The world of business has just drastically changed and one of the most established enterprise companies in the world just gained one of the most liberal and rebellious to have ever emerged onto the social scene in the past decade. Ever since Yammer, a well-funded social collaboration company, first came on the scene after taking the top prize at TechCrunch 50 in 2008, there has been a shift in the business paradigm. And now, on the heels of their recent announcement of Yammer’s acquisition by global software giant, Microsoft, this popular startup is poised to achieve even greater success and help disrupt the way people are doing business.
Perhaps commonly known in its beginnings as the “Twitter for Enterprise”, Yammer has come a long way in its short four year history to become the de facto service for millions of customers, many of whom are represented in companies that make up the Fortune 500 group. Under the terms of the acquisition, Microsoft will purchase the social business company for $1.2 billion in cash and will join the Microsoft Office Division, which is led by the division president, Kurt DelBene. When asked why they purchased Yammer, Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, responded with “The acquisition of Yammer underscores our commitment to deliver technology that businesses need and people love.” It seems that the software giant saw some great potential that Yammer had versus what they could have possibly mustered using their own social enterprise software called Sharepoint. We’ll explore that a little bit later on, but suffice it to say, according to the announcement, Yammer won’t be integrated into the collective of software right away:
Yammer will continue to develop its standalone service and maintain its commitment to simplicity, innovation and cross-platform experiences. Moving forward, Microsoft plans to accelerate Yammer’s adoption alongside complementary offerings from Microsoft SharePoint, Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics and Skype.
There are a lot of different mashups of technology and startups over the past few months and years and it’s definitely the year of the API. It all starts off with an idea and then by leveraging the API of that startup, others can build their own vision of a product. It usually happens with one of the more popular startups and today, one of them happens to be Instagram. Naturally, startups are going to try and “ride their coattails” (in a good way) to find ways to improve the service or come up with a great product. Launching this week, Scan-to-gram just happens to be one of them.
Started from nothing more than a mashup of ideas during a Scan company hackathon event, Scan-to-gram is the outcome of Scan team members mashing up their popular QR code generator and Instagram in order to create a fun new way for companies and others to have a web presence and increase their following on the photo-sharing social network. Not a bad idea from the company that produced one of the top downloaded QR code scanners in the Apple marketplace. According to TechCrunch, Scan is in the business of “creating apps that extend the potential application of QR code tech…” and they’re doing a pretty interesting job of trying to make QR codes less boring and more valuable. For many people, the thought of using a QR codes probably seems a bit far-fetched–some might even speculate that they’re dead. After all, it wasn’ t as if they’re a new thing in the marketplace. The QR code was first invented in 1994 and was designed to enable tracking of vehicles during the manufacturing process. But it’s only been recently since QR codes have hit their stride, somewhat, and have become more mainstream–but there’s a long ways to go. And that’s just what Scan seems to be trying to do, but they have a long way to go.
Recent statistics show that in June 2011, there were 14 million US smartphones that scanned a QR code, but when you compare it to the entire US smartphone population (82.2 million), it’s not that impressive. But now when you look at all the emerging startups making names for themselves and getting acquired, they’re all mobile-based and rely solely on the smartphone. Take Instagram, Path, Highlight, Foursquare, Flipboard, Evernote, etc. for example–these are all mobile-based startups that people with smartphones are rapidly downloading. The camera on the smartphones have become even better too. So the environment is there eagerly awaiting for a really great startup to put it all together. Scan just managed to find the right deal–make it easy for people to find their friends and great photographers on the number one photo-sharing app. That’s what you get with Scan-to-gram.
Web television has just gone mainstream. Sure, we know that our favorite television shows go online the day after they air and we can catch what we missed simply by going to Hulu or the respective network’s website, but how often will the networks offer original programming online? Probably never…because it wouldn’t make that much sense for them–they have their own network viewed by millions of people each day so might as well exploit it. But let’s not discount what we’ve seen online either…there’s been some really great web series that have huge followings.
Maybe finding a huge web property that would allow Discovery to create original series while enabling it to expand its online offerings was key for Discovery Communications. As a result, the parent company of the Discovery Channel has announced its acquisition of web-video startup Revision3 for an undisclosed amount. Known as a TV network for the web, Revision3 is probably one of the first to really make it big in web video content, producing hit shows like Diggnation, Epic Meal Time, GeekBeat.TV, HD Nation, Foundation, Lifehacker, Scam School, SGNL by Sony, Tekzilla, and the Totally Rad Show. It is probably known best as being among the leading special interest video network focused on technology while also being home to some of the top Internet video talent like Digg and Revision3 founder, Kevin Rose, Veronica Belmont, Patrick Norton, Alex Albrectht, Cali Lewis, and Brian Brushwood. But now, Revision3 will become more mainstream and well-known on the Discovery Channel as “Shark Week”.
No, social media cannot wash your car but thanks to the various tools out there, my car is about to be washed for me and I don’t even have to be there. Although daily deal sites like Groupon, Google Offers and Living Social have lost some of their shine, they offer a unique opportunity to introduce consumers to something they’ve never used before. There is potential for a marketing goldmine.
Thanks to Living Social, I’ve been introduced to a reasonably new online service, Cherry. Although the name doesn’t make it very clear what they do, the site allows users to request a car wash. Unlike traditional car washes that require you to bring your car to them, Cherry brings the car wash to you. Simply park in a publicly accessible space, check in with your car’s current location, and unlock your car doors to have the interior cleaned. Doesn’t get much easier than that. They will even send you a text message when someone arrives to wash your car so if you can wait until someone is there to unlock your car.
In mid-April, Cherry received $4.5 million in funding led by Shasta Ventures with additional participation from Founders Fund and angel investors including Shervin Pishevar and Bill Lee. The company also launched an iPhone app that allows users to request a car wash directly from their phone.
Cherry currently is available in various locations across the Bay Area and only costs $29.99 including tip. If you happen to see this post in the next day or two, you can purchase a voucher from Living Social that will only cost $10 for the same service. They’ve already passed 1,300 vouchers sold so there are a lot of dirty cars out there needing some TLC, mine being one of them.
Photo Credit: Original Batmobile at Southern California Car Wash via clusterflock
For at least the past few years, people have become fascinated with the measurement of influence. Just how can you easily determine whether someone is influential about a particular topic? Is it quantitative? If so, just how can someone make money trying to figure it out? If someone could help companies determine someone’s influence, then that might stand to make a few bucks as a result.
Enter Klout, the market leader in influence measurement. This startup has helped pave the way into creating a business out of a vague concept most people probably had and found an appeal to both businesses and individuals. Of course, determining one’s Klout score doesn’t come without any criticism. But even when faced with public backlash about how vague it seemed, Klout still manage to persevere and grow into a sound business–they ran their race without compromising their integrity or standards–they knew what they wanted to accomplish and set forth to make it happen. Led by founders Joe Fernandez and Binh Tran, Klout has made some major strides in growing the business and developing new ways for the company to build. From introducing perks to their +K program, Klout has found ways to get people involved in helping to determine just who is influential.
One of the thoughts I had when thinking about Klout is that it’s not about the score that really determines whether someone is influential about something or not. It’s actually what they have done to merit them being considered an influencer. So if Klout tells me that I’m influential about photography, just what have I done to make that justified? Are people constantly talking about me and associating me with photography? Am I posting photos on Flickr and other photo-sharing services? Am I actively talking about photography and promoting the topic in my social graph? These actions play an active part in the grand scheme of what influence really is. I suppose that’s why Klout introduced their +K program as a means to help people share their thoughts about what topics an individual is more credible about. For businesses, this helps give them an answer to one of the missing pieces of the puzzle in understanding just what a score of 64 means in Klout. Now, those eager to reaching out to unofficial evangelists will be able to understand that while I may have a 64 Klout score, they know what topics I’m influential about and can work that into their program. This helps them justify their outreach.