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Google's Connected Home Ambitions Take Flight with Nest Acquisition

Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 14, 2014 12:57 PM

On the heels of CES 2014, Google has effectively tapped into arguably one of the biggest trends in consumer tech—the smart home—by buying Nest Labs for $3.2 billion in cash, its second-largest acquisition to date. 

The company founded by former Apple executives Matt Rogers and Tony Fadell, who is credited as a key player in the invention of the iPod, is known for creating smart thermostats and smoke detectors. Nest told Forbes that it has sold about 1 million of its thermostats, placing them in nearly 1 percent of US households. 

And that's where excitement turns to concern, as consumers fear that Google may use Nest's technology to monitor them. Google has already addressed the concerns, saying its existing privacy policy "clearly limits the use of customer information to providing and improving Nest’s products and services," but that hasn't quieted the critics much. 

But Nest, a company started by and filled with ex-Apple employees, doesn't seem to be worried. Continue reading...

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Bing Replaces Deals with Credit Card-Linked Offers

Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 7, 2013 05:12 PM

Daily-deal sites have gone through various growing pains in recent years, with several efforts being shuttered. One of those was Microsoft's Bing Deals, but now the effort is getting new life under a new program, Bing Offers, which consolidates offers from such sites as GroupOn and LivingSocial. The initiative is currently being tested in Seattle. 

According to TechCrunch, Microsoft has launched “a limited test of a new Bing Offers feature” that allows users to “link their credit cards to their Microsoft accounts.” Users will be able to swipe their linked credit cards to utilize a deal that they've pre-purchased online, eliminating the need to keep track of QR codes, emails and other forms of coupons. The capability comes through CardLinx, which counts Bank of America, Discover, Facebook and LivingSocial as clients. With a goal to “reduce consumer and merchant friction for payment-enabled offers and ads,” the technology behind the program is one being similarly utilized in efforts by Facebook and Amazon

While Microsoft is currently only offering link-ups between businesses like Pizza Hut and Bucca di Beppo, it plans to take the initiative nationwide soon. 

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Tribune Co. Turns Its Attention to Broadcast with $2.7 Billion Station Acquisition

Posted by Mark J. Miller on July 1, 2013 02:56 PM

The print newspaper business may be hurting, but that won't stop the Tribune Company, which came out of bankruptcy last December and is trying to unload its suffering papers, from agreeing to pay over $2.7 billion for 19 local TV stations, according to The New York Times. The purchase brings its total up to 42 stations across America, making it the nation's largest station operator

The stations are coming from Local TV Holdings, a company owned by investment firm Oak Hill Capital Partners. As the Times notes, the Tribune is keeping up with the Joneses with this deal. Less than a month ago, Gannett Company agreed to buy 20 local television stations from Belo Corporation for around $1.5 billion. Sinclair, another of the largest station owners in the US, has also spent about around $1 billion in the last year and a half to add to its station count as well.Continue reading...

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Yahoo Inks 10-Year Deal with New 49ers Stadium to Add Tech, Social Tie-Ins

Posted by Sheila Shayon on June 19, 2013 04:02 PM

The latest brand to call the San Francisco 49ers’ new stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. home is Yahoo. The venue, aka Levi’s Stadium (or better, the 'Field of Jeans'), is just down the road from some of Yahoo's offices and will provide an off-campus media hub for the growing internet brand. 

The 10-year deal makes Yahoo the “exclusive online sports content, social networking, and photo and video sharing partner," of the stadium. The company will get to place its logo on the new Fantasy Football lounge as well as install Flickr-branded photo-sharing booths in the stadium's concourses. The booths will have a direct tie-in to the stadium's big screen, as Yahoo hopes it will encourage fans to use Flickr first before uploading to Instagram or Facebook.Continue reading...

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Google Solidifies Mapping Supremacy with Reported Purchase of Waze

Posted by Sheila Shayon on June 10, 2013 01:51 PM

In a bid to reinforce its mapping leadership, Google is reportedly about to acquire Israeli map start-up Waze for $1.3 billion, beating out a bid from Facebook for $1 billion, Bloomberg reports

Waze is a crowd-sourced, mobile-oriented navigation device for drivers that mines the data provided from its 47 million members to create its maps. With mapping services among the five most-used applications on smartphones, owning a mapping service that allows for personalization will give Google a key advantage, especially in mobile ads, and boost its position within the social mapping space.

For Google, acquiring Waze also means keeping arch-rivals Apple and Facebook at bay, not to mention eliminating what could have been an imminent threat to its native Maps application.Continue reading...

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With Woods Back Atop Highest-Paid List, Nike Readies to Extend Epic Endorsement Deal

Posted by Mark J. Miller on June 6, 2013 05:18 PM

The end of an era is approaching, but have no fear, sports apparel icon Nike won't let its cash cow stray too far. It's been reported that Nike and Tiger Woods are close to signing a new, multi-year deal that could likely see arguably the greatest player in golf remain an endorser of the brand for the rest of his career. 

The storied partnership has been in place since Woods turned pro in 1996, signing on to a reported $40 million, five-year deal to wear the sporting brand's apparel. While Woods didn't start putting Nike's golf equipment into play until 2000, the pair have successfully built a burgeoning brand for the retailer that extends to a whole line of Woods-branded apparel. 

The new deal will keep Woods "emphatically at the top of the golf endorsement list, according to agent Mark Steinberg. "We're down to the very, very short strokes right now,” Steinberg told ESPN. “I would expect we would come out with some sort of joint announcement when we get the paperwork signed. I hope this is viewed as a pretty bold statement."Continue reading...

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Hulu Sale Heats Up as Yahoo, DirecTV Enter Billion-Dollar Bids

Posted by Sheila Shayon on June 3, 2013 12:46 PM

Say good-bye to low-ball bidding. After a handful of offers that severely under-valued video streaming giant Hulu, it looks as if those interested have keyed up their game. 

The behind-closed-doors bidding war heated up over the weekend with bids of up to $1 billion from Yahoo, Time Warner and DirecTV as well as bids from Silver Lake Management, Guggenheim Digital, investment firm KKR and media executive Peter Chernin. 

"Today, 89 million people in the US will watch 1.2 billion online videos,” notes VentureBeat. “By 2016, online video viewers are expected to double to 1.5 billion.” It's no doubt that whoever snatches up Hulu will have a very lucrative addition to the family. Hulu recently announced more than 4 million paid subscribers of Hulu Plus, its $7.99 per month subscription service that lets users watch content on mobile devices and set-top boxes not available to those with a free account. First-quarter 2013 saw nearly one million people sign up and combined subscriptions and ad revenues saw Hulu generate $695 million last year.Continue reading...

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Smithfield Foods Acquisition by Chinese Meat Giant Hits A Lot of Hot Buttons

Posted by Dale Buss on May 29, 2013 05:12 PM

In one huge transaction, the acquisition of Smithfield Foods by Shuanghui International brings together several vibrant themes of the geoeconomic and geopolitical picture these days. The $4.7 billion deal will sell America's (and the world's) largest pork processor and producer to China's largest meat processor.

It will be the biggest takeover to date of an American company by a Chinese one, at a time when more concerns are being raised in the United States about national economic security and the rise of the Chinese economy in general—and when the Chinese government is urging the nation's private enterprises to become more aggressive about buying up assets abroad, especially in food production and natural resources.

The deal will provide a major export market for American meat at the same time that it helps China address significant shortcomings in its own meat-production process. "This transaction will allow us to access Asia in a big way," C. Larry Pope, Smithfield's chief executive, told the New York Times. "This is an export deal, and they are very interested in exporting products out of the US"Continue reading...

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