Introducing the Today Club

I have advised the founders of the Today Club in Shenzhen since January. Here is a video explaining what they do far more eloquently than I can

More details on their website.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

The trouble with ‘Mumennials’ // Weber Shandwick

WeChat era’ killing intellectual property: academic – Creativity Originality and intellectual property in China are at risk of extinction given the rampant illegal copying and reproduction of information and original content in what has been dubbed the “WeChat era,”

HSBC can’t shrink its vast banking empire fast enough to satisfy investors | Quartz

Ford Sync Said to Drop Microsoft in Switch to BlackBerryCraig Trudell and Jeff Green, reporting for Bloomberg: Ford Motor Co., struggling with in-car technology flaws, will base the next-generation Sync system on BlackBerry Ltd.’s QNX and no longer use Microsoft Corp.’s Windows, according to people briefed on the matter. – It makes sense, despite BlackBerry’s problems QNX is a robust real-time operating system

How a German Soda Became Hackers’ Fuel of Choice | Motherboard“If we run out,” she said, “it’s a problem.” – Soundcloud on their fridge of caffienated soda

Acid house and the dawn of a rave new world | Music | The Observer“Whenever it hit a new town, the first people in that town felt like they had the best secret ever. But it was a very evangelical secret, so they had this desperate itch to tell everyone and spread the word.” – Terry Farley

Qualcomm unveils its 64-bit, eight-core mobile processor family | VentureBeat – Not so long ago, Anand Chandrasekher – a (now former) Qualcomm marketer dismissed 64-bit mobile processors as “marketing gimmicks.”

Unilever partners with Facebook alliance Internet.org to reach millions in India – investing in ways to better reach consumers

GSMA World 2014 in Barcelona, time to end the show? | Digital Evangelist – The global get together that is GSMA World rolls into Barcelona this week and I am left with the feeling that as with Telecoms World before it no longer fits a purpose

Shenzhen property heads for dizzy heights | FT – Southern Chinese city is posting double-digit rises in house prices thanks to the emergence of big technology companies such as Foxconn and Huawei

6 Ways to Brown Nose Your Way to the Very Top | TIME.com

Turning Japan into global gambling hotspot maybe just the thing for Abenomics

Nokia gives in to Android phones – I get using Android to replace S40, but how can Microsoft Windows have a premium position when the other Windows partners are all low-end phone makers?

Chinese slang ‘diaosi’ causing social instability: official | Nanfang Insider – otaku is probably the closest translation I think of for diaosi

A Global Snapshot of the Dietary Supplements Category – Euromonitor International

Tactics Cloud – really useful for Twitter social media campaigns

The Beginner’s Guide to Growth Hacking – via the Digital Orange Concentrate newsletter

Tizen signs up new allies, but still no real phone | Mobile World Congress – CNET Reviews – the Tizen Association on Sunday talked up its 15 new partners, including notable names such as Japanese carrier SoftBank, Sprint, Baidu, and ZTE

Microsoft announces new Windows Phone partners & spring update for Windows 8.1 – interesting that there is a bunch of tier two Chinese phone makers, ZTE and LG

MICROSOFT: This Is Our Newest Plan To Get People To Love Our Controversial Windows 8 Design (MSFT)

In a First for Spain, a Woman Is Convicted of Inciting Terror Over Twitter

★ On the Timing of iOS’s SSL Vulnerability and Apple’s ‘Addition’ to the NSA’s PRISM Program

Anything You Can Do, Icahn Do Better | BusinessInsider – just like the 1980s and junk bonds; the striking point is that it suggests the technology sector has reached an inflection point from being growth to value businesses – time for entrepreneurs to look for a new frontier

WhatsApp, Facebook, Google and the acceleration of the Network Effect in a Mobile World

Xiaomi makes profit on smarter strategies | WantChinaTimes

Veronica 2 Gopher search engine

Broadcom Chip Locates Wearables | EE Times

5G Needs MIMO, Multi-GHz | EE Times

Eight trends for the future: contextual technology

Let’s start with a little journey through internet history; the first search engine the way we would understand it was rolled out in 1990, which downloaded directory indexes from different FTP sites and allowed manual browsing (the web was a small place at the time). A year later there was proper keyword searches for Gopher files. Gopher was a precursor to the web and HTTP as we now know it.

When I started using the web at college, internet portals started to come into their own. I used to use Excite.com which I configured the news from a number of sources, stock prices of companies I followed (a sickly Apple Computer and Silicon Graphics, which was on the the rise at the time). Think of it as being like the front page of a newspaper designed by me to mirror my interests at the time.  The search business back then was to sell giant black boxes called search appliances made by companies like Inktomi; which provided a search box at the top of the page of your web portal of choice. The advertisements that funded the portals were similar to the display ads that we see today.

Two developments changed the way that we look at information, firstly Google built upon work done in the 1950s at the University of Pennsylvania and the HITS algorithm created at IBM’s Almaden Research Centre and came up with the PageRank algorithm that provided a superior search experience in comparison to competitors like HotBot and AltaVista.

GoTo.com came up with the paid for placement model which changed the way search engines made their money from selling search appliances to selling advertising inventory. The paid-for placement model combined with a search engine that was pretty good at delivering what people wanted changed things dramatically; suddenly understanding the context of the user became the centre of the world’s most lucrative advertising technology business.

Google says that its mission is:

…to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

This means putting context on every aspect of ones life. Mobile devices and the increased accessibility of data allows internet services to provide increased context. Location could be pulled together from services like Skyhook Wireless which used cell tower triangulation, Google uses a directory of Wi-Fi MAC addresses to enhance location based on phone GPS-derived co-ordinates.

At the simplest level  you will have noticed this in the desktop web experience you get when visiting websites like Google and Yahoo! which will try and direct you to the local site for the country it thinks you are currently in.

Things get a bit more sophisticated when location is cross-referenced with other data. Burton Snowboards had functionality on its website back in 2011 which suggested products based on your local weather at that time.
Burton Snowboards weather site from a few years ago
This may not be great if I live in Wolverhampton and want to shop for items that will be ideal for my trip to Snowbombing this April.

Now contextual technology is becoming ubiquitous, the latest version of iOS now appends weather information based on your current location to the ‘at a glance view of your diary and other updates.
Contextual technology
Retail information and location is being used by Verifone and Brightmove Media’s taxi advertising services that allow geo-fencing of advertisements and even changes in content based on contextual information like footfall, retail locations, weather to provide tailored messages.
image
There are hints to where this will go next as more part of one’s life are connected together; the coffee shop that gets your order ready as they know you are close by, the house that turns it’s heating on as it knows you are on your way home from the commute. Wired magazine called this the programmable world. Without contextual technology the Internet of Things is largely useless technology.

Like all technological developments contextual technology has a dark side to it, you can be tracked, hacked and marketed to. Our smartphones will be like unwitting black boxes, their data used against us in an opaque and apparently arbitrary manner. Pricing strategies can be gained against you as an individual to wring the maximum amount of revenue out of it. The price of umbrellas or ice cream can be varied in near real-time based on footfall and local weather.
More information
Eight trends for the future
Eight trends for the future: digital interruption
Eight trends: Immersive as well as interactive experiences
Eight trends for the future: Social hygiene
PageRank myths
Google – About Google
Welcome to the programmable world | Wired

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Only in Indonesia: Twitter votes come at a price on popular TV show – how did they manage to charge for tweet vote entries?

Spain exporting it’s way out of trouble | Quartz – something the UK could learn from, Spain still has a long way to go however

Homoglyphs for SEO | Terence Eden

Benedict Evans InContext Keynote | A VC – worth a watch during your lunch hour

Boots to sell Puritane e-cigarettes from Imperial Tobacco subsidiary | Marketing Magazine

Tim Cook on Big Acquisitions: ‘We Have No Problem Spending Ten Figures for the Right Company’

Lecture: Trust and the Fall of Public Relations | Jericho Chambers

US v China: is this the new cold war? – FT.com

Surprise, you’ve got a Windows Phone app! Microsoft irks big brands in bid to stock mobile store – GeekWire – is this dodgy from an IP point-of-view? One has to view their app numbers with skepticism

Intel, Sun vet births fast, inexpensive 3D chip-stacking breakthrough | The Register – a way to allow communication in 3D stacked chips without the expense and fabrication hassles of creating physical connections

How strategists level up — Undercurrent Collection

Huawei has created the world’s ugliest smartwatch | BGR

Google reportedly forcing Asus to ax Android/Windows tablet project

Digital Intelligence :: Europeans spend 18% more time using apps than Americans – report – the European user base launched their apps more than their US counterparts

These Are The Metrics That Really Matter For Social Media | BusinessInsider – Many brands are finally realizing that social media isn’t a transactional engine or sales machine in the traditional sense. As they do, they’re dropping half-baked indicators and letting go of the idea of social ROI

Custom-Order ‘Mix-In’ Ice Cream Chains Realize They’re a Rip-off

Sophisticated Brands for Sophisticated Consumers | Wolff Olins – how Chinese consumers are altering the requirements for their brands

Facebook, Twitter and the User Narrative | GroupM Next

There are six kinds of Twitter conversations, and here they are | io9 – researchers say they’ve found six distinct shapes that Twitter conversations take

Apple Confirms Burstly Buy – owner of the popular iOS beta testing platform TestFlight

How To Build (And Sustain) A Remote Workforce | FastCompany

Chinese brand equity makes for stock hits | beyondbrics – who says that China doesn’t get brand. I think that many Chinese companies don’t understand the difference between sales and marketing but that’s changing

Esprit embraces “fast fashion” in China turnaround | beyondbrics

The European banking system still is a mess: RBS edition | Quartz

China is spending a fortune on science—and is getting robbed blind by corrupt scientists | Quartz

China’s giant pile of copper is inflating its credit bubble | Quartz – China’s import data surprised many today when it revealed that its traders bought397,459 tonnes (438,124 tons) of refined copperin January, just shy of the record 406,937 tonnes imported in December 2011, and up 63.5% on January 2012

Can the Same Manager Sell Pampers and Pantene? P&G Says No | Wall Street Journal – beauty needs specialist management

Gucci is selling too much to the wrong people | Quartz

Lookout study: hackers target mobile attacks by region | PCWorld

Life Before (and After) Page Numbers | The Atlantic

Social media is making you stupid | Time

WhatsApp is the first of several big acquisitions for Facebook – I, Cringely

Nokia may consider merging with Juniper: reportGerman outlet Manager Magazin Online has reported that Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN), the bits of Nokia Microsoft didn’t buy, is considering a transaction of some sort with Juniper Networks.… – interesting move, I think that this is better than Alcatel Lucent

South Korea green lights Stuxnet-like code weapons to nark NORKS – how successful would this really be against North Korea? Also given that South Korea is one of the most connected countries on earth and reliant on poor quality security enshrined in law based around ActiveX, retaliation would be devastating

I am out of tune with these times |Bronte Capital…but the valuation has to make sense on fairly modest assumptions before I get excited. I owned Facebook in the twenties. I could make the per-subscriber numbers work – interesting read, I imagine Warren Buffett’s take would be similar

Chartered Institute of Public Relations – State Of The Profession – once you take account of their natural bias to flog CPD and qualifications it makes an interesting read (PDF)

Want to sell luxury handbags to Chinese tourists? Open more stores in ParisSteadily growing throngs of spendthrift Chinese tourists have been one of the lone bright spots for consumer economies around the world – luxury tax, tax avoidance by business people and a desire for experiences drive overseas purchases

Jolla’s Sailfish OS and smartphones are commercially ready and heading into new markets – smart of them to get this new out in advance of MWC media scrum

Android users will get to install Jolla’s rival Sailfish OS, bit by bit – Jolla’s Sailfish OS isn’t Android – not even an Amazon-style fork – but it can run Android apps and manufacturers can put it on the same hardware they use for Android devices – now if they could get this running on Huawei hardware so you can bin the crap Emotion UI…

What to do if your organisation is the victim of a fraud attack | Out-Law.com

David Beckham a role model for Hong Kong househusbands | CampaignAsia – Describing the inner life of a misunderstood species of Hong Kong consumer. (Paywall)

E-cigarette lets you smoke, take calls, and play music | Irish ExaminerThe new Supersmoker Bluetooth e-cigarette, you’ll be able to receive calls right from your e-cig. For €79, the Supersmoker also acts as a speaker for your music. – wrong, just wrong

China-based social marketing service Kmsocial raises ‘tens of millions’ – good quality near real-time measurement and analytics tools that actually work in China are a big need. Marketing automation than then follow

NTT DoCoMo on 5G mobile – (PDF)

The UK and it’s similarity to ancient Greece

At the moment in the UK, there is an ongoing exchange of ideas in the media and by politicians in favour of, and against Scotland becoming an independent country outside the union of the United Kingdom.  What I have noticed during my short time in country is the vast difference between London and the rest of the UK.

For as long as I can remember there were different scenes in London compared to the North. Rare groove was a very London thing, whilst acid house started to percolate through the clubs in the North of England. (Admittedly Colin Dale doesn’t get enough credit in his work championing early house in London).  Going back further, the Ska revival came out of the Midlands and Northern Soul was called that because it was played from Wigan to Stoke-on-Trent.  All Around The World Records regularly charts with singles and compilation albums that seem crass and unsophisticated to a London audience, precisely because they are aimed at audiences outside the capital.

This cultural divide extends online, tools like Foursquare have a much lower adoption rate outside the M25, part of this is down to poor mobile infrastructure – which is worse than the Swiss cheese nature of networks in London.
roflbot
The disparity between London and the rest of the country reminded me of the old city states in Greece, I don’t want to flatter London by comparing it Athens, (lets face it Tower Hamlets, Newham and Hackney are more akin to Sparta), but the difference between London and the hinterlands hints at a de-facto independence.

So what does all this mean for social media marketers? This is something that I have pondered the past few days. I think that there is a case for a definite segmentation in the approach; targeted advertising is a given so the change would more in terms of owned media. Outside London; mature platforms like Facebook, with less focus on mobile marketing. In London, a more experimental approach perhaps incorporating WhatsApp to capture mobile phone numbers (which are a more reliable ID than email addresses which can be easily churned).

I would be interested in hearing other people’s ideas on this, please feel free to put any thoughts in the comments box below.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

WhatsApp and the Erosion of the Network Effect – not too sure that the network effect no longer applies, the utility increases as your social circle congregate on one platform

The architect of Qualcomm’s tech licensing empire invests in networking upstart MagnaCom

Yandex Reports Revenue Up 37% In Q4, Ad Network Revenue Nearly DoublesRussian search giant Yandex reported a strong Q4 2013 today, with overall revenue up 37 percent from Q4 2012 and continued growth in text-based advertising

Can someone explain WhatsApp’s valuation to me?

Microsoft cries out to UK government against open source – self-serving bullshit

This Map Shows The Countries Where WhatsApp Is Used The Most

Unlocking the Future Connected Home

Chitika: Chrome OS web usage share doubles, but is still minuscule overall

Digital Intelligence :: Top 10 YouTube brand channels in the Philippines – Smart Corporate, Nestle, and Unilver’s Ponds were the top three most views YouTube brand channels in the Philippines during 2014, according to new data via SocialBakers

How A Post-90 Chinese Girl Built A Successful Brand

China’s manufacturing hits 7-month low | RTHK

WeChat is nothing like WhatsApp—and that makes it even more valuable | Quartz

Five charts to explain China’s shadow banking system, and how it could make a slowdown even uglier | Quartz

The price is right | Asymco – interesting assessment on the value of computing devices

Mark Zuckerberg – I’m excited to announce that we’ve agreed to acquire WhatsApp – in Zuck’s own words

Facebook to buy WhatsApp for $19 billion in deal shocker | Reuters

HSBC flash China PMI falls to lowest in 7 months | South China Morning Post – more on what this could mean later

Facebook to Buy WhatsApp for $16 Billion

Here’s the strategy the mobile industry will announce in Barcelona next week – mobile and identity sounds like a winner, because people never lose their smartphones do they?

Yahoo Debuts Gemini Native Ad Product for Mobile SearchYahoo introduced Yahoo Gemini today, which it is calling the “first unified marketplace for mobile search and native advertising.”

2014 PR Trend Forecast: Consumer Marketing

Glaxo Memo Shows Drug Industry Lobbying on E-Cigarettes – Bloomberg – Nicorette threatened by e-cigarettes, wants to protect lucrative business

101 marketing case study: when not to do mobile advertising

There is no point doing mobile advertising if you are not prepared to invest in a call to action that is suitable for mobile devices. Here’s an example, presumably by Ogilvy and OMD for Huawei Enterprise on how not to do it.

First up, here is the advert served up on a page of the Washington Post’s mobile site:
Untitled
I don’t want to get into the debate about the inventory itself, though I would prefer to purchase a page takeover rather than this kind of banner simply because it helps reduce clickthrough.

Here is where you are directed through to if you click on the ad, this is a non-mobile optimised page on Huawei.com. It is shrunk to fit on the iPhone screen to the point that it’s pretty much useless.
Untitled
I imagine that it would look even worse on a BlackBerry that is likely to be used by a proportion of the target audience for the advert.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

US auto buyers shun social media – Car buyers in China are four times more likely than those in the US to be influenced in their purchasing decisions by social media a new study has found

Going Private in Public with Whisper and anonymous sharing | JWTIntelligence

Voice of Customer Technology: Without the Science, It’s Just Sizzle Without the Steak

UK music customers still buy physical media | The Register

IDC: Samsung continues to dominate smartphone shipments in China

Japan and South Korea spend the most money per capita on apps | TechinasiaJapan and South Korea led growth in money spent on mobile apps last year, according to the latest joint report from mobile analytics firm App Annie and market research firm IHS. Game apps led the surge, growing 4.4 times and 5.8 times year-on-year in Japan and South Korea, respectively

How Big Oil Gave Up On the Climate

Why it’s a no-brainer for China to play hardball with Qualcomm – not terribly surprising, expect something similar against European telecoms infrastructure companies

Herbalife is doing great in China—but maybe not for long – Nu-Skin mark II?

Dodgy dealings in China’s steel trade puts some big banks at risk – China’s iron ore imports are through the roof: the record-high 86.8 million tonnes (96 million tons) of foreign iron ore China bought in January was a 32% increase on the previous year. What’s weird is that the ore didn’t actually go anywhere

New LIDAR chip will sharpen aerial mapping and autonomous car vision | ExtremeTech

Ingenico, Gemalto Morgan Stanley Leaders in Mobile Payments; Apple in the Wings | TechTraderDaily

China’s Mobile Payment Turnover Soared 317% YOY to $1.59 Trillion in 2013 | Technode – data from People’s Bank of China

Mitsubishi Develops Compact EV Motor With Built-in SiC Inverter | Nikkei TechOn – smaller cooler motors for electric cars etc

Sony says PlayStation4 sales exceed 5.3 million | Japan Today

HP might have known about Autonomy irregularities – Financial Times finds smoking emails

Coca Cola’s business is being diluted by water | Quartz

China Moves to End Its Codependency with US | Yale Global Online

This good news might actually be bad news: Americans are borrowing big againThe great American de-leveraging is over. American household borrowing jumped by $241 billion in the fourth quarter of 2013, compared to the prior three months. That’s the largest jump since the third quarter of 2007

Haute Cuisine – designer brands extending from apparel into restaurants, one missed by the article is Agnes B who has a chain of cafes in Hong Kong

Germany Considers Counterespionage Measures against United States – SPIEGEL ONLINE

Burberry partners with WeChat to strengthen online presence in ChinaBurberry has announced a digital innovation partnership with Chinese social network WeChat, in order to engage its Chinese customer base and further establish itself on the growing international platform

The WhatsApp | Facebook post (part II)

This post follows on from my first post that looked at the valuation of the WhatsApp acquisition.

The  why
From a WhatsApp point-of-view the why is perfectly simple, everyone gets rewarded for all the hard work that has been put in building a successful product with 430+ million users around the world. It is the end pay in a classic Silicon Valley fairy tale.

For Facebook I think that the why becomes more complex and multi-faceted. If we have a look at Mark Zuckerberg’s own statement around the deal, some aspects of his explanation stood out:

  • WhatsApp is a simple, fast and reliable mobile messaging service that is used by over 450 million people on every major mobile platform. More than 1 million people sign up for WhatsApp every day and it is on its way to connecting one billion people. More and more people rely on WhatsApp to communicate with all of their contacts every day” – this is a recognition that your Facebook friends are only a small sub-set of your social graph. This point is reiterated further down in his message with: “WhatsApp will complement our existing chat and messaging services to provide new tools for our community. Facebook Messenger is widely used for chatting with your Facebook friends, and WhatsApp for communicating with all of your contacts and small groups of people. Since WhatsApp and Messenger serve such different and important uses, we will continue investing in both and making them each great products for everyone“. WhatsApp also has a lot of growth in terms of its user numbers – which I think is an ancillary benefit
  • WhatsApp will continue to operate independently within Facebook. The product roadmap will remain unchanged” – this is interesting. I once compared Facebook to an early Xerox where the company essentially acted as a cash cow to fund innovation. In Xerox’s case it was an insurance business they bought, in Facebook’s case I think that cash comes from the IPO and Facebook advertising
  • I’ve also known Jan for a long time, and I know that we both share the vision of making the world more open and connected. I’m particularly happy that Jan has agreed to join the Facebook board and partner with me to shape Facebook’s future as well as WhatsApp’s” – A few things on this; Facebook is bulking up its brain trust, and it views WhatsApp as important to get into the developing world. What this means for investors is an aggregate decreasing ARPU number. There are some incremental gains to be made such as reducing the cost of computing at the back end of running WhatsApp and taking a potential competitor off the table. It also harks back to something I heard attributed to Zuckerberg where he speculated that he may not have another idea as good as Facebook. Zuckerberg no longer needs to worry about this as he has shown he can buy those ideas

If it’s not advertising what is it?
It was quite telling that the top comment on Zuckerberg’s posting about the deal was:

Chiranjeev Kumar Dear Mark Zuckerberg, You own Facebook, Instagram and now Whatsapp. Basically, you guys have more information than NSA, RAW & ISI combined.

Facebook already has a wealth of data on a number of people who aren’t on Facebook with shadow profiles of everyone who features in many Facebook users address books but who aren’t currently members. It can see if they are in more than one users social graph. WhatsApp offers the potential to enrich this database further.

A question of identity – In many countries like China, consumers have two or more email addresses, one of which is used for circumstances when they are likely to be spammed. A mobile phone number offers a greater likelihood of relating to a real identity, as the barrier to entry on replacing your mobile number is a bit higher.

Enriched with context – every bit of data that Facebook can get about activity that occurs outside of a Facebook page helps with advertising targeting, even if the advertising isn’t served up through WhatsApp. I suspect there is a large overlap between the current Facebook and WhatsApp user base. When I think about Hong Kong which has a 50+% WhatsApp penetration and high Facebook adoption, it is easy to see how this context could enrich consumer insight for Facebook. I used WhatsApp to deal with my estate agent, building contractors repairing the air-conditioning unit and even put in my pizza order!

WhatsApp has a number of low risk untapped sources of potential incremental revenue:

One-to-one brand relationships – WhatsApp has the potential to be an opt-in one-to-one marketing channel with a personalised and enriched relationship greater than that provided by a Facebook page. Similar services are already provided on WeChat, LINE and KakaoTalk to allow brands engagement with consumers.

For example here is what the consumer sees on WeChat:
Untitled
And here is what WeChat’s enterprise dashboard looks like:
Untitled

WeChat, KakaoTalk and LINE all make money from stickers. Stickers are used in Asia as communications short hand, or as a social lubricant when it would be harder to put words to reply to a message.
Stickers
At the moment WhatsApp hasn’t developed this content fully. I am not so sure that European consumers would pay for this content but some consumers will. All of this will chip away to make the deal look better value but are still comparative drops in the bucket to help raise the WhatsApp ARPU to numbers closer to Facebook.

Partners to enemies?
All of this still makes mobile telecoms operators like Vodafone cheap in comparison to their internet cousins and it isn’t currently clear what their response will be in the coming months. Facebook will have gone from being partner who helps sell more data, to competitor corroding the SMS revenue cash cow.


Looking at data published on Twitter by Benedict Evans you are looking at a volume of messages that threatens to exceed SMS volumes. And this doesn’t include rival services such as WeChat, LINE etc, just WhatsApp; at least some of those messages will be substitutes for using SMS.

More information
Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook posting about acquiring WhatsApp
Facebook: IPO postmortem – a dispassionate analysis

The WhatsApp | Facebook post (part I)

Gosh, where do I start, Nigel Scott asked me what I thought this morning and I replied that I was pulling together my thoughts and that I was gobsmacked at the time; I am still gobsmacked and here are my rather unstructured thoughts below.

The valuation
Ok lets talk about the valuation in bald terms first. On January 20, WhatsApp announced that it had 430,000,000 active users to date. Let’s be generous and not slice and dice what ‘active numbers to date’ actually means. Let’s also assume that they gained 10 million additional users between January 20 and today. The business has been going since 2009 so that may not be that big a step in terms of value.

When you buy WhatsApp in the iTunes store you pay roughly US$ 0.99 for the application, on Android and other platforms you get to download it for free and then pay US$0.99 each year for the privilege of using the service. For the sake of simplicity I am going to assume that they have done US$880,000,000 in total revenues to date  and US$440,000,000 over the past 12 months.

That would put Facebook as paying some 43 times earnings for WhatsApp, I believe that my revenue estimates are on the high side, so I suspect Facebook is probably paying north of 50 times revenue.

If we think about this in terms of price/user then Facebook is paying about US$43 per user for WhatsApp. It’s a high cost of acquisition but not the most expensive paid. My friend Calvin compared this deal to Lycos acquisition by Terra Networks in 2000 in an all stock deal valued at US$12,500,000,000; or US$379 per user. You could double those numbers to get an approximate modern value.

Stock versus cash
Not all money is created equal and that is especially true when it comes to mergers and acquisitions. In both the Lycos and WhatsApp deals discussed above the bulk of the purchase value was in stock. In the case of WhatsApp there is just US$4,000,000,000 in cash, US$12,000,000,000 in stock and a further US$3,000,000,000 in deferred stock for WhatsApp employees.

So essentially Facebook can pay the bulk of the acquisition by printing more stock certificates, a model that Cisco Networks pursued successfully through the late 1990 and into the late noughties. The value of that stock can go higher, or become just 0.84% in the case of Lycos if you were left holding it for long enough for the acquisition of Lycos by Daum.

On the face of it the deferred stock puts a nominal value on each WhatsApp employee of roughly US$60,000,000. Again the risk is deferred, by structuring the the release of the stock over a number of years Facebook puts all the risk on the employees.

Facebook went to IPO at 100 times revenue, so WhatsApp at 50 times revenue paid for with stock valued at 100 times revenue could look like a comparative bargain.

The high cost of looking under the hood
One thing that I found really interesting about the deal was the penalty clause involved between the two companies. If Facebook can’t get the deal to work, it ends up paying US$1,000,000,000 in cash to WhatsApp for looking under the hood.

Now obviously it shows commitment from Facebook that they want the deal to happen, but there is also a high inherent value in Facebook finding out who WhatsApp works and why has it been successful. This is also reflected in the WhatsApp employee earnout value of US$3,000,000,000. Finally it gives us a notional value of how much Facebook thinks it would cost for it to replicate WhatsApp’s success: somewhere north of US$1,000,000,000.

More information
The Facebook IPO Post (I)
The Facebook IPO Post (II)
WhatsApp | Crunchbase Profile
Why Facebook is a dead man walking
Why Facebook is a dead man walking part II?
Why Facebook is a dead man walking part 2.5?
Facebook and advertising or why Facebook is a dead man walking part III?
Facebook: IPO postmortem – a dispassionate analysis
The Facebook | Instagram post

Links of the day | 在网上找到

China and Schumpeter’s “Creative Destruction” | BloombergBusinessWeek

No New Windows Phone Models on Tap for BarcelonaNokia It’s shaping up to be a rough Mobile World Congress for Microsoft, with little new expected on either the hardware or software front for Windows Phone – not necessarily that rough, the handsets could be lost in the noise

China denies export data was inflatedThe Ministry of Commerce has dismissed speculation that China’s suprisingly strong export data in January was inflated. Exports jumped 10.6 percent year on year — more than double the 4.3 percent growth in December

Fear of a White Genre – concerns that white people will destroy hip-hop

Private-Equity Funds Bet $5 Billion on Shipping Rebound – Bloomberg – and so betting on increased world trade / consumption

Ikea Couches With Added Bling Boost Furniture Startups – Bloomberg

Hurun Report Chinese luxury survey – Secrets to Luxury Life of Chinese Multimillionaires Revealed | ChineseInternetWatch

Retail trends to watch in SEA | TelecomAsia

Meet The Woman Behind One Of Facebook’s Fastest-Growing And Most Lucrative New Businesses | BuzzFeed

Despite the occasional splurge on fancy sauce, Japanese consumers aren’t spending enough to save Abenomics | Quartz

No proof of cancer risk from mobiles: study – An 11-year medical study has found no link between mobile use or proximity to base stations and and increased cancer risk

Samsung is very sensitive about being called a copycatAfter getting thumped by Apple for alleged patent infringement, Samsung has become more determined than ever to shed its copycat image. That’s why Samsung has now filed a countersuit against British manufacturer Dyson for allegedly “hurting Samsung’s corporate image” – I guess the truth hurts, as a PR strategy this is sure to bite Samsung on the arse

Birds Eye launches Mashtags potato shapes – as if you needed to see more evidence that social media is now a hygiene factor

Abe put Japan on back foot in global PR war with China | The Japan Times

Extravagant events ‘not enough’ to keep the Hong Kong showbiz industry’s star shining – A decade of government extravagance in promoting show business has done little to sustain the local entertainment scene, which may benefit more from long-term policies instead, industry veterans say. (paywall)

When nicotine tastes like candy and is sold online, of course kids will buy it | Quartz – Electronic cigarettes are a good alternative for those unable to cut out nicotine, but fears are mounting that they could also represent a gateway vice for kids who might never have smoked in the first place

Google wants to do away with Android fragmentation once and for all | BGR – it really needs to sort out hardware manufacturer relations in China which are abysmal

Android Contract Raises Questions | EE Times – not terribly surprised by this, explains the commoditisation of the handset market quite eloquently though

My contemptible device – I had a similar journey with tablets to Anthony’s

Dissecting Disney’s MagicBand | EE Times – passive short range RFID and active longer range RFID with built in battery and transmitter

Design Engineers Take On Component Police | EE Times

Depth-Sensing Image Sensor Array Touted for Smartphones | EE Times – could open whole new contactless ways of interacting with the smartphone

EU puts number of non-roamers at 300 million

UK mobile ops Weve loyalty into a Pouch – using iBeacon protocol

Big blues at IBM India | EE Times – part of 15,000 layoffs worldwide. If you want to know the why read Bob Cringely’s pieces on IBM

Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling | Co.Create – burn these into the PR programme

Indian women adopt western clothes | WARC News – The market for western-style women’s wear could grow by as much as 50% in India, representatives from the domestic clothing industry have suggested

TV still king in UK | WARC News – The vast majority (98.5%) of British TV viewers continue to prefer watching programmes via a TV set even though the proportion using non-TV set devices increased slightly in 2013

Gee, We Meant Superfast Wireless – Bloomberg – EE brand fail, their network is pretty pants as well

Google Glass Will Be a Huge Success—Unless People Find It Creepy | MIT Technology Review – kind of the reverse of William Gibson’s quote about ‘street finding it’s own use for things

Investors are losing interest in complex tax-avoidance structures | Quartz

Diversification Key to the Future of LVMH | Euromonitor

Emerging Markets Hold the Key for Further Success in Toys and Games – Euromonitor International

Behaviour Change Strategy Cards – interesting ideas for campaigns

The New Facebook Engagement Models by The Marketing Arm – (PDF) via Digital Orange

When your PR team is bad for your brand

Disclosure: Frank X. Shaw is a former colleague of mine from Waggener Edstrom. We’ve never met in person that I can recall, at that time he was dedicated to the North American Microsoft account.

Before I get into the meat of this post I want to share with you a couple of stories.

Gay rights in Ireland
Rory O’Neill is a LGBT activist in Ireland, in many ways he is the face of the gay community being compere at events like the Pride festival. He appeared on a national television talk show and alleged that some members of the Irish media were homophobic. RTÉ was subsequently threatened by legal action and had to provide compensation to those named including the Iona Institute: a socially conservative lobby group.

This unleashed political debate Irish MEP Paul Murphy called the compensation payments

…a real attack on the freedom of speech…

When John Waters says that gay marriage is ‘a kind of satire’, that is homophobia. When Breda O’Brien says ‘equality must take second place to the common good’, that is homophobia. When the Iona Institute campaign against gay marriage because it is gay marriage, that is homophobia.

This has created an atmosphere in Ireland of enhanced empathy to gay marriage and provided Mr O’Neill with a further platform

The video was shot at the famous Abbey Theatre in Dublin and has been seen over half a million times as I write this, which is a big number given that Ireland has a population of about 4.63 million people according to the latest estimates, this doesn’t include the reach provided by media coverage of the YouTube video.  Mr O’Neill has been given a platform and an authority courtesy of his enemies that he otherwise wouldn’t have had.

McLibel
The next story is that of the UK’s longest running court case McDonald’s Corporation v Steel & Morris; or as it’s better known the McLibel case. A pamphlet was published by a small environmental group: What’s wrong with McDonald’s: Everything they don’t want you to know.

McDonald’s took five people it considered responsible to court over the claims in the pamphlet; three of them apologised and two decided instead to fight the case. The ensuing media circus around the case damaged McDonald’s reputation in the the UK, such that McJobs became a linguistic shorthand for a poor paying job with no prospects (this is actually unfair to McDonald’s at least in the UK).

The point of both these stories is that coming out reflexively against an enemy can be counter-productive. Yet we are seeing this used as a tactic more and more.

One of the most visible proponents of this tactic is Microsoft usually using Frank X. Shaw as the delivery mechanism. The latest example I noticed of this was an open letter to New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo, but I have linked to more examples about the web.

All of this sits uneasy with me for a number of reasons:

  • Back in the day, I was told that PR people shouldn’t be part of the story. I prided myself on the fact that my work had little to no finger prints on it. Yet now Shaw is the story. One article I read introduced him as ‘outspoken Microsoft spokesperson Frank Shaw’
  • A key element of storytelling is understanding what role that you play in the story. A big brand getting involved and beating up on a journalist or blogger puts the journalist in the story as hero and the brand as antagonist. Consumers get psychological closure on stories when they subconsciously work out which ‘myth’ this is and what the plot is. You may even see other articles describe a dispute as being like ‘David and Goliath’. The attack itself become counter productive and you end up looking like Biff against a journalistic Marty McFly – to use a more modern myth ^^. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth of the audience and the media and are instead seen as a whiny little bitch or a bully

I get completely why it comes about, we live in a 24-hour world, we need to stay influential. We have moved from having a mediated discussion through journalists, fashion stylists, reviewers and radio presenters with audiences to going direct. The brand is the media. PR itself, the way it is practiced as a discipline is about ‘doing something’: what have you time tracked, what’s in the monthly report, what have you done? There are internal clients or agency clients who want to respond right away and PR agencies aren’t a place for people who say no.

Now imagine the brand as a person who responds to every slight, they would be insufferable, a pedant and possibly get locked up. What kind of dialogue does that set up with the audience, what kind of story does that tell. Brands need to move from being the antagonist in a story to being the ‘godlike figure’ that creates an inciting incident and sends our audience hero on a quest.

As my yiddish-speaking friends would say brands need to be a mensch. There you go a new concept Brand Mensch – I should be able to wrangle a book and a speaking tour out of that.

So how does a brand become a mensch? Quite simply by assessing communications through a simple set of values:
Being civil
By realising that sometimes you have to conserve your ammunition and pick your battles.

Strategic counsel for today: have your brand be a mensch.

More information
RTÉ MD of Television defends Iona Institute apology and payout as ‘most prudent course of action’ | RTÉ News
MICROSOFT PR HITS BACK AT APPLE: The iPad Is Just Trying To Catch Up With The Surface | BusinessInsider
Microsoft’s PR Boss: Here’s Why I Tweet-Slammed The New York Times’ Review Of Windows | BusinessInsider
Microsoft Responds To Google’s Extortion Claim: “Waaaah.” | TechCrunch
Microsoft honcho pleads with media: ‘Stop picking on us!’| The Register
Microsoft responds to ‘extreme’ Windows 8 criticism | CNet
Microsoft Unleashes Anti-Android Rhetoric Following Facebook Home Event | TechnoBuffalo
Microsoft PR Chief Shreds New NY Times Columnist Over His Advice Column | BusinessInsider

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Infinite scroll search-friendly recommendations – repagination

WeChat Unveils Details of its Self-serve Advertising System – WeChat began testing a self-service advertising system for subscription accounts last month. According to Guangdiantong (GDT), the self-advertising system for Tencent services that is supporting the WeChat one too, dozens of accounts joined the trial for ten days and the click-through rate is 3.5%.

With Porn Filters Going Oh So Well, UK Roars Ahead In Expanding Them To Include ‘Extremist’ Content | Techdirt – Great Britannic Firewall seeks to filter out unharmonius content learning best practice from China

Here’s How Google’s New Search Results Will Look Under European Antitrust Settlement | Re/code

Qualcomm cancels Snapdragon 802 smart TV chip it announced 5 weeks ago | Ars Technica

Intel’s Sharp-Eyed Social Scientist – NYTimes.com

Broadwell bombshell: Has Intel delayed 14nm deployments until Q4 2014? | ExtremeTech

Data point: TV viewers shopping, messaging, surfing and more on second screens – Americans own on average four digital devices, and two-thirds of households have a smartphone, per Nielsen.

Zegna licenses brand name to eyewear manufacturer to expand category – Zegna had previously done this on their own

Sparrow-Face: A new Selfie Trend emerges — mobileYouth®
gen-y

Marketing to Engineers – how video is redefining marketing – Smart Insights Digital Marketing Advice

Blogger Casts Doubt On Credibility Of Facebook Ad Sales – PSFK
facebook

So tell me again. Just what is it that makes Silicon valley so innovative? – makes you think about Tech City vision, the big challenge is that the numbers don’t look at quality of innovation – hard innovation versus soft innovation. Over the past two decades Silicon Valley has focused on soft innovation

We want to pass on that business karma’: Innocent smoothie millionaire Richard Reed on his new startup – London Life – Life & Style – London Evening Standard

What Does This Guy Know About Virality That No One Else Does? — Medium
marketing

Why Abercrombie Is Losing Its Shirt – NYMag
luxury

Software Saps Samsung’s Might – The Information – Google going Microsoft on Android eco-system

Forty years since its creation, how the ICAC cleaned up corruption in Hong Kong | South China Morning Post – something Europe could learn from, although in Ireland I think even the ICAC would throw its hands up in despair (paywall)

Goldman Sachs thinks the best mergers create oligopolies – Quartz

End of Startup Era: Chips Face Innovation Gap | EE Times – lack of startup funding for hard innovation now coming home to roost in Silicon Valley. People like Judy Estrin have been warning that this would happen since the late 1990s

Airbus buys German bank for inhouse requirements – this is a really interesting move by Airbus. Being able to organise loans for suppliers (in a similar way to Apple uses much of its cash pile) and customers (a la Huawei’s route to dominance in carrier equipment via cheap Chinese state bank loans) could be decisive against Boeing. It also could be implying that capital is going to get expensive in the Eurozone sooner rather than later

China’s smartphone sales weaken last quarter | SCMP – maturing mobile market and a reduction in economic growth likely slowing down smartphone adoption and lengthening upgrade cycles (paywall)

Over 20% of bookings on China’s top flight and hotel site come from mobile | Techinasia

Chinese gamblers love France, so this 92-year-old tycoon is building a Versailles casino | Quartz

The Red Sneakers Effect: Inferring Status and Competence from Signals of Nonconformity – Article – Harvard Business School

China Tech Start-Up Scene Turning Heads Globally – SPIEGEL ONLINE – that whole line about China can’t innovate is bullshit

Lenovo plots Motorola comeback in China – Rethink Wireless

Eight trends for the future: Social hygiene

This post is part of an on-again, off-again series of posts about eight trends that I think are shaping things. In this one I wanted to deal with a concept that I call social hygiene.

Social as a channel has become engrained into our lives just like the mobile phone, the web and the telephone directory before it. From a marketers perspective this means that social media channels go from fearful curio to part of the bread-and-butter work done day-in, day-out by agencies and clients alike.

I remember back in 2006 saying that having a social strategy would be as ridiculous as having a phone or email strategy. Both are valuable marketing channels yet strategy as a discipline is unchanged since the works of Sun Tzu. It looks like this viewpoint may finally be starting to break through

social hygiene
Here is a chart from Google Trends, I picked three terms to compare: social media marketing, social business and digital marketing. What’s interesting is that social business as a term seems to be plateauing and social media marketing seems to be slightly less searched for than in the past. Meanwhile digital marketing carries on with a steady progression which seems to have started growing in 2007, around the same time that interest in social media marketing took off. This suggests to me that social is now a hygiene factor, just when the power is out and we are suddenly aware of electricity, or we don’t think about the phone unless we can’t get a signal or a dial tone.

More information
Eight trends for the future
Eight trends for the future: digital interruption
Eight trends: Immersive as well as interactive experiences