Articles of the Day


MySpace Banks On ‘Hypertargeting,’ But Plain Targeted Ads Continue To Suffice — Although MySpace continues to maintain that its hypertargeting solution will ultimately lead to higher revenues, significant hurdles remain. A day before the Fox Interactive Media unit’s parent News Corp (NYSE: NWS). releases its Q2 earnings, WSJ outlines the challenges to greater ad spending on MySpace. While FIM has touted the importance of hypertargeting, executives are taking care not to talk it up too much. Keeping investors in mind, the company often highlights its $900 million, three-year deal with Google (NSDQ: GOOG) for featuring sponsored links on MySpace. And ads that take over the site’s home page are also a source of value. Executives also argue that the hypertargeting program is beyond being able to charge high ad rates. Placing the emphasis on the long-term benefits for advertisers who use the program over time, by offering broader insights into consumers’ offline behavior beyond the basic targeting on the site.

Lycos Europe Freefalling En Route To Sell-Off — Another Lycos Europe earnings update, another terrible showing. The once-mighty portal, a separate company from Lycos US, swung to a big EUR 9.8 million ($15.2 million) loss in the half-year to June, from a EUR 48.7 million ($75.8 million) profit a year ago, after revenues collapsed from EUR 41.2 million ($64.1 million) to EUR 33.3 million ($51.8 million). Again, we have the now-familiar pledge the company ”will mainly focus on the product offensive in order to stabilise the traffic”, and, like most the of recent updates, the focus is on Lycos iQ – a clone of Yahoo Answers, which itself is pretty dominant on Lycos’ European turf – as well as behavioral advertising and German shopping guide Decido.

With No IPO On Horizon, Facebook And LinkedIn Let Employees Sell Some Shares Early — Employees of social networking giants Facebook and LinkedIn aren’t likely to get any liquidity event (IPO, sale) any time soon. By this point some employees would be understandably anxious to cash in. At Facebook, there have been a few ex-employees selling shares on the private market, though current employees are enjoined from selling. At VentureBeat, Eric Eldon offers separate reports, saying the two companies have recently announced plans to let employees sell some shares. Facebook employees will be able to sell 20 percent of their vested shares at a $4 billion valuation, according to the report. LinkedIn will let employees sell some shares at $500 million (half of what the company valued itself at after its latest $53 million round). No details on how the share sales would be transacted at either company—it’s not clear whether they could sell on an “open” market, or if there will be some rules about who can buy. Again, with no near-term IPO plans, it makes sense that both would find ways for their employees to cash in without having to leave the companies.

Friendster Closes $20 Million Round; Focuses On Asia Now; New CEO — Friendster has closed its new round of funding, in progress for most of this year, and it is a big one: it has raised $20 million in a new round, and the pioneer is now shifting its focus, wisely, to where it is strongest: in Asia. The round was led by IDG Ventures, which has a lot of experience investing in Asian countries, and included previous investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Benchmark Capital. Also, the company is appointing a new CEO, a position vacant for almost two years: Richard Kimber, previously the head of South Asian operations and business partnerships for Google (NSDQ: GOOG), will become its new CEO. The business head till now, former president Kent Lindstrom, has now become SVP of corporate development.

Nielsen Business Media and Hollywood Reporter: Finally For Sale? — That’s been the speculation for a long time now, and Sharon Waxman, the former NYT reporter, says that Hollywood Reporter and the other 41 trade papers in Nielsen Business Media division is up for sale, citing “two solid sources.” If true, this means that both the major Hollywood trades are on the block, with Variety (as part of Reed Business Information) being in the middle of a sale process as well. THR’s revenues have declined from a $20 million EBITDA to $9 million, and may drop as low as $6 million in the coming year, according to Sharon. Compare this to Variety, which is doing about $100 million in revenues, though not sure of the profits. THR has been cutting positions of late, and retrenched as much as one-third of its 135 strong staff.

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