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Hats off to Mahalo

March 28, 2008 1 comment

I’ve eaten humble pie on this one before but I am so shocked that I’m handing myself another big serving.

In early 2007, no one could have convinced me that the bastard child of Wikipedia and Google had any shot at success. In hindsight, you should know that such a bastard child makes a lot of sense how closely connected the behemoth search engine and the web’s 8th largest site are.

As I always do when bored, I was looking at Quantcast.com for movers and shakers; Mahalo is now reportedly doing one million uniques a month. That’s…amazing.

What is technologically unique about Mahalo? Nothing. The only edge that they have – I think – is that they know what keywords are popping along different dimensions (for example, topical keywords) and they know how to write articles on the fly for them.

While Wikipedia articles are written to suit the fancy of the public at large and (maybe) top Wikipedians, Mahalo’s articles are written with explicit commercial goals. Is the article going to drive traffic? When? How much? Can we serve banners for this article? What’s the CPM? Is there a lot of SEO contention for the term? Can we more topical than the next guy?

Classic case of finding a comfortable niche and settling into it.

And the end product, to be perfectly fair, isn’t half bad. Kudos to them to pulling this off out of nothing.

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Categories: mahalo, tech

On Mahalo’s Traffic Counts

November 2, 2007 Leave a comment

Could I have been wrong all along? There have been many skeptics of Mahalo, the lame people-powered Frankenstein of links/videos/blah that’s geared towards head terms organized in a page that looks like an Ask.com results page. It ain’t really search, it ain’t really a directory of links since they hand-embed Youtube videos and other shit into the page.

All the news I’ve read so far have been short on Mahalo and how its having a terribly hard time gaining any traffic.

Could they have been wrong? Look at this graph from Compete. Where is this traffic coming from? The most hilarious thing would be if this were SEO traffic.

Categories: mahalo, tech Tags: ,

KevinRose-JasonCalacanis Peace Pipe Meet Is A Snoooooozer

August 4, 2007 2 comments

I love GigaOm. From what I know, they tend to not orgasm over the newest social network for San Quentin jailbirds a la TechCrunch. So when they put up their new “Internet TV show” online and pitched it as the reconciliation-after-the-Internet-death-cage-match between pseudo-heavyweights Rose and Calacanis, my dumbass paid attention. Like a frigging cat rolling around a ball of yarn, I watched the thing end to end, including Joyce Kim’s ridiculous meanderings about “how VMWare makes servers more efficient” as a description of the company’s products. Nicely done.

But so far so good. Now, after the “commercial break”, Rose and Calacanis get together for a little fireside chat to talk about their supposedly innovative services Digg and Mahalo and Pownce. Boy, what a snoozer. I wanted to hear some hard-hitting questioning about Pownce’s business model. Not to be found. I wanted to hear something more interesting than how Mahalo rules if you want to fly bus-on-wings-Southwest. How informative!! Mahalo for that one, guys.

The one funny thing from Kevin Rose was talk about how Digg had hired “some AMAAAZING MATHEMATICIANS” that are developing bleeding-edge algorithms at Digg. For reals? You don’t say, Kev-o. To do what amazing doodad, may I ask? Uhh. To suggest stories to digg based upon what you’ve dugg and what your friends have dugg.

Someone get John Nash on the phone! I hear Donald Knuth is interested in a consulting gig at Digg!

Oh while we’re on this revolutionary feature, isn’t that something Sphere can do if they just got their shit together and had real technology?

But I digress. Calacanis did throw in a veiled insult at Pownce when he said if they swapped logos, Pownce would look a lot like Twitter. Ya think?!

Here is the link if you are truly masochistic.

Bogus Vertical Search Percentages

June 2, 2007 6 comments

Is it me or are people routinely making up numbers on search verticals and categories? Over the last few months, I’ve heard search vertical percentages thrown around like money by drunken sailors at a Vegas whorehouse. I’ve never seen a source, neither has anyone who seems to quote these:

  • Spock.com, the “secretive” people search engine claims that 30% of searches on the web are people-related. This is the basis of their entire freaking business model. Sure, but what the hell does that 30% mean? Almost no one out of that 30% is searching for Saumil Mehta (I wish I had a stalker; I’ve wanted one for a long time but no one seems to oblige). 20% of those searches are for some combination of “Lindsay Lohan”, “Britney Spears” and “Sanjaya”. In other words, head terms, for which a Wikipedia page written by a freckled 17 year old will probably suffice. If it doesn’t suffice – well, that’s a sign that the reader has bigger problems than a poor flipping search experience.
  • While I can’t personally afford to attend the swanky All Things D show, a colleague of mine made it down to San Diego to hear Jason Calacanis brag about how 24% of all searches are for the top 10000 terms. This is the basis behind Mahalo, a Hawaiian word that Bloat! so hilariously derides as translating to “Bandwagoneer”. While the product IMHO is a redundant version of Wikipedia + Google, the number sounds like it came from where the sun don’t shine (don’t quote me on it though)
  • Lesser luminaries have quoted me other BS search percentages: 15-30% navigational queries, 20% local queries and 68% pornographic ones (okay, I made that last one up).

Does anyone know what the real numbers are? Do they even exist, or are we all just making shit up as we go along?