25 February, 2012



Sprint abandons plans to buy MetroPCS for $8B

Posted: 25 Feb 2012 09:27 AM PST

Despite a clear desire to better compete with Verizon and AT&T, Sprint has vetoed a deal to takeover MetroPCS, a pre-paid wireless company and the fifth-largest U.S. mobile telecommunications network, according to multiple reports.

The carrier’s board of directors is said to have rejected the transaction, even though Sprint CEO Dan Hesse was a proponent of the deal, CNBC reported.

The deal, had it gone through, would have given Sprint additional spectrum and boosted its subscriber base by 9.3 million customers. The transaction would have valued MetroPCS at $8 billion.

Sprint reported a smaller than expected loss, thanks in no small part to sales of Apple’s iPhone, in its first quarter earnings, but the company has done little to boost its position in the market. Last year, Sprint launched a legal assault to block AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile (a deal that later fell through) to protect its position. But the third-largest U.S. carrier isn’t doing itself any favors by taking longer than expected to introduce 4G LTE phones.

The Sprint-MetroPCS deal, reported CNBC’s David Farber, was said to be fully negotiated and close enough to completion that it could have been announced after Sprint’s board meeting on Wednesday.

“It is not clear why the Sprint board rejected the deal after CEO Dan Hesse endorsed it and after months of talks between the two companies had already taken place,” Farber said. “I am told that regulatory concerns were not the reason the Sprint board vetoed the transaction, but again unclear as to why they would go against a deal that many of them were already well aware of.”

The answer, said Stifel Nicolaus & Co. analyst Christopher King in an interview, is that Sprint’s board of directors has lost confidence in Hesse, who’s future at the company may now be questionable.

“It certainly indicates a different line of thinking between Dan Hesse and his board,” King said. “Having this public a breakup on a deal that he's endorsed is almost akin to no confidence.”

King said Sprint may next consider a takeover of San Diego-based Leap Wireless.

Photo credit: The Consumerist/Flickr

Filed under: mobile, VentureBeat

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Every 60 seconds in social media (infographic)

Posted: 25 Feb 2012 08:28 AM PST

A single minute may be barely enough time to construct a rational thought, but it’s time enough for social media denizens to inundate the web with their status updates, tweets, checkins, and photos.

Every 60 seconds in social media, two million videos are viewed on YouTube, 700,000 messages are delivered by way of Facebook, 175,000 tweets are fired off into the ether, and 2,000 Foursquare check-ins tell the world where we are.

If the volume of all this social media activity doesn’t astound, perhaps a visual representation of the data will put things into prospective.

Social Jumpstart, a social media resource for small business, has created an infographic, shared exclusively with VentureBeat, to add color to the wealth of publicly available data on the hottest social networks and applications of our day.

We already knew that the web is in a tizzy over Pinterest, that Twitter is the talk of the town (and television networks), and that Facebook is the belle of the Internet’s ball. But when considered together, one thing seems clear: social media has taken over the world. Whether we’re using our 1,440 minutes each day wisely, however, is a question probably best left unanswered.

Photo credit: ladymixy_uk/Flickr

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After Disney, Bungie founder dives into mobile games with Industrial Toys (exclusive interview)

Posted: 25 Feb 2012 07:00 AM PST

Alex Seropian was in charge of huge video game business at Disney Interactive Studios, with more than 500 employees and $500 million revenues. But he wasn’t making games as he’s previously done at Halo-creator Bungie. And sometimes he had to take on the tough job of shutting studios and canceling projects.

So it’s no surprise to see Seropian moving back to making games. He has started a company called Industrial Toys to build mobile games for hardcore gamers, he told VentureBeat yesterday in an exclusive interview. After surveying the market at Disney, Seropian decided that the future wasn’t in $50 million console games, but in titles that a handful of people could build, like the games he’d made in the early days of gaming.

“There are some really great opportunities out there, especially in mobile,” Seropian said.

He left Disney a week ago and started Industrial Toys (@industrialtoys on Twitter) in Pasadena, Calif., on Monday. You might say he had a two-day break between jobs, but Seropian says he also worked on the weekend. “I’m so excited. I am full of energy now,” Seropian said. “Doing a startup is so much more interesting than being a corporate muckety muck. No vacation is required.”

Seropian is worth watching because he has a great track record as an entrepreneur. A Chicago native, he founded Bungie in 1991 with the publication of Operation Desert Storm. He teamed up with classmate Jason Jones to publish Minotaur: The Labyrinths of Crete. Both games sold about 2,500 copies, but they were a start. Bungie created more games, specializing in games of the Apple Macintosh.

In 2000, Microsoft acquired Bungie because it was making a cool sci-fi game with outstanding graphics. Apple’s Steve Jobs railed at Bill Gates for stealing Apple’s best Mac game developer, to no avail. Bungie went on to create Halo: Combat Evolved for the Xbox. It was a smash hit, and the Halo series went on to sell more than 30 million units.

But Seropian tired of the big company life and left in 2002. He started a new game company, Wideload Games, in 2004. Wideload created Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse in 2005 and then Hail to the Chimp in 2008. Disney bought Wideload in 2009 and, in the a case of the inmates taking over the asylum, Seropian took over game development at Disney.

“It was a sizable organization with studios around the world, big brands — a cool dream job,” Seropian said. “I enjoyed all of it. But my heart and soul lies in the creative and entrepreneurial realm.”

Seropian said of Disney, “They have been nothing but awesome with me. In most ways, it was a really great opportunity. The company decided to make strategic shifts in the gaming business.”

In fact, Disney bought social gaming leader Playdom for up to $763.2 million, and Playdom’s leader John Pleasants took over as chief of games at Disney, with Seropian under him. Bob Iger, chief executive of Disney, supported the wholesale transition into digital gaming and modern business models. That came with its share of challenges and the need to deliver financial results, Seropian said.

“I had to close a couple of studios and cancel projects,” Seropian said. “That’s never fun.”

Turning around Disney’s game business remains a work in progress, and Seropian had a hand in some of it.

Bill Roper, a veteran game maker, has taken Seropian’s place at Disney.

Seropian, meanwhile, gets to return to creative work. Stubbs the Zombie was the last project in which he had a close hand in creative production. Now he has funding and just five people in his  company. They include Tim Harris, who ran a free-to-play web startup in Chicago; Brent Pease, who ran Bungie’s old studio in San Jose, Calif.; and Hardy LeBel, a former developer of the Halo games at Bungie.

They’ll be a small team among many. Michael Zyda, director of the USC GamePipe Laboratory, estimates there are 1,000 app development companies throughout the Southern California region alone.

To deal with that competition, Seropian says his company will focus on product quality.

“My whole plan is to differentiate what we are doing and to do something meaningful,” Seropian said. “We plan to design from the bottom up for the platform, not bring something over from the consoles to mobile.”

Seropian said he will do partnerships, but they won’t likely be like traditional developer-publisher partnerships. He is not seeking funding from publishers, for instance. As for mobile games, he’ll announce platforms and titles later.

“It’s a little Wild West, and that’s what makes it exciting for me,” Seropian said. “It’s similar to when I got in the game business in 1991.”

VB Mobile SummitVentureBeat is holding its second annual Mobile Summit this April 2-3 in Sausalito, Calif. The invitation-only event will debate the five key business and technology challenges facing the mobile industry today, and participants — 180 mobile executives, investors, and policymakers — will develop concrete, actionable solutions that will shape the future of the mobile industry. You can find out more at our Mobile Summit site.

Filed under: games, mobile

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Flickr disables Pinterest pins on all copyrighted images (exclusive)

Posted: 24 Feb 2012 05:16 PM PST

As the third most popular source of content on digital pin-board site Pinterest, Flickr and its photographers are subject to frequent acts of copyright infringement. But a site-wide update to Flickr promises to better protect members and their copyrighted works.

The Yahoo-owned photo-sharing site has just added Pinterest’s newly introduced do-not-pin code to all Flickr pages with copyrighted or protected images.

“Flickr has implemented the tag and it appears on all non-public/non-safe pages, as well as when a member has disabled sharing of their Flickr content,” a Flickr representative confirmed to VentureBeat Friday. “This means only content that is ‘safe,’ ‘public’ and has the sharing button enabled can be pinned to Pinterest.”

Pinterest, as a refresher, is the digital pin-board site that encourages members to “pin,” via bookmarklet, the products, recipes, clothes, photos, and other items they love to collections called boards. The private beta site has grown into one of the most-trafficked social networks online.

The site has also given birth to the most inherently viral variant of the status update yet. This new breed of update, however, often promotes piracy as pins including copyrighted works spread from person to person.

To protect itself from copyright lawsuits, and appease disgruntled photographers and publishers, the young social media company introduced a snippet of code Monday that website owners can now add to their sites to prevent unwanted pinning. If a person on Pinterest attempts to share something from a site with that code in place, she will see a message that reads: "This site doesn't allow pinning to Pinterest. Please contact the owner with any questions. Thanks for visiting!”

Flickr can’t prevent all acts of photo piracy just by enabling the code — determined sharers will just work around the inconvenience and manually download and post images — but the act signals the site is proactively looking out for its photographers.

Filed under: social, VentureBeat

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In likely march toward IPO, Eventbrite doubled revenue in 2011 (exclusive)

Posted: 24 Feb 2012 05:09 PM PST


As popular ticketing startup Eventbrite moves slowly toward a likely IPO in the next year, the company’s financial situation appears strong with more than doubled revenue in 2011, the company has revealed exclusively to VentureBeat.

This has been quite a week for Eventbrite, as the company just announced Wednesday that it has issued its 50 millionth ticket. During 2011, the number of events posted on Eventbrite doubled from 222,353 posted in 2010 to 458,207. The number of tickets issued almost doubled as well, from more than 11 million to nearly 21 million.

I was able to speak to Eventbrite founder and CEO Kevin Hartz about what has been happening as of late with the company. While he was coy about strict details, he was able to reveal that the company’s overall revenue more than doubled in 2011, a fact the company has kept under wraps until now and one that solidifies a strong position of growth on the financial side.

Eventbrite makes its money by charging $0.99 per ticket processed and taking a 2.5 percent cut of each ticket. Companies and individuals that use Eventbrite also are charged a 3 percent credit card fee, meaning anyone who uses the service keeps about 93 percent of ticket sold.

Hartz was an early investor in PayPal, so Eventbrite’s model of charging a small fee per ticket makes quite a bit of sense. And it’s working: As event coordinators realize Eventbrite charges less than both Ticketmaster and rival startup Ticketfly, larger organizations are approaching the company for ticketing. Recently, the Governor’s Ball Music Festival in New York City (featuring Beck, Passion Pit, Modest Mouse, and more) opted for Eventbrite over other options. We should also note that we’ve used Eventbrite for some VentureBeat events and it has worked smoothly.

Coupled with the company’s huge $50 million funding round last May, the news that it has doubled revenue means it is almost certainly inching its way toward an IPO in the next year. Hartz admitted that the company has set “internal goals” for moving in that direction, but because it has “close to $60 million in the bank” it was not a rush. He did, however, disclose his philosophy on IPOs, saying, “An IPO is just another funding round.”

Hartz said the largest driver of traffic to Eventbrite was Facebook, as the company has taken advantage of social networking as an opportunity for encouraging others to attend events. The company also has ties to LinkedIn for business events.

Eventbrite’s plans to launch its first translated products in French-speaking Canada, France, and Spain, all of which will happen by the end of March. And of course, as soon as we hear more on its IPO plans, we will let you know.

Concert crowd photo: Nikola Spasenoski/Shutterstock

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Facebook resuscitates Digg, traffic up 35%

Posted: 24 Feb 2012 04:16 PM PST

Think Digg is deader than a doornail? Think again. The news aggregation site is showing new signs of life and has Facebook to thank for its recent resuscitation.

Digg’s pageviews jumped 35 percent in January, and the struggling company saw its highest traffic numbers since October 2010, software engineer Will Larson said in a blog post Friday.

Why the sizable swell? Facebook, by way of the Digg Social Reader application, is bringing new readers to the site. In January, Facebook referral traffic was up by 67 percent, Larson indicated

In late December, the flailing startup introduced the Open Graph application, which is akin to the Washington Post Social Reader or the Yahoo Social Bar. Digg Social Reader stimulates story-sharing on Digg and on Facebook. Once installed, Facebook members can automatically share their Digg-reading activities with friends and subscribers on the social network. The application also hooks into Facebook Ticker and Timeline for more visibility.

The new blood is a much-needed infusion of hope for Digg. 2010 and 2011 were rocky years for the site that was once the angel of traffic for many a media company and blogger. Digg, which launched in 2004, quickly lost relevance with online news readers as Reddit swooped in to take its place. A poorly received redesign and the loss of its once revered leader seemed like sure signs that death was to become its doom.

Can Facebook help Digg forge a full-fledged comeback? The jury is still out, but the company is paying close attention to the reading behaviors of its newest Facebook fans.

“As compared to stories read on Digg (without Digg Social Reader turned on) — there are two main differences,” Larson detailed. “Entertainment stories were 14 percent of all stories read but less than 4 percent of those added to the Timeline. Likewise, political stories comprise less than two percent of those added to a user's Timeline but close to 10 percent of what people read. The differences are significant enough to begin to predict a new type of reading behavior.”

And Digg is not alone in noticing the unique behaviors of Facebook readers. Yahoo, which introduced the Social Bar last year, has also seen a surge in new readership — especially in the highly coveted youth category — and is happily hitching its news product to Facebook to ride the wave back to relevancy.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Filed under: social, VentureBeat

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To LA, with love: photos from VentureBeat/DEMO meetup

Posted: 24 Feb 2012 03:27 PM PST

LA techThe LA tech scene is hot, and so we hit the town looking for great startups to write about, and to invite to our DEMO conference.

The list of Los Angeles companies making waves is growing: HauteLook sold for $270M to Nordstrom, Riot Games recently sold a $400M majority stake to China-based TencentShoedazzle raised $40M from Andreesen last yearDemand Media went public, and Beachmint just closed another $35M round 2 weeks ago. These, mixed with the LA tech scene’s pre-existing strength in interactive media, has made LA one of the most start-up markets in the U.S. Incubators and accelerators are springing up. Groups like Science are forging startup teams and pumping them out at a quick rate.

Our trip to Santa Monica was part of the DEMO Innovation tour, where we’re traveling in search of the most disruptive products to showcase at DEMO, which is coming up April 17-19. (In fact, we extended the deadline for companies to apply; it’s now March 1.)

Our own Matt Marshall, along with Peter Pham from Science, hosted a feedback session with ten local companies. Later in the evening, over 100 members of the Southern California tech community came together for a lively evening of cocktails, live pitches, and casual networking. Entrepreneurs got up and shouted out their messages, bringing a few curious passersby on the street to join in the audience. Check out the pictures from the meetup below:

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Netflix not coming soon to a BlackBerry device near you

Posted: 24 Feb 2012 02:41 PM PST

Research in Motion’s mobile devices, the PlayBook tablet included, are teetering on the brink of irrelevancy — at least that’s the position video streaming service Netflix is taking.

The company confirmed Thursday that it has no plans to release an application for BlackBerry devices.

“We don't have any current plans to support Blackberry devices, including [sic] Playbook,” Netflix tweeted via its Twitter customer service account. The tweet was a response to Twitter user Jon Ronison’s request for an application for PlayBook.

Despite a significant upgrade to the PlayBook OS, RIM, a company hoping to correct a downward spiral with a new CEO, has not yet provided Netflix with reason enough to warrant the development of an application for its under-performing tablet or other BlackBerry devices. Netflix applications, meanwhile, are available for iOS and Android devices, and accessible on most gaming consoles.

The decision serves as yet another to blow to RIM, which continues to lose market share to Apple and Google with each passing month.

But all hope is not lost. “Generally we want to be on every screen that's relevant to you,” Netflix tweeted Friday, attempting to save face with disgruntled customers. “While we don't support Blackberry today, our plans can change.”

Photo credit: Hacking Netflix/Flickr

VB Mobile SummitVentureBeat is holding its second annual Mobile Summit this April 2-3 in Sausalito, Calif. The invitation-only event will debate the five key business and technology challenges facing the mobile industry today, and participants — 180 mobile executives, investors, and policymakers — will develop concrete, actionable solutions that will shape the future of the mobile industry. You can find out more at our Mobile Summit site.

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The Facebook gaming boom is fizzling out, analyst firm says

Posted: 24 Feb 2012 12:52 PM PST

Facebook’s gaming boom has come to an end, according to a report from IHS Screen Digest Media Research.

The subject is open to debate and players such as Facebook and Zynga will no doubt dispute this. But IHS Screen Digest has put together an argument that will likely get a lot of attention, as games such as those made by Zynga have driven the growth of the social network.

Facebook's gaming boom has come to an end, according to a report from IHS Screen Digest Media Research.

The subject is open to debate. Facebook will no doubt dispute this claim, as will Zynga, whose success as a gaming company has been dependent on Facebook — and has helped drive the growth of the social network. But IHS Screen Digest has put together an argument that will likely get a lot of attention.

IHS Screen Digest says that the total number of users is stagnating, barriers to entry are rising, competition is increasing, and companies are intensifying their fight for consumer mindshare against other social network activities.

While the number of Facebook gamers grew dramatically in 2009 and 2010, the number grew little in 2011. In 2010, about 50 percent of Facebook's users were gamers, but that percentage fell to just 25 percent in 2011. The assessment is a contrast to one offered by analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities, who argued yesterday that social games are not a bubble.

Monthly active users for Facebook game giant Zynga fell in the fourth quarter to 225 million, from 266 million at the end of the third quarter.

"Facebook rocketed to prominence as a gaming platform in 2009 and 2010," said Steve Bailey, senior analyst for games at IHS. "However, with equal speed, the market then settled into a state of maturity in 2011, with conditions becoming markedly more challenging for game operators. While Facebook remains a worthwhile opportunity for companies able to meet these challenges, the tone of the market in 2012 will be somewhat muted compared to the optimistic outlook of the past few years."

Facebook and Zynga have not yet offered a comment.

IHS Screen Digest says that 2012 will be tough because the cost of acquiring new users is a lot higher. Viral channels for finding new users through word-of-mouth aren't as abundant on Facebook, because the company had to crack down on game message spam that was annoying non-gamers. That has forced game companies to do more direct advertising or engage in cross-promotion networks, which is driving up their expenses.

Game companies are dealing with their increased costs by improving retention of current players and making more money from them. But development costs are also rising as users expect higher production values in the newest games.

Another problem for game companies is the intense competition. Game companies are launching more titles that require greater player commitment or skill, in return for a deeper sense of engagement. So while the overall quality of games is rising, gamers will likely play fewer games as they pour more energy into their favorite titles.

Facebook game companies must also deal with the fact that they must jostle with non-game applications vying for the attention of Facebook users. Kabam, a hardcore game company that found traction on Facebook with social games, has expanded into other platforms as it tries to find hardcore gamers wherever they are. Kabam discovered that finding those players on Facebook was an expensive and inefficient process.

Finally, the introduction of Facebook Credits as a required payment platform has put pressure on revenues for game companies. Facebook takes 30 percent of every transaction involving the sale of virtual goods in games. By contrast, Google+ charges only 5 percent transaction fees.

The conclusion is that the honeymoon for games is over on Facebook, IHS Screen Digest says. Smartphones and tablets are a viable alternative game platform. Game companies can also consider expanding into Asia, but that market is already crowded with entrenched competitors such as Nexon.

"While opportunity is certainly available in smartphones and in Asia, social networking game providers will not be able to recreate the intoxicating ski-ramp growth they enjoyed during Facebook gaming's heyday," the report says. "Undoubtedly, Facebook will remain a powerful player within the gaming landscape, but it's now part of an emerging multichannel, cross-platform approach to connected gaming."

As an aside, the cost of user acquisition is a big issue in mobile as well. We'll be discussing it at our upcoming VentureBeat Mobile Summit.


VB Mobile SummitVentureBeat is holding its second annual Mobile Summit this April 2-3 in Sausalito, Calif. The invitation-only event will debate the five key business and technology challenges facing the mobile industry today, and participants — 180 mobile executives, investors, and policymakers — will develop concrete, actionable solutions that will shape the future of the mobile industry. You can find out more at our Mobile Summit site.

Filed under: games, VentureBeat

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Tesla responds to rumors its car batteries turn to useless bricks: “Plug it in”

Posted: 24 Feb 2012 12:38 PM PST

Blogger Michael DeGusta sparked a minor uproar in the electric vehicle community this week when he posted about the “devastating design flaw” that he said left many Tesla cars “bricked:” their batteries depleted, unable to move, with the only repair being a new $40,000 battery.

Tesla responded today with a long blog post that tried to answer Mr. DeGusta’s accusations point by point. “If ever the battery in your Tesla runs low, the car is designed to let you know with repeated visual and audible warnings…. Starting with Roadster 2.0, owners can also elect for their car to contact Tesla headquarters once the state of charge falls below a specified level, and we can then contact the owner.”

Mr. DeGusta has his own spin on what Tesla describes as their exemplary service. “In at least one case, Tesla went even further. The Tesla service manager admitted that, unable to contact an owner by phone, Tesla remotely activated a dying vehicle's GPS to determine its location and then dispatched Tesla staff to go there. It is not clear if Tesla had obtained this owner's consent to allow this tracking, or if the owner is even aware that his vehicle had been tracked. Further, the service manager acknowledged that this use of tracking was not something they generally tell customers about. Going to these lengths could be seen as customer service, but it would also seem to fit with an internal awareness at Tesla of the gravity of the "bricking" problem, and the potentially disastrous public relations and sales fallout that could result from it becoming more broadly known.”

DeGusta wants to have things both ways. Tesla is intentionally playing down the issue and trying to keep customers from knowing about the danger. When they do go above and beyond to ensure that their customers don’t lose a battery, its an invasion of privacy and a cover up to keep the problem from being widely known.

The truth is that any electrical vehicle needs to be treated with a certain amount of care. As Sam Jaffe explains at the Clean Energy Blog:

Another error on the part of the blogger is the claim that if the cars discharge fully, the battery packs will be damaged. This is blatantly false.The battery management system of the Tesla Roadster keeps the battery from being discharged to a damagingly low state of charge under normal driving conditions. It’s true that a full discharge to zero percent state of charge can potentially be damaging to a battery. However the battery management system of the Roadster won’t allow the car to reach that low level of charge. There is a fundamental problem when any rechargeable battery is discharged and then left to sit for months. Any boat owner understands that that’s why you plug in a trickle charger when the craft is put into storage. The same should be done for any electric vehicle. However, to imply that the Tesla Roadster has a fundamental design flaw because of the nature of electrochemistry is like saying that Chrysler has a fundamental design flaw because its engines will be damaged if you drain all the oil out and then drive cross-country.

DeGusta claims to have found five instances of Tesla vehicles that were bricked. He doesn’t have any names or links to support this claim. It would be very interesting to hear from those owners directly, since DeGusta himself doesn’t own a Tesla (he’s on the waiting list).

Jaffe over at Clean Energy has a response to this as well:

Here’s the primary fact that the blogger in question doesn’t understand: the Tesla battery pack is not a battery. It’s a collection of more than 8,000 individual batteries. Each of those cells is independently managed. So there’s only two ways for the entire battery pack to fail. The first is if all 8,000 cells individually fail (highly unlikely except in the case of something catastrophic like a fire). The second failure mechanism is if the battery management system tells the pack to shut down because it has detected a dangerous situation, such as an extremely low depth of discharge. If that’s the case, all that needs to be done is to tow the vehicle to a charger, recharge the batteries and then reboot the battery management system. This is the most likely explanation for the five “bricks” that the blogger claims to have heard about. They probably aren’t actually bricks, but cars in need of servicing.

At this point the claims from DeGusta directly contradict what Tesla and an independent blogger have said. We’ll keep you updated if anyone else weighs in or fresh details emerge. So far, Tesla hasn’t said anything about adding an option for insurance on the battery, which was DeGusta’s biggest complaint in terms of the company’s failure to protect its customers.

Image from Flickr user randychiu

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Thrillist kicks off new life as “Media” company with Beavis, Butthead, and a biz dev guy

Posted: 24 Feb 2012 10:44 AM PST

For Shane Rahmani, who spent the past four years working on digital strategy and operations at MTV, moving to Thrillist, a lifestyle company aimed at hip, young men, wasn’t too bad of an adjustment.

“Actually, it was kind of like keeping it in the family,” he told VentureBeat during a recent interview. Makes sense, given that Thrillist founder Ben Lerer counts Bob Pittman, founder of MTV, as one of his closest advisors.

Thrillist has been growing like a weed and recently announced that it was henceforth going to be a “media” company. Rahmani, who is the company’s first ever business development hire tried to explain the subtle importance of the shift in title.

“We’ve always had a focus on building a really strong voice and connecting commerce and editorial content. The guys we speak to are an elusive, affluent demographic, and their BS detector is finely tuned. As a media company, we’re able to offer big brands a way to target that group in a way that reaches them.”

Case in point is MTV which partnered with JackThreads, the flash sales site that Thrillist purchased back in May of 2010. The acquisition prompted a round of “media meets commerce” headlines. Rahmani helped to set up a partnership for the release of MTV’s iconic Beavis and ButtHead on DVD and Blue-Ray. JackThreads brought in a design team who pulled inspiration from Thrasher Magazine and lent the merchandise some much-needed street cred.

Thrillist is essentially offering itself up as a turn-key e-commerce platform. You’ve got a venerable product you want to sell, but don’t have the chops to start something from scratch in the fast paced world of online commerce. Thrillist will help with the creative and move merchandise through to the millions of followers on their e-mail list and Facebook page.

“We’ve built up a lot of trust with these guys over the years,” says Rahmani (not to mention a lot of data). “Now we’re committed to finding high value partnerships that fit with what Thrillist has always been about, and keep expanding the scope of what our company can do.”

Filed under: media, VentureBeat

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