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Posts Tagged ‘facebook’

Oculus VR Joins Facebook. Why?

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oculus

Earlier this week, Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey took to Reddit to defend the sale of his company to Facebook for $2B. Oculus VR is mainly known for a product called Rift.

If you don’t know what Rift is, it’s essentially the most promising next-generation thing for gaming and interactive digital experiences. It’s the virtual reality (VR) goggles we’ve all seen in movies, but haven’t even sniffed here in the real world. TIME magazine has a great rundown on what it is and why its potential is so great.

Rift has many people excited. The early Kickstarter campaign was crazy successful, and the buzz that has been generated since then has been fantastic – especially as the hardware continued to iterate and improve.

But, sentiment quickly turned overwhelmingly negative after the deal was announced, so much so that Notch (the creator of the uber-popular Minecraft) won’t work with Facebook because “it creeps him out,” and Kickstarters are demanding refunds. It’s safe to say that Facebook is the LAST company Oculus backers wanted to see land the deal. The Reddit thread in which Luckey defended his company’s sale quickly filled with overwhelmingly negative comments.

I have two semi-disjointed thoughts about the deal.

ONE

At this point, are you stunned that Oculus, quite literally the future of gaming and an immersive VR device the world has never seen before, goes to Facebook for $2B while WhatsApp, a cross-platform messaging app, commands $19B from Facebook?

Well, don’t be. Stunned, that is. Facebook took a leap of faith here: it spent $2B (cash and stock combined) for a two-year old hardware company, led by a 21 year old, that has zero successful commercial products on the market. In other words, Facebook sees potential in Oculus VR, whereas in WhatsApp it sees real lifeblood: an ocean of active, engaged users.

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What Not Giving Up Really Looks Like

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Leadership and business literature is rife with dictums and volumes about not giving up. The sentiment was even on a now-ancient Successories poster that said:

Go over, go under, go around, or go through. But never give up.

Here, the message is brute force, as if you’re a Navy SEAL who’s going to achieve his mission or die trying. Failure is not an option!

Nice sentiment, and probably motivational for bristling alpha types, but not altogether realistic. In fact, an acumen dressed with too much bravado leads to problems in the long run. Problems that make “not giving up” very difficult due to a variety of consequences that befalls such behavior.

Instead, perseverance is the root of not giving up, but nowhere does it connote not failing.

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Job Applicants: Vegas Doesn’t Exist Anymore

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An astonishing 37% of hiring managers are using social networking sites to research applicants, with over 65% of the group using Facebook as their primary source.

The days of doing a routine background check on your criminal past or even credit history have been widened to include voyeurism into your daily life and lifestyle. People complain that it’s wrong; they say it’s an invasion of their privacy. Right, wrong, invasive not invasive – companies are doing it. I’m not talking about companies who ask you to supply your username and password and so they can look at your profile. I am talking about them going out on the internet and viewing whatever information you have made available to millions of others to see.

Remember the saying “whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”? Well that isn’t the case when you share the ins-and-outs of your life via social media for the world to see.

Knowing that any future employer may be looking at what you have posted on the internet, why not use a little common sense, a little bit of good judgment, in what you share? Why not share things that are near and dear to you and that would be worth not getting a job over?

Example: my faith is important to me. I would gladly miss out on an opportunity to work for a company who didn’t like something I posted about my religious beliefs. That company would probably not be a good fit for me and I would most likely not be happy working there.

That belly button piercing I got on the way to the Bon Jovi concert with friends – not important to me, not near and dear to my heart – maybe I don’t need to share that sordid tale accompanied by an even more sordid picture on Facebook.

People are rethinking what they have posted; almost 90% of internet users admit to changing information in their profiles to become more suitable to outside employers and friends. This is probably smart thinking considering 69% of recruiters said they’d rejected a potential employee because of what they saw on a social networking site. I know lot of you out there will disagree but, to me, once you put your “private” life on the internet, it’s not private anymore.

And the kicker: you are opting-in to all of this. Nobody is extracting information from you.

The smart applicant thinks about how to use social media sites. Like an unfortunate tatoo, social media indiscrimination can have long-ranging consequences.

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DEAR FACEBOOK EMPLOYEES: Here’s The Truth About Your Stock Price

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Henry Blodget for Business Insider:

Facebook’s stock has dropped by half since the IPO three months ago.

And the stock price is now well below the level at which most employees have been granted stock in the past 18 months.

This means that most current and former Facebook employees are worth far less than they were a few months ago.

Facebook’s stock crash is also hurting morale at the company, and damaging perception of the company’s business and brand. The impact is big enough that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who has been crystal clear about his desire to ignore the stock price, admitted at a company meeting that the stock crash has been “painful” for everyone.

Is Facebook The Next Google? With the Facebook employee lock-up releases coming in October and November, this isn’t just an issue of morale and “paper net worth.” Current and former Facebook employees have been counting on the stock to buy things (houses, for example). So it’s a matter of near-term financial planning.

With this in mind, here’s what Facebook employees should understand about their stock price:

Smart list — not only for Facebook employees, but also potential investors. Give it a read.

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Dear Mark Zuckerberg

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Dalton Caldwell:

Mark, I don’t believe that the humans working at Facebook or Twitter want to do the wrong thing. The problem is, employees at Facebook and Twitter are watching your stock price fall, and that is causing them to freak out. Your company, and Twitter, have demonstrably proven that they are willing to screw with users and 3rd-party developer ecosystems, all in the name of ad-revenue. Once you start down the slippery-slope of messing with developers and users, I don’t have any confidence you will stop.

The entire thing is worth a read, as it highlights the new mission of the post-IPO Facebook: to generate ad revenue to support a stock price, even if it means entering into antagonistic relationships with developers of the ‘platform.’

This isn’t how Facebook started. It was originally a ‘social utility,’ not something that behaves like a media company.

The final sentence in Caldwell’s letter is spot-on: Zuckerberg is indeed in a very challenging position right now.

Who — or what — is Facebook going to be?

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Linkology: The Best of the Internet for 4/6/12

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If you observe Easter, we’re heading into a holiday weekend. As such, you need things to talk about. I would give you all you need about playoff hockey, but since about 9% of the population seems to care, I’ll instead arm you with all sorts of web esoterica. Hang on.

Google announces Project Glass, their augmented-reality glasses. The general vibe of this news is thus: futuristic, potentially cool concept, dorky look. What people aren’t talking a great deal about: can you imagine the user data Google collects on someone using this? That boggles my mind — and not in a good way.

Why $7.99 beats $0.99: an articulation of the end of the race to the bottom in iOS app pricing. I think the iPad paved the way for higher app pricing (and far better apps) on iOS in general. Note: this is not a missive to justify taking a junky app and overpricing it; it’s an argument for pricing value at the appropriate level and not feeling downward price pressure because everyone else’s garbage app is a buck.

Still rough on touch typing skills? If so, your life is hard, and getting harder by the day. Try TypingClub, a free online touch typing trainer. Even though I’m a serious keyboard monkey, I found this actually improved my typing rate. No joke. Try it yourself and tell me I’m wrong. In an email you write insanely fast, please.

I hereby resign: a fictional letter on the liability of Facebook background checks.

Like tower defense games? If so, try MapsTD, a tower defense game based on Google Maps. The best part is that you can play anywhere in the world: Rome, Moab, or your own neighborhood. Dorky? Yes. Surprisingly fun even once the novelty wears off? Yes.

To Do: a Venn diagram eerily based upon what seems to be my brain. Accurate and, in a way, bothersome. Now let me go do some — HEY LOOK A SPOON!

Paper: if you have an iPad and have any inclination to sketch, jot down ideas, paint, or otherwise be creative, this is an app you simply cannot miss. I’ve been playing with it for hours, and it even caused me to buy a Wacom Bamboo stylus. Worth every penny.

Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray says Apple shares are projected to reach $1000/share in 2014, which would make Apple the world’s first trillion-dollar company. Trillion with a T, folks.

If you’re camera goomba like me and don’t feel like blowing good opportunities messing with aperture and shutter settings at your kid’s birthday party, experiment with The SLR Camera Simulator for a bit. It lets you modify lighting conditions, distance, focal length, ISO, aperture, shutter speed and camera shooting modes. Pretty fun to see what sort of good — and awful — combinations you can come up with. Very useful if you’re new to photography.

As if declining market share, failed products and slipping relevance weren’t enough problems for RIM, now people are getting stabbed at the events it hosts. Talk about not catching a break.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

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More Thinking About Oracle, Endeca, Unstructured Text and Social Media

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On October 18, 2011, Oracle announced it had entered into an agreement to acquire Endeca, a leading provider of unstructured data management, web commerce and business intelligence solutions (see our original blog post here). The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close before the end of t his year.  Here’s the original press release.

Our Thoughts

Most everyone is familiar with structured data consisting of data that is well organized and comes from ERP systems, custom solutions etc. and generally is organized in a manner which allows that data to be analyzed and reported from.  Lesser known, but of increasing importance, is unstructured data.  Unstructured data consists of social media information from platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs etc. where users or consumers can post commentary using freeform text.  Comments are not necessarily organized.  This unstructured text can extend to consumer commentary on product websites, blogs or emails.   The rise of social media and the real-time web is making unstructured text more and more critical for companies to be able to analyze.

For example, through the various social media mechanisms mentioned, using powerful unstructured text BI tools such as Endeca, companies can quickly evaluate the unstructured text and begin to make business decisions or combine the unstructured text with structured data and have actionable information.  A quick example: if customers comment on a website regarding their experience with a particular product, it normally would take an employee or employees to read the responses and evaluate the consumer sentiment.  It may take a significant amount of time to evaluate the sentiment negating the potential value of that data.  In today’s ever changing, quick-paced social media environment, it’s more important than ever to stay on top and have the ability to react quickly to fixing a negative experience or promoting a positive one.  Understanding whether a consumer had a positive or negative experience proves invaluable for marketing, sales and corrective actions to be made in a very short timeframe.

Take all of this a step farther, when Oracle can combine unstructured data and structured data under the OBIEE platform, companies will have exceptional tools to help make truly informed business decisions based upon quickly changing data.

Fantasy? So far, maybe a bit. In the short term, smart companies will be investing in ways to do exactly this.

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The Great Tech War of 2012

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Utterly fantastic article in Fast Company by Farhad Manjoo about the greatest tech showdown of our time, all likely going fully thermonuclear next year. With players like Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon in the mix, this isn’t the minor leagues. Who winds up on top here controls the innovation economy moving forward, and there are sane arguments for each as the winner. The following excerpt sums up the vast power and influence these companies have over our technological lives:

To state this as clearly as possible: The four American companies that have come to define 21st-century information technology and entertainment are on the verge of war. Over the next two years, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google will increasingly collide in the markets for mobile phones and tablets, mobile apps, social networking, and more. This competition will be intense. Each of the four has shown competitive excellence, strategic genius, and superb execution that have left the rest of the world in the dust. HP, for example, tried to take a run at Apple head-on, with its TouchPad, the product of its $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm. HP bailed out after an embarrassingly short 49-day run, and it cost CEO Léo Apotheker his job. Microsoft’s every move must be viewed as a reaction to the initiatives of these smarter, nimbler, and now, in the case of Apple, richer companies.

And:

According to Nielsen, Android now powers about 40% of smartphones; 28% run Apple’s iOS. But here’s the twist: Android could command even 70% of the smartphone business without having a meaningful impact on Apple’s finances. Why? Because Apple makes a profit on iOS devices, while Google and many Android handset makers do not. This is part of a major strategic difference between Apple and the other members of the Fab Four. Apple doesn’t need a dominant market share to win. Everyone else does.

If you asked me to list the four biggest players in the tech space, this is the list I’d jot down.  And the scary thing? I’m a customer of each.  In Google and Facebook’s case, I am the product itself.

2012 will be anything but dull.

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American Express Out-Innovates Google and Groupon

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Rocky Agrawal, reporting for TechCrunch:

This morning American Express is launching a new deals platform in partnership with Facebook that should make big waves in the payments and offers space.

Winners: Facebook, American Express, small businesses
Losers: Groupon, LivingSocial, Google, foursquare, VISA, MasterCard

With the new platform, merchants will be able to target deals at American Express cardholders on the Facebook platform. Initial launch partners include H&M, Sports Authority, Dunkin’ Donuts, Sheraton, Westin, Travelocity and Celebrity Cruises. Although the launch focus is on big national brands, the platform is self-serve and well suited to the needs of small business. This presents a big and credible threat to Groupon, LivingSocial, Google Offers and other daily deal providers.

The platform covers both one-time and loyalty offers. Some examples of the offers that could be presented:

  • Spend $30 and get a $10 statement credit.
  • Spend $50 and get 10% back.
  • Visit 3 times, spend $50 each time and get a $10 statement credit.

I’ve been waiting for someone to do this.  When Foursquare announced its deals functionality, I thought it was a good start.  Now with Amex partnering with Facebook, I’d say Amex is in the running right up there with Groupon and LivingSocial.  (Amex needs to keep building its partner repertoire, though.)

Foursquare is an interesting proposition — it’s a hugely popular service, and I see an opportunity for them to partner with POS (point-of-sale) vendors so that businesses can know what clients are saying about them in real time.  They’d also be able to tell when their best customers are in the house based on check-in data.  And naturally, if Foursquare can strike more deals with vendors for its users, it has a chance of making a pretty good run at the deals game, too.

Where Foursquare got flanked? By Amex choosing to partner with Facebook, the world’s largest social network.  Amex has no pretense about being a social network, so they are free to hook up with whoever will work with them.  Foursquare, however, has pretty strong social capital, and I think any reluctance they have to cede social momentum to a company like Facebook translates into opportunity for others who aren’t invested in the social game.

Any way you cut it, this is all very interesting.  And it’s just the beginning.  Watch.

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Linkology: The Best of the Internet for 7/8/11

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When I tell people I do web/social media marketing work, that basically I’m a full-on web nerd, they look at me funny.  Like, “Oh, how long have you been unemployed?” funny.  After we get past that initial awkwardness, they invariably ask two things: (1) Can social media help my business? And (2) What is your computer hardware/software setup like?

For this Friday post, I will tackle both questions.

For (1): yes.

For (2), I will answer in the format of The Setup’s interviews, because I can read that stuff all day and have found some excellent software from them.  Here goes.

What hardware are you using?

In the office, I use a super-gonzo Dell Precision laptop running Windows 7 Professional connected to three 24″ monitors.  Multiple monitors are the single best thing you can add to your setup next to a jetpack to improve productivity, and I would be far, far slower without them.  If you don’t have multiple monitors but can afford them/are allowed to by your IT team, you’re cheating yourself.

At home, I use a pretty banged-up early 2008 MacBook Pro with 4 GB of RAM that’s connected to a 2002 HP 2335 LCD monitor.  I use Apple’s wired keyboard because I have to have a number pad for data crunching, and I have a filthy — disgusting, really — Logitech wireless mouse whose model number I can’t remember because it was made before the dawn of language.

I have a first-gen iPad that I use for everything except longform content creation.  It’s awesome, if a bit heavy and sharp-edged.  Still, it has replaced a laptop for 90% of my tasks when my son isn’t stealing it to play Dungeon Raid.

Right next to my iPad you’ll almost always find my iPhone 4, which I take with me everywhere.  Literally, everywhere.  Well, except the shower and the gym, but aside from those caveats, everywhere.  I’m not sure if I own it or it owns me.  I suspect the latter.

And what software?

Being a web dork means having a romantic relationship with your browser, and I am an unrepentant Chrome devotee.  It runs on both my work and home laptops.

For longform writing, I get all weird: I will use Ommwriter, WriteRoom, BBEdit, Sublime Text or even the WordPress editor.  It depends on my current propensity to get distracted.  For a pure, clean blogging on the Mac, I couldn’t live without MarsEdit.  On Windows, Windows Live Writer 2011 is pretty solid, if a bit slow (thanks .NET!).

For mail, I am a gigantic Gmail nerd.  Gmail might be the best implementation of email in the world.  And by might I mean is.  At work, I have to tolerate Outlook, which is really starting to feel like something wet, angry and smelly that crawled onto my computer from the late 1990s.  Because it is.

For keeping the soul-crushing silence at bay and the voices in my head arguing amongst themselves instead of with me, I fire up iTunes or Rdio.  Lately, a lot has been Rdio.

For keeping track of stuff, I use Notational Velocity on my Mac and SimpleNote on the web and iPhone/iPad.  I would probably keel over dead within a half hour without Dropbox.  Whenever I have a thought that doesn’t fall apart like a soggy box after a few seconds of critique, it goes into one of these apps for later curation.

For photography, I use a Nikon D90, Canon S90, or my iPhone 4 (don’t laugh — it’s the most popular camera on Flickr).  For post work, I use iPhoto, Photoshop CS5 and occasionally Acorn, which is a terrific OSX application that does, for me, 90% of what I use Photoshop for.  On my iPhone, I am a huge Instagram evangelist, along with Camera+ and Photogene.

For social media stuff, I use Tweetdeck on Windows (still wish it was a web app though) and the official Twitter client on my Mac.  I have an entire monitor devoted to Facebook, blogs and Google+ sessions running in Chrome.

What would be your dream setup?

My MacBook Pro is getting long in the tooth, and the screen does a weird flicker thing against certain gray backgrounds, so I’ve been thinking about a replacement.  I’m torn between two masters: portability and power.  The idea of a new 27″ quad-core iMac is very appealing because of the screen real estate and power, but it’s a desktop and who buys those anymore?  On the other hand, I’m waiting for Apple to stop being so jerky and release the new MacBook Airs with the Sandy Bridge architecture so maybe that will be enough power and I can nerd out in lightweight, sealed, portable style.  (That option might actually steal time from the iPad.)

Oh, and I’d like software that does what I think, no questions asked.  That’d be cool.  Also, Google search box for my brain because, yeah, it’s come to that.

Shut up about your dumb nerd stuff.  Do you have any links?

Yes, yes I do.

This man won $3.4 million — and then went back to work as a janitor.  The world needs more people like this.

Here’s a site that provides the best introductory books for myriad topics.  Tons of browsing pleasure here, folks.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

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