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Will This Be Mike Arrington’s Last Post? – Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg Video Interview February 3, 2009

Posted by John in Technology.
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Enjoy this interview Sheryl Sandberg the Facebook COO at Davos. Mike Arrington grabbed her for a 9 min interview. One thing that I would ask Sheryl is how they are handling the policy for kids. As Linda Furrier posted last week, she has an opinion on Facebook for Kids.

Full transcript:

Michael Arrington: I am here with Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, and we’re at the end of the World Economic Forum at Davos. So, how was Davos for you this year?

Sheryl Sandberg: Interesting. I’ve been here before so you can kind of feel the different moods. I’d say this is the most somber Davos I’ve been to.

Michael Arrington: How many have you been to?

Sheryl Sandberg: Six I believe – four, a long time ago when I was working in the Clinton government, and last year. During the Clinton years there was an Asian financial crisis and I would say the mood then was not as up, but the pessimism was constrained to one part of the economic sphere, which was really Asia and some of the Latin American countries.

Michael Arrington: The NASDAQ was still way up then..

Sheryl Sandberg: Here there’s a real pessimism, and I think it’s earned – where is the economy going to bottom out? What don’t we understand?

Michael Arrington: This is your first Davos as a Facebook executive. Is it any different? Are people approaching you for different things? To talk about different things? What is this community giving you? What is this community giving you, what are you giving back, to this community?

Sheryl Sandberg: At Facebook we feel a lot of affinity not just for this community but for any community that is trying to do what Davos is trying to do, which is to share information. And Davos is doing it in a particular way – I think the Facebook approach is obviously more broad-based, we’re trying to include everyone in the world. But the goal is the same: bring people together, to share information and make the world more connected, and have people have a deeper understanding of themselves, others, the communities of which they want to be a part and can be a part. This has been a great year at Davos for Facebook. We’ve done a bunch of things including some polls from the stage, which has been really exciting.

Michael Arrington: Randi Zuckerberg did a poll that had around 500 responses in a matter of seconds..

Sheryl Sandberg: Yeah, I think the most compelling thing we had was there was a panel here which was on the situation in Congress with the US. And the panelists were talking about the stimulus package, and the assumption on the panel was that people were for it, and it would pass, there’s some tinkering to do. And Randi did a poll from the stage in twenty minutes, 120,000 responses, 70% of whom were against it. They said, “I don’t believe in the stimulus package”.

Michael Arrington: This was during the panel..

Sheryl Sandberg: During the panel, real live, 120,000 responses. Now it’s not a representative full sampling of the US population, but that’s a lot of responses. It completely changed the panel… The panel then were talking about, “wow, a lot of people are against this, what are we going to do?” And I think that’s exciting because Davos is a pretty exclusive thing. And the voice of people who were not invited – while everyone is always trying to get it in here, I don’t know how much you can do that.

Michael Arrington: Yeah, but you inserted it directly into a panel.

Sheryl Sandberg: Yeah, and the times I’ve been here [it was] the most direct voice of the people I’ve seen inserted into a panel so I think that was pretty exciting.

Michael Arrington: Was that an on-the-record panel with the video up on the site?

Sheryl Sandberg: I don’t know… It’s pretty exciting to take real people living in the real world, their opinions, and have people have to react to that. As opposed to their perceptions of what people are thinking, which are often very different.

Michael Arrington: So how was your first year at Facebook? We’re coming up on the one year mark in March.

Sheryl Sandberg: Yes, coming up on the one year mark. It’s been great. Facebook is a really exciting place trying to do something really important that I really believe in. And it matters. You go to different things from users to marketers to people like Obama running for office, who really want to connect with people and want a more authentic way to communicate and to listen and I think we are one of the forces and in some ways the leading force helping to provide that and that’s just a really exciting thing to be a part of.

Michael Arrington: How many users do you have now? 150 million?

Sheryl Sandberg: 150 million..

Michael Arrington: But it’s actually above that, you just don’t announce it. Every few months..

Sheryl Sandberg: *Laughs* We update it regularly.

Michael Arrington: Why does Comscore say 200 million people visit the site every month? Is it just Comscore is off or…

Sheryl Sandberg: An active user for us is someone who comes every month, at least once a month. I don’t know exactly how Comscore is measuring it.

Michael Arrington: You realize it’s like 1 in 5 people in the world that are on the internet visit Facebook.

Sheryl Sandberg: So we have 4 in 5 more to go. To get everyone connected. Joking aside, we want everyone in the world to be connected. Through Facebook, through technology, not just through us. But we really believe in enabling people to be their authentic selves on the web, and enabling people to communicate directly with each other in a very personal way.

Michael Arrington: So.. Revenue. You own revenue in the company, is that right?

Sheryl Sandberg: I definitely work on revenue, have responsibility for revenue.

Michael Arrington: So what’s monthly revenue now?

Sheryl Sandberg: Oh, you know, three dollars. $3.52 precisely.

Michael Arrington: How do you feel about revenue, where do you feel the big growth opportunities are? Do you have any new products? Micropayments for the developers, anything like that that you’re willing to talk about now?

Sheryl Sandberg: No product announcements on this video, that will disappoint but not surprise you. But you know it’s funny, a lot of people will say, “what’s Facebook’s business model?” I always find that a kind of funny question. Our business model is out there, which is: we monetize largely through advertising and a little bit through the gift revenue, the virtual gifts we have on our site. I think those continue to be the most promising avenues going forward. I think what you will see from us – you’ve seen from us some last year but you’ll see a lot this year – are the evolution of the advertising products so that they can be more targeted for advertisers and provide useful interactions for users. And I think we’re actually having a good year so far, a good quarter, and looking forward to more growth.

Michael Arrington: So you have direct ad sales, you have a team, and then you have the self-serve ads and we’ve actually looked at the self serve ads quite a bit and advertisers seem to love that. You said you have virtual gifts, but what about that micropayments platform for developers, I mean that’s a way for you to make additional money and they’re begging for it.

Sheryl Sandberg: Nothing to announce today.

Michael Arrington: Didn’t you guys already announce it a year ago?

Sheryl Sandberg: Yeah, we did do that… We haven’t updated that announcement and part of being a startup is, you know you announce things, you try to get there… not going to give anything else. Other than the $3.52. Obviously a very specific announcement.

Michael Arrington: Give me one thing then, give me more than 5,000 friends, this was promised to me personally not a year ago but close. And they’re just piling up. The friend requests are just piling up. And I know it’s only a small percentage of users have that need for more than 5,000 friends, but I’m one of them. When do I get that?

Sheryl Sandberg: I’m not going to give you a specific date, but I will reinforce the message that this is coming, and more importantly tell you why we think it’s important. Because you have these friend requests because people genuinely want to hear from you and genuinely want to connect with you. We’re not providing that functionality and we think that’s important so we are working on this and we’re working on it currently. We look forward to your having 80,000 friends… 100,000 friends.

Michael Arrington: I want to be friends with everyone that wants to be friends with TechCrunch. I don’t know if they really want to be friends with me or if they want to be friends with TechCrunch. But I want to add everyone, right now they’re piling up. What do you think of your hotel? I forgot to ask you that.. I’ve asked everyone that. It’s a 2 star hotel at a 5 star price.

Sheryl Sandberg: Yeah, it’s not the nicest hotel I’ve stayed at this year. I was a little scared at first because I walked into the room and there was no bed. I have a Murphy bed.

Yahoo Keyword: Arbitrage – A Yahoo BiD Coming From Investment Group ? It’s About Damn Time January 7, 2009

Posted by John in Technology.
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Mike Arrington has a report that a group of investors are circling Microsoft for money to take over Yahoo. Finally, someone is making a run at Yahoo. The wounded beast is begging for a takeover and what a bargain that would be. I would love to have the cash to take over Yahoo. Yahoo has amazing assets.

This is the easiest arbitrage and the best investment if the group can get the company at the right price. Also a huge win for Microsoft. I am happy to see some life in the technology financial markets. This would be a fun deal to work. Can’t wait to see the debate – obviously I have an opinion with a ‘capital O”.

A group of well known Silicon Valley executives and top investment bankers are putting together a Yahoo takeover deal that would be financed largely from debt supplied by Microsoft, we’ve learned from sources with knowledge of the proposed transaction.

Under the terms of the proposed deal, the investment group would make a takeover bid for Yahoo at a relatively low premium of around 20% to its current price of around $13 per share, valuing the company at just over $20 billion.

Simultaneous to the transaction Yahoo’s search and search marketing business would be sold to Microsoft. Following the transaction the new executive team would take over the top ranks of Yahoo. A key goal of the new team would be to attempt to attract back much of the executive talent that has fled Yahoo in the last year.

No Dan – Look At Me – Ding Ding Kara Gets The “First Award” November 18, 2008

Posted by John in social media.
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Dan Lyons takes a shot at Kara Swisher not once but twice. I often break many scoops here at Furrier.org and we all know embargos are irrelevant in the blogosphere. So with great interest I watch the spat regarding the sourcing of Kara Swisher’s scoop. She jumps early posts first and runs it to the finish in style. Kudos to Kara.

Jumping the gun is fun to watch especially as being “first” post matters. I see traffic logs that show that being first clearly spikes traffic.

However, in my post I credited Mike Arrington with the story because Mike has a following on twitter that is big, and based upon a tweet I saw on twitter it was clear that in that medium Mike was first. That being said Kara actually was first. In the era of “first comment’ and ‘alpha blogging’ being the first matters.

Therefore, this blog being the arbiter of ‘all things tech blogosphere’, I award Kara the ‘first’ award.

Judgement finds Kara “first”. Mike Arrington gets honorable mention for being first on twitter.

“Live Long and Link Often”

In that spirit of “Live Long and Link Often” – here is Kara Swisher with the “First” post of insider views at Yahoo on who will be the replacement for Jerry Yang.

Yang Is Forced Out At Yahoo – No Question About It November 18, 2008

Posted by John in Technology.
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Update: Om Malik has a post on what Jerry Yang should do next.

Mike Arrington has the post up with a release from Yahoo. I think that founder should stay and be supported. Me being the arbiter of all things scoops in tech has to give a shout out goes to Kara Swisher first broke the story here. Then pulls out the magic again by getting the internal memo (see below).

There is no question in my mind that Jerry Yang was forced out of town on a “rail”. I hate to see this, but the mob got him. All that value flushed down the market toilet. Personally, I was cheering for Jerry and hoped he could put it together. Hopefully this could give him some cover. Maybe the search will take a long time.

Remember that Steve Jobs was supposed to be the interim APPLE CEO.

Here is the release from Yahoo

The press release:

Yahoo! Conducting Search for New CEO
Co-Founder Jerry Yang to Step Down Following Appointment of New CEO
and Return to Former Role as Chief Yahoo! and Board Member

SUNNYVALE, Calif., Nov 17, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) –

Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO) today announced that its Board of Directors has initiated a search for a new Chief Executive Officer. Jerry Yang, co-Founder of Yahoo!, has decided to return to his former role as Chief Yahoo! upon the appointment of his successor as CEO, and he will also continue to serve on the Board. Yang, 40, assumed the CEO role at the Board’s request in June 2007, and he has led Yahoo! through a strategic repositioning and transformation of its platform.

Chairman Roy Bostock, working with the independent directors and in consultation with Jerry Yang, is leading the process of assessing potential candidates and determining finalists for consideration. The search will encompass both internal and external candidates, and the Board has retained Heidrick & Struggles, a leading international executive search firm, to assist in the process.

“Over the past year and a half, despite extraordinary challenges and distractions, Jerry Yang has led the repositioning of Yahoo! on an open platform model as well as the improved alignment of costs and revenues,” said Roy Bostock. “Jerry and the Board have had an ongoing dialogue about succession timing, and we all agree that now is the right time to make the transition to a new CEO who can take the company to the next level. We are deeply grateful to Jerry for his many contributions as CEO over the past 18 months, and we are pleased that he plans to stay actively involved at Yahoo! as a key executive and member of the Board.”

“From founding this company to guiding its growth into a trusted global brand that is indispensible to millions of people, I have always sought to do what is best for our franchise,” said Jerry Yang. “When the Board asked me to become CEO and lead the transformation of the Company, I did so because it was important to re-envision the business for a different era to drive more effective growth. Having set Yahoo! on a new, more open path, the time is right for me to transition the CEO role and our global talent to a new leader. I will continue to focus on global strategy and to do everything I can to help Yahoo! realize its full potential and enhance its leading culture of technology and product excellence and innovation.”

Internal Memo from Jerry Yang to all employees

Kara Swisher has the internal memo from Jerry Yang to fellow Yahooers
… This is pretty epic and so sad. I can’t believe that Yahoo can’t get their shit together to support their founder.

o: all yahoos
Fr: Jerry
Subject: update

yahoos –

i wanted to address all of you on the news we’ve just announced. the board of directors and I have agreed to initiate a succession process for the ceo role of yahoo!. roy bostock, our chairman of the board, is leading the effort to identify and assess potential candidates for consideration by the full board. the board will be evaluating and considering both internal and external candidates and has retained heidrick and struggles to help in this effort.

i will be participating in the search for my successor, and i will continue as ceo until the board selects a new ceo. once a successor is named, i will return to my previous role as chief yahoo and continue to serve as a director on the board.

last june, i accepted the board’s request that i assume the ceo role to restructure and reposition the company as a whole in order to more effectively meet the fast-changing needs of both users and partners. since taking on the ceo role, i have had an ongoing dialogue with the board about succession timing. thanks in large measure to your tireless efforts, we have created a more open, competitive yahoo! and we believe the time is now right to transition to a new ceo who can take the company to the next level.

despite the external environment we face, the fact remains that yahoo! is now a significantly different company that is stronger in many ways than it was just 18 months ago. this only makes it all the more essential that we manage this opportunity to leverage the progress up to this point as effectively as possible. i strongly believe that having transformed our platform and better aligned costs and revenues, we have a unique window for the right ceo to take ownership over the next wave of mission-critical decisions facing the company.

all of you know that I have always, and will always bleed purple. i will always do what I think is right for this great company. while this step will be an adjustment for all of us, i know it’s the right one. i look forward to updating you on this process as soon as the board has developments to share, and will continue to do everything i can to make yahoo! fulfill its full potential.

thank you,

Jerry: I am available to take over as CEO. Let me know when the interviews start. Time to clean house.

TechCrunch Effect Heading to the Deadpool? Update: Apparently Not February 21, 2008

Posted by John in social media.
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UPDATE: As of 11:20 am Feb 21 Umair pulled down the post claiming it was harmful to Techcrunch. Note: the post only had 8 comments before Umair offlined it.

My post (below) was in response to that post. My original post below was a supportive post for Techcrunch. Now my orginal post is out of context because there is no original post to reference it.

I find that pulling down posts is bad form especially if the posts are written as editorial content. Techcrunch and other blogs write controversial posts that generate sometimes harsh conversations.

Below is my original post in response to the now pulled down post.

I saw the post today by Umair on the Techcrunch effect. Being a participant with Mike and Keith Teare at the formation of Techcrunch and watching him grow, I have to say that I think the Techcrunch effect is do to Mike’s work ethic and drive. As long as Mike stays around they will be relevant. On the community issie I think that as sites get larger they do get diluted on the community side, but Techcrunch has commenters who are pretty rabid.

What people don’t realize is that Techcrunch isn’t just Mike anymore. It’s a management team and staff that executes Mike’s vision. He’s outgrown the one man band blog to a fully branded publisher. This is a major accomplishment for Mike and his team.

Personally I don’t think that he can scale the way he’s organized but his site combined with events is a profitable model. I think that he’s nailed the events and Techcrunch meetup events. Those events throw off a ton of cash flow. What the Techcrunch growth story beyond that ..is anyones guess. However, it doesn’t matter he is profitable and unless something wild happens Techcrunch won’t be out of business anytime soon. (side note: PodTech is approaching breakeven as well). Being profitable is a good thing and allows companies to control their own destiny.

Overall, I think that Mike’s growth strategy is in alignment with how he has financed Techcrunch – organically self funded. If Mike changes his strategy from financing growth through internal cash flow to external equity capital, then he would have to rethink how he organizes his business.

One thing that I’d like to see is Mike publish his traffic numbers. That would silence the critics.