Posts Tagged ‘tech’

Yahoo’s Mayer on the Talent Hunt for Tech Journalists (Even From AllThingsD!)

November 3, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

This weekend, a Yahoo recruiter tried to poach two of our fine AllThingsD reporters for what was described as a “new initiative within our Tech Vertical.” According to the recruiter, who used LinkedIn for the outreach, the effort had the “backing of [Yahoo CEO] Marissa Mayer, as well as many of our executives, and will be the first of many of these types of editorial models that we expect to roll out globally within the next year.” As I had previously written, Mayer is pushing a new content effort that will focus on bringing big content to Yahoo, including the recent splashy hiring of the New York Times’ gadget reviewer, David Pogue, also for the tech effort. She has also been in talks with well-known television news star Katie Couric about an interview-type show that would appear on the homepage. Among many execs in the Web space, Mayer has always been more attracted to the flashier media scene, having struck deals for Google to buy content properties like Zagat while she was there. But, let’s be clear, none of her efforts there were particularly successful. Additional efforts to up Yahoo’s content business will require the hiring of a top media exec to replace recently departed media chief Mickie Rosen. Internal sources said that Mayer has said she is aiming to hire a top television exec for the job, to underscore the company’s commitment to video. For now, it seems, tech is just the start, according to the email from the Yahoo recruiter, without any reference to a very similar previous Yahoo effort called Tech Ticker, which petered out many years ago. And, years before that, there was another content effort, called Finance Vision. In other words, Yahoo has been no Netflix in its many efforts to jump into the content space, save for a series of light Web shows like “Primetime in No Time.” One show, though — “Burning Love,” created and commissioned under former media head Ross Levinsohn — has generated a lot of buzz and traffic. Mayer seems to have even bigger plans. though, using tech an some sort of “anchor.” “The initiative is a news website, focused on technology, that is extremely social friendly and another way to drive significant traffic back to our platform,” wrote the recruiter. “We have identified this endeavor as a key anchor of our media strategy and a high growth opportunity for the media organization.” It’s nice to see Mayer finally acknowledging the importance of what tech journalists do, even if it means she is trying to fish in our pond. (Marissa, bygones on the poaching, as I see it as a compliment to our excellent work at AllThingsD ! So, let’s have just-us-media-ladies lunch, and I can explain how a tech blog works and stuff.) Here’s the full email to one of our staffers this weekend: I am the North American Recruiting Lead for Yahoo’s Global Media and Commerce organization

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Lenovo Launches Yoga Tablet With Multiple Modes and a Side of Ashton Kutcher

October 30, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Ashton Kutcher is back pushing another tech product. But it’s not another Nikon camera or a Steve Jobs movie . Rather, it’s a new tablet from Lenovo . Tonight, the actor joined Lenovo onstage at an event in Los Angeles to unveil the Yoga Tablet. The Android Jelly Bean (4.2) device comes in an 8- and 10-inch model and will be available tomorrow for $249 and $299, respectively. When designing the Yoga Tablet, Lenovo said it wanted to do something that would help make its device stand out from the “sea of sameness,” referring to the fact that all tablets look alike. As a result, it features a cylindrical handle that allows you to use the tablet in several different modes — a concept Lenovo borrowed from its line of Yoga convertible laptops . In Hold mode, you can simply grip the handle for a more comfortable experience when reading e-books and messages. Rotating the cylinder 90 degrees will expose a stand, so you can prop the tablet on a desk for watching movies or video chats. Finally, you can lay the device down with the stand out to angle the screen for easier typing and viewing. One other benefit to the cylindrical handle, says Lenovo, is that it allowed them to include a larger battery. The Yoga Tablet is powered by dual batteries, similar in power to those used in laptops, and Lenovo estimates battery life to be around 18 hours in reading mode. Both the 8- and 10-inch Yoga Tablet have 1,280 by 800-pixel touchscreens, quad-core processors from MediaTek and 16 gigabytes of internal memory with microSD expansion options

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Social Sharing App Buffer Hacked, Temporarily Halts Service

October 26, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Buffer, an app that automatically schedules sharing from a company’s social media accounts, was hacked on Saturday morning, according to the company. The attack was first noticed when an undetermined number of users began posting spammy weight-loss links to their Facebook and Twitter pages. That included highly visible members of the tech community like investor Fred Wilson , as well as brands Startup Genome, Turnstone and Brussels Airlines. “We greatly apologize for this big mess we’ve created. Buffer has been hacked,” co-founder Leo Widrich said in a Facebook post on Saturday morning . Widrich told Buffer customers that, in order to avoid automatically posting content from their accounts, users should either change their Facebook passwords or revoke Buffer’s social sharing permissions, and then delete the spam posts from their Facebook timelines. Buffer is hardly the only app which has had spam-related problems as of late. Just recently, Instagram saw a viral wave of weight-loss-related spam spread quickly across its service, though it was not the result of a hack. Buffer has not provided details on the extent of the hack, but has temporarily disabled its app’s Facebook functionality . Update 2:14 PT: Widrich and his staff sent out emails to users on Saturday afternoon, and also posted a few more details to the company blog . Among the additional information, Widrich said that no user passwords have been affected, nor has any “billing or payment information been affected or exposed.” “I am incredibly sorry this has happened and affected you and your company. We’re working around the clock right now to get this resolved and we’ll continue to post updates on Facebook and Twitter,” Widrich wrote.

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American Express to Let Cardholders Pay NYC Taxi Fares With Membership Rewards Points

October 21, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

American Express’s loyalty program is set to make a big splash in the offline payment world by letting cardholders pay for their fares in New York City taxis with rewards points. Through a deal with point-of-sale hardware company VeriFone, American Express will offer the new payment option in about 7,000 New York City taxis — about half of all taxis in the city. The move marks the loyalty program’s first step in what will likely be a major expansion into the physical world. After all, AmEx partner VeriFone also has a presence in plenty of brick-and-mortar retail establishments. “We built this tech which is very flexible and can be used in a variety of different ways,” said Leslie Berland, SVP, digital partnerships and development at American Express. “We are assessing what are the most meaningful powerful areas in the physical world to bring this to life.” Starting with New York City taxis made sense for a few reasons. For one, there was an attractive density of cardholders in the city, specifically in Manhattan. And for cardholders in the city, taking a taxi is a relatively frequent occurrence. Before this expansion, American Express membership rewards could be used for a variety of different purchases — from gift cards to iPads to purchases on, all of which had to be made online. And, other than those American Express customers who use points for purchases, cardholders don’t really have a way to pay for a product or service with points on a daily or even weekly basis. That changes with this move; American Express is making its program more attractive to cardholders in the area, since they can now use points for a service they use more frequently. And redeeming points for fares won’t require a lot of work on the part of taxi riders. They can simply choose to pay with credit, swipe their card, and then are given the choice on the payment screen to pay with Membership Rewards points if they’d like. Fares will cost 100 points per dollar, so a $10 fare would cost taxi riders 1,000 points. For taxi drivers, there’s no difference between the payout they get for a credit-card purchase and what they’d earn for one of these new types of payment methods, American Express execs said.

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Top NBCU Digital Exec Lauren Zalaznick to Depart Company

September 27, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Well-known NBCUniversal exec Lauren Zalaznick, who has recently been working on the media giant’s growth into new digital arenas, is leaving the company, according to an internal memo. A longtime veteran of NBCU, who is also one of its most high-profile women execs, does not have a new job as yet. But, in a note that just went out to staff, NBCU CEO Steve Burke said Zalaznick would continue to “consult with NBCUniversal on digital media content and technology marketplace trends.” There has been speculation recently that Zalaznick might be in line to take over the empty seat at the top of Yahoo’s media unit, but she has not been tapped for that job as yet, said sources. Yahoo or another Web content company would make sense though, as a next move for her. Of all the top media execs at NBCU, Zalaznick has been the most interested and well known in Silicon Valley, having made a lot of efforts to reach out to the tech digerati. (That includes being interviewed for a Twitter board seat, said several sources, a spot that ultimately went to Peter Chernin.) Zalaznick started out her career as an independent feature film producer, coming to the company in 2004 via NBC’s acquisition of Vivendi Universal. Once there, Zalaznick took over the once-moribund Bravo cable network and launched a series of shows that became both hits and pop cultural icons, including: “The Real Housewives” franchise (yipes, Lauren!), “Top Chef” and “Watch What Happens Live” with Andy Cohen (thank you, Lauren!). At different times, Zalaznick was also in charge of the Oxygen cable network, Telemundo, iVillage and the Women at NBCU effort. Earlier this year, in another management shift, in which all the cable properties were moved under Bonnie Hammer, Zalaznick was given the the title of EVP NBCUniversal and charged with focusing on innovation, digital, monetization and emerging technology. The amorphous job — digitally focused cross-company tasks at big traditional media giant are tricky (thankless, really), as you might imagine — still kept Fandango and Daily Candy under her purview. She also launched NBCU’s first data science team and created the NBCU Digital Council to coordinate its digital strategery. I had heard rumblings of Zalaznick’s impending departure over the last week, which sources said was pending. As it turns out, sooner than later. NBCU declined to comment, but here’s the entire note that Burke just sent out to the company about Zalaznick, which also outlines where all her minions (this is the company that owns the movie, “Despicable Me,” after all) are headed: Here is the I am writing to let you know that Lauren Zalaznick will be leaving NBCUniversal after 12 successful years working in a variety of leadership roles here. Those of you who know Lauren well know she is one of those rare executives that combine great creative instincts with a true business orientation. Her contributions to our company have been significant and far-reaching, from cable entertainment to Spanish-language broadcast, from digital initiatives to new marketing campaigns. Lauren also has been an important champion for many of our company-wide initiatives.

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Aww, Canada

September 24, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Between Nortel and RIM, we’ve seen $500 billion in market value vanish from Canada’s tech scene. We’d get a complex but we already have one. – Mathew Ingram , tweeting about BlackBerry’s $4.7 billion buyout offer.

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Hewlett-Packard Shares Dropped from Dow Jones Industrial Index

September 10, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Hewlett-Packard is no longer a member of the one of the worlds most important benchmark stock indexes. HP has been dropped from the Dow Jones Industrial Index, the 116-year old list of 30 industrial stocks that is considered a fundamental indicator of the world economy. It was the biggest shakeup in a decade for the Dow as Alcoa and Bank of America were also dropped in order to make way for Nike, Visa and Goldman Sachs. The move brings to an end HP’s 16-year run as a Dow component. I had heard rumors for about a year that this might happen, especially during the period when its shares were trading at levels not seen since 2005 . Ironically, HP’s poor performance last year paved the way for HP to be one of the best stocks on the Dow to own this year. Before today, HP shares had risen 57 percent since the close of 2012. In a statement, S&P Dow Jones Indices, the division of the McGraw-Hill Companies that maintains the index, said the changes were “prompted by the low stock price of the three companies slated for removal and the Index Committee’s desire to diversify the sector and industry group representation of the index.” Other tech companies included on the Dow are IBM, Cisco Systems, AT&T, Microsoft, and Verizon. HP shares are down by slightly less than one percent in early trading this morning. As of 9:35 AM New York time, the shares had fallen to $22.17 or 19 cents

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ATD Week in Review: Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Plans and Zynga’s New Org Chart

August 18, 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: Mark your calendars, Apple and Android upgraders: Last weekend, we learned that the next iPhone will be unveiled on Sept. 10 (a date already shared by no fewer than three other tech events ). On Friday, HTC announced that its flagship phone, the HTC One, is finally coming to Verizon next week. Lauren Goode reviewed the Lumia 1020 , Nokia’s new smartphone with a 41-megapixel camera: “I was impressed by its camera,” she writes, “… But it’s important to keep in mind that the Lumia 1020 is a phone first, camera second.” Tesla CEO Elon Musk published his conceptual design for the Hyperloop, a “really rapid transit system” that would (in theory) get passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in under 30 minutes. At first, it seemed as though Musk would take a hands-off approach to the project, but on Monday he said he’d “probably end up” at least building a prototype himself . A research study from TDG suggests that those who have some sort of Web content or Internet access on their TVs are twice as likely to become cord-cutters. Under new CEO Don Mattrick, Zynga restructured its top ranks , and three C-suite executives will leave the company. Here’s what the new org chart looks like. Amazon has never divulged Kindle sales numbers, but Morgan Stanley estimated in a new report that the company will sell $4.5 billion worth of Kindle e-readers and tablets this year, up 26 percent from 2012. In other Amazon news, the company is hiring for a warehouse in New Jersey. Details are still sketchy, but the job listings may indicate a New York City future for its grocery-delivery business, AmazonFresh. AllThingsD reported this week on two new initiatives happening inside of Facebook. The first is a “ VIP-only app ” that would make it easier for celebrities to stay on top of what their fans are saying. And Facebook is testing a product that would let you buy stuff on mobile apps using your Facebook login ; it’s expected to launch in the next month or so. Unlike some weeks, when the company makes news itself, two outsiders made news on Apple’s behalf this week: First, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said the future of an Apple without Steve Jobs is not a mystery . Then, billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn (who, on a separate note, just lost his bid to stop a Dell buyout vote) made a large investment in Apple . That announcement sent Apple shares way up and over the $500 mark for the first time since January. Icahn said the shares were undervalued and that Apple should buy them back at $525 a pop

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Google’s Chromecast: Fancy Name and Slick Package for Something Everyone Saw at CES

July 24, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

If you were paying attention at CES—which, clearly, no one was—you saw guys at the Samsung booth showing off their new DLNA-enabled devices. That alphabet-soup acronym—digital living network alliance, if you care—was created by a third-party nonprofit developer to support device-to-device communication, much like BlueTooth. The resulting protocol was available for everyone, freeing it up from the shackles of proprietary tech management and enabling multiple tech manufacturers to play nice together. Today, Google held a press conference to announce that it had a new dongle for your TV, called Chromecast , that would upgrade it to do what every Samsung TV will do later this year; namely include wireless network connectivity with other local devices. There's also a Web component, but we've seen that before, too, on the Sonos , a Web-ready speaker that plays songs from your Amazon and iTunes libraries using your smartphone as a controller. This, of course, is a time-honored tradition in the tech world—Apple's iPad mini was hailed as a gigantic breakthrough by people who had apparently never seen an Android tablet before. It's also something Google loves to do: its Android OS has gotten plenty of props for its stability and reliability—that's because it's built around a Linux kernel. Linux is famously the most stable operating system out there and, like DLNA, the product of a nonprofit developer. To be fair, the portability of the Chromecast dongle is certainly a plus, since it will upgrade your current TV to do things your next TV will have inside the casing. It is, basically, a bridge device. It's also interesting that the company is pushing Netflix compatibility —these sorts of things always work more smoothly when folks are making an effort from both sides to ensure ease of use, but it's surprising that Netflix would get behind a device that appears to allow users to carry their subscriptions around in their pockets from place to place. Presumably, if one of your pals has Netflix on his Android phone, all six of you can watch the latest episodes of "Arrested Development" on your non-Netflix buddy's plasma screen. The move is being played up as a shot across the bow at Apple's AirPlay, but really, expect everybody, Apple, Android, or otherwise unaffiliated, to have something inside their devices that does exactly this in the next few months. UPDATE: Here's Google's video for the Chromecast (which, by the way, has to be plugged in, so there will be a cord dangling from it that you don't see in the footage below, per Buzzfeed ).

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HTC Hoping to Make Another Big Impression With One Mini

July 18, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

For HTC, a company that has struggled to keep up in the competitive smartphone market, the launch of its One handset was a biggie. But for its next product launch, the company is going small — literally. Today, the Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer introduced the HTC One Mini, a scaled down and more affordable version of its flagship device. Launching in August or September, the One Mini keeps to the same design aesthetics as the HTC One — aluminum chassis and dual speakers — but features a smaller 4.3-inch 720p HD touchscreen and a 1.4GHz dual-core processor. (The One has a 4.7-inch 1080p HD touchscreen and a 1.7GHz quad-core processor.) It also lacks the infrared feature that allows you to use the smartphone as a remote control, and has a smaller battery than the original HTC One. These modifications aside, the One Mini keeps many of the same features as its bigger brother, including HTC’s Ultrapixel camera technology and software and BlinkFeed, an interface that lets you view all your social network updates and news right on your home page

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