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Archive for the ‘World Wide Web’ Category

Whether they’re being groomed for acquisition or poised for long-term profit as standalone entities, Web 2.0 startups continue gorging on investors’ millions, according to a new report today from Internet Evolution. Despite the confusion of the current economic climate, “Web 2.0’s Biggest $inkholes” highlights key areas where VCs and angel investors think big Web 2.0 payoffs await:

  • Targeted advertising: JellyCloud couldn’t hack it and $11.5 million later went belly up; Lotame is staying afloat with its $28 million purse.
  • Social networking: All-purpose inbox company Xoopit is working on a $6 million round, while Orgoo is on indefinite hiatus; AOL’s $850 million for Bebo ended up being largely a write-off for the company.
  • Video: Lots of money’s chasing the desire to be the next YouTube – too bad most of the hosted content is porn; Trooker and others are betting there’s a market for video search.
  • Search: Cuil ($33 million) and SearchMe ($43.6 million) might imagine themselves Google killers, or at least viable alternatives. For investors, imagination makes for a crummy investment strategy.
  • Self-publishing/social-publishing: Uber.com and Bricabox litter this landscape, having shuttered themselves as things got rocky. It’s unclear whether ShareNow.com can thrive here.

“These startups are gambling that they’ll be acquired by the dominant players in each of these Web 2.0 sectors – Google, Facebook, YouTube, MSN, and Yahoo,” says Terry Sweeney, Editor in Chief of Internet Evolution. “As if today’s market wasn’t enough of a hindrance, many of these startups also suffer from fuzzy business plans, poor execution, and even crummy company names. Incredibly, that’s not stopping the flow of investment in some below-average companies.”

About Internet Evolution: Internet Evolution hosts more than 100 world-famous Internet experts – such as Kevin Mitnick, once the most-wanted computer hacker in the world; Dr. Lawrence Roberts, inventor of packet switching, and one of the world’s foremost authorities on telecom network architectures; Vint Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google; Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist.com; Paul Mockapetris, inventor of the Domain Name System (DNS); Howard Schmidt, former White House cybersecurity adviser; and Andrew Keen, author of Cult of the Amateur: How the Internet is killing our culture — all of whom are addressing today’s critical socio-economic issues within its ThinkerNet blogosphere. Internet Evolution also offers broadcast-quality broadband video documentaries and interviews; investigative reports; and user-generated content facilitated via the latest Web 2.0 technology.

About TechWeb: TechWeb, the global leader in business technology media, is an innovative business focused on serving the needs of technology decision-makers and marketers worldwide. TechWeb produces the most respected and consumed media brands in the business technology market. Today, more than 13.3 million* business technology professionals actively engage in our communities created around our global face-to-face events, Interop, Web 2.0, Black Hat, and VoiceCon; online resources such as the TechWeb Network, Light Reading, Intelligent Enterprise, InformationWeek.com, bMighty.com, and The Financial Technology Network; and the market leading, award-winning InformationWeek, TechNet Magazine, MSDN Magazine, and Wall Street & Technology magazines. TechWeb also provides end-to-end services including next-generation performance marketing, integrated media, research, and analyst services. TechWeb is a division of United Business Media, a global provider of news distribution and specialist information services with a market capitalization of more than $2.5 billion.

About United Business Media Limited: United Business Media Limited (UBM) is a global media and marketing services company that informs markets and brings the world’s buyers and sellers together at events, online, in print, and with the information they need to do business successfully. UBM serves professional and commercial communities, from IT professionals to doctors, from journalists to jewelry dealers, from farmers to pharmacists around the world. UBM employs more than 6,500 people in more than 30 countries. UBM’s businesses operating in the US include CMPMedica, Commonwealth Business Media, Everything Channel, PR Newswire, RISI, TechInsights, TechWeb and Think Services. UBM is listed on the London Stock Exchange (UBM.L) and has a market capitalization of $2.5 billion.

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Carl Icahn today announced that the following letter was delivered today to Yahoo! with the attached biographies of his ten nominees for the Yahoo! board.

Carl C. IcahnSECURITY HOLDERS ARE ADVISED TO READ THE PROXY STATEMENT AND OTHER DOCUMENTS RELATED TO THE SOLICITATION OF PROXIES BY Carl C. Icahn AND HIS AFFILIATES FROM THE STOCKHOLDERS OF YAHOO! INC. FOR USE AT ITS ANNUAL MEETING, WHEN AND IF THEY BECOME AVAILABLE, BECAUSE THEY WILL CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION, INCLUDING INFORMATION RELATING TO THE PARTICIPANTS IN ANY SUCH PROXY SOLICITATION. WHEN AND IF COMPLETED, A DEFINITIVE PROXY STATEMENT AND A FORM OF PROXY WILL BE MAILED TO STOCKHOLDERS OF YAHOO! INC. AND WILL ALSO BE AVAILABLE AT NO CHARGE AT THE SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION’S WEBSITE AT HTTP://WWW.SEC.GOV. INFORMATION RELATING TO THE POTENTIAL PARTICIPANTS IN A POTENTIAL PROXY SOLICITATION IS CONTAINED IN EXHIBIT 1 TO THE SCHEDULE 14A BEING FILED TODAY WITH THE SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION.

Carl C. Icahn
ICAHN CAPITAL LP
767 Fifth Avenue, 47th Floor
New York, NY 10153

May 15, 2008
Roy Bostock
Chairman
Yahoo! Inc.
701 First Avenue
Sunnyvale, CA 94089

Dear Mr. Bostock:

It is clear to me that the board of directors of Yahoo has acted irrationally and lost the faith of shareholders and Microsoft. It is quite obvious that Microsoft’s bid of $33 per share is a superior alternative to Yahoo’s prospects on a standalone basis. I am perplexed by the board’s actions. It is irresponsible to hide behind management’s more than overly optimistic financial forecasts. It is unconscionable that you have not allowed your shareholders to choose to accept an offer that represented a 72% premium over Yahoo’s closing price of $19.18 on the day before the initial Microsoft offer. I and many of your shareholders strongly believe that a combination between Yahoo and Microsoft would form a dynamic company and more importantly would be a force strong enough to compete with Google on the Internet.

During the past week, a number of shareholders have asked me to lead a proxy fight to attempt to remove the current board and to establish a new board which would attempt to negotiate a successful merger with Microsoft, something that in my opinion the current board has completely botched. I believe that a combination between Microsoft and Yahoo is by far the most sensible path for both companies. I have therefore taken the following actions: (1) during the last 10 days, I have purchased approximately 59 million shares and share-equivalents of Yahoo; (2) I have formed a 10-person slate which will stand for election against the current board; and (3) I have sought antitrust clearance from the Federal Trade Commission to acquire up to approximately $2.5 billion worth of Yahoo stock. The biographies of the members of our slate are attached to this letter. A more formal notification is being delivered today to Yahoo under separate cover.

While it is my understanding that you do not intend to enter into any transaction that would impede a Microsoft-Yahoo merger, I am concerned that in several recent press releases you stated that you intend to pursue certain “strategic alternatives”. I therefore hope and trust that if there is any question that these “strategic alternatives” might in any way impede a future Microsoft merger you will at the very least allow shareholders to opine on them before embarking on such a transaction.

I sincerely hope you heed the wishes of your shareholders and move expeditiously to negotiate a merger with Microsoft, thereby making a proxy fight unnecessary.

Sincerely yours,
CARL C. ICAHN

SLATE BIOGRAPHIES

  • Lucian A. Bebchuk

Lucian A. BebchukLucian Bebchuk is the William J. Friedman and Alicia Townsend Friedman Professor of Law, Economics, and Finance and Director of the Program on Corporate Governance at Harvard Law School. Bebchuk is also a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research and Inaugural Fellow of the European Corporate Governance Network. Trained in both law and economics, Bebchuk holds an LL.M. and S.J.D. from Harvard Law School and an M.A. and Ph.D in Economics from the Harvard Economics Department. He joined the Harvard Law School faculty in 1986 as an assistant professor, becoming a full professor in 1988, and the Friedman Professor of Law, Economics and Finance in 1998. Bebchuk has written extensively on corporate governance, corporate control, and corporate transactions. He has published more than seventy research articles in academic journals in law, economics, and finance. Upon electing him to membership in 2000, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences cited him as “[o]ne of the nation’s leading scholars of law and economics,” who “has made major contribution to the study of corporate control, governance, and insolvency.” He is the 2007-2008 President of the American Law and Economics Association, and a former chair of the Business Association Section of the American Association of Law Teachers. Bebchuk’s recent writings include Pay without Performance: the Unfulfilled Promise of Executive Compensation (Harvard University Press, 2004, co-authored with Jesse Fried), “The Case for Increasing Shareholder Power” (Harvard Law Review, 2005), “The Costs of Entrenched Boards” (Journal of Financial Economics, 2005, co-authored with Alma Cohen), and “The Myth of the Shareholder Franchise” (Virginia Law Review, 2007). Bebchuk has been a frequent contributor to policy making and public discourse in the corporate governance area. He has appeared before the Senate Finance Committee, the House Committee of Financial Services, and the SEC. He has published many op-ed pieces, including in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Financial Times. He was included in the list of “100 most influential people in finance” of Treasury & Risk Management and the list of “100 most influential players in corporate governance” of Directorship magazine.

  • Frank J. Biondi, Jr.

Frank J. Biondi, Jr.Since March 1999, Mr. Biondi has served as Senior Managing Director of WaterView Advisors LLC, an investment advisor organization. From April 1996 to November 1998, Mr. Biondi served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Universal Studios, Inc. From July 1987 to January 1996, Mr. Biondi served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Viacom, Inc. Mr. Biondi is a director of Amgen Inc., Cablevision Systems Corp., Hasbro, Inc., The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation and Seagate Technology. Mr. Biondi is a graduate of Princeton University and earned a Masters of Business Administration from Harvard University.

  • John H. Chapple

John Chapple is President of Hawkeye Investments LLC, a privately-owned equity firm investing primarily in telecommunications and real estate ventures frequently working in conjunction with Rally Capital LLC. Prior to forming Hawkeye, John Chapple worked to organize Nextel Partners, a provider of digital wireless services in mid-size and smaller markets throughout the U.S. He became the President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Nextel Partners and its subsidiaries in August of 1998. Nextel Partners went public in February 2000 and was traded on the NASDAQ Exchange. In June 2006, the company was purchased by Sprint Communications. From 1995 to 1997, Mr. Chapple was the President and Chief Operating Officer for Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment in Vancouver, B.C. During Mr. Chapple’s tenure, Orca Bay owned and operated Vancouver’s National Basketball Association and National Hockey League sports franchises in addition to the General Motors Place sports arena and retail interests. From 1988 to 1995, he served as Executive Vice President of Operations for McCaw Cellular Communications and subsequently AT&T Wireless Services following the merger of those companies. From 1978 to 1983, he served on the senior management team of Rogers Cablesystems before moving to American Cablesystems as Senior Vice President of Operations from 1983 to 1988. Mr. Chapple, a graduate of Syracuse University and Harvard University’s Advanced Management Program, has 26 years of experience in the cable television and wireless communications industries. Mr. Chapple is the past Chairman of Cellular One Group and CTIA-The Wireless Association, past Vice-Chairman of the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association and has been on the Board of Governors of the NHL and NBA. Mr. Chapple serves on the Syracuse University Board of Trustees currently as Chairman and the Advisory Board for the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. He is also on the Board of Directors of Cbeyond, Inc., a publicly traded Atlanta-based integrated service telephony company; Seamobile Enterprises, a privately held company providing integrated wireless services at sea; Telesphere, a privately held VOIP (voice over internet protocol) company based in Phoenix, Arizona; and on the advisory boards of Diamond Castle Holdings, LLC, a private equity firm based in New York City and the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs at University of Washington.

  • Mark Cuban

Since early 2000, Mr. Cuban has been the majority and controlling owner of the National Basketball Association franchise, the Dallas Mavericks. In 2001, Mr. Cuban co-founded HDNet, an all high-definition television network on DIRECTV that broadcasts high-definition sports, movies and other entertainment. Prior to his purchase of the Dallas Mavericks, Mr. Cuban co-founded Broadcast.com in 1995 and served as its Chairman of the Board until it was sold to Yahoo! in July of 1999. Before Broadcast.com, Mr. Cuban co-founded MicroSolutions, a national systems integrator, in 1983, which was later sold to CompuServe Corporation in 1990. Mr. Cuban is an active investor in cutting- edge technologies and various industries, including the entertainment industry.

  • Adam Dell

Since January 2000, Mr. Dell has served as the Managing General Partner of Impact Venture Partners, a venture capital firm focused on information technology investments. He also serves as Managing Director at Steelpoint Capital Partners, a private equity firm with offices in New York and California. From October 1998 to January 2000, Mr. Dell was a Senior Associate and subsequently a Partner with Crosspoint Venture Partners in Northern California. From July 1997 to August 1998, he was a Senior Associate with Enterprise Partners in Southern California. From January 1996 to June 1997 Mr. Dell was associated with the law firm of Winstead Sechrest & Minick, in Austin, Texas, where he practiced corporate law. Mr. Dell’s investments include: Buzzsaw (which was acquired by Autodesk), HotJobs (which was acquired by Yahoo!) and Connectify (which was acquired by Kana Software). Mr. Dell has been a director of XO Holdings, Inc., a telecommunications services provider, since February 2006, and of its predecessor from January 2003 to February 2006. In addition, Mr. Dell currently serves on the boards of directors of the Santa Fe Institute, MessageOne and OpenTable. He also teaches a course at the Columbia Business School on business, technology and innovation and is a contributing columnist to the technology publication, Business 2.0. Mr. Dell received a J.D. from University of Texas and a B.A. from Tulane University.

  • Carl C. Icahn

Mr. Icahn has served as chairman of the board and a director of Starfire Holding Corporation, a privately-held holding company, and chairman of the board and a director of various subsidiaries of Starfire, since 1984. Since August 2007, through his position as Chief Executive Officer of Icahn Capital LP, a wholly owned subsidiary of Icahn Enterprises L.P., and certain related entities, Mr. Icahn’s principal occupation is managing private investment funds, including Icahn Partners LP, Icahn Partners Master Fund LP, Icahn Partners Master Fund II L.P. and Icahn Partners Master Fund III L.P. Prior to August 2007, Mr. Icahn conducted this occupation through his entities CCI Onshore Corp. and CCI Offshore Corp since September 2004. Since November 1990, Mr. Icahn has been chairman of the board of Icahn Enterprises G.P. Inc., the general partner of Icahn Enterprises L.P. Icahn Enterprises L.P. is a diversified holding company engaged in a variety of businesses, including investment management, metals, real estate and home fashion. Mr. Icahn was chairman of the board and president of Icahn & Co., Inc., a registered broker- dealer and a member of the National Association of Securities Dealers, from 1968 to 2005. Mr. Icahn has served as chairman of the board and as a director of American Railcar Industries, Inc., a company that is primarily engaged in the business of manufacturing covered hopper and tank railcars, since 1994. From October 1998 through May 2004, Mr. Icahn was the president and a director of Stratosphere Corporation, the owner and operator of the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, which, until February 2008, was a subsidiary of Icahn Enterprises L.P. From September 2000 to February 2007, Mr. Icahn served as the chairman of the board of GB Holdings, Inc., which owned an interest in Atlantic Coast Holdings, Inc., the owner and operator of The Sands casino in Atlantic City until November 2006. Mr. Icahn has been chairman of the board and a director of XO Holdings, Inc., a telecommunications services provider, since February 2006, and of its predecessor from January 2003 to February 2006. Mr. Icahn has served as a Director of Cadus Corporation, a company engaged in the ownership and licensing of yeast-based drug discovery technologies since July 1993. In May 2005, Mr. Icahn became a director of Blockbuster Inc., a provider of in-home movie rental and game entertainment. In October 2005, Mr. Icahn became a director of WestPoint International, Inc., a manufacturer of bed and bath home fashion products. In September 2006, Mr. Icahn became a director of ImClone Systems Incorporated, a biopharmaceutical company, and since October 2006 has been the chairman of the board of ImClone. In August 2007, Mr. Icahn became a director of WCI Communities, Inc., a homebuilding company, and since September 2007 has been the chairman of the board of WCI. In December 2007, Mr. Icahn became a director of Federal-Mogul Corporation, a supplier of automotive products, and since January 2008 has been the chairman of the board of Federal-Mogul. In April 2008, Mr. Icahn became a director of Motricity, Inc., a privately-held company that provides mobile content services and solutions. Mr. Icahn received his B.A. from Princeton University.

  • Keith A. Meister

Since March 2006, Keith Meister has served as Principal Executive Officer and Vice Chairman of the Board of Icahn Enterprises G.P. Inc., the general partner of Icahn Enterprises L.P., a diversified holding company engaged in a variety of businesses, including investment management, metals, real estate and home fashion. Since November 2004, Mr. Meister has been a Managing Director of Icahn Capital LP, the entity through which Carl C. Icahn manages third party private investment funds. Since June 2002, Mr. Meister has served as senior investment analyst of High River Limited Partnership, an entity primarily engaged in the business of holding and investing in securities. Mr. Meister also serves on the boards of directors of the following companies: XO Holdings, Inc., a telecommunications company; WCI Communities, Inc., a homebuilding company; Federal-Mogul Corporation, a supplier of automotive products; and Motorola, Inc., a mobile communications company. With respect to each company mentioned above, Carl C. Icahn, directly or indirectly, either (i) controls such company or (ii) has an interest in such company through the ownership of securities. Mr. Meister received an A.B. in government, cum laude, from Harvard College in 1995.

  • Edward H. Meyer

Mr. Meyer serves as Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Investment Officer of Ocean Road Advisors, Inc., an investment management company. From 1970 to 2006, he served as Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of Grey Global Group, Inc., a multi-billion dollar global advertising and marketing agency. Mr. Meyer serves as a Director of Harman International Industries, Inc., Ethan Allen Interiors, Inc., National CineMedia, Inc. and NRDC Acquisition Corp. Mr. Meyer holds a B.A. in Economics from Cornell University.

  • Brian S. Posner

Brian S. Posner is a private investor. From 2005 through March 2008, he served as Chief Executive Officer and co-Chief Investment Officer of ClearBridge Advisors LLC (and its predecessor company, CAM North America), an asset management company based in New York with approximately $90 billion in assets and a wholly owned subsidiary of Legg Mason Inc. Prior to ClearBridge Advisors, he was a co-Founder and the Managing Partner of Hygrove Partners LLC, a hedge fund company that was formed in 2000. Prior to ClearBridge Advisors and Hygrove Partners, he served as a Portfolio Manager and an Analyst, first at Fidelity Investments from 1987 to 1996 and then at Warburg Pincus Asset Management/Credit Suisse Asset Management from 1997 to 1999. At Warburg Pincus Asset Management/Credit Suisse Asset Management he was a Managing Director and served as the Senior Investment Manager of the Value Equity Group, co-Portfolio Manager of the Warburg Pincus Growth & Income Fund, and Portfolio Manager of the Warburg Pincus Institutional Value Fund and the Warburg Pincus Trust, Growth and Income Fund. Prior to the acquisition of Warburg Pincus Asset Management (“WPAM”) by Credit Suisse Asset Management in July 1999, he was co-Chief Investment Officer, Director of Research, Chairman of the Global Asset Allocation Committee, and a member of the Executive Operating Committee at WPAM. At Fidelity Investments, he was the Portfolio Manager of the Fidelity Equity Income II Fund from 1992 to 1996 and the Fidelity Value Fund from 1990 to 1992. He also managed the Select Life Insurance, Select Property Casualty Insurance and Select Energy Portfolios. From 1987 to 1990, he was an Oil, Insurance, and Financial Services Analyst. From August 2000 to April 2003 he served on the Board of Directors for Sotheby’s Holdings, Inc. He currently a member of the Board of Trustees at Northwestern University and the Board of Visitors for the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University. Mr. Posner received his undergraduate degree in history from Northwestern University in 1983 and his M.B.A. in finance from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business in 1987.

  • Robert K. Shaye

Robert Shaye is Co-Chairman and Co-CEO of New Line Cinema. As the Founder of New Line Cinema and a filmmaker himself, Robert Shaye has spent more than 40 years developing and distributing films that reflect a wide array of cultural movements, creating new paradigms for the motion picture business, and most importantly, entertaining millions of moviegoers. Since he founded New Line in 1967, Shaye has guided the company’s growth from a privately-held art film distributor to one of the entertainment industry’s leading independent studios and a veritable box office force. He has been involved in such films as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Rush Hour, Austin Powers and Seven. A University of Michigan graduate with a degree in business administration and a J.D. degree from Columbia University Law School, Shaye is also a Fulbright Scholar, member of the New York State Bar, and serves on the Board of Trustees of the Motion Picture Pioneers, and the American Film Institute.

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MySpace, the world’s most popular social network, alongside Yahoo!, eBay, Photobucket, and Twitter, today announced the launch of the MySpace ‘Data Availability’ initiative, a ground-breaking offering to empower the global MySpace community to share their public profile data to websites of their choice throughout the Internet. Today’s announcement throws open the doors to traditionally closed networks by putting users in the driver’s seat of their data and Web identity. The launch of the Data Availability initiative marks the first time that a social Website has enabled its community to dynamically share public profile information with other sites.

MySpace Data Availability on Twitter.

“The walls around the garden are coming down-the implementation of Data Availability injects a new layer of social activity and creates a more dynamic Internet,” said Chris DeWolfe, CEO and co-founder of MySpace. “We, alongside our Data Availability launch partners, are pioneering a new way for the global community to integrate their social experiences Web-wide.”

Data Availability – User Interface

Data Availability pioneers a new way for users to dynamically share their user generated content and data with websites of their choosing. The Data Availability initiative is founded first and foremost on the simple and comprehensive user control of their own content and data – users will have control over what information they share and who they share it with.

Additionally, rather than updating information across the Web (eg. default photo, favorite movies or music) for each site where a user spends time, now a user can update their profile in one place and dynamically share that information with the other sites they care about. MySpace will be rolling out a centralized location within the site that allows users to manage how their content and data is made available to third party sites they have chosen to engage with.

Inside this opt-in framework, they will be offered the opportunity to share their MySpace profiles with the site they are visiting. MySpace, and its landmark launch partners, will be allowing users to dynamically share the content and data of their choosing including: (1) Publicly available basic profile information, (2) MySpace photos, (3) MySpaceTV videos, and (4) friend networks. Integration of the Data Availability project will roll to MySpace users and participating Websites in the coming weeks.

“The launch of Data Availability is an unprecedented move to further socialize the Web and empower users to control their online content and data,” said Amit Kapur, Chief Operating Officer, MySpace. “We are thrilled to begin this initiative with a world class suite of landmark partners and invite websites around the world to participate.”

Partner Website Functionality

Data Availability is about enriching existing Internet destinations with social functionality and valuable pre-existing user generated content and data.  By empowering users with the ability to dynamically share, those destinations will create deeper levels of social engagement and new functionality throughout their site. As the online home to 117 million users worldwide, this groundbreaking initiative enables the larger Web to leverage the highly engaged and passionate MySpace global community.

To ease implementation for participating sites, the MySpace Data Availability initiative uses OAUTH and Restful APIs as its core technology underpinnings. MySpace is using open standards in an effort to embrace the open source community and allow the implementation to be as non-proprietary as possible. Today’s announcement is the first step of MySpace’s larger data portability initiatives coming down the pipeline. MySpace is officially joining the Data Portability Project demonstrating our continued commitment to openness and open standards.

Data Availability on Yahoo!

MySpace’s Data Availability complements Yahoo!’s recently announced Yahoo! Open Strategy (Y!OS), a company-wide initiative to open Yahoo! to application developers, unlock the rich social connections across the Yahoo! network, and enable users to customize and make more personally relevant their experiences of Yahoo! and other Internet services.

On Yahoo!, the Data Availability initiative may appear to users in a variety of ways.  For example, users that have chosen to share their MySpace content and data with Yahoo! Instant Messenger might find their MySpace default photo, interests, and favorite music displayed to their Messenger contacts directly in the IM client.  Additionally, MySpace users will be able to choose to display their data within Yahoo!’s universal profile or leverage it in Yahoo! Mail’s smarter inbox, once those upcoming releases are deployed.

“Yahoo! believes in an open Internet that gives users the flexibility to make their Web experiences as relevant, social and personalized as they can.  As a longtime collaborator with MySpace on a variety of projects, including the OpenSocial Foundation, we’re thrilled to support this new initiative,” said Ash Patel, Executive Vice President, Platforms, at Yahoo!.  “The Yahoo! Open Strategy and MySpace Data Availability are a giant leap towards a more social and open Internet.”

Data Availability on eBay

Through the MySpace Data Availability implementation, eBay profiles can be easily enhanced with MySpace bios, interests, pictures, and videos. In a socially driven marketplace, this will yield a deeper connection between individuals. When browsing or transacting on eBay, the availability of external social information can help users make good decisions quickly about whom they can do business with, and perhaps even make a new friend.

“The MySpace Data Availabilityinitiative will further enrich eBay profiles and create a more elaborate social experience for buyers and sellers worldwide,” said Matt Ackley, VP of Internet Marketing of eBay.  “As the world’s largest social commerce site, eBay is dedicated to creating a social context and personality for the people with whom you transact.”

Data Availability on Photobucket

MySpace’s Data Availability initiative will allow Photobucket users to enjoy a more seamless photo experience with their MySpace profile.  Photobucket users will be able to have a single view of their photos across multiple services, as well as opt-in to displaying their MySpace profile data in their Photobucket albums.  Users will also be able to leverage their existing connections on MySpace to share their content on Photobucket more easily, without having to re-establish connections and friend lists.

“MySpace users invest a huge amount of time populating their profile and personal interest data.  With the large overlap in users, the Data Availability initiative will allow Photobucket to utilize this profile data to enhance its own products,” said Alex Welch, President of Photobucket.  “The combination of the Data Availability initiative and the recently announced Photobucket Open-API provides new opportunities to create a more open web”

Data Availability on Twitter

Twitter profiles at present are primarily focused on current updates and are relatively sparse on user information. The MySpace Data Availability initiative enriches the current Twitter profile by empowering users to incorporate their MySpace profile content and data points previously not included in the Twitter product suite.  Once the implementation is complete, a user will be able to bring in their MySpace content and data including their bio, blogs, and photos, ultimately making the Twitter site a more enriching site with content previously unavailable in its interface.

“Finding friends to follow is central to Twitter’s value as a real-time communication utility.” Says Biz Stone, Co-founder, Twitter. “This project enhances discovery and connectivity making Twitter more relevant and useful-we’re very excited.”

Stay Tuned for more updates, later today. Subscribe

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Modern Military themed online game.Giant Interactive Group Inc., one of China’s leading online game developers and operators, announced today that peak concurrent users (“PCU”) for its newly launched modern military themed online game, Giant Online, reached 344,005 at 8:33PM (Beijing Time) on May 03, 2008. On March 28, 2008, Giant Online achieved a PCU of over 237,000 during its open beta testing, representing the best-performing online game by PCU on the first day of open beta testing reported to date in 2008.

Mr. Yuzhu Shi, Giant’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer commented, “Giant Online is on track in achieving the growth performance we had planned during the research and development stage. A PCU growth of almost 110,000 in one month since the open beta launch is a strong testament that Giant Online is becoming increasingly welcomed by gamers. We have been extensively collecting the gamers’ feedback, Mr. Yuzhu Shi, Giant\'s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.and continuously enhancing Giant Online in terms of its content, graphics quality, as well as thoroughly optimizing both the server-side and the client-side performances. One of our more popular gameplay features is called ‘The Time of Peace’, which is an hour within the day when gamers cannot be attacked by other gamers, allowing them to safely accomplish certain desired tasks. Tasks such as riding escort vehicles or crossing to other virtual countries to garner higher experience points can be done without the risks of being slain during this hour of peace. In addition, to further promote interactivity, we incentivize gamers with virtual items or virtual currency, as long as they complete certain tasks and contribute to the in-game community. These are only a few of the hundreds of gameplay features we incorporated into Giant Online. Although I am pleased of Giant Online’s performance to date, our development model requires that we continue to painstakingly update and evolve our game features based on the feedbacks from the gamers, even long after the commercialization. This will enable us to continue the growth momentum for years to come.”

About Giant

Giant Interactive Logo.Giant is one of China’s leading online game developers and operators in terms of revenues, focusing on massively multiplayer online role playing games. Giant’s first game, ZT Online, was voted the most popular online game in China in 2006 according to the International Data Corporation. The Company’s second game, Giant Online, entered into open beta testing on March 28, 2008. Giant has two additional online games that it intends to launch, including King of Kings III and Empire of Sports. Giant has built a nationwide distribution network to sell the prepaid game cards and game points required to play its games, which as of December 31, 2007 consisted of over 200 distributors, and reached over 116,500 retail outlets, including internet cafes, software stores, supermarkets, bookstores, newspaper stands, and convenience stores located throughout China. For more information, please visit Giant Interactive Group Inc. on the web at http://www.ga-me.com.

Safe Harbor Statement: This release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 relating to, among other things, Giant’s ability to continue to enhance its game features and increase its player base. Giant’s industry is highly competitive and it faces a number of risks including those outlined under “Risk Factors” beginning on page 12 of Giant’s prospectus filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on November 1, 2007. Giant undertakes no obligation to update or revise these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, after the date of this press release. Such information speaks only as of the date of this release.

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Nick O’Neill, at The Social Times ran a story on May 1 titled, MySpace Begins Charging for Application Promotion.

Short extract:

MySpace-Application-Promotion.Developers then realized a loop-hole to this model… Over the past couple days, MySpace launched a new page which includes a “featured” section… Developers began inquiring with MySpace about why only Slide applications were showing up there. The result? At least one developer I’ve spoken with found out that MySpace is in fact charging for those apps to be “featured.”… My sources have been pitched to at between $50,000 and $100,000 for one week as a featured application on the MySpace applications page…. it also means there could be trouble for a lot of smaller application developers…You’ll have to pay MySpace if you want to do that in the short-run and will have choose between using MySpace and other ad networks in the space in the long-run.

Since it was well researched, TechSadhu scarcely doubted the transparency of the article.

In an official statement to TechSadhu, MySpace confirmed the said strategy with substantial explanation.

Edited excerpt:

MySpace Application LogoYes, we’re an ad based site and… we have advertising – this is how we pay for cool initiatives like the developer platform. We also are currently running an “editors picks” program where we reserve some ad space for editorial in Featured Apps – they’re not all paid spots… The app gallery main page was designed to accommodate a wide variety of advertisers – everyone from the brand-driven… to the small / mid tier… who are very performance focused… to the space we have reserved for the editors picks.  Having advertising doesn’t mean we’re limiting developers from building rich and engaging apps.

Here are some points, backing the logical approach:

MySpace Platform Monetization Points

1. ADVERTISING PROGRAMS

  • MySpace Logo.MySpace is an ad supported site, and is focused on balancing revenue and relevancy across all of its business units – including the developer platform.
  • It is common practice for application developers to buy advertising through networks on our platform or other platforms or through Google ad words to promote their applications.
  • Featured Apps in the application gallery are a combination of editorial and paid placement. They are based on sponsorship and sometimes based on editor’s picks (what we think are cool apps).

2. PLATFORM DEMOCRATIZATION

  • By us having advertising on the application gallery, it in no way means MySpace will limit the functionality for developers to build rich and engaging applications.
  • Everyone from Mumbai to Moscow to Michigan can develop on MySpace; whether you’re 18 or 118.
  • All developers are subject to the OpenSocial standards.

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Microsoft Corp. has announced that it has withdrawn its proposal to acquire Yahoo! Inc.

“We continue to believe that our proposed acquisition made sense for Microsoft, Yahoo! and the market as a whole. Our goal in pursuing a combination with Yahoo! was to provide greater choice and innovation in the marketplace and create real value for our respective stockholders and employees,” said Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer of Microsoft.

Microsoft Yahoo logos.“Despite our best efforts, including raising our bid by roughly $5 billion, Yahoo! has not moved toward accepting our offer. After careful consideration, we believe the economics demanded by Yahoo! do not make sense for us, and it is in the best interests of Microsoft stockholders, employees and other stakeholders to withdraw our proposal,” said Ballmer.

“We have a talented team in place and a compelling plan to grow our business through innovative new services and strategic transactions with other business partners. While Yahoo! would have accelerated our strategy, I am confident that we can continue to move forward toward our goals,” Ballmer said.

“We are investing heavily in new tools and Web experiences, we have dramatically improved our search performance and advertiser satisfaction, and we will continue to build our scale through organic growth and partnerships,” said Kevin Johnson, Microsoft president for platforms and services.

Below is the text of the letter from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to Yahoo! CEO Jerry Yang.

May 3, 2008

Mr. Jerry Yang
CEO and Chief Yahoo
Yahoo! Inc.
701 First Avenue
Sunnyvale, CA 94089

Dear Jerry:

After over three months, we have reached the conclusion of the process regarding a possible combination of Microsoft and Yahoo!.

I first want to convey my personal thanks to you, your management team, and Yahoo!’s Board of Directors for your consideration of our proposal. I appreciate the time and attention all of you have given to this matter, and I especially appreciate the time that you have invested personally. I feel that our discussions this week have been particularly useful, providing me for the first time with real clarity on what is and is not possible.

I am disappointed that Yahoo! has not moved towards accepting our offer. I first called you with our offer on January 31 because I believed that a combination of our two companies would have created real value for our respective shareholders and would have provided consumers, publishers, and advertisers with greater innovation and choice in the marketplace. Our decision to offer a 62 percent premium at that time reflected the strength of these convictions.

In our conversations this week, we conveyed our willingness to raise our offer to $33.00 per share, reflecting again our belief in this collective opportunity. This increase would have added approximately another $5 billion of value to your shareholders, compared to the current value of our initial offer. It also would have reflected a premium of over 70 percent compared to the price at which your stock closed on January 31. Yet it has proven insufficient, as your final position insisted on Microsoft paying yet another $5 billion or more, or at least another $4 per share above our $33.00 offer.

Also, after giving this week’s conversations further thought, it is clear to me that it is not sensible for Microsoft to take our offer directly to your shareholders. This approach would necessarily involve a protracted proxy contest and eventually an exchange offer. Our discussions with you have led us to conclude that, in the interim, you would take steps that would make Yahoo! undesirable as an acquisition for Microsoft.

We regard with particular concern your apparent planning to respond to a “hostile” bid by pursuing a new arrangement that would involve or lead to the outsourcing to Google of key paid Internet search terms offered by Yahoo! today. In our view, such an arrangement with the dominant search provider would make an acquisition of Yahoo! undesirable to us for a number of reasons:

  • First, it would fundamentally undermine Yahoo!’s own strategy and long-term viability by encouraging advertisers to use Google as opposed to your Panama paid search system.  This would also fragment your search advertising and display advertising strategies and the ecosystem surrounding them.  This would undermine the reliance on your display advertising business to fuel future growth.
  • Given this, it would impair Yahoo’s ability to retain the talented engineers working on advertising systems that are important to our interest in a combination of our companies.
  • In addition, it would raise a host of regulatory and legal problems that no acquirer, including Microsoft, would want to inherit.  Among other things, this would consolidate market share with the already-dominant paid search provider in a manner that would reduce competition and choice in the marketplace.
  • This would also effectively enable Google to set the prices for key search terms on both their and your search platforms and, in the process, raise prices charged to advertisers on Yahoo.  In addition to whatever resulting legal problems, this seems unwise from a business perspective unless in fact one simply wishes to use this as a vehicle to exit the paid search business in favor of Google.
  • It could foreclose any chance of a combination with any other search provider that is not already relying on Google’s search services.

Accordingly, your apparent plan to pursue such an arrangement in the event of a proxy contest or exchange offer leads me to the firm decision not to pursue such a path. Instead, I hereby formally withdraw Microsoft’s proposal to acquire Yahoo!.

We will move forward and will continue to innovate and grow our business at Microsoft with the talented team we have in place and potentially through strategic transactions with other business partners.

I still believe even today that our offer remains the only alternative put forward that provides your stockholders full and fair value for their shares. By failing to reach an agreement with us, you and your stockholders have left significant value on the table.

But clearly a deal is not to be.

Thank you again for the time we have spent together discussing this.

Sincerely yours,
/s/ Steven A. Ballmer

Steven A. Ballmer
Chief Executive Officer
Microsoft Corporation

About Microsoft

Microsoft LogoFounded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

This release does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any securities or a solicitation of any vote or approval. This material is not a substitute for the prospectus/proxy statement Microsoft Corporation would file with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) if an agreement between Microsoft Corporation and Yahoo! Inc. is reached or any other documents which Microsoft Corporation may file with the SEC and send to Yahoo! stockholders in connection with the proposed transaction. INVESTORS AND SECURITY HOLDERS OF YAHOO! INC. ARE URGED TO READ ANY SUCH DOCUMENTS FILED WITH THE SEC CAREFULLY IN THEIR ENTIRETY WHEN THEY BECOME AVAILABLE BECAUSE THEY WILL CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE PROPOSED TRANSACTION.

Investors and security holders will be able to obtain free copies of any documents filed with the SEC by Microsoft Corporation through the web site maintained by the SEC at http://www.sec.gov. Free copies of any such documents can also be obtained by directing a request to Investor Relations Department, Microsoft Corporation, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, Washington 98052-6399.

Microsoft Corporation and its directors and executive officers and other persons may be deemed to be participants in the solicitation of proxies in respect of the proposed transaction. Information regarding Microsoft Corporation’s directors and executive officers is available in its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended June 30, 2007, which was filed with the SEC on August 3, 2007, and its proxy statement for its 2007 annual meeting of stockholders, which was filed with the SEC on September 21, 2007. Other information regarding the participants in a proxy solicitation and a description of their direct and indirect interests, by security holdings or otherwise, will be contained in any proxy statement filed in connection with the proposed transaction.

Statements in this release that are “forward-looking statements” are based on current expectations and assumptions that are subject to risks and uncertainties. Actual results could differ materially because of factors such as Microsoft Corporation’s ability to achieve the synergies and value creation contemplated by the proposed transaction, Microsoft Corporation’s ability to promptly and effectively integrate the businesses of Yahoo! Inc. and Microsoft Corporation, the timing to consummate the proposed transaction and any necessary actions to obtain required regulatory approvals, and the diversion of management time on transaction-related issues. For further information regarding risks and uncertainties associated with Microsoft Corporation’s business, please refer to the “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Risk Factors” sections of Microsoft Corporation’s SEC filings, including, but not limited to, its annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, copies of which may be obtained by contacting Microsoft Corporation’s Investor Relations department at (800) 285-7772 or at Microsoft Corporation’s website at http://www.microsoft.com/msft.

All information in this release is as of May 3, 2008. Microsoft Corporation undertakes no duty to update any forward-looking statement to conform the statement to actual results or changes in the company’s expectations.

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Kaazing Corporation, a leader in enterprise real-time Web solutions, raised $1 million in an initial round of financing. Investors include a number of high-profile Silicon Valley private investors. Kaazing will use the funds to expand its development team for its real-time Web platform – Enterprise Comet(TM) – and to increase marketing efforts.

“We are all very excited to be working with such a diverse group of investors,” said Jacobi, chief executive officer of Kaazing. “As Web technologies push the boundaries of the Internet to deliver more dynamic and interactive applications, there are increasingly more pain-points in existing methods of Web application delivery. It is time we alter the fabric of the Web, creating a new Web that allows the development of real-time, multi-user applications based on the simple and democratizing standard technologies like HTML and JavaScript.”

With Kaazing’s patent-pending Enterprise Comet(TM) technology, companies can build mission-critical solutions, such as online trading systems, online betting and games, RFID/GPS tracking systems, and sports and news broadcasting applications using standard Web technologies, without sacrificing reliability or scalability.

As Gigaom contributor Alistar Croll so succinctly stated, “Think Tibco over Firefox. And while it sounds like enterprise-grade software, it can in fact drive a new generation of real-time Rich Internet Applications.”

For more information about Kaazing and Kaazing’s Enterprise Edition please visit http://www.kaazing.com

About Kaazing Corporation

Kaazing Corporation’s Enterprise Comet solution is the industry’s most advanced real-time solution for Java EE. It provides IT organizations with the infrastructure to rapidly and reliably create and deploy mission critical real-time Web applications with no browser plug-ins or usage of traditional client-side polling. For more information visit Kaazing Corporation’s web site at http://www.kaazing.com.

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