Why Walmart bought Kosmix?

What surprises me most is not that Kosmix got sold, but of all the companies in the world why did Walmart buy it? Social/web analytics companies are selling like hot cakes, with almost 2-3 acquisitions happening every couple of months in last 3 years (Twitter, Nokia, IBM are buying analytics companies in dozens) but most of these other acquisitions have been done by other technology companies (if not analytics companies). Last time I checked Walmart was supposed to be a retailer and they were hiring companies like Kosmix for work, not buying them. Does it mean social data is so important and promising for Walmart that it wants to keep of all of it in-house? (especially when there’s so much of it)? Are other large companies (with a lot of social customer data) going to follow suite (if they can afford it)?

Marketing Hypermetropia Part-2

[Update: I'm going to keep updating this post with links that deal with similar ideas:
1. Jeff Jarvis - New rule: Cover what you do best. Link to the rest]

It’s perfectly understandable that if a company doesn’t move in horizontal or vertical spaces surrounding its current business, then somebody else will seize that space. I’m not debating that question here.  What I’m trying to do here is – see if I can come up with some creative ways of making the expansion process more fruitful (and let me restrict myself to tech companies only). Essentially, I’m trying to answer 2 questions:

  1. Of all the tech companies that are trying to move in horizontal/vertical spaces, is there an underlying force that’s common to all of them? and,
  2. Can I use/adapt any contemporary frameworks/theories to help me make such decisions?

Marketing Hypermetropia

Have you noticed lately that everyone’s trying to get into everyone else’s business? Google is trying to become social (old story..I know), Facebook is trying to do what Foursquare and Groupon do. Microsoft is putting its might behind Bing…Apple tried to get into social networking with Ping (and failed)... digital agencies are doing technology companies’ job and technology companies are moving into management consulting space…This is what happens when companies take “marketing myopia” too seriously. Is there an answer to this madness?

Alan Mitchell in his book Right-Side up says:
"If I can buy a product by pointing my mobile phone at a bar code, then why shouldn't my telecom provider become a bank? If so, he may want to use an existing bank’s infrastructure to provide this service. The bank, however, may have different ideas. It may want to evolve towards a personal financial agent role, with the mobile phone as a key part of this one-to-one interactive service. 

And why don’t credit card companies use their incredible ability to aggregate consumer information evolve to become buying clubs on a vast scale? Instead of simply paying for big ticket items with your credit cared, order the item you want and let the credit card company aggregate demand.”

So, you see there's more to come :-) I think an answer to this puzzle can be found in the categorizations of companies that Alan describes in his book. He says all types of businesses can be classified into one of the following four new categories:

1. Infrastructure provider
2. Connector
3. Intellectual property creator
4. Passion Partner

I must say it's a very creative way of categorizing companies to address the problem described above. As long as you understand which category you want to belong to, you don’t have to try to be all things to all people!!

Each of these categories deserves a detailed description to make any sense. I'll cover that in my next post!!