A $40M investment, led by Bank of America Venture Partners. Hummer Winblad came in again. Valuation at least $200M post. They needed the cash .. number of employees tripled in the last 12 months and they intend to hit 600 in the next 12. If I assume $100K/year (loaded) per person, which is probably conservative even for Utah, that’s a $60M expense rate. Fortunately they are projecting $40M in sales, so assuming they can ramp sales, they can sustain the losses for a couple of years.
Interestingly enough, $40M is more than Accrue’s IPO.
It’s been said everyone has at least one book in them.
The irrepressible Eric Peterson, he of the self-published book as well as a (soon-to-be) published by O’Reilly book, has decided he needs to write another. In the spirit of information wanting to be free (and perhaps getting some early arrows that will sharpen the information), he’s posting his writing to a new blog.
Eric’s picked what I consider to be one of the hardest jobs in web analytics — defining and making sense out of key performance indicators.
Wi-Fi Planet, part of the Jupiter Media keiretsu, reports on a Jupiter Research study that claims municipal Wi-Fi (wireless) costs about US$150,000 per square mile over 5 years, and wouldn’t break even even if it charged users $25/month.
But .. not everything gets built to make money. Freeways are an example. They are considered enabling infrastructure. A municipality’s self-interest is improving the “way of life” for its citizens, and having access to services such as wi-fi certainly do that – first as a unique offering, later (as more cities offer it) as a defensive or “me too” offering. But they also build wi-fi to attract people with laptops, on the assumption that they have money to spend in the area. Maybe not every time they open their laptop. But eventually they learn about local restaurants, notice there’s a playhouse or theater, etc. Maybe with the character of the area changes subtly, attracting people to live there. Tax revenues increase.
If everything was always cut along profit & loss lines, there’d be no instant messenger services as we know them today. But Yahoo!, MSN and AOL consider IM a draw, a gateway if you will, into other services that do make money. Producing and maintaining an accurate multi-channel contribution model is tough .. it’s one of the things that SDS does today, and as you can imagine, plenty of business units have strong opinions on how much they should be credited for their contribution. So yeah, there’s a cost involved to build out infrastructure, and it’s worthwhile knowing what the cost is. But there’s more to infrastructure than just the direct cost.
Harte-Hanks surveyed 1,000 companies and found that 71% of them want to monitor their web site for problems, but only 34% do. Also, 71% want tools to find the root of problem, but only 21% have them.
The survey was commissioned by Symphoniq, a provider of monitoring tools, who additionally note that more than 3/4 of the time, IT departments find out there’s a web site problem from users calling the help desk.
ForeSee and FGI Research produced an insightful report called the Top 40 Online Retail Satisfaction Index (pdf is available here). It looked at the top 40 eCommerce sites and used the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) to scientifically measure (1.6 million users) how satisfied each retailer’s customers are. Here are the top dozen:
They had some great takeaways, like
Don’t waste time and money driving people to your website if you haven’t maximized the browser experience.
Netflix and Amazon have both been a couple of those “no brainer” destinations for a while now — known for their customer-friendly site and features, as well as innovative approaches to customer satisfaction. So it’s not surprising to see them at the top of the list.
What might surprise you is that Netflix’ original product manager of customer experience — who’s quite passionate about retailing and user experience, and scientifically proven (!) to be great at it — is available. Interested?
Visitors to nytimes.com via R.S.S. feeds has soared from about 500,000 a month at the end of 2003, to 7.3 million last April, said Toby Usnik, the New York Times Company’s director of public relations.
Note it’s the PR director. All companies should make company news available via — clearly there’s a market for it. With the next version of Windows supporting RSS and Atom natively, even the technology laggards will have reading capabilities. This popularity is one of the reasons so many firms are trying to capitalize on RSS and Atom (with ads in feeds, etc.).
It’s a shame companies like Apple and Microsoft say “RSS” when they mean “RSS and Atom” but nobody has really come together on a decent name, so one is better than two (or three, if you count ). And for dawg’s sake, get rid of the ugly orange buttons. I think the Firefox ‘feed available’ button has promise, except for the color. Maybe something like iTunes 4.9 new podcast button (but obviously not a microphone).
My name and color gripes aside (I guess I need my coffee fix), I’m surprised we haven’t seen more web analytics vendors announcing RSS features (analyzing the feeds, or making the results available via RSS), like we did when we saw everyone pile on other trends like Linux and mobile devices.
I haven’t seen it discussed anywhere, but Jupiter did a follow-up survey to their report on cookie deletion. The goal was to give some context around the profile of the cookie deleter. While the summary from the report is that the longer you’ve been on-line, the more likely you are to delete cookies, there’s a table in the report that clearly shows a need for education on cookies:
The trend that emerges indicates that older you are (in years, not in tenure on-line), the more you pay attention to stories about cookies, and the more you consider cookies an invasion of privacy. Coincidence? I doubt it. I think the doom and gloom reporting by the popular media actually feeds this. (Also note the general trend that while older Web users pay more attention to the stories, they report a lower understanding of how cookies work and what they are good for).
The education/advocacy sounds like something Safecount is up to.
Today’s the day for talking about things in two dimensions, it seems.
A co-worker and I were discussing a work situation (not here, fortunately) where things are getting heated and personal. I made the statement “this is what happens when really smart people jump in” and he corrected me: “this is what happens when really political people jump in.” We agreed there are two dimensions to organizational trouble. For illustrative purposes, I threw together a matrix, and put some rather arbitrary labels on the quadrants:
Later, I was in a discussion about how many of the people who provide huge amounts of value to the company go relatively unnoticed. They key is that perceived value to the company is a product of both your contribution and your visibility. So a work value matrix might look like:
So I figured that was that, but then had a third discussion about how SDS can best provide value (we’re doing some planning at the moment). We have lots of systems in place that crunch data and provide a quantitative view, and we have business-savvy analysts to provide a qualitative view, but there’s always room for improvement both ways – and one view holds that combining the two allows you to add qualitative business rules to your analytics to build a self-running, decision-making optimization engine. That’s either web analytics nirvana or shades of a self-aware “HAL 9000”-like infrastructure, depending on how you look at it:
Suddenly I’m thinking we need a matrix-building web site to crank these out. 🙂
Vertster just created a Forum for discussion of topics related to A/B split testing. It’s just getting started, so there’s not a lot of discussion yet, but as far as I know, this is the first forum dedicated to split testing, so check it out if you’re doing any kind of testing, or want to figure out what it’s all about.