Архив метки: CEO

Titans Talking Turkey? Larry Page, Tim Cook Reportedly Discussing Patent Issues

Page / Cook

It sounds like the setup to a weird, utterly geeky joke — “So Apple’s CEO calls up Google’s CEO…” — but according to a new report from Reuters, the situation is anything but. Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Larry Page have recently spent time chatting with each other over the phone, and they plan to continue doing so at least for the time being.

Exactly what the two titans of tech are talking about isn’t totally clear yet, but it’s probably safe to assume that they dispensed with the pleasantries pretty quickly.

No, these supposed conversations were all about patents — how they could they not be, given Apple’s recent legal triumph over Samsung — and Reuters’ sources pointed to the possibility of an arrangement between the respective companies that could help ease some tension:

One possible scenario under consideration could be a truce involving disputes over basic features and functions in Google’s Android mobile software, one source said. But it’s unclear whether Page and Cook are discussing a broad settlement of the various disputes between the two companies – most of which involve the burgeoning mobile computing area – or are focused on a more limited set of issues.

Truce? That’s a far cry from the “thermonuclear” approach that the late Steve Jobs prescribed, but it’s not entirely a shock to see the word bandied about — I’m sure neither company is afraid of pulling the legal trigger should it prove necessary, but words can sometimes settle issues in a way that pure legal might can’t. While it’s good to see these companies on speaking terms though, it’s hard not to imagine what would happen should these talks wind up being less than fruitful.

Consider the situation — Samsung was found to have infringed on a number of Apple’s technical and design patents, and is being asked to cough up $1.05 billion in damages. While it’s true that most of the infringements (whether you think they’re valid or not) are centered on Samsung-specific design choices, that’s not to say that Google is completely in the clear. The company was quick to point out the “most” of the patent claims in question didn’t “relate to the core Android operating system” after the landmark verdict was delivered, but that may not be such a huge issue anyway. As The Verge’s Nilay Patel adroitly points out, it may not be too difficult to design around Apple’s specific implementation of certain patents, and the newest version of Android dodges that rather nicely.

In the wake of the multi-week trial, some wondered whether or not Google would lend its collaborator a helping hand. It wouldn’t be the first time, after all — HTC sued Apple last year for infringement against patents that Google had sold to it just a week prior, and the company stepped into the midst of another copyright infringement debate when Lodsys sued 11 app developers in 2011. If Cook and Page both walk away unsatisfied, it wouldn’t be impossible to imagine Google trying to help out in one way or another.

The precedent is there, but it seems like the sort of option that Google saves as a last resort. In any case, while Apple and Google’s head honchos continue to talk things out, Samsung is also reportedly gearing up for yet another legal battle. I’m not talking about the appeals process or the preliminary injunction hearing — The Korea Times reported earlier this morning that Samsung is planning to sue Apple should it release an LTE-enabled iPhone. Considering the tone of recent leaks and rumors (not to mention that there’s no way Apple would release an LTE iPad and fail to follow up with an LTE iPhone), Samsung should soon get the fight it’s looking for.

Titans Talking Turkey? Larry Page, Tim Cook Reportedly Discussing Patent Issues

Ebay Beats Forecasts On Strong Growth From Marketplaces, Q2 Revenue Up 23 Percent To $3.4B


eBay has just released its second quarter 2012 earnings report, in which the eCommerce giant outpaced expectations for yet another quarter. Revenue increased 23% to $3.4 billion, compared to the same period of 2011. Non-GAAP earnings came in at $0.56 per diluted share, while eBay posted Q2 net income of $692 million — up from $283 million in Q2 2011. In terms of benchmarks, analysts had been expecting earnings of $0.55 per share on revenue of $3.36 billion.

For reference, we can compare this to Q2 2011, when (excluding one-time items) eBay earned 48 cents per share with revenue posted at $2.76 billion — both of which were, at the time, above estimates. Now, as it was then, eBay continues to operate as one of the largest eCommerce companies in the world, so many look to the health of its principal businesses as an indicator of how eCommerce is faring overall. And although the economic pains over the last few years have wreaked havoc on traditional retailers and brick and mortars, it seems that eBay and online commerce seem to be more than weathering the storm.

“We delivered a great second quarter, driven by eBay Marketplaces’ best performance in years, strong growth at PayPal and strong same-store-sales growth for GSI’s large retail customers,” said eBay President and CEO John Donahoe. “Our entire company is strong, but we’re particularly pleased with eBay Marketplaces, which delivered its strongest organic growth in gross merchandise volume, excluding vehicles, since 2006. And mobile continues to be a game changer. We now expect eBay and PayPal mobile to each transact $10 billion in volume in 2012 — that’s more than double 2011, a staggering surge in mobile shopping and payments on devices that did not exist just a few years ago. Retail is at an inflection point, and we are helping to reshape how people around the world shop and pay.”

Analysts were also looking to PayPal, which had an extremely active first quarter (with numerous additions to its product set) and ended Q1 with 109.8 million active registered accounts for signs of growth. PayPal didn’t disappoint, with registered users jumping to 113.2 million in Q2.

The company has been moving to take its payment solution beyond the Web, bringing it to local merchants in brick-and-mortar stores and to mobile devices with its recently-launched Square competitor. PayPal’s revenue increased 26% year, and the platform’s net total payment volume grew 20% year over year to $34.5 billion. (This report follows, by the way, PayPal’s acquisition of Card.io yesterday.)

But the biggest contributor to the company’s continued growth in the second quarter came from Marketplaces, which saw the strongest “organic growth rate in gross merchandise volume, excluding vehicles, since 2006,” eBay said in a statement. GMV grew at a 15 percent year-over-year basis (excluding the effects of foreign currency), while international GMV increased 15 percent to $16 billion. In all, Marketplaces revenue grew 9 percent year-over-year to $1.8 billion in the second quarter of 2012. Meanwhile, sold items increased 20 percent in the second quarter, a 2.5 percentage point acceleration, which the company said reflected “a better customer experience and improved selection.”

Also of note: eBay’s suite of mobile apps surpassed 90 million downloads globally since it launched mobile in Q3 2008 — up from 78 million global downloads in Q1. As Donahoe mentioned, the company is now expecting both eBay and PayPal mobile to generate $10 billion in mobile transacted volume in 2012, which, for those keeping track at home, is more than double what it saw in 2011.

The company’s GSI business, which was acquired in the second quarter of 2011, saw $221 million in revenue for the quarter and generated $674 million in global eCommerce (GeC) merchandise sales, a slight drop from $237 million in revenue and $715 million in global sales in the first quarter. However, same store sales grew 21% year-over-year (compared to 26 percent year-over-year growth in Q1), which is an indication of strong eCommerce sales from the company’s retail clients.

As for looking forward, eBay is expecting more of the same, maintaining the guidance it set forth in April. The company forecasted net revenues in the range of $3.3 to $3.4 billion in the third quarter, with non-GAAP earnings per diluted share expected in the range of $0.53 to $0.55. In turn, it held firm on guidance for the year, expecting revenues in the range of $13.8 to $14.1 billion with GAAP earnings per diluted share in the range of $1.91 to $1.96 and non-GAAP earnings per diluted share to be between $2.30 and $2.35 — exactly on par with guidance at the end of Q1.

Remember, too, that eBay posted a solid first quarter, in which it was remarkably active, especially when it came to PayPal. The company put a good deal of resources into ramping up payment options for large and small merchants, debuting an in-store payments platform for large retailers; PayPal Here, a card swiper that attaches to a mobile phone for small businesses, with hints at a brand new PayPal wallet.

And, of course, there were a number of leadership changes at the e-commerce company in Q1. After former president Scott Thompson departed for the CEO role at Yahoo, PayPal named David Marcus, the former CEO and founder of mobile payments startup Zong and PayPal Mobile VP, as President (PayPal acquired Zong last year for $240 million).

X.commerce CTO Neal Sample also left eBay to join American Express, while PayPal product VP Sam Shrauger left for Yahoo and Alyssa Cutright took off for Square.

Q2 earnings highlights below:

Ebay Beats Forecasts On Strong Growth From Marketplaces, Q2 Revenue Up 23 Percent To $3.4B

Google TV Needs To Decide: Platform Or Closed Ecosystem


Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Andy Liu, CEO of BuddyTV Guide, a channel guide app available on iOS, Android and Google TV.

There is no debating that consumer adoption of Google TV is extremely disappointing.

Logitech has dropped out of the business, several online publications including this one have declared the platform dead. While some new OEMs like Vizio, Sony, and LG have launched new devices with Google TV, it’s not clear that any meaningful customer adoption will come as a result of these deals.

I believe there is one big reason it hasn’t taken off. It’s that Google TV is straddling a dual-strategic approach when it needs to pick one strategy and double down on it.

Google TV needs to be building a platform that embraces a strong developer ecosystem or it needs to close it down and focus on a closed ecosystem like Apple TV and iterate until it has the right consumer product not both.

The problem with Google TV is that it claims that it is a developer friendly platform and embraces the developer community.  It does not. Time and time again, Google TV has chosen the route of straddling between building their own apps and trying to engage the developer community to build a killer app for its platform.

For example, there are over 90 second screen startups building apps that could be an extremely compelling use case for Google TV users. Instead of pushing 3rd parties to succeed, Google TV has taken the approach of building its own second screen app without being very transparent with its partners about its intention of building its own.

There is an inherent disadvantage for a 3rd party to build a second screen app, when there will be one that exists native and developed by Google. This is an extremely dangerous position to take with the development community as it takes real investment by companies to build for this nascent platform.

Companies will quickly realize that anything successful will be copied by Google TV and relegated to second class status as Google TV promotes its own apps ahead of those by 3rd parties. Instead of having potentially 90 companies innovating and building compelling second screen apps on the Google TV platform to find a killer use case, Google TV has taken a poor short-term approach of competing against its own developer community.

Google TV in their v2 OTA update last year launched an app called TV & Movies, it’s native to the platform and pre-installed with every install of the update. This update was in direct competition with first screen apps like BuddyTV Guide which Google TV had early versions of internally. While disappointing, it would have been nice to know that Google TV was developing TV & Movies in advance, so we could have built another app focusing on areas that would be complementary to TV & Movies. Instead, we invested a ton of resources to build on a nascent platform only to see a very similar app on Google TV.

Most recently, TV & Movies have updated the app to include favorite channels, one of the most popular features on BuddyTV Guide. As a third party developer on the platform, we have significantly reduced our investment in the first screen app primarily due to the lack of support from Google TV to promote third party apps and the lack of transparency regarding its roadmap that may be competitive to third parties.

Strategically, Google TV needs to pick a strategy and focus on it exclusively.  If it is to build a developer ecosystem which allows thousands of developers the ability to innovate and to find that killer app or two, then Google TV needs to re-think its product roadmap to enable developers to be successful. Focus on building great developer tools and listen to the developer community.

If Google TV must compete against a 3rd party developer since it is a “core” feature, then be transparent and work with the 3rd party to cover other white space that might be compelling. Google TV’s platform could focus on in-app purchases, subscription services, developer tools, developer outreach, OEM relationship building, and design resources for 3rd parties would be a great start. Work with developers to develop marketing strategies to get app adoption. Build momentum with the developer community such that more developers come on board. Be transparent about what’s working and what’s not. Help developers avoid pitfalls and use cases that work and don’t work. Identify customer holes for 3rd parties to tackle before they become impediments to adoption. Focus on becoming a real partner for developers.

Or, conversely, shut down the developer ecosystem to get the product right. It’s ok to focus on getting the product right and iterate until there is critical mass before going back to the developer community. Build great apps and find the killer app internally. This, in itself, is a great strategy as well since the developer ecosystem won’t be wasting time potentially competing against Google TV and can wait until there is real market traction to go after.

We want Google TV to succeed. I’ve been a long-term user of Google TV and it’s a good product with a good vision. However, I bought a Google TV for my parents a while ago and it’s still gathering dust –- the product is just not ready for mass consumer adoption. Google TV needs a killer use case and either they need to enable developers to find it or they should focus all their energy on finding it themselves. The success of Google TV is good for consumers and developers; it’s disruptive and will force the TV ecosystem to evolve quicker. I know we’ll be watching closely with anxious anticipation that Google TV will eventually get it right.

Google TV Needs To Decide: Platform Or Closed Ecosystem

CrowdFlower’s Photo Moderation Tool Gets A Little More Flexible

crowdflower rtfm

Crowdsourced labor startup CrowdFlower is launching version 2.0 of its Real Time Foto Moderator today, with updates that should make RTFM more useful for apps with adult and edgy content.

CrowdFlower first announced RTFM last month, pitching it as a self-serve tool that app developers can use to tap into the crowd and make sure the images shared by their users are appropriate. This was the company’s first big launch after co-founder Lukas Biewald (a former roommate of mine from college) rejoined as CEO, saying he wanted to create self-serve products that could be used beyond CrowdFlower’s enterprise customer base.

For version 2.0, RTFM Product Manager Vaughn Hester says the team has made two significant additions. First, customers can now choose between two different “rule sets”, which determine which photos are deemed appropriate and which are not. There’s the stricter rule set, which is what RTFM launched with, and then there’s a second, one that allows more “borderline scenarios” — the kind that might, for example, come up in an adult-oriented dating app. Things like photos of torsos without a face (hmm, it sounds kind of weird to put it that way …), indoor shirtless photos, and visible underwear would be allowed in the new ruleset, but not the stricter one, Hester says.

CrowdFlower has also added the option for a moderator to say why a photo was rejected. So when a user gets notified about the rejection, they can know what they did wrong and try again.

Hester adds that with RTFM, she’s also trying to encourage app developers to be proactive about content moderation. As one illustration of why this is important, she points to the alleged rapes that were reportedly facilitated by dating app Skout. To be clear, she isn’t saying that CrowdFlower’s photo moderation could have prevented Skout’s problems — after all, Skout is already an RTFM customer. However, Hester argues that the Skout case illustrates the enormity of the risks involved. She says she wants to do more with crowdsourced moderation to make apps safe, for example adding features to review entire social network profiles for inappropriate content or signs that they were written by someone who’s an inappropriate age for the app.

“For developers, this often just falls by the wayside,” she says. “We’d like to see a change of the norms, coming from the app store or from developers themselves.”

CrowdFlower’s Photo Moderation Tool Gets A Little More Flexible