Here's my summary of what went on in the Web 2.0 world this past week. Headlines inspired by tabloid newspapers.
Bloglines Shocker! Butler Buys Master of the Blog Universe!
The big news of the week was Mary Hodder's scoop that Bloglines has (probably) been bought by Ask Jeeves, the genial but non-trendy search engine company. After a day or so mulling over the implications, this reporter wonders if the Martin Schwimmer episode might have spooked Bloglines into abandoning their contextual advertising strategy, in favour of quick bucks in the current RSS/blogging investment frenzy? Schwimmer certainly opened up a can of legal worms (nb: not related to ethical chickens) and perhaps Bloglines didn't want to have to deal with that. Hmmm.
Other theories are that Bloglines is selling out before Web 2.0 bullies Microsoft, Google and Yahoo crush them with their own RSS aggregators. While Bloglines has by far the most market share of the current crop of RSS Aggregators, it pales into comparison to the customer bases of the bigco's. Another reason for the sale could be that Bloglines wants to ramp up its search capabilities (but I think their current search functionality is fine). Or perhaps it's just that Mark Fletcher is one of those serial entrepreneurs who is extremely good at building new software, but once it's up and running he prefers to hand over the business development to more established companies.
[update: Om Malik suggests that Web 2.0 consolidation is happening now due to infrastructure enhancements needed to support the move from early adopter to mass market - which requires companies with "deep pockets" to fund.]
Whatever the reason, this deal has potentially big implications in the blog space - given how popular Bloglines is and that it's the only decent web-based aggregator out there (but someone will mention Onfolio or Lektora in the comments, you watch).
Breaking News! Bloglines CEO posts cat photos on his blog. More on this development as it unfolds...
Flickr Expose - Founder Tells All!
In other news, Flickr is beginning to raise its profile a bit more (perhaps ramping up for its own buy-out deal, your correspondent wonders...). Richard Koman did an insightful interview with Stewart Butterfield, Flickr's head honcho. I'll write more about this in a later post, but for now here's a key quote from Stewart, when asked how long they'll be in beta for:
"There are a few more features we still want to do--printing is one of them. We need to do one more round of infrastructure enhancement. We're essentially growing it as fast as we can and we want to be able to get a few steps ahead on the infrastructure side before we can really go and say, this is it. We don't really have a date yet, maybe first half of this year."
It's War!!! Internet Titans Battle For Blog Supremacy
Burnham's Beat speculates on a Google vs Yahoo "blog war". He says that SixApart and Feedburner are prime acquisition targets for Google and Yahoo, because "they will either enhance control over the distribution channel or they will reduce its costs by enabling "blog-barter" transactions".
Yahoo! In The Deal Of The Century!
"In an effort to extend its brand and cut out the middleman, Yahoo Finance announced that it will now receive financial data directly from the country's largest stock exchanges to publish on its site as well as to repackage and sell to other financial Web sites."
Ian Kennedy, Six Apart's Director of Sales and Partner Development, made this interesting comparision:
"...is Yahoo going to become the Amazon of Financial Data while Reuters continues to charge a premium for access to a relatively closed network of proprietary information?"
Yahoo! is certainly making some interesting moves in the RSS/blog space - even more so than Google, it has to be said. One wonders how both these Internet royalties will react to Ask Jeeves' bid to escape from its search engine servitude by purchasing the cream of the aggregator crop.
Bubble Mania! Super Stock Stunner!!
Well actually the NY Times headline was a tad more tepid: "It's Maybe a Bubble, but a Selective One", the venerable newspaper meowed. They went on to say there was "a bit of one-upmanship among analysts on Wednesday to see who could be the most upbeat about Google, which has now surpassed eBay as the Internet stock with the greatest market value."
Another exciting week in the life of Web 2.0. I hope you'll join your humble reporter for another instalment next week... sans sensationalistic headlines :-)