Google, Murdoch, Madoff

Hows that for a title.  Just thought it would be a fun day to rehash some old posts that made me look a little prescient

Today the feds arrested 2 programmers that worked for Madoff. I wrote this in January:

Jan 18th 2009 10:11AM

Im taking a flyer here, but if they were to put me on the case, the first people I would talk to are the software developers.  Somewhere along the line there was a software program written or modified that allowed Madoff to enter the numbers he made up, who they were paying out cash to and would print the checks and  statements.  Its very unlikely that it was off the shelf software because it would be impossible for all the numbers to balance, or he would need to use suspense type of accounts that would raise red flags for even the smallest of accounting firms.

Maybe I have missed it, but I have yet to see an article written or any commentary about the software Madoff Investments used or read about any programmers that have come forward that worked for him. Someone had to outline the details of what they wanted the software to do, and in a scam of this size, could it be anyone but Madoff himself ? Someone had to take that information and either create or modify software to keep the whole mess running smoothly for him.

Find the programmers who wrote the software and you will find out how the whole thing worked.


And as the Google, Murdoch discussions continue, some people have actually started to recognize there might be something to what I wrote in May of 08

Is there anything more fun than sitting around, growing your hair, drinking a Bud while listening to Jethro Tull and pondering how to change the balance of power in the search world and unseat Google ?
Better search ? Too subjective. Better monetization ? After the fact. Better User Interface ? Will we know it when we see it ? A new and different search ? Semantic ? Human powered ? We won’t know till we know.

But what about the Google Index, all the websites that are indexed by Google ? What is it worth to be in the Google Index ? What would you, as a website owner require in order to remove your site from the Google Index and no longer be available when someone does a google search ?

It should just be a matter of dollars and cents and sense, shouldn’t it ?

How many websites would have to recuse themselves from the Google Index before Google Search was negatively impacted ?
thinks it needs to support the 25k most common search terms in order to be successful. What would happen if MicroSoft or Yahoo or a MicroHoo went to the 5 top results for the top 25k searches and paid them to leave the Google Index ?

A theoretical maximum of 125k sites, but with overlap, probably closer to 100k or less, times how much per site on average ?

The math starts to get interesting. At $1,000 per site average times 100k sites, thats only $ 1 Billion Dollars. The distribution would obviously favor the larger sites, so of that billion dollars, would the top 1k sites take 500k each and the remaining 99k split the rest ?

Given the stakes, why stop at $ 1 Billion Dollars ? Would the top 1k most visited sites take a cool $1mm each, plus a committment from MicroSoft or Yahoo to drive traffic through their search engines to more than make up for the lost Google Traffic. After all, once consumers realized that Google no longer had valid search results for the top 25k searchs, that traffic would most likely go to MicroSoft and Yahoo.

And why we are at it, why not require that these 100k sites switch from Googles Publisher Network to Yahoo’s or MicroSofts ? It would start to earn back the $1 Billion paid out very quickly.

On top of that, in order to grease the skids even further, why not issue advertising credits to the sites that switched off Google ? Its soft dollars, that would sweeten the pot and drive more traffic.

IN essence, its no different that any other content aggregation play. Its paying for content . But, It would take some big ones to go for it and see if it worked. However, without question, every search engine has some number of core sites, that when removed from its index , destabilizes the value of its search.

The question is how many ? What would it cost to get that number of sites to turn Google off and stay off, and would the traffic created as users switch from Google more than compensate for the cost ?

Or would Google recognize the risk and jump in and offer more to websites to stay ?

Sure would be interesting to find out.

39 thoughts on “Google, Murdoch, Madoff

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  2. Men ‘s work bag , briefcases

    Comment by esaybag -

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  6. I am glad you told us about madoff. Good to find out they arrested the programmers. Any other information I hope you let us know. That Madoff Con was unbelievable.

    Comment by wildwhitewoody -

  7. I am glad you told us about madoff. Good to find out they arrested the programmers. Any other information I hope you let us know. That Madoff Con was unbelievable.

    Comment by wildwhitewoody -

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  10. Speaking of software, how come blog owners can’t accept free ads in exchange for instant split commission when someone buys a product or service from their blog? It would be a great way to support a blogger, (buying from their website), and the blog owner could control the products and services that are sold from their own blog.

    Whereas on Wall Street. virtually every financial transaction, purchase or sale, can be instantaneous.

    Comment by alessandromachi -

  11. I am glad I’m broke because I wasn’t reading back in January. Dallas, Texas, finest online blog for hip hop culture and the local music scene.

    Comment by Ryan -

  12. Mark!

    You helped me with self-confidence that fueled me 5 months while I was doing a startup. And it succeeded! A week after the launch of my was shown on CNN and The Wall Street Journal wrote about it.

    Thank you for this blog and for your advices!

    Comment by taraspa -

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  23. Any attempt to transform the internet or the search marketplace by throwing cash at “exclusive” content providers is doomed to failure.

    For each featured or preferred source of information there are 1,000 people driving hard to find a place at the top of the heap. A significant number of those people are quite willing to play the “repurposing” game by restating facts carefully enough to avoid a plagiarism lawsuit.

    For every Wall Street Journal article hidden behind a firewall there will be a long line of Matt Drudge or Perez Hilton wannabes eager to digest and regurgitate the salient facts. Thus for every dollar Microsoft spent on exclusivity they would create the need to spend another $1,000 dollars to stay ahead in the race. This sort of pyramid effect could bankrupt anyone.

    I’m sure the people at Google are wishing that Microsoft would start wasting their money this way. But they’re not holding their breath.

    Comment by keithx -

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  25. Ha. You completely nailed the involvement of programmers.

    Comment by strettadotcom -

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  27. Hey Mark. Been a while. Something else that anyone that has been married for more then a day knows.I would bet with a little investigating they will find out his wife that was his accountant for years knew about it too. Wives know stuff that about us forever. They never forget dude. Thanks for the thoughts

    Comment by Frankie from Lawnside -

  28. Let’s take it as a given that something is going to come along eventually and eat Google’s lunch in the ad space – it happens to all companies eventually – what is the likelihood of it being something search related anyhow?

    I have a few ideas for companies that could pose a serious threat to them, and none of them are search engines. Sorry, not telling. Not particularly expensive to start though.

    I do think that trying to pull or push traffic from one search engine to another isn’t the way to do it though.

    Comment by jeremylichtman -

  29. If MS wanted to kill off Google then they would just put Adblock type technology into their OS. Make the lists selectable from publicly maintained lists. For instance your an Orthodox Jew you lock your OS down so that only Kosher sites come through or subscribe to lists that are following a ratings system like movies for you children. Once you have that functionality in place then it would be easy to subscribe to the Adblock list. Then bye-bye Google and hello paid content services.

    Comment by ihavebeenseen -

  30. “The math starts to get interesting. At $1,000 per site average times 100k sites, thats only $1 Billion Dollars.

    1E3 * 1E5 = 1E8 not 1E9.

    It’d cost $100M dollars.

    Comment by darkscout -

  31. What would make Google stop indexing the sites paid to “remove” themselves from SERPs? If you’re suggesting 125,000 DMCA filings I suggest you consult a legal team and your own common sense before making another blog post.

    Comment by chrisjackson04 -

  32. It would have to happen all at once, or else other also-rans would garner the top spots. Some companies, like Amazon, would absolutely not go for a million, as they’d lose that very quickly in revenue. The people who you’d get are a fair number of online magazines and other free content providers that make money from advertizing. Google itself is a common destination — gmail, Google Maps, Google apps, etc.

    I don’t think this is doable without a stupid amount of cash — willingness to give billions.

    Comment by flashsucks -

  33. Of course people recognized there was something to what you wrote…please tell me you weren’t assuming the commenters were representative of your readership??!

    Comment by Pete Forsyth -

  34. Metaphorically, this story popped in mind:

    A father has 20 kids and lives in a mansion. People from all over town hear great things about the mansion and stop by to visit often. Kid #1 lives nicely in the mansion, and earns money by leveraging his favorable position of being Kid #1 when those town visitors stop by. Plus he drives a Lamborghini Countach, so he’ll always show that off too.

    The father offers to pay Kid #1 a lot of money to leave the house permanently, and live in one of the pool houses. Also, Kid #1 no longer gets to keep his Lamborghini — it goes to Kid #2, and Kid #1 loses his prestige and exposure of being Kid #1 since he’s essentially banished from interacting with enamored daily house visitors from town anymore — unless the check him out in his pool house.

    What do we think happens?

    1) Town visitors start bypassing the mansion that they’ve come to love, just to visit the former Kid #1, because they are attracted by signs that say, ‘Visit Kid #1 in the back pool house’?

    … or …

    2) Kid #2 (who’s now become Kid #1) becomes the new beneficiary of his favorable position in the mansion, shows off his newly acquired Lamborghini, earns prestige from that, and life continues on

    I’d lean towards Option 2. No where does the value of the mansion become degraded, and the value of the pool houses surpass that of the mansion. Kid #2 simply becomes perceived better than #1, because of the value visitors place on those living in the mansion.

    (The mansion = Google & it’s brand, Lamborghini = PageRank, pool houses = other search competitors, Kid #1 = top 5% of websites, Kid #2 = the best of the remaining 95% of websites)

    Comment by moaluko -

  35. I see a couple of possible ways for google to respond.

    1. Ignore the robots.txt file
    2. Pump up competitors of the those that leave.
    3. Momentum is hard to recover, and the losses sustained by missing google traffic could allow those that stay with google to surge in the rankings.

    Comment by n5rat -

  36. Paying top websites to remove themselves from Google’s search index sounds like bribing to me…it just smells evil and I’m sure the press and many internet zealots would be all over it.
    “6. You can make money without doing evil.”

    Comment by sumikeita -

  37. Not sure if it is, but paying someone not to be indexed seems like fixing the game to me. If there isn’t a law against it, I fell like there should be.

    But yeah, it’d be fun to watch, but so is a fatal train wreak.

    Comment by bjdraw -

  38. Mark, what are your thoughts on I saw it in Popular Science this month, he claims it’s the first computational knowledge engine. What I don’t understand is how will it change search engines and how we use them.

    Comment by daruff2 -

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