Category Archives: Retail

REGIS Corporation Deployed The First Firewall-Protected Payment Terminal In The World From Talentbeat Inc.

REGIS Corporation, the beauty industry’s global leader in beauty salons, hair restoration centers and cosmetology education over 13,500 locations worldwide, deployed the first firewall-protected payment terminal in the world. The solution utilizes the PCI-certified payment platform whizPay™ from TalentBeat Inc., which accepts REGIS payments for gift cards, credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, AMEX, Discover, Diner, JCB), and debit cards.

By implementing this solution, Regis Corporation expects to enforce high-level security measures to protect the security of their credit/debit card customers while utilizing the robust, fast and accurate platform for its high volume, complex processing needs.

The solution is integrated into the whizPay™ ASP platform developed by TalentBeat which is fully PCI certified and provides a global multicurrency payment gateway, making store-level integration standard across all geographies.

About Regis Corporation
Regis Corporation, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is the beauty industry’s global leader in beauty salons, hair restoration centers and cosmetology education. As of June 30, 2008, the Company owned, franchised or held ownership interests in over 13,500 worldwide locations. To learn about REGIS, please visit www.regiscorp.com.

About TalentBeat
Headquartered in Boston, TalentBeat, Inc. is a global IT consulting and technology service company specializing in industry-specific solutions, strategic outsourcing and integration services for last nine years. TalentBeat is a premier provider of electronic payment solutions combined with CRM, loyalty and gift solutions in both traditional and alternative payments channels.

whizPay™ is a modular multipurpose, PCI-certified platform enabling merchants to provide a personalized, rich experience for their customers with integrated CRM and Rewards solutions on both gift and credit cards. The platform is designed as SAAS (Software as a Service) enabling merchants to pick and choose specific features to suit their corporate strategy. This “Pay as you Grow” platform enables merchants to reduce operational costs and avoid huge upfront investments in payment solutions. The whizPay platform is integrated into a majority of POS devices, shopping carts and processors worldwide, making the deployment and integration extremely efficient. The platform also provides multicurrency, mobile payments, IVR Self Service Solutions, Virtual terminal and WebServices for third party integration as part of the platform providing several avenues to accept payments.

Via EPR Network

More Retail press releases

 

Push-To-Talk Over Wi-Fi for Motorola Warehouse Devices

Radicomm, Inc., a Motorola PartnerSelect ISV (Independent Software Vendor), has released QuickTalk, a voice communication system for rugged mobile scanning devices like the Motorola MC9090 and MC70. Using QuickTalk, stockroom managers and other supervisors can talk to any worker in their warehouse, factory, or distribution center with the push of a button. All voice communication takes place over the worker’s scanning device, but because of QuickTalk‘s seamless design the worker never has to leave his current application to talk back.

“Other vendors tend to only target supervisor PDAs like the MC70. Of course we support those devices too, but running QuickTalk seamlessly on an MC9090 is where Radicomm really separates itself from the competition,” explains Brad Radaker, founder and CEO of Radicomm.

QuickTalk is a complete warehouse communication system that not only allows supervisors to call out to their workers, but also allows workers to directly contact their supervisors if that’s what the company desires. Using the QuickTalk Administrator program, organizations can create Role Visibility Relationships to define who is allowed to contact whom within each site. Site Trust Relationships may also be created to enable managers in one site to contact their counterparts in another site.

A fully functional 30 day trial of QuickTalk is available from the Radicomm web site at www.radicomm.com. For more information please call 1-888-919-9931 or email sales@radicomm.com.

About Radicomm
Radicomm creates user-friendly software for the warehouse environment. Our mission is to provide straightforward, cost effective solutions for organizations looking to unlock the true potential of the automated warehouse. For more information please call 1-888-919-9931, or visit our website at www.radicomm.com.

via EPR Network

More telcos news

Amazon Web Services on its way to surpass $500M in sales this year

In a recent conference call Amazon has announced that it has reached over $131M in sales during the fourth-quarter of 2007 from its Web Services, which much or less means more than $500M in revenues for the entire fiscal 2008 for Amazon coming solely from its Web Services. When compared to the $5.7B for the same quarter coming in from its core business activates that amount looks tiny and small, but it is symbolic for the major transition undertaken at Amazon to shift the focus from simply an online retailer to a broader Internet company and mostly an innovator in the web space. We are also sure that the margins are surely greater in the web services field for Amazon than the profits derived from its traditional retail business. Standing alone the Amazon Web Services’ revenues are certainly huge and newsworthy. Amazon Web Services turn out to be a very successful strategy for Bezos’ globe-spanning empire to drive sales and profits up. The company claims as well there are over 60,000 different customers across the various Amazon Web Services.

What is also interesting and noteworthy from the information that recently became publicly available online is the fact that the biggest users of Amazon Web Services are not the army of web 2.0 start-ups but large-scale corporations from the banking and the pharmaceutical sectors.

More about Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services provides developers with direct access to Amazon’s robust technology platform. Build on Amazon’s suite of web services to enable and enhance your applications. We innovate for you, so that you can innovate for your customers.

Amazon WS include Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, Amazon SimpleDB, Amazon Simple Storage Service and Amazon Simple Queue Service.

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) – Beta

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers. Amazon EC2’s simple web service interface allows you to obtain and configure capacity with minimal friction. It provides you with complete control of your computing resources and lets you run on Amazon’s proven computing environment. Amazon EC2 reduces the time required to obtain and boot new server instances to minutes, allowing you to quickly scale capacity, both up and down, as your computing requirements change. Amazon EC2 changes the economics of computing by allowing you to pay only for capacity that you actually use.  Amazon EC2 provides developers the tools to build failure resilient applications and isolate themselves from common failure scenarios.

Amazon SimpleDB™- Limited Beta

Amazon SimpleDB is a web service for running queries on structured data in real time. This service works in close conjunction with Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), collectively providing the ability to store, process and query data sets in the cloud. These services are designed to make web-scale computing easier and more cost-effective for developers. Traditionally, this type of functionality has been accomplished with a clustered relational database that requires a sizable upfront investment, brings more complexity than is typically needed, and often requires a DBA to maintain and administer. In contrast, Amazon SimpleDB is easy to use and provides the core functionality of a database – real-time lookup and simple querying of structured data – without the operational complexity.  Amazon SimpleDB requires no schema, automatically indexes your data and provides a simple API for storage and access.  This eliminates the administrative burden of data modeling, index maintenance, and performance tuning. Developers gain access to this functionality within Amazon’s proven computing environment, are able to scale instantly, and pay only for what they use.

Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3)

Amazon S3 is storage for the Internet. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers. Amazon S3 provides a simple web services interface that can be used to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web. It gives any developer access to the same highly scalable, reliable, fast, inexpensive data storage infrastructure that Amazon uses to run its own global network of web sites. The service aims to maximize benefits of scale and to pass those benefits on to developers.

Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS)

Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS) offers a reliable, highly scalable, hosted queue for storing messages as they travel between computers. By using Amazon SQS, developers can simply move data between distributed components of their applications that perform different tasks, without losing messages or requiring each component to be always available. Amazon SQS makes it easy to build an automated workflow, working in close conjunction with the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and the other AWS infrastructure web services. Amazon SQS works by exposing Amazon’s web-scale messaging infrastructure as a web service. Any computer on the Internet can add or read messages without any installed software or special firewall configurations. Components of applications using Amazon SQS can run independently, and do not need to be on the same network, developed with the same technologies, or running at the same time.

There are many other companies in the sector and among others are Nirvanix (recently received funding from European Founders Fund) and RackSpace’s Mosso.

More

http://www.amazon.com/gp/browse.html?node=3435361
http://www.wired.com/techbiz/it/magazine/16-05/mf_amazon
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/21/who-are-the-biggest-users-of-amazon-web-services-its-not-startups/
http://aws.amazon.com/ec2
http://aws.amazon.com/s3
http://www.amazon.com/SimpleDB-AWS-Service-Pricing/b?ie=UTF8&node=342335011
http://www.amazon.com/Simple-Queue-Service-home-page/b?ie=UTF8&node=13584001
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/30/amazon-earnings-call-details-web-services-use-up-more-bandwidth-than-amazoncom-the-kindle-is-a-hit/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/03/14/amazon-grid-storage-web-service-launches/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/03/14/amazon-grid-storage-web-service-launches/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/14/amazon-takes-on-oracle-and-ibm-with-simple-db-beta/
http://www.fabianschonholz.com/2008/03/11/a-hybrid-solution/
http://open.nytimes.com/2007/11/01/self-service-prorated-super-computing-fun/
http://www.nirvanix.com/
https://www.mosso.com/

Some of the Silicon Valley’s top non-Web innovations VCs spent money on

Forbes has assembled a very interesting list of some of the Silicon Valley’s most interesting and coolest innovations beyond the web start-ups. What is being said as a fact is that venture capitalists have poured over $30B into more than 2500 new ventures in 2007 alone. Some of them have to be non-traditional the media says and outlines some of those non-web start ups. The criteria to make the list were companies with unusual technologies or in surprising niches, which recently received additional rounds of venture financing and ranging from gadgets that only the military could love to ones that could wind up in your neighbor’s car.

Insitu

Insitu is a leading high-tech autonomous systems company. They currently produce and sell an ever growing fleet of Unmanned Aircraft Systems that are low-cost, long-endurance, and have low personnel requirements. These UASs provide a no-runway launch, unprecedented stabilized day and night video for ISR, robotic flight control, and a no-nets capture. Insitu began by creating long endurance Unmanned Aircraft to measure atmospheric conditions and do reconnaissance in remote areas for meteorology, daily weather prediction, and climate modeling. Aerosonde was the first aircraft developed by Insitu, noted for completing the first autonomous crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in 1998. From the Aerosonde, Insitu began to develop its Insight UAS platform, that is still being regularly upgraded and deployed today. In 2001, Insitu began working with Boeing to develop ScanEagle, an ISR-focused Unmanned Aircraft System that is currently used by the US Navy, the US Marines, and the Australian Army.

Insitu closed its Series D round of financing led by Battery Ventures’ Roger Lee in December 2007. The company has plans to release a new autonomous aircraft in 2008.

Incesoft

Founded in 2001, Incesoft Technology Co., Ltd. is the world’s leading provider of web robot technology and intelligent interactive information platform. Incesoft is committed long term to the web robot development and research, providing various information and services for users at the same time giving them better interactive experience. At present Incesoft has made great achievements in the field of Chinese artificial intelligent analysis and information management service. Currently Incesoft has the largest Chinese-language web robot platform (www.xiaoi.com). The robots can be used on IM, WEB and Mobile platform, providing services as information, entertainment and E-commerce etc. about working and living. Meanwhile Incesoft also provides customer service robots for companies and governmental departments.

Until now Incesoft has more than 20 million users.

With many-years robot development experience and strong technological power, Incesoft became Microsoft’s global strategic partner in February 2006 and Incesoft Bot Platform became the official robot access platform for Windows Live Messenger. In addition, Incesoft is Tencent QQ (a popular IM tool in China) and Yahoo Messenger’s strategic partner as well.

Draper Fisher Jurvetson and ePlanet Ventures were among the backers who pledged financing in March 2007.

A4Vision

California-based A4Vision has developed a 3D facial imaging and recognition system that works in conjunction with its established fingerprint identification and verification technology. Clients include high-security outfits such as the U.S. Department of Defense and a Swiss bank. Bioscrypt, a company specializing in access control, acquired A4Vision in March 2007. Investors, including In-Q-Tel, the venture wing of the Central Intelligence Agency and Menlo Ventures, must feel secure.

 Ophthonix

Ophthonix, Inc., a San Diego based vision correction company, is changing forever the way we see the world. Customized iZon® High Resolution Lenses allow wearers to see the world in High-Definition—clearer, sharper and more vividly than ever before. The proprietary and patented process is the first ever vision correction technology that addresses the problems associated with the unique variations in each person’s eyes, allowing for customized eyeglass lenses.

The result is a detailed picture, much like your eye’s fingerprint. The iZon lens, custom-built to help reduce glare in nighttime driving, is the result. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers was among investors who put $35.1 million into Ophthonix’s December 2006 Series D round.

Dash Navigation

Dash Navigation has developed the Dash Express, which is an Internet-connected GPS device that offers route choices based on traffic information generated from other Dash Express devices and the Internet.

Superior traffic with the Dash Driver Network™:Select your route based on up-to-the-minute traffic data that is automatically and anonymously exchanged via the most reliable source–other Dash devices. The Dash Express gathers traffic information from the Dash Driver Network and combines it with other sources of traffic data to provide you with the most accurate picture of what’s happening on the routes you’re travelling. And, only Dash provides traffic information for freeways and local roads and side streets. Dash Express provides up to three routing options to your destination that are based on flow rather than incident data, and even has the ability to automatically alert you when traffic conditions change and a faster route is available.

Find virtually anything with Yahoo!® Local search:Connect to Yahoo! Local search to find unlimited points of interest—people, places, products and services—based on your specific needs.

Two-way connectivity gives Dash Express the ability to use Yahoo! Local search and other internet search sources to find almost anything anywhere. Unlike other GPS devices that come loaded with a static database of points of interest, Dash gives you access to unlimited points of interest based on your specific needs.

Send2Car™means no typing required: Its the fastest and easiest way to send an address straight to your device from any computer. Just highlight an address from your Internet browser or Microsoft Outlook and send it directly to the car. You can use Send2Car yourself, or when you’re on the road, have someone else do it for you

MyDash makes it even easier to personalize your Dash Express:MyDash, available at my.dash.net allows you to create and send customized search buttons straight to your device so you always have access to the places you want to go. And you can even take advantage of local knowledge from the Dash network by downloading location lists shared online by other users.

AutoUpdate™ means a GPS that’s always up to date:Dash Express is the only GPS that automatically and wirelessly updates software and traffic using two-way connectivity. You’ll always have the latest and greatest features as we release them. With Dash you are always up to date!

The company secured $25 million in February 2007 from investors, including Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

3DV Systems

3DV Systems is a pioneer and world leader in the three-dimensional video imaging industry. Established in 1997 and headquartered in Yokne’am, Israel, the company has developed a unique proprietary technology which enables video cameras to capture the depth dimension of objects in real time, high speed and very high resolution.

The company has developed a unique patented technology which enables cameras to capture the depth dimension of objects in real time, high speed and very high resolution, using low or no CPU resources. 3DV markets, in a fab-less OEM model, a chipset that can be integrated to create systems and solutions for multiple applications as well as the new ZCamTM (previously Z-Sense) family of 3D cameras.

3DV was founded by Dr. Giora Yahav and Dr. Gabi Iddan, two veteran scientists of Rafael, Israel’s leading defense industry. Leveraging their experience and know-how gained through leading development of electro-optics missile technology, they came up with a ground-breaking concept of measuring distance from objects using the Time-of-Flight principle.

Since the successful completion of the development of our first 3D camera directed at the broadcast studio market, the new ZCamTM (previously Z-Sense), in 2000, 3DV was able to dramatically reduce the size and decrease the cost of its technology thus widening the scope of markets and applications and currently reaching consumer markets. The company’s latest prototype camera, the new ZCamTM (previously Z-Sense), is at the size of a typical webcam, and provides home users revolutionary gesture recognition capabilities in addition to real-time background replacement, enabling them to control video games and personal space through intuitive body gestures and immerse themselves with virtual reality

Kids may be excited about a new way to play. Adults, by contrast, may appreciate how the technology can be applied to reality: video cameras in their cars. The cameras can detect signs of fatigue, alerting the driver, or help to safely deploy airbags based on the exact location of passengers’ head.

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Pitango Venture Capital led the $15 million investment round in December 2006.

Hyperactive Technologies 

The company started in the mind of a founder with two simple questions:

“Why is this burger so bad?”
“What can we bring to the table to make this better?”

In answering those questions – and finding a solution for the problem – HyperActive Technologies looked closely at the processes of quick-service restaurants, and has brought a full array of vision, prediction, and task-management technologies to bear in an industry where competition is fierce and quality is the number one differentiator.

HyperActive Bob is the first and only fully-automated Kitchen Management System that’s improving food quality in QSRs across the country. Here are the driving forces behind our technologies:

Vision: advanced real-time vision technologies monitor customer arrivals constantly and without wavering.

Prediction: Powerful processing tools learn from historical and real-time sales, incorporating the results of this analysis into real-time task management.

Action: easy-to-read touch screen monitors tell cooks precisely what to cook, and when to cook it.

The result: HyperActive Technologies provides “sight and insight” for managers that they’ve never had before, and more: 

HyperActive Bob is the Predictive Kitchen Management System that tells cooks what to cook, and when to cook it, assuring that all of your operations perform as smoothly as your best!

Drive-thru Speed of Service Timer is the first of its kind tool to measure the amount of time drive-thru customers spend in line before they reach the order board!

Walk-in Demand Prediction provides Bob’s keen demand prediction for restaurants that may not have vehicle entries.

HyperActive Technolgies is based in Pittsburg and is a privately held company. Last May, the company purchased QTime solutions, a drive-thru timer to help speed up how Hyperactive develops its recommendations. Private angel investors organized by Spencer Trask Ventures presumably had a quick meeting to decide to put $8.5 million into the firm in 2006.

Basically it is becoming clear that not all VC money goes to sites a la Facebook, yet the US economy is not in its best state today to accommodate and absorb some of these great inventions and innovations.

More

http://www.forbes.com/2008/01/24/midas-tech-novel-tech-08midas-cz_ed_0124novel.html
http://www.insitu.com/
http://www.incesoft.com/English/
http://www.xiaoi.com/
http://www.in-q-tel.org/technology-portfolio/a4vision.html
http://www.bioscrypt.com/
http://www.dash.net/
http://www.izonlens.com/about/
http://www.3dvsystems.com/
http://www.3dvsystems.com/gallery/movies/VirtualGame.mpg
http://www.hyperactivetechnologies.com/ 

Taylor Nelson Sofres buys Compete.com

Compete, which started out in 2000 as an Idealab company, raised over $40M in funding to date, incurred $4.5M losses for the last year off $15M revenues and had hard time lately to compete with Quantcast has its exit day today. Compete has been acquired by the market research leader Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) for $75M plus another earn-out $75M through out 2008-2010 if certain conditions are met. Total acquisition price could possibly reach $150M. Compete.com calls that brilliant in their blog, which might be true taking into consideration that they have clearly lost the battle with Quantcast in the free traffic measurement space online. According to Compete’s own stats, it attracts about the same number of U.S. visitors a month as Alexa (727,000 for Compete versus 758,000 for Alexa), but Quantcast is the leader with more than double that (1.9M uniques). The deal and its price tag could also be called brilliant for Compete when compared to the comScore’s current market capitalization – $570M.

Since 2006 Compete tried almost everything on the PR front to gain popularity, create buzz, and increase its service awareness, but it had little to no success at all. In many aspects Compete’s traffic measurement, just like Alexa btw, is way inaccurate and incomplete when compared to quantified sites at Quantcast and perhaps TNS decided to buy the third or forth in the market due to a possible higher price Quantcast is currently looking for (or being not for sale) and the current market value comScore has. Both of them have been M&A targets for a while although no public facts are available as to whether TNS has been one of the suitors for either of the companies mentioned. By comparison, in 2007 Experian Group Ltd. paid $240 million to acquire another leading Web intelligence company, Hitwise Pty Ltd., which made money and had annual revenues of roughly $40 million. In other words, at a price tag of $75 million TNS is offering roughly 5 times Compete’s revenue, and it will pay 10 times sales if the target reaches the financial milestones stipulated under the earn-out clause. Experian paid a multiple of only 6 times sales for Hitwise.

One of the company’s latest developments was the partnership they made with Ask.com to provide compete data for sites on ask.com’s binoculars.

TNS is acquiring Compete primarily from a consortium of private venture capital companies. Compete is said it will continue to operate as a stand-alone company, but it has already identified stellar new product opportunities to develop with the TNS media intelligence and custom research teams.   

In additional to Idealab, Compete’s other investors include Charles River Ventures, Commonwealth Capital Partners, North Hill Ventures, Split Rock Partners, and William Blair Capital Partners. Total funding to date is $43M. Their investors were undoubtedly probably hoping for a much better outcome, but a solid double is better than nothing.

This acquisition brings together the global market information strength of TNS with Compete’s digital intelligence products and capabilities.  Digital intelligence combines data on user behavior and interactions on the internet with demographic and competitive information, to help businesses and marketers make critical, strategic and tactical business decisions. 

Through this acquisition, TNS will provide clients with new and valuable insights into how online consumer behavior affects purchasing decisions, enabling clients to improve their marketing effectiveness, both online and offline. Together, TNS and Compete will provide consumer, brand and media research and measurement services that will help businesses succeed in the digital marketing environment.

Compete conducts continuous analysis of internet clickstream data from close to 2 million people, weighted to match the US online population.  This information is used to measure how consumers consider, engage with and buy a client’s products or services online, relative to those of its competition.  This ability to analyze online behavior before a purchase is made enables Compete to advise clients on how to target online communications to individual consumers, to influence both their online and offline purchasing behavior.

As internet usage and e-retailing increases, clickstream data is expected to become a significant information source around which market research and analysis is based.  Recent estimates suggest that the US market in which Compete operates will grow from $325 million in 2007 to $500 million in 2009.  (Morgan Stanley research and Jupiter Research estimates of on-demand US web analytics market)

TNS will apply Compete’s ability to profile, measure and segment the online behavior of consumers to its own 6th dimension access panels.  This will start in the US, where TNS has a fully managed access panel of more than one million people and will then be extended across its network.  This will give TNS an unmatched ability to provide insight based on online and offline behavior and on consumer attitudes. 

David Lowden, Chief Executive of TNS, said: “This acquisition is an important move for TNS that builds on our ability to help clients understand consumer behavior in the new and highly complex digital world.  Compete has built a world-class digital intelligence capability that delivers multiple perspectives on how consumers engage with brands online. Its strength lies in its ability to provide competitive analysis of individuals’ online behavior, a rapidly growing section of the market that has enormous potential. 

“TNS will enhance this offering by putting it together with the understanding of consumer attitudes and behavior that we gain from our access panels.  We will use our network to offer this powerful combination to clients across the globe.  In the longer term, we will look at the opportunities to add further value by using our Worldpanel, Retail & Shopper and audience measurement capabilities to integrate data on purchasing and viewing behavior with internet search and shopping behavior.  We believe this will allow TNS to develop new syndicated and custom products, unique in our industry.”

Donald McLagan, Chairman and CEO of Compete, said: “We welcome this exciting opportunity to join one of the world’s most respected market information and insight groups.  Whether consumers buy online, or simply research online as they reach a purchasing decision, the marketing platforms they encounter bring major opportunities for brands.  Companies need to understand how the internet affects consumer preferences, attitudes, knowledge, understanding and motivation.  They also need help in maximizing the new online sales and marketing opportunities to target their prospective customers more effectively.  For the first time, we have given clients the opportunity to measure their effectiveness across all their marketing programmes.  This ability will be greatly enhanced when we are part of TNS.”

More about Compete

Compete, Inc. is a provider of analytics, research, and business intelligence. Compete gathers web behavior information from users who sign up at their site, then analyzes these data to create customized reports for client companies. Compete also offers a free web analytics tool for the general public at Compete.com.

Compete was founded in 2000 and is based in Boston, Massachusetts.  It analyses internet clickstream information received from its own panel and from internet service providers.  Compete uses proprietary data methodologies to normalize this data, making it representative of the entire US online market place. It specializes in the telecoms, media, automotive, financial services and travel industries, with a sector-based organization mirroring that of TNS.  It also has expertise in the field of online search evaluation.  Current management will remain with the company.  Clients, who include some of the world’s best-known brands, are engaged on a subscription basis, with analysis provided weekly or monthly.  The company has won a range of awards, including the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 two years in a row, the US Advertising Research Foundation David Ogilvy Award and the AdAge Power 150. Bill Gross is the company’s founder who had previously helped create the search engine that became Overture and later was acquired by Yahoo!.  

Compete has several competitors in enterprise-level web analytics and market research, including Nielsen/NetRatings, Hitwise, comScore, Amazon’s Alexa and Quantcast.

More about TNS

TNS is the third-largest market research firm across the globe (Honomichl)
TNS is the biggest provider of online market information in the world
TNS does more custom market research than any other firm worldwide
TNS Media Intelligence is the top-ranked ad spend measurement company
The TNS 6th Dimension access panels reach over two million consumers globally

The 1960s saw the creation of five of the market research companies that are at the heart of the Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) group today:

  • Intersearch in the USA in1960
  • AGB in UK in 1962
  • Sofres in France in 1963
  • Frank Small Associates in Australia in 1964
  • Taylor Nelson in UK in 1965
  • But the very first seeds had been sown in the USA in 1946, when NFO (National Family Opinion) opened for business.

In the 60s, 70s and 80s, all these companies grew significantly, introducing a wide and increasingly sophisticated range of research solutions and using the latest technological developments. And as they and their clients grew, they started to create their international networks:

Sofres opened offices in six European countries, the US and 12 countries in Asia Pacific
 
Taylor Nelson and AGB each developed a UK network of offices and began to acquire businesses in Europe

NFO grew to become the by-word for managed access panels in the USA
It soon became clear that brands were becoming global, and brand owners would need global market information partners.

In the 1990s, the market research industry started to consolidate, as major clients demanded an increasingly international service.

NFO made a series of acquisitions around the world and the companies that now form TNS responded to the changing market by joining forces, enabling them to deliver consistently high quality services to customers around the world.

  • Sofres acquired Secodip (1992)
  • Taylor Nelson joined with AGB  (1992)
  • Sofres combined with FSA (1995)
  • Sofres acquired Intersearch (1997)
  • Taylor Nelson AGB and Sofres merged (1997)
  • TNS acquired NFO (2003)

More
 
http://www.tnsglobal.com/
http://www.tnsglobal.com/investor-relations/news/news-E4DA1FFE67594CB6A72742C5A415BD1B.aspx
http://blog.compete.com/2008/03/03/tns-acquires-compete/
http://www.compete.com/
http://www.competeinc.com/
http://blog.compete.com/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/03/tns-buys-compete-for-75-million/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/compete
http://www.quantcast.com/
http://www.alexa.com/
http://www.comscore.com/
http://www.thealarmclock.com/mt/archives/2007/08/compete_ups_ant.html
http://www.competeinc.com/news_events/pressReleases/114/
http://blog.compete.com/2008/02/11/press-release-compete-celebrates-fifth-straight-year-of-record-growth/
http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-compete-bought-by-tns-for-up-to-150-million/
http://www.centernetworks.com/tns-acquires-compete
http://www.thealarmclock.com/mt/archives/2007/08/compete_ups_ant.html
http://www.centernetworks.com/ask-partners-with-compete-binoculars
http://www.techconfidential.com/money-out/blog/money-out/british-market-research-firm-t.php
http://blog.arhg.net/2008/03/competecom-bought-for-75m.html
http://mashable.com/2008/03/03/compete-acquired/
http://searchengineland.com/080303-105153.php

WidgetBucks claims it served over 1B ads in just 3 months, enters behavioral targeting

A tiny start up called WidgetBucks is claiming they have served over 1 billion ads in the past three months. It is a serious claim, aside the fact they also claim to be the fastest growing ad network on web today.

WidgetBucks features pay-per-click shopping widgets that help their customers make money fast. They instantly display the most popular products based on buying trends of 100 million shoppers. Thus they are highly engaging, which means instant dollars for our customers. The company is also claiming their widgets see $3-$6 CPM – pretty good compared to traditional ad networks that deliver less than $2 CPM.

If that’s true and the company had over 1B ads served over the past 3 months and they claim they are seeing $3-$6 CPM (cost per thousand impressions) on average it then turns out the company should have its pay outs made over the last months in the $3M-$6M range.

The site offers the following features and benefits.

  • Self-service, scalable and relevant content that’s free and easy to publish.
  • Dynamic, contextual widgets act as content (vs. ads) that more effectively targets your users, not the masses.
  • Extensive reporting tools and daily updates; Payouts are monthly.
  • Complements existing programs, such as Google AdSense.
  • Over 300 configurations, 256 color schemes and formatted for major IAB standard sizes.
  • Dynamic Ad Yield Management matches the best merchant for each product while offering consumers the best price.
  • MerchSense (patent pending) contextual algorithm automatically targets the right products for your site.
  • Manual configuration also available by category.
  • Product listings from 30,000 merchants including trusted leading brands.

Bloggers can customize what kinds of consumer items they want to appear in the widget (books, movies, computers, musical instruments), then they grab some code and put it on their blog. Or they can let Mpire (Widgetbucks’s parent company) serve up contextually relevant ads based on the topics they write about. WidgetBucks scans your site and tries to match ads to the keywords it finds. The widgets tap into merchandise from 30,000 retailers, including Amazon, Shopping.com, Target, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and the Gap. WidgetBucks shares the cost-per-click revenue with bloggers.

WidgetBucks comes to you from the folks at Mpire Corporation, the award-winning meta-shopping service. Mpire’s extensive shopping data experience, including its proprietary contextual, analytics and relevancy algorithms, power WidgetBucks. Founded in 2005, Mpire is backed by Ignition Partners and former eBay executive and Pay Pal angel investor Richard Rock.

The parent company is a shopping search engine. Not only will it give you a list of links to where to buy that 32-in. LCD TV, if you click on Show Product Details, it will display a pricing chart that shows whether the price is trending up or down, at both retail and at auction, so you can decide if it’s the right time to buy. The “shopping companion” browser plug-in, a free download, is handy to use when you are shopping at other sites; it shows what other etailers are charging for the item you’re looking at, so you can be sure to get the best deal. Soon it will also show how consumers rated the product on Epinions and Amazon. So far this site has indexed more than 150 million products offered by 55,000 online stores, from mom-and-pop Web shops to major e-tailers like Amazon.com, and it doesn’t accept payment from merchants for top placement in its search results.

The site (Mpire) has won a number of prestigious awards from TIME’s 50 Best Websites for 2007 to t the eBay’s winner of the Star Developer Award 2007.  WidgetBucks has also won the Mashable Open Web Award.

Others in the sector include Farecast that does the chart thing with airfares, TheFind.com, the old player Epinions and the new comer Proximic, which has just signed a deal with both Yahoo Shopping and eBay’s Shopping.com to contextually deliver their product ads to third party sites. There is also Google’s Gadget Ads (AdSense in a widget), AuctionAds, boobox, and even ThisNext.

Today it seems the company is up to something even bigger – the behavioral widget ads.

While WidgetBucks already had MergeSense to help you determine the best products to display on your site’s widgets, the next step was “to test ad placement within the widget,” says Matt Hulett, CEO of Widgetbucks. The new service is called YieldSense, which is quite close in title to another behavioral ad system called YieldBuild, which determines optimal placement of text ads throughout your website.

YieldSense has some basic behavioral ad techniques being applied to the widget ads. Experts claim widget makers with built in networks have a distinct advantage in the amount of data they’re able to pull, from CPM to attention data, along with the passive absorption of the experiences of ad networks that have come before them.

It seems widget builders and companies are poised to become dominant players in the behavioral ads market due to the nature of the widgets being embedded across number of third party sites gathering that way vast amount of information. WidgetBucks perhaps took that step a little sooner than others because its widget network in fact began as an advertising affiliate program.

Mpire Corporation is based in Seattle, WA.

The behavioral ads market is however not going to be a cake walk for most of the companies. Experts in the sector outline several major issues the industry is facing today. Issues like privacy, accuracy and quality, personalization and profiles are just a few of the behavioral targeting concerns today.

An alternative, being proposed, that solves the issues with both privacy and effectiveness is one centered on understanding the user’s intent, instead of their clickpath or profile, and pairing that with specific content, product, and advertising recommendations. This approach relies exclusively on the collective wisdom of like-minded peers who have demonstrated interests or engagement with similar content and context.

The concept of profiles is completely removed in this case, and instead by understanding the user’s expressed or implied intent that user will see the content that is appropriate to their current mindset.

This is the next evolution in user targeting that gets beyond clicks and analytics, and instead rests on a proven foundation of modern social science theory.  The approach is conceptually simple and mimics how we learn and act in everyday life – making choices based on what others who are in the same current mindset as us have done. More about the behavioral targeting can be read over here

The market

Behavioral advertising and behavioral targeting are both lately becoming yet another hot area in the online marketing space, with Tacoda recently acquired by AOL for an estimated amount of $200-300 million. Start ups are trying to analyze every move you do online and try to hook you up with the right ads, products and services. MyBuys is making no exception it tracks user behavior to help online retailers make better recommendations.

Competition in the field is staggering and some of the names include StyleFeeder relying on community recommendations and raised $1M so far, Wunderloop, Baynote, Matchmine, which also raised $10M recently and not last Aggregate Knowledge, which once used to be a hot start-up in the Silicon Valley. The last one that took a massive funding was MyBuys – $10M from Lightspeed Venture Partners and Palomar Ventures.

The demand among online retailers for better behavioral tracking is so high right now that MyBuys and its startup competitors are all able to gather this “low hanging fruit” — Lightspeed Venture Partner’s Peter Nieh explains further.

The market shakeout in behavioral targeting will resemble search engines startup in the 1990’s, Nieh, a Lightspeed Venture Partner, thinks: Many companies were able to search the web, but Google ended up doing it way better than the others, and captured the largest portion of the market.

More

http://www.widgetbucks.com/home.page
http://widgetbucks.blogspot.com/
http://mashable.com/2008/01/16/widgetbucks-yieldsense/
http://mashable.com/2007/10/02/widgetbucks/
http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1633488_1633458_1633489,00.html
http://blogs.mpire.com/?p=135
http://blogs.mpire.com/?p=135
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/01/19/proximic-lands-deals-with-yahoo-and-shoppingcom-said-to-be-taking-on-adsense-which-is-bad-pr-approach/
http://widgetbucks.blogspot.com/2007/11/widgetbucks-offering-cpm-ads-for.html
http://mashable.com/2008/01/16/widgetbucks-yieldsense/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/02/a-widget-that-actually-makes-money/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/05/09/mpire-launches-widgets-for-ebay-and-amazon-affiliates/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/01/11/behavioral-targeting-is-busted-but-marketers-are-barking-up-the-wrong-tree/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2007/12/26/behavioral-recommendation-service-for-shoppers-raises-10-million-market-heats-up/

Proximic lands deals with Yahoo! and Shopping.com, said to be taking on AdSense, which is bad PR approach!

Content-delivery network Proximic, which has a unique contextual matching system, now has ads to sell that can help bloggers and others monetize their sites. The Munich Germany based start-up has signed deals to syndicate product listings from both eBay’s Shopping.com and Yahoo’s Shopping Network as contextual ads on other Websites. What other web sources claim the company is going to have more than 50 million product ad units in its data base coming in from both Yahoo! Shopping and eBay’s Shopping.com. Proximic estimates that Google, in contrast, has an inventory of about one million unique ads. Proximic’s ad network based on this massive inventory will launch at the end of January or early February 2008.

Web publishers are going to be offered with a way to place a widget on their sites, which Proximic is later going to use to serve ads on. Web site participating in the network are going to be later indexed and served up with contextually matching products as text ads along with contextually relevant content links. The ads and contextual links can also appear in a sidebar for anyone who has downloaded the Proximic Firefox add-on.

Proximic is neither matching context based on the keywords nor on the context itself. The company also says it doesn’t use semantic or statistical methodologies to understand the page’s meaning. “Semantic systems are not able to scale,” claims Proximic co-founder and CTO Thomas Nitsche. He also adds “If you hold more than one million documents, you run into a problem,”. Semantic search, he thinks, is too slow at this point for ad serving. Instead of keyword, semantic, or statistical approaches, Proximic uses proximity analysis to determine the page’s context. There is no much information publicly available as to how exactly it works, but from what we know and have read Proximic’s algorithm is translating each body of text into a pattern of characters that then becomes represented by a mathematical vector. Matches are done through traditional vector analysis. The company gives the following explanation:

We look at patterns of letters. We get a profile. The profile is a vector. We compare two vectors, and compute proximity by pattern distance. We can generate proximity between texts. The text can be one word, two words, 15 words, or a complete page.

We have read on other blogs claims of the sort Proximic is taking on Google AdSense, which has provoked us to give our 2 cents too and we think that such claims are, if anything, too boostful and not serious in any way and could be more harmful to the image of Proximic rather than brining anything like positive PR at the end of the day…

Ok, here we go with several potential problems, as we see them, Proximic is going to face and needs to deal with.

First
First off no site running Google AdSense is going to give up on its Google ads and earnings and replace them with an unknown start up that has little to no advertisers on its network. Why? Simply because Google does not allow your site or blog to run third party contextual ads (no matter what technology is used to match the context) on a page where their AdSense ad units run, which leaves little to no chance for Proximic’s contextual ads to stand off the ground any soon or at least not on sites that are currently Google AdSense publishers. There is clearly going to be a conflict of the two contextual ad units and Google is not going to be the one who will be dropped off by the web publishers.

Second
If Proximic is indexing each page, as we read above, that becomes part of its network then they would also need 600,000 servers to get any closer to what Google is today (check the link for more info about the Google’s computation expenditures).

Third
Revenue sharing with web publishers is not going to be very favorable for the web publishers who are going to participate in Proximic’s ad network after eBay, Yahoo! and Proximic itself all get their cut. We have read on Web that Proximic plans on giving participating websites 70 percent of any revenues after eBay and Yahoo! take their cut, which clearly leaves the publishers with a very small piece of the pie. On the other side, if they want to spread around Web, the way Google did, they have to pay web publishers serious money, lots of money, before even starting to think on competing with Google AdSense. Let’s put it that way: we see no way for Proximic to reach the payout Google achieved – $3.5B paid to web publishers in the first 3 quarters of 2007…

Forth
Proximic is not the first third party company to serve ad units from Yahoo! Shopping and eBay’s shopping.com. Even today you can sign up for Shopping.com or Yahoo! Shopping’s developer program and get listings up by next week. There are a number of other shopping engine syndication programs and most of them allow you to target to some extent. One of which is Shopzilla, among others, and Proximic is going to face fierce competition for the love of eBay and Yahoo!.

Fifth
In tests, Nitsche says Proximic is seeing click-through rates as high as 1.5 percent, which is much greater than the 0.25 percent or less that is typical for an AdSense campaign. That’s simply not true. We have been Google AdSense publisher since 2004 and our average click-through ratio has always been way above 1.5%, so speaking for precise targeting we’ll have to wait and see what Proximic is capable of.

Sixth
Proximic claims to be showing relevant results based on the content one is reading by gathering results from multiple sources, including Wikipedia but a weak point here is that they are not maintaining their own index massive, unlike Google. Just like with their third party sources of the information they deliver the same is with their product ads too, they are not theirs, which simply turns Proximic into an affiliate (middleman) company. Either way the company is vulnerable in case any of the third party information/ads providers leaves the game. 

Proximic is a privately funded company based in Munich, Germany and Palo Alto, California. Investors include Wellington Partners and the Holtzbrinck Group, the publisher of numerous publications including Scientific American. The company is said to have 14 employees.

Other players on the contextual arena include Amazon, LinkedWords, Turn, Tumri, Shopzilla, Vibrant Media and Kontera and BlogRovr, among others.

Amazon is also employing the same in-text contextual approach with their in-text linked words where once you mouse over them a JavaScript pop up message appears containing contextual web information and product ads from the huge data base of the shopping company.  

LinkedWords is yet another, already fairly popular, company known to deal with the contextual aspect of Web and is known to be the pioneer of the in-text linked words approach, been around even before Amazon adopted this interesting approach for spreading its products among third party web sites’ context. It runs a massive contextual platform built upon tens of millions of English words and phrases, which web publishers are using to get contextually linked to each other through their platform by using in-text linked words, as the company’s name implies itself. (Disclosure: we are using LinkedWords)

Other ad companies that are known to have tried the same are Turn and Tumri, among others.

More

http://www.proximic.com/
http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9850877-7.html?tag=nefd.blgs
http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9788569-7.html
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/01/10/can-google-lead-amid-its-ever-growing-infrastructure-and-computation-expenditures/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/15/proximic-signs-deals-with-yahoo-and-ebay-to-turn-product-listings-into-contextual-ads-taking-on-adsense/
http://venturebeat.com/2008/01/16/proximic-signs-contextual-ad-deals-with-yahoo-shoppingcom-aims-for-adsense/
http://blog.express-press-release.com/2007/10/02/proximic-takes-on-google-but-overlooks-sphere-linkedwords-kontera-vibranmedia-and-others/
http://www.calacanis.com/2007/12/21/ads-as-content-or-testing-google-and-shopzilla/
 

Some of the web’s biggest acquisition deals during 2007

As the end of the year approaches us we would like to briefly sum up some of the web’s biggest acquisition deals for the 2007, as we know them. 

All deals will logically be ranked by their sizes and less weight will be put on the time the deal happened through out the year. Deals from all IT industry sectors are considered and put in the list, from Web and Internet to the Mobile industry as well. The size’s criterion for a deal to make the list is to be arguably no less than $100M unless the deal is symbolic in one way or another or either of the companies involved was popular enough at the time the deal took place. Otherwise we think all deals are important, at least for its founders and investors.

Under no doubt the year we will remember with the number of high-profile advertising company acquisitions for large-scale companies like DoubleClick, aQuantive, RightMedia, 24/7 Real Media, among others. Putting all acquisition deals aside, one particular funding deal deserves to be mentioned too Facebook raised $240 million from Microsoft in return of just 1.6% of its equity. The Honk Kong Billionaire Li Ka-shing later joined the club of high-caliber investors in Facebook by putting down $60M for unknown equity position.  

Other remarkable funding deals include: Alibaba.com raised $1.3 Billion from its IPO; Kayak raised $196 Million; Demand Media took $100 Million in Series C; Zillow totaled $87 Million in venture capital funding; Joost announced $45 million funding from Sequoia, Index, CBS & Viacom, among others. 

Yet another noteworthy deal is the Automattic (wordpress.org) turning down a $200 Million Acquisition Offer. 

And the 2007 Web 2.0 Money winner is… Navteq for its deal with Nokia for $8B. Apparently Microsoft has this year lost the crown of being named the deepest pocket buyer.

Nokia Buys Navteq For $8 Billion, Bets Big On Location-Based Services

Nokia (NOK), the Finnish mobile phone giant with nearly a third of the global handset market, has decided to bet big on location based services (LBS), and is buying Chicago-based digital map company NAVTEQ (NVT) for $8.1 billion. That works out to about $78 a share. This is one of Nokia’s largest purchases to date — the Finnish mobile giant has a mixed track record when it comes to acquisitions. This is also the second megabillion dollar buyout in the maps (LBS) space.

SAP Germany makes its biggest deal ever – acquires Business Objects for 4.8B EURO (around ~$6.8 billion)

SAP, the world’s largest maker of business software, has agreed to acquire Business Objects SA for €4.8 billion euros, which was around ~$6.8 billion at the time the acquisition deal was announced. The deal is amongst the largest for 2007 alongside with Oracle’s Hyperion deal for over $3.3B and the Nokia’s Navteq for over $8B. [more]

Microsoft to buy Web ad firm aQuantive for $6 Billion

Microsoft Corp. acquired aQuantive Inc. for about $6 billion, or $66.50 a share, an 85 percent premium to the online advertising company’s closing price at the time the deal was publicly announced. Shares of aQuantive shot to $63.95 in pre-opening trade, following news of the deal. The all-cash deal tops a dramatic consolidation spree across the online advertising market sparked when Google Inc. agreed to buy DoubleClick for $3.1 billion.

Oracle to buy Hyperion in $3.3 Billion cash deal

Oracle Corp. has acquired business intelligence software vendor Hyperion Solutions Corp. for $3.3 billion in cash. Oracle has agreed to pay $52 per share for Hyperion, or about $3.3 billion, a premium of 21% over Hyperion’s closing share price at the time of the deal. Oracle said it will combine Hyperion’s software with its own business intelligence (BI) and analytics tools to offer customers a broad range of performance management capabilities, including planning, budgeting and operational analytics.

Cisco Buys WebEx for $3.2 Billion

Cisco has agreed to acquire WebEx for $3.2 billion in cash. In 2006, WebEx generated nearly $50 million in profit on $380 million in revenue. They have $300 million or so in cash on hand, so the net deal value is $2.9 billion.

DoubleClick Acquired by Google For $3.1 Billion In Cash

Google reached an agreement to acquire DoubleClick, the online advertising company, from two private equity firms for $3.1 billion in cash, the companies announced, an amount that was almost double the $1.65 billion in stock that Google paid for YouTube late last year. In the last month for this year the US Federal Trade Commission has granted its approval for Google to purchase DoubleClick.

TomTom Bought Tele Atlas for $2.5 Billion

It took $2.5 Billion dollars for TomTom to buy mapping software company TeleAtlas, this will set the stage for TomTom to be big rival of Garmin across Atlantic. Tele Atlas went public in 2000 on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, and last year, it bought another mapping firm, New Hampshire-based GDT.

Naspers acquires yet another European company – Tradus for roughly $1.8 Billion

Simply put a fallen dot com star with eBay ambitious, once worth more than 2B British pound (around $4B) and collapsed down to £62M at the end of 2000 is now being basically said rescued by the South African media company Naspers that is spending money at breakneck pace. The offered price is £946M (more than $1.8B) based on just £60M annual revenues. [more]

HP acquired Opsware For $1.6 Billion

HP has acquired IT Automation company Opsware for $1.6 billion. Whilst any acquisition of this size is interesting in itself, the back story to Opsware is even more so; Opsware was originally LoudCloud, a Web 1.0 company that took $350 million in funding during the Web 1.0 boom.

AOL acquired TradeDoubler for $900 Million

AOL has acquired Sweden-based TradeDoubler, a performance marketing company, for €695 million in cash, which was about US$900 million at the time the deal took place.

Microsoft acquired Tellme Networks for reportedly $800 Million

Microsoft Corp. has announced it will acquire Tellme Networks, Inc., a leading provider of voice services for everyday life, including nationwide directory assistance, enterprise customer service and voice-enabled mobile search. Although the price remains undisclosed, it is estimated to be upwards of $800 million.

Disney acquires Club Penguin for up to $700 Million

Club Penguin, a social network/virtual world that has been on the market for some time, was acquired by The Walt Disney Company. An earlier deal with Sony fell apart over the Club Penguin’s policy of donating a substantial portion of profits to charity. The company, which launched in October 2005, has 700,000 current paid subscribers and 12 million activated users, primarily in the U.S. and Canada.The WSJ says the purchase price is $350 million in cash. Disney could pay up to another $350 million if certain performance targets are reached over the next couple of years, until 2009.

Yahoo acquired RightMedia for $680 Million in cash and stock

Yahoo has acquired the 80% of advertising network RightMedia that it doesn’t already own for $680 million in cash and Yahoo stock. Yahoo previously bought 20% of the company in a $45 million Series B round of funding announced in October 2006. The company has raised over $50 million to date.

WPP Acquires 24/7 Real Media for $649 Million

Online advertising services firm 24/7 Real Media was acquired by the WPP group for $649 million. The old time internet advertising firm had its origins serving ads for Yahoo! and Netscape in 1994 and was formerly founded the following year as Real Media. After numerous acquisitions it took its current name and grew to have 20 offices in 12 countries, serving over 200 billion advertising impressions every month.

Google bought the web security company Postini for $625M

Google has acquired e-mail security company Postini for $625 million, a move intended to attract more large businesses to Google Apps. More than 1,000 small businesses and universities currently use Google Apps, but ‘there has been a significant amount of interest from large businesses,’ Dave Girouard, vice president and general manager of Google Enterprise, said in a Monday teleconference.

EchoStar Acquires Sling Media for $380 Million

EchoStar Communications Corporation, the parent company for DISH Network, has announced its agreement to acquire Sling Media, creator of the Sling suite, which lets you do things like control your television shows at any time, from their computers or mobile phones, or record and watch TV on your PC or Windows-based mobile phone. The acquisition is for $380 million.

ValueClick acquired comparison shopping operator MeziMedia for up to $352 Million

ValueClick has acquired MeziMedia for up to $352 million, in a deal consisting of $100 million in upfront in cash, with an additional sum of up to $252 million to be paid depending on MeziMedia’s revenue and earnings performance through to 2009.

Yahoo Acquires Zimbra For $350 Million in Cash

Yahoo has acquired the open source online/offline office suite Zimbra. The price: $350 million, in cash, confirmed. Zimbra gained wide exposure at the 2005 Web 2.0 Conference. Recently they has also launched an offline functionality.

Business.com Sells for $350 Million

Business.com has closed another chapter in its long journey from a $7.5 million domain name bought on a hope and a prayer, selling to RH Donnelley for $350 million (WSJ reporting up to $360 million). RH Donnelley beat out Dow Jones and the New York Times during the bidding.

AOL acquired online advertising company Quigo for $350 Million

AOL announced plans to buy Quigo and its services for matching ads to the content of Web pages. The acquisition follows AOL’s September purchase of Tacoda, a leader in behavioral-targeting technology, and comes as AOL tries to boost its online advertising revenue to offset declines in Internet access subscriptions.

eBay bought StubHub For $310 Million

eBay has acquired the San Francisco-based StubHub for $285 million plus the cash on StubHub’s books, which is about $25 million.

Yahoo! Agreed to acquire BlueLithium for approximately $300 Million in cash

Yahoo! Inc. has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire BlueLithium, one of the largest and fastest growing online global ad networks that offers an array of direct response products and capabilities for advertisers and publishers. Under the terms of the agreement, Yahoo! will acquire BlueLithium for approximately $300 million in cash.

CBS to buy social network Last.fm for $280 Million

CBS is known to have paid $280 million for the Last.fm site, which caters to music fans. CBS Corp bought the popular social networking website organized around musical tastes for $280 million, combining a traditional broadcast giant with an early leader in online radio. Last.fm, claims more than 15 million monthly users, including more than 4 million in the U.S.

AOL Acquired Tacoda, a behavior targeting advertising company for reportedly $275 Million

AOL has announced the acquisition of New York-based Tacoda earlier this year, a behavior targeting advertising company that was founded in 2001. The deal size, which we haven’t had confirmed, is likely far smaller than Microsoft’s $6 billion for aQuantive , Yahoo’s $680 million for RightMedia , or Google’s $3.1 billion for DoubleClick. The price might be low enough that it isn’t being disclosed at all.Jack Myers Media Business Report has confirmed the $275 million price tag

MySpace to acquire Photobucket For $250 Million

MySpace has acquired Photobucket for $250 million in cash. There is also an earn-out for up to an additional $50 million. Oddly enough MySapce has dropped Photobucket off its social networking platform. The dispute that led to the Photobucket videos being blocked on MySpace letter also led to acquisition discussions, and the block was removed. They have hired Lehman Brothers to help sell the company. They were looking for $300 million or more, but may have had few bidders other than MySpace.

Hitwise Acquired by Experian for $240M

Hitwise, the company that performs analysis of log files from 25 million worldwide ISP accounts to provide relative market share graphs for web properties, has been acquired by Experian for $240 million.

$200+ Million for Fandango

Comcast paid $200 million or perhaps a bit more. Fandango revenue is said to be in the $50m/year range, split roughly evenly between ticket sales and advertising. Wachovia Securities analyst Jeff Wlodarczak estimated the multiple-system operator paid $200 million for Fandango, whose backers include seven of the 10 largest U.S. movie exhibitors.

Intuit Acquires Homestead for $170 Million

Small business website creation service Homestead, started out in the web 1.0 era, announced tonight that it has been acquired by Intuit for $170m. In addition to Intuit’s personal and small business accounting software, and the company’s partnership with Google to integrate services like Maps listing and AdSense buys, Intuit customers will now presumably be able to put up websites quickly and easily with Homestead. [more]

Naspers Acquired Polish based IM Company Gadu Gadu (chit-chat) for reportedly $155 Million

South Africa’s biggest media group Naspers Ltd offered to buy all outstanding shares in Polish Internet firm Gadu Gadu S.A. ( GADU.WA ), a Polish IM service, for 23.50 zlotys ($8.77) per share. The current majority shareholder of Gadu Gadu has agreed to tender its 55% shareholding in the public tender offer. The price is $155M. [more

Studivz, a Germany Facebook clone, went for $132 Million

German Facebook clone Studivz has been sold to one of its investors, Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH, a German publishing group, for €100 million (about $132 million). Other investors of Studivz include the Samwer brothers, founders of ringtone company Jamba (sold for €270M) and Alando (sold to eBay for €43M in 1999).

Feedburner goes to Google for $100 Million

Feedburner was acquired by Google for around $100 million. The deal is all cash and mostly upfront, according to sources, although the founders will be locked in for a couple of years.

Answers.com has purchased Dictionary.com for reportedly $100 Million

Question and answer reference site Answers.com has acquired Dictionary.com’s parent company, Lexico Publishing, for $100 million in cash. Lexico can really serve all your lexical needs because it also owns Thesaurus.com and Reference.com.

Yahoo Acquires Rivals for $100 Million

Yahoo has acquired college sports site Rivals.com, reported the Associated Press in a story earlier this year. The price is not being disclosed, although the rumor is that the deal was closed for around $100 million. Rumors of talks first surfaced in April 2007.

UGO Acquired By Hearst for reportedly $100 Million

Hearst has acquired New-York based UGO. Forbes reported the price should be around $100 million. UGO is a popular new media site that was founded in 1997 and, according to Forbes, is generating around $30 million/year in revenue. UGO media is yet another web 1.0 veteran and survivor.

Fotolog Acquired by Hi Media, French Ad Network for $90 Million
 
New York-based Fotolog been acquired by Hi Media, a Paris-based interactive media company for roughly $90 million – a combination of cash and stock, according to well-placed sources. 

Online Backup Startup Mozy Acquired By EMC For $76 Million

Online storage startup Mozy, headquartered in Utah, has been acquired by EMC Corporation, a public storage company with a nearly $40 billion market cap. EMC paid $76 million for the company, according to two sources close to the deal.

eBay Acquiring StumbleUpon for $75 Million

The startup StumbleUpon has been rumored to be in acquisition discussions since at least last November (2006). The small company had reportedly talks with Google, AOL and eBay as potential suitors. At the end of the day the start-up got acquired by eBay. The price was $75 million, which is symbolic with the fact the site had only 1.5m unique visitors per month at the time the deal took place. The company was rumored to be cash-positive.

General Atlantic Has Acquired Domain Name Pioneer Network Solutions

General Atlantic has acquired Network Solutions from Najafi Companies. Network Solutions was founded decades ago in 1973 and had a monopoly on domain name registration for years which led Verisign to pay billions to buy it. Najafi Companies purchased NS from VeriSign in November 2003 for just $100M. No financial terms were disclosed for the deal and no price tag is publicly available, although we believe it is way over $100M, but NS made our list due to its mythical role for the Internet’s development. That deal is symbolic for the Internet. 

MSNBC made its first acquisition in its 11-year history, acquired Newsvine

In a recent deal the citizen journalism startup Newsvine has been acquired by MSNBC, the Microsoft/NBC joint venture, for an undisclosed sum. Newsvine will continue operating independently, just as it has been since launching in March of 2006. The acquired company also indicated there would be little change in the features of the site.  We think the price tag for the Newsvine is anywhere in the $50/$75M range, but this is not confirmed. [more]

Google to buy Adscape for $23 Million

After some rumors of a deal earlier this year, Google has expanded its advertising reach by moving into video game advertising with their $23 million acquisition of Adscape.

Disney buys Chinese mobile content provider Enorbus for around $20 Million

Disney has bought Chinese mobile gaming company Enorbus , for around $20 million, MocoNews.net has learned. Financial backers in the company included Carlyle and Qualcomm Ventures.

BBC Worldwide Acquires Lonely Planet

BBC Worldwide, the international arm of BBC, has acquired Lonely Planet, the Australia-based travel information group. The amount of the deal was not disclosed, but Lonely Planet founders Tony and Maureen Wheeler get to keep a 25% share in the company. We truly believe this deal is in the $100M range, but since no confirmation was found on Web and therefore we cannot put a price tag for the sake of the list. Even though a global brand their site is getting just 4M unique visitors per month.

AOL Acquires ADTECH AG

AOL has acquired a controlling interest in ADTECH AG, a leading international online ad-serving company based in Frankfurt, Germany. The acquisition provides AOL with an advanced ad-serving platform that includes an array of ad management and delivery applications enabling website publishers to manage traffic and report on their online advertising campaigns. No details about the acquisition price were found on Web but we would suspect a large-scale deal and rank it very high. 

Amazon Acquires dpreview.com

Amazon have announced the acquisition of the digital camera information and review site dpreview.com. UK based dpreview.com was founded in 1998 by Phil Askey as a site that publishes “unbiased reviews and original content regarding the latest in digital cameras. Dpreview.com has in excess of 7 million unique viewers monthly. The value of the deal was not disclosed but we believe the purchase price should be in the $100M range (not confirmed).

HP Acquired Tabblo

HP announced the acquisition of Cambridge, Massachusetts based Photo printing site Tabblo this morning. The price was not disclosed.

eBay Gets Stake in Turkish Auction Market

eBay announced yesterday that it has acquired a minority stake in Turkish-based GittiGidiyor.com, an online marketplace structured in a similar manner to eBay. GittiGidiyor reportedly has more than 400,000 listings and 17 million users, which is a considerable percentage of the Turkish population. With the stake in GittiGidiyor, eBay now has the opportunity to enter the Turkish market via a system that’s already similar to theirs in functionality and purpose. Istanbul-based GittiGidiyor.com was founded in 2000. GittiGidiyor is Turkish for Going, Going, Gone. Terms of the deals were not found publicly available. Looking at the size of the Turkish site and the buying habits and history of eBay, the price should be considerably high, at least for the region.

Microsoft Acquiring ScreenTonic for Mobile Ad Platform

Microsoft is acquiring ScreenTonic, a local-based ads delivery platform for mobile devices, for an undisclosed amount. Paris-based ScreenTonic was founded in 2001, and has created the Stamp platform to deliver text or banner links on portals, text message ads and mobile web page ads, that vary depending on the recipients’ geographical location in a so called geo-targeting approach. 

~~~

Fashion Fix for Facebook users

Developing Facebook applications and taping into their millions of registered users appears to be yet another marketing instrument employed even sometimes by brick and mortar retailers like the UK’s TopShop.  

The new Topshop Fashion Fix which has recently been launched on Facebook allows users to see the newest must-have pieces for the season from their Facebook profile. Facebook users can view items in detail and stamp a “love it or lose it” comment for their friends to see. Pieces can be shared and passed to other Facebook friends to talk about the latest styles, plan outfits or simply arrange shopping trips.

The Topshop Fashion Fix application was created and produced by a digital agency called Poke, and developed in collaboration with the Topshop internal web team.

Poke is a six year old creative agency for the digital age. Poke has built a reputation for engaging, challenging design communications work with a select group of high profile clients. Poke is the only UK-based agency to have been awarded the digital industry’s equivalent of the ‘Oscars’ – New York’s Webby Awards – three years in a row (2005-2007). Poke opened a US office in New York in April of this year.

Poke has worked with Topshop since 2003 conceiving and delivering a number of successful online projects, including the design of their e-commerce store, the Kate Moss collection and the Topshop video podcast.

The launch of the Kate Moss fashion line for TopShop accounted for a surge in traffic to parent company Arcadia Group’s website, which enjoyed a 17% boost in unique users.

As an added incentive for Facebookers eager to try out the new application, during the run-up to Christmas, Fashion Fix users can play a weekly game of “Snap” on Facebook to win anything from 10%-off at Topshop.com to a year’s supply of shoes.

With thousands of groups already networking about Topshop and swapping ideas about what they’re about to buy, this application ensures that they’re the first to see what’s new in-store. The Fashion Fixes’ sharing and commenting features also allows them to have lots of fun in the process – and makes sure that their friends know exactly what they’re planning to wear at the weekend.
More about Topshop.com

With daily updates and over 3000 different items to shop at any one time, Topshop.com is one of the UK’s biggest online retailers with an exciting and dynamic site to reflect the brand’s image as an innovative fashion authority.

Topshop.com is Topshop’s second biggest store and a leader in the digital market place. Communicating to it’s customers via the weekly ‘Style Notes’ email (a magazine-like reminder of news with 350,000 subscribers), two RSS feeds (the ‘Style Blog’ and ‘Daily Fix’), their cute desktop ‘widget’ and video podcasts (including 9 London Fashion Week catwalk movies published within 24 hours of the shows), Topshop engages with their young and dynamic audience in ways that they understand.

Topshop was established in 1964 within a Sheffield department store called Peter Robinson, however, a year later, the same store allocated Topshop space in the basement of its Oxford Circus store in London. In 1974, Topshop was taken out of Peter Robinson and set up as a standalone retailer.

When Jane Shepherdson became Brand Director in 1999 her vision was to establish the brand as a fashion authority. Since then, Topshop has gone onto become one of fashion’s major success stories with over 309 fashion stores nationwide, including the world’s largest fashion store at Oxford Circus, which attracts over 200,000 shoppers each week!

In September 2005 Topshop showed its in-house design collection Unique (created in 2001) as part of the official London Fashion Week schedule and subsequently forged exclusive partnerships with international boutiques ‘Opening Ceremony’ in New York, ‘Colette’ in Paris and Tokyo’s ’10 Corso Como Comme des Garcons’. During summer 2006 ‘Barneys’ in the US began retailing Topshop’s best selling Baxter jean in its flagship stores.

Plans to expand internationally are also underway with stores in Moscow and St. Petersburg due to open in 2008.

The story was initially picked up from EPR Network.

More

http://www.topshop.com/
http://apps.facebook.com/topshopfashionfix/
http://www.topshopfashionfix.com/
http://express-press-release.com/44/Topshop%20has%20now%20launched%20on%20Facebook.php
http://www.topshop.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/TopCategoriesDisplay?storeId=12556&catalogId=19551
http://express-press-release.com/44/docs/Topshop%20has%20now%20launched%20on%20Facebook.doc
http://express-press-release.com/44/pdf/Topshop%20has%20now%20launched%20on%20Facebook.pdf
http://express-press-release.com/44/print/Topshop%20has%20now%20launched%20on%20Facebook.html
http://www.topshoppodcast.com/
http://blog.express-press-release.com/2007/12/12/topshop-has-now-launched-on-facebook/
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2007/jun/27/digitalmedia.facebook
http://express-press-release.com/Industries/Apparel-Fashion-press-releases.php
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattiasgunneras/2057868910/

Naspers acquires yet another European company – Tradus

Simply put a fallen dot com star with eBay ambitious, once worth more than 2B British pound (around $4B) and collapsed down to £62M at the end of 2000 is now being basically said rescued by a South African media company that is spending money at breakneck pace. The offered price is £946M (more than $1.8B) based on just £60M annual revenues.

A month after Naspers acquired the Polish chat site Gadu Gadu for roughly $155M the media company from RSA is now making a major acquisition step in Europe. Naspers bid to buy the European online auction site Tradus for £946M. Naspers valued Tradus at nearly $2 Billion, which is 26.7% higher than the average share price during Naspers’ most recent half-year.

Some analysts compared the Naspers deal with the deal of eBay for Skype in 2005 – in other words overpaying for the purpose of its own expansion. With this deal Naspers said it is going to switch focus from operations on only ad-supported Web businesses to transaction-based e-commerce services.

In focusing on Internet expansion, Naspers has established a new company called MIH Internet, which operates under its Myriad International Holdings division. This makes sense for MIH to handle the acquisition of Tradus, as MIH already dabbles in emerging markets on a global scale, including M-Web and Tencent, among others.

Tradus, previously known as QXL Ricardo, has backed an £18-a-share offer from Africa’s largest media company, the owner of the Daily Sun newspaper and the pay-TV firm Multichoice, as part of its strategy for Internet expansion. The deal represents a 19 per cent premium on Tradus’s price of 1,510p a share, when the company first announced it was in takeover discussions on 6 November, and comes amid a renewed interest in online companies.

Tradus conducts online auctions across 12 European countries, mostly Eastern Europe. It was founded by a former Financial Times journalist, Tim Jackson, in 1997 and, after listing on the stock market in 1999, its value soared to £2 Billion in early 2000 on hopes it would become the European eBay. But just eight months later, it was worth only £62M as Internet stocks crashed.

Cobus Stofberg, Naspers’ chief executive, said: “The operations of the Naspers Group and Tradus complement each other perfectly, and significant advantages can be obtained by aligning Tradus’s businesses with Naspers’ other internet investments in Central and Eastern Europe.”

The deal, due to be completed by March, requires approval from Tradus shareholders, but the board has recommended investors accept the offer. Shares in the FTSE 250-listed group rose 12 per cent to £18.15.

Tradus was the subject of a failed takeover battle in 2005 between members of its management team and the consortium Florissant, backed by the UK private equity firm Novator.

Tradus’s pre-tax profits rose 28 per cent to £7.7M on revenues of £30.6M in the six months to the end of September.

An extremely positive deal for Tradus’ shareholders, the purchase is less obviously so for Naspers’. It earns three-quarters of its revenues in South Africa but is expanding at breakneck pace in China, Russia and other emerging markets. Tradus will complement its geographic reach, with a market-leading business in Poland. The lack, though, of operational overlap means no synergies are expected. And there must be suspicion that Naspers is overly keen to spend its $1.5Billion cash pile, two-thirds of which is offshore and must be spent before the year end or repatriated.

Admittedly, others share its optimism over Tradus’ prospects. Citi, even in these difficult days, is providing £700M of bridging finance. But Naspers’ shareholders seem warier this time around. The shares fell slightly after the deal was announced, suggesting a fear that the days of overpaying for internet companies with uncertain future revenues are not necessarily over.

In September 2007 QXL Ricardo (Tradus) has bought a 30 percent stake in Molotok.ru, an online auction site in Russia, for a relatively small sum of $1.5 million. The remaining 70 percent of the site is be owned by Russian portal Mail.ru

The company was known to be in deal talks, and there had been speculation that eBay and Alibaba.com were both interested in acquiring the Eastern Europe-focused site.

More about Tradus

Tradus provides online consumer trading platforms and related internet services in eleven European countries. These platforms connect buyers and sellers 24 hours a day, seven days a week in a safe, efficient, and entertaining environment. A wide selection of merchandise and services is available on our sites, ranging from consumer electronics and collectibles to clothing, lifestyle products, cars, car parts and real estate.

Tradus plc, formerly QXL Ricardo PLC, was established in September 1997 and its shares have been quoted on the London Stock Exchange since October 1999. Although the corporate headquarters are in London, most of the operations are located in our key countries across Europe, with the majority of staff being based in Poznan, Poland where our largest business is based. At the end of March 2007 there were over 400 employees in the Group, most of whom are dedicated customer service staff ensuring that the needs of our growing member base are met.

About Naspers

Naspers is a multinational media company with principal operations in electronic media (including pay-television, internet and instant-messaging subscriber platforms and the provision of related technologies) and print media (including the publishing, distribution and printing of magazines, newspapers and books, and the provision of private education services). Naspers’ most significant operations are located in South Africa, where it generates approximately 76.4% of its revenues, with other operations located elsewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa, Greece, Cyprus, the Netherlands, the United States, Thailand and China. Naspers creates media content, builds brand names around it, and manages the platforms distributing the content. Naspers delivers its content in a variety of forms and through a variety of channels, including television platforms, internet services, newspapers, magazines and books. Many of Naspers’ businesses hold leading market positions, and Naspers capitalises on these strong positions when expanding into new markets.

As a side note early this year Naspers announced voluntary delisting from NASDAQ and instead Naspers Limited Received Listing Approval for London Stock Exchange. Naspers is listed on the stock exchange in Johannesburg and up to date stock quote can be found over here: http://stocks.us.reuters.com/stocks/overview.asp?symbol=NPNJn.J

With the current acquisition Naspers is hoping to expand its instant messaging services beyond what it already owns in the sector. Naspers operates local IM/online services in Russia (Mail.ru), China (Tencent) and Thailand (M-Web/Sanook).

The company is headquartered in Cape Town, RSA. 

More

http://www.qxl.com/
http://www.qxl.com/investor_centre
http://www.naspers.com/English/home.asp
http://news.independent.co.uk/business/news/article3263632.ece
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/1/da97695c-ad4b-11dc-9386-0000779fd2ac.html
http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-tradus-auction-site-agrees-2-billion-takeover-by-south-africas-naspers/
http://mashable.com/2007/12/18/naspers-acquires-tradus/
http://www.paidcontent.co.uk/entry/419-online-auctioneer-qxl-ricardo-to-sell-to-naspers-for-up-to-800-report/
http://www.paidcontent.co.uk/entry/eurpean-company-qxl-ricardo-takes-30-percent-stake-in-russian-auction-site
http://web2innovations.com/money/2007/12/23/naspers-acquired-polish-based-im-company-gadu-gadu-chit-chat/
http://www.telecom.paper.nl/site/news_ta.asp?type=abstract&id=196998&nr=
http://www.tradus.com/news-item?item=56416543336883
 http://biz.yahoo.com/ic/56/56312.html

Oddly WalMart jumps into the search engine marketing business, joins Kenshoo & Fathomonline

In a recent announcement the company seems to be entering the SEM (search engine marketing) business and are offering services to users willing to advertise on Google AdWords through AdSense.

An interesting questions popped up into my mind, does that involve any strategic agreement with Google for reselling their AdWords packages across the country in the brick and mortar stores of Sam’s Club. Does Google have initiated that strategy or it is an idea of Sam’s Club management to offer more services to their more than 47 million members nationwide. Is AdWords becoming a product that you can find in your local stores, groceries and the mall next to you? 

Does that move affect the most recent Sequoia funding for the SEM Firm Kenshoo? Or it legitimates the market and makes the SEM services wider known and popular. Here one can question the Internet experience of an old brick and mortar business like Sam’s Club but no one should underestimate the huge distribution channel Sam’s Club represents for … Google. Nonetheless, retailing SEM services is something new on the market and under no doubt the Sam’s Club’s target users are quite different from the target clients Kenshoo and Fathom Online are running after, which leaves space for all companies involved. 

The best guess is that with AdSense program, WalMart wants to help newbie wares sellers on the internet with their online advertising needs. Your Sam’s branded advertisement can be yours for as low as $100 a month. On the other hand $100 for SEM services on Google is an amount not enough to build and run a decent marketing campaign.

More About Sam’s Club

Sam’s Club is a membership-only warehouse club owned and operated by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Becoming a Member at Sam’s Club can either be done online or at your nearest Sam’s Club location.

There are three types of Memberships to choose from:

  • Advantage Membership, which offers two Membership cards for you and a household member.
  • Business Membership, which is available at a slightly lower cost and provides a company Membership card plus two personal Membership cards.
  • PLUS Membership (either Advantage PLUS or Business PLUS), which provides extra benefits above and beyond either of the other Membership types.

You can also shop online at any time for home delivery or Click ‘n’ Pull(r).
 
Sam’s Club Memberships provide the opportunity to save on a complete line of products such as quality jewelry, designer goods, sunglasses, crystal and collectibles, high end electronics, floral, apparel, organic foods and choice meats.

In addition to affordable luxuries and exciting treasure hunt items, Members also enjoy services including — healthcare, business, financial and personal.  Examples include health insurance, web site development and maintenance, cost effective merchant credit card processing services and auto, boat & RV and travel programs.

A typical Sam’s Club stands between 110,000 and 130,000 square feet. Most locations feature Pharmacy, Tire and Battery, Photo, Bakery, Optical, Café and Floral departments. The Sam’s Club division of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. had total sales revenue of US$37.1 billion for fiscal year ending 31 January 2005. Sam’s primary competitor is Costco Wholesale.

The first Sam’s Club opened in April 1983 in Midwest City, Oklahoma in the United States.

Sam’s Club is named after Sam Walton. To purchase items from Sam’s Club, one must purchase a membership. Many Sam’s Club customers are small businesses that wish to offer customers a limited selection of food without the expense of having it delivered.

In 1993, Wal-Mart acquired PACE Membership Warehouse and converted many (but not all) PACE locations into Sam’s Clubs.

Even though membership is required to purchase at Sam’s Club, a one time day pass may be obtained from many Wal-Mart newspaper ads. A 10% surcharge is added to the prices for non-members. No membership (with no surcharge) is required for Optical, Pharmacy, or Cafe (as available per club), or to purchase alcohol. However the surcharge can be applied to a membership (which is currently $35 for Business members, $40 for Advantage members, and $100 for the Plus membership). All memberships are 100% refundable at any time for any reason, even on the date that it is to be renewed.

Renewal of memberships can be done via online, through the mail, in-club at the Membership Services desk, any cash register, and also at the new ATM/Membership kiosks.

The latest flagship store opening as of September 13, 2007 was in Fayetteville, Arkansas. It is the second largest Sam’s Club store; its largest is located in Utica, Michigan, with over 145,000 sq. ft. of retail space.

Sam’s Club ranks second in sales volume among warehouse clubs behind Costco Wholesale, despite the fact that Sam’s has more retail locations.

After Costco’s announcement on its change of return policy for consumer electronics (now within 90 days) beginning on February 26, 2007, Sam’s Club finds itself now to be tied with Nordstrom for having best, most liberal return/refund policy in the retail business.

In 2006, Wal-Mart acquired The Central American Retail Holding Company (CARHO), which operates ClubCo stores, similar in concept to Sam’s Club, although with a smaller footprint.

In September 24, 2006, Sam’s Club received a new logo. The new logo has a nice font and features a green and blue diamond inside the big blue diamond, found above the word ‘Sam’s’.

Sam’s Club’s previous slogan was “We Are In Business For Small Business” until 2006, Sam’s Club now has no slogan after the redesign of the new logo. The decision to remove the slogan comes as Sam’s Club attempts to remove itself from serving just small businesses and open up to more individual customers. It is possible that the new slogan is “Enjoy the Possibilities” but it’s probably used for Christmas.

There has been much recent talk about a possible sale or spin-off of Sam’s Club from parent company Wal-Mart. If this were to happen, Sam’s Club would either be owned by another company, or be an independent standalone retailer. Two recent Motley Fool articles explore the implications for both divisions. At Wal-Mart’s 2007 annual shareholder’s meeting, management said that Sam’s Club is not for sale, although they didn’t say they are not considering a spin-off.

In related news Wal-Mart shut its movie download service on December 21st. The video service was launched this February with all the major film studios providing content. Taking that web failure into consideration it is no wonder Walmart is now trying to stick with a proven leader on the Internet — Google.

More

http://www.samsclub.com/
http://samsbiz.com/
http://samsbiz.com/page/1dmiu/Online_Advertising.html
http://pressroom.samsclub.com/content/?id=3&atg=524
http://blog.karlribas.com/2007/12/new-at-wal-mart-sem-services.htm
http://mashable.com/2007/12/27/walmart-introduces-search-engine-marketing/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam’s_Club
http://www.walmartstores.com/GlobalWMStoresWeb/navigate.do?catg=306
http://www.hoovers.com/costco-wholesale/–ID__17060–/free-co-factsheet.xhtml
http://www.fool.com/investing/value/2007/05/07/spinoff-in-bentonville-revisited.aspx
http://www.fool.com/investing/value/2007/04/17/a-spinoff-in-bentonville.aspx?vstest=search_042607_linkdefault
http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/bus/stories/060207dnbuswalmart.36d6e74.html
http://web2innovations.com/money/2007/12/18/sequoia-funding-for-search-engine-marketing-sem-firm-kenshoo/
http://www.samsclub.com.mx/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/27/wal-mart-shuts-movie-download-service-offers-sem-services-instead/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/02/06/walmart-officially-enters-movie-download-war/

Behavioral recommendation service for shoppers raises $10 Million, market heats up

A couple of months ago MyBuys raised $10 Million in Series B funding aimed to help online merchants sell more by utilizing behavioral targeting techniques. The company provides software to ecommerce stores that allows them to serve up ads and products based on your behavior – for example, tracking what you search for and showing related items during a future visit. Lightspeed participated in this latest round, which was led by Palomar Ventures.

“The funding further validates MyBuys’ unmatched targeting ability using our proprietary, patent pending technology,” said Robert E. Cell, CEO of MyBuys. “This investment will enable us to significantly increase our market momentum.”

MyBuys, which introduced MyBuys 3.0 earlier this year, delivers the industry’s first 1:1 behavioral recommendation service that targets consumers both while they are shopping and in follow up emails. MyBuys presents products a consumer is truly interested in buying, which enables online retailers to achieve extraordinary 300% higher revenue per customer interaction.

“As pressure grows to maintain high growth rates in ecommerce, MyBuys’ service will become a competitive requirement for online retailers,” said Amanda Reed, partner at Palomar Ventures. “With this financing, MyBuys will have an opportunity to further its ability to provide the greatest revenue lift for online retailers.”

“With its innovative approach to targeting and optimization, MyBuys offers the most effective solution to this burgeoning market,” said Peter Nieh, partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners. “MyBuys can significantly improve the profitability of online merchants by enabling them to more fully monetize the website traffic that they have spent substantial dollars to generate.”

These services are used by online retailers to show you potentially interesting merchandise, by tracking what you have already been looking at or buying before. If you do a lot of online shopping for designer jeans, a service like MyBuys may recommend especially popular or discounted designer jeans to you.

The company makes money by receiving a cut of revenue from the retailer when users purchase suggested products.

Mybuys is already being used in retail sites such as camera site Ritz Interactive, urban style site Karmaloop, and fabric site Hancock Fabrics. The company also said it builds behavioral profiles on each consumer.

More about MyBuys

MyBuys is a 1:1 behavioral recommendation service for online merchants. MyBuys builds deep behavioral profiles on each consumer resulting in the highest converting recommendations. By reaching consumers on a client’s web site, through email, and in RSS feeds, retailers realize more repeat visits, increased conversions, and larger order sizes. MyBuys generates revenues at 300% the rate of traditional marketing programs, with no upfront costs and a pay for performance model, so customers realize immediate results with no risk.

MyBuys 1:1 behavioral product recommendation service is a truly comprehensive service proven to deliver real results such as:

• Increasing conversion rates with relevant, personal recommendations

• Re-activating former customers by targeting their interests

• Increasing basket size through relevant, personal cross sells and up sells

• Recovering lost sales due to shopping cart abandonment or items out of stock

• Increasing overall lifetime customer value by driving your customers to your site more often to make more purchases

MyBuys is based in Redwood City, California and is managed by Robert Cell (CEO), Mark Weiler (VP of Engineering), and Paul Rosenblum (VP of Marketing).

Management team

Robert Cell
Chief Executive Officer

Robert Cell is an expert in retail, advertising, and consumer products. Most recently, Robert was Chief Executive Officer of AdSpace Networks, where he led the company through rapid growth and strategic restructuring to focus on becoming a mall advertising network while also growing, and subsequently, divesting its CoolSign video merchandising enterprise business. Under his leadership as Chief Operating Officer at Blue Martini Software, a pioneer in e-commerce solutions, the market capitalization tripled, license revenue doubled, and net results increased by $40M. Prior to Blue Martini, Robert served as the Vice President of Corporate Development for Kellogg Company and as General Manager for its Lender’s Bagel Division. In addition to leading Kellogg’s external growth and acquisitions, he led the turnaround of the Lender’s Bagel Division, tripled its value, and divested the unit for nearly $300M. Preceding his tenure with the Kellogg Company, he was Managing Director and co-founder of Deloitte and Touche LLP’s Midwest Corporate Finance practice responsible for advising the region’s clients on acquisitions and joint ventures. Robert holds an MBA with High Distinction and a BSE from the University of Michigan. 
 
Paul Rosenblum
Vice President of Products and Strategy

Paul Rosenblum has over 20 years of experience defining the strategic direction of successful products for the retail industry. Prior to MyBuys, Paul was Entrepreneur in Residence at Redpoint Ventures. Earlier, he was responsible for product strategy at Pay By Touch, the leading biometric payment system for retailers. Previously, he served as Vice President of Marketing at Movaris, where he repositioned the company as an early leader in Sarbanes-Oxley compliance systems for Fortune 1000 companies. As Vice President of Product Marketing at Blue Martini Software, he was responsible for defining retail eMerchandising. Prior to that, he was Senior Director of Product Marketing at Siebel Systems where he was responsible for the definition of Siebel’s flagship sales effectiveness products and launched Siebel’s first vertical market solutions. Paul holds an SB in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Lisa Joy Rosner
Vice President of Marketing

Lisa Joy Rosner has over 16 years of experience launching, rebranding, and driving revenue for high-tech companies in Silicon Valley. Lisa joined the MyBuys team from BroadVision Inc., an early innovator of personalized e-commerce solutions. During her four-year tenure as Vice President, Worldwide Marketing, she re-launched the company, introduced three new products into the global market, and was part of the team that returned the company to profitability. Previously, as Vice President, Marketing, at DecisionPoint Applications, a financial performance management software provider, she transformed the company brand, aligned sales and marketing processes and added industry-leading companies to the customer base. Prior to that, Lisa launched Market-Touch Corporation where she pioneered and evangelized a new category in CRM – Sales Effectiveness. She has also served in senior business development, marketing and education management roles at Brio Technology, SGI, and Oracle Corporation. Lisa graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Maryland with a BA in English Literature. 

Mark Weiler
Vice President of Engineering

Mark Weiler provides the technical and visionary leadership to MyBuys Engineering team. He brings over 16 years of experience in building high quality solutions in the areas of Web Applications, Enterprise Applications, Infrastructure, and Systems software. Most recently, Mark was Vice President Engineering at NorthStar Systems Inc., where he was part of the founding team and was responsible for first 8 versions of the company’s leading Wealth Management and Asset Management solutions. Prior to joining NorthStar, he managed the teams responsible for building B2B connectors and EAI adapters for Extricity (acquired by Peregrine) whose Alliance B2B product line was used to automate supply chains including RosettaNet processes for several major electronics vendors. Before Extricity/Peregrine, he developed a number of products at Microsoft, notably Exchange Server, MAPI, and LAN Manager and he was a key member of the Exchange X.400 Message Transfer Agent on the first four releases of Exchange Server. Mark holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara. 
 
Len Eschweiler
Vice President, Sales

Len Eschweiler has over 13 years of sales leadership experience in the e-commerce sector. Prior to joining MyBuys, he was an early team member of MarketLive, an industry leading e-commerce platform and solutions provider where he served as Vice President, Sales and Marketing, and most recently headed up European expansion efforts as Vice President of Strategy, Europe. Previously, he was Director of Sales and Marketing for IMS-Net, a start-up focused on serving the needs of commodity trading via an Internet based trading marketplace. Before entering the software arena, he founded one of the first online music distribution sites for unsigned artists. Len studied computer science at Colorado State University and holds a BS in Finance with a minor in Music from Sonoma State University. 

Shaun Schooley
Vice President, Client Success

Shaun Schooley is charged with ensuring MyBuys clients receive the most efficient deployment and the highest performing implementation of the MyBuys service. He brings over 20 years of senior management experience in marketing. Most recently, he was Vice President of Strategic Marketing at Naehas, a web-based marketing solution to create customized and personalized web pages, where he maintained major client relationships and led follow-up programs for Fortune 500 firms. Prior to Naehas, Shaun spent over 19 years in financial services and technology marketing with companies such as Charles Schwab, Amazon.com, and Wells Fargo. Shaun is a frequent industry speaker at 1:1 marketing events sponsored by the DMA, U.S. Postal Service, and the National Center for Database Marketers. He holds several patents in electronic payment technologies and he holds an undergraduate degree from Hastings College and an MBA from Arizona State University.

More about Lightspeed Venture Partners

Lightspeed Venture Partners is a technology-focused venture capital firm that manages $1.3 billion of capital commitments. We closed Lightspeed VII, a $480 million fund, at the end of 2005. Over the past two decades, our partners have invested in more than 120 companies, many of which have gone on to become leaders in their respective industries. Our team invests in the U.S. and internationally from offices in Menlo Park, China, India, and Israel.

We are proud to have partnered with many exceptional management teams. Our investment professionals have contributed domain expertise and operational experience to help build high-growth, market-leading companies such as Blue Nile (NILE), Brocade (BRCD), Ciena (CIEN), DoubleClick (DCLK), Informatica (INFA), Kiva Software (acquired by AOL), Openwave (OPWV), Quantum Effect Devices (acquired by PMCS), Sirocco (acquired by SCMR), and Waveset (acquired by SUNW). Some of our recent exits include the top-performing tech IPO of 2006, Riverbed Technology (RVBD), and the top enterprise software acquisition of 2006, Virsa Systems (acquired by SAP).

Lightspeed is known to be all about ecommerce. We are only seeing the “tip of the iceberg” in e-commerce, the firm’s top blogger Jeremy Liew wrote in June — he thinks there will be “many more” e-commerce companies that grow to make more than $500 million in revenue by using behavioral targeting and other methods of matching purchasers with products they’re most likely to buy.

More about Palomar Ventures

Palomar Ventures was launched in 1999 by veteran venture capitalists to focus on early stage information technology companies that demonstrate the potential for exceptional growth and market leadership. The founding principle of Palomar is teamwork; we work closely with our portfolio companies to assist them in achieving their objectives. The partners at Palomar have contributed their strategic insight, network of corporate relationships, and recruiting skills to assist in building nearly 50 public companies.

Palomar Ventures is currently investing Palomar III, a $225 million fund, bringing total capital under management to over $500 million. A typical investment involves $2 million to $5 million in capital, and we prefer to act as a lead or co-lead investor early in the process of value formation. We believe that beginning early with a company is the best way to utilize our experience in building value rapidly by focusing the company on a small number of key milestones.

The market

Behavioral advertising and behavioral targeting are both lately becoming yet another hot area in the online marketing space, with Tacoda recently acquired by AOL for an estimated amount of $200-300 million. Start ups are trying to analyze every move you do online and try to hook you up with the right ads, products and services. MyBuys is making no exception it tracks user behavior to help online retailers make better recommendations.

Competition in the field is staggering and some of the names include StyleFeeder relying on community recommendations and raised $1M so far, Wunderloop, Baynote, Matchmine, which also raised $10M recently and not last Aggregate Knowledge, which once used to be a hot start-up in the Silicon Valley.

The demand among online retailers for better behavioral tracking is so high right now that MyBuys and its startup competitors are all able to gather this “low hanging fruit” –Lightspeed Venture Partner’s Peter Nieh explains further.

The market shakeout in behavioral targeting will resemble search engines startup in the 1990’s, Nieh, a Lightspeed Venture Partner, thinks: Many companies were able to search the web, but Google ended up doing it way better than the others, and captured the largest portion of the market.

More

http://www.mybuys.com/
http://www.marketwire.com/mw/release.do?id=778293&sourceType=1
http://mashable.com/2007/10/08/mybuys-funding/
http://www.pehub.com/article/articledetail.php?articlepostid=8085 (requires subscription)
http://venturebeat.com/2007/10/08/mybuys-behavioral-targeting-for-online-retailers-raises-10-million/
http://pulse2.com/2007/10/08/mybuys-raises-10-million-series-b/
http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/stories/2007/10/08/daily7.html?ana=from_rss
http://www.lightspeedvp.com/
http://www.palomarventures.com/