Archive for the ‘mike mccue’ tag
It is either a good week to be having a CrunchUp focusing on the faltering Facebook ecosystem or it is a terrible week. Either way it is a compelling and interesting week, and whether it is good or bad depends on who you are and what your role is in the ecosystem.
Following the departure of Ethan Beard (director of platform partnerships); Katie Mitic (platform marketing director) and Jonathan Matus (mobile platform marketing manager) this week; and the revelations from an embittered and chastened Dalton Caldwell, it seems to me that the tide is turning against Facebook as a reliable partner for developers to depend upon.
In the very same week, Twitter has stirred up its developer ecosystem to fear that its latest moves are both self-serving and destined to punish their loyalty. One consequence of this has been the departure of Mike McCue from its Board of Directors. Google meanwhile is rumored to have stopped hires and acqui-hires related to its G+ ecosystem, which already has poor support for third party developers.
There are common themes underlying the three major players struggles with how to grow revenue, particularly mobile revenue, while their web traffic is declining as a percentage of the total. They are all in a life or death fight, both with each other, but more importantly with the emerging mobile ecosystem, largely dominated by Apple. None of the three has yet successfully understood how to make money from mobile, despite — in all cases — reaching a point where mobile users outnumber desktop-only users and where the growth of mobile significantly outpaces that from desktop and laptop machines.
In addition — especially for Facebook and Twitter — the drive to grow revenue in order to justify gigantic valuations overwhelms a natural desire to serve the needs of developers and users alike. In stream ads (Twitter); sponsored stories (Facebook) are both examples of flawed revenue strategies that directly conflict with a good user experience.
There are a few possible explanations for what is happening.
One is that both Twitter and Facebook have abandoned product-focused development in favor of revenue-focused development. Hunter Walk argues this convincingly in the case of Twitter in his widely-quoted piece this week.
A second explanation is that there is simply too much power being given to non-product teams and that this has lead to confusion at both companies, nobody knows whether the product team is the tail and the revenue team is the dog, or the other way around. But that no clear strategy exists is obvious. Product and user focused thinking is in decline, it is akin to having chopped off the head of a chicken only to see it running around aimlessly, devoid of a brain.
A third is that both companies are slowly and patiently building a more mobile-centric, revenue focused, version of themselves (include Google here too) and that version 2.0 of their ecosystems will differ significantly from version 1.0. This will impact both users and developers but will ultimately make them relevant to the future. Developers will – like the companies themselves – have to adapt or die.
It is likely that there is some truth in all three of these points of view. It is also true that there is enormous danger in the transition they are all being forced to go through. Death is not to be ruled out. But it is also true that a failure to do anything, to rely on the old web-based, web 2.0 infrastructure and ecosystem, would inevitably lead to failure and irrelevance as new mobile-centric ecosystems emerge.
Based on this there are some things we know about Facebook, Twitter and G+.
What we know about Facebook
- The Facebook open graph “connect” ecosystem is largely irrelevant to its future mobile impact. As users replace usage of the web with a mobile, app-centric ecosystem, the phone becomes the center of gravity. In this mobile world Facebook is just one app on the phone. It has to focus on being integrated into the ecosystem of others (Apple and Google) rather than integrating others into its ecosystem. Few developers will need or want to exclusively rely on Facebook for access to the centralized social graph in this new mobile world. It will be really interesting to see what Peter Deng and Mike Shroepfler have to say about the impact of mobile on their ecosystem at the Crunchup. They may not agree with me.
- Facebook’s recent launch of its Messenger and Camera apps face a challenge insofar as Apple’s IOS already has a Camera and iMessage app, utilizing the phones address book for the social graph. How can Facebook become a meaningful part of Apple’s IOS and Google’s Android ecosystem? Does Facebook have to make a phone, even if it doesn’t want to and sees doing so as non-optimal? Another way to say the same thing, does Apple’s integration represent an opportunity or a threat to Facebook?
- Sponsored stories are not a great way to monetize mobile traffic. The phone is way more of a publishing tool than a reading tool. The attention users pay to the streams on mobile is far less than on the desktop. And any “noise” in the news feed or the timeline will make the streams far less compelling to the average user. New mobile ad formats are clearly needed. Stream based stories may not be the best way to think about what these formats should be. Facebook’s utility to advertisers rests on its ability to engage users. The early formats threaten the opposite.
What we know about Twitter
- Twitter is big, growing and increasingly a mobile platform.
- The trend has been clear for some time — to include media and metadata in Tweets, and to attempt to make the center of gravity for reading and publishing Tweets be a Twitter owned environment.
- Adding ads into the stream has evolved as the primary form of revenue generation. Initially through awkward formats like “promoted tweets”. The new Cards based platform promises to make in-stream ads both more visual and more seamless. But it also threatens to put users second to advertisers in product development decisions. “Developers beware” has been true for some time. It is truer this week than ever before.
- Despite these developments Twitter is still a small company compared to its $8 billion valuation and its ability to grow into that value is entirely related to its ability to draw engaged users to its mobile apps and facilitate those users to have some kind of relationship to its advertisers. It seems a log way from this today and developer complaints are unlikely to deter it from experimenting and trying to deliver against those goals.
What we know about Google+
- Google is under pressure, but it is under less pressure than Facebook and Twitter to monetize mobile. This is due to its enormous revenue from search on the desktop subsidizing its mobile future for the time being. Having said that, analysts are starting to express concerns about the sheer size of mobile, and its rate of growth impacting Googles “cost per click” metrics negatively. Google does not have for ever….
- G+ is an impressive platform but it is not yet a consumer platform, despite the numbers of absolute users. It isn’t clear that the recent changes to the mobile app will be enough to change that, beautiful though it is.
- G+ has a limited read-only API that means developers cannot treat it as a platform in the way they can treat Facebook and to a lesser extent Twitter.
- Compared to its rich ecosystem for developers on the desktop, mobile is a weak ecosystem for Google developers.
- Android doesn’t necessarily help Google. It is a double edged sword. It gives Google a way to be relevant on mobile, and so compete with Apple, but it drives increased mobile use. As it does that, the pressure to figure out mobile monetization will increase exponentially. Click to Call will not be sufficient. Admob will need to evolve if Google is to be successful, and the emergence of new mobile formats for advertising will be key.
Interestingly all of the above may represent an opportunity for Yahoo, under Marissa Mayer, to make a comeback. Yahoo really missed out on the decentralized world of web 2.0. It remained a centralized portal focused on content as the world moved to feeds, aggregation and syndication. Despite that it remained a very large, but restrained and under-monetized, property. In reinventing Yahoo, Meyer could do worse than try to figure out some of the new puzzles given birth by the growing app-centric mobile ecosystem.
The one positive thing that this week has so far thrown light on is that there is a widespread recognition that things cannot stay the same.
The Facebook of 2011, the twitter of 2011 and the Google of 2011 are all understood to be in need of reinvention for a mobile-centric world with no clear strategy to make revenue.
Rome is burning, but the recognition of the need to dispense with it and build the new ecosystem is widespread.
In this world Apple holds more aces than any other player. it has the largest ecosystem of devices, developers and revenues. It does not need advertising revenues, and it has a model that works for successful developers and itself alike. There are few if any disharmonies. Google, with Android, could put itself in a similar position if it could truly abandon its web-centric past and focus on Android as its central ecosystem. This, unlikely as it seems, would make a lot of long term sense. Facebook, relegated to being an app provider on the platforms of others, along with Twitter, seem to be in the weakest position, and need to be boldest of all. Investor pressure should not detract from product needs as they seek to chart their future.
With developments this week, the three other players have all declared an intent to compete, even if it means destroying the ecosystems that have so far made them successful. Brave, bold and unpopular moves are always fraught with danger, and may indeed prove to be mistaken, But doing nothing isn’t an option. Get your ticket for the CrunchUp if you want to understand more……
[Image via usu.edu]
Twitter has been dominating headlines in the tech blogosphere and beyond in recent days, and for the most part the tone has not been glowing. Specifically, the company seems to be making more aggressive steps toward controlling its API, which could have quite negative effects for the independent startups that have built their businesses around the microblogging service.
One of these examples has played out with StockTwits, the stock market and investment information service headed up by longtime finance and tech industry player Howard Lindzon. Earlier this week, Twitter rolled out the ability to track stock tickers on the site when they’re preceded by the U.S. dollar symbol — aka cashtags — which is something that was pioneered by StockTwits years ago. In a blog post, Lindzon publicly called out the launch as a “hijacking” of StockTwits’ feature.
The whole situation is made even more compelling by the fact that Lindzon sold off his personal investment in Twitter’s private stock one week prior to the launch of cashtags. He’s not the only startup CEO to scale back his involvement in Twitter recently: Today it was confirmed that Flipboard CEO Mike McCue has departed Twitter’s board of directors after a year and a half of service there, reportedly in part because of Twitter’s changing position toward the API ecosystem.
Interesting times, yes? In light of all this, it was good to speak with Lindzon directly about the situation and hear more about what’s gone on. He gave TechCrunch TV a call via Skype. Watch the video embedded above to hear about what he knew about Twitter’s strategy when he decided to sell his stock, where StockTwits plans to go from here, and what companies he’s planning on investing in now that he’s cashed out of Twitter.
It’s not an unexpected move: AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher reported back in early May that McCue’s departure was imminent. At that time, she wrote:
“The reason, sources said, is McCue’s growing feeling that the companies are on a product collision course, with a possible troubled or perhaps more attractive result.
In other words, Flipboard will either face increasing rivalry from Twitter or will end up as a possible acquisition target for it or other companies.”
This morning, AllThingsD’s Mike Isaac confirmed McCue’s departure with sources, and McCue’s tweet followed a few hours later.
McCue, who has been on Twitter’s board since late 2010, announced his departure via a Tweet, naturally:
And Twitter CEO Dick Costolo responded with a short message of his own:
McCue is not the first industry exec to step away from his involvement with Twitter in recent weeks. StockTwits CEO Howard Lindzon sold off all his shares in the micro-blogging giant one week ago. Days later, Twitter announced the launch of “cashtags,” or the ability to track stock tickers when they’re preceded by the U.S. dollar symbol — which is something that was pioneered by StockTwits years ago. In a blog post, Lindzon publicly called out the launch as a “hijacking” of StockTwits’ feature.
Twitter has been aggressive elsewhere in claiming territory recently: Last week, the company shut off part of its API access to Instagram, blocking the ability for Instagram users to “find their friends” through the service, for example.
As Mike Isaac reported in-depth today, McCue’s abrupt, and publicly unexplained, departure from Twitter’s board could be a signal that as the CEO of a smaller company that relies on Twitter’s API, he is uncomfortable with these kinds of moves. Or he could simply be too busy with Flipboard to continue carrying out his boardroom duties. For now, the details are being kept behind closed doors.
We’ll be updating this story as more information comes in.
Flipboard co-founder and CEO Mike McCue has announced his departure from Twitter’s board of directors.
In a tweet on the change, the serial entrepreneur sounded no false notes, graciously saying, “To the @Twitter team: it was amazing to be part of the board. You’re truly changing the world. Thanks @ev @jack @dick for the opportunity.”
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo (actually @dickc, not @dick), responded in a similarly warm fashion, saying, “Thanks for the time, enthusiasm, and passion you’ve brought to everything happening here. Remember the slide you showed me in 2009?!”
McCue had been part of the Twitter board since December 2010, when the startup took a hefty round of funding from Kleiner Perkins and made room at the boardroom table for a couple new faces.
As Twitter’s board ecosystem of third-party developers is still struggling to get its head around upcoming API changes from the microblogging service, a few folks are speculating that the Flipboard exec’s decision is a signal that he and other major Twitter API users aren’t happy with the directions Twitter is taking.
And Flipboard most definitely reproduces the Twitter consumer experience, and does so in an entirely elegant way that is fundamentally different from Twitter’s UI. Plus, Flipboard puts a kink in Twitter’s revenue stream of sponsored tweets, profiles, and trends — the biggest no-no of them all, according to in-depth chats we’ve had with Twitter’s developer outreach team members.
Still, we’re reluctant to call this a “war” between McCue and Twitter. We’ve reached out to Flipboard and Twitter; a Flipboard rep said, “We are still big fans of what Twitter does and we continue to support Twitter across Flipboard.”
Filed under: dev
So many news feeds, not enough personalized and design-conscious curation. That was the problem that Flipboard, the award-winning Android and iOS app, solved for millions of users.
The app, created by CEO Mike McCue and developer Evan Doll, has seen standout startup success, with 8 million users registered since its 2010 launch.
Flipboard is a curation tool that makes it easy and (and pleasurable) to browse content from a variety of different feeds, from newspapers and blogs, to Twitter and Facebook profiles.
The display takes advantage of the touchscreens on tablets and smartphones, allowing users to “flip” through the content in much the same way they would their favourite magazine (without resorting to skeuomorphism or shoehorning print design into digital clothing)
It’s this kind of innovation that has given the app an edge on its competition. Last month Flipboard expanded its monetization options to paywall, as TechCrunch reported, announcing a partnership with The New York Times.
The company will also begin integrating audio content into the app. Thanks to a partnership with National Public Radio, SoundCloud and Public Radio International, Flipboard’s users will be able to listen to their favourite radio stations while browsing.
Of course, Flipboard is faced with the same existential question as the media outlets that power the app’s content: How do you make money off free, digital media?
Sparksheet editor Dan Levy got a chance to pose this question to Flipboard Curator Mia Quagliarello at SXSW Interactive this spring. Her response: If an app’s design can be informed by print magazines, why can’t the ads?
It’s been a big week for Flipboard’s Google-related announcements. On Tuesday, the company revealed Google+ integration was coming to its social magazine, and today, the app is officially launching on all Android devices, including the Kindle Fire and the Nook. The Google+ integration, as well as newly added YouTube integration, is arriving today as well.
The app will be available in Google Play, the Amazon Appstore for Android, the Nook Store, and in Samsung Apps.
The Android public launch comes barely a month after Flipboard debuted its official Android beta and limited Android rollout as a preloaded app on the just-released Samsung Galaxy S III. However, it’s been just a little longer since Flipboard’s unofficial launch, thanks to the hacked version of the Android APK file from that same device.
Demand for the Android version of the app has been “astonishing,” says Flipboard CEO Mike McCue, who tells us that they saw over half a million downloads during its beta. “We’ve had really good coverage across a wide range of phones. We feel really good about how it’s coming together,” he says. “But people have been asking, why is this in beta? Why can’t you just release it now?”
The answer, of course, is because it’s an Android app, and that means there’s a bit more work involved. “With iOS, you can target a very specific screen size, a very specific processor and so on – it’s quite a bit easier,” McCue explains. “On Android, to really build a high-quality application that works across a range of devices, you have to spend a lot of time optimizing…that’s why we did the beta.” The new Android version works on all the major Android smartphones as well as the Nook and Kindle Fire, and supports from small screens up to a 7-inch display. It has also had some other performance and layout optimizations since the beta release.
YouTube Launch & More Localized Versions
Another new feature arriving on both iOS and Android today is YouTube integration. You can watch, favorite, bookmark and comment on videos within Flipboard, and those changes sync with the YouTube website itself. You can also follow users and the channels you subscribe to.
And Flipboard is also once again expanding to more countries. It was previously available in localized versions in China, Japan and France, but it’s now arriving in Korea, The Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Germany. “When we deploy to each country, we not only localize the app for each of these difference languages, but more importantly, we focus our energy on the curation point-of-view in each country to pick the best content. We’ve now gotten more efficient at doing that,” says McCue. Next up on the list for localization are parts of Latin America, as well as other countries in Asia and Europe.
Checking In On Flipboard’s Business
While the company is still declining to reveal hard numbers related to total downloads or revenue, McCue says that the move to smartphones has seen users engaging with the app throughout the day, instead of just at morning and night (8-11 PM, primarily) as on iPad. The Cover Stories feature, which launched first on smartphones and is now available via Android widget, is now the number one feed on Flipboard. He also says that Flipboard sees “very, very, very strong return-to-app metrics.”
“A lot of people are choosing us every single day, multiple times per day. This is very encouraging for us especially since we don’t do a lot with sending emails out to users, and we don’t do lots of noisy notifications,” says McCue. However, integrating push notifications is something the team is thinking about for the future, but they want to do it right when the time comes.
He also reports good progress on the advertising side of the business, which now has half a dozen publishers running ads on the platform, out of a total of 2,000 publications which have been integrated to date. Some recent advertisements have been for Converse, Nieman Marcus (the same ads as in Vogue, says McCue), and the movie “Snow White and the Huntsman.” That last one did particularly well, with a 3.5% CTR. It directed users not to a website, but a rather to an in-app page featuring the “Snow White and the Huntsman” Twitter feed in Flipboard’s signature magazine style, which users could then subscribe to in the app. However, all Flipboard’s CTRs are “much higher than anything you’d see on the web,” says McCue.
As for what’s next, beyond its continued international expansion, one glaring omission for a magazine so focused on attractive, visual layout of content is Pinterest integration. Pinterest rival The Fancy’s integration was complete six months ago but has yet to ship, so the holdup is clearly on Pinterest’s side of things. But Flipboard is hardly the only third party in desperate need of a Pinterest API. (Where is that thing already?) No official word on what networks may be added next, but Pinterest will surely make a big splash when and if it ever arrives.
The new Android and iOS versions of Flipboard are available for download here.
Mike McCue, founder and CEO of Flipboard, credited Apple on Friday with creating a “revolution” with its iPad tablet and said the impact of that revolution is still being understood more than two years after the device reached the market.
In digging around trying to investigate rumors that KPCB VC John Doerr lost his “board observer”status at Twitter two weeks ago, I came across the information that almost all investors including Doerr were told to stop coming to board meetings in late August/September, when it was reported that Fred Wilson and Bijan Sabet had left.
The thing that’s hard to understand here is that Doerr never actually had an official observer seat to begin with, so there was nothing to “lose” per se. After Doerr, Wilson and Sabet stopped attending meetings, the remaining seats were stripped of their VC affiliations and became “independent directors,” said a source
familiar with the matter with knowledge of what transpired.
What I’m assuming this means is that non-staff board members like Mike McCue, who was appointed to the board by a joint KPCB and Twitter decision, is no longer the venture firm’s eyes and ears. I have no idea how this concept applies to Benchmark VC Peter Fenton’s position, as Benchmark is still very clearly invested in Twitter.
Post-Sabet, Wilson and Doer, the remaining Twitter board members are Chairman Jack Dorsey, Dick Costolo, Evan Williams and “independent” board members Peter Fenton, Mike McCue, David Rosenblatt and Peter Currie.
According to multiple sources, the board streamlining happened because “everyone agreed it was for the good of the company,” — A statement which granted has many interpretations, including some very interesting ones when juxtaposed against past reporting. The speculation that the board will be adding another member and more specifically a woman soon is just speculation we’re hearing.
Twitter confirmed the new board arrangement with us via the following statement, “Twitter’s board of directors currently has seven members. In addition to Dick, Ev and Jack, who serves as chairman, the board includes four independent directors: Peter Fenton from Benchmark Capital, Flipboard CEO Mike McCue, former DoubleClick executive David Rosenblatt and Peter Currie of Currie Capital.”
And then there were seven.
Image via: Quantum Marketer
A grey and overcast industrial suburb in the north of Paris this week played host to Europe’s premier digital economy conference and networking event, LeWeb. While the European economy outside looked increasingly uncertain (suffering from what Google’s Eric Schmidt referred to as “the European experiment’s rough patch”), inside there was a very different feeling. More than 3,000 entrepreneurs, leaders, investors and visionaries were expected to attend over the three days, to discuss the impact of Social-Mobile-Local technologies, or SoLoMo as they are now commonly known.
This year’s attendees seemed sanguine about the fact that the digital economy is creating its own bubble — one that is more than a little reminiscent of that seen a decade ago. Companies are proudly proclaiming massive growth in user numbers; however, those are the only figures on the agenda. Questions around revenue or even profit are often a moot point, only up for discussion at a “to-be-disclosed” point in the future, once they have finessed their product, user experience or business model.
These dynamics aside, we are clearly in the midst of another wave of disruption in computing. Communication, media consumption and mobile are at the heart of this. Mike McCue from Flipboard unveiled the iPhone version of his product on Tuesday morning, highlighting that more than 20 percent of iPad users have Flipboard installed to allow them to consume media.
Andrey Andreev of Badoo revealed annual revenues of more than £100 million from his mobile social network, which is particularly strong in Latin Europe and America, while Phil Libin talked of the 20 million Evernote users who are becoming more profitable over time. These darlings of the venture scene are eminently representative of a broader trend – the switch to mobile devices. A trend that Eric Schmidt defined with the statement, “All the best engineering is going on to mobile and mobile apps.”
Despite its European location, there was a very US feel to the whole event this year, challenged only occasionally by local European businesses such as music and mobile focused Deezer. Axel Dauchez, CEO of this French business unveiled an ambitious plan to launch in more than 200 countries by mid-2012. The only market he is not launching in is the US, which he cited as having only 10 percent of global music consumption and around 15 percent of mobile handsets, making Europe and Asia more compelling markets for his business.
Amid the exuberance, perhaps the most cautionary note came from George Colony, Chairman and CEO of research firm Forrester. Although bullish on the App Internet economy, he portrayed many players in this space as fighting for the scraps from a rapidly consolidating market. In Forrester’s view, Apple is dominant, Android is a challenger, and Amazon’s Silk platform on the Fire device is a wildcard entrant with potential for disruption. While Microsoft didn’t make it onto the slide, there was recognition that it had a role to play even if it is as yet unclear exactly what this role might be.
More interestingly, Colony portrayed a social media landscape where consumers are reaching saturation. Citing research from the US, Colony pointed out that social media is more popular than volunteering, praying and exercise, and it challenges shopping and childcare in terms of time spent. In short, we are reaching the limit of how much time we can realistically give to social media. A shakeout is coming that will sweep away the low value forms of social media.
LeWeb has done an excellent job at capturing the energy of the SoLoMo movement in the US and Europe over the last few days, albeit with limited representation from the big players in Asia that are poised to accelerate into this space. The counterbalance to that energy is a healthy dose of caution that bubbles burst and that operating businesses in a vacuum independent of the global economic environment may be risky. Twelve months is a long time in this industry, but I’ll be back next year to see whether the predictions and expectations all come true.
Flipboad vergroot zijn potentieel aanzienlijk nu het bedrijf zijn applicatie ook beschikbaar maakt voor de iPhone.
Zojuist presenteerde directeur Mike McCue van Flipboard de nieuwe versie van zijn ‘automatische magazinemaker’ voor de iPhone. McCue was zojuist een van de sprekers tijdens het LeWeb -congres dat nu gaande is in Parijs.
Anneli Rispens filmde de eerste publicatie demonstratie:
Door de app nu ook beschikbaar te maken voor de iPhone vergroot Flipboard zijn potentieel bereik aanzienlijk. Tot op heden was het stylistische leesprogramma enkel te gebruiken op de iPad. Daarvan circuleren er nu zo’n veertig miljoen. Van de iPhone4 alleen al zijn er zeker 75 miljoen in omloop.
Flipboard is, net als concurrent Zite (van CNN), is onder zijn gebruikers populair omdat het orde en design aanbrengt in de doorgaans verwarrende kluwen berichten uit social meia en nieuwssites.
Het Amerikaanse bedrijf is in private handen en werkt met zestig miljoen dollar extern kapitaal van investeerders. De eerste overname door Flipboard was in juli 2010. Toen kocht het Ellerdale, een bedrijf van de Nederlander Arthur van Hoff.
In de komende Emerce Magazine staat een interview met Van Hoff.