Posts Tagged ‘facebook’

Simulmedia’s Investors Bet $25 Million More on Smart TV Ads (Video)

December 10, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Dave Morgan’s pitch is simple, and counter-intuitive: There’s going to be a boom in video ads – and it’s going to happen on TV. The Simulmedia CEO  doesn’t mean that the TV Industrial Complex is  going away (and  you would miss it if it did ). Instead, he predicts, advertisers and programmers are going to get savvier about the way TV ads work, and will start using the same data and mechanics that power Web ads. And since TV ads are going to be a much bigger business than Web video ads , for a quite some time, he wants his company to be in the middle of that. Morgan has been making some version of this pitch for several years now , and he admits that the future isn’t here quite yet. But investors keep betting on the thesis, and him. Simulmedia has just closed a $25 million round, led by Valiant Capital and R&R Ventures, bringing its total raised in 5 years to $58 million. Until now Simulmedia has been making money by buying leftover airtime from programmers and pay TV providers, adding in a dollop of data about who’s actually watching the stuff, and reselling it to advertisers. Now it wants to use some of the new funding to build out a platform so other people can use to do the same thing. Morgan’s idea is that networks may want to apply advanced analytics to their prime ad inventory, but won’t want outsiders like Simulmedia inserting themselves as middlemen. So he’ll sell them the tech instead. You can hear him explain his plan in his own words at the bottom of this post. But one quick detour first. I don’t usually spend time talking about the people behind the money in funding stories but I’ll make a brief exception here, because they’re interesting. So: Valiant is a hedge fund run by Chris Hansen, which normally makes big bets in late stage Web companies like Facebook, Dropbox, Pinterest and Uber; you may also have heard of Hansen because he’s the guy who nearly bought the Sacramento Kings and moved them to Seattle earlier this year. Hansen used to be an analyst at Montgomery/ Banc of America, the bank that almost took Real Media, Morgan’s first company, public, back in the first boom. And R&R Ventures is a new fund run by former Time Warner CEO Dick Parsons and media investor Ron Lauder. Earlier investors including Time Warner, Avalon Ventures, Union Square Ventures, and Allen & Co. are all back in this round as well.

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AllThingsD Week in Review: BlackBerry’s Future and Predictions for Tech in 2014

December 7, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

In case you missed anything, here’s a quick roundup of some of the news that powered AllThingsD this week: BlackBerry interim CEO John Chen hasn’t said much since he took the reins of the once-great smartphone pioneer. But a recent C-suite shakeup and focus on emerging markets indicate that a new strategy is afoot . In a major talent grab, Facebook exec and Instagram advertising guru Emily White is leaving to become COO of Snapchat . While the Internet was abuzz when Jeff Bezos teased the idea of delivery by drone , the Amazon CEO also addressed something much more immediate in his “60 Minutes” interview last week: Small businesses that can’t compete . In its first two and a half weeks, Sony’s sold 2.1 million units of its new gaming console, the PlayStation 4. Microsoft, meanwhile, hasn’t disclosed a current sales number, but also reports record-breaking sales for its rival Xbox One, which has had one fewer week on store shelves

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Like This If You Like Pandas! Facebook Says Publishers Shouldn’t Fret About News Feed Changes.

December 6, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

In 2011, Google changed the way it ranked websites , in an effort to punish spammers and “content farms” that showed up high in search results but delivered crummy pages. Google’s “Panda” changes had giant ripple effects throughout the Web: Ask Demand Media , among others. This week Facebook announced that it was changing the way it ranked content in its all-important News Feed — the main page Facebook users see on their desktop and on their phones — in order to promote “high-quality content.” And Facebook said it would make things like “meme photos” harder to see. The immediate reaction from several publishers I’ve talked to this week: “This is Facebook’s Panda.” But if that’s the case, then who is Facebook trying to punish? And why does Facebook care about this anyway — isn’t the crucial thing that people like the stuff, and not what the stuff is? One way to get some answers is to ask a Facebook executive directly

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Instagram to Hold December 12th Event in NYC

December 5, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Instagram has invited reporters to a press event on December 12th in Manhattan, according to reports from CNet and TechCrunch . The invitations do not specify what the event will focus on, though a recent report from GigaOm suggests it could be a messaging service .

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Dell Tablets at Bargain Prices

December 4, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

If you’re thinking of getting someone a new, name-brand tablet for the holidays, but blanch at spending base prices of $229, $399 or $499, Dell is hoping you’ll look its way. The computer giant, battling an industrywide slump in PC sales, is once again making a push into tablets and one of its weapons is low pricing. Dell has had little success in tablets. But it introduced this fall a family of four Android- and Windows-based slates called Venue models. I took a close look at one model, the seven-inch Venue 7, which, at $150, is the least expensive new major-label tablet I’ve seen at the standard 16-gigabyte base memory level. (There are a few year-old models, or models with less memory that cost somewhat less.) To understand how low $150 is for a name-brand, 16GB tablet, consider that the market-leading Apple iPads start at $499 for the 9.7-inch iPad Air, and $399 for the iPad Mini with a 7.9-inch Retina display. Even the latest seven-inch models from Google and Amazon, known for aggressive pricing, start at $229. In fact, mostly because they adopted better screens, the 2013 models of the iPad Mini, Google Nexus 7 and top-of-the-line seven-inch Kindle Fire actually rose in price from the 2012 models. So, what exactly do you get from a $150 name-brand tablet? The answer: You get a lower-quality device with weak battery life, which might suffice for a first-time tablet buyer with a tight budget. The Venue 7 is a relatively chunky black plastic tablet running Google’s Android operating system, that’s available via Dell’s online store. It operates over Wi-Fi only, though a cellular version is planned for next year. It cannot be ordered with more internal memory than 16GB, but it has a slot for a memory expansion card. This tablet has a big brother, the Android-powered Venue 8, with similar specs, that starts at $180, still a good price. On the plus side, I found the Dell Venue 7 to be fast enough not to be annoying. Common apps like Gmail, the Chrome browser, the Kindle reading app, Google Maps, Twitter and Facebook all worked fine for me. Videos played smoothly. But buyers of this tablet aren’t getting the latest or best technology. The processor, an Intel Atom, and the version of Android used, Jelly Bean 4.2.2, are last-generation editions, though Dell says it hopes to offer an upgrade to the latest version of Android next year

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Pay Attention, Snapchat! China’s WeChat Messaging App Does E-Commerce Well.

November 29, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

American messaging services could learn a thing or two from WeChat. The mobile-focused app is massively popular in China and spreading quickly abroad; of the 270-million-plus regular users of the service, about a quarter of those are outside of mainland China . Aside from its wide user base, WeChat’s biggest success looks to be in its bottom line: In-app purchases. Take WeChat’s recent experiment with the fast-growing Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi . The two companies teamed up to offer a limited number of Xiaomi’s latest flagship phone, the Mi-3, inside the WeChat app exclusively.

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Facebook Testing Timehop-Like Feature to Surface Past News Feed Posts

November 29, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Grufnik/Flickr Facebook is getting the slightest bit more nostalgic. The company is trying out a new feature inside of the News Feed that lets users surface old Facebook posts from their Timeline. Facebook confirmed the new feature in a statement: “We’re testing a new way to help you remember favorite moments by making it easier to revisit previous News Feed posts,” a Facebook spokesperson told AllThingsD . “When you click on this notice, you will see a selection of some of the top posts from your News Feed from a year ago. This is just a small test at this stage.” The feature is much akin to startups like Timehop and the now-defunct Memolane , single-serving apps that connected to users’ various social media accounts and resurfaced status updates, tweets and photos from years past. I found Timehop in particular to be equal parts charming and embarrassing when looking back on what I had to say just a year or two ago. But as an app that served little purpose outside of digging up the past, it was difficult to see any direction in which it could evolve. I’ve also been suspect of how long people would keep an app devoted entirely to this purpose before deleting it from their phone. It makes sense, then, that a site like Facebook — which aims to essentially be a digital-identity service and record of your online life — has subsumed the functionality. It’s also a simpler way to look into the past without requiring the work of digging back through your entire Timeline. As Facebook said, the feature isn’t being pushed out widely at the moment. But the timing of the test seems perfect: It comes smack in the middle of Thanksgiving and the holidays, the time of year perhaps best suited to nostalgia and self-reflection.

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Facebook Testing Timehop-Like Feature to Surface Past News Feed Posts

November 29, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Grufnik/Flickr Facebook is getting the slightest bit more nostalgic. The company is trying out a new feature inside of the News Feed that lets users surface old Facebook posts from their Timeline. Facebook confirmed the new feature in a statement: “We’re testing a new way to help you remember favorite moments by making it easier to revisit previous News Feed posts,” a Facebook spokesperson told AllThingsD . “When you click on this notice, you will see a selection of some of the top posts from your News Feed from a year ago. This is just a small test at this stage.” The feature is much akin to startups like Timehop and the now-defunct Memolane , single-serving apps that connected to users’ various social media accounts and resurfaced status updates, tweets and photos from years past. I found Timehop in particular to be equal parts charming and embarrassing when looking back on what I had to say just a year or two ago. But as an app that served little purpose outside of digging up the past, it was difficult to see any direction in which it could evolve. I’ve also been suspect of how long people would keep an app devoted entirely to this purpose before deleting it from their phone. It makes sense, then, that a site like Facebook — which aims to essentially be a digital-identity service and record of your online life — has subsumed the functionality. It’s also a simpler way to look into the past without requiring the work of digging back through your entire Timeline. As Facebook said, the feature isn’t being pushed out widely at the moment. But the timing of the test seems perfect: It comes smack in the middle of Thanksgiving and the holidays, the time of year perhaps best suited to nostalgia and self-reflection.

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Ditch the Wristbands: For Next Generation of Wearables, Dumb Clothes Get Smart

November 27, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

As much excitement as there may be about wearable sensors, most of the activity tracking devices today are pretty lame. That’s because they’re often restricted to a certain body part — usually the wrist — and have limited access to what’s going on with the rest of the body, like heart rate, specific muscle activation, calorie intake, or even what the legs are doing. The fiery activated threads are a visualization; the Athos clothing won’t literally turn the wearer into a girl on fire. The next step in wearables may be for devices to move beyond jewelry and onto the rest of our bodies. But what’s gained in accuracy may be dampened by higher prices and lower convenience. There’s also the simple challenge of the washing machine. After all, physical activity leads to sweating. A company called Athos that launched this week had hoped to make garments with electronics embedded in them. When I met the company more than a year ago, the prototype had spiderwebs of wires glued onto it. Each shirt was going to cost something like $300. So the team revised its vision to make a wireless module that can be slipped into pockets on custom apparel so it lies flat on the skin. That’s not cheap either. Preorders for delivery to U.S. customers in the summer of 2014 cost $99 for tops, $99 for bottoms, and $199 for the Athos Core Module. “We are targeting individuals who are committed to fitness, ones who go out of their way to schedule in a workout, a ride or a yoga session,” said Athos founder DJ Jayalath, via email. “With regard to the price — it can be compared to being less than the price of five sessions with a personal trainer, or hundred dollars more than a Nike FuelBand and a pair of compression shorts.” The Athos workout gear has sensors throughout that pick up on muscle exertion from the chest, shoulders, arms, back, quads, hamstrings and glutes, plus heart rate and breathing. The module insert transmits that info over Bluetooth to iPhones and iPads (no Android yet)

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Facebook Testing Instapaper-Like "Save for Later Reading" Feature

November 27, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Facebook wants you to spend more time reading news on Facebook. The company is testing a feature that would allow users to save links shared inside Facebook to a list for later reading, according to recently surfaced mobile screenshots. The functionality is quite similar to the popular apps Pocket and Instapaper. “We’re constantly testing new features, but we have nothing further to share at this time,” a Facebook spokesperson told AllThingsD . The feature, which was pointed out to AllThingsD by the technology blog MyTechSkool , comes in the form of a small iBook-like bookmark button attached to stories shared in the News Feed. Click the button, and the link will be set aside in a “saved” menu inside a user’s Facebook apps menu. Photo courtesy of MyTechSkool Facebook has made it clear that it wants to play more of a part in how people use the social network to discover and read articles from third-party publishers. In a redesign to its News Feed over the last year, more prominence and visibility has been placed on articles shared on Facebook (though this redesign, for whatever reason, has not yet rolled out widely to all users). “We want to give everyone in the world the best personalized newspaper in the world,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at an event earlier this year . The company is also reportedly building its own newsreader-like feature, according to The Wall Street Journal — a further attempt to make Facebook a destination for media content and discovery. This recent test is apparently the second iteration of a “save for later” feature, though earlier efforts were less visible and not as easy to understand and use .

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