Some search-engine stuff today. As I’ve mentioned before, the hullabaloo over Google’s upcoming IPO is nearing epic proportions. I should preface my thoughts by saying that I believe Google has an excellent product. Their brand is clearly second-to-none in the search space. However, much like the technically superior Beta-Max was left in the dust by the horrific VHS technology back in the early ’80s, I do believe there are other search technologies out there that are as good, and in some cases, better than Google. The competition is getting very interesting. Would you invest in a Google IPO today, valued at $15-25 billion, knowing that Microsoft is quietly perched in the top left corner of the United States, rubbing their chins, raising their eyebrows and plotting their own search engine?

Anyway, I’ll abandon excessive verbosity here and point you to this article, one in which someone is stepping up to the plate and delivering a message a lot of people won’t want to hear – Google is already over-valued. I couldn’t agree more. Furthermore, when Barry Diller says that he’s slowing down his acquisitions because he thinks we’re in an internet bubble, than there must be something to it. I’m not sure we’ll ever reach the heavy panting we saw in the 98-00 stock market/internet run-up, but what’s going on now, especially with Google, is most certainly shades of that.

What we’ve seen over the last few years is a mini-bubble of sorts. Overture, then Google, launched the paid search market into the stratosphere and suddenly you see a turd truck come ’round the corner, two wheels off the ground, chock full of search sites that barely indentify themselves on their webpages. Now there’s 42 million companies that are telling you (and charging you for it) how to buy sponsored links and how to get ranked better. We’ll see who’s still standing in that space five years from now. Hell, two years from now. Hell, one year from now! Not many…..

All we know is that every time you click, someone’s probably getting paid. That’s no big deal, really. All we know is that every now and then, your computer is taken over by some mysterious ailment that directs you to search sites you’ve never seen in your life. It’s ludicrous. Yet analysts claim this will be a $7-8 billion dollar business in a few years. Will it? Let’s just look back and remember what analysts were saying about the internet back in 1998. You can make your own call.

Do I believe in sponsored links? You bet I do. Are they effective? About as effective as anything that’s ever been put on the internet. Keep this in mind, though – a lot of people I’ve talked to over the last week or two, and I’ve talked to many, have told me that, for the most part, they skip right over sponsored links. Never look at them or click them. Some of these people are internet savvy, others are not. But the message, to me, was clear – sponsored links might not be the savior for search engines. That is a fact that remains to be seen and I’m not throwing my personal dollars at any companies whose reliance is solely on that technology.

Song now playing: AC/DC – “Problem Child”