May 13, 2009
From Don’t Fight The Stream: Facebook And FriendFeed Redesigns Are Paying Off on Techcrunch:
When Facebook redesigned its homepage in early March in a wholehearted embrace of the real-time activity stream as its primary user interface, everybody complained. “Why on earth does the world need 2 Twitters?,” asked one of my friends on Facebook. Twitter-envy aside, some early data suggests that embracing the stream was the right decision after all.
Since the redesign went into effect, Facebook’s growth has accelerated. After flat 0.3 growth in February, Facebook added nearly 4 million unique U.S. visitors in March (up 6.6 percent over February), and another 5 million in April (up 10.3 percent over March) to end at 67.5 million domestic uniques, according to comScore. That puts it within kissing distance of MySpace’s 71 million unique U.S. visitors in April, by the way (…), and keeps a healthy 50-million visitor gap with Twitter, which added 8 million U.S. visitors in April alone.
What it means: As I wrote in my “I have seen the future of local media” post last week, the activity stream is the new gold standard for content discovery and Facebook’s new focus on it seems to be paying dividends in terms of usage. If you’re in Local Media, you should embrace it as well.
March 6, 2009
I thought it was a good opportunity today to list the next three events I will be attending.
1) The first one is [praized subtype="small" pid="66afa9c1b5e4cd2f613f200ec61d955d" type="badge" dynamic="true"] ‘s MarketPlaces 2009 conference in Los Angeles. Definitely looking forward hearing Jeff Berman (President, Sales and Marketing at MySpace) talk about verticals and local, Jay Herratti (CEO, Citysearch) discuss the latest Citysearch initiatives (maybe some fresh Facebook Connect data?) and Chris LaSala (Director of Local Markets, Google) talk about any Google Local initiatives. The conference is on March 16, 17 and 18 (yes, in 10 days!) at the [praized subtype="small" pid="d919d1d277951c5164c26320a00b783fe1" type="badge" dynamic="true"].
2) I will also be attending this year’s [praized subtype="small" pid="85bbe9714ba1f95167e8691d35364b0a8c" type="badge" dynamic="true"] conference. Believe it or not, it will be my first time after almost 10 years in the industry. They invited me to speak on a blogger panel with my friends Mike Boland and Greg Sterling. Can’t wait to hear Carol Johnson (COO, Sensis Yellow and White Pages) talk about “Sustaining Yellow and White Pages Growth” and Malcolm Gladwell talk about “Outliers”. The conference is April 26, 27 and 28 at the [praized subtype="small" pid="2824998ee1a44bb195b97335593818ba2c" type="badge" dynamic="true"].
3) Finally, a month later, I will be in sunny Barcelona at the EADP conference. I will be talking about “blended search”. Their line-up of speakers is amazing with many CEOs and Head of New Media divisions speaking at the event. The conference is May 28 and 29 at [praized subtype="small" pid="fe88067181f3c2b456ee063861fe1985" type="badge" dynamic="true"] (probably the most beautiful hotel I’ve ever stayed in!).
If you want to sit down and chat at any of these events, send me an e-mail seb AT praizedmedia.com !
MySpace, Citysearch, Google Local, AutoTrader and AOL Local Execs to Speak at Next Kelsey Conference
January 15, 2009
The Kelsey Group organization just released the list of the keynote speakers for their next conference.
From the release, “The agenda features more than 40 influential executives from across the industry, including keynoters Jeff Berman, president of sales and marketing, MySpace; Jay Herratti, chief executive officer, Citysearch; and Chris LaSala, director of local markets, Google, as well as featured speakers Chip Perry, president and CEO, AutoTrader.com, and Chris Spanos, general manager, AOL local and search verticals.”
It will be interesting to hear from Google’s Chris LaSala to see if the recession is impacting their local ad sales or if they’re benefiting from their ROI-driven Adwords product. Also curious to hear from Jeff Berman (MySpace) to discover his thoughts on the “localization” of social networks. I also wonder if AutoTrader.com is hurting from the double whammy of the economic slowdown and the US car manufacturers meltdown or if people are doing more shopping online to get the best prices possible.
The next Kelsey Group conference “Marketplaces 2009” is in Los Angeles, March 16-18, 2009. I will be there if you’d like to meet.
January 7, 2009
Back in December, Valleywag and Silicon Valley Insider tried to estimate the current valuation of Facebook by calculating the price at which employee shares are transacting on closed markets. Valleywag wondered if Facebook was only worth $1.3B while Insider said it might be worth around $2B, thereby facing the prospect of a down round in their next financing round. As we all remember, Microsoft had invested a $240M in Facebook for a 1.6% stake in the company in October 2007, valuing the company at $15B.
I don’t buy it. Not Valleywag or Insider’s calculations of Facebook’s current valuation. I don’t buy the fact that Microsoft thought Facebook was once worth $15B (even though their press release says so).
Let’s review what I think happened. In October 2007, Microsoft announced that they had taken a 1.6% stake in the company. The Wall Street Journal wrote at the time: “Facebook sells ads on its own and also struck a deal last year that allows Microsoft to broker display ads on Facebook’s U.S. site until 2011. (…) As part of yesterday’s agreement, which lasts through 2011, Microsoft will sell advertisements on international versions of the Facebook service”. The press release adds “Microsoft will be the exclusive third-party advertising platform partner for Facebook” Interesting. An exclusive search/contextual/banner ad deal is part of the agreement.
Go back one more year, in 2006. Fox Interactive Media announced in August 2006 that they had ”entered into a nearly $1 billion, 3+ year deal with Google to exclusively power search across most Fox online sites, including Myspace.” That deal had minimum revenue guarantees for Fox. If I remember correctly, Microsoft had bid for that business and lost it.
Go back further, in December 2005. Google and AOL announced the expansion of their strategic partnership through a $1B investment from Google in AOL (for a 5% stake). Microsoft had previously lost that one as well.
With a fledgling search advertising business and a recently acquired ad network/ad technology (through the purchase of aQuantive in May 2007), Microsoft needed strategically to have at least one sexy partner. When Facebook exploded into the scene, they had found the deal they needed to absolutely make. I remain convinced today that the partnership business case was mostly built on the ad deal, which allowed Microsoft to claim Facebook as a partner, offer more inventory in their ad network and keep Google at bay. The small investment made sure the Facebook’s exec team remained aligned with that goal. Facebook must have made the request to include the valuation in the press release and Microsoft obliged. In a sense, this really worked for Facebook given that the Microsoft deal might have helped them strike two subsequent consecutive funding deals (for a total of $100M) with Li Ka-shing in November 2007 and March 2008.
In conclusion, Facebook raised (hopefully) enough money ($340M!) for a good runway and Microsoft got the strategic partner they needed while shutting off Google. But I don’t think Microsoft ever really thought Facebook was worth $15B.