Update: Xbox Live is back up and running again, according to XboxSupport.
Earlier: A lot of people trying to sign in to Xbox Live, Microsoft's paid online gaming service, to play new game release "Titanfall" are not able to access the game.
Gamers trying to sign in to their accounts are being met with the following error screen:
We first noticed the error a little after 5 p.m. EST when we tried to log on and play "Titanfall."
Attempts to log back in hours later have prompted the same screen.
Today marks the launch of "Titanfall," single-person shooter online game from Electronic Arts and Respawn Entertainment that's exclusively on the Xbox One.
The game is the first real anticipated title for the new Xbox console. "Titanfall" is being looked at as a major make or break to help the Xbox One make up some ground in the next-gen console war against Sony's dominating PlayStation 4.
Xbox Live’s Director of Programming Larry Hryb (known better as Major Nelson by gamers for his Xbox Live gamertag) has said the Xbox Live issues are not related to Titanfall.
If you are having issues signing into Xbox Live, we are aware of it and actively working on the issue. This is not a #Titanfall issue— Larry Hryb (@majornelson) March 11, 2014
For those trying to access Xbox Live, updates are being added to the Xbox blog HERE.
Currently, access to Live is limited.
During the game's launch last night, players also reported connectivity issues which EA and Respawn quickly responded to with a patch to the game.
As of 10:47 p.m., @XboxSupport announced Xbox Live was back up and running.
Thanks for your patience, Xbox Live is good to go! Try these specific steps to get back in the game now: http://t.co/iakwR3sZDz ^CW— Xbox Support (1-5) (@XboxSupport) March 12, 2014
Here was the score after Tesla Motors spent more than a year attempting to establish a direct sales operation in New Jersey: 0 to 696,749.
It was a blowout.
The luxe electric car company was outraged Tuesday when the The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission approved a proposal banning auto manufacturers from selling cars directly to consumers. In a blog post and series of tweets Tesla blamed the move on bad faith negotiating by the administration of Gov. Chris Christie and "attacks" from the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers. However, if Tesla was indeed under attack, it looks like the company didn't make any attempt to fight back against the car dealers' lobby on a crucial political front -- the company didn't give any money to local politicians.
Campaign finance records show, the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers' political action committee, CAR PAC, has made hundreds of political donations as the group lobbied on behalf of car dealers in the Garden State. In contrast, records show no donations to any politicians in New Jersey coming from Tesla, its employees, or the company's co-founder and CEO Elon Musk.
According to the National Institute of Money In Politics, the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers and its employees gave a grand total of $696,749 to politicians and campaign committees in the Garden State from 2003 through 2009. This included contributions to both Democratic and Republican officials and organizations in both houses of the Legislature. Beneficiaries of CAR PAC's largesse included the current Democratic president of the state senate, Stephen Sweeney, the state senate's current Republican minority leader, Thomas Kean Jr., and the Democratic majority leader of the New Jersey General Assembly.
The New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider. However, one of the organization's websites makes clear influencing the Legislature is a core part of its mission.
"A major responsibility of NJ CAR is to represent New Jersey’s automotive retailers in legislative matters," the site says. "The Coalition has been active at every session of the New Jersey Legislature in defending the industry against adverse legislation, as well as initiating and supporting legislation favorable to franchised New Jersey new car and truck retailers."
Tesla may have engaged in its own lobbying efforts, but it doesn't seem like the company put any financial muscle behind them.
After Tesla blasted the governor's office, Christie administration spokesman Kevin Roberts sent a statement to Business Insider arguing Tesla was told as soon as it set up shop in the Garden State that it "would need to engage the Legislature on a bill to establish their new direct-sales operations under New Jersey law."
If the way to win hearts and minds in the Legislature was paved with gold, Tesla let the car dealer's lobby push them off the road.
We wrote fairly extensively about Apple's U.S. advertising travails in 2013, a year in which the OG smartphone maker struggled to impress consumers with messages ranging from an emotional appeal about families to a more practical approach centered on the different things its devices can do.
The television ad tracking firm Ace Metrix has confirmed that indeed, Apple's television ads were bested by rival Samsung last year. However, the firm's year-end study finds that it was actually Amazon's Kindle brand that had the most effective advertising of the major mobile device companies.
Ace Metrix came to this conclusion by ranking the mobile brands based on their average Ace Scores, a composite number Ace Metrix gives to each of the U.S. TV ads it tracks based on what it learns polling consumers about the persuasiveness and watchability of the ad in question. Kindle's ads posted an average Ace Score of 578 compared to Samsung's 558 and Apple's 553.
Here's Ace Metrix's complete rankings of the mobile category. Samsung and Apple were also topped by Windows and LG:
Amazon's triumph in this category is no small victory. According to Ad Age's Data Center, the company spent $147.8 million on U.S. television advertising in 2012, a small fraction of Apple's $575.2 million outlay and the $451.8 million spent by Samsung.
Ace Metrix's report said Kindle won the category because its ads focused on the usability and simplicity of its products. These traits were prominent in its two most popular commercials, which touted Kindle's video tech support feature by showing an attractive woman named "Mayday Amy" coaching flabbergasted men on how to use their devices.
The report confirms Amazon's popularity after YouGov's BrandIndex released a January study finding that the "everything store" was the brand most highly regarded by U.S. consumers in 2013.
Sonos recently moved into the home theater space so that you can get surround sound in your living room.
You should also probably get the Bridge ($49) if you want to be able to wirelessly control each component.
Getting started out of the box is pretty simple.
First, you need to plug in the Sonos Bridge adapter to your router, which allows you to stream music wirelessly from your speakers. Then you need to install the app on your Mac, PC, or Android or iOS device.
Once you install it, simply tell the app you want to add a speaker, press the volume-up and play buttons when prompted, and then you're good to go. Do that for each Sonos component.
The user interface leaves a bit to be desired from an aesthetic standpoint. But it still gets the job done.
The left pane shows all of your connected speakers, the middle pane shows what's playing and what's in your song queue, and the right pane shows your available audio sources.
These audio sources include Pandora, iTunes, Spotify, Hype Machine, Rdio, Rhapsody and several others. The best part about the app is that it lets you create playlists featuring songs from any of those sources.
One caveat with the software is that sometimes we had to reconnect the Sonos components, but that didn't happen too often.
The Sonos home theater produces sound like you've never heard before. In fact, it may literally almost blow out your ear drums, depending on the size of your home.
The centerpiece of the home theater system is the Playbar, a beautiful, understated piece of equipment.
The Playbar, which plugs into the back of your TV, is a three-channel active sound bar with nine amplified speakers. At 3.35 x 35.43 x 5.51 inches, it easily fits beneath your TV to serve as a considerable upgrade over your TV's built-in speakers.
The Playbar has two important features, Night Sound and Speech Enhancement. Night Sound is great for when you want to watch TV late at night without disturbing your neighbors. Speech Enhancement is a solid option if you want to reduce the bass and improve the quality of speech.
To get full surround sound in your living room, just place a pair of the Sonos Play:1 speakers nearby, and then pop open the app to detect additional components.
If you want to get really crazy, just add the Sub component. The Sub has two force-canceling speakers and two class-D amplifiers. And trust us, Sonos is not kidding when it says the bass will shake your soul.
The full Sonos home theater is an amazing product, but one that is more geared toward a homeowner with a lot of space, or someone who likes to have people over to watch big events like the Super Bowl or the Olympics.
Depending on your living situation, it might make more sense to spread out the components throughout your home or apartment.
In my three-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, I found that I don't need all of the components in one room. That's why I eventually moved the Sonos Play:1 speakers to a room closer to the kitchen, and kept the Playbar and Sub up front.
Smartphone cameras are so easy to use, they can turn all of us into amateur photographers. The downside of this, however, is that we collect so many photos but don't have a way to quickly sort them.
Impala is a free iOS app that can identify certain traits in pictures and quickly sort them into photo albums. It categorizes them with broad topics like Food, Friends, Outside, etc.
It doesn't work flawlessly. Sometimes you have to jump in there and make a few edits to help the app sort things out.
You can download the app here. Here's how it works:
Impala will give you a quick rundown of what it will do before it starts the download process.
The download process will begin quickly after that prompt. Impala's download speed will vary based on how many pictures are on your phone.
More albums will be added as time goes on.
You can tap on any album to view the pictures
Tap on any album to view the pictures once the upload process is finished.
You can add a photo album to your iPhone photo gallery at the top. The "Time" option will organize pictures based on the exact moment they were taken; "Score" will place the most accurate pictures for the album at the top.
In today's world, there's one area of technology that can almost never be fast enough: the wireless networks that power our mobile devices.
Despite decades of advancements, we still lose signal when walking around in a big city like New York or San Francisco.
Or when attending a popular sporting event — individual towers just can't handle thousands of people trying to move data at once.
But a hot startup with some major engineering talent is hoping to change all of that.
Founded in 2011, Artemis is a startup working on pCell, a new wireless standard that it thinks could leapfrog 4G altogether.
Like any new, potentially disruptive technology, pCell has a ton of hype and uncertainty around it. We've put together the following guide to pCell for those who want to know more without any of the confusion or tricky marketing language.
What is pCell?
Cell towers as we know them today can be visualized as giant umbrella tops. You deploy them, and they broadcast a bubble of reception that gets weaker as you get farther away. They have to be far enough away from each other so as to not cause interference, but close enough together that you can move between their areas of coverage and still have cell service. If you have too many people in one place, their data use can bog down a tower for everyone.
Artemis' technology takes a very different direction. Rather than carefully spacing out a relatively small number of towers, Artemis wants to deploy a massive number of boxes the size of routers — called "pWaves" — that will provide much better service to a much smaller area.
Rather than working against interference, pCell embraces the collision of radio waves. By combining the incoming signals from several of the pWave base stations, each pCell user is given the equivalent of their own "personal cell" (hence the name) — which basically means getting full bars of LTE at all times becomes the new standard, while "good" signal strength means getting a signal that's as much as 1,000 times faster than what we're all used to.
How is pCell better than 4G or LTE?
Besides speed and signal strength, it uses a lot less power. pWave radios use a 1-milliwatt transmitter to deliver data, compared with the 250 milliwatts used by most Wi-Fi radios and even larger amounts of power used by cellular towers.
They also use less power on the user's end, too: phones as they exist today would waste far less power searching for a signal, and one day "pCell Native" devices could use parts that use even less power than the Wi-Fi chips built into devices like the iPod Touch today.
Going back to the carrier side of things, pCell also brings significant reductions in the amount of infrastructure needed to power a cell network. Unlike cell towers, which need a massive fiber infrastructure to provide enough bandwidth for all their users, pWaves can be deployed in enough locations that each unit can "see" another unit, meaning they can bounce data around using line-of-sight radio waves for far less money. And instead of using custom hardware to handle all signal processing, a carrier using pCell can run the software behind it on any sufficiently powerful Linux computer.
Will I need a new phone to use pCell?
Nope. To make adopting the technology as easy as possible, Artemis engineered pCell to work with regular LTE devices — so when it's ready, your iPhone or Android device should already be compatible. That also means you'll be able to use your phone on a pCell network and still have it work when you go somewhere that's still running regular LTE cellular service.
With that said, there will be some devices made "pCell Native" that will use less power (and thus get better battery life) than regular LTE-compatible devices.
How long until I can use pCell?
The first consumer launch of pCell is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2014, with the initial rollout taking place in San Francisco. Artemis is working with a wireless partner to deploy pWaves to as many as 350 rooftops in the city, which should be more than enough to blanket the city — for the lucky few who get to try it out, that is.
From there, Artemis says that full pCell deployment will begin at some point early next year. In a demo last month at Columbia University, Artemis CEO Steve Perlman claimed that the technology could be deployed in all major markets by the end of 2015, but we're doubtful; even the most exciting technologies need to prove themselves before companies will be willing to spend billions building them out into their nationwide infrastructures.
Amazon is working on a streaming-music service, but it might not be a Spotify killer, according to the Wall Street Journal.
That's because it might limit the amount of time users can listen to songs. Spotify dropped time limits for everyone, even free users, back in January.
Amazon is hoping that once the listening time expires, listeners will then want to download songs and albums from the company's MP3 store, people familiar with the matter tell the WSJ.
The WSJ reports:
Amazon has told record companies it would pay them out of a fixed pool of money, according to people familiar with the matter, instead of compensating them based on how often users listen to their songs. Music companies are seeking to withhold their newest music from the service, a person familiar with the matter said, though details were unclear as the negotiations are in process. The retailer has told some music companies that it plans to impose time limits on how long a user can listen to a given song or album on the service.
If that's the case, it's more akin to iTunes Radio than it is to Spotify. iTunes Radio offers music based on user input, much like Pandora, but it features prominent buttons for people to buy music they like.
In December 2013, Chase Compton wrote his first Yelp review about Cafe Mogador in New York City's East Village.
His post includes the types of things you'd expect to read in an online restaurant review. He writes about the waitstaff (the waitress is the kind who "seems genuinely happy to bring you more hot sauce") and he describes his food (he got the halloumi eggs: za'atar pita, halloumi cheese, and roasted tomatoes). But that's where the similarities to a normal Yelp review stop.
His post isn't really about Mogador's brunch selection; it's about Compton's broken heart.
For the last four months, Compton has been using Yelp to write a digital memoir, detailing the collapse of a relationship through the reviews of different bars and cafes that he visited with his ex. His posts are each several paragraphs long, written in a narrative voice, jam-packing his poetic musings alongside details about his Chinese food or pierogies.
Compton, 31, and his boyfriend met on OKCupid and stayed together for about nine months before the relationship fell apart. Readers don't get every detail of what went wrong by reading Compton's intentionally vague posts, but Compton makes it clear that he was the one who got dumped.
"The project has become a topographical map of my love story," Compton told Business Insider. "It’s like dropping a pin on a subway map of New York City."
Compton, who considers himself a "guerrilla blogger," chose to tell his story through Yelp because it was therapeutic, but also because he wanted to catch people off guard.
Since he started his elaborate reviewing, he's recieved an "overwhelming response," getting emails and messages from people who have stumbled upon them while looking, for example, for the best juice bar in Greenwich Village.
People go to Yelp to find out whether the cafe on the corner has a good cheeseburger or whether the waitresses there are rude, Compton says. "And yet I have people writing me saying, ‘You’ve changed my day completely.'"
He wants readers to find beauty in a place where they'd least expect it. By exploring the slow healing of a broken heart, Compton is tackling a topic that most people can relate to. He wants to entertain, but also provide a glimmer of hope to anyone else suffering from the same aches and pangs.
On the one hand, Compton's reviews aren't that helpful because they don't provide too many specifics about the food he eats, and every place he's reviewed has earned five stars ("It’s not the French Roast’s fault that I got dumped on Thanksgiving and ended up there," he says).
On the other hand, he's one of the best reviewers on Yelp. His posts provide an atmospheric element that you don't see in other reviews. They tell stories. Each establishment he writes about becomes imbued with an emotion that makes visiting more meaningful for his readers.
So far, Yelp hasn't contacted Compton, and he admits he's a little nervous about what the company would say.
"My intention was to be kind of like a literary Banksy," he says. "And I don't want to lose this. I’d be crushed if Yelp were to find out and not like what I was doing and shut me down."
Business Insider reached out to Yelp for comment and, far from shutting down his project, a Yelp representative suggested that he nominate himself for its Elite Squad of reviewers.
You can read all of Chase Compton's 18 reviews here.
Earlier today, we saw a huge surge in the share price of fuel cell-related companies, Plug Power most prominent among them, on an apparent run-up in revenues in the long-suffering space.
But just before 1 p.m., the rally collapsed in the blink of an eye. Plug Power closed down 41%.
One reason for the sell-off could be a report issued by Citron Research, an influential online stock commentary website.
In an unsigned note, the firm called PLUG a "casino stock" and suggested it would return to its one-time trading price of $0.50. They write:
A casino stock... is the lowest form of speculative moonshot. A casino stock can trade twice its outstanding shares in a single day, while turning over its entire float on people gambling that they can find a buyer at a higher price … Who really cares about anything else, right? The recent volume and share price surge in Plug Power (NASDAQ:PLUG) demonstrates how Wall Street treats this stock: nothing more than a casino.
Among the problems Citron says its found:
- The company has consistently fallen short of its own quarterly forecasts.
- There's an apparent lack of conviction among Plug's own management, who at one point refused to buy in on a capital round of just $0.15 a share.
- Just one analyst covers the firm — and that same analyst is part of a company, Cowen and Co., that just issued an offering.
- Plug Power owns practically none of their own technology, buying the actual fuel cells themselves from Ballard, which Citron endorses as a better way to enter the fuel cell space.
- Their principal customers have merely been taking advantage of an alternative fuels tax credit that expires in 2016.
Citron concludes: "this business shows no signs of improvement, only the looming end of government subsidies. Does anyone ever really end up a winner at a casino???"
Plug Power was down 4% in after-hours trading, while Ballard was off 1%.
SEE ALSO: What Fuel Cells Have Going For Them
Tensions ran high as eight college kids mentally rehearsed their pitches before it was their turn to present to a group of judges at South By Southwest Interactive in Austin, Texas.
The students were competing in SXSW's third annual Student Startup Madness competition. The event, set up like the March Madness basketball tournament, had whittled down a list of hundreds of collegiate companies through regional competitions until only the top eight remained. Those companies came to Austin.
"They all looked like deer in headlights when we first got there," Sean Branagan, creator of the event, told Business Insider. "On stage, they all did amazing."
Branagan, director of the Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Syracuse University's Newhouse School, started the Student Startup Madness program to highlight outstanding university entrepreneurship programs and encourage college students to start businesses.
"College kids should be starting companies because they have less to lose," he says. "They're scrappy, and can live on a couch, and eat ramen noodles, which is what a lot of these startup founders have to do. Even if a company fails, the kids got that experience. College is a great time to take that risk."
The panel of judges — which included Brian Cohen of New York Angels and Sandy Khaund of Turner Broadcasting — judged the students' companies on the potential size of the market addressed, the strength of the team, and the traction the company already has. The three winning companies – Find My Song, an online collaborative music platform; StylePuzzle, an app for picking out outfits based on the user's clothing; and Notefuly, a note-taking app — each recieved $50,000 of credits for Google's cloud platform. All three company CEOs told Business Insider that pitching onstage in front of judges at one of the biggest tech hubs of the year was an amazing experience.
Find My Song CEO Vince Fong told Business Insider via email that the competition taught him how to think through all the potential weaknesses of a product so that you're more ready to address people challenging the business model.
"The biggest impact will come from the connections we made while being here," Taseen Peterson, co-founder of Notefuly, told Business Insider via email. "It's all about the intangibles."
British Prime Minister David Cameron today described the Internet of Things as a "new industrial revolution," and pledged $122 million (£73 million) in research funds towards its development.
In his speech, Cameron described how everyday objects connected to each other through the Internet would help boost the efficiency of urban infrastructure like water systems and the electricity grid.
In a series of recent reports from BI Intelligence, we looked at how smart cities are one of the key areas of development for the Internet of Things. We detailed the top applications destined to change urban life and create the most competitive global metropolises. There are literally hundreds of billions of dollars at stake for utilities, governments, and taxpayers. Cities like London, Beijing, Sydney, Doha, and São Paulo are locked in a race to build the smartest infrastructure from Internet-connected building blocks.
Here are some key examples of how the Internet of Things will power cities:
- Intelligent traffic management systems. Machina research, in a paper prepared for the GSM Association, sees $100 billion in revenue by 2020 for applications such as toll-taking and congestion penalties.
- A related revenue source will be smart parking-space management, expected to drive $30 billion in revenue.
- Waste management systems. One innovation has been equipping garbage cans and recycle bins with RFID tags that allow sanitation staff to see when garbage has been put out. By doing this, the city of Cleveland was able to eliminate 10 pickup routes and cut operating costs by 13%. In Cincinnati, residential waste volume fell 17% and recycling volume grew by 49% through use of a “pay as you throw” program that penalizes those who exceed waste limits.
- Smart electricity grids that adjust rates for peak energy usage. These will represent savings of $200 billion to $500 billion per year by 2025, according to the McKinsey Global Institute.
- Smart water systems and meters. The cities of Doha, São Paulo, and Beijing have reduced leaks by 40 to 50% by putting sensors on pumps and other water infrastructure. Water utilities, whether private or publicly run, will save billions if they have the ability, thanks to Internet-connected sensors, to measure reservoir levels, water pressure, and leaks.
In full, the reports:
- Break down which other products and industries on the consumer and enterprise sides are seeing the biggest investment in the Internet of Things or IoT, and what sorts of technologies are gaining the most traction
- Consider where growth will come from in the future
- Size the market for the IoT in terms of total devices, revenue, and economic value
- Explore what the building blocks of IoT devices are, how these devices will be linked with consumers, and what solutions the smart objects will be designed to address
- Consider the obstacles that could hinder the IoT from realizing its full potential, including differing standards and uncertain ROI
To access BI Intelligence's full reports, Here Comes The Internet Of Things, and The Internet of Everything [Slide Deck], sign up for a free trial subscription here. Subscribers also gain access to over 100 in-depth reports on social, mobile, payments, and e-commerce, and hundreds of charts and datasets.
As the result of an SEC investigation, Salesforce last week disclosed something strange for a $4 billion enterprise tech company: it doesn't really know how much money it generates from any of its individual products, it says.
It said it didn't have the "financial controls" in place to figure that out.
Can a company that has grown from $2.2 billion to $4 billion in two years, largely through acquisitions, not know which of its products is responsible for that growth?
Apparently, yes, it told the SEC:
... we respectfully note that we currently do not have financial systems and controls in place to be able to accurately quantify the percentage of our total revenue derived from subscriptions to the Sales Cloud or any other core service offering in any particular fiscal period.
Salesforce.com doesn't break out revenues from different products when it reports earnings. However, as the SEC looked at its 2012 and 2013 financial reports, it grew curious as to how it came up with the growth numbers it was reporting.
There was particular interest over what part of its growth came from selling its flagship cloud services and what part came from ExactTarget's revenue (the company it acquired last summer for $2.5 billion, its largest ever buy).
And Salesforce also says that part of its growth comes from "improved renewal rates"
"In other words Salesforce said growth came from losing fewer customers," writes James Ryans, on Seeking Alpha. Ryans is currently earning his doctorate at UC Berkeley in the area of corporate financial disclosures and valuation.
When the SEC asked the company to explain the growth numbers, Salesforce said it couldn't. It then promised it would come up with a method to better track sales this calendar year and start reporting that stuff.
The SEC said it closed the investigation and Salesforce disclosed it on March 4.
Note that none of this indicates any wrongdoing of any kind on Salesforce's part. It's more of a growing pains thing from expanding into new markets and acquiring new companies.
Still, Ryans makes a good point, writing:
No one can deny Salesforce's success, growing by a reported 33% to more than $4 billion of revenue in the year ending January 31st 2014. Yet the company lost more than $200 million and spent more than $2 billion on acquisitions ... an enterprise software company should be embarrassed if it is incapable of basic analysis of its own sales data.
Also note that a few days before Salesforce disclosed all of this, it announced that its CFO Graham Smith was retiring.
Salesforce.com declined further comment.
UBS analyst Eric J. Sheridan and his team say Facebook's stock — currently trading around $70 — is like a "snowball" that could hit a staggering $112 in the future.
Facebook stock is already up 32% this year and has been trading in a frothy region above the average of analysts' price targets, according to Bloomberg. FB has rallied so quickly that analysts have struggled to upgrade their ever-higher price targets. Facebook stock at $70 has a price/earnings ratio of 114, compared with the average S&P 500 PE ratio of about 16.5, according to Factset. So we're entering the stratosphere of valuations here.
In a note to investors titled "The Snowball Picks Up Speed," UBS' Sheridan, Vishal Patel and Timothy Chiodo point to several factors they think will drive Facebook's stock into triple digits in the near future. (UBS actually has a $90 price target with an "upside scenario" of $112.)
First, Sheridan says that Facebook has restricted the "reach" of posts on advertisers' Facebook pages so that just 6% of their followers see any given post. This "is acting as an impetus for greater ad spend as brand advertisers seek to maintain their audience." Facebook has previously denied that it restricts the reach of brands' pages on Facebook. Rather, it believes, the algorithm that controls which posts you see in your news feed is biased toward the posts that your friends also like and toward useful, newsy content.
Second, Facebook did a $100 million ad-buying deal with Publicis Omnicom Group, the giant ad agency holding company.
Third, Sheridan says that despite its reputation, Facebook still remains relatively ad-free:
We believe FB remains undermonetized relative to peers given the time spent on the platform, providing an opportunity for continued strong revenue growth as monetization improves. In particular, Facebook ads exhibit strong pricing power (+92% YoY in Q4) and ROIs remain excellent for FB’s advertising partners, suggesting significant runway for rising ad prices.
Sheridan also believes payment revenue from WhatsApp — users must pay $1 per year after their first year of usage — will help.
UBS has a downside scenario, too, of course. If the snowball melts, the stock would be worth only $55, Sheridan writes.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has had talks about becoming the new CEO of Disney, according to the New York Post:
The 44-year-old Sandberg already sits on the Disney board and is said to have had conversations about her interest.
But a source close to Sandberg tells Business Insider that the Post's story is wrong. "It's not true," this source insists.
Current Disney CEO Bob Iger is set for mandatory retirement in two years — which is obviously fuelling speculation about who will replace him.
The rumor comes on the same day as Anne Sweeney, co-chairwoman of Disney Media Networks, stepped down from her role to become a director. The New York Times interpreted that move to mean Sweeney had learned she had no chance of succeeding Iger at Disney.
The impetus behind the rumor would thus be, did Sweeney leave because she heard Sandberg had the inside track? If so — again, this is speculation — Sweeney was misinformed, our source says.
The departure of Sandberg from Facebook would be both a blow to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who recruited her personally to help steer Facebook through its IPO, yet not totally unexpected.
In addition to managing the social network, Sandberg has written a book, "Lean In," heads a foundation advancing women's interests, and is long-rumored to be a potential future U.S. Treasury secretary. She recently nixed the idea she wanted to be a senator. But it has been assumed for a long time in Silicon Valley that Facebook would not be the capstone of Sandberg's life's work.
Sandberg would actually be an excellent Disney CEO, even if she doesn't want the job.
She's young (just 44), has kids, knows a ton about audience data and what goes viral in the digital age, and has an MBA and a degree in economics from Harvard. She previously held a senior position at Google. In person, she's charmingly normal. And she's great at handling the media.
At Facebook, Sandberg led the company (along with ad sales chief Carolyn Everson) as it positioned itself as a rival to primetime TV — one of Disney's core businesses, via ESPN ABC, and Disney's cable properties. Sandberg could often be heard repeating the mantra that Facebook's audience was the equivalent of three Super Bowls per day.
There are two inside choices for Disney CEO, the Post says:
... industry executives say the board wanted to cast a wider net. “They’re not happy with the two main choices,” said another source.
Those executives are Chief Financial Officer James “Jay” Rasulo or parks chief Thomas Staggs.
The Post's story is thinly sourced and gives no other concrete details. Sandberg is a Disney board member, and would obviously be in on such conversations even if she was not a candidate.
Zuckerberg would not have difficulty replacing Sandberg as COO at Facebook. But Sandberg would leave big shoes to fill. On earnings calls, it is clear that while Zuckerberg is comfortable talking about his vision and, to a lesser extent, the engineering challenges at Facebook, it's Sandberg who is most au fait with the nuts and bolts of how Facebook actually makes money and delivers its numbers. She has spent about a year, for instance, trying to convince Wall Street to pay attention to Facebook's massive mobile app download advertising business — a revenue line that analysts have only just woken up to.
Disney's board also includes Twitter and Square founder Jack Dorsey — a sign that the company realizes its future is digital and not based entirely in movies, rollercoasters and merchandising.
A selfie capital of the world has officially been named.
After extensive analysis by TIME, Makati City, a part of the Manila metropolitan area that's generally known as the financial center of Manila, ended up on top.
To compile the rankings, TIME created a database of more than 400,000 Instagram photos that were tagged with the hashtag "#selfie" and included geographic coordinates. 459 worldwide cities were ranked according to how many selfies were taken there between Jan. 28 and Feb. 2 or between March 3 and 7.
Makati City and Pasig, another part of Manila, had 258 selfie-takers per 100,000 people, according to TIME's analysis. New York City — including Manhattan, Queens, northern Brooklyn, and the southern part of the Bronx — came in second with 202 selfie-takers. Miami, Anaheim and Santa Ana, and Petaling Jaya in Malysia rounded out the top five.
Here are some selfies from the Makati City, the newly crowned selfie capital of the world.
Here's the top 10 cities for selfies:
1. Makati City and Pasig, Philippines
2. New York City
4. Anaheim and Santa Ana, Calif.
5. Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
6. Tel Aviv, Israel
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We’re looking for a highly motivated full-time Graphic Designer to join the BI Studios group, which which works with marketers on custom components of their advertising campaigns. The designer will concept, build, and execute advertising creative, landing pages, website graphics, galleries, and infographics as part of branded content and native advertising programs.
The designer will also work with the sales development team to assist with the development of sales collateral. The designer will be the primary creative contact for all branded content campaigns and will work closely with the Studios team, sales development, ad operations, content producers, and product development.
We are looking for an individual who’s passionate about the creative process and is capable of handling the entire creative process, including ideation, development and revisions. And you'll ensure that you maintain client and BI branding as appropriate.
You'll have at least 5 years of graphic and web design. Experience working across multiple devices (web, mobile, and tablet) is key.
Now for all the mad skills we know you have:
- Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign skills (Adobe CS6)
- Some video/animation and proficiency in photo editing
- Familiarity with digital advertising standards
- Rich media experience a plus (agency or publisher side)
- Some experience with project management tools
This position is based in our New York City office. To apply, email firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to your portfolio and the reasons you'd be perfect for this job. Thanks in advance for your interest.
WhatsApp users should be careful when downloading Android apps. If you don't read an app's permissions attentively before installing, your WhatsApp chat history could end up in a stranger's hands, according to one IT specialist from the Netherlands.
Bas Bosschert, a technical consultant with more than 10 years experience working with Linux and Unix, explained how developers can trick WhatsApp users into granting access to their entire message database. Since WhatsApp backs up messages on your phone's SD card, apps can easily access this information if granted permission to do so. This data can then be uploaded to the developer's personal Web server.
Bosschert's blog post details how to create these types of apps. The Netherlands-based technical consultant says that if the code shown in his screenshots was added to an Android game, it could be used to extract a WhatsApp user's database.
"People would only see a loading screen when they started the game," Bosschert said in an email to Business Insider. "They wouldn't notice that their WhatsApp database has been uploaded."
Security concerns surrounding WhatsApp aren't new, but have been attracting more attention since Facebook acquired the text messaging alternative last month. According to Thijs Alkemade, a computer science and mathematics student at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, WhatsApps' ingoing and outgoing messages are encrypted with the same key. This means that if an attacker intercepts these messages, he or she can analyze them to cancel out the key and recover the plain text, Alkemade wrote in a blog post from October.
Google currently bans apps that "collect information without the user's knowledge" from entering its Play store, but that hasn't stopped some apps from slipping through the cracks. In 2012 a Redditor spotted apps from an unknown source posing as popular games in Google Play, such as Imangi Studios' Temple Run.
Security breaches such as the one outlined in Bosschert's post can be easily avoided by verifying an app's source and carefully reading an app's permissions before installing.
The current consensus is that Facebook has become a more important source of traffic to media companies than Google is.
New data shows this consensus may be wrong.
In February, tech news site Re/code published a story headlined, "The Year Facebook Blew Past Google."
Shortly afterward, The Atlantic published a story called, "And Just Like That, Facebook Became the Most Important Entity in Web Journalism."
Both cited data from another outlet, Buzzfeed, which published this chart.
It shows traffic from Google and Facebook to its network of 200+ partners:
Looking at the above chart, you can see why The Atlantic and Re/code headlined their stories the way they did.
But there's another chart that tells a much different story. It's from search engine optimization firm Define Media Group.
It also shows traffic from Google and Facebook to a bunch of publishers – Define's 87 clients. Define says it pulled the data directly from Google Analytics and Omniture.
Check it out:
Define also published this chart, breaking down where its clients get their traffic from:
Looking at those two charts, it's not so clear that Facebook became more important than Google in 2013 the way Buzzfeed, Re/code, and The Atlantic proclaimed.
Now … obviously, Define Media Group has a bias.The only reason it published these charts is to remind media companies that they need to worry about optimizing their content for search engines — and that they should hire a firm like Define to do the worrying.
But Buzzfeed also has a bias. Its pitch to advertisers is that social media is a massive trend they need to be a part of, and that buying Buzzfeed-sponsored content is a smart way to play the trend.
In the end, it's pretty easy to reconcile the disparities in the charts. Clients of an SEO firm would get a lot of traffic from search. Partners of a social media powerhouse like Buzzfeed would do really well on Facebook.
The point is: While Facebook traffic to media sites is certainly on the rise, you can't dismiss the power of Google traffic quite yet.
Here's a chart from Statista, using comScore data that looks at the companies with the greatest reach on mobile in the U.S. For the most part it reflects what's happening on the web, which is a little surprising since everyone likes to talk about how mobile is a totally different experience than desktop.
Dong Nguyen, the creator of Flappy Bird, has been shrouded in mystery ever since he took down his viral game, offering only a few tweets in the way of explanation. Until now.
Rolling Stone visited Nguyen in Vietnam, his home country, and wrote a great profile about the man behind the most frustrating game in recent history.
The piece is worth reading in its entirety, but if you've only got a minute and want to know more about this mysterious creator, we've got you covered.
Here are the most interesting gems we found out about Dong Nguyen:
- He grew up in a village called Van Phu and his father owned a hardware store while his mother worked for the government. His first gaming device was a cloned Nintendo.
- Nguyen would obsessively play Super Mario Bros. and drew his own poster of Mario that he hung in his childhood bedroom.
- He learned to code by 16.
- He interned at Hanoi's only game company at the time when he was in college, and because of his speed, skills and desire for independence, he didn't have to report to a supervisor.
- Nguyen says he made Flappy Bird for people on the move. He wanted people to be able to play it with "one hand holding the train strap."
- He didn't tell his parents about his successful game, even when he was making upwards of $50,000 a day, because they "didn't understand games."
- Before he decided to have his bird face plant when a player mis-tapped, he tried having it "explode in a bloody pulp or bounce back across the ground."
- He also tried out hundreds of different sounds before he settled on the game's signature thwack. He wanted the bird's deaths to be as funny as possible.
- He smokes a lot of cigarettes.
- He hated how users were becoming addicted to his game. He has even saved some of the most distressing messages that he got from players and still have them on his phone. "13 kids at my school broke their phones because of your game, and they still play it cause it's addicting like crack," one reads.
- These message bothered him so much because they reminded him of his own past. He had trouble with tests in high school because he was playing too much Counter-Strike (a first-person shooting game).
- He's still generating tens of thousands of dollars from Flappy Bird. He recently quit is job and he's thinking of buying a Mini Cooper and an apartment.
- He's making three new games and might even bring back the original.
Check out the rest of Rolling Stone's excellent profile here.