Archive for the “13” Category


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SecondMarket, the online marketplace for buying private company stock, just released their 2010 data.

Naturally, Facebook ranks #1, making up 39% of all pre-IPO completed transactions.

Which other companies are hot on secondary markets? SecondMarket asked their users to vote on the most exciting private companies. Here are the results.

10. SecondMarket

9. Kayak

8. Digg

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bill gates

We just finished reading a fantastic interview with Bill Gates from 1994 that Playboy recently posted.

At the time, Gates and Microsoft were on the cusp of reaching their absolute apex of power. The Internet wasn’t huge yet, and Gates’ wealth was still mind boggling.

We’ve culled through the interview and pulled out our 15 favorite quotes.

Bill Gates correctly predicted Netflix

Speaking about how people could use the Internet in the future, Gates pretty much predicted Amazon and Netflix: “Say you want to watch a movie. To choose, you’ll want to know what movies others liked and, based on what you thought of other movies you’ve seen, if this is a movie you’d like. You’ll be able to browse that information. Then you select and get video on demand. Afterward, you can even share what you thought of the movie.”

He also saw Facebook coming

Here Gates talks about the changing social dynamic brought on by the Internet: “The way we find information and make decisions will be changed. Think about how you find people with common interests, how you pick a doctor, how you decide what book to read. Right now it’s hard to reach out to a broad range of people. You are tied into the physical community near you. But in the new environment, because of how information is stored and accessed, that community will expand. This tool will be empowering, the infrastructure will be built quickly and the impact will be broad.”

He also called the iPhone!

Gates was predicting the touch screen phone that sounds a lot like an iPhone: “And a generation of screen phones [a standard phone with a minicomputer] in which the typically cryptic buttons are replaced with a graphics interface.”

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I did a short bit on Bloomberg (they have some amazing studios in SF on the water, had not been there, good to see my old pal Cory, who is now working there). Here’s the video:

 

This post originally appeared at Searchblog.

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Davos Night

One of the enduring truths about human beings is that if you take any group of people anywhere in the world and put them together for a few days, they will immediately begin to organize themselves into stratified circles of relative importance and influence.

Specifically, they’ll quickly group themselves into “cool kids” and “losers”–with membership in each group being fluid and determined by who you know and who knows you and whether everyone else thinks you are a cool kid or a loser.

So it comes as no surprise that the group of people who attend the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, a.k.a., “Davos,” are no different than any other group of people.

Namely, that, despite the rarified resumes and colossal wealth and power of most Davos attendees relative to the other 6 billion humans on the planet, everything’s relative at Davos, too–and some Davos attendees are more rarified or more colossally wealthy and powerful than others.

And don’t think everyone who goes to Davos doesn’t know that.

DavosBook Welcome ScreenFor example, long before this year’s annual meeting began, we Davos attendees have begun to communicate with one another via a secret social network that is composed only of other Davos attendees. 

I have yet to explore this social network in detail (password problems), but at first blush, it appears to operate the same way most social networks do, with “friends” and “contacts” and so forth.  And, of course, one thing this social network allows you to do is see who else is coming to Davos and decide whether you want to spend any of the precious few days of the conference interacting with them.

So far, one of the favored uses of DavosBook (let’s go ahead and give it a name, shall we?) seems to be to review who’s coming and decide who is and isn’t worthy of an invitation to all the private events that go on at Davos outside of the public events that every Joe Schmo Davos attendee is invited to. (Because, bien sur, these private events are VASTLY more important than the public ones–all the cool kids say so).  And then to use the information in DavosBook to send those special folks an email and invite them to the event. 

(You seem to be able to invite people to events within DavosBook, too, the same way you can with Facebook, but most folks putting on the private events are apparently smart enough to know that the only Davos attendees who are frantically checking DavosBook to see what events they’ve been invited to are likely to be those who don’t have anything better to do–a.k.a., losers–who would probably be useless filler at their events anyway. So those who are putting on events screen the field and reach out to the other cool kids via the old-fashioned way–email).

And what are these private events that Davos attendees like me are secretly hoping to get invitations to?

Well, based on my email box, and other Davos chatter, they appear to run the gamut. To wit:

* A “wind-down” party on the slopes after three days of Big Thoughts, put on by one of the largest financial media companies in the world (I’m invited!)

* A fondue party in a private chalet put on by one of the biggest marketing and advertising moguls in the world (invited and RSVP’d, baby!)

* All manner of boozy “nightcaps” at places like the Hotel Belevedere put on by huge banks and technology companies and countries (seriously: I just got invited to one hosted by Ukraine)

* A “breakfast discussion about a first-of-its-kind renewable energy initiative” with a personal invitation from and appearance by Tina Brown (who is DEFINITELY one of the cool kids, even at Davos)

* A “Chill-Out Party” on Saturday afternoon at the Hotel Belvedere hosted by something called The Kudelski Group… (Kudelski Group? Vaguely rings a bell. Should I know about them? Are they cool?)

And so on.

Now, the truth is that my email box is so jammed with these things that I’ll probably never be able to sift through all of them let alone RSVP (and I certainly don’t think I’m cool because of this–everyone else’s email is probably jammed, too). But let me say publicly that I am grateful to everyone who is kind enough to invite me to something–at Davos and in the real world.

And let me also confess that, as with all such affairs, I am spending as much time worrying about the private Davos events that I have NOT been invited to as the ones that I HAVE been invited to.

Such as?

Well, such as “The Google Party.”

An Old Davos Hand emailed me this morning to say that, whatever I did at Davos this year, I had to make sure I got an invitation to The Google Party.

And that made me worry: Wait, there’s a Google Party? Well, then why haven’t I already gotten an invitation to The Google Party? 

I mean, I run a technology publication.  I am a technology guy.  I know tons of people at Google.  I write and opine about Google all day long.  Google certainly knows meAnd Google knows I am going to Davos and they haven’t already invited me to The Google Party?

In other words, thirty seconds after learning that there was some secret, uber-cool party at Davos that I was apparently not cool enough to have been invited to, I was right back in high school, and the girl I had a crush on was going out with someone else.

(Am I even sure that there IS a Google Party at Davos this year?  No.  But I’ve still spent several minutes of my morning wondering who I should reach out to to see if I can get invited to it. And I only have a few days left!)

So you see, the truth about Davos is that it’s just like any other social gathering–including high school: Cool kids and losers and facebooks and rumors and social anxiety and partying until the cows come home.

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THE TRUTH ABOUT DAVOS: Getting Invited
THE TRUTH ABOUT DAVOS: What To Bring, What To Do, What To Wear

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WEIRD: Not a single analyst asked Apple or Google about their CEO changes during each company’s earnings call.

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The Apple Investor is a daily report from SAI. Sign up here to receive it by email.


Lloyd Blankfein Goldman SachsAAPL Down/Flat In Up Market
The market is up on positive trades in Europe and GE’s earnings beating expectations this morning. Apple shares are currently down marginally. Potential catalysts for the stock include news regarding Steve Jobs’ health and return; the launch of the second generation iPad in the second quarter; monthly NPD data (Mac / iPod business); iPhone sales updates (under new carrier Verizon) as well as the launch of the iPhone 5 anticipated this summer; new revenue streams such as video, books, newspapers and social (Ping); moving iTunes into the cloud; and the continued evolution and adoption of Apple TV. Shares of Apple trade at 13x Enterprise Value / Trailing Twelve Months Free Cash Flow (incl. long-term marketable securities).

Apple Beats Goldman Sachs In Terms Of Return On Capital (The New Yorker)
As everybody knows, Goldman Sachs and Apple both make tons of money. On the face of it, the two firms’ profit margins seem pretty similar. For every dollar of revenue generated, Goldman makes a profit of about twenty-one cents; Apple makes about twenty-three cents. From an economic perspective, the real measure of a business is the return it generates on the capital it employs. By this metric, whether it’s shareholder’s equity or return on assets, Apple leaves Goldman in the dust. And Apple employees earn a lot less than their counterparts at Goldman. Go figure.

Apple Will Be Fine Without Steve Jobs (Forbes)
Apple to continue to grow dynamically whether Steve Jobs is able to return or not. Why?

  1. Apple grew very nicely from 1985, when Jobs was fired, until 1997 when he returned to power (because of the Mac which he put in place before he left).
  2. Apple is a “network” of consumer products. It’s the halo effect.
  3. Apple is building in incremental growth from its tie-up with Verizon.
  4. Some 62% of all Apple sales are foreign and bound to increase by leaps and bounds.

Not to mention the stock is selling for 15x forward earnings per share, after a quarter when it reported net earnings per share gained 75%.

Apple Doesn’t Have To Disclose Anymore About Jobs Says Former SEC Chief (Bloomberg)
Arthur Leavitt, former chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, believes Apple’s board of directors has acted appropriately when revealing information about its company’s CEO. “It’s easy to criticize the board, but I think the reality is that someone who owns Apple stock has got to be deaf, dumb and blind not to know that Jobs has an illness that can reoccur at any time.” No mincing of words.

Here’s A New One: Apple Should Announce A Dividend (Seeking Alpha)
Because there apparently aren’t enough articles written on the topic, here it is one more time: Apple should issue a dividend. What is Apple going to do with all of its cash? It has four options:

  1. Continue to hold it in the company’s coffers while earning a measly rate of return.
  2. Authorize a minimum stock buyback of $20 billion over an extended time period.
  3. Use the funds for strategic acquisitions of a size and type consistent with past practices.
  4. Declare a one-time dividend of up to $20 per share.

Apple Criticized In China Environmental Report (CNet)
The Institute of Environmental and Public Affairs (IPE) ranked Apple dead last among 29 other tech companies for their responsiveness to health and environmental concerns in China. Specifically, the report claims that Apple ignored concerns at Wintek, a factory that allegedly exposed workers to n-hexane poisoning. Apple reportedly refused to confirm that suspected polluters were among its suppliers and avoided taking responsibility for environmental problems related to its products.

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Facebook’s Oregon data center is 5 football fields large, and it’s considering expanding it.

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catrific-catherine-valdes-rising-youtube-stars

The fine folks over at YouTube sent us a list of partners that they think will be the next breakout stars in 2011.

Looking at their subscriber growth and overall views, YouTube thinks these up-and-coming partners certainly have the potential to join the top YouTubers making six-figures a year.

We talked to YouTube and the partners on the list to find out why these guys (and gal) are poised for a breakout year. We also ranked each of them on who’s more likely to make a viral statement this year.

So, without further ado, here are your next favorite YouTube stars.

8. Anthony Persaud

What he does: Instructional salsa dance videos

Why apersaud will breakout: People’s obsession with reality TV dance shows like Dancing With The Stars has carried over to the web. Persaud’s videos teach aspiring dancers of all levels how to salsa, and judging by his channel’s subscriber growth rate and viewership, people want to learn.

Learn to Dance Salsa: Basic Steps for Beginners

7. Robert Homayoon

What he does: How-to videos of niche interests and hobbies like origami folding and solving Rubik’s cubes

Why RobH0629 will breakout: “No one else really does what he does,” says a YouTube spokesperson. His subscriber growth has shot up in the past three months, and he’s also expanding his lessons to juggling, pool, and chess.

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Sheep

Word of mouth is the best form of marketing. If a trusted friend recommends a product, we’re more likely to buy it. 

Where is the line between a business getting a few word of mouth recommendations and a product becoming a widespread sensation?  How does a company like Silly Bandz go from being a simple rubber band to all the rage?

Felix Reed-Tsochas of Oxford University and Jukka-Pekka from Harvard found that our innate “herd mentality” only kicks in when a certain threshold is reached.  The pair examined 50 million Facebook users in 2007 and looked at all of the apps they downloaded.  At that time, The Economist notes, “a Facebook user’s apps were all visible to friends, who were also notified when any new app was downloaded (a practice Facebook has since abandoned).”

The researchers found that a typical app was installed roughly 1,000 times, whereas the most popular app received 12,000,000 downloads.  The tipping point between an average app and an insanely popular one seemed to be when it reached 55 downloads per day.  Before the 55/day point, a friend’s behavior largely affected another user’s decision to download the app.  After that, users began to download the app on their own accord; a friend’s activity didn’t matter.

From this finding, the researchers determined that a product’s popularity doesn’t spread like an infectious disease — an outbreak which spreads uncontrollably.  They didn’t find much of a network effect.

The Economist concludes that “virtual lemmings are discriminating in ways we still don’t quite comprehend.  As is, no doubt, the offline troop.”

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eric schmidt

Eric—it’s been great. We’re going to miss you as CEO of one of history’s most important and influential companies. But we’ll also miss you for the strange, creepy, absurd, and downright dumb things you’ve uttered. Below, our favorites:

1. “One person’s definition of evil is another person’s different definition.”

2. “One day we had a conversation where we figured we could just try and predict the stock market… and then we decided it was illegal. So we stopped doing that.”

3. “More and more searches are done on your behalf without you needing to type. I actually think most people don’t want Google to answer their questions…They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next.”

4. “Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.”

5. “Every young person one day will be entitled automatically to change his or her name on reaching adulthood in order to disown youthful hijinks stored on their friends’ social media sites.”

6. “The Internet of things will augment your brain.”

7. “You can trust us with your data.”

8. “Is there a government that you would prefer to be in charge of this?”

9. “We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.”

10. “In a world of asynchronous threats, it is too dangerous for there not to be some way to identify you…Governments will demand it.”

It’s been fun, Eric. Here’s hoping Larry Page proves equally gaffe-happy.

[via State of Search and HuffPo and BuzzFeed]

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AOL is said to be getting $5 million from the Sporting News as part of its deal to basically close down Fanhouse and let Sporting News handle AOL sports coverage.

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new york times NYT

Less than twenty dollars a month.

That’s according to a source inside the company that Bloomberg spoke with

The price has intentionally set below the $19.99 that customers pay for a New York Times subscription on Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle reader, reports Bloomberg.

By comparison home delivery (in Manhattan) of the print version Monday through Friday will cost you $11.70 a week.

What do you think?  Will you pay?

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AOL logo in the garbage

Enough is a enough.

In his big New Yorker profile on AOL this week, Ken Auletta explained that 80% of the company’s profits STILL come from AOL’s subscription business. In an age when DSL, cable, and even 3G are all better options than dial-up that’s pretty outrageous.

But what’s really a scam about AOL’s subscription business is who it’s selling it to and why those customers stick around – in Auletta’s words, “older people who have cable or DSL service but don’t realize that they need not pay an additional $25 a month to get online and check their email.”

A former AOL exec explains that this is AOL’s “dirty little secret” – “that 75% of the people who subscribe to AOL’s dial-up service don’t need it.”

AOL’s subscriber revenues during Q3 2010 were $244 million on 4 million customers. If that former exec is right, AOL is essentially scamming 3 million people out of $20 a month for a total of $183 million per quarter and $732 million per year.

Fortunately, this scam will eventually coming to an end. AOL is down from 35 million subscribers in 2002.

But if you care about fair deals and defending the consumer all, you have to agree – this scam is not ending fast enough.

To help change that, we’ve put together a click-by-click demonstration showing how any AOL user can quit the service from the AOL web client (presumably where most users who get their Internet service from somewhere else still get their AOL mail.) Pass this post on to anyone you think might need it.

To be clear: If you have a cable or DSL Internet you do not need to pay AOL any money ever to access your email, even it is AOL email.

Click here to see how to stop paying AOL for a product you don’t need >>

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Eric Schmidt: Here’s the three big mobile areas that need investment: Faster networks, mobile payments, and smartphones for the poor.

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Joe Penna, aka Mystery Guitar Man, has the 7th most subscribed-to YouTube channel of all-time.

A few years ago, however, he dropped out of college and veered away from a pre-med Master’s program that he had already committed two years of his life to. Instead, Joe Penna followed his passion and used his creativity to scrap his way to the top of YouTube.

Through our estimates, Penna made at least $73,000 last year thanks to the banner ads placed on his YouTube channel. He’s also raking in money from pre-roll and overlay ads, sponsored videos, and t-shirt sales.

We talked to Joe Penna over Skype about his incredible journey as the Mystery Guitar Man:

AND Click Through Some Awesome Mystery Guitar Man Videos HERE >>

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