The Feed: Pricking the Bubble


The Great Bubble Debate: There’s clearly something odd going on when a photo-sharing app like Color gets $41 million and there are reports that Foursquare, with barely any revenue to speak of, is courting a $500 million valuation. The parlor debate in Silicon Valley and New York is whether this is a new bubble. Michael Arrington weighs in — sort of. In a meandering post, Arrington brings up the notable differences between the shenanigans of the late 1990s and what’s going on now. That’s instructive but not entirely the point. Of course this bubble is different. For one, there isn’t a rush to go public. No need to when there’s a gusher of venture capital and private equity to tap. The real question is whether the undeniable excess of investment cash is fueling a rash of companies that have dubious business propositions. It’s odd for TechCrunch to trumpet a “terrible bubble” since, if it exists, TechCrunch itself will be cited early and often in the reconstruction of how it happened. A day can’t go past without a breathless story from TechCrunch about the mad rush to finance startups. The fallout from this bubble won’t be as widespread. As IAC chief Barry Diller said, “The people who will lose money can afford it.” TechCrunch
More Empire Avenue: Klout has provided a paradigm for building a social media “influence” business. The key is playing on the inherent vanity of the web’s oversharers. Empire Avenue, a Canadian company, is picking up this baton. As if checking a dubious influence score from Klout wasn’t enough, Empire Avenue puts a “gamification” twist on it by letting people buy and sell shares in real world social media personalities on a stock exchange. And, yes, this is done with virtual currency. Let’s get this straight: social media influencers, gamification, fake stock exchange, virtual currency. That’s a lot of buzzwords in one business plan. Oh, and Scolble likes it. Maybe this will pan out, who knows, but it feels like a scheme out of the first dot-com era that produced the Hollywood Stock Exchange. Business Insider
TechCrunch, With Travel Stories: I’m all for publications loosening up a bit. Blogs taught MSM the value of personality. There are limits, however. Over the wekeend, TechCrunch writer Erick Schonfeld published a diatribe against American Airlines for doing all manner of ill to him during a trip. I feel his pain, but what? People come to TechCrunch for that? I guess anything for the page views. TechCrunch
Internet Star graces AOL: It’s always exciting when a celebrity turns up. AOL was atwitter last week when a viral video legend darkened the doorway, only he did so at the end of a leash. AOL staffers got to meet Tillman, the dog who forever branded YouTube as home of “dogs on skateboards.” He didn’t disappoint the staffers, part of the Huffington Post Media Group. Watching the video, I have to admit the canine is pretty fearless. AOL
Desperately Seeking Banners: Nobody is in love with the banner ad. Most people in the industry end up publicly lamenting the poor banner, even though it’s the standard of online advertising. Now there’s a search engine devoted just to online display ads. It lets you search by brand and find all their executions in one place. Now you can get all the horrid ads in one place!

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