Spreadsheets won’t change the world but leaders will

Issue date: 12/3/01   – PDF | Link

This article was written by Jay Bhatti on 12/03/2001 for the Wharton School

It was still a few years before World War II. General Douglas MacArthur was a pretty popular man. Given his status, the executives at JP Morgan offered him a very high level position at the bank. One that would have made him very rich and amongst the most high-class people in New York City. His wife at the time (he later divorced her!) was constantly egging him on to take the job. She was, after all, very keen on being associated with the elite and having the best that life had to offer – in short, she was tired of living on a military salary. Yet, in a stunning move, General MacArthur turned down this golden position. When asked why, he simply said, “Bankers don’t make history.” So what happened to General MacArthur after that bad career move? He went on to lead the Pacific Fleet to victory in WWII, and, in short, made history. In October 1944 the world watched as he dramatically liberated the Philippines from Japanese control. On September 2, 1945, he presided over the Japanese surrender on board the U.S.S. Missouri, bringing an end to World War II. In the next five and a half years, as Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers in Japan, MacArthur and his staff helped a devastated Japan rebuild itself, institute a democratic government, and chart a course that has made it one of the world’s leading industrial powers. While his decision to ding JPMorgan may have been surprising at the time, one thing is clear: Douglas MacArthur fulfilled his self-imposed destiny of becoming one of history’s greatest men.

Now the point of the story is not to encourage Wharton MBAs to join the Navy, but rather to debate about what our underlying mission is as an institution. Is it to create spreadsheet monkeys and consulting goons? Or is it to help develop the future leaders of society?

I cannot count how many times I have heard the following quote “I don’t want to major in Finance, but I am at Wharton, and it would look bad if I did not have some solid NPV skills!”

If you look at the past 100 years of human history, what have been the attributes that have had the greatest impact on society? I would say that leadership, entrepreneurship, and innovation have by far been the factors that most shaped the world we live in today. Should it not make sense that we as a leading institution of higher education focus our energies on these very things? I am not suggesting that we eliminate all the finance and quant courses at Wharton. What I am suggesting is that we place a greater emphasis on those classes and programs that would best equip students to lead, innovate, and create.

For example, instead of having math camp for two weeks at pre-term, would it not be more valuable to have a week long class that discusses what is meant by Wharton leadership? Maybe we can have discussions/sessions with some of the remarkable leaders that have come from Wharton and how they impacted society?

Hey, I know this sounds fluffy, but if students can more closely align their passions with what they do with most of their time, don’t you think that they will be better leaders? I mean, if you are really passionate about public service, and instead you go and work for an I-bank, would you wake up in the morning excited about going to work? From day one at this school, the focus of the school should be to find out what each student is most passionate about and then work with the student to prepare him/her to become the best they can be in their respective field! Place a stronger emphasis on classes that discuss leadership (with the right professors!), put into place stronger programs that would make more students consider entrepreneurship, and foster a spirit of innovation and risk taking in every class. Have more joint-programs/classes with the engineering school to allow MBA students to find out what is really happening in the world of technology and science. For example, the first computer in the world was made here, but did any Wharton MBA take advantage of this? FYI, the engineering school is doing some really cool research on nanotechnology. Maybe you should pay a visit.

In my “Seminar on Leadership” classes this semester, we had the opportunity to have an hour-long chat session with Dean Harker. In this session, Dean Harker stressed the point of Wharton moving to the next level. He mentioned that since the early 1980’s, Wharton’s mission was to be #1. Having accomplished that, he said the next challenge was to change the culture of the school: to move away from the rankings, to more closely focus on becoming the best learning institution in the world, to make the alumni and students more connected with each other, and to develop leaders who represent the Wharton style of leadership. It is time for the school to go back to what it was created to do: “To help develop leaders in professional, community, and personal character.” Part of this effort requires us to place less of an emphaisis on the calculator and more on the human element of the equation. After all, you manage a calculator, but you lead people.

I am willing to bet my bottom dollar that the people who will have the most impact on this world in the next 100 years will be those that can lead with passion, take huge risks, create new enterprises, and understand that innovation is the engine that moves society. These are the attributes that the school needs to develop in its students. Let’s focus our energies on this and not as much on the quant classes (save them for the undergrads). In short, Wharton should work harder to develop 800-pound gorillas and not spreadsheet monkeys.

Entrepreneur Magazine Feature Article About Jay Bhatti

Business & Small Business Home

Start a Search Engine Company

This duo stands apart from the big guys with its people search technology.

By Amanda C. Kooser   |   Entrepreneur Magazine – October 2008 |   PDF Version

Some entrepreneurs may look at an online search market dominated by Google and Yahoo and then look elsewhere on the internet for a startup idea. But other entrepreneurs see opportunity. Spock.com co-founders Jaideep Singh, 40, and Jay Bhatti, 35, are taking on search by intentionally not taking on Google. Their Redwood City, California, startup focuses solely on people search and capturing a share of what eMarketer estimates is an $11 billion market for search advertising in 2008. “The opportunity to develop a compelling experience is there if you focus on the right verticals and create a differentiated enough experience from Google,” says Bhatti.

The first hurdle a search startup needs to clear is finding the right niche. The general search market may be cornered by some big players, but there’s still room for innovative ideas. “We’re not trying to build a fad,” says Bhatti. “We’re trying to build a real technology with a business model behind it. This has the potential to change the way users look for content on the web.” He points to search engines Kayak.com (travel search) and TheFind.com (product search) as examples of other search businesses finding success in specific niches.

Despite being located near Silicon Valley and its savvy Web 2.0 techies, Bhatti never loses sight of Spock.com’s target customers. “You have to make sure you build it for the right audience–and that’s the mass consumer audience–and not for the tech crowd,” he says. That effort shows in Spock.com’s simple user interface and cleanly laid out search results. New search entrepreneurs will have to spend a considerable amount of time and effort on the framework of their search technology, at the same time figuring out the best way to present it to potential users.

Spock.com has invested a lot more of its $7 million in round A funding into engineers, search technology and user interface than it has into marketing. Currently working on round B funding, the company hopes to scale the business up and eventually crack the top five of search engines. “One of the biggest things that you have to understand as an entrepreneur is that anything is possible,” says Bhatti. “Market conditions can change very quickly, [as can] market leaders.” That need for nimbleness in the search market is a good sign for small startups in this space.

entrepreneur-magazine cover sheet.

Age Distribution of People on the Web

Despite Privacy Concerns, 74% of people openly show their age on the web!

As a people search engine, Spock crawls and indexes millions of web documents and social network profiles everyday.

As a result, we end up gathering interesting demographic data about people.  For example, a vast majority of people who have a social networking profile or web document about themselves on the web are 25 or younger.  In addition, 74% openly show their age on social networks, blogs, and other social mediums.  Even with added privacy controls, a vast majority of Internet users openly show their age.

Age Breakdown of People Who Have a Public Identity on the Web

25 or Younger: 37%

26 to 45: 23%

46 to 65: 8%

66 or older: 6%

No Age Listed: 26%

The above data is based on Spock crawling and analyzing over 600 million social networking profiles and 2 billion web documents that reference people (wikipedia, IMBD, corporate bio pages, etc).

Why are there so many documents and profiles on the web about people under the age of 25? We call this the social network effect. Social networks have a combined 600 million plus profiles, many of which are owned by people in college or high-school.

A common question asked is what happens to the age breakdown if you exclude the impact of social networks.  We compiled the table below, which breaks people out by segment.  Social Networking profiles are compiled in the “normal people” segment.

Age Breakdown (by Segment) of People who have a public identity or document about them on the web.


Normal People

Famous People

Semi-Famous People


25 or Younger 38% 3% 1% 37%
26 to 45 23% 16% 2% 23%
46 to 65 7% 13% 3% 8%
66 or Older 5% 38% 6% 6%
No Age Listed 27% 30% 88% 26%

Examples of each segment: Normal PeopleFamous PeopleSemi-Famous People.

The data shows that people on social networks are more likely to have an age associated with their webpage then web documents about famous or semi-famous people.  In conclusion, it appears that when given the option, people are very likely to display their age on the web.

Men three times more likely to brag about professional accomplishments then women

In a Spock Research study of 3 million corporate bio pages on the internet, Spock discovered that men were three times more likely to overly boast about their professional accomplishments then their female counterparts.

For example, men were 3.15 times more likely to have the words “accomplished”, “responsible for”, “served as” and “led” in their corporate bio page then women. In our analysis of corporate bio pages of people from similar industries and job titles, it did not appear that women were any less accomplished, just that they were less willing to place subjective terms like “led” or “responsible for” in their bio page then men.

However, when we looked at bio pages for educational information, women did equally if not better then men for terms like “graduated with honors”, “doctorate”, “certified”, or “graduated magna cum laude”.

What does this tell us? One hypothesis is that men seem to be more aggressive in marketing and promoting themselves online as opposed to women.

On-Site Optimization for SEO

  • Create a site with unique, rich content.
  • Ensure that both content and page markup are well-formatted and have no errors.
  • Google will naturally favor bigger brands, and push them to the top of search results.
    • This means that site branding is more important than ever.
  • The ‘keywords’ meta tag is never used by Google for determining search ranking.


  • Have 5-10 specific keywords or keyword phrases been identified to increase targeted traffic?
  • Have Keywords been analyzed for search popularity?
  • Have selected keywords been associated with specific pages on the site?
  • Have selected keywords been inserted in content with 7% keyword density?
  • Are keywords leveraged in URL folders and file names, including image files?
  • Is there a Keyword / Key phrase in URL?
  • Is there a Keyword / Key phrase in Domain Name?
  • Is there a Keyword / Key phrase in Title Tag?
  • Is there a Keyword / Key phrase in Meta Description Tag?
  • Is there a Keyword / Key phrase in Meta Keyword Tag?
  • Is there a Keyword / Key phrase in H1, H2 and H3 Tags?
  • Is there a Keyword / Key phrase in Bold and Strong Tags?
  • Is there use of a Keyword / Key phrase in content?
  • Is there prominence of Keyword / Key phrase in webpage code?
  • Is there a Keyword / Key phrase in Alt text for images?
  • Is there use of Keyword / Key phrase in Anchor text?
  • Are we using hyphens to separate keywords in URL’s?
  • Are Keyword Density and Keyword Prominence employed?

Technical Considerations

  • Does the site properly use a robots.txt file?
  • Does the site have an XML-based Sitemap deployed?
  • Does the site have a text-based, standard sitemap?
  • Does the site avoid serving duplicate content on multiple URLs?
  • Are 301 redirects in place for content residing in alternate URL domains?
  • Does the site limit user input forms required to access content?
  • Are Query-string URLs avoided throughout the site?
  • Does the site consist of 5 or fewer subdirectory levels?
  • Do site URLs generally avoid parameter strings in excess of 4 variables?
  • Is JavaScript / CSS generally avoided or referenced external to source code?
  • Is Flash-only content avoided?
  • Is there a good Internal Navigation tree like structure?
  • Does HTML Sitemap link to all pages?
  • Are there any RSS Feeds?
  • Have we validated coding of webpage’s as per W3 standards?
  • Are we compressing the file size of web page?
  • Do we avoid excess use of Java Script?
  • Are we promoting use of CSS for coding?
  • Are we using off page CSS and Java Scripts?
  • Are we avoiding long URL’s?

Off-Page Ranking Factors

  • What’s the age of page from were back link is coming?
  • Is there frequent change in Anchor Text?
  • Popularity of referring page
  • What’s the position of the link?
  • Is site listed in Dmoz.org?
  • Is site in Yahoo Directory
  • Is site listed in Wikipedia
  • Is site listed in other reputed directories
  • Have we submited site to classified directories?
  • Are we getting back links from Social Media sites?
  • Have we submited frequent articles to article directories?
  • Have we submited press release frequently?
  • Increase site and web page traffic
  • Do we have a method for increasing CTR?
  • Do we have a method for decreasing bounce rates of site?
  • Do we have a method for increase time spent on page and site?

Destination Site

Because Google penalizes sites for being low-content gateway or thin referral sites (see the -30 penalty below) every site must be a destination site that retains users for as long as possible. There are a number of common strategies for adding value to a site and preventing it from being marked as a gateway or referral site, though the most important thing is always to add content to a site and retain users for longer. Some common strategies include:

  • Adding a blog to the site. Rumor has it that Google loves blogs, but the blog must have regular content updates – just its presence won’t help!
  • Writing content for humans, not search engines.

There are a number of additional theories circulating that have not been verified. These are nothing more than ideas, but they may be valuable.

  • Every page should be content-rich, and that any pages that are not will only detract from a site’s PageRank.
  • Each page should have a single focus. If a page has multiple targets or foci, it should be split into separate, more focused pages.

Google Penalties

These penalties are speculation, and penalty numbers are neither an exact nor a precise measure of the exact ranking change associated with each penalty. A penalty of -N means that a site will drop (approximately) N positions in Google’s returned results, equivalent to falling N/10 pages from the front page.

Certainty Description Penalty Potential Solution
High Site is overly-optimized for a certain keyword -6 Do not overly stress a single keyword.
High Site is a low-content gateway to another site (a doorway site) or has many redirects -30, hurts both sites Create unique, high content sites with high-quality links and avoid JavaScript redirects (use a 301) and doorway pages.
Medium Backlinks to site have over-optimized or uniform anchor text -50 Use natural language and vary your backlink anchor text and use ‘nofollow’ where appropriate to prevent Google from crawling a link.
Medium Site appears to be involved in a link-farming scheme -60 Avoid site-wide links, links from ‘bad neighborhoods’, paid links, and links from low-quality directory sites while building quality links with varied anchor text.
Low Site appears to be a spam site (a meta-penalty taking into account all the above penalties and more) -950 Avoid other penalties while also maintaining a content-rich, clean site with good html. Avoid over-optimization.
Low Site is hacked or purely a spam or scam site delist Failure. Start over.

The Changing Rules of Google SEO

Penalty Type When Detail Actions You Can Take

Google Vince Update March 09 A Googler named Vince created this change and hence the name. This is not a penalty, rather an update in Google’s algorithm.  Vince update seems to favor bigger brands and has pushed some of these big name sites further up the rankings.

Google’s explanation is that, It is more about factoring trust more into the algorithm for more generic queries. From what Matt has said this update is probably looking at the overall weight and trust of a site (and the big brands have spent enough marketing pounds to win here) and the theme of the site.

Do site awareness, and brand promotion, in addition to traditional SEO work.
Google -6 Penalty Late 2006 Google didn’t admit doing this to sites, per Matt Cutt. One possible trigger is that many of these sites have highly optimized pages tightly focused around a single core phrase or keyword.

Google now argues that the effect was caused by a glitch in the system and that an attempt to filter out bad sites had caught good sites in the process. Most sites should get their original rankings back soon.

Do not overly stress on a single keyword.
Google -30 Penalty Introduced in late 2006, but Google starts to aggressively enforce it in mid 2009. A penalty widely-speculated given to thin affiliate, refer or doorway sites which do not add much value for the site visitors. However, many non-affiliate sites also have reported this penalty. Sites with excessive low quality inbound or outbound links and lots of non-unique content may have a minus 30 ranking penalty applied.

Syndrome: your well-ranked keywords (1st page) suddenly drop 30 positions.

Some of the practice below may help trigger -30 filter:

Guestbook spamming: If you try to get inbound links by spamming guest books and blogs then Google might apply the filter to your web site.

JavaScript redirects: JavaScript redirections might be misinterpreted as a spamming attempt. Better use 301 htaccess redirect if you must redirect URLs on your pages.

Doorway pages: Google doesn’t like doorway pages. If you must use special landing pages for PPC ads and other ads, make sure that these pages cannot be spidered by Google and other search engines. You can use robots.txt to do that

The only solution to avoid this penalty is to have unique content on your site, get links from well trusted sites and link to high quality sites.

For detailed information, please refer to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Clean up the site first and submit a reconsideration request to Google.

Google -50 Penalty Sept 2009 Over-optimized key anchor text on link building. This is the most recent one that generates some discussions amongst webmaster and SEO sites.

Syndrome: your well-ranked keywords (1st page) suddenly drop 50+ positions.

Good article on this topic:


De-optimize anchor text of back linking. Use natural languages, not keywords screaming SEO.

If you’re link building, make sure your anchor text varies on each site that links to you. You do not need to have keywords stuffed on every single link.

Use “nofollow” at times.

Clean up the bad practice first and submit a reconsideration request to Google.

Google -60 Penalty Mid 2008 Bad back linking practice: spam back linking or potential link farming.

It looks that Google applies this penalty to websites that buy links. Many of the websites that seem to have been penalized had many inbound links from websites that linked to them from every single page of their website (so-called site-wide links). Site-wide links are an indicator of paid links, which Google sees as an unwanted way to artificially inflate search engine rankings.

The head of Google’s anti-spam team Matt Cutts has often said that websites that buy paid links will be penalized and it looks as if Google tries to do the job properly. If this penalty for paid links really exists then even websites that follow Google’s rules can get in trouble. Your competitors could harm your website simply by buying links or by creating mini-net websites with sitewide links to your website.

Syndrome: keyword rank drops 60 positions.

Avoid site-wide linking.

Sever links from bad neighborhood.

Sever links from low quality directory sites

Sever links from link farms

Avoid paid links

Build quality links from relevant and well-trusted sites

Use varied and descriptive anchor text on links that link back to your site.

Google -950 Penalty Jan  07 Spam Penalty, or Over Optimization Penalty. A much dreaded site or keyword drops 950 positions in ranking. Spam liking, spam documentation, content duplication, sloppy HTML that generates many validation errors.

Overall, Google 950 penalty is Google’s means to discourage webmasters from engaging in any kind of spam activity and subtly directing them to follow the ideal SEO.

Speculation:  it’s possibly related to the Spam Detection Patent invented by Googler Anna Lynn Patterson.

Stop link farming

Stop SEO spamming (over linking, keyword stuffing, bad back linking, hidden text and links, cloaking, excessive redirect JavaScript, doorway…etc)

Provide unique and value adding content

Clean up first,  and submit a reconsideration request to Google

Delisted by Google A hacked or a pure spam site will be delisted by Google, meaning your site will be excluded from search results. Some of the proven reasons why a site gets delisted are:

1) Repeated spelling and syntactical errors.  If your website repeatedly contains a particular misspelled word, or it’s primarily made up of junk content (such as those computer generated content), you are at a high risk of being delisted from Google search.

2) Adding a large number of external links in a short time. One possible scenario is where your server is hacked and spammers add lots of links to your website without you knowing. Most of these links are hidden. You won’t see them unless you study the source code. Another possible scenario is when you are too active in link exchange. Let’s take link directories for example, most link directories will have an option for you to link back to them. If you spend one whole day exchanging links with 200 link directories, your website is at risk.

3) Sitemap error.

4) Hidden links and hidden text. Excessive use of both can get your website delisted from Google.  It’s cloaking.

5) Doorway pages that redirect visitors without their knowledge use some form of cloaking. This is against Google’s principle, which is “Don’t deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users.”

Well, you just violated all possible Google webmaster guidelines. Start from scratch and rebuild your site.

Clean up first,  and submit a re-inclusion request to Google

Spock, Yasni, 123people — Who’s Got the People Search Buzz?

Over the last half year, the people search crowd have been slugging it out, if our experience at BNET is any indication. Back in October, we had a chat with Spock.com co-founder Jay Bhatti, at the company’s request, the emphasis being its growing nature. Then during the winter, Yasni.com founder Steffen Rühl wanted a conversation, also to discuss the company’s growth — or, as I found from looking at the data, growth still waiting to happen. Now 123people.com has asked for a conversation, citing statistics that show it the leader. However, when I checked the referenced sources, the numbers came to only a fraction of what the company claimed…

Click Here to read more

Jay Bhatti Interviewed By Media Post About Microsoft Kumo

Microsoft ‘Kumo’ Hot On Paid, Multimedia, Semantic Search

by Laurie Sullivan, Thursday, May 21, 2009, 5:58 PM     –     PDF | Link

As Microsoft readies the release of Kumo, some industry insiders wonder if new features in the Redmond, Wash. company’s long-anticipated search engine will come a little too late. Yahoo Thursday unveiled the Smart Ads platform to extend customized display ads on mobile phones. Google last week held Searchology, releasing a slew of services that pay closer attention to the way users view information. And then there’s newcomer WolframAlpha, the computational knowledge engine that attracted buzz by bringing up the search engine via live video online.

Microsoft’s drive to release a revamped engine based on enhancements in video and images to provide a more universal approach and semantic technology demonstrates that consumers are ready for something new, according to sources who asked for anonymity. The search engine also will likely integrate technology from the natural-language search company Powerset, which Microsoft acquired last year.

“If it’s as good as it looks in the demo, this will be the most impressive search experience Microsoft has offered,” says David Berkowitz, Director of Emerging Media & Client Strategy at 360i. “The focus is on the right areas such as organic results, layout and advertising.”

Berkowitz, one of the chosen few outside of analysts and Microsoft employees to get a briefing, took extreme precautions to select every word in describing his experience. He couldn’t speak to the difference in the way that Microsoft will serve up relevant ads in paid search campaigns, but did reveal that it has been a focus for the team with the launch of the new engine. “Historically, one problem for Microsoft has been serving up relevant ads,” he says. “They haven’t been as relevant as they could be. But I’ve see firsthand they are trying to fix that.”

Jay Bhatti, co-founder of the people search engine Spock, which Intelius bought in April, managed to catch a glimpse during a test run in Live Search. He says the ads seem to blend more with the content, which would make them less noticeable to consumers to generate more clicks.

The site appears to have an emphasis on filtering data and ecommerce that would give consumers product-related information such as inventory in stock and prices at specific retail stores, Bhatti said. A search for “iPhone” would also return links to download apps, for example. “On the left side of the search query you’ll find a navigation column that shows related searches, search history and filtering options,” he says. “It would keep the top of the page and right side clear for advertisements.”

Microsoft has been testing its search engine internally since March, but has not revealed when it would launch. Sources say it could be next week at D: All Things Digital, while others believe the teaser will announce another venue not too far off. The launch will also coincide with a major ad campaign.

Microsoft views search as an important piece to the company’s business, but Nielsen Online reported that the Redmond, Wash., company held a mere 9.9% of the U.S. search market, compared with 16.3% for Yahoo and 64% for Google.

Interview with Co-Founder of Spock.com, JayBhatti

Jay Bhatti is co-founder of spock.com and wait… I’ll let Spock tell you about him as that is what it does best.

I asked Jay some questions about Spock, where the online advertising industry is going and the technology sector sentiment and success factors for the “where now and how”.

See my interview below and afterwards go check out the new answer to to “googling yourself” – Spock.

Click Here to read more