Archive for the 'Facebook' Category

In the wake of WhatsApp, these companies are vying for title of “next big thing”

Tuesday 22 April 2014 @ 3:00 am


This sponsored post is produced in association with Life360. 

What was perhaps most shocking about Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp two months ago for over $16 billion wasn’t the price, it was the fact that nobody saw the deal coming. Whatever the reason, whether it was that the majority of users of the app were outside of the United States, far removed from Silicon Valley, or the assumption that Facebook was going to further develop its own messenger service internally instead of shopping around, the deal remains a reminder that in the shadows of the current tech titans — Facebook, Google, Microsoft — even companies with 450 million users can remain relatively hidden.

Though there may not be another deal on the same scale as the purchase of WhatsApp for some time, at present there are apps on the Google Play and iTunes App store with billion-dollar valuations, user bases above 100 million, and competitive advantages in new marketplaces that could prove to be the next big shocker. Let’s run through a few of the most promising.


It would be interesting to ask the founders of South Korean based Kakao Corp., parent company of KakaoTalk, if they enjoy playing the popular board game Risk. In Risk, a popular strategy is to find an easily dependable corner of the world, build up a huge force, and then launch your attack on the rest of the world. This is, in essence, the strategy Kakao has employed with its social media platform KakaoTalk. There are 100 million people using the app without any attempt by Kakao to expand internationally.

With the app, users can make phone calls, send messages, share photos, and more, all for free. The company is scheduled for IPO in May, with plans for international expansion following the offering.


With Flipboard, users can personalize their news, subscribing to sites, magazines, and topics that they find interesting. These stories can be combined with news feeds from Facebook and Twitter, creating a one stop shop for all news, personal and worldly. With over 100 million users, spots among the top news apps on the Google Play and the iTunes App Store, and its recent acquisition of competitor Zite from CNN, the app has fertile grounds for developing a revenue generation model and could shake up the way traditional news sites bring users their news.


Remember Pinterest? Of course you do, but the company’s steady growth and positive management hasn’t led to many stories to keep it in the news. In February a report from ComScore announced that the company has 48.7 million users globally, not a huge audience compared to other social media companies, but with the recent announcment of “promoted pins,” the company finally has a clear path towards generating revenue. It also has the advantage of having 75% of its audience on mobile devices, according to the company, and as mobile plays a bigger and bigger role in consumers’ lives, the user base is sure to increase.


In a marketplace dominated by social media apps designed to connect users to more and more people, Life360 has taken a refreshing reverse turn with its app, creating a mobile platform that focuses on family and keeping up to date with those closest to you.

Besides sending messages, users can get the current location of family members via a map, as well as alerts when people chosen by the user check into destinations. According to Life360′s website, six to eight text messages each day are dedicated to the simple question “where are you?” The check-ins eliminate this need and the undue worry that parents currently experience if a child forgets to send a text message response.

Things look good for the app’s future as well. It is a popular free download in the iTunes App Store and Google Play store and was announced last month as one of the apps that will be integrated into BMW’s all-electric i3 model.


This mobile games company is a hit factory in the making, with two games — Clash of Clans and Hay Day — generating $892 million in revenue last year. Its third game, Boom Beach, was released last month and has already become a top download in the free downloads charts. The company is based in Helsinki, Finland and is self-described as focusing on developing games primarily for tablets. It has revenues comparable to Zynga with only a tenth of the staff.


This app isn’t about user base, instead it focuses on a space that has largely remained separate from technology: the art world. Artsy is a platform for browsing, learning about, and purchasing art with a collection of over 125,000 pieces from over 25,000 artists. The site has 65,000 works for sale, ranging from below $1,000 to above $1 million. Its Art Genome Project, a database where pieces of art are categorized based on over 500 characteristics, allows users to scroll through paintings, choosing what they like, and getting recommendations on other pieces they might enjoy.

Artsy serves as a disruptive presence in the world of art sales, and traditional art auction houses like Christie’s or Sotheby’s are likely to view it as a potential takeover target as its influence grows.

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Hands On With Facebook Nearby Friends [Video]: No More Checkins

Sunday 20 April 2014 @ 11:16 am
Screenshot 2014-04-20 at 12.14.31 PM Facebook Nearby Friends is based around broadcasting how far you are from friends, not your exact coordinates, and that's why it could succeed where other location apps have failed. But while we might be comfortable sharing proximity, that doesn't mean we're comfortable doing it on Facebook. Read More

Gillmor Gang: Action Items

Saturday 19 April 2014 @ 9:00 am
Gillmor Gang Artcard The Gillmor Gang — Dan Farber, Kevin Marks, Semil Shah, Danny Sullivan, Keith Teare, and Steve Gillmor — played the latest favorite game of the Mobility Addicted. It's called Lock Screen, and some of us think it's where the early adopters meet the great unvarnished Silent Majority. Forget clicks or swipes or doing anything; it's all about glancing. What this means is that social scientists… Read More

Highlights from VentureBeat’s Mobile Summit 2014: From ad tech to social giants

Friday 18 April 2014 @ 12:00 pm
Highlights from VentureBeat’s Mobile Summit 2014: From ad tech to social giants

Above: Mobile Summit 2014

Image Credit: Michael O'Donnell/VentureBeat

Before we set our sights on VentureBeat’s next conference, DataBeat, we’re taking a moment to look back on Mobile Summit 2014. This week, big names such as Twitter cofounder Biz Stone and Facebook marketing head Jane Schachtel took the stage in Eden-esque Sausalito, Calif, to discuss the future of mobile.

Here are the highlights:

In a war of words, ads, & installs, Appia fires back at Supercell — Read it

This year’s conference was not without controversy. Appia snapped back at former partner Supercell in a very public way. …

Appia's Ken Hayes and Jud Bowman

Above: Appia’s Ken Hayes and Jud Bowman.

Biz Stone: Twitter must ‘make bold choices to survive’ — Read it

In response to Twitter’s stock price being down in 2014 since reaching all-time highs in December after its November IPO, Stone shared that he doesn’t want Twitter “to play it safe and cater to Wall Street’s whims. …”

Biz Stone

Above: Twitter & Jelly cofounder Biz Stone

Khosla’s Keith Rabois: Here are the mobile apps I want to invest in — Read it

Apps like Uber and Lyft have turned the mobile device into a remote control for the real world, Rabois said, but in retail, opportunities remain. …

Khosla Ventures partner Keith Rabois

Above: Khosla Ventures partner Keith Rabois

For more Mobile Summit 2014 stories, head here. And for an inside look at the conference, take a peek at the slideshow below!

Photo credit: Michael O’Donnell/VentureBeat

VB's working with marketing expert Scott Brinker to understand the new digital marketing organization. Help us out by answering a few questions, and we'll help you out with the data.

Facebook upgrades Paper with birthdays, events, photo comments, & more

Friday 18 April 2014 @ 10:23 am
Facebook upgrades Paper with birthdays, events, photo comments, & more
Image Credit: mkhmarketing

Scroll. Swipe. Tap. Read.

Facebook’s clever news app Paper turns 10 weeks old today. And the Menlo Park, Calif.-based social network giant has announced an upgrade to Paper, called version 1.1, designed (of course) to keep people coming back again — and again.

Paper helps mobile users access social content, but the feeds are imbued with specifically tailored news content the Facebook’s in-house editorial team selects.

Facebook has integrated many of the features into the mobile app already available on its main site, adding birthday and event notifications. Just tap and open. The feature enables readers to insert photographs and post those as replies. This also goes for group updates. Facebook has added what they’re calling unread accounts in order to visually see which of your groups have posted something new. Simply swipe to open the main menu, tap the search field, and viola, see your bookmarks and group lists.

Perhaps the flashiest update is the addition of nine new article covers. According to Facebook’s blog post announcing version 1.1:

“You already know that articles in Paper unfold to show you stories from some of the world’s best publishers. Designer Sharon Hwang painstakingly crafted over 50 of these custom article covers for Paper so you can quickly identify favorite publications like National Geographic. In version 1.1 we’ve added many new covers to the collection. Now it’s even easier to spot articles from Bloomberg News, Mashable, FT, kottke, Fox News, Popular Science, The Hollywood Reporter, Vanity Fair and Hacker News. Happy reading!”

Facebook said Paper is getting traction. People “explore” an average of 80 stories per day across a multitude of up to six different sections. Surprise, the Facebook section on Paper is the most popular section, followed by Headlines, Tech, Ideas, LOL, and Pop Life. The company also said, “We’re also seeing an avid use of some of our more tailored sections, like Pride. If you want to add more sections or change their order, swipe down to get the man menu and tap Edit Sections.”

Other upgrades to the app, according to Facebook’s blog post:

“This update includes basic accessibility support, and an arrow indicator that tells you when there are new stories in other sections. We’re also continually working to make the app faster and more reliable. For a full list of new features in Paper 1.1 visit the App Store and get the update.”

Happy reading!

VB's working with marketing expert Scott Brinker to understand the new digital marketing organization. Help us out by answering a few questions, and we'll help you out with the data.

Facebook is now tracking your friends in the real world — for your benefit, of course

Thursday 17 April 2014 @ 10:57 am
Facebook is now tracking your friends in the real world — for your benefit, of course

Above: Mark Zuckerberg is watching you.

Image Credit: Robert Scoble/Flickr

Facebook’s new Nearby Friends feature helps you track … well, your friends.

Activate it. Find out who’s nearby. Or let friends know you’re in the area. Meet for a drink. Take in a movie. Use Nearby Friends when traveling to another state. Friends you haven’t seen in years can now know you’re near. Cool.

Facebook announced the feature today in a post written by the Nearby Friends lead designer Andrea Vaccari. The feature is optional. It will run on both Android and iOS devices and will go mainstream on Facebook very soon. VentureBeat was not given the chance to chat with Vaccari directly.

According to Vaccari’s blog post:

“Sharing your location with Nearby Friends goes two ways — you and your friends both have to turn on Nearby Friends and choose to share with each other to see when you’re nearby. Your friends will only be able to see that you’re nearby if you share this info with them and vice versa.

If you turn on Nearby Friends, you can also choose to share a precise location with the particular friends you choose for a set period of time, such as the next hour. When you share your precise location, the friend you choose will see exactly where you are on a map, which helps you find each other. Then you can meet up and spend time together.”

Opting in to Nearby Friends means you will occasionally receive a ping when someone on your friends list is within your vicinity. Or a group of them. Also, users may opt out, which means you won’t be visible to friends using it. This is important if you don’t like being tracked.

Google Latitude and Foursquare already offer similar features.Nearby Friends 2According to Vaccari:

“When Nearby Friends is on, you can see when your friends are traveling if they’re also using this feature and sharing with you. You’ll be able to see the city or neighborhood they are in, including on their profile. When you see a friend visiting a place you’ve been, it’s the perfect opportunity to send a recommendation for a great restaurant. You can also make last-minute plans to meet up with a friend who happens to be in the same place you’re headed to.”

This also represents a potential mobile advertising windfall for Facebook. It means the social networking site can know, in real-time, where you’re hanging out specifically — whether it’s at Billy’s Coffee, Daren’s Skateboards, or even McDonald’s. Targeted ads, the kinds that brands want to place strategically, is now yet another option. A Facebook spokesperson later told VentureBeat that it will not use Nearby Friends data to target ads. Nearby Friends 3

Facebook Will Be “Unbundling The Big Blue App” Through Its Creative Labs

Wednesday 16 April 2014 @ 5:08 am
zuckerberg Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg sat down with The New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo to discuss Facebook and its future, and much of the discussion centered on Creative Labs, the new internal initiative at Facebook that’s playing more with products outside the core social networking site, or spun out from that experience. Creative Labs is about “unbundling the big blue app,”… Read More

Instagram Is Down (Update: It’s back!)

Saturday 12 April 2014 @ 8:44 am
instagramdown RED ALERT! We are at DEFCON 1. Instagram is down. Read More

All the passwords you should change because of Heartbleed, in one handy graphic

Saturday 12 April 2014 @ 7:51 am
All the passwords you should change because of Heartbleed, in one handy graphic
Image Credit: WallpaperStock

Connect with leaders from the companies in this story, in real life: Come to the fourth annual VentureBeat Mobile Summit April 14-15 in Sausalito, Calif. Request an invitation.

The Heartbleed security flaw was fixed in the newest version of OpenSSL, but you should still change your passwords on all of the sites affected by the bug.

If you’re still not sure which sites were affected, we have the perfect chart for you, created by the “digital forensic specialists” at LWG Consulting. Major sites ranging from Facebook and Google to Pinterest and Flickr were affected. Luckily, many financial institutions were not.

Click here for the full size graphic.


As we wrote yesterday, “Heartbleed arose inside a version of open-source OpenSSL cryptographic software. Information sitting inside the memory of a server should be encrypted, but a little bit of data could be pulled out under an attack. The vulnerability affected widely used infrastructure from cloud providers like Heroku and Amazon Web Services as well as networking hardware from vendors like Cisco and Juniper.”

Most recently, a report emerged alleging that the U.S. National Security Agency had known about Heartbleed for more than two years, and even exploited it. The NSA later denied the allegations.

Facebook cracks down on News Feed spam — yes, again

Thursday 10 April 2014 @ 1:03 pm
Facebook cracks down on News Feed spam — yes, again
Image Credit: Stephen Dann/Flickr

Connect with leaders from the companies in this story, in real life: Come to the fourth annual VentureBeat Mobile Summit April 14-15 in Sausalito, Calif. Request an invitation.

Facebook is back at it, scrubbing its mega-social network to get the spam out of your News Feed.

“Today we are announcing a series of improvements to News Feed to reduce stories that people frequently tell us are spammy and that they don’t want to see,” software engineer Erich Owens and product manager Chris Turitzin wrote in a blog post today.

Facebook has rejiggered its algorithms again and again over the years to make the precious patented News Feed an object of pleasure, not frustration. The idea is to keep millions and millions of users happily clicking links, not scrutinizing everything they see and gradually using Facebook less and less.

With today’s updates, Owens and Turitzin wrote, Facebook is de-emphasizing items that beg users for likes, comment, or sharing and ensuring they don’t get precedence over more humbly shared content in users’ News Feeds. Facebook also is straining links to content that seem like something good but actually just turns out to be nothing but ads — or a blend of frequently shared stuff and ads.

Oh, and if users or Facebook pages reshare stuff, that’s no good, either.

“We’ve found that people tend to find these instances of repeated content less relevant, and are more likely to complain about the Pages that frequently post them,” Owens and Turitzin wrote. “We are improving News Feed to de-emphasize these Pages, and our early testing shows that this change causes people to hide 10% fewer stories from Pages overall.”

Facebook doesn’t think everyone is guilty of these nefarious practices. It’s just the bad apples. Now you know how to avoid being a bad apple.

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