Posts Tagged ‘yahoo’

ShopRunner’s Scott Thompson: We’re Building So Much More Than An Amazon Prime Competitor

October 12, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Earlier this week, ShopRunner, the two-day online retail shipping service, said it had raised a giant $200 million-plus investment from Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and American Express. With the investment, Alibaba Executive Vice Chairman Joe Tsai joined ShopRunner’s board. The investment size was surprising for many reasons, but mostly because of how large it was and how seemingly cost-effective ShopRunner’s current model is. What in the world does ShopRunner need all that money for? ShopRunner partners with retailers and brands such as Brooks Brothers and Calvin Klein to provide free two-day shipping to ShopRunner members who shop at the partners’ online stores. ShopRunner members pay $79 a year or $8.95 a month for that privilege. The brands and retail operations handle all the packing and shipping, with ShopRunner plugging into their backend systems to make sure its members are getting their orders when promised. ShopRunner takes two to five percent of each Shop Runner-eligible purchase a member makes on partnering e-commerce sites. In return, the company attempts to prove to its retail partners that it is bringing them new, repeat customers who will spend more than non-members. I spoke this week with ShopRunner CEO Scott Thompson, who’s making a run at a redemption after after the controversy over inaccuracies on his resume forced his departure from Yahoo where he was briefly CEO. Here’s an edited version of our conversation. That’s a huge investment. Why Alibaba and why so much money? Scott Thompson: Think of this as a growth-equity type infusion. We are at right at this point where we know the product is solid, know the experience is real good and getting better by the day, we’ve launched our mobile apps and are beginning to see some early traction on that. And this month we’ll cross a million members [including some non-paying ones who’ve signed up through an American Express partnership]. With this infusion of cash, this is the perfect time for this business. I hate to say it because every startup does, but we’re at this inflection point

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How to Make Lots of Web Video, Really Fast: Get Rid of (Most of) the Humans

October 2, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Heads up, professional video-makers: Robots may be coming for your jobs. We’ve already seen that software can replace human beings who used to write and edit news stories . Now Wochit , an Israeli-born startup, is trying to do the same thing with thing with video news. And it’s quite possible you’ve seen some of their work already: Wochit’s stuff is running on big portals like Yahoo , and on many smaller sites, via distributors like Grab Media. Wochit can takes pre-written stories from outlets like Reuters and turn them into videos, by assembling an appropriate mix of images, clips and narration. Human beings touch the video twice during a production — once, when a “moderator” quickly scans the clip to make sure the basic elements are in the right place, and once when someone reads the voice-over copy. Wochit says the entire process takes an average of 10 minutes, and that lets the company make hundreds of clips a day. The results have been getting better throughout the year. Now they’re quite passable. Here’s how Wochit handled a story about President Obama and the Too Big to Fail banks this morning: No one’s going to mistake this stuff for a “60 Minutes” report. But depending on the use case, it may certainly be good enough. Wochit is aimed at Web video, where lots of people are looking ad-friendly clips that users might also click on. But in the not-so-distant future, I can see this stuff working on conventional TV too. Eventually, Wochit CEO McAllister says, the company wants to set up a self-service system where anyone could feed it text and get a usable video. If a brand like, um, All Things D wanted to add our own narration (or whatever), we could do that too. This is likely worrisome for some human beings who currently get paid to edit and produce news videos

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The Birth of Art Tech: How a Centuries-Old Tradition Is Being Adapted for Today’s Always-Connected Consumer

October 1, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Change is not a word usually associated with the art market. When we think of the Christie’s and Sotheby’s of the world, we are transported to the traditional auction house, frozen in time with wooden paddles, charismatic auctioneers and distinguished attendees bidding on the world’s finest art. But times have changed. Today, as the rest of the world has grown dependent on digital tools to discover new products, so too have galleries and art buyers. In response, a new market has emerged, made up of companies that leverage technology to drive the purchase of art objects. You might call it “art tech.” This new market is fueled not only by changed consumer behavior, but also by significant funding from the world’s top investors. As opposed to other industries, art has had a relatively slow journey to the digital era, but it has definitely arrived. Even in the case of high-ticket items, consumers today are willing to purchase art online more often than not. According to a 2013 Hiscox survey , 64 percent of collectors have previously purchased art through a website with little or no interaction with the seller

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Meet the NSA’s Own Social Graphs, Comprised of Americans’ Data

September 28, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

The hottest, stealthiest social network won’t be found in any Silicon Valley incubator. It’s up and running. And you may already be a member. In an effort spanning the past three years, the United States National Security Agency has mined its massive stores of collected citizen metadata to create a series of social graphs, according to documents and confidential sources unearthed by the New York Times , mapping the large, interconnected web of connections between people. The graphs — which the Times claims details specifics as granular as citizens’ locations at certain times, personal connections with others, and traveling companions — were created piecemeal from vast public data stores, including (but not limited to) Facebook profiles, voter registration records, tax data and property records. The NSA acknowledged the program in a statement to the Times, but declined to state the number of Americans involved. Any data queries are required to have some sort of “foreign intelligence justification,” an NSA spokeswoman told the Times. The report is the latest in a series of revelations on the scale and depth of U.S. surveillance efforts, kick-started by the bombshell disclosures of former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden over the summer. Since Snowden’s disclosures, Silicon Valley Internet companies have issued vehement denials that the U.S. government had carte blanche access to customer data. The extent to which companies can explain how much data has been handed over to the government is limited, however, as current laws prohibit companies from disclosing certain details related to national security. It is unclear how much the NSA’s graphing efforts rely on data from Facebook, Apple, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft or any other number of Internet companies that have complied with the government’s requests for private data. Read more of the Times’ in-depth account here .

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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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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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