#37: Calling with Ingenio

My lunch with Matt Mullenweg was awesome. More on that later tonight. He’s very smart, but more on him later — WordPress actually fits a bit into what I’m seeing right now. Right now I’m sitting with Ron Hirson, program management director, Ebbe Altberg, vice president of product development and operations, and Scott Faber, co-founder and creator of Ingenio.

They caught my eye when they told me they have a very nice business all based on charging people for phone calls.

Huh?

Well, remember when I got my divorce? I paid that lawyer $150 per hour. But my lawyer had a bunch of back end processing to do to get his $150. What if he could just automatically charge me everytime I called him based on the duration of the call?

But, it’s bigger than that. They built an advertising platform that is ahead of anyone else including the “G” or the “Y” or the “M.”

“What kind of dope you smoking in San Francisco, Scoble?”

Heheh, but here’s the deal. Let’s say you’re a pizza restaurant. How do you get most of your business? Cell phone, right? Is that going to change just because you buy some click-to-pay ads on some search engine? No. Most people will still find your phone number and call you.

So, why can’t an ad be served to you that has the phone number right in it? Problem is, how does a company like AOL collect its advertising fee? Well, they’ve built a system where you actually are calling an Ingenio phone, which then sends the caller to the pizza place.

And, guess what? They have an auction system to decide on advertising rates and Ingenio collects a piece of the dollar and sends the rest onto the Web site where they placed the ad.

Hey, Chris Pirillo, I can see that you’d be totally into this for your http://gada.be service.

They even have created their own search engine for cell phones that’ll bring you advertisers: http://local.ingenio.com/mobile, but don’t get confused by that (although if you look at that site on my cell phone you’ll see all the phone numbers are links that I can call instantly — making phone numbers far more useful than Web links on my cell phone).

They’ve created a few Internet Connected Components where they can throw advertisements into partner’s sites. They showed me how their ads are showing up on AOL’s search site, for instance. They showed me how a mortgage broker is paying $55 per call just to be listed on the various services that Ingenio distributes its ads to. $55 per freaking call!! So, if your mom goes to AOL search, searches on, say, Los Angeles Mortgage the Money Tree is paying Ingenio big bucks to be there (hundreds of mortgage companies are vying for that spot, by the way, highest bidder shows up first). See the phone number? That’s Ingenio.

Ca-ching! The cash register rings.

It’s ingenious. Oh, sorry. Ingenio. I wish I had a cut.

And you’re only seeing one quarter of what Ingenio is doing.

#36: Beyond Code

I’m sitting with a couple of interesting people. Dave Rosenberg, principle analyst of OSDL (the open source guys, he works with Linus Torvalds) and Rajesh Setty, author of Beyond Code. We’re sitting in the cafeteria inside the borg. Now you understand why I sit in the cafeteria.

He says that his work has hugely helped developers careers. He’s studied a lot of developers and what they do to sink their careers.

“For developers the technical skills are only part of the story,” he says. “They need to build what I call the long term skills.”

Developers need to do things that will set them apart from the crowd, he says. Public speaking for instance. He pointed out how Chandu Thota set himself apart from the rest of his team by building the Feedmap over on the right side of my blog. Quick, can you name anyone else who works with Chandu? Does that turn into rewards, money, opportunities? You bet it does.

He talks about ROII – Return on Investment for Interaction. What we have less and less of is time, he says. People forget that time is the biggest investment that people can make. He looks at blogs as having ROII. But even blogs can set themselves apart from other blogs. How many blogs get return visitors? Why? Because the Return on Investment for Interaction for those readers is too small.

He’s identified nine simple things that developers can do to build their brands and move ahead in their careers.

Does this stuff matter? Yes. Even on a business level. Over and over I hear about business decisions made on relationships. Just this week I learned about a deal worth tens of millions of dollars closed on the strength of relationships.

#34: Hi Walt!

Just when I think my life has gotten surreal enough, Walter S. Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal says I’m one of his favorite tech blogs.

That’s a huge honor. Walt is one of my favorite tech journalists and is one of those guys who can make or break your company just by mentioning them in articles like this.

By the way, I am meeting Matt Mullenweg for lunch. He’s the guy who does the blog software and service here that I run on (the online version of WordPress). I’m not yet ready to pronounce this ready for the world to use, but it’s getting close and Matt has been doing a great job of fixing bugs and keeping things working. I just wanted to say thanks to the WordPress community too for putting up with me.