If you follow the right investors on Twitter, you can gain a lot of insight into how they think, the types of startups they find most interesting, and markets that are ripe for disruption.
PeekAnalytics, a social media analytics company, ranked the top tech investors on Twitter based on influence.
PeekAnalytics did this using its PullQuotient metric.
"Influence, for the purposes of this calculation, is gauged by how well connected someone’s Twitter followers are not just on Twitter, but across sixty social sites, compared to the average consumer," the description on PeekAnalytics reads.
Note: PeekAnalytics last updated the list in February 2013.
20. Dick Costolo
Firm: Angel investor
Average Network Size: 1,272
19. Fred Wilson
Firm: Union Square Ventures
Average Network Size: 1,928
18. Om Malik
Firm: True Ventures
Average Network Size: 1,170
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Flickr is hiring a select batch of software and mobile engineers.
Well done, Flickr.
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk is the father of five young boys (twins and triplets), and that's part of the reason the Model S is designed to fit seven people.
As part of a presentation on gasoline vs. electric cars, a six-year-old student decided to put the Model S to the test, and see how many of his classmates could fit inside.
The result is this very cute video:
Social review site Yelp has a big problem: Angry small-business owners. This week, Yelp published a fiery blog post defending itself, yet again, against claims that it extorts money from small-business owners. Some outspoken business owners and several media reports have accused Yelp of manipulating reviews and ratings for pages of companies that refuse pay Yelp for advertising.
"Let me be clear: This claim is not -- and has never been -- true," wrote Vince Sollitto, vice president of corporate communications at Yelp.
Managing a business page on Yelp can be a blessing or a nightmare for business owners. A page full of five-star reviews can help drive business. But negative reviews can kill business, and the process of trying to convince Yelp to remove fake reviews can be exhausting.
The problem is twofold. The algorithm Yelp uses to determine which reviews will be displayed on a business's page can sometimes filter legitimate, positive reviews out while highlighting negative ones instead. Lawsuits from business owners have alleged that Yelp will only remove those bad reviews in exchange for buying advertising on the site.
Yelp has denied these allegations, pointing out that the legal complaints have all been dismissed due to lack of evidence.
"In either case -- if Yelp is guilty of recommendation manipulation or if businesses are simply seeing the natural trend of recommendations come and go -- it's Yelp who has created this situation, and they are the ones who need to fix any misconceptions," says Brian Blau, a research director for consumer technology and markets for New York City-based tech research group Gartner Inc.
For business owners, one big issue is that many don't understand Yelp's filtering system. Presumably to guard its proprietary technology from competitors and users who'd try to "game the system," Yelp has not publicly revealed specific details about how the algorithm works.
"Ironically, it's this mysterious black box that instills distrust in companies that in turn begin to believe Yelp is out to get them," says David Gerzof Richard, a social media and marketing professor at Emerson College in Boston and president of public relations and social media firm BIGfish. If business owners that don't understand the process continue to see bad reviews, justified or not, the allegations will continue, he says.
"Because Yelp keeps their recommendation filter algorithm secret the public may never know Yelp's true intentions," Blau says. "Until Yelp removes any perception of bias or conflict of interest, businesses will continue to be caught up in a real or perceived tough spot when they start to see negative reviews on their Yelp page."
iOS Dominates Mobile Video Traffic (FreeWheel)
The iPhone, iPad, and iPod combine for 75% of mobile video traffic, despite a smaller installed base than Android. Tablets tend to drive ad views on longer videos: nearly 60% of ad views on iPads were generated by long-form content, versus about 25% for iPhones and Android smartphones. Overall, smartphones and tablets accounted for 20% of video views in the first quarter, up from 6% a year ago. Read >
HTC Has Sold 5 Million Units of the HTC One (The Verge)
Released to rave reviews, it's still only half the volume of the rival Samsung Galaxy S4, which may further dishearten the struggling phone manufacturer. Read >
Square Is Expanding to Japan (The Next Web)
It is Square's first expansion outside of North America, but it won't be the first mobile payments player in the market: PayPal formed a joint venture with SoftBank in 2011, and there's also a host of local solutions. Read >
- In case you missed it, our new report on Mobile In Korea, Japan And Singapore discusses why mobile payments and mobile monetization have been so successful in these markets.
How to Leverage Market Data to Create Hit Apps (App Annie)
In order to create a successful app, developers should first devote themselves to thoroughly researching the market and understand what consumers are downloading or willing to pay for. Once you clue in on what's happening in the market, you can extrapolate further to understand what features or specifications made those apps popular. Read >
Tablet Use Soars Among U.S. Airline Passengers (USA Today)
Although tablet usage patterns are generally closer to PCs than smartphones, they have carved out one truly "mobile" niche: in-flight usage. Read >
A Designer's Take on Google I/O (The Push)
Adam Beckley's big takeaway from this year's I/O was Google's push to create a unified service, which paradoxically means a more personal experience for users. As part of its push towards a unified ecosystem, this year's conference had a greater emphasis on design. The infographic at the end of this newsletter looks at I/O from a similar perspective. Read >
Twitter's New Ad Tools Are All About The Second Screen (Twitter)
Twitter is pitching its new ad product to brands as a way to continue the stories they tell on TV commercials, and do so online and mobile. Thanks to new analytics, Twitter will automatically know what ads aired on which shows, pair that data with users who tweeted about those same shows or events, and serve those users ads that tie in with the TV commercials that aired during the programming. This strategy is all about leveraging Twitter's mobile usage as a "second screen" companion app to TV. As Twitter itself highlighted in its announcement, "64 percent of mobile-centric Twitter users use it in front of TV at the home." Read >
Showrooming May Not Be as Big a Threat As Thought (MarketingCharts)
New statistics from xAd show that only 6% smartphone users conducted their most recent mobile retail search in-store and that 77% of smartphone retail shoppers ultimately market their purchase in-store. Read >
Google is developing plans to build its own wireless network in emerging markets, Amir Efrati at The Wall Street Journal reports.
Google has developed its own wireless technology, which it hopes to deploy with local companies in Southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. Efrati says Google plans to provide wireless access to a billion people who are currently without Internet.
Google wants to use airwaves previously reserved for TV companies for its network. It's also developed balloons and blimps that go in the air and transmit signals for hundreds of square miles.
In addition to the wireless technology, Google is developing low-cost Android phones to sell in these new markets.
If this happens, it's going to be incredible. Google will provide experimental wireless networks, phones, operating systems, and a suite of software to complement it all.
Publicis Brussels has created an ad for the Belgian suicide prevention line, Centre du Prevention de Suicide, that makes creative use of the pre-roll skip ad feature. The work aims to recruit good listeners for the prevention line.
Those who don't listen to the woman in the ad and hit "skip ad" are shown a scene that results in suicide. Those who don't click "skip ad" and listen to the woman's story get thanked by the woman and are shown the recruitment message.
t's an interesting approach both for the use of the "skip ad" feature and for its commentary on today's world where everyone is in a rush and doesn't care about the well being of others.
Of course, we can't really conclude that people who don't skip the ad will be good prevention line listeners or that people who do skip the ad won't be but we do like the analogy Publicis used.
Electric car battery supplier Better Place plans to file for bankruptcy within the next few days, CNN Money reports.
Better Place was a proponent of battery swapping technology, which involves replacing an electric car's depleted battery, rather than charging it.
Saving that kind of time would be a huge boon for the electric vehicle industry, which is hamstrung by battery technology that keeps charge times long, range limited, and prices high.
Better Place, founded in 2007 by Israeli entrepreneur Shai Agassi, proved in 2010 it could swap out and replace a battery in under 60 seconds, far faster than even the best EV charging times.
According to the New York Times, Agassi, a former top executive at SAP, raised over $800 million in private capital from investors including HSBC, General Electric, and Morgan Stanley. It built a small network of stations in Denmark and Israel.
But between 2010 and February 2013, it posted $477 million in cumulative losses. That month, it announced it would close its operations in North America and Australia, and continue working in Israel and Denmark.
That move could not save it, however, and the electric vehicle market did not expand at the pace the company had expected, according to CNN Money.
"The company was not well-served by having things it thought would happen over a decade happen within a year," a source told CNN. "Ultimately the idea was always based around scale, and it just didn't build it fast enough or well enough."
This news comes as Tesla Motors — riding high after becoming profitable and paying off its loan from the Department of Energy — plans to announce news about its Supercharger network, where its customers can charge their car batteries halfway in 30 minutes, for free.
There is speculation that Tesla will announce a battery swapping scheme, which seems less likely now, given the expected failure of the company that had gone the furthest in making the technology a reality.
Yahoo has submitted a bid to buy Hulu, Peter Kafka at All Things D reports.
There's no word on the price.
Yahoo isn't alone in its interest in Hulu. KKR and Silver Lake are interested in Hulu, as well, Bloomberg reports. Other companies in the mix: Time Warner Cable, the Chernin Group, and Guggenheim Digital.
The Chernin Group is run by Peter Chernin, one of the original advocates for Hulu at News Corp. Guggenheim Digital is led by Ross Levinsohn, who was Yahoo's interim CEO before Marissa Mayer took over.
Hulu is owned by News Corp, Comcast, and ABC. It's been in play for a long time.
In 2011, Amazon, Google, and Yahoo all took a look at buying Hulu. It never happened because Hulu's owners and bidders couldn't agree on a price or content deals.
The bulk of Hulu's value is built around its premium content. Its parent companies weren't willing to give guarantees of exclusivity to Hulu's new owner in the past.
On Twitter, digital executive Jason Hirschhorn said of Hulu, "Buying @hulu is like buying a house lease in London. You can live there, but it ain't yours."
Yahoo's bid is a bit of a shock, since it just paid $1.1 billion for Tumblr. Many people believed that Mayer would want to digest Tumblr before making another big bid.
The last time Yahoo was interested in Hulu, it was willing to pay $2 billion for the site. We don't think much has changed in the last two years to make Hulu significantly more valuable.
Last October former CEO Jason Kilar cashed out $40 million in Hulu stock at a $2 billion valuation. We would think that Hulu's owners want a premium on that valuation.
With a half-dozen interested parties bidding, that could be possible. Then again, with half a dozen parties interested, we might see some creative ideas, like paying a low upfront price, but guaranteeing more money down the road.
Real-time bidding, or RTB, is a style of programmatic buying in which digital advertising opportunities are auctioned off in real-time. The auctions take place in milliseconds as advertisers bid on the right to show you an ad immediately after you open an app or click to a new web page.
On the desktop it's a powerful technique to deliver the right ad to the right consumer at the right time and place. On mobile, it could be more powerful since consumers take their devices everywhere — to the mall, the car dealership, Starbucks, etc.
We also examine the potential obstacles to its widespread adoption, and look at how the holy grail of mobile advertising - controls and efficiencies - may be reached through its use.
Take a look at this infographic from our report:
By all accounts, RTB grew tremendously in 2012 across the mobile advertising ecosystem. Some of the most promising highlights include:
- Adfonic: Launched a mobile demand-side platform with RTB in October 2012, says it saw a quarterly increase of 22 billion RTB ad requests in the third quarter of last year — a full three-quarters of its growth— thanks to Android and iOS RTB inventory.
- Nexage: A mobile ad exchange, it reported that RTB more than doubled its share of revenue on the platform between May and October of last year. RTB's revenue share grew 37% every month.
- MoPub: A mobile ad exchange, it reported that the number of winning RTB auctions increased 162% over the third quarter of 2012.
- Nexage, whose mobile RTB exchange is 18 months old, saw the number of bids per auction grow 96% between the second and third quarter of last year.
- MoPub reported bid depth of 1.6 bids per auction in June 2012, up from 0.4 bids per auction in January.
One of biggest criticisms of Steve Jobs was that he was not very philanthropic.
While he became a billionaire thanks to Pixar, he wasn't known as an activist like Bill Gates who pledged to donate the bulk of his fortune to causes he believed in.
Well, it turns out, Jobs' family has been donating money for the last 20 years to various causes. It's just been doing it anonymously, the New York Times reports.
His wife, Laurene Powell Jobs said, "we don’t like attaching our names to things" so the family just quietly made donations.
She's becoming a slightly more public figure lately talking about causes she believes in like immigration reform and education.
About four years after it launched, Meetup decided to charge for its services, which allow users with common interests to organize face-to-face meetings offline.
Immediately, the startup lost some 95% of its activity.
CEO Scott Heiferman says that startups need to implement such risky strategies to elevate their products, and to see what the real demand for such services is.
Despite the initial backlash, Meetup went on to attract close to 14 million members who organize about 400,000 meetings a month in 196 countries.
Watch below Heiferman talk about the dangers of layering too many features onto a product and losing focus, and how entrepreneurs should give their companies enough time to evolve and adapt rather than throwing in the towel at the first sign of trouble.
Produced by Daniel Goodman and Kamelia Angelova
This news note comes from BI Intelligence, Business Insider's research and and analysis service. The charts and data featured here are available for download in the BI Intelligence library. Please sign up up for a free trial here.
Teens are sharing more information on social media than ever before, according to a new survey from the Pew Internet And American Life Project.
In 2012, 53% of teens said they shared their email address on social networks, compared to only 29% who did so in 2006. Further, ten times more teens shared their cell phone number on social networks in 2012 than in 2006.
Other information, such as photos, school name, and locations are also being shared more frequently on social media by younger demographics, according to the survey of 802 U.S. teens.
In other words, despite all the attention on privacy issues surrounding social media, teenagers appear comfortable with sharing more data. However, they also tend to calibrate that sharing.
According to Pew, 60% of teen users keep their Facebook profiles private (so that casual Web users and non-friends can't access their profiles). Among adult users, 58%, keep their Facebook profiles private.
It's a sign that teens are just as mindful of their privacy setting as adults, even as they share more data about themselves with friends within their network (and Facebook itself).
Facebook remains by far the most popular site among social networking teens, with 94% claiming to have an account on the site. However, some teens are also using other sites: 26% of social networking teens used Twitter in 2012, up from 12% in 2011.
In contrast to Facebook, where only 14% of teens have public profiles, 64% of those teen Twitter users say their account is public.
Paul Adams, Facebook's global head of brand design (and a former Google alum), has left the company to take a position with Intercom, a company that makes customer communications, messaging, and analytics tools.
Adams is famous for his presentations on how people actually use social media, and for taking a key role in the design of Google+. Basically, he's one of the more important "thinkers" in social media.
At Facebook he took a lead role in ad product design, and reported to ad products director Gokul Rajaram and director of global creative solutions Mark D'Arcy. He had a hands-on role designing Facebook products for companies like Nike, P&G, Unilever, Coca Cola, and Starbucks.
Adams' role at Intercom will be head of product design. He received equity in the company as part of his hiring.
"I loved my job at Facebook. I had a fantastic position there. I had a lot of freedom and flexibility," Adams tells us.
But he started advising Intercom several months ago, and became increasingly fascinated with the company's main challenge: How do you design social customer interfaces that increase the level of contact with new customers?
Most companies regard customer relations management as a cost-center, Adams tells us, and try to limit the amount of time they have to interact with their consumers. Forward thinking companies want more consumer communication, Adams says.
He cites Zappos — with its legendary phone staff — as an example of a company getting it right.
At Intercom he will design systems that segment customers as thinly as possible, so that messaging to each consumer will be as accurate, useful and relevant.
"Star Wars" fans rejoice: A full-size Lego X-Wing has landed in Times Square, New York City.
The life-sized model is actually the largest Lego construction ever. It weighs in at over 23 tons, and is comprised of 5,335,200 bricks. The sculpture is 11 feet tall and 43 feet long, with a 44-foot wingspan.
It was constructed at the Lego Model Shop in Kladno, Czech Republic before it was shipped out to New York.
There's also a Lego Chewy, R2D2, C3PO and Porkins on display.
Of course, we had to see this marvel for ourselves, so we hiked it down to Times Square to snap a few pictures.
It weighs over 23 tons.
There are 5,335,200 bricks.
The model has a 44-foot wingspan.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Apple's share of the smartphone market does something weird to people who blog about/love Apple products.
Instead of being royally pissed off that Apple has a tiny sliver of the overall smartphone market, those people are too happy to point out that Apple makes more money than any other company in the smartphone market.
While it's certainly important to be profitable, at some point it becomes obscene, and self-defeating.
That's where Apple is right now with market share. It has just 18% of the smartphone market. Android has 74%.
If you work at Apple, or you love Apple's products this should be burning you up. You should be furious that Android, which you believe to be an inferior product, is on more phones than iOS, Apple's software.
The essence of posts like that: Apple is winning the smartphone war because Apple makes the most money per point of market share.
But is that really the best way to measure Apple's success? Is that really the best way to measure winning? I would argue that it's not.
In 1986, Steve Jobs told Joe Nocera, "My self-identity does not revolve around being a businessman, though I recognize that is what I do. I think of myself as someone who builds neat things. I like building neat things. I like making tools that are useful to people."
In 2007, Jobs said of Bill Gates, "I think the world’s a better place because Bill realized that his goal isn’t to be the richest guy in the cemetery, right? That’s a good thing and so he’s doing a lot of good with the money that he made."
And more recently, CEO Tim Cook said of Apple's employees, "They come to work each day with just one mission: to make the very best products on Earth."
Based on these quotes, the goal for Apple shouldn't be to be the company with the most money in the bank. It should be to make the best products in the world, and get them in as many hands as possible.
A victory, so to speak, would be if iOS were the most popular operating system in the world, and Apple was comfortably profitable.
Apple has so much money right now that it basically doesn't know what to do with it. A company that is defined by brilliant, world-changing ideas has decided the best use for its $145 billion in cash is a rather pedestrian stock buyback and dividend to shareholders.
So, what would be better for Apple, and for the world? To continue padding its bank account, or to try to lower the price of the iPhone, cut deals with more carriers, and truly attack Android?
If you like Apple and its products, it seems like a no-brainer. You should want Apple to go for market share.
But won't Apple's stock get crushed? Have you seen it lately? It's been crushed.
But won't Apple cease to be the world's most valuable company? Perhaps, but to echo Jobs, that's not the goal. The goal is to make great products. And what good are great products in the hands of just a relatively few people?
Anyone who wants to get lost in battles about winning or losing should look at both of those companies. It's hard to say either company is losing. And based on pricing, it's easy to say consumers are winning because both of them are in the market.
Apple's philosophy has always been to be consumer-centric. It wants to make easy-to-use, broadly-accessible products.
But on some level, it's failing consumers when only 18% of the global smartphone population has an iPhone.
I don't believe this is because only 18% of the population considers the iPhone the best phone on the market, and I know people who love Apple don't think it's the reason, which is why the seeming joy over Apple's profits always rubs me the wrong way.
It's great that Apple's über profitable. It would be even greater if more people could afford its phones.
A couple of days ago, a BusinessWeek columnist, Liz Ryan, got everyone all hot and bothered by writing about sex at work.
Sex at work is a reality, Liz Ryan argued. And it's time everyone just acknowledged that.
(One lawyer told Ryan that his firm had to remove cameras from office stairwells because they kept recording attorneys jumping each other late at night. Ryan herself met her husband at work. And so on...)
Anyway, we figured it would be a good idea to get some actual data on sex at work.
So we put together the survey below.
Please take a few minutes to fill it out. We'll publish the results soon.
(And rest assured: We have no idea who you are. So your secrets will be safe!)
Mobile is no longer a communications utility, but a media distribution hub. According to eMarketer, mobile now accounts for 12 percent of Americans' media consumption time, triple its share in 2009.
Where is this consumer attention being focused?
The biggest beneficiaries have been mobile apps. Time spent on apps dwarfs time spent on the mobile Web, and smartphone owners now spend 127 minutes per day in mobile apps.
In a recent report from BI Intelligence, we analyze the main mobile usage trends developers and publishers should consider to be successful in mobile, detail how users are consuming content on their mobile devices, take a look at the most popular mobile activities, and examine how mobile usage is an additive activity.
Here's an overview of the four usage trends developers and publishers should consider:
- The rise of gaming: Games are the largest mobile app category and the biggest money-maker in the app stores, accounting for 70% of Apple's top-grossing apps. However, even with the most addictive games, consumers' attention is fleeting and companies run the risk of becoming "one-hit wonders."
- Mobile-social synergies: Social networking apps are the second largest time bucket for mobile users. 39% of mobile users access social networks. This includes mobile versions of desktop favorites, as well as mobile-first networks like Instagram. Mobile holds promise for the social category, but monetization is far from a sure thing.
- The piggyback rule: The only tried-and-true way for a mobile success is to take a popular usage category and build a product that piggybacks on that activity to provide a unique mobile-native experience. Instagram did it with photos, "Angry Birds" with games, but other usage categories — news, weather, travel, video etc. — are waiting for a similar hit.
- Portal erosion: Mobile is a fragmented space, and consumers seem to like it that way. No one has succeeded aggregating services via a single app or mobile website. The desktop portal is fading with the advent of mobile. Yahoo Mail Traffic declined 12% in the 12 months leading up to December 2012. Carrier attempts to build mobile portals have failed miserably.
- Analyzes the four main mobile usage trends developers and publishers should consider to be successful in mobile
- Explores the convergence of social and mobile, including the state of the monetization opportunity
- Takes a look at usage data and trends from the most popular mobile activities, including social networking, gaming, email, weather, search, and video
- Examines how mobile consumption is an additive activity
Yesterday, rumors re-surfaced that Waze might be acquired for $1 billion.
What's the attention-grabbing navigation app all about?
Waze is an iOS app with more than 40 million registered users. It's headquartered in Israel and was founded in 2007 by Ehud Shabtai, Amir Shinar and Uri Levine. Noam Bardin is the company's CEO. It has gone on to raise $67 million from investors.
Waze is like Apple Maps and Google Maps in that it lays out directions for drivers on a street grid. It also has voice navigation. In addition to providing users with directions, it lets users scan real-time traffic information provided by other Waze users who are driving on the same roads.
A Waze driver a few miles ahead of you, for example, could report an accident and that cars aren't moving. Another might tell you where a cop is hiding around the bend.
I tried the app last weekend while driving up the east coast. While I enjoyed Waze, I ultimately found it more distracting than helpful. If your head is down scanning the highway ahead for traffic alerts and accidents, your eyes aren't on the road. I slammed on my brakes more than once while trying to figure out why I was in bumper-to-bumper traffic (I swear, I'm not the stereotypical bad female driver. I haven't gotten a ticket since college).
In addition to being visually distracting, Waze also makes distracting sounds by default. There's a game element to the app that lets you rack up points based on tips you leave and the number of miles you drive. But it's startling to hear a loud chime play whenever Waze feels you've hit some sort of driving milestone, which is often.
Waze has some safety features in place. For example, the app won't let you type while you're driving. It asks you to pull over first before you can type a destination. You can also turn yourself "invisible" on the app, if you don't want others (like Facebook friends) to be able to locate your whereabouts on Waze. And sounds can be turned off.
After my first experience with Waze, I'd recommend only letting a navigator, not a driver, use the app while you're on the road. Otherwise it could cause more harm than good. Also, make sure your phone is fully charged. Waze drains your battery quickly, like most other navigation apps, so you have to remember to turn it off after each use.
Thinking about trying out Waze and seeing what the fuss is about?
Welcome to Waze!
Waze realizes you're new. It helps you get started.
You can plug in your home and work addresses so you don't have to constantly type them in.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider