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Discovery Channel Buys Revision3Discovery Communications, the parent company that owns The Discovery Channel and other cable networks, has purchased online video network Revision3 for a sum reportedly close to $30 million. Revision3 will continue operating independently and producing new content, and over time, Discovery will begin to merge the two brands. All of the company's 50 employees are expected to remain on board.
Over the years, Rev3 had raised about $10 million in capital, with a recent chunk coming in from mogul Mark Cuban. The company was founded in 2005 by Jay Adelson and David Prager, and for a long time, was best known as the home of the popular "Diggnation" show. Current series include "Tekzilla" with Patrick Norton and Veronica Belmont, "The Totally Rad Show" and YouTube crossover "Epic Meal Time."
QUESTIONS: What's the advantage to Discovery of buying Rev3 rather than just starting up their own streaming network and hiring talent? Think "old media" picking up online channels will become more commonplace?
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Kindle Sales Decline SharplyAmazon.com’s Kindle Fire had initially seemed to be the first credible threat to the iPad’s dominance of the tablet market. In the fourth quarter of 2011, IDC estimated that Amazon sold 4.8 million Fires, roughly 17% of the worldwide tablet market to Apple’s 55% share. But apparently, sales have collapsed in the early months of 2012, to somewhere in the neighborhood of 700,000 Fires. That's good for about 4% of the market compared to 68% for the iPad. The weak sales even allowed rival Samsung to move into the #2 spot for tablets sold.
Despite the poor showing, Amazon stock remained steady.
QUESTION: Why did this happen? What can Amazon do to increase sales?
SOURCE: The Wall Street Journal
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Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson Lied on His ResumeIn a letter to Yahoo's board of directors, activist investor and hedge fund manager Dan Loeb brought to light a discrepancy on the resume of the company's CEO, Scott Thompson.
Yahoo! had initially reported that Thompson held degrees in both computer science and accounting from Stonehill College in an April Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Yahoo now says that, as per Loeb's letter, Thompson only received one degree, in accounting.
Loeb had done some investigative work on this, calling Stonehill to verify the degrees. He found that the college didn’t begin to offer a computer degree until 1983, four years after Thompson graduated. When Thompson attended, the college offered only one computer-science course.
Yahoo spokeswoman Dana Lengkeek told Forbes: "There was an inadvertent error that stated Mr. Thompson also holds a degree in computer science, This in no way alters that fact that Mr. Thompson is a highly qualified executive with a successful track record leading large consumer technology companies."
Loeb counters that this points to credibility issues for Thompson, and just generally reflect poorly on him.
QUESTION: How big a deal is this? A fireable offense? Does it speak to Thompson's general credibility and character?
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Does Zynga Have Buyer's Remorse?Zynga's stock price declined from $16 back in early March to $8 by late April, leading many to speculate that the company's high-profile $200M+ acquisition of "Draw Something" maker OMGPOP may be dragging the stock down. This concern was buoyed by a sharp decline in new "Draw Something" downloads and engagement over the past few weeks. It actually now appears that "Draw Something" may have been peaking in the app sales charts within 24 hours of the Zynga acquisition announcement.
1 month after the app set a record for hitting 50 million downloads faster than any other app, new downloads have slowed considerably. (The app is now #5 on the paid iPhone app charts.) Its record has even been broken by the new "Angry Birds Space," which achieved the same 50 M milestone in 35 days, 15 fewer than "Draw Something." Even worse, ita ppears that about 4 million fewer people are playing Draw Something each day than 1 month ago. No specific word on what's tampering interest in "Draw Something," though a lack of new words in the index has been a frequent customer complaint, along with hiccups when purchasing "add-ons" within the app.
Nonetheless, Zynga has announced some rather innovative plans for advertising within the app, inserting brand names as words that users will have to draw. (The National Hockey League, for example, has paid to provide users with ice-hockey themed words, such as "Zamboni," "puck" and "slap shot.") OMGPOP had been testing a similar strategy with Nike, KFC and Doritos prior to acquisition.
QUESTIONS: Did Zynga make a mistake? Is there any way to know what an app's lifespan is going to be in the early days? Thoughts on this new "Draw Something" ad strategy?
SOURCES: Forbes and The Next Web
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Amazon to Start Producing Sitcoms via Amazon StudiosAmazon has announced that it wants to begin producing original content for its streaming video offering. Under the "Amazon Studios" shingle, the company is actively seeking original comedy and children's programming. Creators will receive $55,000 and a maximum of 5% of Amazon’s net receipts from clothing and toy licensing along with other royalties and bonuses if Amazon picks their pitches.
Amazon plans to stream one "promising new project" per month and will measure audience viewership and engagement with each pitched series to decide which series will go into full production.
Comedy pitches should be 22 minutes long and children’s show scripts should be 11 minutes. Writers should also submit a five-page explanation of the series, according to the Amazon Studio guidelines.
"Amazon Studios wants to discover great talent and produce programming that audiences will love," Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios, said in a statement. "In the course of developing movies, we’ve heard a lot of interest from content creators who want to develop original series in the comedy and children’s genres. We are excited to bring writers, animators and directors this new opportunity to develop original series."
QUESTION: How close are we to the point where there's no more distinction between original web content and made-for-TV content? Will the Amazon, Hulu, Netflix battle come down to who has the first big breakout hit? Also, what kind of deal is this for the creators?
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