Posts Tagged ‘business’

Steve Ballmer on Why Buying Microsoft’s Biggest Phone Partner Makes Sense

September 3, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Given that Nokia was already putting all its smartphone eggs in the Windows basket, it’s a logical question to ask how Microsoft believes it will gain an advantage by purchasing Nokia’s phone business . Naturally, CEO Steve Ballmer thinks the business will be stronger. In an interview with AllThingsD , Ballmer laid out three reasons why things will be different once Microsoft owns Nokia’s phone business. First, Ballmer said, that as close as the two companies were, there were legal and logistical barriers to total cooperation. Each company had to temper its investment based on separate business needs. “As long as we were on a model with two different companies… there was always some kind of a boundary along which it was hard to innovate from a hardware/software perspective,” Ballmer said. “It doesn’t mean we didn’t do it but we know we can improve our agility.” Second, Ballmer noted that each company was separately trying to build its own brand–a duplicative effort that diffused impact and wasted money. “Just think about the Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 1020 and you will that know we can make simpler clearer messages to the market.” Ballmer said, noting that Nokia accounts for 80 percent of all Windows Phones (though Microsoft still hopes others will continue to make it even after Microsoft takes over from Nokia.) Finally, Ballmer said that as two companies, Nokia and Microsoft had to make different choices about where and how much to invest. “We know, as we scale, we need to invest behind this business,” Ballmer said. “It simplifies the business decision making and thinking having the economics be more unified.” Translating from business speak, buying Nokia’s phone business gives Microsoft a greater business opportunity if it can succeed. Microsoft notes in its case for why the deal makes sense that it currently gets less than $10 in revenue from each Nokia Windows Phone sold , as compared to the $40 or so in profit margins Nokia stands to make. Of course, Nokia–and soon Microsoft–also has to build the phones, manage inventory, deal with carriers, etc. Plus, there’s still that pesky challenge of growing beyond single digit market share. “We’re the No. 3 smartphone player,” Ballmer said. “We have a long way to go and we have a lot we want to do.”

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Groupon Suspends Sales Rep While It Investigates Thinly Veiled Yelp Review Threat (Update)

August 18, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

A Groupon spokesperson said on Sunday that the company was investigating whether one of its sales reps made a thinly-veiled threat to a restaurant owner to have his friends post bad reviews on Yelp and social media. In the interim, Groupon has suspended the rep, Andrew Johnston, from interacting with other merchants, Groupon spokesman Paul Taaffe wrote to AllThingsD in an email. “As you can imagine such actions are not acceptable to Groupon,” Taaffe wrote. The investigation stems from a Facebook post by one of the owners of Sauce, a San Francisco restaurant, which included what the owner said was an email exchange between he and Johnston. The alleged email from Johnston, is time-stamped from Friday: Hi Trip! I sincerely appreciate you hanging up on me. As a resident of San Francisco for over 25 years, I have a huge network of friends (ages 25-40) that all are extremely active on Yelp as well as other social media. I will gladly let them know how you treated me as well as my feelings about the people who run Sauce. Go Giants! Andy The email response from the restaurant owner began this way: “You must be new to cold calling, you might want to develop a thicker skin, or work for a less despised company.” In it, the owner went on to say that his establishment wants nothing to do with Groupon “since our last, horrific, experience with your company.” Since Friday, six five-star reviews have appeared on Yelp’s Sauce page, along with two one-star reviews. ( Update 3:05 pm ET : Trip Hosley, the business owner involved in the exchange with the Groupon rep, responded to AllThingsD . In a long email, Hosley says he was abrupt with the Groupon rep, but “didn’t insult or threaten him in any way or raise my voice, I simply took control of my own time back from an unwanted interruption.” Hosley’s main point and concern is that small business owners still often have a tough time fighting against fake online reviews. The issue to me is, how many others has this happened to? And what did (or can) they do? Did they have a way to fight back? Because even with a business account there does not seem to be a fast way for a small business to combat this type of threat and action by a disgruntled sales rep and see immediate action taken by the larger company (in this case either by Groupon or Yelp) in time to stop the damage. In this instance, I do not blame yelp at all, they are just a vehicle. But it does highlight a vulnerability in the Social media system, if you will, where great damage can be inflicted very quickly causing a business owner to feel powerless and trapped. I’ve emailed Yelp for comment. ( Update 5:57 pm ET : Yelp spokesperson Vince Sollitto wrote in an email: “Business owners and consumers can flag reviews for our User Ops team that they believe may violate our terms of service and of course business owners can respond publicly to any review with their message or comment

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The Future of the Desktop — Rendering the Operating System Irrelevant?

August 8, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Xerox Star There are few more enduring manifestations of user interface technology than that of the Graphical User Interface Desktop. Pioneered by engineers at Xerox PARC, refined by Steve Jobs and Apple and brought to masses and ingrained into our daily lives by Microsoft Windows, it is almost the first thing that comes to mind when we think of using a computer. The natural feel of choosing icons with a gesture, as opposed to memorizing command lines, somewhat demystified computers. This made them accessible to a whole new group of users, and did away with the need for intensive training and education. The desktop is perhaps the single most important development in productivity in the history of computing. Whether you use Windows, OSX, or perhaps one of the several flavors of Linux, the same basic principles apply. Point and click; or more frequently now, touch and tap — what you see is what you get. But despite their similarity in appearance, underneath it all, each of these operating systems is inherently different. Applications that run across all are few and far between, and as soon as one goes beyond the most basic of features, a great deal of learning has to take place before one can get the most out of all the features available to them across the operating system environments. Personal computing has seldom been in a more fragmented state. The rise of the mobile device has seen the operating system landscape become even more disjointed, and the longer lifespan of non-mobile devices means that even with Windows devices there are four separate versions currently supported by Microsoft. No one could possibly be expected to know all of the shortcuts and features of every iteration of every different operating system that they may encounter in their professional and personal lives. This lack of consistency and familiarity could impede the productivity that the desktop is trying to promote. One thing that is consistent across most modern operating systems is the ability to run a sophisticated Internet browser. HTML5 is fast becoming the standard for delivering Web applications and the possibilities it gives for Web development are endless. Web applications are something that most of us are familiar with, and perhaps their greatest asset is being able to deliver a consistent user experience regardless of what device or operating system you happen to be using it on. With more and more of our essential applications, files and data being hosted online, a Web-based desktop is the next logical progression from this. A SaaS-delivered GUI with quick access to HTML5 applications and data that can be accessed from any browser for the first time removes the desktop from the OS for the average user. Regardless of what device the user logs onto the Web desktop with, it will be instantly familiar to them. Different screen sizes and touch controls as opposed to using a mouse may make slight differences, but the same features and functions will be available to all users

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How to Spend $25 Billion the Jeff Bezos Way: Newspapers, Rockets and 3-D Printers

August 5, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

While media and tech circles are still digesting news of Jeff Bezos’s $250 million purchase of the Washington Post , the Amazon founder and CEO has been spreading his gilded wings outside of Amazon for several years. With a reported net worth of $25.2 billion , Bezos has some pocket change at his disposal. And he has used some of it to fund Bezos Expeditions , his private investment firm. It’s the investment vehicle through which Bezos has funded the recovery of engines from Apollo 11 . But it has also been how he has placed bets on promising startups in a variety of industries. The firm’s investments have included bets on big-name disruptors, such as Twitter, Uber, Airbnb and Makerbot, as well as a cash infusion in digital media company Business Insider . Among Bezos Expeditions’ less sexy investments:, an online exchange for manufacturers and suppliers; Domo, a business intelligence software startup from Omniture co-founder Josh James; and Qliance, a medical clinic startup. If Bezos ends up breathing new life — and growth — into the Washington Post, it may be the most impressive of them all.

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"Luminary" Access Site IfOnly Officially Launches With $3M in Funding From Tech Luminaries

August 3, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

IfOnly , a charitable marketplace for experiences with the top “luminaries” in sports, cooking and entertainment, is officially launching its site, after collecting $3 million in funding from a group of, well , tech luminaries. The San Francisco startup has raised the money from a spate of well-known Silicon Valley players, including Marc Benioff, Yuri Milner, Nirav Tolia, Dave Goldberg, Mark Pincus, Jeremy Stoppelman, Owen Van Natta and Hosain Rahman, among others. The concept behind the business, which has been in beta until now, is to offer the general public the ability to rub shoulders with big names — everything from a dinner with former San Francisco 49ers legendary quarterback Joe Montana, to having super-chef Tyler Florence design your kitchen or to getting singer Brunos Mars to sign a guitar. Or how about spending $116,000 for this : “After a night in The Penthouse Suites at the Bellagio, you and three guests will meet Andre Agassi and Stefanie Graf for a private tennis clinic at their local training courts, followed by lunch. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to gain insight into your game from two tennis legends. Later that evening, relive stories from the afternoon over dinner at the elegant Michael Mina restaurant. You will leave the next morning with personalized and hand-signed memorabilia to help commemorate this special occasion. Perfect for diehard tennis fans.” Perfect for extraordinarily rich diehard tennis fan, actually. But founder and longtime Web entrepreneur Trevor Traina noted that some things offered on IfOnly can be gotten for as low as $35 (that would be a hand-signed guitar pick from Third Eye Blind’s Stephan Jenkins). “We are offering things that cannot be gotten anywhere else and only focus on people who are at the top of their craft,” said Traina. “While a lot of well-known people have gotten comfortable with getting close to fans via social media, it’s largely been one direction and what we are moving toward is bi-directional.” Essentially, it’s literally delivering the A-List to the masses. Unlike online charity auction sites, where celebrity-affiliated items like this have become available, IfOnly prices are fixed, with about 70 percent of the amount paid going to a charity, selected individually by the stars. IfOnly makes money by taking at least 10 percent of the gross.

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ABC Wraps Its Upfront Business, With Volume Down Slightly

August 1, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

ABC has closed out the last of its upfront negotiations, concluding an arduous process that began 10 weeks ago. The network stuck to its guns throughout the summer bazaar, securing CPM increases in the 7 percent to 8 percent range. Volume estimates vary, although buyers said that ABC isn’t likely to have dropped more than 5 percent. Having finished the season down 12 percent in the 18-49 demo , ABC had fewer gross ratings points to sell in this year’s upfront. Compared to its rivals, the alphabet net tends to hold onto a bit more inventory for scatter; as such, buyers estimate that ABC’s sell-out rate is in the neighborhood of 75 percent. With scatter strengthening as the year progresses, ABC could find itself in a relatively enviable position when the 2013-14 season begins. The network boasts two of the most buzzworthy new shows in the sci-fi/adventure strip Marvel’s Agents of Shield

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Time Warner Cable Boss Glenn Britt to Retire

July 25, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

The rumors have been flying around since last winter, but Time Warner Cable on Thursday finally made it official, announcing that chairman and CEO Glenn Britt would retire when his contract expires at the end of the year. Effective Jan. 1, 2014, Britt, who has served as CEO of the nation’s second-largest cable operator for the last 12 years, will be succeeded by TWC president and chief operating officer Robert Marcus. After the torch is passed, Britt will retain a seat on the company’s board of directors, in a non-executive capacity. The 64-year-old Britt was effusive in his praise of Marcus. “I love this business, but I’m ready to retire knowing Rob is ready to lead,” Britt said, by way of announcing his decision. “I have worked with Rob for more than 20 years in his various roles, and worked side by side with him for nearly eight years as a member of the TWC senior management team. He is an accomplished executive, a strong strategic decision maker, and has a deep understanding of our company, our industry and what it will take to lead TWC into the future.” Over the course of Britt’s stewardship, TWC has grown from a $6 billion division of Time Warner, Inc., to a national powerhouse with a market cap of $34.1 billion. Cable’s biggest trade organization was quick to trot out an encomium for the departing TWC chief. “Glenn Britt has been one of the cable industry’s visionary leaders for many years and his impact on the industry will be felt for decades to come,” said NCTA president and CEO Michael Powell . “Glenn has not only impressively led Time Warner Cable during a period of exciting innovation and significant change in the cable industry, but…[he] has always served with dignity and grace and he deserves the industry’s praise during the remaining months of his tenure. We wish him all the best as he looks towards retirement.” Marcus, 48, worked closely with Britt during the cable company’s split from Time Warner. He also was instrumental in TWC and Comcast’s 2006 acquisition of Adelphia’s revenue-generating assets. Upon closure of the $17.6 billion deal, Time Warner had gained approximately 3.3 million basic subscribers, while Comcast picked up 1.7 million paying customers. “I am honored to succeed Glenn when he retires at the end of the year,” Marcus said. “Time Warner Cable is a great company, and I have tremendous respect for the commitment, intellect and inspirational vision with which Glenn has led us.” The announcement comes at something of a tumultuous time for TWC, which is embroiled in a carriage scrap with CBS and being sized up for an acquisition by Liberty Media chairman John Malone. By all accounts, Britt isn’t interested in joining forces with Charter Communications, in which Liberty owns a minority stake. In fact, TWC may be looking to make some acquisitions of its own; the company reportedly has reached out to Cox Communications and Cablevision to discuss possible mergers.

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Time for More Superphone Talk from Larry Page – And Google Earnings, Too

July 18, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Will Google beat its Q2 earnings projections today? If it does, will its share price, which already hit record levels this week, cross the $1,000 mark? [Shrug]. If I knew any of that, do you think I’d be sitting here typing this stuff?* Here’s a reasonable bet, though: Larry Page will talk about about the new Moto X super phone his Motorola unit getting ready to unveil . And he will talk up its battery life, and its ability to withstand drops from great heights. Because that’s what the Google CEO has done during his last two earnings calls. Here’s Page, talking about Motorola, via his scripted remarks from the Q4 call in January: “I am excited about the business. In today’s multi screen world, the opportunities are endless.

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Breaking Down Barriers and Building Opportunity

Breaking Down Barriers and Building Opportunity

July 15, 2013  |  Blog, Do Good Better, speakers  |  No Comments

United Way of New York City has had a vision that it has carried for over 70 years - helping to break down barriers for low-income New Yorkers, while paving new opportunities for individuals and families. Solving the short-term needs of those looking to achieve a stable income, academic and educational success, and a healthy lifestyle is only a part of what the United Way works on day in and day out. The group also looks to find long-term solutions to improve the situations and lives and many that struggle to break free from poverty. Sheena Wright joined United Way of New

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Hulu Off the Market, Will Get $750 Million Cash Infusion

July 12, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Brands and agencies fearful

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