The New York Times Company is operating in a number of key verticals (Jobs, Business & Finance, Health, Shopping, Real Estate, Autos, Technology / Gadgets, Travel, Entertainment, and Lifestyle) through its sites NYTimes.com, Boston.com, About.com, etc. We will take a look at the Company’s various online verticals in this segment.
Consumersearch.com provides consumers with ranking, reviews and descriptions of various products and services, complete with links, analysis of who the experts are and what they say, listing of the top-rated products, according to the experts, and prices and links to retailers that offer the recommended products. It also acts as a search engine to find product reviews and information. In May 2007, ConsumerSearch.com was acquired by About.com, and as a result, is now a part of NYT. >>>
SM: In the cold calling discussion, we assume that Telesales and Telemarketing are separate processes. Your expertise is more on the Telesales side. Are you assuming someone else is doing the Telemarketing prior to the prospect hitting the sales force?
AS: We work with companies on both the Telemarketing side and using the phone to close the deal. It is an interesting question, because where do you draw the line between sales and marketing? After all, they are part of the same process.
SM: I will tell you about one of my experiences where I developed a methodology which, within that context, worked quite well. I hired a bunch of people who were out of the recruitment industry. Executive recruiters, call them Sourcers.
One of the problems I was facing in scaling my operation was that I really needed to understand potential client organizations – who the decision makers were, and what products they already had because my product would replace existing products. It was the #4 product in an industry that already had 3 established products. That was a situation where I really needed to understand the competitive landscape for the account, otherwise I would blow the cold call. The first touch with the customer had to deliver the right pitch and all of that depended on who my competitor was. >>>
SM: Where did you get the idea for your current venture? What is your domain experience in the segment?
VH: We started with the thesis that the Web is like the library of Alexandria – the repository of all human knowledge. The only window people have into this repository today is search. Our vision was to have programs accessing this Web intelligence and mining it to create new applications. Since search returns an unstructured set of 10 results, programs cannot be built on top of it.
Fundamental to building such a Web intelligence platform is the need to “categorize the Web” — structure the Web into categories. These categories become the handles on which programs operate that humans can use in their day-to-day interactions. Much of this came from the search and domain experience we had cultivated during our tenure at Junglee and Amazon. >>>
SAP (Nasdaq: SAP) made an uncharacteristic move yesterday by announcing that it is acquiring French company Business Objects (Nasdaq: BOBJ) for $6.78 Billion. The $59 a share price being offered is a 20% premium over Friday’s closing price for the Business Intelligence market leader.
I had said in an earlier column, that SAP’s strategy would most likely continue to be organic growth, since the company has so far been reluctant to take on large acquisitions, even as it has had major gaps in its Enterprise and Small Medium Enterprise (SME) portfolios. Today’s move, however, is a definite departure from that path. >>>
SunPower is the technology leader in solar derived energy products for both residential and commercial applications. The company offers solar cells, solar panels, and inverter equipment. These high-efficiency solar cells and panels generate up to 50 percent more power per unit area than conventional solar technologies, making SunPower the technical leader in its industry.
We have covered SunPower for a few months now. I interviewed Tom Werner, CEO of SunPower back in April, and wrote my first analysis piece on the company (Tapping Into The Sun). I also bought a chunk of SunPower stock right around then, and am happy to report that the investment is already up over 70% in 6 months.
The question today is not if markets are big enough to sustain SunPower and competitors’ phenomenal growth. Rather, it is whether there is enough raw material to continue making solar products to meet the expected demand. >>>
The New York Times Company is a leading media company that publishes popular newspapers The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, The Boston Globe and 15 other daily newspapers. NYT owns approximately 30 websites, including NYTimes.com, Boston.com and About.com. The Company’s revenues for 2006 were $3.3 billion. The Company has sold off its Broadcast Media Group and radio stations to focus on print and digital media.
Like Gannett and McClatchy, NYT is also experiencing falling advertisement and circulation revenues. Total Company revenues from continuing operations increased 0.6% in August 2007 compared with the same month a year ago. Advertising revenues for the News Media Group decreased 4.6%. The fall in advertising revenues was mainly due to the fall in retail and classified advertising (real estate, help-wanted and automotive). Circulation revenues for the News Media Group grew 3.6% in August 2007 over the corresponding period in the previous year.
In this series, we will analyze NYT’s business strategy in some detail. >>>
SM: Let’s talk about a term I have coined, which is TeleWebSales. It is a combination of the telephone and the web, which is what you are doing and have been promoting for a while now. Let’s talk about some of the best practices of the TeleWebSales process. I’ll start by asking you about list targeting and organization mapping. Regardless, if it is a small company or a large company, there is an identification of who is the right person to target a sales campaign to. Talk about that particular discipline. What are the best practices?
AS: You have hit on the most important point, which is having a really clear definition of whom you are trying to connect with. Sometimes that is not obvious, especially if it is a new company, a new product, or a new initiative. I will come back to this point again and again – it is extremely important to test and measure your target.
You should also test and measure your list vendor, or whatever your source of target contacts may be. It is not always obvious what the right sweet spot is in terms of marketing lists.
Once you start to connect with people, then you start to see trends. You start to understand the market better, and that gets fed into the next list. Through an improvement process, you try to really understand where your best prospects and sales are coming from. >>>
Someone asked me earlier about Kosmix in one of the discussions on this blog, and I had said that I hadn’t looked at the company yet. Well, now I have, and I am happy to bring you a conversation with Venky Harinarayan on the genesis and direction of vertical search startup, Kosmix.
SM: Please describe your personal background.
VH: My journey starts in Bombay where I was born and then spent most of my childhood and youth in Madras. I was born into a family of doctors and businesspeople. One of my grandfathers was a medic in World War II during which he was captured by the Japanese and escaped after spending two weeks in the jungles of Burma. My other grandfather was the managing director of Automobile Products of India, a leading auto manufacturer in the country.
My father was an entrepreneur which is no trivial task in India. Unlike the United States, entrepreneurs in India at the time had to put up all of the money for their company with no outside financing at all. Also, government regulations and bureaucracy made running an enterprise very tough. My mother was the central point of our lives and a very strong influence on me and my sister. As a trivial aside, she was a childhood playmate of Salman Rushdie, and is relieved she was not mentioned in “Midnight’s Children.” >>>