Microsoft Offers $1.2B for Fast Search & Transfer

It’s been almost a year since I asked whether Fast Search & Transfer was the “comeback kid.” Well, with Microsoft offering to buy the Norweigian company for $1.2 billion–a 40% premium on its stock price–it appears the answer to the question is a resounding “Yes!”

Microsoft is naming Fast’s expertise and technology for enterprise search as the main reason for the acquisition.

“Enterprise search is becoming an indispensable tool to businesses of all sizes, helping people find, use and share critical business information quickly,” said Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division. “Until now organizations have been forced to choose between powerful, high-end search technologies or more mainstream, infrastructure solutions. The combination of Microsoft and FAST gives customers a new choice: a single vendor with solutions that span the full range of customer needs.”

Mahalo Getting More Social by Leveraging Other Social Sites

Mahalo, everyone’s favorite human-powered search engine and Jason Calacanis venture, has announced a few more “socially” improvements to its site. One of the major updates leverages other social media sites; the other is frankly patterned after another.

Mahalo has expanded its Mahalo Follow tool to enable its users to post directly to several other social sites, including Delicious and Twitter. Also in the Mahalo Follow Sidebar are tips/tricks that accompany selected sites, including Gmail and Twitter. Vanessa Fox samples the sidebar’s suggestions and shares her results, which aren’t particularly helpful.

The second update is adding stub articles to Mahalo. If you’ll recall, Mahalo has always had articles and link lists for its most important subjects, created by its (supposedly vetted) editors. But now, admittedly patterned after Wikipedia, Mahalo has added the capability for anyone to add short articles and recommend links for terms that have not yet had full articles written on them.

Clients Ask Ad Agencies to Diversify

Ad executives are going to have to change the way they do business and include more progressive methods to reach customers. Marketers want more focus on other advertising like online video and social networking sites and less on traditional media alone. That’s according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal.

As the economy slows, more businesses are attracted to Internet advertising. Not only is it often less expensive, but it’s also easier to measure than tv and print ads. Every prediction I’ve seen shows growth in this space outpacing growth in traditional advertising methods. Merrill Lynch predicts ad spending in the U.S. will grow 2.3% this year and that businesses will move more budgets online – increasing the portion spent online to 18%. Publicis Groupe’s ZenithOptimedia says it spending online should exceed that spent on radio as soon as this year. The Internet should outspend magazine advertising by 2010.

Online Holiday Spending for 2007: over $29B

comScore’s results from last year’s holiday season are in: the US spent over $29 billion in online holiday shopping. This is up 19% over last year’s total.

Monday, December 10 stayed the highest single day total, keeping its “Green Monday” title. However, unlike last year, the trend wasn’t successively higher-spending Mondays starting with “Cyber” Monday and ending with “Green” Monday. This year’s top ten highest single-day totals:

Day Dollars Spent (Millions)
Monday, December 10 (“Green Monday”) $881
Tuesday, December 11 $819
Thursday, December 6 $803
Wednesday, December 5 $798
Tuesday, December 4 $776
Wednesday, December 12 $754
Monday, December 3 $753
Friday, December 7 $734
Monday, November 26 (“Cyber Monday”) $733

Visual Web Browsing with SpaceTime

The 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is in Las Vegas this week. Startups and big brands alike are launching their products. They’ve got a blogger’s lounge this year too. According to CES, the average U.S household has 25 consumer electronic products in it and U.S. consumer electronics sales should exceed $160 billion in 2007.

SpaceTime is one of the startups at CES. They’re launching a new version of their 3-D web browsing tool – version 1.0. The free download is a lot like Mac users are used to using. You can interact with windows and your browser, along with perform visual web searching. The interface lets you more interact more intimately with content – like separating out images or videos from your browser.

2008 Predictions for Internet Retail

Everyone else is making predictions, so I guess I will get in on the fun too. The best thing about making predictions is that you will never remember them by the end of the year anyway. (unless I get them right, in which case I will remind you!)

Here goes…

1) Death of the little guy. This is already happening, and the trend is going to continue. It is simply going to become more and more unfeasible for small budgets to compete online. That is not to say that there will be exceptions, but you will hear about fewer and fewer of them.

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