Archive for August, 2013

Tesla’s Zero-to-$20 Billion Speed Has Even Musk Shaking His Head

August 29, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

August has been a month of milestones for electric-car maker Tesla Motors. Last week, its Model S sedan was rated the safest car on the road today by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This week, Tesla’s soaring shares — which have charted a 371 percent gain this year — pushed the company’s market cap beyond the $20 billion mark. That’s a third of Ford’s current valuation. An extraordinary achievement for Tesla, an automaker that has only been around a tenth as long, though founder Elon Musk seems a bit uncomfortable with it. Asked last week by CNBC about the recent run-up in Tesla shares, Musk said he was wary about the high expectations the market is placing on the company. “I actually think … the market is being very generous,” Musk said . “And they’re obviously giving us a lot of credit for future execution. So we’ll do our best to honor the faith the market has placed in us. … I really feel like the valuation we have right now is more than we have any right we have to deserve, honestly. … We need to make sure we really knock the ball out of the park over the coming years.”

Read More

Russian Cinema: Searching for Homegrown Hits

August 29, 2013  |  Variety  |  No Comments

While the Russian box office has been exploding over the past few years, some see growth in different terms. The Russian market is still at an embryonic stage, in the sense that it was still evolving from an industry dependent on state aid to one shaped by the entrepreneurial skills of independent producers, says Alexander... Read more

Read More

Xiaomi’s Bin Lin on Hiring Hugo Barra, International Expansion and Selling 100,000 Phones in 90 Seconds

August 29, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

It’s still the case that many people haven’t heard of Xiaomi, but that’s changing fast. The Chinese phone maker has been on a tear, selling seven million phones last year and on pace to sell 15 million devices or more this year . The company recently made some headlines when it reached a reported $10 billion valuation . And, of course, it is back in the news this week after AllThingsD broke the story that the company had nabbed Hugo Barra , a Google VP and top Android executive. The company has historically focused on the China market , though it has branched out to Hong Kong and Taiwan and is considering further expansion. Barra will be a key part of that, Xiaomi co-founder Bin Lin said in a phone interview on Thursday. “He has a keen understanding of the product itself, what features work globally,” Lin said. Lin, who previously worked at Google, said he has known Barra since 2008 — shortly after he joined Google. The two have been collaborating more closely since Xiaomi phones hit the market in 2011. “From our perspective, it is a great addition to the team,” Lin said. It was only this year that Xiaomi began selling outside mainland China, but Lin said that with Barra’s help, the company hopes to expand to other countries late this year or early next year. “We are trying,” Lin said. Lin noted that, with Taiwan’s third-largest carrier, Xiaomi’s Mi-2 handset is the third best-selling phone model, behind the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4. In China, Xiaomi recently introduced a lower-cost model, known as “Red Rice,” that sells for 799 Chinese yuan (or $130, including the country’s value added tax).

Read More

Box Names Former Windows Head Sinofsky as Adviser

August 29, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Box, the fast-growing enterprise cloud-computing company, said today that it had named Steven Sinofsky, the former head of Microsoft’s Windows business, as an adviser. The announcement came in a corporate blog post from CEO Aaron Levie . Sinofsky left Microsoft in November, and earlier this month joined the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz as a board partner.

Read More

Can Salesforce Keep Its Cloud Business Growing?

August 29, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Salesforce.com, the poster child of the software-as-a-service revolution, will be reporting its quarterly results after the markets close today, and it’s a bit of a head-scratcher about what to expect. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect the company to report non-GAAP earnings of seven cents per share on sales of about $940 million, and they’d like to see guidance for another seven cents on sales of a little more than $1 billion for the quarter ending in October. A lot has happened at Salesforce during the past three months. In June, it dropped $2.5 billion for the email marketing firm ExactTarget, which is its biggest acquisition to date, eclipsing even its huge deal for Buddy Media from last year. Secondly, CEO Marc Benioff has mended fences with Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. On June 27, they held a rare joint conference call at which they explained their newfound bromance over cloud computing. The main point, they said at the time, is that they have a lot of shared customers who want their respective applications to work together. So now Salesforce’s primary customer relationship management application is designed to work with Oracle’s human resources and financial apps. In return, Salesforce is using Oracle’s Exadata hardware and basing its technology on Oracle databases. Finally, there’s some lingering concern about Japan. Recall that the government of Japan is now Salesforce’s biggest customer. (It used to be Hewlett-Packard .) If last quarter is any indication, with Japan’s yen gaining strength against the U.S. dollar , Salesforce is likely to take a hit on the currency exchange. These currency headwinds caused some troubles last quarter, and ate into the company’s sales by about $18 million . That, combined with guidance that disappointed the Street, caused Salesforce shares to take a bit of a bath and fall by more than five percent the next day. The fundamental story at Salesforce hasn’t changed, though it is now seeking to grow in lots of areas outside it primary application base. Sales grew last year by 34 percent, but expenses grew by nearly 37 percent. Benioff has long argued that the transition to the cloud is happening now, so now is the time to invest aggressively and take as much business away from traditional software companies — like Oracle, SAP and Microsoft — in as many lines of business as possible. Hence the ExactTarget deal.

Read More

Android Microconsole GameStick Planned for September 30 Worldwide Release

August 29, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

GameStick , an Android-based gaming microconsole made by PlayJam that plugs into a TV’s HDMI port, will be released on Sept. 30, according to its Amazon and GameStop pages. Liliputing was first to blog about the release dates. The GameStick raised $647,658 on Kickstarter earlier this year — more than six times its original goal — but shipments to backers were delayed beyond the originally expected April 2013 window. According to a post on the GameStick blog, Kickstarter backers should receive their units by mid-September at the latest.

Read More

Universal Sets Release Date for James Brown Film ‘Get On Up’

August 29, 2013  |  Variety  |  No Comments

Universal has scheduled James Brown pic “Get On Up” for Friday Oct. 17, 2014. Pic stars “42″ thesp Chadwick Boseman as the iconic soul singer. “The Help” helmer Tate Taylor will direct the film, which tells the life story of the man many called the Godfather of Soul. Pic follows Brown from his impoverished childhood... Read more

Read More

Patrick Fischer, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Creativity Media

Patrick_Fischer
August 29, 2013  |  EngageLondon  |  No Comments

Patrick has a diverse background in film finance, production and post-production. After graduating from the University of Westminster, Patrick began his career as in house Producer at the Gumball 3000 Rally. During his two-year tenure, Patrick produced two feature films; ‘Love Live Long’, helmed by Academy Award nominated director Mike Figgis and ‘3000 Miles’ featuring skateboarder Tony Hawk and Bam Margera of MTV’s Jackass. In 2007 Patrick left Gumball to set up the indie production company Red Sparrow, which went on to produce the Australian horror hit ‘Slaughtered’ and the UK thriller ‘Psychosis’ for Lionsgate. While producing at Red Sparrow, Patrick consulted on

Read More

Privacy Advocate Blasts Government-Hosted Privacy Group

August 29, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Jeff Chester, Washington's most vocal and relentless privacy advocate, has had enough with the multi stakeholder process hosted by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. In a 34-page report released Thursday, Chester, the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, blasts the NTIA's yearlong effort to further the Administration's proposed consumer privacy bill of rights for "failing on all counts." The CDD's report, delivered to the White House and broadly distributed, was timed to coincide with the NTIA's meeting in the afternoon to review their work to date and go over the "lessons learned" from the past year. The multi stakeholder group was created by the Commerce Department last July and put under the NTIA. After a year of meetings, the group didn't have a comprehensive "code," but it did agree, albeit loosely, to test a short form notice code of conduct and privacy dashboard designed to bring more transparency for mobile apps.

Read More

“Healthy Tension” Emerging Inside PayPal as It Looks to Reverse Poor Customer-Service Reputation

August 29, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

PayPal says it’s finally serious about addressing some of its biggest customer-service issues, which its president admits the eBay unit has at times “become known for.” But can a company that hasn’t been known to wow any of its customer groups — business owners, consumers and developers — now start excelling at servicing all three? “It’s hard, yes, it’s hard,” PayPal President David Marcus said in an interview on Tuesday. “You have to have a group solely focused on consumer problems, one focused on merchant problems, and one on developer problems. We have a healthy tension there because it’s a culture change for the company.” Since Marcus took the reins in March of last year, PayPal has made a list of the 30 top issues it needed to rectify. So far, 80 percent of those have been addressed, he said. The fixes are aimed at issues ranging from improving the password-recovery process to putting a system in place that is working hard not to penalize legitimate sellers in charge-back disputes with shady buyers. “We’ve tweaked our models to catch more bad guys and way fewer good guys,” Marcus wrote in a blog post published today. “Hundreds of thousands of customers who may have experienced holds last year based on our policies are no longer impacted.” The company said it has also started absorbing $2.5 million a year in losses related to disputes between buyers and sellers over claims of counterfeit, low-priced goods. In these instances, the company won’t pull money from a seller’s account — giving them “the benefit of doubt,” — but won’t penalize a buyer, either. The result? PayPal says it has experienced 40 million fewer customer issues this year compared to last. Sounds like a great start. But, as Marcus well knows, a tainted reputation is not cleansed overnight. Or even in a year.

Read More