So it Looks Like Amazon.com Is Going to Be a Jackass and Sue Statsaholic
Alexa – Web Discovery Machine: Alexaholic/Statsaholic Just got done reading what I thought was a pretty lame blog post over at the Alexa blog. Alexa, for those of you who don’t know, is a subsidiary of Amazon.com. Amazon bought Alexa for $250 million in stock back in the hey day. It was originally started in part by Brewster Kahle, the hero who took a bunch of his money and built the Internet Archive… but I digress.
Let’s suspend the debate for the moment about how lame Alexa is because it doesn’t include Firefox data, how erroneous there numbers are, etc. etc. etc. It’s free and it’s what we have to live with for the time being.
What’s got me pissed off today is that Amazon is threatening on their blog to sue some small time guy who built a really cool mash up of their service.
The site in question is statsaholic (formerly alexaholic) created by Ron Hornbaker and it’s a far better way to browse Alexa graphs than Alexa themselves.
From the Alexa blog:
“Alexa doesn’t take the decision to bring legal action lightly but will do so when required. We’ll pursue this issue aggressively and intend to recover the Alexaholic URL and to ensure that Mr. Hornbaker is held accountable for misappropriating our graphs and data.”
I’m a customer of Amazon.com — at Zooomr we use their S3 and EC2 service. And as a customer I have to say that I think these kind of hard handed tactics from a $16 billion company put Amazon in a bad light. Lots of start ups use the S3 and EC2 service and maybe it’s just me but I can’t imagine many of them would want to be put on the receiving end of that blog post.
The thing I think that gets me the most is that basically Alexa is built on free labor. It’s built on the dreaded “user generated content.” Alexa has suckered tons of IE users — perhaps easier to sucker than Firefox users 😉 — into installing their toolbar and basically providing them free research. Are the toolbar users compensated for this data? No.
But then Amazon wants to take that data and in turn restrict who can pull data from their site to repackage it in a better way. And then to top it off they want to bash a small time company publicly from their blog. Very unbecoming of a company that is courting many small companies for business with S3.
If Amazon were smart they would work things out with Ron. By shining this kind of attention, by the way, it only makes his venture that much more successful. I also blogged yesterday how with a simple Firefox tweak you can get statsaholic back.
Amazon is being a bully on this one and I think it’s going to backfire.