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February 27 2014


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February 13 2014

Netflix To Premiere Final Season Of Clone Wars Animated Star Wars Show March 7
NETFLIX, INC. STAR WARS CLONE WARS YODALong running animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars will have a new home for its sixth and final season – Netflix. The show will debut all 13 episodes of its last run on March 7 on the streaming video service for subscribers in the U.S. and Canada. The season is known collectively as “The Lost Missions,” and it won’t be the only Clone Wars content on Netflix come March: The entire series will be available to stream, including director’s cut versions of episodes. The deal for streaming rights to Clone Wars content is described as “multi-year” in the press release announcing the news, which means that Netflix has locked down a hot property for itself from the now Disney-owned Lucasfilm studio. It’s also the first time Star Wars: The Clone Wars has been available to Netflix members at all, so if you’re a Netflix devotee and you haven’t yet seen the show (which originally appeared on the Cartoon Network in the U.S.), get ready for some highly satisfying binge watching. This arrangement also represents a further cozying of the already cozy relationship between Disney and Netflix. Disney’s other super subsidiary, Marvel, is working with Netflix to create a number of original series based on Marvel superhero characters for airing in 2015, and a number of movies, both live-action and animated, will run on Netflix first from Walt Disney and various other studios at the media giant in 2016, including Pixar and Disneynature. Netflix earned its current success in terms of subscriber numbers on the back of being a more convenient, if somewhat hit-and-miss library of rental content compared to physical video rental stores. The key to its future, however, likely lies in its ability to secure access to exclusive original content like Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Disney clearly sees the value in the model, and that’s a huge vote of confidence to have on your side.

February 10 2014

Barnes & Noble Confirms Staff Losses At Nook, But Hardware Unit Still Exists
nook-glowlight-01A report from Business Insider earlier today claimed that Barnes & Noble had eliminated its Nook hardware engineering staff in its entirety. Barnes & Noble has confirmed to TechCrunch that there were “job eliminations across the organization,” but stressed that they have not in fact eliminated their hardware division as first reported. Nook spokesperson Mary Ellen Keating provided the following statement from the company to explain the current situation and recent organizational changes: We’ve been very clear about our focus on rationalizing the NOOK business and positioning it for future success and value creation.  As we’ve aligned NOOK’s cost structure with business realities, staffing levels in certain areas of our organization have changed, leading to some job eliminations.  We’re not going to comment specifically on those eliminations.  We believe we have a strong management team in place at NOOK, having recruited significant new talent.  The new NOOK management team is focused on managing the business efficiently so that it becomes financially strong while at the same time aggressively moving to drive revenue growth. The Nook business hasn’t been doing well for a long time, and the unit’s revenue dropped 32.3 percent year-over-year last fiscal quarter. There have been multiple rumors about B&N considering buyers for the Nook business, but so far, it seems to remain committed to the division despite its declining fortunes. Sony seems to be intent on extricating itself from the e-book market, where few companies have seemed to be able to weaken the Amazon stranglehold. It recently announced it was shutting down its e-book market in the U.S. and Canada, and moving existing users to Kobo. Nook remains in the game for now, but players are dropping like flies, so who knows how much longer that will remain true.
eBay Founder’s News Site, The Intercept, Launches With NSA Revelations
89-32580a22449ef2e5b12f1e5a794cc0f90f1f1463fd15036f2b00ed67_w-1024_pxeBay founder Pierre Omidyar revealed the first publication in his new media organization, First Look Media. "The Intercept" launched last night with revelations about the National Security Agency which had apparently been using the bulk collection of phone records to target terrorists with drones.
Flickr At 10: 1M Photos Shared Per Day, 170% Increase Since Making 1TB Free
flickr-1Social photo sharing site Flickr is now 10 years old, marking a decade since Caterina Fake and Stewart Butterfield founded the originally Vancouver-based startup. The site was acquired by Yahoo back in 2005, a little over a year after its founding, and reportedly paid around $35 million for the startup, which at the time had around 1 million very loyal and consistent users. Flickr has grown to the point where it now has 92 million users, spread across 63 countries, who contribute to almost 2 million groups and share around 1 million photos every day. The site has weathered its fair share of criticism, especially among those who worried that its ability to impress and innovate would peter out after the Yahoo purchase. A major product redesign across mobile and desktop under Marissa Mayer impressed critics and users alike, however, and silenced many of those prognosticating an early death for the photo sharing site. One other recent change has driven a lot of growth, too: Flickr says that photo uploads on the site are up 170 percent since it made 1TB of storage a free, standard feature for all users back in May 2013. One more big change is that the iPhone is now the most popular camera on the platform, and smartphones in general are popular. The iPhone took over the top spot back in 2011, and new models have risen quickly to the top of the heap ever since.

February 07 2014

GoPro Files For IPO As The Action Camera Maker Prepares To Go Public
GoPro HD Hero2 with helmet mountAction camera company GoPro has filed the initial documents for its initial public offering, according to a press release from the company this morning and confirmed by GoPro to TechCrunch. The announcement is brief, revealing only that the San Mateo company intends to go public as soon as the Securities and Exchange Commission completes its review process of the IPO submission draft filed today, February 7. GoPro only just appointed a new Chief Financial Officer February 4, bringing former Qualcomm Atheros SVP Jack Lazar on board to occupy the spot. Lazar has occupied high-ranking financial roles at a number of companies both public and private over the years, and began his career as an auditor at Price Waterhouse. At Atheros, he helped the company IPO back in 2004, a year into his tenure. In hindsight, it seems likely Lazar was brought on to help prepare for this transition. The camera maker was originally planning an IPO back in 2012 before its $200 million private investment round, but CEO Nicholas Woodman confirmed to TechCrunch back in September that one was still in the works. When the company raised its $200 million round from strategic partner Foxconn, it was valued at around $2.25 billion. In an interview at Disrupt SF 2013, Woodman discussed the challenges of fundraising for a hardware startup, and the benefits of bootstrapping even at a time when crowdfunding platforms are prevalent. The founder talked about how he started with $64K of his own startup capital, followed shortly from $100K put in by his father, and how that afforded him the ability to start with a clear and singular vision. GoPro has seen its sales numbers for its action camera products and accessories double ever year, according to the company. It made over $500 million in gross revenue on the strength of 2.3 million cameras sold in 2012, and racked up over $100 million in sales last January, and Woodman hinted that the company might exceed $1 billion in revenue for all of 2013 in a Bloomberg TV interview last October. .@gopro CEO Nicholas Woodman hints at $1b in revenue this yr & shows me the new Hero 3+— Emily Chang (@emilychangtv) October 01, 2013

February 06 2014

Sony Leaving The E-Book Business Behind, Will Transition Accounts And Purchases To Kobo
Image (1) sony_reader-620x465.jpg for post 187857Sony is calling it quits in the e-book platform market, the company announced today (via Engadget). The move isn’t entirely unexpected: Sony has always occupied a relatively small portion of the market compared to the big kid on the block Amazon. And in light of recent revenue figures, and the decision to cut the much more recognizable VAIO brand, absolutely no one should be shocked by this decision. The Reader digital storefront for purchasing e-book titles will be shut down as of next month. Owners of Sony Readers (I’m looking at you, dad) shouldn’t be worried about what happens to all their purchases, since Sony is generously migrating accounts and existing libraries intact to Kobo, which works on iOS and Android devices as well as Android hardware. The Kobo Android now will also ship pre-installed on Xperia devices as part of the arrangement. Sony has yet to reveal exactly how users can switch their content over, but they’ll be sending an email to Reader account holders to detail the process ahead of the projected end of March dead date for the Reader store. As for Reader hardware, it appears to have been doomed as far back as October last year, at least for the U.S. market, when the company removed the Reader section from its website entirely and listed existing models as discontinued. Moving e-book sales to a partner is probably a smart move, given its existing decision to pull away from that category of devices.

February 05 2014

Media Queen Gerry Laybourne Joins Betaworks Board
gerrylaybournebetaworks' John Borthwick has today announced, via the company blog, that Gerry Laybourne will be joining the board of directors. Alongside co-founding Kandu, a betaworks-backed technology company for kids, Laybourne is also known as one of the most powerful women in television. She started out at Nickelodeon in the 80's and 90's, conceiving of classic children's shows such as Rugrats, The Secret World of Alex Mac, and Pepper Ann.
Instaradio Debuts Android App, Aims To Be The SoundCloud For Amateur Live Audio Broadcasts
iPhone_FB_2Toronto-based startup and Extreme Startups grad Instaradio is unveiling a brand new Android app this week, and is also updating its iOS application with a significant overhaul. The app provides instant live audio streaming broadcasts for users, via their smartphone device and using nothing more than their built-in mics, unless they opt to add their own additional accessories. The app enables broadcasts published via social networks like Twitter and Facebook, so that those doing the broadcasting can instantly reach their existing audience without having to build one on a new network. It has a little over 50,000 downloads since its original iOS launch last year, which isn’t bad but isn’t good, but its founder says it’s finding purchase in significant use cases, including as a platform for expressing social unrest in politically volatile locations like Egypt and Turkey. “[There's] no pushback from government as of yet,” Instaradio founder Kevin Kliman explained in an interview in answer to a question about its role as a political tool. “Right now, it’s being used jointly as community organizing and political platform for someone trying to get elected in one of Chicago’s most dangerous neighbourhoods. I’m hoping that it can be used as an example for other community leaders.” Kliman says that Instaradio is better-positioned to target amateur broadcasters than competitors like SoundCloud, regardless of whether they’re political dissidents or just aspiring singers hoping to find an audience with live streamed performances. That’s because of how people perceive SoundCloud as a platform, he says. “Relative expectations are important for a publishing platform,” he said. “Most people won’t put themselves out there if they think what they make is below the expectation of the community. I think that’s a big reason why Instagram works so well: Anyone can produce good-looking pictures. There’s a ton of great studio produced content on SoundCloud, but most people can’t create audio on that level. “ Instaradio is still trying to find its footing, however. When I attended the Extreme Startups cohort demo day for the company’s class last June, it was talking about its potential among the amateur comedian crowd, who were using it to broadcast shows to their non-local followings and build a bigger audience. Kliman admits they’re still feeling out their best target audience. “To be perfectly honest we are still searching for the best niches,” he said. “Comedians can be shy about putting their sets online, but like doing short funny blurbs.
Google Confirms Ads & Commerce SVP Susan Wojcicki Is The New YouTube CEO
susan wojcickiGoogle was rumored to have been moving longtime employee and SVP of Ads & Commerce Susan Wojcicki over to the YouTube top spot, based on reports yesterday by The Information and Re/code, and now Google has confirmed via a statement sent to TechCrunch and Wojcicki herself has confirmed the news via Twitter. Excited to join #YouTube – wonderful team, amazing community & inspiring creators. I look forward to watching a lot more videos during work.— Susan Wojcicki (@SusanWojcicki) February 05, 2014 Wojcicki takes over for departing YouTube CEO Salar Kamangar, who was Google’s ninth employee and replaced YouTube founder Chad Hurley as the top boss at the video site back in 2010. Wojcicki was Google’s 16th official hire, but her garage provided the office space for Google founding team Page and Brin back in 1998, as Ryan Lawler noted earlier. Google’s own statement, from CEO Larry Page, doesn’t suggest any immediate change in strategy as a result of the executive shift: Salar and the whole YouTube team have built something amazing.  YouTube is a billion person global community curating videos for every possibility.  Anyone uploading their creative content can reach the whole world and even make money.  Like Salar, Susan has a healthy disregard for the impossible and is excited about improving YouTube in ways that people will love. Still, the move could signal a desire on the part of Google to put down the pedal on monetizing YouTube and its content via advertising and e-commerce strategies, since Wojcicki’s key roles at Google in the past have been managing its entire ad and sales business, as well as developing AdSense, Google’s program for helping publishers of various kinds of media monetize their products. Kamangar also had a strong advertising background, since he helped build AdWords, but Google CEO Larry Page has been involved in a continuous process of reconfiguring his exec team, likely in a bid to better serve his overarching product plans. Re/code reports that Kamangar will move into a role overseeing new, early-stage projects at Google, which seems to be what the company likes to do with executives who are being moved out of key leadership roles (c.f., Andy Rubin, Jeff Huber).
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