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December 10, 2006

Del.icio.us Summary

Del.icio.us was a useful tool this semester, not only for BIT200, but also for networking with classmates and gaining significant knowledge into the technology industry, both from a product-specific and financial standpoints. Our search strategy was somewhat varied, however, it centered around a three-pronged approach. We primarily utilized the following methods/venues in gathering information for our project:

  1. News Sites
  2. Del.icio.us terms searches
  3. A wide array of blogs on a variety of topics

Starting Out: Searching Broadly
At the project's onset, we tended to search in a rather unorganized fashion, typically running Google searches for relevant material. However, as we quickly learned better ways to apportion or time, we quickly gravitated toward news sites. These tended to offer timely and relevant announcements that aided us in our furhter searches. We explored a variety of news sites, but kept coming back to CNN's tech site, ABC's tech site, and CNBC's site. We did not initially capitalize on the vast searching potential of del.icio.us. Toward the end of our general searching, we began to use del.icio.us search terms more frequently to discover what our peers and other users were intrested in regarding technology. Our blog exploration tended to be haphazard as well, as we went through a period of trying to find reliable and timely postings.

Narrowing Focus: More Refiend Search Methods
As the semester progressed, our interests became more focused, and we soon realized that we wanted to concentrate on online mergers and acquisitions. Most notable in the evolution of our project was our incorporation of many of del.icio.us' features in our foraging for information. We typically would follow certain users that we had identified as tech-savvy. One such example is the del.icio.us tagger known as ibrent, presumably an afficionado of most things tech. Additionally, we became much more adept at conducting focused terms searches. Finding the appropriate terms to search became something of an artform. Queries such as Google and Yahoo! tended to yield far too many listings. Similarly, mergers or acquisitions also tended to draw a lot of seemingly irrelevant material. Thus, our news sites and blogs became of critical importance in finding appropriate material to search. Our blog searches and usage became much more focused. While we tended to explore from time to time, always looking for new useful opinions, we tended to use the same blogs quite frequently. Techcrunch is notable as one of the centerpieces of our blog tracking effort. Also, as noted in one of our previous blogs, Google's blogsearching utility was also helpful. News sites continued to be an instrumental feature of our research, as they provided timely updates on mergers and acquisitions happenings. Thus, after learning about acquisitions of such startups as Writely or Jotspot on our news feeds and blogs, we would search these terms (typically with great success) on del.icio.us. Moreover, our

Tagging
Our tagging became much more focused throughout the semester, as our areas of concentration shrank. Aside from the required BIT200F06 and Group7 tags, we typically included labels such as mergers and acquisitions, along with the name(s) of the comapines acquired, and those doing the purchasing. Tags such as web2.0 also became commonplace. Doubling back to check articles tagged by other users using the same tags also proved to be a worthwhile search tactic.

SO...
In all, the techniques we learned through this project translated into useful skills for conducting searches and navigating the vast wealth of information available on the web.

Posted by jzemon at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

M/A: IBM acquires Consul

Today’s technology industry is constantly evolving, with new mergers and acquisitions taking place every week in a trend towards market consolidation. On December 7, 2006, IBM acquired Consul Risk Management, a provider of compliance and security audit software. This acquisition is just one of the several hundred to occur in the past year. Consul provides technology that uncovers insider threats and delivers reports designed to address customers’ compliance activities related to regulations, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and has more than 350 major client-customers worldwide, operating from its base in the Netherlands. IBM is ranked number 17 on Washington’s Top 100 List of major I/T providers, with over $9.1 billion in annual sales. From an industry standpoint, the merger marks a trend in major I/T providers utilizing leveraged buyout procedures with large amounts of debt to purchase smaller, regional software providers to bolster market position and share.

link

Posted by jzemon at 10:24 PM | Comments (0)

Blogging Summary

In covering the topic of internet business mergers and acquisitions, we have encountered a broady array of perspectives and opinions Some believe the outlook for the web will be far rosier as a result of the M and A activities of internet superpowers Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft. Still, others feel that the future of the internet is vested in the freedom of individually-generated material, web 2.0. Some feel that the Big Three can help the growth of web 2.0, while others feel that they will inhibit its expansion. Essentially, this multitude of persuasions regarding the future of the web can be parried down into two camps: those that support large entitiies on the internet, and those that favor smaller-scale, user-generated players.

The advantages of having large-scale entities like Google and Yahoo! run the show are fairly obvious. First, they provide a very central, convenient location for a huge number of resources. Aside from being search engines, companies like these also offer online services such as document editting, maps services, online calendars, and social networking extensions, to name only a few. Many of these resources were not produced in-house by the companies that now offer them. Most of the resources now available through Google and Yahoo! were originally offered by much smaller internet companies that were purchased and rebranded. Does such rebranding hurt or help the original service? It depends. Sometimes the function is integrated into a larger service, such as GoogleDocs or GoogleEarth. In this case, the original service becomes more useful, as it is paired with other services, and their collective utility is greater to the user than their separate values. However, services are occasionally purchased and discontinued. This likely happens for one of two reasons:

  1. The service was purchased to keep it from competing with one offered by the acquiring company
  2. The service became redundant because the acquiring company already offered, or came to offer, a similar service.

Aside from convenience, one can argue that allowing large internet firms to freely engage in growth activities through M and A will make them more competitive with one another, and provide better services for their users. However, as Yahoo! has somewhat proven, this may not be the case. In its frenzy to acquire, Yahoo! purchased quite a few redundant services, that cannabilized one another. Yahoo!'s business strategy became so muddled that one of its Vice Presidents felt compelled to release the notorious Peanut Butter Manifesto - a badly-written memo decrying the firm's lack of direction and sloppiness.

On the flipside of things, one can adopt the viewpoint of a small startup firm. The company likely has one of two motives in its business model:

  1. Independence and customer service as an autonomous unit
  2. The hope of being acquired by a larger firm

The main argument here is: what plan best suits the internet user? It largely true that the hope of being acquired may pull more entrants into the internet world. This was proven during the early dotcom boom with firms looking to be bought up by companies like microsoft. However, such a plan could be detrimental to the quality of sites produced, as startups could merely look to emulate the large firms they hope will target them - this way they are hoping to be bought up as a measure preventing competition. This strategy also poses the threat that true creativity and innovation will be stifled, as companies might be bought and reconfigured before the true potential of their service is realized.

One final consideration in this argument is the legal implications. Microsoft has already had a brush with the monopoly stigma through its software strategy. Will the Justice Department eventually dub behemoths like Google and Yahoo! to be monopolies? Is it possible to actually calculate market share in space as expansive as the internet? These are questions that will likely be answered in years to come, as the internet continues to develop as one of mankind's most useful knowledge-sharing inventions to date. One thing looks sure though: barring any major hurdles, the expansion of the net at large does not look to slow in the near future.

Posted by danepr at 11:18 AM | Comments (0)

December 07, 2006

HP + VooDoo PC

Since HP acquired Voodoo PC, little has been known about their plans. On December 4th, however, a new video clip showed kids playing virtual scavenger hunt games on portable gaming machines. The difference between these games and others that current video games offer, is that the children playing the games are running in alley ways collecting real clues to solve their puzzles.

An open-source platform called Media-Scape allows HP to do this. With the help of Voodoo, HP is able to mesh the real and virtual world. Few trials have already taken place with activities for children to reinact animals or play in different areas of a tower. As technology continues to develop and advance, HP will enjoy experimenting with wireless to take the next step in games such as these.

Posted by shina at 04:29 PM | Comments (0)

How Tech. Companies are Investing their Money

Tech companies are making a lot of money these days. Profitable companies are choosing to invest there money in several different ways. Yahoo, Intel and EA games for example are putting their money into research and development. Other companies such as Microsoft, HP, IBM, and Qualcom are paying out more dividends and buying back more stock.

In addition to these things, companies are investing their money in future profits through mergers and acquisitions. For this reason "M&A rose 20% last year, to $60 billion, according to Thomson Financial (TOC )," and estimated to increase 10% this year. Some examples of companies that have made use of mergers and acquisitions are:Verizon taking over MCI, Ebay buying shopping.com and rent.com, and the merge of Sprint and Nextell.


See link for more information:


business week

Posted by shina at 03:09 PM | Comments (0)

December 04, 2006

Information Ethic$

After reading the Mason article which discusses the principles of information security (PAPA), we have found that internet retailers have immense potential to capitalize on the technologies on the market that catalog consumer information for their personal benefit. Specifially, online retailers like ebay.com and amazon.com utilize key information about internet shoppers, including gender, percieved age, location, spending patterns, internet connection speed, and other variables to maximize sales, and therefore profits. Individually, any of these characteristics are seemingly harmless and anonymous, but in unison, can create a consumer profile that most users would prefer to remain private. In fact, we feel that internet retailers invade shoppers' privacy in attaining this information without any type of notification, and then using it to "better serve" shoppers through promotional campaigns, sales, etc.

In order to promote a fairer internet retailing environment, we believe that firms such as ebay or amazon should always notify shoppers when their personal information is being documented. Without such notification, a shopper's personal privacy is being violated. Additionally, shoppers may become victims to price discrimination as a result of this scheme of information recording. Accordingly, these technologies should be limited in their use, and when implemented, customers must be notified.

Posted by jzemon at 04:02 PM | Comments (0)