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Author Topic:   Facebook
fred
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From:Redmond, WA
Registered: Apr 2000

posted July 12, 2007 08:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Widgets help make Facebook the most valuable turf on the internet
Posted Jul 12th 2007 10:42AM by Tom Barlow
Filed under: Products and services, Launches, Competitive strategy, Google (GOOG), Time Warner (TWX), News Corp'B' (NWS)

You've probably become used to the animated ads that show up on web pages such as ours. If you build your own web site, or use MySpace (News Corp, NYSE: NWS), or Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) iGoogle Home Page, or My AOL (Time Warner, NYSE: TWX), you may have grabbed some useful miniprograms that allow you to imbed a clock, a stock ticker, a weather report, or headlines from a variety of web sites and feeds. These mini-programs are called widgets, and they are the hottest topic on the 2007 internet marketing scene.

Widgets offer internet page builders a good deal, providing interesting content, updated frequently, to make the web page more appealing. In return, the web page host allows them to add a bit of advertising.

The upside for advertisers is that this allows them to spread their brand across millions of sites without paying for the placement. The downside for consumers is that widgets slow load times and clutter the content. The downside for sites dependent on advertising revenue (such as ours) is that when so many people are giving it away free, it's harder to sell advertising.

The most important aspect of widgets, though, is that they allow the user to create her own newspaper-like home page, with bricks containing the feeds she follows in the layout she prefers. No longer does she need to browse the web; instead, widgets bring the web to her.

Therefore, in a widget world, the most important turf is the visitor's home page. A Facebook user, for example, can load widgets in his page that bring his favorite content to him. No longer will those sites enjoy the ad revenue from his site visits, but are reduced to what they can pack into their widget.

In a widget world, Facebook, with over 30 million regular users and growing exponentially, could be the most valuable turf on the internet. If, as Tom Taulli speculates, it is about to go on the market, we could be looking at Google-like valuation at the time of its IPO.

IP: 152.163.100.207

indiedan
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From:Santa Monica
Registered: May 2000

posted July 16, 2007 10:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A long-standing dispute over the origin of Facebook looks set to haunt the growingly popular social networking service as it heads towards an IPO.

A lawsuit due to come before the US Federal Court later this month alleges that Facebook CEO and Founder Mark Zuckerberg stole the original code for Facebook

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra, accuse Zuckerberg of stealing the source code, design, and business plan for Facebook in 2003 when he worked in the Harvard dorms as a programmer for their own tertiary education focused social-networking site HarvardConnect.com, now known as ConnectU.

It’s not unusual to see companies being sued as they are nearing an IPO, however this lawsuit is 3 years old. This isn’t a case of plaintiffs looking for a quick buck as billion dollar valuations are discussed; this article from The Stanford Daily details the case against “thefacebook.com” in 2004, which at the time only had 200,000 members and a lot less 0’s on the end of any theoretical company valuation.

The plaintiffs have demanded that Facebook be shut down and that full control of the site and its profits be turned over to them.

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NEWSFLASH
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posted August 14, 2007 01:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for NEWSFLASH   Click Here to Email NEWSFLASH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Job candidates get tripped up by Facebook
Many students learn the hard way that online image can limit opportunity
By Wei Du
MSNBC
Updated: 10:30 a.m. PT Aug 14, 2007
Van Allen runs a company that recruits job candidates for hospitals and clinics across the country. With physicians in short supply, he was happy to come across the resume of a well-qualified young female psychiatrist.

As part of his due diligence check, Allen looked her up in Facebook, a popular social networking Web site, and found things that made him think twice.

“Pictures of her taking off her shirt at parties,” he said. “Not just on one occasion, but on another occasion, then another occasion.”

Concerned about those pictures, he called the candidate and asked for an explanation. She didn’t get the job.

“Hospitals want doctors with great skills to provide great services to communities,” Allen said. “They also don’t want patients to say to each other, 'Heard about Dr. Jones? You’ve got to see those pictures.’”

Job candidates who maintain personal sites on Facebook or MySpace are learning — sometimes the hard way — that the image they present to their friends on the Internet may not be best suited for landing the position they’re seeking.

Although many employers are too old to qualify as members of the Facebook Generation, they’re becoming increasingly savvy about using social networking sites in their hiring due diligence. That has both job candidates and human resources professionals debating the ethics and effectiveness of snooping on the Web for the kind of information that may not come up in a job interview.

According to a March survey by Ponemon Institute, a privacy think tank, 35 percent of hiring managers use Google to do online background checks on job candidates, and 23 percent look people up on social networking sites. About one-third of those Web searches lead to rejections, according to the survey.

Social networking sites have gained popularity among hiring managers because of their convenience and a growing anxiety about hiring the right people, researchers say.

Big corporations long have retained professional investigators to check job applicants’ academic degrees, criminal records and credit reports. But until now the cost has deterred the ability of smaller firms to do the same level of checking, said Sue Murphy, a director of National Human Resources Association.

One problem is that there is little to prevent hiring managers from discriminating on the basis of personal information discovered through social Web sites.

"There's just not much legislation on that yet," Murphy said.

New college graduates, the most active social networkers, are most likely to be the target of Web research.

“For people new to a field, companies just don’t have a lot to look back on,” Murphy said. “They can’t call up your former boss. They look you up on Facebook.”

Financial services firms and the health care providers are among the biggest users of social networking sites, said Larry Ponemon, founder of the Ponemon Institute.

“These industries are stewards of people’s property and health, and companies really look for a high level of integrity,” said Ponemon.


Professional services like law and consulting firms also are big users, because companies care about how employees present themselves to clients and look for clues in how applicants present themselves online.

Risqué pictures are not the only way a job applicant can be tripped up. Pictures of illegal behavior like drug use, or heavy alcohol use, could disqualify a candidate. Some also suggest poor writing and bad grammar on Facebook profiles and in blog entries can raise a red flag about communication skills. Derogatory comments or complaints or radical political positions also can draw the scrutiny of a prospective employer.


One job applicant indicated in his Facebook profile that he was a leading hacker, and he was applying to be a computer security analyst, said Ponemon. He didn’t get the job.

“It’s amazing how many things people just put out there,” said Murphy of the human resources association.

Facebook users often don’t expect their personal information to be monitored by potential employers, and many consider their online profile information to be private.

A study by Adecco, a work force consulting firm, showed that 66 percent of Generation Y respondents, those in their late teens and 20s, were not aware the information they put online can be factored into hiring decisions. Fifty-six percent said they think the practice is unfair.

Originally Facebook was seen as a safe "closed circuit" site, in which profiles would only be visible to people in a limited group. The site originally required users to register with a valid college e-mail address. But the site loosened the restriction last summer to allow anyone to register with a valid e-mail account. Facebook networks, which had been relatively small, expanded to include companies and even large geographic areas.

The new policies of Facebook drew public attention this year when Miss New Jersey Amy Polumbo nearly lost her crown after being blackmailed over pictures of her that were taken off her Facebook profile. Ultimately the judges decided not to take away her title, but her crown was tarnished.


“This was meant to be private,” Polumbo told TODAY Show host Matt Lauer, referring to photos that showed her fully clothed but posing provocatively and drinking at clubs.

“People have a common misconception about how big their networks really are,” said Michael Fertik, CEO of Reputationdefender.com, a year-old startup offering services to minimize the damage of Web background checks. “Nothing on the Internet is private. Period.”

Reputationdefender.com offers to monitor one’s Web reputation for $10 a month plus a one-time fee of $30 to remove from the Web an unwanted item that may have slipped out of the user’s control.

In one high-profile case last spring, a group of law school students found that pictures were taken off their Facebook accounts and reposted onto an online discussion board without their permission. Whoever posted the pictures then invited suggestive comments.

The law students tried to have their pictures removed from the discussion board, complaining that had been shunned in job interviews.


“People also have to understand the standard you will be judged against in hiring,” said Fertik. “Employers don’t have to believe what they see — they only have to decide not to take a chance on you.”

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NEWSFLASH
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Posts: 7462
From:Hollywood, CA
Registered: Apr 2002

posted October 25, 2007 04:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for NEWSFLASH   Click Here to Email NEWSFLASH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
$15 billion valuation based on the Microsoft investment. Wow.

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NEWSFLASH
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From:Hollywood, CA
Registered: Apr 2002

posted November 02, 2007 09:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for NEWSFLASH   Click Here to Email NEWSFLASH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Google may have just come out of nowhere and checkmated Facebook in the social networking power struggle.

MySpace and Six Apart will announce that they are joining Google’s OpenSocial initiative. Silicon Alley Insider reported the MySpace rumor earlier today. We’ve confirmed that from an independent source, as well as the fact that Six Apart is joining. Per the update below, Google has also confirmed Bebo is joining.

Google will be making an announcement today. MySpace and Six Apart join Orkut, Salesforce, LinkedIn, Ning, Hi5, Plaxo, Friendster, Viadeo and Oracle as announced Google partners. No word on whether MySpace will continue with efforts to complete its own recently announced platform, but the answer is probably yes. They are likely to simply do both (Update: see below).

Suddenly, within just the last couple of days, the entire social networking world has announced that they are ganging up to take on Facebook, and Google is their Quarterback in the big game.

Update (12:30 PST): On a press call with Google now. This was embargoed for 5:30 pm PST but they’ve moved the time up to 12:30 PST (now). Press release will go out later this evening. My notes:

On the call, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said “we’ve been working with MySpace for more than a year in secret on this” (likely corresponding to their advertising deal announced a year ago).

MySpace says their new platform efforts will be entirely focused on OpenSocial.

The press release names Engage.com, Friendster, hi5, Hyves, imeem, LinkedIn, Ning, Oracle, orkut, Plaxo, Salesforce.com, Six Apart, Tianji, Viadeo, and XING as current OpenSocial partners.

We’re seeing a Flixster application on MySpace now through the OpenSocial APIs. Flixster says it took them less than a day to create this. I’ll add screen shots below.

Here’s the big question - Will Facebook now be forced to join OpenSocial? Google says they are talking to “everyone.” This is a major strategic decision for Facebook, and they may have little choice but to join this coalition.

Bebo has also joined OpenSocial.

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HollywoodProducer
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posted November 04, 2007 09:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for HollywoodProducer   Click Here to Email HollywoodProducer     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Facebook: More Popular Than Porn
By Bill Tancer

When I wrote last week's column comparing the social-networking sites MySpace and Facebook, I included a line after my signature stating that I had only 124 friends on Facebook, and urged readers to add me as their friends. As of today I have 261 new Facebook friends, the majority of which are Generation Y college students.

I turned to Hitwise data to find out more about them. By examining which websites social-network users visit after logging into their profiles, we can gain a bit of insight into how sites like Facebook fit into their members' daily online lives. The data showed that after other social networks, the most clicked-on category of sites was search engines, with 11.6% of all downstream visits. Web-based e-mail services were next with 8.5%. Blogs came in third in popularity at 6.1%, claiming more than four times the number of visits to traditional news sites, which logged 1.5% of downstream visits.

Perhaps a more interesting — and more accurate — way to figure out where college students are going online is to assess which of the 172 web categories tracked by Hitwise get the most hits from 18- to 24-year-olds. Here's a shocker: Porn is not No. 1. I've actually been puzzled by the decrease in visits to the Adult Entertainment category over the last two years. Visits to porn sites have dropped from 16.9% of all site visits in the U.S. in October 2005 to 11.9% as of last week, a 33% decline. Currently, for web users over the age of 25, Adult Entertainment still ranks high in popularity, coming in second, after search engines. Not so for 18- to 24-year-olds, for whom social networks rank first, followed by search engines, then web-based e-mail — with porn sites lagging behind in fourth. If you chart the rate of visits to social-networking sites against those to adult sites over the last two years, there appears to be a strong negative correlation (i.e., visits to social networks go up as visits to adult sites go down). It's a leap to say there's a real correlation there, but if there is one, then I'd bet it has everything to do with Gen Y's changing habits: they're too busy chatting with friends to look at online skin. Imagine.

This reshaped online landscape leaves me feeling old and out of the loop. It seems that social-networking sites have not only usurped porn in popularity, but they've also gobbled up time Gen Y-ers used to spend on traditional e-mail and IM. When you can reach all of your friends through Facebook or MySpace, there's little reason to spend time in your old-school inbox. So, if social networking is becoming e-mail 2.0, then perhaps Microsoft's recent $240 million dollar payout for such a small stake in Facebook isn't that ridiculous.

The reality is that Facebook isn't just for kids. Last week — and this was a highlight — my dad, who just turned 75, added me as a friend on Facebook. I considered sending him a virtual beer to celebrate the occasion, but I didn't think either of us would see the point. Back in my day, we drank beers out of bottles and cans — we didn't have these new-fangled virtual beers. But, then again, I think that's something I probably still have in common with the younger generation, something I don't need Hitwise data to back up: the love of a good old-fashioned beer.

Let the messages roll in.

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fred
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From:Redmond, WA
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posted November 29, 2007 02:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Facebook ruins Christmas for everyone!
There’s no easy answer for social networking’s forced spokesmodels
By Helen A.S. Popkin
updated 4:38 p.m. PT, Wed., Nov. 28, 2007
Way back in the early 90s, this well-read pot-smoking hippie conspiracy freak friend of mine predicted the mainstreaming of mullets, the return of burlesque, and an all-intrusive advertising technique in which individuals are paid to walk around 24/7 holding a product next to their faces and smiling.

When this came to pass, my paranoid pal assured me, he’d be safely off the grid, well-hidden in the rainforests of Costa Rica where Madison Avenue would never find him.

More than 15 years later, my friend’s insanely accurate divinations are true — with a few exceptions. Hardly ensconced in Costa Rica, Hippie Conspiracy Freak still resides in the living Pepsi commercial that is now Williamsburg, Brooklyn. And thanks to Facebook, people virtually hold products at eye level at all times — only they’re not getting paid for their services.

If you’ve been too busy hitting the post-Thanksgiving Day door busters to pay attention, Facebook’s new internal marketing program Beacon, tracks member purchases made at 40-some odd participating e-commerce sites and shares them with your social network buddies via profile news feeds in a passive form of brand endorsement.

Users are provided the opportunity to “opt out” by clicking a prompt each and every time he or she makes an online purchase from a connected e-merchant. Ignore the prompt, like so many of the millions of pop-up opportunities provided to Internet users each and every second of the day, and it conveniently disappears. Silence equals consent!

One might point out that a classier social networking site would offer its users the more ethical opportunity to “opt in,” or failing that, an “opt out” prompt that obnoxiously doesn’t allow you to move forward until you make an active choice. You know, like the “Terms & Agreement” box you have to click on to track the location of your UPS package.

But more cryptically than your friends finding out your gift purchases, Facebook is free to share your very personal and potentially lucrative information with so-called trusted third parties that use it to personalize ads for even more crap they now know you’re pretty likely to buy. What’s more, while more attentive Facebook members can opt out of having their info shared with friends, there’s no way to keep the social networking site from sharing your business with outside companies.

In its very American pursuit to find new and exciting ways to make money, Facebook (not to mention me and you and everybody else) knows that nobody ever reads those “Terms & Agreement” legalese diatribes, let alone Web site privacy statements or even return policies. In our gym-memberships-and-gift-cards-we’re-never-gonna-use society, can you really blame 'em for trying?

MoveOn.org can and is. The activist group accuses Facebook of ruining Christmas for everyone, and means to put a stop to the social networking site’s Grinch-like insistence of telling the world about the case of Dymo guns on Overstock.com and giving away your privacy to its business partners. It’s organizing a petition of Facebook users unhappy with the new practice. And bully for them.

That said, there shouldn’t be a single Internet enthusiast out there surprised at this progression of events. This train’s been coming down the track for a long time, and you don’t need to be a trend-spotting savant to hear that whistle. My paranoid hippie friend contends that we’ve all been mollified to this eventuality by social networking sites which make sharing our private information the hip thing to do.

Whatever. More interesting is the larger issue of plenty of information you thought was fairly private being available for viewing by anyone. Drunk dialing isn't gone, but it's been preempted by the much more satisfying drunk Facebooking/Flickr-ing/YouTube-ing etc. Your business is out there, and you’re the one who shared it.

While browsing online the other day, my Flickr-addicted friend Daniel came upon a celebrity's Flickr set. Maybe it was fake, but who cares? The point is, there's a special type of voyeurism available now. We don’t have to wait until someone’s dead and their stuff ends up at the local thrift shop — we can now look at the random people's photo albums of the living. Wondering what your crazy ex-girlfriend from high school was up to? Well, turns out she's fat and doing community theater. Awesome!


Regarding online privacy, there are no easy answers — not any that are going to appease everyone any time soon. But the question is probably more interesting anyway. We've already spent a lot of time grappling with the drift of information from private to public. Facebook ruining MoveOn's Christmas is just the latest iteration.

Meanwhile, if I could find out the name of the person at MoveOn most annoyed at Facebook, I could probably tell you if they look pleased by the latest changes they've wrought on the Internet.

IP: 64.236.243.16

a
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posted December 21, 2007 12:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for a   Click Here to Email a     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Parody sites start anti-social networking trend By Claire Sibonney
Fri Dec 21, 8:30 AM ET


Tired of phony online friends? Make enemies instead. Riding on the popularity of social networks such as Facebook and MySpace, new Web sites are poking fun at online friendships that connect you to the people you like, by turning attention to the ones you don't.

Over the past 18 months, sites such Snubster, Enemybook and Hatebook are appealing to Internet users who get a kick out of the tongue-in-cheek humor of mocking their friends and others who are just plain cynical.

"I didn't understand these fake-friend war chests that people were so busy building online," said Bryant Choung, a technology consultant who started Snubster last year.

"I would get Facebook requests from people I talked to for three minutes at a bar or party, and now this person wants to go online to peruse all of my photos and contacts. I just didn't get it," the 26-year-old added.

Snubster, a Facebook application and a Web site with 16,000 users worldwide, lets users compile people and things they dislike.

No one from Facebook, which boasts 59 million active users worldwide, was available to comment about the sites.

When Facebook opened up its network to outside applications earlier this year, some users decided it was an opportunity to poke fun at the phenomenon.

Kevin Matulef, the creator of Enemybook, said the idea for his Facebook application started as a joke last summer when friends at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) were asking if someone was a real friend or a Facebook friend.

"It started basically as a satire, sort of a parody of some of the superficial aspects of Facebook and the connections that you have, but now it's kind of evolved and it allows people to express themselves via their dislikes," said Matulef, 28.

Enemybook, which has 9,000 users, is similar to Snubster in that it lets you "enemy" so-called friends, public figures and fictitious characters.

"A lot of people like myself use it just to joke around with our good friends," said Matulef.

Choung agrees. "I hope that most people take it as a joke, on occasion I do get complaints from people about others who take it too seriously."

But Murray Pomerance, a professor of pop culture sociology at Ryerson University in Toronto, said most people take their online relationships very seriously.

"There are a lot of people who do not believe the friends that they have on these sites are phony," he explained.

"I know people who have lots and lots of friends on these sites and who say things about themselves on these sites that they would never say to anyone straight up in public or in private."

Pomerance added that any online social networking, whether it's making friends or enemies, could be dangerous.

"Who you liked and who you hated used to be private," he said. "What they're doing is taking human feeling and emotion and making us actually register them through these online services."

(Reporting by Claire Sibonney; Editing by Patricia Reaney)

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fred
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posted January 13, 2008 07:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dude is on 60 Minutes right now.

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fred
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Posts: 8282
From:Redmond, WA
Registered: Apr 2000

posted March 10, 2008 05:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Facebook goes live in French Mon Mar 10, 1:24 PM ET


A French-language Facebook site went online Monday hot on the heels of German and Spanish versions of the Internet social networking giant.

US-based Facebook produced the site with the help of 4,000 French users, who suggested ways to translate the network's jargon and voted for the best choice.

Founded in 2004 by former Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook claimed to have 67 million active users worldwide at the beginning of March, of whom 1.4 million live in France.

Facebook hopes to boost its global popularity by making itself available in different languages, with a Spanish site launched last month and a German one that went online last week in addition to the new French version.

Members can now choose from a drop-down menu to display their homepage in any one of the four languages, although applications, games and software nuggets so far remain displayed in English, including common Facebook terms -- to "poke" a contact, for instance.

A Facebook petition for the site to be translated into French signed up more than 130,000 members: "Victory! We have our French Facebook," wrote one user, Jasmine Samson from Montreal, Canada.

But others were unimpressed. "Ok, so you've done it, but it's a hatchet job. Why go only half way?" complained David Perez.

A French counter-petition against translating the site had close to 8,000 members, who argued that limiting Facebook to English-speaking, better educated users helped keep out "undesirable" members.

A majority of its users now live outside the United States, with a third based in Europe: France has the sixth largest community after United States, Britain, Canada, Turkey and Australia, the site says.

The social networking site has been gaining ground on the market leader, the US site MySpace, which was founded in 2003 and snapped up two years later by Rupert Murdoch's media empire, and now claims 110 million users.

Facebook's 23-year-old founder Zuckerberg is the youngest ever self-made billionaire according to Forbes magazine.

The site's value has been estimated at as much as 15 billion dollars (9.75 billion euros), based on Microsoft paying 240 million dollars for a 1.6 percent stake in the company last year.

Facebook announced this month it had hired Sheryl Sandberg, a former top executive at Google, to be its new chief operating officer, with the goal of boosting its turnover from 150 million dollars last year.

In charge of business development, Sandberg will be tasked with finding new revenue channels -- including targeted advertising -- while protecting users' personal data.

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NEWSFLASH
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Posts: 7462
From:Hollywood, CA
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posted May 05, 2008 05:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for NEWSFLASH   Click Here to Email NEWSFLASH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sports Illustrated to Take Fantasy Game to Facebook
Sports Illustrated Group has reached an agreement with Citizen Sports Inc. to develop and promote sports-related Web content, including a fantasy-football game that will be played on the Facebook Inc. Web site. The move is, in part, an admission by the iconic sports brand, owned by the Time Inc. division of Time Warner Inc., that it needs to do more than draw traffic to its own Web site. It also needs to take its products to a site people already visit. As part of the agreement, closely held Citizen Sports, of San Francisco, will develop the software for the fantasy game. The Sports Illustrated sales force will sell advertising to accompany the game, and the magazine will make articles by its writers available to players. The game is expected to launch in July. In fantasy sports, people pick teams made up of real athletes. Players win or lose depending on how well the athletes they chose perform in different statistical categories. Ken Fuchs, vice president and general manager for SI Digital, Sports Illustrated's online operation, says that rather than competing head to head with other sports sites to attract visitors, he wants to take his content to the places where sports fans already are. "We want people to come to our site, obviously," Mr. Fuchs says. "But we recognize there's an opportunity to reach people where they interact." Facebook, a social-networking site that allows people to exchange messages and form groups around shared interests, had 35 million unique visitors in March, according to comScore Media Metrix. Sports Illustrated has struggled to adapt to the Internet age. Its Web site, SI.com, received 8.3 million unique visitors in March, according to Nielsen Online -- well behind competitors such as Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN.com and Yahoo Inc.'s sports site, which were visited by 19.8 million and 19.4 million people, respectively. Sports Illustrated also trails by a large margin ESPN.com, Yahoo, and CBS Corp.'s Sportsline.com in the number of people who play its fantasy-sports games. Fantasy sports "is a huge business for sports Web sites," says Clay Walker, founder of the Fantasy Sports Association, an industry group. More people play fantasy football than any other fantasy sport, he says. In 2007, 11.7 million fans played fantasy football, according to Nielsen Online, up 16% from 2006. The average participant spent almost two hours a month on fantasy Web sites -- about four times as long as the average visitor. The games are responsible for as much as 80% of the ad revenue on many large sports sites, Mr. Walker says. Facebook allows businesses to create games and other services within its site. The businesses keep revenue from ads they sell to accompany these services, a Facebook spokesman says. Facebook benefits by drawing more people to its site. Facebook has shown that it has the potential to disrupt the fantasy-sports industry, says Mr. Walker. In particular, he notes that a recent game on Facebook in which people picked the team they thought would win the National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball tournament was more popular than similar games on traditional sports Web sites. The partnership with Citizen Sports may help Sports Illustrated reach that audience. Citizen Sports Chief Executive Mike Kerns says that 4.5 million Facebook users already participate in fan communities that his company created for the site, giving it an immediate audience for the fantasy game. (WSJ)

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HollywoodProducer
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posted May 07, 2008 05:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for HollywoodProducer   Click Here to Email HollywoodProducer     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Microsoft Looked at Facebook As Yahoo Bid Crumbled; An Informal Approach Didn't Go Far, But Online Advertising Still Beckons
Microsoft Corp., under pressure to quickly craft a strategy for competing online that doesn't involve Yahoo Inc., informally approached social-networking Web site Facebook Inc. to gauge its interest in selling itself to Microsoft, says a person familiar with the situation. Microsoft's investment bankers recently contacted Facebook as it looked likely the Redmond, Wash., software company might back away from buying Yahoo, says the person. There are no active discussions between the two, the person said, and it is unclear if closely held Facebook would consider selling. The approach was previously reported on the allthingsd Web site, owned by News Corp.'s Dow Jones unit, publisher of The Wall Street Journal. Spokesmen for Facebook and Microsoft declined to comment. Meanwhile, Yahoo continues to face challenges of its own. Google Inc. executives are now divided over whether to pursue a search-advertising deal with Yahoo, according to a person familiar with the matter. Separate discussions between Yahoo and Time Warner Inc. also continue, according to people familiar with the situation. However, they say there is less urgency to reach a deal now that Microsoft has exited the stage. The two sides are discussing combining AOL and Yahoo. Microsoft's contacts with Facebook are the first signs the software maker has looked for alternatives to buying Yahoo. In a letter to Microsoft employees in the wake of the failed talks, Microsoft's Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said the company would explore acquisitions and increased investment in its own online services. Among the possibilities: News Corp. and Microsoft had been talking about a tie-up, according to people familiar with the discussions. The two had also discussed Microsoft spinning off portions of its online group and combining them with MySpace and Yahoo, say these people. News Corp said Wednesday that it isn't currently in discussions with Microsoft. Facebook is a fast-growing Web service that has become a hub for consumers. Last year, Microsoft bought a 1.6% stake, valued at $240 million, in the site. It then valued Facebook at $15 billion. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's founder and chief executive, has resisted the idea of selling his whole company. He recently made several high-level hires that suggest he intends the company to remain independent.Facebook's main attraction for Microsoft is its size. In March, Facebook drew 109.2 million visitors, up 240% from March 2007, according to comScore Inc. The company expects revenue of $300 million to $350 million this calendar year, up from about $150 million last year. By comparison Microsoft's Web sites attracted 563.2 million visitors worldwide in March, up just 7% from the year-ago month. The big question for Microsoft is whether Facebook can become a major source of online advertising. Facebook has tried to expand online advertising, but half of its revenue last year came from a partnership with Microsoft. Through its investment last year and a deal struck in 2006, Microsoft has an exclusive arrangement to sell display ads on Facebook through 2011. Acquiring Facebook might not significantly add to Microsoft's inventory of space in which to show ads across the Web. (WSJ)

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indiedan
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posted May 12, 2008 10:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Valley Wag:

Technologists are instinctively averse to debt. The cycles are too swift and mistakes too punishing, the conventional wisdom says, to subject a startup to the burden of debt; cash is better spent on growth opportunities than interest. But Facebook has never followed the usual script for a startup, and its CFO, Gideon Yu, is no herd-follower, either. No wonder that the news that Facebook is leasing $100 million worth of servers, after raising a $360 million round of venture capital from Microsoft and Li Ka-Shing, is causing such a ruckus — and some misconceptions. Here are the instant myths that have arisen:

* Facebook is borrowing money. Actually, no. Facebook's $100 million is a lease, not a loan. Facebook is on the hook for rent payments, and will have the option to buy the equipment at the end of the lease. But technically, it's not on the hook for the $100 million. That said, it's hard to imagine how, at the end of the lease, Facebook functions without the servers it's renting. What Facebook is doing with the lease is delaying the day it has to buy its servers outright.
* Facebook is borrowing money because it can't sell its equity. Henry Blodget of Silicon Alley Insider put forward this theory, and its moments like these that one wonders less why the former stock analyst was barred from the securities industry. A venture lease like Facebook's usually requires an "equity kicker" — warrants to purchase stock, the corporate version of the stock options employees get. In this case, Facebook negotiated a warrant-free deal, but it's given TriplePoint warrants in the past. So Facebook's lender, TriplePoint, is betting that Facebook's equity is worth something; it wouldn't have offered it leases in the past otherwise. A warrant-free deal may not be great for TriplePoint, but it's great for Facebook.
* Facebook won't know what to do with all those servers. This is the most nonsensical theory of all. Facebook isn't renting servers for the workaday business of displaying webpages and photos. While it needs some more servers to keep up with site growth, the main reason it needs so many servers, I believe, is that it's planning to use them on the massive job of analyzing data to target advertising and content to its users.
* Gideon Yu must be an idiot. We've ribbed Yu for being a bit slick. But as YouTube's CFO, Yu negotiated the company's sale to Google for $1.65 billion. Shall we not give him some small amount of credit for knowing what he's doing?

And as for that bromide about tech companies not incurring debt? In the form of leases, they do it all the time, from landlords and hardware makers. Even startups lease their offices, and IBM, HP, Dell, Sun and others have large financing arms that help put equipment in customers' hands without money upfront. Save for the size of this deal and the name of the renter, TriplePoint's lease would have been wholly unremarkable.

There is one question that remains: How TriplePoint will come up with the money. This is reportedly the largest deal the lender has ever financed. Let's take TriplePoint at its word, though. The company's website says it has says it has "the capacity to put more than $1.5 billion to work" — curiously hedged wording. Note that TriplePoint doesn't actually say it has $1.5 billion on hand to lend. But that's TriplePoint's problem, not Facebook's.

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fred
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posted May 19, 2008 09:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here's a funny item from Valleywag about Mark Zuckerberg:

e've never gotten a straight story on why Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took off for a trip around the world. Work or pleasure? Our latest tipster says that Zuck's travels are really about about avoiding the unpleasantries of business — specifically, easing out some of Facebook's old guard, like CTO Adam D'Angelo. Here's what he passes on:

More recently, a very high up manager in Facebook contacted me saying that Mark is a senstive soul about some matters, and did not want to be around when his friends were being "let go"/"leaving to pursue other passions."

Put another way, Zuckerberg is giving new COO Sheryl Sandberg room to run the place unsentimentally. It's a reminder that Zuckerberg is both brilliant and young, having just turned 24 on Wednesday. He's immature enough to be uncomfortable firing people, and yet self-aware enough to realize that's a problem.

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HollywoodProducer
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posted May 19, 2008 01:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for HollywoodProducer   Click Here to Email HollywoodProducer     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Microsoft is coming off as crazy desperate...

Facebook stresses independence amid Microsoft talk By Mariko Katsumura
Mon May 19, 2:41 AM ET


Facebook Inc founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg stressed his company's independent spirit on Monday, after a report the social networking site might be sold to software giant Microsoft, which is hunting for ways to beef up its Internet business.

"You can tell, from our history and what we've done, that we really wanted to keep the company independent, by focusing on building and focusing on the long-term," Zuckerberg told Reuters while in Japan to launch a Japanese language version of Facebook.

Microsoft already has a small stake and the Wall Street Journal said this month the software giant, having failed in its $47.5 billion bid for Internet portal Yahoo Inc, had approached Facebook to gauge its interest in a full takeover.

Asked specifically about the prospect of a sale, Zuckerberg declined to comment.

Microsoft has not given up on a deal with Yahoo, saying on Sunday it had proposed an alternative plan to Yahoo.

Facebook, founded by Zuckerberg when he was at Harvard University in 2004, has become one of the hottest properties on the Internet because of its strong loyalty among the more than 70 million users who swap pictures, messages and virtual gifts.

Microsoft took a $240 million stake in Facebook in October last year, a purchase that valued the start-up at $15 billion.

Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing recently put $120 million into the company and smaller investors have contributed another $15 million.

Zuckerberg, in the past, has resisted selling the entire company, opting to work towards an initial public offering.

Facebook is launching a Japanese website to try to lure users in Japan's online networking market, which is currently dominated by Japanese firm Mixi Inc, which has more than 10 million users and an 80 percent share of Japan's 44 billion yen ($422 million) social networking market.

Zuckerberg said he was confident that Facebook could lure Japanese users as its services differed from its rivals as users gave their real names.

"The biggest thing about Facebook is that it's real names and real people," Zuckerberg said, adding that made his site more trusted.

He said Facebook was planning to launch a Japanese language service on cellphones, an area Mixi is already active in.

($1=104.17 Yen)

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