How I Almo$t Tricked Google Into Making Me Millions

Ever wonder how Mozilla stays in business? First, Mozilla makes Google the default search engine on FireFox (I'm sure some mula comes from that alone). Second, every time you use that search box and proceed to click an Adsense ad, Google shares the revenue with Mozilla.
You can even watch them track it. Go to Google.com and search from the web page, the search url looks like this:
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Greg+Gerber&btnG=Google+Search&aq=f&oq=

If you use the search-box built into FireFox the resulting url looks like this:
http://www.google.com/search?q=Greg+Gerber&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

See the difference? In 2006, that relationship earned Mozilla $57 million, or 85% of the company’s total revenue. That's right... $57,000,000 dollarsss worth of clicks in one year! When I found that out, I wanted in. Who wouldn't right?
Read The Full Article & Leave A Comment...



Twitter Turned My Blog Into A Ghost Town

As you may (or may not) have noticed I havn't been posting much at brainbackup.net lately. But don't mistake my lack of posts for having little to talk about or laziness. No I blame it all on twitter. Every big thought and small action I have taken over the last few months has poured out of me in the form of mini sub 140 character posts on twitter. And my blog isn't the only tech that misses me... I am sending less email, using less instant messaging, making less phone calls and sending almost zero text messages. How has this tiny service that hardly anyone knows about replacing almost all of my other forms of communication?

Writing a blog post or email is time consuming. Sure I love to back up my thoughts in their full entirety on the blog, but is it really necessary? Lately I find myself condensing thoughts, projects and ideas I have been working on for days, weeks or even months into short 140 character twits.

I could go on all day about the various reasons you should be using twitter but I will just leave it at this:

Twitter makes sharing and communicating dead simple. (and thats only 52 characters)

Convincing people that twitter is actually useful and makes life easier is a hard sell. To most, it seems like another time consuming activity to throw into the mix. Try explaining it like this: Imagine meeting a ton of new people and never sending a text message, updating your facebook status or emailing someone a link ever again. That usually does the trick. They will figure out the million other uses for twitter on their own once they give it a shot

So if you want to know what I have been up to for the last few months just hop over to my twitter profile. I am going to try posting more detailed thoughts, projects and ideas on the blog again, but no guarantees. Either way you can follow both by just following me on twitter.

Dont even bother commenting on this article. Just reply to the twit of this article that was automatically posted to twitter via twitterfeed.



Apple's Amazing Marketing Skillz

Of course we all know that Apple has mad marketing skills. But this one blew it out of the water. I took a screen capture of the nytimes.com site because im not sure how long this campaign will be on the homepage. Sorry about the quality, but now we can watch it will last forever. Click here to watch the ad.



Money As Debt Video Series

Trying to explain the current problems facing the financial system is very complicated. If you know someone who is trying to figure it out, send them these videos. This is the only way I have ever been able to understand it. Click HERE to watch the videos.



Oh Nokia!

I consider myself pretty knowledgeable when it comes to emerging trends in tech. One of my favorite stories right now revolves around the smartphone market and the battle for mobile operating system dominance. The companies in this space are extremely experienced and know how to capitalize on an amazing opportunity when it presents itself. Within the last few years we have seen new companies entering the mobile space. Apple(AAPL), Google(GOOG), RIM(RIMM) and Microsoft(MSFT) are all looking to bite a chunk out of the new exploding mobile market. Even Garmin(GRMN) wants in with it’s new nuvifone. While these giant companies have already pushed out once dominant Palm(PALM) and Motorola(MOT) one company still dominates the mobile world, Nokia.

I recently dug through AdMob’s smartphone statistics for August and was amazed to see the dominant position Nokia has in the global smartphone market. It is obvious that instead of trying to compete for US customers like it’s competition, Nokia has had a much more global focus and captured an unbelievable amount of market share. AdMob’s statistics relate to internet traffic, but provide an amazing insight into the smartphone market. You can download the entire report here, but below are some of the mind-blowing statistics I discovered:

- Nokia had 62.4% share of worldwide smartphone traffic in August 08 and the next closest is RIM with 10.8%.
- Nokia manufactures 13 of the top 20 smartphones worldwide.
- Nokia has 33.7% market share in total phones including regular, and smartphones. The next closest is Motorola with 13.7%
- Nokia dominates in small emerging markets like the Philippines (86%) and South Africa (87%).

While spending this week at the TechCrunch50 conference in San Francisco, there was one quote that stood out from the rest. Navin Chadda from the Mayfield Fund said, "We like to invest in companies that have an unfair advantage in customer acquisition". While he was referring to investing in private startups, I feel like the same holds true with public companies. Nokia has been busy snatching up global market share while RIM, Palm, Microsoft and Apple have been fighting for the US’s attention. Nokia’s commanding lead in global market share puts them in the unfair advantage Navin Chadda was referring too.

While it still dominates, NOK has recently hit a near two year low. The problem is that companies like Apple and RIM are selling their phones at break-even prices for the shear purpose of snatching market share from Nokia, who announced that they would not snoop to their level. The markets do not take this increased competition lightly, but this also presents an amazing opportunity to invest. This aggressive approach from its competitors cannot last long and is purely a marketing scheme that will end. Reports from Gartner Inc. saying that the slowing economy is effecting smartphone sales and downgrades from clueless investment banks have beaten Nokia’s stock price down to a two year low on the eve of a global smartphone growth explosion. Smartphones present opportunities for multiple business opportunities including GPS, music and mobile applications. Nokia’s new Symbian operating system is on par with the iPhone and Android, and will be able to compete with the best of them.

Nokia’s current stock price looks extremely undervalued at these levels. Compared to it’s new competition, I might even consider it a steal. Picking up some shares of NOK under $24 might be one the best opportunities available in the tech market today.

Disclosure: I definitely own some NOK



My Week At The TechCrunch50


I spent the last week at the TechCrunch50 watching startups present and listening to the tech elite discuss various topics ranging from fundraising to tech's new clash with Hollywood. I learned a lot, took a ton of notes, and am officially mentally and physically exhausted.

As for the majority of the companies presenting, I truthfully wasn't all that impressed. There were of course some great stand out startups, but of the 52 who presented, I can honestly say I was only impressed with a few. Maybe I expected too much, maybe my ass just hurt from sitting in those uncomfortable chairs all day, but there were a lot of companies presenting extremely unimaginative ideas. For example AdRocket was building an advertising platform that delivered targeted ads in company newsletters/emails. How a startup like that was chosen to present out of the 1000+ entries boggles my mind. I even want as far as to predict that this event officially popped the Web 2.0 bubble. My favorite of the presenting companies were:
1) Yammer- Twitter for the enterprise
2) DotSpots- Annotating the web
3) ExchangeP- Virtual stock exchange for private companies
4) Mytopia- Developer of RUGS, a framework for developing and compiling native applications that will run on EVERY mobile operating system.
5) Akoha- A real world game where missions can be tracked online
6) GoodGuide- The world's largest and most reliable source of information on the health, environmental, and social impacts of products and companies.

In the end, six companies were brought on stage, five as finalists and one $50k winner. Surprisingly, Yammer took home the check. I love the idea of Yammer, I signed up for their service while I was listening to their pitch, but I'm not sure they should have been the winner. There is a lot to learn from the judges' decision though. The main thing I take away is that it's not about how cool or innovative your product is, it's about having something that is (super) simple, useful and profitable.

The startup presentations were boring at times, but the panels and discussions between sessions completely made up for it. Below are a few of the interesting quotes and advice I jotted down while listening to the various investors and geeks talk shop.

"Solve ONE particular pain point... then build the platform" - Effen Roelof (Sequoia)

"Follow the money, not the users" - Mark Cuban

"If I were raising money for a startup, I would use the angel investors, not VC's." - Raj Kapoor (Mayfield Fund)

"We like to invest in companies that have an unfair advantage in customer acquisition." - Navin Chadda (Mayfield Fund)

"I think the term viral marketing is an oxymoron" - Joss Whedon

By far the highlight of the event for me was the Mark Cuban interview. I have been a big fan of his for a long time and even more so now. Below are some of the great notes and quotes I took while listening to him.
- Broadcast was making 23 million the quarter when they sold for 5.7 billion
- We had over 1 million uniques a day when we sold broadcast.com
- Do things that people say wont work, do what people say can't be done
- I look at industries that I know are messed up
- Always put yourself in a position where you can control your own destiny
- Sales cures all - If you cant make money/sell your product, move on
- I will not invest in a company if you come to me with an exit strategy
- When we sold broadcast.com, we had 300 employees and 130 were in sales
- Everybody's got the will to win, the feeling that this is it, but not many people have the will to prepare - Bobby Knight
- You have too know your market better than anybody

All in all it was a great event and I want to thank TechCrunch for accepting my student application (at least now I can say college was good for something!). I look forward to attending and possibly presenting next year ;) .

Check out all of my twits from the event here.



FMCN May Have Found It's Bottom

I have been a fan of FMCN for some time. About a year back I posted that this was a great way to get some China exposure and play the Olympics at the same time. Problem was, I think I was about a year late. The market had already been pricing that in for some time, and the stock has been performing pretty poorly ever since.

An earthquake in China shook the stock and then the weak market dragged it down even farther. The short interest in FMCN has gone up dramatically during this time as trend followers hopped on board and the market took a turn for the worse. Their are currently 23.5 million shares short and an average volume of 4 million. At this rate it would take shorts a full 6 days to cover and it only takes a few positive press releases to make that happen.

Today Focus Media announced a $100 million buy back. They are going to use 1/4 of their $400 million in cash to fund it. Tan Zhi, chief executive officer of Focus Media, commented, ''Our Board's approval of the share repurchase program reflects our commitment to increase shareholder value and our confidence that the current ADS price level does not reflect our potential value.''

On that note it seems that FMCN may have found it's bottom. The potential for a short squeeze, the $100 million buyback & the olympics may be the trifecta this stock needs to turn this trend around. It is nice to see a company looking out for it's shareholders when times get tough. The future is very bright for this company, and this looks like a good time to hop on board.

Disclosure: I am a current shareholder of FMCN.



The Run On The Banks Begins

As I drove down Ventura blvd today to my dentist appointment I passed a long line that went down the street and around the corner. I couldnt quite get a glimpse of what people were waiting for but it must have been important. I figured there must be an AT&T store there that just got a new shipment of iPhone 3Gs.

indymac-bank-line


While I was in the waiting room I read the news about the run on the banks and how the federal government had to move in to save IndyMac. On my way back I drove by again and the line got longer. There were police and news vans everywhere. I wish I had taken a picture, but no picking up your phone while driving in LA!

great-depression-bank-line


It reminded me of history class back in 8th grade. Learning about the great depression and the run on the banks in 1933. This is only the begenning folks. Things can go from bad to worse real quick come soon. Lets hope for the best.



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