BigOven Moves up to #19 on list of Seattle 2.0 has cracked the Top 20 list!

In the April traffic rankings of Web 2.0 companies based in Seattle, BigOven came in at #19, moving up 5 places from last month, and beating out venture-financed companies like Bag Borrow or Steal, Redfin, Mpire, AdReady, ImageKind, and SecondSpace. 

When focusing just on "Business to Consumer" (B-to-C) companies, it’s #16 on the list.  I’m only guessing here, but I think the ratio of unique users attained per employee is at or near #1.   BigOven is approaching 1 million unique users visiting the site each month.

The rankings of Seattle 2.0 companies is an average of and rankings, and is just for fun.  They need to be taken with a grain of salt, because both and have flaws.  (I’ve noticed that they seem to undercount unique user traffic by about 40% in the past.)

Microsoft buys Farecast

I received a nice dividend check from Madrona Venture fund relating to an acquisition of Farecast.  In their letter, they said that the purchaser would be revealed soon.

To my surprise, John Cook of the Seattle P-I is reporting that the buyer is none other than Microsoft. 

This is likely to cause an interesting new round of travel-search competition by the major portals, which bodes ill for the large travel intermediaries like Expedia/Orbitz/Travelocity.  Or, perhaps one of them will be bought by either Google or Yahoo.

See my recent post "The right strategy for Google in Travel".

FriendFeed(tm) Support now in Beta for

Today, became the first recipe sharing site to support FriendFeed(tm), a free, and rapidly-growing social network aggregation service. 


(Please send beta feedback here, thanks!)

What does this mean, and why is this useful?

About FriendFeed:  At the simplest level, FriendFeed shows you a single "stream" of all your web activity.  For instance, every time you post to your blog, it goes on your FriendFeed.  Every time you upload to YouTube, it goes on your FriendFeed.  Every time you upload to flickr, every time you use twitter… you get the idea.  It’s a single-stream announcement/discussion service.

My FriendFeed is here:

You can subscribe to the ones you want, and leave the ones you don’t want at any time.  With FriendFeed, you get a single "streamed" view of your, or all your friend’s web activity — whether that’s posts on blogs, flickr photo uploads, YouTube video uploads, twitter messages, etc., and now BigOven activity.

You can subscribe to your friend and family’s streams, seeing their activity as it happens, seeing a single consolidated view of it all, and staying in touch with things they like and don’t like.  It’s rather like Facebook’s "what are my friends doing" feature, but on steroids.  It’s been broadened, to more of a cross-application, vendor-neutral version of it.

You can see my FriendFeed here:, or one of the much more connected people around these days, journalist/blogger/opinion-maker Robert Scoble, at  Robert has recently written that now that FriendFeed has arrived, he’s blogging less, and FF is rapidly becoming the place he turns to in order to find out what’s happening on the net and amongst his friends.

The news is that starting today,, the social network about food with 92,000+ users, is part of the fun. 

Once you do a quick setup (only about 2 mins), every time you post a recipe, or upload a photo or a video, or rate a recipe highly with 4 or 5 stars, BigOven will automatically add it to your personal FriendFeed stream if you take just a moment to tell it to do so.  These streams can then be shown to your friends, placed on your blog, your Facebook profile, or many other places.   It’s a great way to alert friends and family when you do something interesting on the web.  FriendFeed is completely free. 

And it’s simple! 

1)  You’ll need a free FriendFeed account.  Get one here.

2)  After you’ve created FriendFeed account (and have a free membership), visit to tell BigOven which alerts to send on your FriendFeed.  Simply check the boxes you’d like to send.. that’s it!  (You can return to this page at any time either via the direct link, or your "My Settings" area, which can be reached from your chef page’s "Edit My Page" button.) 

(Note that BigOven never sees your FriendFeed username and password, only the "RemoteKey", which is public, and can be reset by you at any time.)

After you click "authorize", your friends will see your stream like this:

Learn much more about FriendFeed at C|NET.   

Microsoft should buy FriendFeed

In my final months at Microsoft in ’97, I tried (but ultimately failed) to convince the messenger group to acquire Mirabilis, a small Israeli software company behind the instant-messaging client ICQ. 

As product unit manager of the Internet Gaming effort at Microsoft, I noticed that ICQ was becoming a very popular (and growing!) first-stop for gamers to meet before launching a game online.  The whisper price of the company in ’97 was $90-100 million, which was too rich for the Messenger group at the time.  I thought the Messenger team at the time carried a bit of  a "not-invented here" attitude, which extended to our own internal game-matchmaking / instant-messaging tray-application, ZoneMatch.  (We would have been happy to implement ZoneMatch through messenger if they had an API.  But, like MSN subscription billing, that was forever being put off, and so separate product groups had to roll-their-own.) 

ICQ was acquired the following year (1998) by AOL for around $287 million.  By the end of ’98, it had surpassed 40 million members. 

Today, I look at the dramatic rise of FriendFeed, a very clever nexus-of-social-networking.  And I see many of the same things.  It’s in the right strategic position to become a viable challenger, perhaps, to Facebook for social interconnection.  With connections into Flickr, YouTube, blog sites, anything with an RSS feed, etc., they are developing a pretty valuable "traffic cop and more" foothold amongst people, and may someday soon hold richer "social graph" information than even Facebook.  Check it out soon, Microsoft!

The right strategy for Google in Travel

It was a little hard to tell yesterday whether the rumors of a Google offer for my former employer,, where true or just an April Fool’s Day joke.

As Rich Barton has pointed out, Google already does a pretty good job monetizing travel, by getting each competing vendor to pay for clicks during the search process.

But Google is doing a pretty poor job right now actually answering people’s travel-related queries.  Type in "Maui condo spring break", and you’ll be given the usual 10 Blue Links as search results, plus some pay-per-click ads.  That experience is quite a hassle for consumers.

What you really want when you type in "Maui condo spring break" is for Google to ask you if you know your dates, what price range you want to pay, and what amenities you might want, then present the results on the following page.

Instead of buying a travel intermediary, Google should immediately embrace and/or publish a set of microformats or more detailed specs for travel availability and resource search.  When someone goes to Google and wants to do an airfare search, Google should syndicate out this search to a series of subscriber-services that have registered with it.  The structured data that returns can be ordered in whatever way Google wants (yes, probably including promotional billing and/or things like paying for a thumbnail image or embedded video). 

In this way, Google could make lots of consumers happy and take the economic rents that are currently owned by many travel intermediaries, whether it’s Expedia, Priceline, Travelocity, Sidestep, or others.

Suppliers too benefit tremendously when this happens, since the connection to searching consumers is much more direct.

BigOven launches Cookbook Publishing

Mashable and PersonaNonData cover today’s official rollout of the brand-new Print-Your-Own-Cookbooks service on

Cookbooks can be generated from any set of recipes.  The most common use will likely be to create a gift for others, or archive a personal collection.

But beyond this, the unique ability offered today is that the shared aspect of BigOven lets you build cookbooks collaboratively and easily with friends or family members anywhere around the world.

For instance, let’s say you and your friends get together for group dinners every month.  Want a recipe book from them?  Simply create a Group on (it’s free) and invite the participants to post recipes to the site, and add them to the group.  Each of your diners can go to their own web browser anywhere in the world, post recipes and photos (all free, of course) to  Then,  a cookbook can be created from those recipes quickly and easily.  There’s no collator or editor or formatter — the process is all taken care of for you by

Together with the BigOven Groups feature, which lets you create your own cooking discussion group about any topic, the new print-your-own-cookbook service opens up a world of theme-based cookbooks.  Want some great Diabetic-friendly recipes?  No problem.  Simply visit the Diabetic Cooking Group on BigOven, scroll halfway down where you see the recipes that are part of the group, and click "Print a Group Cookbook".  Choose a title and (optionally) a cover photo, move the recipes over into the book, and bingo.  You’re done.  A beautiful book with table of contents is generated automatically.   

You’ll see "Create a Cookbook" on any set of search results on  So if you want an Indian Food Cookbook, go to BigOven and search on "indian food".  Look on the right hand side and choose "Print a Cookbook".  That’s it! 

There’s no easier way to print out a family cookbook.  Every member of the family can provide their own favorite recipes, photos, etc. and then customize their own version of it upon printout. 

Creating a Cookbook with the site:

Behind the implementation

By partnering with SharedBook of NYC, we were able to implement this in a matter of a few weeks.  BigOven already has a pretty robust recipe and photo-publishing platform; all it took was the creation of a bridge page, letting you choose which recipes you want (in what order), as well as a cover photo.  The publishing action uses REST web services to push this content to the SharedBook service center for previewing and ordering.

Cookbook Publisher Sneak Peek

BigOven will soon be launching two easy ways to create beautiful, full-color cookbooks:

1)  From any web browser — just pick the recipes you’d like, choose a title and a cover image, and you’re done!

2)  From BigOven for Windows recipe software — ditto!

Here’s a sneak peek screencast showing just how easy it is to create a cookbook from the BigOven desktop software.