Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Gavin O'Malley, September 21, 2011, 11:44 AM
Glam Media Buys NingTechCrunch

Remember Ning? The social-platform start-up that, for a split second, people thought might reshape the Web? Well, Glam Media just bought it for a reported $150 million, mostly in stock. 

Regardless of what Ning is actually worth, the rumored sale price is way off its top valuations of $750 million, and, as TechCrunch notes, not much more than the $120 million investors pumped into the enterprise. 

"The sale comes after a rocky history for Ning, which bills itself on its site as 'The World's Largest Platform for Creating Social Websites,'" writes All Things D.

Mercury News describes Ning as "a social networking startup launched by serial entrepreneur Marc Andreessen that, despite his golden pedigree, has struggled to gain traction in the marketplace. That said, Ning's most recent plan to go all-premium didn't do half-badly. Since the shift about a year ago, Ning reports 400% year-on-year revenue growth -- going from 17,000 to more than 100,000 subscribers, and with 60 million monthly active users.

For Glam, "the Ning deal provides ... the opportunity to offer publishers tools to make their websites more social, such as blogs, photos, chats and buttons to post content on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter," Digits Explains. 

While Glam Media has enjoyed steady growth since its debut in 2005, its U.S. traffic has declined by about 10 million uniques per month over the past year, according to comScore. "So the acquisition of Ning will help in that regard," suggests ReadWriteWeb.

"One of the company's goals is to create social media brand campaigns that utilize Glam and Ning's technology," Mashable writes. And, as Reuters notes, "The combined companies will have over 240 million users and 100,000 publishers."

Read the whole story...
  • Gavin O'Malley, September 21, 2011, 11:44 AM
  • Twitter Lobbies For Political Ad Dollars Ahead of what will surely be a heated election year, Twitter appears to be embracing political advertising. To lead the effort, Twitter has poached a top political marketing executive from Google, reports Politico, adding that it makes sense for Twitter to capitalize on its status as a hub of the national political conversation.

    "We've had five years to watch and observe how people are using the platform organically and we know politicians are active on the platform, and we know that consumers enjoy the messages from those politicians," Twitter's president of global revenue, Adam Bain, tells Politico. "We're excited about the election cycle, and we think that ads both in the timeline and in search are a huge opportunity."

    Twitter only began exploring the ad business last year, and has since been ramping up its commercial advertising business. Per its latest efforts, at stake is a share of the lucrative 2012 campaigns, including a presidential campaign expected to cost well over $1 billion, Politico reminds us. Initial clients include five presidential campaigns, which, sources tell Politico, includes Mitt Romney's presidential campaign and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Read the whole story...
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    The two-year deal reportedly only covers material from prior seasons of the TV shows, and is limited to Netflix subscribers in the United States. Discovery, according to Reuters, has an option for a third year, while, financial terms of the agreement were not revealed. Discovery CEO David Zaslav has long resisted making full episodes available on the Web, "saying it failed to make economic sense," according to Reuters.

    "The deal with Netflix, however, allows Discovery to sell a big chunk of its programming [sic] library, rather than just one or two of its recent hits. None of the content from Oprah Winfrey's OWN Network -- in which Discovery has a 50% stake -- has been included." Read the whole story...
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    "Ultimately, Microsoft believes its technical secret sauce will let Bing both expand what is 'searchable' and deliver more robust search results than any of its competitors." Lu knows that Microsoft can't "out-Google" Google. Instead, it must "change the game fundamentally." Time, however, appears to be running out on Microsoft's grant search experiment.

    Two-year-old Bing is losing nearly a $1 billion a quarter, "with no sign of letting up," according to CNN Money. Worse yet, Microsoft has lost $5.5 billion on Bing since the search service launched in June 2009, while the software giant has never made money in its online services division. Since Microsoft began breaking out that unit's finances in 2007, the company has lost a total of $9 billion. Read the whole story...
  • Did Google Price Gouge Microsoft? The government is investigating whether Google illegally increased ad rates 50-fold on rival Microsoft, a single source tells Bloomberg Businessweek. "The Federal Trade Commission is probing the increase, along with other allegations against Google related to advertising, as a result of complaints from Microsoft." The complaints are being handled as part of a larger antitrust probe into Google that began earlier this year, and about which little is still known.

    "If true, the Microsoft allegations could be used to help the FTC build a case showing that Google abused its power as the owner of the world's most popular search engine, violating the Sherman Act and other antitrust laws," writes Bloomberg Businessweek, citing comments from Andre Barlow, an antitrust lawyer at Doyle, Barlow & Mazard PLLC.

    "A lot of this conduct, when put together with a firm with market power, could be viewed as a violation" of antitrust laws, said Barlow. Per its investigation, the FTC is likely to consider the motives for the accusations by Microsoft, Barlow added. Read the whole story...