Auction of Blockbuster’s assets proves even giants may fall
Big fish or no, Blockbuster found itself at the center of a feeding frenzy while its assets went up for bid at an auction lasting almost two days and concluding April 6.
The affair appears to have been a heated one, according to the Wall Street Journal, which cited the auction as similar to a â€œcage matchâ€ and â€œlawyer’s gang fight,â€ including a â€œshouting matchâ€ between one of the bidders’ associates and a creditor’s lawyer.
Competing to acquire Blockbuster’s assets were SK Telecom, Cobalt Video, Blockbuster investor Carl C. Ichan and his group of liquidators, as well as satellite TV company Dish Network. With a bid worth $320 million, Dish Network finally won the deal, which was approved April 7 by a federal bankruptcy judge, and which is expected to close by May 5.
Dish’s Executive VP of Corporate Development Tom Cullen says of his company’s acquisition: â€œWhile Blockbusterâ€™s business faces significant challenges, we look forward to working with its employees to re-establish Blockbusterâ€™s brand as a leader in video entertainment.â€
To be sure, Blockbuster’s over 1,700 store locations and high brand recognition had some role to play in the intense atmosphere at the auction.
Epsilon bears the bad news in wake of email system breach
This is a bad week to be an Epsilon PR rep.
Jessica Simon, spokesperson for multi-channel marketing firm Epsilon, had the tough job of admitting in an official statement that the company’s email system had been breached.
Mashable reported April 5 that, among the clients hit by the hack, more than 50 major retailers, such as Target and Best Buy, and a number of Hotel chains, like Hilton and Ritz-Carlton, were affected.
The list of companies impacted by the breach continues to grow and their response so far has largely been to appease their customers with the knowledge that the personal data leaked â€œwas limited to first name and/or email addresses only,â€ as TiVo told its users in an email regarding the data breach.
Whether Epsilon’s clients themselves will believe their own rhetoric, however, is another question.
Radian6′s new Insights helps marketers move beyond keywords
Social media monitoring company Radian6 launched its new tool, Insights, April 7, in partnership with other social media analytics firms, like Klout, Open Amplify And OpenCalais.
Radian6 claims their partnership with these third parties will help users â€œgain a deeper understanding of both what is being said on the social web as well as who is saying it,â€ by providing them with additional demographics and geographic information, as well as influence and entity extraction.
One of the more interesting features of the tool is its use of Natural Language Processing. Radian6 believes OpenAmplify’s semantic text analysis technology will help marketers move beyond their current limiting focus on keywords when monitoring conversations on social media platforms. They claim the technology will â€œhelp deduce sentimentâ€ and â€œbring meaning and understanding to raw content,â€ because it provides marketers with a context with which to better understand these conversations.
This feature will be available alongside others, like Klout’s â€œInfluenced Byâ€ and â€œInfluencer Ofâ€ insights, which help marketers assess influence across mobile networks. Klout’s formula monitors the frequency of retweets about brands, among other things, to assign individuals with a certain influencer status. Radian6 says this feature offers marketers a dual perspective of who is doing most of the influencing as well as who is being influenced.
Thomson Reuters’ OpenCalais tool will enable extraction of relevant content by tracking mentions of people, brands and other entities, while demographic insights will provide information about age, gender and location.
TripAdvisor to split from Expedia and become public company
The BBC reported on April 7 that Expedia Inc.’s board of directors approved the division of Expedia and TripAdvisor, turning the latter into its own publicly traded company by the third quarter of 2011.
The spin-off is certainly merited, considering TripAdvisor sees 40 million monthly visitors, and has â€œflourished,â€ in the words of The New York Times, since its 2004 acquisition by InterActiveCorp.
The tax-free deal, which could place the valuation of TripAdvisor at $4 billion, will likely come in â€œthe form of a distribution of stock of TripAdvisor to Expedia shareholders or a reclassification of stock, with the holders of Expedia stock to receive a proportionate amount of TripAdvisor stock,” according to the board.
TechCrunch reported April 5 that Marin software, which provides online ad management services, has received $16 million in funding from a series E funding round led by Crosslink Capital.
Existing investors Benchmark Capital, DAG Ventures, Focus Ventures and Triangle Peak Partners also participated in the financing, which Marin says it will use to increase and broaden its current customer base, which includes advertisers and ad agencies.
The company already has 800 clients worldwide, netting about $100,000 monthly in client spending and $2 billion annually in paid search spending, but there is always room for growth.
As part of the deal, Crosslink Capital partner Eric Chin is to become an observer on Marin’s board of directors, while John Kaelle, Shutterfly’s former VP of Finance, has been appointed Marin’s Executive VP and CFO.
Marin also plans to increase the number of its employees from 175 to 275.
Zynga’s board receives DreamWorks’ Katzenberg
Zynga, the social gaming outfit responsible for wildly popular games like CityVille, FarmVille and Mafia Wars, added DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg to their board of directors April 4.
Zynga CEO Mark Pincus said in a blog statement that he knew Katzenberg would â€œbe a great fit for the board after he suggested that the blockbuster of 2011 could be ShrekVille.â€
As would be expected, the concerned parties are throwing around a lot of platitudes in praise of one-another, with Katzenberg calling Zynga â€œone of todayâ€™s most innovative and entertaining companies,â€ adding that he â€œcouldn’t be more excited to become part of it.â€
For his part, Pincus touted DreamWorks Animation as â€œa revolutionary technology companyâ€ and â€œrecognized consumer brand.â€
â€œItâ€™s easy to see the value that Jeffrey will add to Zynga,â€ Pincus continued, â€œas we grow and look for more ways to delight our players.â€
The bottom line is that, with Zynga’s current valuation at more than $10 billion, and considering Katzenberg’s long-standing Hollywood career and the contacts that come with it, who could have anything bad to say?
Numbers from social media referrals leave something to be desired
Research released April 7 by ForeSee Results indicates that the impact of social media on web traffic is very weak, indeed.
On average, less than 1 percent of website visits were shown to come directly from social networks, though a less pathetic 18 percent of visitors say they were influenced by social media to visit a site. According to MediaPost, though people spend more time on social networks than search engines, the latter account for an overwhelming 85 percent of website traffic, with 41 percent coming from Google alone.
ForeSee President and CEO Larry Freed says the research suggests that traditional clickstream metrics, like counting Tweets, Facebook follower and fans, or individuals who click an ad on social sites â€œdon’t give us a full picture of what value social media efforts are bringing to our business.â€
Instead, he suggests a much more effective way of calculating ROI would â€œbe to see whether [website] visitors are more or less influenced by social media than the averageâ€ and compare that influence to what those visitors spend.
Its revenues as of that period were equivalent to $83 million in U.S. currency, and it boasted 26 million unique monthly visitors to its network of blogs and e-commerce sites. In the company’s view, these figures confirm â€œits position as European leaderâ€ in the market.
In the last two years, Populis has almost tripled its content production, with the number of its articles and videos now reaching 350,000 a month.
According to Populis Co-Founder and Chairman Luca Ascani, these record achievements will only be followed up with further expansion and more acquisitions.
â€œThe company is now ready to scale in new markets,â€ he says, â€œand 2011 will be another exciting year of growth for us with more strategic acquisitions.â€
Populis began 2011 with the acquisition of Blogo in January.
About Emily Wilkinson
Emily Wilkinson is a Montreal writer and editor who recently joined ReveNews.com. Her experience comes largely from her work at print publications like La Scena Musicale, where she alternated between positions as content manager, copy editor and journalist.
She believes in the importance of strong writing, be it in journalism or in other media, like blogging or even social networking. Her prerogative: though language will and ought to evolve, a good writer need never sacrifice the communicative power of text that is written with thought and care, whatever the venue.
Find Emily on Twitter @EditorWilkinson