At the company’s big three papers — the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, and Boston Globe — print and digital ad dollars dipped 6.6 percent to $220 million, while circulation revenue was up 8.3 percent to $233 million. The historical rebalancing may indicate a sea change in an industry that has long relied on advertising to stay afloat.
An interesting fact all by itself. Sending my mind along multiple future paths for the newspaper. Will readership shrink as it goes from free to paid? Can it still be the paper of record if it’s behind a paywall? Are they just forcing freeloading readers to go elsewhere?
It did send me to the Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union-Tribune, and, ironically, to social media for alternate news sources.
Though, I do have a bone to pick with one of the closing statements in the article, “…no longer depend on ad revenue, but must rely more than ever on the whims of the customer.”
I would have thought being free of advertisers to be a positive move. Is this a ‘thing’ in the newspaper industry that readers are so whimsical?
And, why does the New York media always have to insult its readers?
NASA has awarded the largest prize in aviation history, created to inspire the development of more fuel-efficient aircraft and spark the start of a new electric airplane industry. The technologies demonstrated by the CAFE Green Flight Challenge, sponsored by Google, competitors may end up in general aviation aircraft, spawning new jobs and new industries for the 21st century.
The first place prize of $1.35 million was awarded to team Pipistrel-USA.com of State College, Pa. The second place prize of $120,000 went to team eGenius, of Ramona, Calif.
“NASA congratulates Pipistrel-USA.com for proving that ultra-efficient aviation is within our grasp,” said Joe Parrish, NASA’s acting chief technologist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Today we’ve shown that electric aircraft have moved beyond science fiction and are now in the realm of practice.”
The winning aircraft had to fly 200 miles in less than two hours and use less than one gallon of fuel per occupant, or the equivalent in electricity. The first and second place teams, which were both electric-powered, achieved twice the fuel efficiency requirement of the competition, meaning they flew 200 miles using just over a half-gallon of fuel equivalent per passenger.
“Two years ago the thought of flying 200 miles at 100 mph in an electric aircraft was pure science fiction,” said Jack W. Langelaan, team leader of Team Pipistrel-USA.com. “Now, we are all looking forward to the future of electric aviation.”
The teddy bear’s first tweet, from an account called @WhatTedSaid set up by the Universal Pictures marketing department, was “Hello, Twitter. Kindly go f— yourself.”
The author of the greeting was Alec Sulkin, co-screenwriter of the R-rated comedy “Ted,” who together with his collaborator Wellesley Wild was paid extra by the studio to build buzz on social media ahead of the film’s June 29 release. Who better to embody the random musings of a foul-mouthed stuffed animal than the writers of the script? The suits left them alone.
“The parameters were, ‘Just go to town,’ ” says Doug Neil, Universal’s senior vice president of digital marketing. The tweeting started March 30, two days before the “red band” (uncensored) trailer appeared online, depicting the namesake bear smoking weed, cuddling with co-star Mark Wahlberg and pantomiming suggestive acts for a supermarket checkout girl.
It worked spectacularly. Tracking polls, which movie executives rely on to guide box office expectations, suggested an opening-weekend gross of $35 million to $40 million for the film, which was co-written and directed by Seth McFarlane, creator of “Family Guy,” who also provided the voice for Ted. Instead, “Ted” generated $54 million, catching the industry by surprise.
Since its inception 42 years ago, Comic-Con International has been a celebration of fanboy culture. When geek became the new cool, it also worked as a marketing platform for Hollywood and video game makers. Now, it’s the place where the television industry comes to build buzz for new shows and reward the audiences of established ones.
More than 80 television series courted the crowds at Comic-Con last year with premieres, panels and promotional events. This year in San Diego, the numbers are just as high – and the visibility even greater.
“It’s become a tentpole for us,” says Richard Licata, executive vice president, communications, for NBC Entertainment and Universal Television, echoing the sentiments of many network and studio marketing and publicity heads. “It’s the Super Bowl of response.”
Timing has something to do with it; the dates of Comic-Con make it a perfect place to preview fall shows. Corralling the talent is also a breeze - television has no Sundance or Cannes, making Comic-Con one of the few places on the planet where a television writer is treated like a rock star by screaming thousands.
But now Amazon has a new game. Now that it has agreed to collect sales taxes, the company can legally set up warehouses right inside some of the largest metropolitan areas in the nation. Why would it want to do that? Because Amazon’s new goal is to get stuff to you immediately—as soon as a few hours after you hit Buy.
It’s hard to overstate how thoroughly this move will shake up the retail industry. Same-day delivery has long been the holy grail of Internet retailers, something that dozens of startups have tried and failed to accomplish. (Remember Kozmo.com?) But Amazon is investing billions to make next-day delivery standard, and same-day delivery an option for lots of customers. If it can pull that off, the company will permanently alter how we shop. To put it more bluntly: Physical retailers will be hosed.
Can Amazon pull it off? It’s sure spending a lot of money to try…Amazon is investing $130 million in new facilities in New Jersey that will bring it into the backyard of New York City; another $135 million to build two centers in Virginia that will allow it to service much of the mid-Atlantic; $200 million in Texas; and more than $150 million in Tennessee and $150 million in Indiana to serve the middle of the country. Its plans for California are the grandest of all. This year, Amazon will open two huge distribution centers near Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, and over the next three years it might open as many as 10 more in the state. In total, Amazon will spend $500 million and hire 10,000 people at its new California warehouses.
The Commercial Crew Program is responsible for helping companies develop vehicles that can ferry astronauts, and maybe civilians, to space. Could this lead to a ‘spaceline’ industry, a la the airlines?
An interview with Ed Mango, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program:
What’s the goal of the Commercial Crew Program?
We still have Americans in space. But we don’t have a way to get there. So the motivation for this small team I have is that we are the next organization within NASA that’s going to get American systems back into low Earth orbit.
Why is NASA relying on private companies instead of operating the flightsitself?
It fits with what has happened in the past. Look at how the airlines got started: Air Mail was run by the government, totally. Then eventually, the government didn’t want to be the ones to own airplanes, own airfields, employ the pilots — all that kind of stuff. So they said, “We’re going to contract this out.”
That became cargo capability. And as time went on, companies said, “We can transport people, not just cargo.” Thus, the birth of the airlines.
As of February 2012, 5 million guest nights have been booked worldwide since the site’s launch in 2007, with a 500% growth in the past year and accommodations in over 19,000 cities.
I’ve now stayed at two properties (one in San Diego and one in Santa Barbara) and I’m officially on the Airbnb bandwagon. Here’s why:
1. Comfort: After traveling so much in my career, I’ve grown weary of the generic, cookie cutter look and feel of hotel rooms, even 5-star accommodations. Staying at an AirBnb is like staying at a friend’s house, with all the comforts and spaciousness of a home, like a kitchen and a comfy living room with books and magazines to peruse.
2. Amenities: I’ve started to deplore how hotels nickel and dime guests, especially when it comes to wifi and water. Both Airbnbs I’ve stayed at offered free, secure wifi and purified drinking water. It might sound trivial, but I feel like water and wifi should be included in a guest’s stay. And at our Santa Barbara rental, the owner provided two bikes, with bike locks and helmets for guests. I can’t tell you how awesome it was to arrive and jump right onto the bike to explore the city. Plus, there was free street parking just feet away from the entrances at both properties.
3. Cost: Bottom line, you get a lot more for a lot less at an Airbnb. And you don’t have to pay for all the hidden costs of hotels.
Not all people will love Airbnb (especially those enamored by turn-down and room service). But I get a feeling a growing number of folks will like what Airbnb has to offer (on both the demand and supply side) and it’s going to take a big bite out of the hotel industry pie.
Microsoft and Barnes & Noble have teamed up to compete against Apple and Amazon in the eBooks business. The new partnership sees Microsoft investing $300 million in a new Barnes & Noble subsidiary.
The $300 million investment in the Nook subsidiary of Barnes & Noble gives Microsoft about 17.6 percent ownership of this business unit. That values this part of the business at about $1.7 billion. Before the markets opened this morning, the Nook business was valued about $900 million more than Barnes & Noble itself.
In addition, Microsoft is paying another $305 million to get Nook on Windows 8 with some content:
Microsoft will be paying the Barnes & Noble subsidiary $180 million for revenue sharing on the Nook app that B&N will make for the Windows 8 platform. This is nonrefundable, the filing notes. Microsoft is also paying $125 million (equal to $25 million over five years) “for purposes of assisting NewCo in acquiring local digital reading content and technology development.” This, too, looks to be nonrefundable.
To put that in perspective, in the last quarter Barnes and Noble made $52 million in profit (on $2.4 billion in sales), and Amazon pulled in $130 million in profit (on $13 billion in sales). Clearly, Amazon has a big edge over B&N.
But, when you look at Microsoft’s earnings for the last quarter, $5.1 billion in profit (on $17 billion in sales), it looks like the big dog just entered the game. But, don’t forget that Apple is on the scene as well.
Clearly, the e-reader battle is just heating up and everyone wants a piece.
A fascinating article in Fast Company profiles Google Ventures, the company’s venture capital division. Like everything the search giant does they are aiming big with delusions of changing the entire VC industry with data as the vehicle.
They start out with some interesting facts:
Despite the mythology that has built up around venture capital, it has become a slowly moldering investment vehicle. “The past 10 years haven’t been very productive,” Bill Maris points out. According to the research firm Cambridge Associates, during the decade ending last September, VCs as a class earned a 2.6% interest rate for their investors–less than you could have earned in an S&P 500 index fund. The numbers look slightly better over shorter periods; VCs have delivered a 4.9% return the past three years and 6.7% over the past five, still far from terrific.
Then they move on to insights gained through data-crunching:
Joe Kraus says that analysts have discovered research that overturns some of Silicon Valley’s most cherished bits of lore. Take that old idea that it pays to fail in the Valley: Wrong! Google Ventures’ analysts found that first-time entrepreneurs with VC backing have a 15% chance of creating a successful company, while second-timers who had an auspicious debut see a 29% chance of repeating their achievement. By contrast, second-time entrepreneurs who failed the first time? They have only a 16% chance of success, in effect returning them to square one. “Failure doesn’t teach you much,” Kraus says with a shrug.
Location, in fact, plays a larger role in determining an entrepreneur’s odds than failure, according to the Google Ventures data team. A guy who founded a successful company in Boston but is planning to start his next firm in San Francisco isn’t a sure bet. “He’ll revert back to that 15% rate,” Kraus says, “because he’s out of his personal network and that limits how quickly he can scale up.”
The article continues to describe the actions Google is taking to change the game. The most important of which seems to be bringing in ringers rather than partners, challenging the VC model at its core…
Amazon continues to upset the publishing industry, this time going around publishers to offer authors $20 million for going audio. If an author is willing to let Audible, the Amazon-owned audiobook powerhouse, sell their book then Amazon will give them $1 per book:
The Amazon-owned digital audiobooks site Audible.com is launching a new program, “Audible Author Services,” that pays audiobook authors $1 per sale through Audible.com, Audible.co.uk, and iTunes, out of a $20 million fund. The audiobook publishers do not receive any of the funds.
To sign up, authors must make their titles available as audiobooks through Audible.com. Once they enroll their books in the program, Audible says, they will:
Receive an honorarium of $1 per unit sold.
Obtain samples and links from Audible for use in social media, blogs, or on their websites.
Gain direct interaction with Audible marketing and merchandising teams; and
Obtain a free copy of their audiobook from Audible.