Archive for December, 2012

Notable deaths in 2012: A Timeline

December 29, 2012  |  Variety  |  No Comments

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Moovit Powers Public Transit App With the Wisdom of the Crowd

December 29, 2012  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Waze, the crowdsourced navigation app for car drivers, has been one of the breakout start-ups of the past year. Now a different company with a similar pedigree is trying to do the same thing for public transportation. Founded in 2011, Moovit makes a free crowdsourced transit app for iOS and Android that has been downloaded 400,000 times. Two months ago it added support for cities around the world, including New York, Rome and Madrid. Moovit is hardly the only transit-trip-planning app out there. There are start-ups like Embark , heavyweights like Google, as well as local apps — New York’s MTA just launched its iPhone app . But using crowdsourced data makes Moovit a bit different. Users contribute tidbits about available seats, delays, cleanliness, and support for Wi-Fi and handicapped riders. So you can use the wisdom of the crowd to avoid the crowd, as it were. And, perhaps most importantly, users contribute information back into the system about whether the time estimates were accurate. According to Moovit CEO Nir Erez, that makes the app especially useful for commuters, not just for tourists who have never taken a particular route before. Moovit doesn’t have a formal relationship with Waze, but Erez said he’s fairly confident that the crowdsourcing giant won’t come onto his turf, given that Waze founder and president Uri Levine is on the Moovit board. And Moovit is different from its Israeli start-up sibling Waze in a couple of key ways. Waze is a map-based app, and Moovit is all about time tables. And Waze’s community actually edits the maps its navigation depends on; in Moovit’s case, the underlying data comes from municipal transit agencies. But the quality of data varies by the city, Erez said. Chicago, for example, provides excellent real-time data that can easily be incorporated in trip planning. Milan provides only static schedule information, meaning that Moovit needs about 30,000 active users to be able to fill in the real-time data. And in cities like Rio de Janeiro there’s really no public transit data access, so Moovit needs even more users to build out a schedule. Like other transit apps, Moovit benefited from Apple neglecting to include built-in transit directions when it built its own Apple Maps app to replace Google Maps.

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Iconic developing ‘Preacher’s Son’

December 29, 2012  |  Variety  |  No Comments

David Talbert to write, direct crime drama

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‘Hobbit’ bests newcomers to retain top spot with $10.7 mil; pic surpasses $200 mil domestic cume

December 29, 2012  |  Variety  |  No Comments

'Django' in second with $9.7 mil; 'Les Miserables' finishes day with $9.4 mil

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Three Reasons to Watch Interest-Based Social Networks in 2013

December 29, 2012  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Leszek Glasner / Shutterstock.com Earlier this year, I wrote about the emerging trends in social and the “ Rise of Interest Based Networks .” In my blog post, I argued that social media, like traditional media before it, was a big and broad market and would support a range of offerings beyond the “big three” social networks of Facebook , LinkedIn and Twitter . I forecast that we would see a rise in more verticalized, topic specific services. Where Facebook organizes around one’s friends, or “social graph,” these new social media sites would organize around users’ interests, the “interest graph.” Interest based networks such as Pinterest , Quora , Mightybell , PandaWhale , Thumb and Fitocracy are just a few examples of companies we saw gain traction among consumers and investors in 2012. With the end of 2012 approaching, I started to assess what’s happened in the space this year and identified a few areas with the potential to reshape the social landscape. As we move into 2013, a year in which funding appears to be harder to secure, these factors will be instrumental for both start-ups and larger companies alike. First, the move to mobile has definitely affected interest-based networks. A notable shift was Pinterest’s launch on phones and tablets, but many other start-ups also made a mobile push. Fitocracy, an interest based social network oriented around fitness that was originally Web-only, launched its iPhone app earlier this year, and has seen usage on mobile surge to a huge percentage of its overall engagement and traffic. Thumb, an iPhone and Android-based social network that allows people to ask questions and get instant responses, sees extremely high user engagement through its mobile apps, to the tune of over five hours per month per monthly active user and over 1 billion total yearly responses . Users are spending lots of time engaging on social media from their mobile devices, but they are discerning and demanding. Consumers want responsive, well-designed mobile apps, and as engagement on mobile continues to grow, social services that nail their mobile experiences will reap the benefits of this momentum. Brands are looking for a piece of the action on social and mobile Second, a consistent concern over the year has been the effectiveness of advertising as a revenue driver on new social and mobile platforms. On the eve of the Facebook IPO, GM pulled back from its $10M advertising spend , and they are not the only ones who have doubted Facebook’s plan to drive revenue on mobile. More recently, after a disastrous snafu that released earnings early, Wall Street analysts dropped Google’s share price by nearly 9 percent due to concerns that its mobile ad business would not monetize as well as it did on the Web. These examples underscore a basic concern, namely, mobile and social-oriented networks are not set up to monetize as well as the Web on desktops. My own view is more optimistic. Certainly social networks will have to refine their offerings for brands

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Has Blake Krikorian Landed His Home Automation Start-Up at Apple or Google?

December 29, 2012  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

So which big company did well-known Silicon Valley entrepreneur Blake Krikorian sell his latest start-up to: Apple or Google? Or maybe Microsoft? According to several sources, the deal is not completed. That did not stop Amazon — the fourth player in this digital roundelay — from publicly saying it was earlier today after the company said Krikorian had suddenly resigned from the board of Amazon . He became a director at the online retail giant only last fall . And, indeed, the move was directly related to acquisition discussions that his id8 Group R2 Studios has been having with a number of large companies, including Apple and Google, as well as Microsoft. All are now major competitors to Amazon which is now deep into video distribution via its Kindle devices.

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Netflix to Increase CEO Hastings’s Pay for 2013

December 29, 2012  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Netflix Inc. raised Chief Executive Reed Hastings’s compensation package to $4 million for 2013, essentially doubling his pay this year. The streaming-video service said it would pay Mr. Hastings a $2 million salary with $2 million of compensation through stock options, according to a document filed late Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Read the rest of this post on the original site »

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Pinterest Sued by Former Business Partner of Early Investor

December 28, 2012  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Pinterest has arrived at that special milestone for any successful start-up: The day you get sued by someone who says the whole thing was his idea. Theodore F. Schroeder of Ocean City, N.J., filed a lawsuit yesterday in New York district court, alleging misappropriation, unjust enrichment and breach of fiduciary duty against Pinterest and its early investor Brian Cohen. “The lawsuit against Pinterest is baseless and we will fight it aggressively,” a spokesman for Pinterest said today. Update : Schroeder’s attorney, Richard Scheff of Montgomery McCracken, emailed the following comment: ”The bottom line is that it’s illegal to steal an idea for your own benefit without regard to the originator of that idea. Here, Mr. Cohen joined an existing enterprise in which Mr Schroeder had a majority interest, and then took without permission or right Mr. Schroeder’s ideas, concepts, web application and technology.” Cohen did not reply to a request for comment. Schroeder’s complaint says that he and Cohen worked together in 2007 and 2008 on a start-up venture that was an antecedent to Pinterest

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FCC Streamlines Rules for In-Flight Internet Services

December 28, 2012  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

The Federal Communications Commission adopted new rules Friday aimed at smoothing the way for companies looking to offer Internet service on airplanes. The new rules cut down on the administrative requirements for applicants and will allow the agency to process license requests 50 percent faster.

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China’s ZTE Targets iPhone

December 28, 2012  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

China’s ZTE Corp. plans to ramp up competition in the crowded U.S. smartphone market with higher-end gadgets and closer ties with carriers, aiming to become one of the world’s top three smartphone brands. The telecommunications equipment maker is starting with about a 5 percent market share in the U.S., a reputation mostly for budget phones, and fierce competition from companies such as Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co.

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