Instagram is Facebook’s $1b Bribe to Valley VCs

Look, I’ve always derided pundits in the past for being trigger-happy on the “we’re in a bubble” talk, but when you objectively look at the tech sector today and two major acquisitions making headlines, you have to be blind not to notice that everyone’s drinking the same Kool-Aid. We had a major debate about the acquisition news this morning in the SiliconANGLE editorial chat room, but I threw out a few questions regarding the acquisition that no one had a ready answer for. I’ll use them as a launching point to discuss the topic today 1) Would it have cost Facebook $1b to devote an engineer or eight to replicate the functionality of Instagram? Obviously not. Let’s say Facebook is paying twice or three times the average salary ask I see for iOS developers online, and it costs $375,000 to employ an engineer who can write for iOS. Instagram had an eight-person staff size. The salary requirements to replicate that staff would run about $3 million a year. Let’s say that Facebook wants to accomplish what Instagram did in a 10th of the timeline, so they throw 80 over-paid engineers at the project; that’s still only $240,000,000 a year. Would it really take 80 Facebook engineers to develop and deploy a well produced application that utilized Facebook’s photo app functionality, and added sepia filters? I think the obvious answer to that is no, and the evidence I have for that are the sheer number of knock-off competitors there are for Instagram on every mobile platform marketplace. 2) What would it have cost Facebook to promote the heck out of...

Technology Stops for No Man

A good friend of mine is working on a film series, and has a running Facebook group to discuss the production process while it’s being made. He posted this today: Crazy world indeed. Technology marches on. Read our coverage on SiliconANGLE on the Facebook Skype integration...

Should I Create a Facebook Page for SiliconANGLE? #fail

So I’ve had the discussion with several of my staff, and several publishers that I’m on friendly enough terms to talk about their metrics with, and I remain unconvinced that devoting efforts to the maintenance of a Facebook page is in my best interests. When it comes to traffic delivery and audience development, Facebook fails almost every time. The social network has much more critical mass than Twitter, or even Google Buzz, but consistently ranks lower than both of those sites when compared to organic traffic delivered as well as purchased traffic. Maintaining your community on Facebook is expensive in many ways – expensive when it comes to people cost (I’d have to devote one of my personnel to being a community manager for the Facebook page), and it’s expensive in that I’m actually devoting money to letting Facebook have all the traffic from community interactions I’d be garnering. That’s unmonetizable traffic that never makes it back to my site. Granted, we’re not CPM based, so it’s not nearly as critical as it would be for a Mashable or a Techcrunch, but it also creates a vacuum for those who would interact with the brand normally on our own properties, pushes them to Facebook, where (I’m told) the conversation will probably not revolve around our content so much as the weather and other mundane topics. That’s another thing – I’ve talked to about two or three potential community managers. They say that creating a Page on Facebook that simply houses links and descriptions of our library of content won’t attract interaction – it’s the conversations about the mundanities of...

Cool App of the Day: VVall Grid

This thing is cool. Check it out. It turns out a timeline of your pictures uploaded to a variety of services, including Facebook or Twitpic. It gives you some stats – like total timeline length and photos uploaded per day. Picasa does the same thing within the program, and the majority of my collection is contained inside Picasa, but data visualizations are always...

The 17th Century Roots of Activity Streams

It occurs to me that history is written by journalists. That seems a bit obvious now that I read it in black and white, so let me backtrack a second and explain the train of thought that lead me to that “epiphany.” The etymology of the word “journalism,” it turns out, goes back to the fourteenth century, when the word “jurnal” was used in Anglo-French to refer to a “book of church services.” The French, sometime in the 1560s, enlarged the word to also encompass a daily record of transactions. It wasn’t until 1600 that the word “journal” was found to be applied to personal diarists’ tome of writings. Somehow, in the ensuing ninety years, the term “journalist” grew in it’s scope, including not only those who kept personal diaries, but “one whose work is to write or edit public journals or newspapers.” If you haven’t read the book yet, you probably don’t recognize the style of writing in this post thus far – the style is a blatant rip off of homage to Bill Bryson. The influencing book in question is At Home: A Short History of Private Life,  a book I’ve been reading in bits and pieces over the last few months. According to my Kindle’s progress bar, I’m about halfway through the book, and it’s taken me up to this point to grasp the utter invaluable nature of historic personal diaries to the end of understanding history. You grow up in school and colleges, and the way history, society and culture is taught, you’d think that our history books were written by, well, history book writers....

What Color Poop Did My Kid Kick Out Last Week? [#facebookmail]

Best comment I’ve seen on this stupid, supposed Facebook Mail announcement for next week, by John Baker, on Google Buzz: John Baker – So, how are people going to respond when Facebook becomes the largest e-mail provider in the world? They will say that, and they will be truthful, if only because every account will by opt-in have an e-mail account. Day one: nada. Day two: World leader! There are a lot of sheep out there who will hear this statement of fact as if it were some kind of magic – "Oh, everyone must really like Facebook after all!" I absolutely agree with Margie D Casados and her privacy concerns. Further, I question the article author’s awareness: people who write like writers already have a method to keep their writing. They have to. People who are telling their friends what color poop their kid kicked out last week? Not so much. And that happens to be what a lot of conversation on facebook is all about – stuff you don’t care if someone listens to it, because it’s not important to you. I track a few people on FB. When I want to write to them, I use e-mail. And it stays nice and safe, far away from Facebook. 5:06 pm Game, set, match. What else you got, ya Techcrunch rumormongers (yes, I’m looking at you, MG and Steve). On a related note, Steve’s diatribe on FBmail reads like beat...

Monica Keller Leaves Facebook: The First of Many?

I saw this post by Owen Thomas over at Venturebeat: “Open-standards advocate Monica Keller leaves Facebook, joins Socialcast.” Facebook’s efforts to raise its reputation for technological openness suffered a blow with the departure of Monica Keller, a well-regarded program manager for open Web standards whose career at the company proved short-lived. It’s just one of very many recent departures from Facebook in recent months, and one of (I predict, anyways) many more to come in the months ahead. I think I may have mentally stumbled upon the reason why. You know why, in life, it’s not a generally good idea to date the guy or girl who relationship hops? The one that’s never been alone for more than a few days at a time and tries to date around your circle of friends? Sort of the same thing in the corporate world.  John Battelle (if memory serves) had the thought back when Facebook was stealing all those “top talents” from Google that these were really just the chaff of the organization. These were the least loyal or least productive, and Google wasn’t fighting to keep them. In the beginning, it would be a PR hit for Google, but in the end, they’d be a much more efficient company for it. Now, because of their innate desire for the bigger, better thing, I predict we’ll be seeing many of these same folks head off to greener pastures. [Photo credit: Adam Tinworth....

More on Facebook’s New “Likes”

I briefly mentioned in my previous post here (and the one from yesterday on SiliconANGLE) that the new “like” functionality from Facebook isn’t going to be useful for small to mid-sized content producers. I saw my first “like” implementation in the wild just now.  Over at Techmeme. This may not be the best example, but I think it illustrates my issue with the Like button: it’s not that useful from either a publisher perspective, and certainly not from a user perspective in this sort of implementation. Where does that Like go? More importantly, are there really only 59 people who like Techmeme? Is my “like” for Techmeme indicative of a permanent state of affinity or is for whatever the headline at the time might be? This is probably not Techmeme’s permanent implementation, but I watched the number actually stay exactly the same as I reloaded the site once every five minutes over the course of a half hour or so. All this to say to my panicking and outraged friends – this isn’t going to work for everyone, and that will be quickly realized by the early adopters of these new...

Just Some Thoughts and Follow-Up on #F8 and “Open”

If you haven’t seen the post I wrote earlier today, you should. There’s three key points I’ll quote again here: 1) Facebook is not going to get grassroots adoption with the new like platform. Aside from it being a pain in the butt to get true seamless Facebook integration on a typical Open Source content management system, Drupal and WordPress (and many other content management systems with wide adoption) have pledged support for ActivityStrea.ms, an open standard that in the end will benefit content producers on the web in many of the same ways that the new Universal Like system will benefit them.  Certainly, we’ll see prevalence of Facebook on mainstream websites, but the limited benefits for medium to small content producers, combined with difficulty of tight CMS integration will limit the usage of the platform at the grassroots level. At the very least, this should provide a small measure of hope to advocates of Open. 2) Facebook is leaving a lot of money on the table. One of my principal disappointments with Social Ads at their debut in 2007 continues to be my disappointment in Facebook today.  The small to medium grade content producer gets screwed when it comes to ad revenue, a topic I and others have talked about ad nauseum. In one of my phone calls today, I gave an example using my website as the test case. Let’s say I get screwed over by a bank, and I write a post about them, and “credit repair” comes up as a keyword in my post. If I’m running AdSense, I’m going to get contextual matches for...

The Great LBS Wars of 2010

I did a little mini-doc containing my thoughts around Location Based Social Networks (entitled “The Great LBS Wars of 2010”). Full description and post is up at SiliconANGLE. This is a non autoplaying version of the embed, so feel free to share it around for those of you who hated the other version. From my post at SA: Jeff Pulver and Justin Kownacki have been advancing a conversation last week week that the germ of which started at this year’s SxSWi in Austin. In Siegler-esque headlines, the question is “What was this year’s Twitter at SxSW?” In terms that don’t make the early adopters gag, the real question is actually: “How relevant and likely to go mainstream are the location based social networks, with emphasis on Foursquare and Gowalla?” Location-based social networks were the buzz of the conference, or at least what most people were paying attention to during the show, due to the hype from a couple of specific organizations. After trying to pay attention to what would be 2009’s Twitter and coming away somewhat disappointed, I decided to just keep an open mind, schedule tons of briefings and see what themes emerged from the conference this year.  I came away with a much different conclusion that what most did, which I’ll get into in later posts, but in terms of the “location based social networking wars,” I think the clear answer as to which one is going to end up mainstream and replacing Twitter is: none of them. In their essence, a location based social network is simply a feature of another service, and generally isn’t something...

I know what animal you're thinking of.

Hey Rizzn–ites, Have you ever played 20 Questions with a computer or small orb? If so, you know that computers and technology, are very capable of predicting what we’ll say and what we’re thinking. How does it do it? Greg Blonder, who we interviewed on the show about a month ago, posted on Internet Evolution today not asking how it does it, but noting how it doesn’t, and posing a work-a-round for poor predictive technology. I’ve chatted with Greg a few times, and he’s a great guy to talk to, but I don’t know him well enough to know exactly how much of an AI fan he is. I am a fan of AI. I’m an AI nut. One of my big fantasies (given enough cash and computing cycles, one that I think is realistic), is to create a truly sentient (at least by Alan Turing‘s standards) AI. Greg gives a couple examples of how current predictive technology falls short: Search engines, and their contextual ads: “Search engine companies believe that they can target ads more efficiently based on invading my privacy and analyzing my last hundred search queries and emails — and thus charge a premium for each ad served. But last week, while I was seeking information on car recalls, I was flooded by ads to buy the very same lemon from the same company I was investigating.” Piracy: “The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) snoops around our computers to see what music files we’re posting and trying to guess our intent. Do we own the track we posted, and are we just backing it up...

Google and Facebook

Hey Rizzn-ites, It seems that every time I gear up to do a blog post, Google or Facebook have to worm their way into my monologue at some point. Today is no exception. A few days ago, Mike Arrington dropped a bombshell that got a little play in the blogosphere and then evaporated in regards to Google’s impending response to the Facebook phenom. We all knew it was coming down the pike, because Orkut just isn’t cutting the mustard in terms of the the US market. I immediately commented on my blog that I simply couldn’t see Orkut in any way retooled as a social networking tool, and it having a chance at all to compete with Facebook. In fact, I said that “[m]y advice to Google employees whenever they’ve brought up the social network issue with me has always been dump Orkut!“ Shortly after the post hit the web, I received a call from a Google employee that agreed with me. Here’s what Mike said we’d see: On November 5 we’ll likely see third party iGoogle gadgets that leverage Orkut’s social graph information – the most basic implementation of what Google is planning. From there we may see a lot more – such as the ability to pull Orkut data outside of Google and into third party applications via the APIs. Here’s what I’m hearing: instead of leveraging Orkut’s social graph information, we’re going to see leveraging of GMail’s social graph. Does GMail have a social graph? Sure it does. For those of us that aren’t bleeding edge early adopters, what’s the best measure of who’s in our...

Google to be 100% Open

Mike Arrington says he’s talked to four of several folks who attended a super-secret meeting over at the Googleplex that more or less say: The short version: Google will announce a new set of APIs on November 5 that will allow developers to leverage Google’s social graph data. They’ll start with Orkut and iGoogle (Google’s personalized home page), and expand from there to include Gmail, Gtalk and other Google services over time. Here’s basically what Mike thinks that means: “On November 5 it is likely we’ll see third party iGoogle gadgets that leverage Orkut social graph information – the most basic implementation of what Google is planning.” My advice to Google employees whenever they’ve brought up the social network issue with me has always been dump Orkut! Orkut is only good if you’re in South Florida or South America. Other than that, GMail is your ultimate social networking tool. Tool up GMail, tighten up it’s integration with iGoogle, and ad the widgetizing feature to both to allow real-time social network via the oldest internet social tools in existence: email and chat. I can’t be the only person who sees this, can I? /rizznWant to be part of the Rizzn-ite army? Indoctrination instructions...

RizWords Weekly Roundup

I’m going to try to highlight a few things from the show this week that I think warrant further discussion. This may or may not become a regular feature. We’ll see how you guys like it. gPhoneDo I really need to say more about this? Check Episode 116 of RizWords (you may need to subscribe to the feed to listen). Also read these two posts. The second one contains links to other interesting coverage. Or just Google gPhone. Everyone’s got an opinion now. Two Unfortunate Investments (originals: here and here).On Thursday we talked about VC put into startups Veveo.TV and Wis.dm. Both Art and I puzzled over the amount of money flowing into these two losers. Wis.dm is basically an expanded form of the comments features on every website on the web, but tries to be the newest Web 2.0 to pull wisdom from the crowds. On Wednesday and Friday, I inaccurately referenced from memory the anecdote of Sir Francis Galton, who was from the 19th century, not the 17th, as I said. The anecdote itself was properly related, though, which can be found in his Wikipedia entry: [T]he crowd at a county fair accurately guessed the butchered or the “slaughtered and dressed” weight of an ox when their individual guesses were averaged (the average was closer to the ox’s true butchered weight than the estimates of most crowd members, and also closer than any of the separate estimates made by cattle experts). The example by which the term is defined dictates that yes or no questions aren’t going to be the type of questions that the crowd displays...

Facebook API Programming: the Business Side

Hey Rizzn-ites, As I’ve mentioned several times on the show, I was simply amazed at how easy it is to create Facebook applications using the same tried and true backend web technologies we web programmers all use day-to-day. So, you know it was just a matter of time before I looked at a Facebook programming venture as a business idea. Since I first started writing this article, however, the rules have changed in a significant way, so it is important that if you read this article more than a couple weeks after I’ve written it, you search for more recent documentation to augment what I’m saying. Facebook is a new New Media promotional avenue, and as such, it’s rules are going to be in flux for the forseeable near future. This isn’t going to be a 1-2-3-Profit article, just some salient points and interesting studies I’ve seen that will help the capitalist programmers out there participate in the Facebook API landgrab. Valuation of an ApplicationShepard MethodThere’s a fellow that hangs around the Facebook Developer Forums named Tim Shephard who claims to have brokered four Facebook application transactions (that is to say, brokered the sale of four Facebook programs to those interested in owning said apps). He asked each buyer if it would be OK if he published some stats in aggregate. Three of them agreed, while one declined. Of the three that agreed to include their stats, the sold prices ranged from $0.25 per user to $1.83 per user, with an average of $0.34 per user when averaged by total amount / total users. Total users ranged from around...

Badware: 1700 Posts that No One Will Read

According to Google, rizzn.com is a site that “may hurt your computer.” Don’t you just feel dangerous as heck reading this right now? I’m not exactly sure why, although I was sent an email from a business associate last week: When I empty my cache, and visit your site, my Computer Associates anti-virus reports the Microsoft Data Access pop-up there, is infected with the JS/Petch virus. I ignored it when it first happened Wednesday, thinking it was just an ant-virus hiccup; and it didn’t re-occur until I cleaned out my IE cache, and re-visited you today. I checked the server, and all the domains with a virus scanner on the system, but found nothing. I chalked it up to a random error, until just now, when I discovered that virtually all my Google traffic has disappeared. Below any link from Google to rizzn.com, appears the following warning message: “This site may harm your computer.“ This is very disconcerting for me. I went through the Google webmaster tools and requested a ‘review.’ I’ll let you know how things turn out. All recent virus scans of the domain and web pages show no infections. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that the infection came from a GoogleAd – I heard on Buzz Out Loud a while back that there were some worms that were launched through GoogleAds. I haven’t confirmed this to be the source, but call it a hunch. We have a bunch of virus protection on the server, I’ve personally verified that. I can’t imagine that a virus has penetrated that many layers of protection there. At any rate, stay...

RizWords – Daily Politics and Tech – EP51

RizWords – Daily Politics and TechEpisode 51 – download now – subscribe now A member of the TechPodcast Network @ techpodcast.com. If it’s Tech, it’s here. Remember, if you’re listening on the podcast recording, you can call into the show live if you tune in through TalkShoe.com at 2:30 PM EST every weekday. If you like the podcast (and you haven’t already given us a rating), head over and do so, and don’t forget to sign up for the discussion list. Other Podcast Plugs: TalkGirls comes on Tuesday nights. Check out the TalkGirls Podcast … it’s good times! Cotolo Chronicles: Frank is a good friend of the show, and an associate of the late great Wolfman Jack. Check out his podcast. NewsReal: Good friend to Art and I – has one of the best hours of news podcast each week. You Are the Guest: Bill Grady turns the microphone on the internet’s most interesting people. Sponsors: Try GoToMeeting for 45 days! Visit www.GoToMeeting.com/podcast to start your free trial today. J. Douglas Barker – Voice-overs for you! www.romancingthetone.com We opened the show with something Mark thought would be good news for conservatives wishing to stay sane in the mornings… of course Art found the dark cloud around the good news rather quickly: Rosie O’Donnell has fought her last fight at The View. ABC said on Friday she will not be back on the television talk show following her angry confrontation with co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck on Wednesday. It ended a colourful eight-month tenure for O’Donnell that lifted the show’s ratings but no doubt caused heartburn for show creator Barbara Walters. O’Donnell...

RizWords – Daily Politics and Tech – EP46

RizWords – Daily Politics and TechEpisode 46 – download now – subscribe now A member of the TechPodcast Network @ techpodcast.com. If it’s Tech, it’s here. Remember, if you’re listening on the podcast recording, you can call into the show live if you tune in through TalkShoe.com at 2:30 PM EST every weekday. If you like the podcast (and you haven’t already given us a rating), head over and do so, and don’t forget to sign up for the discussion list. Other Podcast Plugs: TalkGirls comes on Tuesday nights. Check out the TalkGirls Podcast … it’s good times! Cotolo Chronicles: Frank is a good friend of the show, and an associate of the late great Wolfman Jack. Check out his podcast. NewsReal: Good friend to Art and I – has one of the best hours of news podcast each week. You Are the Guest: Bill Grady turns the microphone on the internet’s most interesting people. Sponsors: Try GoToMeeting for 45 days! Visit www.GoToMeeting.com/podcast to start your free trial today. J. Douglas Barker – Voice-overs for you! www.romancingthetone.com We’re focusing on immigration today, and the immigration bill being debated in the Senate right now for two reasons… we’ve neglected the news last week, and two, Art isn’t here to provide is violent protest of immigration to America. This comes from the Patriot Post: “This administration has a case of the slows on border enforcement. If we have border enforcement, we will be able at that point to start to regulate the internal problem that we’ve got. Because as long as you’ve got a revolving door and you have no border—and...

Hackers Declaring Cyberwar on Facebook and Myspace

I’ve been seeing this headline pop up all over the place the last few days: Hackers Declaring War On MySpace, Facebook? My question is: who are these hackers? Is there a central organisation of hackers that have decided to declare this war? Should Facebook and MySpace fight back? The best defense, after all, is a good offense. (SC Magazine) “If the hackers know you have a particular interest, this can be used to target you in a phishing attack. They know what you’re into and can exploit this to obtain more information from you such as credit card details,” he said. “People are putting far too much information online and into the hands of identity thieves. Young people in particular, need to be very careful as it may come back to haunt them.” Those of us with an above average IQ know the vulnerability MySpace, Facebook, and other social networking sites present to our identity. Still, all this hubub begs the question: where are these hackers? Furthermore, should I join up? I’ve been a hacker for years, and there’s apparently some money in harvesting this information. Do these hackers have an HR department I can apply to? It’s simply ridiculous to use terms like CyberWar and hackers when it comes to stories like this, but still the media persists....