Byrne Hobart

Byrne Hobart is cofounder of Digital Due Diligence, as well as director of editorial SEO for Yahoo!. The views expressed in his bylines are his own and do not necessarily represent Yahoo!'s opinions. Previously Hobart served as director of marketing strategy at Blue Fountain Media, where he focused on search engine optimization and pay-per-click strategies. He has been cited by The New York Times, The National Review, The New York Observer, Radio Free Europe, Voice of Russia, and TechCrunch, and has been published in Business Insider. He spoke at Search Marketing Expo West in March of 2011 on “The Economics of Content Farms.”



Groupon’s IPO as Vindication

Written on
November 3rd 2011
Author
  |   Byrne Hobart

DIGITAL DUE DILIGENCE – It’s a little bit surprising that basically every mainstream critique of Groupon over the last few months was completely wrong. Groupon was blasted for having an unsustainable, commoditized business. Their no. 3 competitor BuyWithMe just laid off most of its staff and engineered a quick sale to Gilt Groupe. Investors called Groupon’s accounting shaky because they highlighted operating profits excluding some marketing expenses on the grounds that their marketing ... More...

Occupy Wall Street and the Information Economy

Written on
October 17th 2011
Author
  |   Byrne Hobart

DIGITAL DUE DILIGENCE - Occupy Wall Street claims to operate by consensus: they’re only open to taking action or making a statement with unanimous consent. That’s part of why it’s so hard to get a coherent set of grievances out of them: if drum circle organizers, union apparatchiks and Ron Paul fans can all agree on something, it’s probably not something of substance. But the data indicate that the big deal isn’t specifically ... More...

SEO Signals: Google Wants You to Buy Trust

Written on
September 16th 2011
Author
  |   Byrne Hobart

DIGITAL DUE DILIGENCE – We’ve already documented that Google hates scalable SEO strategies for economically sound reasons: their utopia is a world in which a CMO who doubles his digital spending has to do so through AdWords or DoubleClick—nothing else scales the same way. That explains a lot about Google: not just why they don’t like paid links, but also why they don’t like low-cost, low-quality content. Of course, Google knows that the ... More...

Smart Investors Systematically Undervalue SEO

Written on
September 1st 2011
Author
  |   Byrne Hobart

DIGITAL DUE DILIGENCE – VCs don’t like SEO-dependent companies, because SEO isn’t the competitive advantage it used to be. Wall Street doesn’t like SEO because it’s too much of a black box. They’re both wrong: public perception of SEO is, by nature, a few years behind the industry most of the time. Why? 1. People are usually aware of SEO when it’s done badly: most people think of news as “news” and not ... More...

Anti-Cannibals! Building a Business on Nonexistent Norms

Written on
August 25th 2011
Author
  |   Byrne Hobart

DIGITAL DUE DILIGENCE – Yesterday we covered “Cannibals“—companies whose business model is pure status quo, and whose growth model destroys the status quo. They’re fun to track, but they’re intrinsically speculative: their entire business model is based on the existence of something that they’re arbitraging away. The opposite is a special case of network effects: companies that have a viable business model largely to the extent that they change the world, ... More...

Cannibals! Existential Risk in Online Business Models

Written on
August 24th 2011
Author
  |   Byrne Hobart

DIGITAL DUE DILIGENCE – Two of the most conventional business models online are doomed to collapse: “Let’s let users upload media in digital form, and then sell it back to them in print form!” “Let’s get famous online so we get a book deal/TV show!” These models are easy to understand, and the second model is especially compelling to people who didn’t make it in traditional media. But there’s a hidden game theory ... More...

How LinkedIn Blindsided the SEO Establishment

Written on
August 17th 2011
Author
  |   Byrne Hobart

DIGITAL DUE DILIGENCE – In AdWords, there’s a pretty simple rule: the winner is determined by the underlying economics, not by a superior AdWords strategy. In most parts of SEO, that’s true: if someone negotiates a better affiliate payout for the term “mortgage refinancing,” they can probably be the high bidder on a great domain name, and they can afford to pay more for great SEO talent. Usually. But there’s a twist: sometimes, ... More...

Why Sarbanes-Oxley Was the Best Thing to Happen to the Internet

Written on
August 10th 2011
Author
  |   Byrne Hobart

DUE DIGITAL DILIGENCE – In the next year or two, we’ll likely see the following companies go public with an initial market value over $10 billion: Facebook Groupon LivingSocial DropBox Zynga Many of these are companies that, in a world without Sarbanes-Oxley, could already be public. That would probably be good for investors; if average people could have gotten Facebook stock at the same $500 million valuation their Series C had, it would have been a ... More...

Modern Online Ads Can Lead to ‘Black Swans’ for Brands

Written on
August 3rd 2011
Author
  |   Byrne Hobart

DIGITAL DUE DILIGENCE – If there’s one way to sum up the resurgence of display advertising compared to search advertising in the last few years, it would be this: Display is finally a market. Like a financial security that can be split, swapped, sliced, diced, packaged, unpackaged, and hedged, ad space is being matched to the exact right bidder, at the exact right price. This is putting a floor on ... More...