Архив метки: SVP

Snapchat shares hit all-time low as search acquisition Vurb’s CEO bails

Snapchat’s sagging share price is making it tough to retain talent. Bobby Lo, founder and CEO of mobile search app Vurb that Snap Inc acquired for $114.5 million two years ago is leaving day-to-day operations at the company. That means Lo cut out early on his four-year retention package vesting schedule, which was likely influenced by Snapchat falling to new share price lows. Snap is trading around $9.15 today, compared to its $17 IPO price and $24 first-day close.
That’s down over 7 percent from yesterday following BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield gave Snap a sell rating with a target price of $5 saying “We are tired of Snapchat’s excuses for missing numbers and are no longer willing to give management ‘time’ to figure out monetization.” Greenfield is known as one of the top social network analysts, so people take him seriously when he says “We have been disappointed in SNAP’s product evolution (as have users) and see no reason to believe this will change.”

Vurb is a good example of this. The app let users make plans with friends to visit local places, allowing them to bundle restaurants, movie theaters, and more into shareable decks of search cards. It took over a year after the October 2016 acquisition for the tech to be integrated into Snapchat in the form of context cards in search. But Snap never seemed to figure out how to make its content-craving teen audience care about Vurb’s utility. Snap could have built powerful offline meetup tools out of the cards but never did, and lackluster Snap Map adoption furthered clouded the company’s path forward around local businesses.

Now Lo tells TechCrunch of his departure, “Building experiences at Snap has been a wonderful culmination of my seven-year startup journey with Vurb. My transition to an advisor at Snap lets me continue supporting the amazing people there while directing my time back into startups, starting with investing and advising in founders.”
Lo was early to embrace the monolithic app style pioneered by WeChat in China that’s become increasingly influential in the states. Snap confirmed the departure while trying to downplay it. A spokesperson tells me, “Bobby transitioned to an advisory role this summer, and we appreciate his continued contributions to Snap.”
Given Snap is known to back-weight its stock vesting schedules, Lo could be leaving over half of his retention shares on the table. That decision should worry investors. As a solo founder, Lo already made off with a big chunk of the acquisition price that including $21 million in cash and $83 million in stock, so with the company’s share price so low, he might have had little incentive to stay.
Snapchat Context Cards built from Vurb’s acquired technology
Since last July, Snap has lost a ton of talent including SVP of Engineering Tim Sehn, early employee Chloe Drimal, VP of HR and Legal Robyn Thomas and VP of Securities and Facilities Martin Lev, CFO Drew Vollero, VP of product Tom Conrad, TimeHop co-founder Jonathan Wegener, Spectacles team lead Mark Randall, ad tech manager Sriram Krishnan, head of sales Jeff Lucas, and just last week, its COO Imran Khan.
With its user count shrinking, constant competition from Facebook and Instagram, and talent fleeing, it’s hard to see a bright future for Snap. Unless CEO Evan Spiegel, without the help of his departed lieutenants, can come up with a groundbreaking new product that’s not easy to copy, we could be looking at downward spiral for the ephemeral app. At what point must Snap consider selling itself to Google, Apple, Tencent, Disney, or whoever will take on the distressed social network?

Snapchat shares hit all-time low as search acquisition Vurb’s CEO bails

New Executives At Mobile Platform Onswipe: Jumptap’s Jared Hand And AOL’s Rich Bloom

onswipe logo

Onswipe, which optimizes websites for touch interface like the iPad, is announcing two big executive hires today — Jared Hand, who is the company’s first chief revenue officer, and Rich Bloom, its first chief operating officer.

CEO and co-founder Jason Baptiste that after a year focused on building product and signing up publishers, Hand and Bloom will lead the company’s efforts to expand its business side. Hand, who was previously vice president of sales at mobile ad company Jumptap, will be hiring an ad team. That doesn’t mean bringing on an army of sales people, Baptiste says — instead, the initial hires will focus on ad product and engineering.

“We’re a 100 percent media model,” he adds. In other words, Onswipe has “never charged for the product,” and instead makes money through revenue sharing on the tablet-optimized ads that Onswipe runs alongside the content. Hand’s goal will be to “provide something that agencies haven’t seen before on tablets.”

Bloom, meanwhile, will be in charge of publisher relations — as Baptiste says, “He knows how to speak their language.” He was vice president of video at AOL (which owns TechCrunch), a company he joined after the acquisition of video site 5min, where he was SVP of business development.  (Bloom has already spent several months as Onswipe’s chief business officer, but Baptiste says the plan was always to make him COO once Hand came aboard too.)

Onswipe has been making plenty of other hires, as well. In the last 12 months, the company says it has quadrupled its headcount to 48 full-time employees. And it’s growing in other ways, increasing its publisher count by nearly 400 percent since February. Altogether those publishers have increased the number of pageviews on the platform by 344 percent since February.

New Executives At Mobile Platform Onswipe: Jumptap’s Jared Hand And AOL’s Rich Bloom

Veteran Googler Dennis Woodside To Replace Sanjay Jha As Motorola Mobility CEO


With Google’s purchase of Motorola nearing completion, some anonymous sources close to the situation have revealed that a management shakeup is in the works too. According to a new report from Bloomberg, Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha will be replaced by veteran Googler Dennis Woodside when the deal comes to a close.

Woodside is no stranger to the Google-Motorola situation — in addition to serving as an SVP and President of Google Americas, Woodside was also chosen to lead Motorola Mobility’s integration into Google last September. Though Woodside’s selection for the spot isn’t a huge surprise considering his role in bringing the two companies together, earlier rumors indicated that Google Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora would eventually be the one to take Motorola Mobility’s helm.

No word yet on when the shakeup will officially occur, but it’s quite the move for Motorola Mobility. Since Jha became CEO of Motorola’s Mobile Devices division in mid-2008, the company went from producing occasionally-handsome featurephones to becoming a major player in the smartphone space thanks to their timely adoption of the Android platform.

While Mr. Jha can probably see the light at the end of the tunnel, he still has some time left to enjoy his position. Though both the U.S. Department of Justice and the European Commission warily signed off on the transaction, Google still needs approval from China, Taiwan, and Israel before they the deal can be finalized.

Veteran Googler Dennis Woodside To Replace Sanjay Jha As Motorola Mobility CEO

Mobile Advertising Is The Baby Huey Of The Media World (And Apple Is Taking The Low Road)


Editor’s Note: This guest post was written by Frank Barbieri, the SVP of Emerging Platforms at YuMe. You can follow him @frankba

I had dinner last week with a senior exec from a global advertising holding company who asked what I often get asked these days, “What’s going on with mobile advertising?” it’s a timely question as last week Apple announced they were lowering the buy-in price for iAds from $500,000 to $100,000 and increasing the publisher revenue share from 60% to 70%. The move seems innocent enough, but with a little inspection is actually very worrying for a segment still struggling to shake off its inferiority complex, and potentially chilling for many innovators and entrepreneurs.

You would think that the Flurry data posted late last year on exponential mobile adverting inventory growth late last year would correlate with an industry finally reaching maturity. But a couple weeks after that data posted I had a conversation with a Fortune 100 senior media buyer who became bearish on mobile ad spending in 2011.

This person has a total media budget in the tens of millions annually, and for the first time since she started buying mobile, she decreased her spend over the previous two quarters and expects to decrease even more in 2012. Why? Perceptual and brand attitudinal data consistently comes back as not even outperforming search engine marketing.

Mobile advertising has become the Baby Huey of the media world: it’s huge and lumbering, but not mature. Analytics, measurement and targeting have not caught up to where online is, exactly when we’re hearing inventory volume is set to surpass online. Neither Comscore nor Nielsen rank the top mobile apps like they rank the top online properties by category and unique users. Nor do they rank ad networks. Phone and operating system manufacturers as well as the carriers have created fragmented and feature poor cookie environments on phones. What is seen as standard operating procedure online, the use of cookies to target users and understand usage, is treated as heresy in mobile.

This lack of basic advertising infrastructure means it’s hard to manage and measure brand campaigns. Performance is a different story as you just spray massive volume and pay for the converted. But with brand advertising you have to tune the campaign to give the right audience the right message the right amount of times in the right context to move the needle on campaign objectives. All this becomes near impossible without the simple help of a cookie. Only in isolated cases is buying brand advertising on mobile valuable. For instance buying direct from content brands with huge audiences and registered targeting data, like Pandora and The Weather Channel. Or buying video where brand studies still consistently show attitudinal value. Otherwise it’s just too hard to buy quality at scale.

Look at the somersaults Millennial Media, the largest North American “independent” ad network undergoes just to try and replicate simple cookie functionality to target a unique user (from their S1 filing):

MYDAS then runs a proprietary set of algorithms to analyze multiple data points from the device, carrier and app to statistically determine, on an anonymous basis, the likely unique user of the device and the app requesting the ad.

Seriously. Enter hoop, commence jumping. Ad platform managers I’ve spoken with are now worried that even this will get worse as Apple deprecated unique phone identifiers in iOS 5 and is poised to cloak UDIDs from apps in iOS 6. This is one of the data points Millennial surely uses as do many ad platforms and it means there will be one less credible way to ensure a unique user is targeted. This means brand advertisers will again buy less at lower prices.

No doubt consumers have strong opinions about companies using and storing data on their phones, and they should have controls and transparency. But shouldn’t the browsers at least shoot for parity with the web? Isn’t that a better experience for consumers in the end? Where cookie infrastructure feeds a revenue model and users always have the option to turn cookies off. That revenue model in turn allows great content and apps to flow. Simple unique user targeting is foundational to online ad spending and in mobile we’re using magic potions to describe a “likely” unique user. Ad spend will never catch up to online with these constraints. That will eventually hurt developers and end users’ access to great content and apps.

Apple’s strategy now is to help itself while it hurts the industry. iAds can identify unique users through iTunes registration and maybe they’ll even reserve UDID information for themselves as a trusted steward of consumer privacy. It just so happens that that stewardship creates an unfair advantage in the ad network space where networks will have trouble competing. Machiavelli would have noted with glee the timing of the announcement and Millennial Media’s expected upcoming IPO.

Frankly Apple doesn’t care as much about advertising revenue as they do about happy publishers. As the lack of ad infrastructure depreciates the value of developer inventory, Apple is providing a life support alternative in the form of higher revenue shares. This is a short-term fix and bad for the industry as buyers like the one referenced at the beginning of this post want to see a vibrant ecosystem of sellers and selling technology to increase their spend to online levels. The move is bad for most publishers no matter what the revenue share.

Apple could have easily taken a position to build quality and value in the mobile brand advertising ecosystem by addressing the infrastructure problems rather than pretending that they alone can support the segment. As one platform product manager put it to me, They could have designed a “reliable, and privacy conscious third-party tracking mechanism” that all networks and developers could use. This would help networks and brands to better track and target users and ad usage across properties, web and app. It would lead to a well spring of new ad innovation on iOS devices. This would have started to build the infrastructure for brand buying at scale with confidence and credibility. Users would get higher quality advertising. Developers get more dollars and Apple wins by having happy developers.

What they did instead is tell advertisers they are slashing prices and opening up the bargain bin. And they told developers that they’ll be happy with the new benevolent ad dictatorship and sole innovator. Shame. Mobile advertising was very close to its Cinderella moment, and Apple just decided to keep the glass slipper and close the ballroom doors.

Mobile Advertising Is The Baby Huey Of The Media World (And Apple Is Taking The Low Road)