StumbleUpon for sale by eBay

TechCrunch is reporting that Social networking and bookmarking site is for sale by eBay which bought it only about a year ago for 75 million.    It’s not clear how much they want for the site but due to stagnant growth in traffic and the ongoing challenges to social network monetization, it would seem likely that eBay would be happy to get little more or even less than 75 million to unload a site that does not really match up well with eBay’s core values and experiences which are “selling stuff by auction”.

Interestingly eBay already has one of the world’s largest social communities in the form of buyers and sellers who interact in a huge way on a grand scale every day, although I don’t think eBay has made a concerted attempt to extract additional value or community from those buyer and seller relationships.

Full Sail Brewery, Hood River

Full Sail Brewery, Hood River
Originally uploaded by JoeDuck

Full Sail Ale is one of the most popular beers in the Northwest, and our Full Sail brewery tour in Hood River helped us understand why Full Sail remains so popular. We had a great guide, Gary, and thanks to his expertise and the fact we were the only two on the tour we were able to ask a lot of questions.

Gary explained that in 1985 the town of Hood River was suffering badly as the Timber Industry was in decline.    A group of friends, hard up for work, decided to start brewing beer and took over a small building which remains a small part of the huge brewery complex that now produces millions of bottles of Full Sail Ale and Henry Weinhard’s as part of the Full Sail contract with Miller Brewing.

More detailed brewing information about the tour at the Oregon Blog:

Sergey Brin is Blogging

Google co-founder Sergey Brin has just started a new blog which promises to offer some interesting insights into one of the most influential people in the technology world.

His first post details something incredibly personal – Brin’s predisposition to Parkinson’s Disease.   He learned this from an examnation of his DNA by 23andMe, the company co-founded by Brin’s wife Anne.

Columbia Gorge Hotel, Columbia Gorge, Oregon

Columbia Gorge Hotel 323

Originally uploaded by JoeDuck

We really enjoyed our trip to Northern Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge, especially our stay at the Columbia Gorge Hotel, one of the most historic hotels in the American West. The Columbia Gorge Hotel is perched atop cliffs next to a waterfall with beautiful views up and down the Gorge. The grounds are impeccably landscaped like a giant living bouquet over at least an acre with dozens of hanging pots with wildflowers, pretty lawns and bridges, and paths through the trees.

Pictured is the lounge. The dining room overlooks the gorge and often ranks among the finest of Oregon’s fine dining establishments.

Presidents Roosevelt (FDR I think) and Coolidge stayed here.

Columbia Gorge Hotel, Hood River Oregon

Mini Vacation time!    Heading to the Columbia Gorge Hotel in Hood River, Oregon.    We’ve never been there but it’s supposed to be really neat – perched next to a huge waterfall with great food and historic ambiance:

Built in 1921 by timber tycoon Simon Benson, the Columbia Gorge Hotel was known as  the “Waldorf of the West.” A magnificent villa perched on a scenic cliff, the Hotel offering sweeping views of the majestic Columbia River as well as the very finest accommodations and dining in the northwest.

The Hotel was a favored retreat for movie stars like Clara Bow and Shirley Temple, presidents like Roosevelt and Coolidge, and other social and political dignitaries. These were the days of steamers and speakeasies, of Valentino and the Model T; a time when people were dancing the Charleston and listening to jazz at The Cotton Club.

Hmmm – I hope I don’t have to dance the Charleston….

Corn fed cows, corn syrup, and the end of civilization

Ater a discussion with my sister about health concerns over corn syrup in food and grass vs. corn fed beef I followed up a bit on the Corn Syrup and Corn Fed Cow Continuum ….:

I’d consider this source (the Mayo Clinic dietician) to be “very authoritative” and when I find these sources I don’t need to look much farther because they keep up on the research and have little reason to distort things.    There are exceptions to this and you need to be careful not to trust authorities when they are advising on things they are NOT authoritative about..but…

To me it suggests something I routinely find to be the case on these issues:   They are of minor rather than major concern, but many bright people choose (for reasons I do not understand) to *focus* on a narrow aspect of the overall health (or other scientifically defined) issues.

There’s a lot online about Grass fed beef that suggests it is healthier than corn fed.   Unfortunately the papers tended to look at grass fed meat composition rather than the long terms effects of that composition on human health, so for me this probably falls into the category of a small enough difference that I’d prioritize this far, far below what I’d argue are the big three: exercise, total caloric intake, and fat to calorie ratio.    I also understand that a daily multi-vitamin is good idea and would suggest that is likely enough to make a difference that we should take one.

The gist of my argument is simple and I’d suggest pretty obvious to an open mind:   If you care about your health you should spend most of your health-related thinking working to balance exercise, total caloric intake, and fat to calorie ratio such that your BMI stays below 25, a well established health milestone.   Secondarily, you should generally take a multi-vitamin.

Lastly, at the risk of sounding kooky because this type of thing normally falls into the kooky thinking realm, I think you can make a case that most of us should probably be taking resveratrol, an antioxidant that was shown to provide simply extraordinary life extension benefits in mice.   Although I normally think this kind of thing is goofy the early results for this substance are so compelling it’s foolish to ignore it (for the same reason it is foolish to *pay attention to* the largely bogus claims of most vitamin and nutrition therapies).

There may be some other compelling science I’m not familiar with but my point is that fretting over trivial things like trace chemicals in food, organic food issues, and even non-trivial but small issues like corn beef being fattier and corn syrup are *probably*, though not certainly, a waste of health thinking time because these factors are *swamped out* by the big three listed above:
(exercise, total caloric intake, fat to calorie ratio), and vitamin supplements.

Also note that I’m excluding cases where somebody has a deficiency or a disease that should affect their diet.   For example lactose intolerant folks should obviously not eat cheese or drink milk unless they take enzymes to help digest it.   Normally those are healthy foods but they are …. ugly foods for some people.

Also I’d note another obvious item – biology plays a big role in health that remains very poorly understood.   A poster gal for horrible diet and no exercise will often thrive for many years and will often outlive a LOT of joggers with great BMI and diets.  A poster perfect diet and exercise routine will affect your biology but I’d guess won’t trump it.    Hmmm – this would be interesting to review as identical twin study.   If I’m right, you’ll find identical twins will tend to die close to the same age regardless of their lifestyle.  It seems you could use twin studies to tease out the biology vs lifestyle factors.

Advertising Arbitrage: Another Case Study in Death by Algorithm

The New York Times has an interesting summary of the demise of profits for a website called SourceTool.

The site was buying Google Adwords pay per click traffic to the tune of some 500,000 per month and then monetizing that traffic for a profit of about $110,000 per month using Google Adsense pay per clicks (where Google shares revenue with the site).   This form of PPC Arbitrage is no longer encouraged by Google – in fact I think this was related to the Comscore fiasco earlier this year, where Google announced fewer clicks and the Comscore analysis led to Google stock tanking until Google announced a higher revenue per click which made the stock soar.

SourceTool, along with a handful of heavy hitting online advertisers like Proctor and Gamble, has written in favor of the justice department denying Google and Yahoo’s proposed advertising partnership arguing that the combined Yahoo Google ad empire would control some 90% of the market.

Yammer Wins TechCrunch 50

Congratulations are in order for startup company Yammer , which just won the very prestigious TechCrunch 50 startup competition in Silicon Valley.   Over 1000 companies applied and 52 were chosen to present at no charge to a very distinguished group of corporate and media digital luminaries such as Marissa Mayer, Mark Cuban, Don Dodge, Robert Scoble, Mark Andreessen, and many other major corporate decision makers and online influencers.

Is is sour grapes that I think they’ve picked a dud here?  No – Matt Ingram Agrees and he is ALWAYS mostly right.  Our not-yet-launched  Retirement startup was rejected  – perhaps because we really were offering a great business model in our demo presentation but no new technologies.   Frankly I was impressed watching several of the presentations.   The programming side of things seemed very inspired as people had created elaborate game worlds, powerful photo grouping software, a collaborative music mixing environment (BoJam), and several more clever innovations with online technologies.  For this reason I was very surprised to see the judges rate Yammer so highly.

Yammer is a fine idea and application,  but it seems to simply be a modification of the Twitter idea for company use.  As far as I can tell is very unlikely to do the two things it needs to succeed:   Replace people’s use of Twitter, including a Twitter than could easily be modified to do the same thing as Yammer, and be used in place of other company messaging systems that can simply copy this layout, use a modified twitter, develop their own, etc.     IBM’s not going to start Yammering and small companies are going to Twitter.

So, as with many of the amazing technologies presented at TechCrunch there appears to be little revenue to be had.

No, this isn’t just sour grapes for being one of the 950 or so TechCrunch LOSERs  (we actually could have presented in the “Demo Pit” at the show but opted out of that due to cost and time).    My thinking is that the best course of action now is to bring the *existing* tool sets to bear against old problems in existing businesses.    We don’t need a new travel *application*, but we certainly need better ways for people to research trips without too much advertising pollution or misleading information.

Then again, when I look at the most hyped of the startups, Ashton Kutcher’s  BlahGirls I wonder if I’m just hopelessly…. i mean … like …  Blah Blah Blah!… in the wrong business.

When Old News is … Bad News

United Airlines stock temporarily dropped a *billion* in value, apparently on the basis of a Google news routine that surfaced an OLD bankruptcy filing story that made it to Bloomberg which then created a stir in investment circles.

Still reading the details of this story,but it looks to me like support for the idea that the stock market incorporates news in ways that can be dysfunctional.    A common misconception is that insiders are making all the money when in fact many insiders actually *cannot* trade as easily as outsiders thanks to SEC rules.  However you’d have to be naive to think that there are not many abuses in the system – mostly I think from complex, quasi-legal arbitraging of huge positions by the big players.

More Copywrong News

Liked Matt Asay’s piece today about how poorly Government is comprehending issues surrounding copyright, especially in moves to extend the times which generally have little of the intended benefits to the artists but inhibit the much more significant process of moving all the world’s information online.

He’s noting that a European Union proposal to extend copyright a whopping 45 years will net artists on average an extra $40.    I’m assuming that number does not factor in the potential for those same artists to make money from derivative works that are much less likely to see the light of day under this proposal.

Although I’m not insensitive to the idea that online folks routinely violate copyright rules, and unlike many people I always groan when web 2.0 folks pretend that widespread unfair use is not common, it is also clear that the copycat is out of the bag and the most functional responses now are to develop systems that make sure artists can *track* and *claim ownership* when their works are used to make *other people money*.   ie I think we need to move away from models that restrict use into models that *encourage* uses and derivative works but give the original artists powerful tools to claim ownership and claim a piece of the action if their derivative works are used to make money.

Sure, there are pitfalls here but the original idea of copyright is now obsolete, yet we keep trying to fit the new pegs into the old holes.