American Airlines, YACTW (Yet Another Clue-Train-Wreck)

Jake McKee has flown over 415,000 miles on American. Platinum status. Uber-loyal. Has flown them when other options were cheaper, in the belief that at some point in the future when he needed flexibility, they’d be able to provide it.

Nope, they hosed him. Here’s how (letter reprinted from ):

“My name is Jake McKee. I’m a highly loyal AA member (#80E04C2) since 11/18/98. I’ve acquired 415,000 miles. My AA number is one of the few numbers other than my wife’s birthday and my social security number that I actually know by heart. I typically spend anywhere from $10K-$30K USD/year with AA. I travel all over North America, and have used AA to fly to Europe a number of times this year.

I’ve encourage many to fly AA, and skipped cheaper tickets. With my status, I believed that if I had problems AA would treat me right.

After a call to American to redeem miles for a ticket, I’ve decided that my loyalty has been clearly misplaced. The cause is outlined below:

I booked an award ticket, and was told by the rep that I could pay the fees up to the day of the flight without fees. I called in to settle the fees and was told there was an extra $50 charge becausee I was under 21 days. After talking to a supervisor (who knew my status), I was told the fee was required, regardless of what the orginal sales agent told me. The supervisor said that knowing my status, I should know the policies. I said “so basically you’re punishing me for having flown a lot with you”, she said “If you’d like to think about it that way”.

She made $50 off of me, she effectively lost tens of thousands of dollars. United Airlines has assured me that my status would transfer.

This letter is an offer to save my business. I will be blogging this experience at

Jake McKee”

He’s also running a contest over there. Place your bets on when/if AA will get back to him…

Information Is Social

Outsell has just published their 2006 Information Industry Outlook report (free reg. req’d), which is chock-full of great findings on how individuals and enterprises are using information their day-to-day and business lives. One of the headlines that jumped out of the report: Information is Social and Peer-to-Peer. Outsell:

“Now, instead of looking ‘up’ to oracles, users are looking sideways – to peers and to social contexts on the Internet, where published information is instantly unveiled, vetted, praised, condemned, corrected, and altered through the ‘wisdom of the masses.'”

This subsection of the report goes on to note the following items as evidence:

  • The increasing reliance on colleagues and peers as a source of information
  • Blogs and other social publishing media are becoming a key resource for knowledge workers
  • The emergence of open models in scientific publishing
  • Instant verification (or refutation) of news and peer reaction to events
  • Credibility derives from scrutiny of peers
  • Youth are sharing and remixing information and will continue to do so (and adults do, too)
  • Information intermediaries are still relevant in order to relieve users from the information glut

The points above are from pp. 10-11 of the report, which runs about 30 pages.

Google Blog Search Hack: Finding Inbound Links

Want to find inbound links to a blog via Google Blog Search? Preface the URL of your (or anyone’s) blog with link: — like this:


Try it yourself. It looks like you can also get the inbound link results as an RSS feed as well.

(Yes, I know links are only a surrogate for quality and that solutions are under development… )

UPDATE: Alert reader Nick W. points out that there are a number of other operators that are available in addition to link: . These operators are:

  • cache:
  • link:
  • related:
  • info:
  • define:
  • stocks:
  • site:
  • allintitle:
  • intitle:
  • allinurl:
  • inurl:

In addition, there are a number of new blog-specific operators:

  • inblogtitle:
  • inposttitle:
  • inpostauthor:
  • blogurl:

Many of these are not available from the advanced search page, but must be entered directly.

Oracle Acquires Siebel, And Salesforce.Com Unveils New Strategy

Larry Ellison adds Siebel to his stable of acquisitions, and now (officially) goes head-to-head with his old protege Mark Benioff, who now heads The deal is for approximately $5.85 billion, or USD$10.66 per share.

What it means:

Siebel has been struggling to find its footing, and Oracle continues to look for ways to increase its footprint against SAP. This acquisition does both.

It gives Oracle a vault into the on-demand, Software As A Service (SaaS) space for CRM. Siebel’s acquisition of Upshot in November, 2003 gave it a credible entry into the market, and now Oracle may be able to put the muscle behind it that Siebel could not, to give the broadest challenge to Salesforce and NetSuite.

The timing of the announcement is interesting, and takes some of the air out of the sails that Salesforce is announcing their AppExchange market today (thanks Zoli). AppExchange is touted to be an “eBay for on-demand applications,” and has been launched at Instead of creating all the applications (a la SAP), or acquiring them (a la Oracle), Benioff aims to be the infrastructure upon which interconnected enterprise apps run.

First Skype and eBay, now these announcements. Something’s in the water today…

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Skype Is Being Acquired By eBay

eBay is acquiring Skype for approximately USD$2.6B, ($2.1B Euros), say both companies. From the press release:

“eBay Inc. (Nasdaq: EBAY; has agreed to acquire Luxembourg-based Skype Technologies SA, the global Internet communications company, for approximately $2.6 billion in up-front cash and eBay stock, plus potential performance-based consideration. The acquisition will strengthen eBay’s global marketplace and payments platform, while opening several new lines of business and creating significant new monetization opportunities for the company. The deal also represents a major opportunity for Skype to advance its leadership in Internet voice communications and offer people worldwide new ways to communicate in a global online era. Skype, eBay and PayPal will create an unparalleled ecommerce and communications engine for buyers and sellers around the world.”

Skype generated approximately $7 million in revenues in 2004, and anticipates $60 million in revenues in 2005.

Four reasons why eBay says they are doing this (items in quotes after the emphasis are from their release):

Increase the velocity of transactions – “Buyers will gain an easy way to talk to sellers quickly and get the information they need to buy, and sellers can more easily build relationships with customers and close sales. As a result, Skype can increase the velocity of trade on eBay, especially in categories that require more involved communications such as used cars, business and industrial equipment, and high-end collectibles.”

Pay-per-call fees – “For example, in addition to eBay’s current transaction-based fees, ecommerce communications could be monetized on a pay-per-call basis through Skype. Pay-per-call communications opens up new categories of ecommerce, especially for those sectors that depend on a lead-generation model such as personal and business services, travel, new cars, and real estate.”

PayPal and Skype integration – “PayPal and Skype also make a powerful combination. For example, a PayPal wallet associated with each Skype account could make it much easier for users to pay for Skype fee-based services, adding to the number of PayPal accounts and increasing payment volume.”

Introduce emerging markets to eBay – “Skype can help expand the eBay and PayPal global footprint by providing buyers and sellers in emerging ecommerce markets, such as China, India, and Russia, with a more personal way to communicate online. And consumers in markets where eBay currently has a limited presence, such as Japan and Scandinavia, can learn about eBay and PayPal through Skype.”

From my perspective, there are three really interesting implications of this:

It’s an opportunity to extend eBay communities to the desktop – The buddy list, collaboration, instant messaging, and communication features of Skype allow customers to create communities of interest, especially around the various areas highlighted in eBay Groups. Integration of eBay Groups with Skype makes these communities much easier to join, and greatly increases the possibility of interactions between the group members (all of which eBay can monetize).

A highly strategic move into emerging markets – For geographies that are rapdily moving up the Skype adoption curve, providing an easy means to drop right into a commerce environment via Skype gives eBay an opportunity for a huge presence, especially for peer-to-peer transactions.

Integration of PayPal into the Skype interface – There is a fantastic opportunity here for eBay. With Skype, they have the opportunity to control both the “first mile” and “last mile” of a communication that supports a transaction. Here’s the use case: You call the local pizza joint from Skype. (I do this already.) If the pizza joint is already on Skype, the path is easy…they say how much the pizza will be, I click the “PAY” button in my Skype interface that initiates a payment via PayPal, and I go pick up my pie. Even in the case where the pizza joint doesn’t use Skype, if they have an email address, the same mechanism could be used. No more fumbling for your wallet. It’s easy. It’s right there. It’s a click.

Now it’s time to see how the numbers pan out, and if eBay can execute on these opportunities…

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