The Twitter paradox in chart form:
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The Twitter paradox in chart form:
The value of Bitcoins has exploded. Again.
FT Alphaville takes you through the latest news as well as the history of Bitcoin, and also we get a bit philosophical about what it all means. Jump in and join the discussion!
FT Alphaville chaired a fortuitously timed Chatham House panel on Bitcoin, alternative currencies and the future of money on Tuesday evening. The panel included the man who signs all the UK banknotes, Chris Salmon (a.k.a. the chief cashier of the Bank of England), Dave Birch, a consultant and alternative currency “thought leader” from Consult Hyperion, Shane Happach, chief commercial officer of eCommerce at WorldPay and Leander Bindewald, who leads research into complementary currencies at the New Economics Foundation.
With the freedom to publicise at a low cost at will, what place is there for the subset of writers and editors doing this for a living? Andrew Betts, director at FT Labs, opined in a recent TEDx talk that if media organisations are to weather the changing habits of consumers of news and analysis, technological innovations must occur. Read more
Or, “How to stalk FT Alphaville”.
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Among the responsibilities for the lucky associate or vice president: “Create and maintain Content Calendars, including writing Facebook Status Updates, Twitter posts, and LinkedIn group management.” Read more
Facebook plans to roll out ads on mobile devices – a medium where it has so far struggled to make headway – to open another source of revenue ahead of its IPO. reports the FT. The company warned in its IPO filing last week that a failure to extract “meaningful revenue” from mobile users was a risk to its business. The “sponsored stories” will begin appearing in March, in advance of the IPO in May. Facebook’s dilemma is that its mobile users are increasing much faster than its overall user growth rate, but they are eight times less likely to click on online advertisements, the NYT says.
India has threatened to take action against global internet groups, including Facebook, Google and Twitter, after they refused to remove blasphemous and politically inflammatory material from their online platforms, the FT reports. Kapil Sibal, India’s telecommunications minister, said on Tuesday that over the past three months he had repeatedly asked social media executives to find mechanisms to monitor and block the release of “offensive material”. But, he added, the internet companies told him “we can’t do anything”.
Facebook has embarked on a renewed overhaul of its user privacy controls, marking what has widely been seen as its first response to Google’s new and fast-growing rival service, the FT reports. The world’s biggest social network said on Tuesday that it would bring more of its privacy controls out from its behind-the-scenes settings page and offer greater “consistency, clarity and transparency around sharing” and “no surprises”. The moves were generally welcomed by privacy groups that have often criticised Facebook in the past for putting too many of its privacy controls into a complicated settings page that meant even experienced users were sometimes startled to find personal information published more widely than they had intended. “It looks like they’re playing catch-up with Google Plus to a degree,” said Peter Eckersley of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “It’s a great thing for privacy to have competition between different user interfaces like this.” Simon Davies, head of Privacy International, added: “Google has shamed the company into reform but even now most Facebook executives don’t understand why privacy is a critically important design component.”
The value of Twitter has jumped to $8bn, more than double the level accorded to the company as recently as late last year, according to the terms of a fresh $800m investment in the company. Twitter announced the on its corporate blog on Monday its latest round of investment had been led by DST, the Russian internet investment firm, but did not give financial details. The FT says a person familiar with the transaction said DST has invested $400m for a 5 per cent stake in the company, with US mutual fund concern T Rowe Price and an internet fund managed by JPMorgan leading a group of other investors. The fundraising could be the last before Twitter looks to go public on Wall Street, although an initial public offering is unlikely before 2013 at the earliest, this person said. About half the money raised will be used to cash out current investors and employees, says AllThingsD.
A second US fund dedicated to investing in still-private social networking and other technology companies has launched, marking the return of an investment strategy not seen since the dotcom bubble of the late 1990s, the FT says. The new fund, Keating Capital, announced it has raised $86m in capital from investors in an initial public offering, and is set to begin trading on the Nasdaq exchange as a closed-end fund by the end of the year. Earlier this year, GSV Capital raised $50m, and is currently trading on the Nasdaq. Mashable has an infographic comparing the dotcom bubble with recent activity.
Twitter is in talks to tap hundreds of millions of dollars in new private funds, implying a $7bn valuation just months after a $200m financing valued it at $3.7bn, reports the WSJ. Twitter’s move departs from the social media trend to go public with financing, including the recent IPO plans of Groupon and Zynga. Fresh funds will also buy Twitter time to develop its advertising model, which is likely to bring in $150m in 2011 compared to $45m last year — numbers dwarfed by the likes of Zynga, valued at around $20bn. Actually Twitter is worth “exponentially more” than $7bn, says Josh Brown at Reformed Broker, given its impact on global communications and interest from the likes of Google.
The entertaining Economist debate between Steve Blank and Ben Horowitz, on whether we are in the early stages of a tech bubble, has ended, with closing statements published Wednesday.
Zynga, the social gaming company, is talking to investors about a $250m private fundraising that could value it at between $7bn and $9bn, the WSJ says. Papers filed in April for the issuance of new stock valued Zynga at $4bn. Facebook, Groupon and Twitter are among social media peers that have also raised money in recent months with hefty valuations attached. The company made $400m in profit from $850m of revenue in 2010. Sources told the WSJ that Zynga had talked to a major bank in addition to mutual funds, but was unlikely to enter the type of special purpose vehicle used by Goldman Sachs to raise funds for Facebook. Still, JPMorgan plans to set up a fund worth up to $750m to invest in private social media firms, Dealbook reports.
JPMorgan Chase is planning to start a new fund to invest in an array of internet and new media companies, in an effort to seize on investor excitement over social-networking companies like Facebook, reports DealBook. The proposed fund, to be run by JPMorgan’s asset-management unit, is seeking to raise $500m to $750m from investors to pour into privately held tech companies like Twitter and the social-buying site Groupon, said people close to the matter. The idea is to place bets on companies with established business models and steady revenues before they go public. The WSJ adds that it is not clear whether JPMorgan plans to invest directly in target companies or buy and sell shares on behalf of clients.
Google has opened talks with online game-makers as part of a bid to create a social networking service to rival Facebook, people familiar with the matter told the WSJ. Playdom, Electronic Arts’s Playfish and Zynga — in which Google has just bought a stake — were part of the talks. Google is playing catch-up in a sector it should have moved into years ago, especially since Facebook’s 500 million users have helped the network to develop a strong stance in advertising, VentureBeat says. Playdom itself was bought Disney for $763m on Tuesday, PeHub observes.
Is this the first time the SEC has cracked down on Twitter? (Coming soon: fines for RegFD violations…)
The regulator’s Miami office, working in tandem with Quebec’s Autorité des marchés financiers, has “obtained an emergency asset freeze against a Canadian couple who fraudulently touted penny stocks through their website, Facebook and Twitter”. Read more
Facebook introduced drastically simplified privacy controls on Wednesday in an effort to appease regulators and advocacy groups who have criticised the world’s largest social network for taking liberties with user data, the FT reported. The move follows months of wrangling between the company and its critics and comes as it faces regulatory scrutiny around the globe.
Social media and social networks — that universe of blogs, Facebook and the Twitter — have proven time and time again to be a minefield for unwary companies and organisations.
A research note written by a 15-year-old, who was not born when former UK chancellor Nigel Lawson dismissed London analysts as “teenage scribblers”, has become the talk of middle-aged media executives and investors, the FT reported. Morgan Stanley‘s European media analysts asked Matthew Robson, one of the bank’s interns, to describe his friends’ media habits. His report proved to be “one of the clearest and most thought-provoking insights we have seen,” said Edward Hill-Wood, head of the team, who estimated that the note had generated five or six times more feedback than the team’s usual reports.
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