Weekend Update, 02.15.09
Sure, it’s a celebration of Washington and Lincoln–but isn’t it also fitting, given the current president’s attachment to his BlackBerry, that on this President’s Day weekend, one of the most talked-about (or Twittered about) phenomena is Twitter? Not the only phenomenon, though:
After a heady few days at the TED Conference in its new home in Long Beach, Calif., BoomTown asked other conference-goers, “Has your head exploded yet?” Their reports on what they learned while in attendance are many and varied. Among other things BoomTown learned this week: One company’s recession may be another company’s bubble. As such, Twitter announced a $250 million-dollar valuation and a $35 million round of funding this week, prompting the question of whether some search giant will swoop in before the whole thing falls apart. Apparently, new Yahoo (YHOO) CEO Carol Bartz has been asking a lot of questions of her staffers lately, like, “What exactly is your job description?” and “What do you do?” This has caused many, including BoomTown, to wonder whether she’s about to carry out the long-rumored re-org.
Meanwhile, in a different drama, Sirius XM (SIRI) is trying to avoid bankruptcy and fend off an unsolicited takeover bid by satellite mogul Charlie Ergen’s EchoStar (SATS), which has been gradually acquiring its debt. The company has approached Liberty Media (LINTA) about a possible sale, as apparently Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin can’t stomach the thought of giving up control to Ergen. Digital Daily has been following the plot twists. DD also reports that mobile phone giant Nokia (NOK) is approaching the need for a reduced headcount at one of its plants in a novel way–by putting 20-30 percent of its workforce on mandatory furlough at any given time. And a longtime opponent of Amazon (AMZN), the Author’s Guild, has raised a new objection to the company’s business practices. The trade group contends that the text-to-voice feature on the Kindle 2.0 e-book reader creates audiobooks for which it doesn’t own the rights. The details are in Digital Daily.
MediaMemo is a little bit obsessed with Twitter. But not without maintaining the minimum of reality required to wonder about a business model or two, especially in light of this week’s $35 million funding announcement. So it’s with a tiny grain of salt that MM took the word of both co-founder Biz Stone and CEO Evan Williams when they continued to insist that revenue is on the way. Speaking of missing business models, what’s up with Web video? Sony Music signed an agreement to keep its music videos on YouTube, and though details of the deal are unclear, MediaMemo sources familiar with the matter provided a breakdown of the revenue issues involved. And could the loss of 600,000 jobs in January be connected to a concurrent eye-popping traffic spike on the Web? Working less could mean surfing more–MediaMemo provided some very interesting dots to connect regarding the whole thing.
In Personal Technology this week, Walt Mossberg test-drove Sony’s (SNE) new Vaio P, which has incredible looks without the power (or personality) to back them up. In Mossberg’s Mailbox, Walt wrote about using Foxmarks to sync bookmarks across multiple computers with different browsers. In this week’s Mossberg Solution, Katherine Boehret took a look at the growing range of mobile phones built specifically for seniors, with a focus on the ClarityLife C900.
More next week.