Notes from New York Word Camp 2008

I enjoyed attending New York Word Camp 2008, which attracted about 150 avid WordPress users. My notes follow:

Matt Mullenweg, CEO, Automattic, “State of the Word”: NYC Edition

WordPress was born from a blog: I posted that a prior open-source blogging platform really needed to be taken forward. Someone contacted me, and it grew from there. There are now over 90 contributors to the core code, plus thousands of plugins.

Asked audience split between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. It was roughly 50-50.

Mentioned WordPress.com is blocked in China, because WordPress.com doesn’t cooperate with China’s censorship requirements.

Notes from the subversion repository: the place where people document their changes
2007: 1090 changes
2008: 2,840 changes to date, which lead to 11 releases (He apologizes for that number.)

We are at a historical high in # core developers for WordPress. This team reviews contributions of outside developers into WordPress.

2007: 2.8m downloads
2008: 11.1 m downloads

WordPress.com:
2007: 1m blogs , 20m posts, 1.6b page views
2008: 2.4m blogs , 35.8m posts, 6.5b page views

Akismet has caught 5b spam, with 99.925% accuracy, which is much better than success rate of email spam blockers.

Spammers are going to invent artificial intelligence, because they have motivation and $ to do it.

New technique they use: leave complimentary post and link it to a URL that looks like a church or school, but is really a spamfront. Sometimes, the post is copied from a legit comment a few months ago.

I created Akismet to save my mom from reading offensive spam, when she started a blog

I’ve been to 18 Wordcamps, 9 upcoming.

We only organized one; the rest are community-organized.

Three major releases this year: 2.3, 2.5, 2.6

100,000 installs of WordPress iphone app. Coming soon: stats and comment moderation on your iphone.

Most popular page on WordPress.com: stats page. “You guys reload your stats like hamsters on crack.”

Behind the scenes, new changes coming: theme directory. All themes will be vetted for safety/security.

There were spammers who bought ads for ‘free wordpress themes’; created a beautiful ‘free wordpress themes’ website; but every theme would have a backdoor or spam links in the footer.

We’re getting 100 theme submissions/ week. They’re all being manually vetted for safety. Now over 100,000 downloads.

Also launching WordPress Zeitgeist. We’re following the Firefox model. We want to make it one-click easy to upgrade.

6m WordPress.org blogs (including WordPress MU, multi-user). About 4m of these are multi-user blogs. I was surprised, because WordPress MU is much harder to use.
Of these, 5.1m are secure

Plugins are a free market of features.

On a list of activated plugins, here are the most popular:
#145 OpenID
#24 Adsense-manager
#12 Hello Dolly, my favorite
#10 cforms (contact forms)
#9 wp-polls. Lightweight forms of interaction with audience increase likelihood of commenting
#8 WP Automatic Upgrade
#7 wp-cache—performance upgrade
#6 wp-db-ackup
#5 stats
#4 nextgen-gallery. I frequently get asked how do plugin authors feel when you move the plugin into the core. We usually simplify it when we bring it in.
#3 google-sitemap-generator
#2 all-in-one-seo-pack
#1 Akismet

This list is a very good indicator of what WordPress will look like in the future. By tracking this, we can build features for people before they even know it.

We acquired Intensivate (commenting system) a few weeks ago

Average of 5 plugins per blug. The record is 800 plugins. Therefore, essentially everyone in this room is running their own version of WordPress. This makes it very hard for people to compete with WordPress. It’s easy to compete with features (just pay some developers), but hard to compete with community.

Going forward:
-better plugin stats

Hardest part of my job: deciding what should be in core? We believe core should be small, light, fast. It should be faster with every release. Look at popularity of plugins. Look at what bleeding-edge blogs are doing. Sometimes I put in things that I just want. I’m a photographer, so I like the galley feature.

Some people were gaming the download feature; that’s why we don’t consider it the most meaningful feature.

WordPress 2.7 will include: Dashboard redesign, dashboard comment replies, keyboard shortcuts.

We created a “Bizarro WordPress”, Crazy Horse, which was the opposite of everything WordPress does. Very popular.

It doesn’t make sense to download a plugin to your PC and then upload to your server. It should be a direct link between the two servers, each of which is on a 100megabit connection.

Should soon be buttons to add a Google map, photo from Flickr, etc.

When he was in China, as an experiment, he did a search on ‘falun gong’. The search didn’t work, and his internet went down for 5 minutes. He was punished.

Blogging in China is highly self-censored. Your posts can get unpublished if you discuss certain inappropriate topics, so you have strong motivation to self-censor.

When he was there, the Chinese milk story disappeared one day. No blog posts, no news stories.

A lot of people are using WordPress.org . Long term, I think censorship will be less of an issue.

Themes for 2009 development of WordPress:
– Upgrades should be super-easy
– Security. Many US government agencies are using WordPress internally. Showed an impressive list, e.g., Coast Guard.
– Rich Media. I just bought a tool that adds core GPS/bearing data to photos I take. We can incorporate that.
– Multi-modal. Blogging should adopt to whatever you’re blogging. E.g., if you blog a photo it should be formatted differently than just text.
– WordPress becomes a hub. Bring Facebook/Twitter to WordPress.
– Fashion and tattoos. “We’re taking the “W” back.”
– Crazyhorse.
– Year of Themes. Themes can do everything plugins can do, and can even bundle plugins.

I can’t take my data out of facebook and run my own Facebook. But I can take my data out of WordPress and run my own WordPress.

Backpress = shared infrastructure between different systems that are broadly applicable. Includes: user authentication. People will be able to build other systems on back of this.

BuddyPress = rough equivalent of Facebook network but on WordPress system. You never know what will happen with Facebook, Flickr, etc. WordPress can be the safe repository of all that data.

There aren’t that many applications that can get 150 people to get together on a Sunday to meet one another.

Contact information: http://Ma.tt
m (at) mullenweg dot com

We’ll probably always be in PHP and MySQL. Because we’re a platform, we have to be backwards compatible. Apple broke that rule, and it hurt their popularity with developers. I recently loaded a 1992 DOS game and it ran on Vista. That’s amazing.

Buddypress today is not ready.

A prominent musician with hundreds of thousands of users is switching his social network over to BuddyPress.

WordPress MU lags regular WordPress by a few weeks.

We’re seeing a lot of WordPress being taught in journalism schools. I think you’ll see some prominent journalists, e.g., Om Malik, starting their own company and blog. His brand was more important than Web 2.0/Fortune. He has 10 employees now.

NY Times is an investor in Automattic. We’re working with them.

All the CNN blogs are hosted on WordPress.com .

WordPress.org and Automattic have only one link between them, which is me.

Automattic has raised 2 rounds: $1m first round, $30m earlier this year. Everyone around the table is in it for the long term. No plans to sell or IPO. We’re trying to build something generational. Inspiration is Craigslist, with 25 employees, massive pageviews.

WordPress.com now has 230m unique visitors. 30 employees.

When I started WordPress, I feared it would break the open-source model, but it didn’t. People kept contributing. When I started Automattic there was no IP in the firm, which is highly unusual for a software company.

Any of you could download WordPress.org today, and start a direct competitor to WordPress.com . This totally aligns incentives in the long term. There are now about a dozen companies trying to do roughly the same thing.

Aaron Brazell, How to Hit the Blog Big Leagues
Former CTO of b5media
Technosailor.com . 4 writers on this site.

90% of your visitors come from Google. They’re first-time visitors. Important to convert them.

Scoble’s starfish theory: there are people who don’t really know what they want. Scoble is very distributed (Flickr, Friendfeed, etc.), and those different legs touch people with different interests. If you’re a mommy blogger, and there’s a searcher who is visually oriented, you as a mommy blogger will reach her because you have uploaded some good stroller photos to Flickr.

Get to know the top bloggers in your vertical. You’ll learn a lot from that.

Endorses Friendfeed over carnivals as a vehicle to build social capital with top bloggers

PageRank is not as important as subscriber count. (Incidentally, Google doesn’t own PageRank; Stanford does and Google has a perpetual license.)

Problogger has 50,000 readers; very knowledgeable.

Lead Generation 2.0: How Entrepreneurs are Fueling the Next Wave of Innovation in Internet Marketing

Following are my notes on last night’s MIT Enterprise Forum event: “Lead Generation 2.0: How Entrepreneurs are Fueling the Next Wave of Innovation in Internet Marketing

Moderator: Brian Hirsch, Managing Director, Greenhill SAVP
Brian Hirsch is a Managing Director of Greenhill SAVP and a Co-Chairman of the Fund`s Investment Committee. Prior to joining SAVP in 2004, Mr. Hirsch was a Principal at Sterling Venture Partners and led the firm`s investments in technology-related companies. Mr. Hirsch is currently a board member of BDMetrics, BestContractors, FTRANS, iKobo, Pontiflex and Serious. Brian previously sat on the board of YellowJacket (acquired by the Intercontinental Exchange, NYSE:ICE) and KnowledgeStorm (acquired by TechTarget, NASDAQ:TTGT). Prior to joining Sterling Venture Partners, Mr. Hirsch was a vice president at ABN AMRO Private Equity (AAPE”), the U.S. venture capital group of ABN AMRO N.V., one of the world`s largest banks. Before joining AAPE, Mr. Hirsch worked as a senior consultant at KPMG in the Information, Communications & Entertainment (ICE) practice, where his clients included General Electric, CBS/Westinghouse and the Tribune Company.

Hirsch: We’re very excited about lead-gen. 2007 Sales : $1.3b. Twice growth rate of search or email marketing. $2b in 2008
Have backed 4 lead gen companies in the last space

Drew Patterson, VP of Marketing, Kayak.com
Drew Patterson is responsible for product marketing and lead generation through Kayak`s travel suppliers and distribution partners. Kayak is the world’s largest travel search engine and was co-founded by founders of Orbitz, Expedia, and Travelocity. Kayak.com’s investors include General Catalyst Partners, Sequoia Capital, America Online and London-based Accel Partners.
Prior to joining Kayak, Drew held a number of positions at Starwood Hotels. As Director Pricing for Starwood, Drew was responsible for Starwood`s Pricing group, which develops and executes Starwood`s pricing and revenue management strategies. This includes management of the Starwood rate structure, analysis to identify effective pricing strategies, observations on company revenue performance and trends, and training for the field revenue management organization.
As Director, Distribution Strategy, Drew was responsible for the development and implementation of Starwood`s distribution strategy, including leading Starwood`s Best Rate Guarantee in 2002 and developing TravelWeb, the hospitality industry`s response to the independent lodging discount websites. Drew joined Starwood in 1999 as Manager of Business Development, responsible for developing partnerships and new business opportunities. Drew graduated from Harvard and received his MBA from Columbia University`s Graduate School of Business. He resides in New York City.

Patterson: We’re both a vendor and a buyer of leads.

Suaad H. Sait, Chief Executive Officer, ReachForce.com
Suaad Sait is CEO of ReachForce. ReachForce, based in Austin, Texas, provides data and software solutions that enable B2B companies to laser target marketing and sales initiatives at the right person in the right company, every time. As an entrepreneur and high tech industry executive, Suaad has played leadership roles at start-up companies as well as large publicly traded firms. Mr. Sait is the driving force positioning the company as a leader in the emerging marketing and sales force automation segments of the CRM OnDemand market.
Prior to ReachForce, Suaad was the vice president and general manager of Products & Markets at Pervasive Software (PVSW) with world-wide P&L responsibility of the entire product line. Suaad served as the Chief Marketing Officer and COO of Liaison Technology (acquired by Forest Express) repositioning the company into a software platform for supplier catalog content management. Before Liaison, Suaad served as vice president of product marketing at Motive Communications (MOTV). He was on the founding team for Ventix Systems and served as the vice president and general manager of the enterprise business and vice president of marketing. Suaad has also held leadership positions at DAZEL Corporation (acquired by Hewlett Packard), InConcert Software (acquired by TIBCO), CAP Ventures and Xerox Corporation. Suaad earned his Master of Science in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Rochester and a Bachelor of Science in electrical and computer engineering at the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Suaad has served as a Mentor for the New Venture Creation program at the McCombs School of Business – The University of Texas at Austin since the Fall of 2005. He also currently serves as an Executive Advisory Board Member of the Austin Chapter of the American Marketing Association. In, addition Suaad serves as a board member of the Austin Technology Entrepreneurs’ eXchange (“Texchange”).

Sait: Our founding team was tired of ‘spray and pray’ marketing. We developed analytics around your sales funnel. We’ll custom-build leads databases for you.

Brad Powers, CEO Active Response Group
We’re getting 100,000 registrations/day. Strictly paid on performance.

Zephrin Lasker, Chief Executive Officer, Pontiflex.com
Zephrin Lasker is CEO of Pontiflex. Pontiflex, based in Brooklyn, NY, is the first open data transfer network connecting publishers, advertisers and agencies. The company allows advertisers and publishers to reach the entire lead generation market, find partners, make deals and transfer lead data through a single online platform.
Zephrin has been involved with online marketing since its inception more than a decade ago. Zephrin is also a serial entrepreneur, having successfully launched two start-ups prior to Pontiflex. Pontiflex is backed by New Atlantic Ventures and Greenhill SAVP.
In the course of his career, Zephrin has played a key role in shaping campaign successes for a variety of clients such as Sprint, Cendant, Earthlink, and eFax, helping them acquire over 8 million new customers. Prior to co-founding Pontiflex, Zephrin founded The North Road Group, an interactive agency. He has also worked as Vice President of Business Development at i33 Communications, where he managed sales and technical teams to help deliver new customers, launch state-of-the-art websites and deploy cutting edge marketing initiatives.
Prior to i33, Zephrin worked at Commerce One Global Services managing Sprint’s new web initiatives. He has also co-founded the e-commerce company Beautility, where he served as Chief Operating Officer.
Zephrin has a background in corporate finance. He has worked for Dresdner Kleinwort Benson in the areas of corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions. Zephrin began his career as an Equity Analyst at Creditanstalt in Prague. He is an avid fly fisherman and is currently learning how to spray cast. He has a BA degree from Reed College.

Lasker: Central place to buy leads.

Discussion
Hirsch: Define lead generation
Powers: Permission-based expression of interest.
Zephrin: Any media that can be sold on a cost-per-lead basis
Sait: Identifying the right buyer is important.

Hirsch: Distinguish b2b and b2c.
Sait: In B2B, Target person is often hidden within the organization. In B2C, it’s much clearer who the buyer is.

Hirsch: Distinguish marketing leads vs. sales leads
Lasker: We’re focused on ‘ marketing leads’, which we think of as generic rather than specific. A marketing lead is brand-specific. A marketing lead usually has fewer fields (just name, zip), whereas a sales lead will often have more data (FICO score, etc.)

Hirsch: How should a marketer think about allocating his budget?
Powers: First think about your maximum permissible cost per sale/cost per lead.
Lasker: lead-gen is half the puzzle; email marketing is the other half. Have a good CRM program, good KPIs set up. Follow your open rate.
Lasker: How do you define success? Leads are the lifeblood of business. A lot of people look at conversion.
Sait: Do as much experimentation as possible. It’s cheap.
Powers: We came up with some guidelines for data transfer for the IAB.
Lasker: We started as the Paypal of lead-gen—an easy way to transfer leads between advertisers and publishers.

Hirsch: What legal issues should you be monitoring?
Powers: we have many consumer-facing sites, and are very diligent about making sure we’re compliant. We’re dealing with PII (personally identifiable information) so you have to encrypt everything. In the EU, anyone providing you leads must be Safe Harbor certified. I.e., you’re recognized as having secure data and procedures. Also, must be compliant with DNC (Do Not Call) list. Lead-gen can create an implied business relationship with end consumer, so you don’t have to check against the Do Not Call list.

Hirsch: Where will lead-gen grow? Which verticals?
Patterson: search engines don’t like lead-gen arbitrage sites (i.e., direct navigation). We prefer sites (like Kayak) which add value to the funnel.
Powers: one month our #1 offer was prepaid funerals. I almost fired my VP of Sales for signing them, and it paid for a chunk of my kid’s college education. A big area of growth is building on-demand hyperqualified lists.

Hirsch: Where does Google sit in the lead-gen universe?
Powers: There’s a finite amount of search ads available at a productive cost. It can get expensive very quickly.
Sait: For clients way out in the long tail, with very niche sites, Google is very good.

Question: How do you assign a value for a lead?
Answer: Depends on what you’re seeking

Question: Compare quality of leads from Microsoft, Yahoo, Google? And how does ROI compare on display vs. PPA?
Answer: Google has better conversion but higher prices. So on a net basis, the ROI is comparable to the competition.

We have not figured out how to measure the value of display ads.
Powers: tail end of social network inventory is almost unmonetizable.
Lasker: we just rolled out a lead-gen box in a banner, so you get both the branding and the lead-gen benefit.

Company Presentation
Vitals.com
Vitals was created to give consumers the tools — for the first time — to make intelligent, informed decisions about which doctor to choose. The Vitals.com web site offers consumers a variety of ways to help in their choice of the right doctor. And it allows physicians to keep track of what others are saying, gives them the opportunity to let consumers know about their work, and lets them make sure their profile is complete and accurate. Vitals’ business plan will be presented by Mitchel Rothschild, Founder and CEO.

30m people per month search doctors by name or by location/specialty.

3 big issues: location, specialty, and insurance network
Then other criteria are on the softer side: gender, languages, bedside manner, ethnicity

Background data:
30% increase in ‘excellent’ rating when people rate people of the same ethnic affinity.
What people want in a doctor: takes time; honest & direct; eye contact

First, we built a database of the 720K doctors in the US
We then mapped the healthweb. Found 20,000 sources of data about doctors: hospital websites, board certs, licenses, publications. We extracted all that and applied it to our database.

Three parts of wheel clients use in judging a doctor:
1. Quality: education, special expertise (22% of drs. are not board-certified.)
Current profile:
2. Add in consumer ratings from various sites (TripAdvisor as model)
3. Peer reviews: Partnered with Castle Connolly. Over 200K peer evaluations

Went live in January. We have millions of home pages which match up with the search that you’re making. We’ve spent $8K so far on lead gen. 1M visitors currently. Great search engine optimization.

Sources of Revenue

1. We’re a media property
2. Data leasing. We’ll reskin our site for various health plans and employers. Most health plans built their directory back in 1998, and haven’t updated since. We get 15-20 commercial users per day, usually hospitals, medical centers, etc.
3. Three basic human emotions: Greed, fear and ego. Because doctors have lots of ego, we’ll help doctors fill out the wall of fame in their offices. Doctors will also pay a lot for this.
4. Lead-gen: personalized search. Appointment-setting thru hospitals. Elective care procedures. Expected cost of visit. Patient advocate for reimbursement with health insurer. Choice of hospital for procedure. Purchase of needed equipment/services. Second opinion.

Online consults mainly used by younger patients with younger doctors, e.g., a pregnant teenager.

We don’t typically have a lot of repeat visitors, given the nature of our site.

Today, we focus on advertising / data leasing. Lead gen is the long term future for us. We’re currently pricing our advertising on a CPM basis. Some are PPA.

1m visitors per day, about 85% unique
5 page views/visitor

Q: How did you get consumers to review the doctors initially?
A: We bought them initially, and now about 3-4 % of visitors will do a review. That’s 50,000 per day. We do a little SEM to get reviews.

John Peters, Tripology
Tripology is a new website aimed at connecting consumers with travel agents that specialize in the type of trip they wish to take. Tripology.com aims to take the hassle out of finding a great travel agent. There are a lot of expert travel professionals out there with a great deal of useful knowledge and terrific prices, but consumers don’t have a good way of finding them. And they don’t have a good way of finding consumers. Tripology`s business plan will be presented by its President and CEO, John T. Peters.

$3.25m raised
8,000 registered travel specialists
45,000 leads since june 07

Agent buys 16 leads ($5 each).
Conversion rate: 6.5%
Avg. # leads before booking : 16
Avg. gross booking: $5,000
Agent commission (10%): $500

We tell them to spend $100 on us to do a real test.

Currently flat pricing ($5/lead), but this will change to variable pricing
This is a $581m market opportunity across US, UK Canada, Australia, other Anglophone countries

eMarketer just came out with first market research on this sector.

Competitors include:
Zicasso, Respond.com, 4TravelAgents, VacationCompare

We sell a lead up to 3 times.
We’re building tools on backend for agent.

We say, this is not just a lead, this is a customer for life.

We don’t need to do much database fixing, because agents have very strong incentive to be honest about their expertise.

Agents will often list a very long list of specialties. But they’ll pay more for leads they’re convinced they can win.

How to Get Free Weekly Online Networking Coaching from Scott Allen

Some people are probably going to think I’ve gone off the deep end. Others — those who “get it” — will understand this completely.

If you haven’t read yesterday’s post about the easy way to monetize your network, please start with that. This is radical, world-changing stuff. 100% free to join and participate, 100% automated income, and all you have to do is make one teeny-tiny change in your shopping habits. Tiny. Buy the same stuff from the same stores. That’s it.

I am so committed to this, I’ve decided to totally put my money where my mouth is (actually, my time, but as we all know, time is money). Here’s what I’m doing…

For anyone who signs up under me (at any level – not just directly under me), I’m going to be providing FREE weekly coaching calls in online networking. This is not coaching in how to grow that business — this is general business skills that you can apply to any business (or your job search). This is the same information I used to charge $200-$250 for a 6-week course, and you can get it completely for free.

And you don’t even have to promote that business in order to get the coaching — just sign up! How can I do that, you ask? Because I am so convinced that once you really take a look at this program, you will actively participate, that I think my risk of having any “freeloaders” is only slightly higher than zero.

But you know what? That doesn’t even matter. The best way to make money is by helping other people make money, so that’s what I’m doing.

One clarification… the weekly calls will be open to the first 250 live callers, but the call will be recorded and available to everyone in my downline, no matter when they join (i.e., new members can listen to all the archives).

One more thing… I will help you build your downline! There’s way more details in that regard than I’m going to go into here, but if you have ever thought you wanted to do anything like this, now is the time.

Social Media attacking Big Media

Social media, user-generated content, digital egalitarianism … big media has a big problem

… The second tectonic shift that rocked the Internet in recent days came from Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia that allows visitors to create and edit roughly 1.5 million entries in over 35 languages. The site’s name stems from old school programmer Ward Cunningham’s invention of the first wiki, which originally drew its name from the Hawaiian word “wiki,” which means quick. In the case of Wikipedia, this refers to the site’s facilitation of quick collaboration between users in the creation of informational pages. On Monday, Wales unveiled a new, free-hosting service called OpenServing, a site that will offer free hosting and use of the powerful Wikia software to anyone interested in creating a community site. The kicker: Wales intends to make this all available while permitting users to keep 100 percent of any advertising revenue they earn on their site from ad networks such as Google Adsense.

more

Man of the Year: You (and youtube)

Back in 2002-3, Scott Allen and I started work on a book about online networks and social software, what today people call Web 2.0. It’s a great sign of the now-mainstream acceptance of these technologies that Time magazine’s Man “Person of the Year” is “You”—and discusses all of the technologies we cover in the book and the Thevirtualhandshake.com website.

It also sells more copies of Time magazine than writing about the other most influential men of the year: terrorists, the leaders of countries with nukes, and other more depressing (but very important) news.

Advancing in your career without experience

From Harvard Business School Working Knowledge:

The researchers identified four successful tactics for obtaining stretchwork that were common to both groups:

* Differentiate competence. Anyone hoping to advance must distinguish his or her performance on the job. This is particularly true, however, for contract workers—because they are paid for each short-term job, their employers are likely to subject their work to close, frequent evaluation.
* Acquire referrals. Because high-tech contractors tend to work with a number of clients, brokers, and fellow contractors, they enjoy a broader social network from which to draw referrals than most permanent employees. In the film industry—where most hiring is done based on a production manager’s previous experience with an individual—referrals are a vital aspect of getting any job, particularly if it stretches a worker in a new direction.
* Framing and bluffing. “This is one of the most creative attributes for obtaining stretchwork,” O’Mahony notes. “People who are good at presenting their prior experience in a way that allows for an easy translation to the desired job can narrow the gap between their past experience and future capabilities.” Adopting a hybrid job title to identify oneself—”director-screenwriter,” for example—can also help establish authority in more than one area.
* Discounting. Accepting pay below the market rate is a temporary disadvantage some contract workers are willing to accept, if it means gaining the experience and exposure that will lead to a new position. One technical writer put it this way: “I turned down solid offers from three companies, all paying over $100K a year…I would take a job at $55K if they’re using a totally new technology so I learn something…It’s like playing pool…You hit the green ball with the white ball, and the point is to place the white ball to get the next shot. So I take that job in order to learn skills for my next project.”

More…

Friends Reunited Acquired By British Broadcaster ITV

British broadcasting giant ITV announced Tuesday its intention to purchase alumni online networking site Friends Reunited for $208 million.

Intriguingly, while there have been a number of recent acquisitions in the social networking space (in case you haven’t been keeping score, MySpace was recently purchased by News Corp, Dodgeball by Google, Tickle by Monster, and Flickr by Yahoo), most have been entirely in the web arena. The ITV-FriendsReunited deal is the first I know of by a TV-centered media company.

I expect it won’t be the last, as highly sticky web venues like social networking continues to erode attention from TV and other traditional media.

BusinessWeek covers Nitron Advisors

BusinessWeek has a good piece about the expert-matching industry (page 52 of the
current issue):

“We cut out the analysis that clients are perfectly capable of doing themselves,” says David Teten, chief executive of New York’s Nitron Advisors LLC.

More…

and Yahoo! Finance reports: Consulting’s High-Wire Act:

David Teten says the consulting is very convenient, intellectually stimulating, and may help executives build their personal professional networks and learn how Wall Street views their industry.

more on how to consult with hedge funds and other institutional investors…

24/7, Teens are Online

One of the reasons why I think the future of communication is online: because that’s how the next generation communicates. The LA Times reports on how Today’s teens are connected 24/7, in a way that their parents no doubt can’t fully comprehend.

“I had heard that a guy in my English class wanted to get to know me better, so we got each other’s screen names, and after one weekend of IM-ing we decided to be boyfriend and girlfriend, solely on the basis of IMs,” Bruno recalled.

“He would say something, and I’d have time to say, ‘What should I say back?’ instead of just mumbling something. I’d type something and just before sending, would rethink it,” she said. “Just the fact that you’re not expected to write back right away helps. You’re expected to be talking to other people. You can kind of use that to your advantage.”

Via Stowe Boyd

Seeking Journalists/Bloggers Interested in Writing Project: Blogs, Social Network Sites, Social Software, and other Online Business Networks

We are seeking one or more people who would like to co-write a series of articles on “social software”: blogs, social network sites, virtual communities, and so on. This is an ideal project for a journalist (or aspiring journalist) interested in learning more about writing, publishing, blogs, social network sites, social software, and other online business networks. These articles are connected with the promotion & marketing of TheVirtualHandshake book and website.

In addition, we are seeking additional bloggers to contribute to the Virtual Handshake blog.

BENEFITS
+ Most important, personal publicity and credibility as an industry expert. If you are a consultant, trainer, or in other ways want to monetize your expertise in this area, writing in this field is perhaps the single most important step you can take to accelerate your client flow.
+ Work with thought leaders and industry leaders in social software.
+ Very positive references (if merited).
+ Compensation: For articles published in magazines/newspapers/etc. (excluding The Virtual Handshake itself), you will receive 100% of compensation from the premier publications in which you are published. You will be paid at standard freelance writer rates. Bloggers contributing to the Virtual Handshake blog itself are not compensated (other than through affiliate programs).

YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES
+ Learn more about blogs, social software, and online social networks and how businesspeople are using these new technologies
+ Write articles and blog posts around these themes, e.g., “How to Use Online Networks to Become a Dramatically More Effective Salesperson”; “Online Networks for Korean-Americans”; etc.
+ Interview and learn from opinion leaders.

QUALIFICATIONS
+ Experience in writing, journalism, internet marketing, and online social networks highly desirable.
+ Excitement about being part of the team producing an innovative book.
+ Highly motivated self-starter who has a track record of continuous self-improvement, high achievement, and aggressiveness.
+ Strong interpersonal communication skills, adept writing, editing, and presentation skills.
+ Poised, professional demeanor.

INCLUDE WITH DETAILED RESUME
+ Dates/hours of availability.
+ Evidence of writing/communication/editing skills, including writing samples (e.g., articles you have written for a mass market, non-academic audience)
+ Physical location. You can do all of the work on this project remotely. However, if you are in the New York or Austin, TX, area, that is preferable.

HOW TO APPLY
Contact via e-mail only; do not call. Save your resume in Microsoft Word format with the name “Last Name_First Name_Year.doc”, e.g., “Smith_John_2005.doc”. Please make sure that you include all of the information that we request above, or we will not be able to consider your application.

Please send resume and cover letter to Resumes(at)Teten.com with “Writer” and your name in the subject line. For example, write “Writer–Smith John”.