Tuesday Morning Quarterback: The New Internet Season
Summer is officially over, kids, so back to school (including my own son Louie–pictured below as a sword-fighting Mexican wrestler and astronaut–who starts kindergarten this morning!).
And no more Burning Man, either (we completely ignored the annual techie Valhalla in this blog, because it evoked a very dusty and peyote feeling that we just have never felt the need to learn about close up and personal)!
In other words, time to get serious about the business at hand!
Namely, cranking the volume up to 11 on our ongoing efforts to figure out a few choice things about several different Internet companies.
Much as the television networks tout their crappy fall slate, here’s my September lineup:
1. Yahoo–natch! Could we possibly give up on this ongoing dramedy, when we are almost at the midway point of CEO and co-founder Jerry Yang’s 100-day Vision Quest to turn around the troubled Web icon? I think not! Like that new let’s-just-dispense-with-subtlety series on ABC called “Dirty Sexy Money,” it has everything: Money! Power! Sex! (Ok, not so much sex.) But: Money! Power! Search!
Tomorrow is officially Day 50 for Yang, and we’re going to spend the week asking smart people what they’d do to fix Yahoo.
Also, of course, we have requested interviews with everyone from Hilary Schneider to Sue Decker to Yang, and, curiously, the phone is not ringing with calls.
Nonetheless, we will not rest in our efforts to bring Yahoo to you–Garlinghouse! Ismail! Horowitz! Fake! Bhat! Boerries! Those not-Lloyd guys down in Santa Monica!
2. Facebook. Facebook. Facebook. Also Mark Zuckerberg, unavoidable, of course. And those other guys there, whose names escape you because only Zuckerberg says cheese for the magazine covers. Will they IPO or will they sell or will they stand pat? Kind of like “Deal or No Deal,” but without the suspense.
They will. One of those choices. Or not.
3. Hey, what about MySpace? Aren’t they No. 1? By far? I am itching to try to figure out what’s going on down there in Beverly Hills, what with all the attention and momentum Facebook seems to have of late.
So how is MySpace really faring? And what are its prospects for growth? What are its weaknesses (the chatter in the Valley, the Silicon one, is increasing technology challenges as it grows ever larger)? Is owner Rupert Murdoch angling to unload it? Or perhaps double-down with a play for Facebook, too? (I know, stupid, as it’s too costly now even for the master dealmaker.)
Television comparison: The return of “Grey’s Anatomy”–has it jumped the shark with that left-at-the-altar trick? Much in the same way, with its concerts and new offerings, can the hits keep on coming from MySpace?
4. AOL reminds me a little bit of “Desperate Housewives”–I stopped watching long ago, but I still really hope Felicity Huffman is doing OK (not so much Teri Hatcher).
I guess it was the two books I wrote on the online pioneer that hooked me, but I am truly interested in seeing what will happen to the service as it continues to stumble on.
Will CEO Randy Falco’s online entertainment plans work? (No, but they should!) Will AOL’s ad business take off? (No, but it should!). Will its cool side companies like Truveo and Userplane get the attention they deserve? (No, but they should, too!) Will it ever be spun off from the suffocating arms of its parent Time Warner? (You know the answer by now!)
5. Google. Microsoft. It’s going to be like a war between the 2007 one (Michelle Ryan) and the 1997 “Bionic Woman” (Lindsay Wagner). We don’t need to elaborate further, except to say pull up a chair and enjoy the show, as some cyborgs are going to really be kicking some you-know-what. And it’s going to be pretty!
6. Let’s not leave out the oldies like eBay, Amazon (Jeff, don’t think I have forgotten you!) and IAC, as well as newcomers like Joost, Hulu and the plethora of other interesting new companies now on the scene (with more to come).
With topics like copyright, privacy, innovation, growth and the continued Hollywood-Silicon Valley tussling, it’ll be a great time, as usual, to be watching the digital arena.
And even NBC Universal and Apple‘s fighting over price, which now means I will not get to watch “Heroes” on my iPhone, will not deter me.
Although I beg and plead with the thickheaded pair: Save the cheerleader! Save the world! Save my $1.99 an episode!