December 2009 Archives

Government Housing Support Update

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Calculated Risk:

As everyone knows there has been a massive government effort to support house prices. Some of this has been aimed at limiting supply (modification programs, various foreclosure moratoria), and some has been aimed at increasing demand (tax credit, lower mortgage rates, loose lending standards).

Here is a quote from Secretary Geithner from a recent Newsweek interview by Daniel Gross:

The Behavioral Economics of Personal Information

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Michael Lesk & Jeffrey MacKie-Mason:

Today, like 2,000 years ago, many seek notoriety at the price of embarrassment, a tarnished repu- tation, or even infamy. In 2007, a new Facebook group came under media attention: 30 Reasons Girls Should Call It a Night counted "nearly 150,000 members and a collection of nearly 5,000 photos of young women passed out on the pavement, collapsed in shrub- bery, peeing in bushes, and vomiting in toilets (or on themselves)."1 Most of the subjects had uploaded the photos themselves.

What is it that pushes us to seek fame by misconduct or publicity by sharing embarrassing informa- tion with strangers? How do we reconcile these desires with the apparent need for privacy that surveys keep finding so widespread among the American population? In short, what drives individuals to reveal, and to hide, information about themselves to and from others?

Om Malik:

Om’s note: I wrote this long before the rumors about Google buying Yelp for $500 million started flying around. In my post from today that breaks down the Yelp-Google deal, I explain why it is a good move for Yelpers to take the money and run. I also say that it is a good move for Google in the short term. Over the long term, value of Yelp is limited.

The cold and damp December weather has taken hold here in San Francisco. It’s the kind of weather that forces you to stay indoors and hang out with friends — and find comfort in warm food. I typically don’t eat out thanks to some diet restrictions, but occasionally it’s good to break the rules. Like earlier this week, on the 8th birthday of GigaOM.

My friends and I settled on piping hot ramen noodles, but couldn’t agree on where to get them. In light of a conversation Liz and I had just had about how much she likes the tips she gets via online networks like Foursquare, I asked my Twitter followers to weigh in. The answers came back fast and furious, most of them pointing us to Katana-ya.

Some consultants have advocated the use of "free" services such as yelp to add website content. Nothing is free and it is important to understand how your strategy aligns with such "free" sites, if at all.

Related: The Profit & Peril of Mashups.

Michael Arrington:

Google and Yelp are in advanced acquisition negotiations, we've confirmed from multiple sources. And while the deal isn't done, we've heard that it's very likely to close. The price is supposedly at least $500 million.

Yelp was founded in 2004 as a way to let users leave reviews on local businesses. Comscore puts worldwide traffic at nearly 9 million monthly unique visitors, and it has been growing fast - the company says it's real numbers are more like 25 million monthly uniques.

Yelp has whispered that 2009 revenues will be around $30 million and are expecting $50 million or so in 2010.

Yelp last raised venture capital in early 2008 from DAG at a $200 million pre-money valuation, we've heard. They've raised a total of $31 million over four venture rounds.

On the odds of the deal happening - one source says its 80% likely. Not signed, sealed and delivered, but past the term sheet stage.

Some consultants have advocated the use of "free" services such as yelp to add website content. Nothing is free and it is important to understand how your strategy aligns with such "free" sites, if at all.

Related: The Profit & Peril of Mashups.

Morgan Stanley's Latest: The Mobile Internet Report:

Our global technology and telecom analysts set out to do a deep dive into the rapidly changing mobile Internet market. We wanted to create a data-rich, theme-based framework for thinking about how the market may develop. We intend to expand and edit the framework as the market evolves. A lot has changed since we published "The Internet Report" in 1995 on the web.

We decided to create The Mobile Internet Report largely in PowerPoint and publish it on the web, expecting that bits and pieces of it will be cut / pasted / redistributed and debated / dismissed / lauded. Our goal is to get our thoughts and data into the conversation about what may be the biggest technology trend ever, one that may help make us all more informed in ways that are unique to the web circa 2009, and beyond.

Our key takeaways are:

Material wealth creation / destruction should surpass earlier computing cycles. The mobile Internet cycle, the 5th cycle in 50 years, is just starting. Winners in each cycle often create more market capitalization than in the last. New winners emerge, some incumbents survive - or thrive - while many past winners falter.

The mobile Internet is ramping faster than desktop Internet did, and we believe more users may connect to the Internet via mobile devices than desktop PCs within 5 years.

Five IP-based products / services are growing / converging and providing the underpinnings for dramatic growth in mobile Internet usage - 3G adoption + social networking + video + VoIP + impressive mobile devices.

Apple + Facebook platforms serving to raise the bar for how users connect / communicate - their respective ramps in user and developer engagement may be unprecedented.

and, via Fortune:

"Apple has a two or three-year lead" according to Katy Huberty, thanks to an installed base of 57 million handsets, 100,000 apps and 200 million iTunes subscribers with credit card numbers on file. (She will keep her eye, however, on Samsung, Nokia (NOK) and Google's (GOOG) Android.)

But much of the presentation was spent showing, in slides culled from research over the past two and a half years, that the iPhone is not like previous mobile devices, and its owners not like ordinary cell phone users.

For example, although iPhone and iPod touch owners represent only 17% of the global smartphone installed base, they account for 65% of the world's mobile Web browsing and 50% of its mobile app usage (see chart below).

Key Virtual Properties assets to help you take advantage of the mobile explosion:

2010, The Year of Enterprise, Integrated CRM?

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Robert Hahn muses on several topics in a recent post, including the possibility that 2010 may (finally) be the year of enterprise, integrated CRM*.

Now completing our 13th year of creating, supporting, implementing and improving our Main Street enterprise CRM [video] cloud software: from leads to closing and beyond, I thought it time to pass along a few decisive observations that separate the pretenders from those who sit forward in their chair and drive change.

First, any investment will only be successful if the organization has
  • strong, consistent leadership,
  • implementation and training staff who are interested in the business and know it from the agent, broker and consumer perspective (and are not interested in simply playing with technology to no avail) and, lastly,
  • the right technology team.
In that order!!!

Main Street was designed from day one as a cloud computing, enterprise CRM platform for brokers and agents. From lead generation, lead management, agent and broker tools and analytics, marketing assets, VOW, websites, forms, closings/transactions and everything in between, Main Street provides a single entry platform to build your business, today and tomorrow.
Step one begins with a conversation to understand your business strategy and see if this proven technology can support those goals.

Lastly, "build to flip/sell/spin" is one of the many reasons brokerage technology is often an oxymoron. Too many technology schemes are simply built to spin/sell, rather than to solve real business problems. Virtual Properties is a family owned firm established in 1995.

If indeed, 2010 is the year of enterprise, integrated CRM, let's talk: (608) 271-9601 or

* CRM = "Customer Relationship Management". A system that allows you to manage and interact with all aspects of your customer relationships from leads to marketing/farming, CMA, reports, forms, transactions and concierge.

In Tight Market, Real Estate Agents Tout Eco Features

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Elizabeth Shogren:

With the real estate market still hurting across most of the country, a growing number of real estate agents, builders and homeowners are pitching the green features of properties to try to lure buyers.

But in much of the country, green buyers and sellers struggle to find each other. In most places, the listing services that realtors and appraisers use make it difficult to search for eco-friendly real estate.

And most buyers still put a higher value on location, price and traditional amenities than on environmentally friendly additions.

Green Sells Better If It Also Saves Money

Still, when real estate agent Jennifer Halm shows clients around the stately, historic-looking condominium building in the popular Old Town neighborhood of Alexandria, Va., she highlights the property's green features.

Main Street along with our unlimited use mapping services and broker branded iPhone app support eco searching and data display.

Paul Kedrosky:

Over the weekend I tried to buy a new dishwasher. Being the fine net-friendly fellow that I am, I began Google-ing for information. And Google-ing. and Google-ing. As I tweeted frustratedly at the tend of the failed exercise, "To a first approximation, the entire web is spam when it comes to appliance reviews"...

Google has become a snake that too readily consumes its own keyword tail. Identify some words that show up in profitable searches -- from appliances, to mesothelioma suits, to kayak lessons -- churn out content cheaply and regularly, and you're done. On the web, no-one knows you're a content-grinder.

"Put SEO in its Place" - well worth reading

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Matt Kelly:

Mirror's associate editor urged the news business to rely less on search engines and more on its journalism, in a World Newspaper Congress keynote in Hyderabad, India.

Matt Kelly, who first began his public crusade this summer on paidContent:UK, said: "In our great frantic headlong rush to accumulate users at any cost, many of us were all too quick to sacrifice anything that stood in the way of search engine optimisation" (SEO).

"... The game is up. The days of leading the newspaper industry by the hand, down the path of mythic riches, are coming to a rapid close."

Kelly is on-message with Trinity Mirror CEO Sly Bailey, who has both advocated building loyal audiences before paywalls and is a noted Google critic. "Unique users don't pay wages," she has said.

Bailey and Kelly are two parts in an emerging industry effort to regain the initiative from search engines, the web or generally the media transformation that newspapers have endured. Kelly, in Hyderabad, said of the Mirror's latest sites that "traffic from search engines is ridiculously low ... the vast majority of traffic has either come from bookmarks, or a referral from an informed source".

He said knocking SEO consultants down a peg or two to "build sites that perform well for humans, not search engines" is one change necessary to "reverse the damage we've done to ourselves in the last fifteen years of the internet".

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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