Former Yahoos Take Yahoo! Back

Happy Post-April Fools!

Yesterday, we released a press release titled, “Former Yahoos Take Yahoo! Back: WebMocha, a start-up created by former Yahoo engineers, purchases internet giant Yahoo!

It was an April Fool’s joke of course, but a few friends almost believed it. Gotcha! Hehe.

We thought the line, “Effectively immediately, the new company will be renamed WebMochahoo!.” was absurd enough to imply it was a joke, but, heh, maybe not. I’m glad to hear we danced the line of subtlety & irony well.

Writing it was a lot of fun. We had some really far-out ideas, but toned down the final copy wisely. I even searched around for PR article guidelines and looked at a few real ones about past mergers and acquisitions.

In the press release, we listed a Hiro Nakamura as our Media Relations contact, as a nod to Heroes (great first season, this season: meh). I even set up the email address motryingtopeekhuhc.ahcombewwhatareyoudoinghal@orih, in case another Heroes fan wanted to contact us. In my head, I had this whole plan to reply to each person as if I was Hiro and end each email with the exclamation, “Yata!” Alas, only one hardcore fan emailed us. (Props to you, Jason!)

We tweeted this, posted it on Facebook, and spammed a few friends and alumni lists. By the end of the day, we had a significant increase in unique visitors – more than 10,000%! Of course, our site isn’t a traffic destination and we’re not monetizing this traffic, but it’s a neat metric.

I’m not sure when we’ll take the press release down, but I figured I’d record it here for prosperity. The one on the site is better though. It has photos.

Former Yahoos Take Yahoo! Back

WebMocha, a start-up created by former Yahoo engineers, purchases internet giant Yahoo!

Sunnyvale, CA (PRWEB) April 1, 2009 — WebMocha LLC today announced it has agreed to acquire Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO), a leading global Internet brand and one of the most trafficked Internet destinations worldwide.

WebMocha is a technology and web development services agency founded in 2008 by a group of former Yahoo engineers. Effectively immediately, the new company will be renamed WebMochahoo!. The new logo will be in red.

When asked why this purchase was made, WebMocha co-founder Mike Lee replied, “At this bargain basement stock price, why not?” Under the terms of the merger agreement, WebMocha will acquire all of the outstanding equity interests in Yahoo! for $18 per share, representing a premium of approximately 28% over the current stock price.

“Our first order of business,” added WebMocha co-founder George Diaz, “will be another re-org. After the initial re-org necessary for the transition, that is. Then we’ll have meetings about meetings.” Indeed, Yahoo! has lost numerous employees and executives in the last year, both from attrition and corporate reorganizations. In that time, executives Carol Bartz and Elisa Steele joined as Chief Executive Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, respectively, after Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang stepped down from the CEO position in November, 2008.

WebMocha executives will be enacting changes to raise morale and streamline productivity while a deep analysis of now WebMochahoo!’s business model takes place. This analysis will culminate into a 100 Day Plan that will be delivered in exactly one hundred days, give or take a few.

This step is just the first in a series of major acquisitions WebMocha will be making this year. Many others are also in the works. Webmoogle? Microcha? Webay? Facemocha? Webazon? The possibilities abound.

Effective immediately: foosball tables will be placed in every break room on every floor. All Year End Parties will be canceled until the company is back on the track of significant profitability and shareholder value.

When asked about the traditional Yahoo! yodel, WebMocha co-founder Barney Mok said, “Yeah…that’s gotta go. We’re bringing back the Arsenio Hall fist pump to instill fear in our competition.”

About WebMocha LLC

WebMocha LLC is a California-based web development and technology services company that builds optimized, high-performance, enterprise-level web applications.


WebMocha LLC
Hiro Nakamura, 415-555-4180 (Media Relations)

About Yahoo!

Yahoo! Inc. is a leading global Internet brand and one of the most trafficked Internet destinations worldwide. Yahoo! is focused on powering its communities of users, advertisers, publishers, and developers by creating indispensable experiences built on trust. Yahoo! is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California.


Yahoo! Inc.
David Yang, 408-555-7426 (Media Relations)
Jerry Filo, 408-555-4110 (Investor Relations)


April Fools, obviously.

Get Your Name Before Somebody Else Does

This Way to Monnette If you don’t get your name now, someone else might get it later. Username, I mean. And on a social media site like Twitter, FriendFeed, Digg, Flickr (which uses Yahoo!’s (YHOO) ID system), or YouTube (which can use Google’s (GOOG) ID system).

A friend recommended this to me a few months ago. (Thanks Eric!)

In other words, if you can come up with a fairly catchy and unique username, you could make it your consistent identity on every social media site that you use – or may use in the future.

For example, say you like the username MrMediaMuppet. You already have and You also use this username on YouTube too, giving you as your profile URL. What you should do next – especially if you are a social media marketer – is to reserve this name on other social media sites as well. This means getting,, and too, even if you don’t regularly use these services yet.

(BTW, MrMediaMuppet is an available username, if you want it!)

Dave Evans, a social media consultant, recommends this not only to individual users, but to corporate marketers as well. For instance, say you’re a marketer for Apple’s (AAPL) new product, the iCar. You decide that iCar and AppleiCar will be your social media usernames. The next thing you should do is reserve these names on various social media sites before someone else does. Hopefully soon thereafter, you’ll be able to use them actively; after all, that’s why you’re reserving them, right?

Not only will you be able to lock in a social media marketing venue, but you may prevent an unscrupulous detractor from potentially damaging your brand image. For any professional internet marketer, this should be a must.

UPDATE 2/12/2009 noon: Eric just pointed me to this cool service – Nice!

UPDATE 6/11/2009: Another cool service – namechk.

Web Design in Two Minutes

Now for some Friday fun.

Guess how quickly you can design a website? Two minutes! No kidding! Watch:

No, just kidding. This video was created by the design firm Wevio as what I’m guessing is a clever piece of social media marketing. On the video’s YouTube page Wevio says that:

This is a time-lapse video of what was originally about 2 hours.

This video doesn’t portray how a website is really made. It takes hours upon hours of researching, designing, developing and testing in different browsers as well as platforms.

Too true. And too bad, ‘cuz having a professionally made web design in two minutes would be awesome.

How to Find Writing Jobs

Tokyo Shopping This is the last post in a series on How to Make Money as a Freelance Blogger:

  1. How to Write for the Web and Search Engines
  2. How to Market Yourself
  3. How to Find Writing Jobs

Finally, you will need to find a way to make money as a freelance blogger. No duh. This is going to require a decision:

  • Do you want to make money from your own blog?
  • Or do you want to make money writing for other blogs?
  • Or both?

Making Money From Your Own Blog

Now that you’ve set up your own blog and have been blogging for some time, how do you monetize it? Is it even possible? Yes, it is, but it is extremely difficult to make a living off your blog alone. You’ll have to do a lot more than one blog – perhaps have several.

But never say never, right? Here are some ways to at least pay half of your rent per month. (This list expands on what I’ve written about monetizing blogs before.)

  • Advertising
  • Sponsorships
  • Affiliate programs
  • Digital products
  • Merchandising
  • Donations

Blog Advertising

You have many advertising options for your blog. There’s a whole art & science to optimizing ad payouts, but basically the more in-your-face and relevant the ads, the more likely they will be clicked. As a blogger, you are paid each time a user clicks on an ad. But don’t click on them yourself, or else you will be committing click-fraud and will be banned from that ad network.

Blog Sponsorships

This is only possible with a fairly popular blog and a loyal following. Once you reach that level, you may be able to find advertisers interested in sponsoring some of your content for a set period of time. All you’ll need to do is provide proof of your traffic levels and audience demographics.

Affiliate Programs

Using an affiliate program is sort of like earning a commission each time you sell another company’s products. For instance, you could join’s affiliate program and link to various books (which I do fairly frequently). Every time a customer clicks on a link and purchases a book, you will earn a commission.

Digital Products

You could write a useful how-to guide in the form of a PDF ebook and sell that. Or record a song in the form of an MP3 and sell that. Or create an instructional video in the form of a streaming video and sell that. These are all examples of digital products. You don’t need a fancy shopping cart system to sell them either. There are a few ecommerce engines that will handle that for you, though they require some technical knowledge to set up.

Blog Merchandising

If you’ve branded yourself well, or have fictional characters that may look good on a t-shirt or coffee mug, consider merchandising. Blogs with cult followings tend to do well with branded products. And if you have a web comic, even better.

Blog Donations

If you can manage to get a cult following, not only could you consider merchandising, but donations as well. Some talented starving artists can get by on donations alone, though it is extremely difficult. I’ve gotten a coffee or three myself, but that’s about it.

Must-Read Articles

Here are some must-read articles and resources on making money from your blog:


ShoeMoney is a well-known professional blogger and internet marketer whose blog occasionally contains tips on internet marketing and profitability. is another well-known professional blogger and internet marketer with tips on internet entrepreneurship.


Making Money From Writing for Other Blogs

Some freelance bloggers could probably make more money writing for other blogs than trying to monetize their own blog, mostly because they don’t have the skills, experience, or desire to put a lot of effort into monetization techniques. They would rather be writing. If that’s the case with you, then it’s time to hunt for some blogging gigs using these methods:

  • Word of Mouth
  • Blogging Job Boards

Word of Mouth

This is where your brand, reputation, networking abilities, and social media marketing efforts can pay off. Having a strong network can generate significant returns. If you’re not as comfortable doing the shmoozing thing at parties, do the shmoozing thing on social media sites. But in either case, make sure you always carry business cards – you never know when you’ll run into someone who’s interested in your services.

Blogging Job Boards

There are a ton of sources of freelance writer and blogging jobs out there. If you have your blog and writing samples prepared, start going through these sites. You’ll find that writing gigs can vary from writing blog entries to copywriting to email newsletters to ebooks to standard articles.

Now for a list of must-read articles and resources:

I hope this series has been helpful to you. Yea, I know it’s a ton of stuff to read. Just imagine how many worthless articles I had to read to distill these lists. Whew.

If I’ve missed any important articles, please let me know. I’m sure there’s more great stuff out there.

And finally, good luck with your new career as a freelance blogger! Let me know how it goes!

The How to Make Money as a Freelance Blogger series:

  1. How to Write for the Web and Search Engines
  2. How to Market Yourself
  3. How to Find Writing Jobs

How to Market Yourself

Tokyo Shopping This is the second post in a series on How to Make Money as a Freelance Blogger:

  1. How to Write for the Web and Search Engines
  2. How to Market Yourself
  3. How to Find Writing Jobs

Next, you will need to market yourself and promote your services. This will require a portfolio of published writing samples. To be taken seriously as a professional freelance blogger, you will definitely need a well-marketed blog – which can provide as a source of fresh writing samples too.

This step is pretty involved, however. You will need a good domain name, a web host, some blogging software and some technical knowledge. If you don’t have any technical knowledge (or a technical friend who can help you), there are free blogging services you can use. Blogging services don’t require any technical know-how, but you won’t look as professional when using one.

Also, you will need a presence on social media sites to help extend your reach and brand. Having a presence can educate you about the social media world as well, where potential gigs could arise. Social media sites are sites like MySpace (NWSA), Facebook, Yelp, Twitter, Digg, Newsvine, NowPublic, etc.

How to Set Up Your Blog

You have two choices here:

  1. Set up a blog with your own domain name
  2. Set up a blog on a blogging service

Set up a blog with your own domain name

  1. First, pick and register a domain name. A good domain name is:

    • Short
    • Memorable
    • Easy to say
    • Easy to type

    You can verify whether or not the domain name is available on a domain registrar. If it is available, you can register it through the registrars for a yearly fee.

    Since most of the good ones have already been taken, you can consider using a domain name suggestion service to help you along. Some allow you to register the domain name too.

  2. Second, sign up with a web host. A web host is where you’ll actually place your website’s blogging software. The two registrars above ( and Go Daddy) also provide web hosting.

    After you sign up with a web host, they will give you directions on how to associate your domain name with your new web host account. Contact their customer support if you need help doing this.

  3. Third, pick your blogging software. Fortunately, this is free.

    This is where you’ll need some technical knowledge. You will have to download the blogging software, then upload it to your web host and install it. After playing with some settings, you can choose a theme to make your blog look nicer.

Here are some must-read articles on setting up your own domain name, web host, and blogging software:

Set up a blog on a blogging service

This one is easier than setting up a blog with your own domain name. A blogging service will give you everything you need right away. The drawback is that your domain name will be a mix of yours and theres: e.g. This doesn’t look as professional has But hey, it’s easy and it’s free.

Just sign up and you’re done!

How to Promote Your Blog

Now for a list of must-read articles and resources:

How to Use Social Media to Promote Yourself

And more must-read articles and resources:

Here is one last resource. It is a massive list of 40+ sites for writers. Truly massive list. If you think I’ve already given you too much to read, then you may not want to click on this link. But please do at some point. It also offers a great deal of useful information.

More tomorrow!

The How to Make Money as a Freelance Blogger series:

  1. How to Write for the Web and Search Engines
  2. How to Market Yourself
  3. How to Find Writing Jobs

Posterous’ Annoying Comment Subscriptions

Okay, I’m beyond annoyed right now.

I recently made a comment on Guy Kawasaki’s Posterous blog Holy Kaw. The entry, “This is why Richard Branson is so successful“, shows billionaire Richard Branson on his knees, shining Kawasaki’s shoes. Pretty hilarious stuff. I couldn’t help making a comment. And to follow the discussion, I opted to receive email updates as new comments are added.

55+ comments later, I’m trying desperately to find a way to cancel those email subscriptions. Like, wow, this is annoying.

Posterous is a new blogging platform created by two CompSci Stanford grads. They’re backed by Y Combinator and are noted to be easy to use.

Which is why I’m confounded by the lack of thought in this supposedly easy and useful feature. What a horrible social media device. Allowing commenters to subscribe to future comments is a great way to bring them back to your site and continue with the discussion – otherwise, they forget about your blog entry and move on. It’s social media marketing magic.

But when an entry becomes really popular and gets 150+ comments, then that magic becomes an annoying parlor trick real quickly. Already, I’ve seen a few others getting irked by this. Some of the comments I’ve seen so far:

  • “Wish I would unchecked the box to e-mail me with the default check. now I am trying to turn it off.”
  • “Too many comments”
  • “Stop”

I just emailed Posterous. I really hope they respond soon and turn these damn subscriptions off.

Who Are You, My New Twitter Followers?

Hop! Onto the Twitter bandwagon I go. I just created a Twitter account.

Well, I actually created it a while ago, but just decided to follow a bunch of friends and tech industry professionals last night. Partly to understand the potential of this new technology and social media/communication method, and partly to see what the heck my friends are up to.

Then, suddenly, amidst a few reciprocal follows from friends, I got a bunch from strangers. Wow. And I haven’t even made a single tweet yet! I feel so… faux importante!

I wonder what makes a person blindly follow another person? Especially when that person hasn’t made a single tweet yet?

Well, I suppose I answered my own question by following these “tech industry professionals.” But then, I took a peek at each of their twitter streams to see if they mostly made insightful industry-specific tweets, or random personal junk. (It was a mix of both.) I did see a friend who only made three or four tweets ever, so I didn’t bother following him.

Who are you, my new Twitter follower strangers?

Goodbye Scrabulous

I’m sad. The makers of Scrabulous have decided to disable their game for all North American users. Sniff.

This is the result of a struggle with Hasbro (HAS) and a suit filed against the Brothers Agarwalla—Scrabulous’ founders—for violating copyright law under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Facebook Scrabulous vs Hasbro Scrabble

Fans of Scrabulous are now in an uproar. Don Reisinger of Masable says this move makes Hasbro look stupid. The official SCRABBLE® Facebook app is littered with comments like, “Boo, hiss. Way to alienate your corporation!” and “I’m going to extend my boycott to all Hasbro toys, etc.” And a campaign has been started on The Point, calling for Hasbro to work with Scrabulous instead of shutting it down (though there only 6 members as of this post).

This has led to a great deal of negative PR, especially in the blogosphere. At a quick glance, I see a “RIP Scrabulous“, a “No, I Do Not Want to Play Scrabble“, and a “F U, Hasbro. F U.

On the other side of the equation are people defending Hasbro’s actions. Or at least raising the issue of copyright infringement as a business benefit: is it “worthwhile to go after pirates, thieves, and copyright-infringers, or… simply let them be and consider it free advertising”, writes Sarah Perez of ReadWriteWeb.

And… I don’t see that many other bloggers supporting Hasbro in my Technorati search. Oh well.

Let’s Make a Deal

All of this drama makes you wonder why Hasbro didn’t just offer to buy Scrabulous, right? Well, apparently they did. While Hasbro and Electronic Arts (ERTS) collaborated to build the new SCRABBLE® app, RealNetworks (RNWK)—another company given the rights to create online Hasbro games—has been working with Scrabulous to “bring the official Scrabble game to Facebook users”, writes Heather Timmons of the NY Times. (Funny, I thought that’s what Hasbro and EA just did.) Furthermore, according to Peter Kafka of Silicon Valley Insider, an offer has been put out to & rejected by the Scrabulific Duo:

The hold up? Money. A source familiar with the negotiations say Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla want too much.

What’s the gap? The brothers say they’re generating $25,000 a month, or $300,000 a year in revenue. A 10x-20x multiple on that would make Scrabulous worth $3-$6 million, but for argument’s sake let’s say they’ll have a hockey stick growth curve, and that their game project could be worth more than $10 million.

Sound fair? Maybe. But our source says the brothers want a “multiple of several times that” $10 million, and the four corporations they’re negotiating with think that’s ridiculous.

If that’s true, then that’s perhaps a bit optimistically presumptuous of the Brothers Agarwalla. $10M is a tidy sum for what is technically a copyright infringement.

Feeding Your Scrabble-Lust

In the meantime, to satisfy your Scrabble fix, you’ll need to add the new SCRABBLE® Facebook app (or the SCRABBLE beta Facebook app; I’m not quite sure which one is the official official one). Unfortunately—oops—the app isn’t working. Instead, you’re slapped with a big fat “We’ll be back up shortly. We’re working on some tech problems and Scrabble will be ready to play as soon as possible!” message. This isn’t their fault though. Alex Pham of the Los Angeles Times reports that this is the result of a hacker attack. (Perhaps from some die-hard Scrabulous fans?)

A No-Win Scenario

All of this amounts to a major catch-22 for Hasbro. Fighting against Scrabulous means loads of negative PR and possible damage to their business. Aligning with Scrabulous means setting a potentially damaging precedent to their business. (Yossarian lives!)

The Discussion Boards of both SCRABBLE apps are full of rants and more rants. And just how many pro-Scrabulous Facebook groups are there? Over 500, with Save Scrabulous clocking in at over 47 thousand members so far (including me). Wow.

The Scrabble board game may have enjoyed a surge in popularity due to Scrabulous, though it’s impossible to confirm this since Hasbro isn’t releasing their sales figures. I wonder if those sales will drop with this negative fallout.

However, I totally understand Hasbro’s actions against Scrabulous. If they supported Scrabulous, they may unleash a disastrous tidal wave. Say Hasbro purchased Scrabulous for $10M, this web business formula could have emerged:

  1. Build an online version of a popular offline game
  2. Gain spectacular popularity
  3. ?
  4. Sell out for millions
  5. Profit

And if you didn’t gain spectacular popularity, the offline game’s parent company would probably just ignore you, like Hasbro has of dozens of Scrabble knock-offs already on the web. Lots of upside for very little downside! Dollars galore!

Either way, Hasbro is sure in a pickle. In that context, I can see why they’d opt to shut down Scrabulous. Months from now, as the public backlash dies down, Facebook users may begin adding the new SCRABBLE apps to quench their Scrabble thirst, and perhaps forget about this whole ordeal. It’s possible. Take jetBlue, for example. Back in February 2007, a severe ice storm took down over a thousand of their flights, leading to a major PR black-eye. Since then, they’ve rebounded from that episode. And if that’s not a great example, take Martha Stewart and the ImClone scandal in 2004. Despite being jailed, she’s back and arguably as strong as ever.

Hasbro could have handled the situation a little smoother though. But I doubt they had a web-savvy/social-media-savvy team of PR specialists on board (and if they did, WTF?). I would have recommended that they reach out to the community in some way. Maybe to solicit suggestions, maybe to implore an understanding. Even if people argued against them, just having a genuine public voice can sometimes earn a lot of empathy. At the very least, it could have softened the blow. This could have also come from Electronic Arts and RealNetworks, the makers of the online SCRABBLE apps.

Personally, I’m bummed as hell that Scrabulous is gone. I had quite a few games going there. I wish a compromise could have been reached, though I wouldn’t have the foggiest how that would have looked.

R.I.P., Scrabulous.