Archive for the ‘company acquisitions’ tag
It’s always nice to plop down to a big bowl of hot dog food and read about how the company you work for (ostensibly and/or on paper) squandered one of the most recognizable brands in PC history. As you’ll recall, the turn of the century was a time of great confusion. iTunes hadn’t yet rolled over the media space and these new M-P-3 files* were quite popular, yet no one knew how to play them. Enter WinAmp.
Ars, to their credit, wrote an excellent exposé on WinAmp, talking to the folks who made the company what it was – and who left to allow the company to degenerate into what it is now. The creators, Rob Lord and Justin Frankel, built WinAmp as a solution to play the nascent MP3. “Winamp grew out of wanting a good, enjoyable way to listen to MP3s on a computer. It wasn’t the first MP3 player, but the MP3 players around before it were hard for me to want to use,” Frankel told Digital Tools.
AOL bought WinAmp (and Nullsoft) for about $100 million. Lord and Frankel, forced to work inside the confines of AOL’s comparatively rigid structure, both quit and the app languished and was soon eclipsed by other solutions.
WinAmp still exists – a Mac version has been in beta since 2011, if that tells you anything about the pace of development – and presumably there are still some die-hards and altakakas who haven’t gotten the memo. In its heyday, the app had 60 million users and when AOL acquired the company they stuck them in with another property, Spinner, and began mucking about with leadership roles and business responsibilities. In short, they bought two disparate companies (Spinner was an Internet radio startup), put them together in a room, and asked them to fight it out. Neither survived.
I like to think we’re past that insane stage of company acquisitions and, to date, AOL hasn’t said word one about who is supposed to sit where under what manager. Maybe the Blue Lady learned her lesson or maybe nobody upstairs cares. Either way, it’s interesting to see another company ground to a pulp by the machinery of business and it’s a fascinating case study on how not to acquire an organic, vibrant, and ultimately doomed company.
*As a fun aside, I remember the actual day I heard about MP3s in college. It was something like March of 1996 and I was at Carnegie Mellon. I was buying all kinds of CDs and I didn’t own an MP3 player until, I think, 2002. I was talking about music with a buddy Roy and he said “Oh, I like to rip my own music” and I wondered what that meant. “I rip it into MP3 and play it back on my computer.” “What’s MP3,” I asked. “It’s an MPEG4 audio codec,” I think he said. It was like hearing about the wheel for the first time, or fire. It was that jarring a concept.
It’s about maps. Maps and the ability to get around while out and about are one of the most critical functions of any mobile device. Until now the backend of Apple’s maps function was Google Maps. With the introduction of iOS 6 in the near future that will end. According to 9 to 5 Mac
According to trusted sources, Apple has an incredible headline feature in development for iOS 6: a completely in-house maps application. Apple will drop the Google Maps program running on iOS since 2007 in favor for a new Maps app with an Apple backend. The application design is said to be fairly similar to the current Google Maps program on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, but it is described as a much cleaner, faster, and more reliable experience.
It’s the last line of that description that rings of the Apple way, ‘cleaner, faster and more reliable.’ In addition, there will be a 3D side that is supposed to be Apple-tastic, as well. Of course, that reads well but until it is seen that is purely an opinion. This will be an interesting test to see just what level of quality is deemed acceptable in the new Job-less era of Apple.
There is little doubt that Apple could produce something that is, even if they stubbed their toe, very good. The have made three company acquisitions in the mapping space and they are using that talent to create a complete mapping database. Add that to the fact that they, at times, have had more cash on hand than the US government and you have to feel confident they will produce.
What was not discussed, however, is what really lies at the heart of strong mapping offer in today’s world. Sure, Apple might be able to make a cleaner, faster more reliable map but the data that goes on top of it (i.e. Google Place Pages and other information) is what rounds out a map experience. As we have seen with Google, creating the infrastructure to build and manage the additional information that enhances a map experience is the catch. Notice I didn’t say support because Google doesn’t support much of anything in their maps ecosystem unless you are a super user or the squeakiest wheel.
So what will be on top of this incredible map offering? Will it be more than the name, address, phone number and simple directions? What other services will enhance the maps offering? When I am traveling by car to a strange place the Layers function in the Android Maps offering is great to look for restaurants, gas stations etc etc. Google Offers is now being offered in a Groupon Now like delivery. Will Apple’s maps now bring Apple into areas that are not their core competency?
Let’s face it. Apple can do whatever it wants because it can buy whatever it wants. What will it do to truly out pace Google Maps? Any ideas? If you could ask for anything what would you like a maps service do on an iOS device?
The data is in and the first quarter of 2012 was a roller coaster ride of initial public offerings and unexpected power-plays.
Twenty companies held IPOs raising a total of $1.4 billion in the first three months of the year, according to Dow Jones VentureSource, and Groupon, which acquired six venture companies in the first quarter, is out-shopping others in the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) area.
The first quarter of 2012 was the most active quarter for IPOs since the fourth quarter of 2007, and the most active first quarter since 2000, according to VentureSource, Dow Jones’ database for tracking venture capital deals. In contrast to the giant Groupon and Zynga deals that closed 2011, however, the start of 2012 was marked by more modest but solid offerings from small and mid-sized companies.
“The public markets proved receptive to a broad range of companies, which is a positive sign for the industry,” Dow Jones VentureWire editor Zoran Basich said.
Groupon, meanwhile, showed an insatiable appetite and gobbled up six startups in the first three months of the year. The deals company, which has been kicked around by Wall Street since its November offering, is snatching up companies through M&A deals faster than Google was in 2011; Google was the most active acquirer that year with 12 venture company acquisitions.
But Groupon’s spend-happy ways aren’t indicative of a larger buying trend. In fact, there was only 94 total M&A deals for the quarter, a 32 percent year-over-year decrease. The usually extravagant Google showed signs of frugality and did not make a single venture company acquisition in the quarter.
Those that are buying, however, are going big. The median price paid for a pickup was $190 million, up from $43 million during the same time last year.
Now that the first quarter is in the books, the market and the world at large awaits Facebook’s coveted initial public offering, anticipated to happen some time in the second quarter.
Photo credit: David Paul Ohmer/Flickr
Filed under: deals
The OpenStreetMap Foundation has confirmed that the new iPhoto for iOS app is using OpenStreetMap location data for its photos, and not Google Maps, as Apple has used in many other applications before. Apple has not yet confirmed the break from Google Maps, but appears to finally be transitioning away from the service.
512pixels.net discovered Wednesday night that the iPhoto for iOS location data seemed not to be pulled from Google Maps, as it is for iPhoto for Mac OS X; the OSM Foundation posted Thursday morning that it was “pleased to find” Apple is using its data. The author of OSM’s blog post notes that the data Apple is using is nearly two years old, from April 2010, and appears to only be used for locations outside the US. You can see the tiles Apple is using from OpenStreetMap here. OpenStreetMap notes the app is “missing the necessary credit to OpenStreetMap’s contributors; we look forward to working with Apple to get that on there.”
Daring Fireball claimed Wednesday night that iPhoto’s location-feature maps are still created from Google Maps tiles. But The Verge reports that photos with attached maps in the new slideshow and journal sharing features, at least, have Apple-provided tiles pulled from a server at gsp2.apple.com.
The Apple-sourced tiles may be the culmination of all of Apple’s mapping company acquisitions (C3, PlaceBase, and Poly9) in years past. Likewise, the new map sources suggest the company is further distancing itself from Google, with which it has developed a tenuous relationship over intellectual property issues.
Apple has not responded to requests for comment on the matter.
Twitter Buys Security/Privacy Firm and Shuts Down Key Encrypted Voice Communication Tool in the Middle East
Relatively small tech company acquisitions are usually only interesting to people who follow the tech industry. And, that’s how Twitter’s purchase of the security and privacy specialist firm Whispter Systems was perceived when most of us read news items like this one on Forbes: Twitter Acquires Moxie Marlinspike’s Encryption Startup Whisper Systems
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