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Rich Tehrani
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E-Commerce

Attention Social, App and Search users, YOU are the Product

May 30, 2012

Original image from Shutterstock

A little understood notion is that for those people using free services and apps, you are the product and generally speaking the advertiser is the customer. The exception is when no ads are shown and confidential information isn’t disclosed to third parties but instead the provider of the service gives away a free version in the hopes of getting users to upgrade to a paid one.

Recently the Wall Street Journal ran an opinion piece where they suggested that the EU lay off of its antitrust investigation into Google because the search service used by 90% of Europeans is helping consumers.

Why Facebook Needs a Phone

May 29, 2012

Facebook as the dominant social network is becoming the replacement for the phone. Nowadays in fact it is fairly common to use Facebook as the primary way to stay in touch with others – especially among those under 30. The point here is that the phone is becoming the Facebook communicator.

And with mobile adoption continuing ta a blistering pace – many people have multiple mobile devices in fact, Facebook should be sitting pretty, right?

Kickstarter, A Solution for the Patient

May 23, 2012

If you want to be involved - intimately involved with the manufacturing process behind a product you purchase then I suggest you immediately jump onto Kickstarter and start backing projects. The high-flying site has made lots of news in a short amount of time. In March of last year they received $10 million in funding. In its third year the site raised almost $120 million in funding - almost three times as much as total revenue from the prior years combined.

Perhaps the company's highest-profile project was Arianna Huffington looking to use the site to raise $1 billion to buy back the Huffington Post from AOL.

In December of last year I came to the conclusion that the TouchFire Keyboard - a silicone keyboard project on the site may be  the perfect companion for those of us using the iPad 2 as a data entry device.

So with my readers in mind I ordered it and waited.





Gadgets to Have Integrated Welcome Ads Soon?

May 18, 2012

If ads on the Kindle Fire Welcome Screen are successful, others will follow



There are a few things which are well known about Amazon’s Kindle Fire. First of all at $199 the company either loses money or at best breaks even depending on which analyst you speak with. We also know the version of Android the device runs is unusual as Amazon has its own proprietary shell around it.

Pinterest Now Worth $1.5B

May 17, 2012

Now that was fast – Pinterest just raised $100M at a valuation of $1.5B in a round of funding led by Japanese e-commerce site Rakuten Inc. Pinterest's existing venture-capital investors such as Andreessen Horowitz, FirstMark Capital and Bessemer Venture Partners also participated according to a press release.

Hiroshi Mikitani, CEO of Rakuten said: "While some may see e-commerce as a straightforward vending machine-like experience, we believe it is a living process where both retailers and consumers can communicate, discover, and curate to make the experience more entertaining. We see tremendous synergies between Pinterest's vision and Rakuten's model for e-commerce. Rakuten looks forward to introducing Pinterest to the Japanese market as well as other markets around the world."

And the Japan connection makes sense as I have recently detected a dearth of Hello Kitty pins.

Justifying Amazon's 16x Greater than Apple P/E Ratio

May 16, 2012

One of the biggest surprises to me is comparing P/E ratios of tech companies against Amazon. Actually to be more specific, I marvel at Amazon’s P/E against pretty much any company I have seen lately. Now I don’t go around memorizing the price to earnings ratios of companies but yesterday I happened to be talking to TMC webmaster Robert Hashemian who is also an accomplished financial author having written Financial Markets for the Rest of Us. Together we compared the trailing P/E of Amazon against virtually any company we could think of like Adobe, Apple and Microsoft which were far lower.

GM to Facebook: Your ads Don't Work

May 16, 2012

When you are about to have one of the largest public offerings in the world - north of $100 billion and much of the reason for the size of your IPO has to do with advertising revenue, there is nothing worse than having one of the world's largest and most sophisticated advertisers telling you your ads don't work. And that is exactly what just happened to Facebook when GM pulled the plug on a $10 million dollar ad deal.

To put this in perspective, GM is the third largest advertiser in the US and its budget is absolutely huge. Last year in fact it was  $1.8B. The interesting part of the situation is that even though GM won't be continuing its ad spend this year it plans on continuing to spend $30M or so for Facebook content.

What this tells us is Facebook is just becoming a driver of the Splinternet or another Internet which advertisers and developers need to take into account.



Kickstarter: Sometimes the Cloud Can't Keep a Secret

May 15, 2012

Data breaches happen - a while back Moveable Type upgraded its blogging software and posts scheduled to be seen at a later date were given away by tag pages which posted immediately. In other words if a blogger wrote about a new Version of Microsoft Word and scheduled the post for later in the week,the tag pages - for things like "word processor," "microsoft," "pc" and any others would be immediately visible to readers and search engines.

Yours Truly was hit by this bug a few times and was even accused of not honoring an embargo as a result.

Point being - data breaches are real and they happen in the cloud as well as in-house systems.

Kickstarter recently had a breach as well where 77,000 projects became accessible via an API which the Wall Street Journal was able to access until around 1:40pm EST this past Friday, May 11th.

If there is good news it is that Kickstarter has 77,000 projects and financial data wasn't disclosed - as a refresher, the company helps get new products off the ground by crowdfunding and taking a 5% cut. The highest profile project may be from Arianna Huffington who is trying to use the platform to buy back the company she founded The Huffington Post from AOL for $1B.

Will this breach result in a major problem for Kickstarter? Probably not - unless it happens repeatedly.









Are You Ready for the Identity Economy?

April 28, 2012

With Facebook’s value being pegged around 100 billion dollars; it is easy to see why many are calling identity the new oil of the internet. And one company, UnboundID is looking to become the leader in this bold new frontier which they call the identity economy. By allowing companies to buy, sell, trade and leverage customer information the company allows their customers to combine this information with others in order to add value to themselves as well as end users.

An example of this concept in action is logging into a site using Twitter or Facebook – end-users hate to answer questions online and indeed many will abandon a site which makes queries which take their time.

Neustar Aims to Make Mobile App Development Easier

March 20, 2012

With over half a million apps in the Apple App Store alone one might argue that developers have all the tools they have to develop compelling applications but what if there was a way to take traditional apps and integrate them more closely with carrier networks and big data analytics allowing them to be more powerful, spur increased consumer spending while greasing the wheels of mobile commerce and more?

Recently Jean Foster and Steve Edwards at Neustar showed me their Intelligent Cloud service which integrates rich anonymized databases from TARGUSInfo with access to carrier networks and other information to accelerate developer productivity and to frankly enable applications to become better drivers of value for consumers and revenue for advertisers and merchants.

One demo they showed me involved a gift card where a user scans the bar code associated with it. At this point a unique URL is passed to a browser and opened on the mobile device allowing a consumer to check balance information, make a payment and connect their cell phone to the card.

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