Wednesday, July 31, 2013

LinkedIn Expands The Influence Of Its Influencer Program With Search Functionality And Threaded Comments

The link to the full story is here

LinkedIn today is adding some new features to its “Influencer” program, the company’s Klout-inspired network of experts and leaders in different fields launched in October 2012, who regularly publish posts that get extra special syndication on LinkedIn’s network.
Now, users can start conversations around Influencer posts with threaded comments. And with more than 300 people in the Influencer program — some like Richard Branson with nearly 2 million followers — users can now search for them and their posts specifically through LinkedIn’s search box.
The expansion of the Influencer program is an example of how LinkedIn continues to roll out new services on its platform to get people using the site more as a social network and information hub, and less as just a place to check in only when they are looking for new jobs or people to hire. The company, at its last quarterly earnings in May, noted 225 million users but slowing revenue growth, so any more movement it makes to increase time spent on the site — either to boost advertising sales or to promote more premium, paid products — is a positive.
Other recent examples of that are the company’s enhanced infographics service on SlideShare, announced last week, as well as the many changes LinkedIn has made to its home page, and bigger acquisitions like that of newsreading app Pulse, to make the site more focused around news streams and information discovery.
The new features. Today, LinkedIn is starting to roll out threaded comments — meaning that users who reply to a post by an Influencer will now be able to start conversations and debates with people who are also reading that post. This will include the ability to mention other people to draw them into the mix, and notifications when a comment of yours has received a response. This is not unlike what Facebook introduced in March of this year with threaded comments earlier on Page posts, and is therefore an example of how LinkedIn is also hoping to get more people spending time in these posts and on the site in general. It will also make for a more useful experience for those interested in debating things like the strongest leadership qualities.
Then, taking a page from the mammoth power of Google, search is another area where social networks see some of their biggest potential for more discovery (and therefore engagement on the site). The company earlier this year revamped all of its search algorithms and at the time told me that this was laying the groundwork for introducing a lot more features. Today’s expansion to be able to search by Influencer is an example of that.
Now, LinkedIn says that users can search by Influencers, and they and their most recent posts will appear in the results. This should also help get more Influencers, who by their nature are probably not shrinking violets, interested in posting more to the site.

Yahoo And Google Are Both Spending Big Money On Acquisition Sprees And What That Says About Their Futures

The link to the full story is here

These days it seems as if a startup so much as glances in Marissa Mayer’s direction, it can expect a bid within 24 hours. There’s been a lot of buzz about Yahoo’s new role as an acquisition hound of late, and Mayer’s attempts to turn the beleaguered giant into a mobile-first company and energize its ranks with young, acqui-hired talent.
But Yahoo isn’t alone in its pursuit of “serial acquirer” status. Highlighted by its blockbuster acquisition of Waze last month, Google has quietly snapped up a cadre of companies as well — and has spent a pretty penny doing it. In its “10-Q” filing with the SEC on Thursday, Google revealed that it spent $1.3 billion on acquisitions during the first half of 2013, with $966 million of that total going to Waze.
While reports had varied on the final purchase price, according to the filing, the acquisition of Waze was “for a total cash consideration of $966 million,” with “$847 million attributed to goodwill and $188 million attributed to intangible assets,” minus the $69 million in other net liabilities assumed from Waze’s books. Though the final number is subject to change, it’s now abundantly clear just how hungry Google was to beef up its social mapping data and prevent it from falling into the hands of its competitors.
On top of its new social mapping prize, Google has made another 15 acquisitions so far this year, shelling out $344 million in additional assets to buy companies like Wavii, Makani Power, Channel Intelligence and DNNresearch. Channel Intelligence represented the largest deal of the batch, with Google paying $125 million to continue its charge on the eCommerce front as well.
With Wavii going for an estimated $30 million and 13 companies still accounted for, we can deduce that Google, like Yahoo, has also been making its fair share of small-ticket acqui-hires over the year. In fact, Google acquired 53 companies in 2012, chief of which was Motorola Mobility at a price tag of $12.5 billion. The rest of its acquisitions cost $1.1 billion.
Notably, Google was in the midst of carrying out this M&A strategy when Marissa Mayer left the company to become CEO of Yahoo, and it’s clearly one that she’s now using to shore up Yahoo’s weaknesses. Yahoo spent most of 2012 wrapped up in internal struggles and attempted board takeovers. Compared to Google’s 53 acquisitions in 2012, Yahoo only made two — both of which took place only after Mayer had taken over.
Since Mayer took the reins last summer, Yahoo has accelerated its acquisition strategy exponentially, making a whopping 18 acquisitions. And, while that’s mind-boggling enough as it is, Yahoo is likely far from calling it quits. As my colleague Alex Wilhelm recently pointed out, Mayer actually has plenty of runway. Thanks to its stake in Alibaba, Yahoo has an ace up its sleeve that’s potentially worth tens of billion of dollars and which can continue to fuel its aggressive M&A strategy.
For many reasons, this is critical if Mayer is to have any shot at turning the ship around. If Yahoo really wants to strengthen its position in mobile and revamp its aging video and media technology, the company has to continue going after outside talent.


While Yahoo and Google are both making headlines for the slew of acquisitions they’ve made over the past year — and the money they’re spending to do it — this shared approach says very different things about what each company perceives as its greatest need (read: deficiency). Yahoo’s biggest problem, at least in the short term, is PR.
In other words, when Mayer took the helm, Yahoo has been spinning in circles for years. They were directionless and basically seen as a has-been company that had lost its relevance in the modern tech industry. By acqui-hiring young talent, Mayer is showing that she’s eager to return Yahoo to its former standing and regain its luster — in part, by make it attractive to younger entrepreneurs but also by updating its product to make Yahoo a destination for younger people in general.
Its billion-dollar acquisition of Tumblr is a prime example: Tumblr’s core user base consists of young people, teenagers and middleschoolers. So not only was Tumblr an opportunity to make Yahoo seem like a cool company for young people and generate more traffic, but it also allows Yahoo to play to its strength, leveraging its ad network to monetize Tumblr’s massive content silo.
Mayer’s approach to M&A is also proving that the company is eager to fix its lagging mail, search and news tools, which have been gathering dust and have been eclipsed by the likes of Google and Microsoft.
Some of these problems will be easy for Yahoo to address and fix in the short term, but they could also create more issues for the company over the long-term. Yahoo is attempting to make a litany of significant, structural changes all at once, making it tough to achieve any kind of real cohesion across its products. It may do wonders for the stock, but it could easily end up being an ad hoc, duct-tape-style solution that leaves the real, infrastructural dangers roiling beneath the surface.
In contrast, it’s taken years for Google to achieve any sort of cohesion across its own disparate products and projects. But its recently embarked on a new, “One Google Era,” in which the company has begun to prioritize collaboration and unification across its properties, which, in turn, gives more meaning to both its M&A and product strategies.
Google’s acquisition of Waze, for example, allows it to add a social layer to its existing mapping and navigation products, strengthening an already formidable arsenal of mobile properties, rather than, in Yahoo’s case, allowing it to start from square one.
Google is now focused on becoming a big data empire and adding pieces that will help it power its massive cloud services infrastructure and products that are decidedly focused on real time. This applies across its diverse properties, whether that’s to allow people to collaborate and communicate in real time through Hangouts, Docs or Gmail, search in real time or navigate in real time through Google Maps and Waze.
Going forward, Google will begin looking more to acquire and build products that will prepare it for increasingly direct competition with companies like Amazon. One place that Google has been struggling of late is in its e-commerce and shopping, where its ambitions haven’t been met with the usual rewards or dominance it’s come to expect from its ventures into search, mobile and advertising.
For example, while Google’s dominance in search remains, when it comes to discovery and engagement around products, Amazon has been leaving it in the dust. If Larry Page’s mission is for Google to use its real-time infrastructure to create utilities that are critical to their everyday lives — whether in communication or otherwise — falling behind in product marketplaces is a big problem.
That’s likely why Google is working to boost its marketplace ambitions with products like the rumored “Helpouts,” which could help find a real home for its mobile payment products, like Wallet, and communication product like Hangouts to power real-time commerce. Amazon and eBay have been busy tearing down the walls that stand in the way of buying and selling on the web. Now Google wants to join the fun, and tools like Helpouts point towards a future in which Google may begin acquiring the kind of talent that can help it to build a real marketplace on top of search and other core products

Facebook Announces New Mobile Game Publishing Effort

The link to the full story is here

A few weeks ago, we reported that Facebook was experimenting with becoming a mobile games publisher by offering distribution to studios in exchange for a cut of revenue.
Today, Facebook is formally announcing that effort at the Casual Connect conference in San Francisco, and they’re putting a call out for developers that are looking to participate. They didn’t disclose the revenue share they’re asking for.
The company says its publishing experiment is “a new pilot program to help small and medium-sized developers take their mobile games global.” The thinking is that it’s become prohibitively expensive for new mobile developers to find an audience, as the top grossing charts have become a lot more stable over the last year. With more than 800 million mobile users every month and more than 260 million people playing games on Facebook, the company says it’s in a unique position to help developers target high-quality gamers.
Already, they’ve racked up about 10 developers, including educational game maker Brainbow, Kiwi (which said it just raised $9 million led by Sequoia Capital yesterday) and the U.K.’s Space Ape, which is run by veterans of social game maker Playfish, which sold to EA for at least $275 million in cash.
While sources hinted to us that the program was really for indie developers who have fewer resources to compete with the multi-million-dollar marketing budgets of big studios, there are a few larger ones in the program. Gameloft, which is a publicly traded French gaming company worth $652 million, was also in the program with a game called Kingdom & Lords.
Facebook is embarking on mobile app publishing at a time when it is trying to figure out how much revenue it can wrest from the app ecosystem it supports with access to the social graph and ads. The company said 41 percent of its advertising revenue in the most recent quarter came from mobile platforms — or about $656 million. This is up from virtually nothing in the same quarter a year ago, when Facebook only started to turn on sponsored stories in the mobile news feed. If you annualized that, Facebook’s mobile ad business is now worth at least $2.6 billion per year.
Yet, the company hasn’t been able to tap into the rich in-app purchase revenue that game developers generate on Android and iOS. That’s because Apple and Google both control the world’s two major smartphone app stores and already take a 30 percent cut on digital transactions. So asking for a revenue share up-front in exchange for distribution through ads is a way of indirectly tapping into this.
Facebook’s thinking is that publishing is a very, very old model that goes back to the world of console gaming, so it’s a structure that is already familiar for gaming studios. In the console era, a big gaming company would market, distribute (and often edit) games from smaller studios that lacked the resources to promote their work. Facebook isn’t going to be hands-on with the content of the games, but it will help with ads and analytics.

Facebook Shares Open At $38.22, Finally Return To IPO Price After A Year Of Turmoil

The link to the full story is here

Facebook shares (NASDAQ:FB) finally broke the psychological glass ceiling of $38 a share, Facebook’s IPO price. Currently trading at $38.22 a share, the stock is slightly up 1.52 percent compared to yesterday’s closing price — it opened at $37.98 but popped above $38 in seconds. It has been a tumultuous year for the stock, but investors now seem to be satisfied with Facebook’s solid growth and its revenue on mobile.
Today marks the end of Facebook’s hesitant steps to become a mature public company. At first, CEO Mark Zuckerberg didn’t communicate a lot and the company was mostly focused on building a better product. While it was important to bring more users on board, it wasn’t enough to convince investors about long-term revenue. Building a public company demands a lot of communication efforts.
Many were concerned that Facebook wouldn’t be able to become a mobile-first company, but Zuckerberg insisted that it was his primary concern at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2012. It drove the stock up that day.
But more importantly, the company managed to bring more revenue and shift to mobile at the same time. It reported impressive Q2 earnings, with mobile ad revenue now representing 41 percent of the total ad revenue.
Facebook’s IPO price was $38 a share when the company started trading in May 2012. But in August 2012, the stock fell to its lowest price for now, $19.69, as the initial lockup expiration of 271 million shares kicked in. Early investors Accel Partners, Meritech Capital Partners and Greylock Partners all cashed in. Andreessen Horowitz, Microsoft and Kleiner Perkins chose to stay on board.
Zuckerberg had to reassure investors by saying that he wouldn’t cash in on his shares and the stock wouldn’t drop below those levels.
Yet, other lockup expirations were more favorable for the company. The first employee lockup expiration led to a smaller 5 percent hit, followed by a few days of downturn for Facebook shares.
On November 14, the biggest lockup expiration occurred and shares popped more than 10 percent, marking the end of the hectic days of Facebook stock price. After that, shares were much less volatile and subject to irrational changes. Short selling Facebook shares wasn’t as popular as well.
Since then, shares have been trading slightly above $30 or slightly below $30, still very far from the $38 IPO price. Shares have been up only very recently, after Facebook’s earnings call and great mobile numbers. Now, the stock could stabilize at this level (around $38), because shares were already up more than 6 percent yesterday. But the current trend is encouraging.
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Monday, July 29, 2013

LinkedIn Signal - No Longer Supported

The link to the full story is here

As of July 29, 2013, LinkedIn Signal will no longer be available. After this date, you will no longer be able to search status updates or access any of your saved Signal searches. Until then, you can access Signal from the Search page, by clicking the Update Type link on the left side of the page.
Why is LinkedIn doing this?
The LinkedIn team is continually working on developing more useful products and features for members like you. This sometimes means we will incorporate a feature into another product or remove it completely. Although this feature will no longer be available, you'll still be able to search for people, companies, keywords and jobs you are interested in directly from your LinkedIn homepage using the search bar.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

LinkedIn Raises Its Game In Infographics And Analytics With New SlideShare Upgrade

The link to the full story is here

Infographics are one of the most-maligned, yet most popular, ways that people share data with others, and today LinkedIn is releasing two infographics-related updates that it hopes will help it become a stronger player in that arena. The company is adding two new features to SlideShare, the content sharing platform it bought in May 2012 for $119 million: a new infographics player, and an upgrade for its paid, SlideShare PRO product so that those who post infographics and other presentations can see how well they do.
Together, the two new moves today are more signs of how LinkedIn continues to roll out products that will help it both expand its profile beyond being a place where people go to look for jobs and people to hire, and also to get more visitors spending more time on its platform — essential both for its advertising business and to generate more premium income from paid services.
LinkedIn is still, it seems, stopping short of offering tools to give users the ability to actually create infographics and other presentations themselves — this is an area being explored by startups like in infographics specifically. I’d pay attention to see whether LinkedIn makes further moves in this direction, too.
The infographics player, writes product manager Arpit Dhariwal, will mean that when infographics now get uploaded to SlideShare as PDFs, they will be automatically detected as such and also tagged and included in SlideShare’s infographics directory.
Meanwhile, the premium analytics features will mean that those who upload infographics and other content will get more meaningful data about how it gets used.
Trends are now shown by country and by those who refer an infographic (a referrer). That includes the ability now to weed out traffic from bots to concentrate only on actual humans viewing your data.
Those posting presentations can look at usage data for specific slides now as well. LinkedIn says that users will also be able to see data within 24 hours of publishing — presumably that wait time was significantly longer in the past.
The company also notes that this data can now be presented in graphical formats. That’s right: infographics about your infographics.
Whether you are in the camp that dislikes infographics or thinks they’re a great way of digesting information in our overloaded-data world, the undisputed fact is that these are on the rise. LinkedIn says that in 2012, 43% of B2B marketers (one of its target audiences) used infographics in their work, up from 28% in 2011. It claims (citing data from Payscale, in an infographic of course) that the most effective of them can reach up to 15 million people.

YouTube Launches Embeddable Off-Site Subscribe Buttons To Boost Channel Subscriptions

The link to the full story is here

Over the last few years, YouTube slowly started putting a larger emphasis on channels — especially channel subscriptions — but until now, the only way to subscribe to a channel was on YouTube itself. Today, however, YouTube is changing this with the launch of a set of embeddable subscribe buttons that video creators can put on their websites. These buttons are now available for free and paid YouTube channels.
YouTube obviously hopes that these buttons will get more users to subscribe to channels in general. Chances are, the company also hopes that this will boost subscription rates for paid channels, which have been off to a slow start.
Making one of these buttons just takes a few seconds. All you have to do is insert your channel’s name here, copy and past the code into your website and you’re good to go. You can choose between very basic buttons and those that feature both your channel’s name and logo (with a white or dark background).

Twitter’s One-Two Punch Now Lets All US Advertisers Target People Who Just Saw Their TV Commercials

The link to the full story is here

Hit ‘em with a television commercial, then with a Twitter ad to really drive the message home. That’s the promise of Twitter’s TV Ad Targeting it’s rolling out to all US advertisers today after its beta launch in May. Twitter’s Nielsen studies say the combo deliver 95% stronger message association and 58% higher purchase intent than TV ads alone.
Twitter’s also hooking up advertisers with an improved analytics dashboard that pulls in what users are saying about their ad campaigns. That could help businesses refine their ads for maximum impact and retweetability.
Here’s how the Twitter TV Ad Targeting system works.
Say Nike runs a TV commercial campaign for its new Air Jordans across several shows and networks. Twitter tracks exactly when the ads are shown and on what programs. It then looks for people tweeting about those shows by naming or mentioning the show, or using the right hashtag — people that are likely to have seen the Nike commercial. Twitter TV Ad Targeting lets advertisers target these people with Twitter Promoted Tweets ads that show up in their stream. Those could include pure text tweets reinforcing the commercial, a link they can follow to learn more or make a purchase, or even a Vine to give viewers a second dose of video marketing.
The new ad tech is based on BlueFin Labs, a TV analytics service Twitter acquired in February. BlueFin’s co-founder Michael Fleischman says that its video fingerprinting tech lets Twitter automatically detect when a TV commercials airs so brands don’t have to give Twitter a heads up. That means these ads can easily complement existing TV campaigns without a ton of work.
Now Twitter isn’t the only place people are talking about TV. Trendrr today put out a study in partnership with Facebook saying that despite the widely held belief that Twitter rules real-time chatter, Facebook sees five times as much TV-related social activity as all other social networks combined, including Twitter. Trendrr was given special access to the data by Facebook, so it should be taken with some salt. The study also tallies Facebook Likes and comments as well as posts and shares, which don’t exactly match up to @ replies and favorites…if those Twitter feedback activities were even properly counted. It’s important to know whether Trendrr’s data treated Twitter fairly, so I’ll be talking to Trendrr shortly about methodology.
[Update: After speaking with Trendrr, the way it looked at Facebook and Twitter seems like more of a "apples to oranges" comparison. Trendrr tells me it was measuring Facebook Likes but not Twitter favorites, making this an unfair match-up. It's also important to understand that how much social activity around TV each network generates is only a piece of the puzzle. How many people actually saw that actvitity is critical to an accurate comparison, and that's difficult because Facebook uses a filtered feed that doesn't show everything but keeps important posts visible for long periods of time, while Twitter's unfiltered feed shows everything but all posts get washed away as more tweets flood into the stream.]
Twitter TV AdOf course Facebook has five times as many users as Twitter, so it’s not necessarily doing TV chatter better, it’s just bigger. Also, if Facebook does have more chatter, it’s not taking as strong of advantage of it as Twitter is here. Facebook has been publicly focusing its advertising efforts around retargeting and matching offline purchase data to users. Meanwhile, Twitter seems to be making big advances in semantic recognition of what people are talking about and how that can target ads. This could let it appeal to brands with big TV ad budgets that might be apprehensive about Facebook’s new-fangled ad services.
Tell me once, and I’ll forget. Tell me twice and I might keep your brand in mind the next time I’m shopping. If used creatively, Twitter’s targeting could let businesses create a marketing narrative that tells a deeper, more interactive story than a commercial locked inside your TV can. Twitter can’t be 100% positive you weren’t in the bathroom or making a sandwich while the TV commercial aired, but it’s sure enough to be able to sell the targeting and directly monetize its place as a home for discussion of real-time events.

Facebook Q2 Earnings Beat Expectations With $1.81B In Revenue, Up 53%, Mobile Hits 41% Of Ad Revenue

The link to the full story is here

Today Facebook reported its second-quarter financial performance, including revenue of $1.81 billion. Analysts had expected Facebook to earn $0.14 per share on a top line of $1.62 billion. The company’s revenue figure released today is an all time quarterly high for the firm.
Facebook’s second-quarter revenue is up 53 percent on a year-over-year basis. Analysts had expected a 37 percent increase. In the quarter, Facebook had a net income of $333 million. In its most recent sequential quarter, the first of 2013, Facebook’s revenue totaled $1.46 billion, and it earned $0.12 per share.
Mobile income as a percentage of ad revenue totaled 41 percent, up 11 percent from the preceding quarter, when it totaled 30 percent. In the final quarter of 2012, mobile ad income was but 24 percent of the total advertising top line. Facebook has proven that it can monetize its growing mobile usage in a big way. Investors will be satiated in that concern.
Facebook later noted that mobile revenue will soon outstrip desktop incomes. The company also reaffirmed that Instagram will monetize in the future, largely through advertisements.
Frankly, in my view the 41% figure is quite impressive, and unexpectedly strong. However, we should not take as indicative that all desktop Internet giants will be able to monetize at similar levels in mobile settings. Facebook data on its users is nearly without compare, and likely provides it with a key competitive advantage in how it can deliver targeted ads to users on the go.
The majority of Facebook’s revenue comes from advertising-related income. However, its payments and fee revenue totaled $214 million during the quarter, up 11 percent on a year-over-year basis.
On the usage front, Facebook demonstrated strong growth, with its daily active user tally rising 27 percent on a yearly basis to 699 million. Monthly active users now total 1.15 billion for Facebook, up 21 percent when compared to the second quarter of 2012. Finally, mobile monthly active users were up 51 percent compared to 2012, to 819 million. For more on Facebook’s usage metrics, TechCrunch’s Josh Constine has the fully skinny.
Facebook’s capital expenses were down in the quarter, but it continues to suffer from margin pressure. In the second quarter, Facebook’s operating margin was 31 percent.
During the company’s earnings call, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated that teen engagement remains quite high on the social service. According to the company, engagement among teens in the United States, penetration is all but complete, and engagement remains strong. That is against the narrative that teens are increasingly bored with Facebook, in favor of other services.
Facebook ended the quarter with $10.3 billion in cash and short-term investments, leaving it very well capitalized. In regular trading Facebook was up around 1 percent. In after-hours trading, Facebook is massively up.

Zuckerberg Says Teens Still Steadily Engaged With Facebook

The link to the full story is here

Critics claim Facebook is losing its cool among kids and expect teens to start tuning out in favor of hip apps like Snapchat, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg says “based on our data, that just isn’t true.” Zuckerberg said on today’s earnings call that “we believe we have close to fully penetrated the US teen demographic for a while,” and that teens remained steadily engaged with Facebook this year.
Zuckerberg admitted that it’s hard to pinpoint metrics on teens because some people lie about their age. Specifically, kids under 13 aren’t allowed to join Facebook, but there’s no strict verification process of the age users enter when they sign up. Some 10 or 11 year olds may say that they’re 15 so they can join. That means that some people listed as 21 could actually be teenagers.
But whatever their age, people are still spending a ton of time on Facebook. Users spent 20 billion minutes per day on Facebook in June. That’s 17.39 minutes per day per user, or 8.3 hours per user per month.
And that time isn’t just coming in binges. People are consistently addicted to Facebook. Zuckerberg started the earnings call by saying he expected fewer of its total users to return each day as it grows, but he’s been pleasantly surprised to find that “the opposite is true.” More than 70 percent of monthly users in the United States and Canada come back every day and that “stickiness” percentage has kept increasing both domestically and across the globe over the last few quarters.
Many predicted mobile would be the downfall for Facebook. It was originally built as a web service after all, and when it did finally adapt to mobile, its apps were sluggish. Meanwhile, mobile-focused social networks and communication apps like Twitter, Snapchat and Path threatened to take up users’ time on the small screen.
And they have taken a slice. But mobile has also drastically increased the size of the pie. People are spending more time with technology overall, and Zuckerberg noted that studies by comScore and Nielsen say Facebook’s share of people’s time is increasing, especially if you count Instagram as part of Facebook. Plus Facebook has found ways to monetize these mobile users, generating 41 percent of its ad revenue this quarter from mobile, or $655 million.
Worries about the flight of teens and its inability to squeeze dollars out of mobile have held down Facebook’s share price since its rocky IPO. With these fears quelled, $FB is up 17.13 percent in after-hours trading to $31.05 as it seems investors are seeing Facebook for what is, rather than what it might not be. It is 1.15 billion people who have chosen Facebook as the digital representation of their lives and friendships, the place they get their news and gossip, and where they make their voices heard.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

LinkedIn page admins can now comment on and like status updates as the brand they represent

The link to the full story is here

Company pages are a pivotal part of the LinkedIn experience, given that they offer a reference point for users’ employment history and also convey the firm’s work, corporate personality and reputation.
These pages look a little drab, however, and lack the same level of interaction afforded by rival social networks such as Facebook. LinkedIn is hoping to change this by giving administrators the ability to comment and like posts on their company page as if they were the firm itself.
It’s a small addition, but one that should give marketing and social media managers greater control over their brand and how they engage with new and existing customers. This functionality has been offered on Facebook for sometime, simply by hitting the arrow icon in the top right-hand corner and selecting the appropriate company account. LinkedIn is therefore playing catch-up, although it’s a welcome addition nonetheless.
Screenshot on 2013 07 22 at 17.52.34 730x576 LinkedIn page admins can now comment on and like status updates as the brand they represent
Once enabled, a small dialog box will appear near the top of the company page denoting that the all new ‘likes’ and comments will now be displayed alongside the company name and logo.
It’s not clear at this time whether administrators will still be able to comment and like posts on their company page from their own personal account, however. A key difference between Facebook and LinkedIn is that users can switch between the two accounts; a clear line that dictates which profile future engagement will be sent from.
With LinkedIn, the user retains their personal profile at all times. Comments and ‘likes’ are displayed from the company account automatically – there’s no option to use their own name – and any like or comment submitted outside of this page will always be sent from the user’s own personal account. There’s no leeway, which is likely to be frustrating to some.
Nevertheless, it’s an interesting tack for LinkedIn that should incentivize further engagement from enterprise users.

Sponsored Updates: New Ways To Discover Relevant Content In Your Feed

The link to the full story is here

You may have recently started to notice Sponsored Updates in your LinkedIn feed, so we wanted to give you some insight on what they are and how they can work for you.
Whether you’re following a thought leader from our Influencer program, checking up ontrending news, getting updates from your network, groups or the companies you follow – professional information and insights have become central to your LinkedIn homepage experience.
Over the last six months, we’ve been testing Sponsored Updates in the LinkedIn feed with companies like NissanXerox and Adobe. These updates, which look like regular posts, are clearly labeled “Sponsored” and give you the option to “Like,” “Comment” and “Share” the updates, as well as “Follow” the company.
We know that getting relevant information at the right time can help inform the many business decisions you make throughout your day. Through Sponsored Updates,businesses aim to engage select communities of LinkedIn members with useful information. This can come in the form of an article, blog post, video or presentation that is rooted in relevant content. Here’s an example of a Sponsored Update:
nissan motor sponsored updates
Sponsored Updates can be seen on your desktop, smartphone or tablet. While your LinkedIn homepage experience on any of these devices will not be dramatically different, you may occasionally see Sponsored Updates in your feed. Most of your updates will continue to be organic information from your network.
We are focused on delivering posts that will be relevant to you. Just like other content in your feed, we will gauge your engagement with Sponsored Updates and aim to surface posts that will be useful to you. In the event a piece of content isn’t relevant to you, we offer the option to hide it from your feed. You can see this option on the top right by hovering on any Sponsored Update.
linkedin sponsored updates

Monday, July 22, 2013

Gmail Offers Full-Screen Compose Again

The link to the full story is here

Google has just launched a brand new, but ultimately ineffectual, feature for Gmail users: a full-screen compose option.
Enabling this option will push the compose window to the center of your inbox, expanded across the majority of the screen for a better viewing experience.
Google launched a brand new compose a few months ago, which gave users a bevy of new tools to build out their emails, as well as a new design to let you open a compose window without ever leaving the inbox. However, it appears that some users enjoy a more full-screen compose experience, not unlike the Gmail compose of Yore.
By default, the formatting toolbar will stay on in the full-screen compose.
Users can switch to full screen by clicking the expand button in the top right window or set full-screen as the default by selecting the “Default to full screen” option in settings.
If you don’t see full-screen compose functionality just yet, have no fear. According to the Gmail team, it’ll be up and running for all users over the next couple of days.
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Google Takes 6.3% Stake In Google Glass Tech Supplier Himax Display As It Preps To Ramp Up Production

The link to the full story is here

Shares of semiconductor maker Himax Technologies are jumping in pre-market trading with the news that Google has taken a 6.3% stake in Himax Display (HDI). HDI is a subsidiary of the Taiwanese company that focuses on liquid crystal on silicon (LCOS) chips and modules, which are used in Google Glass and other products. HDI also counts Kleiner Perkins, Khosla Ventures and Intel as investors.
Google’s stake is a sign that Glass production is ramping up: the company says that the invesmtment is being made to “fund production upgrades, expand capacity and further enhance production capabilities.”
It’s not clear what the valuations of HDI or Google’s stake are. Jackie Chang, the CFO of Himax, tells us the company is not making that information public right now. “We are not disclosing the information,” she told me in an email earlier. “This announcement allows us to disclose information that is required by the SEC. We are delighted to enter into the agreement with Google.” That SEC filing is here.
Himax Technologies itself, which trades on NASDAQ, has a current market cap of $876.7 million. Shares closed down on Friday at $5.17 (down 3.36%) but are trading nearly 40% higher before the market opens so will likely see a pop today.
What’s more clear is that this is a sign that growing interest in Google Glass and other products like it are putting some pressure on Himax, which has been around since 2004, to increase production facilities.
As Google makes more moves into positioning itself as a vertically-integrated tech player beyond software and cloud-based services, the company’s stake in HDI could grow. Himax says that the 6.3% stake includes an option to make an additional investment in more preferred shares within the next year. If exercised in full, Google can take up to a 14.8% share in HDI.
“Google is a preeminent global technology leader. We are delighted to receive this investment and to form a strategic partnership with Google,” said Jordan Wu, president and CEO of Himax, in a statement. “Beginning the second quarter of this year, we had already begun expanding capacity to meet demand for our LCOS product line. This investment from Google further validates our commitment to developing breakthrough technologies and state‐of‐the‐art production facilities. We look forward to leveraging this investment and our collective expertise with Google to create unique and transformational LCOS technologies for many years ahead.”
As part of the deal, Himax, which now owns 81.5% of the subsidiary, says it will also be investing money to expand production at HDI. Google’s share acquisition is expected to close in Q3 2013

Facebook Acquires Assets Of UK Mobile Bug-Checking Software Developer Monoidics

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Facebook has just agreed to acquire certain assets and hire some employees of UK software verification developer Monoidics. Pending closing conditions, Monoidics’ engineers and tech staff will join Facebook’s London office. Facebook will apply the Monoidics automatic formal verification and analysis software to its mobile development process to scan for bugs.
The Monoidics team writes: “In 2009 we started this company with the goal of making the best automatic formal verification and analysis software in the industry. We’ve gone from theoretical ideas in logics of programs all the way to a company with a world-class engineering team, real customers and an office right in the midst of London’s Silicon Roundabout. It’s been incredible journey. . . we’ve loved every minute of it.” But now its techies are going to continue their mission at Facebook, though the rest of team isn’t coming along. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Facebooker Phillip Su explains, “We have always focused on hiring smart, talented engineers — and in this acquisition, we found many. Their entrepreneurial spirit and desire to make an impact make them great additions to Facebook. We can’t wait to have them here!” As for exactly why Monoidics will be doing with Facebook, the company tells me, “They produce some of the best automatic formal verification and analysis software—code that checks other code for bugs—in the industry, which we will apply to our mobile app development to keep a high quality bar.”
Monoidics’ Infer Static Analyzer helps developers deliver bug-free code with a focus on memory safety and security. It turns bug detection into a mathematical algorithm, generating a correctness proof that guarantees software has no memory leaks or illegal pointer references. It works on all sizes of apps, and can recognize what parts of a piece of software have been updated so it doesn’t redundantly re-scan approved code. Meanwhile, Monoidics’ X-Ray system can visualize software to highlight areas of risk so bug-crushing teams know what to investigate. Monoidics clients included ARM semiconductor, Airbus and Mitsubishi Electric.
Facebook recently moved to a scheduled release cycle where it pushes out iOS and Android updates every month or two months. It also recently launched an Android beta program to let users help it test potential features. All this fast shipping means Facebook could risk pushing out buggy apps. Monoidics could make sure that doesn’t happen.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

New Strategies Make LinkedIn Stock An Attractive Investment

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LinkedIn (LNKD) is now 10 years old and it seems to me that it is executing its business strategy as well as it could have in the past, specifically in terms of product innovation and development and the creation of an internal culture that will take this company forward in the future. At around this time, many technology companies find it difficult to maintain the momentum because the founders tend to leave, especially after an IPO, and their entrepreneurial instincts and passion are sorely missed.
The business of business networking
The concept of business and professional networking has made considerable progress because of the success of companies like LinkedIn. Though not as immediately popular or successful like the social networking sites such as Facebook (FB), business communication is being transformed through the use of networking and information sharing. The business of online professional networking is scaling up in areas such as recruitment and product marketing and promotion while social networking sites are expanding the range of services that they offer to businesses and professionals. Since the IPO in 2011, LinkedIn has generated more than half its revenue from talent solutions, which link potential employees to recruiters but is having problems in generating ad revenues from its growing base of mobile users. Premium subscribers generate ad revenues of only 20% of total revenues because of the low rate of conversion of users to paid subscriptions. One impediment to progress has been the lack of video interaction, which means that many recruiters are unable to use LinkedIn to conduct preliminary interviews for potential candidates.
The business strategy
For the first eight years, LinkedIn concentrated on connecting people with one another but, with its Influencers program, it has moved to creating an audience for prominent professionals to communicate their ideas and it does not cost them one penny in compensation. Among these influencers are people like Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Sir Richard Branson and Shinzo Abe. The response has been encouraging and is another step forward in increasing engagement with users. This should ultimately result in users returning to the site time and again and also spending more time there. Unlike Twitter or Facebook where messages keep users coming back, so far, LinkedIn has made it necessary for users to only come back now and again to check on jobs or to update resumes.
The new engagement strategy seems to be working because in the first quarter, page views increased by more than 60% from the same quarter of the previous year and top posts are regularly producing more than 100,000 views. Because engagement makes the site more useful day to day, an increase is bound to result in increased ad revenues and the sales of its own services. Revenue for the first quarter grew by 72% year-over-year to $324.7 million though it is hard to pin down the specific reasons.
The new focus on media
As another prong in its engagement strategy, the company has decidedthat the more news it provides the more reason for users to keep coming back. Between the acquisition of the new reader Pulse and the growth of LinkedIn Today, which is the news on its home page, it is emerging as a serious alternative for business news. The company has said that it would like the user to start every day to check out the latest insights and the news. Hopefully, this will increase sales of subscription based services and generate further online advertising revenue.

Catching Up With Android, Google Maps 2.0 For iOS Offers iPad Support, Indoor Directions

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posted 3 hours ago
Screen Shot 2013-07-17 at 9.53.55 AM
Poor Apple Maps. While we see very minor improvement from Apple’s year-old Maps application, Google continues to improve its world-class offering pretty rapidly.
Why, today, in fact, Google launched an update to the Google Maps for iOS app, adding support for the iPad, indoor maps, and a slew of other features that were released with the recent Android Google Maps update.
Google Maps 2.0 now fully supports the larger screen sizes of the iPad and iPad mini, as well as offering indoor maps with walking directions for transit stations, airports, malls and other large buildings.
Past that, you’ll also notice that the Google Maps iOS app now offers better navigation with live traffic updates and incident reports. Meanwhile, Apple Maps still hasn’t figured out transit directions.
Google 2.0 also includes 5-star ratings for various locations, alongside reviews from friends and Zagat content, and if you were perhaps looking for a little marketing in your Maps app, Google is also pushing Google Offers to users through the navigation app.
Google has always been ahead of the pack when it comes to Maps, and with the recent acquisition of Waze crowd-sourced mapping technology, Google’s lead will likely only get bigger.
The update is available now in the Apple App Store.