QuickBase opens up to developers


So I’ve been an Intuit employee now for a little over 3 months.  And I’ve met a ton of really passionate, intelligent people. It’s been quite a wild roller coaster ride and is the primary reason why I’ve been so negligent in my blogging.

TechCrunch picked up on QuickBase’s foray into being a developer platform and it’s great hit.  And here’s why:

If there was any hesitation about Homestead joining, it was because Intuit isn’t what you’d typically call an “Internet” company.  Our bread and butter is desktop software; when was the last time you saw TechCrunch or GigaOm write about QuickBooks?

But the QuickBase guys (I’ve met with several of them) are passionate about being on the leading edge of the Internet space.  They’ve never been on the desktop.  They’re pushing RIA and rapid development and open interfaces and all that the Internet is about these days.  You know, “Web 2.0”.  And at the core of it, they’re about providing value to users.

And the fact that TechCrunch picked it up is a great sign that Intuit’s moving in the right direction.

So congrats to the QuickBase team for a great hit!  And here’s to Intuit making more splashes in the blogosphere!


Selling a car: Craigslist vs. Autotrader



Count one for the good guys.

I recently sold my Toyota Solara Convertible (going for a sweet, rockin’ minivan) and posted both on Craigslist and Autotrader.

I’m sure it doesn’t surprise you that Craigslist kicked Autotrader’s butt in generating legitimately interested leads, at least here in the uber-connected Bay Area. 

The tale of the tape (Craigslist vs. Autotrader):

  • Cost: Free (duh) vs. $69
  • Online pictures: 4 vs. 18
  • Magazine ads: 0 vs. 1 (I assume, I never saw it)
  • Times I had to post: 4 vs. 1 (CL expires after 7 days, AT doesn’t expire)
  • Actual interested leads: 9 vs. 1
  • “Spam”: 0 vs. 4 (I got 4 calls from businesses who want to help me sell my car)

Even though the ads on Craigslist are free (and therefore, unqualified), the search functionality minimal, and the ads poorly formatted, CL was far and away better than AT.

But you knew that already.  Count a victory for the power of a trusted, “social” classifieds system over the old school advertising system.

An Addendum to the Kandinsky Zone Effect



So I tested the Kandinsky Zone Effect a few weeks ago which tested how quickly Google indexes blog posts (it took less than 10 minutes to get into the general index!).

Now the question is to see if tags matter.  And to do that, I need another term that no one has ever written (and is just one word this time, so it makes the tag simple).  And I’ll use it in the tag alone (not in the body of the post).  Check back soon!

Update 1: So it took less than 10 minutes again for Google to add this latest post to their index, but the tag I used (“miroified”, to follow the theme of modern artists) still does not register any hits.  Now that I’m using the term in the body of the post itself, we’ll see if Google picks it up.

Sun buys MySQL


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Wow, Sun is buying MySQL.

Now, I’ve never been mistaken for a Sun fan.  I wrote about their continued slide into irrelevance when they changed their stock symbol to JAVA (huh?).  That move was panned by everyone, including the most avid Sun-philes.

This move, however, is great for Sun, but does it make any sense for MySQL?  I didn’t even know that MySQL was for sale (though, clearly they were).  I just figured a company that was more… um… relevant would pick them up.

But if you think about it, it didn’t make too much sense for the major players who are picking up companies right now.  Oracle would have loved to do it, but I’m sure MySQL would have balked.  The same goes for Microsoft.  Google would not bother to acquire something as mundane as plumbing.  Yahoo has enough trouble right now, and also is not interested in plumbing.

One interesting option would have been Amazon.  They continue to roll out web services that cater to startups; it would have been impressively bold of them to plop down the cash for the most popular database for startups, too.

But Sun takes it.  It makes sense.  Sun can bring their shiny new toy into the enterprise conversations they’re having with the big IT departments that MySQL wants.

Let’s just hope they don’t screw it up.

Intuit and Homestead get married…

I have some very exciting news to share with you all today. (Don’t worry, I’m not delusional enough to think that there are actually a lot of you in “you all”.)

Intuit and Homestead have decided to join forces to take our best shot at making small businesses around the country and around the world successful. You can see Justin’s thoughts on his blog.

It’s been picked up by a lot of the bloggers out there, and the general reaction has been fairly positive, but I never really expected it to get a lot of buzz in the blogosphere. But everyone here at Homestead is excited, and that’s what matters.

I do want a address one thing that some of the bloggers are saying: I know that it’s called an “exit” or an “exit strategy”, and as a co-founder of Homestead, I get questions all the time about “exiting”.

In reality, I’m not just blowing smoke (or brown-nosing with the new powers that be) when I say that I don’t see this as an exit, but really an opportunity to play with the big boys and try to blow out Homestead to a greater audience. It’s going to be a rough and tough ride, I’m sure, but I’m excited to jump in and take that ride. I definitely would not be this excited, and I’m sure the deal would not have gone through, if this was a “dump and run”.

One of our ex-employees Matt Franklin posted this on Justin’s blog:

I’d imagine this will definitely help get Homestead products out to more people. You guys have some really, really talented employees, so I’m super happy to see their work get more exposure.

I couldn’t agree more…

Does Google really hate Text Link Ads?


The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing at Google. Or maybe it does, but it doesn’t care.

www.text-link-ads.com is doing just fine, thank you very much.  Visit their site.  Despite all the buzz lately about how text link ads will invalidate search rankings, kick your dog, and destroy the universe, the site still has a healthy Pagerank of 7.  Shouldn’t Google be penalizing them?

OK, I know what you’re thinking: the site itself isn’t doing anything wrong. It doesn’t have any text links on its own site so technically it’s not violating the rules of the road. Even though every one of their customers and every one of their clients is violating Google’s rules, they’re still technically on the right side of the law.  And Pagerank is probably a fully automated score and Google doesn’t want to tweak it by hand.

OK, fine. But search for text link ads at Google.  The first two paid results are for the company itself.  That means Text Link Ads is paying Google for that placement and the purchase was approved by an AdWords sales rep.  The marketing copy on the site even touts improved organic search engine rankings as the primary benefit of buying text link ads.

“Sorry, guys, everything you do is wrong, but feel free to buy ads from us anyway.”

If Google wants to discourage paying for/selling text links, shouldn’t they stop promoting the company that’s leading that charge?

Google resetting Pagerank?



I was sent this yesterday.

It says that Google has plans to roll out some significant changes to their ranking and ad system.

1. Get rid of Pagerank and replace it with Visitor Rank, where users with the Google Toolbar can thumbs up/thumbs down the site they’re on.

I can definitely see them getting rid of Pagerank. They really don’t want webmasters to focus on Pagerank and they want to discourage text link vendors. Why not bury bury Pagerank altogether?

Visitor Rank also makes sense as an ingredient in the hodge-podge that makes up a sites rankings.  Could be gamed, of course, but take the data with a grain of salt and it could prove very useful.

2. Confirmation click for AdSense

In theory, the visitor would have to click on a confirmation button after their first click on AdSense.  What? Two clicks to reach an advertiser?  When the company is still contending that click fraud isn’t a real problem?  This is really, really unlikely.  Advertisers don’t want their potential customers to have any friction.  This won’t happen.

3. Stop reporting of back links

Like the hiding of Pagerank, hiding back links also makes some sense. It’s valuable for webmasters to be able to find who’s linking to them, but for the SEO savvy, it’s used to help them build links to make them more attractive to Google, not to users.  Anyway, I think it’s possible they may do this, but not a slam dunk.

4. Replace “nofollow” with “dofollow”

This would require that links be tagged with “dofollow” or the search engine won’t follow it at all.  Now, that is just plain ridiculous.  If the blog post had sketchy credibility with me before, it lost it all on that one.  Google would throw out 99.999% of the links in the world and require everyone to retag their links?  That’s just silly.

I’d bet the post is a list of possible things that Google has considered, or a wish list of the engineer the blogger is citing (if there is one), or even a wish list of the blogger himself.  I just can’t believe that it’s a list of things that Google is launching in the near future, though the discussion is interesting…

MySpace vs. Facebook



The buzz continues with Facebook picking up another half a billion dollars today at a $15B valuation, or an amazing ~100 times estimated revenue.

MySpace is trying to defend it’s territory, and in raw numbers it’s still kicking Facebook’s butt. Here’s some interesting data touting MySpace’s might.

It’s astounding really.  It’s easy to jump in and gripe about how ridiculous the valuation is but it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility.  But clearly, Facebook would have to be beyond Google-ish in it’s growth to make it reasonable.

I think an early Internet growth company should get a valuation of somewhere around 20-30 times revenue, and a mature company should get somewhere around 10 times revenue.  Even Google, who is still growing like gangbusters, is incredibly sexy, and swathed in hype, is only worth 14 times revenue.

Facebook is early enough and is growing fast enough that it’s revenue should be growing at more than 100% per year.  At 100%/year, for two years, they would be at ~$600M/year.  Then, they’d have to stay at the 70-80%/year growth rate that Google has to warrant the 14 times revenue number.  And that’s just to justify $15B; by the end of two years, I assume MS and the other investors are hoping it’s worth $30B.

Can they do it?  That’s going to be really, really hard.

Testing the Kandinsky Zone Effect


What is the Kandinsky Zone Effect?

I ask myself that question all the time.

Actually, it’s really just a test.  I’m testing to see how long it takes blogsearch.google.com, technorati, etc. to pick up my a posting with a phrase that I really doubt anyone has ever written about before.

I’m also testing to see how long it takes to get into the regular Google search index after it gets into their blog index.

Stay tuned for results…

Update: Wow.  In less than 10 minutes, this post is viewable in the regular Google search index (http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Kandinsky+Zone). That’s amazing spidering and indexing speed by Google.  On top of that, that’s a truly unfair advantage blogs have over regular webpages.

Next, I’m going to try it with a new blog that is not yet in the index…

Apple threatens to brick unlocked phones?


A lot of buzz today around Apple’s announcement that a future update may cause “irreparable damage” to the device.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t much about hardware (definitely not devices), but I find it incredibly unlikely that a software hack of any kind can permanently damage a device. Maybe Apple won’t do it for you, but there has to be a way to wipe your device back to the its factory software/firmware.  I’m sure it’s something that Apple engineers did all the time while developing the iPhone.

So is Apple bluffing?

I don’t blame them for it (I’m sure they’ll make more from their cut of AT&T’s monthly fee than from the device itself).  But can you imagine the level of the screaming if Microsoft did something like this?  As far as I know, unlocked Xboxes still work…

Update: Ahhh, the drama continues.  The incredibly insubordinate iPhone Dev Team has smacked down Apple, and is releasing a fix to revert the iPhone back to its original state.  We all knew it wasn’t that hard.  The only question is whether Apple will try to take these guys down…