It’s been a long time in the making, but Apple has finally signed a deal with China Mobile to bring the iPhone to the world’s largest carrier with over 740 million customers, the Wall Street Journal reports.
This comes a day after Chinese authorities issued 4G licenses to the three major telecommunication operators in the country. Earlier this year, Apple already gained regulatory approval for its iPhones to run on the TD-LTE standard used by China Mobile for its 4G networks.
A deal with China Mobile would be a huge step forward for Apple, considering that it has never been present on China Mobile before. It would open up the iPhone to a whole lot more customers — already there are 42 million China Mobile customers who carry an iPhone, according to internal statistics.
Apple has not been able to offer the iPhone on China Mobile primarily because it has been unable to support the operator’s unique TD-SCDMA 3G network.
Apple’s Q4 2013 earnings showed that for the full year, the greater China region generated $27 billion in revenue, up 14 percent year-on-year. Company CEO Tim Cook attributed the results to Apple being able to grow its relationships with the government and carriers in China. In the quarter itself, the company generated $5.733 billion in revenue from China.
We have reached out to Apple for comment and will update with any response provided.
Headline image via Andrew Burton/Getty Images
Amazon wants to use drones to cut down delivery times of its packages to under 30 minutes. Big deal. Amazon Rockets can get the job done in under five minutes:
Amazon of course has many obstacles to overcome before it can bring Prime Air or anything similar to market. Besides issues like weather and regulations, it has to worry about drones that hack and take over other drones.
Image Credit: NASA/MSFC/David Olive
I had an unusual experience this morning at my local cafe. While sipping my latte, I overheard an elderly couple at the next table discussing Twitter’s market cap and what Twitter’s future revenue opportunities are. Twenty-four months earlier, that very same couple may not have even known what Twitter was, let alone how they intend to make money.
Herein lies Dick Costolo’s (Twitter’s current CEO, in case you were wondering) new reality. Twitter is public and Dick is the face of a very high profile global tech company. Even man and their dog will start to offer their opinions on Twitter’s strategy.
I, too, have a few ideas on where Twitter should focus some of its energies… and that place is local.
While Twitter has experimented with location-based features in the past, we haven’t seen many new features to support location in the last 12 months. On a recent trip to Singapore, I noticed my tweets from the Twitter app were being incorrectly geo-tagged to the neighbouring country of Malaysia. This highlighted to me that to date Twitter hasn’t had much of a focus on location.
In the future though, this is most certainly going to change. Location adds a rich layer of content and data to Twitter which it can’t ignore. Here are a few areas where location can impact Twitter:Easier onboarding
Have you ever witnessed someone setting up their first Twitter handle? Twitter is a whole ‘nother language. You’ve likely watched them fumble through the application for the first time, unsure of who to follow, how to get tweets and what the ‘@’ and ‘#’ symbols represent.
The critical period for a new user on Twitter is the first few weeks after they sign on. If they start to see value from the platform in that time then they’ll stick it out and learn the Twitter lingo which current users take for granted.
Location can play a huge role in making a user’s initial experience a little less daunting. From suggesting some prominent accounts in your local area to follow to surfacing interesting tweets from close by, Twitter has the power to personalize your first experience and capture your attention from the outset.
Imagine flicking over to the stream for the first time and seeing tweets about a fair down the road, or tweets about a new shop that opened up in your neighbourhood. In this instant, a new user would suddenly understand the power of the real time data and why all the fuss for this 140 character platform.Richer user experience
Most importantly though, Twitter has the opportunity to be the go-to application for local. No other platform has the volume of publicly available data about what’s going on around you than Twitter.
Imagine if Twitter allowed its users to not only share their geo coordinates (as they do now) but also tag tweets to the specific place they are at. Suddenly, you would have the world’s cleanest and richest source of location data. If Twitter follows Vine’s lead and uses Foursquare Place data to do this, they would have the added advantage of being able to cluster all of the location based posts that feed into it from third party apps such as Instagram and even Foursquare.
It isn’t hard to imagine how these local tweets could then be fed back into Twitter’s apps to create a view that is centered on locations or events. While Twitter users often use hashtags for large events, having an efficient geo-tagging system would allow tweets to be clustered for a location or event irrespective of whether the correct (or consistent) hashtag is being used. The collective view of a shop, mall, sports stadium, beach etc. would be like Foursquare on steroids.
Imagine the types of content Twitter could bring together on a place page during the Singapore Grand Prix. How many people are tweeting from the location? How many of them have been to the track before? Who are the most interesting people to follow at this place (and which restaurants do they typically go to?) and maybe even surface the top stories.
Sure, you can already attempt to find local tweets according to your location – but those often require an additional app or extra taps on the screen. Users can lose interest with every superfluous button.Local monetization
With Twitter users more actively sharing their location, users would give even more explicit signals about where they are going and what they are interested in. This type of data and the possibility of local targeting would be interesting not only to large businesses with multiple local outlets but also local SMBs.
For local business, there aren’t yet targeting options on Twitter’s advertising platform that allow SMBs to connect with their actual customers. With more granular location features, an SMB could potentially self-serve on the Twitter ad platform and elect to target users who have visited their location (or potentially even their rival’s location).
This type of advertising has in-built ROI as the business would also then be able to see if the clients who have been targeted have subsequently tweeted from their business location (potentially closing the loop from Twitter to real world transactions). Local advertising on Twitter would have the potential to truly disrupt Yelp or even Google’s local advertising revenues.
Do you have other ideas on how Twitter can improve its local features? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Google Search for Android can now show results from inside third-party apps and Google Play app listings
Google today announced a big update to Google Search for Android that will make it a lot easier to find what you’re looking for, even if it’s not on the Web. In short, the company has added app listings, meaning you can now get results based on information inside apps on your device as well as see apps on Google Play.
You can download the new version now directly from Google Play. Yet the best part is that Google also says app listings will show up directly in Chrome and Android browsers (when they’re relevant), no Google Search app required.
There are two types of app listings, which will appear depending on whether or not you already have the app in question:
- Open in app: For apps you already have on your phone, all you have to do is touch the “Open in app” and you’ll be taken to the page in the app relevant to your search. For this type of app listing, you need to be signed in to your Google Account so Google Search can know which apps you already have installed.
- Google Play buttons: If your search results include relevant apps from the Google Play store, you’ll see them grouped together in an Apps section. Touch the price button to go to the Google Play store, where you can install the app. If you search for the exact name of an app, you’ll see a card with information about the app, and the option to touch “Download” to go to the Google Play store.
It’s worth noting that the “Open in app” feature is currently supported by just 13 apps: AllTrails, Allthecooks, Beautylish, Etsy, Expedia, Flixster, Healthtap, IMDb, Moviefone, Newegg, OpenTable, Trulia, and Wikipedia. Google says that after you download one of these apps, “it may take a day or two for the Open in app button to appear in your search results.”
Furthermore, finding apps in search results is currently only available to Android 2.3+ users in the US who have their language set to English. We’ll keep you posted as Google adds support for more apps (if you’re a developer, you’ll want to sign up here) as well as expands availability to more regions and languages.
Google is making a big move here: the company is trying to make it easier for its users to find information across apps they already use, while also promoting apps they don’t yet have. “Google Search can make your life a little easier by fetching the answer you need for you — whether it’s on the web, or buried in an app,” the company claims.
Google is still very much the king of search, and so this step is by no means a surprise. This feature is great news for Android users, even though it’s still clearly very early in development. Given how many apps most people have installed nowadays, users of other mobile platforms will likely want to know if and when Google will bring it to them too.
Top Image Credit: Kimhiro Hoshino/Getty Images
Video authoring platform TouchCast is bringing its ‘professional TV studio in a box’ offering to more devices. The company today launched a beta version for the desktop that it believes more users will find beneficial. This offering works with Windows 7 or 8 PCs and comes with several exclusive features, including the ability to import videos, support for multiple cameras, and the addition of several new apps.
Founded by Edo Segal, Charley Miller, and Erick Schonfeld, TouchCast serves a way to allow anyone to create engaging videos without having to pay thousands of dollars in a studio. And while it’s mostly geared towards touchscreen devices, the app works with any input device.
TouchCast for the desktop works only with Windows PCs right now, but a Mac version is in the works. Schonfeld tells us this was because the hardware was already there. With Intel as one of its partners, TouchCast decided to move forward with a PC version.
To date, tens of thousands of TouchCasts have been uploaded and its iPad app has been downloaded more than 150,000 times since its launch.
Photo credit: LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images
Microsoft to launch Windows Azure Region for Brazil in early 2014, its first major expansion into South America
Microsoft says it will begin to on-board preview customers in the next four to six weeks. The company is promising new and existing customers in Brazil will experience “better performance through reduced latency and will have the ability to keep their data in the country.” The latter is a particularly important point given the recent NSA spying revelations.
Image Credit: Maksym Darakchi
PayPal and eBay Enterprise have revealed some statistics for the Cyber Monday yesterday’s shopping craze. While the increases weren’t as big as for Thanksgiving, numbers for which were released on the weekend, but they’re still significant increases.
Compared to Cyber Monday 2012, the eBay-owned company saw a 93.6 percent increase in consumers shopping through PayPal mobile around the world, and a 115.6 percent increase in global mobile TPV (total payment volume). eBay Enterprise meanwhile saw mobile usage and orders grow 115.7 percent and 88 percent, respectively.
Last year, PayPal saw a 190 percent increase and eBay Enterprise (formerly GSI) saw a 287 percent jump. Both eBay’s numbers and PayPal’s numbers definitely slowed for Cyber Monday 2013, though they both still did experience growth.
PayPal also revealed consumers in the US mainly took to their mobile devices to shop throughout the day (meaning while they were at work. That being said, the busiest time was between 6:00 PM and 7:00 PM PST (9:00 PM EST and 10:00 PM EST), after the work day was over.
eBay Enterprise meanwhile revealed these two trends:
- Consumers continue to use mobile phones as a browsing tool, while tablets accounted for more orders during Cyber Monday 2013. Mobile phones accounted for 66.7 percent of access to the company’s platform and platforms of its partners and 41.31 percent of mobile orders, while tablets accounted for 32.5 percent of access and 58.4 percent of mobile orders.
- Mobile activity during the holiday weekend 2013 (Saturday, November 30 and Sunday, December 1) was also on the rise, with the number of consumers accessing the platforms from a mobile device increasing 110.9 percent and total mobile orders increasing 97.7 percent compared to last year’s holiday weekend (Saturday, November 24 and Sunday, November 25).
For those who don’t know, eBay Enterprise manages ecommerce for leading retailers and brands, including Toys “R” Us, Levi’s, Sports Authority, Polo Ralph Lauren, and GNC. It was previously called GSI Commerce, but eBay rebranded it two years after the acquisition.
Unlike last year, eBay is once again not providing numbers for itself: only PayPal and eBay Enterprise data is available. Like we noted in our Thanksgiving coverage, this is disappointing because it’s difficult to make out the whole picture without figures for the company’s main commerce site.
See also – eBay Exact launches on iOS, lets you buy 3D-printed products from MakerBot, Sculpteo, and Hot Pop Factory and eBay launches “My Gadgets”, an easy way to catalog, value and one day sell your gadgets
Top Image Credit: flippnjj
“I can’t work effectively at home.”
“Decisions are made in person.”
“I feel isolated without an office.”
These three statements are completely debunked in this slideshare. Traditional office working is losing ground as the “best way” to work, and managers supporting it are either of a generation where using social technologies is seen as lazy or timewasting, or they have the wrong team – i.e. a team that requires intense scrutiny to keep it working.
The difference between “remote” and “distributed” is that in a remote team, there is a company office(s) where some team members are based full-time. A distributed team has no location base – everyone is in a different place.
“Remoteness just adds problems. But distributiveness solves a lot of problems, including that of being remote. All teams could benefit from the same practices of distributed teams, but they’re ultimately lazy and often don’t. Being a remote worker is not fun at all. Being a member of a distributed team is beyond awesome.” - Bob McWhirter
Many people with laptop jobs disagree that working remotely causes problems. But I can appreciate the difference between the whole team vs. part of the team working from different locations. Being “left out” unintentionally can occur in cases such as this.
My startup team has just gone distributed, after eight months of being remote. Family commitments, plus a dislike of wasting time and money on rented desks and commuting, has pushed the team to finally break free of the chains of offices. We’re about to begin the distributed experiment since remote has been so good to us.
What are the usual challenges that remote/distributed teams (R/DTs) face? These categories came from Yonder conference, a conference held to discuss just such challenges and solutions:
- hiring and onboarding
- when to meet face to face
- building intimacy, culture and loyalty
- timezones and calendar issues
- scaling distributed teams
- distributed project management
- communication methods and tech
- building legitimacy
- legal issues
- management styles
There is no single solution, as team by team management must be conducted differently. Mature teams differ from early-stage teams, larger teams differ from smaller teams etc. It all sounds like incredible stress for managers!
But angel investor Tim Ferriss found that things did not fall apart when he removed himself as a bottleneck – in fact, everyday business went on and ignored the fact that the CEO had stepped away.
In short, these are the top 10 remote team management lessons I have learned:
- Find a way to meet at the same time
- Use SMART as a process
- Try to understand each other’s point of view
- Celebrate achievements
- Culture is important
- Remember the vision not the details
- Be open
- Hire those you trust
- Deal with issues immediately
Here’s the story of my journey from remote to distributed.First challenges: getting organized
It just so happened that the first people I brought on board were not in the same city as me. They were good friends of mine. A similar vision and shared goals sealed the deal on our next venture together – building Twoodo. There was never any intention of being a remote team manager but neither was it going to stop me having the right people on my team.
We were in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Paris at the time and the first roadblock was, of course, meetings. Entire conversations would take place when the CTO and I were in China whilst the CMO/designer was left to catch up hours later through chat or a rehashed conversation.
Funnily enough, it was incidences such as this that inspired our design and vision for our service as the best way of organizing and keeping up with distributed and remote small teams.
We learned the hard way that missing meetings or not listening properly during them resulted in mix-ups. We ended up having what seemed to be really serious arguments, but after a 15-minute chat, we realized we were all saying the same thing. So we just flag these now and address them during the next chat or on the spot if everyone is there.
Solution #1: At least once a week have a scrum meeting that absolutely everyone prioritizes.
Set it up at a time when the team can overlap without disrupting sleep schedules. Use Doodle or Google Calendar to choose a time and set reminders for the team. After the scrum, if time allows, hang out and catch up. During the meeting discuss, what you did previously, what you’re gonna do now and what your challenges are.
Solution #2: Put everything in the cloud where the whole team can access it.
Google Drive, Github and Dropbox are reliable tools that we use for coding and for document management. Depending on your team needs, there are many cloud solutions for each industry – take some time to research them. As a rule of thumb, the service should allow you to basically throw away your computer and leave you with nothing to worry about.
Solution #3: Don’t sweat the micromanaging.
An enthusiastic team will pull its own weight to reach common goals.Next challenge: encouraging vision and philosophy
Company culture is tricky to define especially if you are working with people you’ve known all your life. It took a back seat until we realized “WTF, we are actually going to make this a startup!” As CEO, I realized that my company had to define its own identity and core values had to be developed.
Enforcing these values needed to be done over video calls because words just didn’t cut it. The tone and passion was blunt in type, and without the camaraderie of a shared office space to figure it out I had to explain my vision to the team on many Skype and Zoom calls.
Company culture is not just some gimmick. “It’s not what you do, it’s why you do it.” This would not just drive the team towards achieving our shared goals, but also attract people who appreciate such an outlook: i.e. our audience, our users, our evangelists in the future. The marketing and sales strategies to come would also be highly impacted on what direction the culture took.
Solution #1: On a daily basis, remind ourselves and each other that what we choose to do should be of high value to the company.
Every time you think you are finished something, ask yourself: “Is it freaking awesome?” A weekly blog update for the investors and the email newsletter to our inside circle forced me to defend my choices regularly.
Solution #2: Ask your co-founders/colleagues the same questions when they are struggling with a task.
Solution #3: Remind the team that what you are doing is not fixing a tiny detail in the product but existing as part of a larger vision.
This is best done over video calls so that tone and (com)passion are clear. Text communication is good but it can lack clarity or create the wrong impression and can be misinterpreted.More puzzles to solve: discipline and working alone
It’s no secret that entrepreneurs work crazy hours. It’s also no secret that many also begin their ventures whilst still in full-time jobs. Striking a balance of what they can achieve in a week aligned with what needs to be achieved overall by the company in a fast-paced industry is true managerial insanity. Exhaustion helps no more than slacking.
I found the SMART criteria to be really helpful to break large projects into actionable chunks, deciding which parts are most important and how long each would take. It creates a good methodological base for setting up and moving through projects.
Sample task 1
Sample task 2
need to boost our Twitter followers to increase our audience, social influence ranking and general online visibility
need to increase the number of visitors who arrive on our landing page and sign up
as many as possible; preferably more than we follow to make the account look popular
acquisition conversion rate = people who signed up / total number of visitors
using TweetAdder the process is automated; TweetAdder is an affordable tool for our budget
needed for marketing and for finding more people interested in our niche; low cost growth hack
we need more people to sign up to our website
with TweetAdder, it can be accomplished within a week with an hour a day of work
this should take 2 working days from concept to implementation and 1 week for testing
Lean methodology runs on measurements as well so it was a complementary system to implement. Setting processes up in Gantt also allowed for the overarching goal to be visualized as often the small steps directly in front of the team overtook what we were truly aiming at.
Discipline is no huge issue when the task a person is doing is measurable. However, softer processes such as content marketing were more difficult to define at the beginning – how much time does a good blog post require? What combination of plugins would give the landing page the right design?
After some time we developed an intuitive sense of how long was needed for such tasks, or at the very least, put a cap on how much time was spent doing it. ROI calculations can inform you if time is being wasted on an activity.
Solution #1: use SMART or SMARTER as a guide
Solution #2: give everyone access to long-term project plans, for a sense of direction – a visualization of the path is motivating
Solution #3: refine tasks by applying an ROI calculation to those that have unclear resultsNot letting things stagnate
Getting to the core of problems quickly is always important in management but doubly so in a distributed team. The problem becomes more complicated as it comes down to you to spot the cracks appearing from a distance as well. What you’ll often have to go on are IM exchanges, frequency of contact and personality indicators.
How well you know your team then plays a key role in the prevention of dissent and dissatisfaction.
Solution: regular check-ins on what’s up (at least once a week) with every team member on video, and frequent contact by other means (make sure to ask a few non-work-related questions)Biggest future challenge: hiring
Expanding the team became a reality, and that was really intimidating. Hiring for a R/DT is messy once you branch beyond your circle of friends. One single hire would increase the team by 25 percent!
Oddly enough, although we cite that hiring is better because we are not restricted by location, we are restricted by our friend network. That’s where I built my founding team after all.
Startup standards mean that a bunch of academic qualifications aren’t sufficient to prove your worth to entrepreneurs. It’s about hands-on doing, showing that you love the type of haphazard work that can get thrown at you.
It’s difficult to find talented people willing to take the risks of being in a startup, particularly in Europe where people are used to perks and pensions when they walk out of university. So far, we have hired one stranger (!) whom we were able to assess as an intern over three months before making a full commitment, which was very cost effective. Soon we are going to have to take the next step and add a new developer.
New blood is good!
Motorola today offered $150 off a Moto X on any carrier, with no contract required. The company just revealed it has sold out of $349 Moto X units, nine minutes after the deal went live (registration gives you a promo code that grants you the discount for one week).
If you missed today’s sale, you can register again on Monday, December 9 at 12:00 PM EST (Dev Editions are excluded). The two-day sale is the company’s way of apologizing for botching its Cyber Monday deal earlier this week: Motorola’s site was unreachable and customers couldn’t take advantage of the $150-off deal.
See also – Motorola cuts 16GB Moto X price to $99.99 on Sprint, US Cellular, and AT&T via Moto Maker and Motorola begins rolling out Android 4.4 KitKat for the Moto X on Verizon, less than three weeks after debut
Image Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Google Calendar taps Maps for location autocomplete suggestions, and shows relevant events as you search
Google has announced a handful of updates for Google Calendar today, as it looks to make it quicker for users to manually complete entries for events and meetings.
Now when you enter an address in the location (‘where’) field, autocomplete taps Google Maps to throw up suggestions on your behalf. Anyone you share the invite with will be able to click the associated ‘Map’ link to ensure they end up at the correct place.
In addition to this, now when you search for events in Calendar, you can simply type in keywords that are associated with the event and see planned meetings with that keyword in it as you type. This means you can quickly narrow down on the correct day/time, and saves you having to type different sets of keywords and hit ‘search’ after each one.
Finally, if you’ve ever been part of a Group invite, you’ll know that it can sometimes be difficult to keep tabs on changes within the Group. As such, Google is making it easier to see who exactly is attending an event, by automatically updating the guest list as people come and go within a particular group.
Google’s Knowledge Graph expands to cars with facts, specifications, and pricing for different configurations
Google today announced an update to its Knowledge Graph feature: you can now search for cars and get quick information without leaving the search engine. All you have to do is type in (or tap the microphone on your Google Search app and speak) the car model and year, and Google will do the rest.
You’ll see facts like the car’s engine size, its miles per gallon (MPG), and pricing for different configurations. You can also check out other cars by selecting one listed under the “People also search for” section. We’re not seeing this feature just yet, but that’s to be expect as it’s likely rolling out gradually.
Image Credit: Karen Bleier/AFP/GettyImages
Amazon WorkSpaces was unveiled at AWS re:Invent last month, and basically recreates the desktop experience in the cloud, meaning that the same experience can be delivered to a user on any compatible device without the company worrying about deploying hardware or installing software on each machine.
Before today, it was only available via computers and Android through the Amazon Appstore. Although one has been promised for Android through Google Play too, it isn’t forthcoming as of yet. Amazon WorkSpaces for iPad is available to download now.
TweetsPie has been around for a little while already for Android and iOS, but at the end of last month a redesign of its Android app quietly rolled out. So, we decided it was time to take a closer look at the app that claims to save Twitter users’ time.In a nutshell
We’re not going to oversell this, TweetsPie is a simple concept with one goal in mind – bringing you the most popular tweets from the people you follow, based largely on the number of retweets and favorites they get.
Simply put, TweetsPie is an automatically curated list of the 21 most popular tweets in your timeline.In Use
After downloading the TweetsPie app from the Google Play store, you’ll need to authorize it to access your Twitter account. Once this is done, it will scan through your timeline of recent tweets from people you follow and return the most popular 21.
A little confusingly, this doesn’t include retweets made by people you follow, although these can also be included using the limited options available. Shown below.
As you can see in the image above-left, tweets are ordered by popularity, rather than by when they are tweeted, as would normally be the order of things.
Tapping a tweet drops down the information about shares and favorites, and also gives you the option to block a certain user from appearing in your list. In the right image, you can see the list of hidden users and choose whether to add them back into the flow of things or not.
As it stands, the options are pretty basic – and even things like viewing pictures or video content takes you out of the app when you click the link. A spokesperson for the company told TNW that future planned updates include support for viewing multimedia content within the app, and support for multiple Twitter accounts.
The ‘Show RTs from Friends’ button, does exactly as described – adding in a mix of popular tweets that friends of yours have retweeted – and the ‘useless’ button is nearly exactly that too; it simply changes the color of the panel that the options are displayed on.Performance
With not too much to the app at this point, it’s good to know that it does exactly what it promises to do – reduces the amount of time you spend on Twitter, and brings you only the most shared links and content from people you follow. On the downside, what this often means is that it’s content from big-name brands that you’re seeing, and far fewer personal (which can still be relevant) tweets, but then, that might be exactly what you want.
Even with this minor caveat, in a quick peruse of the app, it did show me a few tweets that I had missed, but that I’m glad I saw, so there’s definitely some value in it – particularly considering it’s free.
TweetsPie is available to download from the Google Play or Apple’s App Store now.
Featured Image Credit – Matt Cardy/Stringer/Getty Images
House of Cards, the critically acclaimed political drama that won Neflix three Emmy awards earlier this year, will return for a second season on February 14, 2014. A teaser video was posted to the show’s Twitter account earlier, which gives away practically zero details as to what the new season will entail. Nevertheless, it’s a well shot 30-second clip, devoid of color and with some saucy cigarette smoke lingering in the air.
It ends with the American flag, positioned upside down, with the date 02/14/14 etched underneath.
With Kevin Spacey starring as US Representative Francis J. Underwood, House of Cards was proof that Netflix could create high-quality, original TV shows of its own. The first season became a bastion for the on-demand streaming platform and Netflix, in its typical style, released all 13 episodes simultaneously. Season two will continue this trend, with all 13 episodes available from the outset.
A press release issued today reveals a little about the plotline for season two:
In the second season, Francis (Spacey) and Claire (Wright) Underwood continue their ruthless rise to power as threats mount on all fronts. Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara, “American Horror Story”), an up-and-coming reporter and Francis’s former paramour, is inching closer to the truth about his crimes. President Walker’s (Michel Gill, “The Good Wife”) billionaire confidante Raymond Tusk (Gerald McRaney, “Southland”) demands that Francis reciprocate political favors or face retribution. And Claire must confront the increasing glare of the spotlight as it eats away at her and Francis’s once private existence. The Underwoods must overcome these dangers — past and present — to avoid losing everything, regardless of collateral damage they leave in their wake.
Looking forward to House of Cards, round two? We certainly are.
Startup Stories is a series of short documentaries about TechStars companies, hosted exclusively by The Next Web.
This time, we’re taking a look at bike sharing startup Zagster. Founded in Philadelphia in 2007 as CityRyde and now headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Zagster helps property managers, hotels, businesses and universities across North America offer bike sharing programs to tenants, employees, guests and students.
This episode follows co-founders Timothy Ericson and Jason Meinzer’s story from their inspiration, to their stint at TechStars Boston and beyond.
Circle, the network for what’s happening nearby, now lets you personalize categories and share photos
Circle, the mobile-first ‘local network’ that adapts to your location to surface what’s happening nearby, has rolled out a handful of updates for its Android and iOS apps, including sharing photos and the ability to sort posts by topic.
Circle displays things such as weather, news, events and people based on where you currently are. Now, with the latest update, if you’re only keen on certain categories such as trending, family, news, sports, questions or nightlife, you can drown out the white noise and focus on what you’re actually interested in. Photo-sharing is also being rolled out to users over the next month.
The Palo Alto-based company is backed by big names such as Andreessen Horowitz, Ashton Kutcher, Ron Conway, David Sacks and more. The company claims it’s now drawing in more than a million new members each month and now tops ten million users.
Sony has made a conscious effort to court indie developers and promote creative, smaller budget titles for the PlayStation 4. Microsoft has been a little quieter about its ID@Xbox self-publishing program, but it looks like our concerns were unfounded. Today, Microsoft has published a huge list of developers that want to use the initiative to self-publish new games.
It starts with Japanese developers Inis and Comcept, best known for Elite Beat Agents on the Nintendo DS and the wildly successful Mighty No. 9 Kickstarter project respectively. They’re backed up by Vlambeer of Ridiculous Fishing (iOS/Android) fame, Slightly Mad Studios, Born Ready and Double Eleven, who worked on the Vita incarnation of Little Big Planet.
Crowd favorites Double Fine are also in the mix, as are much larger studios such as Crytek, which recently released Ryse: Son of Rome as a launch title for the Xbox One. Other highlights include Half-Brick, the developer behind Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride, bit.trip creator Gaijin Games and Nicalis, which created the hugely influential Cave Story.
For a full breakdown of the developers, feast your eyes on the blog post that just went up on Xbox News.
This post is brought to you by Simply Measured.
If you’re running a startup, working for one, or just considering turning an idea into a company, calling your work life “busy” is a severe understatement. Along with building a product and a company, you need to build social momentum and buzz. Even a side project or personal branding ventures can resemble a full time job.
Here are five essential, efficient ways to eliminate guesswork and make your startup a success on social media. Each concept features examples of startups (some now fully grown and exited companies) that made these strategies work for them.1. Identify the audience
Startup Example: Zappos
Strategy Adopted: Leveraging Social Media Analytics
On social media, you can pinpoint an audience in real-time. Research your solution, sector, industry and competition. Metrics on keywords, follower profiles and competitors all help define your target listener.
Find where people discuss what you do – and voice the problems you solve. Starting out, you can’t hit every network and outlet full-force. Locate your core customers, and prioritize your efforts to reach them where they are.
Initially, your staff (even if that’s just you and a co-founder) will be your greatest asset in locating and connecting with your audience. Before you can afford staff dedicated to social media, spread the duties around.
Zappos has found great success by keeping social media responsibilities horizontal and flexible. Zappos assumes everyone in the company is on social media and trusts them to participate in growing the brand.2. Prioritize social networks
Startup Example: Cloudera
Strategy Adopted: Blogger Outreach
As a startup, you’re working with limited resources and a lean business model. You’re not going to be able to blanket the entire Internet with your message – nor should you want to.
Once you have identified your audience, locating them is the next step. Maybe you identified your target audience and conversation through Twitter research, but discover a handful of forums or blogs that attract essential influencers. Building your brand presence on specialized outlets holds immense value for your business – especially in early stages. Choose at least a network or two that match your business’ current scale in addition to starting aspirational presences on obvious services like Facebook and Twitter.
Regardless of the social networks you identify as worthy of prioritizing, longer-form blogs likely generate much of the content your audience eventually shares. Blogger outreach services streamline connecting with the blogs driving the conversation you’re joining.
Back in 2009, Cloudera placed news of its Distribution for Hadoop launch in tech blogs and reputable news sources, and reached 1.5 million people in 24 hours as a result. Now, the startup and its software solutions are both household names. Targeting the content creators that feed your audience’s social networks positions your startup as a conversation starter instead of just a capable participant.3. Product and culture
Startup Example: Coin
Strategy Adopted: Referral-loop
To some extent, you’re going to have to navigate this particular balance for your own brand and company. Any brand wants to promote a culture and an experience to some extent, but in early stage-startups, an innovative product drives reputation. Particularly in the beta/pre-launch phase, the goal is to generate excitement for the product to-come.
The process is especially tricky before you’re ready to distribute your final product, but teaser videos, downloadable PDFs and other digital content provide options for social sharing long before a product’s ship date.
Coin is a startup currently generating a great deal of pre-launch buzz. Its product announcement and teaser video have been shared heavily in anticipation of the product’s release. With an innovative product in the consumer payment space, the company had viral-ready content. Its social media and editorial advertising strategy clearly put the product first.
An advance purchase garners a 50 percent discount off the planned price of $100, encouraging investment long in advance of the summer 2014 launch date. Coin is actively courting its early adopters (via a referral-link loop with further discount incentive) and quickly acting on feedback following its launch-date announcement.
A steep discount may not fit with your business plan and current financial state, but make sure you find some way to compensate your initial believers. Their approval is the most important – and most tenuous – social capital.
Think of this as a marketing expense; these early adopters are the most valuable members of your social marketing team. Take good care of them, and organic, viral sharing may welcome your product to the marketplace. Ignore these pioneering risk-takers, and say goodbye to social channels of conversion.4. Target influencers
Startup Example: Sprout It
Strategy Adopted: Connecting with Middle Influencers
Aside from treating your biggest fans well, it’s beneficial to gain fans with dedicated followings themselves. Here, your strategy centers on finding the most popular topics, the influencers on those issues, and what content they’re engaging with. Then, you can tactfully insert yourself into the conversation.
You can install a simple Chrome plugin to see Klout influence scores on Twitter user profiles, but you’re going to want some sort of social media analytics service to provide more meaningful, layered information.
On your hunt for influencers, focus on “middle-influencers” relevant to your target audience. Even if you got Justin Bieber to tweet about your new software solution for Android, a negligible portion of his followers are software developers; the potential reach from 47 million pairs of eyeballs will be wasted, and you’ll find yourself either in the wrong conversation or entirely unheard. Connecting with @AndroidDev or @TalkAndroid and the active, passionate members of your ideal audience will serve your needs infinitely better.
Case in point: the little gardening app upstart Sprout It shows up on multiple lists of top influencer marketing campaigns for 2013 for its Backyard Takeover competition. With a grand prize valued at less than $2,500, this effort was pure efficiency. Sprout It connected with the most influential of its ideal customers, and organic sharing took the message to its broader target audience.5. Competitor analysis
Startup Example: Upworthy
Strategy Adopted: Social Content Optimisation
Your initial survey of your startup’s audience and industry undoubtedly highlighted some of your competition. Whether or not products and solutions are directly analogous to yours, you can learn valuable lessons from your competition. They will have undergone some of the same research and strategizing you’re investing in, and you might as well benefit from their legwork.
You don’t want to simply copy any particular strategy, but you can benefit from knowing the networks and types of content/messages already engaging your desired audience.
Less than two years old, Upworthy takes competitor analysis to heart. Its social-internet veteran founders started the company explicitly to compete with mindless, saccharine drivel for share-of-voice on the Internet. Taking the formula that makes cat videos and bratty grade-schoolers viral gold, Upworthy matches snappy (sticky) headlines with engaging descriptions just leading enough to inspire a click on its visual/video content.
I could recommend that you watch an anti-trafficking video, or tell you that when I figured out what this girl was doing, I felt sick to my stomach. Which one are you clicking?Always remember
Even as you direct resources to forming and executing a social media strategy for your startup, you’re investing in your business plan at-large. The startups mentioned here didn’t have success alongside their activity on social media – the two elements were inextricably related.
Your business’ success depends on a similar feedback loop. The audience, influencer and competitor research inherent to your social media strategy also benefit other aspects of your marketing and positioning efforts.
Understanding your product and promoting it effectively are by no means new ideas, but they are now decidedly social endeavors. A coherent social media strategy helps ensure product launches and other milestones are noticed and spread with excitement. Avoid uncertain murmurs or – worse – silence surrounding your startup.
Hoxton Ventures, the London-based ‘micro-cap‘ early-stage VC firm, has announced that it has raised $40 million for its first fund, with an aim to close at $50 million. Hoxton plans to make 4-6 investments per year, each typically at the high end of the $1-2 million range.
“There is a scarcity of firms writing the $1-5 million checks to early stage European startups,” says founding partner Hussein Kanji, echoing a commonly held sentiment. “Too many European investors prefer to wait for businesses to mature.” Alongside Kanji (formerly of Accel Partners), the firm counts Rob Kniaz (ex-Fidelity Ventures) as a founding partner, with SuperAwesome founder Dylan Collins on board as a venture partner. Two investments have already been made from the fund and it’s even seen its first exit, in the shape of Llustre’s acquisition by Fab (Update: the Llustre investment was actually made in a personal capacity by Kanji and Kniaz, along with one of Hoxton’s limited partners).
Thumbnail image credit: Shutterstock
Intuit-owned Mint.com has launched a new version of its personal finance app to work across Windows 8 and Windows Phone devices. And while the overall experience is similar to what one might expect on its iOS and Android counterparts, the native app for Windows comes with a Live Tile capability that can be integrated onto the device’s Start screen.
Vince Maniago, Group Product Manager for Mint, says that the goal of the app was to be at feature parity at launch and that thousands of beta testers have given the apps a thorough road test. To date, Maniago says there are 13 million registered users, of which two-thirds are coming from mobile channels. More than $40 billion has been saved so far.
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