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We've seen this Ether before, no? --- and other Silicon Valley news

Ether launches -- On the face of it, Ether offers an interesting new service: Owned by the San Francisco company, Ingenio, Ether lets you set up a phone service where you charge a price for giving people advice over the phone.

You can charge people $200 an hour for advice on how to uncork a bottle of wine, for example. Ether gives you a number, which you put on your Web site. Users call the number, and Ether collects the payment for you, plus a small fee for itself.

As usual, TechDirt's Mike Masnick cuts through the buzz. He says Ether's hyped launch obscured recognition that its idea isn't all that new:

You recall that greatly overhyped Keen.com hit the scene in late 1999 offering what sounds to be... um... the exact same thing ...It didn't take long before Keen basically became an alternative to the 1-900 system, and rather than "experts" selling their time (as the company pitched when it launched) many of its customers were in the phone sex and psychic hotline business. Okay, so Ether.com is following the same original Keen business model... except the relationship is even closer than that. Ether is Keen. They're both a part of Ingenio, mostly known now for it's pay-per-call advertising service....The problem, though, is actually finding anyone willing to pay out that kind of money to talk to you -- which is why the original Keen plan switched to sex and psychics.

So when Microsoft blogger Robert Scoble asks does anyone have any idea how they'd use Ether, we say guess....

Silicon Valley is becoming a high-tech job mecca -- Or so says this WSJ piece, while analyzing recent statistics showing job growth is up in Silicon Valley for the first time in five years. Low-end jobs aren't coming back, only high-tech jobs are staying. Companies mentioned as examples: Netflix, SanDisk, Google, Palm & Adobe.

So did Skype rig something with Intel? -- AMD, the chip-maker that is a rival to Intel, is wondering why Skype says its multi-person conference calls can only be conducted with an Intel chip. It has subpoenaed Skype to find out if this is an anti-trust arrangement with Intel, thus unfairly shutting out AMD.

Stuck in neutral -- Microsoft's Street Side promises to be one of the better offerings of local photos. Initially, it's only offering views of Seattle and SF city streets (it is using its Virtual Earth technology), but even some of those streets weren't available when we tried them. However, type in 111 Market, for example, and select SF, and you'll have a cool view of the Ferry Building looking toward to the Bay. You're sitting in a race car, but then you realize it is only a preview, and the car is stationary, and so is a bit of a disappointment. We wanted to step on the gas and cruise to Haight. Can't wait for this thing to get some gas.

The Silicon Valley face behind Samsung's Z5 -- We'd mentioned earlier how Palo Alto's Paul Mercer was behind the software in the Z5, and here's a NYT story with more details. Good to see Mercer get recognition. We'd seen him from time to time eating cheaply with his team at the Subway store beside the Mercury News' bureau on University. He always had a smile, and always talked enthusiastically about his venture -- though modestly never sharing any details. Hope this means he can graduate to daily feasts at Tamarind.

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Sounds eerily similar to EXP.com, and several others from 1999. I don't think they or the "others" are around anymore.


Josh on March 2, 2006 1:34 PM
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+70% of Ingenio's revenue still comes from their Keen/Ether site. Pay per call is not a big part of their business YET. . .

will on March 2, 2006 10:46 PM
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From the Ether Blog:

[...] Unlike our directories like Keen.com, Ether is a distributed model. It turns the directories model inside-out, giving tools to sellers to sell their time not at a centralized marketplace, but out in the world -- at their blog, website, business card, radio show, etc. Wherever they have customer relationships. And we've built an entirely new feature set for sellers to sell whatever they have to say (though selling adult content is not permitted) within this new context.

Simply, Ether is like PayPal for time, while our directories like Keen.com are more like Ebay. [...]


Scott Faber on March 3, 2006 1:36 PM
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