NMK Forum 2007 – liveblogging Jason Calacanis's announcement about Mahalo.com's Greenhouse

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nmk-logo.jpgToday I’m liveblogging straight from the NMK Forum 2007, (New Media Knowledge), which is an annual conference dealing with social media, and the impact it has on the future.

Stay tuned throughout the day for live updates on Web 2.0 notables like Jason Calacanis (Mahalo.com), Jem Stone (BBC New Media), Tom Bureau (CNET), Jyri Engeström (Jaiku) and our very own Ashley Norris.

1024 – He found the employees on CraigsList.com and through word of mouth. Based in Santa Monica, a city he claims is full of unemployed people due to their desires to work in the film or music industry, he allows them time off to attend film auditions etc., and that no matter how much money an SEO or company could offer them to sway the search results, the work benefits and conditions outweigh them immensely.

1023 – Jason is renowned for his brilliant work conditions, and he claims that the people working for Mahalo.com get free lunch, health benefits, can work flexible hours, and get great money. They all love their jobs, and he has told them all if they ever accept bribes when writing search results, they will be fired instantly.

1020 – A question is asked about bias, and if the search entry is powered by humans, then surely some of the search results will be bias. He uses the example of abortion – if that particular guide writing that search entry is against abortion, they might place a link for adoption in the top place. This is a great question, and I can see it might be a problem – I guess Jason Calacanis will just have to be very sure he employs people who are as unbias as possible, who have the greater goal of Mahalo.com’s success in the forefront of their mind.

1019 – Jason’s philosophy is get to scale, and then you can’t help but earn money. He learnt that at AOL, and said that when you’re successful, you will see the money roll in.

1015 – A question is asked about Mahalo.com’s business model, and how they can afford to pay people for submitted search entries. They have private backing, Sequoia Capital (who invested in Yahoo! and Google), and are confident that it will work. It will be unveiled first in the US, then rolled out throughout the world. They have enough money to pay people for search entries for five years apparently, and aren’t concerned with earning money in the first two years – they’ll tackle that after the two years are up.

1014 – Jason Calacanis finishes his speech, and questions start regarding Mahalo.com. Everyone seems to be really excited about Mahalo Greenhouse, and I’m willing to bet several are already drafting their first submitted search entries as we speak.

1010 – Jason says that Greenhouse should be open now, and that people can start earning money straight away. If, however, you are one crazy kid and don’t want to accept money for your submitted search results, then you can choose to donate the money to Wikipedia. When I spoke to Jason last night, he admitted to me his love and adoration of Wikipedia, and how much he admires what they’ve done for the internet. Mahalo.com has earmarked US$250,000 to donate to Wikipedia of their own money, and hope that people will choose to donate their money to Wikipedia if they’re uncomfortable with accepting the money themselves.

1008 – He says that they will favour people who are active on social networking sites, and people who are professionals in their chosen field. People who contribute to Wikipedia, and build their entries, or participate on Digg.com or StumbleUpon, will receive preferential treatment. Yessss! I’m in then!

1005 – Jason announces Mahalo.com’s Greenhouse, which he revealed to me last night. Pay attention kids, it’s amazing. Basically anyone – you included – can help build Mahalo.com’s search results. He admits the hugest criticism of Mahalo.com has been that there’s only about 5,000 search results so far, and how he wants – nay, needs – to increase the amount of search results. With 40 ‘guides’ (people who work for Mahalo.com full-time, creating search results), it’s impossible to create every search entry, which is why he’s calling upon the general public to submit search results to Mahalo.com. And why would you want to do so? Well, for every search result they accept, they’ll pay you US$10 – $15. Wowsers. It’s certainly enough to make a living from, he said last night, and also admitted it could be the new way to make money online – the new blogging.

1004 – Jason Calacanis demonstrates Ask.com’s huge reliance on sponsored links, and how there aren’t that many on Mahalo.com

1001 – He then shows the same example of a search entry, ‘Paris Hotels’, on Mahalo.com, and we can see the top search results – Lonely Planet, The New York Times, and other relevant search results. I must say – I’m impressed. I’ve used Mahalo.com a fair bit over the last two weeks, and have found it to be of such high quality, I honestly would urge everyone to use it.

1000 – Mahalo.com is a ‘human-powered search engine’, which aims to literally cut through all the mess and bullshit on most search engines (he brings up an example of a Google search entry, ‘Paris Hotels’, and shows just how many sponsored links there are which appear, and how the top search results aren’t of high quality of all, and wouldn’t help people to find the information they desire.

959 – Jason then shows a slideshow of peoples reactions after using Mahalo.com – it’s clean, it’s easy to use, and someone even said that Google should be embarassed after seeing Mahalo.com

957 – He shows a slideshow of several internet users’ feedback regarding Google and other search engines, all demonstrating just why he created Mahalo.com. Key problems seem to be quality, that people can’t find quality search results.

955 – Jason Calacanis mentions how he flooded several internet sites with fake memos and rumours, such as Gawker Media’s ValleyWag, which he actually used to his advantage to build hype around his new search engine, Mahalo.com

954 – How to avoid doing evil things in new mediums – ‘the mum test’ – would you do this to your own family, let her read a fake blog, for example. Jason Calacanis basically wants people to stop doing evil acts on the internet, treat others as you would like to be treated, basically. Karma. It’s good stuff, people.

950 – Jason Calacanis mentions Pay Per Post, HP, and Bumfight, who are several examples of companies ‘polluting’ the internet, ie, paying people to tattoo HP’s logo on their foreheads. Quite embarassing, as he calls out Edelman PR who created a fake blog from a WalMart employee, when there are several Edelman people in the audience. Another example I can think of is Sony’s huge PR disaster in the All I Want For Christmas Is A PSP fake-blog.

948 – Jason asks how many people in the audience are bloggers, and more than half raise their hands. He claims the blogosphere is dying, and that several companies, such as Microsoft, are helping do so, through such acts as sending bloggers free laptops, thus buying their publicity.

945 – ‘Slimy, smarmy guys in cheap bad suits’, he claims, ‘trick Google’s algorithim’, and Mahalo.com, his new search engine unveiled two weeks ago, aims to increase the quality of the internet and search results

941 – Jason Calacanis talks about internet pollution, and how SEOs are clogging up the internet, and search engine optimisation is ‘cluttering’ the net. He thinks they’re evil, and how 5% of the information on the internet is actually any good, the remaining 95% is evil, and in some times, dangerous.

940 – Jason mentions his ‘fatblogging’, and how he has lost many pounds, also how a group of people have banded together on the internet to record their weight loss. He is looking good, I must admit, and at 36 years of age, I think he’s at an ideal weight! We don’t want a size zero Calacanis!

938 – Jason mentions he has a ‘major announcement’ about Mahalo.com, which he is very proud to unveil today at the NMK Forum. It’s actually his first time in London! I spoke to him about this last night at the pub, and I must say it’s extremely exciting news regarding a way of incentivising people to help increase the popularity of Mahalo.com – big news, people, big news!

936 – Mike Butcher introduces Jason Calacanis, CEO of new search engine Mahalo.com, and former CEO of Weblogs Inc., who publish popular gadget blog Engadget.

934 – Mike mentions that there’s an NMK Forum Jaiku account which everyone can access, at jaiku.com/channel/mnkf

932 – Mike Butcher, the NMK Forum chair, talks about the theme of today’s Forum, mainly being social media, and where it will be heading in the future, and impact on traditional media.

930 – Stephen Whaley takes to stage at LSO church, Old Street, and introduces several of the key speakers at today’s NMK Forum conference.

Katherine Hannaford

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