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Tuesday, Sep. 11, 2007 at 2:56 pm

Blog Buzz for September 11, 2007

By The Grok
September 11th, 2007

First up today, AdvertisingAge reports that MTV Networks will merge iFilm.com and SpikeTV.com to form Spike.com.

AdAge‘s Andrew Hampp has the story:

“We’re going to concentrate on it being its own men’s destination,” said Jon Slussser, senior VP of newly formed Spike Digital Media Entertainment Group, which is being launched in conjunction with the new site. “It needs to be an entity to exist where guys want to go to the site regardless of the channel.”

[...] Currently, SpikeTV.com and iFilm.com have been coexisting quietly in pseudo-beta form since Aug. 8. The content merger was designed to have a soft launch in the fall, with minimal on-air promotion for now and a larger push to follow by year’s end, Mr. Slusser said. As a result, the potential to sell ads across the properties has already begun. Coors was a sponsor earlier in the year of a “Hottest Bartender” contest, and will return in an even bigger way for the new Spike.com next year.

Having a condensed sales team in the new Spike Digital Media Entertainment group is what Mr. Slusser believes will help the new team make the site an easier sell. Not to mention increased scale — iFilm.com had an average audience of 2.3 million users in August 2007, according to ComScore, down from 2.9 million in the same period in 2006.

As discussed last week, MTV is in the midst of launching individual sites to support each of its shows. Once they’re done restructuring its web strategy, the company will have more than 300 websites in all.

Must be a light news day, what with the latest round of the Facebook valuation guessing game. Over on her Boom Town blog, The Wall Street Journal‘s Kara Swisher shares the whisperings amongst Facebook insiders

Here’s an interesting idea if you don’t want to get bought and you can’t quite IPO yet and you need to have a tidy war chest for expansion or perhaps a choice acquisition or two: Bring in more investors and raise more money at a huge valuation.. . . in a widely read interview with the Deal in July, board member and early investor Peter Thiel of the Founders Fund floated a more massive figure.

“If we got an offer from someone for $10 billion, we probably would listen to them,” Thiel told the Deal’s David Shabelman. “I don’t think we’re going to get that offer, and we’re not going to solicit it.”

. . . In that interview, Thiel also said that Facebook would not go public until its business was stronger and not until at least 2009, following the successful tactics once employed by a pre-IPO Google.

The article goes on to explain how much of Facebook’s expected $150 million revenue comes from an ad deal with Microsoft; a point Silicon Alley Insider‘s Peter Kafka puts into perspective:

The money would be used for expansion and/or acquisitions, and potential investors include would-be acquirer Microsoft. Some Facebook brass aren’t eager to link up further with Microsoft . . . But no matter: If the economy doesn’t tank (and probably even if it does), Facebook will have its pick of investment partners. The timing here is smart: the iron-clad rule of financing is to raise cash when you can, not when you have to, and Facebook is riding high. Also, if the economy does crater, having a massive war chest will be a huge competitive advantage.

Meanwhile, Silicon Alley Insider‘s Henry Blodget has taken Theil’s statement at — *cough* — face value:

. . . The announcement would not have been any more direct if Facebook had written an open letter to Google saying: “Dear Eric: $10 billion and we’re yours.” . . . Let’s see, at today’s Google stock price of $515, a $10 billion Facebook buy would amount to about 6% -7% dilution. A veritable tuck-in! And none of the copyright headaches that came along with the $1.7 billion YouTube acquisition. Microsoft? Why, you’ll generate $10 billion in cash in the next few months. So, step right up! Yahoo? Um, sorry, missed your chance last year when you could have had it for $2 billion.

Also today, blog search engine Technorati announced “Technorati Topics,” a new feature that helps you find the latest stories from top category searches. Unfortunately, that’s the problem. Experience Curve‘s Karl Long explains:

It turns out that topics are just a live feed of blog posts that are under 6 unfeasibly large categories of Entertainment, Technology, Politics, Sports, Business, and Life. Needless to say these topics are updated every second or so, leading to a pretty useless stream of unrelated blog posts, from popular blogs. Read/Write Web where I picked up this story agrees:

“Unfortunately, Technorati’s scroll of news moves so fast it defies usefulness. In the space of a couple of minutes 30 or so stories might fly by — hovering your mouse over a story stops the scroll, but that doesn’t do much to alleviate the information overload. Further, once a post drops off the scroll (which doesn’t take long) it appears to be gone for good.”

. . . I’m afraid the Technorati topics reminds me of that phrase “for every complex problem there is a simple solution which is wrong”.

Also calling the feature “useless,” Mashable says, “It’s a Britney Spears-style comeback that’s unlikely to turn around the fortunes of the troubled search engine.”

That sounds about right. While “Technorati Topics” isn’t the worst thing they could do, it’s a waste of energy and has the added benefit of diluting the brand’s image. It’s a product management issue — a distraction. Why bother to add a feature with questionable value when they’re not addressing other issues like, say, not crediting blogs with the incoming links they receive?

[Catch Blog Buzz weekdays on WebmasterRadio.fm — or subscribe via iTunes. Bryan Eisenberg & Robert Gorell host the podcast, featuring a rundown of the day's top stories from The Grok's Interactive Marketing Buzz.]

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