Welcome to My ‘Peanut Butter’ Visitors

WordPress provides some nice basic stats about activity on your blog. Total number of visits, specific posts clicked, referring websites and search engine terms that caused someone to arrive to your blog.

A couple of days ago, I noticed a significant uptick in visitors clicking on the post, Pay By Touch & the Peanut Butter Manifesto. They seemed to be arriving from the search term “peanut butter”.

Now, I don’t want to dismiss the possibility that these visitors were really interested in my post. The post uses a Yahoo executive’s exasperated email comparing Yahoo’s efforts to spreading peanut butter too thin, and applies that to Pay By Touch’s situation. All well and good.

But I’m not quite sure that’s what my “peanut butter visitors” were looking for. In fact, I’m not sure what they’re looking for. I didn’t realize there that many people searching for information on peanut butter every day.

And the other confounding thing. What search engine are they using? I’ve tried to search for “peanut butter” on Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask. The post doesn’t show up anywhere in the top 100 results.

So if one of my peanut butter visitors happens to read this post, please leave a comment. Tell me what search engine you’re using, and why you clicked on my blog post for “peanut butter”.

Pay By Touch and The Peanut Butter Manifesto

In November 2006, Yahoo executive Brad Garlinghouse’s email to senior management was leaked to the Wall Street Journal, and subsequently picked up by bloggers. In the so called “Peanut Butter Manifesto”, Garlinghouse decried the “lack a focused, cohesive vision for our company”. The email takes the company to task for having too many initiatives, and for failing to integrate various acquisitions. The money quote:

“I’ve heard our strategy described as spreading peanut butter across the myriad opportunities that continue to evolve in the online world. The result: a thin layer of investment spread across everything we do and thus we focus on nothing in particular.”

In light of Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo, the Peanut Butter Manifesto continues to resonate as an issue for the company. Which brings me to Pay By Touch.

Pay By touch raised a lot of money, a whole lot. And Pay By Touch went after “myriad opportunities”. Here’s a list that I am drawing from memory:

  1. Biometric authentication
  2. ACH payments
  3. Credit card processing
  4. Personalized marketing
  5. Healthcare
  6. Online authentication
  7. Online debit payment
  8. Loyalty card management
  9. Financial institutions
  10. Government
  11. Paycheck authentication

The above are verticals. There were also channel-specific efforts as well: multi-lane retail, single-lane retail, international. So there was a lot going on.

The problem with any Peanut Butter Manifesto company is that:

  • Engineering cannot satisfy all the requirements needed for the initiatives
  • The ability to focus on one area, try things out, make mistakes, correct and iterate is drastically diminished, which kills an emerging technology company
  • Senior management cannot focus attention on the various initiatives for funding, sales and strategic moves

One might wonder how Google pulls it off. They certainly are into a lot of things. Here’s the secret: they absolutely own a market (search & ads) that prints money for them. They then get the luxury of trying different things. Microsoft has the same thing with its Windows and Office franchises. GE owned…light bulbs? Well they owned something a long time ago.

So let’s look at these two Peanut Butter companies. Yahoo is subject to a hostile bid. Pay By Touch is in bankruptcy.

As Garlinghouse stated at the end of his email: “stop eating peanut butter.”