Daily Marauder


SXSW 2012: 5 TRENDS by Marauder

SXSW 2012: 5 Trends

But first, a reflection. Many have chastised SXSW as a liquor-fueled Vegas for tech people. In respect of the truth, I would say that this is true in many respects. There is alcohol. People drink it. That said, the beauty of SXSW is in the aggregation of a true set of innovators, from start-ups, VCs, investors, programmers, and digital marketers. Many have written about the serendipity which makes SXSW great. I fully agree with this. The important marking point of what you get from SXSW is in what you expect from it. If you expect to saddle up to a prescribed list of panels and meetings, you’re at the wrong conference friend. If you can let go, and allow the world to provide for some meetings with some astounding people by coincidence, you’re spot-on in the right place.


From running into Ian Schafer from Deep Focus & Josh Riedel from Instagram at the Foursquare party to meeting employee #1 from Mint & connecting with Zach Greenberger from Fullbright on what makes a good user design experience, my best conversations were usually the unplanned ones. I learned more in the past 7 days than I have in the past year. Topics included everything from launching a movie, how Twitter changes the writing style of a TV writer, how certain apps don’t work at SXSW and why that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t ever, and how Foursquare investigative work can help you figure out who hooked up last night.

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RECAP:

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The Rain

Austin is usually very sunny and hot, but this year it rained…a lot. Brands capitalized quickly offering branded panchos, like this one from Fandango, and umbrellas.

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Instaprint

Printing pictures from your Instagram feed, using a hashtag. This particular one was so engaging; they used a velvet rope around it.

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Creative Promotions

I’ve noted the large brands in Trend #5 but the online sites got in the game too. Skype featured a town crier who would scream out your tweets.

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Cool Technology

This is the Makerbot. It is a 3D printer which prints out a physical object from a model on the computer to the left. GE featured a DIY tent where SXSW-goers could learn about new tech like this.

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ZE TRENDS

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#1: Social Pairing

–Apps in the Space: Highlight, Glancee, Kismet, Sonar & Banjo

–Objective: Connect people together either solely digitally or in the real world to facilitate real connections and ease the discomfort in connecting.

-Why is this a Trend?: Highlight played SXSW app darling going into the conference but didn’t hit a resounding high note while there. While an app like Foursquare is more effective at SXSW, Highlight is less. The app became ineffective on the ground at SXSW because the size of the conference caused massive numbers of suggestions. In essence, when suggesting connecting to everyone, you end up connecting to no one because the sheer size of referrals is to large. Think about the stress you feel when you see 52 emails sitting unread in your email box. The same insight applies here. All this aside, simply the fact that something does well at SXSW does not mean it is instead fire or on the flip side, instant fodder. Consider that most SXSW-ers are not the target market of Pinterest for example. The success of social pairing has been proven, for the most part, in apps whose objective is pairing potential daters. Getting the interface right is the central sticking point in who wins here.

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#2: Sharing

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Sites in the Space: Neighborgoods, Airbnb, Spinlister

Objective: Allow strangers to share items and connect them together in a community of sharing.

–Why is this a Trend?: Airbnb connected many SXSW-ers with space to stay while in Austin but more importantly, the graph below begins to explain the rise of sharing. For one, we all have enough stuff to last a lifetime. Being more sustainable and limiting the additional items in the world not only helps each other but keeps those items out of a landfill making the Earth just a smidge happier.

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#3: Future of Music Consumption

Sites in the Space: Spotify, Pandora, MOG, Rdio, & Turntable

Objective: Allow strangers to share items and connect them together in a community of sharing.

–Why is this a Trend?: In 1895, Nikola Tesla transmitted a radio signal 50 miles from New York City to West Point, NY in the first test of radio transmission. The golden age of radio took shape from the 1920s through the 1950s. As traditional radio begins to the see the shadow of online radio, it’s clear that a transitional point is upon us. This past August, Pandora surpassed popular terrestrial radio stations in New York City for the first time. Online services including Pandora, Spotify, Turntable and Rdio have been rapidly growing thanks to the strength and speed of cloud computing and a renewed appetite for online music discovery.

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#4: Gaming for Good

Tech in the Space: Kickstarter, Google, Nike, Fitbit, NASA, Google, Gylo, Ayogo Games

Objective: Game dynamics motivate users around virtual points and play to our human desire to win. This new gaming model encourages us to improve our health, learn new things, or raise funds all in the sake of personal improvement.

Why is this a Trend?: Between Fitbit, the Jawbone Up, and Nike’s push behind the Fuelband, gaming for personal health is on a serious upswing. While in Austin, I was fascinated by some of the applications that pushed game dynamics or offers based around social good or education. For example, Cause.it rewards users with discounts for volunteer work offered at non-profits.

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#5: Technology is Listening & Watching

(Taken during the Superbowl, the screen above was presented when Shazaming the Pepsi commercial.)

Tech in the Space: Shazam, Kinect, Soundhound, Siri, IntoNow

Objective: Allow users to interact with technology by moving or by being heard.

Why is this a Trend?: Shazam commenced operations as an application which helped users identify songs but has evolved as an app to help brands connect their TV commercials to content on mobile phones. While this is a band-aid for the television being able to enable a connection to digital, it does allow for a fascinating TV to digital extension for brands. During SXSW, I also heard David Jones, EVP of Marketing at Shazam, mention that Shazam was working towards an always-on listening model. Just like Foursquare has an always-on model for location, Shazam would employ the same for listening. One question. Why type of folks want their technology to be always listening…or even always watching? Creepy alert.

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Brands, Brands, Brands

AMEX

AMEX promoted its Sync, Tweet, Save promotion linking twitter and discounts using an AMEX card with a Jay Z concert at Austin City Limits.

Effectiveness: 5 (scale 1 -5)

Nike

Nike promoted its new NikeFuel band, a sports band which tracks expended energy by selling the bands at times communicated via Twitter and setting up a sports park for Fuel Band wearers to stay active and win FuelBand points.

Effectiveness: 4 (scale 1 -5)

Chevy

Chevy provided vehicles which could be hailed as cabs to transport SXSW-goers throughout the conference.

Effectiveness: 4 (scale 1 -5)

Pepsi

Pepsi paid to take over the Austin Convention Center, usually owned by Coke, replacing all vending machines with Pepsi. They additionally ran a meet-up space called Pepsi Co Central with talks by special speakers.

Effectiveness: 3 (scale 1 -5)



IS PING THE MYSPACE MUSIC SLAYER? by Marauder

Is Ping the MySpace Music Slayer?


Since Apple’s Wednesday announcement of the social network for music, Ping, the service has been called a MySpace killer. At the core of the Apple fan boy or girl, is an ethos that Apple can and will continuously do it better than the next guy. This ethos has been built on the back of the company’s ability to blow away the smartphone marketplace with one swift punch to the balls called the iPhone. As I sit with my iPhone parked next to me and my MacBook Pro at my fingertips, I certainly classify as an Apple fan girl. In Ping’s case, the assumption that Apple always draws shotgun would be a mistake. In its current configuration, Ping is not and will not be a MySpace killer. Until some major problems are fixed, it will continue to live in the shadow cast by powerhouses like Pandora and MySpace.

If the principle challenge with the MySpace platform is hyper-personalization turning the site into the bedroom of an over-eager teenage girl, the problem with Ping is the insistence on an overly simple user interface. I may not need the many bells and whistles thrown at me on MySpace daily but I do need more features than Ping is offering.

Here are a few reasons why Ping won’t crush my MySpace usage anytime soon:


1) What Do I Care About Most?

Photo Credit: Micki Krimmel


It’s the Music Stupid.


Ping seems to think the answer to this question is the sharing of music. In actuality, I care most about the music itself. I sit writing this while listening to Arcade Fire’s new album on MySpace. Currently, this band doesn’t even exist on Ping. While I sit listening to The Suburbs in full, the band gets a “No Results” on Ping. Yes, yes. I know the service is still too new to accommodate the likes of indie rock but perhaps more should have been done to draw bands into the service before it was launched to the public. Mashable posted an interesting article on the challenges bands face in entering the Ping world vs. the ease at which bands enter their MySpace communities and post at will. The Ping user needs more of their favorite bands and the bands need an easier way to access the new platform.

Above the selection of bands, what I really want on a music page is…in short, music. I want to listen to full-length songs like I can on MySpace music. I can’t even find any music to listen to on Lady GaGa’s Ping page until I click over to the iTunes store. As we all know in the online world, and for those who don’t know, shortening the click-thru stream is necessary for lazy audiences everywhere to engage with your platform. Don’t make it more difficult for me to get to what I really want: the music. And once I’m finally there, I get a 30 second nugget rather than what I really want: the full song. Let’s see a side-by-side Ping to MySpace comparison:

Ping

MySpace


2) Follow?

Sir Steve Jobs attracted me to the platform with his promise that 160MM global iTunes users would be there waiting for me. I fire up the upgrade, click on the attractive Ping logo with the chat bubbles and find Lady GaGa, Katy Perry, and Rick Rubin staring back at me. Now, I love the GaGa as much as the next girl, but what about my actual friends? Where are they?

Apple promised a Facebook Connect feature allowing me to easily search for my Facebook friends. Not so much… If you haven’t seen the most recent press, Apple played a bit aggressively with Facebook and was denied access to the API. On Kara Swisher’s blog, All Things D, she spoke to Steve Jobs moments after the Apple announcements and was told by Jobs that Facebook wanted “onerous terms that we could not agree to.” In essence, when Facebook’s API is called upon with over 100 million requests a day, Facebook requires a monetary agreement to handle the overload on their systems. Apple and Facebook could not come to an agreement on this and hence no Facebook for Ping.

Until this is resolved, I can only find my friends by entering in their email address one by one until I find someone. Suffice to say, this is the real “onerous” process and simply unmanageable by anyone who has a job. Yesterday, my friend from Berlin tracked me down so I officially have one real Ping friend. This is only one hiccup with the service but the most sizeable one. Until this one issue is resolved, Ping will have problems truly being a “social network for music” without connecting its 160MM worldwide users together.


3) What type of Music Defines You?

On the initial fire of the Ping community, you’re asked to pick a collection of music which will be used on your profile to define you to your friends. I don’t take this process lightly at all. Being someone who previously worked in the music industry, I take my collection and particular music taste very seriously. The user has the choice between a manual selection of music or an automatically pre-selected one chosen by an Apple algorithm. Being that this was an Apple interface, my expectation was that Apple would choose my taste better than I could possibly define my own. Yup, not the case.

Instead of looking at my music library, which would be the obvious choice, Ping seems to favor my purchased iTunes items, surfacing selections which may not be something I’d like to define my musical taste by. Selfish selection by Apple really. Imagine you buy Justin Bieber for your 12-year-old niece and all of a sudden it surfaces as your favorite music. Bieber fail. Manual entry is certainly a requirement.

**Please note: This would never happen on this MacBook of course. I wouldn’t allow this sort of download on my machine. Just sayin…


4) Sharing Begins & Ends in iTunes

Hey Apple, just want to let you know about these fantastic social networks known as Facebook and Twitter. You may have heard about them? Only about 500 MM users use the first one. Just thought I’d let you know, as you seem to care not for the likes of those little guys. You may have 160 MM worldwide users but before you get on that soapbox, Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook dominion holds down 500 MM globally. When I go to “like” something in Ping, I share that like with the Ping community alone. There are currently no sharing features with Facebook, Twitter or MySpace and with that list being the three primary social networks, seems Ping is lacking a little in the “social” department. Apple seems to be acting like a possessive boyfriend with this product rather than truly building a social experience for music.


5) News Feed Overload

After seeing a recommendation from Alexandra Petsavas, my favorite music supervisor who brilliantly filled an entire episode of The O.C. with Beck B sides, I decided to download a few tracks from the Canadian band, The Acorn. Now, my entire feed is filled with my love for The Acorn even though I downloaded a few tracks off of one album. I wish there could be more control in terms of what is surfaced and what isn’t. I don’t need every song purchase listed in my feed especially around the holidays when I decide that The Time Life Christmas CD’s are a must-have.


So is Ping the MySpace Killer? If you enjoy sitting in enclosed spaces talking to yourself about your favorite music, then yes, Ping wins.

Alright, I’m off. MySpace just threw me an “Are You Still Listening?” curve ball and I need to change this song.

“We’re sorry, the number you have reached is not in service at this time. Please check the number or try your call again.” Telephone Lady GaGa

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THINKING OUTSIDE OF THE BOX, OR IN THIS CASE IN IT: BOXEE UNVEILED by Martha

THINKING OUTSIDE OF THE BOX, OR IN THIS CASE IN IT: BOXEE UNVEILED

Guest Writer: Martha Rivera

A sold out crowd gathered at the Williamsburg Music Hall in Brooklyn, NY last night for the unveiling of the Boxee beta as well as to catch a glimpse of the highly anticipated Beta Box.

Launched in 2008, Boxee is software that aggregates media content from the web and your personal computer and streams it on your HD television. It searches web based content providers like YouTube, Netflix, MySpaceTV, Blip.TV, CBS.com, Revision3, flickr, and Pandora, among others and brings the content straight to your living room television. Missing still from the list of content providers is the online video site, Hulu. In addition to streaming web content, it also pulls media content from your own personal computer including your ITunes, personal videos and pictures. Boxee is an open source platform allowing users to create their own apps. To date, there are over 300.

“Our biggest challenge is distribution,” said Boxee CEO Avner Ronen.   The hurdle is getting cable affiliates and major content providers, like Hulu on board. At the core of the problem is fear of piracy and concern that the advertising is stripped from the content. However, Boxee pulls online content as is, which includes the advertising that is attached to it. Boxee also has the ability to track a host of analytics far outweighing television’s usage reporting. Ronen is hoping media companies and cable providers will become comfortable once they understand usage.

Four weeks ahead of its wide release at CES, Ronen introduced the beta software and Boxee Box, as well as announced the launch of 3 new apps: the hipster soft-core site Suicide Girls, the online gamer e-zine The Escapist and Clicker, TV guide, entertainment search engine and DVR all rolled into one.


Boxee Beta

Overall, Boxee Beta looks great and is much more user-friendly. The UI has been streamlined with a new layout. The menu, previously hidden, is now front and center. The home screen has been redesigned to feature the main menu, featured content, personal queue and the friend feed.

My favorite social networking feature is the ability to connect to your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Any media that your friends or followers share with you will automatically populate on your queue. Too busy to watch videos at work? Don’t have the ability to watch video because you don’t have an office or are on the go? Another feature allows a viewer to send media assets to your queue so you can watch when you get home.

The search function has also been streamlined. Now users can search for movies, TV shows as well as local and online content at once. Boxee Beta populates all content from your computer as well as from any web source that works with Boxee. Of note, you can now mark content as “watched.” Better yet, the search function lets you omit “watched” content from the results.

Boxee focused specifically on TV shows in the Beta redesign. TV shows are now organized by season and episode. You can follow your favorite TV shows, and like Hulu, it will automatically populate your queue with new episodes.

Another new feature is the Global Menu. This menu is essentially the shortcuts screen. It provides quick access to predetermined shortcuts, favorite apps, history, and settings.

Other features include allowing users to interact with the apps without having to download them, a now playing button on every screen allowing easier navigation back to the player, a new Last.fm and flickr interface as well as a main background that changes based on the time of day.

As of this writing, 85% of Boxee’s 700,000 users use a Mac. However, Boxee Beta has not forgotten about its Windows’ friends. It will now run on Direct X, which will mean a better experience for the PC user.

Boxee Box by D-Link

The night also included the highly anticipated unveiling of the Boxee Box. Boxee partnered with D-Link, better known as the makers of wireless routers, to create the hardware. Astro Studios, the cutting edge designers behind products like the X-Box 360 and Nike, designed the sleek cube. This small black submerged cube will sit on top of the many boxes taking up space near your TV. The guys at Boxee hope that eventually you’ll do away with all those boxes and just use the Boxee Box.

The Boxee Box will retail at $200 and will be available for distribution sometime in 2Q10.

Why Boxee?

I’m a three-screen user. I watch TV, while surfing on my laptop, with my phone not far away. Having used the Alpha, I don’t know if I can give up my computer that easily. As I was navigating the web content on Boxee, I found my multi-tasking self wanting to toggle out of the screen to search the web while the video played. Because I was unfamiliar with the navigation, or more like because I’m a specific type of navigator, all of a sudden I felt trapped. According to Andrew Kippen, VP of Marketing, “Boxee is about fighting tradition. It’s streamlining your viewing experience by consolidating it all into one. Boxee is the tip of the iceberg for what’s possible.”

The Boxee Beta version seems much more straightforward. It’s easy-to-use features will allow users to not feel so (excuse the pun) boxed in. Then again, in this case, that’s what the creators of Boxee want you to do. Engage with the content within the box.

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ONLINE SERVICES/INTERACTIVE MEDIA by Marauder

ONLINE SERVICES/INTERACTIVE MEDIA

Apple is trying to round up programming support to offer a $30-a-month subscription-television service. The Wall Street Journal says Apple’s “over-the-top” service in theory could rival cable television, given it can offer programmers a base of 100 million customers through iTunes. The Wall Street Journal/Digits blog (11/2)

Apple sub

Best Buy Co., the world’s largest electronics retailer, will start an online store for movies and television shows that will compete with Apple Inc.’s iTunes. (Bloomberg11/3)


Last week Google launched the Music Onebox — a special new search result that lets users stream songs in their entirety for free. The feature is being powered through partnerships with MySpace and Lala who are providing the song streams, with contributions from a host of other partners like Pandora and imeem. Millions of people will doubtless stumble across the new feature on their own as they run searches for their favorite bands, but Google also has a few tricks up its sleeve to get the word out. We’re hearing that a number of well known artists will soon be actively promoting the service, offering exclusive content to fans who Google them.

Tres smart marketing promotion. Tres Tres smart, The word of mouth on this should be intense. Nice move Google. Very nice. (Techcrunch11/3)

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JELLI: ALL REQUEST RADIO by Marauder

JELLI: ALL REQUEST RADIO

Jelli

Welcome to Jelli, user-controlled radio. This past week, I had the chance to catch up with Mike Dougherty, CEO of Jelli, at Digital Hollywood to ask him some questions about the site. Incidentally, Mike is not the lead singer of the band Soul Coughing as I had excitedly thought before meeting him. Apparently, I am not the only person to make this mistake.

The Product

Here’s the jist. Log on, start listening, and start voting music up or down based on what you want to listen to you. Others will do the same. The combinations of all of that voting will determine what comes next in the playlist. If you really want to hear that Herbie Hancock track, “rocket” it to the top of the list. If you really can’t stand that Citizen Cope song, “bomb” it out of the playlist. I come from a traditional radio background, and as a DJ for 5 years, I was quite used to the programmed playlist that neither I nor the listener had any control over. The playlist was dictated by a number of rotations coordinated in advance by the radio Program Director, band manager, and artist. In essence, if you requested something, there was pretty much no chance in hell that it was getting on air. This web site flips the switch on the whole radio industry.


The Hotness

Pandora, MySpace Music, iTunes, and pretty much any other online music service you can think of are very one-to-one types of experiences. You pick the music and based on what you are selecting, in certain cases, the service recommends additional music it thinks you will like.

Jelli brings the social aspects of traditional radio back to the forefront allowing users to each play DJ selecting and voting on music as the playlist runs its course. In addition, every Sunday on Live 105 in San Francisco from 10PM – Midnight, what plays on Jelli plays on traditional radio. It should come as no surprise that this is the most highly trafficked time for Jelli.

The Lameness

I would much rather listen to music that I and a few of my friends are selecting rather than listening with the main group. I don’t really need to hear that Soundgarden song once an hour and I know my friends would never subject me to that. Also, giving new users more power seems to be a must. On my first try to the service, a track that I had rocketed to the top was quickly bombed by another user and removed from the playlist. Sad face. Dougherty claims that this may be on the horizon.

What Comes Next

Jelli will be nationally syndicated allowing any radio station to follow the Live 105 lead and empower listeners on their airwaves. In addition, 5 stations in Australia will also begin carrying Jelli as of November. Live DJs? Also on the way. Also, users will eventually be enticed with incentives for their participation in the site.

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WIRELESS by Marauder
October 9, 2008, 6:24 PM
Filed under: WIRELESS | Tags: , , , , , , ,

WIRELESS

Pandora‘s indispensable iPhone app has helped the service double its growth rate from 20,000 new users/day to almost 40,000/day according to an interview with Pandora founder Tim Westergren on DWM. Pandora has about 1.5 million users on the platform to date. (Cynopsis 10/8)

Qualcomm’s mobile FLO TV service, available to AT&T and Verizon subscribers, is capitalizing on the two of the big fall TV events this year – the Presidential Debates and the primetime network premiers. Tuesday’s debate was delivered live on six FLO channels: NBC, CBS, Fox, MSNBC and CNBC, not to mention CNN for AT&T subscribers. Nickelodeon will also offer an election-themed Q&A for kids on the service on Oct. 12. FLO TV is also featuring its most comprehensive line up of prime time shows yet this month from NBC, CBS, Fox, MTV, Comedy Central. (Cynopsis 10/8)

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ONLINE SERVICES/INTERACTIVE MEDIA by Marauder

ONLINE SERVICES/INTERACTIVE MEDIA

Yesterday, CBS sent out a press release touting the success of Last.fm’s month-old redesign, citing a 20 percent increase in unique visitors and a 36 percent increase in total minutes between June and July. Despite a few bugs on the day of launch, the redesign seems to be paying off. But why is CBS so keen on beating its chest when it comes to Last.fm? Ever since CBS bought Last.fm in May, 2007 for $280 million, it’s been under pressure to justify the purchase. At the time of the purchase, Last.fm was running neck-and-neck against social music network imeem and music radio service Pandora.. Today, imeem is killing Last.fm (see Google Trends for Websites chart above), and Pandora is still holding its own. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/08/15/lastfm-needs-more-than-a-redesign-to-catch-up-to-imeem 8/15)

Techcrunch received confirmation from AOL that the company has acquired Socialthing!, a lifestreaming service that competes with FriendFeed. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/08/14/confirmed-aol-acquires-lifestreaming-service-socialthing 8/14)

CBSNews.com and CNET.com will feature live, Web-exclusive specials anchored by Katie Couric each night following CBS’s prime time coverage of the 2008 Democratic and Republican national conventions. The Webcasts will be archived for on-demand viewing. (Iwantmedia 8/15, http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/CA6587662.html 8/14)

Facebook’s controversial and widely-disdained Beacon service, which it originally introduced in November, has led to the company behind slapped with another class action lawsuit. The suit alleges that Facebook never sought user approval before collecting personal information, and was also keeping tabs on people who weren’t even signed up for Facebook. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/08/14/facebook-gets-slapped-with-another-lawsuit-over-beacon-wishes-it-could-opt-out 8/14)

After more than two months of testing, Google has finally turned on AdSense for Feeds. Formerly, these were FeedBurner ads. The acquired company has moved its advertising program over to Google’s system, and now any AdSense advertiser can tap into the Feedburner network. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/08/15/google-turns-on-adsense-for-feeds 8/15)

With the appointment of Frank Biondi, Jr. and John Chapple to Yahoo’s board of directors today, the last two slots on the board are now filled. Biondi, the former CEO of Viacom, and Chapple, the former CEO of Nextel, were both on Carl Icahn’s original alternate slate when he was still trying to replace the entire board. As part of his compromise with Yahoo, Icahn backed down from his proxy battle in return for three seats on the board. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/08/14/yahoo-rounds-out-its-board-with-former-ceos-from-nextel-and-viacom 8/14)

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