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"And much of it revolves not around its plans for a content powerhouse, but the story of how the Guelph startup found a loophole in Google's vaunted advertising model, enabling it to make boatloads of cash - until Google decided enough was enough."


"What's more, he envisioned a network of thousands of websites all automated by software linking keywords to pages filled with ads, returning millions in cash in the process.

By 2005 that was exactly what was happening. Nye crafted a maze of Internet sites that included tens of thousands of Web pages and bought up even more keywords from Google. By connecting the keywords and the websites, Geosign was indeed generating more than $100 million in annual revenue and was extremely profitable."

Well, no sympathy there.

I liked this quote though:

"There's a tendency in the press to make everyone either a dog or a god. The truth is most people are somewhere in between. Tim is no different. He has shortcomings, but he's also a highly creative guy."

Yeah, exactly. The tone of the article is a little off. Fundamentally, these guys were advertisement parasites. They added almost no value to the internet, offered no meaningful products, and the world is frankly better off without them.

And yet I get the idea that we're supposed to be sorry for them because they're just a poor canadian company unfairly crushed by the american giant.

I especially like the use of the euphemism "search arbitrage" to describe their business model. :)

So you can say hand on heart, if you worked out a way to 'game' a couple of systems, in order to make money with little or no effort, you wouldn't do it? Just a little bit?

You could say the same about "direct to advertiser PPC" - people who use adwords to bid on keywords, then drive the traffic straight to other affiliate programs, and skim off the profit. Yes, on the one hand they are parasites, but on the other, they are doing keyword research, generating more sales for the merchants, etc. They are value adding.

Granted though, search arbitrage is not in the same boat, and doesn't really benefit anyone.

That's not what I said, though. The fact that I might be tempted to break a rule doesn't mean I'm morally obliged to shed tears for those who break it and get burned. The folks who were most hurt here were the investors, who clearly bought into the scam not realizing the risks involved. So if any tears are shed it should be for them.

But what really irked me about the article was the pseudo-nationalist tone. "Who cares if they were parasites? Those were canadian parasites that Google killed!"

The article clearly states that the investors did understand the risk. The folks who were most hurt were the newly-hired employees who had just quit their previous job to join Geosign.

They didn't break any rules though. They just played the system.

I agree it was written a bit like you say though.

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