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Sony CFO to be Replaced April 1 After $1.1 Annual Billion Loss Estimated

posted Sunday Mar 30, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

Sony CFO to be Replaced April 1 After $1.1 Annual Billion Loss Estimated

If you've been keeping up with Sony news, you'd know the company has been in trouble for a while. With key exec layoffs in the media division that led to a quarter-million dollar budget cut and a layoff of over 200 employees shortly after, more bad news continues to plague the tech giant. Following a prediction of a $1.1 billion loss for Sony, CFO Masaru Kato will be leaving the company effective April 1.

Announced by CEO Kaz Hirai as a planned transition, Kenichiro Yoshida will be taking over the position on that date. Yoshida has had plenty of experience working in different positions with Sony since starting with the company back in 1983, and he's also been the deputy CFO since early December, so the transition should be a natural one for him.

On the news, Sony spokeswoman Yo Kikuchi said, "After discussing the matter over the last four months, we decided it would be appropriate to appoint Yoshida at the beginning of the new financial year."

For Kato, while he will be leaving the CFO role, he will also drop his executive VP title as well. However, he will stay on with Sony as a director and will become a vice chairman on the board.

Cost-cutting measures will continue for Sony, with the company also selling a large property next to its HQ to a real estate company for just over $68 million. Hirai also mentioned other cuts that will be happening in the next quarter but did not disclose what they were. There's not much meat left on the Sony steak, though, so it will be an interesting ride over the next year to see where Sony cuts next.

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Klout Acquired by Lithium Technologies for a Rumored $200 Million

posted Sunday Mar 30, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

Klout Acquired by Lithium Technologies for a Rumored $200 Million

In 2008, a company with a mission to measure social engagement and influence came together to form Klout. This week it was announced that the increasingly-popular tool had been acquired by Lithium Technologies.

In a stock deal rumored to be close to $200 million, Klout's CEO Joe Fernandez will enter the Lithium team as a senior vice president and manager of Klout. In turn, Lithium purchased the measuring software to enhance its own services. For those unaware, Lithium is an all-encompassing CRM and social platform that ties in engagement, sales, customer retention and loyalty, branding, SEO and crowd-sourcing all in one place. Think Salesforce.com or Jive Software, but with an increased focus on usability and genuine customers. It's an interesting platform for sure, and one that I've not had too much familiarity with, however companies like Virgin Atlantic and Barclay's have both seen dramatic results from using the service.

In the announcement of the news, Lithium's president and CEO Rob Tarkoff explained how everything would come together.

(The acquisition) brings together the 100 million consumers who engage across Lithium communities every month with the 500 million consumers touched by Klout to establish one of the biggest data footprints of consumer attitudes, preferences and activities. Lithium and Klout both have deep expertise and capabilities in driving engagement - combined, our ability to put trust back at the center of the relationship between consumers and brands is unmatched. The new Lithium brings together trusted people and trusted content to create an exchange of shared value and a more complete measure of reputation. Most importantly - and what really fires me up - is that this acquisition helps Lithium put the power back into consumers' hands in a real way that delivers real benefits to consumers as well as brands. The conversation between consumers and brands should be just that: a conversation, not a shout by brands at consumers. That's the promise the new Lithium will deliver on.

So it seems like Lithium is wanting to bring a sense of realness to its service and by using Klout's highly-touted measurement system, it could probably do just that, as Klout is kind of a crucial link between a consumer and a company. Lithium did say there would be more to discuss on the Klout acquisition at its LiNC 2014 conference.

For Klout, the team says that its "mission has not changed" and Klout will "continue helping people be great online."

You will still be able to get insights about your social media performance, find new content to share, and be rewarded with Perks on both Klout.com and our mobile app.

We'll keep tabs on exactly how Klout will be implemented into Lithium's offerings. Until then, I will continue to peruse Klout to see what's going to change before and after the acquisition process.

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Google Wants You to Remember You Have an Android Device

posted Friday Mar 28, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Google Wants You to Remember You Have an Android Device

My guess is that, if you are reading this, you are aware what operating system your phone runs. Whether you chose your phone because of the operating system and found the best manufacturer, or you chose the manufacturer and got the OS it came with, you know what you have. There are a lot of people, however, who purchase a Samsung, HTC or LG phone and don't know that it is powered by Android; mostly because those manufacturers do all they can to bury Android as deep as possible.

Google is starting to realize that their business model for Android might not have been entirely in-line with their corporate goals and are trying to change that. Starting with the Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One (M8), all Android devices that will have access to the Google Play Store must boot with the "Powered by Android" branding.

Now, this is not to say that all Android-powered devices will carry this branding. In fact, many devices that run Google's open-source operating system purposely hide the Play Store, such as Amazon's Kindle Fire line and Nokia's new Nokia X family, both of which host their own Android app stores. You'll also see it on cheap drugstore tablets who are trying to make back the money they lose on the hardware.

Knowing Samsung's interest in running Tizen on their devices, it's possible that Google forcing the co-branding might be the push they need to abandon the platform all together. It might also help Samsung convince other manufacturers to switch to their OS. This could also be a boon for Microsoft, who have been rapidly increasing their manufacturing partner list, but haven't yet seen an increase in hardware announcements.

Do you think it is a good idea for Google to force dual-branding on Android handsets in exchange for Google Play access, or is this a move that could damage the brand even more? Sound off in the comments.

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Marissa Mayer Might Launch YahooTube

posted Friday Mar 28, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Marissa Mayer Might Launch YahooTube

Marissa Mayer, since taking over as CEO of Yahoo, has been working on a plan to make Yahoo into Google, but without the abandonment of its principles. When Marissa was at Google, being one of the early employees, one of her chief responsibilities was to ensure the developers didn't ruin the homepage. She was also responsible for the overall web presence of the brand, ensuring all Google properties felt like Google.

At some point, someone decided that Google didn't need to be Google anymore, and moved her away from the thing that had kept the company consistent and into other positions. It hasn't worked out the way they wanted. Since joining Yahoo she has worked to create a cohesive Yahoo that spans the Internet with relevance and content. With a new logo, older product shut downs, remodel of Tumblr, among many other changes, Yahoo is becoming a new, successful brand.

One of the aspects of the Internet that Yahoo had managed to avoid like a drunk girl at a party is video. There were several meager attempts, but it never felt as if the company was interested in participating with the rest of the Net. Last year, Mayer began the process of fixing that, purchasing Saturday Night Live rights from NBC, available now. They also purchased a live concert streaming service and hired broadcast news star Katie Couric to add credibility to their offerings.

What they are still sorely lacking is user-generated content. Having unsuccessfully tried to acquire Dailymotion, they are still no closer to taking on YouTube, but a YahooTube option is something that the company certainly needs if it is going to continue to compete. With Tumblr the company has text and photo (mostly), but no good platform for video.

One thing that Yahoo will need to do to succeed is to focus on what YouTube has been unable to accomplish: quality. Since being purchased by Google, YouTube's video streaming quality has taken a sharp turn downward, constantly buffering and failing to load videos, and the problem gets worse by the day. If Yahoo can create a video streaming service that actually streams videos, they will be far ahead of YouTube.

Next, they need to focus on the quality of the content. While a user-generated site will always have a little of everything, by guaranteeing that top-creators are able to generate revenue from the platform, they will create more content, therefore drowning out some of the less-desirable videos of drunk texting and high school fights. Instead, getting content like What the Buck and the recently hiatused =3 through revenue sharing are what a YouTube competition from Yahoo must look like.

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Mozilla Employees, Board Members and Developers Revolt After Brendan Eich Hire

posted Friday Mar 28, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Mozilla Employees, Board Members and Developers Revolt After Brendan Eich Hire

Within the software world, Brendan Eich is a well-known name. Eich is the creator of JavaScript, the half-hearted scripting language that tries hard to power the Web. He was also involved in the creation of the Mozilla Foundation when AOL shut down Netscape Navigator in 2003. He has served on the Board of Directors and as Chief Technology Officer since 2005. To the outside world, it would appear that he was a logical choice to replace Gary Kovacs as Chief Executive Officer.

One of the interesting things about Mozilla is the way people stay with the organization, even after departing the top post. In fact, Kovacs has remained on the board for the past 12 months, despite taking the top spot at AVG Technologies a year ago. Also remaining on the board post-CEO is John Lilly, a partner at Greylock Partners. That changed this week when these two past CEOs, along with board member Ellen Siminoff, former Yahoo executive and current CEO of Shmoop, left the board together.

The resignations of three high-profile board members of a high-profile corporation at the same time would normally suggest a problem, but anonymous sources within the company did not allow speculation to build, instead stating exactly why they were leaving: Eich. The sources report that the board members left because, during the search process for a new CEO, an outside hire was sought to work with CTO Eich and Mozilla founder Mitchell Baker rather than promoting Eich to CEO.

The Board of Directors aren't the only people miffed about the promotion of Eich. Employees within the organization have begun a bit of a revolt, demanding the ouster of Eich after the discovery that Eich donated money to the Proposition 8 debacle in California, which was designed to prohibit gay marriage.

Open Badges project lead Chris McAvoy started it off, followed by Chloe Varelidi and others. Hit the break to see some of the tweets. These employees believe in a Mozilla which is open and inviting, knowing that a diverse workforce breeds better ideas. Obviously, a CEO who believes that some of the employees are inherently entitled to less than others as citizens does not breed that same atmosphere.

Followed by the employee protest comes a developer protest right on its tail. A number of developers of software for the Firefox Marketplace have pulled their products until Eich is removed from his office. Whether the board agrees with Eich's political position or not, they cannot agree with the environment that his donation has created. Either the board will get a grip on this disaster or Mozilla's dwindling supporters will continue to leave en masse. Now would be the worst time for the company to encourage its users to leave.

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RiffTrax Meets MST3K in New Television Mini-Series

posted Sunday Mar 23, 2014 by Scott Ertz

RiffTrax Meets MST3K in New Television Mini-Series

The guys who used to do Mystery Science Theater 3000 are back and doing what they do best: making fun of media. From blockbusters to Batman: The Fatal Blast, there is something for everybody. The way it works is: you download the MP3, play it along with your DVD, Netflix, etc. and laugh and laugh and laugh. And you can find out all of the content available by going here. At least, that used to be the only way to make it happen.

Next Tuesday, April 1, Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett will be bringing their unique sense of humor back to television for the first time in almost 15 years. After MST3K was canceled by Sci-Fi (now SyFy) in 1999, the guys went off to found RiffTrax, a way for them to continue doing what they love, and what people loved of them. Now, under that same brand, the guys are joining National Geographic for a 3 episode special.

They are expected to take on television programming of some sort, but being on National Geographic means we have NO IDEA what kind of content to expect. The good news is, no matter what media these guys are put in front of, the results are always funny. There is also no better day for, what I suspect is a pilot run of sorts for a regular series, April Fools' Day.

Honestly, I'm not sure exactly how I feel about RiffTrax being on television. In the past 10+ years, the team has gotten used to getting away with whatever they want and not having the FCC involved in what they do. Being back on television means they will have to tone down their natural tendencies, and trying to cap a comedian is almost never a success.

We won't have to wait long, however, as the premiere is only 10 days away. In the meantime, check out some of their unrestrained content.

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