Showing posts with label facebook. Show all posts
Showing posts with label facebook. Show all posts

Monday, May 20, 2013

The New Wall Street: Yahoo! to Buy Tumblr for Over $1B

These expensive Internet company acquisitions have made headlines, largely because among traditional Wall Street investors, there remains a nagging, unanswered question:  How on earth will any of these new Internet companies actually make any money?

Yahoo's Marissa Mayer promised investors that she would not "screw up" the deal.  But is the billion dollar-plus Tumblr deal already doomed from the start?

It is clear that popular free Internet services like Google, Yahoo, Bing, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr are first intent on building strong brand loyalty among their respective users. Once that brand awareness and loyalty exists, the somewhat more challenging task is left to others to figure out how to monetize this intangible asset into a profitable venture. "Turning eyeballs into dollars," some consultants call it.

And it is no easy task:  Ask Mark Zuckerberg.  Facebook's Initial Public Offering raised $16B, but most of Facebook's revenue still comes from advertising, not membership/usage fees.

Sarah Smith, who was Facebook's Online Sales Operations Manager, reported that successful advertising campaigns on the site can have clickthrough rates as low as 0.05% to 0.04%.  That means that Facebook generally has a lower clickthrough rate for its advertisements than most major websites.

In fact, according to, banner advertisements on Facebook have generally receive one-fifth the number of clicks compared to those on the Web as a whole, although specific comparisons can reveal a much larger disparity.

Therefore, even Facebook, with massive brand awareness and loyalty, has struggled with monetizing these assets.  Best of luck to Yahoo, Tumblr and Marissa Mayer.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

When "Wants" and "Likes" Collide

Facebook is being sued by a Michigan company that claims that its "WANT" button is being infringed upon by the social media giant.

CVG-SAB, based in Farmington Hills, Michigan, owns the website, and claims that it began marketing its button in September 2010, to allow consumers to keep a list of desired products and services online.  Tommy Bahama, Burlington Coat Factory and others are current customers of CVG-SAB.  

Facebook began using a "WANT" button that takes users to non-Facebook sites where they can purchase merchandise.  

The lawsuit claims that CVG-SAB has already experienced instances of actual consumer confusion, having allegedly received inquiries into whether the new Facebook platform is related to it.

In response, Facebook filed a counterclaim, alleging that the "want" button uses a common, everyday term that cannot be protected -- a difficult legal strategy to press, considering Facebook claims monopoly ownership of the "LIKE" button. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Facebook "Like" Button Not Protected as Free Speech, Federal Court Rules

Be careful what you "like" on Facebook:  The click of that button is not protected as free speech, one federal judge has ruled.

Bobby Bland and several others were employed as civilian workers by the Hampton, Virginia Sherriff's Office. The Sheriff, B.J. Roberts, ran for re-election against Jim Adams, and the plaintiffs were apparently not in favor of their boss being reelected.

In fact, three of the plaintiffs went so far as to "like" Adams' Facebook page.

Unfortunately for them, their boss won the election, and he decided to not retain the plaintiffs as employees of the Sheriff's Office. They sued him for unlawful termination.

The Sheriff justified the firings on cost-cutting and budgeting grounds, but the plaintiffs argued that the terminations clearly violated their First Amendment rights. The Court granted Sheriff Roberts’ motion for summary judgment, dismissing the plaintiffs' case.

The judge held that "simply liking a Facebook page" was not a "substantive statement" that warranted constitutional protection. The Court said that it would not attempt to "infer the actual content" of the message from "one click of a button."

The Court wrote that "Facebook posts can be considered matters of public concern; however, the Court does not believe [it to be] sufficient speech to garner First Amendment protection." (emphasis in original).

The ruling raises interesting questions about the odd "speech vs. conduct" divide.

For example, according to the U.S. Supreme Court, burning an American flag carries sufficient expressive content to be protected speech.

In Texas v. Johnson, the Supreme Court acknowledged that conduct may be "sufficiently imbued with elements of communication to fall within the scope" of the First Amendment.
In deciding whether particular conduct possesses sufficient communicative elements to bring the First Amendment into play, the Supreme Court asked whether "an intent to convey a particularized message was present, and [whether] the likelihood was great that the message would be understood by those who viewed it."
The Supreme Court found that, under the circumstances, "Johnson's burning of the flag constituted expressive conduct, permitting him to invoke the First Amendment...Occurring as it did at the end of a demonstration coinciding with the Republican National Convention, the expressive, overtly political nature of the conduct was both intentional and overwhelmingly apparent."
But the intent and message behind giving a Facebook "thumbs up" to the candidate running against your boss is not overwhelmingly apparent?  
It sure seemed pretty apparent to their boss what it meant, but apparently not to the Court.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Zynga's The Ville Accused of "Blatant Mimicry" by Sims Social Creators

Electronic Arts ("EA") today announced that it filed a lawsuit on behalf of its Maxis Label against Zynga for infringing EA's copyrights to its Facebook game, The Sims Social.
In the Complaint, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California today, EA claims that in Zynga's recently-released Facebook game The Ville, Zynga willfully and intentionally "copied and misappropriated the original and distinctive expressive elements of The Sims Social in a violation of U.S. copyright laws."
The Sims Social, launched in August 2011, brought the distinctive universe of EA's world-renowned franchise, The Sims, to the social gaming audience on Facebook.  An instant hit, The Sims Social rapidly gained tens of millions of users, and maintains a current user base of several million active players on Facebook.
Lucy Bradshaw, General Manager of EA's Maxis Label, commented on the lawsuit in a statement posted to EA's website,
"As outlined in our complaint, when The Ville was introduced in June 2012, the infringement of The Sims Social was unmistakable to those of us at Maxis as well as to players and the industry at large. The similarities go well beyond any superficial resemblance. Zynga's design choices, animations, visual arrangements and character motions and actions have been directly lifted from The Sims Social. The copying was so comprehensive that the two games are, to an uninitiated observer, largely indistinguishable. Scores of media and bloggers commented on the blatant mimicry.
"This is a case of principle. Maxis isn't the first studio to claim that Zynga copied its creative product. But we are the studio that has the financial and corporate resources to stand up and do something about it. Infringing a developer's copyright is not an acceptable practice in game development. By calling Zynga out on this illegal practice, we hope to have a secondary effect of protecting the rights of other creative studios who don't have the resources to protect themselves.
"Today, we hope to be taking a stand that helps the industry protect the value of original creative works and those that work tirelessly to create them."