Category Archives: Acquisition

By Julie Blaustein

Kosmix

Kosmix Ping PongsKosmix‘s doubles Ping Pong Tournament held at its head quarters in Mountain View last week was quite the event. Seven of their closest neighbors and potential partners were invited along with a team of bloggers that included myself, Julie “Julie B” Blaustein of Bub.blicio.us and Jennifer “Mediaphyter” Leggio of ZDNet. Kosmix takes not only their work seriously but their Ping Pong even more so. Scattered throughout their office are ping pong balls, rackets and previous trophies – a true testament to their ping pong culture. For this special tournament a two foot high, gold topped trophy with ping pongs was awarded to the winners. Each player’s game name such as “The Octopus” and “The Smasher” made it clear how intent they were in their quest to win. In the end, it was the Kosmix team made up of Nikesh “The Wall” Garera and Ankur “Neo” Jain that were the winners! Check out the hilarious Video of the Kosmix Startup Smackdown shot by Carl Brown of Corduroy Media.

The Contenders included the following companies:

Talenthouse: A platform that provides opportunities to the world’s creative community.

Skyfire: Provides a downloadable, free mobile browser that gives you Web browsing like your PC.

TheFind: Finds every product from every store, every coupon, and every review.

Rythm NewMedia: Mobilizes and Monetizes TV Shows.

Polyvore: Mixes & matches products from your favorite stores. You can then shop looks created by the web’s largest fashion community.

Evernote: Saves your ideas, things you see, and things you like. Then it allows you to find them all on any computer or device for free!

Meebo: Instant messages everywhere.

And Kosmix: It is a universal guide to the Web that organizes the Internet through a categorization engine into fun magazine-style topic pages to navigate the web using a countless number of sources including YouTube and Wikipedia. Unlike Mahalo that depends on Human Editors, Kosmix relies on Search Algorithms. Recently launched MeeHive creates customized news pages through very fine tuned aggregation. You can customize your own or a specialized version such as found with FailCon’s version.

Photo Credit: Karl Mueller

Photo Credit: Karl Mueller

The Kosmix Ping Pong Tournament Players

The Kosmix Ping Pong Tournament and its Team Players Photo Credit: Karl Mueller

Kosmix Founder Anand Rajaraman Guards the Ping Pong Trophy

Kosmix Founder Anand Rajaraman Guards the Ping Pong Trophy

By Julie Blaustein

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Jay Adelson of Digg and Mike Vorhaus of Magid Advisors

Jay Adelson of Digg and Mike Vorhaus of Magid Advisors

Digital Media Conference West, a one day conference held at the Kabuki Hotel in San Francisco, focused on a wide range of topics  including online video, social media, investments, online advertising, mobile entertainment, mobile apps, the future of news media and the relationship between Hollywood and Silicon Valley. There were also a number of well known digital media  leaders there to speak including Jay Adelson of Digg and Craig Newmark of Craig’s List along with other great speakers from the industry.

Bill Trancer of Hitwise and Nick Veronis of Veronis Suhler Stevenson kicked off the conference with their view of the trends of the Internet. Bill’s trends can be found in his book Click: What Millions of People are Doing and Why it Matters along with his blog I Love Data which he gave a few shout-outs about. His post about the competition of Twitter vs Facebook provides a clear analysis of the trends, spelling out his observation that Facebook, with its 6% of all U.S. Internet visits, is not threatened by Twitter.  Nick Veronis spoke of ad spending trends where $210 billion is allocated to digital advertising, search is huge and growing with over $11 billion while classified spending has been reduced by 50% most likely due to competition with free services such as Craig’s List. The main problem according to Nick Veronis is, “Distribution used to be the issue, now its gaining the attention of users”

It was like hanging out in a cafe during Jay Adelson of Digg’s talk with Mike Vorhaus of Magid Advisors, a research-based strategic consulting firm (founded in 1957!). Jay shared amusing incidents such as when he was hailed back west from NYC to return to the Digg helm and his biggest concern was the transportation of his daughter’s Gecko. He “twittered” for information inquiring how does one transport a Gecko and was blown away by the amount of knowledge his followers shared with him about Geckos – a testament to the power of Twitter. His first hire was a coder from eLance who turned into a full timer. Digg would have been Dig if Disney didn’t already own it. He isn’t thrilled with the depiction of him as despising VC’s as detailed in an entire chapter on him called Fuck the Sweater Vests by Sarah Lacy in Once Your Lucky, Twice Your Good. He does prefer Angel funding. Digg is hiring and allows dogs, even parakeets in the office. And he shared “secrets” including that Digg is releasing new features in a week and focusing on verticals, content types and also on multiple levels of promotions.

Chuck Fishman of Cisco and Craig Newmark of Craig's List

Chuck Fishman of Cisco and Craig Newmark of Craig's List

The agenda was packed with great content yet it seemed to always come back to Facebook, Twitter and MySpace in each and every conversation. Lunch was served along with a chat from Craig Newmark who still goes by his title of Customer and Service Rep from 12 years ago when he first started the site. He was candid, honest and a delight to listen to even though folks were having lunch while he spoke. His main concern is about information not being shared. He is so concerned that he gave out his Twitter, Facebook and even his email address to all, suggesting they contact him in the afternoons when he isn’t dealing with spam. Great information was shared during the conference by the speakers and through the Twitter hashtag #DMCW that was displayed front and center on the big screen on stage with the speakers. Attendees at the conference and off-site kept the live stream fresh. What were they sharing? They shared when they  arrived for the “party.” They promoted their speaking engagements coming up. They shared who they were looking forward to hearing speak. They provided links to information such as the Pew Study on Twitter Users tweeted by @nedsherman. They gave a play-by-play of who is speaking and about what. And they promoted themselves.

Check out more about the Digital Media Conference West and Buzz on its Twitter Feed at #DMCW

In case you didn’t know, eBay purchased Skype in 2005. Even at the time, a lot of people were sort of scratching their heads, but eBay apparently saw synergy where others did not.

Turns out, eBay ended up scratching their heads as well, and today the deal was announced. Skype has been sold to a group of private investors in a deal valued at $2.75 billion.

The buyer, who will control an approximately 65 percent stake, is an investor group led by Silver Lake and includes Index Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Investment Board. eBay is expected to receive approximately $1.9 billion in cash upon the completion of the sale and a note from the buyer in the principal amount of $125 million. The company will retain an approximately 35 percent equity investment in Skype. The transaction, which is not subject to a financing condition, is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2009.

It’s worth mentioning that eBay has lost a fair amount of money here – from the initial purchase valued at $4 billion to the money invested in Skype along the way. It looks like eBay is now adhering to the maxim of “do one thing and do one thing well,” as it is now left with the core online auction company and the complementary PayPal.

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Cheers!

Tweet Michelle @writetechnology, send her technology news at michelle[at]writetech[dot]net, visit her wine blog when you’re thirsty, and drop by her day job.

spiderman-mouseearsDisney is acquiring Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion in stock and cash.

Why? Well, princesses can only grab so much of the kid demographic. Something has to interest the little boys as well, and I guarantee it’s not Wendy Wu, Homecoming Warrior.

The deal still faces shareholder and regulatory approval, but has been approved by the boards of the both companies. Current Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter will be retained to oversee the Marvel properties. According to paidContent,

It’s one of the largest acquisitions in Disney history and has the potential to transform the company. But it will take years in some cases before Disney can do more than reap the licensing fees from some key Marvel characters through its own movies, games and even theme parks. In an interview soon after the announcement, Disney CFO Tom Staggs told paidContent that the licensing “actually underscores the value of these properties.”

As part of the deal, Disney will acquire ownership of Marvel including over 5,000 Marvel characters, including Iron Man, SpiderMan, Hulk, the X-Men, and more.

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Cheers!

Tweet Michelle @writetechnology, send her technology news at michelle[at]writetech[dot]net, visit her wine blog when you’re thirsty, and drop by her day job.

So everyone is all abuzz with the recent announcement that Facebook has acquired FriendFeed. According to the folks at FriendFeed,

The FriendFeed team is extremely excited to become a part of the talented Facebook team. We’ve always been great admirers of Facebook, and our companies share a common vision. Now we have the opportunity to bring many of the innovations we’ve developed at FriendFeed to Facebook’s 250 million users around the world and to work alongside Facebook’s passionate engineers to create even more ways for you to easily share with your friends online.

What does this mean? Well, it means Facebook gets an excellent development team from Friendfeed and access to the technology. After all, Facebook has been incorporating FriendFeed-type functionality already this year, with the addition of the real-time streaming news feed. The folks at FriendFeed have made it clear that, for now, nothing is changing with either the API or individual FriendFeed accounts, but that it’s time to look towards the future.

As for Facebook, they issued a press release that states

“As we spent time with Mark and his leadership team, we were impressed by the open, creative culture they’ve built and their desire to have us contribute to it,” said Paul Buchheit, another FriendFeed co-founder. Buchheit, the Google engineer behind Gmail and the originator of Google’s “Don’t be evil” motto, added, “It was immediately obvious to us how passionate Facebook’s engineers are about creating simple, ground-breaking ways for people to share, and we are extremely excited to join such a like-minded group.”

Taylor and Buchheit founded FriendFeed along with Jim Norris and Sanjeev Singh in October 2007 after all four played key roles at Google for products like Gmail and Google Maps. At FriendFeed, they’ve brought together a world-class team of engineers and designers.

“Since I first tried FriendFeed, I’ve admired their team for creating such a simple and elegant service for people to share information,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO. “As this shows, our culture continues to make Facebook a place where the best engineers come to build things quickly that lots of people will use.”

Sometimes I wonder about acquisitions and wonder if companies are buying for the sake of buying. This is one partnership that works in my mind and that will, hopefully, benefit all of us who use Facebook.

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Cheers!

Tweet Michelle @writetechnology, send her technology news at michelle[at]writetech[dot]net, visit her wine blog when you’re thirsty, and drop by her day job.

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