Viewing entries tagged

Google Print & Google Radio Closures Are Unfortunate

News arrived yesterday that Google is shutting down their Print and Radio ad systems. It's unfortunate news for brand advertisers and the traditional media formats. Google Print & Radio An ironic tag-line for Google's Print & Radio Platform

With eBay / Kijiji and beRecruited, I was one of the systems' early advertisers... creating multiple campaigns that ran across dozens of markets' radio stations and newspapers. Google made it simple to craft campaigns, connect with the papers / stations and find talent to create the ad units. Google's traditional media marketplace was as simple as AdWords - but across a far more fragmented, complicated landscape.

I was always wowed by the technology side. But more importantly - it drove results.

Measuring conversion and ROI is harder (obviously), but advertising in Radio and Print (via Google) enabled reach across users that AdWords simply doesn't serve - either via audience or ad format.

On a higher level, this marks an important moment because we are at the intersection of traditional and online media. And as the newspaper and radio worlds struggle with the online shift (and business models) - this was an opportunity to have these worlds meet together. Sure there are tons of issues (fragmentation, pricing models, and so forth) - but simply put, Google Print and Radio worked. And that means I was willing to spend money (and continue doing so) and the stations / papers had access to new campaigns and budgets (without a sales force). has Replaced Craigslist, eBay and Kijiji for my Online Selling is oft-overlooked in the landscape of consumer-to-consumer commerce. Most people talk about eBay, Craigslist, Kijiji and Amazon... but forget about eBay's fixed-price powerhouse: Honestly, I'm guilty of overlooking myself - even though one of my first jobs at eBay was running the affiliate program... but I've used over the last couple weeks to unload some old DVDs and video games and it's been tremendously effective. In fact, I posted listing on Craigslist, Kijiji and - and Half has been the most effective in terms of:

- listing efficiency and ease - number of inquiries and sales - speed of sales - value per sale

Nothing else really matters right?!

But here is why is so impressive: it's dead simple to list. My biggest pain point with Craigslist and eBay (in particular) is how time consuming they are. The effort is front-loaded with eBay (listing takes way too long) and the effort is back-loaded with classifieds sites (dealing with email inquiries, phone calls and visitors).

With, you enter the ISBN or UPC and that's it. Half suggests a price - you either agree or set your own price. Within hours from listing I had made a couple sales and was completely satisfied. I might be in the minority, but I'd rather list and sell efficiently than spend significantly more time for slightly more value... that said, I found that delivered greater buyer demand the sales prices were actually greater than those offered via Craigslist.

So there you have it: I have become a seller and an Amazon buyer. The connection between and Amazon is more than their roots in books: they are driven by simplicity and efficiency.

You'll notice that is a seasonal business (August and January) - that is because is dominant in textbooks (a really unique market considering the high costs, numerous volumes, and single-semester life-cycle). Consequently, Half's big business is done in back-to-school seasons (August is fall semester and January marks second semester).

Landing a Great Start Up Job: The Best Job Resources

A great thread has been growing on Hacker News about the best place to find start up jobs. I've include the mentioned websites at the bottom of the post - but wanted to first give a couple higher level comments:

1. Read and participate on blogs. Fred Wilson commonly posts about openings in his portfolio and did so again yesterday. Reading his blog (and others) can inform you of opportunities - participating on his blog (comments, linkbacks, etc) can help you build credibilty. Secondly, most bloggers make their contact information available. My email is on the left side of every post and I, for instance, have job opportunities available. Read and be aggressive.

2. Most major blogs (like TechCrunch, GigaOm, etc) have job boards and have company indexes. Browse each. If a company is particularly attractive, visit their site and their job board.

3. Classifieds sites work - particularly if you live in the Bay Area. Craigslist and Kijiji have tons of listings. Search regularly and set up rss alerts. You can also be more proactive and post your resume.

4. Job search engines / aggregators work. Try,,, and so on.

5. Network. Network. Network. Upcoming and other sites list start up events and conferences. Attend, engage and carry business cards.

6. Don't be deterred because a company has no job openings. If you're smart and are a great fit, they'll take you. You can never have an excess of excellent people (at least that's my view).

Best resources to find start up jobs (from Hacker News):

- TechCrunch's CrunchbBoard - CrunchBase - Hacker News Jobs - Sequoia Portfolio Jobs - KPCB Portfolio Jobs - HotStartupJobs - - - Go Big Network - - -

Craigslist, Kijiji & Oodle: The Geographic Distribution of Classifieds 2.0

One of my primary attractions to sites like Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook, etc is that they are predicated on distribution and portability. But a recent New York Times article ‘Craig Looks Beyond the Web’ made me rethink the definition of distribution. The article describes how Craigslist has added over 250 new locations (ie [city] to expand their reach and help drive growth (of note, Kijiji launched in the US in 200+ cities – a complete list is available on

The fascinating part is in understanding how ‘distributed’ each of the big three classifieds sites are: Craigslist, Kijiji and Oodle. Using Quantcast’s public data, I charted the percentage of traffic that each city represents for its respective network:

The results are very interesting and suggest that distribution is quite different for each site and brand:

- 13% of Craigslist’s traffic is from San Francisco (where CL got its start). The bay area represents less than 2% of traffic for both Kijiji and Oodle.

- Oodle doesn’t appear to be heavily dependent on any particular city because their UI is unique and based on zip codes and refinement by locale. Craigslist and Kijiji have geographic hubs.

- Outside of San Francisco, Craigslist’s traffic break down is rather linear / stable while Kijiji is far different and more diverse: Las Vegas and Washington DC are +21% and New York City is ~15%. Are these cities that Craigslist has struggled in? Or, are they large enough that they can support multiple sites?

- Within each network, there are prominent cities that are quite surprising: Craigslist (Portland = 6.5%), Kijiji (Detroit = 3%, Allentown = 1.8%), Oodle (NYC = 1.2%... quite low comparatively)

Note: where the line is at 0% - it means that the data is not available on Quantcast as it is not one of the 20 most active subdomains on the site.

Also worth noting: each of these sites is growing quite quickly. This chart is also from Quantcast (can you tell yet that I use them all the time?) and displays the relative growth. Craigslist in blue; Kijiji in red; Oodle is green.

More data available at Quantcast (Craigslist, Kijiji, Oodle)

Hiring Moves Web 2.0 (Through Facebook, Blogs and Classifieds)

This might not come as a surprise since networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook are becoming popular, effective ways to make business introductions and even hires. But a couple posts on some of my favorite blogs demonstrate that web 2.0 hiring has become precisely that. A few examples:

* Fred Wilson wrote a post saying "We are Looking for an Analyst" and is only accepting "links to your web presence"... fascinating. No resume. No email. No cover letter.

Fred and his firm are saying that your understanding of the web should be evident from your web activity - and that's all they need to know to get started. I would argue that's a great filter for the business they are in.

And if you look at the Union Square Ventures post, nearly 100 people have loaded up their web links (LinkedIn and blog urls are most prevalent). The most interesting submission was a candidate linking to a google search for his own name!

One question about this tactic though - those candidates have all made their interest public... which is problematic for their current jobs / employers and actually exposes their contact information to other companies (not bad for the candidate, but bad for Union Square right?)

* Josh Kopelman wrote a fascinating post about using Facebook Ads to connect with interested candidates for his various start-ups (updated study here). While the ads were more of a field study on Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook's advertising system - the responses indeed indicate that this was a successful endeavor.

By the way, if you've never advertised on Facebook, spend $20 to promote something off-Facebook - it's a fascinating experience compared to AdWords, Y! and MSN...

* Finally, I posted recently about beRecruited hiring bloggers through Craigslist, Kijiji, and LinkedIn... and how those compare to hiring work through sites like Elance. While my efforts are less savvy (or interesting) than Fred's or Josh's - they have been quite fruitful (albeit quite time consuming).

Hiring Bloggers - Where to Look (Oh yeah, We're Hiring a SportsWrap Editor!)

Over the course of beRecruited's growth, we've relied heavily on organic growth and grass-roots marketing. Similarly, we've used Elance, Craigslist, and Kijiji to outsource smaller projects... and, while each is time consuming, it's been effective for us on a project-by-project basis. Now we are hiring a full time beRecruited SportsWrap editor and a few bloggers and, while promoting the open role, I was quite disappointed to find that Valleywag's job board has closed! We had advertised on Valleywag previously and found it *far* more successful than any other medium. Not only were the leads plentiful... they were qualified! There are few locations to reach potential bloggers who are truly web savvy, get SEO, love sports, etc - but Valleywag worked.


LinkedIn works decently. Kijiji and Craigslist generate leads - but are time intensive (and Craigslist is expensive). Elance is better for projects and developments (rather than ongoing employment). TechCrunch, GigaOM, etc seem better for senior-level jobs than for recruiting writers.

Of course if you have any contacts or ideas - please pass my way!

Donating to Goodwill - How can Goodwill go Web 2.0?

Trying to finish up my move, I brought a ton of stuff over to the local Santa Clara Goodwill store / donation center. I was surprised by a few things and finally left wondering how Goodwill can use the web to improve their service and increase their output.

First, the store / donation center was *packed* (mind you it was a Saturday). There were not enough people working at either the store or the donations center to meet the demand.

Second, the quality of donations (obviously) varied drastically. Even within my donations. For example, I donated close to 30 shirts. Some were $5 t-shirts and others were barely worn polo shirts.

So I am left wondering the following: How do they price their donations for sale considering 1) the overwhelming number of items, 2) the underwhelming number of employees, and 3) the significant variance in goods pricing?

I imagine they will struggle to determine the appropriate value for my Polo shirts vs. my t-shirts... and will probably suffer in terms of 'revenue' generated for the organization. From my experience as an eBay employee and seller (200+ feedback), pricing goods in critically important to determining the ability to sell an item quickly and its final value.

Now I have no idea if Goodwill uses software or applications to monitor inventory and determine / move pricing, but there are openings here to leverage work done through other sites with relevant data points - and if a killer app was built, it would has implications far beyond Goodwill's use (think eBay sellers, Craiglist users, and so on):

- eBay's APIs can reveal fair-market pricing for items. I would most likely pull the average price for a brand (not a specific item), include the word used and sell at a marked deduction (say 20%). If it doesn't sell in a week, automatically reduce its price by 5% until it sells. Let's use my clothing donation as an example: for the polo shirt, find the average price for "Polo Shirt" and use their taxonomy to select only: sold items, long sleeves, and pre-worn. There are 2,000+ such items and an average value of something around $40. Sell it for $32 and you now have a price that is both accurate and set to move the product.

-  eBay is the ideal source for Goodwill because their inventories map nicely - but for other product categories, Goodwill could look to Amazon (electronics), Craigslist / Kijiji (furniture), etc and then reduce the price by a set amount.

- Moving inventory is critical for Goodwill because they have limited 'retail' space and inventory is constantly streaming in. Thus, I would do two things:

1) As mentioned already, I would continually reduce prices by a fixed percentage based on 'time on shelves'. It needs to move and the space isn't worth the extra $5 it can fetch with the right buyer.

2) Use Craigslist, Kijiji and Postlets to drive traffic. All of these sites do terrific jobs driving demand for items. Just post an ad for a "Garage Sale" on all three sites and you'll get enough replies to fill your inbox. If Goodwill can move their inventory list online (see below) - they can now bulk load it to sites like Craigslist and Kijiji through aggregators like Postlets. Not only will this deliver demand to the stores, it showcase Goodwill's inventory and hopefully attract new, local consumers.... after all, Craigslist and Kijiji have proven that buyers will travel anywhere for a deal.

So - how does Goodwill get their inventory online (or, at the least, into a spreadsheet) in an effective, automated manner? There are a couple ways: Instead of giving people carbon copies of receipts (which are poorly itemized anyhow), set up a portal that allows users to itemize there and receive an emailed copy later. The cost would be minimal (and would be made up quickly) and donors would love the option (I will certainly lose my receipts!). Finally, when items are priced on eBay (and equivalents), store that price electronically and map it to inventory... next time a long sleeved polo shirt is donated, a 'price sold' will be available.

And if you want to get really creative, the items could be bulk loaded and showcased online. I don't think this is worthwhile on an item-by-item basis, but there was enough great 'stuff' available that it could make sense to showcase...