Explaining Southern California's economy

Google goggles coming later this year

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The Google logo is seen at the Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. on September 2, 2011. AFP PHOTO/KIMIHIRO HOSHINO (Photo credit should read KIMIHIRO HOSHINO/AFP/Getty Images)

Eyeglasses. They're just so stupid, sitting there on your face, enabling you to do little more than see better and, in certain chunky black Buddy Holly-esque cases, branding you as a probable resident of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. But Google plans to change all that, with "heads up display glasses," according to the New York Times' Nick Bilton:

The glasses will send data to the cloud and then use things like Google Latitude to share location, Google Goggles to search images and figure out what is being looked at, and Google Maps to show other things nearby, the Google employee said. “You will be able to check in to locations with your friends through the glasses,” they added.

Everyone I spoke with who was familiar with the project repeatedly said that Google was not thinking about potential business models with the new glasses. Instead, they said, Google sees the project as an experiment that anyone will be able to join. If consumers take to the glasses when they are released later this year, then Google will explore possible revenue streams.

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Shopping for search: Have you tried Duck Duck Go?

Duck Duck Go is search that cares about privacy above all else.

I've been cheating on Google quite a bit these past few weeks with a new-ish search site called Duck Duck Go. I first heard about the site — which operates out of that hotbed of technological innovation, the veritable Silicon Valley of the Northeastern corridor, Valley Forge, Penn. — from its main venture funder, Union Square Ventures. USV's Fred Wilson has blogged about Duck Duck Go a few times. I use other services/companies in USVs portfolio — Disqus, Dwolla — so I was intrigued.

Duck Duck Go is not Google, but that's the point. I'm not sure if it's even really a new kind of search, nor do I think it sells itself that way. It is definitely less fussy, quicker search. I'll let Fred tell it:

[I]t may also be that other search engines are doing things that some users don't approve of and those users are shopping around for a new search engine. If you are in that camp, join me at DDG and see what clean, private, impartial and fast search is like.

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Facebook IPO: It's all about the advertising

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Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a news conference at Facebook headquarters on October 6, 2010 in Palo Alto, California.

This information is all over the place, but I got it from the Globe and Mail:

Facebook generated about $4.3-billion in revenue last year, according to estimates from the research firm eMarketer, with advertising accounting for nearly 90 per cent of that amount. This year, the company should post revenue of nearly $6-billion, eMarketer forecasts.

And one assumes that 90 percent of that $6 billion will also come from advertising. And when Facebook makes $100 billion, many years after its IPO, 90 percent of that will come from advertising.

Does that sound like putting too many eggs in one basket? Maybe. Except that Google is putting more in one basket. It made $37.9 billion 2011 — and 96 percent of that was advertising!

This week, Facebook is expected to file with the Securities and Exchange Commission, for an IPO later this year. So everyone will finally get a look behind the curtain of how the business is run, financed — and where the revenues really come from. But let's be honest. It's all going to depend on advertising, advertising, advertising. This could be a problem for Facebook's long-term growth and profitability because Facebook might have already signed up just about everyone it can. That's a huge audience — and that audience spends LOTS of time on Facebook — but they're not on Facebook for the same reasons they're on Google.

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Will Goldman Sachs lose out on Facebook IPO?

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Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a news conference at Facebook headquarters on October 6, 2010 in Palo Alto, California.

The long-awaited day will finally arrive next week, when Facebook files for its initial public offering (IPO) later this year. According to the Wall Street Journal, the offering — which will be fairly limited as far as actual stock sold goes — will price the social network at $75-$100 billion. That would make it one of the biggest IPOs of all time. It could actually help California balance its budget.

But there's more!

The Vampire Squid — aka Goldman Sachs — may not get to lead the IPO. the WSJ reports that Morgan Stanley, Goldman's main Wall Street rival, will get the plumb role. 

Let's not sugar-coat it: This would be humiliating for Goldman, which has been angling to lead Facebook's IPO ever since it set up a private market in Facebook shares in 2011 (and likely before that). It would also be costly. While Goldman will certainly participate, it won't get the millions in fees it was probably expecting, and definitely lobbying for.

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R.I.P, RIM?

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The infamous Blackberry.

You'd think that Research in Motion's decision to make a big change at the top, moving out co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie and replacing them with a single leader, Thorsten Heins, would mean that the Canadian maker of the BlackBerry could finally see an end to its long nightmare. The sliding share price will reverse! People will buy BlackBerrys again and maybe even...PlayBooks, the company's largely unsuccessful tablet.

And if you thought that, you'd be...wrong, at least according to PC World:

RIM has gone from dominant market leader to virtually irrelevant in a matter of a couple of years. From the outside, it doesn’t seem like RIM actually has a strategy. But, whatever strategy it has is clearly not working. Suggesting that the current plan is sound is like taking over the Titanic knowing it’s about to hit an iceberg, and consciously deciding to stay the course and see what happens.

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