Marissa Mayer II

Two Marissa Mayer posts in a row (!!)
From one of — if not the best — tech piece I have ever read, I was astounded to find it on Business Insider. I mean. Let’s be real, they normally publish border-line gossip.

A few excerpts — first, a tid-bit from her time at Google:

In the end, it proved to be an advantage for Mayer that empathy doesn’t come naturally to her. It forced her to be intentional about figuring out what users want and how they behave.

She came up with two clever methods of relating.

Mayer at the height of her power at Google.

The first is that she would recreate the technological circumstances of her users in her own life. Mayer went without broadband for years in her home, refusing to install it until it was also installed in the majority of American homes. She carried an iPhone at Google, which makes Android phones, because so did most mobile Web users.

Mayer’s second method was to lean on data. She would track, survey, and measure every user interaction with Google products, and then use that data to design and re-design.

Then, on her meeting with the execs and employees at Y! when she took the chair:

Many of these people were meeting Mayer for the first time, and they expected to sit across from the woman they’d read about in so many fluffy profiles and had seen on TV or on stage at conferences — someone who was charismatic and warm; personal.

That was not what they got.

[…]One by one, they walked in and sat down at a table across from Mayer. Then, she launched into questions. She asked: “Where did you get your education?” “Where are you from?” “What do you do here?” And so on.

As Yahoo executives answered, Mayer took notes on their answers with pen on paper, hardly looking up.

“There was no time for short conversation or human emotions. It was very boom, boom, boom.

“Most people walked away from that meeting saying, ‘Holy shit.’”

[…]

For the people who were making Yahoo’s products at the time, the meetings were even more intense.

A designer or a top product manager would sit down and Mayer would assault them with a series of questions.

“How was that researched?”

“What was the research methodology?”

“How did you back that up?”

On gender issues:

Young, powerful, rich, and brilliant, Mayer is a role model for millions of women. And yet, unlike Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, Mayer resists calling herself a feminist.

[…]

Mayer says that she is not a “feminist.” She says she is “blind to gender.”

I hope one day, to be half the woman she is.
Read the entire thing here. It’s incredible (warning: really, really, really long.)

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I Told You So: Groupon Edition #dailydeals

When I first Tweeted this in January, I received a lot of backlash as Groupon -along with the other daily deal sites- are tech’s darlings. Or shall I say were, as today Groupon announced their IPO filing. When the public read Groupon’s S-1 the Silicon Valley tech crowd seemed the most astonished by -GASP- Groupon actually losing money despite their profits.

At first glance, the YOY numbers are pretty impressive:

  • 1Q 2011 Revenue: $644.7 million
  • 2010 revenue: $713.4 million
  • 2009 revenue: $30.47 million

And I’m not going to pretend a net loss of $146.5M wasn’t a tad surprising. And even more shocking is how Groupon hasn’t turned a net profit in any of its first three years of operations, including a net loss of $389.6 million in 2010.

But still. One doesn’t have to be an economist to see right through their faulty model. If you know how the Internet works, a scientific calculator is far from necessary to know: their customer acquisition budget is sky freakin’ high. How else did Groupon gain so much traction in such a short time? Google fairies?

What’s more baffling, is, even with these near comedic metrics, Groupon is still valuated at an astronomical figure. The founders and investors are walking away super wealthy. And I still stand by what I Tweeted back in January: Groupon’s legacy will be an economic dissertation or a B-school case study.

Though the real winner? Google.
For 1. not spending $6B because Groupon turned down the acquisition offer and 2. all the $ Groupon will continue spending on AdWords.

Either which way, I’m just glad the daily deal craze will finally slow down. I’m so sick of hearing how amazing Groupon et al. are, because frankly? They are not. Daily deals are (were?) a hot trend.  I’m ready for some innovation.  A product with such mind-blowing technology it will stun me stupid.

It’s days like these, I wish I was an engineer.

P.S. If anyone has any inkling on how much Groupon spends a month on Adwords, do share. I tried Googling with no luck. Even Quora didn’t have an answer.

Serendipity Algorithm and What It Means to Marketers

Last week, I saw a piece by Nieman Labs eloquently define the direction of search Google is perfecting as a serendipity alogorithm.

Then, Fred Wilson’s taste makers post and Gmail’s smarter inbox announcement motivated me to finish this draft for this is super exciting technology.

The gist of the serendipity algorithm is digital intelligence. It is not perfect (yet) but through our repeated behaviors and our friends’ actions, sites and services know what we are looking for. Recommendations and things that are relevant to us is accessible as soon as we log-on or even refresh the page. Nowadays, we should be offended if we have to dig through enormous amounts of noise to find things that interest us.

Look around you, we see it on a daily basis on sites we least expect.

  • Amazon pulls up recommendations based on past item purchases and  browsing behaviors
  • Facebook pulls up content relevant to you by the actions of your friends. If enough people in your graph LIKE or comment on an item, that item floats into your newsfeed, even if you are not friends with the original poster
  • Yelp rises the users you have fanned to ensure you don’t miss what your favorite reviewer said about a particular establishment
  • Twitter pushes Tweets -specifically @replies- into your streams from people who have been RTd


Almost every site and service performs these actions.


So how does this apply to our role as marketers?

We are seeing the medium change every single day. It is our chance to use this shifting paradigm to our advantages, to have a voice heard, a methodology outside of the norm seen… which is the reason social media, the Internet and all these products and services are so exciting.

Every brand, business and even individuals are on an even playing field. It’s about who can best strategize the message, to use social media as an execution tool.

As a marketer and someone who loves this industry, the Internet and my role, it is a bummer to see peers use this medium as a billboard.

That said, I will leave you with words from one of the greatest marketers of our time: the all mighty Steve Jobs.

To me, marketing is about values.
This is a very complicated world. It’s a very noisy world.
And we’re not gonna get a chance to get people to remember much about us.
No company is.
And so we have to be really clear on what we want them to know about us.


Thus, marked the launch of the ‘Think Different’ campaign.
(see the keynote here.) Funny how those words are still relevant a decade later.

So how are you going to think differently?

*added: Kevin Elliff chimed in with a much clearer post than mine. Read his thoughts here.

How Google’s Algorithm Indexes Real-Time Tweets #thegoog

One is real-time search, eagerly awaited since Page opined some months ago that Google should be scanning the entire Web every second. When someone queries a subject of current interest, among the 10 blue links Google now puts a “latest results” box: a scrolling set of just-produced posts from news sources, blogs, or tweets. Once again, Google uses signals to ensure that only the most relevant tweets find their way into the real-time stream. “We look at what’s retweeted, how many people follow the person, and whether the tweet is organic or a bot,” Singhal says. “We know how to do this, because we’ve been doing it for a decade.”

Excerpt via Wired Mag’s phenomenal piece: “How Google’s Algorithm Rules the Web.”

Also, check out this neat graph of Google’s key algo advances:

What Does “omnivorous Google” Mean?

My head hurts.

A few weeks back, Marissa Mayer talked about how she believes a more intuitive (personalized) search is the future, and calls this future search engine,  ‘omnivorous.’ I do not know how or why Google chose the word omnivorous, but the first thing that popped in my head was a T-rex – yes, the very extinct dinosaur – crawling around the Internet, devouring everything it (Google) loves.  And no, I am not still drunk from New Year’s.

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