Daily Archives: July 22, 2009

Is Brett Brewer, president of Adknowledge and co-founder of Intermix Media, MySpace’s parent before it was sold for $673m to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp in October 2005, onto something else big?

Adknowledge, which claims to be the largest independent advertising network, has acquired KITN Media, owner of Super Rewards which provides the virtual currency platform for casual games on social networks such as Facebook and yes, MySpace.

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The pace of announcements surrounding next generation e-book readers and competition for Amazon’s Kindle family of devices is quickening.

Earlier this week Barnes & Noble announced that it was opening an online e-book store with 700,000 titles and had struck a strategic partnership with Britain’s Plastic Logic which is planning to launch a new reader aimed at the business market next year. (The Financial Times has also announced a partnership with Plastic Logic.) Read more

There aren’t many companies that could challenge Amazon.com. Now there’s one less.

From its early days, Zappos was built to become the next Amazon. It picked one category – shoes – to hone a  relentless focus on customer service and create enough scale to become an online category killer. From there, like Amazon, it hoped to use its low-cost fulfillment system to move relentlessly across the ecommerce waterfront.

Not many pure ecommerce companies have made it to the $1bn revenue mark, so getting this far is quite a feat (our earlier coverage is here and here.) Read more

World of Warcraft, the world’s biggest online role-playing game with more than 11.5m subscribers, looks set to receive a serious treatment by Hollywood.

The record of video games being translated to the big screen is not great, but WoW the movie will be directed by Sam Raimi, director of the Spider-Man trilogy, Blizzard Entertainment announced today. Read more

Apple’s iPods on occasion catch fire or explode, but federal officials and the company have declined to issue a recall because the accidents are so rare, according to a Seattle television news report. After battling for months, station KIRO obtained 800 pages of documents from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Those files include 15 complaints of smoking or fire, including some depictions of iPods igniting while teenagers slept. With 175m units sold, however, fewer than one in a million have been reported for that defect to the CPSC, though of course, not all such problems are reported. This being America, litigation is pending.

Yahoo is set to acquire Xoopit for $20m in a deal that could be announced as soon as today, according to a person familiar with the companies’ plans. Xoopit makes browser plug-ins that allow consumers to find photos and other media quickly within email.

The acquisition, Yahoo’s largest since CEO Carol Bartz took control of the company in January, will give Yahoo more social tools at a time when it is trying to capture some of the audience time that Facebook and other networking sites are carving out.

Film, television and music companies are all losing the fight against the illicit use of their products as consumers tap into new means of access. On the FT’s Analysis page, Salamander Davoudi and Tim Bradshaw consider the controversial issue of file-sharing.

Ten years after the launch of Napster, the first online file-sharing service, the music industry is no closer to solving the problems created by digital piracy. As advances in technology make television, film and video games companies more vulnerable to piracy, that decade-long failure to change consumer behaviour threatens to undermine business models across the media industry.

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Marc Andreessen is on a roll. Earlier this month he raised a $300m venture capital fund with his business partner, Ben Horowitz. Now Ning, the social networking startup he co-founded, has raised $15m from Lightspeed Venture Partners at a whopping $750m valuation, according to All Things Digital.

Valuing Ning at $750m seems more than generous, considering the company has never said it is profitable. Even before the economic crisis, these would have been favourable terms. Slide, which makes applications for social networks, last January raised money at a $550 valuation, while LinkedIn, a social network for professionals, got a $1bn valuation last JuneRead more

Even sceptics would agree, that’s a lot of iPhones: Apple just said it sold 5.2m of them in the three months through June.

True, it’s not as many as the company sold when it introduced the iPhone 3G a year ago, a blockbuster 6.9m units in the initial quarter. But the 3G had just shy of three months to help rack up the overall shipment numbers. Read more

When I caught up with him earlier today, Yahoo’s new CFO, Tim Morse, said he’s certainly open to reshuffling the company’s portfolio of businesses in ways that help it make more money.

He was responding to a question about talks with Microsoft about a search partnership – though, of course, he wouldn’t comment directly on the negotiations themselves.

On the surface, it certainly looks like Yahoo could do with some help with search. Its search revenues, just released, took a tumble this quarter, even as the volume of queries from users held up. Google, which reported numbers last week, did much better. Read more