Prediction: Google will buy Facebook for about 1.1 billion

Irrational exuberance in the dot com shopping aisles?

No, it’s a chess game and Google’s winning….again.

I’m really starting to understand what seems like irrational exuberance on the part of Google and the major players. A Google aquisition of Facebook would be consistent with what Robert Scoble suggested is happening: Google is building a moat around it’s advertising business.

Steve Ballmer also suggested this notion in his recent BusinessWeek interview, ironically fretting that Google could monopolize the media business. Yikes, Steve would really run out of chairs then?

I can almost hear Ballmer to Schmidt:
“Hey Cowboy, there’s only enough room in this here internet for ONE monopoly you, you, you dirty monopolistic sonofabitch BASTARDS!”

Schmidt to Ballmer:
“HEY! DROP that chair and step AWAY from the Vista Browser!”

Google, with tons of cash to burn and a staggering market cap, has far less to lose in the high stakes internet poker game than Yahoo, Ebay, or even Microsoft. Microsoft is bigger than Google and theoretically richer, but unlike Google Microsoft has yet to figure out good ways to monetize their (improving) search services and (not improving) content services.

Ballmer’s juggling how to preserve his big ticket MS Office and Vista projects. Yahoo’s worried about plunging valuations and people leaving and the fact that a billion represents a lot more to them than it does to Google.   This is almost certainly complicating the Yahoo Facebook negotiations right now.  Ebay’s pretty fat and happy where they are. Meanwhile, Google can focus in laser-like fashion on keeping Google in the driver’s seat with it’s superb contextual advertising monetization.

The best defense is a good offense, so they are buying up properties to increase their control over the advertising space and keep those hundreds of millions of eyeballs out of the hands of MS and Yahoo.

Will this work? I say probably not for similar reasons it was stupid for Yahoo to buy years ago. Video is junky and won’t monetize well. It’ll be more of an encumbrance to Google’s core competencies than an asset. But … things change, and in the meantime it’s fun to watch this high stakes game of chess unfold.

It’s a show you won’t see on YouTube.

Online News Association to Arrington: Hey, let’s get Mikey!

Poor Mike Arrington. From his blog it sounds like Mike was the token sacrificial lamb at the recent Online News Association conference where his comments were not taken well by the crowd of what sounds like mostly conventional journalists (or conventional *thinkers*) hoping to get a grip on the sea change going on, and going online, right now. They should listen to Mike carefully, because he’s been good at seeing the future. (ummm except Edgeio, which probably won’t fly).

There’s a lot of news in the news business but journalists are often missing the critical factors which include blogs, user interaction, and emphasis on real time reporting in real time from real people who are making that news themselves or direct witness to that news (e.g. who really wants a journalist in the middle when you have webcams on all the parties in the dispute?)

I remember how intense Mike got at Mix06 in his remarks about the future of offline Yellow pages, telling them “You are DEAD!”, and I can only imagine how the ONA folks reacted to his insights about the future of news and media in the online world.

His real sin was to become an expert early on in the Web 2.0 world and to profit from that expertise. Nothing pisses people off like somebody figuring things out early and profiting from that knowledge.

Good for him, but he better stick to events like Yahoo Hack Day or Mashup Camp if he wants a warm reception from like minded folks….folks who also understand that the changes are only beginning and will rock the news world like it’s never been rocked before.

SES San Jose – it’s almost like I’m not … here.

I’m sitting in my San Jose hotel room a few blocks from the Search Engine Strategies conference thinking how much better the information about the conference is … right here on my pc … than at the conference itself.   I’m not knocking SES (yet), just noting that a broadband connection and good website coverage means that even up in my little Oregon town I can “see” the emerging online world as well – in some ways much better – than hanging out in the middle of things here in Silicon Valley.  Microsoft’s MIX06 had more PCs all over the place where SES, like last year, has a long line to check mail unless you want to lug your own pc all over the place.   Also an inconvenience if you want to check up on blogs or conference updates.   The key point?  The virtual 24/7 conference online is rocking, and will only get better over time.

I shouldn’t knock the conference because I’m just an “exhibits only” attendee and SES clearly has emerged as the key search conference.   Also, Danny Sullivan is arguably the sharpest SEO observer in the world and based on comments by some presenters I know he treats his peeps well …

YET …  it sure seems they have the same tired “Our SEO is the best ever” exhibitors and perhaps as many as 60+% of the same presenters show after show, most pretending they are better at or more helpful with PPC and organic optimization results than … a smart high school kid … which is not supported by much evidence I can see, especially on the organic side of SEO.   I do hate to miss Matt Cutts comments and the Eric Schmidt interview but maybe I’ll bump into them at the party at Google tonight.

After going to 3 full Webmasterworld conferences, two SES as exhibits only, and one AD-TECH (where they more-nicely-than-SES allow exhibits people to attend the keynotes which are the best part of that conference), I think Webmasterworld offers the best insights and networking.  One presenter who appeared at both told the WMW crowd he had to dumb down the presentation for SES. Perhaps he says the opposite here, but I think SES, at three times the price, is not even as valuable as a WMW conference for all but a handful of niches such as Vendors, who’ll do better at this venue because they are selling things rather than dispensing quality information.   (Man there are a lot of SEO clueless salespeeps in SEO!)

Of course personal contacts are important, but I know I’ll find some people I know over at the Google Party later this evening.

Gadgets – the desktop revolution begins

One of the best sessions at Mashup Camp 2  was Adam Sah’s “Google Gadgets” which outlined how rapidly gadgets are sweeping onto the desktop.   These were formerly called Google Widgets but Adam told me they have been renamed to avoid confusion.  Yahoo “confabulator” concept has a nice ring….but….perhaps some term standardization is called for here.    Apple can keep the widget idea because… they are Apple.
Gadgets are sweeping onto the desktop.    At MIX06 the MS Live team was also very bullish on the concept and has been developing a desktop and OS environment that will rely heavily on people populating their desktop with gadgets.     Although many of these are “whimsical” in nature, the number of functional gadgets is growing very fast.  I think this is the coming “battleground” – or at least a coming very fertile ground – for those vying for eyeballs.    In the meantime it’s a great way to customize the desktop easily.

Mashup Camp 2 – Day 2 begins

… Mashup Thursday begins with MSN sponsored coffee, for which they deserve major caffienated credit.    Part of the interesting buzz here (and I htink at MIX) is how good the LIVE people are and how different LIVE at MS is from the “old” MS culture which has a reputation for slow development and cumbersome approaches.    Maybe it’s the coffee?

HERE  is a list of today’s schedule here at Mashup Camp 2.  Great to see more from Yahoo and Google today.

Mashup University – resources and blogs

If you are reading my mashup posts you should ALSO be checking out these far better mashup info sources:

Programmable Web – John manages the holy grail of mashup info. He posts it all here.

Mashup Camp Blog 

Mashup University

Blogs of Mashup Maniacs.  Or at least people who came to Mashup Camp 1:

Mashup University – Microsoft Gadgets and AJAX.

Scott Isaacs – The Architect for MS Live .. remixing the web. The LIVE team remains impressive.

Mashups are not new, but the Mashup revolution – the low cost, richer services and experiences, allow us to build things like that would have been totally prohibitive without the backup infrastructure.

Millions of IM users – HUGE reach at NO cost. Cool.

Leverage your investments by remixing. Mashups bring traditional software development … to the web.

Windows live has internalized the Mashup philosphy – Windows live properties are … mashups. The LIVE experience is built out of gadgets. Will be turning gadgets ON in MS spaces. Build a great gadget and get the viral impact. [ NOTE – IMHO how users will populate their increasingly customized browser window with widgets/gadgets/toolbars/messeging/etc is the coming *key* battleground for the big players. Seems Yahoo and MS understand this better than Google? ]

Live Gadget Framework – 100% Firefox compatible. Not yet supporting Safari for technical, not philosphical, reasons.

Demo of Concerts Gadget – concerts + flickr pix. Scripts plus style sheets into gadget. Can derive new gadgets from the old ones.

Demo: notepad gadget

A performance advantage and challenge:

Life Cycle of the applications is NOT driven by refresh, rather by the application itself. Must “clean up after yourself” and get rid of gadgets after they are not used anymore.

Future Thinking:

Microformats – great standards for data transferability.