PlayerSearch Blog

by Ted Kasten, Founder of PlayerSearch

Google Acquisitions by Year, 2001-2007

Mashable posted a graph (with the data included in an embeded excel spreadsheet) outlining the acquisitions Google has made over the past 6 years.

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May 28, 2008 Posted by | Acquisitions | | Leave a comment

CBS Aggressive with on-line acquisitions

CBS has made a handful of acquisitions from wallstrip for $5 million to CNET for $1.8 billion. Here is an interesting interview with the head of M&A strategy at CBS, Mike Marquez.

The interview is available on mashable.com here.

Much of CBS acquisition strategy focuses on on-line video, but they are looking to make a variety of acquisitions that fit with their vision to grow their on-line presence, audience and advertising revenue.

May 28, 2008 Posted by | Acquisitions | , , | Leave a comment

Two more basketball content sites acquired

Kristen Nicole of Mashable first reported these acquisitions back in late March.

CraveOnline recently purchased HoopsVibe and StreetBallTalk…both basketball focused websites that will expand CraveOnline’s male-oriented on-line properties. Fantasy Sports Ventures has also made several acquisitions to build up its on-line sports presence including a similar sized (according to compete) baseketball site called HoopsHype.com.

While the acquiring companies are different, the strategy is the same…acquire existing sports properties with large, engaged audiences to generate enough traffic to attract the large advertisers. CraveOnline won’t have to touch these on-line properties (which is probably good for all involved, especially the loyal users) to increase the CPMs 5-10x what these sites were previously earning. The starting point for large advertisers seems to be 1 million unique visitors…it appears CraveOnline has surpassed that figure and these acquisitions further increase their scale.

May 28, 2008 Posted by | Acquisitions | , , , | Leave a comment

Search, Aggregation, and Conversation: Keys to a Killer Web Service

I have to agree with this blog post on Mashable.  Search and aggregation are keys to PlayerSearch.  We have not added the conversation piece yet (we are still in alpha), but that is a logical next step.

They cover the search, aggregation and conversation components of some of the most popular and fastest growing web apps: facebook, twitter and friendfeed.


All of these services would probably consider the conversation piece to be their most important, but search and aggregation are still key components to making these web apps more useful.

May 21, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Microsoft to make “small, targeted acquisitions”

With the recent launch of the first search engine for sports, this was a good way to start the week.  The following is a quote from today’s Wall Street Journal article discussing Microsoft’s new strategy to partner/acquire with Yahoo to compete better with Google.

In an email to employees Sunday, the executive in charge of Microsoft’s online business outlined the company’s online strategy, stating that, among other areas, Microsoft will focus on trying to “disrupt” the search market through new investments, expand its display-ad business through partnerships and make “small, targeted acquisitions.”

“The fact is that we are not where we want to be in this business yet and we’ve been in this position longer than we’d all like,” wrote Kevin Johnson, president of Microsoft’s Platforms & Services Division.

The full article is here.  Microsoft has already made several small, targeted acquisitions over the past 12-24 months of on-line properties, including vertical search engines, to build out its on-line presence.  Even the alpha version of PlayerSearch already provides better search results for sports content than Google, Yahoo Search or Microsoft Live Search currently do (they solve bigger and more complex problems worth billions, but we solve this one small problem a lot better).  We will continue to improve the sports content through key industry partnerships with existing partners with our Draft Analyzer product as well as new partners.  This comment by one of the top executives at Microsoft is a key reason why a lot of companies are innovating within the search space and why a lot of capital is being invested in these companies…there are a handful of key companies with insanely deep pockets waiting to acquire the companies that get it right.

May 19, 2008 Posted by | Acquisitions | | Leave a comment

Fantasy Sports Ventures buys BaseballHQ

According to the Wall Street Journal, FSV has acquired BaseballHQ, one of the most well respected fantasy baseball sites, for low seven figures. BaseballHQ is run by Ron Shandler who is nothing short of a legend in fantasy baseball. He sells subscriptions at $99 per year which is higher than any competitor…by far. I don’t talk to too many baseball die-hards that haven’t heard of Ron and most of them have subscribed to his service for many years.

BaseballHQ doesn’t have the traffic of some of its peers (RotoWire’s strength is in baseball but they cover multiple sports; BaseballProspectus is another great baseball focused site but they have some free content and only charge $39.95 for an annual subscription), but it certainly has significant subscription revenue at $99/year. However, FSV is not buying companies for their subscription revenue (KFFL now provides their content for free after being acquired by FSV over a year ago; I don’t see baseballHQ going the free route though…maybe a combo of free and subscription). What BaseballHQ provides FSV that is more important than the subscription revenue is a top quality name and high quality content that they can use to lead discussions with brand advertisers. The value of this is huge to FSV and to every FSV affiliate (Me!) running their ads. All vertical ad networks have their lead anchor sites when pitching advertisers. Owning these sites enables FSV to take the conversation from banner ads (most vertical ad networks that I have heard of generate anywhere from $2-$5 CPMs for banner ads) to more endemic advertising/sponsorship opportunities ($15-$20 CPMs or higher).

The recent partnership between FSV and USA Today/Gannett also has to play a key role here…what better content to include on USA Todays baseball section than content from the legend himself Ron Shandler? Top quality content and huge distribution is certainly a winning combination.

The guys at FSV are incredibly smart and clearly know what they are doing. They have taken 100+, mostly small, sports websites that on their own were probably earning around $0.50 CPMs from Google Adsense and aggregated them together to create a top 20 sports audience and immediately increase ad revenue potential by a factor of 10 (these are my guesstimates, but I think I am close). They are not stopping here though…they partnered with USA Today to get added distribution and they have made smart strategic acquisitions of leading brand name sites in the top sports to lock up top quality content. To get the attention of the top sports marketers that the founders of FSV have worked with in the past with the NFL, you need huge reach, high quality content and engaging user experiences…FSV’s ad sales pitch has gotten a lot easier over the past few weeks with the addition of USAToday/Gannett and now BaseballHQ. This is great for everyone running their ads and sharing their ad revenue as we will see more and more inventory sold at higher CPMs.

Congrats to both FSV and Ron Shandler!

May 15, 2008 Posted by | Vertical Ad Networks | , | Leave a comment

Search Engine now top visited property on web

According to MarketWatch, Google has overtaken Yahoo as the most popular web destination in the US. Google used a blank white page with a search box to take down the number one portal on the internet. Web users that know what they are looking for on the internet go to Google.com to find it; if they simply want to read headlines to find out what is happening, they go to Yahoo.com. This change means that there are now more web surfers in the US that know what they are looking for on the internet and simply want to find it fast than there are people who want to browse headlines.

Google attracted 141.1 million unique visitors in the U.S. last month, up 18% year-over-year. Yahoo, meanwhile, attracted 140.6 million uniques, up only 7% year-over-year. Microsoft took third with about 121 million uniques.

This is a great trend for a site like PlayerSearch. If you want to read sports headlines to see what athletes are in the news, there are better sites to go to (ESPN being the #1 site with 20+million monthly visitors). But if you know what player you want to find information on, PlayerSearch.com is the only sports focused search engine. At this point, there are more people doing the later than the former. We just need to make the 70+ million visitors to sports sites aware of PlayerSearch!

May 15, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Powerset Launches in Beta

Powerset, one of the most hyped “Google Killers”, has finally launched a beta version of their Natural Language Processing search engine. I am very impressed with their user interface, navigation and drill-down features but after further investigation this is far from a Google Killer. Here is a quick video overview of Powerset:

Powerset Demo Video from officialpowerset on Vimeo.

I was impressed (mainly with their UI, navigation and drill-down) after watching this video. I didn’t expect Powerset to provide great results for sports players (no search engine that I have seen does…except PlayerSearch of course!) and after testing it I was actually amazed at how poor the results were. They currently only search Wikipedia and Freebase, which is a significant limitation at the time.

One of the top sports headlines is of Sergio Garcia winning the TPC yesterday. Here is a comparison:

Google News search on Sergio Garcia: Top article covers Sergio’s win accurately. The first page of results includes 4 good articles on Sergio’s win, two recent articles discussing Sergio prior to his win, and two articles on people with the same name as Sergio Garcia (one Sergio Garcia, Jr. was robbed and shot; another Sergio Garcia scored a goal in a Madrid vs. Zaragoza soccer/futball match). No video’s.

PowerSet search on Sergio Garcia: No mention of his win or the TPC. Very poor results. These results only come from Wikipedia at the moment, so some day they may have better news, video or stats from other sources…but that day is far away (sports content is not a focus of general search engines).

PlayerSearch search on Sergio Garcia: News coverage of Sergio’s win at the TPC from sources such as Fox News, CBS Sports, the New Zealand Herald, the BBC, Taiwan News, and Sportsblogs. The best content in my opinion is the video coverage from NBC Sports (televised the event), ESPN, MSN, the Golf Channel, Yahoo Sports, Fox Sports and others. For more information, there are web links to Wikipedia, ESPN, PGA Tour and Yahoo (one of the five web links is incorrect).

I did other searches on Powerset for Roger Clemens and Brett Favre that proved equally poor. The results for Clemens were extremely weak with no mention of the accusations of steroids use or adultery despite extensive coverage on Wikipedia (over 1,100 words dedicated to these topics; to put that in perspective, the 12 years he spent with the Boston Red Sox is covered in about 300 words). The Brett Favre results had a lot of information from Wikipedia that was interesting on first glance, but after searching around on the drill-down links wasn’t as good as my first impression. There was no sign of video or stats.

TC comments unanimously harp on Powerset. I have never seen so many comments on a TC post that are almost all negative. I think expectations were set way too high as there are some things to like about Powerset. The real goal of a beta release is to demonstrate that you can solve a problem. It was certainly a good financial decision to limit their Natural Language search to just Wikipedia articles, but according to the comments on TechCrunch it still appears that a Google search of just Wikipedia still provides more accurate and relevant results then Powerset’s natural language search does from the exact same source…that is not where you want to be after spending $20 million!

Powerset is taking on a huge huge challenge with a fraction of the resources of Google, Yahoo and MSFT. I personally hope they continue to innovate (I do like some of the improvements that they have made with the user interface, navigation and drill-down). However, they will need to raise an enormous round of financing ($100million+) to begin scaling their natural language search to the rest of the web (natural language search is more expensive to scale than keyword search as they need to capture/determine/index the relationships among words instead of just the words). More likely, they will try to sell what they have accomplished to date to a larger search engine that can provide the scale.

May 12, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Real Estate Search Engine creates Ad Network

Trulia just launched its own ad network. Makes perfect sense for Trulia, advertisers and other publishers focused on the real estate market.

“The Trulia Ad Network is a real estate ad network comprised of online advertisers and publishers with a target audience of home buyers, sellers and homeowners and local content focused on real estate and related life events.”

Trulia has an audience of about 10million unique visitors per month and is one of the most well known vertically focused search engines. They aggregate data from numerous sources and use complex data mining to provide a simple experience for the user. Trulia also provides its data to other sites through an API and provides white label real estate search to other sites called the Trulia Publishing platform.

Mashable has more coverage here.

May 12, 2008 Posted by | Vertical Ad Networks | | Leave a comment

Search start-up raises $600,000 in seed round…

A bootstrapped search start-up launches its product and then raises $600,000 in a seed round.  Quick write-up on TechCrunch.

May 9, 2008 Posted by | Entrepreneurship | | Leave a comment