Archive for November 7, 2008

Web 2.0 Summit: Al Gore: What Now?

Posted in Digital Media, Multimedia, News with tags , , , , , , on November 7, 2008 by Dave Liu

Former Vice President Al Gore spoke at the Web 2.0 Summit as the final presenter.  He gave some inspirational comments regarding President-elect Obama and then proceeded to give his discourse on the state of the world’s environmental situation.  I’ve attached his speech below for your viewing pleasure.

Web 2.0 Summit: Lance Armstrong

Posted in Digital Media, Multimedia, News with tags , , , on November 7, 2008 by Dave Liu

Lance gave one of his few interviews at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, California.  He gave a truly entertaining talk about his comeback, politics and cancer.  Enjoy!

Digital Media VC

Posted in Deals, Digital Media, News with tags , , , , on November 7, 2008 by Dave Liu

RockYou Raised $17 Million In Series C — San Mateo, Calif.-based developer of social widgets, has raised $17 million in additional Series C funding from Softbank and SK Telecom Ventures. The company previously held a $35 million first close on the round led by DCM. Other company backers include Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Permuto Raised $6.03 Million In Series A
— Palo Alto, Calif.-based stealth startup focused on helping users promote their websites or applications, has raised $6.03 million in Series A funding, according to a regulatory filing. Backers include Onset Ventures and Rembrandt Venture Partners. The company is led by Shaukat Shamim, former co-founder and CTO of Rhythm NewMedia who currently serves as a venture advisor with Rembrandt.

Digital Media M&A

Posted in Deals, Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2008 by Dave Liu

Reunion.com And Wink Merge To Create Entirely New Breed Of People Search — Reunion.com, a leading people search service, and Wink, the world’s largest people search engine, have merged to form the most comprehensive online platform for people looking to find each other on the Web. An entirely new brand and Web site will launch early next year to cement the unique positioning of this joint company as the leader in people search, providing users with access to a combined total of more than 700 million profiles that span social networks, online communities, and other proprietary sources. The recent explosion of social networks has created a multitude of options for people to establish online identities — making it that much more challenging to find people you’re looking for. The new joint company will leverage its wide array of cutting-edge technologies to search the entire Web and across networks to help you find everyone — no matter what sites they are using. “This deal is the next step in our company’s evolution to bring a groundbreaking mix of people search services to consumers across multiple online networks,” said Jeffrey Tinsley, founder and chief executive officer of Reunion.com. “With five billion searches across the Web each month, the people search vertical is bigger than any other. Our goal is to create the definitive people search service that creates a single source for connecting with people. In the coming months, we’ll work closely with Wink to combine our company strengths, integrate best-of-breed technologies, and offer our users the most robust service available to find people.”Wink’s superior search results integrate a number of online sources and cover the world’s largest social networks, including MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Friendster, Bebo, Live Spaces, Yahoo!360, Xanga, and Twitter. Wink’s experienced team of search engineers, who came from Yahoo!, Inktomi, Excite, and Google, have developed proprietary algorithms and indexing techniques to capture the full text and structure of public profiles across the Web to make them quickly and easily searchable. Source: mergermarket.

Razorfish Buys Spanish Digital Ad Shop Wysiwyg; Lays Off 40 In New York — Looking to expand its European presence, Microsoft’s Razorfish has bought Spanish digital ad shop Wysiwyg. Terms were not disclosed. But as Razorfish was adding elsewhere, it was subtracting in the U.S., as Bloomberg reported that the company laid off 40 staffers in New York this week. The job cuts represent about 2 percent of its total workforce, which stretches across the U.S., China, Australia, France, Germany, Japan and the U.K. Razorfish CEO Clark Kokich told Bloomberg that the Seattle-based company sees a bit of “softness” in the online ad arena. Nevertheless, growth hasn’t gone away Kokich said, it’s just happening at a reduced pace.

Social Net Ad Firm Adknowledge Buys Facebook Analytics Company Adonomics — Adknowledge, a behavioral targeter focusing on social nets, has acquired Facebook analytics firm Adonomics, AllFacebook reported (via Venturebeat). Adonomics’ data will be merged into Cubics, an online ad network for social net apps which Adknowledge bought last December. Initially, the company sought to attract investors and developers interested in reselling Facebook apps. Cubics originally was centered on Facebook, but eventually began working creating services for Bebo and other OpenSocial networks as well.

Amdocs Buys VC-Backed Changingworlds — Dublin-based Changingworlds, a mobile phone services firm that counts Vodafone and Sprint among its customers, said late on Wednesday it had been bought by New York-listed Amdocs (DOX.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) for $60 million. The deal is likely to trigger a multi-million dollar windfall for co-founders Barry Smyth, who is still its chief scientist, and Paul Cotter, who spun the company out of University College Dublin in 1999. Amdocs will also pay $11.6 million to Irish private equity group TVC Holdings, which invested seed capital in Changingworlds in 2000. That figure, which could grow to $16.4 million, is 3.7 times TVC’s original investment.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2008 by Dave Liu

Obama Begins Transition; Advisors Are Named For Tech And Communications Issues — A day after the election, names are already being floated as to who will likely be on the president-elect’s transition team, including advisors on issues involving technology and communications. Barack Obama is expected to appoint Washington, D.C. lawyer Henry Rivera to head the team focused on the FCC, reports Multichannel News, quoting informed sources. Rivera, who is a Democrat, is a partner at Wiley, Rein, and served at the FCC from 1981 to 1985. Current FCC chairman Kevin Martin also worked at Wiley. Rivera declined to comment.

IAC: Which Emerging Businesses Will It Sell or Close? — In the Q3 earnings call, Barry Diller dropped multiple hints about closing down or selling some of what IAC (NSDQ: IACI) calls its “emerging businesses”. And he said that it would happen within the next month. On the call: “No businesses in the emerging sectors are carrying any big investments. It is an area we not going to emphasize in the future: we think that is ditsy focusing. We don’t think emerging businesses are the tomorrow of our business. Some of the things within our emerging businesses: we will sell off and shut down, and we will do that next month.” The emerging unit is heavily skewed towards its digital media companies, some bought and some incubated within the company. This also includes its IAC Programming unit headed by Michael Jackson, and where MTVN (NYSE: VIA) vet Nicholas Lehman joined as COO last year. Tina Brown’s newly launched DailyBeast site is part of the programming unit.

Time Warner Q3 Profit Dips On Flat Rev; $100M Charge For Time Cuts; AOL Ads Drop 6 Percent — Time Warner managed to keep its net income from slipping much during Q3 but, with revenue “essentially flat” and a $100-125 million charge for Time Inc. layoffs on the way, followed other media companies by trimming its 2008 outlook today. Between New Line, Time Inc and some other restructuring, the company says the total charges by the end of 2008 could top $300 million. (That would seem to suggest the major cuts are done and that AOL won’t take a big hit in Q4 but this economy doesn’t offer much in the way of guarantees.).

Murdoch: WSJ.com Making Over $100 Million From Ads, ‘Probably’ $100 Million In Subscription Fees — WSJ.com is making more than $200 million from advertising and subscription, News Corp Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch told analysts during the company’s earnings call. He said the site is making “probably $100 million in subscriptions and certainly over $100 million in advertising.” This time last year, Murdoch was still testing waters on freeing WSJ.com; now safe to say he’s a subscription evangelist. WSJ.com is the “one web site … people are happy to pay for.” Print subscribers—and probably online, although he didn’t specify—are looking at rate increases over the next three years. Those increases will take a while to show up in revenues. Murdoch: “It takes time to work its way through. Advertising is not down a lot. It is certainly a bit below what we budgeted. … Today and tomorrow it’s on target.” He said to expect “even more emphasis than normal on international expansion” and that the big hope in Asia “certainly is putting our web site on mobile.”

FIM Revenues Soft As News Corp. Falls 22% — News Corp. fell 22% in Wednesday trading after the media empire cut its 2009 forecast primarily due to shrinking ad sales at its broadcasting and publishing properties. The traditional media giant finished the day down $3.02 to $12.88, posting its biggest one-day drop since December 1990. News Corp.’s third quarter earnings certainly weren’t boosted much by revenue growth from Fox Interactive Media, the online division which includes the social network MySpace. The division saw a revenue increase of 17%. In call with reporters, News Corp. executives conceded that MySpace display advertising was “softening.”

Disney Disappoints With 14 Percent Profit Drop; Revs Up 6 Percent — The Walt Disney Company has been playing the role of Wall Street darling but not today. The company still turned a profit but not what analysts were expecting—although it did beat revenue estimates with $9.4 billion for the quarter ending Sept. 27, up 6 percent from $8.9 billion year over year. The profit of $760 million was down 14 percent from $883 million in FYQ407, for earnings per share of $.40, down from $.44 last year. Excluding special items, it would have been $.43 per share. The company was hit by the fall of Lehman, taking a $91 million bad debt charge. Via Marketwatch, the FactSet Research analyst estimate was a profit of 49 cents a share on sales of $9.31 billion. We’ll have more color as the call gets underway but the overarching theme so far matches the rest of the media universe as the economic downtown takes its toll.

Ballmer: Yahoo Buyout Is Not Gonna Happen — Sorry, Jerry, a buyout’s not gonna happen. That’s the message MSFT CEO Steve Ballmer made clear at a business luncheon in Sydney, Reuters says. “We made an offer, we made another offer … We moved on,” Ballmer said. “We tried at one point to do a partnership around search … and that didn’t work either, and we moved on and they moved on. We are not interested in going back and re-looking at an acquisition. I don’t know why they would be either, frankly.” But he did leave the door open for a potential search deal, something some analysts say Yahoo will have to consider if it wants to stay alive despite the demise of its search partnership with Google. Ballmer’s definitive statement came after Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang suggested that MSFT buy Yahoo during the Web 2.0 conference yesterday.

NBA Launches International Video Subscription Via Broadband — The latest NBA expansion covers two growth areas for the league: international and broadband. NBA League Pass Broadband International is now available in 19 countries. The subscription includes access to 40-plus live games a week with play-by-play in English and VOD for 24 hours after they air. Some live games will be blacked out. Pay options include full season ($85 through Nov. 11; $100 after), monthly and daily. The international version follows a new U.S. option with NBA League Pass Broadband; before this season, broadband packages were available only as an extension part of the cable or satellite out-of-market package. Speaking of promos, EA NBA Live is sponsoring a fr*ee preview of the U.S. broadband service through Nov. 11.