Glam seems to be cutting off revenues for publishers

Something really interesting is going on with Glam Media. To make a long story short Glam is basically a controversial site that runs both a network of its own web sites as well as runs ads on a network of third party sites geared towards women online and has just recently raised a massive amount of funding – $85M.  The total funding for the company is already $114M. You may say yet another ad network site on Web and you might be right in part. However there was something really interesting with Glam – they were perhaps the only ad network out there that was guaranteeing ad revenues for their publishers, mainly lifestyle web sites oriented towards women. Let’s put it that way Glam’s business model was to guarantee some minimum flat pay outs to its publishers. Today, we have read on web, this practice seems to be changing – Glam is no longer going to pay for the entire ad inventory available at its participating web publishers that way effectively cutting off their revenues by 60% up to 80%.

Public information is that Glam pockets about 40 to 50 percent of the revenues it gets from advertising on its partner sites, giving the rest back to the publishing partner. What is remarkable is that Glam pays nothing to produce the content on those publisher sites, meaning it is milking those sites for a full 40 to 50 percent of their worth — merely for providing them with advertising technology.

Nonetheless the company has shown a tremendous increase of its traffic compared to the year before. ComScore reports that worldwide uniques across all sites that Glam sells advertising for had nearly 47 million unique visitors and 1.1 billion page views. Glam Network says it has over 200,000 quality articles across the sites involved.

So one starts to wonder here is this a well thought strategy for Glam to attract lots of publishers by initially paying big bucks and once it achieved its goals (to raise massive amount of funding) to cut those publishers off its network by simply no longer paying them what it has initially been promised. It is no secret that Glam Media succeeded in raising those over $100M in funding money due to its huge reach of over 40M uniques per month across various women web sites and blogs. Once the task was accomplished Glam is no longer in need from those small blogs that perhaps represent a large portion of those 44M uniques per month or is simply changing the policy in order to survive. We have put their business model under some doubts the last time we covered their massive round of funding and then we have written that in today’s hugely competitive environment ad networks are working in everything boils down to who pays more the web publishers. Glam claims it pays most to its web publishers, but it is hard to believe how Glam can out pay Google when they had just $21M in revenues last year while Google’s payout was almost $4B to its web publishers for 2007. Let’s put it that way who earns more from the ad networks is who is going to be capable enough to pay more to the web publishers. So it seems we were basically right. Glam is discontinuing their practice of guaranteed ad revenues for its publishers. 

However, the big question here is for how long those web publishers are going to stay with Glam Media and what will happen to Glam if they leave?

Here is what Glam has replied on Techrunch.

As GM of the Glam Publisher Network, my team’s #1 priority is to ensure the success of our publishers and to help them secure high-CPM brand advertising. Unlike most other networks we do not compromise on our rate card and as a result, our partners benefit from high CPM brand advertising. When we’re unable to deliver a paid ad, we have traditionally run a Glam house ad (i.e. a current house ad announces our upcoming Glam Network blogger awards). Publishers have requested more choice for the impressions that our house ads would normally fill. This default ad technology simply replaces the Glam house ads with a host of options. This is similar to standard network ‘default’ technology that’s been in general use for years.

I want to acknowledge that Glam is successful because of our publisher partners. As a company, our focus is on convincing the brands to engage in new ways with a media landscape made up of independent premium publishers with passionate audiences. We welcome the ongoing dialogue.

More about Glam Media

Glam Media’s distributed media network model is revolutionizing the very definition of what a media company is in the 21st Century.  With 44 million global unique monthly visitors (comScore MediaMetrix), Glam Media provides a compelling mix of fresh, original content created in-house with a carefully curated Glam Publishing Network of more than 450 popular and influential lifestyle websites, blogs and magazines. For premium national brand advertisers, Glam Media offers an unprecedented array of targeted options that are singularly attractive to both upscale and aspirational consumers.

About the founder

Samir Arora, Founder, Chairman, and CEO
Samir Arora founded lifestyle hub Glam Media to create a better way for brand advertisers to connect with their audiences on the Web. A tech-industry veteran, Arora was previously the chairman of Emode/Tickle, Inc, which was later sold to Monster in June 2004. Prior to that, Arora was chairman and CEO of NetObjects, Inc. where he drove the creation of the first web site building product NetObjects Fusion. Arora also currently serves as chairman of Information Capital LLC, a venture capital fund based in Woodside, Calif., that invests in leading-edge “big idea companies” in consumer publishing, media, and technology.

Other team members include:

Fernando Ruarte
Co-founder, CTO and VP, Engineering
Scott Schiller
EVP, Sales, Women’s Markets
John Trimble
EVP, New Markets Sales
Carl Portale
VP and Publishing Director
Joe Lagani
VP and GM, Glam Living
Karin Marke
VP, Sales, Western Region
Jack Rotolo
VP, Sales, Eastern Region
Bernard Desarnauts
VP, Products and Marketing
Scott Swanson
VP and GM, Glam Media Publisher Network
Raj Narayan
Co-founder and Architect
Dianna Mullins
Co-Founder, VP Glam Publisher Network & Ad Operations
Ralf Hirt,
VP, International
Jennifer Salant
VP, Business Development
Ernie Cicogna
Co-Founder and CFO

Major competitors include iVillage, AOL Women, CondeNet, Elle.com, auFeminin.com, Womensforum.com, SINA Women, QQ.com Women, BabyCenter Network, among others.

More

http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/25/glam-media-raises-a-massive-round-of-funding-85m/
http://www.glam.com/
http://www.glammedia.com
http://www.glammedia.com/about_glam/news/2008/02/25/glam-media-raises-85-million-in-private-strategic-financing/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/29/glam-makes-big-cuts-in-publisher-payments-up-to-80-drop-in-revenue
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/24/glam-closes-massive-d-round/
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120390178731489459.html
http://www.docstoc.com/docs/412152/Glam-Media-Teaser-August-2007
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/08/12/is-glam-a-sham/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/11/13/more-misplaced-glam-exhuberance/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/glammedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glam_Media,_Inc.
http://venturebeat.com/2008/02/24/womans-network-glam-raises-846-million-at-half-a-billion-valuation-adconian-raises-80m/
http://www.glammedia.com/about_glam/our_story/competitive_landscape.php
http://news.speeple.com/business2.com/2007/08/13/bubble-watch-glam-media-shops-around-a-200-million-private-placement.htm
http://valleywag.com/360436/glam-media-raises-84-million-far-short-of-its-200-million-goal
http://valleywag.com/tech/online-advertising/glam-media-not-looking-so-beautiful-288964.php
http://venturebeat.com/2008/02/20/trends-secretive-new-york-bank-allen-co-gets-into-silicon-valley-media-tech/
http://www.foliomag.com/2008/glam-media-gets-85m-private-equity-financing
http://samirarora.com/html/bio.html

More instructional videos on the horizon

Creating educational and instructional videos, clips and episodes is something hot lately. The space is crowded and has just emerged from the popularization of the online video sector. MindBites is yet another player jumping the bandwagon. MindBites is a self-publishing platform and social marketplace for instructional content, which enables people to share their unique knowledge, skills and passions through audio and video lessons, earning money for themselves or for charity.

Creating a marketplace where user-generated content becomes a commerce-driven supply for those out there in need of instructional videos is something said to set MindBites apart from its competitors.

MindBites has just raised $1M in series A round of funding from True Ventures.

Jason Reneau is the company’s CEO and founder.

Competitors include Expert Village, VideoJug, Sclipo, Graspr, Instructables, SuTree, Howcast, among others.

More about MindBites

Who we are
Introducing MindBites, your place on the web to learn directly from other real people and share what you know with the world. A self-publishing platform and social marketplace for instructional content, MindBites enables people to share their unique knowledge, skills and passions through audio and video lessons, earning money for themselves or for charity. The result is a unique community of discovery with content that simply can’t be found anywhere else – from Teaching your Baby Sign Language, to Cooking Tandori Chicken, to Surviving a Knife Attack. By enabling people to learn, connect and share as never before, MindBites promises to revolutionize the way the world shares knowledge. MindBites – What do you know?

What We Believe
Our belief is that the world is at the dawn of a new era in the sharing of knowledge. Led by the ubiquity of the Internet and drastic improvements in the accessibility of digital media technology, we are experiencing the largest increase in the global sharing of knowledge since Gutenberg invented moveable type. The bottom line is that today we can be connected, from one mind to another, like never before in the history of the world (please speak in your best James Earl Jones voice). We are inspired to be living in such an exciting time and playing a part in these historic trends.

Our Team
Our team is an ever expanding group of unique, talented and fun (if not a little goofy) individuals. As a group, we have experience from such varied institutions as Whole Foods, Harvard Business School, Burnt Orange Productions, McKinsey and Company, FreeMarkets, and Kiva Systems, to name a few. We have worked in such areas as web development, e-commerce, professional education, TV and film production, design, sales, marketing and entrepreneurial ventures. Most importantly though, we’re a group that includes bad but aspiring chefs, gardeners, artists, bartenders, golfers and foosball players. We own old houses and have no idea how to fix them. We’d like to learn foreign languages, have dreamed of knowing martial arts, and are always trying to figure out how to use our latest technical gadget. Simply put, we love learning, and that’s why we’re here.

There are too many people who have already touched MindBites to mention, but to list a few: our development team is from Squeejee.com led by Wynn Netherland, Jeff Kramer designed and manages our infrastructure, and Matt Warchola built our smack player. Matt “MattDaddyC” Chapman is responsible for our funky web design, and John Rubio deserves credit for the original MindBites logo. Ellen Ambrose has been our author recruiter extraordinaire, and our production team has been a group effort from Brittanie Flegle, Keith Fraase, Matt James and Sarah Moore, among others. The bozo in the back of the boat manning the rudder (and sitting on top of the ice chest) is Jason Reneau. Happily swimming along behind the boat is Chelsea, our unofficial mascot. Shout out also to our ex-lead-developer-turned-doctor, Matt Sanders.

Our Technology
MindBites is built with Ruby on Rails and oodles of CSS goodness, with light sprinkles of Flash and AJAX thrown in for good measure. We serve our media in Flash and Quicktime (for the most part). MindBites simply wouldn’t have been possible without a bevy of fantastic open source software that makes our lives so much happier – thanks guys! We’ve built additional super-secret technology to keep the ship sailing smoothly even through troubled waters. We could tell you about it, but of course then we’d have to kill you…

On the production side, we have made a concerted effort to use consumer-level technology and tools. We film everything that we do or help out on with sub-$500 mini-DV camcorders, and we typically edit with Final Cut (although we dabble with a range of Windows and Mac software). Our most critical piece of technology though is our Braun coffeemaker, without which all MindBites productivity would screech to a halt.

More

http://www.mindbites.com/
http://blog.mindbites.com/
http://mashable.com/2008/03/20/mindbites/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/mindbites
http://www.trueventures.com/
http://Squeejee.com

An online career community that connects people through personal relationships and affiliations

Doostang is an interesting concept built upon the belief that over 50% up to 70% of recruiting today is done through the personal network of contacts and a large portion of which is done by email communication. Using your personal network is the most effective way to find the right candidate for a position and to find the perfect job. It eliminates the need to either post a job to an irrelevant audience or to search through the multitude of jobs available on the Internet or newspapers that would be of no interest to you. Doostang provides the infrastructure to connect personal networks together and to create a natural quality filter for recruiting and job searching.

Essentially Doostang is an online career community that connects people through personal relationships and affiliations. Members use Doostang to share relevant career opportunities and to interact with one another.

Below is how Doostang is different.

Using traditional online job websites, we got frustrated. If you’re searching for a new position and looking through hundreds of jobs, you’re lucky to find one that interests you but probably won’t hear back. On the other hand, as a recruiter, you may often find yourself inundated with irrelevant resumes when posting a position online.

Doostang recognizes the power of good information, especially when it comes to your career. Over 70% of jobs are, after all, filled through referrals. Doostang’s network offers immediate access to relevant people and opportunities through shared friends.

We’ve seen students, those who are happily employed, those looking for an exciting new job, recruiters, and fans of the community invite their friends to join the Doostang Network. In fact, tens of thousands of people are on Doostang just to help. By being a member and connecting people who are looking for a job or candidate, you are also building your own network on Doostang. In doing so, you are making more opportunities available for yourself and your friends down the line should you ever need to change your job or look for a great candidate.

Shared jobs
Doostang’s motto is “reclaim your career”. It encourages its users to doo the same; share opportunities with your friends by posting any interesting jobs you receive on Doostang. Collaborating will create more job opportunities than those that currently exist for all of us today.

Groups and Forums
Create groups to interact with members from your school, company, or with similar interests. Post questions, suggestions, and answers to our forums, and engage the community in meaningful discussion.

The company’s founders are Mareza Larizadeh and Pavel Krapivin. Doostang, once used to be in San Francisco, is today based in Palo Alto, CA. The latest publicly available number of registered users with Doostang is 300,000.

The company has recently closed its $3.5M series A round of funding from Shasta Ventures. It comes on top of $1M angel round previously invested in the company.  Total funding is already $4.5M.

The space is extremely overcrowded with major players like Monster, LinkedIn and believed Facebook too, VisiblePath, among others.

More

http://www.doostang.com/
http://blog.doostang.com/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2005/07/17/profile-doostang/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/17/dollars-for-doostang/
http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/aug2007/id20070830_886412.htm?campaign_id=rss_tech
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/17/dollars-for-doostang/
http://doostang.com/forum.asp
http://www.crunchbase.com/person/mareza-larizadeh
http://www.crunchbase.com/person/pavel-krapivin
http://www.shastaventures.com/

Li Ka-shing invests $40M more in Facebook; total funding is now $378M from $338M before

The Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing has reveled in a recent conference call that he raised his stake in the social networking site Facebook with some $40M more. That amount comes on top of his previous commitment of $60M, which brings his total investment in the popular site to $100M. What is his actually equity position in the Facebook, however, remains mystery to date, but considering what Microsoft has bought for their $240M (1.6%) it might turn out that Li Ka-shing’s ownership is perhaps below 1%. For Microsoft it might be quite clear what is the driving force behind such pity deal (locking down some advertising inventory and keeping Facebook away from the rival Google), but what the benefits for the Honk Kong billionaire are is very unclear for us. May be everything comes down to a potential IPO, which as we understand is not going to happen any sooner than 2010, despite some recent rumors for a possible IPO in as early as 2009. We think there is no other viable exit for your investors than going public if you have already taken more than $300M funding money off little to no steady revenues. There was no word on today’s Facebook pre-money valuation.

Here is what Li, who is chairman of telecom company Hutchinson Whampoa, told reporters on his company’s conference call:

“Facebook is doing very well and we could have some synergy between the 3G services of Hutchison and Facebook, so the customers could use Facebook on mobile phones.”

The combination of the social network and 3G networks is seen by Stacey Higginbotham from GigaOm as the most logical reason why Li Ka-shing was so eager to increase his stake in Facebook. Facebook users can already access the site on their mobile phones through the Facebook mobile page

Well, this might be the answer of our question from above what are the benefits for the Li Ka-shing in the context of Microsoft’s deal with Facebook.
A little more Facebook history and facts.

Facebook is hugely popular social networking site, second only to MySpace in terms of users. Other popular social networking sites are Bebo and Friendster, the second one tried to acquire Facebook in 2004 for just $10M.

The latest comScore metrics, we have seen, revealed that Facebook is actually havingover 100M unique visitors per month.

Peter Thiel, cofounder of PayPal and managing partner of the Founders Fund was the first angel investor in the company. He invested $500,000 into Facebook in early 2004. Later Accel Partners poured $12.7 million more in funding, at a valuation in the $100 million range.

The next year [2006], Facebook received $25 million in funding from Greylock Partners and Meritech Capital, as well as returning investors Accel Partners and Peter Thiel. The pre-money valuation for this deal was in the $525 million range.

Facebook is reported to have turned deals down from Friendster, Yahoo, Viacom  and the mighty Google a few months ago when Zuckerberg has chosen Microsoft to partner with. Microsoft de-facto has invested $240 million into Facebook for just 1.6 percent of the company in October 2007. This put the company’s valuation at over $15 billion on just $150 million in annual revenues.

Mr. Li Ka-shing is the Chairman of Cheung Kong (Holdings) Limited and Hutchison Whampoa Limited. Cheung Kong (Holdings) Limited is the flagship of the Cheung Kong Group which has business operations in 55 countries around the world and employs about 250,000 staff. In Hong Kong alone, the Group includes eight listed companies with a combined market capitalization of approximately HKD981 billion (31 October 2007). Hutchison Whampoa Limited is a Fortune Global 500 company.

It would be interesting to find out what’s the equity position Mr. Li Ka-shing has secured for his $60M considering what Microsoft has bought for their $240M. 

More

http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/hong-kong-tycoon-li-raises/story.aspx?guid=%7BE4097AA2-9EA3-4773-9100-456E68EE1C9A%7D
http://www.allfacebook.com/2008/03/facebook-gets-another-40-million/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/27/hong-kong-billionaire-puts-another-40-million-into-facebook/
http://mashable.com/2008/03/27/facebook-hutchinson-investment/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2007/11/30/hong-kong-billionaire-li-ka-shing-invests-60m-in-facebook-funding-totals-33820m-to-date/
http://gigaom.com/2008/03/27/facebook-soon-to-appear-in-3g/
http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=2915120374&b
http://gigaom.com/2008/03/13/lets-justify-facebooks-300-per-user-valuation/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/facebook
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/11/30/another-60-million-for-facebook/
http://kara.allthingsd.com/20071130/facebook-nabs-60-million-investment-from-li-ka-shing/
http://www.hutchison-whampoa.com/eng/about/chairman/chairman.htm

An Israeli sync start-up acquired for reportedly $25M

BeInSync Ltd., an Israeli-based provider of an all-in-one solution that allows users to backup, synchronize, share and access data online has been acquired by Phoenix Technologies for an undisclosed amount. However, Techcrunch has reported the company went for $25M.

Phoenix Technologies, based in Milpitas Calif., is a public company (PTEC) established in 1979 and designs, develops and supports core system software for personal computers and other computing devices. The Company’s product supports and enables the compatibility, connectivity, security, and manageability of the various components and technologies used in such devices. It sells these products primarily to computer and component device manufacturers. Phoenix Technologies has more than 300 employees and company’s today market capitalization was $426M on $47M revenues for the fiscal 2007.

BeInSync, on the other side, is just four and a half year old startup that is known to have raised $8M to date from several institutional investors like Alta Berkeley Venture Partners, Aviv Venture Capital Fund, and Eurofund. Looking at the numbers this seems not the dream exit for the investors – only $25M off $8M invested, but is perhaps better than nothing on the long term run considering the huge competition in the space of file sharing and synchronization among any type of devices from computers to mobile phones. The company’s founders are Tal Barnoach, Sharon Carmel, and Adi Ruppin.

The acquisition, which is anticipated to close within the next several weeks, represents yet another step by Phoenix in delivering on its PC 3.0 promise of Embedded Simplicity.

BeInSync’s technology redefines the way consumers and SMBs backup, access, share and protect documents, rich media files, and other important data. The company’s patent-pending, peer-to-peer technology allows users to seamlessly and securely access their latest files anytime and anywhere, automatically keeping files and folders ‘in sync’ and backed up across multiple computers, including home PCs, office PCs and laptops.

“This acquisition is a leap forward in our effort to redefine and significantly improve the PC experience by embedding simplicity for end users,” said Woody Hobbs, President and CEO of Phoenix Technologies. “PC 3.0 eliminates complexity and provides users with the kind of convenience they expect from their digital devices. We are bringing new benefits to the hundreds of millions of PC users globally who require built-in functionality on PCs by enabling secure and easy online access and collaboration and automated data protection to help them manage their digital lives.

“The integration of breakthrough synchronization technology from BeInSync will allow Phoenix and its customers to help end-users alleviate concerns about the loss of important files and to give them complete mobile freedom to access their data from any Internet-connected computer.”

Phoenix Technologies’ management team itself has extensive experience in synchronization technologies. Before joining Phoenix, Woody Hobbs served as President and CEO of Intellisync, a leader in wireless email and synchronization solutions, which was acquired in 2006 by Nokia.

“Given our past experience in synchronization solutions, it was fairly easy for us to identify the best possible technology existing out there that would fit in with our corporate vision and product strategy,” continued Hobbs. “We were very impressed with BeInSync’s people and their technology and we’re excited to work with them to transform data access and continuity for PC users in consumer and small business markets as well as in enterprise departments.

“End-users want to stay connected and always ‘be in sync’ with colleagues, friends, remote files and computer systems. We look forward to working with our OEM customers to make online synchronization and continuity a core part of the PC end user experience. Together, the two companies will meet a wider set of customer needs and have a significantly greater opportunity to enable PC OEMs to grow their markets.”

“We are very excited to be a part of Phoenix Technologies, the global leader in core systems firmware for PCs,” said Tal Barnoach, Founder and Chairman of BeInSync. “With this acquisition, Phoenix is extending its leadership in the PC industry to include products in its portfolio that will set the standard yet again for providing the best-in-class solutions to PC OEMs and their customers.”

Upon the closing of the acquisition, Sharon Carmel, Founder & Vice President of R&D at BeInSync, will join Phoenix as Vice President & Chief Scientist of Synchronization and Continuity Solutions and Phoenix will continue to maintain operations out of Tel Aviv, Israel. The two companies are developing integration plans that build on corporate similarities and the best business and product development practices from each company.

“Both Phoenix and BeInSync are passionate about creating and enabling great user experiences across the entire range of mobile PCs,” said Carmel. “Our combined teams will be a powerful force for innovation around emerging mobile computing platforms for delivering web-based data management and data protection solutions. PC 3.0 users will no longer be dependent on a single, stand-alone PC for access to their files and digital life. At the same time, Phoenix’s OEM customers will have new opportunities to differentiate their offerings, and provide additional value-added services as part of the PC sale.”

More about BeInSync

BeInSync redefines the way consumers and businesses access, share and protect their documents, photos, videos and music. With over 4 million downloads, BeInSync offers users complete freedom when dealing with their digital content, by allowing them to seamlessly sync, share, access and backup their data. Based on patent-pending secure peer-to-peer technology, BeInSync creates your own private data network that makes it easy to stay connected and always in sync with colleagues, friends, remote files and computers.

More about Phoenix Technologies

Phoenix Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: PTEC) is the global market leader in system firmware that provides the most secure foundation for today’s computing environments. The PC industry’s top builders and specifiers trust Phoenix to pioneer open standards and deliver innovative solutions that will help them differentiate their systems, reduce time-to-market and increase their revenues. The Company’s flagship products, AwardCore, SecureCore, FailSafe and HyperSpace, are revolutionizing the PC user experience by delivering unprecedented security, reliability and ease-of-use. The Company established industry leadership with its original BIOS product in 1983, has 155 technology patents and 139 pending applications, and has shipped in over one billion systems. Phoenix is headquartered in Milpitas, California with offices worldwide.

More

http://www.beinsync.com
http://www.beinsync.com/company/press-releases/press_release_phoenix_anouncement.php
http://www.phoenix.com
http://investor.phoenix.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=301730
http://www.thecoils.com/2008/03/27/beinsync_exit/ (in Hebrew)
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/26/beinsync-acquired-by-phoenix-technologies-for-25m/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/beinsync
http://www.beinsync.com/
http://investor.phoenix.com/common/download/download.cfm?companyid=PTEC&fileid=183485&filekey=d858c202-a278-42bf-b2b4-23ce4ce3a404&filename=301730.pdf
http://finance.google.com/finance?q=PTEC
http://www.altaberkeley.com/
http://www.avivvc.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extensible_Firmware_Interface
http://www.eurofund.co.il/

Yahoo shares up 4.4% on rumors Microsoft will increase the bid to $34

To make a long story short a Citigroup Investment Research analyst believes that rather than let the deal fall apart, Microsoft will increase its buyout offer for Yahoo. Citigroup has raised its Yahoo price target to $34 per share based on their belief that Microsoft will revise its takeover offer. The guy is named Mark Mahaney and he said “We believe that a Yahoo sale to Microsoft — at a price higher than the initial $31 bid is the most likely outcome”.

On those rumors and others Yahoo shares closed at $28.73 Tuesday, which is up 4.4%.

Mahaney also said Microsoft is yet to make significant inroads in the area of online advertising, especially against market leader Google, despite efforts to do so for the past three to four years. The only way Microsoft could compete with Google would be to acquire Yahoo, the analyst said.

It was also said Yahoo keeps on aggressively pursuing other alternatives to Microsoft’s unsolicited takeover bid, although there are no any other competing bidders for the company at this time. Rumored possibility is Time Warner, but analysts are saying it is more likely to force Microsoft increase its bid rather than ending up in a deal with Yahoo.

Really more

http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/25/citigroup-raises-yahoo-target-to-34-based-on-revised-microsoft-bid/
http://www.infoworld.com/article/08/03/25/Citigroup-says-Microsoft-likely-to-raise-bid-for-Yahoo_1.html
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=MSFT
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=yhoo
http://uk.reuters.com/article/technology-media-telco-SP/idUKN1819990520080219
http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-6231021.html
http://mashable.com/2008/02/18/bill-gates-were-not-raising-the-yahoo-bid/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/01/yes-we-were-right-yahoo-was-seriously-undervalued-microsoft-offers-446b-for-the-company-a-62-premium-over-their-value-from-yesterday/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/02/is-google-going-to-be-the-winner-from-the-microsoft-yahoo-deal/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/04/google%e2%80%99s-chief-legal-officer-vs-microsoft%e2%80%99s-general-counsel/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/08/one-after-another-the-potential-competitive-bidders-for-yahoo-drop-off-is-yahoo-going-to-surrender-to-microsoft/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/09/end-of-speculations-yahoo-rejected-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/11/yahoo%e2%80%99s-official-response-to-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer-no/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/12/and-here-is-what-microsoft-has-to-tell-yahoo/
http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/080211/aqm241.html
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?d=t&s=msft
http://money.cnn.com/2008/02/09/magazines/fortune/yahoo_rejects_bid_report.fortune/?postversion=2008020914
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fffc1006-d5e8-11dc-bbb2-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1
http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2008/02/05/yahoo-the-five-scenario-analysis/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/08/yahoo-board-to-determine-fate-of-company-today/
http://www.techmeme.com/080201/p78#a080201p78
http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_8149194
http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/feb2008/tc2008021_885192.htm?chan=rss_topStories_ssi_5
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/02/AR2008020200568.html
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/02/MN8OUQGNB.DTL&type=tech
http://kara.allthingsd.com/20080201/microsoft-to-yahoo-two-days-to-respond-or-else/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/hold-everything-we-may-get-another-yhoo-bidder.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/what-would-a-combined-microsoft-yahoo-look-like/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/ballmers-internal-e-mail-to-the-troops-explaining-the-yahoo-acquisition/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/02/news-corp-scrambles-to-bid-for-yahoo/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/microsoft-yahoo-combined-financials.html
http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=206107168
http://mashable.com/2008/02/10/yahoo-aol-merger/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/10/wait-yahoo-and-aol-i-was-looking-forward-to-something-moreintelligent/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/09/microsofts-80-billion-and-growing-yahoo-headache/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/09/end-of-speculations-yahoo-rejected-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer

Wisdom of the crowds principle effectively applied to predict markets, events

While doing our daily research on the web 2.0 deals we came across a very interesting start up that deserves to make our web 2.0 innovations list – Predictify.

Essentially it is a very interesting and pretty innovative idea of using the wisdom of the crowds and the collective intelligence principles to predict in behalf of advertisers and market researchers. It is community-driven prediction market that pays and rewards users for their accuracy, which guarantees user engagement at higher level.

We’ve found out the site has launched just this last October and since then it launched its platform where other companies can create co-branded prediction centers. Freakanomics was Predictify’s launch partner for the platform, where readers can predict outcomes discussed on the Freakonomics blog.

The company has announced today it has closed $4.3 million round of funding, from Sierra Ventures and Sherpalo Ventures. Mark Fernandes, a managing director at Sierra Ventures, will be joining the Predictify board. Predictify has taken so far only an angel round of funding a year ago, but the amount is not publicly disclosed.

More about Predictify

Predictify is a prediction platform where users can predict the future and build a reputation based on their accuracy, and marketers can post questions to collect actionable, forward-looking data “from the crowd”.

Predictors
Predictify provides a simple, fun way to predict the future. You can research, discuss and predict what will happen, build a reputation based on your accuracy, and even get paid real money when you’re right (tell me more). Best of all, it’s free – no points or bets required.

Advertisers
Predictify is an effective way to create interactive advertisements by posting a question related to your product or service. Users’ incentive to be accurate leads to a high level of engagement in your marketing message. The resulting data set, which includes demographic information, provides insight into the preferences of existing and potential customer segments.

Market Researchers
Predictify uses advanced statistical methods to identify experts among their users based on past predictive accuracy, and combines this with demographic information to provide unique, crowd-based insight. You can tap into this user base to collect a large sample of predictions about future events, trends, and market data. Predictify’s unique system captures the full distribution of beliefs, not just the average, and provides easy-to-use graphical tools to analyze the results.

Here is quickly how it works

Predictify is a prediction platform where users can predict the future and build a reputation based on their accuracy, and marketers can post questions to collect actionable, forward-looking data “from the crowd”.

Submit a Prediction

  • Browse or search for questions that interest you
  • Predict the outcome – it’s free, no points or bets required
  • Build a reputation based on the accuracy of your predictions
  • Earn real money – payouts increase as you achieve higher levels of expertise

Click here to predict!

Ask a Question

  • Compose a question about the future that will have an objective, verifiable outcome
  • Submit your question for approval – it’s free (or select Premium to get demographics for $1 per response)
  • View the interactive, graphical results as users submit predictions (example)

Click here to post a question!

More

http://www.predictify.com/
http://blog.predictify.com/
http://mashable.com/2008/03/25/predictify-funding/
http://mashable.com/2008/03/02/predictify-freakanomics/
http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/02/05/predictify/
http://www.infoworld.com/article/07/12/10/50FE-crowdsourcing_1.html
http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/25/a-new-prediction-market-for-the-masses/
http://dilbertblog.typepad.com/the_dilbert_blog/2007/10/hiring-republic.html
http://www.webware.com/8301-1_109-9794602-2.html
http://mashable.com/2007/10/08/predictify-live/

Modu, an innovative approach to cell phones, is on its way to raise $100M

In a week full with $100M funding deals (9You & SpinVox) here is the next one – Modu is an Israel based start up founded just in 2007 and has already raised $20M in its Series A round of funding. In that first round the backers are Gemini Israel Funds and Genesis Partners. Today there are rumors spreading around web that Modu is about to take a second round in the $100M range at $150M pre-money valuation, which means the company is ready to give up to 40% from its equity.

The funding is expected to close the funding round within the next few weeks but no investor names, neither institutional nor individual, are being quoted.

A funding round on this scale is considered extremely large and exceptionally rare in the Israeli venture capital industry. The large-scale of the round can be tied to the proven track record of its founder – Dov Moran. Rumors tell the hoping pre-money for Modu was $200M.

The capital will be used to bring Modu’s product onto the market as early at the end of 2008.

The device Modu has developed is a cellular handset that can be connected to a USB port on any computing device. It is based, among other things, on flash memory technology, and a unique memory technology that interfaces with any device it is connected to, enabling the uploading all forms of data, from telephone numbers to multimedia files.

Modu was established in early 2007 by Dov Moran, founder and CEO of msystems (NSDQ:FLSH), inventors and leaders of the USB flash drive market (DiskOnKey™), FlashDisk (DiskOnChip™) and other ground-breaking products. A seasoned team comprised of executives and managers from msystems, Microsoft, Texas Instruments, Motorola, Qualcomm, Intel, SanDisk, Symbian, Marvell, Orange and other leading companies allows modu to offer a unique blend of experience and unrivaled expertise in the mobile and consumer electronics arenas. modu has already developed key relationships with leading partners and manufacturers and has raised significant initial funding from a distinguished group of financial institutions.

Imagine the freedom to choose a new phone as often as you like, constantly taking different forms, functions and designs.

Imagine a world of connected consumer electronics devices, where you can share information with the world in ways you never thought possible.

modu enables you to create an entirely new communication experience to meet your changing needs, preferences and style.

meet modu

At the heart of the modu ecosystem is modu – a tiny, sleek & sophisticated mobile phone.

Slip modu into a variety of stylishly designed modu jackets to create a new look and provide added functionality that will instantly shape and reshape the way you communicate.

modu also has many mates – modu-enabled consumer electronic devices such as Personal Music Players, Digital Cameras or DECT Phones. Slip modu into modu mates to enhance your ability to quickly and easily communicate and share information with others.

modu jackets – what’s your modu?

You can switch modu jackets as often as you like according to your changing lifestyle and personal expression needs – transforming modu from a stylish phone or business tool to a workout companion or a powerful entertainment system. It’s as easy as slipping modu in and out.

modu allows you to have impact and make a dynamic fashion statement. modu jackets come custom branded with your favorite fashion brands, movies or music artists – all pre-loaded with exclusive content and a unique UI. Simply walk into your favorite store and pick up a new modu jacket to express your passions and interests. With modu, there are no boundaries to the number of unique and affordable phones available for you to enjoy.

All modu jackets are universally interchangeable, allowing you to swap modu jackets with friends. Or buy one as a gift for the favorite people in your life – allowing them to enjoy a brand new communication experience and to think of you every time they pick up the phone.

modu mates

modu mates let the revolution of a connected world to enter your everyday life. modu strives to become the standard communications and personalization enabler to any consumer electronics device. You can slip modu into your digital camera to enable instant sharing of photos with your modu contact list, into a DECT phone to enable land-mobile call consolidation, or into a digital picture frame to view pictures stored on your modu. The connections are boundless. Your ability to share, interact and communicate with the world is now possible with modu.

It’s time for a new stylish world of boundless possibilities, endless choices, and unlimited connectivity. It’s time to be unique. It’s time to modu your life.

The company has recently changed its name from InFone Tech to Modu.

Dov Moran is Founder, CEO and Chairman of modu. Before that, Mr. Moran was the founder, Chairman and CEO of msystems (NSDQ: FLSH). In 18 years, msystems, which invented the USB Flash Drive (DiskOnKey™), FlashDisk (DiskOnChip™) and other innovative flash data storage devices, grew to a $1B company. The company was acquired by SanDisk Corp (NSDQ: SNDK) for $1.6B at the end of 2006.

Mr. Moran is also the Chairman of Tower Semiconductor (NSDQ: TSEM) and Biomas, a bio-tech company. Mr. Moran holds a B.Sc. in Computers and Electronic Engineering (with honors) from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology.

Other from the team includes:

  • Itay Sherman
    CTO
  • Zack Weisfeld
    VP Marketing
  • Ronit Maor
    VP Corporate Development
  • Liat Arad
    COO
  • Lior Storfer
    VP Research and Development
  • Jacob Shama
    VP Value Added Products
  • Sariel Engel
    VP Business Development
  • Udi Weinstein
    CIO
  • Karl Pfister
    General Manager Europe

More

http://www.modumobile.com/
http://www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/docview.asp?did=1000325006
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/24/100-million-coming-to-israeli-startup-modu/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/21/modu-wants-you-to-guess-what-it-is-all-about/
http://www.libraryhouse.net/blog/2007/06/25/roundup-the-pick-of-recent-venture-capital-deals-7/
http://www.libraryhouse.net/profile/tfba6prp87z9os2aappd/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/modu

SocialMedia totals $4M in funding and is one of the top ad platforms for Facebook

Creating Facebook applications is already big business online. Facebook created a special fund to invest in popular applications for their social platform and there are also several venture capital firms who are keeping an eye on the sector for the next hot or modern Facebook application to invest in. Monetizing the traffic generated from those applications is another story. SocialMedia is one of the top so called ad platforms for Facebook applications.

SocialMedia offers a suite of tools and services for developers building applications that run on social networking platforms including Facebook and MySpace.

SocialMedia Network’s flagship product Appsaholic sells click-throughs to other Facebook applications across a network of affiliated sites in a similar way to FBExchange’s link exchange model, but has more features and seems easier to use and has PayPal integrated. Below is some more information on how Appsaholic works.

Developers become a member of the network by tracking their application on Appsaholic and adding some embed code to their application. The embed code adds an iFrame that serves paid links on their affiliates’ applications. The links go to the highest “AdRanked” advertising developer on their live bidding market. AdRank is determined by multiplying two factors, the offered price per click, and the advertising application’s quality score. The quality score is based on a function of the application’s clickthrough rate and viral growth within the network. The idea is that higher quality applications should be rewarded with cheaper advertising. This dissuades disliked apps from spamming the service.

So, for example, a developer whose application has a quality score of 60 and is willing to bid $.10 per click, has an AdRank of 6. Since ads are served in AdRanked order, the developer could boost his AdRank and position in the queue by bidding a bit higher. Currently PPC rates are 10 to 20 cents. Appsaholic takes 12-30% of that revenue.

The company has recently taken $3.5 million Series A in a round led by Charles River Ventures that also included Marc Andreessen (Netscape) and Jeff Clavier. Charles River Ventures had previously seed funded the company with $500,000. That took the company’s total funding to $4M. 

George Zachary of Charles River Ventures said that the investment “underscores the significant opportunity for SocialMedia Networks to become the new standard for how social networks are monetized.”

Other investors include Jim Bankoff – Former EVP Programming AOL; Ted Barnett – CEO of JamJam; co-founder and CEO of When.com; former COO of Ofoto; Jeff Clavier – Manager Director SoftTech VC; Marc Andreessen – Co-founder of Netscape and Ning.com; Mark Goldstein – CEO of LoyaltyLab.com; Naval Ravikant – Managing Director HitForge; author of VentureHacks; co-founder of Epinions; Tina Sharkey – Former SVP Social Media and Instant Messsaging, AOL, Former Group President Sesame Workshop Internet, co-founder iVillage and Jeremy Wenokur – Former VP Corp Dev, Google. 

There are several other startups claiming to be the top Facebook ad platform: Lookery, fbExchange, RockYou, and Cubics but SocialMedia is one of the early players when they launched their Appsaholic advertising network soon after F8.

Some people are a bit skeptical about companies like SocialMedia arguing that some of the popular social networks themselves can’t even really figure out a profitable way to monetize themselves, let alone third party small companies going to become the standard way to monetize social networks by putting ads and stuff in a widget.

Will they ever manage to make money? Maybe, maybe not. But the potential is huge, and if someone ever succeeds in that field, the Social Media seems in a pretty good position to be among the winners.

More about SocialMedia

SocialMedia Networks is the leading provider of social platform services. It fuses together three core features – management, marketing, and monetization – into a comprehensive package that advertisers and developers can use to grow awareness, and grow their applications on social platforms.

Socialmedia.com was registered in November of 1999. It has since sat idle, waiting patiently for the right time to emerge. Nearly eight years later, that time has come.

Moreso than ever before, people all over the world are being entertained by interacting with others online. What was once simple communication has truly evolved into social media. Until recently, however, the environments in which these increasingly rich interactions took place were controlled by a few, closed entities. This changed on May 24th when facebook welcomed thousands of developers to immerse themselves within their platform.

And so, on this day, socialmedia.com was unleashed.

SocialMedia was one of the first developers on the facebook platform, launching Food Fight and Happy Hour shortly after f8. To date, more than 10 million users have installed one of these applications.

The services we provide to others were born primarily of our own needs in developing and deploying our applications. Through our personal learnings and experiences, we are now determined to offer a similar set of services to all developers and advertisers who care to delve into the world of the facebook platform, and all other platforms that are destined to follow.

Tap into the social revolution with SocialMedia – the app network!

Public information available on SocialMedia claims 1,475,837 apps installed, thus far.

SocialMedia Networks is based in Palo Alto and Mill Valley, CA.

More

http://www.socialmedia.com
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/socialmedia
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/18/socialmedia-networks-takes-35-million-series-a/
http://apps.facebook.com/appsaholic
http://fbexchange.com/
http://www.lookery.com/
http://cubics.com/

Gaming is hot in China; 9You raised $100M, talks IPO

After reporting on SpinVox’s massive $100M round of funding it seems there is more to come within the same money range – this time from mainland China.

9You, a Chinese online games operator, has received $100 million in equity investment from Temasek Holdings, among other investors. Well, any time someone talks $100M funding rounds the IPO plans are not that far away in the future. The company says is planning an IPO later this year. The investment was said is to the company to continue transforming its business into an entertainment virtual community. The investment came after 9You’s launch of GTown, a virtual world integrating 9You’s existing online games.

Founded in 2003, 9You is currently operating one of China’s most popular online casual games Audition. By February 2008, the company’s games combined have more than 1 million peak concurrent users. The company claims it has reached over 120M registered users in 2006.

It was hard for us to dig some more public information about the deal. Most of the information came from Redline China, which is operated by Pearl Research a San Francisco based business intelligence and consultancy firm.

More about 9You

Nineyou (www.9you.com) (Shanghai Everstar Online Entertainment Co .Ltd.) is the global’s biggest music online game operator, China’s biggest casual game operator, one of biggest interactive entertainment portal sites in China, which is the first to integrate online game services (MMORPG, massive and medium size casual games, mobile game, etc.), fashional digital entertainment contents, a variety of chatting and community services equipped with Avatar System, wireless value-added services and other premiere services to the Chinese language internet users all over the world. With its wide-coverage for all major types of user needs related with digital entertainment service, the 9you.com represents the latest service style and the newest trend for the digital entertainment provider business in China Market. A series of awards and ranking are obtained by 9you.com in 2005 which include Top 10 Online Game Operator in China, and Top 10 Online Game Developer in China, the Cool Company, Shanghai First-class Service Brand in Information Service Industry, etc.

The major investors in Nineyou are several leading international venture capital funds, including the Carlyle Group, which is the world’s largest private investment group, China Merchant Fortune Ventures, and Dragon Groove Inc. who has the background as international strategic investor.

As an integrated service platform for all types of interactive entertainment services, the major business objective of the 9you.com is to bring the best, fastest, all-covered and coolest digital entertainment services to its subscribers of a wide range of ages, including the hard-cored and the light users, male and female users. As of May 2006, the number of total registered users has reached 120 million and the number of the peak concurrent users has reached 800 thousand.

The 9you.com are providing more digital entertainment products in year 2006 and the number of products and types of services will be the No.1 in the whole China Online Game Service industry in the foreseeable future.

More about Temasek Holdings

Temasek Holdings is an Asia investment house headquartered in Singapore.

With a multinational staff of more than 300 people, we manage a portfolio of over S$160 billion, or more than US$100 billion, focused primarily in Asia. We are committed to fostering a sustainable future for our shareholder, staff, portfolio companies and
the community.

We are an active shareholder and investor in diverse industry sectors such as banking & financial services, real estate, transportation & logistics, infrastructure, telecommunications & media, bioscience & healthcare, education, consumer & lifestyle, engineering & technology, as well as energy & resources.

Our total shareholder return since our inception is more than 18% compounded annually. We have a corporate credit rating of AAA/Aaa by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s respectively.

In 2008, The Economist reported that Morgan Stanley had estimated the fund’s assets at US$159.2 billion

More

http://www.9you.com/
http://mashable.com/2008/03/21/9you-funding/
http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-chinese-gaming-site-9you-receives-100-million-investment/
http://www.redlinechina.com/main/?q=node/740
http://www.temasekholdings.com.sg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temasek_Holdings

SpinVox raises $100M at a whopping $500M valuation

SpinVox, a London based voice-to-text technology is raising $100M round of funding from a bunch of high-profile investors among which are Goldman Sachs, GLG Partners, Blue Mountain Capital Management and Toscafund Asset Management. The service can basically be described as a solution that transcribes voicemails to text so that they can be more easily digitized, searched, and manipulated. SpinVox’s software works simply by converting a voicemail message into text, which it then e-mails to a computer or sends via SMS to a phone. It removes the need to dial one’s voicemail, punch in a password and listen to messages.

This brings the total money invested in the company so far to $200M and today’s round is said to have been done on $500M pre-money valuation. What is also interesting with the company is that the CEO, the 31-year-old Christina Domecq is from the famous liquor family Domecq from UK that was part of the international company Allied Domecq PLC that operated spirits, wine, and quick service restaurant businesses. Allied Domecq was the result of a 1994 merger between Allied Lyons and Pedro Domecq. Rumors go up to the point that SpinVox was planning on an IPO before, but today the company has said it has no immediate plans to go public or sell itself but is exploring all options.

SpinVox is said to have partnerships with 12 mobile carriers, mostly in Europe, including O2, Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile, 3, and Virgin Mobile, but is barely presented on the US market.

The funds will be devoted to further building the global business of the UK-headquartered company that already operates on four continents.

“Closing this funding round is an exceptional achievement given the current state of the global financial markets,” says Christina Domecq, CEO and Co Founder of SpinVox. “We are delighted to have this group of institutional investors join the company. It clearly underlines the confidence these high-calibre investors have in SpinVox and the management team.”

The new round builds on previous investments made in the company by private equity investors such as Martin Hughes, Charles Dunstone of Carphone Warehouse and Peter Wood, the founder of Direct Line, eSure and Sheila’s Wheels and institutional investors such as ABN Amro, Gartmore and Allen & Co.

“We built SpinVox to answer a real need in the marketplace and have now established a vast new market for voice-to-screen messaging which we continue to lead,” continues Christina. “One of the many reasons why people are getting so excited about SpinVox is that it is one of the few genuinely innovative companies to have emerged in the telecommunications arena in recent years. SpinVox is transforming core messaging for carriers world-wide and delivering new, recurring revenues from existing user behaviour.”

Goldman Sachs International acted as exclusive financial adviser to SpinVox on the transaction.

Most of the technology bloggers simply followed up on the PR materials being sent to them and have positively reviewed the service, but we think there is plenty of room for improvements and the reportedly $500M valuation for the company is hard to understand and justify.

However, the guys from Mashable have more critical look into the technology and have written that while the company is trying to make all the right moves, by opening up MySpace and Facebook applications, the core technology, “continues to fail hard.” We tend to agree with them.

Below are some transcripts from Mashable’s author when he attempted to get the service to accurately translate his voice to text:

What I said: “Ok, well, let’s see… What am I talking about? Oh! Actually I put a new article up on Mashable.com today. ”
What I said, SpinVoxed: “Ok well, see what I’m talking about oh actually put a new article of nashville.com(?) today.”

What I said: “It’s that YouTube or whatever may have helped them get there quicker, citing the new Apple UGC ad that came out as an example.”
What I Said, SpinVoxed: “It’s that a youtube or whatever may have helped them get their quick or setting the new apple UGC ad,…”

What I said: “It’s staying on and letting me talk and so I’m just gonna talk until this thing kicks me off.”
What I said, SpinVoxed: “It’s sticking on let me talk and so I’m just gonna talk into this thing puts me off.”

Mark Hopkins, an author at Mashable, has further said that he has spoken to folks far more familiar with the limitations of VTT (voice-to-text technology) technology that it just isn’t feasible with current standards of computing.

A guy that claims to work for the company has saidthe following. I work for SpinVox and have a window on the process. SpinVox employs a series of speech engines and the majority of our English conversions are automated. The Voice Message Conversion System is actually a “live learning” system that “knows what it doesn’t know”. When it encounters new language or ambient noise that confuses the automated process, it then asks a human to review that portion of the message in dispute. That person then converts the portion of the message in dispute and the complete conversion is then delivered. To date we’ve had about 4 million unique voices pass through the system which improves our ability to understand any voice.

Others, like Rob Abbott, are more favorable explaining that the value of indexable, searchable voice transcriptions is significant. Once integrated into an application like a mail client (Gmail, Mail, Outlook…etc.), the value is clear. The time spent transcribing important voice messages, interviews and conversations is cut by these services. While some services, like SimulScribe and SpinVox do send the audio to markets with cheap labor, the service isn’t always optimal or exact.

I am a current user, he says, of both services and it’s of enough value for me to become dependent on once my habits change. I get previews of my voice messages sent to my iPhone in SMS form, so I know who called and most importantly, why, without having to play the message (in a meeting).

Goldman Sachs is investing in the distributed service and in the technology, so SpinVox is widely integrated into applications which increase productivity, and so the quality of the transcription technology involves to an accurate service, whether it be by human or machine (or both).

Some competitors include Jott, Pinger, SimulScribe, among others.

More about SpinVox

We launched in 2005 through The Carphone Warehouse, The Link and other retail channels. Pretty soon we had over 130,000 regular users, with an unprecedented customer retention rate of 80%. People who started speaking through SpinVox soon found they couldn’t live without it.

SpinVox has since won major industry awards from people like the GSM Association, Red Herring and Ernst & Young. No, we’re not boasting, we’re just pleased. In fact we’re amazed at how SpinVox is changing people’s lives.

At the heart of SpinVox is our patented Voice Message Conversion System™ (or VMCS to keep it simple). It underpins everything we do – our retail, enterprise, service provider and global carrier services. It’s maintained on an enterprise-class hardware infrastructure by an expert management team, to meet the rigorous demands of global carriers and their customers. Which means it just works, brilliantly.

From retail brands and direct customers, to global carriers and Web 2.0 brands, we are leading the way in converging voice and screens. SpinVox products are used on five continents, in five languages, with new carrier and technology partners joining us every month.

SpinVox has 300 employees and offices in nine countries.

The management

  • Christina Domecq
    CEO and Co-founder
  • Daniel Doulton
    Chief Strategy Officer and Co-founder
  • Andrew Cherry
    Chief Financial Officer
  • Tom Clear
    Chief Commercial Officer
  • Philip Marnick
    Chief Technology Officer
  • Rob Wheatley
    Chief Information Officer
  • James Scroggs
    VP Consumer Business

More

http://www.spinvox.com/
http://blog.spinvox.com/
http://www.spinvox.com/spinvox-secures-over-100-million-in-new-funding-round..html
http://www.moconews.net/entry/419-voicemail-to-text-firm-spinvox-raises-100-million-500-million-valuation/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/20/spinvox-translates-voice-to-text-service-into-a-100-million-round/
http://mashable.com/2008/03/20/spinvox-funded/
http://uk.techcrunch.com/2008/03/19/it-looks-like-spinvox-has-raised-50m/
http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idUKN1932303420080319?rpc=44
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/13/your-phone-is-your-mic-spinvox-lets-users-talk-to-twitter-facebook-and-jaiku-europe-only/
http://www.spinvox.com/spinvox-targets-cambridge-for-speech-recognition-skills..html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allied_Domecq 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedro_Domecq
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/spinvox

The modern Boo.com and pets.com

Just like their ancestors Boo.com and pets.com during the dot com boom times companies like Geosign and Capazoo have also spent huge amounts of money in no time and reached nothing but grand failures. But unlike those dot com stars from the past, which at least had serious business models, their modern equivalents from the web 2.0 times can barely be called real businesses.

Under no doubt the most prominent case from the past days is the $160M funding GeoSign took last year and spent in less than a year going belly up. The major lesson learned here is that the click/search arbitrage is dead. If you don’t believe us take a look at GeoSign today. Let’s put it that way Google killed them, and for reason. Given the amount of money flowing to Google, most in Geosign thought the search engine would turn a blind eye, but as it turned out Google is more concerned for its legitimate advertisers and that users would lose interest and faith in the online ad system, if more practices like the one GeoSign kept on exploiting spread across the web than earning several millions of companies like GeoSign.

The media and the bloggers called it that way: “A record $160-million VC investment. A rich Web strategy. A quirky founder. For a few weeks last spring, Guelph, Ont.’s Geosign had it all. Then mighty Google stirred. And it was over.” Now one understands why this company was so quiet over the past year despite the fact it took what is called the biggest ever venture capital funding for a technology company based in Canada.

What is anyway click/search arbitrage?

Essentially, search arbitrage involves an individual or company buying Internet traffic through the acquisition of keywords from Google, then sending viewers who click on the ad links to a site (“landing page” in Google terminology) that appears to have content, but is actually just full of online advertising linked to the original search term. Anyone clicking an ad link there makes money for the keyword holder. For example, a company might bid for the Google rights to the phrase “small town car sales” and send traffic to a website it controls, filled with more car advertisements, called “Alltheautomotive.com.” The keyword cost only 20¢, while a click on the advertising on the website might yield $1.50 return. According to Niki Scevak, an analyst at Jupiter Research in New York, the majority of those initially involved in search arbitrage were small players. “These were guys running search arbitrage out of their basements, making maybe $20,000 a month,” he says.

One of them, it seems, was Geosign. Former Geosign insiders who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirm that the possibility of a big payoff in search arbitrage caught Nye’s attention after he created Geosign. What’s more, he envisioned a network of thousands of websites all automated by software linking keywords to pages filled with ads, returning millions in cash in the process.

By 2005 that was exactly what was happening. Nye crafted a maze of Internet sites that included tens of thousands of Web pages and bought up even more keywords from Google. By connecting the keywords and the websites, Geosign was indeed generating more than $100 million in annual revenue and was extremely profitable. To put a value on the company at this time, analyst Scevak points to Marchex Inc., a publicly traded company in Seattle, Wash., with a comparable business model. At its peak in 2006, Marchex had a market capitalization of US$500 million.

The change in atmosphere had everything to do with measures that Google was taking to rein in those doing search arbitrage. This action was a response to two main concerns. First, that the practice was becoming so widespread, it was hurting legitimate advertisers by artificially inflating keyword prices. And second, that if too many keyword-targeted ad links only took users to pages filled with other ads, that users would lose interest and faith in the online ad system. Obviously, with advertising revenue being the key to Google’s finances, it had to respond. It did so by expanding the terms of service for its AdSense program (published on its website) to place greater restrictions on the way links could be used and by spelling out detailed landing page and site quality guidelines. A top priority there: relevant and original content. By these standards, a landing page full of ads is inadequate – as this text in its current guideline explains: “Provide substantial information. If your ad does link to a page consisting mostly of ads or general search results (such as a directory or catalog page), provide additional, unique content.” Since most companies doing search arbitrage bought both their keywords and landing page ads through Google, it was easy for the company to isolate and monitor them. Non-compliant parties risked being banned from the AdSense program. A simpler tactic, however, saw Google target those abusing the process, raising their fees and making it too costly to continue.

The end came suddenly, well before GeoSign to change the direction of its business. Google had started to look more closely at companies like Geosign, which were buying keywords from Google and ad links from Yahoo! or another provider. And soon Geosign got word that Google would now begin penalizing its Web pages that had “a low landing page quality score” – that is, lots of ads and little or no original content. While Google won’t comment specifically about Geosign, sources say it raised the prices it charged Geosign for keywords overnight. “When Google ‘shuts you down,’ that isn’t exactly what they do,” explains Jupiter’s Scevak. “Instead, what they do is start charging you $50 for what they were charging 10¢ for previously. They make the model financially unfeasible.”

GeoSign’s website is already taken down and is no longer publicly accessible.

The second popular crash down case from the last week is the one of Capazoo.

Capazoo is also based in Canada and is labeled a social networking site. The site has taken $25M in several rounds to date, which as it seems, have also been spent over the past 12 months before the company’s failure. But this is not the only interesting thing  in the story. After firing most of its staff leaving only one sysadmin to keep the site alive and put its offices up for rent some more horrible stories from ex-employees appeared publicly.

It seems that the brothers Michel Verville and Luc Verville (the company’s founders) have had fighting in court for control over the company. Another rumor goes that that the brothers embezzled money from the company. Simply put the guys were taking commissions in the 10% range from all money invested in their company. Capazoo’s $25 million was initially listed as only being “private funding” but more recently National Lampoon became an investor.

Techcrunch has some insider information as listed below:

They did the first round ($8 million) at $72 million pre-money from a bunch of athletes and non-sophisticated angels at $100k-$200k chunks. Most of them didn’t know that management was taking 10% commission themselves (despite owning all the common shares) for all funds raised.

They then raised another $5-10 million (conflicting rumors) at a $132 million pre-money, while still taking commissions. The two brothers took almost $2 million out of the company before reaching more then 10K users and ballooned the staff to 130 staff before starting to do layoffs.

Capazoo’s site is still alive as we last checked it out but for how long one sysadmin can keep it that way?

Well, compared to the 2 cases from above the next one seems relatively small, yet it worth mentioning due to the fact that it seems the founder of that company Lee Wilkins did not pay his employees from Bulgarian, Romania and Russia.

The company name is MyKinda and was a blog network focused on the Eastern European market covering various topics like politics, entertainment, business, among other topics. 

The network is said to have launched just last September and today they are already out of business. Lee Wilkins said the shutdown is temporary to ensure that money due to writers doesn’t continue to add up. The sites will remain down until, he says, “we redefine a more profitable sustainable business model.” The company had total expenses of about €319,000, with no advertising revenue to offset it. Lee Wilkins capitalized the company with €175,000, leaving €144,000 or so in unpaid debts.

Today was the first day in several years where the failure stories were more than the funding deals. In fact we bookmarked 3 funding deals for today so it appears the number is equal.

More

http://www.geosign.com/
http://www.capazoo.com/
http://www.mykinda.com/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/18/how-geosign-blew-160-million/
http://www.financialpost.com/magazine/story.html?id=324817
http://seoblackhat.com/2008/03/18/they-were-flyin-high-then-google-stirred/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/19/capazoo-blows-25-million-heading-to-the-deadpool/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/29/blog-network-mykinda-to-shut-down-today/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/18/national-lampoon-takes-stake-in-capazoo/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/10/capazoo-wants-to-pay-you-for-your-social-networking-time/
http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/business/story.html?id=474dae19-551c-4460-9359-328c570fc36c
http://montrealtechwatch.com/2008/03/19/capazoo-lays-off-60-shops-itself/
http://communities.canada.com/MONTREALGAZETTE/blogs/tech/archive/2008/03/18/r-i-p-capazoo.aspx
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/11/05/mykinda-blog-network-for-eastern-europe-launches-amid-serious-drama/

A new way to build your Google Maps

These days we came across a tiny French based company called Click2Map that is providing an interesting editor for creating mash-ups with Google Maps. You can there create fully customizable interactive professional online maps from existing data and the editor also offers database and template functionalities. They have just added a powerful template system coupled with a highly versatile database engine that allows professional users to store data and use it wherever they need to in fully customizable templates.

The Metz, France based Click2Map is a powerful online mapping application published by the Click2Map company. Click2Map puts all the power of Web 2.0 at the service of its users: its familiar point-and-click interface makes creating and sharing interactive online maps a snap. Everyone can now create rich and customized online maps without writing a single line of code!

Click2Map’s editor allows users to create markers and POIs using a familiar application environment and provides convenient access to existing markers. Advanced users appreciate the possibility to create an unlimited number of maps including unlimited numbers of markers and optional groups.

Importing groups and markers now takes another dimension with the possibility to use variables extensively: all the information stored in your personal database can now be inserted wherever needed in each and every marker thanks to Click2Map’s dynamic variable engine! No matter how many personal data categories and fields, Click2Map automatically generates the corresponding variables that you can instantly use: creating large quantities of personalized markers has never been easier!

Click2Map’s enhanced import/export system provides an efficient means to integrate existing data into online maps and to exchange information with third party applications. The recent addition of an exclusive statistic engine helps professionals track their maps’ consultations and the way they’re used by visitors: the popularity of each map and marker can now be tracked in real time.

By allowing companies to create fully customized online Google Maps based on their existing data, Click2Map provides them with unprecedented means of promoting their business online.

Click2Map SARL is a leading French provider of GeoWeb Solutions. Click2Map is its flagship product, an easy to use online application to create, manage and publish online professional maps without any knowledge of programming. Click2Map SARL also provides full technical support and customization of its Click2Map Editor and Maps Generator.

Story was picked up from EPR Network.

More

http://www.click2map.com/
http://blog.click2map.com/
http://wiki.click2map.com/
http://express-press-release.com/47/Click2Map%20Adds%20Template%20and%20Database%20Features%20to%20Google%20Maps.php

Meebo tries to raise $25M in return of only 10% equity valuing the company at the whopping $250M

Meebo is a popular and rapidly growing web based instant messaging start up that was backed up by Sequoia Capital and is said to have roughly 4.6M unique visitors per month according to comScore’s publicly available stats. That’s valuing each of their visitors at the $54 mark, which is significantly more than what AOL has just recently paid for each of Bebo’s 22M visitors – $39 according our simple math. Many industry experts, commentators and bloggers have expressed their negative feelings about the potential deal and more concrete about its pre-money valuation. Anyone remember Slide and their pre-money valuation of $500M? Yet it was said then they had over 150M or so users worldwide, which, if true, valued their users at the $3 range.  

Some analysts have even compared the deal’s value to the Bear Stearns one, which has just sold out for “only” $236M.

There is however something most of the technology blogs seem to have overlooked. Joshua Beil from Level 3 Communications has commented on one of the tech blogs that Meebo’s per user valuation could change quite substantially if one takes into account their unique visitors of the MeeboMe rooms widget. I’ve seen, he says, numbers in the 10-14M range and counting for just this application. Factor this in to the 4.6M uniques to Meebo.com and it’s at a discount to Bebo. We have no idea where he does take his numbers and what his affiliation with the company is, but if we take those numbers for real the $250M valuation does not sound ridicules anymore. In addition to that Venturebeat reports that Meebo has attracted 29 million monthly unique users worldwide, but they also say that some investors remain quite skeptical about Meebo and their business model. We have no clear idea where Venturebeat has come to that number of visitors.

The rumor is that Meebo has hired Montgomery & Co. to represent them in a new fundraising round that may value the company at a $250M. An interesting competition is forming on the scene there between Montgomery & Co. and Allen & Co., which is lately the investment bank behind pretty much all hot start ups that sold (got funded) or about to for hefty amounts (hefty valuations) in the valley such as Digg, Bebo, Slide, Technorati, among others.

What is also being said is that the company is looking to raise $25-30M in venture funding and if the valuation numbers are taken for real it means the VCs will take no more than 10% from Meebo. This is a whole lot more than the $60-70M that it was reportedly worth after a funding round last year.

Some big names in the social-networking space like Facebook and News Corp.’s MySpace.com are rumored to may possibly be interested in the deal. MySpace operates its own instant-messaging service, and Facebook is rumored to have one in the pipeline.

Montgomery and Co. has requested that all offers be in by Wednesday, and has told investors it has several parties interested at a valuation of $200M. The rumor goes here that at least one of the strategic investors isn’t interested in sharing the investment, preferring instead to buy Meebo entirely.

More about Meebo

Meebo launched in September 2005 and received funding from Sequoia Capital in December 2005 and Draper Fisher Jurvetson in January 2007. Today, Meebo’s users exchange over 100 million instant messages daily.In early 2007, Meebo gets another $9 million from Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Sequoia Capital. Skype’s lead investor and YouTube’s lead investor are teaming up. Tim Draper, one of the early investors in Skype, did the deal for DFJ. Meebo’s total funding is now $12.5 million.

More about Montgomery & Co.

Montgomery and Co. was founded in 1986 with a vision of providing strategic capital-formation advisory services to leading aerospace, defense and related technology companies.

Montgomery & Co. took advantage of the technology downturn and consolidation in the banking industry in 2000 to establish its reputation as the “go to” bank for growth companies that wished to evaluate their strategic options and raise capital. In doing so, Montgomery & Co. fulfilled its initial vision of providing a range of advisory services that encompassed M&A, private placements, comprehensive business-development analyses, and other value-added services.

In 2002 the firm was strengthened by investments from the world’s biggest bank, Mitsubishi UFJ, and West River Capital, of Seattle, WA. In 2003 the firm opened offices in Seattle, San Francisco and San Diego. At that time, the firm also significantly expanded its banking expertise within the healthcare and media industries, especially in the M&A practice.

In 2005, the firm was further strengthened by an investment from Tudor Investments which is the venture capital and private equity arm of Tudor Investment Corporation, an internationally recognized diversified investment management firm with $11.7 billion in assets.

More

http://www.meebo.com/
http://blog.meebo.com/about
http://www.monty.com/
http://venturebeat.com/2008/03/17/meebo-raising-round-valued-up-to-250-million-bear-stearns-sold-for-236-million/
http://www.webware.com/8301-1_109-9896718-2.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Webware
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/18/is-meebo-worth-half-a-slide/
http://venturebeat.com/2007/01/18/im-service-meebo-growing-quickly-raises-more-cash/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2005/12/16/meebo-confirms-sequoia-funding/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2007/11/22/meebo-received-funding-from-sequoia-capital/
http://blog.meebo.com/?p=78
http://venturebeat.com/2006/08/02/meebome-lets-you-chat-directly-from-any-homepage/
http://venturebeat.com/2007/01/10/web-20-shakeout-continued-whats-up-at-insider-pages-meebo-others/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/meebo
http://www.techmeme.com/080318/p7#a080318p7
http://quantcast.com/meebo.com
http://siteanalytics.compete.com/meebo.com?metric=uv
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/14/22m-uniques-mo-site-bebo-goes-to-aol-for-850m-in-all-cash-deal/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/18/slide-gets-their-huge-valuation-and-raises-50-million/
http://www.crunchbase.com/financial-organization/montgomery-co
http://venturebeat.com/2007/12/06/meebo-partners-with-videoegg-to-help-app-developers-make-more-money/

Website Optimization company and CMS leader joined forces

An interesting deal happened a few months ago, announced in October 2007 and closed in November the same year. Interwoven, a public company traded on NASDAQ, has acquired the said website optimization pioneer Optimost.

The both companies then said that combination of Interwoven’s Content Management Solutions with Optimost’s Multivariable Testing and Optimization Solution will help organizations maximize online business performance.

Under the terms of the agreement between Optimost and Interwoven, Interwoven will pay approximately $52 million in cash for all outstanding shares of Optimost and assume certain existing employee stock options. From what we were able to dig up, Optimost is probably having less than $8M in revenues per year, which translates into multiple around 6X the revenues, which is not that impressive number after all. Interwoven is based in San Jose, Calif, and is making itself over $200M in revenues enjoying a market capitalization of 539.57M (March 17 2008).

As businesses continue to spend unprecedented amounts to drive traffic to their Websites through search engine marketing, pay-per-click ads, banner ads, e-mail, and other tactics, they face a significant challenge in converting traffic into revenue-generating customers. The combination of Interwoven’s content management solutions and Optimost’s optimization solution helps businesses address this challenge by providing marketers with the industry’s most complete set of capabilities for creating, deploying, testing, analyzing, and optimizing targeted content to Website visitors.

“This acquisition supports our strategy to power our customers’ online presence, and we believe it puts Interwoven at the top of the short list of a company’s must-have partners for online business,” said Joe Cowan, chief executive officer at Interwoven. “Companies today understand that maximizing their online business performance is the key to accelerating growth and profits, and that content is at the core of their online strategy. By acquiring Optimost, we are providing customers with a powerful solution for optimizing their content – which creates the connection point between the visitor and the Web – to provide the most compelling experience, faster, more efficiently, and more effectively than ever before.”

Founded in 2001, Optimost is a privately-held company headquartered in New York City, whose customers include Ask.com, Auto Trader, Delta Air Lines, FAO Schwarz, Lenovo, and MGM Mirage. Optimost has a proven track record in helping its clients achieve double-digit increases in conversion rates and online sales. For example, Delta Air Lines made changes to Delta.com based on the results of its multivariable optimization initiative, which has added up to approximately $15 million in additional revenue so far this year.

“Today’s announcement is wonderful news for Optimost’s customers,” said Mark Wachen, chief executive officer at Optimost. “When we founded Optimost, our vision was to deliver technology that allows marketers to increase the effectiveness of their online presence to drive measurable business results. Clearly, Interwoven shares the same vision and by combining forces we will be able to extend our innovative technology to a much larger market and provide Optimost customers with a more complete solution for maximizing their marketing investments. We look forward to joining the team at Interwoven.”
In just matter of couple of weeks the deal was closed on November 1st, 2007.

All Optimost employees, including the founders, Mark Wachen and Lance Lovette, have joined Interwoven and will focus on product innovation, customer support, and the continued acceleration of Interwoven’s business in the online marketing arena.

The Optimost solutions are now available through Interwoven as a standalone offering as well as in conjunction with the solutions in Interwoven’s portfolio.

Interwoven expects the Optimost acquisition to contribute in the range of $1.5 million to $2.0 million to total revenue during the fourth quarter of 2007, subsequent to the acquisition date and before considering purchase accounting adjustments to revenues of approximately $1.0 million.

More about Optimost

New York-based Optimost is a technology and services company specializing in comprehensive real-time testing and conversion rate marketing. Pioneers in the field of multivariable testing, the firm is able to create and test virtually limitless permutations of copy, offers and layouts in the time it takes to conduct a standard A/B page comparison test. By combining real-life response data with information about which variables were displayed in the test, Optimost clients are able to determine how much each individual website element contributes to the overall response rate. Client web pages can then be optimized further based on the combinations of most positive individual site elements. Optimost clients include: InterActiveCorp, Lillian Vernon, Delta Air Lines, Time Warner, QVC, and EarthLink.

More about Interwoven

Interwoven is a global leader in content management solutions. Interwoven’s software and services enable organizations to maximize online business performance and organize, find, and govern business content. Interwoven solutions unlock the value of content by delivering the right content to the right person in the right context at the right time. Over 4,200 of the world’s leading companies, professional services firms, and governments have chosen Interwoven, including adidas, Airbus, Avaya, BT, Cisco, Citi, Delta Air Lines, DLA Piper, the Federal Reserve Bank, FedEx, Grant Thornton, Hilton Hotels, Hong Kong Trade and Development Council, HSBC, LexisNexis, MasterCard, Microsoft, Samsung, Shell, Qantas Airways, Tesco, Virgin Mobile, and White & Case. Over 20,000 developers and over 300 partners enrich and extend Interwoven’s offerings.

More

http://www.interwoven.com/
http://finance.google.com/finance?q=NASDAQ:IWOV
http://www.optimost.com/
http://www.interwoven.com/components/page.jsp?topic=MAIN::NEWS&dcr=components/optimost.jsp
http://www.interwoven.com/components/page.jsp?topic=NEWS::RELEASES&dcr=templatedata/announcement/press-release/data/2007/dcr-2007-10-17-optimost.xml
http://www.centernetworks.com/interwoven-acquires-optimost-social-news http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/18/interwoven-acquires-optimost-for-52-million/
http://www.optimost.com/press/2007-11-interwoven-announces-close.php
 

What is the real reason Automattic bought Glavatar?

As some of you already know w2i (web2innovations.com) is keeping an internal archive of almost all funding and acquisition deals that happened over the past years on web. While we have the ambitions to report on all of them the deals are so many so that we end up only writing about some of the most interesting ones. The same is the case with Automattic when they bought Glavatar some months ago. We kept the news in our archive for quite long time trying to figure out ourselves what is the real motive behind the acquisition of Glavatar and since we came up to no particular synergy and reason we have decided today to simply write about.

First off Automattic is the company behind the popular blog software WordPress. The site is amongst the most popular on web with more than 90M uniques per month. When Matt Mullenweg, announced the deal on the Glavatar’s blog he wrote about so many improvements that Glavatar is going to face with its new owner. Such as scaling things up, they transferred the Rails application and most of the avatar serving to WordPress.com’s infrastructure and servers. Avatar serving was said is already more than three times as fast, and works every time. They’ve also moved Glavatar’s blog from Mephisto to WordPress, of course.

He further said “Basically, we did the bare minimum required to stabilize and accelerate the Gravatar service, focusing a lot on making the gravatars highly available and fast. However our plans are much bigger than that.” Among those are all of the Premium features have gone free, and refunding was offered to anyone who bought them in the last 60 days; gravatar serving moved to a Content Delivery Network (CDN) so not only will they be fast, it’ll be low latency and not slow down a page load; Merging the million avatars WordPress had with the 115,000 or so Glavatar brought on the table after the deal and make them available through the Gravatar API; integrate and improve templates and bring features like multiple avatars over; from WordPress.com, bring the bigger sizes (128px) over and make that available for any Gravatar (Gravatars are only available up to 80px); Adding Microformat support for things like XFN rel=”me” and hCard to all avatar profile pages (that is in particular an interesting move); develop a new API that has cleaner URLs and allows Gravatars to be addressed by things like URL in addition to (or instead of) email addresses and not last rewrite the entire application itself to fit directly into WordPress.com’s grid, for internet-scale performance and reliability.

These days after Yahoo announcing big plans of moving towards web semantics and adopting some of the microformats and hinting LinkedIn for possible better relations with their data set if they adopt them too is a clear signal that web is slowly moving towards semantically linking of data. Automattic is obviously looking forward to that time too with its plans to add microformats like XFN (XHTML Friends Network) and hCard (simple, open, distributed format for representing people, companies, organizations, and places, using a 1:1 representation of vCard (RFC2426) properties and values in semantic HTML or XHTML). An interesting example of contextually and semantically linked web data is LinkedWords and, as you can see, the way we use them to semantically and contextually link words across our texts and connect them to their contextual platform.

So far so good, but nothing from the above indicates what is the reason Automattic bought the site called Glavatar. It is definitely neither because of their user base (only 115K) nor because of the technology, obviously. Employment through acquisition? Not really, Tom Werner, the founder of Glavatar is being said to be a big Ruby guy and taking into consideration the fact Matt seems to be moving towards PHP with Glavatar it seems highly unlikely for Tom to stay with Automattic.

From everything being said publicly it turns out that Automattic has decided to help the small site work better, but no clear benefits are seen for their company from this deal, or at least not to us.

We do believe Matt where he says “our plans are much bigger than that”, but what those plans are? Building a social network upon the avatars and the profile data associated with or perhaps having an online identity service built upon. Or, perhaps, simply building a global avatar service (with in-depth profiles) makes more sense for a company that commands over 100M uniques per month rather than for a tiny web site like Glavatar.

Whatever the case is congratulations to the involved. Terms of the deal were not publicly disclosed.

More about Glavatar

The web is no longer about anonymous content generated by faceless corporations. It is about real people and the real content that they provide.

It is about you.

But as powerful as the web has become, it still lacks the personal touch that comes from a handshake. The vast majority of content you come across on the web will still be near-anonymous even though it may have a name attached. Without knowing the author behind the words, the words cannot be trusted. This is where Gravatar comes in.

Gravatar aims to put a face behind the name. This is the beginning of trust. In the future, Gravatar will be a way to establish trust between producers and consumers on the internet. It will be the next best thing to meeting in person.

Today, an avatar. Tomorrow, Your Identity–Online.

More

http://gravatar.com/
http://site.gravatar.com/site/about
http://automattic.com/
http://blog.gravatar.com/2007/10/18/automattic-gravatar/
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/automattic_acquires_gravatar.php
http://www.quantcast.com/p-18-mFEk4J448M
http://microformats.org/wiki/Main_Page
http://rubyisawesome.com/

If your business is impacted by the weather WeatherBill might be a good solution for you

An interesting start-up that we have on our long list with funding deals here is under no doubt WeatherBill.

The San Francisco based WeatherBill started their service, which lets you cover your business from potential losses that might occur due to bad weather conditions, in early 2007 with a bunch of famous private and institutional investors among which are New Enterprise Associates and Index Ventures, as well as a number of well known individuals: del.icio.us founder Joshua Schachter, Skype founder Niklas Zennstrom (through his Atomico venture firm) and Howard Morgan (idealab and First Round Capital), Krishna Kolluri, Neil Rimer and Barney Schauble. The secretive investment firm Allen & Co., which has just helped Bebo sells for $850M to AOL, is among the investors in WeatherBill.

WeatherBill was founded by former Googlers David Friedberg and Siraj Khaliq.

In late 2007 WeatherBill took its series B round of funding in the $12.5M range, which brought the company’s total funding to date at $16.5M. By that time CEO David Friedberg said that Weatherbill has hundreds of customers and faces such high demand that it needs to bring more people aboard to increase capacity.

Essentially WeatherBill is a hybrid between ecommerce site and a complex weather forecasting algorithm to sell weather insurance policies to individuals and businesses. WeatherBill offers custom weather contracts to protect businesses from financial loss caused by bad weather and provides tools to increase revenues through weather-related marketing promotions.

Users select a weather station via a Google Maps mash-up and choose the weather conditions they want to protect against. These options include temperature and precipitation level, and the specific parameters can be selected by the user.

WeatherBill hedges its own risk via its weather algorithm and partnership with a large hedge fund.

Aside US, WeatherBill offers its services to in the following countries too Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany and Norway.

WeatherBill contracts are legal financial instruments with eligibility requirements. It is meant for businesses and to be eligible you basically need to have 1) commodity pool – total assets exceeding $5,000,000; 2) corporation, partnership, proprietorship, organization, trust, or other entity that has total assets exceeding $10,000,000; or if it is an individual  – has a net worth exceeding $1,000,000.

Their financial risk partner, Nephila Capital Ltd., is one of the world’s largest and most respected weather risk and catastrophe reinsurance fund managers, with over $2 billion in capital.

More about WeatherBill

WeatherBill is the first service to provide affordable and easy-to-use weather coverage to protect revenue and control costs for the millions of businesses impacted by the weather.

WeatherBill coverage is safe and reliable. There is no unnecessary paperwork, no claims process, no proof-of-loss and no waiting for payment. WeatherBill is the only service that enables customers to customize, price and buy weather coverage online in just minutes, and pays automatically when bad weather occurs.

In addition to weather coverage, WeatherBill provides free services for businesses affected by the weather. Our free weather correlation tools help individual businesses understand how weather impacts their financial performance. Our research reports provide insight into the ways weather affects all industries. We believe every business should understand how the weather affects demand, yields, costs, schedules and the bottom line. WeatherBill can provide the earnings protection critical to every weather sensitive business.

Their Investors

WeatherBill’s investor group is a forward-thinking base of recongized and respected institutions and individuals from Silicon Valley and Wall Street.
 
New Enterprise Associates (NEA) is a leading venture capital firm. Practicing classic venture capital for 28 years, NEA focuses on investments at all stages of a company’s development, from seed-stage through IPO. With approximately $8.5 billion in committed capital, NEA’s experienced management team has invested in over 500 companies.

Index Ventures is a leading European venture capital firm active in technology venture investing since 1996. The firm is dedicated to helping top entrepreneurial teams both in the Life Science and Information Technology sectors build their companies into market defining global leaders.
 
Atomico was started by Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, co-founders of Skype, Joost, and Kazaa. The firm is a risk capital group comprised of entrepreneurs with a global perspective who invest their own capital in passionate entrepreneurs with powerful ideas.

Nephila Capital Ltd. is a leading fund manager specializing in the reinsurance industry with multiple investment vehicles dedicated to investing in instruments such as insurance-linked securities, catastrophe bonds, insurance swaps, and weather derivatives. The company has been managing institutional assets in this space since it was founded in 1998, with over $2 billion under management at the start of 2007.

First Round Capital is an early stage venture capital firm managed by Joshua Kopelman, Chris Fralic, Rob Hayes and Howard Morgan. The firm looks to partner with entrepreneurs to build innovative technology companies.

Allen & Company
Allen & Company is a boutique investment bank based in New York. The firm has become a premier investment house in the media, entertainment, and technology industries.

Sean Park
Sean was most recently Head of Digital Markets and Credit Flow products at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein (DrKW). He is also Director of Markit Group and International Index Company. Sean is a renowned thought-leader and speaker on the future of digital markets. He actively maintains his blog, Park Paradigm.

Salman Ullah
Salman is the Vice President of Corporate Development at Google. He joined Google in the fall of 2004 and manages the team that is responsible for all of Google’s acquisitions and minority investments. Prior to Google he spent over seven years at Microsoft in several roles including General Manager of Corporate Strategy and Managing Director of Corporate Development. Earlier in his career, Salman was an Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Co. in Chicago where he spent four years. He was also a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in physics at the University of Virginia and the University of Chicago. Salman has an undergraduate degree in Physics from the University of Oxford, and a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Stanford University.

Joshua Schachter
Joshua Schachter is the creator of del.icio.us, creator of geoURL and co-creator of Memepool. Joshua’s popular del.icio.us website helped to popularize the use of tags on the web. In 2005, del.icio.us was acquired by Yahoo!, where Joshua currently remains. Prior to working full-time on del.icio.us, Joshua was a programmer in Morgan Stanley’s Equity Trading Lab.

Our other individual investors are notable leaders at major Silicon Valley and Wall Street firms.

More

http://www.weatherbill.com/
http://www.weatherbill.com/about/blog
https://www.weatherbill.com/tools
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/17/an-interesting-bet-weatherbill-takes-125-million-series-b/
http://atomicoinvestments.com/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/01/02/use-weatherbill-to-bet-on-the-weather/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/01/15/weatherbill-launches-announces-all-star-investors/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/weatherbill
http://www.crunchbase.com/person/david-friedberg
http://www.nephilacapital.com/
http://www.parkparadigm.com/
http://www.nea.com/
http://www.indexventures.com/

22M uniques / mo site (Bebo) goes to AOL for $850M in all cash deal

Bebo, the global social network strong enough in UK and among the first in US, has quietly been up for sale for quite some time shopped around by the secretive investment firm Allen & Co. A number of potential acquires passed on a deal for Bebo, including News Corp., Microsoft and Google, sources tell. Yahoo is also rumored to may have also taken a long look. Until now when AOL has publicly announced they had acquired bebo.com for $850M in a deal all in cash off only $20M in revenues for 2007. AOL and Bebo have been in talks since September 2007. It is also publicly known fact that Bebo was looking for a price over $1B.

Launched in the middle of 2005 Bebo had quickly grown to millions of visitors per month and today stands at over 40M registered users as per company’s claims. Bebo has raised only (taking into consideration their exit number) $15M from Balderton Capital, which represents a very nice exit for the venture capitalists.  Competitors include MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, Piczo, Google’s Orkut, Flickr, and literally an endless army of social networking sites around the globe. Bebo has offices in the UK, San Francisco and Austin, TX with over 100 employees.

A quick look into the numbers reveals that AOL paid roughly $22 per registered user in Bebo’s acquisition. comScore reports for 22M unique visitors per month to bebo.com, which values each unique visitor at $39. Quantcast reports for less than 2M American visitors per month to bebo’s site but since the site appears to be not quantified we should not take these numbers for the correct ones.

Richard MacManus from RWW does not think this will make much headway for either company and calls it that way “Ultimately we’re talking about two middle of the road Web brands”. The Wall St Journal’s Kara Swisher has analyzed the deal and thinks in first place the numbers are not so big but sees that AOL is getting very attractive social-networking service and a very experienced exec who has been running it. According to the several sources, she quotes, who were privy to Bebo’s financials, for example, Bebo’s revenues for 2006 were only $7 million with $3 million in EBITDA. In 2007, the results are still small, with $20 million in revenues and $5 million in EBITDA. Using 2007 results, that means Time Warner’s (TWZ) AOL paid a handsome 42.5 times revenues and an incredible 160 times EBITDA.

Current President Joanna Shields (in the middle) is said will continue to run Bebo and will report to AOL President Ron Grant (in right) while the founders Michael Birch and Xochi Birch will shortly be leaving the startup, apparently.

Since its inception, Bebo has established a radical new vision for online media and engagement marketing, combining community, self-expression and entertainment, enabling its members to consume, create, discover, curate and share digital content in entirely new ways.  Bebo global users have high engagement levels spending an average of 33 minutes a day on the site. Its groundbreaking Open Media platform ushered in a new way for Bebo users to experience content online, while giving global media companies like MTV, CBS, BBC and more than 400 others, a new way to promote, distribute and monetize their programming. “Engagement Marketing,” is Bebo’s initiative for brands to build long-term relationships with their target audience.  Today, brands from Apple to Nike use Bebo as a platform to establish ongoing conversations with consumers. Bebo pioneered the blending of Web-native original content with interactivity in the social networking environment by co-producing “KateModern,” the most successful TV show on the Web, now in its second season, followed by the soon to be premiered “Sophia’s Diary,” and the upcoming “Gap Year.” In December 2007, Bebo opened its platform to external application developers becoming the first social network to embrace both Facebook and OpenSocial APIs. (a confusing signal, as up till then everyone had assumed that OpenSocial and Facebook platform were direct competitors.) To date, more than 1500 applications have joined the network.

Together with its AIM and ICQ personal communications network, the acquisition will give AOL a premier position in the fast growing world of social media with a network of approximately 80 million unique users.

With a total membership of more than 40 million worldwide, Bebo is a global social media network which combines community, self-expression and entertainment to enable its users to consume, create, discover and share content. Bebo is one of the leading social networks in the UK, and is ranked number one in Ireland and New Zealand, and number three in the U.S. in terms of engagement. Its users are heavily engaged and view an average of 78 pages per usage day.

The deal comes just one week after AOL’s launch of Open AIM 2.0, an initiative that allows the developer community greater freedom to access the AIM network and integrate AIM into its sites and applications, and the announcement by Apple of a downloadable AIM application for the iPhone.

“Bebo is the perfect complement to AOL’s personal communications network and puts us in a leading position in social media,” said Randy Falco, Chairman and CEO, AOL. “What drew us to Bebo was its substantial and fast-growing worldwide user-base, its vision of a truly social web, and the monetization opportunities that leverage Platform-A across our combined global audience. This positions us to offer advertisers even greater reach and marketers significant insights into the desires and needs of consumers.”

“AOL understands the shifting dynamics of the Web and has clearly demonstrated its commitment to leveraging the ever-increasing power of social networks,” said Bebo President, Joanna Shields. “With one and the same vision in this area, it was a natural progression for Bebo to join AOL, and we look forward to working together to continue to expand the online social experience globally.”

“Bebo’s dynamic management team recognizes that the Internet is less about destination and more about connecting people, culture and lifestyles,” said Ron Grant, President and COO, AOL.  “This acquisition supports our key objectives – accelerating the growth, engagement and monetization of one of the world’s most engaged online communities.” 

Analyst eMarketer predicts that by 2011, $4.1 billion will be spent worldwide for social network advertising – a dramatic increase from the $480 million spent in 2006.  In 2008 alone, global ad spend in the social networking arena is expected to increase 75% year over year, amounting to $2.1 billion.

In recent months, AOL has moved aggressively to bolster its position in areas critical to its emergence as a leading advertising-supported Web media and marketing company. Building on its number one position in third party display with Advertising.com, AOL has spent nearly $1 billion on online advertising acquisitions, including market leaders like ADTECH, buy.at, Lightningcast, Quigo, TACODA and Third Screen Media to create Platform-A. Platform-A is the top display ad serving network focused on helping marketers build brands that perform online.* In Web content, AOL’s revitalized network of sites has experienced five months of consecutive page view growth and key categories like Music, Television, Moviefone, TMZ, Money & Finance, News, Living and Body are all in the top four in their respective categories.

As part of its international growth plans, AOL has launched 17 international web sites over the last year and has plans to expand to 30 countries outside the U.S. by the end of 2008. In addition, AOL teamed up with HP last September to include localized versions of the AOL.com portal and other AOL services as the default setting on HP computers shipped in the United States and around the world. Bebo, which has announced plans to launch in five countries this year, will be featured prominently in AOL’s international expansion efforts after the deal is closed.

AOL was advised by Banc of America Securities LLC and Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. Bebo was advised by Allen & Co.

The deal is said to be subject to U.S. and EU antitrust regulations before it effectively closes.

More about AOL

A Global Ad-Supported Web Services Company

AOL is a leading global advertising-supported Web company, with the most comprehensive display advertising network in the U.S., a substantial worldwide audience, and a suite of popular Web brands and products.

The company’s strategy focuses on increasing the scale and sophistication of its advertising platform and growing the size and engagement of its global online audience through leading products and programming.

Core Statistics

  • 109 million – Average domestic monthly unique visitors to the AOL network of Web properties during the quarter ending December 31, 2007, according to comScore Media Metrix.
  • 49.2 billion – Domestic page views for the AOL network of Web properties during the quarter ending December 31, 2007, according to comScore Media Metrix.
  • 150 – Average monthly page views per unique visitor to the AOL network of Web properties, during the quarter ending December 31, 2007.

 A sophisticated advertising network

AOL offers advertisers access to the broadest display advertising network in the U.S. and some of the most sophisticated tools available to target and measure online advertising campaigns through AOL’s Platform-A business group. Platform-A consists of Advertising.com, which operates the largest third-party display networks; behavioral targeting leader TACODA; Third Screen Media, which operates one of the largest mobile media networks; market leading video ad serving platform Lightningcast; Quigo, which offers advertisers the ability to target ads based on the content of Web pages; and ADTECH‘s global ad serving platform.

In addition, Platform-A Marketing Solutions provides large brand customers with coordinated access to the full Platform-A product suite, enabling advertisers and agencies to more easily harness the full power of digital media.

Industry-leading products and programs

AOL’s network of Web properties is one of the top three in the United States, attracting an average of 109 million unique visitors each month during the quarter ending December 31, 2007, according to comScore Media Metrix, and many are leaders in their categories.

MapQuest, for example, is the leading U.S. provider of online maps and directions; AIM is the No. 1 messaging service in the U.S.; and TMZ, developed in partnership with Warner Bros.’ Telepictures Productions, is the No. 1 domestic entertainment news site on the Web. Other popular destinations include Black Voices, a premiere site for the African-American community, and AOL Latino, a leading bilingual portal for U.S. Hispanics.

In the past year, AOL has relaunched all its major programming channels, including News, Sports, Money & Finance, Living, and launched several new sites, including Switched.com, PopEater, Stylelist, DIYLife and Green Daily.

AOL also has been upgrading its product suite, including the new AOL.com home page, improved AOL Mail, the new AOL Desktop, Safety and Security and Parental Control tools, and the new Winamp player. In addition, AOL has launched breakthrough products such as BlueString, which lets users easily store and share their pictures and movies, and myAOL, which lets users easily customize their homepage.

AOL’s Truveo video search tool, the leading video search engine, continues to expand its reach. During 2007, Truveo’s index of searchable videos grew 20-fold to more than 100 million. Truveo tracks more than 500,000 new videos uploaded to the Web each day. Queries across the Truveo video search network increased 20 fold during 2007. Unique monthly visitors across the sites powered by Truveo exceeded 50 million. Truveo has also launched localized versions of its video search product in 16 countries.

Expanding worldwide

As part of its aggressive international growth plans, AOL launched portals in Austria, The Netherlands, India, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Poland and Belgium. In addition, AOL teamed up with HP – a leading PC maker in the U.S. – to include localized versions of the AOL.com portal and other AOL services as the default setting on HP computers shipped in the United States and more than two-dozen countries worldwide.

AOL continues to operate one of the largest Internet subscription businesses in the United States, with 10 million domestic subscribers at the end of the third quarter of 2007.

Meanwhile AOL seems to be looking for a buyer for … itself.

More

http://www.bebo.com/
http://developer.bebo.com
http://aol.com/
http://corp.aol.com/press_releases/2008/03/aol-acquire-global-social-media-network-bebo
http://developer.bebo.com/blog/index.php/2008/03/13/company-and-platform-newsjs-and-pre-load-sql-coming-soon/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/13/aol-buys-bebo-for-750-million/
http://mashable.com/2008/03/13/aol-bought-bebo/
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/aol_acquires_bebo.php
http://kara.allthingsd.com/20080313/bebo-by-the-not-so-big-numbers/
http://www.techmeme.com/080313/p77#a080313p77
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/14/aol-on-a-bender-kickapps-may-be-next-acquisition/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/12/bebo-1-billion-acquisition-definitely-happened/
http://kara.allthingsd.com/20080314/is-kickapps-next-to-board-aols-gravy-train/
http://www.rev2.org/2007/07/31/bebo-an-in-depth-look/
http://www.lastpodcast.net/2008/03/13/thursday-night-thoughts/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/bebo
http://www.centernetworks.com/bebo-aol-live-call
http://www.quantcast.com/bebo.com
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/12/aol-is-offered-up-for-sale/

Is MediaBids.com an alternative of Google’s AdWords?

MediaBids.com, the Newspaper and Magazine Advertising Marketplace, has recently announced the addition of over 325 new newspapers and magazines to its print advertising marketplace so far in 2008, which much or less attracted out attention.

The company claims it has over 4,600 U.S. print publications registered on MediaBids to use their online processes to sell ad space in their print editions. Publications can sell ad space via two primary online methods – a straight-sales option and a reverse advertising auction. In the straight-sale format, publications can simply post available advertising inventory for sale in the MediaBids marketplace which is then immediately available for advertisers to purchase. The patented reverse-auction method allows advertisers to place their advertising dollars up for bid using a simple online RFP auction form, and publications can then bid using their ad space as currency.

The company is known to have started back in 2003 and for just 5 years they have enrolled an impressive number of newspapers and paper magazines. One may ask is this marketplace represents an alternative of the contextual ads Google offers through its AdWords program? Google is the ultimate online ads monopoly so it might be good there are such alternatives beyond the web ads. The company says it has over 12,000 businesses registered on MediaBids.com that purchase advertising, which is still a fraction from what Google AdWords has as a number of unique advertisers but MediaBids takes a different direction and that might be their major differentiator from the competition to distinguish themselves in the ad business. The online ad networks and ad exchanges are huge business but the space is lately becoming overcrowded and the competition is fierce there and perhaps we will witness some serious reorganization and consolidation within the industry this and next year.

MediaBids has no charge associated with registering a publication, posting ad space for sale or bidding on auctions.

“It’s exciting to see publications embrace MediaBids’ advertising marketplace, with the addition of more than 325 publications in the first two months of 2008. We hope to continue this rapid rate of growth throughout the remainder of the year.” said June Peterson, Director of Media Relations at MediaBids.com.

More about MediaBids

MediaBids.com is the premier marketplace for buying and selling print advertising. Advertisers and publications can interact to buy and sell advertising in a wide-variety of print media (newspapers, magazines, journals, directories, shoppers, newsletters, trade magazines, college newspapers and direct mail) using patented online tools.

Available Print Buying & Selling Tools
Advertiser Auctions – Advertiser auctions provide a platform from which advertisers can initiate a RFP (Request for Proposal) outlining their print advertising needs. Publications can place “bids” of ad space on the advertiser auction, which advertisers can then purchase. Insertion orders are issued to both parties after a transaction has occurred. The identities of advertisers and publications are known only to participating parties.

Ad Space Offers – Ad-space offers are advertising opportunities posted by publications on MediaBids.com that are available for immediate purchase. Offers can include rate-card pricing, last-minute remnant opportunities, added-value incentives or significant discounts. Advertisers can create a list of “Favorite Publications” from which they can choose to receive e-mail alerts notifying them of new advertising opportunities.

Traditional Media Buying – MediaBids works with publications both online and offline to ensure advertisers create and execute print advertising campaigns in the right publications at the right price.

How We Started
MediaBids, The Newspaper and Magazine Advertising Marketplace, was founded in Winsted, CT in 1999 to allow print publications to broaden their market reach in a cost effective way while giving advertisers a web-based system to purchase advertising in a competitive environment.

Since its online launch in 2003, MediaBids.com has become the leading online print advertising marketplace, bringing together more than 4,500 publications and 12,000 businesses on its web site. MediaBids’ easy-to-use platform has attracted a wide range of users, from small sole proprietorships to large national corporations.

Mission & Vision
MediaBids aims to simplify and streamline the print advertising process by providing a website that both centralizes relevant publication information and provides tools that enable both buyers and sellers of ad space to conduct transactions more efficiently. MediaBids’ vision is that with these tools, advertisers will increasingly view newspapers and magazines as a choice medium to promote their products and services – thus allowing newspapers and magazines to continue to be a viable information and social resource for our communities.

This story has been picked up from EPR Network.

More

http://www.mediabids.com/
http://express-press-release.net/47/MediaBids.com%20Adds%20Over%20325%20Newspapers%20&%20Magazines%20to%20Print%20Advertising%20Marketplace.php
http://express-press-release.net/12/Mediabids,%20the%20Only%20Online%20Print%20Ad%20Space%20Marketplace,%20Saves%20Client,%20Green%20River%20Prescription%20Assistance,%2082%20Percent%20On%20Newspaper%20Advertising%20Costs.php
http://express-press-release.net/45/MediaBids.com%20Conducts%206,500th%20Print%20Advertising%20Auction.php

AOL is offered up for sale

Today is a sad day for AOL, which somehow contrasts to the big day the company had in 2000 when they merged with Time Warner in what was then the biggest deal for the dot com era. All indicates that AOL is offered up for sale.

AOL, which is a symbolic company for the Internet the has tried to reinvent itself many times. The latest effort, like those before it, does not seem to be going well.

On Tuesday, Jeffrey L. Bewkes, the chief executive of Time Warner, AOL’s parent company, acknowledged weakness in the business and said he was open to combining AOL with another company — “whatever configuration makes it the strongest and the most valuable.”

Could this be an indirect signal to Yahoo to join forces with AOL? Yahoo anyway lost News Corp for a possible partner and after turning Microsoft down they are left now in sort of hot water to deal with their angry shareholders. It is known fact that Time Warner explored merging AOL with Microsoft’s online operation two years ago and is now discussing a potential deal with Yahoo.

AOL has recently shifted the entire focus and is betting its future on a new strategy of selling advertising across the Internet and has spent more than $1 billion on related acquisitions. The company has acquired a massive number of ad-related companies like Quigo, Tacoda, Userplane, Truveo and their first one Advertising.com for $435M back in 2004.  

AOL appears to be very close to Yahoo by destiny and just like them it seems they are also going through bad times.  On Monday, the third of four top executives installed last summer to run the new advertising division, known as Platform A, left the company. The executive, Curtis G. Viebranz, was fired and replaced by the executive who had been battling his strategy through the fall, Lynda Clarizio.

Several recently departed executives contacted this week described the climate at AOL as acrimonious. They said there had been confrontational meetings of employees as well as screaming matches in offices, as senior executives worried about making their aggressive quarterly ad sales goals. Mr. Bewkes acknowledged Tuesday that revenue at AOL would be flat for at least another quarter.

New York Times says that the company is still major player on Internet with a very prestigious brand name to an enormous revenue stream of $5.2B in 2007. AOL’s Web sites attract 112 million visitors per month and 9.3 million Americans still pay the company for Internet services. Yet the revenues are down 33% from 2006 and so their traffic too seems to be seriously declining over the past year as seen on Compete’s traffic graph. The company’s overall revenue was said has declined as it lost dial-up access subscribers while the advertising revenue totaled $2.2 billion in 2007, up 18 percent from the previous year, yet the pace of growth has slowed each quarter, too.

By contrast, if Facebook with their almost 100M uniques per month make even the half of what AOL is making off theirs the Facebook’s market value would then perhaps be justified at the $15B mark, but the “big” F is doing nothing compared to AOL’s revenues made from advertising alone.

It seems AOL is going to blindly follow the hot trend for today which is an ad network that sells ads on thousands of other sites. It is quite lazy and easy business, instead of building your own traffic, which is taking ages long to achieve you better attract third party sites to use their traffic to make money from. Perhaps this is the reason why we witness so many new ad networks lately.

“We were ahead of the curve in the creation of Platform A and remain in a great position to compete in this intensely competitive marketplace,” said Randy Falco, the chief executive of AOL. The management changes, he said, were necessary to be able to move quickly. After spending dearly to amass assets, “the trick was to get them working together and integrated in a very meaningful way.”

On Tuesday Mr. Bewkes, who spoke to analysts at a conference in Palm Beach, Fla., confirmed that AOL no longer saw a meaningful future for its dial-up Internet subscription service, which may be spun off.

The online advertising seems to be one of the most profitable niches over Internet commanding higher profit margins than any other business online. The leader on the market is Google with its AdWords/AdSense making over $10B per year by selling contextual ads on third party web publishers and there are literally thousands of smaller and more aggressive players in the space.

More about AOL

A Global Ad-Supported Web Services Company

AOL is a leading global advertising-supported Web company, with the most comprehensive display advertising network in the U.S., a substantial worldwide audience, and a suite of popular Web brands and products.

The company’s strategy focuses on increasing the scale and sophistication of its advertising platform and growing the size and engagement of its global online audience through leading products and programming.

Core Statistics

  • 109 million – Average domestic monthly unique visitors to the AOL network of Web properties during the quarter ending December 31, 2007, according to comScore Media Metrix.
  • 49.2 billion – Domestic page views for the AOL network of Web properties during the quarter ending December 31, 2007, according to comScore Media Metrix.
  • 150 – Average monthly page views per unique visitor to the AOL network of Web properties, during the quarter ending December 31, 2007.

 A sophisticated advertising network

AOL offers advertisers access to the broadest display advertising network in the U.S. and some of the most sophisticated tools available to target and measure online advertising campaigns through AOL’s Platform-A business group. Platform-A consists of Advertising.com, which operates the largest third-party display networks; behavioral targeting leader TACODA; Third Screen Media, which operates one of the largest mobile media networks; market leading video ad serving platform Lightningcast; Quigo, which offers advertisers the ability to target ads based on the content of Web pages; and ADTECH‘s global ad serving platform.

In addition, Platform-A Marketing Solutions provides large brand customers with coordinated access to the full Platform-A product suite, enabling advertisers and agencies to more easily harness the full power of digital media.

Industry-leading products and programs

AOL’s network of Web properties is one of the top three in the United States, attracting an average of 109 million unique visitors each month during the quarter ending December 31, 2007, according to comScore Media Metrix, and many are leaders in their categories.

MapQuest, for example, is the leading U.S. provider of online maps and directions; AIM is the No. 1 messaging service in the U.S.; and TMZ, developed in partnership with Warner Bros.’ Telepictures Productions, is the No. 1 domestic entertainment news site on the Web. Other popular destinations include Black Voices, a premiere site for the African-American community, and AOL Latino, a leading bilingual portal for U.S. Hispanics.

In the past year, AOL has relaunched all its major programming channels, including News, Sports, Money & Finance, Living, and launched several new sites, including Switched.com, PopEater, Stylelist, DIYLife and Green Daily.

AOL also has been upgrading its product suite, including the new AOL.com home page, improved AOL Mail, the new AOL Desktop, Safety and Security and Parental Control tools, and the new Winamp player. In addition, AOL has launched breakthrough products such as BlueString, which lets users easily store and share their pictures and movies, and myAOL, which lets users easily customize their homepage.

AOL’s Truveo video search tool, the leading video search engine, continues to expand its reach. During 2007, Truveo’s index of searchable videos grew 20-fold to more than 100 million. Truveo tracks more than 500,000 new videos uploaded to the Web each day. Queries across the Truveo video search network increased 20 fold during 2007. Unique monthly visitors across the sites powered by Truveo exceeded 50 million. Truveo has also launched localized versions of its video search product in 16 countries.

Expanding worldwide

As part of its aggressive international growth plans, AOL launched portals in Austria, The Netherlands, India, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Poland and Belgium. In addition, AOL teamed up with HP – a leading PC maker in the U.S. – to include localized versions of the AOL.com portal and other AOL services as the default setting on HP computers shipped in the United States and more than two-dozen countries worldwide.

AOL continues to operate one of the largest Internet subscription businesses in the United States, with 10 million domestic subscribers at the end of the third quarter of 2007.

More

http://aol.com
http://corp.aol.com/about-aol/company-overview
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/12/technology/12aol.html
http://www.aolmedianetworks.com/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/11/official-aol-on-the-table-for-a-deal/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/aol
http://www.techmeme.com/080312/p43#a080312p43
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/3/jeff_bewkes_s_private_hell_twx_
http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-bewkes-shake-ready-to-do-an-aol-deal-twc-spinoff-and-other-options/
http://searchengineland.com/080312-091036.php
http://portalblog.aol.com/