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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

'New, More Modern' Yahoo Being Introduced

Story first appeared on Business Insider -

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer just put up a blog post announcing a "new, more modern" Yahoo.

It's her long-expected, this-time-it's-official update to the Yahoo homepage  She says the page is more personal.

  • "A newsfeed with infinite scroll."
  • "You can log in with your Yahoo! or Facebook ID to get articles from thousands of news sources as well as those shared by your friends."
  • New applications, like a list of your Facebook friends' birthdays.
  • Refreshed "Yahoo! editorial features."
  • The list of popular searches of the moment has a "refreshed" look.
  • It's faster.
  • It's optimized for tablets and smartphones.
  • The business goal for the new homepage is simple: Yahoo needs to grow its userbase, and it needs all of it users to spend more time on the site.

At a Goldman Sach's conference in San Francisco last week, Mayer put it this way: "I'm not confused, our biggest problem right now is impressions. We're growing prices, we need to grow usage."

Here is Mayer's entire blog post:

Yahoo! first began as Jerry and Dave’s Guide to the World Wide Web, a directory of links created to help organize the Internet during its very early days. That simple directory evolved through the years into the Yahoo! we know today -- a starting point for your daily habits. Whether checking the latest news, sports scores, or just searching, Yahoo! has always been about bringing you the very best of the web. And, today, we’re introducing a new, more modern experience to do just that.

Designed to be more intuitive and personal, the new Yahoo! experience is all about your interests and preferences. Since streams of information have become the paradigm of choice on the web, we’re introducing a newsfeed with infinite scroll, letting you experience a virtually endless feed of news articles. Whether you are a sports fanatic or entertainment buff, you can easily customize your newsfeed to your interests. And, to make Yahoo! even more social, you can log in with your Yahoo! or Facebook ID to get articles from thousands of news sources as well as those shared by your friends.

Because you come to Yahoo! everyday for must-know information, we’ve also introduced newly designed applications. From your local weather forecast to Facebook friends’ birthdays, you’ll always have the information you need. We’ve also refreshed some of what you love most -- including our Yahoo! editorial features, and the daily snapshot into popular trending web searches.

The new Yahoo! experience works well on the go -- we’ve optimized it for smartphones and tablets. And, thanks to some under-the-hood improvements, Yahoo! is also faster.
Over the next few days, our U.S. users will begin to see the new Yahoo! experience and we’re excited to see the response. Over the coming months, we’ll continue to make changes and improvements, so today is just the beginning.

Here's a more detailed blog post from Mike Kearns, Yahoo VP of product::

If you’ve had a chance to visit Yahoo! today, you may have noticed a few changes. We’ve launched a fresh, dynamic and personalized Yahoo! experience that brings you relevant content even faster. It’s now easier for you to get your daily dose of weather, stock quotes, sports scores, and more. These changes are just the first step in making Yahoo! personalized, and the more you visit Yahoo!, the better it will become. Below are a few top tips on how to get the most out of the new Yahoo!.

Get personal, sign-in
To view more personally relevant content in the newsfeed, just sign in with your Yahoo! or Facebook ID in the upper right corner of your screen.

Filter your newsfeed.
The newsfeed defaults to a "blend" of story types, but also allows you to filter your view through a handful of popular categories, such as news, local, entertainment and sports. For additional choices in the newsfeed filter, just click the “More” button to choose from other categories that interest you like business, technology, politics or science. If you want to see fewer stories about a particular topic in the future, hover your cursor to the right of the story and click on the “X” button. And remember, the more feedback you provide, the more personalized and relevant your experience will be.

Share your favorite content from Yahoo!.
In addition to seeing news stories that your friends have read and shared, you can easily share with them. When you come across a news item that you’d like to share, hover over it to view a button that allows you to share the story via email, Facebook, or Twitter.

Reach the bottom of the page? Quickly navigate back up to the top.
If you’ve scrolled far down and want to head back to the top, click on the handy back-to-top arrow in the lower right-hand corner of your screen to be taken back to the top of your Yahoo!.

Check out weather, sports, stocks and more with new applications.
There are seven new applications on the right side of the screen to connect you with information you view everyday, like weather, stocks, sports, friends’ birthdays, horoscopes, Flickr photos and popular videos from Yahoo!. To personalize the applications, simply hover over the upper right side to click on the gears icon. For example, getting ready for March Madness? Add your favorite teams to the Sports application to catch up on the latest scores. Keeping an eye on your investments? To view stock quotes, click on the gears icon in the Quotes application to integrate your portfolio, look up quotes, or add new stocks. Travel often? Add as many cities as you’d like to the Weather application.

Customize your applications.
To remove a particular application, click the “x” button in the upper right corner of the application box. Change your mind? You can add them all back by selecting “Restore all” in the area where the applications used to be displayed.

Never forget a birthday.
If you’ve signed into Yahoo! via Facebook, the Birthday application offers an easy way to be reminded of upcoming birthdays from your circle of friends.

View the latest Flickr photos.
If you love photos, you can customize the Flickr application to display photos taken by the people you’re following. If you don’t have a Flickr account or if you’re not signed into Yahoo!, you’ll be shown some of the most recent and most interesting photos on Flickr.

On an iOS or Android device? Try swiping.
Simply visit on your tablet or mobile device, swipe through the “Today” stories to browse the freshest content. As you scroll down the newsfeed you can swipe left to take action on content. Find a story you like? Swipe left to share it. You also can swipe left to experience the different applications.

The best way to learn your way around the new Yahoo! is by checking it out yourself. Visit Yahoo! today to see what’s new!

The New Homepage

Story first appeared on Business Insider -

Marissa Mayer made her fame and fortune at Google, where she was responsible for the original design of And now, two months after becoming Yahoo CEO, she has updated A new version is slowly being rolled out into the wild, and we've got a screen-grab that a source close to Yahoo tells us is authentic. is Yahoo's most important product. ComScore says 170 million people visit Yahoo sites everyday, and a huge percentage of them are funneled to this page. Its ad units are perhaps the most valuable on the Internet. Sources tell us more changes are on the way. The page is going to get more personalized and customizable, we hear.

  • The search bar is now centered, and is part of a darker toolbar that is fixed to the top of the page as the user scrolls down.
  • The Yahoo! logo is smaller, and no longer purple.
  • The word "search" has been replaced with a magnifying glass icon.
  • There are far fewer links to Yahoo Sites on the left side. Losers are: Dating, Flickr, Games, Jobs, Messenger, Music, My Yahoo!, and TV.
  • Local weather has its own module.
  • What's trending has been de-emphasized and moved to the left column.
  • There is now a second large story tout below the top stories.
  • Instead of just headlines, the news river has story summaries.
  • Astrology has its own module.

Monday, February 11, 2013

AOL and Huffington Post Finally Reporting Revenue

Story first appeared on USA Today -

Two years after it acquired the Huffington Post, AOL still faces challenges in courting consumers and advertisers — but it is beginning to show progress.

While scheduling a business lunch in late 2010, Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington and AOL CEO Tim Armstrong each had a question for the other.

Huffington, who was hosting the meal at her home, asked whether there was anything he didn't eat. (The answer: mushrooms.)

Armstrong asked whether he could bring along his chief financial officer. That made the AOL honcho's intentions clear, and he swiftly expressed them when the group gathered.

"Up front, before the first course was served, he said he wanted to buy The Huffington Post," Huffington said in an interview at her New York office this week.

Soon after that meeting — during halftime at Super Bowl XLV in Dallas — the deal was signed. AOL paid $315 million for the site.

Together, the companies would create "a digital destination that delivers unmatched experiences for both consumers and advertisers," Armstrong said when the deal was announced.

Two years after that acquisition, and nearly four years after Armstrong took the helm, AOL still faces challenges in courting consumers and advertisers. But it is finally showing progress.

On Friday, AOL reported its first increase in quarterly revenue in eight years. Revenue rose 4%, to $599 million, in the fourth quarter. Net income, bolstered by a $16.8 million gain from the sale of overseas assets, was $35.7 million, or 41 cents a share. In 2011, AOL earned $22.8 million, or 23 cents a share.

"We have walked through the valley of the turnaround and have gotten to growth," Armstrong said during Friday's earnings call.

Managing an evolution

Created as a Web portal and Internet access provider, AOL today has evolved into an ad-supported technology and media giant.

To achieve its goals, AOL cut costs, while ramping up consumer- and advertiser-friendly content such as video and apps. Ad revenue for the company hit $411 million in the fourth quarter, up 13% from the same period in 2011. Full-year ad revenue was up 2.8% to $1.3 billion.

The Huffington Post acquisition has helped power its growth.

Across AOL's properties, the level of monthly U.S. unique visitors was 110 million in December, up from 107 million in December 2011, but down from the 112 million in December 2010, according to tracker comScore. The Huffington Post's U.S. monthly unique viewership has steadily grown — to 46 million in December from 25 million two years earlier, according to comScore figures provided by Huffington Post.

AOL doesn't break out profit on The Huffington Post or other media divisions, but for the first time on Friday, it disclosed results of a "brand group" category that includes The Huffington Post,, TechCrunch, local-news provider Patch and other content-focused assets.

That group's revenue grew 4% to $213 million for the fourth quarter. Adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization was down 34% to $8.8 million for the quarter. The drop-off was primarily the result of increased investment in editorial staff and sales representatives and higher marketing expenses, AOL said.

Despite its recent revenue growth, AOL still faces hurdles. It lost share in the overall U.S. digital ad market in recent years, according to industry tracker eMarketer. AOL had a 2.5% share of all U.S. digital ad revenue in 2012, down from 2.8% in 2011 and 3.3% in 2010.

U.S. digital ad spending grew 14.9% in the fourth quarter to $10.58 billion, according to eMarketer estimates. Google has the biggest share — with more than 41% of all digital ad revenue in the U.S. Yahoo has the second-biggest share.

A well-known personality

Like other top media executives, Arianna Huffington is a frequent attendee at advertising and technology events. But the Huffington Post Media Group editor-in-chief is well-known outside the industry. She is present at major political outings and featured in society pages. Her Greek accent and outgoing personality are so familiar that she is sometimes impersonated on NBC's Saturday Night Live.

Unlike AOL, which had a "stodgy and old" image in recent years, Huffington and the company she co-founded are more current and cutting edge, says Robert Passikoff, president of brand loyalty consulting firm Brand Keys.

Passikoff likens AOL to "a kid in high school who isn't cool anymore." But by aligning with The Huffington Post, the AOL brand acquires some rub-off hipness. "There is a halo effect," he says.

The Huffington Post brand, as well as sibling unit TechCrunch, also tend to attract more tech-savvy users than the traditional AOL brand, notes Ben Schachter, an analyst at Macquarie Securities.

TechCunch and The Huffington Post help AOL draw consumers who aren't tethered to laptops, but use mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, and will view alternative ad-supported content such as videos, he says.

Armstrong told USA TODAY that The Huffington Post's strong brand awareness, as well as its focus on innovation, gives Huffington Post "game-changing global potential."

Huffington: 'Best of both worlds'

Asked if she would want to buy her company back, Huffington says that "there is no reason to even contemplate anything like that."

"We have the best of both worlds," she adds. "We are a stand-alone entity within a great parent company that is very supportive of our big dreams."

But for The Huffington Post to keep its relevancy, she says, "it has to keep growing and evolving and engaging readers in new ways."

To that end, Huffington Post is:

• Extending global reach. Last year, The Huffington Post launched six international editions. It's now in the UK, Canada, France, Spain and Italy. Next up are areas in Germany, Africa and Asia. "We're going to go from international to global," says Huffington Post Media Group CEO Jimmy Maymann.

• Adding more videos. Video network Huff Post Live launched in August. It provides 12 hours of content, such as interviews with well-known personalities, on weekdays.

• Going mobile. Last year, The Huffington Post introduced an iPad app for HuffPost Live and an app for an iPad magazine. It also launched a wellness-focused "GPS for the Soul" iPhone app this year.

• Increasing lifestyle content: The site will bolster its coverage of personal topics such as divorce, weddings, books and travel.

Friday, February 08, 2013

LinkedIn Earnings - Soaring Higher than Forecasted

Story first appeared on USA Today -

Online professional-networking service LinkedIn's fourth-quarter performance added another line to its sterling resume as a public company.

LinkedIn's fourth quarter earnings came in far above Street expectations, boosting the stock in after-hours trading.

The results announced Thursday extended LinkedIn's uninterrupted streak of exceeding analysts' projections for both earnings and revenue. It marked the seventh consecutive quarter since LinkedIn's May 2011 IPO that the company has pulled that off, to the delight of investors.

The run of pleasant surprises is one of the reasons that LinkedIn's stock has tripled from its initial public offering price of $45. The shares surged $12.11, or nearly 10%, to $136.20 in extended trading after the numbers came out.

Wall Street's embrace of LinkedIn contrasts with the cold response given to other Internet services that have gone public during the past few years. Most of them are trading below their IPO prices. The most notable is Facebook, whose stock is worth about 25% less than it was when it made its market debut in May.

Although both run websites devoted to connecting people with common interests, LinkedIn and Facebook are targeting different audiences. Facebook focuses mostly on letting friends and family share good times and swap stories, while LinkedIn concentrates on helping people advance their careers and helping companies fill jobs.

Facebook, which is based in Menlo Park, is the larger of the two services, with more than 1 billion active users and $5.1 billion in revenue last year. LinkedIn, which is based in Mountain View, California, has 20 million account holders and revenue of $972 million in 2012.

But LinkedIn is growing more quickly, partly because it's less dependent on advertising than Facebook and most Internet services. In the fourth quarter, advertising accounted for 27% of its revenue. The remainder comes from various tools that it sells to help recruit workers and glean more insights from the information that its users post on its website.

LinkedIn earned $11.5 million, or 10 cents per share, during the final three months of last year. That marked a 66% increase from $6.9 million, or 6 cents per share, a year earlier.

If not for the costs of employee stock compensation and certain other charges, LinkedIn said it would have earned 35 cents per share. That was far above the average estimates of 19 cents per share among analysts surveyed by FactSet. Analysts excluded certain items from their calculations.

Revenue soared 81% from the previous year to $304 million — about $24 million above analyst forecasts.

LinkedIn's revenue outlook for the current quarter and all of 2013 were roughly in line with analyst estimates, setting the stage for the company to clear those financial bars once again.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Java on Macs - Blocked by Apple

Story first appeared on USA Today -

Some Mac users were taken by surprise Thursday as their computers stopped running programs written using the Java programming language after Apple blocked Java due to security problems.

Java allows programmers to write a wide variety of Internet applications and other software programs and run them on most computers, including Apple's Mac. However, earlier this month the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommended disabling Java in Web browsers to avoid potential hacking attacks. Oracle, which owns Java, has issued updates that fix known vulnerabilities, but the DHS expects that there are more flaws in Java's coding.

Apple sends out virtual "blacklists" to Internet-connected Macs, instructing them not to run certain programs. Apple is blocking the latest version of Java from running on the most recent versions of its Mac operating system, and blocking an older version, Java 6, from running on the older version of its Mac system, called Snow Leopard. The blocks affect programs and online games that use Java in Web browsers.

Oracle had no immediate comment on Apple's action.

Among those Java users inconvenienced by the unannounced block was the photo department of The Associated Press, which relies on a Java application to manage and distribute photos.

"The situation caught us by surprise and a number of our machines could not operate for a time, but we had enough capability to work around the problem in the meantime," said AP spokesman Paul Colford. "We expect the affected machines to be operating by day's end."

250,000 Twitter Accounts Hacked

Story first appeared on USA Today -

Twitter confirmed Friday that it had become the latest victim in a number of high-profile cyber-attacks against media companies, saying that hackers may have gained access to information on 250,000 of its more than 200 million active users.

The social media giant said in a blog posting that earlier this week it detected attempts to gain access to its user data. It shut down one attack moments after it was detected.

But it discovered that the attackers may have stolen user names, email addresses and encrypted passwords belonging to 250,000 users. Twitter reset the pilfered passwords and sent emails advising affected users.

Bob Lord, Twitter's director of information security, said in the blog that the attack "was not the work of amateurs, and we do not believe it was an isolated incident."

"The attackers were extremely sophisticated, and we believe other companies and organizations have also been recently similarly attacked," Lord said. "For that reason, we felt that it was important to publicize this attack while we still gather information, and we are helping government and federal law enforcement in their effort to find and prosecute these attackers to make the Internet safer for all users."

Twitter's security was compromised in November,when the company publicly acknowledged that hackers had accessed passwords of users though it did not detail how many accounts were affected. It said it had detected the hack and fixed the security vulnerability.

One expert said that this week's Twitter hack probably happened after an employee's home or work computer was compromised through vulnerabilities in Java, a commonly used computing language whose weaknesses have been well publicized.

Ashkan Soltani, an independent privacy and security researcher, said such a move would give attackers "a toehold" in Twitter's internal network, potentially allowing them either to sniff out user information as it traveled across the company's system or break into specific areas, such as the authentication servers that process users' passwords.

In a telephone interview Friday, Soltani said that the relatively small number of users affected suggested either that attackers weren't on the network long or that they were only able to compromise a subset of the company's servers.

The Twitter attack comes on the heels of recent hacks into the computer systems of U.S. media and technology companies, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Both American newspapers reported this week that their computer systems had been infiltrated by China-based hackers, likely to monitor media coverage the Chinese government deems important.

China has been accused of mounting a widespread, aggressive cyber-spying campaign for several years, trying to steal classified information and corporate secrets and to intimidate government critics. The Chinese foreign ministry could not be reached for comment Saturday, but the Chinese government has said those accusations are baseless and that China itself is a victim of cyber-attacks.

"Chinese law forbids hacking and any other actions that damage Internet security," the Chinese Defense Ministry recently said. "The Chinese military has never supported any hacking activities."

Twitter is generally used to broadcast messages to the public, so the hacking might not immediately have yielded any important secrets. But the stolen credentials could be used to eavesdrop on private messages or track which Internet address a user is posting from.

That might be useful, for example, for an authoritarian regime trying to keep tabs on a journalist's movements.

"More realistically, someone could use that as an entry point into another service," Soltani said, noting that since few people bother using different passwords for different services, a password stolen from Twitter might be just as handy for reading a journalist's emails.

New High for Google Stock

Story first appeared on USA Today -

Google's stock climbed to a new high Friday as Wall Street's best known indexes approached record territory, too.

The shares of the Internet search giant peaked at $776.70 during the afternoon to eclipse the stock's previous record of $774.38 reached in early October. It closed Friday at $775.60, up $19.91, or 2.6% for the session. The company, based in Mountain View, Calif., went public at $85 a share in August 2004.

Meanwhile, the benchmark Dow Jones industrial average closed above 14,000 Friday for first time since October 2007 — near the bellwether's all-time high of 14,164. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index, which includes Google, was up 1% and also flirting with a record high.

The stock market's rising tide isn't lifting all companies. For instance, the stock of Google rival Apple is 36% below the peak price it reached in September. Apple's shares shed another $1.87 Friday to close at $453.62.

Google's stock has been on the upswing since the company reported fourth-quarter earnings 10 days ago. Google is still enjoying strong growth in Internet advertising as it extends its reach to smartphones and tablet computers.