Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Internet users reach 1 billion

This was a landmark that people have been waiting for some time. It has always be portrayed that internet usage is something that does not affect poor people in developing countries (and this may still be true), but the fact that the overall number of internet users the world over is now past 1 billion (as reported in December) is a big landmark by itself (link):

The key metric in the number of users is that most of them are from Asia, predominantly so: 41 percent, compared to 28 percent in North America and 18 percent in Europe. Although a sizeable percentage of Europe speaks English in some capacity (as does Asia), the numbers indicate that most of the world's Internet traffic will most likely be communicated using some non-English language. China, for example, had 179 million users, topping the list of wired countries; the U.S. was second, at 163 million. Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom rounded out the top five.

The growth areas are also significant. Slowly, the world is moving to incorporate more languages; however this is counter-balanced by the growing prevalence of English as a global language.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Valuing Twitter at $250 million

Remember those old style internet valuations, as when Google bought Youtube for 1.6 billion dollars. A lot of those valuations never made it much, such as the huge amount of money paid for AOL by CNN, something that killed the long term strength of the company. A offshoot of these kind of valuations was that other companies also started expecting the same sort of valuations, way out of their earning potentials (even if you were very optimisitic).
The standard model is simple, setup a site with something new or a better way of doing something that brings in the millions of users, and then poof!, the valuations start screaming upwards. In the midst of this, revenue and short-to-mid term potential cannot meet these valuations. And there are a number of companies who have done very well in terms of attracting users, especially social networking sites. So, a site like Facebook has a lot of heavy-usage users, including a lot who hunt for people to add to the network. However, very few people have been able to generate long term revenue generation plans. Twitter is one such network that has become extremely popular over the relatively short period of time of 2 years, although it has the same problems in trying to show an effective business model. Consider that this micro-blogging network gets a valuation of $250 million:

Rumor is Twitter hit up more than a few venture firms to pitch the $250 million valuation, and got more than one 'no,'" TechCrunch wrote Saturday. "But someone's bit, perhaps encouraged by Twitter's breakneck growth and the interest from Facebook. That means Twitter gets a new cash injection and time to figure out its business model at an even more leisurely pace."
That certainly would be a boon for Twitter, which until now has not shown signs of a viable business model. Though it is growing rapidly and has millions of users, no one knows how the company could support itself. Some have worried that while it is increasingly useful to the many people who rely on it, it might not be financially viable over time.

One can only hope that the world is saner now in terms of valuations, especially the considersation of revenue generation.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Twitter hacked

Twitter is a service that has become tremendously popular, that too, within a very short period of time. The ability to post micro-blogging type messages (restricted to 140 characters) and for others being able to read them through a variety of means (SMS, RSS, via the Twitter site, email, or through specialist applications) made the usage of Twitter even more popular. With such a popular site, one can only imagine the number of attempts that would be made to hack into such a service, and it happened - the Twitter sites of many celebrities where hacked through the compromising of some internal Twitter administration tools:

Members of the online forum Digital Gangster may have been behind yesterday's Twitter hack. On Monday, hackers gained access to, and posted messages from, 33 Twitter accounts including those of Bill O'Reilly, Britney Spear and CNN's Rick Sanchez. According to this thread, a hacker named GMZ gained access to Twitter login information and then posted a different thread--that has since been removed--calling on other DG members to email him for credentials to individual accounts. At least another four members then claim to have been part of yesterday's Twitter hack.
The hack included several prank posts from Twitter users such as Fox News, Facebook and president-elect Barack Obama. The strange thing about some of these messages is that they included affiliate links--a common marketing program that pays the creator of the link for driving traffic to another Web site such as Amazon--according to reports. That may make finding the culprits easier as the affiliate programs in question should have a virtual paper trail leading back to the payee

No matter who did this, the hacking of Twitter (and not much apparent concern from users about this) is a reminder that security on the internet can be compromised; revealing personal details on the internet comes with a certain amount of risk.