Yelp Says ‘No’ To Google Deal

We recently talked about the possible acquisition of Yelp by Google for half a billion dollars. It is being reported that everything was agreed upon and the deal was ready to be signed but Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppleman reportedly has turned down the offer.

No reason has been provided so far as to why Stoppleman suddenly had a change of mind. This is surprising since there are no reports of other potential buyers. Speculation suggests Yelp might try to stay independent by forming strategic partnerships with Microsoft or Apple.

Whatever the case, Stoppleman must have a pretty good reason to walk away from a $550 Million deal.

Is Microsoft Still Paying People To Say Good Things?

With the advent of social media and internet in general, one would expect large organizations like Microsoft to be fully transparent and not engage in I-will-pay-you-if-you-say-good-things-about-me kind of marketing! But does it actually happen?

The reason this question popped up was this job listing for an Associate position. The job is posted by a marketing/branding firm Mr. Youth on behalf of Microsoft. Basically, Microsoft is looking for a student who can blog about Microsoft’s new software. The associate would need to write about at least 15 topics per year and the topics would be selected by Microsoft. Here are some other things that don’t smell too fair:

You will use your existing blog to discuss various tips, tricks and advantages with Microsoft.

Acting as a peer influencer to introduce people to the benefits of Microsoft’s products.

Even if they hadn’t explicitly mentioned that you would need to influence people positively, one would expect the associate to do so after getting all those fully paid trips to tech conferences and additional incentives.

I have two simple questions:

1. Should Microsoft do this? It would be another thing if the requirement was to simply write about the software but it is a completely different thing to require associates to positively influence people.

2. Does Microsoft really need to do this? As soon as a new Microsoft software comes out, thousands of bloggers write about it anyway. Then why pay somebody to say good things about it?

It all becomes even more interesting in the light of a recent incident when Steve Ballmer reportedly fired an employee who did not show enough enthusiasm for Bing.

Do you think Microsoft should do this? Do other companies like Google and Yahoo! also employ such tactics?

Google in Talks To Acquire Yelp, DocVerse and Trulia?

Google is on an acquisition frenzy. They have been acquiring a company or two almost every month in order to step into various markets. Here are three more companies that Google is eyeing:

1. DocVerse:

DocVerse is a collaboration platform for Microsoft Office documents. It was founded in 2007 by two Microsoft veterans and now Google is reportedly paying them $25 Million for it. This will let Google strengthen its position in the office space.

2. Yelp:

Google is also said to be buying Yelp for half a billion dollars. This deal will help Google capture the local markets directly and use the 200 or so sales people that Yelp employs to get local advertising.

3. Turlia:

There have been talks that Google is also eying Trulia, the real estate listing website as a potential acquisition. The news isn’t confirmed yet, but the price is being speculated to be around $150 Million to $200 Million. Since Trulia listings use Google Maps pretty heavily, this will provide a lot of synergies to the post acquisition entity.

What do you think about these acquisitions and in Google’s shopping spree in general? Are they going too fast?

Write, Save and Organize Translations Online

Translating text from one language to another is not an easy task to manage. Automated translators like Babel Fish and Google Translate can be helpful only to a certain extent; beyond that a human element is needed   to assure quality.

EbiWrite is a collection of online tools that help translators in writing, saving and organizing translations. Writing a translation is made easier using two parallel windows so you can look at the original text as well as the translation at the same time.

Here is a list of features offered by EbiWrite:

  • Dual-panel editing.
  • Auto-save option so you don’t lose information.
  • Upload documents and images.
  • Create and share dictionaries.
  • Set an image as the source text.
  • Refer to dictionaries shared by other users.
  • Save your translations with tags.
  • Choose from 6 different themes.

Once you sign-up for a free account, you also get a permanent URL like that you can use to easily access your translations. If you ever feel like you have made a mistake, you can always go back to a previously saved version. EbiWrite is also accessible from any smart phone and provides a print-friendly version of your translations. You can also use a number of keyboard shortcuts on EbiWrite to make navigation quicker.

Techie-Buzz Verdict:

EbiWrite offers some really unque and useful tools for translators. They are time-saving, hassle-free and very productive.

Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

How To Make a Photo Smile, Frown or Wink

The title of the post may sound unreal to you but there is a fun little tool that actually lets you do that. The tool is called Cartoon Photo and lets you insert a number of emotions into a picture.

Simply upload a photo from your computer or enter a URL to upload one from the web (The maximum image size is 12 MB). Then choose the emotion you want to insert including smile, wink, sad, troll, squint eyed, flirt and oops.

For example we took this simple picture and played around with the tool:

We tried to make it smile:

and then we tried to make it frown:

and then squint eyed:

You can also select the strength of an emotion to decide how much the photo should smile or frown. There is also an option to insert an animated smile into the photo. You can specify the animation speed and the picture size while setting the animation.

Once done, you can simply save your resulting image on your computer, save it online with a free account or share it with your friends. Cartoon Photo is a part of broader range of fun apps offered at including photo editing, photo enhancement, creating avatars and photo presentation widget.

Number of Tweets Surpass World Population

Twitter has taken over the world. As of today, the number of tweets are greater than the number of people on this planet.

The popular tweet counting service GigaTweet is showing the number of tweets as 6.83 Billion and the world population stands at 6.79 Billion according to GigaTweet also predicts that the number of tweets would reach 7 Billion in 5 days and   10 Billion in 96 days of time. With 25 Million tweets per day andover a million tweets every hour, this number sounds pretty reachable

This is another sign of the tremendous growth Twitter has been in past few months. However, one should keep in mind that this includes the countless retweets that people do. The original number of tweets might very well be less than 10% of this number. Reveals Top 10 Artists of 2009 is the ultimate social platform when it comes to music. Millions of users flock to every day to listen to music, manage playlists and find music related information. Now, when 2009 is about to end, they have revealed the top 10 albums of the year based on album scrobbles.

Here’s the list:

10. Kayne West with 6,615,339 album scrobbles.

9. Yeah Yeah Yeahs with 6,885,404 album scrobbles.

8. Green Day with 7,607,693 album scrobbles.

7. Animal Collective with 7,630,636 scrobbles.

6. Beyonce with 8,642,704 scrobbles.

5. Franz Ferdinand with 8,795,186 album scrobbles.

4. The Prodigy with 8,900,264 scrobbles.

3. Lily Allen with 10,522,633 album scrobbles.

2. The Killers with 12,471,571 scrobbles.

1. Lady Gaga with 18,487,195 album scrobbles.

The data is based on activity from 1st October 2008 through 16th November 2009. Another interesting set of data that was recently published by is the Top 1000 by tag list.

Create a Custom Album From Facebook, Flickr and Picasa Photos

Our digital life is scattered over many platforms. This is specially true when it comes to photos; some are on Facebook, some are on Picasa and some of them are on a hard drive. Pixable is a great web app that lets you create custom albums by combining photos from Facebook, Flickr, Picasa and your computer.

Once you sign in to Pixable with your Facebook account, it will show you all your Facebook albums and even photos of your friends that are publicly available. You don’t have to select complete albums, you can just pick and choose the photos you want. Similarly, you can select photos from your Flickr and Picasa account and also upload images from your hard drive.

You can also choose a theme for your album, such as Christmas or floral, and invite other Facebook users to contribute to your album. Once created, you can save your album to Pixable, share it with your friends on Facebook, email it to your friends, post it to your Facebook feeds or even order a physical album for a very low price.

Pixable can also be used to create photobook calendars. Right now Pixable is offering a lot of amazing Christmas themes for albums and calendars.

Number of Android Apps Reaches 20,000

Android market is no where close to iPhone yet, but the growth is remarkable. Every analyst is speculating that 2010 will be a big year for Android and supporting that speculation is the 20,000 apps milestone that Android hit today. The number of apps was only 10,000 just five months ago.

Another interesting fact is that 62% of these applications are completely free. With another 40-50 Android based handsets launching next year, these 20,000 apps would find ample users.

Combine this with Google’s own phone Nexus One and you have got yourself a mighty strong market.

AOL Is Trying To Sell ICQ, Google Might Be Buying

ICQ, the popular instant-messaging service, was bought by AOL in 1998 for $400 Million. It is not so popular in the US but is heavily used in countries like Russia and Germany. As AOL tries to unload properties to re-organize itself, it has put ICQ on the market and would possibly get around $200 Million to $250 Million for it.

Google is reported to be one of the interested parties for ICQ. One of the major reasons for Google’s interest is to acquire the huge customer base ICQ has in Russia, a region where Google has struggled to establish itself prominently. If the transaction goes through, the 8.3 million ICQ users in Russia would provide a good base for Google to get a strong hold in the Russian market.

For the same reason, DST, the Russian internet company, is also a serious potential buyer. DST came into light when they bought a $200 Million stake in Facebook a few months ago. DST already owns a popular Russian sites like and VKontakte, the biggest social network in Russia.