Archive for the ‘playing second fiddle’ tag
A new study of Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ tracked the ongoing evolution of brands interacting with consumers and concludes that while growing, Google+ is still definitely playing second fiddle to Facebook and Twitter. But with the SEO benefits Google+ can deliver, brands may not care.
The study, by enterprise SEO company BrightEdge, shows that Google+ is catching up to Facebook and Twitter in terms of numbers of top companies on the site, with three quarters of the top brands in the U.S. now on Google+. Which is starting to compare relatively favorably to the number of top brands on Facebook and Twitter: 90 percent and 80 percent, respectively.
Unfortunately, that silver lining has an enormous grey cloud.
Only 15 million Google+ users have actually circled one of the top 100 brand pages, compared to 481 million on Facebook.
In spite of that, there is one key reason for brands to still care very deeply about Google+: search engine optimization.
Plainly put, the search engine optimization benefits of creating a Google+ brand page are worth the price of admission alone. In other words, whether any fans follow you on Google+ or not, it is worth creating a profile, adding content, and updating it regularly.
BrightEdge tracked top brands at both Google and Facebook. Most followed companies on Google+ include H&M, with 1.3 million followers, Toyota at 1.1 million, and Google itself at just under one million. That compares unfavorably to top brands on Facebook, which include Facebook itself at 70 million, Coca-cola at 45 million, and Disney at 37 million.
But the big win for brands that participate on Google+ is in Google SERPs: search engine result pages.
In other words, when someone searches for Intel on Google, a Google+ page for Intel shows up with the other results. Or, if the company ranks well enough for the right keywords, Intel’s Google+ page could even theoretically show up for a Google search on computer chips.
Either Google is dialing up a Google+ setting so that Google+ brand pages appear with search engine results pages, or the Google+ pages that brands are creating are getting richer and fuller with content, helping them to naturally rank higher in Google results … or both.
Only Google knows for sure.
One thing that’s obvious, however, is that Google+ has a significant potential advantage over Facebook and Twitter: the company that owns most of global search can ensure that its own social network is represented in search results.
And brands — whether they’re there for the social or the search — are jumping on the Google+ train.
Interested? Get the full report here.
Ticketfly is not content playing second fiddle to Ticketmaster, so it just raised a $22 million Series C with each investor chosen for a strength they bring to the stage: Northgate – sports, SAP Ventures (the round’s leader) – international, Cross Creek – IPO, and Mohr Davidow – connections in Silicon Valley. The round brings Ticketfly up to $37 million in funding to disrupt event ticketing.
CEO and co-founder Andrew Dreskin has lofty aspirations and tells me “A changing of the guard is at foot, the fundamentals of the ticketing space are experiencing great change.” But considering Ticketmaster has signed long contracts with clients, and is just half of the LiveNation juggernaut that owns venues and and artist management deals, Ticketfly will need to play its heart out to win the crowd.
The San Francisco startup’s most recent challenge to Ticketmaster was the launch of the Ticketfly software platform for reserved seating venues last week. Until then it had only been able to support smaller general admission venues, facing off against the general admission-specific TicketWeb subsidiary of Ticketmaster / LiveNation. But now Ticketfly can vie for contracts with big stadiums and arenas. It’s already had a strong 2o12, increasing its client count by 65%.
Some of the new money will go towards further developing the reserved seating platform so it can handle more complex venues and verticals such as sporting and performing arts events that use season tickets. Dreskin also says some cash will be put towards the company’s marketing and sales efforts.
Ticketfly’s Series C, Note By Note
Now I know articles about startup funding can seem dry. They often just cite a long list of investors with no clue as to when they got in on the round. Luckily, this Series C was different. Ticketfly picked each investor to take advantage of a specific superpower of theirs. So I’m going to cover it differently too. Here’s what each investor offers:
Northgate Capital – Ticketfly is mostly a music ticketing company right now, but it wants to get into sports. Thomas Vardell, a former professional football player for the San Francisco 49ers and other teams, has been one of Northgate’s managing directors since it was founded. Vardell’s sports connections could help Ticketfly break into the lucrative vertical.
SAP Ventures - The investment arm of a European enterprise software giant, SAP Ventures has deep connections outside the United States. Most of Ticketfly’s clients are state-side, but it wants to expand internationally. Having SAP Ventures lead the Series C could smooth that expansion.
Cross Creek Capital – Founded inside Wasatch Advisors which handles several mutual funds, Cross Creek Capital invests in late stage companies and preps them to go public. With a strong business and having now raised a Series C, Ticketfly is eying a public market debut that Cross Creek could help it reach.
Mohr Davidow Ventures - A stalwart of the Silicon Valley scene, Mohr Davidow is doubling down after its Series B investment in Ticketfly. It will continue to give the company advice and assistance brokering partnerships with other startups.
With over $37 million in funding, Ticketfly is ready to attack top-tier of the ticketing industry. However, Matt Shearer, vice president of its competitor TicketWeb is skeptical that Ticketfly will be able to “straddle the two worlds” of general admission and reserved seat ticket — segments Live Nation has split between two companies.
Still, Shearer says Ticketfly’s ambitions “push everyone to get better, smarter, faster, stronger.” And if Ticketfly deems the challenge too great, it’s got options. Dreskin tells me there are “potential acquirers sniffing around.”
[Image Credit: Muashley]
I’ve long wondered what exactly Samsung would do with their homegrown Bada operating system, and for a little while there the answer seemed clear — Samsung SVP Tae-jin Kang recently noted that Bada would be merged with the Intel-backed Tizen OS project.
In fact, he said at CES that the work to combine both platforms had already begun, which seemed like a pretty definitive conclusion for Bada.
Now it seems like Samsung may be having second thoughts about the whole process. Samsung representatives have reached out to AllThingsD and Information Week to say that a final decision regarding a merger hasn’t yet been made.
“Samsung and other members of Tizen Association have not made a firm decision regarding the merge of Bada and Tizen,” Samsung said in a statement. “We are carefully looking at it as an option to make the platforms serve better for customers.”
It goes on to say that Bada still has an important part to play in Samsung’s mobile ecosystem and that it would continue “democratizing the smartphone experience in all markets.” Samsung seems to have chosen their words very wisely here, and seems to confirm rumors that Bada would continue to power low-end smartphones while Tizen would grace some more premium fare.
Samsung has spent some time on the fence when it comes to their Bada-based efforts. The company was reportedly considering making it open-source back in September, with the possibility of expanding its use into their line of Smart TVs. The nascent Tizen platform is similarly meant for expansion into different device categories, with “tablets, netbooks, in-vehicle infotainment devices, [and] smart TVs” being prime among them. Sounds like a perfect fit, should the two parties ever make things official.
Of course, there are considerable gains to be made in the mobile market too. Despite playing second-fiddle to Samsung’s mobile OS of choice, Bada isn’t exactly a slouch — for a time Bada appeared on more smartphones sold than Windows Phone. While it poses little chance of making a considerable dent in a smartphone market that’s already dominated by a handful of players, Bada was being looked at as a way for Samsung to reduce their reliance on Google’s own mobile OS.
There are a number of reasons why Samsung would want to keep an ace in the hole, not least of which is the fact that Samsung pays out royalties to Microsoft for the Android devices they produce. And of course Samsung making Windows Phones too, so royalties are paid out for nearly every handset Samsung makes save for those running Bada. With a Bada-Tizen union, Samsung and other hardware vendors may have a more viable competitor in the smartphone OS space, but for now we’ll have to see if the merger ever comes to fruition.
Say a prayer for Android. Nokia’s new Lumia 710 Windows Phone, a $49 smartphone aimed at the feature-phone set, is about to change the way carriers sell – and customers see – cellphones. Forget LTE, dual cores, and all that flummery. Microsoft and Nokia are essentially buying a few million people stuck in the 20th century a new cellphone and they’re doing it in a way only the world’s two finest proprietors of technology to the masses could.
On the surface, the Lumia 710 is redolent of the bargain basement. The amateurish (but rugged) protruding buttons and a rubberized back are a direct attack against the carbon-fiber power slabs that most carriers are flogging while the OS is all animation and pop, aimed at a market that’s used to constantly moving images associated with ad-clogged web pages and Xbox dashboards. It is, to quote Ren and Stimpy, a jolly candy phone, priced to move and ready for the anything but iPhone crowd who, whether by dint of economics or aesthetics, don’t go much for Nexii or RAZRii either.
If you’re thinking that I’m suggesting the Lumia 710 is in any way bad or too “mainstream,” think again. Nokia and Microsoft were – and, to an extent, still are – on the ropes. Convinced for too long that their vaunted N-series was still lounging in high Olympus while it was really playing-second fiddle. It took Elop and his “sell-out” to Microsoft – whose money is helping subsidize this handset – to remake the brand.
The 710 is what Nokia does best: solid, acceptably-specced hardware at a price that’s approaching free. I would equate these phones with the long-dead Wing and Shadow, two “feature-smartphones” Microsoft belatedly tried to foist on a public salivating for the iPhone and the Nokia 5310, a music phone that circulated for a few years in the wake of the app phone revolution. Those were phones aimed at the low end at a time when the low end was looking up.
These past few years have changed the way we think about phones and, although there are cheap Android and iOS phones to be had for under $100, Nokia is really aiming at parents who may be buying their kids a new cellphone (the Xbox Live app is a huge deal) and out-of-work folks who are looking for a real smartphone experience for not a lot of money. Microsoft and Nokia excel at this.
I won’t estimate sales in the millions for this model, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a slow and steady trickle of phones like the 710 in the next few years. If Microsoft knows anything it’s that low-end, commodity hardware is just fine to showcase their software and if Nokia knows anything it’s low-end, commodity hardware is a great base on which to build a business. Nokia didn’t get huge by selling the Nokia N810. They got rich selling Neo’s 7110.
That said I also feel that this is a real and credible threat to Android. A single OS provider the size of Microsoft sending out updates to an entire line, from low to high, is increasingly seeming more credible than newcomer Google pumping out Ice Cream Sandwiches and other updates to the older phones that they clearly consider dross. Microsoft, through the execrable Windows Mobile platform, learned how to code to the lowest common denominator.
Claim chowder or not, 2012 is the year of WinPho.