Posts Tagged ‘yahoo’

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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Online Ad Big Shot Michael Barrett Joins Tremor Video’s Board

September 27, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Michael Barrett, the former Admeld CEO and Yahoo chief revenue officer, has been named to the board of Tremor Video, the video ad network that went public in June . Barrett, who also recently joined the board of privately held HookLogic, is replacing Laura Desmond , the CEO of ad agency network Starcom MediaVest Group.

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‘Saturday Night Live’ Launches YouTube Channel, But Blocks U.S. Fans

September 26, 2013  |  Variety  |  No Comments

Broadway Video Entertainment’s “Saturday Night Live” has set up shop on YouTube — its first official channel on the world’s biggest Internet video destination — but the free clips are not available to U.S. users, given the production company’s licensing pact with Yahoo for domestic auds. The ad-free international “SNL” YouTube channel is aimed at... Read more

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The Web Is a Lab for Marketable TV Content, and Vice Versa

September 25, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

The lines between digital and linear distribution are a lot less blurry than advertised when it comes to the business models of cable television and the online space, but content is a different animal altogether. Take Drunk History, for example, which has evolved from a YouTube sensation to a full-blown half-hour on Comedy Central , averaging a serviceable 0.5 rating in the 18-49 demo over the course of its debut season. That platform shift is a neat reversal for showrunner Jeremy Konner, who saw his Web comedy Ghost Ghirls optioned and then scuttled by Syfy before the show was revived by Yahoo. Konner wasn’t available for this article, but a source close to the deals said the network didn’t ditch Ghost Ghirls because the show wasn’t funny. “It was something that Syfy had developed and then … they decided not to go in that direction, from a programming standpoint,” the insider said. (According to Syfy president of programming Mark Stern, the network changed course on developing original comedies.) Another project Syfy passed on was Seth Meyers’ The Awesomes , which last week was renewed for a second season on Hulu. Stern said the network assessed what sort of nontraditional fare clicked with its audience; turns out, viewers were more interested in unscripted content about the paranormal. Hulu, which has embraced a model similar to that of a linear TV network, also has become a haven for the soap operas All My Children and One Life to Live, both of which were canceled by ABC. Hulu declined to comment, but it’s clear what prompted the acquisitions: per its in-house rankings, episodes of NBC’s venerable soap Days of Our Lives are a big draw. Jason Krebs, president of sales and marketing for Blip , said he thinks the notion of digital sites subsisting on the dregs of TV is ill-informed. “There are the producers who say, ‘I want to do this out of the traditional system,’” Krebs said. “We’re not getting scraps.” Wrong-headed stigmas about Web video aside, it’s certainly true that it’s easier than ever to cheaply create a show with high-production values. “The cost of these things is coming down, and the sophistication is increasing,” said Krebs, who added that digital video equipment is of a greater quality than ever, and cheaper to boot. (For just $30, you can build an iPhone Steadicam.) On the network side, Stern said Syfy is interested in the same business model

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Alibaba Ready to Take IPO to New York, Says Report

September 25, 2013  |  Variety  |  No Comments

Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, is said to be taking its IPO to New York and ditching plans to list in Hong Kong.

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AllThingsD Week in Review: iPhone Overload, YouTube Offline and the Future of AllThingsD

September 22, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Asa Mathat / In case you missed anything, here’s a quick roundup of some of the news that powered AllThingsD this week: Let’s start with the elephant in the room: Yes, AllThingsD and the Wall Street Journal Digital Network, by way of our current mutual owners Dow Jones, are parting ways. But readers and conference attendees who were initially concerned by this news have no need to worry; we’re not going anywhere . But enough about us. Let’s talk about Apple, which predictably generated its usual hubbub this week with the release of two new iPhones. Walt Mossberg reviewed the iPhone 5s , and Lauren Goode reviewed the iPhone 5c , while John Paczkowski compiled the key quotes from reviews of the new iDevices from around the Web. Those reviews were generally positive, but it’s not all good news for Cupertino: Carrier sources warned that shipments of the higher-end 5s would be “ grotesquely low .” This turned out to be especially true for the gold and silver models . We don’t know quite yet how many iPhones Apple will sell this weekend, but the company said on Friday that demand at launch has been “ incredible .” Last thing about iPhones in this recap post, honest: Apple also released the latest version of its mobile operating system, iOS 7, on Wednesday. Users adopted it in droves on day one, despite that cow-hanging bug uncovered by Conan O’Brien. They quickly discovered a real security flaw , too, in the new operating system’s lock screen, but Apple said it’s working on a fix. The e-commerce world lost one of its pioneers this week: Amazon’s first CFO, Joy Covey, was killed in a bike accident; she was remembered here by Kara Swisher. In a bid to get its Windows 8 devices in front of more consumers, Microsoft has retooled an iPad trade-in program and is now willing to buy up seemingly any smartphone or tablet . After years of requiring an Internet connection to get at those funny cat videos, YouTube is preparing to allow offline streaming , for up to 48 hours after a clip is saved to a mobile device. Speaking of mobile devices: The much-hyped “second screen” is extending its reach into a new medium — videogames — by way of Microsoft and Sony’s next generation of gaming hardware

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PeeqPeeq and the Big Idea of the Inbox as Data Source

September 14, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

While many tech startups like to talk about “killing email” or “reinventing the inbox,” Lee Ott loves email. Why? Almost everybody uses it. But the problem is, even the cleanest inbox crowds up with piles of messages from a wide variety of people and brands and contexts and urgencies. Ott’s startup Rokket Launch would like to sort through all that email and turn it into apps that draw out the good stuff. Instead of building apps that pressure people to clean out their email and get to “inbox zero,” Ott wants to use email as a data source. Rocket Launch’s first product is called PeeqPeeq . With permission, it sucks up all the shopping-related emails from a person’s inbox and organized them into a store on Web, iPhone and iPad. At the same time, it sorts those messages into a folder outside of the inbox. “It’s like Zite or Flipboard for shopping,” Ott says, as the app becomes a sort of personalized, up-to-date catalog of stuff to buy. He cites research ( PDF ) from ExactTarget that found 96 percent of daily email users subscribe to at least one brand’s email messages. Rokket Launch CEO Lee Ott PeeqPeeq’s smarts are in doing things like noting when a sale ends today, and cross-referencing a retailer’s Web site so when they email out about a storewide discount, it knows all the items that qualify. Users can also subscribe to any of 6,000 additional stores whose email newsletters PeeqPeeq receives and scrapes. Personally, I’m not passionate enough about online shopping to want to open an app like this up all the time — and I can understand why some people would be hesitant to let PeeqPeeq peek through their emails. And the notion of sucking information out of email isn’t really that new; for instance, Xobni did this for contacts. But Ott does a good job of articulating why this larger topic is relevant

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One Microsoft On, Ballmer Out, ValueAct In — Get Ready for the Next Shoe to Drop at Microsoft

September 1, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

It would seem that all it takes to be in a position to make big changes at Microsoft is $2.2 billion. That’s the value of the tiny 0.8 percent stake that ValueAct had compiled, which was enough to get the software giant to agree last week to give the activist shareholder the option to take a seat on its board . Let’s be clear — although Microsoft tried a take-the-trash-out-on-Friday-before-Labor-Day move, which was also a deadline for ValueAct to notify Microsoft if it planned a proxy battle — the news was unprecedented in the history of the company. As voiced to me by many longtime observers and also investors, the notion that shareholders had become so disgruntled that the once-powerful company determined that it would lose a proxy fight pretty much says it all. Here’s how The Wall Street Journal’s Shira Ovide correctly put it : “Few companies of Microsoft’s size have welcomed activist investors on to their boards, for fear of disruption and conflict. And in recent decades it would be unheard of for an outside director, who simply agitated for change, to be placed on a board.” In fact, ValueAct — which is considered a management-friendly activist investor — manages only $12 billion in its fund, and so had to have a lot of investor support to put the true pressure on Microsoft. As it turned out, it did not have to, gaining the right to join the board and presumably more, with little fuss. The ValueAct news came soon after the announcement last week that longtime CEO Steve Ballmer would step down within 12 months. And — while Microsoft tried its best to deny any link between the two major events — they were clearly coupled. And mostly ill-timed, coming only weeks after Ballmer had outlined a major new strategy and reorganization for the company, called “ One Microsoft .” Now, according to numerous sources close to the situation, brace yourself for the next of many shoes to drop, in what appears to be a sequencing of events related to new management and perhaps a new configuration for the company itself

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Foursquare Says It’s Ready to Impress You Now

August 29, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Asa Mathat / Earlier this year, Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley raised $41 million , and promised to use that money “to do the things we want to do.” Today he’s giving people a glimpse of what that looks like: A new feature that will allow (a few) Foursquare users to automatically get tips, from their phone, about a place they’re in, without having to boot up the app itself. “This is the version of Foursquare that we’ve been talking about building for a long time,” Crowley says. He teased the idea yesterday, via this oblique Instagram post. Foursquare isn’t giving the the feature a formal name, but is instead saying that it’s going to eventually be a core component of the location/discovery app. And Crowley argues that it’s going to be so great that it’s going to boost Foursquare’s growth, both by attracting new users and bringing back old ones who still think of it as a once-trendy “check in” app. It’s a crucial bet for the company, which is fighting perceptions that it missed its shot to sell out to Yahoo or Apple, and that it will struggle to survive on its own. Here’s how it’s supposed to work, according to Crowley: Users will turn on the Foursquare app, then leave it running on their phone, on background mode. Then “you just walk to places that you’ve never been before, you spend time in a place you’ve never been,” and Foursquare will occasionally send you a tip about the place — ie “try the soup” — via a push notification. Crowley says the tips will generally come from other Foursquare users, though occasionally it may come from a merchant. But in any case, they won’t be paid messages, he says. The feature will eat up a bit of battery life, but Crowley insists it will be manageable: “To run this thing for a full day, it’s like playing 20 minutes of Angry Birds,” he says. And if you don’t want it at all, you can toggle it off. I can’t tell you how it works firsthand because I haven’t seen it. And most of you won’t get a chance to use it at first, either. Crowley says Foursquare will roll out the new feature slowly, starting with about 2,000 new users who download the app to Android phones; iPhone users are unlikely to get the feature until Apple unveils its iOS 7 operating system. Eventually all Foursquare users should get the new software by the end of the year. And how many people is that, anyway? Crowley says the service now has 35 million registered users — that’s up from 33 million in April — but still refuses to say how many people use the app on a regular basis. This shyness gives lots of people — including competitors like Yelp — the impression that Crowley doesn’t have much to brag about. But he insists he’ll have more to say about this down the road.

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