Did Demand Media IPO Just in Time?
The content farm went public in January and netted itself a higher valuation than the New York Times. But as search engines gear up to fight spam results, could Demand’s days be numbered?
Demand Media burst onto the public markets last month, quickly earning itself a valuation of $1.5 billion—and a tidy payday for its chief investors and founders.
But it’s possible they got in to the market just before the getting stopped being good. There’s a rising backlash against “spam” search results and other low-quality content, and that could spell the death knell for content farms like Demand.
The problem: Google used to be an efficient way to find what you needed. Enter a search term, and, presto, the results served up the very thing you were looking for. But increasingly, that’s not the case.
Investor and business commentator Paul Kedrosky recently vented his outrage at the pile of garbage he found on Google when he went looking for tips on buying a dishwasher. UC Berkeley professor (and tech commentator) Vivek Wadhwa’s threw up his hands when Google couldn’t help his students find the information they were looking for. And at a panel on the future of search earlier this week, Loopt co-founder Sam Altman said: “Three times in the last month, I searched for things on Google, and the result wasn’t on the front page. That’s the first time it’s ever happened.”
A major source of the problem is the entire industry that has emerged to game the Google system, producing content that looks promising within the results, but that when clicked on, serves up a mishmash of text that looks like sneezed-out alphabet soup.