LinkedIn Announces Endorsements to Increase Engagement

LinkedIn has been really focused on improving the user experience in the last couple of months. It revamped its entire user interface, and also rolled out updated mobile apps. It has been adding new features to make the platform more engaging, and today, it introduced Endorsements. It’s a new feature which lets users recognize their connections for their specific skills and expertise.

LinkedIn has had a recommendation feature for a long time, but it was too cumbersome compared to this one. Users can endorse their connections using just one click. The feature has launched across multiple global markets, and will be launched worldwide soon.

Here’s LinkedIn’s official announcement:

“On LinkedIn, you have many smart, talented, and skilled professional connections. Starting today, we are introducing Endorsements, a new feature that makes it easier to recognize them for their skills and expertise.

With just one click, you can now endorse your connections for a skill they’ve listed on their profile or recommend one they haven’t added yet. Think your connection is great at programming AND project management? Let them know!

Here’s how you can endorse your connections:
On the top of a connection’s profile, you’ll see recommended endorsements for them. You can suggest additional skills as well.
You can also endorse them from the new Skills & Expertise section that now showcases these endorsements.

Want to see who has endorsed you? We’ll notify you via email and on LinkedIn whenever you are endorsed. You can scroll to the bottom of your profile page under “Skills and Expertise” to see the faces of people who think you’re great at what you do. You can also accept any new skills recommended by your peers that you may not have thought to include on your profile. Or you can also add a new skill by clicking on “add a skill” on your profile page.”

via LinkedIn Blog

Oracle Reports Q1FY13 Earnings; $8.2 Billion in Revenue, $2 Billion in Net Profit

Oracle has announced its earnings for Q1FY13, with total revenues down 2% to around $8.2 billion. While software revenues grew marginally, the hardware and services revenue was down significantly, weighing down on overall revenue growth.

Its operating income increased 7% to more than $2.8 billion, while its net income jumped up to $2 billion.

With its new acquisitions and product roadmap, Oracle seems to be focused on dominating the cloud-based software space.

Oracle CEO, Larry Ellison, said:

“A little more than a week from now we will announce lots of enhancements to the Oracle Cloud. There are more CRM, ERP and HCM applications as a service, and more Oracle database, Java and social network platform services. Our new infrastructure as a service is available in the Oracle Cloud and as a private cloud in our customers’ data center, with the unique ability to move applications and services back and forth between the two.”

Oracle’s cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities have increased to almost $31.5 billion. Its operating cash flow this quarter was up to $14 billion.

Oracle President, Mark Hurd, said:

“Exadata, Exalogic, Exalytics and our other engineered systems grew more than 100% in the quarter. For the full year, we expect to double engineered systems sales to well over $1 billion. Oracle’s new cloud business is also approaching a $1 billion annual run rate. These two businesses will drive Oracle’s growth for years to come.”

For now, it seems that cloud-based enterprise software and engineered systems will continue to drive revenue growth for Oracle in the coming years.

via Oracle – SEC

Moo.com Buys Flavors.me

Moo.com, one of the most popular online business card printing startups, has acquired Flavors.me, a web service which allows users to create personalized digital profiles. Flavors.me currently has more than 500,000 users. The transaction includes the Flavors.me brand, technology and its entire user base.

Richard Moross, CEO of Moo.com, posted a press release on the Flavors.me blog:

“Hello we’re MOO.COM — and we love to print.

Yes — we’re a printer! (It’s just like the internet, only slower.) However, like you, we’re also passionate about great design — which is why we’re delighted to announce our acquisition of Flavors.me. But don’t worry — we’re not going to get all weird and start bossing you about. Just think of us as your mom’s new husband. The kind that buys you a car, obviously — not the kind that makes you call him dad (nobody likes that guy.)

We’re huge fans of Flavors — it demonstrates beautifully how the web has opened up great design tools for everyone. It also benefits from thousands of cool, beautiful customers (okay, maybe we do sort of want you to love us like we’re your real dad.) So we’re putting all our efforts into making it even easier for you to create an awesome-looking Flavors page.

We’re excited to start working together, so do drop by MOO.COM at some point and have a look around. And if you have any questions, please visit the Flavors help page — we’d love to hear from you.

Looking forward to a future of even more great design with you!”

The service will continue to run as before, and you can expect integration with Moo.com. The acquisition price hasn’t been revealed, but it isn’t likely to be very high. This purchase not only allows Moo.com to expand into adjacent verticals and provides additional cross-selling opportunities, but also expands its user base.

via Flavors.me Blog, Techcrunch

Facebook to Charge Businesses for Facebook Offers

Facebook has been under tremendous pressure to monetize its massive user base through advertising or any other means ever since it went public. Its stock price has dropped significantly below its IPO price on concerns that it might not be able to monetize its growing mobile user base.

Today, it announced that it will start charging businesses and merchants to run and promote Facebook Offers on its social network. While the service was hitherto completely free, Facebook will now charge businesses at least $5 to promote Facebook offers to its fans and their friends. The cost of running an offer will depend on its reach.

Gokul Rajaram, director of product management for Facebook’s advertising and Pages businesses, said:

“We think this aligns incentives nicely. The best results on Facebook Offers will come from organic distribution plus paid distribution.

The requirement to pay for related ads will focus merchants on who and where they want the offer to reach.”

Facebook’s focus on generating revenue should offer some respite to investors, but its impact on the user experience remains to be seen.

via Reuters

Adobe Reports Q3 FY12 Earnings

Adobe reported its earnings for the third quarter of 2012, with revenue increasing to $1.08 billion, up 7% year-over-year. It reported an operating profit of nearly $278 million, and a net income of $201 million.

Its cash reserves increased to $1.16 billion, while its short term investments increased to $2.08 billion. Its operating cash flow for the quarter was $263 million.

Creative Cloud paid subscription growth in the third quarter was very encouraging, with the total user base growing to nearly 200,000 by the end. Its digital marketing suite also recorded nearly 40% year-over-year growth.

Shantanu Narayen, president and CEO of Adobe, said:

“Customers globally are adopting our new Creative Cloud subscription offering more quickly than we projected. We are the leader in the fast-growing Digital Marketing category with 40 percent year-over-year Digital Marketing Suite revenue growth this quarter.”

Adobe also projected revenue for the next quarter in the same range of $1.075 billion to $1.125 billion.

via Adobe Q3FY12 Earnings

Alibaba Buys Back 20% Stake From Yahoo for $7.6 Billion

Alibaba and Yahoo have had a very tenuous relationship, with the former trying to buy back its stake from the latter since years. Last month, it was revealed that Alibaba was trying to raise close to $8 billion in order to buy around 20% of its stake from Yahoo.

In a press release today, Alibaba announced that it had completed the repurchase of its shares from Yahoo In a transaction worth approximately $7.6 billion.

The transaction includes around half of Yahoo’s 40% stake in Alibaba, valued at $7.1 billion, and a one time cash payment of $550 million related to their existing technology and intellectual property licensing agreements.

Jack Ma, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Alibaba Group, said:

“The completion of this transaction begins a new chapter in our relationship with Yahoo! We are grateful for Yahoo!’s support of our growth over the past seven years, and we are pleased to be able to deliver meaningful returns to our shareholders including Yahoo!. I look forward to working with Marissa Mayer and her team in our continued partnership.”

It was initially expected that Yahoo would return most of the cash to shareholders, but under Marissa Mayer’s reign, that cash might be put to better use and fuel the growth of the aging giant through acquisitions.

Zynga Acquires A Bit Lucky for $20 Million

Zynga has been an expert at growing its user base by acquiring smaller gaming studios and startups in the last couple of years. Just before its IPO, it acquired Draw Something, its biggest acquisition to date. While its stock price has crashed significantly in the last couple of months, it still has a significant amount of cash in its coffers.

Today, it acquired a California based game maker, A Bit Lucky Inc., for around $20 million. This is one of its relatively larger acquisitions. A Bit Lucky has been focused on mid-core games, which fall between Zynga’s casual games and hardcore online games. This acquisition adds additional genres to Zynga’s portfolio of games, and allows it to expand its online audience beyond just casual gamers.

Zynga currently has nearly 330 million monthly active users and 50 million daily active users. With acquisitions like these, it keeps adding talent to continue churning out new games, while also adding to its user base instantaneously.

Zynga’s stock price stands at around $3.10, giving it a market cap of around $2.4 billion. It has cash reserves of nearly $1.6 billion.

via Bloomberg

Oracle Acquires SelectMinds to Bolster Cloud HR Offerings

Oracle has resumed its acquisition spree, and acquired yet another enterprise cloud startup, SelectMinds, which is a provider of cloud-based employee recruitment and HR services.

According to Oracle’s official press release, “SelectMinds’ applications enable organizations to empower recruiters, hiring managers and employees to leverage social connections to distribute job opportunities, source higher quality referrals, market their employment brand and manage corporate alumni relationships.”

SelectMinds will enable it to add more capabilities to Taleo’s feature set and offer a more comprehensive solution to enterprise customers — one that leverages social channels like Facebook and Twitter, as well as their employees existing social networks to improving their hiring capabilities.

“The combination of Oracle and SelectMinds’ complementary social sourcing capabilities is expected to create a comprehensive recruiting, candidate sourcing, and talent management offering for organizations to reach quality referrals through social recruiting.”

Oracle competes in this space with the likes of SAP, Salesforce.com, and a lot of other smaller players. This is yet another acquisition by the giant to leverage the cloud and “social” to improve its enterprise software offerings.

The exact terms of the acquisition haven’t been announced yet, but they should be reflected in Oracle’s next earnings release.

via Oracle

Square Raises $200 Million at $3.25 Billion Valuation

Square was rumored to be working on its fourth round of funding since months now, at an estimated valuation of $4 billion. However, the disastrous Facebook IPO changed the fundraising market, and we didn’t hear much about that until now. Apparently, Square has announced its fourth round of funding which values it at $3.25 billion, impressive by any standard.

Square has raised $200 million in its Series D round, from investors like Citi Ventures, Rizvi Traverse Management, and Starbucks Coffee Company. It has grown significantly in the past year, and now has a run rate of nearly $8 billion in payments annually. It has grown to nearly 400 employees, and will continue to add more to fuel its expansion.

This latest round brings its total funds raised to around $340 million. It competes primarily with Verifone and PayPal.

They issued a press release announcing the same:

“Square (www.squareup.com), the company revolutionizing commerce, announced today that it has closed its Series D financing round. Investors participating in the round include Citi Ventures, Rizvi Traverse Management, and Starbucks Coffee Company.

One year ago, Square had approximately 150 employees and processed over $1 billion in payments on an annualized basis. Today, Square has over 400 employees and is processing over $8 billion in payments on an annualized basis.

Square’s growing revenue and workforce precedes the company’s plans for international expansion later this year.”

via Techcrunch

Google Acquires Snapseed to Take on Facebook-Instagram

Google has apparently acquired Nik Software, a German software developer which created Snapseed, one of the top iOS apps of 2011 which won the iPad App of the Year award in 2011 and amassed a user base of nearly 9 million users in less than a year. Besides iOS, Snapseed is also available for Mac and Windows, and an Android app is also in the works.

Vic Gundotra who is heading Google’s social efforts, posted on Google+:

“Welcome Nik Software!

Today I’m excited to welcome +Nik Software to the Google family! We want to help our users create photos they absolutely love, and in our experience Nik does this better than anyone. Check out the examples from some of the world’s greatest photographers, and you’ll see what I mean.

This week we also hit an important milestone–over 400,000,000 people have upgraded to Google+. It was only a year ago that we opened public sign-up, and we couldn’t have imagined that so many people would join in just 12 months. While Google+ is all about creating a better experience across Google, it’s also a destination. And here too, I’m happy to report that we have just crossed 100,000,000 monthly active users on Google+ (plus.google.com and mobile app).”

While Nik Software also creates a number of other popular apps, Snapseed is what drove the acquisition. With Snapseed, Google+ has a much better chance of competing with Facebook and Instagram in the mobile photo sharing space.

Google also announced that it now has more than 400 million users on Google+, with more than 100 million monthly active users.

via The Verge, Google+