Cashing Out: Week of April 1st – 7th 2012 in Online Marketing News
President Obama signs JOBS Act into law
The final green light has been given on the JOBS Act.
After some amendments by the senate to help safeguard against investment fraud, the bill â€“ which allows startups to seek out non-accredited investors online for crowdfunding â€“Â was swiftly approved by congress last week.Â And, as expected, the new legislation was signed into law April 5Â byÂ President Obama.
Calling the bill “game-changing,” the President said at the signing ceremony that the bill represents what a “nation of doers” America is:
“We think big, take risks and believe that anyone with a solid plan and a willingness to work hard can take even the most improbable idea and turn it into a solid business.”
TechFlash reports that the new law is not expected toÂ be fully implemented until certain policies are set by the SEC “to correspond with the new regulations, likely in 2013.”
But once the JOBS Act does take effect, it will allow startups to seek out up to 2,000 investors (rather than the previous limit of 500) before having to register with SEC. However, investments are limited to $1 million per year and must be made through portals approved by the SEC.
Naturally, all this gives a big boost to startups, with the goal of freeing up the IPO market. But, as TechCrunch notes, “While this is a big win for startups, it puts significant pressure on the crowdfunding market to self-regulate â€” which is risky.”
As a result of these concerns, says TechCrunch, Â a group of 13 “equity and debt crowdfunding platforms and insiders” have decided to form a Â leadership group devoted to developing self-regulation that would ensure protection for investors.
As cited by TechCrunch, a statement released by this group says it will be working with the SEC to “agree upon a set of principles as well as explore the development of a robust industry regulator.”
These principles include, but are not limited to, establishing an Investor’s Bill of Rights, ensuring the confidentiality of investors’ financial information, implementing standardized reporting to ensure investors do not exceed investing limits, and developing a code of conduct that would punish bad actor.
Colorado rejects online sales tax legislation
The Performance Marketing Association (PMA) reported April 4 that, in a March 30 decision, a Colorado federal court upheld an injunction against the state’s “Big Brother Tax Law.”
Similar to the Affiliate Nexus Tax, the now rejected bill would have required out-of-state retailers to collect sales tax on goods purchased in Colorado, despite having no physical presence in the state. Moreover, the law would have forced out-of-state retailers to provide the state with detailed purchase records for all Colorado citizens who had made a transaction.
As TechFlash reported, many Colorado Democrats had supported the measure, arguing that it was “one of many in a package that would have raised more than $100 million” but that “Republicans heralded [Judge] Blackburn’s decision, saying the “Amazon tax” was “an undue burden” on retailers.
Facebook chooses NASDAQ over NYSE
An April 5 report from the New York TimesÂ (NYT), Facebook has decided to bring its IPO to the NASDAQ, rather than the NYSE, under the symbol FB.
While the NYT noted NASDAQ’s history of scoring large tech IPOs, like Google’s and Apple’s, it also underscored the recent influx of internet IPOs on the NYSE.
“Itâ€™s a high-profile win for their listings business […] In terms of earnings, the impact wonâ€™t be dramatic, but itâ€™s something to be proud of,”Â Michael Adams, a Sandler Oâ€™Neill analyst told the Times.
According to the report, Facebook’s decision to go with NASDAQ may have depended on the fact that “Nasdaq isÂ a fully electronic marketplace,” and that it has a less expensive pricing structure than does the NYSE.
On Thursday, shares of NASDAQ OMX Group rose roughly 1 percent, says the NYT, toÂ $25.52, while shares of NYSE Euronext fell by a comparable amount to $28.31.
Following ‘Here,’ PayPal launches ‘Payments’
After the release last month of PayPal Here, PayPal’s new mobile payments solution for SMEs, Mashable reported on the company’s April 4 announcement introducing its latest set of services for small businesses â€“ PayPal Payments.
While the launch of PayPal Here allowed smaller businesses to easily accept credit and debit card payments, as well as other forms of payment, on their mobile devices, PayPal Payments offers several tiers of capabilities for small businesses, including online, offline, and mobile options.
What that means is PayPal users will be able to accept transactions whether online, on their mobile devices, or in person. To reflect this move away from a singularly online payments service, PayPal has opted for the new ‘Payments’ moniker, abandoning the old name for its small business product suite, “website payments.”
“As the lines between online, offline and mobile are blurring, we are doing a comprehensive revamp of our products, allowing small businesses to get paid however they do business,” PayPal’sÂ North American VP of Customer EngagementÂ Peter Karpas told TechCrunch.
YouTube and Paramount make licensing deal
Ever upping its game against Netflix, Amazon, and other streaming services, YouTube just completed a content licensing deal April 4 with Paramount Pictures that will bring 500 of the studio’s films to YouTube and Google Play, bringing Google’s rental catalog to 9,000 titles total.
The agreement includes films like “The Godfather Trilogy”, “Hugo”, and “Tin Tin” but it appears the allure for Google was more about the studio itself than it was about specific content. Having already scored deals with four of the six major studios â€“ Sony, Disney, Warner Brothers, and Universal â€“ the Paramount deal brings Google one step closer to completing the set.
That is leverage Google will need if it wants to compete seriously with Apple. As Mashable noted, Apple’s iTunes already sells films from those five studios, plus the one that Google has yet to make a deal with â€“ 20th Century Fox.
“Thereâ€™s still no word about whether Google will begin selling as well as renting films, as Apple does. Rumors indicateÂ that studios are pressuring Google to begin selling films to help make up for declines in DVD sales,” says Mashable.
Facebook launches countersuit against Yahoo
Following Yahoo’s lawsuit last month, which attacked Facebook on the grounds of patent infringement, the social network has decided to fight fire with fire, launching a countersuit of its own, the New York TimesÂ (NYT) reported April 3.
According to the NYT, Facebook’s counterclaim argues that Yahoo violated 10 of its own patents “that cover some 80 percent of the Web pioneerâ€™s revenue last year, amounting to more than $4 billion.”
According to Mashable, some of the patents in question relate to “generating a feed of stories personalized for members of a social network,â€ and â€œtagging digital media.â€
Whether or not Facebook would have led such a suit without provocation, now that Yahoo has opened the floodgates, it seems the social network sees no reason to play nice. In a statement cited by Mashable, Facebook General Counsel Ted Ullyot chalks the countersuit up to retaliative defense:
“From the outset, we said we would defend ourselves vigorously against Yahooâ€™s lawsuit, and today we filed our answer as well as counter-claims against Yahoo for infringing ten of Facebookâ€™s patents […] While we are asserting patent claims of our own, we do so in response to Yahooâ€™s short-sighted decision to attack one of its partners and prioritize litigation over innovation.â€
And while Yahoo’s patent suit came at a delicate time for Facebook, as the social network prepares for its IPO, the same could be said for this countersuit. Yahoo’s prospects seem to be ever diminishing, with the web company announcing the layoff of 2,000 employees this week.
Draw Something explodes with over 50M downloads
If Draw Something players were to illustrate the number of downloads the newly popular game has seen in the past seven weeks, they would need a really big screen.
TechCrunch reports that, in less than two months, the Pictionary-style game from OMGPOP has been downloaded more than 50 million times, and over 6 billion drawings have been exchanged between friends.Â With roughly a million downloads a day, Draw Something’s paid version has also shot to number one in the App Store.
Likely due to the game’s Draw Something, OMGPOP was acquired by Zynga March 21 for $210 in cash and employee retention payments.
2,000 jobs lost at Yahoo
April 4, Yahoo confirmed reports that it would be letting go of 2,000 employees, or roughly 14 percent of its staff, bringing its workforce down to 12,000 individuals.
As the New York TimesÂ (NYT) reported, this isn’t the first series job losses at Yahoo. The company has lost an average of one chief executive a year for the past five years, and has conducted five other massive layoffs in the past four years, though none were as large as this one. This time, the job cuts are expected to save the company $375 million a year.
But rather than a solution to Yahoo’s ongoing problems, the NYT says shareholders see this as an “overreliance on cost-cutting rather than identifying new areas for innovation and growth.”
“Cutting head count is not executive genius,â€ Colin Gillis, an analyst at BGC Partners told the NYT. â€œMargins are not the issue, revenue is. Is Yahoo going to grow? Or is this a downward path to zero? Weâ€™re still waiting for someone to show a vision for where this company is headed.”
This week in marketing studies and reports:
61 percent of American households have WiFi
According to figures from Strategy Analytics, reported on by TechCrunch April 5, 61 percent of all households in the US have a WiFi internet connection â€“ ahead of Spain, Mexico and India, though well behind the UK, South Korea and Canada, in terms of WiFi adoption.
The same study predicts that, by 2016, roughly 24 percent of the world will have a WiFi connection at home.
Pinterest becomes the US’ third biggest social network
As cited by Mashable April 6, a new report from Experian Hitwise shows that Pinterest is now the third most popular social network in the US. In terms of total visits in the month of March, Pinterest clocked in a 104 million, behind Twitter with 182 million, and Facebook with 7 billion.
Google+ saw 27 percent growth last month
Data from Experian Hitwise, reported on by Mashable, shows that “Countering perceptions that Google+ is a ghost townÂ few actually visit,” the number of visits to the social network grew by 61 million, or 27 percent, in March. According to the data, Google+ has actually been seeing “steady growth” since last June, when the network launched
Pinerly launches for Pinterest analytics
For now, the service helps track the success of Pinterest campaigns, but hopes to “really drill down into analytics, offering detailed information about pin performance, in addition to other useful tools, such as the ability to schedule pins,” says Mashable.
Android pushes past 50 percent of market share
Citing research from comScore’s MobiLens, Mashable reported April 4 that, for the first time ever, Android’s share of the US smartphone market was more than 50 percent in February. That represents an increase of 17 points since the same period last year.
Meanwhile, says Mashable “Meanwhile, the U.S. market appears to lag the rest of the world for Android adoption. Global market share for the platform approached 50 percent last August.”