August 4, 2006

Death Engine: The Yahoo WoW Guild

Posted in Category: Games — Amr Awadallah @ 6:30 pm | link | | comment (0)

It’s the new Golf“, that’s the tag line we use to describe this amazing pc game called World of Warcraft (or WoW for short). WoW is a magical world, not unlike the Lord Of The Rings universe. For example, there is the Humans with all their weaknesses and strengths, the Elves with their distinctive long ears and elegance, the short Dwarves with their amazing courage, the Horde with their large muscular figures, the scary Undead with their evil aura, etc.

In that world you get to pick a character from one of the Races, a specialization (or Class) like Warrior, Hunter, or Priest, and a Profession like Engineering, Alchemy, Tailoring, etc. You then proceed to live, and work!, in that world with the goal of increasing your status, wealth, and reputation. You do that by completing different quests (missions), some quests are simple, like helping an old lady buy some groceries, but most quests are about killing a ton of bad guys ;), which is not easy and requires a lot of tactics and co-ordination between your team members. As you complete quests you gain experience (or XP for short), and that accumulates allowing you to level up (you start week at level one, and you become all powerful at level 60). The world is very large, for example at this site you can see some maps for it, there is even a Google-Maps-Like version too.

Death Engine

WoW is an amazing success story, they came out of the Strategy Game genre, which they dominated for years, but were then able to turn the MMORPG world upside down. This site tracks the growth of MMORPGs and you can see how WoW came out of no where and in a short time became the category leader beating very well established players like Everquest (Sony) and Lineage (ncSoft). WoW has around 6M subscribers paying around $15/month, that is $270M per quarter, not bad!

A bunch of us Yahoos (as in Yahoo Employees) have been playing WoW for some time now, but we were in different realms (servers) and could not really play with each other. Blizzard (the company that makes this game) finally provided a feature so that you can move your toon (aka avatar, avy, or character) from one realm to another (for a $25 transfer fee, smart!). So now we all were able to move onto a single server and we formed our own Guild (aka Clan or Team). We now have an internal mailing-list and twiki at Yahoo where we organize our team and plan our next attack, etc.

The name of our guild “Death Engine” is a play on Yahoo’s marketing line of “Life Engine”. We are not sure whether we choose that name because we die a lot in that game, or because we are able to kill others a lot ;). You can see above a screenshot from the game with some of us dancing around in a very popular hangout area in the world, the Iron Forge auction house bridge (IF AH Bridge for short). Yahoo’s work-hard play-hard culture really makes it an amazing place to be at.

If you happen to cross one of the Death Engine members in WoW, then remember to say “hi, I love your search engine” 🙂


— amr

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August 1, 2006

Google is slowing down.

Posted in Category: Work — Amr Awadallah @ 7:53 pm | link | | comment (0)

Google’s amazing revenue growth over the last couple of years is mainly due to the fact that they had a vast resource (queries and clicks) that they were not able to monetize for years until they figured out the charge-per-click business model. Google was amazing in how quickly they were able to develop the matching technologies to monetize every single crank of that resource, hence their explosive growth in 2003, 2004, and 2005.

That said, 2006 is showing the early signs of slow down for four reasons:

  1. Once you have tons of revenue, its hard to keep high Year-over-Year (YoY) growth rates
  2. The search marketplace is slowing down a bit due to saturation in the US and European markets (still plenty of growth in Asia though, but Yahoo is stronger there).
  3. Google launched almost all the tricks in the bag during 2003, 2004 and 2005, the only remaining tricks are visual placement tricks and looser matching (i.e. more, less-relevant, ads on top of web results).
  4. None of Google’s other products, other than web search that is, have decent “money” marketshare. Google’s Image Search is actually pretty large, but they have no ads there (will that change in Q3? possibly).

To further illustrate this point, I show below the YoY and sequential growth numbers for Google’s revenues (extracted from their quarterly announcements). The important trend here is the one for the sequential growth (the blue curve), notice how strong 2005-Q3 was compared to 2005-Q2 (up 14%), that happened due to Google increasing the max number of ads on top of web results to 3 (up from 2).

Quarter Seq Growth YoY Growth
2004 Q3 15.00% 105.00%
2004 Q4 28.00% 101.00%
2005 Q1 22.00% 93.00%
2005 Q2 10.00% 98.00%
2005 Q3 14.00% 96.00%
2005 Q4 22.00% 86.00%
2006 Q1 17.00% 79.00%
2006 Q2 9.00% 77.00%

Don’t expect this strong growth for 2005-Q3 to repeat again for 2006-Q3, it will be lower, much lower (unless if Google increases the ads above web results or start monetizing one of their other large products). In fact, I expect the summer impact to be larger on Google since they have more share of students and schools.

What do you think ?

— amr

Google Revenue Growth

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