Flickr Takes Some Shots from Yahoo Layoffs

While it is no surprise that Yahoo started announcing the layoffs of between 600-700 people this week (the flickr-logonumber varies according t the source) there is a bit of a surprise in what business units were targeted. The biggest surprise comes from the cuts made at Flickr.

Om Malik of Gigaom gives some interesting insight into these changes by sharing the announcements he picked up from various engineers through tweets. While layoffs do seem to be a part of it there seems to also be some voluntary exits that go along with the forced reductions. While this is completely conjecture on my part, the experience I have had is that when there are voluntary exits that coincide with layoffs that is not a very good sign. Most people are happy that they didn’t get let go and move on with their jobs and just deal with the ‘survivor’s guilt’. If folks are jumping ship of their own accord in conjunction with the layoffs then you have to wonder what is actually happening there.

Disney Jumps Through Hulu Hoop

Disney has announced it has acquired a stake in Hulu that is thought to be as high as 30% according to the folkshulu-logo over at Mashable. Disney has now joined NBC Universal and News Corp. in this venture.

The momentum this gives the video site is very real as it looks to jump on a position in the market that perhaps YouTube may be too late to the game on. YouTube has just started to strike deals with the major media producers and their lineup of available programs to watch is not as impressive as Hulu’s.

Why Facebook’s Fund Raising Reminds Me of NBC’s The Office

Does anyone else see the similarity between Facebook’s attempts to raise additional funds and last week’s episode of The Office?

A quick re-cap. Michael Scott’s paper company is offered a buyout by his old employer. On their way to the negotiation table, everyone is eager to ensure that Michael Scott doesn’t reveal that his company is actually flat broke, and desperate for the money.

(click to watch the clip at

Enter Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg:

“We absolutely do not need to take money,” she said. “We might take money, but it doesn’t mean we need to.”

OK, while Facebook is not exactly flat broke, it is playing a game of brinkmanship with venture capital firms–which value Facebook in the $2-3 billion range instead of the $5-6 billion Sandberg wants.

Forget Skynet! Computers Still Too Dumb to Spot Flu Outbreak

images1John Connor would be relieved to learn that we don’t yet have to worry about our super-computers rising up against us–apparently, they’re still only as smart as the humans operating them.

Case in point, Wired reports that despite the thousands of computers at Google’s disposal–and over 10 years of data analysis–it wasn’t able to identify an increasing trend in searches that suggested the Swine Flu outbreak was beginning.

…Google Flu Trends team, which aggregates and analyzes search queries to estimate how many people are sick, wasn’t watching Mexican flu data until after the outbreak had already begun. That highlights the problem with tech-heavy disease-detection systems: Often, we don’t know what internet data to look at until after a problem starts.

Proof That Nielsen is Wrong; Twitter’s Retention Rate is Not 40%

Nielsen Wire posted a shocking statistic to its blog:

Currently, more than 60 percent of Twitter users fail to return the following month, or in other words, Twitter’s audience retention rate, or the percentage of a given month’s users who come back the following month, is currently about 40 percent.

The post also included a comparison of Twitter’s retention rate, compared to Facebook’s and MySpace’s:

But–and it’s a big but–did Nielsen fail to take into account that many Twitter users start off using the web site interface, then quickly migrate to a third-party application? That’s the suggestion Brendan O’Connell offered up.

A quick look at Twitstat seems to back up his theory. Twitstat is tracking over 200 different Twitter applications and, as the chart below shows, only 27% of Twitter users are using the web interface:

Armstrong’s Small Step from Google, Could be a Giant Leap for AOL

The more you read about the trouble inside Time Warner the more you have to admire Tim Armstrong for ditching his comfy job at Google for the top job at AOL.

In quarterly numbers just released, Time Warner’s revenue dropped 7% from 2008 to $6.9 billion, with AOL being the biggest culprit for the decline–it saw a drop of 23%!

Clearly AOL’s just not thriving under the wings of Time Warner and it now seems inevitable that the division will be spun-off as a separate entity. Reading between the lines, you suspect that Armstrong was all but promised that AOL would be released from Time Warner. Speaking to Ad Age, Armstrong said:

Why New Search Engines Shouldn’t Even Bother to Challenge Google

Whenever a new start-up makes bold claims about its search technology, my first question is usually: what’s to stop Google from building the exact same thing?

For the benefit of all future search engines, Google has kindly proved my point by practically undermining the first public demo of Wolfram Alpha with the announcement of its own structured data search.

Just how much of a threat is this Google announcement to Wolfram Alpha’s plans? Enough of a threat that TechCrunch received a screenshot that attempts to show how Google’s data just doesn’t stack up.

OK, so Wolfram Alpha’s search data does look prettier in this example. But, here are the challenges the start-up faces:

  1. What the heck is a Wolfram Alpha? I hope they re-brand.