Archive for May, 2008

Is Scott McClellan employable?

May 30, 2008

The big discussion here, from folks of all political stripes, is if Scott McClellan can get a job. One of my friends said, “Sure. He can always get a job in marketing somewhere.”  Ouch, says the marketing guy.  On the one hand, he’s got a ton of baggage. Die-hard Republicans aren’t going to be big Scotty fans.  Would you want him in your tradeshow booth?  That cuts your market share by at least the 32% of people who are Bush fans.  And I don’t know if Democrats are going to like him either. He seems, well, a little bit like a weasel. 

On the other hand, he’s a star!  He’s been on TV. He’s hugged the president. He’s a successful author.  Who wouldn’t want to bask in the reflected glow of his fame?  I’ll bet he’s got great stories to tell in the break room. You could use him in recruiting: “And if you accept now, you can sit in the cube next to Scott McClellan!” 

Regardless, I’m sure that if he loads his resume into, he’ll find the best jobs for him.  Whether or not they’ll hire him?  That probably depends on factors not taken in account in the job description. 


Semantic Search and the Semantic Web

May 29, 2008

When I want to see what’s up in the search world, sometimes I google news “semantic search” to see if anything interesting has happened. 

Something that I’ve noticed is that people seem to be be confusing Semantic Search with the Semantic Web. (Example 1, Example 2)  Or maybe I’m confused.  From what I understand, the Semantic Web is a particular idea, first launched years ago, that involves metatags, RDFs, data exchange layers etc.  The idea would be to formalize the content of the internet to make it more useful, and to help people filter out what they aren’t interested in.  I’m on the sceptical side of that one.  So is Cory Doctorow. 

But Semantic Search is totally different.  Semantic search the way Trovix does it doesn’t require anything of the web page or document in order to be added to a semantic framework. We do all the heavy lifting of tagging the concepts into a tree, and building the indexes so they can be searched from a conceptual and contextual perspective.  That means you can say “show me the resume of a mid level bean counter” and we can do it, even if the accountant in question calls himself experienced. 

The problem with confusing the two is that the Semantic Web is a super long ways off if you listen to the proponents. And if you listen to the sceptics, you’d write the idea off all together.  But semantic search is already able to provide huge value in verticals. The employment space is a massive vertical market. $55 billion is spent by corporations on hiring in the US each year.  We’re not waiting for the semantic web to make search better for people. 

Microsoft Investing Big in Search, or Are They?

May 23, 2008

PC World and Ad Age both had articles about Bill Gates’ description of Microsoft and the battle for search.  No surprise that Microsoft is gunning big for Google, and I’d love to know what technologies they think are going to define the next generation of search.  (Besides the word “semantic,” of course.) 

Sadly, no such coverage. While confirming that Gates talked about “new search technologies and future ideas,” both articles swooned over the cash back business model that Microsoft came up with.  Wasn’t that a business model before the .com crash? There were (now dead) companies giving away computers, equity and cash as rewards for traffic. So, good for Microsoft for showing up with a 10 year old idea.  I’m sure it will work out fine for them.

But here’s my real question: What are they doing about search?  People talk about ad serving platforms and keyword management tools as “search,” but they aren’t.  What Microsoft is doing is a business model.  Not a search technology.  The way these articles spin it, Microsoft isn’t even competing on search technology. 

Gates is definitely on the bandwagon that the current approach will be replaced by more intelligence, and semantic approaches.  But does he think that they can out develop Google in this regard? Or is the Microsoft strategy to throw money at the problem? 



Robert Reich gives career advice

May 22, 2008

The New York Times ran fun interview with Robert Reich (Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Labor for those too young to remember. . .). It was a few weeks ago but I just caught it. I was sad to read Bob say:

But don’t get an M.B.A.! We have too many M.B.A.’s as it is, and they’re killing the economy!

Here’s my counter attack:  What’s wrong with an MBA?  I think Washington DC bureaucrats are probably just as bad if not worse.  What’s been worse for the economy: The companies that make up the Fortune 500 (40% run by MBAs) or the cap on H-1B Visas for engineers and researchers?

I mean, it’s just a quibble, but Reich had a department with 18,000 employees and a budget of $60,000,000,000.  Reich’s department got $1.60 per day for each person working in the US.  And yet he complains that he is underfunded and that business people are ruining the economy. Good grief! Physician, heal thyself. 

Are Social Networks for Recruiting a Myth?

May 19, 2008

I watched a Recruiting 2.0 webcast last week.  The message was same old, same old: social networks are great for recruiting/you need to get on it.  There were great tips like “get a facebook page” and “you can throw a sheep at someone to communicate with them in the manner they’re used to.”


The rubber hit the road when the presenter did a survey of how many recruiters had used a social network to hire someone.  (And to clarify in advance, she defined LinkedIn to NOT be a social network, because it’s primary use is for business and career stuff.) 

Out 121 of which were answering the question, 3 had made hires from MySpace or Facebook.  Other networks like Twitter and Ning got blanked.  It’s been more than a year since I first heard the song and dance about social networks for recruiting. Yet the success rate is below 3%. And this for a crowd that loves the newest thing, and an audience that tunes into webcasts on web 2.0 recruiting. If anything, 3% overstates the usefulness of social networks for recruiting.

Here’s my read:  the emperor has no clothes. Recruiting off of Facebook is a joke.  If Facebook recruiting was working, it would be working by now.  Besides, I checked, and neither mine nor any of my friends profiles contain useful information for a recruiter. 

Unless you’re looking for parents of cute kids.  Then I’m your candidate.

Annika Sorenstam retires

May 13, 2008

Annika Sorenstam has retired after 72 LPGA tournament wins.  Apparently she wants to “devote more time to her growing business.” Is it way too ironic that she’s retiring from golf to get a job? 

At least she has a job to go to.  Although I suspect what it will end up being is some chain thing being run by business folks with her name all over it. Kind of like how Paris Hilton has a fragrance, a line of hair extensions, a signature footwear line, and is an author as well as a singer.  And let’s not forget her film credits. 

Just for fun I went to to see what kind of opportunities their might be for Annika.  Calloway Golf has a “Director of Golf” opening.  Somehow, I think she’s got bigger things in mind. 

More on Taleo and Vurv

May 8, 2008

Since everyone says the industry is consolidating, I thought I’d take a quick look at the score board.  Since Trovix started selling it’s first applicant tracking solution in 2005, the following companies have gotten bought or shut down: Vurv, Resumix, Brass Ring, Virtual Edge, Deploy, Unicru, Projectix,, WetFeet.  And those are just the ones I could think of. Except for WetFeet, all of them were pretty substantial companies.   

Meanwhile, we’re continuing to grow, add features and add customers.  I think one thing that works to our advantage is that we have a search technology that other companies simply don’t have.  But also, we designed our interface based on the feedback of people that had already used first generation ATS platforms. (See list of those above.)  So we got to see what problems were tripping up users of other systems and and avoid building them. 

Taleo buys Vurv

May 7, 2008

Taleo paid $128 million for applicant tracking competitor Vurv. That’s pretty big news. Vurv certainly wasn’t one of the biggest players in this space.  It’s nice to see them get an exit. The article is a hoot as well.  Read this quote and ask yourself how many times Vurv CEO Derek Mercer strains credibility. 

Mercer said he wasn’t seeking an exit strategy as much as he was pursuing a goal of creating a billion-dollar software company and was aware that Taleo was looking for acquisitions.

“I talked with other CEOs in our space,” Mercer said. “I got intrigued by Taleo’s ability to execute. As we talked more, they brought up the possibility to be acquired.”

A significant portion of the price will be paid in stock, which Mercer said he wanted because he didn’t want to simply take cash and no longer have a stake in the company.

Microsoft, Yahoo and Search History

May 5, 2008

Seeing Microsoft walk away from Yahoo made me think of a funny story in John Battelle’s book, The Search.  He tells about how Vinod Khosla tried to get Excite to buy Google.  (This is in 1997.  Excite was a very big deal back then.) 

Fortunately for himself, Larry Page had too much vision, and set a price for Google that was way too high.  He wanted the sick amount of $1.6 million. (Yes, million with an M.  I think he had his eye on a studio apartment in East Menlo Park.) 

So, here’s a case where a search company wanted too much for itself. But they were right in the end.  The question is if Yahoo, if turning away Microsoft, is also going to be right in the end.  Personally, I doubt it. 

Here’s how I see it. Google had unique and powerful technology that solved a real problem that lots of people had: how to find stuff on the Internet.  They just had to grow that into an empire. (Which they did.) Yahoo has a huge amount of traffic. But that isn’t anything all that special.  It’s just traffic.  And it will go away when tastes change. 

Technology is what creates the winners of the future.  Traffic is something that is farmed for money. It’s amazing to me that in 1997, no one saw how valuable the Google technology would become. At the same time, when you think about the big internet players that didn’t have technology (AOL, Netscape, Excite), it makes you wonder if people will be equally amazed at what offer Yahoo walked away from.