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Archive for August, 2009


Correlations of Manic Depression and Entrepreneurism

Monday, August 31st, 2009

theIIIBeing an entrepreneur is hard.  Everyone tells you how tough it is.  Being a little manic about it is critical to the success of entrepreneurs, otherwise the overwhelming likelihood of failure crushes an entrepreneur.

I suspect that being at least a little manic depressive is extraordinarily common among entrepreneurs.  That would explain why they are brave enough to go out there and start their own companies and it would explain a little about why they struggle to work for other people.  When they are either manic or depressed, I suspect they soon find that either state is received poorly by their manager.  Being at least a little manic probably provides

Ideally, an entrepeneur is always manic, however that is probably unrealistic.  Tim Ferris had a guest blog post a year ago about structuring entrepreneurial activities around manic depression.

In spite of this, and in spite of lots of studies around the demographics of entrepreneurs, I have found little or no data regarding the prevalence of manic depression among entrepreneurs.  There have been numerous studies indicating that people suffering bipolar disorder tend to be more creative than their peers and people employed in the Arts tend to experience bipolar disorder disproportionate to the general population, yet no analysis of entrepreneurs – a group that I would argue reflects some of the most creative people in the population.

Studies have also shown that people with bipolar disorder tend to set goals more ambitiously and generally achieve more ambitious goals than non-bipolar individuals.   Studies even indicate this is true in non manic or depressive episodes.

What can we do with this?  I don’t know, but I thought it was interesting.

Vampire Novels Are The New Chick Lit

Sunday, August 30th, 2009


My wife and I were discussing how Twilight is the Bridget Jones Diary of 2009.  Then I thought, we should make that data driven.

So I trotted over to Amazon to get the data on books about vampires and their publication date.

Alas, Amazon told me that there were more than 64,000 books about vampires, but they only show the first 1,800 results.  When sorted by publication date, the first 1,800 results broke down like this:

  • 47 books being published in 2010
  • 992 books published in 2H09
  • 761 books published between June 23, 2009 and the end of the 1st half of 2009.

Hmmm, that was great, but ultimately unsatisfying.  Fortunately, Amazon suggested I look at books about “vampire romance”, which sounded great.

Here was what I found for the results it would give me (first 1,200):


Definitely more vampire romance novels.  Even the 2H09 (not yet half over) and 1H10 (still months away), seem filled with vampire action.

I recognize this data has problems:

  • It could be that Amazon is only stocking the latest books, reducing earlier available vampire books
  • There is a lot of random stuff in this collection of books, not every amazon book was relevant

Anyway, it was fun to look at for a second and the basic directionality is probably accurate.

I was going to compare this to the Bridget Jones chick-lit flurry of books, but with the limits on what Amazon will give me, this seemed not particularly fruitful.

Why Do You Hate Me So Much?

Friday, August 28th, 2009

My blog gets very little traffic.  I have 66 subscribers today and I get about 60 page views per day.

What do I do wrong?  I feel like my posts are actually fairly meaty deep dives on topics that some people find of interest, yet there is minimal reaction unless I name-drop and someone has google alerts for their name set up.  We need a more active blogmunity given the frankness of the posts.

Let’s do a poll that 3 people will answer and skew the data:

Why does no one read my blog?

View Results

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Lookery in the Deadpool – I say “I told you so”, gently

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009


Hmmm, I can’t seem to find my “behavioral data sales exchanges are doomed” blog post, but I discussed it with hundreds of people and I referred to it in this post, where I tried to make people feel better after a particularly harsh anti-behavior diatribe.

Anyway, here was my theory:

Data is only useful if you see tons and tons of impressions to drive targeting off of.  Monetizing a person requires a data point the advertiser values and an impression where the advertiser sees the value and the value of the data is limited to the difference between what you could have charged for that inventory and what the data makes it worth.  Anything other than conquesting automotive behaviors rarely bridges that gap enough to justify the expense.

The problem with a data exchange is that you gather tons and tons of data, dropping pixels everywhere, with little hope of seeing that person again and not a lot of hope of an advertiser buying that behavior.

Ad networks were able to be successful because, at the very least, they could take every impression they bought and show some crazy CPA ad.  In the data exchange business, you drop tons of pixels and never do anything with it again.

So here is my business model:

  • Ad network was going to sell 1,000 impressions for $1.00.
  • Data exchange provides behavioral data that allows the impressions to be sold for $2.00.
  • To generate the 1,000 behavioral data points, they drop 3,000 pixels on the 1,000 users (3x frequency – for fun – let’s assume that makes it a good behavior as opposed to a random behavior).
  • To get 1,000 users, they pixel 10,000 users – not every person pixeled gets seen for the campaign served, so you have to get a lot of “qualified users”.
  • So they dropped 30,000 pixels at a cost of $0.01 CPM – so $0.30.
  • The ad network wants to keep some of the upside (otherwise why sell the behavior), so they keep half the upside and give half to the behavioral data exchange.
  • So the behavioral data exchange just made $0.50 and it cost them $0.30 – BUT, they have to pay the behavior provider, and he wants 50%.
  • So every transaction costs the data exchange $0.05.

Now, if they lifted the value of the inventory more, they might make a little money.  But, if they have to drop more pixels because network reach is poor, then it costs more.

AND HERE IS THE KILLER: If they drop a bunch of pixels and no one buys that behavior, they just lost all that money.

So data exchanges drop tons of pixels and roam around trying to convince someone to buy that behavior.  Every second that passes, behaviors are losing value and more cookies must be dropped to replace people falling out of populations.  Can you really dig your way out of that?

So Lookery just went belly-up.  And Scott and Todd are smart.  (Although I think I told Todd all this stuff some time ago.)

Were they too early?  Maybe.  The creation of real real-time-bidding interfaces will allow people to cherry pick bigger networks, maybe creating a better opportunity for data sales.  Good enough to build a viable business?  Not sure.

Hmmm, I suppose Exelate is next?


Sunday, August 16th, 2009

achicarimgI was a huge fan for about 8 months.  I no longer am.  Why?

  1. They slowly stopped updating the site.
  2. They shut the site down.

That is kind of a deal-killer, right?

CNet acquired sportsgamer in June of 2007 and paid $1-5 million for it.

Since the acquisition, traffic was up and down:


So what happened here.  First, traffic is seasonal.  Most of the web site is Madden tips, which is a seasonal business.  You can see the traffic spikes representing this seasonality.  Second, they stopped investing in the business.  Updates were slower after the beginning of the 2008 season and slowly trailed off.  Without new tips, traffic stalled.  Eventually, in February of 2009, they shut the site down.

Google Reader Has Ads!

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

I cannot find a mention of this in the press, and Mashable said “If this ever happens, it would cause a huge uproar”, but Google is putting ads in feeds now.

Google Reader (26)_1250125880935

Those ads are not in the RSS feed.

What makes it really crazy is that they are making firefox run really slowly for me by firing off all this javascript every time an ad loads that freezes my scroll bar for some reason.

But wow, they are essentially monetizing publisher content and keeping it all for themselves.  That has to be a nice business.