Archive for thePlatform

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2008 by Dave Liu

Yahoo Board To Meet, Consider AOL Deal — The Yahoo board is set to meet for the first time since Carl Icahn and two new board members were added. As Kara Swisher reports, there will be much to discuss, particularly the company’s stock falling to a five-year low. What can Yahoo do to boost shares? Swisher says the purchase of AOL from Time Warner looks to be Yahoo’s “most attractive option,” and that the talks are “more serious than (have) been reported.” Other problems that need to be addressed include attracting new top-level talent, reacting to the troubled economy (in which display advertising looks particularly weak), and appeasing disenchanted investors. However, Swisher that Wall Street’s recent meltdown might not weigh as heavily on the Web giant as previously thought. “In relative terms, with a strong balance sheet, the company is quite healthy compared with many firms,” she says, adding that Yahoo may become a reliable place “advertisers flee to in times of uncertainty.”

Antitrust Group’s Advice On Google-Yahoo Ad Pact: Limit Incentives For Yahoo To Run Google Ads — Given the name, it’s probably not a surprise that the American Antitrust Institute has issued a white paper (PDF) calling the Google-Yahoo ad pact “anticompetitive.” But in a glass half-full take, the group does cite some “pro-competitive” benefits to the deal as well. It also has some advice for keeping the deal intact without skirting antitrust rules. The partnership, which is being examined by the U.S. Department of Justice for potential antitrust violations, gives Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) the option of placing Google (NSDQ: GOOG) ads on its search results. The AAI, which describes itself as non-profit education, research and advocate, wants assurances that the deal won’t create “a black hole that swallows up Yahoo, despite Yahoo’s intentions to stay in business.” The AAI’s paper adds that in general, it is more than natural to be concerned about any deal between two such larger players that potentially gives the dominant firm a market share in excess of 90 percent.

Google Android Phone G1 Live: T-Mobile G1 Will Be For Sale In US Oct. 22 For $179 — T-Mobile USA announced today that customers in the U.S. will be able to pre-order the T-Mobile G1, beginning today at http://www.T-MobileG1.com. General availability will begin Oct. 22 at select T-Mobile retail stores and online in the U.S. The G1 will cost $179 with a two-year voice and data agreement. The T-Mobile G1 will also be available in the United Kingdom beginning in November, and across Europe in the first quarter of 2009. Countries include Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and the Netherlands. Data plans will start as low as $25 and go up to $35 a month for unlimited messaging and Internet browsing.

Amazon Confirms Music Store For The Google Android G1 — As rumors indicated yesterday, Amazon.com (NSDQ: AMZN) confirmed today that it will provide an Amazon MP3 music store for the T-Mobile G1, which is just a half an hour away from being unveiled at a press conference in New York. The store will allow T-Mobile G1 users to search, download, buy and play music from a catalog of 6 million DRM-free MP3 songs from all four major music labels and thousands of independent labels. But wait, don’t get too excited because as you may suspect, the tracks will have to be downloaded over a Wi-Fi connection, however, users can still browse, listen to samples and buy on the T-Mobile network. Still, this is an improvement over even Nokia’s (NYSE: NOK) highly anticipated Comes With Music service, which is expected to be a side-loading only affair. More than 1 million songs cost 89 cents, while albums are priced between $5.99 to $9.99. Engadget couldn’t have said it better when it said: “How you like them Apples, Apple.

AP Moves Online Video Network From Microsoft To thePlatform — Looking to revamp its Online Video Network, the Associated Press is handing over the running of its video player and uploading service from Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) to thePlatform, the Comcast-owned broadband and mobile video services provider. The AP didn’t offer a reason for the switch from Microsoft in its announcement. It comes just as the wire service is preparing to rollout a new video platform by December. The two-year-old OVN service sends news video to—and from—AP’s global affiliates. The move also comes as the AP finds itself battling back a rebellion from its members of its fee structure and more competition from online sites like Politico.com, which has struck deals with local newspapers to share its coverage of Washington DC as part of its new ad network.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 23, 2008 by Dave Liu

Yahoo Q2 Weak; Revenue, Income Below Estimates — Maybe the bar was still too high… Here’s the quick read on Yahoo’s just-released Q2 numbers. Revenue ex-TAC came in at $1.34 billion, up 8 percent from last year, but a little behind analyst estimates of $1.37 billion. Adjusted net income was $139 million, just shy of the $140 million analysts had been expecting. It’s also down from $163 million in the year-ago quarter. Revenue on Yahoo’s O&O network was up 14 percent to $1.01 billion, again, a little shy of the 15 percent some analysts had been anticipating. Why the miss? Not totally clear yet. CFO Blake Jorgensen touted the company’s “solid results” despite the weak economy.

Netflix Backs Off Original Content Investment; Closes Red Envelope Unit — This falls into the Casablanca category as in the police captain being “shocked” to find gambling going on at Rick’s … Netflix is closing its nascent Red Envelope Entertainment unit because it competes with the studios it relies on for its main business. Red Envelope invested in more than 100 films and had four employees who are leaving the company as a result of the closure, according to a spokesman, who said the original staff count published by Bloomberg and others was wrong. The departures include Liesl Copland, who joined as head of acquisitions in 2006.

Omnicom Group Says It’s Finally In Buying Mode — After reporting that Omnicom Group’s Q2 net income and worldwide revenue both rose 11 percent, the ad holding company’s CEO John Wren told listeners to the company’s earnings call that the company was finally ready to get serious about acquisitions. As Omnicom expects to do more deals, its rivals’ acquisitive streak has weakened their balance sheets because they “aggressively paid, in our opinion, uneconomic prices.” Therefore, they will be hard-pressed to challenge the company for the independents that are still left.

ESPN Rolls Out New Search Platform This Week; Foundation Of Forthcoming Site Redesign — ESPN.com is planning a major site revamp, but first, it wants to get search right and will then build around some of its new functions. On Thursday, the Disney-owned sports news franchise will begin beta testing its ESPN Sports Search. The platform was about a year in the making. Those with an ESPN Insider account, which includes a magazine subscription and access to special online content, will be invited to begin testing the new search features on Thursday. ESPN wouldn’t say how many “insiders” there are—only that they number in the “hundreds of thousands.” A wider beta test is planned sometime in August.

BSkyB, Universal Form JV To Launch Subscription Music Service — Pretty soon, everybody will be offering a subscription music service. Latest is UK satcaster and ISP BSkyB, 39 percent owned by News Corp. it’s secured Universal’s Total Music repertoire (which includes Amy Winehouse) for a new launch that will allow unlimited MP3 downloading and on-demand streaming for a monthly subscription in the UK and Ireland. And it’s starting a new joint venture company for the purpose, in which it will be the majority partner. Universal is becoming a shareholder.

Comcast Unit Cuts Web Deals To Handle Online Video — The Seattle-based subsidiary of Comcast, thePlatform, has reached deals to deliver video to Web sites aimed at subscribers to the high-speed Internet services of Time Warner Cable Inc., Cablevision Systems Corp. and Cox Communications Inc. Cable operators are increasingly seeking to become destinations for online video, as consumers spend more time watching television shows, movies and other clips that they download from Apple Inc.’s iTunes, Google Inc.’s YouTube and other Internet sources. ThePlatform provides a service that functions as a management system for converting TV shows into the latest online-video formats, inserting promotions from online-advertising networks and transmitting the content to distribution networks that speed up the delivery of Web video to consumers. The company earns money like a utility, charging clients an undisclosed fee for the amount of video they store online and a usage fee every time a user clicks on the clients’ videos.

AOL’s Propeller News Site Launches 2.0 Today — Propeller , AOL’s Digg-like news site, launches version 2.0 later this morning. The site sports a new design and logo and now has a mascot. But the biggest feature change is the removal of a pure Digg-like vote count. In its place is an algorithm based popularity ranking of 1-10, which takes into account “many more aspects of participation” when determining popularity.

TiVo And Amazon Team Up — TiVo will introduce a “product purchase” feature today in partnership with the Internet retailer Amazon.com. Owners of TiVo video recorders will see, in TiVo’s various onscreen menus, links to buy products like CDs, DVDs and books that guests are promoting on talk shows like “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “The Late Show With David Letterman” and “The Daily Show.”

Digital Media M&A

Posted in Deals, Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2008 by Dave Liu

Social Messaging Apps Firm BigString Buys IM Firm Buddystumble — Two companies I had not heard of before, but I guess they exist: BigString, an OTC-traded provider of social networking messaging apps, has bought out Buddystumbler, an IM-based social network that integrates all other major IM clients in an online environment…both of them are similar to the much bigger and well-known Meebo. The deal was done as an all-stock transaction, and future rev share.

Twitter Buys Micro-Blogging Search Site Summize; Reportedly $15MM Cash+Stock — Twitter announced today that it has officially acquired Summize, according to a post written by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone. All five of Summize’s engineers will move to San Francisco and take jobs at Twitter, according to the company. “This is an important step forward in the evolution of Twitter as a service and as a company,” Stone wrote. Summize will help users search Twitter and keep up to date with news real-time (which they have already enabled, as shown above and on their site)—two examples they use is keeping up to date on Mars, and what people are thinking of the new Will Smith movie. As for the details, the company says the Summize service and API will be merged with our own and integrated under the Twitter brand. To get an idea of how search works, it can be checked out at search.twitter.com. The terms of the deal were not announced, but Silicon Alley Insider is reporting that Twitter paid $15 million in cash and stock. Twitter has received a lot of criticism recently for its ability to handle all of its traffic, but as of recently seems to be making a bit of a turnaround.

Expedia Buying European Hotels Site Venere — Expedia is following its acquisition of a majority of India’s TravelGuru site by buying Venere.com, an Italy-based travel site listing about 29,000 hotels in Europe and the US, for an undisclosed amount.. All told, it means an extra 10,000 Europe, Middle East and Africa hotels for Expedia. Venere, which has offices in Rome, London and Paris, has been majority-owned by buyout house Advent since 2006, though the four founders retained stakes and still keep hold of those shares. Originally started by Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), Expedia was later acquired and spun off by IAC and is steadily building (or, rather, buying) a big footprint, also owning TripAdvisor and Hotels.com. Expedia CEO said Dara Khosrowshahi (via release): “Acquiring Venere will bring a well-known, respected European consumer brand to the Expedia portfolio.”

Merrill Reaches Deal To Sell Bloomberg Stake: Report — And it sounds like earlier details were basically correct… WSJ is reporting that Merrill has reached a deal to sell its 20 percent in financial news service Bloomberg for $4.5-$5 billion. The buyer is Bloomberg LP, which had a right of first refusal. News of an imminent deal at this prace was first reported last week. There’s no word on when the announcement will be made, but it could come as early as tomorrow, when capital-hungry Merill announces quarterly earnings to much anticipation.

Comcast-Owned thePlatform Buys Social Media Apps Firm Chirp Interactive — thePlatform, the broadband and mobile video services provider that is now part of Comcast,, has acquired assets from San Francisco-based Chirp Interactive, a provider of social media applications…some of Chirp’s employees are transitioning into the bigger company. Chirp’s standalone service will not continue, but its community and content discovery features will be integrated within thePlatform’s media publishing system. In addition, thePlatform, based in Seattle, is now expanding into Silicon Valley, including opening a branch office.

Glam Media Uber Alles: Expanding Into Germany, Buying Munich’s Codex Media — Glam Media is opening a German site with help from its backer Burda Cross Media. Glam is also getting some extra assistance from its latest acquisition, Munich-based digital marketing firm Codex Media, the company announced. Terms were not disclosed. The move is part of a wider European expansion Glam has been pursuing lately, including last month’s acquisition of London-based online ad sales rep firm firm Monetise.

Google Buys Russian Search Firm For $140 Million — Fresh from its poor second quarter earnings report, Google is aiming to boost overseas revenues through the acquisition of Russian contextual ad firm ZAO Begun. TechCrunch reports that the search giant has agreed to pay UK-based Rambler Media $140 million for the firm. Rambler owned a 50.1% stake in Begun, but agreed to by the rest of it in order to sell to Google at a profit. The UK company will net about $50 million from the deal. As part of the deal, Rambler will now use Google AdSense for its search and contextual services.