Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Insytes from Vertical Leap AM sessions

Am here in Santa Clara at the SDForum Vertical Leap conference which has a WIKI here.

This morning brings even further evidence of the need for better relevance in search results. There are some 30 different companies in the vertical search space that I have identified so far this morning, with many more stealthily hiding behind new variants on the NewCo virus. There were 3 that asked questions and made pitches even that could seemingly be identifyng the same trends we are pursuing with solutions. Thankfully, having done this for so long, I think we may have a leg up on some of these - but only time and execution capabilities will prove that.

In the meantime, here is what I learned this morning

LookSmart CEO Dan Hills is a bright guy who also sees the value of sharing his knowledge and Insytes with others. It seemed that he was making a pitch for people with vertical focus to look to companies like his as a potential partner. His mantra is serving the people who have a passion, a need or a repetitive task to get them where they want to be and help them get tot he next place. Further, he noted that people will seek search engines for convenience, reputation and community.

Most importantly he noted what I have been saying all along - the real key to vertical search is to leverage people first and then apply the technology to making it an even better experience, not the other way around.

From the VC Panel:

Heard a great phrase for the first time in a long time - "becoming an eyeball bandit" - ie, being the first screen on a pervasive device in front of Yahoo, Google and others. This was a key focus with InfoApps when we were looking at selling customized PDA's - we were going to rebrand the startup screen on each device we customized...

The problem with "expert advice" paid sorts of sites is that you have to discount the future result somewhat based on the uncertainty of the quality of that result - had not considered that before, but it is certainly true. While a strong reputation in a given subject matter will remove parts of that discount, the purchasers initial uncertainty would still introduce a discount preventing full market efficiency.

Also noted from Mark Kvamme and Theresia Ranzetta that their focus is on dollars out, not dollars in. More concerned with Return on Time (ROT) than with ROI. Their decision to back a company and an enterepreneur is their decision on a multi-dimensional analysis of opportunity costs.

Theresia also noted that the vertical seardch ideas has existed for a long time, only it was previously called a "focused media property."


The rest of the day has some interesting panels, especially the future of vertical search and searching the blogosphere but this part of the day is definitely why I came.

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