2. Mahalo is doing amazing videos with experts, but our (text) articles were created by passionate writers who are not necessarily experts. Google want's experts, so we're doubling down and getting experts to help build curriculums and lesson plans for our videos. I'm 100% certain that will solve the problem.
3. You can think of us as a free version of Lynda.com for everything. Or a version of Kahn Academy for everything.
Imagine tens of thousands of these type of pages and videos being made a year:
We're going to teach folks every major piece of software, every recipe of note, how to change their oil and how to play any song on guitar or piano. http://www.youtube.com/howtoplayguitar2
Video is the future, and we're going to be the largest creator of educational videos this year.
It sucks that we got hit so hard, but we will come back stronger. The 95 members of the team that are still with us are more committed than ever to the mission.
Yes, it really sucked to get off stage after 47 amazing LAUNCH companies had such amazing launches on stage. I got told on my way to the after party. We struggled over these decisions all weekend with the leadership team.
At the end of the day entrepreneurship is about kicking ass and getting your ass kicked. I've been through this many times, but I would be lying if I said it didn't impact me. It does.
This is the first time I had such a big high followed by such a low, low.
OK, time to change a diaper and give a bottle. No rest for the weary.
Back to work.
> Video is the future, and we're going to be the largest
> creator of educational videos this year.
Seriously, I am starting to see this tendency to do anything in video as some sort of DRM
scheme for content sites. I recently unsubscribed from thinkvitamin.com because they started to push everything to video (with annoying intro at the start of each video).
I did check your guitar lessons… Sorry guys, but with "amazing videos" you have you will never ever beat this guy: http://justinguitar.com/ (check out his beginners course or intermediate method; http://www.youtube.com/user/JustinSandercoe ) — take a look if just to see how expert teaching looks like.
I will chose the best over the largest every time.
A lot of people do want this. A good screencast shows not only the code, but the thought process that goes into writing the code.
People have different cognitive styles and learn in very different ways. I thought this was common knowledge by now.
I guess that's probably the same reason why I was always incredibly bored during lectures at university and preferred learning from books instead.
Now, while this obviously does not vindicate the claims of the people who assert that learning styles must be embodied in the neurology of the learner, it does show that something is going on, and it would be to the benefit of both learners and teachers to find out more about it.
I for one wouldn't know anything about Rails without Ryan Bates' Railscasts series or Patrick Lenz's Simply Rails book. Quality videos watching Ryan work through the code, and show notes with the code written is great for some things, and a book is great for others.
As for Jason, sorry to hear about being forced into such a hard decision - I like the direction Mahalo is taking and wish you all the success.
The problem with just reading programming things is you're seeing the final product. If you watch the video there is a better chance that you'll see how the person got to that point.
The thing that always annoyed me about Haskell tutorials, for example, was people would put in all this beautiful code but I couldn't ever make it run. In a video they would probably ran it themselves and I would have been able to see the import statements they were using but not putting in the tutorial (this isn't a problem with Haskell literate programming afaik).
Trying to teach somebody something like programming over video is taking the lazy way out. In my university days some large first-year classes were delivered by video - I never took any, but I'd wager that student transcripts of the talks would have been worth real money.
It seems like a pride/ego/money thing from the outside. Is it something else?
I've got the education bug, and I want to take the promise we all see in things like Lynda.com and Kahn Academy and scale it into a brand as big as Google or Wikipedia.
LAUNCH, Angel investing and This Week in Startups are all fun, but they are not as challenging as MAHALO.
Also, keep in mind that Mahalo is a top 200/300 site with millions in revenue even with this hit. It's the most successful thing I've done.... despite the hits we've taken.
Perhaps you shouldn't try to be 'everything to everybody'. I might not be your demographic, but whenever I think of learning I never think of Mahalo.
I would say choose one vertical that you can conquer - from an education play - and conquer it. Then branch out horizontally.
You can't beat Lynda.com, Khan Academy and every other learning site at the same time. Take it one vertical at a time and come up with a unique value proposition.
Lynda.com was the first mainstream internet video portal to make programming/technical tutorial videos and charge for them.
People don't go to Khan for the quality of the videos (i.e. fancy production and cameras), it is because he has an interesting way of explaining complex topics - and he focuses on the content (not himself).
Those are not very easy to beat, because they have already achieved Product/Market fit.
Unfortunately, you guys are still struggling to find yours.
There is a DESPARATE need within this market for passionate knowledgeable and skilled people who are willing to invest their time energy and certainly money to help build these projects and get the word out. Personally knowing that the work that im doing will help kids and teens and maybe even young adults get excited about learning is more exciting then the idea of having everybody use my product and then being able to sell it and make alot of money. Ok almost as exciting. :-).
So please consider it. Thank you.
s/Kahn/Khan from both your posts.
Plus, you've already carved out a massive amount of market share and goodwill with the conferences related products.
I even saw the stats pattern when the Quantcast stats were not hidden..and I had to look up how to do stats again just to analyze it..as I had not touched stats math in years..
Oh my God, I think I just threw up a little in my mouth. What mission would that be? Spamming the web with contrived content related to high-value keywords, for the money?
Good things happen to good people.
The opposite is also true.
Congrats Jason! :D
GP's point: X are spammers and get undeserved respect on HN. Your response: there are worse spammers. Do the spammers also get undeserved respect?
I accept your point about it being harder to classify, but I don't see how the SE's job being harder can equate to slightly useful content being worse than outright spam.
Also note that Mahalo enjoyed that level of traffic based on auto-generating pages through shagging third party content (without requesting permission and without any way to opt out of getting your content scraped, since they were pulling in the scrapes from Google's search API & you couldn't block Mahalo doing that without blocking GoogleBot).
In the past when Matt Cutts wrote of such MFA scraper sites he described them as "shoot on sight"
"In the chat room, I said hello to teeceo, but I know the stuff that he was doing and it’s shoot-on-sight. I think anyone who is blackhat knows (or should know) that I’m happy to talk to anyone, but that we’ll still take action on the spam we find."
And yet you have sympathy for Jason? Shows how powerful his public relations skills are! :D
I think not many people on HN realize (or probably are willing to admit) that This Week In Startups is the most interesting resource to learn from real experiences of fellow entrepreneurs, developers, etc.
Mixergy is another interesting one, but the format of TWIST provides its viewers lots of insights and info that you simply can't get anywhere else on the web.
So not all Jason does is evil.
Just my two cents.
I can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Khan Academy has quality content which are dense with information. Your video wasted four minutes and told me nothing I couldn't find out by playing around with Photoshop.
Or maybe it makes you look like someone who thinks they have better opportunities elsewhere.
I also have a free advice to entrepreneurs - since I'm working remotely as I don't live in the US, I have to be much better / work much harder than US developers, just so I can take home barely the minimum U.S. salary in this industry. I also don't get any equity. When that attitude changes, maybe I'll start giving a shit.
Points for honesty, but I'm wary of any dev who says that. How do you know what maintainable code is if you never stick around for the maintenance?
Subsequently my experience is that developers who have been in the same job for a very long time, have a higher chance of being totally clueless. And also generally not confident with new ideas, not aware of alternative ways of doing things, not exposed to the culture of the broader profession etc.
I am wary of any dev. You could go through this during the hiring process. Most programmers end up doing some maintenance even in new jobs.
But bottom line I suspect this hiring principal is essentially backwards.
Getting bored easily and professionalism are not mutually exclusive.
There are several universal things you can do to ensure maintainability, which are a no-brainer, but don't happen because of various compromises that have to do with time and money - like code-reviews, having no module with a single owner, automatic tests, up to date documents / stories, etc...
If you don't do any of that, it's a no-brainer again that the project will not be maintainable; but it can still be beaten into shape later if the original devs weren't totally insane :)
Is there some reason for this, and no I'm not trying to troll.
1. Mahalo is blowing in the wind. I have no idea what Mahalo is or what Calacanis wants it to be. SEOing the hell out of near-worthless content is not a long-term strategy. If you want to win - solve a problem!
2. Jason Calacanis is an excellent executive. This Google algo change took place on Fri/Sat. By Tuesday this guy made the huge, painful, most difficult call in the world and laid off 10% of his company. If you have ever had to lay people off - you know what I mean. It is hard, it is painful, it is life changing. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. I understand that the employee takes the blunt of the blow - but believe me, being on the other side of the table is not a desirable place to be.
I know this is not a popular stance on HN, but I have a lot of respect for Calacanis. The guy has done so much for the start up community. TWiST is some of the most valuable content I have found on the web and The Launch Conference - if it hasn't already - will change the startup conference scene forever. Not to mention his home brewed angel network that tilts the table in favor of entrepreneurs.
Calacanis is a hell of a self-promoter - but even if he rubs you the wrong way - you should respect what he has been able to do. If you have been (or were) on 60 minutes talking about internet startups...in your 20's...feel free to rip him apart. If not, show a little respect for what he has done and little empathy for what the guy just had to do.
1) Jason and Mahalo are over. Their new strategy is very expensive and a multi-year road before it's a real business. It's a total rewrite, not a pivot by any means, if they do it well. No way Calacanis lasts a few more years at Mahalo (even if the board doesn't push him out).
2) Calacanis isn't really in charge at Mahalo AFAIK. The employees all report to Jason Rapp. Rapp and the board probably made the decision to layoff, though Calacanis was probably involved. He's being allowed to save face and ego. His role is more of a spokesperson than a CEO.
I think Calacanis simply can't force himself to do what it takes to make Mahalo successful because he's already rich. He's referred to Mahalo as "freeroll" meaning that even if it fails he's still rich. That kind of attitude is fine for getting things you love done, but it doesn't work when you're trying to do something you're not innately passionate about. He doesn't have the hunger (nor would almost anyone) to make Mahalo the kind of success it needs to be to justify its investment.
Paul Graham has said many times that he wouldn't start another startup because it's just too painful and he knows he couldn't stomach it now that he doesn't have the incentive he did before (to get rich).
I don't think there's anything wrong with this. It's natural human behavior to respond to incentives. I think when Calacanis finally realizes (or admits) this he'll be a much happier (if ego-bruised) guy.
Calacanis is unbelievably awesome when he's doing things he's passion about. TWiST and LAUNCH are flawless. He's the target demographic for the content himself and it shows.
He should turn LAUNCH newsletter into a head-to-head blog competitor to TechCrunch. Combined with TWiST and LAUNCH conference it really could become as influential and big as TC is.
He's got a ton of talent and energy, but I think Mahalo really drags him down. If he removed that burden he'd be able to do something truly amazing and big.
tl;dr: If you're already rich don't try to do things that you aren't genuinely passionate about, your subconscious will prevent you from doing what it takes to succeed that way. Stick to things you don't have to force yourself to do and are naturally good at.
That does say something about the content that Mahalo produces, doesn't it?
EDIT: Why the hell is this getting so many upvotes? Because it's easier to read? Upvote, instead, some of the comments with actual fucking content.
EDIT2: Also, while I think (much of) Mahalo is spam, I respect Jason and his business, and wish him the best of luck.
Concision is valuable.
Eh, that's my cute answer. I really just think "conciseness" sounds awkward.
The general consensus on HN is that he doesn't treat people well or is somehow not very "honest".
Personally, I'm a big fan. I watch every episode and I generally agree with most of what he says.
The problems people have with Mahalo and their ilk are unimportant to 90% of the people on the Internet. Many are perfectly comfortable typing "how to cross street?" into google or their isp homepage and clicking the top link. Boom: business model.
If you listen to others explain who Calcanis is you'll get what people think he is. Instead listen to this interview (and read the show notes), on Stack Overflow podcast, "Podcast #56 Jeff Atwood" ~ http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/06/podcast-56/
He came across as smart, funny and determined. It's his determination that struck me the most.
Now with all this being said, you have to respect the guy. He has built and sold businesses (so he actually knows something). He tells it to you like he sees it. That gets my vote all the time. I watch all his shows at TWIST and he does a neat job at giving constructive feedback to entrepreneurs. I frankly think that he likes to act tougher than he really is. This is just his defense mechanism.
When there is malicious gossip people pay attention to the name. First impressions count.
Disclaimer: I couldn't care less about Arrington or Calacanis.
And no I'm not trying to troll.
OK, you got me.
Having heard about Mahalo through Podcasts and such, I have been to the site a few times to find some things, but usually ended up back at Google.
However, now learning of the How-To style videos coming to the site in droves, I'm definitely interested again.
So, this bad press and their bad fortune may lead to new visitors, such as myself. Probably not in the waves that Google brought, but it's "press" none-the-less.
Applicable lesson I learned the hard way - better to make cuts early in the face of a serious shift vs. burn cash, see morale dip, etc.
Crunchbase shows Mahalo at 40 employees pre-cut.
All for naught.
Maybe they can still get a referral from Jason, but given that I don't think that pays the bills...hopefully it can help them land on their feet.
I guess my point is, this is why you should be careful who you commit to slave for (e.g. a boss that expressly says that they expect you to work like a slave) because at the end of the day - if the business ever turns down you are just a number.
It's unfair to ask salaried employees to give the same as the founder, because the founders won't be first in line to be cut when revenues turn down.
I suggest that he doesn't go around bragging about how he only wants 'winners' and he expects everybody to give 80 hour weeks and all that non-sense. Giving someone free food, and a 'free chef', doesn't make up for demanding 80-hour weeks no matter what they tell you.
I think he should just shut up, and set an example through deeds - because at the end of the day, 10% of the staff can (and should) get cut when revenue tanks. Acting like it won't happen and they will have a big payday if the company gets bought or goes public is disingenuous at best, and deceitful/fraudulent at worst.
That being said, I don't think he should discourage people from working that long - on the occasion when they have a deadline to hit or something.
But just be more responsible with the rhetoric, is all I am saying. These are people with families that are likely depending on their livelihood.
Hopefully too many other businesses don't buy into that nonsense.
It would make sense to get rid of some writers and get some video folks quick. With their 40 employees, 4 being let go seems hardly a news-worthy event. It seems even more of a stretch positioning this as google algorithm driven.
Mmmmm, savor the delicious irony.
Similarly, an algorithmic change in Google which cleans up the long tail can help businesses in a variety of fashions. I mean, I'm not actually seeing major changes yet, but if my rankings for five thousand variations of "how do I make X bingo cards" over the universe of ten Xs which content farms deem valuable to target, that gives me additional resources to develop value-producing things elsewhere (like, e.g., subsidizing the development of AR, or ramping up my publication efforts from my current speed of ~250 to year to a higher number on progressively more obscure topics which real teachers really do want to teach lessons on tomorrow).
Similarly, improving the value of the SERPs for any field of endeavor or user community results in an increase in the aggregate number of searches as user behavior changes. That is a change that lifts all boats.
SEO can mean "help make my site easy for google to honestly evaluate and judge the quality of my content" or it can mean "game google into thinking my content is what people want to see even though they probably don't".
I can see how having a better index creates value but I'm not sure how SEO contributes to a better index. It seems like google changed the rules, some companies are doing worse, some are better (zero sum) but hopefully the index is better and people can find what they want (unlocking value). Is that what you're getting at?
Alright, by analogy: you understand how a properly functioning economy has positive effects for participants in the stock market, right? Economic growth means investors win. Do you understand that a properly functioning stock market also helps the broader economy, even if we assume that each participant in the market is just trying to manipulate the market into serving their own selfish interests? The market converges on more efficient allocation of capital than other sorts of non-market capital allocation schemes we have tried.
Google's tremendous expertise with algorithms is one reason why the experience of searching the Internet generally does not suck. The input people create to rank on Google is another reason. Good, descriptive titles are the single easiest on-page way to influence rankings on leaf pages -- they're also the single easiest way for an engine to tell what a page is about without linking signals. Thus, the practice of putting titles on pages improves the index. What's the first thing your SEO consultant is going to do? Look at your title tags. Systemwide, this converges on an Internet where most pages that people actually end up seeing have good, descriptive titles.
Divide that by category types and link from the sidebar - this will pass linkjuice more efficiently and improve your traffic.
The really interesting thing is that http://www.onedayoneinternship.com/ has seen no change in traffic. Its architecture is nearly identical, and much of the content is shared across both sites (because I built the sites for humans, not search engines). There's a decent chance that this is causing the problem, but I can't understand why ODOJ would get hit instead of ODOI. Even content that isn't partially duplicated on ODOI is getting hit, so it's either a domain level filter/penalty based on duplicate content, or it's not the issue.
Right now I'm thinking a lot about how to fix whatever Google doesn't like, but it's really hard when you can't be sure. I can't really afford to do significant testing (and you can't actually run a good experiment with a real site). For now I'm going to keep investigating, and work on building links. That's always a good time investment.
Wild guess: "job" is a highly competitive keyword subject to lots of scammy black hats ("work from home for $$$!!!"), while "internship" is much more clear of the scum?
/\ For non-URLed discussion of dozens or possibly hundreds of legit sites which were hit.
Today's Wired article gives some more specific examples:
As far as I can tell, Mahalo.com is a video site. Why on earth would google going after content farms affect a video site in any way?
To me, this headline makes about as much sense as "Microsoft changes Windows 7 pricing, pork belly futures skyrocket." Am I missing something?
On the other side this shows the monopolistic power of Google and how they can hurt individual companies like they want.
For us as search engine users, it is time to support other search engines, for instance DuckDuckGo.
Changes like this hurt most if you depend on spam-like SEO.
For example, Stack Overflow hasn't lost anything from this recent algorithm change - they actually gained from it.