Next Jump Shoppers Have Burned More Than 1.6 Billion WOWPoints, Each Worth A Penny


This post is by Erick Schonfeld from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




02_Points-Infographic-02

Next Jump CEO Charlie Kim wants you to earn and burn his company’s WOWPoints, a loyalty reward currency that can be used to pay for real merchandise. WOWPoints are redeemable for thousands of offers on Next Jump’s OO.com at a rate of one penny per point. Since it launched WOWPoints two years ago, more than 1.6 billion have been burned. Currently, people are burning WOWPoints at the rate of 100 million a month, which translates to $1 million worth of discounts every month across thousands of products not only on OO.com, but also on corporate rewards sites which Next Jump operates.

Next Jump is making it easer to earn points with a concept called Family Points, which lets families pool their points together to encourage even bigger purchases. That could come in handy for travel discounts. The points can be applied to any offer across the various marketplaces Next Jump operates, including daily deals from LivingSocial. But the points aren’t really about daily deals, they are more about loyalty.

A daily deal is usually an attempt to acquire new customers by offering a huge discount. Points can also be seen as discounts, but at a smaller scale. Instead of a 50 percent discount, WOWPoints typically amount to a 2 to 3 percent discount, sometimes as high as 10 percent. Kim believes there is aplace for daily deals, but that the vast majority of deals should be smaller rewards for loyalty. “Profits come with loyal customers and it is the hardest thing to build,” he notes.

The idea behind WOWPoints is a loyalty reward system that works across merchants. As Next Jump adds new ways to earn points, more people are using them. The points drive the purchase loop and the company hopes will make them loyal to OO.com or other Next Jump properties. For more background on Next Jump, read this post.


Company:
NEXT JUMP
Launch Date:
1994
Funding:
$45M

Headquartered in New York City, Next Jump is building the next generation of e-commerce and advertising technology, and revolutionizing the way consumers and marketers interact online. The company has…

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Google May Be On The Verge Of Resurrecting “GDrive”


This post is by MG Siegler from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




google-platypus-client

In 2006, Google was internally testing a project codenamed “Platypus”, an online storage service. When it was accidentally disclosed during an analyst meeting as “GDrive”, it quickly captured the web’s imagination. Google seemed on the verge of transforming their servers into our own personal hard drives in the cloud. Plenty of startups were working on this (and still are), but the presumption was that Google would be able to scale this beyond anyone else and do it for free, or very cheap. Google refused to talk about it, but story after story after story kept coming.

Then something weird happened: GDrive never actually launched.

It wasn’t until earlier this year that we found out what happened, thanks to Steven Levy’s book In The Plex. In 2008, GDrive was about to launch under Bradley Horowitz (now a lead on Google+), but Sundar Pichai (now the SVP of Chrome) convinced Google’s top executives not to launch it. The reason? He felt like the concept of a “file” was outdated (sounds more than a bit Jobsian) in the cloud-based universe that Google was trying to build. After some debate, the powers that be at Google agreed and GDrive was shelved, and the team moved over to the Chrome team.

End of story, right? Not so fast.

Something curious appeared this evening in the Chromium Code Reviews issue list. As first noted by Nick Semenkovich on Twitter, there was a ticket to add the URL drive.google.com to a list in the browser’s code. This URL (which is not yet live) lead to a Hacker News thread wondering: “Google Drive coming soon?

Diving a bit deeper into the code reviews, what’s most striking is that drive.google.com doesn’t appear to be referenced anywhere besides this one exposed ticket. This suggests that it’s either no big deal, or that Google is keeping this very secret.

I don’t think it’s the former because the messaging in the one ticket indicates that drive.google.com has been added to the HSTS (HTTP Strict Transport Security) list alongside other key Google apps like docs.google.com and spreadsheets.google.com. Another bit of code puts it alongside Android Market and Google Analytics.

Google information security engineer, Chris Evans, completed the ticket this evening. And Chrome engineer Adam Langley approved it with the message “LGTM” (Looks Good To Me).

I reached out to Pichai (who again, is now a Google senior executive in charge of Chrome), but he declined to comment. A Google spokesperson would only say, “The team is always testing out new features, but we don’t have any details to share at this time.”

It sure seems like something is up. At the very least, Google does appear to be close to doing something with the drive.google.com domain. My best guess — which is pure speculation — is that it will be some sort of new Google app for syncing files over the web across a range of devices. PCs, Macs, Chromebooks, Android phones, iOS, you name it. Think: Dropbox.

But wait, doesn’t Google already offer cloud storage functionality as a part of Google Docs? Sort of. But since that functionality launched almost two years ago, it seems that very few people use it like they use Dropbox — hence, Dropbox’s $4 billion valuation and Box.net’s $550 million valuation.

Google is putting a lot of weight behind Chrome OS and Chromebooks. So far, it seems they haven’t exactly caught fire in the sales department. But they’re iterating fast, and one area of focus has been the file system (despite Pichai’s hope they wouldn’t need one — remember, they’re going after PC users here). One that is built into the core of the OS and tied to the cloud could be very useful to those hoping to switch from traditional PCs. That’s especially true now that Google is finally making their apps fully available offline as well, as they did with Gmail, Docs, etc, this morning.

More to come on this, I’m sure.

[image via Google Blogoscoped from way back in 2006]


Company:
GOOGLE
Launch Date:
7/9/1998
IPO:

25/8/2004, NASDAQ:GOOG

Google provides search and advertising services, which together aim to organize and monetize the world’s information. In addition to its dominant search engine, it offers a plethora of…

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Exclusive: Tech mastermind Kai-Fu Lee on the “parallel universe” of startups in China


This post is by Jolie O'Dell from VentureBeat


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




What are the distinguishing characteristics of Chinese tech company founders?

“They are just as passionate and independent as the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, and they work even harder!”

So said the the legendary computer scientist Kai-Fu Lee, Apple employee turned Microsoft engineer turned Google.cn chief, in an interview with VentureBeat this evening.

Two years ago, Lee left Google to start his own startup incubator, Innovation Works.

Tonight, we learned Lee had raised a $180 million fund for Innovation Works. The funding had come primarily from large, multinational corporations with a strong Western presence and from a handful of elite Silicon Valley investors and VC firms.

“We are the leading incubator and very early-stage fund,” said Lee. “We are unique in that we have a large team of seasonsed professionals to assist; we take a strong view on what areas will have the greatest growth and bet on companies with billion-dollar valuation potential; and we have a sizable fund and are able to double down on winning companies.”

Lee is one of the best known “sea turtles,” those who are born in China, study abroad and then return to China to live and work. In his travels, he had observed American models of startup incubation, such as Y Combinator, but he insisted those models would not work in China.

Education, he said, is technical to the exclusion of holistic business training. Conservative parents lead to risk aversion in young would-be entrepreneurs. Harsh judgments follow any failure. And the culture and HR needs are completely different.

Ultimately, Lee said he learned that with his crop of independent, hard-working Chinese companies, “Our imperative is to provide them the best possible support system and advice, but let them run the show.”

We asked Lee also about his experiences working with Western investors who sought to have a hand in the Chinese market — a realm many see as fascinating, mysterious and potentially profitable, if certain pitfalls can be circumnavigated. “I think there is a strange bipolar view,” said Lee, “euphoria versus disbelief… The US bipolar view is largely due to lack of understanding. I am disappointed at most of the Wall Street analysts on Chinese Internet stocks.”

In trading, Chinese tech stock has been on a sharp decline throughout the month, with such recognizable names as Renren and Baidu showing heavy losses for the month and the year to date. During August, some well-known Chinese web stocks fell as much as 20, 30 or even 40 percent.

Lee continued, “But in reality, it’s not that different from the United States. Companies that have a good product and business model and a good culture that cares about users will succeed. Some companies are overvalued and maybe even bubble, but just as many are very good and show great promise. The trick is picking the winners — just like in the U.S.”

Given the climate in which Lee founded his incubator, we asked whether he thought the Chinese Internet market would always be somewhat segregated. After all, in 2009, when Lee started Innovation Works, the government censorship and surveillance program Golden Shield was getting a lot of attention from Western media outlets, which created a sense that there were two Internets: China’s and everyone else’s. And in 2010, Google (Lee’s former employer) saw its Chinese relationships break down with accusations of hacking and a newfound unwillingness to comply with censorship policies.

Without the web properties (and the APIs) so familiar to Western eyes, will China’s Internet ever be one and the same with the larger web-based ecosystem?

“For the short-term, [the Chinese Internet market] will be somewhat segregated, due to a variety of reasons,” said Lee. “But in the long-term, there will be more convergence. We are helping a few global companies come into China.

“In the meantime, it is interesting to watch, as China is almost a parallel universe where the Internet is largely the same but starting to take a different path in a few interesting places.”

Filed under: VentureBeat


King Of The Nerds: Can You Be One?


This post is by Andru Edwards from Gear Live


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Revenge Of The NerdsDo you want to be on TV and have all your nerdity exposed globally?

Of course you do, because it pays big money and we've all seen how one reality show leads to starring in yet another.

And your lucky payday is rapidly approaching.

The producers of Mythbusters, Survivor and The Amazing Race are creating a new competition-based show “embracing and celebrating passionate and intellectual guys and girls 21-30 years old.”

Y'know, the hot, cool people. Who are also fans of Star Wars, Star Trek, Harry Potter, Lord Of The Rings, and all the other great nerd media icons.

Plus, can you answers these questions with a resounding “Yeah, baby!”


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King Of The Nerds: Can You Be One? originally appeared on Comix 411 on Wed, August 31, 2011 – 9:06:24


Impressive List Of U.S. Investors Drops $180 Million Into Chinese Startup Incubator


This post is by Rip Empson from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




iw-new-logoJune2002JPEG

Kai-Fu Lee has a fairly unique perspective on the tech industry, having spent years in high roles at Apple, Microsoft, and Google. Lee spent six years as VP of Apple’s Interactive Media Group, before moving on to be chosen as the guy to forge first Microsoft’s and then Google’s inroads into China. Then, in mid-2009, Lee left Google (where the former professor and computer scientist had been involved with Google.cn and beyond for over four years) amidst the growing criticism in Western media of China’s Internet policy, specifically in regards to the Golden Shield, or the Great Firewall of China, as it is fondly known.

Lee bowed out of Google seemingly at just the right time to turn his focus from the behemoths to the little guys, founding Innovation Works, an early-stage incubator for Chinese startups. Since 2009 the incubator has been solely focused on investing in and coaching young entrepreneurs in the Chinese market, and today the incubator announced that it has raised $180 million to create the so-called “Innovation Works Development Fund” (IWDF). The fund is the first dollar-based fund raised by the company to be focused on Chinese Internet startups.

According to the Innovation Works’ announcement, corporations, family funds, and institutions participated in the fund, including investors like WI Harper, Silicon Valley Bank, Sequoia Capital, IDG-Accel, Foundation Capital, Foxconn, SAP, Bertelsmann, Motorola, Autodesk, and pension funds from the U.S. and Canada.

Ron Conway and Yuri Milner were also part of the list of investors, as well as executives and former executives from top Internet companies like Google, YouTube, Facebook, Amazon, and Yahoo. While American tech companies have largely struggled to expand into the Chinese market, it’s nice to at least see American money working its way into China to support startups and the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. Hopefully, it will encourage Chinese founders to build businesses unique to the region and not Facebook/Twitter ports.

The incubator had previously raised $115 million and, to date, Innovation Works has invested in approximately 34 startups, nine of which have successfully obtained sizable Series A financing from third-party VCs, according to Lee. Innovation Works, like its American brethren TechStars and Y Combinator looks to help early-stage startup teams grow quickly with the help of mentoring services and an infusion of cash. Lee manages the fund alongside WI Harper Group.

For more, check out Innovation Works at home here.


Person:
KAI-FU LEE

Dr. Kai-Fu Lee is the Founder of Innovation Works. He served as Vice President, Engineering of Google Inc., and President of its Chinese Operations since July 2005.

He…

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On 30th anniversary, HP launches limited-edition financial calculator


This post is by Dean Takahashi from VentureBeat


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




For math geeks, it doesn’t get better than this.

Hewlett-Packard is marking the 30th anniversary of its HP 12c Financial Calculator today by launching a limited-edition version aimed at nostalgic fans.

While the company hasn’t won praise for its business strategy lately, the HP 12c calculator has been one of its best-selling products ever, and it has been in continuous production for the last three decades. It shows that high-quality products can keep selling for a very long time, even if it seems like time has passed them by. Yes, geeks can be very loyal.

“It lasted this long because of the quality of it,” said Dennis Harms, the original project manager on the 12c, now working in HP’s printer division, in an interview. “We had no idea it would last this long. We thought it would have a two-year life.”

As a result of the longevity, multiple generations of people have grown up with fond memories of the 12c. In some ways, the 12c had great timing. It came out at a time when it could address most of the functions that financial experts needed, like calculating interest rates for real estate agents. And it could calculate those functions instantly. You didn’t have to wait for it to boot up. So it came with a complete feature set and it didn’t need to be replaced every year with models that were on the “faster, better, cheaper” track. That’s pretty rare for tech gadgets, which normally always benefit when they move from last year’s model to next year’s model.

HP calls this machine the “gold standard of business calculation,” and the Museum of HP Calculators calls it the “calculator that wouldn’t die.” Though it has been followed by many other models since its introduction in 1981 for $150, the device is HP’s best-selling and longest-selling calculator. It came out the same year of the launch of the space shuttle Columbia and the same year as the IBM personal computer.

The HP 12c has a landscape layout, computations that are more accurate than federal standards publications, and a keypad that lets users enter complex formulas. It has replaceable batteries and fits in a shirt pocket. The calculator is one of only two calculators permitted for use during financial professional certification exams.

“It’s too bad we can’t calculate how many deals were decided, trades transacted and loans granted with the assistance of the 12c,” said Phil McKinney, vice president and chief technology officer at the personal systems group at HP.

Harms (pictured) said that the previous calculator model suffered from quality problems. The keypads stuck and HP never shipped it. So Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, the founders of HP, told the engineers to ship it only when it was perfect because the company’s reputation was riding on the 12c. At that time, calculators were a big part of HP’s business, which consisted mostly of selling test and measurement equipment.

“Management told us, ‘Don’t screw this up,’” Harms said.

HP built  chip factory to manufacture the two major chips for the 12c. The factory used the complimentary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) manufacturing process, which now dominates the industry. One chip was nicknamed R2D2, after the Star Wars droid, as an abbreviation for RAM ROM Display Drive. And it had a microprocessor built with 6-micron circuitry. Now, chips can be fabricated with 32-nanometer circuits, many times smaller. (If I had a calculator handy, I would figure out how many times smaller that is). HP also used just-in-time inventory for the calculator.

That meant that it gathered its suppliers close to the factory and fed parts into the manufacturing as they were needed. The result was that HP could build 750,000 to 1 million units for the launch of the device. Retailers such as student book stores typically ordered much more than they needed because they were never sure HP would ship them enough supplies. So they ordered a lot of the new calculators — and the devices sold out. HP hasn’t quite figured out how many it has sold to date.

The new model will sell for $79.99. The calculator features Reverse Polish Notation, which improves efficiency and thereby speeds the calculation of loan payments and interest rates, time value of money, standard deviation, percent, cash flows, and other equations.

The limited edition calculator has a unique production number laser-etched on the back and is sold in an elegant gift box. HP is also reintroducing its HP 15c Scientific Calculator, first launched in 1982. That calculator was discontinued in 1989 and it lived on as a mobile app. The 15c has the same design, but the new one has 100 times faster processing speed. The 15c will sell for $99.99.

More info is available here on the history of the 12c and 15c. The 12c does have one flaw, Harms said. It has to do with date-related calculations, where it tells you what day of the month and year it will be when you ask it to calculate the date 200 days from now. You can only calculate until Nov. 16 in the year 4096. After that, you get an “out of range” error message.

Filed under: VentureBeat


Zuckerberg Tops Vanity Fair’s "New Establishment" List Again (And Look Who’s No. 40)


This post is by Kara Swisher from AllThingsD » Kara Swisher


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Vanity Fair magazine put out its high-profile “New Establishment” list of the top 50 people, who are “an innovative new breed of buccaneering visionaries, engineering prodigies, and entrepreneurs, who quite often sport hoodies, floppy hair, and backpacks.”

The hoodie part would be referring to Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, who topped the list — which is in the just-released October issue — for the second year in a row.

The Vanity Fair list was packed with Silicon Valley luminaries.

The No. 2 spot went to the hopelessly conjoined twins at Google, CEO Larry Page and his co-founder Sergey Brin. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos was No. 3, followed by newly born CEO Tim Cook and top product guy Jonathan Ive of Apple at No. 4, with Twitter creator and Square founder Jack Dorsey at No. 5.

Interestingly, super-VCs Mark Andreessen and Ben Horowitz clocked in this year at No. 6.

The digitally fast-forward Lady Gaga was the top woman on the list at No. 9, in front of “Harry Potter” author J. K. Rowling at No. 16.

And, clocking in at No. 40? Why, me and my partner-in-crime at AllThingsD, Walt Mossberg. He is apparently a “kingmaker” of tech and I do “juicy exclusives.”

That actually is pretty accurate. More importantly, we were ranked higher than Justin Timberlake and Ashton Kutcher. In other words: Mission accomplished!

We also beat the Angry Birds dudes at No. 49, whom my two kids would nonetheless have voted tops over their mom any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

In addition, Vanity Fair broke off a list of 25 “Powers That Be,” which is made up of a lot of longtime “New Establishment” folks, as well as another list called the “Hall of Fame.”

“These are the people who have shaped the world we live in today — and continue to wield enormous influence,” said Vanity Fair, which translates into dustier moguls.

Topping the powers-that-be, of course, is Apple’s co-founder and Chairman Steve Jobs. And outgone Google CEO and now Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt is now enshrined in the hall of fame.

As Walt and I head to a good table at the Minetta Tavern to meet the cool peeps for a celebratory drink, here is the official press releases from Vanity Fair:

FACEBOOK FOUNDER MARK ZUCKERBERG TOPS VANITY FAIR’S NEW ESTABLISHMENT LIST FOR THE SECOND YEAR IN A ROW

Sergey Brin and Larry Page Take No. 2 Spot, Lady Gaga Jumps to the Top 10 of Tech-Dominant List

NEW YORK, N.Y. — “The Age of Information gives way to a burgeoning Age of Technology,” announces Graydon Carter, remarking on the “seismic shift in interest and influence” that has occurred in the 17 years that Vanity Fair has been ranking America’s power players. The magazine’s 2011 New Establishment list identifies the top 50 of an innovative new breed of buccaneering visionaries, engineering prodigies, and entrepreneurs, who quite often sport hoodies, floppy hair, and backpacks.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of the inescapable social-networking site Facebook, maintains his perch at the top of Vanity Fair’s 17th annual New Establishment List ranking for the second year in a row. With a possible I.P.O. on the horizon by 2012, which could value the company anywhere between $50 and $100 billion, Facebook has enough clout to worry even the unshakable Google. Zuckerberg is still the youngest person ever to top the list.

Sergey Brin and Larry Page, co-founders of Google, are in the No. 2 spot this year, closing in on Zuckerberg as they jump up one spot, from No. 3 in 2010. Eric Schmidt, who appeared on the list last year with the duo, has since been pushed out of the C.E.O’s office, replaced by Page. Despite reports of an anti-trust investigation, Google has been setting its sites on Facebook by concentrating on strategic initiatives, such as engineering social-networking features.

Rounding out the top five are Jeff Bezos, of Amazon, at No. 3, Tim Cook and Jonathan Ive, of Apple, at No. 4, and Twitter and Square founder Jack Dorsey, at No. 5.

Lady Gaga makes an appearance for the second year in a row. Coming in at No. 9, she is the highest-ranking woman on the list, in front of J. K. Rowling at No. 16, Sheryl Sandberg, of Facebook, at No. 26, Angela Ahrendts with Christopher Bailey, of Burberry, at No. 30, Natalie Massenet at No. 32, and Kara Swisher with Walt Mossberg at No. 40. At 25 years old, Gaga is also the youngest person on the list — not a surprise for someone whose fans managed to crash Amazon’s servers in their desperation to download her third album.

Youthful energy is spread throughout this year’s list with 15 members under the age of 40, including Zuckerberg, Brin and Page, Dorsey, Lady Gaga, Andrew Mason, Sean Parker, Ryan Kavanaugh, Jeremy Stoppelman, Ashton Kutcher, Dennis Crowley, Daniel Ek, Mikael Hed and Niklas Hed, and Justin Timberlake.

There are 14 billionaires on the list: Zuckerberg, Brin and Page, Bezos, Mark Pincus, Michael Moritz, J. K. Rowling, Jim Breyer, Reid Hoffman, Herbert Allen III, Yuri Milner, Robin Li, Parker, and Peter Thiel.

Five member of the New Establishment are actively involved in space exploration, including Brin, Elon Musk, Bezos, Thiel, and Dennis Crowley. Eight of the New Establishment nominees can count themselves members of the ever growing Stanford Mafia; they include Brin, Page, Reed Hastings, Jim Breyer, Hoffman, Musk, Thiel, and John Hennessy.

The New Establishment, Vanity Fair’s annual ranking of the top leaders of our time, is made up of owners, creators, buyers, thinkers, and innovators — the movers and shakers in the worlds of technology, media, business, politics, entertainment, and fashion. These men and women are the taste-makers and trendsetters, opinion formers and agenda creators, not to mention empire builders. Entry into the ranks of Vanity Fair’s list is based on a number of factors: wealth, influence, and philanthropy, as well as such intangibles as vision and the x factor.

The October issue of Vanity Fair will be on newsstands in New York and L.A. on September 1, and nationally and on the iPad September 6.

THE VANITY FAIR NEW ESTABLISHMENT

1. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook
2. Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Google
3. Jeff Bezos, Amazon
4. Tim Cook and Jonathan Ive, Apple
5. Jack Dorsey, Square, Twitter
6. Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, Andreessen Horowitz
7. Reed Hastings, Netflix
8. John Lasseter, Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios
9. Lady Gaga, singer
10. Dan Doctoroff, Bloomberg L.P.
11. Dick Costolo, Twitter
12. Mark Pincus, Zynga
13. Jim Breyer, Accel Partners
14. Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, and Graham King, Movies
15. Michael Moritz, Sequoia Capital
16. J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter
17. Trey Parker and Matt Stone, South Park
18. Reid Hoffman, Greylock Partners, LinkedIn
19. Herb Allen III, Allen & Co.
20. Judd Apatow, Apatow Productions
21. Jay-Z, Roc Nation
22. Todd Phillips, Green Hat Films
23. Yuri Milner, DST Global
24. J. J. Abrams, writer, director, producer
25. Robin Li, Baidu
26. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook
27. Andrew Mason, Groupon
28. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, television
29. Mark Wahlberg and Stephen Levinson, Leverage
30. Angela Ahrendts and Christopher Bailey, Burberry
31. Elon Musk, Tesla Motors, Space X
32. Natalie Massenet, Net-a-Porter Group
33. Paul Graham, Y Combinator
34. Sean Parker, entrepreneur
35. Fred Wilson, Union Square Ventures, Flatiron Partners
36. Peter Thiel, Founders Fund, Clarium Capital Management
37. Peter Jackson, Wingnut Films
38. Ryan Kavanaugh, Relativity Media
39. Mike Allen, Politico
40. Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, All Things D
41. John Hennessy, Stanford University
42. Jeremy Stoppelman, Yelp
43. Ashton Kutcher, actor, investor
44. Tyler Perry, director, producer, writer, actor
45. Dennis Crowley, Foursquare
46. Kevin Ryan, Gilt Groupe
47. Daniel Ek, Spotify
48. Henry Blodget, Business Insider
49. Mikael Hed, Niklas Hed, and Peter Vesterbacka, Rovio
50. Justin Timberlake, singer, actor

STEVE JOBS HOLDS THE TOP SPOT ON VANITY FAIR’S LIST OF THE POWERS THAT BE

Embattled News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch in the Top 5

NEW YORK, N.Y. — This year Vanity Fair inaugurates a list of the Powers That Be. These are the people who have shaped the world we live in today — and continue to wield enormous influence. Many are longtime New Establishment members, and their destinies are intertwined with the members of this year’s New Establishment.

Steve Jobs, of Apple, holds the top spot on the list of the Powers That Be. Since Jobs took control of the company 14 years ago, the stock’s share price has risen more than 6,500 percent. At the height of the debt crisis in late July, Apple had more cash on hand than the U.S. government.

Bernard Arnault, of luxury-goods company LVMH, ranks in the No. 2 spot. As an overseer of countless enduring luxury brands, Arnault has left his mark on the industry. Last year he spent $2 billion to accumulate a 20 percent stake in family-controlled but publicly traded Hermès.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is No.3 on this year’s list while News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch comes in at No. 4. The tumultuous News of the World scandals this year have shaken the media baron, but also shown his staying power in the face of just about anything. Brian Roberts and Steve Burke, of Comcast, NBCUniversal, who recently acquired the U.S. media rights to the Olympic Games through 2020, are No. 5.

Jill Abramson is the highest-ranking woman out of six on the list, at No. 9. She is followed by Angelina Jolie with Brad Pitt at No. 11, Sue Naegle with Richard Plepler and Michael Lombardo at No. 15, Anne Sweeney with George Bodenheimer at No. 22, Bonnie Hammer at No. 24, and Arianna Huffington with Tim Armstrong at No. 25.

Because some power is permanent, Vanity Fair nominates a number of regulars to the Hall of Fame this year. Warren Buffett, of Berkshire Hathaway, joins Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg, Tom Ford, actor Tom Hanks, and designer Karl Lagerfeld. Network impresario Oprah Winfrey, Jeffrey Katzenberg, of DreamWorks Animation, and talk-show host Charlie Rose all make the ranks as well.

The October issue of Vanity Fair will be on newsstands in New York and L.A. on September 1, and nationally and on the iPad September 6.

THE POWERS THAT BE

1. Steve Jobs, Apple
2. Bernard Arnault, LVMH
3. Michael Bloomberg, mayor, New York City
4. Rupert Murdoch, News Corporation
5. Brian Roberts and Steve Burke, Comcast, NBCUniversal
6. François-Henri Pinault, PPR
7. Bob Iger, Walt Disney Company
8. Jeffrey Bewkes, Time Warner
9. Jill Abramson, The New York Times
10. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft
11. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, movies, philanthropy
12. Diego Della Valle, Tod’s
13. Roman Abramovich, investments
14. Mickey Drexler, J. Crew
15. Richard Plepler, Sue Naegle, and Michael Lombardo, HBO
16. Larry Gagosian, Gagosian Gallery
17. Harvey and Bob Weinstein, the Weinstein Company
18. Marc Jacobs, designer
19. Lorne Michaels, Saturday Night Live
20. David Zaslav, Discovery Communications
21. Jean Pigozzi, investments, art
22. George Bodenheimer and Anne Sweeney, Disney Media Networks
23. Vivi Nevo, NV Investments
24. Bonnie Hammer, NBCU Cable Entertainment and Cable Studios
25. Tim Armstrong and Arianna Huffington, AOL Huffington Post Media Group

HALL OF FAME

Edgar Bronfman Jr., Warner Music Group
Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway
Ron Conway, angel investor
Philippe Dauman, Viacom
Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg, IAC, DVF
John Doerr, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
Larry Ellison, Oracle Corporation
Tom Ford, designer/filmmaker
Ted Forstmann, IMG Worldwide
Tom Freston, Firefly3
Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, Imagine Entertainment
Tom Hanks, actor
Jeffrey Katzenberg, DreamWorks Animation
Vinod Khosla, Khosla Ventures
Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel
Ralph Lauren, Polo Ralph Lauren
John Malone, Liberty Media
Ron Meyer, Universal Studios
Leslie Moonves, CBS
Ronald Perelman, MacAndrews and Forbes
Miuccia Prada, Prada
Charlie Rose, talk-show host
Eric Schmidt, Google
Terry Semel, investor
Oprah Winfrey, OWN

(Full disclosure: Readers who look closely at the list will notice that all things ATD senior editor Peter Kafka is listed as a contributor. This is true! Also true: Peter wrote biographical entries for several people on the list, but has zero input on its composition. He tells us he had no idea that we were being considered for inclusion, and we believe him. He also says that had he been asked for his opinion, he would have voted for us, his bosses, to be included. We also believe that.)

Microsoft’s Touchscreen Revolution Now Not Quite So Revolutionary


This post is by Richard MacManus from ReadWriteWeb


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




In June, Microsoft unveiled the latest version of its Windows operating system: Windows 8. This version of Windows will introduce touchscreen technology into the Windows user interface (UI), including desktop and laptop computers. Touchscreens have become popular in smartphones and tablets, primarily due to Apple’s iOS. But does it make sense to reach out and touch your desktop computer screen in order to navigate or browse? In June, Microsoft was giving a resounding YES to that question. Now, it’s more like a nervous MAYBE.

Microsoft’s Steven Sinofsky attempted to explain today how the new touchscreen UI – which he dubbed the "Metro style" – will co-exist with the old style point-and-click Windows UI. The two interfaces are night and day. The touchscreen one is relatively simple and app-centric, the traditional one is complex and file-centric. He ended up hedging his bets, which is what Microsoft is now doing in its design goals for Windows 8.

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Here are screenshots of the two interfaces, the touchscreen first and then latest version of Ye Olde style below.


Windows 8 "Metro style"


Windows 8 old-school style

Sinofsky talked about the need to do "a balancing act" between the two UIs. Which is entirely reasonable, because of the huge install base of Windows and the fact that a mouse and file system interface are going to be very useful things to have in PCs for some time to come. It’s far more efficient to use a mouse to find that file you need to work on, than use your fingers to flip through files via touchscreen.

What’s curious is Sinofsky’s statement that "we chose to take the approach of building a design without compromise." Using both UIs, he wrote, "truly affords you the best of the two worlds we see today."

Others have rightly pointed out that far from being a "no compromises" design decision, it’s the exact definition of compromising.

When Windows 8 was announced, Microsoft said it was “a reimagining of Windows.” A lot of people applauded Microsoft for bravely making a big leap from the traditional Windows interface into touchscreen technology. Even Apple hasn’t made that leap, although perhaps for good reason.

However now Microsoft has backed off from the hype and is adopting a more conservative approach. It doesn’t want to alienate its millions of users, or the tens of thousands of developers who build on the Windows platform. That makes a lot of sense. But it’s no longer a revolution in desktop computer design. Oh well, perhaps in Windows 9…

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Hands-On: At The U.S. Open With The Olympus E-PM1


This post is by Chris Velazco from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




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Olympus is trying to do with their new E-PMT1 PEN Mini camera what other manufacturers already have: bring DSLR power to the masses. It’s their smallest Micro Four Thirds camera to date, and it’s definitely got its proverbial sights set on the mass market — and the fact that it comes in six colors certainly doesn’t hurt. Olympus was kind enough to let me play with an E-PM1 and a variety of lenses at the U.S. Open of all places, and here are a few of my quick impressions.

The body is a bit on the plasticky side, but it fortunately doesn’t feel like it will fall apart at the seams either. Corners had to be cut to keep the price down, and while the body probably could have been a bit sturdier, it feels robust enough to stand up to the rigors of everyday use. The rest of the package was spot on: it performed pretty nicely in most low light situations I found myself in, and the autofocus was nice and snappy.

As something of a novice photographer, I appreciated the simple terms that Olympus has peppered throughout its UI. While being asked to manually change shutter speed on a typical DSLR may elicit a clueless look from an aspiring photographer, Olympus makes it a cakewalk: just change the “Motion Control” setting (complete with self-explanatory icons) to achieve the desired effect. That said, the menu system was a bit confusing at times: after changing the art mode (Olympus’s name for filters) in the menu for example, you couldn’t use the same method to change it. Rather, you press a different button and change art mode from the settings it brings up.

The E-PM1′s iAuto mode is a boon to new users — while photos taken using it seem to err just a bit on the warm side, it reduces the amount of know-how needed to take nice shots. Different art modes also add an extra splash of fun to the PEN Mini, and while every camera has them, personal favorites like the tilt-shifting Diorama mode will help position it as the fun camera to use.

All things considered, I’m really starting to fall for the little guy. The problem with Olympus’ approach is that it’s terribly difficult to strike the right balance: water it down too much and pros won’t pick it up as a smaller alternative, but make it just a bit too complex and casual users won’t take the plunge. While not perfect, the E-PM1 seems to stick it mostly in that sweet spot. The Olympus E-PM1 is due for a September release, and will set photographers back $499.99.

















E-Books Get More Interactive With Amazon’s New Author Q&A Feature


This post is by John Paul Titlow from ReadWriteWeb


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Amazon nudged the experience of reading books ever-so-slightly further into the future today. The company announced a new feature for its Kindle reading platform that lets readers ask authors questions about their books as they’re reading.

The new program, called @author, lets Kindle users highlight a passage and then ask the author a question about it via their Amazon author page or Twitter. Only questions as long as 100 characters can be asked from within the e-book itself, but more in-depth curiosities can be posted to the author’s official page on Amazon.

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Of course, only a handful of questions will actually be answered directly by authors, but other readers are free to chime in and offer their take. If the writer does respond, readers will be notified by email.

If you’ve got something nasty to say, this probably isn’t the place to do it, as Amazon encourages readers to “behave as if you were a guest at a friend’s dinner party” and leave profanity and insults out of it.

The feature represents, as Nieman Journalism Lab so effectively put it, a step toward “a book culture that is increasingly author-driven” rather than one driven strictly by publishers or even necessarily books. Amazon is “is charting a new course for the publishing industry” by “commodifying the charisma of the authors who sell material on its platforms,” Nieman Lab’s Megan Garber writes.

Continues Garber:

Already we’re seeing new, largely tablet-driven publishing platforms challenging and transforming our assumptions about what a book is and can be; already we’re seeing publishing platforms that emphasize authors’ fan communities as value propositions unto themselves. @Author is the next step in that process: the digital commodification of authorship that takes place by way of community and conversation.

Amazon took a step toward social reading earlier this year with the quiet launch of Kind Profiles, which let users display their reading activity and connect with other readers in a Goodreads-style feature.

The @author feature is in limited beta right now, and appears to only be available on Kindle devices rather than from within the Kindle app on other platforms. Participating authors include Tim Ferris, Susan Orlean, Steven Johnson and about a dozen others.

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Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac available September 6


This post is by Andru Edwards from Gear Live


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac

The folks over at Parallels have been hard at work on perfecting the software for OS X Lion, and now it's ready. Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac will go on sale on September 6th, bringing a bunch of Lion features to apps that you're running in Windows. Expect the ability to use Lion features like Full Screen, LaunchPad, and Mission Control with Windows programs, along with the ability to run multiple copies of OS X Lion and Windows at the same time. On the performance end of things, Parallels Desktop 7 is 60 percent faster than the previous version for resuming Windows, and 45 percent faster for 3D graphics. ALso new is improved 5.1 surround sound, and support for 7.1 surround as well.

On September 6th you'll be able to download a trial or full version of Parallels Desktop 7, as well as purchased boxed software from retailers. The standard price is $79.99, while the Switch to Mac edition is $99.99. If you're switching over from VMware Fusion (Parallels competitor) you'll get a special price of $49.99, and if you're upgrading from a previous version of Parallels, you also qualify for the $49.99 price. Lastly, if you're a student, you get it for $39.99.

We'll be testing out all of the new features of Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac, and will report back with our thoughts soon.


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Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac available September 6 originally appeared on Gear Live on Wed, August 31, 2011 – 6:29:53


Assistly For Salesforce Launches On AppExchange


This post is by Rip Empson from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




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Assistly, the cloud-based customer support platform that’s backed by Bullpen Capital, Index Ventures, Salesforce, as well as several other angels and VCs, launched version 2.0 of its platform back in July, along with rolling out a new pricing model that includes a full-featured version of its service for free.

Today, the summer features keep on rolling out for Assistly, which today announced that it would be adding two-way integration with Salesforce. Assistly for Salesforce is an AppExchange app that, according to the Assistly blog, will enable sales and support teams to “share a complete view of the customer” — in other words, customer support teams can now see data, like customer contact info and status while working on cases — direct from Salesforce. The app will also integrate with Salesforce Chatter to make it easy to involve one’s entire company in customer support, and allow users to send status updates and set rules to automatically generate Chatter messages as customer support cases age.

With Assistly for Salesforce, users can view contact history and more without having to leave Assistly, and likewise, customer support teams can view information from Salesforce — all in an effort to offer a more consistent experience to the customer. Organizations can then use Assistly to show where a customer is in the sales cycle, the status or value of that customer to the company, and the customer’s contact information. In realtime.

Assistly has had an ongoing partnership with Salesforce, and this announcem