Friday, February 28, 2014

Google Plus 4.3 Update Brings Photo Editing Across Devices, More Filters, Better Backups

Alex Dumitru says the Google Plus app has been updated to version 4.3 and it comes with a lot of new features, like the ability to edit photos across multiple devices, new filters, and the ability to backup local folders.

Google Plus photo editing now saves edited photos as a new file, instead of replacing the original one. This means you can edit the same photo on multiple devices at the same time or you can even revert to the original version.

The app also comes with a lot of new filters and enhancements, which turns it into a versatile photo editing app. The 4.3 update is really huge and you will notice the multitude of photo editing options it now has and that’s not all.

Google Plus 4.3 really makes us think it’s going to replace the Gallery app in the future, as it’s now doing everything that can be done with the Gallery and much more. The Google Plus Photos app now shows you all your photos by default in the All tab, which can be easily scrolled down thanks to the new scrollbar on the right.

Along with all the other updates, you can also now backup your local folder and not just the photos taken with the camera. Head over to the app’s settings and you will find a checkbox that allows the app to backup all your local folders. This includes even photos received on WhatsApp or any other app.

Google Now Listens For Your Voice In Chrome Beta

Mark Hachman of PCWorld writes that Google has added hands-free Voice Search in a new Chrome beta, steadily bringing Android-like features to its desktop browser.

In the Chrome beta build, all users need to do is open a new tab or visit, say “Ok Google,” and then start speaking a search query. The software will then deliver the same voice-activated search results that Android users already enjoy. The desktop Chrome beta will be rolled out to English (U.S.) users on Windows, Mac and Linux over the next few days, with support for additional languages and Chrome OS coming soon, Google said in a blog post.

If all this sounds familiar, it should. Google added a little microphone icon to the homepage in 2011, allowing users to simply click the mic and say, rather than type, a search. In November, Google added a Google Search Hotword extension for Chrome and Chrome OS, allowing users to visit Google and not have to click the mic at all, instead using the trigger phrase “OK Google” to launch the search.

Now, by integrating that feature into a beta, Google has eliminated the extension itself. The logical next step? Total integration into the browser and the Chrome OS.

That will inevitably give some pause. At this point, users have to manually enable the “OK Google” feature. Once that’s turned on, however, Google will be listening every time you open a new tab, or visit the homepage. But Google's listening feature is turned off until either those of two actions are triggered, Google representatives said.

We’ve reached out to Google to ask if the service is “listening” when neither condition is met, and what it’s doing with the audio it’s collecting while listening for the trigger phrase. (According to a Google help page, “Your search will only be sent to Google if you say ‘Ok Google’ while on a tab and the extension is active. Local processing is done by the extension on your device in order to detect when you say ‘Ok Google.’”)

After you utter "OK Google," Google then sends the sound of the next thing you say to Google's servers, the Google representative said.

Privacy issues aside, however, Voice Search is roughly equivalent to what you can do in Android: perform searches, set appointments and reminders, or set a timer. (Under Android, you can also command Google to open applications and perform other searches.)

Google Voice Search seems useful—although, as my colleague Brad Chacos points out, it would even be more useful with a Moto X-like approach to always-on listening. Will all users share Brad’s feelings? That remains to be seen. But one thing’s for sure: Google Voice Search integration marches on.

LinkedIn And People You May Know

Yet another new feature from LinkedIn. They have been extremely busy rolling out new feature after new feature and it seems to have worked for the moment. Their stock price has rebounded nicely.

Strong professional relationships can be the lifeblood of a successful career. But building a healthy, thriving professional network takes time, experience, and even a little know-how. Beginning today, LinkedIn’s all-new People You May Know page is taking some of the mystery out of building that network.

The new People You May Know simplifies the experience of growing your network. It does that by bringing all your pending invitations and suggestions to connect together in one place. The sleek new design features beautiful cards with larger photos for an easier to read, streamlined experience. Valuable insights are also at your fingertips. 
You’ll be able to clearly see if we’re suggesting a connection based on your previous address book import, or if we’re suggesting a LinkedIn member we think you might know. Find this information by hovering over the bottom right of a suggested member’s photo so that you can quickly and easily decide if you want to connect. See someone you don’t want to connect to? You can still remove the suggestion to connect to that person by clicking the “x” icon at the top right of each card.

You’ll be able to reach this new experience from the People You May Know modules on the right hand side of your LinkedIn Homepage, LinkedIn Profile, and LinkedIn Inbox, and whenever you send or receive an invitation.

This is just our first step in reimagining the way you discover and connect with professionals across LinkedIn. We’re looking forward to making People You May Know even more valuable over the next few months. To help you get started today, here are a few tips to making more powerful connections on LinkedIn.

Focus on quality: When it comes to your professional network, the quality of your connections is more important than quantity. Connect with people you’ve done business with, who can vouch for you, and who you’d feel comfortable vouching for yourself.

Personalize your invites: Customize your invitations from the new People You May know page by hovering over the person you want to connect with and clicking the “envelope” icon at the bottom right of each card. Writing a personal note goes a long way in strengthening the relationships that make up your network.

Stay on top of your invitations: Invitations sent to you will now appear at the top of the People You May Know page, so they won’t get lost in your inbox. Want to respond, see what you have in common, or review the messages sent between you? Just hover over the person’s card.

Request introductions: Introductions help you connect with members in your extended network through the people you both know. The recently introduced How You’re Connected tool on LinkedIn profiles makes it easier to find the best path to getting introduced.

We’re excited to announce that the new People You May Know is now being rolled out to English speaking members.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Windows Support For Facebook Messenger Gone After March 3rd

The War of the Messengers. Maybe Facebook will attempt to buy Microsoft. That is a joke of course.
Emil Protalinski says Facebook today began prompting Facebook Messenger for Windows users with a message saying the app is shutting down next week. Without much of an explanation, the company plans to kill off Windows support for Facebook Messenger on March 3.

“We’re sorry, but we can no longer support Facebook Messenger for Windows, and it will stop working on March 3, 2014,” the message states at the top of the application. “We really appreciate you using Messenger to reach your friends, and we want to make sure you know that you can keep chatting and view all your messages on Learn more.”

The “Learn more” link unfortunately takes the user to a generic Messages page on Facebook’s Help Center. The only section relevant to Facebook Messenger for Windows is for uninstalling it.

The Facebook Messenger for Windows installer is nowhere to be found on theofficial site. The page specifically says the app is available for Android and iOS, but not Windows:

The news comes less than three days after Microsoft announced Facebook Messenger for Windows Phone would arrive in just a few weeks. “We’ve been working with Facebook testing out their implementation for a while,” Joe Belfiore, Microsoft’s corporate vice president and manager of Windows Phone, was quoted by Techcrunch as saying during a press conference at Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona. “It’s looking good and we will have it for our customers soon.”

It seems Microsoft can only keep Facebook in one of its platforms at a time. The company is of course attempting to merge the Windows and Windows Phone stores, but that’s still a long way off.

Facebook Messenger for Windows was released in March 2012, following a limited beta test in November 2011. An OS X version has been long expected, but that seems even less likely now.

“I can confirm that we are notifying people who use Facebook Messenger for Windows that it will no longer be available as of March 3,” a Facebook spokesperson told TNW. The chat client was available for just under two years.

Facebook Messenger for Firefox is also shutting down on March 3.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Facebook News Feed Change

Another News Feed Change from Facebook. Here is the story.

In January, we introduced Trending to help highlight the global conversations that happen on Facebook. Today, we’re adding a new way for people to discover conversations around topics they’ve expressed interest in.

Now, when a Page tags another Page, we may show the post to some of the people who like or follow the tagged Page. For example, this post by the Bleacher Report might be shown in News Feed to people who follow or like Dwight Howard, in addition to people who follow or like the Bleacher Report.

This already happens with updates from friends -- if a friend tags me in a photo, my friends may see this photo in their News Feed even if they're not friends with the person who tagged me. When we tested adding this feature for Pages we found that people liked seeing this type of content in their News Feeds and gave these stories high scores in surveys.

We look at many factors to make sure the most relevant stories appear in News Feed, including which posts are getting the most engagement (such as likes, comments, shares and clicks) across all of Facebook. We also consider which posts are getting the most engagement from people who like both the Page that posted and the Page that was tagged.

For example, if many people who like Dwight Howard also like the Bleacher Report, it suggests that these two Pages are connected. If we see that people who like both the Bleacher Report and Dwight Howard are liking the post above, that's an indication that it may be relevant for people who only like Dwight Howard.

This means some Page posts that tag other Pages may be seen by new people.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Facebook Doing Away With Email

Facebook is retiring its email service and has begun notifying users that all email sent to their address will soon be forwarded to their primary email address on file. 

Facebook users can turn off the forwarding feature, which is on by default. Users without a primary email address on Facebook won't receive forwarded messages, but it's pretty unlikely that they're missing anything. 

"Most people have not been using their email address," said a Facebook spokesperson, who confirmed that the update effectively retires the social network's email service.

Facebook Adding Phone To WhatsApp

WhatsApp, the globally popular texting app that Facebook just acquired for a whopping $19 billion, is adding phone calls to its list of services says CNN.

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum said the voice service will be free and begin rolling out to users within the next few months.

Currently, WhatsApp offers unlimited text and voice-mail messages between users. Its service is free for the first year, then costs 99 cents annually.

"We want to make sure people always have the ability to stay in touch with their friends and loved ones really affordable," Koum said in a speech at Mobile World Congress.

As reported by multiple news outlets, Koum also announced that WhatsApp now has 465 million monthly users and 330 million daily users. The latter is 15 million more than what was made public last week when Facebook announced the purchase.

Voice service will come first to Apple devices and Google's Android operating system, with Windows phones and Blackberry to follow.

The move puts WhatsApp in competition not only with other messaging apps that offer voice but chat tools such as Skype and even mobile carriers. WhatsApp's unlimited texting has already helped establish it in places where smartphones and fancy data plans are less common.

It has 40 million users in India and another 38 million in Brazil, two countries highly coveted by tech companies such as Facebook for their large populations and emerging mobile customer base. WhatsApp hasn't released figures for the United States, where it is less popular.

Last week, Facebook shocked the business world when it announced it was buying WhatsApp for up to $19 billion in cash and stock -- by far the social network's largest acquisition to date.

LinkedIn Adds Blocking Feature

As the features keep rolling out for LinkedIn here is the latest one that should have been added years ago. The ability to block. Here is how you block someone.

To block a member from viewing your profile:

Go to the profile of the person you'd like to block.

Note: After you finish blocking someone, you will disappear from the Who's Viewed Your Profile section of the person you blocked.
Move your cursor over the down arrow next to the button in the top section of the member's profile. Button name may vary.
Select Block or Report next to the member's name.
Click Continue.

On the next screen, click Agree to confirm your action.

Once you've blocked a member, they'll appear on your blocked list. The blocked member won't receive any notification of this action. You may block up to 50 members on LinkedIn. Learn more about what blocking does and doesn't do.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Facebook To Give 10 Year Anniversary Movie To Memorialized Accounts

Facebook is doing a great thing by giving those family members a chance to see the 10 year movie of a lost loved one.

Here is the story:

As members of Facebook’s Community Operations team, we talk to people who use Facebook every day and we're committed to making their experience better. Some of the people who reach out to us are grieving the death of a friend or family member, and they usually ask for their loved one's timeline to be memorialized.

Over the past several months, we've been thinking about and working on better ways for people to remember loved ones. As we continue to think through each aspect of memorialization, we ask ourselves questions that have no easy answers: How might people feel? Are we honoring the wishes and legacy of the person who passed away? Are we serving people who are grieving the loss of a loved one as best we can?

Based on conversations inspired by these questions, we've decided to make an important change to how we preserve legacies on Facebook. Up to now, when a person's account was memorialized, we restricted its visibility to friends-only. This meant that people could no longer see the account or any of its content unless they were Facebook friends with the person who passed away. Starting today, we will maintain the visibility of a person's content as-is. This will allow people to see memorialized profiles in a manner consistent with the deceased person's expectations of privacy. We are respecting the choices a person made in life while giving their extended community of family and friends ongoing visibility to the same content they could always see.

Today, we're also glad to begin offering a way for anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one to see that person's “Look Back” video. In recognition of our ten-year anniversary, a group of our engineers created personal movies for people using some of the posts and photos they had shared over the years. For one man in Missouri, the Look Back video he was most desperate to watch was one that had not yet been made. John Berlin reached out to ask if it was possible for Facebook to create a video for his son, Jesse, who passed away in 2012. We had not initially made the videos for memorialized accounts, but John's request touched the hearts of everyone who heard it, including ours.

Since then, many others have asked us to share the Look Back videos of their loved ones, too, and we're now glad to be able to fulfill those requests (video requests can be made here).

Changes like this are part of a larger, ongoing effort to help people when they face difficult challenges like bereavement on Facebook. We will have more to share in the coming months as we continue to think through how best to help people decide how they want to be remembered and what they want to leave behind for loved ones.

More Changes From LinkedIn

As I stated in another blog, LinkedIn is continuing to turn out new features to their platform amiss the on going drop in their stock. The newest feature is "Who viewed your Profile?"

Here is what LinkedIn had to say about this newest feature.

Wouldn't it be great if someone could tell you that just by adding a photo to your profile or sharing a specific article with your LinkedIn network, your LinkedIn Profile would be 11x more likely to be viewed and potentially attract more professional opportunities your way? Well, I’m happy to say that starting today, it will be available to you – on LinkedIn.

We’re pleased to introduce the new Who’s Viewed Your Profile – packed with new visual analytics and actionable insights designed to give you more ways to manage your professional identity and increase your visibility across LinkedIn.

As one of the most popular destinations on LinkedIn, Who’s Viewed Your Profile has always given members a way to discover new opportunities and be discovered by others – but we knew the full potential hadn't been unlocked. Today we’re giving you the key with access to more data driven insights such as the industry your viewers work in, the keyword searches that led to your profile, how they found you and new insights including what regions they live in, what profession they are in and what company they work for. This will help you quickly identify trends and enable you to align your professional brand with your professional goals.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Google Acquires

Google has acquired, a British web security firm that makes its living fighting ad fraud, the company announced today.

The acquisition brings one of the world's most respected anti-malware teams in-house at Google. Over the past few years, Spider has unearthed a number of giant botnets and digital fraud operations, including one that implanted malicious ads on Google-owned YouTube across a reported 3.5 million desktops.

"It's an industry-wide problem and it's something that if we don't address as an industry, it's going to impact all of us," said Google VP display advertising Neal Mohan in an interview with Ad Age.

Facebook Taking A Shot At LinkedIn Adds Job Title Add Targeting

Beware LinkedIn. Facebook is coming after you. This newest add-on for business is a smack in the face or the proverbial shot across the bow.

Facebook’s targeting features are becoming simpler and even more powerful. In the coming weeks, our improved Core Audiences targeting options — the targeting features built into all of our ad buying interfaces — will begin rolling out, allowing advertisers around the world to reach precise audiences based on four main targeting types: location, demographic, interests and behaviors. And in the US, we’re also adding Partner Categories to the Ads Create Tool so that every marketer — from brands to local businesses — can use this targeting option.


Say you’re a retailer that wants to show ads to people that live near your brick-and-mortar locations. With flexible location targeting, you can build campaigns around any combination of geographies: country and city (France and London), country and state (Canada and New York), state and city (California and Las Vegas), state and ZIP code (US only), etc. It's also easier to exclude certain areas — i.e., New York City, except 11211, or the UK, excluding Cambridge.


Trying to boost sales at your flower shop? It’s now easier to reach people who have recently declared their love for someone on Facebook. Core Audiences features more values for relationship status (like civil unions and domestic partnerships) as well as timely changes in life events, like getting engaged or married. We've also added a level of flexibility long requested by marketers, which allow targeting for people that have gotten engaged or married in the past year, or the last 3 or 6 months.
Or, maybe you're a recruiter for a law firm and want to specifically advertise to associate attorneys at law firms in New York. Now you can. Core Audiences now covers information like workplace and job title, and offers expanded information about education.


We know that people have a ton of interests, and that marketers want to reach people specifically based on them. So we simplified how you can do this on Facebook by redefining our interest-based targeting segments so each has one simple meaning. Rather than having multiple targeting options like broad categories and keywords, we developed a new methodology that increases the precision of interest-based targeting by allowing advertisers to simply choose one segment. Now, if you want to reach baseball fans, just choose "baseball" as your targeting segment — it'll pull in all the people that have liked or expressed interest in baseball-related topics on Facebook.


We're including in Core Audiences a new targeting option, behaviors, which includes Partner Categories. This gives marketers the ability to target campaigns to people based on things they purchase and what devices they use. For instance, if you want to reach people interested in music that use iPhones, you'll use behaviors as part of creating your target audience.
Expanded availability of Partner Categories

Previously available only in Power Editor, Partner Categories will soon roll out to the Ads Create Tool for US advertisers, offering more marketers the ability to build audiences around offline actions.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Facebook To Acquire WhatsApp

From the Facebook News Feed. This is one LARGE Acquisition. Wow.

Facebook today announced that it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire WhatsApp, a rapidly growing cross-platform mobile messaging company, for a total of approximately $16 billion, including $4 billion in cash and approximately $12 billion worth of Facebook shares. The agreement also provides for an additional $3 billion in restricted stock units to be granted to WhatsApp’s founders and employees that will vest over four years subsequent to closing.

WhatsApp has built a leading and rapidly growing real-time mobile messaging service, with:

Over 450 million people using the service each month;
70% of those people active on a given day;
Messaging volume approaching the entire global telecom SMS volume; and
Continued strong growth, currently adding more than 1 million new registered users per day.

The acquisition supports Facebook and WhatsApp's shared mission to bring more connectivity and utility to the world by delivering core internet services efficiently and affordably. The combination will help accelerate growth and user engagement across both companies.

"WhatsApp is on a path to connect 1 billion people. The services that reach that milestone are all incredibly valuable," said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO. "I've known Jan for a long time and I'm excited to partner with him and his team to make the world more open and connected."

Jan Koum, WhatsApp co-founder and CEO, said, “WhatsApp's extremely high user engagement and rapid growth are driven by the simple, powerful and instantaneous messaging capabilities we provide. We're excited and honored to partner with Mark and Facebook as we continue to bring our product to more people around the world.”

Facebook fosters an environment where independent-minded entrepreneurs can build companies, set their own direction and focus on growth while also benefiting from Facebook’s expertise, resources and scale. This approach is working well with Instagram, and WhatsApp will operate in this manner. WhatsApp’s brand will be maintained; its headquarters will remain in Mountain View, CA; Jan Koum will join Facebook’s Board of Directors; and WhatsApp’s core messaging product and Facebook’s existing Messenger app will continue to operate as standalone applications.

Upon closing of the deal, all outstanding shares of WhatsApp capital stock and options to purchase WhatsApp capital stock will be cancelled in exchange for $4 billion in cash and 183,865,778 shares of Facebook Class A common stock (worth $12 billion based on the average closing price of the six trading days preceding February 18, 2014 of $65.2650 per share). In addition, upon closing, Facebook will grant 45,966,444 restricted stock units to WhatsApp employees (worth $3 billion based on the average closing price of the six trading days preceding February 18, 2014 of $65.2650 per share). As of February 17, 2014, Facebook had 2,551,654,996 Class A and B shares outstanding plus approximately 139 million dilutive securities primarily consisting of unvested RSUs. The Class A common stock and RSUs issued to WhatsApp shareholders and employees upon closing will represent 7.9% of Facebook shares based on current shares and RSUs outstanding.

In the event of termination of the Merger Agreement under certain circumstances principally related to a failure to obtain required regulatory approvals, the Merger Agreement provides for Facebook to pay WhatsApp a fee of $1 billion in cash and to issue to WhatsApp a number of shares of Facebook’s Class A common stock equal to $1 billion based on the average closing price of the ten trading days preceding such termination date.

Facebook was advised by Allen & Company LLC and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP; and WhatsApp was advised by Morgan Stanley and Fenwick & West, LLP.

New Twitter Certified Program Partners

Here is the newest add to Twitter. This is taken from their blog.

Eighteen months ago, we launched the Twitter Certified Program to showcase the leading products that make Twitter more valuable for businesses. Since then, we’ve grown to 31 partners in the Certified program including Hootsuite, Sysomos, and Wayin. And recently, we’ve added two new Certified products:

Lithium Social Web: 
Mines Twitter data for relevant customer discussions and uses the Twitter APIs to drive real-time customer support and marketing engagement. Lithium Social Web powers some of the world’s best customer support on Twitter, including brands like Sony, Time Warner Cable and Virgin Media.

Is a leading curation and publisher engagement tool, helping some of the world’s biggest sites find and display relevant Tweets. You’ve seen ScribbleLive’s work on sites like CNN, ESPN and The Boston Globe.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Microsoft's OneDrive

Shocked it took Microsoft this long to throw their hat in the ring. To bad Google and IBM will have a leg up over everyone. Here is the article by CNET.

Over the years, critics occasionally -- and justifiably -- slammed Microsoft for cramming too many features into its software. But could that ingrained habit yet work to Microsoft's advantage as it relaunches its consumer cloud storage service in a young market that's up for grabs?

Microsoft on Wednesday officially announced the global availability of its rebranded cloud storage service OneDrive. Microsoft originally called the service SkyDrive but was forced to rebrand after British Sky Broadcasting, the biggest pay-television broadcaster in the United Kingdom, sued and won a trademark lawsuit over use of the name.

Besides the new markings, Microsoft is offering the first 7 gigabytes of storage free along with a couple of additional bonus offers. As expected, Microsoft users will receive up to 5GB of free storage for referrals. Another freebee: 3GB of storage to anyone using the service's camera backup feature. You can read more about CNET's hands-on review here.

"Five or 10 years from now, if you say that you lost a file, your kids will look at you funny," said Chris Jones, the Microsoft vice president in charge of the company's OS Services group. "It's not going to happen."

"That's the dream," Jones acknowledged, noting the continuing specter posed by security breaches. It was a battle, he said, "that's never going to be over."

of experience warding off myriad security challenges from what its executives frankly describe as "determined and persistent adversaries." But bumps in the road notwithstanding, Microsoft has learned to navigate the front lines of the security wars. (See Trustworthy Computing for more.)

So while Microsoft often gets dinged for moving too slowly, weighted down by "baggage" accumulated over nearly four decades, might that same legacy work in its favor? As more people look to cloud storage, there will be no shortage of pitches. In a crowded field, a good reputation surely is going to be worth a battalion of sales and marketing people. Apropos, consider these findings from a Harris company survey carried out last December at Microsoft's behest.

Four out of five people responding to the survey -- who did not use cloud storage -- said that they remained "wary of lesser-known cloud storage offerings" and flagged concerns about privacy and security.
About two of three people who expressed being "at least somewhat knowledgeable about cloud storage" aren't using the services.
66 percent of these non-users were not ready to trust cloud storage with important files -- again, because they say it's neither sufficiently secure nor sufficiently private

Let's be careful here. "Lesser-known cloud offerings" is a loosey-goosey umbrella term. Someone who doesn't obsess over the latest tech fashion out of Silicon Valley might not be as familiar with Apple's iCloud, Box, iCloud, SugarSync, or Google Drive as some of you. But by this definition, those offerings would still get lumped in (misleadingly) with the "lesser-known" crowd. Besides, not being a household name isn't necessarily a deal kidder: Consider the case of SpiderOak, which received higher marks for security than its better-known competitors from this Ars reviewer.)

Post Platform Changes From LinkedIn

New blog from LinkedIn. Talks about some changes made to the post/profile platform.
Desperation may be setting in from the drop in stock price. Changing the platform to a more Facebook style seems like a stop the bleeding type move.

We believe in giving our members access to the business knowledge they need to be great at what they do. To put that simply, we are making a commitment to our members: the time you spend on LinkedIn will make you better at your job today.

The valuable Influencer posts and the wide range of professional content from millions of publishers that we currently aggregate on LinkedIn are powerful, but only the tip of the iceberg. Combined, our members have extremely valuable and varied experiences; however, their knowledge and expertise has not yet been captured and shared.

Starting today, LinkedIn is opening up our publishing platform to our members, giving them a powerful new way to build their professional brand. When a member publishes a post on LinkedIn, their original content becomes part of their professional profile, is shared with their trusted network and has the ability to reach the largest group of professionals ever assembled. Now members have the ability to follow other members that are not in their network and build their own group of followers. Members can continue to share their expertise by posting photos, images, videos and their original presentations on SlideShare.

Every professional has valuable experience to share. Trying to grow your business by reducing customer attrition? Read the post from Monica Adractas, head of customer retention at Box, on churning out churn. Just starting a career in sales? Read the post from Brent Beshore, the founder/CEO at, on how to sell anything. Need a science-based planning tool for river restoration? Read the post from Glen Leverich, senior geomorphologist at Stillwater Sciences, on A Science-based Planning Approach for Riparian Restoration.

LinkedIn Influencer started in fall of 2012 and features top voices in business like Richard Branson, Martha Stewart and Bill Gates. The expertise they have shared through their Influencer posts has resonated in a meaningful way with LinkedIn members and is fueling business conversations. The average Influencer post drives more an 31,000 views and receives more than 250 likes and 80 comments. By any measure, this is a remarkably high level of engagement for digital content.

We are adding new Influencers who are excited to share their insights and experiences directly with LinkedIn members. They include Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, CEO of AOL Brand Group Susan Lyne, and Financial Expert and CNBC host Suze Orman. We will regularly evaluate who we have as Influencers to include only the most engaged, prolific and thoughtful contributors and to ensure that their expertise matches up with our members’ interests.

Starting today, 25,000 members will have the ability to publish content on LinkedIn. We’ll be steadily expanding the capability to all members in multiple languages over the next few weeks and months to come. Check out our member help center for more information.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Girl Killed For Having A Facebook Account

While I normally avoid blogging about such things I could not turn a deaf ear to this.

A Syrian girl reportedly named Fatoum Al-Jassem was sentenced to death by stoning for having a Facebook account.

A Facebook account.
Think about this for a moment.
What sane person could say this deserves death.
None would be my answer.

According to reports they (the ruling court) considered this the same as adultery.
And her punishment was to be put to death by means of people(if you can call them that) picking up stones and throwing them at her until she is dead.

So if the 1 billion users of Facebook moved to Syria we would be killed for having that terrible adulterous Facebook account.

Incredible. Incredibly sad and terrible. These people try and dominate the very fabric of humanity where they live and with the death of this girl are succeeding.

Google Acquires Slicklogin

Google has reportedly bought Israeli security startup SlickLogin. The company’s three-man team announced the deal, saying Google shared their beliefs that logging in should be easy and authentication effective without frustrations or barriers. SlickLogin uses smartphones and high-frequency sounds for identity verification at websites.

There is speculation that the deal is worth several million euros although the terms have not been revealed. Google likes shopping in Israel. It has recently snapped up spreadsheet company iRows, LabPixies entertainment, and mapping service Waze.

Google And Magna Global Deal

Alistair Barr says that Google struck an "upfront" deal with Magna Global, one of the world's largest advertising buyers, the latest effort by the Internet search leader to win more of the marketing dollars that traditionally pour into TV each year.

Magna Global, a unit of Interpublic Group that oversees $37 billion in annual ad spending, committed about $100 million of client marketing money to Google properties, including YouTube, its online display ad network and mobile platform.

The deal lasts a year and may be renewed if the partnership goes well. This is the first time Magna has struck such an agreement with Google. For its part, Google signed similar deals last year with other agency ad buyers MediaVest and Publicis Groupe's DigitasLBi and Razorfish.

In return for Magna's financial commitment, the agency gets access to Google ad inventory and data, along with the chance to work more closely on client marketing campaigns with the Web giant. This is similar to the way TV upfront advertising deals are put together each year.

"There's the notion of being able to tap into scarcity around inventory, which is critical and underpins the upfront model in TV," said Torrence Boone, managing director of agency business development for Google in the Americas. "That model is porting over to digital."

Google is trying to win more business from big brands by making the process of creating, buying and monitoring ads similar to the way these things are done in the TV business.

A group of technology firms, including Google, Yahoo, AOL and Microsoft, created the NewFronts event a few years ago — a digital version of the TV industry's annual upfronts, where billions of dollars in ad slots for popular programming are purchased ahead of time.

In the context of this year's NewFronts event, which kicks off in New York City in late April, Google will unveil a new class of scarce, premium ad inventory, Boone noted.

"Each player will partner with us to access that premium inventory and work with content creators in new and innovative ways," he added.

Magna Global probably spends more with Google than any other partner, so this upfront deal cements the relationship in a way that lets both sides work more closely together on bigger projects, Chris Williams, president of Magna Global, explained.

Magna Global made the upfront commitment partly to improve its access to some of Google's ad inventory, Williams added, noting that YouTube pricing has become more attractive in recent years.

"Advertisers are going to need home page takeovers on YouTube for key launches, and we need to be able to deliver that to them," Williams said. "An ad hoc relationship with a media owner can restrict your chances of securing inventory when you need it. It certainly improves your chances when you're in this closer type of relationship."

However, both Williams and Boone said the deal is not just about access to inventory.

Williams expects to get more data from Google that will help Magna target ads more precisely and make the planning and buying process more seamless and automated.

Google and Magna will also work more closely on creating content that works well on YouTube and other Google properties.

Boone cited the example of Project Elevate, which is helping a Magna Global client, health care giant Johnson & Johnson, create interesting video content on YouTube.

"This upfront investment provides the air cover for these more strategic projects," Boone said.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Twitter CEO Making Growth Promises

Rachel King says when Twitter published its first earnings report as a public company last week, shareholders were immediately spooked by lower growth for the user base rather than revenue or sales figures.

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference on Thursday, Twitter CEO Dick Costelo aimed to put those fears to rest by offering a glimpse at the social network's game plan for 2014.

The strategy, according to Costelo, is based upon a combination of things, including a "tremendous amount of field research" about users, coupled with data about how users actually use the product.

That combination has informed this roadmap for the kinds of capabilities that Twitter plans to introduce, which Costelo promises will result in growth.

Costelo emphasized that Twitter is more than just a product or even a social network, but a "medium."

"Twitter is this indispensable companion to life in the moment," remarked Costelo, citing its relevance and use in major events ranging from the current Winter Olympics to the day Boston was shut down last April during the search for the Marathon bombers.

Costelo emphasized a few times over the course of the discussion that the roadmap is already being driven by bringing the content and actions taken on Twitter forward and pushing the "scaffolding" of the infrastructure to the background.

For example, Twitter is making alterations in the way it suggests users and brands to follow to new sign-ups, such as drawing suggested contacts from a user's mobile device rather than just the most-popular accounts of the moment. Costelo revealed that new Twitter users are much more likely to engage in the platform when they connect to at least three other people who also follow them back.

Costelo cited that changes like these have already resulted in a 35 percent increase in interactions, such as Retweets, since the IPO.

But, he warned against expectations of a single new product, feature or date in the calendar that would result in a "quantum" change in growth, but rather look for a cumulative effect over the year.

For advertisers, Costelo instructed simply, "Be patient," adding that Twitter will continue to roll out new features and upgrades soon. He also listed some recent updates that have already taken place, including online conversion tracking during the fourth quarter as well as new analytics for the Cards dashboarda few weeks ago.

Costelo boasted that a "hallmark of the company" up until now has been being patient in rolling out new revenue opportunities and understanding the efficacy of them before launching them more broadly.

"We're this complimentary experience to all other forms of media," Costelo asserted. "That affords us and our partners in these other forms of media to take advantage of both what's on our platform and on their platforms."

New Gender Feature On Facebook

How do I edit basic info on my Timeline and choose who can see it?

Editing Info
To edit your basic personal info (ex: gender, contact info, relationships, work and education):
  1. Go to your Timeline (which we sometimes refer to as your profile)
  2. Click Update Info at the bottom of your cover photo
  3. Click Edit in the top right of the section you'd like to change
  4. Enter your new info and click Save
Selecting an Audience
While editing each section, you'll see an audience selector next to most pieces of info. Select an audience to choose who you share this info with.
Custom Gender
If you set your gender to Custom and select one or more genders, you can also select an audience for your custom gender. In addition to your custom gender, you'll choose a Preferred Pronoun. The preferred pronoun you select is public.
Note: Your email address has additional settings.
To edit the basic personal info on your Timeline (which we sometimes refer to as your profile):
  1. Go to your Timeline
  2. Tap About under your profile picture > About again at the top
  3. Find the section you want to edit and tap the icon
To choose who can see your info, use the audience selector in each section.
Custom Gender
If you set your gender to Custom and select one or more genders, you can also select an audience for your custom gender. In addition to your custom gender, you'll choose a Preferred Pronoun. The preferred pronoun you select is public.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Twitter Redesign

Twitter is testing a major profile redesign that's very reminiscent of Facebook and Google+.

Mashable assistant features editor Matt Petronzio spotted on Tuesday a huge update to his Twitter profile page, with the main picture and bio scaled to the left and significantly more real estate dedicated to the header photo.

The revamped tweet stream is also a departure from its signature look. There is a greater focus on photos and content cards. It moves away from a strictly vertical timeline too. Click the image below to enlarge.

It's common for Twitter to quietly test new features and design updates before tweaking or rolling it out to a larger user base. Experiments typically go out to a small, random pool of users.

Under the header photo in the test is the count for tweets, photos/videos (a new category called out on the profile), who you are following, followers, favorites and lists. Although Petronzio isn't verified on the site, there's an option for the stream to show "Tweets" and "Tweets and replies" for every user — a feature typically reserved for those with the blue check mark.

Other profile pages viewed from an account with the new design are automatically made to look like this too. This means that even if your Twitter page isn't a part of the test, Petronzio can see what yours will look like.

The recommended header photo size in the test version is 1500 x 500 pixels, up from 1252 x 626 in the current design, so users with the new design will want to switch their picture so it doesn't look stretched.

LinkedIn passes 50 million Asia Pacific Users

LinkedIn announced that they crossed the 50 million member mark in the Asia Pacific region. Here is their blog about it.

As we celebrate this milestone, I am humbled by the success of our members who are using LinkedIn to build their professional identities, networks and knowledge, and whom we proudly serve.

It’s remarkable that our member base across the region has nearly tripled in a span of less than three years. Last year, we welcomed 7+ million new members in India, while 2+ million new members joined our network in Australia and New Zealand. In Southeast Asia, our member base jumped more than 50% to reach 9+ million.

Today, nine countries in the region have more than a million members each – India (24+ million), Australia (5+ million), China (4+ million), Indonesia and the Philippines (2+ million each), Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, and New Zealand (1+ million each).

Our members represent a broad cross-section of industries across the Asia Pacific region. In particular, the top five industries on LinkedIn are IT & Services, Telecommunications, Oil & Energy, Banking & Financial Services, and Hospitality. As the region increasingly consolidates its position as a key driver in the global economy, our aim is to help professionals and businesses here become even more successful at what they do. Whether it’s expanding professional connections, tapping critical talent or marketing their brands and winning new businesses, we are excited to be able to help connect the dots and create economic opportunities for everyone.

Diversity is a defining characteristic of this region, and it’s something we continue to address. For example, members can now choose between six Asian languages when engaging in professional conversations on LinkedIn, in addition to English. To enrich the professional knowledge available to our members, we also recently added to the growing list of Asia-based influencers. These influencers include Tony Fernandes (Group CEO, AirAsia), David Thodey(CEO & Executive Director, Telstra), Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw (Chairman & Managing Director, Biocon) and Nobuyuki Idei (Founder & CEO, Quantum Leaps, and Former Chairman & CEO, Sony).

I would like to thank our members, clients, partners and employees for making LinkedIn a part of your daily professional lives. This milestone was only achieved because of your support. I am looking forward to growing with you as we introduce more exciting features on LinkedIn.

Minor Change To Facebook Admin Pages February 20th

If you have ever managed a Facebook page with multiple people you might not know which person posted what well that is going to change.

On a Page post, the name of the person who posted will be listed below the name of your Page next to Posted by. On a Page comment, the name of the person who commented will be listed below the comment next to Commented on by. Keep in mind that only people who help manage your Page can see this information.

You can also see who posted or scheduled posts in your Page's activity log. Learn how to remove yourself or another person who has a role on your Page.

Note: This information will only be visible on posts or comments created on or after February 20, 2014. This feature isn’t available to everyone right now.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Twitter Analytics And Ebay

Twitter Cards give users a taste of what to expect when they head to your site. The added context makes for a richer experience by offering ways to interact with your brand beyond retweets, faves and replies.

@ebay, for example, one of the world’s largest online marketplaces, recently implemented Product and Player Cards across its site to give users more information about items being shared. Many Tweets from eBay’s site, posted by eBay or others, now include specifics such as the product name, price and an image (as shown below).

Sites like eBay that have implemented Cards now have access to Twitter Card analytics, a new product that offers related insights into how content is being shared on Twitter.

Analytics for Twitter Cards provides both aggregate metrics (total Tweets, retweets, impressions and clicks relating to your site’s pages) as well as more granular information (top links, influencers and card type performers) that can be used to inform your social strategy. And personalized insights and best practices are shared throughout to help you become even more effective.

“Twitter Card analytics help us measure how different card types are performing on our site, so that we can optimize accordingly,” said John Bodine, Senior Manager, Social Content and Insights at eBay. “The dashboard is also useful for helping us identify what specific products or influencers are driving spikes in social traffic from Twitter on any given day or week.”

Facebook Releases New Data Concerning NSA

We are pleased to release new data today about the volume and type of national security requests we’ve received from the U.S. government. Along with others in the industry, since last summer we have been advocating for the right to provide additional transparency about the national security-related requests we receive. With last week’s announcement that the U.S. government has relaxed its limitations on what we are allowed to disclose, we are now permitted to provide important new information that we believe will help foster an informed public debate about the government’s efforts to keep the public safe.

The data we are releasing today should be understood against the backdrop of the transparency reports we have issued over the past nine months. Last summer, in the immediate wake of sensationalist and inaccurate media accounts of purported government access to Facebook user data, we published data showing that, in the last six months of 2012, a small fraction of one percent of Facebook user accounts were the subject of any government data requests of any kind, national security-related or otherwise. We subsequently released a transparency report for the first six months of 2013, which again showed that the total volume of user accounts that were the subject of any law enforcement requests was a small fraction of one percent. We continue to believe the information included in these reports was an important contribution to the public debate over government surveillance practices, but it was limited. We were not, for example, permitted to break down the data between conventional law enforcement requests and those related to national security, or indeed even to acknowledge that we had received certain types of national-security related requests at all.

Since then, with others in the industry, we’ve worked hard to advocate for additional transparency, and we’ve made substantial progress. Last week, the U.S. government announced that Facebook and other providers may now provide additional data on the national security-related requests received. For the first time, we can separately disclose the volume of National Security Letters (NSLs) and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests we receive. We can also now provide a breakdown within ranges of how many of those FISA requests sought the content of accounts and how many sought non-content information (such as subscriber name). And, within each of these categories, we can also disclose within ranges the total number of users accounts specified in the requests. In each of these areas – NSLs, FISA requests, content versus non-content orders, and the number of users specified in each area – we are limited to reporting data in bands of 1000.

The chart below reflects the ranges for all national security requests effective during the reporting periods and the ranges for all accounts specified in the requests.

We plan to update this data every six months, consistent with the authorization provided by the government. These reports will reflect a six-month waiting period from the end of a reporting period, again as mandated by the government. Finally, providers that receive a "New Capability Order" are required to wait two years before including data related to those orders in their transparency reports. The government’s explanation of these requirements is set out here:].

The new information we are releasing today marks a significant step forward. As we have said before, we believe that while governments have an important responsibility to keep people safe, it is possible to do so while also being transparent. We will continue to advocate for reform of government surveillance practices around the world, and for greater transparency about the degree to which governments seek access to data in connection with their efforts to keep people safe.

Update On Platform Updates For Facebook For April 9th

Here are the upcoming changes for Facebook due April 9th.

Table of Contents

Please note that in the below, deprecation means the field will no longer be supported by may still exist. Sunset means the field will officially be removed and no longer supported.


The overall concept of targeting has been redefined as having four key areas (locations, demographics, interests, behaviors). This organization creates more flexibility and precision in audience creation in terms of the and/or logic between groups.
Example: historically, if you selected "Parents" "Photography" "Photo uploader" within interests, the audience constructed was People who are Parents OR interested in Photography OR people who upload [many] Photos. However, the intended audience was: "Parents, who are interested in photography and upload pictures". Now, the specific audience will be targeted as intended.
During the period allotted for the breaking change, all advertiser accounts managed by PMDs will NOT be added to the new targeting types, unified interests (unless previously added by request), or demographic and behavioral changes. This is to prevent disparity between Facebook UI and PMD tools. Access to the new features will be turned on once the respective PMD has confirmed they have altered their API to support the changes bysubmitting a request.
If you have new ad accounts creating/editing ads in both Facebook interfaces and your tool between now and when the API integration is completed at your end, please submit a request to have the user IDs of the ad accounts restricted.
As you are done integrating the new API specs, let us know so we can add your clients to the updated Facebook targeting offering.

Unified Interests

Interest targeting has been redefined to create a unified definition for what indicates interest in a particular topic. Legacy targeting concepts such as Precise Interests (Keywords, #Topics) and Broad Categories have been unified and as a result have only one targeting segement for each term (no duplicate "Baseball" and "#Baseball"). The result is one, clear definition for each targeting segment.
If you are a member of the PMD News group, please refer to this existing post for more details

Geographic targeting

  • The new Geo-Targeting API adds targeting flexibility and incorporates inclusion/exclusion logic.
  • Select any combination of Country, Region, City or Zip without restrictions.
  • Exclude locations from your targeting parameters.
  • All previous capabilities, such as radius targeting on cities, continue to exist.
  • Geo-targeting logic is now "OR" and not "AND". For example, to target California, the previous logic would have required you to specify "US" as the country and "California" as the state. With the current logic, if you specify "US" as the country and "California" as the state, the targeting will result in the entire "US". To target "California", you now only need to specify "California".
  • With the new API, the keys have changed for regions and zip code targeting.
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: The Targeting Spec for any ad created with the new geo-targeting logic (e.g. via Create Flow or Power Editor) will not be editable via the current targeting API. All other parameters will remain editable.
If you are a member of the PMD News group, please refer to this existing posts: original andupdate

Advanced Demographic and Behaviors

Advanced Demographic targeting options will now be available. Key features include better coverage of workplace, education and job title types as well as expanded Relationship status types. There is also the added functionality of selecting the recency of change of a life event (3 months, 6 months, 1 year).
A new targeting type, Behaviors, has been added. These categories are specific to a user's particular actions or past purchase behavior, past purchase behavior, purchase propensity. This category is made up of some targeting segments previously categorized as Interests.
Facebook will begin alpha testing, in the US, of advanced Demographic and some Behavioral targets in early February. The new UI with these features will not be widely available until we have finished General Availability release in mid/late Q1.
See Advanced Demographics and Behaviors for documentation.
During the month of January, PMDs will only have access to the Advanced Demographics & Behaviors APIs via whitelisted test accounts for the purpose of building and testing. Submit a request to whitelist any test accounts. To ensure parity for advertisers across interfaces, the migration will be only become available in early February when Facebook begins testing, in the US, our new UIs.

Creative Data Model

In an effort to better align our Ads API with our Ads Simplification effort, we're making changes to simplify the creative data model to be more intuitive. The focus of creatives will be on the promoted object and the creative assets instead of the creative type, making them more consistent across promoted object types.
As part of a simplification of the ad creative object, we will be removing the field type and standardizing on field names. We will infer what type of ad you wish to create based on the other fields within the creative spec.
Some notable changes:
  • type will be sunset
  • The auto_update field will be sunset. Existing ads will continue to delivery, but will no longer update after 4/9.
  • See the ad creative documentation for exact mapping field name changes.
  • For type 12 premium ads, we will infer using the locations field. Premium standard ads will not look different than standard ads anymore (previously they were 110x80px vs. 100x72px for standard ads).
  • App ads will no longer require an object_id field, so you must explicitly specify a tracking and conversion spec.
  • Facebook will sunset the creation of sponsored stories
    • Page post and page like ads already automatically have the best social context (likes and comments) added. You may choose to add share social context by specifying social_prefs=['allow_shares'] on the adgroup. Existing page post and page like sponsored stories will continue to deliver so you must support fetching them.
    • Domain and open graph sponsored stories will no longer be allowed to be created. Existing domain and open graph sponsored stories will cease to have delivery after April 9th.
  • Facebook will sunset the creation of type 4 ads. Instead, create a canvas app install ad (type 32).
    • Please note that the image dimensions of a type 4 ad may differ from a type 32 – type 32 ads must be 1200x627. It’s recommended to resize the image if you need to reuse it.
    • image_hash is a required field of type 32 ads, whereas they were optional for type 4
    • Existing type 4 ads will continue running until they are naturally phased out, so you must still support fetching them.
    • You will not be allowed to update fields of an existing type 4 creative
    • Please see below for the mapping of type 4 fields to type 32 fields.
type 4 fieldtype 32 field
image_file or image_hashimage_hash


Adgroups will have an optional objectives field. While this field is optional to specify, editing an ad that already contains this field will fail if the adgroup no longer passes thevalidation requirements.

Ad Image Cropping

Facebook has added the option to specify image crops through the Ads API. Image crops are used to describe the way that an image should be displayed in each aspect ratio of the different ad placements. During rendering, the image will be cropped according to the specifications given and if no specification is provided for a certain aspect ratio, the image will be displayed in the default way.
This is optional but if you choose to specify an image crop, you should provide information for all possible aspect ratios in our platform. For more information, please check the docs.
You should also support passing through image crops for ads created outside of your tool. After the migration, if you do not pass through the image crop value, any image crops will be removed.

Enum int->string changes

This migration changes the response of certain fields from an int value to a string value. This applies to the following fields:
As part of this change, we will also be removing the subtype_name field of custom audiences

Sunset disapprove_reason_descriptions

The field disapproval_reason_descriptions is being renamedadgroup_review_feedback. The format will be changed from an array of string to an object key-value-pair of reason enumeration and descriptive text. The previous response would be :
"disapprove_reason_descriptions": [
            "Descriptive text"
The new response will be :
"adgroup_review_feedback": {
            "REASON_ENUM": "Descriptive text"

LinkedIn Acquires Bright

Parker Barille talks about the acquisition of Bright.

We recognized instantly that LinkedIn and Bright have a lot in common. For example, we’re both passionate about connecting talent with opportunity at massive scale and obsessed with increasing the effectiveness of the job seeking and recruiting processes.

At LinkedIn, we’ve invested a lot of time and energy into developing products like “Jobs You May Be Interested In” and LinkedIn Recruiter that use data to match members with the right opportunities and employers with the right prospects at scale. And that’s why Bright is such a great fit. Its incredibly talented team takes the same data-driven approach to connecting people and employers, and has built a powerful matching technology that will help accelerate our efforts on multiple fronts.

Ultimately though, our vision is to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce — all three billion of them. Doing so will require increasing the volume of job opportunities available on LinkedIn. As we add more job listings over the next several years, Bright’s powerful matching technology will be integral to ensuring that the prospects we suggest to employers and opportunities we surface for prospects are increasingly relevant.

Monday, February 10, 2014

LinkedIn Removes Intro

Aimee Chanthadavong reports that LinkedIn continues to fine tune its services, and has announced on its blog that it will shut down three services it currently provides.

The professional social networking company said it aims to concentrate on doing "fewer things, but better".

As of March 7, 2014, LinkedIn Intro, which was initially launched last year to bring LinkedIn to the email inbox of iPhone users, will no longer be available. Users of Intro will be able to uninstall it between now and March 7, and switch back to their previous mail accounts. Members with Gmail accounts can continue to use Rapportive.

The decision to shut down Intro, a proxy service for emails that injects LinkedIn information for contacts, follows controversy upon the launch of the service that it was breaching privacy rights, such as making changes to users' security profiles on their devices. However, the company's senior manager for information security, Cory Scott, at the time, defended the service and said Intro was rather a potential remedy to the standard inbox.

Slidecast, a service that enables SlideShare members to upload presentations with audio, will also be shutting down on April 30, 2014. Slidecast users will be able to download their Slidecasts until then, and can continue to share the non-audio portions of their presentations with their network on

The company also plans to eliminate the support for the LinkedIn iPad app on iOS versions older than 6.0 as of February 18, 2014, to encourage members to have the latest version of its app. This decision follows LinkedIn's decision to stop supporting the LinkedIn mobile app for iOS versions older than 6.0 and Android versions older than 3.0 late last year.

Despite these decisions, LinkedIn reinforced that it is committed to looking at new ways to improve its members' existing experiences. Back in November, the company introduced Showcase Pages, a new scheme for major brands that breaks down their product portfolios and puts the spotlight on more brands.

LinkedIn also recently recorded that government requests of members' data has doubled.

Google Passes Exxon to Be No. 2 US Company

ABC News reports that Google has passed Exxon to become the second most valuable U.S. company by market capitalization.

According to FactSet data, the Internet company's market capitalization surpassed that of oil company Exxon Mobil Corp. last week. As of Friday's market close, it sat at $395.42 billion compared with the oil company's $392.66 billion.

Shares of Google Inc. have been on a steady climb since the beginning of 2013, gaining 66 percent.

Market capitalization is the number of outstanding shares multiplied by their value.

Meanwhile, Exxon's have risen just 5 percent. Since the beginning of this year, they've lost about 10 percent of their value.

Both companies trail Apple Inc.'s market capitalization of $463.55 billion.

Friday, February 7, 2014

LinkedIn Plunged 11%

CNN reports that shares of the professional networking site plunged 11% in after-hours trading Thursday after the company posted solid fourth-quarter earnings and sales but offered a disappointing outlook.

LinkedIn (LNKD) said it expects sales to rise only slightly in the current quarter, to between $455 million and $460 million. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected sales of $470 million this quarter.

The rest of 2014 won't be too much stronger, with LinkedIn predicting total sales of between $2.02 billion and $2.05 billion for 2014. That's far below analysts' forecast of $2.2 billion.

LinkedIn's sales are also growing at a slower clip than its competitors. The company reported fourth-quarter sales of $447 million, up just 13.8% versus the quarter prior.

Facebook (FB, Fortune 500), by contrast, posted strong fourth-quarter sales of $2.6 billion, driven by its success on mobile devices. Facebook's revenue rose 28% versus the third quarter. Twitter (TWTR) brought in a solid $243 million in fourth-quarter sales, up 44% versus the third quarter.

But LinkedIn's membership is growing faster than its rivals. In the fourth quarter, LinkedIn said membership rose to 277 million, up 6.9% from the prior quarter.

Investors punished Twitter earlier this week following its first quarterly report as a public company, after its monthly user base grew just 3.9% quarter-over-quarter to 241 million. Facebook also reported tepid fourth-quarter user growth, with its monthly user base rising 3.4% versus the quarter prior to 1.2 billion.

Of course, the comparisons between the three companies aren't exact.

LinkedIn relies less on advertising than Twitter and Facebook, for example, and earns a significant portion of its revenue from premium subscriptions -- 20% in the fourth quarter, to be exact. That equated to $88.1 million, up 10% versus the three months prior.

The company also relies heavily on its "talent solutions" business, which provides corporate recruiters with tools to promote jobs and search for candidates. That unit generated $245.6 million in fourth-quarter sales, more than half of LinkedIn's overall revenue and a gain of 9% versus the quarter prior.

Twitter Stock Tanks

Dan Nakaso and Jeremy C. Owens says Twitter's high-flying stock came crashing back to earth Thursday, plummeting more than 24 percent after the social network's first earnings report as a public company revealed lingering problems trying to expand its user base.

Some industry analysts, such as Arvind Bhatia at Sterne Agee, downgraded Twitter to "underperform" Thursday after earnings results that "are likely to raise questions on how mainstream the Twitter platform can be in the long term." .

In Twitter's first quarterly earnings report since its November 2013 initial public offering, analysts expected the company to report that it had 249 million monthly users. Instead, Twitter had an average of 241 million monthly users -- a 5 percent increase from the third quarter.

Karsten Weide, vice president of media entertainment for IDC, called Twitter's sluggish user views "very worrying."

"Twitter's stock was going down because even though revenue is growing very nicely, its user numbers are not," Weide said. "The concern is that users may not seem to think that there is enough utility to adopt the service. And the market is catching up."

Twitter stock closed Thursday at $50.03, down 24.2 percent, and hovered below $50 in after-hours trading -- a long way from its Dec. 26 peak of $73.31.

Brian Blau at Gartner said, "Clearly investors had overly ambitious expectations for Twitter. Maybe they were overly ambitious in reading the tea leaves and didn't read them right."

Financially, Twitter beat analysts' revenue expectations, with a net loss of $511.47 million, or $1.41 a share, on revenue of $242.68 million. That represented a revenue gain of 116 percent from the same quarter a year ago. After adjusting for one-time charges, Twitter reported profit of $9.77 million, or 2 cents a share.

Also on Thursday. Mountain View's LinkedIn reported a solid financial performance that beat Wall Street expectations. But the online professional networking service indicated its growth is also slowing, worrying investors.

As a result, shares of LinkedIn were down more than 8 percent in after-hours trading Thursday.

During Twitter's conference call Wednesday, CEO Dick Costolo assured analysts that Twitter will work to make the service easier to understand for new users to try to expand its user base.

"We have a very, very clear road map across a number of dimensions that we will use to drive interaction and engagement and make it easier for a broader audience to get Twitter," Costolo said.

"Twitter's value is in the future profit," said Roger L. Kay, founder and president of Endpoint Technologies Associates. "But as it gets overheated, at some point some people might say it's not being supported by anything that looks like real earnings."