Friday, 29 June 2012

Internet heavy weights produce a terrific video to support kids project Code Club. What a brilliant video you'll really enjoy.

Well okay, here's something outside of the norm that's not about brands, finance, billion dollars valuation for once. And a really terrific video for a Friday.

It's about kids. And it's an extraordinary venture by our neighbours in the UK to teach kids aged 10-11 to code. Called Code Club it was started by Clare Sutcliffe and Linda Sandvik who met in January at New Adventures Conference in Nottingham and accidentally came up with the idea for Code Club.

What they want to do is to make coding fun and interesting, giving kids online skills - exactly what they need - through a nationwide network of volunteers.

You'll see from the video that they've been able to rope in some heavy hitters who really play a great part as mock interviewees. They really show great self-deprecating spirit. Non less so than HRH THe Duke of York ("we were hoping for Prince Harry to be honest with you Mister Windsor" says one kid). 

"I'm Chad Hurley, I started youtube", says Chad - kid responds - "Oh did you do the one where the baby bites the other babies finger?". Lol. Next. 

"What's you name?" says kid, "(Sir) Tim Berners Lee" he responds, "And what do you think you bring to the table?" responds the kid, "well, I invented the world wide web"....."anything else?" retorts the kid. Smashing.

The video was unbelievably concepted, scripted, filmed in one day at the 2012 Founders Forum and pretty damn good it is. Credit to Fred Destin's team. 

It's something we should support, tweet @codeclub and the blog is here

We should give our children these skills as they move into a future that is going to be dominated by the web.

It's the sort of thing countries like Ireland, who promote ourselves on our technology base cache, could easily get going as could any country with an interest in their children's future. Low cost relevance for once and not an IPO potential in sight.

Good for them.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Microsoft acquires Yammer for 1.2 billion. Leaving billions scratching their heads. A bubble?

OMG! Microsofts Steve Ballmer and the Yammer boys badly pictured officially by Microsoft - could have flashed it through Instagram - announcing the acquisition this week and looking very 1970's. The new leaders in Social Media wouldn't you say?

I've been blogging a fair bit about whether we're in a bubble or not and as recently as last week here;postID=1971760983930398308

But I also go back to the Instagram deal and Mashable valuation in their CNN sale, and marvelled at the prices. After all, I'm not against a bubble and if money piles into the space, then good for us.

I note too that 3 year old Pinterest (yes, sure, I know, we all love Pinterest) without any revenues of note, raised 100m usd in the last week. But the hugely interesting thing about that, is that it was based on a valuation of 1.5 bn. 1.5 BILLION. Now it was late last year (yep 7 months ago) when Pinterest valued itself at 200 m. So how does a valuation increase so dramatically so quickly? Unless because of other high valuations and a scramble to do deals at any price. A clear sign that we're in a bubble.

And so along comes Microsoft. Remember them? They were the people who largely owned this space until Apple re-invented itself with Jobs and once Social started. I think they've lost their way although have made some good strides in the mobile phone market with Samsung but generally, not the ship they were. They did pay 8.5bn (yep, 8.5 BILLION) for Skype mid 2011 and did, well, not a lot with it and have recently announced a payment plan (which kind of defeats the purpose, doesn't it?) and Advertising. 

And this was the big plan.......increase payments and bring in advertising?

So I can't help thinking that they want to be back in the space, at the forefront, and now are desparate for attention. So they see Facebook and their 1bn acquisition of Instagram and they say, let's go one better.

Then they find Yammer. Never heard of them? Nearly everyone on the wires agree even those who'd you expect to know it all. Nope they say and look blankly. And Yammer has now been acquired by Mircosoft for 1.2 bn usd. A little bit more than Facebook's deal. Interesting pyschology that.

Yammer launched in 2008 and it provides for private communications within businesses - sort of a social network for your company. In September 2010, it was reported to have 3 million users and predominantly Fortune 500 valuable companies. My understanding is however, that this was based on free trials, but I could be wrong (BusinessInsider have a story that estimates only 20% of Yammer customers actually pay).

Features include allowing workers to share events directly to Microsoft Outlook. Videos and URLs can be shared. Topics of conversations can be shared. Conduct polls can be created, files can be shared. It allows you to see who's online and who's not. Sorry, have I missed something? That's it?

But I think critically important here, is the reporting features that allow company owners track their employees activities. Perhaps that's why companies use it? Perhaps? You think? Yeah Yeah.

It was also well funded having received circa 150m usd in support but obviously a big cash day in this acquisition. Clearly of course, it opens a channel to expose Microsofts products to high-end Yammer customers but a 1.2bn channel? 

A lot of people are bemused with this acquisition.
It's difficult to really see the pull of Yammer and the 'perfect fit' for Microsoft. 
It's more quickly and possibly unfairly, seen as an attempt to get back into the game with big time acquisitions, flagging big time ambitions.

I don't know.

But it seems a lot for a company that no one had ever heard of.
Except if we were in a bubble. 

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Techcrunch blogger has the extra bottle of wine at The Flipboard launch and starts to write....yep, another one. Oh dear.

You know the way it is.

You've gone to lunch, had that bottle of wine too many and now you're going to tell everyone what you really think. So you draft that email but most of us never send it until the next day at best, because we're old hands.

Or that text you send and the next morning you look at the phone, arm extended, with one eye, going "no, please, I didn't, did I?".

Just like Jerry Comyn did last month and Greg Smyth of Goldman Sachs, before him.

So you're a blogger with Techcrunch

Techcrunch was founded by Michael Arrington (yeah, that's him at the top of the blog. Get my drift?) in 2005 who is no longer there but famed for a 2010 a verbal confrontation with CEO of Yahoo!, Carol Bartz. Arrington started the interview by asking Bartz, "So how the fuck are you?" To which she responded, "Is that appropriate?". Later in the interview, Bartz became perturbed with Arrington's criticism of the Yahoo! business model of conglomeration rather than single revenue source producers. Bartz then responded to Arrington saying, "you are involved in a very tiny company" and ended the exchange by telling him to "fuck off." Bartz received some support from bloggers for her response, including Guy Kawasaki who stated, "I respect Carol Bartz even more now." (per Wikipedia).

Techcrunch is one of the top 2 techy blogs along with Mashable, and so as one of their writers/reporters, you're invited by Flipboard (which I love) to a function to tell you about how it's expanding their monetization policies. Not exactly fascinating but still, has to be done. Pays the rent and all that.

But you have had that extra bottle of wine and you've just about had enough. So you start to write your post for Techcrunch. Think of a good headline. Here's the one Alexia Tsotsis went with

Flipboard Expands Its Monetization Options To Paywall. Welcome To The Future, Old Media Assholes.

Old Media Assholes? Hmmmm interesting approach. But having started, let's not stop there. No way, let's go all the fucking way.

Fuckers I am so sick of reporting on incremental tech news for fucking two years now, so sick I’m pretty much considering reverting full-time to fashion coverage. (Don’t believe me? Well, how amazing and beautiful is my“Clothing I Like and Want To Buy” Pinterest board? A.k.a. my greatest accomplishment in my life thus far …).

But yeah, The New York Times took a step towards the future this blasted Sunday night and all of us tech press are expected to cover it like lemmings. Fine. Sure. It’s a big deal, in a business that is slowly dying, to show an understanding of 21st Century distribution mechanisms. Kudos NYT. You’re still worth less than Instagram. Hahahahhaha, lol (drink).

But still you, The New York Times, are way more important than I am, because you convinced Flipboard CEO Mike McCue to work with you early on, which by the timing of this post you could probably figure out that I couldn’t do (in time). Fail. But we’re still covering it because this is the first time Flipboard has offered a paywall option, and it shows a promising alternative revenue stream for both parties involved  … Welcome to the future, old media assholes.

So in between the downing of tonight’s two bottles of wine, I had the good fortune to ask new media visionary McCue the questions y’all are dying to ask, and here they are — Because he was cool enough to answer me  …

And then the questions all seem reasonable - like they're straight from a press release.

But let's not finish there. Let's just roll it all up in a final insult.

So there you have it. If both Flipboard and The New York Times were public companies and you asked me to convert my invaluable Aol stock into either right now, one and a half bottles of wine deep, I’d instinctively go with Flipboard. Suck it, old media. And please die more slowly from now on, because I (clearly) hate you.

Of course, you're all saying this didn't appear on Techcrunch yesterday.

And you're also saying it wouldn't have got past the editor.
Nope because Alexia is the co-editor.

Alexia Tsotsis
Alexia Tsotsis is the co-editor of TechCrunch. She attended the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA, majoring in Writing and Art, and moved to New York City shortly after graduation to work in the Media industry.

She made the Forbes, "30 under 30 rising stars media list". One wonders will she do it again this year?

As for Techcrunch?
Well to be fair, they've left the post up. 
There's a bit of integrity about that somehow.

But a shocking bit of concern that albeit "approved sources" can write anything on Techcrunch without somebody reading it? That is a huge issue.

Techcrunch needs to be seen as impartial and honest.
If no-one is checking the writing, it opens up huge potential pitfalls - paid to blog just being one.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Advertising + Ad Agencies have a future. Google is proving it + this wins at Cannes.

Got a huge response to my post of the weekend about BBH and British Airways. I'm sure just because people wanted to view the commercial but I think also, Ad people like to admire good work. 

Interesting too, that BBH got 2nd place in Cannes as 'Ad Agency of the year' behind Wieden Kennedy. No shame there.

Just two other points about Cannes first : Jack Dorsey (I always thought if I ever wrote a detective novel, he'd be called, 'Jack Dorsey'. Just made for it), the 34 year old founder of the 6 year old Twitter, got 'Media person of the year'.

And mobile ad of the year? It's the one that's all over this blog as you read on.

What's interesting too about the BA commercial was that it premiered on Facebook and not TV - a blending of Social Media.

Now I know what you're going to say about this post because I'm asking you to view a video that's an hour long. Crazy. Who has that time? But perhaps if you want to remain inspired, you will. And it will be worth it. Maybe we all need to take an hour out every now and again to refresh our thinking.

But you know what, so many Agencies don't understand the space. This will show them how it can be used and integrated into traditional advertising. It's magic.

This is Google's "Project brief" which is about taking classic, iconic Ad campaigns of the past, with Agency people of the past, and seeing can they bring them into today. 

I've been following it and the individual/shorter clips are all here. Avis, Alka Seltzer, Volvo and the best of the all, Harvey Gabor for Coke ("I'd like to buy the world a Coke" 1971). Or I think so.

The long version on this blog brings them all together, telling each story and to the unveiling at SXSW. It is the best thing I've seen in advertising in 20 years and Google, are to be applauded (I never really liked them but this propels them in my head).

So here are the 4 individual blogs for each brand. If you're going to watch only one and not the longer video, click Coke (the first one here). But try and watch it. You'll learn from it that if we embrace the technology, we can do amazing work. To embrace the technology, we have to understand it first. alka seltzer

Hats off Google. You've done a great job here and I hope the Ad Agencies get on board.

Mind you, The Pitch is one of the great TV programmes on-air at the moment. Terrific stuff. Does a great job in showing Ad Agencies to be intelligent thinkers rather than flaky, over paid, traditionalists.

And it's being pulled.

Oh why?
Ad Agencies won't take part in the first place + aren't watching (Nielsen ratings just above zero).

You know what? Stop giving out. We do it to ourselves.