Bubble 2.0: Glam turns down $1.3B

Matt Marshall over at VentureBeat is reporting that Glam Media — an advertising/content network focused on sites that appeal primarily to women — has turned down a $1.3-billion acquisition offer from an unnamed party. Like Caroline McCarthy at Webware, I assume that this offer likely came from an “old media” company such as CBS or possibly a large advertising player (Ash has some theories too). But seriously, $1.3-billion? And Duncan Riley at Inquisitr says this isn’t even that great an offer when you consider that Glam has gotten four rounds of financing totaling about $115-million.

There’s no question that the Glam Media story is an appealing one: the company says that it has more than 65 million unique visitors across its network — although as Mike Arrington has pointed out in the past, that figure is an aggregation of all the visitors who come to any of Glam’s partner sites. He also noted in that post that Glam owns a bunch of pure SEO plays such as free-beauty-tips.com and so on. In a previous VentureBeat story, one critic called Glam “Boo 2.0,” referring to the Bubble 1.0 shopping site — and Matt Marshall noted that half of Glam’s total pageviews came from a single site (MyYearbook.com).

Still, the network has grown at a fairly impressive rate, and counts some prominent sites like E Online as partners — and has just launched a fairly sophisticated video content/advertising system as well. According to PaidContent, the company gets a whopping $50 CPM on some of its video ads. But to turn down a $1.3-billion takeover offer? As Erick Schonfeld notes at TechCrunch, that’s almost 9 times estimated revenues and 33 times estimated profit. Either Glam’s financial backers have gotten greedy, or someone has been drinking an awful lot of Web 2.0 Kool-Aid.

Bloggers get “paid” with comments

The debate over fragmentation of blog comments has been around for awhile — I’ve written about it, and so have people like Louis Gray and MG Siegler and others — and I don’t think it’s going away any time soon. Some argue that having comments at places like FriendFeed (or Shyftr, or a number of other sites) isn’t really that big a deal, and that it’s no different than people discussing your blog post via email or some other place that you can’t see it. But Fred Wilson had an interesting take on it in one of his blog posts today, about a blog post by his brother Jackson: he said as far as he’s concerned, bloggers effectively get “paid” by people commenting on their posts:

So here’s the deal. Jackson instigated the conversation with that post. His reward is the comments it generates. That’s how bloggers get paid. And he’s not getting his due on this one.

I think that’s an interesting way of looking at it. Obviously, comments don’t actually pay bloggers for their posts (although the tip-jar model is pretty close). And I’m sure some bloggers would rather get paid with actual money. But I still think Fred is onto something — comments, and other interaction with readers, are one of the ways in which bloggers are rewarded for their effort, along with links from other bloggers, high ranking on sites like Techmeme, etc. It would be nice to think that the sheer joy of crafting an awesome blog post was enough, but some feedback is nice too, even if it’s not completely positive. (Note: For what it’s worth, I agree with Jackson — Mott the Hoople was awesome).

That’s why, like Fred, I am hopeful that comments in all kinds of places can be aggregated in more ways. I’ve got Disqus on my blog (as Fred does) and that helps — and now I have the FriendFeed plugin working as well, so any comments that appear there show up here as well. I don’t mind people commenting somewhere else, but I like the idea that I (or anyone else) can see them all in one place if I want to do that.

Steven Hodson thinks WordPress should buy Disqus, and Broadstuff has some thoughts too about what he calls “dis-aggregating the aggregators.” Allen Stern of Centernetworks has a video response. And Hutch Carpenter of I’m Not Actually a Geek thinks that fragmented conversations can actually be a good thing.

Is Twitter losing it?

Hugh McLeod’s latest GapingVoid cartoon probably sums up what many Twitter users have been thinking of late. The service, which hasn’t exactly been known for its reliable uptime, has been effectively crippled for almost a week now, with no ability to page back through previous messages and no support for using it through instant messaging. For many Twitter users, including me, the inability to see previous messages makes the service effectively useless, since the only messages you see are the ones that happen to be there when you look at the site, or @ replies sent directly to you. Some people are giving up or considering it.

Mike Arrington and others have written that whether Twitter is up or down doesn’t really matter any more because people are addicted to the service, and therefore will put up with anything — but I’m starting to wonder about that, to be honest. And while I have said in the past (during the whole “FriendFeed is going to kill Twitter” hysteria) that Twitter and FriendFeed aren’t really competitors, I’m not so sure of that either any more. I see more and more people saying they are giving up on Twitter and moving their conversations to FriendFeed. Will they come back? Some think they will. Not really sure of that either.

Belgium: Ignoring reality since 1830

Despite the headline on this post, I have nothing against Belgium as a country. I am a big fan of their waffles, for example, not to mention their chocolate — and Brueghels is pretty cool as well. Still, they are inescapably intertwined in my mind with one of the stupidest lawsuits I can think of in the “new media” sphere (and that includes Viacom’s lawsuit against YouTube): a Belgian media agency, Copiepresse — which represents some of the country’s French papers — is suing Google for linking to its content, and is asking for $77-million in damages. I am not making this up.

The lawsuit was filed in 2006, and Google lost the case in Belgium — as well as a subsequent appeal — and had to remove links to some Belgian newspaper content from its Google News index. At some point after that, it seemed as though the geniuses at Copiepresse realized how their “victory” was anything but, and talks between Google and the agency aimed at a settlement of some kind took place for awhile. Those talks have apparently fallen through and the group is now pressing forward with its suit, like someone who is determined to saw through the tree branch that they happen to be sitting on.

I know that some people are probably going to start arguing with me in the comments, so before you do, I encourage you to read up about the case — including some of my previous posts on the topic. As far as I can tell, Google’s use of excerpts from news stories meets (or should meet) every test of “fair use” imaginable — except perhaps in Belgium — especially since the company makes no money from advertising on Google News pages. On top of all that, linking enhances the value of newspaper content by exposing it to a broader audience. Belgium’s French newspapers should be thanking Google, not suing it.

“Guys like us, we avoid monopolies”

Let’s file this one under the heading “Unintentional hilarity”: According to Microsoft supremo Bill Gates — speaking at the All Things D conference in Carlsbad, Calif. — he and Steve Ballmer hate monopolies and really try to avoid them. As I said to John Paczkowski of All Things D when he sent me an email about the quote, this reminds me of when my youngest daughter was learning to ride a bicycle: there’s a photo I have of her avoiding her way right into the side of a car. She was focusing so intently on avoiding the car, of course, that she steered straight at it. Is that what happened to Bill and Steve? Who knows. What we do know is that Bill and Steve really like to compete:

Ballmer: To accelerate scale it made sense for us to consider a Yahoo acquisition. The truth of the matter is, if nobody else gets scale except the current leader what happens? … Some day all the ads for the Wall Street Journal Online might be sold by one guy and he’ll tell you exactly how much your editorial is worth.

Kara: Yeah, like a monopoly. Interesting.

Walt: That’s a great point. That’s exactly the sort of argument that was made against Microsoft.

Ballmer: Am I saying there’s something wrong? I’m just saying we are guys who will compete. That’s all I’m saying.

Gates: Guys like us avoid monopolies. We like to compete.