A few months ago I'd tested Squidoo and concluded that their revenue sharing publishing model was unfavorable and along the lines of "You build it and manage it and do all the work and we'll *share* some of the cash". Based on my March statement I think I was right to be skeptical of playing that game:
JOSEPH'S STATEMENT (From 03/01/2006 to 03/31/2006)
You have earned $0.05 total.
I think CNN's grades are realistic. However grades are a *trailing* measure of performance and the real question is what's in the future for these companies. This much is clear: All have really sharp folks working for them. All face challenges from their growth which can inhibit innovation and flexibility.
I think Google's done the best overcoming that challenge but I also think it's because the initial crowd is still pretty much in place and still excited about work. When kids start coming into the Google families, and mundane concerns start piling up, and the early GooglePeeps are sitting on millions in stock, the 9am to midnight work routine is going to get old…fast. I think Google's ability to keep their best and brightest may be the biggest challenge they face. Working in their favor though is that Brin and Page are both young and brilliant. They won't burn out anytime soon and certainly have an edge on the MSN folks who have made their mark already. MSN's older leaders simply *cannot* understand the internet the way younger people do, and even bringing brilliant but "first generation" internet people like Ray Ozzie on board is unlikely to solve this. What would solve this? Buying all/part of Yahoo as appears to be in the works right now.
Yahoo and MSN have already been through the "losing some of your best people" problems and I think have a more mature and somewhat stable workforce. This is good for maintaining status quo but also is clearly a factor in Yahoo and MSN's ability to overtake Google in most online endeavors.
The search market share numbers can be misleading in my opinion. People no longer move to Google due to superior search, they do it because as the average user becomes less sophisticated they are simply responding to the collective habit of most users which is to use Google. I predict this effect will wear off as search quality converges, people move more to vertical and user-generated search routines, and Microsoft exploits it's browser and OS advantages.
These grades are from the second quarter of a course that's lasting a lifetime. Anything can happen as this all heats up. The only certainty is …. change.