Posts Tagged ‘yahoo’

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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ATD Week in Review: Steve Ballmer’s Legacy and the "Elegant" Golden iPhone

August 25, 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: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will retire within the next 12 months; here’s his memo to employees announcing the decision. The news spiked Microsoft’s stock , and — as Ina Fried explains in this essay — his tenure as CEO won’t have a pretty legacy, “mostly due to larger external trends that were impossible to resist, and stubborn management by Ballmer who tried too hard to resist them.” Sources confirmed to AllThingsD that yes, Apple’s next iPhone will be available in gold . But it’ll be “elegant,” they promise: “Think champagne, not ingot.” Liz Gannes delved into the history of Google Autocomplete , the search feature built by Kevin Gibbs that tries to intuit what you want before you can finish typing. Similar features have now become common all over the Web. “What started as a signature moment for Google became the de facto standard,” designer Dan Saffer said. On a similar note, Netflix is applying its computer intelligence to your watch list. Why? So it can take in what you say you want to watch and tell you what you really want to watch more effectively. Gartner said in its annual Hype Cycle report that Big Data is “at or near the peak in the hype cycle , when expectations are inflated and out of sync with what is deliverable in reality.” Tesla’s Model S appears to be even safer than previously assumed : In a crash test administered by the NHTSA, the electric sedan broke records … and the roof-testing machine. At Gamescom in Germany, Sony announced the PlayStation 4’s release dates : Nov. 15 in the U.S. and Nov. 29 in Europe. But when Microsoft will launch its rival next-gen console, the Xbox One, is still unknown. Transportation service Uber has hailed a pile of money, like ATD said back in July: A $258 million fundraising round, valuing the company at $3.5 billion .

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Yahoo Ingests IQ Engines

August 24, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Add another Yahoo acquisition to the pile. The Internet company has purchased “image intelligence” outfit IQ Engines for an undisclosed price. IQ Engines, which develops image recognition software capable of categorizing pictures based on the people and objects featured in them, is to be rolled into Yahoo’s Flickr team , presumably to help improve the widely used photo services search feature. IQ Engines is the latest in a conga line of acquisitions for Yahoo that so far includes the likes of Tumblr , Xobni , Rockmelt , and Summly .

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Yahoo Product Exec Mike Kerns Gets Big Promotion to Run Homepage and Verticals

August 22, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

According to his LinkedIn page , Yahoo has promoted one of its more talented and entrepreneurial execs, Mike Kerns, to a fancy new job (at least the title is). Kerns — who came to Yahoo several years ago after it bought the company he founded, Citizen Sports — had been VP of social and personalization. Now, he’s SVP of product homepage and verticals, which represents a much wider swath of products, including its powerful homepage and more.

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