We Own the Internet!

December 21, 2010

…but only by one vote, and only for now.

Today, the FCC passed new net neutrality rules by a 3-2 vote. In one of the bigger judgments that no one will ever know about, the people that use the internet just won ownership of it rather than the companies that allow us to access it.

If it had gone the other way, it would have generated an uproar, and we all would have heard about it. Why? What are the rules that were passed?

Well, at the most basic level, Comcast and other large internet service providers want control over the internet so that they can restrict user’s access to certain sites, and charge more for “preferred” internet users who want the fastest possible connection.  While defenders of net neutrality, Google standing at the forefront, demand that no one have control over the internet.  Users should be free to see it all, without jumping through hoops, or paying more than anyone else.

In my opinion, net neutrality is a no brainer.  The fact that the vote was 3-2 surprises me.  The fact that the 2 no votes were Republicans does not surprise me.  Calling the new rules “unnecessary regulation” is one of the more ridiculous things I’ve ever heard.  I wonder if either of them has ties to Big Internet.  I wonder if there are any registered republicans who use the internet out there who would not be happy if all of the sudden they could not use the internet at peak hours unless they paid more for it.

But none of that matters now, because the rules passed, and no one will ever hear about this one way or the other.

Either way, we the people won the day.  Congrats to us!


Google Should Only Buy Groupon if…

December 1, 2010

They’re smart.

The biggest purchase in Google’s long history of acquisitions has yet to happen, but it’s about to.  It’s a $6 Billion plus offer that makes a lot of sense for both companies.

Having never met Groupon’s founders, or any members of the team other than a few phone calls with some of their sales reps, I cannot attest to the vision or goals of the company.  But to be acquired by Google can’t be too far down on anyone’s wish list.

As far as the huge valuation that Google has given them, I would warn that Groupon is worth every bit of it, and then some. In a field that is quickly becoming overcrowded with clones, Groupon has demonstrated an ability to stay relevant, and become even more relevant.  As the local coupon company that took a deal a day to the next level, as the company that today thousands try to imitate, Groupon has set themselves apart.  And through the right kind of marketing, and the right kind of positioning, they’ve built an army of potential consumers for every brand.

Here’s a hint that every potential business owner should take from Groupon: create a way for consumers to get deals on products that they most likely would have bought anyway at full price, and you’re bound to make anyone happy.  In a lot of ways, that was Walmart’s vision when they got Sam Walton got started back in the early 60’s.  Serve the under-served yes, but offer deals on products people need or want based on another company’s advertising.

In any case, am I surprised that Google didn’t try to create their own clone? Yes. Am I surprised they’re interested in Groupon’s business? No. It opens up new doors to Google’s plans to take control of the “local” business of mobile and web apps.  Using Groupon in conjunction with other Google services may prove Groupon to be the company’s most successful acquisition ever.