Two reliable sources say Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is talking to Skype about either buying the company or forming a joint venture, according to Reuters.
One of the sources said Facebook is considering a buyout of Skype at a price of between $3 billion and $4 billion.
The other source told Reuters the deal won’t be a purchase by Facebook but rather a joint venture between Facebook and Skype.
Skype and Facebook are no strangers. In October, when Skype released its version 5.0 software for Windows, it included a Facebook tab that let users chat or call Facebook friends via Skype, right from the Facebook newsfeed that can be viewed from within the Skype application.
Facebook isn’t the only one chasing Skype. One of the sources talking to Reuters added that Google was also in “early talks” with Skype about a joint venture.
Update: When we contacted Skype Wednesday night, the company responded, “As a practical matter, we avoid commenting on rumor and speculation.”
Let us know in the comments what you think of this deal and who stands to gain the most.
Two years ago, anthropologist Sekai Farai was awarded a grant by Columbia University to study the technology startup community. Her timing couldn’t have been better: a new goldrush is under way as twentysomethings from New York, London and San Francisco dream of making their fortunes from a new generation of internet companies.
Sitting in the lobby of Manhattan’s Ace Hotel, one of new-school tech’s favourite hangouts, Farai predicts the boom has just begun. “People who not long ago started startups because they couldn’t get a job are turning down jobs now,” she says. “There’s so much money about. The idea that your idea could be the next big idea is very real. There’s a real air of excitement.” Could it all end in tears? “It always does.”
Right now, though, who wouldn’t be excited? Every week, one of the new generation of internet firms seems to attract a sky-high valuation. Zynga, the social-network games company that has tempted millions to grow virtual vegetables in its FarmVille game, has been valued at $9bn (£5.54bn). Profitless Twitter is said to be worth $10bn. Groupon, vendor of online discounts, rejected a $6bn offer from Google and is considering a flotation with a potential valuation of $15bn. Tech-watchers say this is just the start: the real boom will come when Facebook, the head boy of the new dotcom frenzy, goes public, probably next year.
This month it emerged that Facebook staff are planning to sell $1bn of private shares at a price that values the private company at $60bn – that’s $10bn more than January’s valuation and close to 10 times the price Russian investor Digital Sky Technologies paid employees who sold shares in 2009.
The leaps in valuation are dizzying. At its current on-paper price, Facebook’s value is somewhere between that of Ford ($55bn) and Visa ($63bn). But that’s still less than a third of Google’s value, Facebook’s arch-rival in the battle for domination on the internet.
Alan Patrick, co-founder of technology consultancy Broadsight, says we are at the beginning of another bubble and that the first breaths have been blown: “A bubble is defined by too much money chasing assets, greater production of those assets, then the need to find a greater fool to buy them.”
Banks pouring money into technology funds, wealthy clients and institutions clamoring to get pieces of start-ups, expectations of stock market debuts building — as Wall Street’s machinery kicks into second gear, some investors with memories of the Internet bust a decade earlier are wondering whether this sudden burst of activity spells danger for the industry once again.
With all this exuberance, valuations are soaring. Investments in Facebook and Zynga have more than quintupled the implied worth of each company in the last two years. The social shopping site Groupon is said to be considering an initial public offering that would value the company at $25 billion. Less than a year ago, the company was valued at $1.4 billion.
“I worry that investors think every social company will be as good as Facebook,” said Roger McNamee, a managing director of Elevation Partners and an investor in Facebook, who co-founded the private equity fund Silver Lake Partners in 1999 at the height of the boom. “You have an attractive set of companies right now, but it would be surprising if the next wave of social companies had as much impact as the first.”
Funds set up by Goldman and JPMorgan Chase have invested in Internet start-ups like Facebook and Twitter or in funds with stakes in those start-ups. Even the mutual fund giants Fidelity Investments and T. Rowe Price have stepped up their efforts, placing large bets on companies like Groupon and Zynga.
Thomas Weisel, founder of an investment bank called the Thomas Weisel Partners Group that prospered in the first Internet boom, says he is “astounded” by the amount of money now flooding the markets.
“I think it’s much greater today,” he said. “The pools of capital that are looking at these Internet companies are far greater today than what you had in 2000.”
Yet there are notable differences between the turn-of-the-century dot-com boom and now. For one, the stock market is not glutted with offerings. In 1999, there were 308 technology I.P.O.’s, making up about half of that year’s offerings, according to data from Morgan Stanley. In 2010, there were just 20 technology I.P.O.’s, based on Thomson Reuters data.
Bloggers everywhere utilize social media platforms on a daily basis. We sit in front of our computers geeking out with multiple feeds on applications like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck just to keep track of it all. We’re pretty tech savvy and it’s all because, as a blogger, you have to wear many hats. We’ve developed our already resourceful personalities into a one man assembly line, if you will.
Because of this, linking full circle via social media platforms to spread the word about what you are doing as a fashion blogger is very crucial. Take facebook for example. Are you tapping into all of it’s resources in order to promote your blog? I think facebook (unless it’s your personal page) gets the least bit of TLC. We are oftentimes too worried about tweeting all day long and getting up posts to the point that all that our Facebook walls see is links with the same exact content as our twitter feeds and blog rolls… Now ask yourself, “How is that in the least bit interesting to my readers?” They already go to your blog and they may see your new posts in their news feeds, but are you engaging them any more so then that if that’s all you do on your Facebook wall?
Maybe so, and I know some of you are great at this but just in case your Facebook page for your blog could use a bit more love here are more tips to think about when using this platform to gain more loyal fans. I guarantee it’s more worthwhile then you initially may have thought:
So you’ve been hearing that you need to get involved in social media, but you’re not sure how to start. Below are what I see as the bare minimum steps. Many of you may be way ahead of me on some of these. I preface this by admitting that I am the proverbial cobbler with shoeless children. Sure, I write about social media, but right now my own efforts are rather half-assed. My only excuse: work, school, Faster Times writing (Yes, yes, that’s it. It’s all your fault).
1. Launch your website. There’s no excuse for not having one (except of course if it’s been in progress for years and you finally manage to get a placeholder site up, where it’s sat for months and months. Ahem.) Include such sections as About Me and Contact Me, including a good description of what you do. (Mine is not a good description. See previous placeholder comment.)
2. Create a blog. No, I don’t think blogs are dead. Well, at least I don’t think blogs with good content are dead. But don’t start a blog to write about your own life, unless you are a) either a fantastic or funny writer (see dooce) or b) fine with mainly being read by your mom, Aunt Mildred, and best friend Ginny. However, if you have a niche in which you’re an expert and have quality, unique content to add, by all means write about it.
And make sure you’re going to post regularly. It doesn’t have to be every day, but it should probably be at least every week, to keep people coming back. I’ve launched blogs previously but decided not to start a new one as I was beginning my grad program. I knew I’d have trouble keeping up with it—so I made Twitter my blog instead.
3. Set up a program like Google Reader for others’ blogs. While I check Twitter much more often these days, I still look at my RSS feeds from time to time and keep trying to pare them down to the really critical ones. While you can set up lists in Twitter (see below) to help catch stuff, there may be some people who still don’t tweet their blog posts (shocker, I know!), so you’ll need to maintain a RSS reader until they jump on the bandwagon.
4. Start a Twitter account and create a background. Start out by titling your account with either your name or the name of something else you want to brand (your company name, your book name, etc.). Don’t go cutesy: the idea is for people to remember it and remember what you do when they see it. This is the age of Brand You after all.
Then, create a custom Twitter background that provides all other pertinent contact info for yourself. These days, people may find you through Twitter versus your website or other social media sources, so you want them to be able to hop to your other online venues easily. (This, I don’t have yet.)
Also find people to follow and listen to before you start tweeting. Some ways to do this include searching on the Twitter homepage (enter in a name in the Search box, then click on People), typing in a name + Twitter into Google, viewing the recommendations based on who else you follow on the Twitter homepage, or clicking Twitter buttons on people’s websites and blogs. Take a few days at least to listen to people and see how they use Twitter, getting the sense of it.
5. Use a Twitter dashboard like TweetDeck. It enables you to view at a glance columns for people you follow, direct messages, tweets that mention you, even Facebook status updates. I recommend setting up columns with search terms that interest you—for instance your name or the name of your company if it’s not your Twitter name (those mentions will pop up automatically), or topics you’re interested in by using keywords and/or hashtags. For instance, each week after I post a Faster Times piece, I set up a search on keywords in the title so I can see exactly who is retweeting or mentioning it.
Also create and use lists to catch important tweets. It’s often said that Twitter is like a stream: you can step in and out and not worry about missing too much. In fact, that’s why I like it. However, there are some types of tweets you may not want to miss: those from your in-person friends, for example, or from people in your industry. I have a Twitter list set up for social media so I can quickly and easily catch up on all the important news.
6. Create a Facebook Page. If you have a company, create a page for it. It’s important that this be separate from your personal page—do you really want all your professional colleagues to see that your mom calls you sweetiekins? Go ahead and send it out to all your friends and ask them to “like” it, though. You don’t want to look lame with two people on there. You can do that a few times, but space the requests out—don’t harass people. Same goes for posting on this page; don’t overdo it. No, I can’t give you a number. Just keep in mind the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me). People don’t want to be sold to, they want to be given benefits.
My Facebook Page for my freelance writing and editing? It’s in the works, and has been for a couple months. Sigh.
7. Join a Facebook Group. Like mini Facebooks within Facebook, Groups are great ways to keep in touch with certain segments of your friends or get support for certain niche interests or activities. My online community has a Facebook group, and I’m also part of a writer’s group a friend started.
8. Set up a Linkedin account. While more and more people are using Facebook professionally for their companies, Linkedin is still the go-to place for individual professional accounts. You don’t need your clients to see you boozing with your friends at the corner bar.
I plan to cover Linkedin more later, but for now know that you should at least have a basic profile set up and search for friends to link to (let it mine your email accounts). That’s as far as I’ve gotten. As I have more time, I plan to share status updates, use Groups, explore company pages, and more. At the very least, Linkedin can help you track down people who may not be on Facebook. (Yes, they still exist.)
9. Link to social media accounts on your website. This is a no-brainer. Now that you’ve set up your Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin accounts, as well as your blog, throw big, visible buttons up on your website so that people can easily subscribe to them.
10. Explore other options but don’t get overwhelmed. You’ve covered the basics. Now pick and choose from among other options, such as developing YouTube videos or podcasts; creating an account on a social media sharing site like StumbleUpon or Digg; setting up an account on Quora, etc. But keep in mind that it’s better to use a few tools well than create 100 different social media accounts that will look like ghost towns because you never use them (like my Quora account, where I have 13 followers but have never written a question nor an answer).
This is not the time to let customers or profíts slip through your fingers.
You need to make your business stronger, more successful, and ensure your customers are more loyal and responsive to your engagement with them.
Recently, Harry Dent, Jr. said that you should break from provincial geographic thinking and focus on demographics. You should go after customers, able and willing to spend on what you sell, wherever they are, not where you are.
As a result, many marketing, media, technology, and advertising experts use social media forums as a way to champion the use of social media. They suggest a company, especially a small business on main street with a modest marketing budget, become better known, extend their reach, and improve their company’s sales using social media.
Here is an example of a teaser message recently transmitted in an email campaign to small and medium sized businesses… the message says, “Social Media is the most explosively growing media of all-time and growing faster with each passing day with no slow-down in sight. It took radio 38 years to reach 50 million users. It took TV 13 years to reach 50 million users. Facebook added 100 million users in less than 9 months. And iPhone applications hit 1 BILLION in 9 months.”
Based on this message, it is easy for entrepreneurs to get seduced into thinking that by using Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, big sales are just around the corner.
However, social media should work in conjunction with traditional marketing and selling techniques such as relationship marketing within “old” social networks, cold calling, vertical marketing, and other effective prospecting activities.
Small business owners should take the time to learn how to maximize their use of social media but they should not rely on it to make their sales. Business owners need to learn how to use social media to engage their prospects and customers and how to get their prospects and customers talking about something that is important to them and the small business. This type of engagement is necessary and will ultimately get prospects and customers to take the action the business owner wants them to take… leading to a sale.
The best business use of social media, the small business owner needs to prepare a simple strategy with several guidelines to follow in the use of social media. The strategy and guidelines need to pinpoint the specific message to be communicated so that all employees using social media for the business know what direction their messages should take and how they should focus their posts. For example, is the company’s focus to improve customer service? Is it to enhance awareness of their products or services? Or, is it to boost their brand recognition? Each of these things would have a different yet consistent message for the employees of the business to follow.
For example, one insuránce company uses Twitter and Facebook to let people know about all the philanthropic things they are doing for the community. All the posts are about events they are sponsoring and contributions they’re making. Employees know that they should post information about personal things they’re doing for the community, such as volunteering at the local animal shelter or helping out with Habitat for Humanity. With a clear guideline that the social media effort is to elevate philanthropic awareness it is easy for employees to know the kinds of things they should be doing on social media sites. They have a clear focus and a unified purpose.
Another company in the retail industry uses social media to improve customer service. All their posts highlight things they are doing internally to improve the customer experience, what they are doing online to make shopping easier and how they are handling phone inquires to deliver a memorable shopping experience. They also regularly ask customers how they would like the company to improve customer service. With that as the key message, all of the company’s employees are focused on problem solving and on making the customers happy.
Therefore, a good social media strategy, with employee guidelines, is far more than a list of good and bad words or topics. Instead, the strategy with guidelines needs to focus on the core message the small business wants to portray along with the best ways to spread that core message.
The guidelines should cover the following topics.
Building Trust The business employees should use their posts to build a reputation of trust among clients, media, and the public. When they are reaching out to others on social media sites, they should take every opportunity to build a reputation of trust and to establish themselves as a credible and transparent representative of the company.
Being Transparent When participating in any online community, the small business employees should disclose their identities and affiliations with the organization, clients, and their professional and / or personal interest.
Being Direct When creating posts and content, the business employees should be direct, informative, and brief.
Giving Due Credít If the business employees post copyrighted materials, they should identify the original sources.
Self-Editing The small business employees should always evaluate each posting’s accuracy and truthfulness. Before posting any online material, they need to ensure that the material is accurate, truthful, and without factual error. This includes doing a spell and grammar check on everything.
Responsibility Make sure the business employees know that they are responsible for what they post. Negative or questionable posts should not be tolerated.
Being Professional When posting comments, the business employees should refrain from writing about controversial or potentially inflammatory subjects, including politics, sex, religion, or any other non-business related subjects. The tone of their comments should be respectful and informative and not ever condescending or “loud.”
Privacy The business employees shouldn’t ever disclose proprietary or confidential information. This includes product releases, service updates, and employee information not made public yet.
Obeying the Rules All business employees should follow local, state, or federal laws and regulations. Ultimately, their online activities will be a reflection on the company.
Today’s social media tools are great for business building, provided that the small business owner and their employees know how to use them for the company’s ultimate benefit. Therefore, the small business owner needs to determine why their company is using social media sites and then let that purpose be known throughout the entire company. Additionally, they need to implement clear social media guidelines that small company employees can follow in order to further their company’s mission.
Ultimately, when small businesses know how they are supposed to use today’s social media tools, they can do so with focus and purpose, leading the small company confidently into the communication age.
I hope you enjoyed the article and I trust you found it insightful! Let me know what you think.
About The Author Until the next time, I invite you to learn more about me and my various activities by checking me out at the links below.
It’s been more than twelve months since I rounded up some of the more impressive social media stats and pieces of data. But what’s happened since then?
Clearly, social media is big, it’s still getting bigger, and as a broad digital channel, is not going to disappear anytime soon.
While the value of this type of statisitical information can be questioned, especially when considering the place of social media within a business structure, I think it serves to highlight simply how massive the channel is as a whole.
I think it also indicates the rapid growth seen amongst certain platforms, which in the physical world would generally never happen. But that in itself is a separate area of discussion. For now, here’s some fresh mind-blowing stats…
Then: Twitter has 75m user accounts, but only around 15m are active users on a regular basis.
Now: Twitter now officially claims to have 175m registered users, although it’s unclear what percentage regularly user the service.
0m members worldwide.
Now: Officially, Linkedin has g
Then: LinkedIn has over 50m members worldwide.
Now: Officially, Linkedin has grown 100%, now having over 100m professionals who use the platform worldwide.
Then: Facebook has 350 million active users on global basis.
Now: Facebook officially hit the half-billion member mark last year. According to figures from Socialbakers, there are now some 640m Facebook users worldwide.
Then: 50% of active users log into Facebook each day. This means at least 175m users every 24 hours.
Now: Still citing the 50% active rate, using the official 500m figure, this means at least 250m users every 24 hours. This is more than a 40% increase in 12 months.
Then: Flickr hosts more than 4bn images.
Now: Flickr continues to grow at a steady rate, having increased by some 25% in the last twelve months. At the end of 2010, it was hosting more than 5bn images.
Then: Wikipedia has 14m articles and 85,000 contributors.
Now: Wikipedia now has more 17m articles. The site now has an army of 91,000 active contributors.
Then: 65m users access Facebook through mobile-based devices.
Now: It may well be the year of mobile… For Facebook. Users accessing the site through mobile devices now tops 200m – an enormous 200% increase in around a twelve-month period.
Then: There are more than 3.5bn pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, etc.) shared each week on Facebook.
Now: Clearly, Facebook is still growing: More than 30bn pieces of content is shared each month, which is an average of 7bn pieces a week.
Then: There are 11m LinkedIn users across Europe.
Now: Go Europe! There are now 20m+ EU Linkedin members.
Then: The average number of tweets per day was over 27m.
Now: Twitter now states that 95m tweets are written each day. This is a staggering 250% increase.
Then: The average number of tweets per hour was around 1.3m.
Now: At the new rate of growth, its calculated that there are nearly 4m tweets per hour.
In a recent press release from the University of Loyola , School of Medicine, Facebook has been recorded as a cause in 20% of divorces. That means when 1 in 5 marriages end, they site Facebook when filing for reason of divorce!
The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers have recorded Facebook as being the primary cause of 66% of failed marriages and that 80% of divorce lawyers have seen an increase in social networks playing a role in the splits.
Are these social network dangerous for your marriage?
“I don’t think these people typically set out to have affairs. A lot of it is curiosity. They see an old friend or someone they dated and decide to say ‘hello’ and catch up on whee that person is and how they’re doing.” says Dr. Steven Kimmons. The licensed clinical psychologist of Loyola U Medical Center includes marriage and spousal counseling in his practice.
Although, on-the-rocks couples are more at risk, the online contact can affect anyone negatively. The more interaction will a person the higher the chances are of developing an interest or feelings. If you talk with a person 5 times a week, there is a good chance feelings, emotional or platonic, are there.
Personally I do not think Facebook is causing divorce, it is not forcing people to carry secrets and it does not create infidelity. It does, however, create a very accessible platform for doing so. Social networks are an extremely easy way for people to meet people, hence the whole purpose of social networking. I am sure the statistics of relationships formed from online networks are just as dramatic. But with the contact being right at your fingertips, it forms a lot of interaction you may never of thought you’d have without it, even in a marriage.
It is important not to take advantage of the ease, and keep your head on straight. Just because it seems simple and harmless to write emails and share links, or whatever it is you do online, if you’re up at 3 am instant messaging or constantly changing your password you might have to re-think the innocence of the situation. A good “Facebook won’t kill my marriage” rule, if you wouldn’t share it on your wall.. You probably shouldn’t share it at all.
If you’re one of the three million Facebook users lamenting the loss of the Breakup Notifier, which was banished from the social site on Wednesday, don’t fret. A new Facebook app has hit the market, and it takes creepy stalking to a whole new level.
More on NewsFeed:
In all its glory, WaitingRoom not only notifies a user when his or her crush finally ditches that loser, but also allows someone to tactfully (and secretly) meddle in existing Facebook relationships without being labeled a home wrecker (that comes later).
It’s simple: You use the app to indicate the friends who you are interested in, which places you in his or her “WaitingRoom.” An e-mail is then sent to that person letting him or her know that someone is secretly hoping to see the demise of their relationship. The kicker is that the whole scheme is kept secret — so the fact that you’ve installed the WaitingRoom app doesn’t appear on your profile or in your friends’ news feeds – and the person you’re desperately waiting for will never know your identity until he or she changes their relationship status to single. After 48 hours on the open market, the person’s WaitingRoom is revealed, nevertheless drudging up feelings of disappointment and regret.