Click to viewThis is why people love Apple executive turned venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki, whether or not he knows what he's talking about. At a Commonwealth Club event, Kawasaki was asked about his insanely popular "Ten Ways to use LinkedIn." Watch him squirm for a minute before 'fessing up: LinkedIn flack Kay Luo provided Guy with his talking points for the post. "I really needed a post — it was four days!" Guy, next time feel free to raid our inbox. We get more helpfully-already-written posts than we'd ever imagined possible.
Mark Zuckerberg's social network has lost much of its swagger over the past year. He once thought nothing of poaching Google's best and brightest; then Google started poaching back. After Facebook's flacks learned that Google had scheduled its holiday press party on December 8, the same day as Facebook's planned media fest, they rescheduled for December 10, rather than fight for reporters' affections. Embarrassing — especially considering that Facebook's top PR guy, Elliot Schrage, came from Google himself.
It's becoming a holiday tradition: Google announces a holiday party for Silicon Valley reporters at its Mountain View headquarters, and Valleywag's invite gets mysteriously lost in Gmail's ever-canny spam filters. The invitation for the December 8 event, held again at the Googleplex's Cafe Slice, is nontransferable, so we can't accept any pass-along invites, alas.But here's a clever idea: The RSVP form allows you to suggest a colleague in your place. It would be a pity if jealous colleagues at, say, the New York Times filled out the form for John Markoff and suggested they attend in his place. I just declined on behalf of AllThingsD's Kara Swisher — though she could always crash as the guest of her wife, Google executive Megan Smith. Here's the full invite:
Hatteras Networks, as the name suggests, is in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. The company bragged to the Wall Street Journal that they've laid off 20 of 80 employees, weeks after Denton and Calacanis beat them to it. Tough times, totally awesome decisions! I only hope you recognize this one-company trend story for what it really is: An ad. The message is at the end: "Revenue has grown more than 100% every year for the last three years." Now they're sure to get a decent acquisition offer. All they had to do was fire the 20 most problematic employees.
You've never heard of media analyst company Screen Digest. Keep that in mind when you stumble upon a few dozen news reports today that claim "Hulu ... a smaller upstart backed by News Corporation and NBC Universal ... is forecast to draw level with Google’s YouTube in US advertising revenues next year." Any reporter who reads that sentence in the Financial Times instantly wonders, "forecast by who?" By the Financial Times? By Hulu executives? No, by Screen Digest. Take that as you will.
Reid Hoffman's heft regularly makes reporters turn to their thesauri for polite terms for "fat." BusinessWeek, to keep the tone of a new profile appropriately flattering, writes of his "expansive body." But the article is anything but expansive in its probing of LinkedIn's business. It focuses instead on how Hoffman is trying to figure out survival strategies for his portfolio of startups. Nowhere are LinkedIn's own layoffs mentioned. Instead, Hoffman implies that the employees he put out on the street should use the site to seek new careers: "Every individual is a small business." Not an expansive one.
Dear Trendrr publicist who sent us a data dump on the presidential candidates' social-networking prowess a day after the election: Here's your "hit" on a hot "influencer" site that thinks you're "dumb." Hands up, everyone who still cares how many MySpace friends John McCain has this afternoon. Thought so.
Mountaineer, philanthropist, and longtime Microsoftie Jeff Dossett has a new claim to fame: He's brave enough to join Yahoo — but it took a while to convince him. Two months ago, Dossett, who joined Microsoft in 1991, went through a curious back-and-forth: BoomTown's Kara Swisher reported he was leaving Microsoft to join Yahoo. A Microsoft rep promptly denied the report, claiming Dossett was leaving a job at the software giant's MSN Web business, but looking at other opportunities within Microsoft. We could speculate about how Microsoft and Yahoo were bidding for Dossett's services, but the real lesson here is: Never, ever believe a Microsoft flack. Dossett replaces Scott Moore, who's leaving Yahoo as reported.
Click to viewWhy is Kevin Rose on a publicity binge? In the past two months, the founder of headline-voting site Digg has garnered two magazine covers. There he is, with a smoldering leer on local San Francisco magazine 7x7. The look reminds everyone why Diggnation cohost Alex Albrecht once said that Rose, a prolific dater, has "plowed through everyone in town." For Inc., Rose participated in a wacky crowd shoot which echoed the Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night." It's obvious why Rose is a hot commodity: Write about him, and traffic to your magazine's website will soar. (Will he sell print copies? I doubt Digg users visit newsstands.)It's obvious what's in it for the magazines which write about them. Rose makes a compelling story, even if Inc. had to resort to ridiculous hyperbole:
I used to work at an arm of Time Warner, the media conglomerate. What employees there learn: Synergy is a joke, and the company's many divisions hate working with each other so much they'd sooner partner with outsiders than give someone in-house a deal. The most famous, if apocryphal, anecdote: When Time Warner Cable asked to license the Road Runner character from Warner Bros., the studio initially wanted to charge $1 billion for the use. Putting AOL in the mix only made things worse. I'd hoped things might have gotten better in recent years — through my retirement plan, I'm still a shareholder. A recent press release made me despair. The headline: "Warner Bros. Digital Distribution Partners with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment." Only inside Time Warner would a collaboration like this be considered newsworthy.
"At Seesmic, a video blogging service, the day of reckoning — when it runs out of the $6 million it raised in May — will come in three years. To make the money last, Loïc Le Meur, the chief executive, recently laid off seven employees, or one-third of his staff, and cut all projects not directly related to the video service." Great messaging, Loic. Now for the bad news: No video blogging service will get its picture in the NYT until Web 3.0.
It's been a few months since school started, but it's never too late to spam blogs! A Microsoft flack had no shame in trying to sell the Ace Online Schools blog on old versions of Office at bargain-basement prices using a copy-and-paste come-on. What prompted the pitch? The blogger who got the pitch suspects that a post he'd written about free Web apps for students drew the attention of a rep at Waggener Edstrom, Microsoft's longtime PR firm. Heck, maybe the process is automated — for all the effort Waggener Edstrom flacks put into it, it might as well be.
Online auction house eBay is self-banning the sale of ivory and ivory products on its website — prompted after animal welfare groups investigated trading in animal products from endangered species. Elephant ivory were the most common and eBay is saying it will do its best to stop the thousands listings of animal goods but only after January of 2009. Because corporate goodwill still needs to wait after the earnings report. [Los Angeles Times]
A PR rep for the San Francisco Examiner's website pitched San Francisco Chronicle Web editor Eve Batey on a story — and then tried to deny that Examiner.com had any connection with the Examiner. If you don't read newspapers, here's some useful background:San Francisco used to be a two-newspaper town. Now we're a one-and-a-half newspaper town, if you're being generous. I'm just not sure if the "one-half" is the San Francisco Chronicle or the freely distributed San Francisco Examiner. The Examiner is the paper I see most people at the gym reading, if only because its tabloid format stays on a treadmill better. Anyway, the Examiner flack finally conceded to Batey that the website and newspaper were owned by the same company, telecom billionaire Philip Anschutz's Clarity Media Group . What she might have brought up: The newspaper has its own website, sfexaminer.com. (She mentioned it, in passing, but got the URL wrong.) No, that doesn't help any of this makes sense. The email exchange:
It's a predictable routine: Write about Glam Media, Samir Arora's dangerously bubbly online-advertising startup, and get bombarded by comments from website operators for whom Glam sells ads. The latest victim: Saul Hansell of the New York Times, who dared to point out that most of Glam's traffic comes not from the kind of high-quality, editorially driven websites his salespeople promise to advertisers, but from horoscopes, social networks, and gaming sites. Two Glam publishers promptly weighed in. It almost makes one wonder if, like a political campaign, Arora gins up faux grassroots complaints. (Valleywag has attracted its own reliable Glam commenter, AretinaAegeus.) Like a well-done Astroturfing, as the process is known in politics, the comments seem genuine enough — original wording, no cutting-and-pasting of talking points. But the process may backfire on Arora. Goaded by the commenters, Hansell updated his piece with a more concise — and damning — explanation of why Glam may be scamming its advertisers: