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Amazon May Set Up Neighborhood Services Market
June 12, 2014
Amazon reportedly is planning to test a local marketplace that could make it a one-stop shop for local services. Those services could include anything from dog walking to a plumbing. Backed by Amazon's already established ratings and recommendations infrastructure, the service could take on sites like Yelp, Angie's List and Craigslist. It might also threaten home improvement chains.
Google Buys Skybox in Move to Democratize Space
June 11, 2014
Google's acquisition of Skybox may be a small step for the search giant, but it could be a giant leap for the Internet. Google on Tuesday announced its intention to buy the satellite imaging startup for $500 million. The move not only would enhance Google's satellite imaging resources, but also provide it with some top talent for its blue-sky plans for space.
Wheels Greased for Summer Yahoo-Tube Debut
May 28, 2014
Yahoo is in advanced talks to launch its own online video channel this year, a product meant to rival Google's YouTube, based on a report citing unnamed sources. The news has intrigued the online video and advertising industry because it would introduce some very welcome competition into this channel, owned largely -- but not completely -- by Google.
Twitter Poised for Growth Spurt in Asia
May 28, 2014
Twitter is positioned for some nice growth in the coming months and years, according to a report released Tuesday by eMarketer. However, that growth largely will be occurring in emerging countries. What makes that trajectory problematic in the view of some investors is this: It was Twitter's U.S. user base that accounted for close to three-quarters of the company's total ad revenue in 2013.
Pinterest Tacks On New Marketing Tool
May 22, 2014
Pinterest on Tuesday revealed that it was rolling out an analytics tool for marketers designed to offer them more information on which content does well. The new Business Insights API lets businesses track which of their boards, pins and products are attracting the most engaged users, as well as which ones aren't garnering clicks. Devs also will be able to use the API to track user activity.
Facebook Gets Nosier Than Ever
May 20, 2014
Facebook recently made it easier to pry into your friends' private affairs on the social network. Specifically, the Ask button -- which already has been available to those seeking more information about many other aspects of a given user's life -- now is an option when it comes to a user's relationship status as well. If users choose to answer, the information then is added to their profile.
On Pins and Needles Over Pinterest
May 19, 2014
Pinterest last week announced that it had raised $200 million in a new round of fundraising from existing investors SV Angel, Bessemer Venture Partners, Fidelity and Andreessen Horowitz. The latest funding puts its valuation at $5 billion, which is quite a tidy sum for a company that has little to offer in terms of revenue. What Pinterest does have is a hot brand and legions of users.
Facebook Seeks Better Fit With Small Biz
May 07, 2014
Small businesses have been an elusive market for sellers of online advertising. That's because the value proposition of those ads is a tough sell. Facebook hopes to reduce some of the resistance in the small business community to advertising online with a series of summer boot camps, dubbed "Facebook Fit," that combine business advice with a soft sell for Net marketing.
Alibaba's Treasure May Not Open Doors for Yahoo
May 07, 2014
The market is waiting with bated breath to see the exact size of Alibaba's IPO, but investors in Yahoo, which owns about 23 percent of Alibaba's stock, don't seem impressed. Yahoo's shares closed Wednesday at $34.07, down 6.6 percent. Yahoo's stake is worth about $26 billion based on the fair value of about $109 billion Alibaba assigned to its shares in March.
Mobile CRM May Widen the Big Data/Privacy Divide
May 06, 2014
The White House last week added to the ongoing national discussion about online privacy and tracking with the release of a review counselor John Podesta conducted on Big Data and privacy issues. Among other things, privacy advocates hope the findings will spotlight the role of mobile in the gathering of consumer data by companies. Mobile technologies have a particularly voracious appetite.
Amazon Rolls Its Shopping Carts Onto Twitter's Turf
May 05, 2014
Amazon is now allowing consumers to add items to their shopping cart simply by sending a reply on Twitter. Users who connect their accounts on the two services can add a product they see in a Twitter link to their Amazon shopping cart simply by replying to the tweet with the hashtag #AmazonCart -- or #AmazonBasket in the UK. The feature is available only in the U.S. and the UK at present.
White House Urges Big Data Privacy Legislation
May 05, 2014
The White House last week released a review of Big Data and privacy written by counselor John Podesta. The report stems from President Obama's January request to define what is new about the technologies in this space, how Big Data affects public policy, and how consumer privacy is affected by corporate use of Big Data. The issue has been center stage since the Snowden revelations.
Facebook Dips a Toe Into the News Biz
April 24, 2014
Facebook on Thursday announced FB Newswire, a site aggregating content from posts users put up on their pages that it will offer as a resource to journalists. The content will be curated by Irish firm Storyful, which News Corp., at the heart of a cellphone hacking scandal in the UK, purchased in December. Journalists and media organizations "have become an integral part of Facebook."
Google Clarifies Gmail Snooping in Updated ToS
April 16, 2014
Google this week updated its terms of service with new language that more clearly spells out how it scans and analyzes user content, such as emails, to match it with targeted ads. "Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection," it says.
Investors See Gold Mine in Quora
April 10, 2014
Why is question-and-answer website Quora so popular with investors? "Because of the high quality of the discussions on the site," answered Paul Levinson, professor of communications and media studies at Fordham. To get a true expert take on the matter one would have to consult Tiger Global Management, which led the Series C venture capital round that brought in $80 million.
Twitter Applies a New Coat of Face(book) Paint
April 08, 2014
Twitter on Tuesday announced a redesign of its user profiles, hard on the heels of its launch of new photo-sharing capabilities late last month. Included among the new features in the redesign are larger profile photos, customized headers, and an enlarged presentation of tweets that have been particularly popular. Users also can pin a tweet to the top of their page.
Nvidia's ECS: Some Amazing Little Companies to Watch
March 31, 2014
Nvidia's Emerging Companies Summit, a place to check out some of the firms that could become the next breakout company, didn't disappoint this year. Among the highlights: A firm that could redefine advertising connected to Web pictures and videos; a company that could put your entire desktop and gaming experience in the cloud; and one that could help you actually hear that TV you see at a bar.
Twitter Tagging: It's Not the Characters, It's the Mileage
March 28, 2014
Twitter has bolstered its photo-sharing capabilities with the addition of two new features: the option to add up to four photos per tweet, and a function allowing users to tag up to 10 other people in a photo. Both features are designed to make photos more social. When a user shares multiple photos in a tweet, the images will automatically create a collage.
Newspapers Cling to Life Despite Online News Trend
March 28, 2014
Print media is limping along and TV news has gained some strength, even though the trend toward getting news online continues to grow, Pew Research reported this week. It all boils down to economics, said Mark Jerkowitz, associate director of the Pew Research Center Journalism Project. Advertising revenues for newspapers have fallen about 50 percent from 2006.
Headless Web Traffic Threatens Internet Economy
March 25, 2014
Bogus web traffic is creating a crisis for advertisers on the Web. Advertisers pay for page views. They assume that those views are tied to living eyeballs. When those views aren't tied to eyeballs, advertisers can get testy. That's what's starting to happen, and a recent comScore estimate of the automated traffic on the Internet -- 36 percent -- isn't helping matters.
Billion-Dollar YouTube Suit Ends With a Whimper
March 18, 2014
Google and Viacom have settled a long-running copyright suit, after a federal judge twice threw out the case. "This settlement reflects the growing collaborative dialogue between our two companies on important opportunities, and we look forward to working more closely together," the two said in a brief joint statement. Terms were not disclosed, but reportedly, no money changed hands.
Yahoo Plugs Yelp Reviews Into Search
March 13, 2014
Yahoo and Yelp on Wednesday announced a new partnership to display Yelp ratings with Yahoo's search results, a move designed to snag some market share from Yahoo's larger search competitors. Now, when someone uses Yahoo to search for a local business, that business' Yelp rating will pop up in the right-hand panel of the search results. Users will see its star ratings, photos and more.

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