Saturday, February 28, 2009

Newsfeed User Engagement - It Really Works!

I have been talking and blogging about the power of newsfeed engagement for a long time, but even I was impressed last week during a demo to a large publisher. Usually I use a fake Facebook profile for demos, but this time I used my own since I was already logged in as myself.

The first demo was our American Idol Social Poll, followed by our Inauguration Video Poll. Both of these polls posted my actions to my newsfeed.

Within 15 minutes, friends had engaged with both newsfeed items! One friend commented on who she thought would win American Idol, and another friend reminisced about hearing JFK's inaugural speech as a child. I have to admit, even I was blown away by the immediate friend engagement.

It used to be that user engagement features such as polls would engage a user for a few minutes and they would move on to the next thing. Now, brands like CNN and have the opportunity to help a user express themselves, and also engage a user's friends which leads to higher engagement-based CPMs and additional traffic. Self-expression for the user + more revenue for the publisher = win-win for both the user and the publisher!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Rising Sun

I have been ruminating on Sun for a while, ever since Savio Rodriques' blog on Sun's software earnings last month. Last quarter, Sun's Java licensing generated $67M and MySQL generated $81M. Not even taking into account the 50% growth rates that these products are seeing, that is a $600M annual run rate.

As Matt Asay pointed out, Red Hat and Sun had virtually the same market cap for a bit, although Red Hat has since dropped. If you account for the cash that Sun has, Red Hat is actually worth a couple of billion more. Red Hat had $500M in revenue last year.

Contrary to Matt, I don't think these numbers are as exciting for Red Hat as they are for Sun. What is interesting is that if you look at the numbers only, Sun is now a software company. If Sun consisted only of its Java and MySQL groups, it would be a $600M/year commercial open source company that is worth, at the same multiple as Red Hat, $2.5B. When you take into account Sun's cash position, that is more than Sun is worth right now!

So yes, I was quoted in Forbes saying that Sun should jettison its Java group, and I have to take a mea culpa on that one now that I see that Sun is making over $300M/yr off of Java.

Sun is now a modern, open source software business, and a layer up above Red Hat at that. The hardware at this point is a channel for the software and will soon be rentable as a cloud offering. I imagine that Sun will continue to climb up the software stack and roll up SugarCRM, Alfresco, Jasper, and others.

Kudos to Jonathan Schwartz. It took a long time to redirect the lumbering ship, but he has done it. I think that soon enough the market will recognize this new, rising Sun as a counterbalance to Oracle's proprietary solutions. Congratulations!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

"Social Polling" for American Idol on

We just launched an American Idol "social poll" on, an extremely high volume site. The poll is the first largescale deployment of iWidgets' new polling feature and shows off:

  • A sophisticated poll with 36 American Idol finalists to choose from

  • Realtime vote polling using AJAX

  • Badges that voters can add to their Facebook and MySpace profiles to show off their choice and get their friends to vote.

  • The poll is an iWidgets widget that is embedded into as an embedded iFrame and is virtually indistinguishable from The ability to fit into existing sites is an excellent benefit of HTML/JavaScript widgets. The poll lets users vote for their favorite Idol from the final 36 idols:

    Once the user votes, the poll shows how many votes each American Idol finalist has received as well as a banner promoting that the user show off their favorite Idol and get their friends to vote:

    Clicking on the Facebook / MySpace / embed icons on the banner takes you to your social network to install a profile badge. The first step here is a new "targeted invite" feature that finds your friends that are already interested in American Idol, which people are much more likely to invoke:

    A native social network widget is then added to your profile. Such profile badges can also include fresh video clips that can be monetized with pre-roll ads:

    There is of course to obligatory "narrow" view so that Facebook users can add the widget to their highly visible wall/profile tab:

    And a newsfeed update so that the users' friends take the poll and drive additional traffic to

    iWidgets' social polling is a great way to add a fun, seamlessly integrated widget to your website that engages your users to add your content to their social profiles and gets their friends to visit your website.