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Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Facebook Stock Price Dips Below $30
When Real Life Gets in the Way of Your Startup Plans [VIDEO]
'Angry Birds' Credit Cards Coming Soon [REPORT]

Branding: How to Convey Your Startup to the World
12:45:11 AMLauren Drell

Watch previous episodes of Behind the Launch here!

In Mashable's new video series, Behind the Launch, we're taking cameras behind the scenes at Vungle, an in-app video advertising startup. New episodes air every Monday and Wednesday, but we're running bonus footage throughout the series to provide a deeper look into the startup experience.

This week on Behind the Launch, Vungle unleashed its first press release, announcing $2 million in funding. But a lot goes into that seemingly simple one-page announcement. Startups teams have to craft a point of view, a voice and a personality to define the brand, and the startup needs a clear mission statement. Here, we watch the Vungle team pow-wow to throw around adjectives -- from "disruptive" to "bold" -- to better understand who they are, what Vungle stands for and where it fits in the tech ecosystem. How does your startup brand itself, and how did you flesh out the verbiage? Let us know in the comments.

Check out the extended footage above, and join the conversation on Twitter, #BehindTheLaunch.

About Vungle

Vungle is a San Francisco-based company that purveys mobile video ads to promote apps. Just last week, Vungle announced it had raised $2 million from big Silicon Valley and Alley names: Google Ventures, AOL Ventures, Crosslink Capital, Ron Conway's SV Angel, Dave McClure's 500 Startups, Charles Hudson's SoftTechVC's, Maynard Webb, Scott McNealy and Tim Draper. Vungle also has offices in the UK and Pakistan.

Zain Jaffer, CEO and Co-Founder -- A successful and zany entrepreneur since age 15, Zain launched his first Internet company and built-up an impressive list of clients, including Google, Mozilla Firefox, MTV and Hilary Duff, before his 18th birthday. British.

Jack Smith, Co-Founder -- Self-described lunatic marketer and hacker. Started his career as a freelance web designer at age 13, founded a video startup, MediaRoots, in college. Met Zain at King's College London University in 2009. British.

Bryant Chou, CTO -- Full stack engineer and software architect with more than five years of experience developing mobile apps. He's an enthusiastic traveler who'll share his travel tales with you over a cold beer. American.

Marta Bulaich, Chief Yoga Officer -- Marta's first job was with the masterminds behind the TV infomercial legends Chia Pet and Clapper. After a career of working with various startups and venture capital firm, she came to Vungle to do public relations and center their chi in full lotus. American.

Ben Lindsey, Senior Software Engineer -- A veteran of four Silicon Valley startups with experience in Internet advertising, large scale databases and agile programming. When not slinging code, you cam find him cooking organic food, listening to electronica, backpacking around the world or running marathons.

Colin Behr, Director of Business Development -- Previously founded an Internet company, CyberPlanet Ltd, with Zain in 2004, and then moved to San Francisco to start another venture. Colin eventually went to University but dropped out after speaking with Zain about his new venture, Vungle.

Ray Myers, Software Engineer -- 25-year-old Linux geek who loves robotics and has been programming since he was 7. Ray is a Shotokan karate third-degree Black Belt, but you can usually find him at his computer, trying to make robots bend to his will. American.

David Oh, Director of Business Development -- By the power of the Force, David trained and honed his skills in marketing, game production and business development in the video game industry. He has crafted business deals with leading brands such as Ubisoft, Google, HP and Humana. David enjoys mountain biking and hiking in Tatooine, with his sidekick Sarah, Empress of Chihuahuas.

Sarah Vungle, Resident Pooch -- Sarah spends her days guarding the Vungle fortress and keeping peace amongst the engineering and business tribes. She enjoys battling the evil empire and licking the soles of her paws.

Series presented by Internet Explorer


Behind the Launch is presented by Internet Explorer. Learn how IE is building a more beautiful web through hardware accelerated graphics and modern web standards like HTML5. Get IE9 today or download the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, which features the new IE10 to see where we're headed.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, lightkeeper

Charities, Rejoice: Dideo Lets Readers Donate a Dollar
12:06:23 AMKate Freeman

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: Dideo

Quick Pitch: Add this widget to your Facebook page or website, and collect $1 donations with just a click.

Genius Idea: Organizations as well as individual donors can make use of Dideo's widget, which makes donations super simple.

Sharing stories is simple -- just click a small widget on page you're reading to tweet to followers or post on Facebook. Now, a company called Dideo is making is easy to donate to the causes you read about in a given story. Just click on their "d" widget and donate a buck to a charity or cause mentioned in your reading material.

Dideo is for organizations who want to receive support and individuals who want to donate to worthy causes.

To set up your Dideo account, choose whether you are a supporter or receiver. If you're a receiver, you can set up a page with video and photos to tell your story. Donors also set up accounts where they can choose how public or private they want their donations to be to other users.

Whether donors want to tout or hide their support is up to the individual user. To manager your account, log into Dideo and select the "I support" tab. Users can choose to hide all, some or none of their donations.

Setting up an account and using the widget is free. There is, however, a credit card interchange fee for Dideo donators. This way, the startup says, the entire donation goes to the cause. Nothing is taken out for processing.

The widget looks like this:

Dideo guarantees your donation will go to the intended cause. If not, the startup says it will give you your money back. All websites are vetted for legitimacy before funds are transferred. If you're still not convinced, Dideo includes a verification information link where visitors can use their own judgment about the legitimacy of each site.

Dideo was born in 2010. The company is currently in beta stage and based in Milwaukee.

Would you use Dideo? Tell us in the comments.

?Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, JTSorrell ?

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

5 Reasons Recurring Revenue Models Work
Tuesday, May 29, 2012 5:24 PMTom Dibble

Tom Dibble is president and CEO of Aria Systems, a provider of cloud billing and subscription management solutions. Follow Tom @AriaSystemsInc.

The Software-as-a-Service delivery model has rapidly matured in the past few years, evolving from an experimental delivery method for niche audiences to a widely-practiced business approach. Investors are clearly enamored with it, in part, because it's helped lower the barrier of entry for filing for an IPO.

That's certainly been the case with the recent wave of IPOs and S1 filings from the likes of Eloqua, Cornerstone, and Bazaarvoice, all of whom had annual revenues well under $100 million at the time of their respective filings.

SEE ALSO: How Mark Cuban Does Business/a>

While accessibility, cost, and ease-of-use are some of the most commonly cited factors when discussing how the "as-a-service" approach has gained mainstream traction so quickly, there's another major factor at play: recurring revenue offerings. Unlike traditional financial models, which are built around one-time transactions or upfront fees, recurring revenue business models focus on a series of smaller, ongoing, subscription-based transactions. Users can consume a service or product as much as they like in an on-demand manner, as opposed to having to buy the entire offering up-front.

While the value per transaction in a recurring revenue system can be lower than traditional business models, a recent study by the Incyte Group, an independent research group, found that of more than 1,000 U.S. businesses, nearly 50% had either adopted or were planning to adopt recurring revenue models.

With that in mind, here are five reasons you should be consider a recurring revenue model for your own business.

1. It's Not Just Tech Startups Profiting From This Model

If you're assuming that it's just newer, SaaS-based technology companies that are employing recurring revenue models, think again! Ingersoll Rand, which has been in business since 1877, is a particularly compelling example. Long known for their traditional lock and key services (remember those combination locks from middle school?), Ingersoll Rand has now introduced digital security systems for homes and offices that can be controlled remotely via mobile devices, which users subscribe to on a monthly basis.

2. It Lowers the Barrier of Entry for IPO

SaaS companies with recurring revenue models have been filing for IPOs at a higher rate lately, and it's no coincidence. Doug Pepper, a well-respected venture capitalist from InterWest Partners examined this trend in some detail in a recent op-ed. Financial analysts have also expressed confidence in recurring revenue models and their ability to not only generate but sustain long-term profits. For this reason, companies that demonstrate solid, predictable growth are in some cases finding a lower barrier to entry than the traditional $100 million run rate. Recurring revenue models give greater foresight into annuity cash flows as opposed to lump sum sales, which in turn makes it easier to model and predict future revenue growth and profit margins.

3. It Minimizes Customer Churn and Builds Brand Loyalty

Recurring revenue models provide a way to reach out to customers more frequently and build a more loyal customer base. Look at the innovation cycle for a SaaS company like Salesforce versus that of more traditional software companies. Salesforce and other leading SaaS providers generally push out four to six major upgrades per year, while product cycles for large, traditional vendors generally take 12 to 18 months. Companies with recurring revenue models can also capture data sets that track consumer trends and preferences on a much more granular level than is possible with traditional models, which in turn leads to optimization of pricing and packaging, and consequently the uptake from and retention of targeted buyers. The ability to fine tune your offerings based on this data has enabled the consumerization of many B2B offerings. In other words, they are tailored to individual preferences instead of being a fixed, one-size-fits all package and price.

4. It's Built to Scale

To expand on the above point, recurring revenue models are also built to scale as you grow out your customer base. A classic -- and very current -- example is Netflix. They succeeded in disrupting the video rental industry in a remarkably short period of time by offering a recurring service for a reasonable price as opposed to Blockbuster's model of one-off video transactions. Netflix was able to effectively scale out its operations as consumer preferences were shifting from physical to digital offerings in the early 2000s. Their monthly growth figures provided a greater degree of transparency than Blockbuster's model, which in turn inspired a great deal of confidence from investors and paved the way for the company's successful IPO in 2002.

5. It Increases the Potential for Collaboration and Shared Revenue Models

Partnering models have proliferated as businesses with recurring revenue models have increasingly joined the mainstream. These models introduce a greater degree of transparency than those offered by one-time transaction models. This has in turn created a more collaborative environment between businesses. One recent example is the partnership between Microsoft and Comcast that allows monthly Xbox Live subscribers to access the HBO Go and Comcast On-Demand applications. Another example can be witnessed in the form of Box, the highly successful web-based file sharing/storage service. Their subscription business has spawned a massive ecosystem of partners - and a waterfall of revenue sharing tiers. It's incredibly easy, for example, to discover and download a useful application via Box in five seconds, and greatly improve productivity in the process. The same can be said of DropBox, the SalesForce AppExchange, the Apple App Store, and a host of others.

It's increasingly clear that we're in the midst of a major shift in the way companies do business. Recurring revenue models have gained enormous traction with the convergence of two major trends: businesses recognizing the financial benefits of recurring revenue, and their buyers demanding the flexibility and personalization these models provide.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, STEEX

New Pringles Ad Rips Off 'One Tiny Hand' Tumblr
Tuesday, May 29, 2012 5:02 PMChelsea Stark

This video contains some nudity and may be NSFW.

Those who are fans of the One Tiny Hand Tumblr may see some similarities in the recently released Pringles ad.

In the advertisement, playable above, anthropologists study a fictional tribe that shrinks one of their hands to better reach inside a Pringles' can. The ad, created by agency Grey Mexico, uses image manipulation to make one hand appear smaller.

One Tiny Hand gained popularity in March after posting doctored images of celebrities that had one hand shrunk to a miniature size. The Tumblr received 800,000 hits in the first 10 days, and is still being updated daily by creators Zach Vitale, Bob O'Connor and James Weinberg.

Neither the blog's creators or Procter & Gamble, which is in the process of selling Pringles to Kellogg, would comment on this story.

The similarity between the two media is striking, especially when the commercial even uses the phrase "one tiny hand." Memes have been seen in TV advertisements more and more recently, but usually with the consent of the meme's creator. Wonderful Pistachios partnered with both the creator of Keyboard Cat and the Honey Badger memes.

What do you think of advertisers using memes to make their ads? Do you think the ad above is very similar to the blog, or its just a coincidence? Should One Tiny Hand been given credit for this commercial? Let us know what you think in the comments.

When Real Life Gets in the Way of Your Startup Plans [VIDEO]
Tuesday, May 29, 2012 2:37 PMMashable Video

In the last episode of TechStars, we watched what it's like to prepare for the pressure cooker of a five minute demo day pitch to hundreds of prospective investors.

In this episode, we'll see a pair of startups learn that nothing happens in a bubble and everything you do can affect your team's chances for success.

Watch the Full Season of TechStars on Mashable 

When you're head-down on a project, it can be easy to forget about the rest of the world. But outside factors can still creep into your startup bubble. While one team struggles through the financial issues of its founder, another loses an investor due to certain business choices. What do these two stories have in common? They show that a startup is a fragile best, and decisions made inside and outside the team can leave a mark.

Check out the latest episode above, and be sure to leave your thoughts on the topic in the comments below.

More Recent Episodes of TechStars:

Startup Stakes: Everything's Riding on the Pitch

It Takes a Great Name to Launch a Successful Startup

Startup Life: Risking It All to Change Direction

Getting into a top startup accelerator program can make the difference between a company making it big and being lost in the ether. Mashable is going behind the scenes of that experience by bringing the show TechStars to our community.

We've made the entire series available on-demand, and chopped it up into short segments that are ideal for Internet viewing. Over the course of the next couple of months, we'll also be sharing each episode as part of a Mashable post, giving our community a chance to discuss the themes of each show in our comments section. You can read more about TechStars on Mashable here.

Eyes On Pinterest: How People Look at Your Boards
Tuesday, May 29, 2012 2:20 PMSarah Kessler

Pinterest doesn't just look different than other social networks -- it's looked at in a different way, too.

While most websites draw users' gazes toward the left-hand side of the page, participants in a recent eye-tracking study for Mashable instead shifted their eyes from the top down the middle of the page. They also spent relatively less time looking at profile information than their counterparts who looked at Facebook pages.

The study, which was conducted by EyeTrackShop, used the webcams of 600 participants to track their eye movements as they looked at top category and brand Pinterest pages for 10-second intervals. They answered a quick survey about each page after viewing it.

Here are some more interesting observations from the results:

Top pins pop. Pins that were front and center were seen by the highest percentage of viewers.

Faces attract attention. As with most social media sites, respondents looked at faces on Pinterest at more than objects.

Profile information isn't always as noticeable as profile content. Profile image and information may dominate attention on Facebook, but on Pinterest fewer people noticed it than noticed content.

The percentage of people who looked at profile information at the top of brand pages in the study was the same or lower than that of the pages' most-looked-at pins. On average, this info was looked at second, not first.

Brand pages are just as popular as category pages. Participants were slightly more likely to say brand pages made them want to repin stuff, recommend the page to friends and tell their friends about it. More of them also said the pages were definitely inspiring and had good pieces of advice.

People like brands better after viewing their Pinterest pages. The majority of participants said that viewing a brand's page improved their opinion about the brand and said they were more likely to purchase something from it.

Take a look at the findings from each category and brand page in the study, and let us know your observations in the comments.

Facebook Stock Price Dips Below $30
Tuesday, May 29, 2012 1:01 PMTodd Wasserman

The saga of Facebook's disappointing IPO continued on Tuesday as the company's stock price for the first time dipped below $30.

The impetus for the dive was unclear. As the price of Facebook fell, the Nasdaq and the Dow were both up slightly. The latest shift comes after Facebook's stock gained a mere 23 cents on its debut on May 18. Since then, the stock price fell, but leveled out at around $32 before hitting a new low on Tuesday.

More to come.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, AUDINDesign

Facebook Refused to Offer GM Page Takeovers [REPORT]
Tuesday, May 29, 2012 12:56 PMLauren Indvik

Earlier this month, General Motors made headlines when it announced plans to pull its ads from Facebook because they were "ineffective." But the story may be more complicated than that, a story published in AdAge on Tuesday suggests.

Sources told AdAge the reason GM decided to pull its advertising is because Facebook wouldn't let the company run "bigger, higher-impact ad units" than what it currently offers -- i.e., small display ads and Sponsored Stories. GM wanted to run a full-page takeover. Facebook said no.

Facebook declined to comment about client meetings. GM could not be reached by press time.

The original report, which was published by The Wall Street Journal three days before Facebook's May 18 IPO, has been blamed in part for Facebook's less-than-spectacular market performance. GM reportedly spends $40 million on Facebook annually, about a quarter of which goes to paid ads. The other $30 million goes towards content creation.

Facebook's ad revenue has been increasing at a rate of $1 billion per year since 2009, bringing in more than $3 billion last year alone. The social network will face mounting pressure over the coming months to grow those figures without compromising users' browsing experience.

SEE ALSO: The IPO Won't Change Facebook. Online Ads Will

It's a problem, of course, that just about every other online publisher faces. Some, like Twitter and Tumblr, have opted for "promoted" messages over large display units. Even those companies have had to revise products when users reacted negatively, as Twitter did with a hovering mobile display unit called the Quick Bar (or "Dick Bar," as users dubbed it.)

Facebook has thus far dabbled with both display and promotional advertising. Its only large-format display ads, which take up most of the page above the fold, appear when users log out of Facebook.

Ian Schafer, CEO of ad agency Deep Focus, expects that the logout ads are "probably the only bone that Facebook will be throwing into the large-format ad realm for the foreseeable future." That's because "Facebook protects its platform at all costs. That's the Zuckerberg way," he says.

"We need to stop thinking about Facebook as a publisher, and look at it instead as platform," Shafer adds. "To sayads aren't big enough is begging for a MySpace-like fate for them, and a big dramatic withdrawl from Facebook because they won't give you bigger ads feels so uninspired. It's not about baiting people into clicks, it's about what you do oncedo interact with the ads," he insists.

As a user, what kinds of ads would you be most willing to tolerate on Facebook's website and mobile apps? Would you rather see hovering display ads or an ad takeover on the right side of your Newsfeed, as examples, or would you prefer to see promoted posts from brands you follow within your Newsfeed?

When Journalists Should Use Kindle Singles to Self-Publish
Tuesday, May 29, 2012 12:40 PMInternational Journalists' Network

Published articles are a rite of passage for any aspiring journalist, but those clips might be better self-published -- possibly as a Kindle Single.

Victoria Turk, who just graduated from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, published a long-form journalism piece as a short book that sells for .99 on Amazon's web platform.

Titled "The Damage Done," her 29-page book tells the story of one woman's struggles with mental illness and drug abuse that a reviewer called "short but informative."

Singles first made headlines in the journalism world in April 2011 with bestseller "Three Cups of Deceit - How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way," Jon Krakauer's expose of Mortenson's work in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Despite the name, Kindle Direct Publishing works with texts ranging from 10,000 to 30,000 words for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, PC, Mac, BlackBerry and Android devices. Languages currently available include English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian.

In an uber-competitive journalism job market, showing some entrepreneurial spirit can only be a good thing. Here's what Turk told IJNet about the project.

IJNet: Did you consider shopping it as a regular freelance piece?

Victoria Turk: When I started reporting the story, I didn't really know where it would best fit. But as I continued to work on it, the story quickly evolved and grew in length.  It was soon clear that Kindle Singles would be the perfect place for it as I could publish it there in its entirety and at its natural length.  If I were to have pitched it to a magazine, for example, I would probably have had to cut a lot of words. (It runs at around 12,000).  

IJNet: How long did it take to put it together? 

VT: I started researching the story around October last year and it was published at the end of March.  I was working on other things throughout that period as well, but this was my biggest project.  I reported it regularly and went through several drafts.  As for the formatting, Kindle Singles took care of that - they do all of the technical work to make stories fit the format.

IJNet: Would you work with a Single again? If so, what would you do differently the next time?

VT: I would definitely work with a Single again if I found the right story.  It was a great experience; my editor was fantastic and I enjoyed having a lot of control over the finished product.  I would make no major changes, only next time I would probably set out with the idea of writing a Single and so would have a clearer concept of the finished version when I started reporting.  I don't think every story would work as a Single, but many benefit greatly from the freedom this medium offers...

If you're curious about the process of making a Kindle Single, check out this step-by-step article by journalist Larry Dignan.

5 Google AdWords Features You Need to Know About
Tuesday, May 29, 2012 11:22 AMClickZ

Google has released new AdWords features this year with the goal of helping improve performance, make management easier, or show additional data. Will these new features help or hinder your campaigns? Explore the details and decide how the changes may impact your individual advertising goals.

1. Ad Rotation Changes

Ad rotation settings in AdWords offers three options: optimize for clicks, optimize for conversions and rotate evenly. The rotate evenly setting is commonly used for testing ad creative, and when it is used, it can negatively impact performance, especially when one of the ad versions is poor.

Rolled out early May, the "rotate evenly" ad rotation setting will function differently than in the past. Google will now only rotate ads evenly for a period of 30 days instead of rotating ads indefinitely. After 30 days it will default to the "optimize for clicks" setting. Each new ad will begin a 30-day period.

There is no way to opt out, so it’s important to know that this setting will change automatically whether advertisers want it or not. After 30 days, if you are not done testing your ads, you will need to edit the ad to trigger a new 30-day period.

2. Match Type Changes

Starting in mid-May, phrase and exact match keywords will be triggered by close variants, including misspellings, plural forms, singular forms, different stemmings, accents, and abbreviations. According to Google, "At least 7% of search queries contain a misspelling, and the longer the query, the higher the rate."

An example of how this would be applied is a keyword "carpet cleaning" with include "carpet clean." Advertisers should check their accounts for any keywords for which this new setting may be a problem. This would include keywords where an exact match is critical to the bottom line. Advertisers can opt out of this in AdWords under the campaign settings tab, in advanced settings under keyword matching options. For many advertisers, reaching additional searches will be a big benefit.

3. Location Targeting Enhancements

Many advertisers know one of the powerful benefits to PPC is reaching local searches. In April Google introduced three new features to improve local targeting.

Zip code targeting: New ability to target more than 30,000 U.S. Zip codes in AdWords. Advertisers can include up to 1,000 postal codes per campaign. Reporting is also offered at the Zip code level, providing very granular insights into campaign performance.

Location insertion: Within location extensions, this new feature allows advertisers to dynamically update ad title, text, display URL, or destination URL with city, phone number, or Zip code of the local business into the ad text without manually creating these components for geo-targeting ads.

Advanced location targeting: Allows exclusion or targeting of locations using either physical location or location of interest, for examples in searches with a geo-modifier like "shoes stores in Tulsa."

4. Auction Insights Report

Google last week said it's launching a reporting feature, Auction Insights that shows advertisers who competes with them in keyword auctions. The competitive URL is shown along with five different statistics: impression share, average position of advertiser and competitor, overlap rate of when both ads are show, position above rate, and top of page percent.

Initial launch of this report is for single keywords only, and data is provided only to May 1, 2012.

5. Account Labels

A seemingly small enhancement, account labels, is actually an exciting new feature that can help to organize AdWords accounts. Announced in late April, labels enable advertisers to organize account’s keywords, ads, ad groups and campaigns into custom groupings for easier filtering and reporting.

This feature complements a smart account structure. Examples of how to use the labels:

Campaigns by brand or non-brand

Label specific product categories

Differentiate geo-graphically targeting campaigns

Label promotional campaigns

Once labels are in place, you can filter by this label and run reports to aggregate performance by label.

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