The Google Pepsi Challenge

I came across an offline media journalist’s piece the other day that took a
peek at my favorite search engine, Google. The columnist used a
broad brushstroke to determine why the start-up is so wildly popular with
its users. Tops on her list were the superior search results retrieved by
Google. In fact, that was the only
supporting fact cited.

First off, that’s likely the last in a long list of reasons most folks use
this Web property. I can get comparable search results from most any
‘portal’ on the block, but Google boasts a smashing user experience that’s
head and shoulders above its peers.

Start with the layout. Simple hardly describes it. Refreshing is more like
it. The company initially shunned advertising in its early stages, but
since you’ve got to pay the light bills, the newcomer has since added text
commercials to its layout without hijacking the user experience. Still
simple, always refreshing.

Google’s front page logo is constantly in the holiday spirit. Over the
Easter weekend, the double ‘Os’ quietly morphed into a couple of decorated
eggs. There’s a real sense that the programmers on the other end have a
terrific sense of humor, and these guys aren’t afraid to have a little fun.
Something the Web could desperately use a nutritious dose of.

But for a cyber-sleuth like me, the superstar’s real killer app lies in its
cached Web pages. How many times have you punched in a search, only to find
the subsequent page missing in action? Well, Google has been diligently
cataloguing many dinosaurs of the Web on its own servers.

That means two key things. When a Web page no longer exists, Google gives
you a peek at it anyway. If you haven’t tried it yet, you’ll love it. It’s
like finding buried treasure, and it’s one of the true gems of the
Internet. Not every Web site is corporate, and some of the best nuggets can
be found on some average Jane’s dedicated GeoCities Web page that no longer
exists. Until now.

And lastly, how many times do you try to access a company home page that’s
having a server traffic jam. Now, you don’t have to wait. Just click the
cached copy on Google’s own ultra-reliable servers and skip the headaches

I’ve had lengthy philosophical discussions with my colleagues on how much
of the Web’s history is disappearing without a trace, and no one seems to
be concerned. Since much of the Web’s history is simply bits and bytes, it
would be a shame not to cram it onto a room full of servers, forever
available to the ages.

Not to worry. Google’s got it covered, and it’s by far the best killer app
since broadband’s “always on” feature. Users should note that Google has
since changed the term “Cached copy” to “Show matches.” I’m crossing my
fingers that the switcheroo isn’t related to any heat over copyright

It won’t be long before the venture-backed Google winds its way toward the
new issues market, but when it does, I’ll grab a few shares. Unlike many
mega-portal rivals on the Internet, this understated search engine
understands its users. If you haven’t used it, give it a shot. Then you’ll
see what all the fuss is about. (OTCBB: GNOW)
announced plans to pour money into today. I received an
e-mail from the company’s IR firm just over a month ago, asking me to look
into GoPublicNow and maybe do a
piece on its newly unveiled B2B initiative.

With a little help from Google’s killer app, I did look into it, and the
company has had quite a makeover. Surf on over and have a look-see yourself. GoPublic is a snazzy site sporting itself as
a business-to-business financial Web portal. In an idea as ol

d as the
Internet itself, the company is playing middleman to start-ups looking to
raise capital online or go public over the Internet.

This newest development with “intends to function as a
solution source to meet the full range of business needs of companies that
may not meet the criteria to currently go public or that require assistance
in other aspects of their business growth.”

That actually looks more like GoPublic’s early beginnings. The company
started off in the mid-90s as an IR firm “specializing in emerging growth
companies.” That’s Web speak for penny stocks. Since then, the company
formerly known as the Michelson Group has adopted the red-hot B2B
moniker and shelled out a few bucks for a handsome looking Web presence.

But despite lofty comparisons to such high-flyers Freemarkets (FMKT)
and Ariba (ARBA)
, this fledgling has a long way to go in proving itself more than just a
johnny-come-lately. On the news of its latest re-invention, shares of
GoPublicNow dipped below $4 on anemic volume, already 40% off its IPO price
from two weeks ago.

Any questions or comments, love letters or hate mail? As always, feel free
to forward them to [email protected].

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