viernes, 18 de abril de 2014

9 Profound Quotes From Your Favorite Pixar Movies

Pixar films have a magical ability to bridge the gap between childhood and adulthood.

Kids and grown-ups alike look forward to the special ways in which these movies develop characters and story lines that perfectly balance the playful with the profound.

Inspired by Pixar's knack for tugging at the heartstrings, check out nine inspiring quotes from some of the company's most beloved characters.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

Image: Flickr, Michelle O'Connell Photography

Dell's Bringing Sexy Back With Latitude 7000 Ultrabook

While Ultrabook laptops include many features making them attractive to consumers — ultra-thin design, speedy solid-state drives and comfortable keyboards — businesses have different priorities. The enterprise typically wants a laptop that is secure and easy to maintain, while keeping costs as low as possible.

Can any company bridge this divide? Dell thinks businesses will love its new Ultrabook, the Latitude 7000, which it calls the "world's most secure Ultrabook." Dell crafted the new Latitude with the needs of IT departments in mind, but it was at least partly inspired by the company's XPS 13 consumer Ultrabook.

Right off the bat, you can see the Latitude 7000 is thinner and lighter than most "work" machines; the 12-inch version is under three pounds and is just 0.79 inch thin. Clearly, Dell has taken the Ultrabook ethos and put it in a PC made for business.

In doing so, it had to plan for a long lifespan. Dell found that even though most IT departments say they intend a laptop to last three years on average, most deployments last for five years or more. With the new Latitude, Dell did its best to project forward and offer features to ensure it wouldn't be useless come 2018.

"Reliability is always a concern, especially considering rollout periods," said David Ruth, director of Dell's commercial PC group. "Are there options I can have in my system that allow me to keep a system that I deploy now fresh in an environment four years from now? Are there hardware features I can buy that will address evolving trends?"

Enterprise-friendly features such as a fingerprint reader, smart card support and WiGig compatibility (letting the Latitude connect to a work station wirelessly) aim to keep the Latitude not only relevant but also powerful in the coming years. But perhaps the most important part of the machine's longevity is its removable battery, negating the need for a service call when it can no longer hold a charge.

The laptop comes equipped with loads of security features, including Dell Data Protection, which can encrypt data to an extremely high standard (FIPS 140-2, for the curious) and "Protected Workspace," which is said to defend against even zero-day attacks from new malware.

"The common theme here is we designed an Ultrabook from the ground up that is not compromised from a commercial notebook standpoint," Ruth said.

Starting at $1,049, the Latitude 7000 comes in 12.5- and 14-inch screen sizes. Configuration options are plentiful: RAM goes up to 8GB, screen resolution up to full HD (1,920 x 1,080), the processor up to Intel Core i7 and the display can be touch or non-touch. Storage is a 256GB SSD for either size, although there's a 500GB hard-disk option for the 14-inch.

If the 7000 is more Latitude than you need, Dell also offers 5000 and 3000 series Latitude laptops. The 5000 series has similar security as the 7000, but its features aren't as thin or light. The 3000, starting at $549, is aimed at the education market, and doesn't have the same level of security. Both the Latitude 5000 and 3000 come in 14- and 15.6-inch screen sizes. All 2013 Latitude models have displays protected by the next generation of Gorilla Glass, NBT.

The 7000 and 3000 series will be available Sept. 12, while the 5000 series arrives in October (no price is available yet).

How do you like Dell's latest business laptops? Let us know in the comments.

Images: Mashable, Meghan Uno

Vancouver's GROW Conference Shines A Spotlight On Canada's Growing Startup Scene

When it comes to the tech conference circuit outside of Silicon Valley, Canada is probably not top of mind for most people, but I've got a feeling that's slowly changing. Last week, Vancouver hosted the fourth edition of the GROW conference, a two-day event (plus one for outdoor activities around the city) that brings together startups from all over Canada and the West Coast. Four years ago, the inaugural event attracted 400 people. This year, over 1,200 made the trip to Vancouver's Convention Center, which will also play host to TED next year.

To me, GROW has become one of the premier networking conferences, as it's a great way to take the pulse of the Canadian startup scene. As with many things Canada, it's easy to underestimate the role of the tech industry there. In British Columbia, more people now work in tech jobs than in fields like mining, forestry and oil gas. Local successes like Hootsuite, Shopify and even smaller companies like Top Hat, seem to have provided a bit of a boost to those who previously only thought about starting their own companies. The slow decline of Blackberry, virtually everybody told me, has had very little effect on the Canadian startup scene in general.

Getting angel funding and raising a seed round seems to be getting a bit easier, though virtually all of the companies I talked to – whether they were in Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal – noted that raising a significant Series A round still meant heading to Silicon Valley and knocking on doors there.

Sometimes, the Canadian government still has to learn a bit, of course, as in the case of the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities shutting down coding school Bitmaker Labs earlier this year (it's back up and running now). Overall, however.

Besides the networking, one thing that always makes GROW stand out for me is that the conference program tends to have a strong focus on providing very practical advise for startups. Maybe this is a Canadian thing, but the event keeps the hype low and usefulness high – something that's even true for most of the startups that attend. From Google Venture's Daniel Burka and Jake Knapp talking about how to build prototypes quickly and effectively, TechCrunch contributor Nir Eyal talking about how to get users hooked to your app and 500px CEO Oleg Gutsol talking about how to build a better user experience, GROW's focus is on helping startups to get started. Sometimes that means going very technical and looking at how to build the right APIs for a service or how to analyze user metrics, while at other times it's about raising money and building the right team. This focus on practicality is something we don't see that often outside of vendor conferences and it's a nice break from the more VC-centric events around Silicon Valley.

If you are considering to go to GROW next year, by the way, I highly recommend taking the train from Portland or Seattle the day before. With well over 100 entrepreneurs and VCs on it – and three dedicated rail cars for attendees – it's a networking bonanza that's hard to beat (and alcohol flows pretty freely, too). This year, a number of Canadian startups like Mover, which had just raised a $1 million seed round) and BeauCoo, which would go on to win GROW's startup competition, as well as a few Silicon Valley VCs and virtually every well-known startup from Seattle and Portland made the eight-hour trip.

Fail Week: When Mark Suster Believed His Own Startup's Hype, And Everything Came Crashing Down

To very loosely paraphrase Tolstoy, all successes are alike, but each epic failure fails in its own unique way. But here in the tech industry, we don't discuss failure stories nearly as much as success stories — and that's a shame, because even the biggest winners in the world of entrepreneurship have had their fair share of missteps.

So we at TechCrunch created Fail Week, five day long video series that shines some light on the dark days that even the most lucky of entrepreneurs go through.

Today we're featuring Marc Suster, who famously had success on "both sides of the table" as a repeat entrepreneur turned investor over nearly two decades in the industry.

But not all of his efforts have been winners. Watch the video embedded above to hear about how he got caught up in believing his own hype and proceeded to make "every single mistake you can make" in building a startup — he bit off much more than he could chew in terms of funding, press coverage, product development, investor expectations, hiring, you name it, and eventually it all came crashing down.

You can find all our Fail Week stories here.

Mark joined GRP Partners in 2007 after having worked with GRP for nearly 8 years as a two-time entrepreneur. Most recently Mark was Vice President, Product Management at (NASDAQ: CRM) following its acquisition of Koral,where Mark was Founder and CEO. Prior to Koral, Mark was Founder and CEO of BuildOnline, the largest independent global content collaboration company focused on the engineering and construction sectors, which was acquired by SWORD Group (PARIS: SWP). Earlier in his career, Mark spent...

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MathGraphica3D impresses with scope and numeric depth

Back in school (1970s!!!), I remember tackling algebra, derivatives and integrals from a purely symbolic point of view. Everything had to be solved with manipulations on pencil and paper, and it was only at university that I encountered the 'modern' way to approach complex eqiations from the point of view of putting in numbers and 'seeing what happens', then iterating very fast using a computer to adjust the inputs until a desired output is achieved. Such computational techniques have the disadvantage that they're rarely as satisfactory for relatively simple equations but the huge advantage that they can produce 'solutions' for complex equations which would be almost impossible to solve by traditional means.

Now, with your Symbian smartphone being a mini-computer in your hand, you can delve into the world of computational analysis on a nHD touchscreen. Oh, and, you won't be surprised to note that the other advantage of a computer doing most of the work is that pretty graphs are easy to create - no more graph paper and coloured biro for you!

Screenshot, MathGraphica3DScreenshot, MathGraphica3D

Screenshot, MathGraphica3DScreenshot, MathGraphica3D

Each graph can be zoomed into if needed, or animated/spun in any axis, which always makes for an impressive demo - credit to the developer for seeding each area of MathGraphica3D with a sample function or suitable set of data, to get users off to a flying start in terms of appreciating what the application can do.

Screenshot, MathGraphica3DScreenshot, MathGraphica3D

At heart is a full numerical analysis engine though. I remember stuffing values into mainframe routines back in the 1980s and here we are doing similar analysis on a phone in 2013....

I was very impressed that the developer backs up the application with a full hypertext help system/manual, and it's built-into the app and not relying on a web page, handily, so can be accessed quickly and from anywhere...

Screenshot, MathGraphica3DScreenshot, MathGraphica3DScreenshot, MathGraphica3D

I had intended to make this a full review, but realised that I was out of practice, out of my depth, or (quite possibly) both, but you'll get the idea from my test screens and comments, at least. The learning curve here is high, but the functions on offer are surprisingly powerful and anyone working in the fields of science or engineering should find MathGraphica3D a very useful addition to their phone.

Screenshot, MathGraphica3DScreenshot, MathGraphica3D

You can buy MathGraphica3D for £3 here in the Nokia Store, plus there's a version without the graphing modules for £1.50 here. Highly recommended.

Finally, here are a few videos from MathGraphica3D's creator, showing some of the functionality at work (in the desktop version). They'll give you an idea, anyway:

Post-Acquisition, Brightcove’s Zencoder Adds Live Streaming And Instant Playback

Video distribution company Brightcove announced its acquisition of Zencoder to coincide with its second-quarter earnings announcement in July, paying $30 million for the cloud encoding startup. But that doesn't mean it's done innovating. In fact, Brightcove is already adding more features and functionality to the new encoding side of its business, with the launch of two new offerings to improve live and on-demand video playback.

The first of the two new products, Zencoder Instant Play, will provide near-instant gratification to customers who want to very quickly get video files up and available on the web. In Zencoder's old workflow, customers would upload video, wait for them to process, and then wait for them to get sent out to a CDN before they were available for viewing. Now, almost immediately after a video is uploaded, its bits will begin to be made available to users. That means customers can begin embedding the on-demand video even before it's finished uploading.

Instant Play is being made available in beta, and at launch it will only support streaming to Zencoder's free, open source Video.js player. But the company is looking to expand the functionality to its own Brightcove Video Cloud player as well.

Meanwhile, Zencoder's new Live Cloud Transcoding will make it easier and cheaper for customers to begin live streaming events. No longer will they need an encoder just sitting around waiting for a live event to come along. Not only are those encoders expensive, but they require operational expertise that they don't necessarily have. Plus, customers need to live stream to multiple different devices, which requires a number of different adaptive bit rate technologies. Live Cloud Transcoding will allow customers to stream to all those places, with no real upfront investment.

Brightcove has yet to figure out final pricing for the new offerings, but chief marketing officer Jeff Whatcott says that, like Zencoder's existing on-demand encoding services, customers will be charged based upon usage. That means that for live events, they'll be spending hundreds of dollars, rather than potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In addition, Brightcove is announcing a DRM solution to customers for secure distribution of their content. It's integrating Google's Widevine technology into its Video Cloud offering, which will allow them to secure playback on a number of connected devices. Brightcove says that the Widevine technology is supported by 539 million consumer devices, including 284 million TVs, Blu-ray players, set-top boxes and game consoles. Customers leveraging the Widevine tech include Television New Zealand and LG Electronics.

Brightcove is announcing these things at the IBC international broadcaster conference in Amsterdam, where it's hoping to secure more deals with big name broadcasters and other distributors of streaming video content. Since Zencoder — and Video.js — is likely to play an even bigger part in its customer acquisition story in the future, this looks like a good way to start.

Brightcove Inc., a leading global provider of cloud content services, provides a family of products used to publish and distribute the world's professional digital media. The company's products include Brightcove Video Cloud, the market-leading online video platform, and Brightcove App Cloud, a pioneering content app platform. Nearly 3,300 customers in over 50 countries rely on Video Cloud to build and operate media experiences across PCs, smartphones, tablets and connected TVs. Brightcove was founded in early 2004. Competitors include PermissionTV, VideoEgg,...

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How Video Platform Craftsy Is Acquiring 1,600 Paying Students Per Day

Name: Craftsy

Quick Pitch: Online video tutorials for a range of crafts.

Genius Idea: A baked-in e-commerce offering for patterns and supplies.

In 2010, John Levisay realized that the "promise of online education was not being fulfilled." The former eBay and ServiceMagic executive went on later that year to found Craftsy, an online platform that teaches users a range of craft skills, from cake decorating to weaving, through paid video courses. The company raised an angel round of funding in May 2010 and launched a website one year later.

"We were seeing glorified PowerPoints with voiceovers, grainy video taken at the back of classrooms — it wasn't what online education pledged to be," Levisay recalls. "We wanted to create something that captured the magic of a live classroom, not only a great instructor but also interaction with that instructor as well as fellow students. We knew there were thousands of categories where people want to learn, and we remembered from our eBay days what a huge, underserved market crafts and hobbies instruction is."

Most of Craftsy's courses offer between four and six hours of lessons, and cost between $20 and $40 — expensive for some, but Levisay says some instructors charge as much as $500 for a live course. Viewers can pose questions to instructors at any point during the videos, and see answers to questions instructors have already answered. They can also go back and review course material they might later forget.

The most popular category is quilting, says Levisay. Cake decorating is the fastest-growing. Nearly 100% of customers are female, 80% are older than 40 and nearly a third are 61 years old or above. "We have what we consider to be an underserved demographic that are passionate and affluent, and who are fantastic and loyal customers," Levisay says.

Beyond video courses, Craftsy also offers step-by-step, photo-based Workshops, and a marketplace for materials and supplies as well as patterns created by other users. Craftsy does not take a cut of any pattern sales — "We think it helps indie designers, and it brings users to the site," Levisay says of the company's decision not to charge.

Instructors are usually flown in to Craftsy's Denver, Colo., headquarters to film courses. About 14 are filmed per month. So that instructors will promote their own courses, they are paid a percentage of total course revenue.

The company's customer acquisition strategy is centered on social media, namely Facebook. Craftsy operates a number of unbranded clubs, like this one for quilting, which has more than 230,000 fans. Through those clubs, Craftsy offers free content and special offers on courses. The company also posts excerpts on YouTube, and has done offers through Gilt City and LivingSocial to reach consumers who might once have been knitters or jewelry-makers and want to get back into crafting.

Paid search is not a major customer acquisition channel for Craftsy. "When it comes to education, there's not a ton of intent," says Levisay. "You don't wake up on a Sunday morning and say, 'I want to take a quilting class.'"

Scaling and production are the two main focuses for the rest of the year, Levisay says. In two weeks, Craftsy will also launch an iPad app.

By the end of 2012, Levisay estimates Craftsy will have about 600,000 enrolled students — 1,600 people are enrolling each day on average.

The company has raised $20 million in funding to date.

Image courtesy of Flickr, sexyninjamonkey

10 Things You Didn’t Know Mint Could Do

Mint can be a powerful tool when it comes to monitoring your finances. The service helps you track how much money you're spending and on what, and alerts you when bills are due and when you might finally pay off your credit card.

While most Mint users know the basics, how to use the service to better manage their finances, there are a few features in Mint you might not be aware of. They might even to improve your bottom line.

Here are some of our favorite underutilized Mint features.

1. Tags

A lot of people use categories in Mint for expenses, but not everyone takes advantage of Mint's tagging feature. Use tags in conjunction with categories for further organizing your expenses.

For instance, if you own two cars, you could tag each one to determine how much each automobile ends up costing you each year. Tagging all of your expenses with something like "Hawaii Trip" can help you see how much that vacation really cost, when everything is said and done. And tagging things like daycare expenses can come in handy when doing your taxes at the end of the year.

2. SMS Reminders

Mint has some pretty awesome apps for iPhone and Android, but if you don't have a smartphone, you don't have to miss out on the fun. Mint sends out weekly summaries via SMS for those who own Windows Phones or other handsets.

3. Built for Two

Weekly summaries aren't limited to just one email address. If you share expenses with a spouse, partner or roommate, you can have a weekly summery sent to both of you by selecting the option from your Mint profile.

4. Track Your Net Worth

Mint isn't just about liquid assets. The app can also track the value of things, such as major appliances, collectibles and cars, and add that number to your overall net worth. Mint also integrates with Zillow to track the value of your home.

5. Set Reminders

Always forget to pay that one bill? Mint lets you set up reminders for specific bills, so you never miss a payment.

6. Set Some Goals

If you have a financial goal, Mint can help you get there. For instance, say you're trying to save for a new car or get out of debt. You can track payments going into a specific account you've designated to meet that goal.

7. Mobile Safety

Using Mint on your smartphone can be super convenient, but what if your phone is lost or stolen? In the event you and your phone part ways, you can disconnect your phone from your account, preventing others from accessing your financial information.

8. Split Up Transactions

You may choose to split a single transaction into multiple categories. For instance, if you go to Target and buy $100 worth of groceries and a $30 pair of shoes, you can file the $30 under clothing expenses and the $100 under your grocery categories, rather than lumping the two together.

9. Track Cash

Not just for credit transactions, you can also enter cash transaction into Mint and track those payments as well.

10. Port to Excel

If you need to track and document some of your information outside of Mint, download a CSV file and import that information into Excel.

What tips do you have for using Mint? Let us know some of your own tricks and unique ideas in the comments.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Oriol Lladó

Kinect Reveals The Next Job To Be Replaced By Computers: Sports Coaches

"It's just as good as getting a personal instructor," says basketball coach Julio Agosto, speaking on the Xbox Kinect's new dribbling game, NBA Baller Beats. Agosto, an Emerald City Academy Basketball coach and father to b-ball Internet phenom, Jashaun Agosto, tells TechCrunch that Kinect's digital eye is able to recognize and reward enough advanced dribbling skills that the new NBA game could replace human instruction at his basketball camp (at least the dribbling portion). This latest Microsoft development brings one more job closer to the chopping block of skills that can be done cheaper and more conveniently by a computer: sports and fitness coaches.

Baller Beats plays a lot like Rock Band but with a basketball; gamers are rewarded for dribbling to a (rockin') beat, with the familiar vertical scroll of colorful, raised buttons indicating when users should bounce the ball, and in what direction around the body.

Evolving from its Rock Band inspiration, Baller Beats is the first title to recognize objects, allowing wanna-be athletes to hone their muscle memory with the very tools used in real-life gameplay. "Even a pro player can get a good workout," gushes Agosto. Since this system is made for the home, players can practice to their heart's content anytime they want.

Baller Beats Screenshot

Rock Band Screenshot

Interestingly, Agosto argues that much of his dribbling coaching is cookie-cutter. Among the most important tasks he performs is training burgeoning young b-ballers to keep their eyes on their opponent, simply by asking them to read how many fingers he's holding up as they dribble. Baller Beats performs the same functional incidentally, since gamers are forced to watch the screen as they play.

Advanced skills, such as dribbling through one's legs, is equally monotonous, requiring a coach to passively monitor players as they perform hundreds of the same movement with pitch-perfect form. Observing an athlete's form is essentially the same as spotting the correct outline of the human shape–the exact function that Kinect's dummy digital eye uses to recognize movement. Agosto says the same is true for teaching proper shooting technique, for instance, by ensuring his students keep their elbows pointed downward.

In other words, it's not that Kinect is some Skynet-like genius, but that many of the tasks that "experts" routinely perform are no more sophisticated than the assembly-line construction that robots replaced decades ago. Back then, robots replaced jobs that used our limbs; now they're replacing our eyes.

The encroachment on sports and fitness training is just another notch on the wall for our robot competitors. Last year, the New York Times found armies of lawyers being replaced by computer software, which can just as easily dig through legal documents for keywords. In Florida, automatic learning software is replacing teachers, who have been reciting similar lectures for years.

Computers may not be able to replace high-level thinking…yet. But, in the meantime, what other seemingly sophisticated jobs are we doing that could be next on the automated chopping block?

SEOmoz raises $18m, reveals everything about the deal

Posted 02 May 2012 20:15pm by Patricio Robles with 4 comments

If you're an SEO, chances are you're familiar with SEOmoz.

The Seattle-based company is a brand name in the SEO space, and the company's CEO, Rand Fishkin, a highly-visible figure in the industry.

For all of the company's success, however, growing SEOmoz hasn't always been easy. Last year, for instance, Fishkin revealed on his blog how he almost raised $24m in a second round of funding for his company, only to see the deal fall through.

Fishkin's blog post attracted a lot of attention, and for good reason: it provided an uncommonly honest view of one entrepreneur's view of the fundraising process. "I feel burned," Fishkin wrote. "This is the second time in 3 years that I've gotten excited about raising a potential round of capital, and it turned out terribly both times. I'm not sure what I did wrong or what I should do differently next time."

While SEOmoz didn't close a funding round in 2011, the adage "good things come to those who wait" applied to Fishkin and his team and yesterday, he announced that SEOmoz has raised $18m from Foundry Group and Ignition Partners at a $75m pre-money valuation.

Once again, Fishkin took to the internet to reveal all about the deal, including the metrics that sold his investors on the company. The most notable: since 2007, when the company raised a small $1.1m round of funding, SEOmoz has grown its product revenue from just over $400,000 to nearly $11.5m in 2011. And the company is currently on pace to achieve $18m in product revenue this year.

"The [new] money is going to help us do amazing things, and it's going to mean we can do a lot more of them faster and at greater scale than we could have on our own," Fishkin wrote. He also revealed intimate details about his company, including the fact that he now owns 24% of equity and actually gave up some shares without compensation to keep his employees from being diluted.

Funding, obviously, is no guarantee of success, but in today's frothy market, where twenty-something entrepreneurs raise seed rounds at multi-million dollar valuations with little more than rough prototypes and all-star founders can raise tens of millions of dollars just because, Fishkin's refreshingly transparent chronicles of an experience that is often glamorized by the tech press is a valuable contribution to entrepreneurs everywhere.

jueves, 17 de abril de 2014

4 Facebook Features Marketers Can’t Afford to Ignore

Justyn Howard is the CEO of Sprout Social, a social media management platform that empowers leading companies to effectively manage their social channels. Follow him on Twitter @justyn and read his blog at SproutInsights.

If you have a brand or a business to market chances are you're using a social media management application to monitor online mentions, schedule updates, and generate reports. But if you really want to be an effective marketer, you need to develop a deeper understanding of which networks are most vital to your company, and what network features are key. In Facebook's case, we're talking about some powerful community management components that are unmatched by its competitors, and often overlooked by marketing pros. Here are the four that simply can't be ignored.

SEE ALSO: 3 Reasons Facebook Brand Pages Are Good for Businesses

1. Activity Log

Facebook's activity log is like a Facebook Timeline for every interaction that fans have with your page. It also includes updates you've made, like comments or Facebook Questions. What makes this tool unique and powerful is that it offers an archive of your Facebook interactions that you can review at any time. This is useful for tracking how well you're following up and engaging with fans, and what kind of feedback you're getting from them during specific events.

2. Demographic Targeting

The manage tab in Facebook Page's Admin Panel allows you to publish updates to specific demographic groups. The feature isn't as robust as it should be, but it lets you reach out to people who, for example, speak a certain language. This is useful if your page serves audiences in different countries.

Netflix is a prime example. Due to the nature of its content licensing deals, the site offers different movie and TV-show libraries in the United States than it does in Canada. If the Netflix page administrator wants to announce a new movie that's only available in one country, he or she can hide that update from fans in the other. Other options include making a post completely invisible to people outside of a certain location, or to people under a certain age.

3.Twitter Linking

Cross-promoting between social networks is a critical component of any social media marketing strategy. Facebook recognizes this, which is why it offers the ability to link your Facebook page to Twitter for the purpose of publishing updates to both sites.

The one caveat is that the implementation here is slanted pretty heavily towards promoting Facebook. This means tweets that originate from your Facebook page always have a link back to Facebook. If that's not your thing, you can supplement with a third-party tool.

4. Smart Moderation

You probably already know how to moderate individual comments on Facebook, but you can also dive into your Facebook Page's settings and add specific terms you want to automatically block. While it's better to allow open conversation on your Facebook page — customers don't like to be censored — there will be specific situations that call for more control. This tool will give you that.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, courtneyk

Pinterest: a spammer's newest best friend?

Posted 28 March 2012 12:12pm by Patricio Robles with 1 comment

Pinterest may be one of the hottest start-ups of the moment, but early adopters, brands, bloggers and members of the media aren't the only ones paying attention to the service's growth.

Spammers are pinterested in the online pinboard too, and are apparently making a mint because of it.

How big is the problem? That's subject to debate, but by all appearances, it's only getting bigger.

Pinterest is a topic of interest on spammer forums like Black Hat World, and a number of spambots that allow spammers to take advantage of the site's apparently significant shortcomings have hit the market.

And it's no wonder why: one individual who claims to be a 24 year-old Pinterest spammer told the Daily Dot that he generated $2,000 in his first week of Pinterest spamming. Before long, he claims he was averaging $1,000 per day, and expects to earn at least double that by next week.

How does this work? As you might expect, this involves setting up fake Pinterest accounts and using automated and manual processes to pin items with affiliate links. The alleged spammer above, who calls himself Steve, says he previously tried gaming Facebook and Twitter, but that, "Pinterest is by FAR the easiest social network to spam right now."

So easy, in fact, that he suggests it's, "Quite possibly the easiest ever to spam."

Ironically, it was a move Pinterest made earlier this year to appease critics and angry users that may have opened the floodgates to spam. That move: Pinterest's decision to abandon its use of Skimlinks, which had allowed Pinterest to monetise by adding affiliate links to certain product URLs.

With Skimlinks out of the way, spammers were free to flood the social network with their own affiliate links. Face, meet hand.

Needless to say, whether or not Steve's account is true, the headlines about spammers making thousands of dollars per day on Pinterest will leave the young company with no choice but to act. The good news for Pinterest is that it appears it can begin with low hanging fruit like fake user accounts. A look at recent pins involving source URLs show that at least some spammers aren't all that sophisticated.

Catching and deterring the more sophisticated spammers could be more difficult, and Pinterest, like Facebook and Twitter before it, should gear up for a perpetual fight.

UK job moves: Asda, Ask Jeeves, Mindshare, TBWA/London

Posted 23 March 2012 09:44am by Vikki Chowney with 0 comments

Once again we compile the most senior, surprising and influential job moves in the UK.

This time we cover a promotion at Asda, a shift in strategy at Ask Jeeves, a newly created role for Mindshare and a restructure at the top for TBWA/London.


Asda has appointed Stephen Smith as its global CMO, replacing incumbent Rick Bendel, who will now move to another global marketing role at Walmart. Smith joined Walmart in July 2011 as CMO for China. 

Ask Jeeves has lost its marketing director Sarah Bartlett, as its shifts all marketing for's Ask Jeeves UK service to be handled out of the US headquarters in Oakland.

Associated Press has named Gary Pruitt as its new president and CEO. Pruitt, currently chairman, president and CEO of The McClatchy Co., will join AP in July. He succeeds retiring AP President and CEO Tom Curley to become the 13th leader of AP in its 166-year history.

Criteo has hired Benoit Fouilland as CFO. Fouilland joins from SAP where he was senior VP and CFO for EMEA.

DataXu has appointed its co-founder and chief revenue officer Bruce Journey as international MD. He will be tasked with expanding the company's global presence across EMEA, Latin America, and Asia Pacific and will be based in London.

Mindshare Worldwide has appointed Greg Brooks, formerly C Squared's content strategy director, to the new position of global marketing director.

The NSPCC has brought in ex-Channel 4 sales strategist Mike Parker as an interim fundraising director.

Saatchi & Saatchi has poached Gavin Torrance and Danny Hunt, the associate creative directors at Dare, to join as senior copywriter and senior art director.

TBWALondon has lost its MD Andy De Groose, who leaves the agency after 18 months in the role. His responsibilities will now be divided between president, Robert Harwood-Matthews, executive creative director, Dede Laurentino and chief strategy officer, Zaid Al-Zaidy.

Upstream has appointed Andrew Littlefield as VP of online services. He moves from his role as CEO of Factory Games, a company Littlefield primarily self-funded and founded, which focuses on developing games for the iPhone market. 


Itchy feet? Why not head over to our jobs board to check out the latest roles.

Hiring? Free posts on the jobs board are included with gold, platinum and diamond membership plans.

13% of Europeans have scanned a QR-enabled outdoor ad

Posted 23 March 2012 12:33pm by David Moth with 0 comments

Only 13% of European consumers have scanned a QR code within an outdoor advert, according to research from CBS Outdoor and Kantar Media.

This is despite that fact that the study showed awareness of QR codes to be at 40%.

Interestingly though, in comparison to other interactive mobile technologies, QR codes are still performing well.

The report, Interactive Europe, was based on qualitative and quantitative analysis of 9,000 Europeans across 6 markets - exploring interactivity in the context of 'Out of Home' advertising.

Awareness of augmented reality ads sat at 14%, with usage at 4%, while only 6% of consumers are aware of NFC - and 1% of respondents have actually used it in the context of outdoor advertising.

The report suggests that "the technologies with greatest potential are those which simplify the user experience" and that the mass use of smartphones is bringing "added strength" to outdoor advertising.

Interactivity on Out of Home campaigns allows brands to make an emotional connection with the consumer in a public space and at a time when consumer action is possible."

In fact, 71% of smart device users said they would feel more positive about a brand that invites interaction as it makes the brand feel closer and more relevant because the consumer feels more in control.

And although the report's authors do have a vested interest, the data shows that 74% of respondents expect big brands to advertise out of home, while 66% said that out of home advertising offers a welcome distraction to the mundanities of life – particularly when travelling.

Just over half (51%) of respondents said they pay attention to advertising to outdoor advertising more than any other medium.

CBS Outdoor highlights a series of pitfalls that should be avoided when planning an interactive campaign – these include linking to websites that are not mobile optimised, relying on a Facebook logo to encourage interaction, lack of connectivity and poor positioning of QR codes.

An Econsultancy/Toluna survey (conducted online) from October 2011 found that 19% of UK comsumers had scanned a QR code, and 31% knew what they were. 

David Moth is a Reporter at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter

Groupon claims daily deals are "virtually risk-free for merchants"

Posted 19 March 2012 11:08am by David Moth with 0 comments

Groupon UK MD Roy Blanga this morning defended his company's business model, stating that the deals were "virtually risk-free for merchants".

He said that daily deals sites provide a new source of inspiration for customers and help drive incremental sales.

During a speech at the Daily Deals Summit Europe, Blanga also claimed that it is a misconception that deal subscribers were all driven by discounts.

Maybe at the beginning early adopters were price sensitive, but no there are so many millions of people using these platforms that they can't all be discount hunters."

Similarly, he suggested that as daily deals are 'unannounced', Groupon helps drive new customer acquisition but does not damage brand perception.

Since becoming a global industry in 2010, Blanga said that daily deals sites have evolved from simply offering discounts to offering experiences.

This is highlighted by the fact that deals have moved away from local offers to include product and travel deals.

Instead of just having a discounted one hour massage, we now offer a full experience such as a Thai massage with afternoon tea."

He said that by shifting the focus to experiences rather than discounts, his company and others were offering local businesses a risk-free, flexible and trackable customer acquisition strategy – something that previously was considered to be complex and costly with limited ROI.

It is virtually risk-free as merchants only pay for the customers who come through their door, and they are highly trackable as you can easily measure the number of customers."

But while he defended the daily deal business model, Blanga also accepted that the industry must still overcome misconceptions and improve its service levels for both merchants and customers.

He said deals need to become more targeted and appropriate according to past purchases and location.

Sites must also find new ways to interact using mobile, and instant deals that are relevant to the user's immediate situation and the retailers in their proximity.

As long as we continue to evolve and anticipate our customers' need to be inspired and the need of the merchants to acquire new customers and maximise returns the industry can continue to grow."

David Moth is a Reporter at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter

Why Apple’s First Retail Store in Brazil Is Actually a Really Big Deal

Apple is about to take its much-awaited leap into Latin America.

According to Apple news site 9to5Mac, Apple is aiming to launch its first retail store in Brazil by March 2014. The store, which has been under construction since last year, will be located in Rio de Janeiro.

The move into Brazil is a big deal. Smartphone sales, for one, have been booming in the region — sales jumped by 53% in the first quarter of 2013 alone, and grew more than in any other region in the second quarter — and Brazil, Latin America's largest economy, has a lot to do with it. Customers in the country are so enamored with iPhones that many are willing to pay upward of $1,000 for Apple's new 5c, which retails for about $550 in the U.S. Furthermore, Latin America is quickly becoming a digital-age goldmine. Internet penetration currently hovers around 45% in the region, and more than 250 million people are now connected to the Internet. Very soon, Latin America will have more Internet users than the U.S. and Canada. Sales of laptops and tablets in particular are set to skyrocket as more and more people move away from desktop computers in the region.

The timing also appears to be well coordinated. The opening of Apple's first store in Rio de Janeiro will come just in time for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which promises millions of tourists. Apple opened its first store in China in 2008 just ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Winning over Latin America, however, won't prove as simple as opening up shop. Several South American countries, including the two largest economies — Argentina and Brazil — heavily tax electronics that aren't at least partially manufactured locally. The hope is that such taxes will coerce companies to set up local factories, but so far few have obliged. Apple has perhaps been the most stubborn of the lot; it makes no components of its products in the region. The result is that its devices suffer an enormous mark-up, between 60% and 70%. In Argentina, iPhones sell for as much as $3,500, and iPad prices are scarcely any more reasonable, and South America is the worst place to buy an iPad.

So far, surprisingly many people in supposedly poor countries have been willing to shell out for Apple's gadgets even at a premium. And the emerging middle classes that can afford them in those countries are growing. But perhaps not as fast as Apple needs its sales to grow. As the company continues to build more stores — and it still has them in only 14 countries worldwide — it might start to feel the pressure to bend to protectionist regulations and manufacture more components locally.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

Image: Dan Nguyen

This article originally published at Quartz here

Sprite scores big win thanks to Tumblr's potential for long-term engagement


Drinks brand Sprite managed to outperform its rivals and achieve the greatest exposure on Tumblr in July.

This is despite the fact that it only blogged three updates, while second-placed MTV posted a massive 114 times.

The findings, which come from a report by Simply Measured, show the high potential for long-term amplification on Tumblr compared to other social networks, as nearly all of Sprite's 85,000 reblogs were owed to a single post made prior to the study period.

The Sprite post in question is an animated GIF of a game of spin the bottle. Not very complex, but it captured the imagination of Sprite's audience and isn't something that can necessarily be replicated on other networks.

The study looks at the Top 100 Brands on Tumblr from July 5 to August 4 2013, including how they are using Tumblr to drive engagement with fans, overall network trends that large brands see with fans, and the way they distribute their content across the network.

For more on this topic, check out our blog posts looking at 10 brands making great use of Tumblr and how misusing the network might hinder your connection to the teen demographic.

The longevity of Tumblr content

Among the 31 brands that have established a Tumblr account, the level of activity varies quite significantly.

Overall, brands average less than one post per day on Tumblr. By comparison, Interbrand companies on Facebook average 1.5 posts per day.

For instance, 10 of the brands with Tumblr accounts didn't post any content during the month-long period that the report looked at, but 13 brands posted more than three times per week.

Six of the brands posted more than ten times per week, and it's likely that these are the ones making the most of Tumblr's potential for long-term engagement.

The report shows that reblogs on Tumblr, which work in much the same way as a retweet, allow content to achieve a much longer shelf life than similar posts on Facebook or Twitter.

In fact 60% of reblogs on brand posts take place because a user saw the content on another blog.

So for example, MTV blogs an average of three times per day on Tumblr. During the 30-day period the report examined, MTV received more than 62,000 reblogs but almost half of those were on Tumblr blogs posted prior to the report period.

Almost one-third of all reblogs take place more than 30 days after the initial post, which is something that doesn't happen on other social networks.

This is due mainly to reblogs from influential users who use Tumblr as a discovery platform and are willing to explore content that isn't as timely as what they would find in their Twitter or Facebook feed.

However, Tumblr still isn't very popular among brands

But Tumblr is still the weak relative of the major social networks, as just 31 of the top 100 brands use the platform compared to 98 on Facebook and 97 on Twitter. Even Google+ and Pinterest clock in at 74 and 68 respectively.

However the situation is likely to change as Tumblr's new ad units and popularity among teenagers make it an attractive proposition for brands.

Brand adoption of Tumblr

Instruments Use Human Movement to Make Music

Ever hear someone say, "I don't have a musical bone in my body"? Well as it turns out, everyone may have that musical bone.

Designer Pietr-Jan Pietr believes that anyone can make music simply by moving their finger or tapping their foot. He developed five simple instruments that make music using natural human movements, calling the set Sound on Intuition.

The idea came out of Pietr's graduate thesis at the Design Academy Eindhoven. It is based on the notion that whenever someone learns an instrument, they must teach their body certain movements in order to be able to play.

A flautist must master his fingers, a drummer his coordination, but a player of Pietr's instruments? They simply have to move as they normally would. The result is "instruments where you skip the learning process and just play," says Pietr.

There's the Wob which, like a theremin, does not require any physical touch but rather uses a sensor so that when you wave you hand above it, a sound mimicking that wave is emitted.

The Fngr attaches to your index finger, creating a sound with every tap. And should you bend your finger, the tone will change with the movement. The Scan uses your handwriting, translating dots and lines you write on a page into electronic beeps.

Then there's a sensor that wraps around your food, called the Kick, which turns toe-tapping into a digital drum.

"All our movements are unique, conscious or unconscious," Pietr says. "Sound on Intuition captures this uniqueness and transforms it into sound."

The epitome of Sound on Intution is the last instrument, the Heart, which uses a stethoscope-type tool to pick up the user's heartbeat. Linked to a computer, the heartbeat is transformed into a drum, a clap or whatever you program it to be.

All the instruments are designed as MIDI controllers, so that they are plugged into a laptop and can play any sound as long as it is rhythmic. There lies the rub. The instruments have very limited range because there is no melody, only repetition.

But that doesn't mean they cannot add something original to a track using traditional instruments. They let the musically curious, if slightly inept, join the musically talented in making new sound. Sound on Intuition wants to give the gift of music without the years of practice.

The thing is, Pietr's instruments can never give the gift of rhythm or keeping time, an innate talent and something useful when playing the Kick or the Fngr. But anyone can play the Heart and dance right along to their own heartbeat, and that's kind of magical isn't it?

Images courtesy of Sound on Intuition

This article originally published at PSFK here

Get Ready For Even More Google Glasshole Sightings

In major metropolitan areas and in Silicon Valley, there have been a rash of sightings of people wearing Google Glass. They look like inhabitants of the future, come back to ride our subways and drink our "Ass Juice" and report back to their leaders about what the world used to be like, well before everyone had the Internet on his or her face.

Maybe you've seen these people around San Francisco or Mountain View, inevitably staring off into space while swiping the sides of their glasses during conversation, ignoring those around them while surfing the web or scrolling through images they've captured with the device. I like to call them "Glassholes."

Glassholes aren't just annoying because they're wearing portable electronics that no one else can get their hands on. They're annoying because they represent a coming time where our worst insecurities will finally come true. Today, you can usually tell when someone is being rude and looking at a cell phone. But with Google Glass it's going to be a lot harder to tell if they're paying attention to your conversation or just, like, watching cat videos on YouTube.*

So far, we've been relatively lucky in this regard. Yes, Google Glass has been out in the wild, even in places as far off as New Zealand. (I was there for that one.) But so far the hardware has been restricted for use only by Google employees. And those Google employees, at least all those I've seen or heard about, have been quite protective of their eyewear, refusing to let anyone touch it.

That could soon change, as a whole new group of Google Glass developers are expected to be getting their hands on the devices this week, coinciding with two meetups that Google is throwing for developers in San Francisco and New York City. Some developers we've talked to expect to be able to take some hardware home after the Glass Foundry events, taking place January 28 and 29 in SF and February 1 and 2 in NYC.

That will mean more Glassholes, and probably more Glasshole sightings.

What's not clear is how protective these new Google Glass owners will be about letting other people play with the hardware. After all, it's one thing if you're a Google employee and you're toting around a device that costs dozens of thousands of dollars and you don't want it to get into the wrong hands or be broken or whatever. It's a whole other thing if you're a third-party developer who's paid $1,500 to play with Google's newest toy.

Then again, Glass Foundry participants have agreed to a pretty crazy NDA, so who knows? Maybe we won't see as many of these things as one might expect.

Anyway, if you are one of the lucky devs who gets a pair and you want to bring it by one of the TechCrunch offices for us to test out, we promise not to call you a Glasshole to your face.

* There's also that whole thing about Google knowing everywhere you've been and everything you've looked at, but that's a whole other discussion.

[Photo taken by A.R. blogger Noah Zerkin who spotted Google co-founder Sergey Brin on the subway.]

M:Metrics Co-Founder Will Hodgman Joins KISSmetrics As CEO

Analytics company KISSmetrics has hired a new CEO — Will Hodgman (pictured), who co-founded mobile analytics data startup M:Metrics.

Hodgman and Hiten Shah, the company's co-founder and previous CEO, met with me last week to explain the move. Hodgman is leaving an executive vice president role at comScore, which acquired  M:Metrics in 2008. Since then he's been building out the company's presence in Asia. (His M:Metrics co-founder Seamus McAteer recently launched a mobile ad startup called Metaresolver.) He joined the KISSmetrics board in 2010, presumably due to his experience in the analytics field.

It's time for the company to "transition R&D and product focus to a sales focus," Hodgman said — even within the past few months, KISSmetrics has been growing dramatically, and it now has 1,300 paying customers, including some large companies in the Fortune 500 and 100. And while it faces plenty of competition, Hodgman argued that KISSMetrics is "developing a new space, or I should say evolving an old one," specifically by delivering data that's focused on people, not devices or cookies.

"We've all moved beyond what people refer to as Web 2.0, in terms of services being delivered on the web," he said. "From an analytics, customer intelligence standpoint, things have not evolved at the same pace."

Shah is staying on as the head of the product team, while his co-founder Neil Patel will continue to serve as vice president of marketing. Shah said he's happy to be spending more time on product, especially since Hodgman has more experience with sales and scaling a company.

One area that Shah wants to focus on is mobile (an area that Hodgman certainly has experience with). There are several companies offering mobile analytics products, including KISSmetrics, but Shah said, "We don't think anyone's doing it right," though he isn't ready yet to talk too specifically about his mobile plans. He added that he wants to offer more segmentation in KISSMetrics data and introduce more features to make the data actionable.

KISSmetrics is a powerful web analytics solution that helps you to increase customer acquisition and retention rates, make smarter business decisions, and boost your bottom line.

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Hodgman co-founded M:Metrics in early 2004. Already, the company represents the industry standard for measurement of consumer consumption of mobile content and applications. As co-founder, president, CEO and director, Hodgman is responsible for the strategic direction of the company. Prior to M:Metrics, Hodgman was president and CEO of Sightward, Inc., a predictive analytics company. At Sightward he radically shifted the company's direction from an enterprise offering to a hosted service, resulting in a profitable sale to Digital Connexxions, a deal...

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23% of top UK businesses don't supply an email address to non-customers

Posted 06 November 2012 11:17am by David Moth with 1 comment

Almost a quarter of the top 100 UK businesses fail to provide an email address to non-customers, according to a new report from Eptica.

The 2012 Eptica UK Multichannel Customer Experience Study analysed the responses of 100 organisations via the web, email and social media channels, replicating research conducted in 2011.

In many cases results have deteriorated since 2011 – more than a quarter (28%) of companies performed worse this year despite being asked exactly the same questions through the same channels.

And the situation appears to be particularly bad for email customer service. As the penetration of smartphones increases email is becoming a more important method of communication.

It is vital for customer service, as it provides a written record of correspondence and means customers don't have to wait around on the phone.

Last year we reported that Ryanair had been investigated by the EU for failing to provide an email address, instead requiring customers to pay 10p a minute to phone the call centre.

However the Eptica report shows that businesses appear to be moving away from email contact, with almost a quarter (23%) of companies failing to provide an email address for non-customers.

And companies that do respond to email aren't doing a particularly good job of resolving queries. While two-thirds (64%) of businesses in the study replied to emails, only 39% provided an accurate response.

Furthermore, 51% of businesses didn't immediately acknowledge incoming emails, which is extremely poor considering that the initial response can easily be automated.

Consumers also have to wait longer to get a proper response. The average time to receive a reply lengthened from 15 hours 31 minutes in 2011 to 25 hours 50 minutes in 2012.

The failure of businesses to respond via email is likely to be quite damaging for their brand, as a new Rakuten survey shows that email is the most popular customer service channel among online shoppers.

Around half (49%) of respondents said they prefer to use email compared to 43% on phone.

Rakuten's stats are similar to findings from a survey we ran last year using Toluna. It revealed that 44% of UK consumers preferred email for customer service while one in three preferred telephone.