27 December 2004

Search, PubSub, 27-Dec-04 UTC 20:59:58

Error

Blogs and sites linked to a domain do not necessarily appear in the "Domains that have linked to ______ in the last 10 days"

Information

Rankings include "who is linking." This is problematic as Mud's Tests has been linked within the 10-day window, but PubSub still shows no listing. Very curious.

Discussion

One of the features used to evaluate the robustness of a platform is whether the advertised claims match "what is going on." In this case, PubSub makes a fine showing. The site presents as one of its features the ability to "display who is linking." Excellent.

The problem we run into is when we compare what is advertised as a major feature to that which actually occurs. In this case, PubSub states that the linking feature is used to assess site popularity.

However, the sites that are "listed as linking" to a site are not matching what is actually linked. This is problematic.

Delta in requirements

First, if we look at a platform from a requirements perspective, we might look at the priorities from "most important" to least important. In this case, PubSub's "most important" feature is the ability to produce reliable searches.

We've already talked about those defects.

Now, as we continue down the list of "platform features," we might then ask, "If a platform cannot reliably do-perform what is most important, there is less prospect that the lower priority items are getting covered."

Indeed, we find with PubSub that this is the case. We can then consider that 30 days has passed since PubSub launched, and this will help put a time-frame on the progress relative to the baseline.

Its all well and good for developers to solicit funds for new concepts, but this practice tends to cause some question when the progress along those original baselines does not appear to satisfactory.

MSNSpaces is not a believable excuse

Again it's only been 30 days since launch, but PubSub has already got issues with their number one feature. MSN spaces launched beta in August, three months prior to PubSub launching.

On top of this, the way the "MSNSpaces" issue has been characterized, it doesn't appear there is a firm get-well date for either resolution or restart on the other efforts. Something is slipping, and it does not appear to be expected or planned.

What's PubSub's "method of calculating ranking" going to do on the next "suprprise?" They could very well be scrambling on their existing platform all the while they're ramping up for the "next big thing." We remain unclear how management plans to accomplish this feat, inter alia:

  • Respond to another surprise;

  • Explain how their webmonitoring tools failed to translate into an effective response;

  • Work on the new generation of PubSub;

  • Work the program management issues along the existing baseline;

  • Continue working with public relations, outside interests, and Wall Street;

  • Come up with credible solutions to the current "surprises" that they appear to be wrestling with; and

  • Baseline new requirements for a new project outlined at BEM.

    Again, they're not talking about the "calculation issue" with PubSub as a historical one-off, but an ongoing examination. This implies that the issue is not completely understood despite 3 months advance notice from MSNSpaces in August 2004. The work has to be completed and checked at the same time PubSub plans to undertake new efforts.

    If they're surprised and "still working" this MSNSpaces in 2005, this means the prospect of the "new projects" in 2005 slipping increases; or they're going to have to pay overtime to meet the mid-term milestones.

    But for a miracle or something outside the laws of physics, either the milestone or the funding targets are going to get busted.

    At this point, they appear to be both surprised and unable to accomplish their most important function: Providing credible search results. Therefore, going forward, we have less confidence that the lower priorities are going to get satisfactorily met; if so, at an efficiency factor far below what we might otherwise expect prior to August.

    Taking a larger view of the platform we might ask, "Why so much time spent identifying new requirements and projects, when the most important features on the existing projects do not appear to have been satisfactorily met."

    Progress along which priorities

    This is another way of raising questions about where the venture capital might actually end up going. If a platform continues to have problems with "high priority requirements," how do we ensure that the funding received related to "new efforts" is actually traceable to that specific project, and not used to back-fill requirements not completed in previous efforts?

    That's where the financial analysts come in. They look at the scope of work that appears not to have been completed, and they can estimate an efficiency factor for the existing IT development team.

    The next step is to the assess the merits of the software development baseline; evaluate the probability that the estimated budget at completion will be met or overrun; and then forecast both the time delays, and the overall "plus up" required to complete the project.

  • What is the scope of work that is not getting completed?

  • What is the developer's ability to meet schedule?

  • Despite not knowing the major milestones and specific tasks, what is the probability that a given venture capital venture will require later capital infusions of X, Y, or Z-thresholds?

    These can be calculated. We can then take the PubSub claims in re advertising, promotion, and site listings and compare the actual performance. Even though a blog may not say much, the blog says quite a bit of interest to venture capitalists:

  • How reliable are the costs estimates;

  • What is the probability of success at X-funding level;

  • What are probable cost and schedule overruns in terms of dollar amounts and time;

  • How do these efficiency and performance factors compare to other options [location, cost, proposals, teams].

    Although one team may have a poorer track record in completing tasks, they may have a lower overall cost profile, and they may have a higher probability of hitting a desired funding target than the alternatives.

    There is a school of thought: "Demonstrate you can do the job when it is easy, and maybe we'll think about injecting additional capital to support more complicated efforts."

    Multiple Development Efforts

    It appears as though PubSub has overlapping development efforts. Programs are started, initiated, and launched even though original baselines have not been closed out. It remains to be seen whether management can perform multiple tasks on different programs: Adequately manage an existing program; lobby for new funds; and craft language to work on what might be efforts in a third area.

    At this point, when a particular development team states that they are having trouble with a particular function that is highly publicized and they are X-months into development, we might ask some questions:

  • Why should we have confidence that the development effort is going to be completed as reported, given the problems with the major features are not understood?

  • Why should we believe the projected get well date?

  • Why are we spending additional money on new programs, but the original baselines and requirements on the existing programs are not satisfactorily completed?

    These are issues that only the venture capitalists can ask. Whether they believe the answers or choose to allocate funding to other enterprises is another matter.

    Next steps

    Can blogs be used to do more than monitor criticism? Sure, they can be used to assess the technical development risks and responsiveness of management to outside audits.

    This may be excellent practice for the SEC and listing standards. 10b-5 is always a lovely one to watch.

    For example, we could look at the comments in the popular media to assess whether the public "analysis" is consistent with our own test results. The larger the divergence between our results and that presented in the "independent report," the greater the question in re:

  • Whether there are undisclosed relationships between the platform and the media outlet;

  • The extent that individual writers may or may not have positions or interests in the underlying.

    When we look at Google News we'll come up with some interesting information in re accessibility, trends, and players. Also, we might compare what the Seattle Times says and compare the statements to our own results.

    Rubel clearly discloses PubSub is one of his clients and self-reports he "evangelizes the application of Weblogs and RSS in traditional public relations campaigns."

    Blogs as tools for venture capitalists

    Blog content can be used not just by IT developers to evaluate their products, but also venture capitalists to take linguistic data from blogs to arrive at development efficiency factors. The question becomes whether the platform can create stories faster than the venture capitalists can dissect them.

    Buyer beware!
  • Error

    Blogs and sites linked to a domain do not necessarily appear in the "Domains that have linked to ______ in the last 10 days"

    Information

    Rankings include "who is linking." This is problematic as Mud's Tests has been linked within the 10-day window, but PubSub still shows no listing. Very curious.

    Discussion

    One of the features used to evaluate the robustness of a platform is whether the advertised claims match "what is going on." In this case, PubSub makes a fine showing. The site presents as one of its features the ability to "display who is linking." Excellent.

    The problem we run into is when we compare what is advertised as a major feature to that which actually occurs. In this case, PubSub states that the linking feature is used to assess site popularity.

    However, the sites that are "listed as linking" to a site are not matching what is actually linked. This is problematic.

    Delta in requirements

    First, if we look at a platform from a requirements perspective, we might look at the priorities from "most important" to least important. In this case, PubSub's "most important" feature is the ability to produce reliable searches.

    We've already talked about those defects.

    Now, as we continue down the list of "platform features," we might then ask, "If a platform cannot reliably do-perform what is most important, there is less prospect that the lower priority items are getting covered."

    Indeed, we find with PubSub that this is the case. We can then consider that 30 days has passed since PubSub launched, and this will help put a time-frame on the progress relative to the baseline.

    Its all well and good for developers to solicit funds for new concepts, but this practice tends to cause some question when the progress along those original baselines does not appear to satisfactory.

    MSNSpaces is not a believable excuse

    Again it's only been 30 days since launch, but PubSub has already got issues with their number one feature. MSN spaces launched beta in August, three months prior to PubSub launching.

    On top of this, the way the "MSNSpaces" issue has been characterized, it doesn't appear there is a firm get-well date for either resolution or restart on the other efforts. Something is slipping, and it does not appear to be expected or planned.

    What's PubSub's "method of calculating ranking" going to do on the next "suprprise?" They could very well be scrambling on their existing platform all the while they're ramping up for the "next big thing." We remain unclear how management plans to accomplish this feat, inter alia:

  • Respond to another surprise;

  • Explain how their webmonitoring tools failed to translate into an effective response;

  • Work on the new generation of PubSub;

  • Work the program management issues along the existing baseline;

  • Continue working with public relations, outside interests, and Wall Street;

  • Come up with credible solutions to the current "surprises" that they appear to be wrestling with; and

  • Baseline new requirements for a new project outlined at BEM.

    Again, they're not talking about the "calculation issue" with PubSub as a historical one-off, but an ongoing examination. This implies that the issue is not completely understood despite 3 months advance notice from MSNSpaces in August 2004. The work has to be completed and checked at the same time PubSub plans to undertake new efforts.

    If they're surprised and "still working" this MSNSpaces in 2005, this means the prospect of the "new projects" in 2005 slipping increases; or they're going to have to pay overtime to meet the mid-term milestones.

    But for a miracle or something outside the laws of physics, either the milestone or the funding targets are going to get busted.

    At this point, they appear to be both surprised and unable to accomplish their most important function: Providing credible search results. Therefore, going forward, we have less confidence that the lower priorities are going to get satisfactorily met; if so, at an efficiency factor far below what we might otherwise expect prior to August.

    Taking a larger view of the platform we might ask, "Why so much time spent identifying new requirements and projects, when the most important features on the existing projects do not appear to have been satisfactorily met."

    Progress along which priorities

    This is another way of raising questions about where the venture capital might actually end up going. If a platform continues to have problems with "high priority requirements," how do we ensure that the funding received related to "new efforts" is actually traceable to that specific project, and not used to back-fill requirements not completed in previous efforts?

    That's where the financial analysts come in. They look at the scope of work that appears not to have been completed, and they can estimate an efficiency factor for the existing IT development team.

    The next step is to the assess the merits of the software development baseline; evaluate the probability that the estimated budget at completion will be met or overrun; and then forecast both the time delays, and the overall "plus up" required to complete the project.

  • What is the scope of work that is not getting completed?

  • What is the developer's ability to meet schedule?

  • Despite not knowing the major milestones and specific tasks, what is the probability that a given venture capital venture will require later capital infusions of X, Y, or Z-thresholds?

    These can be calculated. We can then take the PubSub claims in re advertising, promotion, and site listings and compare the actual performance. Even though a blog may not say much, the blog says quite a bit of interest to venture capitalists:

  • How reliable are the costs estimates;

  • What is the probability of success at X-funding level;

  • What are probable cost and schedule overruns in terms of dollar amounts and time;

  • How do these efficiency and performance factors compare to other options [location, cost, proposals, teams].

    Although one team may have a poorer track record in completing tasks, they may have a lower overall cost profile, and they may have a higher probability of hitting a desired funding target than the alternatives.

    There is a school of thought: "Demonstrate you can do the job when it is easy, and maybe we'll think about injecting additional capital to support more complicated efforts."

    Multiple Development Efforts

    It appears as though PubSub has overlapping development efforts. Programs are started, initiated, and launched even though original baselines have not been closed out. It remains to be seen whether management can perform multiple tasks on different programs: Adequately manage an existing program; lobby for new funds; and craft language to work on what might be efforts in a third area.

    At this point, when a particular development team states that they are having trouble with a particular function that is highly publicized and they are X-months into development, we might ask some questions:

  • Why should we have confidence that the development effort is going to be completed as reported, given the problems with the major features are not understood?

  • Why should we believe the projected get well date?

  • Why are we spending additional money on new programs, but the original baselines and requirements on the existing programs are not satisfactorily completed?

    These are issues that only the venture capitalists can ask. Whether they believe the answers or choose to allocate funding to other enterprises is another matter.

    Next steps

    Can blogs be used to do more than monitor criticism? Sure, they can be used to assess the technical development risks and responsiveness of management to outside audits.

    This may be excellent practice for the SEC and listing standards. 10b-5 is always a lovely one to watch.

    For example, we could look at the comments in the popular media to assess whether the public "analysis" is consistent with our own test results. The larger the divergence between our results and that presented in the "independent report," the greater the question in re:

  • Whether there are undisclosed relationships between the platform and the media outlet;

  • The extent that individual writers may or may not have positions or interests in the underlying.

    When we look at Google News we'll come up with some interesting information in re accessibility, trends, and players. Also, we might compare what the Seattle Times says and compare the statements to our own results.

    Rubel clearly discloses PubSub is one of his clients and self-reports he "evangelizes the application of Weblogs and RSS in traditional public relations campaigns."

    Blogs as tools for venture capitalists

    Blog content can be used not just by IT developers to evaluate their products, but also venture capitalists to take linguistic data from blogs to arrive at development efficiency factors. The question becomes whether the platform can create stories faster than the venture capitalists can dissect them.

    Buyer beware!
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