Mobile continues to drive Pandora’s ad business.
Mobile ad revenues for its fiscal third quarter were $66 million, up from an estimated $53 million a quarter prior. Mobile accounted for 62 percent of total ad revenues, compared to 59 percent in the second quarter.
Overall mobile revenues, including subscriptions, increased $15 million in the quarter to $74 million.
Pandora is a prime example of how mobile is transforming what were once Web-based companies. With 77 percent of usage now coming from mobile— not to mention a majority of revenues— Pandora is essentially a mobile company.
There probably is no “right way” to start a company.
But, if there WAS a picture-perfect, fool-proof method, it might look like Percolate.
Percolate, a SaaS solution for marketing managers, was founded by James Gross and Noah Brier in early 2011. Today it raised a $9 million Series A round and it has more than 30 Fortune 500 companies as clients. They’re each paying Percolate about $10,000 per month.
There are a few things Gross and Brier did in their startup’s earliest days that set them up for success.
- They each worked for marketing companies before founding Percolate.
- When they had enough knowledge and industry connections, they quit.
- They bootstrapped until they proved their model.
- The used outside capital to step on the gas.
Gross was a former sales executive for Federated Media and Brier worked for a marketing agency, The Barbarian Group. While they were there, they created a lot of contacts in the marketing and advertising departments of major corporations. They were also able to see inefficiencies and demands in the industry. Later, while the two were bootstrapping Percolate, everything they absorbed at Federated Media and TBG became very valuable.
Being employed also enabled the pair to save up money and bootstrap. They funded their startup themselves for one year, during which Brier ! and Gros s worked out initial kinks.
When they finally had a working model and paying clients, they sought outside capital. They used a $1.5 million seed round to accelerate growth; they didn’t waste it stumbling around and pivoting.
Of course, a lot of successful companies have been founded other ways. Zuckerberg never had a job before founding Facebook. Ben Silbermann initially set out to be a doctor, but he ended up founding Pinterest
It’s too early to guarantee Percolate’s success. But whatever Gross and Brier have done up until now, it seems to be working.
On March 26, 2012, a new media startup called Upworthy launched.
Today, it is the fastest growing media company in the world. Upworthy finished October with 7 million monthly uniques, up from 6 million the month prior. In August, it hit four million uniques, up from 2.5 million in July. Its fast growth was rewarded with $4 million from investors.
There are lots of media companies out there, but none have grown that quickly.
Are Upworthy’s growth and business model sustainable? We’re not sure, but either way the stats are impressive. We asked CEO and co-founder Eli Pariser what Upworthy has been doing to smash traffic records every month.
Here’s what he had to say.
Don’t write about politics.
Before he started Upworthy, Pariser worked for a digital, political publication, MoveOn. He and his co-founder, The Onion’s former Managing Editor, Peter Koechley, thought the upcoming election would drive traffic to Upworthy.
But people weren’t sharing much of Upworthy’s political content, so the pair ditched that angle and broadened the site’s coverage.
“We thought, ‘Ok, it’s an election year, people are going to be really interested in politics and the campaign, and we’ll get a leg up that way,'” Pariser says. “The election was our whole argument for starting Upworthy this year. But it turned out to be a total non-driver of growth. Of all our top pieces, only a couple deal with politics or the election.”
It can be tough for startups to let go of initial ideas and pivot to what’s working. But as soon as Pariser let go of! the pol itics angle, traffic soared.
Find story ideas on social media feeds, not other websites.
Upworthy’s curators don’t start their days surfing other websites for news. They surf social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook instead.
Sometimes it’s easier to highlight a conversation than to start a new one.
“We have our team of curators spending all their time looking on the Internet for stuff,” says Pariser. “We go for visible, sharable stories and really stay away from doing more typical, text-driven articles and blogging. We lean into images and videos.”
Focus on Facebook, not Twitter
Upworthy has found that Twitter is small traffic potatoes compared to Facebook. At the end of the day, Facebook is where the most people spend the vast majority of their time online.
“Facebook is a huge piece of the puzzle for us,” says Pariser. “Our Facebook community has grown from zero in March to over 600,000 likes.”
Pariser says Upworthy hasn’t done anything particularly brilliant to juice Facebook for traffic. It just spent a lot of time and energy cracking the social network.
“Honestly, I think part of [our success with it] is we take Facebook much more seriously than many of the other social networks,” he says. “I love Twitter, and Twitter is a fun place to hang out with smart people, but it’s a small fraction of our traffic compared to Facebook. The time and attention most sites spend on [perfecting] their homepages is probably what we spend on Facebook. If you look at our homepage, it’s pretty mediocre.”
While Apple and Samsung have been duking it out over patents, there’s always been the quiet, underlying irony that Samsung makes a whole bunch of the chips Apple relies on. Now, according to reports from CNET and MacRumors, Apple’s trying to change that.
It’s not exactly surprising. Apple already hired a big chip designer out from under Samsung. Now they’re just taking the next steps.
As an industry source put it to CNET:
“The Apple-Samsung relationship has deteriorated to such a poor point that they’re just looking to fill contractual obligations, then make a change.”
That change, it seems, is moving to the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company at 20 nanometers, a company that no doubt considers the giant’s business a huge boon. There are also rumors that Apple and Intel have been in talks when it comes to more advanced 14 nanometer production, though that seems further off.
A change like this doesn’t happen in an instant because it’s such a huge shift, but that makes it all the more noteworthy that it’s starting. If you thought Apple and Samsung were just going to kiss and make up, you were probably a bit deluded from the start, but this just goes to show that the rift is ever-widening. [CNET, MacRumors]
When is Google going to admit the obvious?
Google+, the “social spine” of CEO Larry Page’s counterattack on Facebook, is a flop.
RJ Metrics selected 40,000 Google+ users at random. It then analyzed their public posts.
What they found is that a lot of people start sharing on Google+, then stop. 3 out of 10 made a single public post, then never posted again. Even among people who made five posts, 15 percent had stopped posting.
RJ Metrics said this “decay rate” was disturbing.
Other analysts have found that people spend an average of 3 minutes a month on Google+, versus 7 hours on Facebook.
Now, it’s possible that many Google+ users are not posting publicly and are sharing privately instead, as Google+ allows. That’s Google’s timeworn excuse when asked about Google+ engagement. But Google has refused to give clear statistics about activity on Google+.
“Google is just refusing to answer the question for its own reasons, which is probably because Google+ has far less activity as a standalone social network than either Facebook or Twitter,” wrote Google expert Danny Sullivan recently.
Most companies are stuck in the dark ages when it comes to workforce tech. They think letting their workers use their own iPads to send corporate e-mails is cutting edge.
Want to see what tomorrow’s “social enterprise” looks like? Take a peek at Eagle Investment Systems. They call it the “high performance workforce.”
Their use of tech is so inspired, they literally turned the walls of their building into whiteboards for web conferencing by painting them with special paint called Walltalker.
Seriously. In any room in the building you can scribble on the wall. Then you can hook up some portable Bluetooth-enabled wands and fire up a Cisco WebEx meeting and everyone can see and interact with your wall.
Boston-based Eagle sells tech software to financial firms and supports about 600 employees and contractors. About a year ago, they moved to a new headquarters and that’s when they changed their outlook about IT, explains Mike Fitzgerald, Eagle’s top IT guy.
Today, all of Eagle’s tech serves one purpose: helping employees work together no matter where they are. Here are some of the ways Eagle is doing this:
They shifted from offices to “huddle rooms.” Every 40 feet Eagle built little rooms where employees work together, he says. They never have to book a conference room through Microsoft Office. There’s always a space available with a monitor for web conferences. Employees cubicles are now tiny, 150 square feet each.
“Priorities have shifted away from employees sitting in a cube to what’s happening in the virtual world. It’s all about information flow, data, collaboration and in a dynamic, ad-hoc fashion,” Fitzgerald explains.
They killed off traditional desk phones. Employees all have tablets (iPad or Android), laptops and cell phones (iPhone or Android). They use software-phones meaning the telephone is just another application and phone numbers can become part of any app. Eagle uses Cisco’s Jabber and WebEx software to make calls, chat over IM, post status updates and do web conferencing. Employees are given portable Plantronics headsets and speakerphones.
Eagle all-but-killed-off e-mail. Fitzgerald’s team built a new portal application that lets people create projects by dragging and dropping info like contact info, data, calendars, schedules. People can use the IM/web conferencing tool, Jabber, to communicate. It now takes two days to launch a new project. It used to take up to two weeks to e-mail people, gather materials from multiple computer systems and get everyone onboard with a project schedule.
E-mail is still there, but people hardly use it. “We now have more IM sessions than we do e-mail. 7,500 IM sessions a day,” he says.
Video conferencing and collaboration is everywhere. Since it’s so easy to do, remote employees are always included, particularly through video conferencing. Meetings use Skype or WebEx whenever possible. Relationships between workers, particularly overseas employees, are much better compared to the old, e-mail days, says Fitzgerald.
Status updates are displayed on monitors throughout the building. Employees are always kept in the loop with other employees even when they are walking around the building. More than that, they can always find an expert to help as needed.
Next up, Fitzgerald envisions a day when when applications between companies are this social. For instance, as an employee travels, a calendar app can track the GPS location from phone or tablet and keep all the people on the agenda in the loop. People in the contact list can be automatically alerted if they are nearby, attending the same event.
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Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.
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