Архив метки: Vice President

SmartNews raises $92M at a $1.2B valuation

Looks like there’s still money to be made in news aggregation — at least according to the investors backing the news app SmartNews.
The company is announcing the close of a $92 million round of funding at a valuation of $1.2 billion. The funding was led by Japan Post Capital Co. and ACA Investments, with participation from Globis Capital Partners Co., Dentsu and D.A. Consortium.
This includes the $28 million that SmartNews announced in August, and it brings the startup’s total funding to $182 million.
News aggregation apps seemed to everywhere a few years ago, and while they haven’t exactly disappeared, they didn’t turn into unicorns, with many of them acquired or shut down.
However, Vice President of U.S. Marketing Fabien-Pierre Nicolas told me that SmartNews has a few unique advantages. For one thing, it uses machine learning rather than human curation to “thoughtfully generate a news discovery experience” that’s personalized to each user.

Secondly, he said that many news aggregators treat the publishers creating the content that they rely on “like a commodity,” whereas SmartNews treats them as “true partners.” For example, it’s working with select publishers like Business Insider, Bloomberg, BuzzFeed and Reuters on a program called SmartView First, where articles are presented in a custom format that gives publishers more revenue opportunities and better analytics.
Lastly, he said SmartNews has focused on only two key markets — Japan (where the company started) and the United States. And it sounds like one of the main goals with the new funding is to continue growing in the United States.
Nicolas also suggested that there are some broader trends that SmartNews is taking advantage of, like the fact that the shift to mobile news consumption is still underway, particularly for older readers.
And then there’s “the loss of trust in some news sources — political news, especially,” which makes SmartNews’ curated approach seem more valuable. (It also recently launched a News From All Sides feature to show coverage from different political perspectives.)
As for monetization, he said SmartNews remains focused on advertising.
Yes, there’s a growing interest in subscriptions and paywalls, which is also reflected in subscription news aggregators like Apple’s News+, but Nicolas said, “Eighty-five to ninety percent of Americans are not subscribing to news media. We believe those 85 to 90 percent have a right to have quality information as well.”
Update: Also worth noting is that SensorTower says SmartNews has been downloaded 45 million times since the beginning of 2014, with 11 million of those downloads in 2019.

SmartNews’ head of product on how the news discovery app wants to free readers from filter bubbles

SmartNews raises $92M at a $1.2B valuation

Google brings its different payment platforms together under the Google Pay brand

 Google is simplifying the way it presents its different payments tools to consumers, uniting them under a new brand called Google Pay. In a Google blog post, Vice President of Product Management for Payments Pali Bhat described this as more of a rebranding than a change to the underlying products or technology. He said the products being brought together include Android Pay (Google’s… Read More

Google brings its different payment platforms together under the Google Pay brand

Zynga And Bump Delve Into Their Social-Mobile Future This Friday At The Facebook Ecosystem CrunchUp

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Mobile usage is upending web empires, as Silicon Valley has come to realize over the last few years. And we’ll have two companies smack in the middle of the shift present at our Facebook Ecosystem CrunchUp this Friday in Redwood City, Calif., sharing how they’re surviving in this new world.

Get your CrunchUp tickets here.

Zynga, the dominant social game developer on Facebook, has been both building and buying its way into mobile gaming to adapt for this change. It’s had a few wins, like the growth of its “With Friends” franchise, and some losses, like the decline of Draw Something’s traffic.

Bump, meanwhile, has been mobile-first since it launched in 2009. The company started out with an app that lets you swap contact information and other data by tapping two phones together — and it’s now on track to hit 100 million downloads later this summer. The company has just gone straight to the heart of mobile-social, with the launch of a new app called Flock that uses geofencing to help you share photos more easily (we came away impressed).

Both companies are relying on Facebook to help discovery across their mobile apps. So what’s working and what’s not? Zynga mobile product leader Sean Kelly and Bump chief executive David Lieb will join us on stage this Friday to share more. Matthaus Krzykowski, cofounder of mobile data firm Xyologic, will also be on to share his insights into the latest mobile app industry trends.

We hope to see you at the CrunchUp and summer party at August Capital. Act quickly to get your tickets because they are selling out fast. Get them now!

Sean Kelly
Vice President of Product Development, Zynga

Sean Uberoi Kelly is a Vice President of Product Development at Zynga, where he oversees the execution and development of new mobile products. Based in San Francisco, Sean joined Zynga in 2009 as a General Manager of games such as FishVille, and was the co-creator and General Manager of CityVille, the first game to reach 100 million players world-wide in less than 30 days.

Before joining Zynga, Sean worked as an entrepreneur and technologist, and co-founded Rocket Paper Scissors, LLC, the creator of the social gaming world Dizzywood.com. He also spent five years at Microsoft Research as a researcher and software developer, specializing in the intersection of community, technology and user-generated content. During his time at Microsoft Research, he founded the social network Wallop.com. Sean also co-founded and served as CTO of eTonal Media, producing music instruction and retail web properties.

Sean earned his B.A. in English Literature from Princeton University. He also attended the University of Vermont for post-baccalaureate work in Computer Science before completing a Masters in Interactive Media at New York University’s ITP program. From 2000-2005 he was also an adjunct professor at NYU, teaching Masters level design and prototyping classes such “The Multi-User Experience” and “Rapid Prototyping for Social Software”.

David Lieb
CEO and Co-founder, Bump Technologies

David is CEO and Co-founder of Bump Technologies, which he created along with Andy Huibers and Jake Mintz in the fall of 2008 while a first-year MBA student at the University of Chicago. In 2008, the company launched the Bump app for iPhone (and shortly thereafter, Android), which lets users physically bump mobile phones together to exchange contact information, photos and more. Bump is one of the most-downloaded apps of all time, and will reach 100 million downloads in the summer of 2012.

Bump Technologies released two standalone iPhone apps in 2012: Bump Pay, a peer-to-peer mobile payments app, and Flock, an innovative, contextual photo-sharing app that aggregates the photos you’ve taken while with your Facebook friends into a single group album. Also in 2012, the company released an update to the native Bump app that lets you transfer photos from your phone to your computer by simply tapping the spacebar – it works like magic, and you’ll never need to email photos to yourself again.

Previously, David served as a technologist and algorithm designer at Texas Instruments, where he helped develop digital display devices for projectors and large-screen televisions. Prior to TI, David taught robotic vehicles to see, learn, and drive themselves while a research assistant in the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab.

David holds an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University, where he also pitched on the baseball team.

Matthaus Krzykowski
Co-founder, Xyologic

Matthaus is a co-founder of mobile app search company Xyologic where he manages all growth and sales activities. Translating customer experience into product innovation he drives Xyologic forward.

Passionate to help ideas develop into products and companies, he is an investor and advisor to other innovative startups. He has extensive product management experience in commerce, online marketing and mobile content.

A move to Silicon Valley in 2008 saw him breaking important trend pieces as a VentureBeat contributor. Working on content and sales, he build up the MobileBeat conference series as co-chair with Matt Marshall. A regular blogger and speaker, he continues to contribute to the international conference circuit.

Facebook Ecosystem CrunchUp

12:00 PM Registration and Lunch

1:00 PM Welcome

1:10 PM Fireside Chat with Mike Schroepfer – Vice President of Engineering – Facebook

1:40 PM Product Tour – Peter Deng – Director of Product Management – Facebook

1:55 PM Panel: Designing and Growing A Modern Mobile App

2:20 PM Break

2:40 PM Product Tour – Doug Purdy – Director of Developer Products- Facebook

3:05 PM Panel: What’s Next For Facebook’s Platform

3:30 PM Panel: Social Ads: What’s Working, What’s Not, and Where’s Everyone Else?

4:00 PM Office Hours and Happy Hour with Facebook

August Capital Summer Party

5:30 – 9 PM Join us for another fantastic event with networking, drinks and fun at August Capital, 2480 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park CA


Zynga And Bump Delve Into Their Social-Mobile Future This Friday At The Facebook Ecosystem CrunchUp

Mobile And Local Ads: The Publisher Perspective

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Editor’s note: Location is key to monetizing mobile ads, ThinkNear chief executive Eli Portnoy wrote in a guest post for us yesterday. Now James Hritz weighs in with some further thoughts on the matter, focusing on how app publishers view the matter. He’s a veteran monetization specialist who worked at Fox for years, and is now the Vice President of monetization at Tunewiki.

Interesting and thoughtful mobile monetization article by Eli Portnoy.

Sure, Eli speaks a lot of truth about the current state of advertising in mobile and for advertisers, geo-targeted local ads seems like nirvana. The real challenge is going to be for mobile publishers and the nature of their inventory. Aside from the largest publishers in mobile (read billions of impressions per month and there is only a handful of these guys), local ads are generally a tough proposition because most publishers simply do not have large enough volumes across cities, zip codes, or lat/long coordinates to make demand from local advertisers pay off.

Lets say you have an app with one million US daily active, you’d be surprised by how much of the DAUs reside in a very long tail of locations. Perhaps the first few hundred thousand reside in places like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc.(major population centers/designated market areas), but then after that the number of locations skyrocket and the DAUs per location shrink rapidly. Also, the typical app only generates so many impressions per user per day through usage.

So, that means the publisher has a a limited number of chances to match that user with an ad that is relevant to them even if the geo is spot on. This opportunity only gets smaller the lower the DAU/MAU ratio of the app. This means for apps like utilities, that users only use once in a while (low DAU/MAU ratio), it may not be the least bit practical to use local ads as a source of demand for inventory.

Local ads, like most other types of performance based ads, often need minimum volume levels before they start to perform and normalize around the averages. For many apps, the local campaigns just won’t be able to get enough volume to perform as well as garden variety CPC ads for things like games. This puts the publisher in the position of having to waste lots of impressions before ever seeing revenue from local ads.

So, local ads and their potential sound great in theory, but it may be only a small sliver of the app publisher universe that can ever truly make money off of them.

[This post was originally published on Quora. Image via ]


Mobile And Local Ads: The Publisher Perspective

MTV Takes The Beta Label Off Its Music Meter App For Finding New Artists

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MTV is unveiling an update to its Music Meter mobile app today. This is version 2.0, and also the first version to abandon the “beta testing” label, suggesting that MTV has worked out any early kinks — and is ready to make money.

The app first launched in March 2011 as the mobile equivalent of MTV’s Music Meter website. The goal is to track the online buzz for musicians, and to use that data to create a daily ranking that helps fans find new music. If you see an artist who interests you, the app offers songs, photos, and videos, as well as news and a brief biography. Senior Director of Product Development Mark Mezrich calls it an “artistic snacking” experience that should give you everything you need to get acquainted with a musician. Nor is that snacking limited to the daily list — Mezrich says there are more than 1 million artists in the system.

The app, which is available for iOS and Android has already been downloaded 1 million times. The new version includes integration with Songkick’s concert listings, as well as the ability to browse the app based on genre.

MTV is also introducing advertising to the app through an exclusive sponsorship from Wrigley’s 5 gum. When asked about what she expects from future Music Meter ads, Vice President of Digital Music Strategy Shannon Connolly says she’s “open to exploring different scenarios.”

“Obviously, it’s important that the apps be free,” she says. “Any payments within the apps should be supporting the artists — buying music and buying tickets.”


MTV Takes The Beta Label Off Its Music Meter App For Finding New Artists