Archive for January, 2011

Yellowbook Layoff

Monday, January 31st, 2011

I continue to hear rumors and rumblings of big changes in the yellow pages industry, and it seems like almost anything could happen in terms of restructuring, mergers and acquisitions. I just learned of a layoff at Yellowbook over the weekend — according to the news report they are saying they’ll cut 70 jobs, nationwide.

Yellowbook Yellow Pages Company

There were very recent rumors that Yellowbook might be sold by Yell company, and that it could be an acquisition target for some other major companies. The layoffs are further underscoring unrest and change at the company, so there could be something to the M&A rumors. Some possible buyers have been theorized, including Google and Yellow Pages Group.

I’ve also heard AT&T’s name floated about as potentially interested in Yellowbook — they keep getting whispered about as a possible suitor for buying some of the big YPs. As I reported earlier, AT&T might acquire Dex One and/or SuperMedia.

My theorizing of a “trifecta merger” for AT&T/Dex/Superpages smacks more than a bit of pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking for faltering yellow pages companies, but could we go even farther out there and ask if AT&T might be doing a giant roll-up strategy that brings Yellowbook into the mix as well? (more…)

Univeral Business Listing (UBL) User Conference

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Universal Business Listing - UBLI’m looking forward to attending the Universal Business Listing (“UBL”) User Conference today in Charlotte, NC.

It was particularly exciting to visit with friends such as Mike Blumenthal and to get to meet Sebastien Provencher for the first time in person!

I don’t know yet if I’ll have an opportunity to post updates on the proceedings, but perhaps later on.

As you may know, Universal Business Listing is a data aggregator and online presence management service for businesses, and they provide business listings to a number of maps, local search, and directory sites.

University Introduces Foursquare Collegiate Badges

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Texas A&M University has just launched the Collegiate Badge program on Foursquare, and since I was in College Station earlier last week for a family celebration, I thought I’d check it out.

Foursquare's Collegiate Badges at Texas A&M University

I feel a little shiver of pride that my alma mater is the third university after Harvard and Stanford to launch an official partnership with Foursquare, starting back in the summer of 2010! (more…)

SuperMedia & Dex One Layoffs

Friday, January 21st, 2011

A few people internally at SuperMedia’s Superpages have pinged me this week to let me know of a larger layoff that happened yesterday at the company – reportedly 300 or more employees, primarily in the Internet Sales Division, were layed-off. I’m surprised Dallas Morning News hasn’t reported on it.

Dex One is apparently also planning to lay off 65 graphics workers in Colorado.

Both companies have already gone through a few rounds of cuts at this point, severely reducing the numbers of employees they have. I’ve also heard that both companies are using similar language around plans to outsource various functions overseas.

SuperMedia + Dex One = SuperDex

I've speculated for a while that SuperMedia, Dex & another company might merge.

While it’s not surprising that either company would be doing cost-cutting activities, I continue to believe that the silver lining may be that these actions still look like possible advanced reorganization plans prior to merger of the yellow pages companies.

It might be significant that the layoffs are happening somewhat in sync.

My heart goes out to the layed-off employees — I hope you all find new replacement jobs quickly! Just know that there is life after Superpages. :-)

Sudbury Hydro Inc Merger? Be Careful What Your Searches Reveal

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

I find this slightly amusing – looking over my Google Analytics for this blog, I ran across someone who’d typed into Google the keyword phrase, “writing a memo to employees advising them of a merge”. That’s not all that surprising since I’ve been writing about a theoretical merger between AT&T, SuperMedia, and Dex One yellow pages companies.

But, the phrase caught my attention, because it looked like the sort of query someone inside a corporation might search upon while doing research on how to announce a merger to their employees. Could this reveal imminent merger announcement from those companies I’d been writing about?

So, I clicked to see the network of the person who came to my blog on that phrase, (more…)

Squeezing PageRank from Photos & Images

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

I’ve written a number of times about how one can leverage images to get more promotional value and links. Here’s another example today, from a blog post on 1800RECYCLING.com: Ten Recycled Ship Houses.

Boat House - assembled from parts of a ship

The writer of this post contacted me a while back to get permission to use one of my photos (of a house made out of a ship) I took a few years ago on Catalina Island since the pic happened to match up with their article’s theme.

I love helping out with projects like this whenever I can, in return for links!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve provided images in return for links for news websites, blogs and more. To me, that longterm link value is equivalent, or better than a mere transitory image licensing fee. (more…)

Google’s Earth Art Logo

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Google Israel has a logo for celebrating Tu Bishvat. Barry Schwartz explains that the Tu Bishvat (פרוייקט ההר הירוק) holiday is known as the “New Year of the Trees”, and to observe it many people will plant new trees or donate trees in Israel. (The associated Google search for the logo goes to “Green Mountain Project” which is an online photo album allowing people to share past photos of Carmel, which suffered a fire that ruined the trees there.)

What’s particularly interesting to me is that this special logo is based on earth art which is accomplished by people planting crops and arranging earthworks to depict pictures or words:

Google Earth Art Logo

I’ve written about crop art and earth art a number of times before, and you can also see a number of examples, as viewed through Google Maps via my past article on Search Engine Land: 20 Awesome Images Found In Google Maps.

I’m just wondering if the artist that made this Google “Doodle” logo is familiar with earth art or crop art, or whether this was just coincidental use of the earth art motif. (more…)

Foursquare Heat Maps

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

This is a pretty cool graphic interface I came across thanks to Giovanni Gallucci — it’s for checking out your Foursquare usage data: Where Do You Go. It displays your checkins using heat maps:

Where Do You Go - Foursquare Google Maps Mashup

The Google Maps mashup was built using Foursquare’s API, Python, and the Google APP Engine. I think it likely works better in Chrome or FireFox than in IE.

Creator Steven Lehrburger wrote that he created the display to graphically demonstrate to friends and acquaintances the areas which he frequents, and also as a project for a New York University mashups class he was taking.

It’s quite conceivable that Google could use similar user data in calculating personalized local search results and in figuring out the relative popularities of places within cities and neighborhoods. Google’s geolocation data for users is increasing and improving daily.

Australian YP Telstra Fighting As Legal Underdog Down Under

Monday, January 17th, 2011

TelstraThe Aussie yellow pages company, Telstra, is continuing to fight hard to protect their claim that yellow pages business directories can be copyrighted.

Judges found last year that directories were no longer covered by copyright because their creation and maintenance was computerized.

Copyright of phonebook directory information has always been on shaky ground, since facts themselves generally cannot be copyrighted. In the U.S. in the past the argument has been that the index arrangement of the directory information or the process to generate the directory could be copyrighted. Alternatively, it was also possible to patent metadata elements used in conjunction with the directory, such as a unique taxonomy. But, as Greg Sterling has outlined, directory listings lost copyright status in 1991.

Even so, major internet yellow pages companies considered their directories to be a prime intellectual property asset, and have worked hard to protect them for quite some time, using various methods. For instance, obtaining exclusive new data update agreements from the telcos so that their data would always be fresher, and thus superior to anyone else’s. (more…)

Yellow Pages Argues Seattle Law Limiting Distribution “Unconstitutional”

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Yellow Pages Legal Conflict in SeattleAs you may be aware, Seattle passed an ordinance in October which required yellow pages print directory companies to pay for an annual license and to allow consumers to opt-out of receiving print yellow pages phonebooks from being delivered to their properties. The Yellow Pages Association filed a motion in federal court last week, seeking to have the ordinance canceled on the basis of unconstitutionality.

The YP industry claims that the print directories should be considered protected speech, and that their content is also primarily informational content, with a lower percentage of advertising content than magazines and newspapers.

I think that the YPA may technically be right, but are putting themselves in direct opposition of an influential demographic which are irritated by directory books getting dropped on their doorsteps, apartment buildings and in their places of business. The argument is somewhat facile — rather like me saying that I can write nearly whatever I wish and it’s protected as free speech — however, that doesn’t give me the right to spraypaint it upon the side of someone’s home. It’s the method of transmission of this free speech that’s being contested.

For many in Seattle, the ordinance doesn’t sound like an unduly heavy limitation for the YP companies. After all, only a minority of recipients are likely to opt-out of delivery, and the licensing fee is very small. (more…)