Archive for the ‘percent’ tag
A Look Inside Airbnb’s Record Night: 60,000 Guests, 174 Countries, 30 Languages, And 8 Private Islands
Airbnb, the online marketplace for listing and booking short-term housing accommodations, has been on a roll lately: In June it hit 10 million nights booked, boasting hockey stick-like growth along the way. Well, it had a really big night last Saturday, hitting a new record with more than 60,000 guests booking lodgings through the service. Not only was that five times the number of guests it had a year prior, but a large number of those guests — 75 percent — were using the marketplace for the first time.
Airbnb is using the occasion to highlight the international community it has amassed, along with some of the unique lodgings that it boasts. It noted guests from 174 different countries around the world, including guests from far-off locales like Zimbabwe and Nepal.
Two-thirds of guests were from outside the United States, and speak more than 30 different languages, including Japanese, Arabic, Bengali, Punjabi, Tagalog, Finnish, and Sign Language. Of the international community, France had the most number of guests, with 6,800, as pretty much the entire country goes on vacation during August. Airbnb also saw 800 guests from Brazil and 120 from India.
Not surprisingly, there was a lot of activity in London due to the Summer Olympic Games. Airbnb prepped for this by acquiring UK-based Crashpadder earlier this spring, and had 3,400 guests in London that night. Altogether, Airbnb had guests staying in 500 different cities, including 1,900 in Los Angeles, 300 in Reykjavik, 250 in Rio de Janeiro, and 200 guests in Bali.
The demographics highlight that Airbnb is no longer just about post-grad backpackers using the service, as more than half of guests booking lodging last Saturday were over the age of 30. Almost ten percent (5,500) were over the age of 50, and it even counted 320 that were 70 or older.
That’s also demonstrated in the types of lodgings people are booking. Last Saturday, 1,200 guests stayed in villas, while 10 stayed in castles and eight booked private islands. There were also 120 guests staying in boats, 30 in treehouses, and 15 staying in (shudder) caves.
Airbnb’s record night came after the startup redesigned its website in June, so it looks like that’s going well and isn’t having any adverse effects on bookings. The startup, which is based in San Francisco, has raised about $120 million over the years, and has more than 500 employees worldwide.
Apple has entered the results a consumer study into evidence which indicates that up to 37 percent of users surveyed confused Samsung’s mobile designs with Apple’s iconic products.
Sometimes an idea is so simple and perfect, you wonder how no one thought of it before. Today's case in point—the bad-breath flipbook. JWT Hong Kong created a bunch of them for Listerine, shows an attractive woman who appears to be speaking as you flip the pages. But before long, the smell of onions comes wafting toward you. At the end of the piece was a coupon for Listerine. The brand saw a staggering 66 percent redemption rate, according to the case-study video below. My suggestion for a follow-up: Go to summer festivals and give out free fans that smell like gorgonzola cheese.
Amazon has just dropped the price for a Kindle to $269 in a fire-sale “deal of the day.’ Some folks, including us, are taking this as a sign that a new Kindle is on the way.
The usual list price for the Kindle DX, Amazon’s big ol’ 9.7-inch e-ink reader, is $379. Unfortunately, in a world replete with seven-inch e-readers and 10-inch tablets, the Kindle DX was a bit too large to fit in with its own kind and a bit too bare-bones in its feature set and applications to fit in with devices of the same size.
We have also been hearing rumors that Amazon is getting ready to roll out a 10-inch Kindle Fire. Fire is the company’s entry into the world of high-powered, full-featured Android tablets, and it’s been selling like crazy since its launch. With other 10-inch competitors on the market from companies like Samsung, Asus, Sony, and (of course) Apple, it makes total sense for Amazon to kick the Fire’s screen size up a notch.
In fact, the wee, seven-inch model has already played a big role in taking a bite out of Apple’s share of the tablet market. Overall, Android tablets gained 10 percent market share from Q4 2010 to Q4 2011 and now represent 39 percent of the overall tablet market; and Fire, which was first announced just last September already represents 35.7 percent of total Android tablet application sessions.
As revealed in one of Amazon’s recent quarterly earnings calls, the Fire tablet is still Amazon’s best-selling, most gifted, and most wished for product, as it’s been since the day it launched.
Filed under: mobile
SMASH, a program that gives low-income high schoolers of color a chance to study math and science in some of the best-equipped academic institutions in California, recently rolled out a branch at Stanford. I had the chance to visit the intense summer program a few weeks ago, and was very impressed by what founders Freada and Mitch Kapor have put in motion here.
The Kapors, who founded the Level Playing Field Institute in 2001, got the inspiration for SMASH at a 2003 fundraiser they attended in Andover, MA, for a program called (MS)2. (MS)2 brought 100 disadvantaged African American, Latino, and Native American students from select public schools across the U.S. to highly elite prep school Phillips Academy for the summer. The program, which had changed the lives of hundreds of children, showed the students what they could achieve if they worked hard. Given the program’s results, the Kapors didn’t hesitate to make a generous donation.
But when Freada asked how many of the children were from California, she was disappointed, but not surprised, by the answer.
“After a bit of shuffling and staring at shoes,” she told me during my visit to the Stanford program in July, “I was told ‘none’ with an explanation that they had longstanding relationships with several high schools but none west of Chicago or Texas.”
California isn’t considered a priority given the popular myth that Silicon Valley is a meritocracy – a phenomenon I’ve previously highlighted. Blacks and Hispanics constitute only 1.5 percent and 4.7 percent respectively of the Valley’s computer workers — even lower than the national averages of 7.1 percent and 5.3 percent.
The Silicon Valley elite rarely get to interact with minorities, so stereotypes get propagated, which only serves to make the problem worse. Venture capitalists invest in people who fit the “patterns” of successful entrepreneurs that they know, and hiring managers bring in more of the same types of people they have seen achieve success — in other words: people like them.
Indeed, during the July visit, the Kapors recalled an encounter between Mitch and one of his young Latino colleagues a few years ago. He asked if Mitch invented Lotus 1-2-3 (Mitch founded Lotus Software, and it was acquired by IBM for $3.5 billion in 1995). Mitch said he was puzzled as to how someone in their 20s might know of a software program that was a blockbuster in the 1980s. He explained that his mother cleaned office buildings at night in Sacramento and would sometimes take him to work and let him play on the computer while she cleaned toilets and emptied corporate employees’ trash cans. For him, he said, this was the symbol of another life — of being successful. The interaction left Mitch in tears.
“How many Silicon Valley elites have ever had a conversation with the people who clean their offices,” he asked me, “do they see their kids as having the potential to be top talent in any field?”
This motivated the Kapors to establish SMASH — the Summer Math and Science Honors Academy at UC Berkeley. They established SMASH through the Level Playing Field Institute. While inspired by the (MS) 2 program, SMASH is not a replica of it. Instead, SMASH focuses on providing project-based learning and integrating science and math into contemporary issues rather than an intensive curriculum oriented towards standardized tests.
SMASH provides full funding for high-achieving, low-income high school students of color to spend time on campus for five weeks during the summers after their 9th, 10th, and 11th grade years. They are immersed in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), conduct experiments and participate in group discussions. They are taught by leading scholars and provided access to the most advanced research equipment. Then they are provided with year-round academic support, including SAT prep, college counseling, and other support to ensure their academic success.
The results speak for themselves: 100 percent of SMASH graduates have been accepted to competitive four-year colleges, and the overwhelming majority persist as STEM majors, according to Freada. Kids from under-performing public schools who are eligible for free lunches have often never heard of MIT or Middlebury or Morehouse, but those are campuses now populated with SMASH alumni.
SMASH has grown since 2004 from one site at UC Berkeley to four sites throughout the state, including the one at Stanford. Another site is opening at the University of Chicago in 2013, and the program’s organizers are in discussions with 18 other campuses to expand nationally. The goal? Twenty-five sites by 2020.
The biggest limiting factor is funding. The program is expensive, and the universities — even those with large endowments, such as Stanford — still charge the startup nonprofit full price for room and board. It’s the single, greatest line item in the SMASH budget.
SMASH has a rigorous and evolving curriculum, experiments with blended learning, including MySciHigh, which won first place at a recent Startup Weekend. The program also has a detailed operations manual for launching new sites. A STEM teacher training academy is also in its sights as the program explores how to scale its success.
When I visited SMASH at Stanford in July and talked to many of the participating students. They called the program “life-changing” and talked about how it made them determined to become an engineer or a scientist.
Maria Castillo, a senior from Richmond High in California said the program inspired her to become an engineer so she could help solve the energy crisis. SMASH, she said, “inspired me to speak my opinions no matter what other people think.”
Hi Vo, a senior at Del Mar High School in San Jose, gushed about how excited he was about learning math and science because of the great scientists he met at Stanford. Daryle Alums, a student at KIPP King Collegiate in San Lorenzo, Calif., said SMASH got him interested in computer science and that he had started a company with his friends.
I have little doubt that these students’ excitement and the sense of hope they developed is infectious. We just need thousands more like them returning to schools around the country to inspire the others.
[Editor's note: A version of this story previously appeared on WashingtonPost.com]
Vivek Wadhwa is a fellow at the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University and is affiliated with several other universities. Read more about Vivek Wadhwa’s affiliations.
Filed under: VentureBeat
Those are just a few of the conclusions of e-commerce optimization giant Monetate’s state-of-the-online-sales-union report for the second quarter of 2012.
Browser wars: not what you’d think
“The most interesting part for me is the browser war,” says Monetate’s chief marketing officer, Kurt Heinemann. “What we’re seeing on the e-commerce side of the fence is that mobile and desktop Safari are actually equal to Explorer.”
In fact, from 8PM to 11PM EST, when all portions of the country are out of the office, Safari accounts for 30 percent of traffic. That’s the desktop and mobile versions combined together, Heinemann adds. And it’s the browser traffic at e-commerce sites of Monetate customers such as Best Buy, QVC, Comcast, National Geographic, and many more.
Over the course of an entire day Monetate’s customers, which include 20 percent of the top 500 internet retailers in the U.S., get 3.3 percent of their visits from Android phones, up 85 percent year-over-year, and 5.4 percent of their visits from iPhones, up 117%.
Interestingly, Android users convert almost 30 percent better than iPhone users.
Yes, Mac users do actually buy more
In the wake of the Great Orbitz Pricing Non-scandal of 2012, in which Orbitz was found to be recommending higher-priced hotels to Mac users than to PC users, the hot question has been: do Mac users actually spend more?
Well, yes, says Heinemann.
“Apple users do have a higher order value. I think that’s a demographic thing — Macs tend to be a little higher priced than PCs.”
In fact, Mac users spend an average of $102.83 versus $88.75 for PC users, and just $84.91 for the cheapskate Linux faithful. On the other hand, the difference basically disappears in the smartphone world: iPhone and Android are almost neck-and-neck at $97 and change, with Windows Phone a little lower at $92.45.
It’s in the tablet world that the order value differences reappear, but in this case it’s the Kindle Fire that loses out. Average orders on the Kindle Fire lag behind those on iPad or other Android tablets by about $10.
“Again, I think that’s a demographic thing,” Heineman says. “Kindle is $200, and iPad is $500 … that’s the primary difference.”
Social vs. search: social still sucks (but so does search)
It’s fairly well known that social traffic to e-commerce sites converts at a lower rate than search traffic. Monetate confirms that: social converts at a measly .59 percent rate, while search is about four times better at 2.59 percent.
The real story which is sometimes somewhat obscured in the debate?
Email kills them both, converting at 4.25 percent … almost double search, and eight times better than social.
“That’s the great nugget there,” according to Heinemann. “In the whole social hype cycle people can easily take their eyes off the numbers, the conversion rates and average order values.”
Heinemann warns against putting too many eggs in the social basket, saying that email converts massively, and retailers need to do smart things to build their email database, and then use it well.
One caveat: there’s significantly more traffic from social than there is from email … so even with a lower conversion rate, social can still provide a significant amount of value.
Image credit: Mirexon/ShutterStock
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Federal Trade Commission Fines Google $22.5 Million for Safari Privacy Violations (The New York Times/Bits Blog)
The Federal Trade Commission fined Google $22.5 million on Thursday to settle charges that it had bypassed privacy settings in Apple’s Safari browser to be able to track users of the browser and show them advertisements, and violated an earlier privacy settlement with the agency. The fine is the largest civil penalty ever levied by the commission, which has been cracking down on tech companies for privacy violations and is also investigating Google for antitrust violations. San Francisco Chronicle “The record-setting penalty in this matter sends a clear message to all companies under an FTC privacy order,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “No matter how big or small, all companies must abide by FTC orders against them and keep their privacy promises to consumers, or they will end up paying many times what it would have cost to comply in the first place.” Reuters Companies such as Google and Facebook rely on collecting user data for a large part of their revenue, but lawmakers and privacy advocates have argued that tech companies are generally not doing enough to safeguard customer privacy. Both Google, the world’s No. 1 search engine, and Facebook, the No. 1 social networking site, last year agreed to 20 years of audits to ensure consumers’ privacy after the FTC found they had engaged in deceptive privacy practices. Wired Safari, which accounts for about 6 percent of desktop browsing and more than 50 percent of mobile browsing, is the only major browser to block so-called third-party cookies by default. When you visit a website, all browsers by default, including Safari, allow that site to put a small tracking file on your computer, which allows the site to identify a unique user, track what they’ve done and remember settings. PC Magazine Rumors of the $22.5 million settlement first cropped up in June, but the issue dates back to February. At that point, a Stanford University graduate student, Jonathan Mayer, released a report that accused Google and three other ad networks of side-stepping the privacy settings on Apple’s Safari browser to track usage on iPhones and Macs without permission. continued…
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At least for the time being, Japan’s multibillion dollar gaming giant DeNA appears to be unaffected by the government’s recent inquiry into ‘gacha’ gaming mechanics. Profits were up 20 percent year-over-year to 10 billion yen ($127.3 million), and rose 6 percent quarter-over-quarter. Overall revenue was up 37 percent to $605.9 million.
Japanese gaming companies have faced some headwinds in the early part of this year as the country’s consumer affairs agency cracked down on a gambling or ‘wishing well’-like gaming mechanic called kompu gacha that randomly awards players prizes (kind of like a slot machine). The biggest mobile gaming companies in the country like DeNA and GREE have stepped back from using them, which has put downward pressure on their share prices. DeNA removed these mechanics from its games in May (or two months into the quarter). The company said that increased spending on virtual currency offset the loss of these mechanics, although we’ll only see the real effects perhaps in the next quarter.
“There was some concern in the investor community that it would have a pretty dramatic impact on sales and the good news for us is that it didn’t really have the type of impact that was feared,” said Neil Young, a director at DeNA and the CEO of Ngmoco, the mobile-gaming network the company acquired in 2010 for up to $403 million.
In another promising bit of news, DeNA said that it saw $10 million in Moba-coin consumption in July from the Western-facing side of its mobile gaming platform Mobage. In an effort to keep growing beyond their relatively saturated home markets of Japan, both DeNA and GREE have made an aggressive push toward luring in Western audiences with splashy acquisitions of U.S.-gaming startups like Ngmoco, OpenFeint and Funzio. Young said Mobage now has 45 million registered users, although he didn’t share daily or monthly actives. Zynga has at least 33 million daily active users on mobile.
Fueling that growth in Western revenues was a trading card title called Rage of Bahamut, which sat on Google Play’s top-grossing charts for 17 weeks. Some other mid or hard-core titles like Blood Brothers are also attracted average revenue per daily active users of about $1.
DeNA’s shares were unchanged on the news at 1,810 yen, giving the company a market capitalization of $3.29 billion. Like Zynga and every other contemporary, freemium gaming counterpart DeNA has, everyone’s valuations are down significantly from the beginning of the year. DeNA shares are down only 21.6 percent from the beginning of the year, however. DeNA said for the next quarter it expects to see revenue up by 40 percent year-over-year to $1.24 billion and profit up by a similar ratio to $272.4 million.
“The challenge for us is to prove to the investor community that our market cap has been limited by speculation on the Japanese market,” Young said.
He added, “To be successful, gaming companies need to be 1) global 2) prove they can monetize and 3) be on mobile. DeNA is well-positioned in that regard.”
U.S. video game retail sales fell 20 percent in July, with total industry sales falling to $548.4 million from $686.3 million a year ago, according to consumer market research firm NPD Group. This reflects the continuing trend of gaming growth as a business, the number of games sold through physical stores is falling.
Hardware sales are also down, with a 32 percent decline from last year’s $221.4 million to $150.7 million. Video game software sales are down 23 percent, to $260.7 million from $338.5 million a year ago. Only Nintendo’s handheld consoles showed any positive movement.
“Of the hardware platforms that were on the market last July, only one, the 3DS, realized a unit sales increase over last year,” said Anita Frazier, industry analyst, The NPD Group. “Both the DS and the 3DS, however, realized a month-over-month unit sales increase over June 2012 while the other platforms declined.”
The poor overall performance in July was a little better than in June, when sales fell 29 percent, and May, when sales fell 28 percent when compared to a year ago. NPD says that the total consumer spending on games — when adding digital sales and used games, rentals, and subscriptions — was more like $1.36 billion in the month of June, compared to $1.17 billion in May.
According the NPD Group, total consumer spending on used and rental games reached $386 million, and content in digital format, including full games, add-on content downloads, subscriptions, mobile games and social network games, generated $1.47 billion.
“In the second quarter of this year, sales of content in a digital format have grown 17 percent over Q2 2011,” said Frazier. “While this growth is in stark contrast to the declines in new physical software and hardware sales, the size of digital sales is not quite large enough to offset these declines, leading to an overall drop in consumer spending in Q2 by 16 percent.”
NPD is working with video game research company EEDAR to try to come up with more accurate numbers for global digital and physical game sales worldwide.
The top game of July is NCAA Football 13 (pictured at top) for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Warner Bros.’s Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, available for multiple platforms, is the No. 2-selling game of the month, down from its top spot last month in June. The third-best seller is The Amazing Spider-Man from Activision Blizzard, also for multiple platforms, up from last month’s 10th spot.
The rest of the top 10 sellers in order are Just Dance 3 from Ubisoft, Batman Arkham City from Warner Bros., Call of Duty: Black Ops from Activision Blizzard, Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, NBA 2K12 from Take-Two Interactive, Activision’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, and Dead Island from publisher Deep Silver.
This technology is still at its very early stages and 300,000 miles is not all that big of a sample. According to a “cursory” analysis by Bryant Walker Smith of Stanford Law School, “Google’s cars would need to drive themselves (by themselves) more than 725,000 representative miles without incident for us to say with 99 percent confidence that they crash less frequently than conventional cars. If we look only at fatal crashes, this minimum skyrockets to 300 million miles.” We’re still a long way away from there. Read more » about Google's Self-Driving Cars: 300,000 Miles Logged, Not a Single Accident Under Computer Control