This was a very interesting debate among some very heavy hitters who operate data centers about where the bottlenecks are in the data centers, and if the new model of massively distributed computing in one centralized data center is a sustainable model.
I woke up in SFO at 4AM to make sure I could get to Tahoe in time for this debate. I’ve written extensively on Net Neutrality and stopped once I realized it was unresolvable.
Broadband Brawl: A Debate Over Net Neutrality
Dealbreakers take on Google CEO Schmidt joining Apple’s board of directors is too funny not to share, and conveys an attitude that should be applied to every announcement Google makes.
The WSJ discusses (free link) Googles (GOOG) push to mend fences with content owners and creators and strike advertising revenue sharing deals. Google is the undisputed efficiency and size leader of connecting on-line advertisers with on-line consumers, with the exception of Yahoo! in banner advertisement.
Akamai Technologies Inc. (AKAM) is the undisputed leader (80% share) of content distrubution infrastructure. When you stream video or iTunes, it is probably coming from an Akamai server and not NBC or Apple. Akamai simply takes bits from one of it’s customers, like NBC, and ensures a quality viewer experience. NBC puts the ads into or around the video you watch.
No one, as of yet, has really started to successfully implement user-targeted video advertisements. Brightcove is trying to do this, but most online video advertisements are sold by the content creators themselves. If you watch the Sci-Fi channel online, you see ads that NBC sold to it’s existing advertising partners. In the web world, most sites outsource the selling of ad space on their sites to Google, Yahoo, etc.
It is this transition that will catalyze an inevitable conflict between Akamai and Google.
There was an interesting column in the New York Times last week. The article outlines the different design approaches taken by Google (GOOG) and Yahoo (YHOO). It also provided quantitative values that reinforced a suspicion of mine.
Two ways to look at this.
Cisco (CSCO), Oracle (ORCL), Sun (SUNW), and EMC (EMC) were the darlings of the internet boom and were referred to as the ‘Four Horsemen‘. Your broker was overheard in 2000 “Yes, things are in fact a bit irrational but these companies have real products, revenues, and earnings and are investment-grade leaders of the new economy.”
Your broker neglected to mention that the biblical Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse were steered by four riders – Conqueror, War, Famine and Death. I’ll leave it to my readers to pair them appropriately.
It’s good to see that the web is still wild. I happened upon a site called F_ck_dGoogle.com (edited), a site filled with such vitrol for Google (GOOG) it’s an entertaining read. Considering how so many fawn over the company and it’s prospects, it’s nice to see a site filled with contrarian opinion, however unprofessional.
The post that caught my eye linked to an article in Tuesdays San Francisco Chronicle newspaper that detailed the sheer magnitude the Google stock option windfall has had on California state tax receipts.
In 2005, officers, directors and other insiders at the largest 200 publicly held companies in the Bay Area sold a total of $9.6 billion in stock, up from $7 billion in 2004, according to Thomson Financial. Google alone accounted for almost half of the 2005 total.
San Francisco gave the green light to Google (GOOG) and Earthlink (ELNK) to offer wi-fi throughout the city. You’ll get free 300kb/s ad-supported service from Google, or $20 a month for 1Mb/s ISP service from Earthlink.
Total capex is $15MM to install, though I bet that number will at least double to deliver full coverage. Assuming Earthlink spends $15MM on it’s own, they would need around 8,000 subscribers at $250/year to justify the investment and deliver a 15% return. This seems very, very achievable in a city like San Francisco. If Earthlink can win peering agreements with guys like T-mobile to allow roaming outside of SFO, it looks even better.
San Francisco is always on the vanguard of both good and bad.
Correction I neglected to include any provision for Opex in the above calc. Anyone care to take a guess at what that might be?
A few weeks back, while in CA for OFC/NFOEC, I was lucky to get a late night tour of 365 Main, a massive, state of the art data center near the Embarcadero in San Francisco. My guide, Peter Kranz, was someone I worked with and co-adventured with in College who is now the owner and CEO of Unwired, a San Francisco based CLEC. His equipment is in this data center, and he invited me in for a look.