“Got kitesurfing on the mind, mixed with some search & classification tech, and a dab of political ranting”

Was Squidoo a CGM attempt at what Mahalo is doing?

Posted by direwolff on June 5, 2007

CGM = Consumer Generated Media

So first there was (previously known as The Mining Company) with a model of creating a site with “guides” managing areas of interest and building up resource pages on the topics they were interested in and responsible for. These people were trained by the company, on how to create valuable real-estate on the site, and were paid a percentage of the CPM/CPC revenue generated by their pages. Then, much later, came Squidoo. This service encouraged ordinary users interested in a topic to build a resource page and they would be paid a percentage of any affiliate revenue generated from offers appearing contextually on their page. This in effect took a lower cost approach to user generated content. While from a Google perspective, there’s probably some interesting search engine optimized (SEO) traffic coming here, the quality of the content pales in comparison to’s. Not having looked at all of the Squidoo content versus all of the it might be a bit speculative to make this last comment, but it’s been my impression in random reviews of both sites that is more useful to me than Squidoo.

But now, along comes Mahalo with what seems to be some innovative positioning in saying that it’s going after the search engine biz, when in effect, it doesn’t cater to the “Long Tail” of searches at all (only focused on top 20,000 queries and are up to the top 5,000 so far). Next, it proposes to create a results/topic page for each of the 20,000 queries. For any query not covered by the Mahalo pages, regular Google results will be returned. At this stage, the service appears to be more analogous to a site with 20,000 pages that offers search results using the Google site search capability. But given that Mahalo is going after the top 20,000 queries that should also mean that they will eventually begin to place highly within the organic search engine results given the SEO opportunity here. Hmm…

Mahalo appears to be taking a more similar approach to in terms of training and paying people to create the pages (versus allowing people to naturally do this on their own). The differentiator is how they’re choosing the content for building their site pages.  Like, the quality of the pages should also be superior to Squidoo’s.

One can call this search, but I think that’s a stretch given that there are several more appropriate metaphors for what Mahalo is doing. I’d even liken it more to Richard Rosenblatt’s DemandMedia, that went from the domainer business to one where they would build up the domains with relevant content to create a more permanent informative destination page, monetized through text-based advertising though they will surely be well positioned in the future for the lead generation business. The Demand Media offering is described as follows:

Demand Media consists of nearly 60 Web sites in niche verticals such as golf, outdoors and gardening, reaching 28 million unique visitors per month; a domain registry service that’s second in size to and reaches 60 million unique visitors per month across its sites; and the “” initiative launched in May. Under Channelme.TV, Demand Media provides Web users with the ability to buy a personalized URL, such as their name, and add a .tv to it. Individuals then can populate their sites with videos from about 15 Web partners, such as YouTube, Brightcove and MySpace, creating a “personalized TV channel.”

Here’s a great breakout of Demand Media’s properties (note that WeHow is even compared to Squidoo).

Anyway, given that I know a few of Mahalo’s investors, and know of the faith they have in Jason Calcanis, I’m sure there’s more to this play and likely some innovation on the cost side of creating this content which provides another advantage to the other models. That, and Jason is scrappy entrepreneur which you gotta like if you’re an investor in start-ups. So with that said, it will be interesting to keep up with his start-up to see how it evolves over the next couple of years.

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One Response to “Was Squidoo a CGM attempt at what Mahalo is doing?”

  1. Ken said

    The concept is similar to that of oondi ( except that oondi will pay out 100% of the advertisement profits to the authors. Their hosting costs are covered by clicks which occur on non-author owned pages like the index but I suppose it’s basically a non-profit organization similar to Wikipedia rather than a commercial one like HubPages or Squidoo.

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