2009-05-31

Facebook has raised $200 from Russian investor DST

Digital Sky Technologies has invested $200 million in Facebook at a $10 billion post-money valuation and is offering to buy $100 million worth of stock from current and former Facebook employees. An interesting interview with Mark Zuckerberg and DST CEO Yuri Milner about the deal and the business of social networking.

Some additional thoughts about how Facebook can increase its revenues by Niki Scevak/Bronte Media.

Facebook is starting to roll-out Facebook Payments, which makes a lot of sense for a platform company, but it is worth noting that they choose a 'lite version' credits denominated system.

Monetizing Digital Content on June, 10th

At 18.30 on June, 10th Sorosh Tavakoli of Videoplaza, Ted Valentin of Hotellkartan and other *kartan.se sites, Ville Vesterinen of ArcticStartup and I will be participating in a panel discussion about making money from online content at the Stockholm School of Economics. More information at VC Perspectives.

For consumer web sites the three main ways to make money are advertising, lead-generation and charging the end-user.

Spotify mobile demo



Very nice, especially as still early, demo of Spotify mobile. Pay attention to that the application is syncing and not primarily streaming music. I cannot wait for the iPhone version.

2009-05-27

VideoPlaza signs four largest print publishers in Denmark

VideoPlaza has signed the four largest print publishers (Berlingske Media, Ekstra Bladet, Jyllands Posten and Børsen) in Denmark as clients. Sorosh tells the story on how the parties got together and created a market for online video advertising in Denmark. Amazing work by the VideoPlaza team and another reason that I know which ad server company I would put $10 million into if I had that kind of money.


Disclosure: I'm on the board of VideoPlaza.

2009-05-22

The Tinkerings of Robert Noyce - GREAT READ!

Tom Wolfe: The Tinkerings of Robert Noyce - How the Sun Rose on the Silicon Valley. A truly excellent article from an 1983 issue of Esquire on Robert Noyce, one of the founders of Intel.

Anyone who is at all interested in Silicon Valley, entrepreneurship, company culture and company-building and similar should spend the fair amount of time it takes to read the article. Sometimes 160 characters is not enough to tell an important story.

Thanks to Andie for getting the article in-front of me.

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2009-05-19

Hiring and organization

Futuristic Play: How do you do concrete interviews for non-technical people? "So what would a series of concrete tests look like for nontechnical roles? I would argue that you can rigorously test a couple key areas such as:

1. Can you create the deliverables that are part of the day-to-day role?
2. Are you familiar with previous relevant work in your area (whether you follow it or not)?
3. Can you demonstrate that you can do the thing you?re being hired to do?"

Steve Blank: The Sharp End of the Stick. "I'm now convinced "all our departments are equal" is a "going out of business" strategy. Not understanding who are the "lead departments" makes companies feel like ponderous, bureaucratic and frustrating places to work. The best people in the "sharp end" organizations simply vote with their feet and leave.

I loved to compete against these companies. Their own internal culture would tie them up in knots, and agile startups could run rings around them.

Don?t let this happen to your company. Embrace and then communicate the idea of a lead department(s). Build a company culture where everyone supports the "sharp end of the stick.""

2009-05-16

Strategy for newspapers

An excellent article, in Swedish, on strategy, product development and business models for newspapers in the Internet era by Mikael Zackrisson, Internet Manager at Swedish business weekly Veckans Affärer. Go and read it.

2009-05-10

Who does what in online advertising?

Mike on Ads breaks down what different kinds of companies do in the online advertising industry. Good read for veterans, essential reading for newcomers to the industry. I don't care who you say you are, what do you DO?

On making forecasts

Making forecasts and predictions are quite fun, and I've been responsible for futurecasting many times on this blog. As he is leaving Merril Lynch, economist David Rosenberg wrote a note with twelve rules for good economic forecasting. For anyone making forecasts, reading all twelve rules is a given as it is a short read, but four of his rules can be used in most organizations and for most decision-making. I've added a short, business-oriented, comment to each rule.

2) Never be a slave to the data - they are no substitute for astute observation of the big picture. When running a business the reality is that few problems are solved by better systems or more data. First you need to have a group of smart people who understand the business and how to find and use data to drive actionable suggestions. Then, but not sooner, it makes sense to spend on better systems. It is amazing how many businesses run on brains, sound judgment and quite simple Excel sheets.

7) Always seek out corroborating evidence. It is very easy to fall in love with your big idea. It is much better to try to disprove it yourself before a plan turns into something that costs a lot of money. So, if one cannot find facts supporting one's idea, it might be a good idea not to move ahead until such facts are found.

8) Have respect for what the markets are telling you. Plans are great, but be ready to adapt if customers (via their behavior, sales people, support etc) start to tell you that reality differs from your plan.

11) Highlight the risks to your forecasts. As no-one knows what will happen in the future, a lot of the usefulness of predictions is understanding what could happen and what that would mean to you. Most of the time, explaining key assumptions and alternative scenarios if assumptions are wrong are more helpful than predicting what specific euro-number sales will hit twelve months out.

Somewhat related, Nothing should become too big to fail

2009-05-06

Happy Birtday Twingly

Congrats to Twingly who turned three years old today.

2009-05-03

Work and play

Brad Feld: The Variable in Work Life Balance. "Having the "retirement constant" (note: work until you are 65, then relax/play) causes your chance of having healthy work life balance to be low. If you move the constant into something like weekly, monthly, or quarterly, you?ve got a lot better shot of maintaining the balance, and adjusting things if you get out of balance.

Somewhat related post from last Sunday: How to stay effective and creative?

Disney/ABC gets equity in Fox's and NBC's video site Hulu

Disney/ABC has joined Fox, NBC and Providence Equity Partners as part-owner of U.S.-centric online video site Hulu. Hulu is the third largest video site in the U.S. behind YouTube and Fox/MySpace and launched about one year ago. Hulu will be the exclusive distributor, outside of the companies' own sites, of online video from ABC, Fox and NBC for the next two years.

Worth noting is that the exclusivity clause might cause some issues with regulators, as three of the four major TV companies are cooperating.

Industry analysts believe Hulu will have revenue of $120 million in 2009. Selling more than $100 million in advertising year two is a major achivement.

Spotify grows 50,000+ members per day

Last Wedensday I went to a breakfast arranged by Spotify. First Mark Earls spoke about his book Herd - the hidden truth about who we are. Dumbed down one sentence description is that humans are social creatures and not primarily rational individuals. Then Spotify founder Daniel Ek spoke, and some statistics on Spotify I think can be of wider interest (not all stats were revealed for the first time at the event, though):

* Spotify has more than 2 million users in total, and more than 1 million in the UK
* Membership growth is ca 50,000 members per day
* Spotify has licensed ca 8 million songs
* 3-4 million songs have been inserted into the Spotify service (it varies by geography how many are available)
* 1-1.5 million individual songs have been played