Beta is better

Take MySQL, write a decent web front-end for it so that people can upload short video clips; give it a catchy name, launch and after a year-and-a-half, Google buys you for $2.5 billion. I'm not bitter and envious though. Not at all. I mean, if I wanted to do something like that, I would've.

Top Stories

- Big deals

- More tech stock options scandals

A jolly good drumming

Rhythm’n Bowties! Yeah!

- YouTube: Japanese African Drum Circle

Phat moves, but is that a pillow cover he’s wearing?

- YouTube: African Drumming Unity Dance Vanderbilt University

Press space bar to continue

The one on your keyboard, silly.

- The Raconteurs version 1.0

Big deals

Take MySQL, write a decent web front-end for it so that people can upload short video clips; give it a catchy name, launch and after a year-and-a-half, Google buys you for $2.5 billion. I’m not bitter and envious though. Not at all. I mean, if I wanted to do something like that, I would’ve.

The YouTube deal has been on everyone’s lips this week, with opinion divided over how clever it was of Google to buy a site that, well, doesn’t have actual earnings as such. Some naysayers think “GooTube” now represents a juicier target for copyright lawyers looking for a slice of Google’s US$10 billion cash hoard. Lawsuits that would restrict YouTube users’ ability to upload whatever they like would kill the fun, observers say, and void Google’s investment.

I don’t think lawsuits are much of a concern for Google though. They’re part and parcel of any large corporation’s operational preparation. Google has been sued plenty of times already, and so have others like Microsoft. The lawsuits have changed absolutely nothing, and there’s no reason to think YouTube will be killed off that way, especially if Google inks some deals with content creators to distribute material legally.

It’s amusing to see how older companies are struggling to understand the internet deals though. Former Microsoft blogger Robert Scoble provides some insight into how Steve Ballmer just doesn’t get it on his blog for instance. Scoble is quite right when he points out that YouTube isn’t about the technology solely, but also about the community.

The community aspect is something that Microsoft, which is yearning to emulate Google and the Web 2.0 thing at the moment, finds hard work. Take Microsoft’s MSN Video for example: it works quite nicely, and has some fun stuff on it. But, you can’t upload your own stuff. Furthermore, Microsoft doesn’t offer an embedded player so you could use the clips in blogs and online forums. There is an “embedding” function for Microsoft’s Live Spaces almost-blogging platform, but it doesn’t actually do that — all you get is a still picture of the video, plus a link.

So Microsoft is trying to remedy that, with soapbox.msn.com. It’ll allow you to upload clips in just about any format up to 100MB in size, straight from digital/video cameras too. Tagging and categorisation of videos is possible, and wow, embedding of video clips into blogs and sites too!

Unfortunately, Microsoft decided to make Soapbox an invitation-only beta, with no release date so I haven’t been able to check it out to see if it is a worthy competitor to YouTube or not. Given my experience with Microsoft’s Live Spaces, where your blogging is rather heavy-handedly censured, I’m betting that Soapbox will be cool from technology point of view, but the community will go cold on it.

Apropos big deals, FryUp would like to crow just a bit about Computerworld’s general scoopiness. In July, when iiNet put ihug up for sale, we wrote:

"Computerworld understands that one likely suitor for ihug is Vodafone. The global mobile telephony giant has embarked on a strategy worldwide that entails buying up ISPs to shore up falling cellular revenues through broadband resale. Vodafone has made enquiries with several New Zealand ISPs about buying them, according to industry sources. "

At the time, Vodafone emphatically denied that it was interested in buying an ISP here, and said it would instead focus on HSDPA… yeah, right.

- Google to buy YouTube in US$1.65B stock deal

- YouTube buy lends more weight to media deals

- Google ponied up 'knockout' price for YouTube

- Scobleizer: Is Facebook worth as much as YouTube?

- Soapbox on MSN

- One Man Shouting: Why isn’t it soapbox.live.com?

- LiveSide: Warhol to become MSN Soapbox

- Vodafone buys Ihug for $41 million

- IiNet puts Ihug on the block

More tech stock options scandals

Last week, it was Apple that was under scrutiny for rum share options dealings. This week, security software McAfee’s president Kevin Weiss was fired after investigations found accounting discrepancies that may have inflated the value of stock options granted to executives. Chief executive George Samenuk retired from McAfee as well, in conjunction with the stock options imbroglio.

It’s not just tech companies that have been caught out: large online media company CNet’s co-founder, chairman and chief executive Shelby Bonnie stepped down this week after stock options grants were found to be backdated.

Watch this space: there’s more to come, so expect a procession of CEOs to fall on their swords over the next month.

- Stock options scandal hits McAfee

- 2 more executives resign over options

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