It Is Hard To Hide From The Web

Back in the early days of comScore, the founders thought that the data they were collecting from their megapanel would be useful to Wall Street. They built a product and developed some sales channels, including one called Majestic Research which was co-founded by my friend Seth Goldstein. Seth and his partner Tony built Majestic into a significant business and sold it a year or two ago. comScore had less success selling to Wall Street. I think they were too early.

A week or so ago, a top Internet analyst from Wall Street was in our office. He mentioned that the AppData numbers on Zynga foretold a difficult second quarter and the Yipit report on Groupon predicted trouble in that name as well. Both turned out to be fairly accurate and investable.

I have always told the companies that we invest in that you can't hide from analysts. If you do business on the web or mobile, your data is out there in the public whether you like it or not. Don't try to hide the bad news, because it isn't hidden.

But this is true for way more than Internet businesses and Wall Street.

Let's take the selection of Paul Ryan as Romney's VP. I read this (originally from here) on the web a couple weeks ago and reblogged it on Tumblr.

Sarah Palin's Wikipedia page was updated at least 68 times the day before John McCain announced her selection, with another 54 changes made in the five previous days previous. Tim Pawlenty, another leading contender for McCain's favor, had 54 edits on Aug. 28, with just 12 in the five previous days. By contrast, the other likely picks — Romney, Kay Bailey Hutchison — saw far fewer changes. The same burst of last-minute editing appeared on Joe Biden's Wikipedia page, Terry Gudaitis of Cyveillance, told The Washington Post.

None of Wikipedia entries for the current candidates being bandied about by Romney-watchers — Rob Portman, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, Kelly Ayotte or Pawlenty — are currently showing anything like the spike in edits that Cyveillance spotted on Palin and Biden's pages in 2008. But most of those came in the 24 hours prior to the official announcement. That said, if Wikipedia changes offer any hint of what's coming, then today might be a good day to bet on Ryan.

A few days later my friend Rich asked me who I thought the VP pick was going to be. I confidently responded Ryan. He was surprised. I wasn't.

Everything is out there on the web. You just need to know where to look to find it. And if you think you are hiding something, you are wrong. So don't hide anything.