and the secular shifts of advertising to digital media. Digital advertising represented 16.5% of total advertising in the second quarter, up from 11.8% in the second quarter of 2008. In June, digital advertising represented 17.3% of total advertising.

"We are among the leaders in our industry in online advertising revenue performance and online advertising as a percentage of total advertising. Those who think of McClatchy as just a newspaper company need to take a fresh look. We are quickly becoming a 24-7 news and advertising company that can deliver in print, online, and to handheld devices.

"As we look to the second half, we will remain vigilant in our efforts to become more efficient and permanently reduce costs. Through the first six months of 2009, cash expenses, excluding restructuring charges, are down 23.6%, and we expect cash expenses to be down in the mid-20s percent range for the remainder of the year.

Sunday, July 19, 2009 Sucks: They're Stealing Your Traffic

Inspired by Jeff Jarvis and his recent book WWGD and his saga with Dell Sucks I was compelled to share my story. I'll cut to the point here. provides a platform for affiliates to steal your hard earned traffic. Want to know how? Read on...

A few months ago I began running display ads on my site using OpenX hosted and three ad networks; Google Adsense, Yahoo Affiliates, and Adbrite to test display ad serving. Little did I know I opened the door to thousands of thieves. I began noticing that I was being re-directed to a jump site and then onto various search directory sites.

After a little investigation I came to understand this is known as Open Redirect URL's and it's a major problem. I could say it MAY be happening to you, but if you're running ads on your site I'll presume it IS happening to you. Here's how it happens. You visit a page either through a search engine or by direct navigation and the spammers load a script in the ad code served on the page. The site you intended to land on loads a jump page which redirects you to an advertiser page. It all happens in milliseconds. It happens 10 billion times a month, according to They tell us this in their corporate press release. The unknowing or unsuspecting web surfer does not realize they have been redirected. There's no longer a need to invest in SEO or Branding or PPC, these affiliates just steal our traffic at a cost of nothing. The ROI on that business model must be 1,000,000%. All the while profits.

I began to research how this was happening and followed the path of URL redirects and it all leads back to one company. You guessed it, and their aliases ABC Search and Blueseek. This company is providing the tools for their affiliates to hijack your traffic and steal your readers, customers, and traffic. Just as if a person standing on a street corner car jacked you and gave the keys to a chop shop or someone breaks into your home and invites other criminals in to steal your stuff, this company is providing the tools and the means to allow their affiliates to steal from you. Thousands of thieves. Who should be concerned? Any major ad network, ad server technology company or publisher of ads.

Why is this a big deal? I've personally experienced this happening dozens of times and have reported 4 cases to They claim to block the affiliate from their network, but they don't plug the holes in their system to stop all affiliates from doing this. Here's what David Bilgre, Director of Business Development says in an e-mail response to my query, "Per our conversation regarding redirects it is important to note that ABCSearch is a network of 10000+ affiliates who send traffic through us to direct advertisers as well as third party advertising relationships. We make every effort to identify and remove all questionable sources of traffic from our network once they are identified, and we have strict policies that our affiliates have been instructed to follow. Unfortunately, from time to time, a bad source can get by our fraud prevention technologies."

David and Dan, simply writing and displaying a Terms and Conditions policy does not limit your liability for allowing this type of activity to happen. Placing the burden on publishers to recognize and report illegal activity from your affiliates while your company profits is wrong and a conflict of interest. I'm sure you've thought that if we're just lax in our enforcement we can continue to grow and profit from this illegal traffic. It's time to stop.

If I am having this happen routinely, then I can assume my readers are having this happen at the same rate. I can only imagine the problem results in billions of page views being hijacked across the internet. The kicker is these spammers are being rewarded by the advertising dollars they are reaping from your traffic. Just as if they reached into your pocket and grabbed your spare change. Now imagine tens of millions of people being robbed in the same way and is reaping the lion share of this stolen money by facilitating the work of thieves.

The latest headline from on June 22, 2009 states, "Leading Online Marketing and Advertising Company Unaffected by California's Sluggish Economy". The reason for this amazing growth? They're stealing your traffic and charging advertisers for it. I display ads on my site on a PPC or CPA basis. So each time they redirect my traffic without a click or attribution to me for the resulting action I lose money. Worse than that I'm losing the trust of my loyal readers who already are untrusting of the various spam, malware, and viruses trying to attack their computers.

Who cares? Everyone who conducts business online and uses display advertising to monetize their traffic should care deeply about this problem. If it continues unchecked this could erode the market for online ads and ad networks like Glam, Gawker, or Adify. The worst part of this problem is the fact that places the burden for fixing it on the publisher. That's akin to telling a robbery victim to wait until you're robbed again by one of our other thugs and we'll stop that one, but continue to provide the means for 10 others to rob you tomorrow.

Please feel free to Digg this or Tweet it or Share on Facebook or link to it on your blog. I don't have the ability to stop it alone, but if we band together as bloggers and publishers we can stop this illegal activity. Yes, I could simply remove all ads from my site or block off-site redirects, but then what about the millions of other publishers impacted by this activity. Do I just let them suffer while the thieves prosper? I'm asking for help from Jeff Jarvis, Matt Mullenweg, Matt Cutts, Michael Arrington, Neil Patel, Robert Scoble, Pete Cashmore, Duncan Riley, Darren Rowse, Seth Godin, Pete Rojas, Jason Calacanis, Nick Denton and fellow bloggers. Please help stop this type of damaging activity.

How big is this problem? Probably about as big as's growth over the past year. How could one company be growing it's advertising program so quickly while the much larger players like Google and Yahoo are struggling? Did they receive a huge cash investment? I could not find any evidence of that. In January 2009 they claimed having, "over 6 billion searches a month through its network of targeted search engines and niche-specific directories". Then in March of 2009 they claim, "more than 325 million daily searches, which equates to 10 billion impressions per month." So what they're telling us is they grew their traffic by 4 billion impressions in only two months? They are either genius or a major fraud. I'm inclined to believe the latter, unless they can prove me wrong.

For more info contact Daniel Yomtobian, CEO of He can be reached at 800.710.7009 and you can use the phone directory to contact him directly.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Google Aims the Laser Sight Straight at Microsoft - Windows in the Cross Hairs

It was bound to happen. Google unveils an OS to compete with Windows. I've always thought that Open Source was the Enterprise Software Giant Killer. It's like viral coding. The open source community provides the coding muscle and Google provides the marketing, sales, and professional services. If Microsoft didn't see this train coming ten miles away they were blinded by their OS monopoly. The PC makers must be crying with joy, finally a real alternative to being held hostage to overpriced enterprise software. Microsoft has become too diverse I think to maintain dominance in their multitude of markets from gaming to in car audio to operating systems et all.

With the creation of Linux, Web Search, cheap PC's and web based business apps, cloud computing and now the Open Source OS we're seeing a sea change in how enterprise businesses provide IT. IT Directors must take notice. In order to survive and stay relevant you'll need to become a service enabler, not a service provider.

Outsource everything which is not core or proprietary to your business function and focus on what makes you're organization unique. IT operations must adopt Open Source principles of creating, sharing, connecting to community or relegate themselves to being IT dinosaurs unable to keep pace with a faster more nimble technology world. Gone are the walled gardens, holding the business hostage to 12 month project cycles, and huge clunky enterprise implementations.

Welcome to the Google Enterprise World.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Startup Soup

I've been thinking a lot about how successful startups get started. Is it the founders or is it the product/service or the region they operate in and I think it's all of these.

To begin a successful startup needs great founders. Where do you find these people? Usually they are friends, former co-workers, or business partners at some point. This ties into the region concept as well. If there is a critical mass of people with the drive and experience to start great companies in a region then this process is almost automatic.

Products and services are another key component. Which relates to skill sets available in the region. It's critically important for a growing company to have access to a highly educated and skilled talent pool to draw upon. This is where the local University can assist by providing the programs to educate and train the workforce of tomorrow.

Now as I'm writing it also leads me to the notion of affordable housing options. Without this is becomes very difficult to attract talent from other places. It's really a competition for talent with other regions. As high tech knowledge workers are looking around for a place to rest their head they need affordable housing, which is why the silicon valley looks less and less appealing.

But what about the cool factor. It seems to me a place needs to be sufficiently cool, and yes I know that word is even not cool, but this is also vitally important. It is the creative class that will lead the region into new cutting edge businesses, see coworking as a phenomena.

In summary, I think the Sacramento region has all the ingredients for launch. The talent pool is small but growing, the educated workforce is growing, and the cool factor of Sacramento has definitely been bumped up a few notches in the past few years. Match those factors with the growth of venture capital available and there's a recipe for startup soup; rich, hearty, tasty, and filling.