Remember when the music industry said MP3s on the Internet were going to destroy music? Here's an inside glimpse at how much things have changed since Napster. Today, publicists contact me to try to arrange stories about songs their clients have intentionally "leaked" onto the Internet. American Idol David Cook is the latest in a long line. David, I love your act, but next time bypass the "mobile-only social network" and upload yourself straight to YouTube. Here's the pitch, minus the name of the hanger-on tech company trying to ride along with Cook's fame:
Gary Kremen founded Match.com as a labor of love, but his personal fortune comes from buying the sex.com domain early. Now, Kremen has invested "an undisclosed amount" in CrowdSifter, a collaborative smut filter. You can read about it in our compliant mainstream media on November 13. Or you can read the press release CrowdSifter's publicist sent us this morning:
How absurd: Six Apart, the blog-software maker which has helped so many bloggers overturn the staid, outdated conventions of journalism and PR, has tried to use an embargo to quash news of a software upgrade until 9 p.m. tonight. Mashable published the news earlier this morning, and then yanked its story. The software in question, Movable Type Pro, is an anodyne improvement, turning MT's existing commenter features into a social network. Why this news ought to be released in a coordinated fashion is beyond me; for that matter, why it's interesting is also beyond me, since Six Apart has been trying to get into the social-network business since its ill-fated purchase of LiveJournal in 2005. News.com, admirably, has kept its post online. Here's Mashable's now-unpublished report by writer Kristen Nicole:
Only in Silicon Valley would a marriage be announced by press release. No, Glam Media founder Samir Arora wasn't so crass as to issue a communiqué about his wedding; but he let word slip in the announcement of a new online-advertising network from Glam for health and wellness websites. The former Rebecca Bogle, now Rebecca Arora, is running the network. The two married in March 2008, according to an online gift registry. Her LinkedIn profile tells us that, in addition to working as Glam's "wellness editorial director," she's also a "Zentherapy bodytherapy practitioner at Izii." Aside from that, she had stints at Oracle and Accenture, both less than two years in length. Working for either company, even that long, could lead one to need therapy — as might getting married to the erratic and mercurial Samir Arora. Arora's love note to his bride:
In the middle ages there was alchemy — the fool's science of turning ordinary metals into gold. Today, there's ad targeting technology. See, it used to be marketers bought ads next to content they figured it would be good for their brands to be seen supporting. Nowadays, technologists think they can make its so that content doesn't matter, so long as their ad-targeting technology knows exactly who's looking at the screen that content is on. As a result, we've got contextual targeting, behavioral targeting and now, semantic targeting from likes of such company's as Peer39, which in in an embargoed funding announcement set for June 30, claims it can "understand content meaning and sentiment, enabling precision targeting down to the page level so that display ads appear on pages most relevant to their message." Believers include investors Canaan Partners, Dawntreader Ventures and JP Morgan as well ex-Tacoda VP Matthew S. Goldstein who's joined the company as COO. Non-believers include, well, us. The full release is below, but trust us, its less entertaining than Ben Jonson's cozening characters.
Blogger turned entrepreneur Loic Le Meur has raised $6 million to inflict on the world a decades-old technology thoroughly rejected by consumers: videomail. He calls it Seesmic, and has repackaged videomail as "video conversations." Really, what this means is that the same people who film videoblogs you promise to watch but never do have a new way of forcing themselves on you. Video is one of the most inefficient means of communication, suited only for self-important types who overvalue their own thoughts and undervalue the time of those they speak to. Which makes it perfect for Le Meur and the star-studded list of investors he's rounded up — including TechCrunch's Michael Arrington, whose blog has conveniently touted Seesmic at every turn. The press release is ludicrously embargoed, since it tells us nothing we haven't already heard from loquacious Loic. All the same, here it is:
————————— Introducing BBtv vlogs! Today: Joel from BB Gadgets. It's been a little more than two months since we launched Boing Boing tv, and we've decided that producing a daily internet show just isn't enough. Meet BBtv vlogs!
LinkedIn will launch a developer program similar to Facebook's platform on December 10. According to the company's PR firm, the new program will allow "select" third-party developers to build "business applications for the Web." We're just glad that In the details that follow, the words "social graph" are nowhere to be seen.
Read/WriteWeb last night reported that Amazon.com will announce today, among other things, support of Google's OpenSocial Web widget platform in all of its applications going forward. Now Google can tout Amazon's support for its rival platform to extend social networks. Or can it? Amazon flacks, after sending Read/WriteWeb a press release about the move, are now retracting it and claiming the company is not adopting OpenSocial. Or if it is, they're pretending they don't know about it.
Forrester Research analyst Charlene Li now claims that she was the source of the New York Times scoop about Google's OpenSocial program, something we alluded to in a post yesterday about a quote from Li being scrubbed from the Times story. So, why did she say she spilled the beans? Turns out that Li got the embargo dates wrong, thinking that the information could be distributed as of last Friday, instead of this one. As for why the quote was pulled? The Times doesn't comment on its reporting or sources, but it was more likely cut for space in an edit than for any nefarious reason. If you've read one analyst quote, you've read 'em all. And given the number of other sources the Times plausibly could have had on this story, one wonders if Li isn't giving herself entirely too much credit.
When I got home from covering the Web 2.0 Summit keynote with News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch and MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe, I found the following email in my inbox: "This information is not for on-the-record use, it’s simply a background overview for your reference if you‘re planning to cover tonight’s discussion." Funny, I never recall asking for this document, let alone agreeing to keep it off the record — an arrangement that, in my experience, requires the mutual consent of reporter and source. So here, forthwith, are News Corp.'s official talking points about Wednesday night's event. Contrast them with my live reporting. Of most vital interest: The new San Francisco office is hiring 200 people.
Looks like tomorrow's rumored MySpace announcement is, as we heard, related to an instant-messaging deal. According to a press release just sent to Valleywag, the big announcement is a partnership between the News Corp.-owned social network and eBay's Skype, which offers both VOIP and IM. What a pairing, between the undervalued MySpace, likely worth billions more than the $580 million News Corp. paid, and the written-down Skype, now worth billions less than eBay thought it was. The bottom line: Now you can call your MySpace friends right from the "add me" page! The full press release after the jump.
Why, in this age of lightning-fast publishing, do members of prestigious national publications like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal still agree to embargoes? Microsoft, it seems, has placed an embargo on its new Zune models, but Gizmodo already has photos, and the Silicon Alley Insider, too, has already scooped its much-larger business-news rivals, with reports that Microsoft will introduce new Zunes with flash-memory storage, competing with Apple's iPod Nano line. Jay Greene from BusinessWeek, Jeff Leeds, music reporter at the Times, and Nick Wingfield of the Journal, we hear, were among the reporters scribbling away at the Microsoft launch event in the Seattle area today. And what did they get in exchange for agreeing to sit on the news?
Well, that was much too easy. The organizers of the Demo conference, it turns out, have gone back on promises made on the website ("the list is not released prior to the conference") and has put the list of startups appearing at next week's event out in a press release. Bastards! The list is technically embargoed until Monday at 7 a.m., but if so, why'd they put it out on the Net? Well, it turns out that the secret secret is what the companies plan to demonstrate. So here's your chance to send in the real dirt: If you have the inside track on any planned demonstrations, send it in by Sunday. After the jump, the full list of companies.
Embargoes, in the age of instant journalism, are the silliest of PR conventions. In fact, they're counterproductive — especially for publicity-seeking startup conferences like this week's TechCrunch40 and next week's Demo, organized by Chris Shipley (left). And yet not everyone gets this. Blogger Paul Boutin sent TechCrunch40 organizer Jason Calacanis into a rage by committing an act of journalism: Going to the open site of the startup conference last Sunday and copying down, by hand, the names of the 40 startups due to present. What prompted Boutin to do this? Why, the organizers' ham-handed, ridiculous embargo demands.
Since mini-moguls Jason Calacanis and Michael Arrington both made their fortunes from New Media, one would assume that their conference TechCrunch40 (the one that Valleywag is banned from) would be a modern affair where bloggers wouldn't be ignored while big-time journalists got special treatment. But the founders hid the names of their conference's forty featured companies. They're telling journalists tomorrow but putting an embargo on the names. An embargo usually means they've promised someone an exclusive. My bet is that Arrington and Calacanis fed the list to the New York Times. But they also put it on a big sign that's already set up at the venue, San Francisco's Palace Hotel, where journalist Paul Boutin saw all 40 names. Guess he wins the exclusive!
Harvard embargoes a press release on curing the blind, then sends a one-hour correction to the whole recipient list. Just wanted to give y'all a heads up so this news can break a whole hour earlier — after everyone sits on it for four days. The journo who passed this on explains why these embargoes happen:
Look, if a company sends out a press release at 1:22 AM EST Tuesday morning, is there any good reason to embargo it until 7 AM the same day? Answer: hell no. If Michael Arrington wants to gush about a startup, he'll gush when he damn well pleases. And if Valleywag wants to unfairly criticize that startup...well, here, about four hours early, is the press release for Sphere. Hope for its sake that it's actually useful. "Sphere is an unfortunate name," says a friend of Valleywag, "if your service is a load of balls."