Wikipedia Embarasses the New York Times!

March 30, 2007

So much for old media. It appears the New York Times this week changed and then back-dated an article after being notified by Wikipedia fact-checkers.

No correction, no attribution. The New York Times has simply re-written Tuesday’s article.

Here’s the low-down from Boing-Boing

1. On 3/27, someone submitted a question to the Wikipedia Reference Desk fact checking the New York Times claim that soy milk is not recommended as a substitute for cow’s milk.

2. Wikipedians quickly identified this as an error.

3. Wikipedian Jfarber wrote a correction letter to the New York Times on Wednesday.

4. As of today, the New York Times has completely rewritten the entire conclusion of the article, without citing any correction. The original wording of the article is on Boing-Boing. Apparently, many people read the erroneous article, as it was the most emailed NYT’s article for two days this week.

Tsk, tsk, traditional media.


Los Angeles on Fire

March 30, 2007

The thing about living in Los Angeles is you never know when you’re going to go outside for a stroll, and discover the city is on fire. As I blogged following last month’s drug bust, there is never a dull moment.

This is the view from my street right now…

As you can see, the smoke has blotted out the sun…

Without giving away too much about where I live, things are looking interesting…

This is the famed Griffith Park Observatory, from movies like Rebel Without a Cause…

For up-to-the-minute blog coverage of the Hollywood fire, check out Metroblogging Los Angeles. Apparently 50 acres have already burned, and 34 Fire Companies have been dispatched…

In the meantime, I’m going back to my afternoon stroll, so I can breathe in the fresh LA air…cough, cough…

ValueClick (VCLK) Involved in Shady Business?

March 30, 2007

ShoeMoney posted an anonymous editorial today, accusing ValueClick (VCLK) of shady business practices.

Dummy Corporations

The allegation is that online advertising company ValueClick is anonymously offering shady marketing schemes through a battalion of Delaware dummy corporations. Various commenters on ShoeMoney’s blog have chimed in to allege their own personal experiences of ValueClick’s business practices, claiming everything from unpaid bills to serving inappropriate ads.

Criticism corroborates that the shady websites ShoeMoney lists do indeed share wording, terms of service, and source code. However, NadaCollar claims the sites are owned by the notorious 180Solutions, Inc. It is difficult to tell if ShoeMoney’s whistleblower has inside information, or simply has an axe to grind. Either way, this seems to be prompting some investigation and review of VCLK’s online marketing practices.

ValueClick Stock

I owned ValueClick from 2005 to 2006, back when I was feeling particularly bullish about Internet Advertising. So I generally have a warm, rosy feeling when I think about VCLK.

Chart from

Though I owned VCLK, I must fully admit, I never completely understood where their money came from. At the time, I simply bought three internet advertising companies and held them for seven months.

This was about the time I bought an extremely sketchy internet marketing company called Intermix, which was being sued by New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer for installing spyware. Intermix developed a little social media company called MySpace and was snapped up by News Corp for $580 Million. So you never really know what to expect from an internet marketing company.

The VCLK page is not yet started on ValueWiki, so if anyone wants to get started…have at it!

Dot Com Entrepreneurs by University Degree

March 30, 2007

Which University produces the richest Dot Commers?

This is my list of dot-com company founders. If I didn’t include you or your company, add a note to the comments!

Note: this list is for fun, and is in no way intended to knock Harvard or Yale…

Also Note: I am not suggesting it is better to drop out than go to Stanford…


1. Dropouts: $131.36 Billion

*Bill Gates Microsoft 56 Billion
*Paul Allen Microsoft 18 Billion
*Larry Ellison Oracle 21.5 Billion
*Steve Jobs Apple 20 Billion
*Michael Dell Dell 15.8 Billion
*Mark Zuckerberg Facebook 1 Billion (2006 rejected buyout offer)
*Kevin Rose Digg 60 Million+ (Business Week August, 2006)

2. Stanford University: $38.9 Billion

*Larry Page Google 16.6 Billion
*Sergey Brin Google 16.6 Billion
*David Filo Yahoo $3 Billion
*Jerry Yang Yahoo 2.2 Billion
*Reid Hoffman Linkedin 500 Million (my best guess…he invested in Digg, Technorati, Facebook; original PayPal board member)

3. Tufts University: $10.2 Billion

*Pierre Omidyar Ebay 10.1 Billion
*Dan Lewis Armchair GM $500k
*Aaron Wright Armchair GM $500k
*Ittai Korin Portfolio Science unk

4. Princeton University: $3.6 Billion

*Jeff Bezos Amazon 3.6 Billion

5. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: $600 Million (estimated)

*Marc Andreesen Netscape $253 Million (in 2004)
*Steve Chen YouTube unk (some part of 1.65 Billion)
*Jawed Karim YouTube unk (some part of 1.65 Billion)

6. Indiana University of Pennsylvania: $500 Million (estimated)

*Chad Hurley YouTube (less than half of 1.65 Billion)

7. Claremont Colleges: $30 Million (estimated)

*Randy Saaf Media Defender (some part of $42.5 Million)
*Michael Arrington TechCrunch $3 Million (wild guess)
*Phil Hilmes Audyssey unk
*Haydn Hamilton GreenPrint unk
*Dominic Mazoni Audacity opensource
*Jonathan Stokes ValueWiki $5

8. Fordham University: $25 Million (estimated)

*Jason Calacanis Weblogs $25 Million (Price of Weblogs purchase by AOL)

9. University of Virginia: $20 Million (estimated)

*Steve Huffman Reddit $10 Million (completely my guess, Conde Nast did not disclose buyout price)
*Alexis Ohanian Reddit $10 Million (completely my guess, Conde Nast did not disclose buyout price)

10. The Longtail…

*Auburn University, Jimmy Wales Wikipedia, Wikia Net Worth Unknown

*Johns Hopkins, Dave Sifry Technorati Net Worth Unknown

*Luther College, Drew Curtis Fark Net Worth Unknown

*Yale, Justin Kan Justin.TV Net Worth Unknown

My Methodology

I tried to include all the major web companies that have an identifiable “founder.” That is, some important sites like Flickr and MySpace seem to have been developed by corporations. Others, like AOL, evolved over time with many notable contributors.

The list includes two notable Harvard dropouts, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. Yale did not really make the list. It should also be noted that four of the five world’s richest people are college dropouts.

Merrill Lynch Tired of Being “Napsterized”

March 29, 2007

The Sudarshan Chakra Blog has good analysis of Merrill Lynch’s new walled garden. Reuters reports that Merrill Lynch is tired of having its analyst reports borrowed by online sources and is taking aggressive steps to protect its research.

According to Merrill Lynch’s global research chief, Candace Browning, research opinions provided to Merrill Lynch clients often appear verbatim in online news outlets within 60 seconds. Browning writes in a letter to clients, “…Much like the music and film industries before us, Merrill Lynch Research is in the throes of being Napsterized…” (Obituaries for Sellside Research are Premature).

Like the Recording Industry, Merrill Lynch has already made good on its promise to protect its research, successfully sueing last year for plagiarizing research.

What This Means For Investors

The Sudarshan Chakra Blog sums it up well…

Sell side analysts are currently barred from having privileged access to executives and information. So there is no information that is available to Merrill analysts that is not available to other analysts and the general public. So the only “value added” part of a Merrill report is pretty much the analysts’ opinion and interpretation of data.

It’s a valid point: with so many great online analysts freely available, from KirkReport to Trader Mike, who needs paid Merrill Lynch research reports?

The Future of Free Research

Zach and I built ValueWiki on the assumption that the internet will give paid research a run for its money. Like Wikipedia versus Brittainica, I believe 10 amateur volunteers working in synergy are smarter and more productive than a single paid expert. Examples:

*The ValueWiki SSRX page was written the day the company IPO’d. ValueWiki had SSRX information up weeks before any other financial site.

*Extensive ValueWiki articles like AAPL and RIMM rival the quality of content of Standard and Poors or Value Line (in my opinion).

*ValueWiki got the scoop on fraudulent companies IDWD, SLJB, and CSHD. These companies are too small to receive coverage from paid analysts, so they can easily prey upon uninformed investors.

*Anyone currently Googling for American Wagering (BETM) will find ValueWiki’s new BETM page the most comprehensive free BETM research on the internet.

Only time will tell if ValueWiki truly becomes the Wikipedia of investing. But I believe news like Merrill Lynch’s signal the death knell of paid sell-side research, and the emergence of freely available and high quality internet research.

Shameless Plug

If you believe investors should have completely free access to great research, login to ValueWiki. What have you got to lose, it’s free! Share your research and expertise with the world.

News Corp Shareholders Greeted by Phone Sex-Line

March 28, 2007

Fox News Corp‘s shareholders are getting an unexpected bonus in the latest proxy filing.

NWS shareholders calling the Proxy Agent’s listed number are reaching a “nasty girls” phone sex-line.

Turns out page 5 of News Corp’s March 1st Proxy Statement incorrectly lists Georgeson Inc’s 1-800 number. Unsuspecting Fox shareholders calling the number are greeting by a woman’s seductive voice, saying, “Hey sexy guy…want to talk to hot, horny girls in your area?” The voice then suggests that NWS shareholders chat with real live hot students, waitresses and “nasty girls”…for just $2.99 a minute.

And you thought SEC Filings weren’t interesting…

Afternoon Links March 28

March 28, 2007

*World’s Tallest Man Gets Hitched. It’s hard to get a date when you’re a 7’9″ herdsman from inner Mongolian

*Satire – New startup BegForPost provides ethical alternative to PayPerPost

*PayPerPost is looking for fans to “give some love” to the Wikipedia PayPerPost article. Any volunteers?

*Thank you Al Gore, for inventing the internet, so we can have Kermit covering Johnny Cash covering Nine Inch Nails…This video gets more and more disturbing…I have absolutely no comment…