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Archive for May 14th, 2012

Article from GigaOm.

Ross Levinsohn, appointed Sundayas interim CEO, doesn’t have to learn Yahoo — he’s spent the last 18 months immersed in it.

And he doesn’t have to learn digital media — from helping to create online sports powerhouses at CBS Sportsline and Fox, to building a $1 billion-plus digital portfolio for Rupert Murdoch, to launching and investing companies through his own private equity fund, he’s covered the digital media waterfront and then some.

He’s Hollywood and Santa Monica but he speaks fluent Silicon Valley.

Most important, he knows Yahoo is a media company — and he knows how to sell it that way. Of all the things he found when he joined Yahoo in late 2010, the most disconcerting was how much the company was doing right and how very bad it was at making that count. Here’s how he put it during an interview with paidContent last year as he emerged from a quiet period:

“I spent six months digging into the company making sure I’m not crazy — and I’m not crazy.

“Yahoo is the premier digital company in the world and embracing that isn’t a hard thing to do. That’s just fact-based. Tell me what other type of media can sit with you and say ‘I’ve got the top 19 #1 or #2 newspapers, I’ve got the top 20 shows, I’ve got the 19 of the top 20 radio stations, 19 of the top 20 magazines’?

“Duh. But you have to fully embrace that. You can’t half-ass that.”

Last fall, he took the stage at paidContent Advertising to pitch the company. The interview came just days after Carol Bartz, who hired him to head media and ad sales for The Americas, was fired. At the time, he was considered a leading internal candidate for CEO. He talked about Yahoo’s need for “a little bravado, a little swagger”:

“Yahoo is a huge, mature, gigantic business. Some of that is overlooked right now. Businesses grow at different rates. We’re 16 years old and we’ve been on top for 15 years. It’s hard to maintain that. When you think of entertainment and gossip, you think of TMZ, but OMG is twice as big with 30 million users a month and still growing. But no-one knows that.”

Levinsohn’s biggest coup at News Corp. was acquiring MySpace from under Viacom’s nose for $580 million in 2005. In hindsight, given how MySpace panned out, perhaps it was anything but a coup — but, at the time, it was transformative, and as big a statement as News Corp. could make about being in the digital game.

Here’s how Levinsohn described it when we talked about why MySpace wasn’t a fit for Yahoo in 2011:

“We bought a social networking site in 2005, before anyone knew what social networking was and now look at where social networking is — so if you look at the trendline we were way head of the game.

“When we bought it, it was doing about $1 million a month; 24 months later we were on a run rate to do $500 million a year. You’d have to say that was a pretty good trajectory.

“Users went from, when we bought it, to 70,000 signups a day (which I thought was astounding), to the month I left about 450,000 signups a day. So again, trajectory, unbelievable.”

Levinsohn was replaced at Fox Interactive when it switched from M&A to operating mode. He’s been battling against perceptions ever since that that he’s not an ops guy.

In addition to rebuilding the internal sales organization and partnering with AOL and Microsoft in a digital sales alliance, and with his top media exec Mickie Rosen setting up a series of high-profile original content deals, Levinsohn has been out telling that story. Not the one of the company that can’t shoot straight – the one about the media company at its core.

Since then, he’s interviewed Tom Hanks to promote a new Yahoo original, been on stage with Katie Couric at the Yahoo digital upfront last month and a few days later being photographed with Sophia Vergara during the White House Correspondents Dinner festivities. He upgraded and expanded an existing relationship with ABC News.

Levinsohn hasn’t left M&A behind but he insists Yahoo doesn’t need a big acquisition to fix its problems, although, if he could have found a way, Hulu would be a Yahoo property. Look at him to focus on making the pieces Yahoo already has fit better, pick up tuck-in acquisitions — and finally decide whether Yahoo should be in the ad tech business or sell it.

Until now, everything he’s done at Yahoo has been in the shadow of CEOs making the final decisions on resources and setting the overall tone. Now — at least for the interim — Yahoo is Levinsohn’s Pottery Barn. He told Yahoos in a lengthy internal e-mail Sunday:

“I know there is one thing we should definitely all be doing in light of this news, and that is to focus on the momentum we’ve created over the last few months.

“Many of you have heard me talk about the possibilities we have, and about the opportunities in front of us. In spite of the very bumpy road we’ve traveled, we are achieving genuine and meaningful successes in the marketplace every day and heading in the right direction.”

What he’ll have to decide now is whether to spend the next months acting as CEO or auditioning for it. Here’s Demand CEO Richard Rosenblatt’s advice, following a Forbes piece by outspoken Yahoo shareholder and tech writer Eric Jackson:

I agree Ross run it like you are the permanent CEO not interim. Own it forbes.com/sites/ericjack…

And, yes, that is the same Richard Rosenblatt who was the CEO that sold MySpace to News Corp., then bought back some of the pieces that helped build Demand Media.

Read more here.

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THE BRONX THAT I REMEMBER  http://bronxwebpictures.homestead.com/The-Bronx-I-Remember.html

1. The subway and bus were only a thin dime to ride.
2. Schools were the showcase for the whole country.
3. There were no drugs (almost none).
4. There was very little pornography.
5. There were no divorces, few one parent families, and ‘out-of-wedlock’ events were kept quiet.
6. There was respect for teachers and older people in general.
7. There was almost no violence.
8. The theme of the music of the times, even when it became rock and roll, was love not anger.
9. People made a living and, rich or poor, all knew how to have a good time no matter their status.
10. A great day was going to Orchard Beach, Tibbett’s Brook or City Island .
11. Hanging out on Fordham Rd., Pelham Pkwy, Allerton Ave., Mosholu Parkway or Claremont Park.
12. There was Shorehaven and Freedomland, for awhile anyway. And Cascades Pool on Jerome Avenue .
13. There was no better hot dog than at Gormans on Fordham and Valentine Ave. Or at any local Jewish deli too.
14. The games: King/Queen, curb & stoop ball, stickball and punchball played with ‘Spaldings’ and Pennsy Pinkies.
15. The fruit man, the tool sharpener “knives and scissors!”, the junk man “I cash clothes!”, the Knish man, hot jellied marshmallow man, Bungalow Bar, Good Humor, and the fruit man with his horse and wagon.
16. Only place for pizza was Arthur Ave, and every neighborhood had the best egg creams. But if you were lucky, you went to Krum’s, or the Wedge Inn.
17. There were many local theaters, where every Saturday afternoon you could see many cartoons, a newsreel and a double-feature film show for 15-20 cents! Later, 25 cents! And don’t forget the Lowe’s Paradise, Valentine, RKO Fordham, Globe, Devon, Ascot, Lido , Pelham, Allerton and many, many more!
18. City Island had the best seafood restaurants and fishing all the time.
19. Big eating and coffee hangouts: TeePee diner, Baychester Diner, Chock Full O’ Nuts, the 167th St. & 161st St. Cafeterias, the Red Apple Rest, the Adventurer’s Inn with foot long franks for a quarter (with as much mustard and sauerkraut as you could pile on), Carrol’s and many, many more!!
20. Everybody knew all of the high schools in The Bronx .
21. Fordham Road stores all had their own ornate glitz as far as style goes. And so did those on 170th St , 161st, 167th Streets, Tremont, Burnside, the Grand Concourse and all of the rest!!
22. There were many delicatessens in the 50’s, but very few today. The best? Everyone had their own!! Mine were: The Walton Deli, 170th Street, Beletz Bros. on Tremont, Epstein’s on Jerome and Gun Hill and Schweller’s on Jerome and Mosholu. Their food was from Heaven!
23. Tuxedo and Zaro’s were the great bakeries…I loved the chocolate butter cream with the almonds on the side. And the Black and Whites, Charlotte Russes!!?? Did you forget about Butterflake, Snow Flake, The Garden, Winters, and ALL of the other LOCAL BAKERIES!!? Where are they all now??
24. There were no fast food restaurants in the 50’s and a hamburger tasted like a hamburger. Sorry, forgot White Castle (13 cents each!), Caroll’s in Yonkers , and Wetsons.
25. There were the dances at the Bronxhouse and Mosholu Center, Mt. Eden Jewish Center, Concourse Y, Poe Park on Wednesday evenings Wintergarden and the Concourse Plaza .
26. Big night clubs in The Bronx were Dominicos, Jokers Wild and the Tender Trap; and a couple of dumps on Jerome Avenue, where you could listen to “blue” singer Belle Barth (“A Trip Around the World is Not a Cruise”).
27. How could anyone forget all the poolhalls: Penquin Lounge, Cue Lounge, Nat’s on Burnside and so many more on Allerton and Lydig Aves. and all the major streets in your neighborhood!!
28. Knishes were great at B & G’s on Allerton or at Schweller’s on Jerome and Mosholu. Or at ANY corner deli you went into, anywhere, at any time!!
29. People in The Bronx took pride in owning a Chevy in the 50’s; there was nothing better than General Motors then. The cars would run and run and run, no problems. Well, perhaps a few!! Don’t forget Ford, Chrysler, Plymouth , Buick, Hudson, Nash, Studebaker and those other guys, like the Edsel!!
30. You bought sour pickles right out of the barrel for a nickel, and they were delicious. By the 1960’s they cost a whole quarter. Anyone remember Moishe’s, or Jack’s Appetizing, on Allerton, 170th, and Jerome Ave. & Mosholu!
31. The New York Yankees of course, were and still are, considered the best in baseball. And remember the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds and the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field?
32. You come from the Bronx but don’t realize you have an “accent.”
33. You played a lot of games as kids. Depending on whether you were a boy or a girl, you could play: Ringoleveo, Johnny on the Pony, Hide and Seek, Red light, Green light, Simon Sez, kick the can, war, hit the penny, jump rope, double-dutch, A-My Name Is, box ball, box baseball, dodge ball, catch a fly, cans up, running bases, iron tag, skelly, tops, hand ball, stoop ball, slap ball, whiffle ball, relay races, softball, baseball, punchball, stick ball, basketball, horse, around the world, foul shooting, knockout, arm wrestling, Indian wrestling fire escape basketball. And then there were card games like canasta, casino, hearts, pinochle, war and the unhappy game of 52-card pickup.
34. You hung out on people’s stoops, or at the different parks and parkways, the local pizza parlor, hamburger joint (Express), your own courtyard, etc.
35. You learned how to dance at some girl’s backyard or house.
36. You roller skated at Fordham skating rink in skates with wooden wheels. You had rollerskates at home with metal wheels for use on the sidewalks, and you needed a skate key to tighten them around your shoes. Those metal wheels on concrete were deafening!
37. The big sneaker brands were PF Flyers, U.S. Keds and Converse.
38. The guys wore Chino pants with a little strap & buckle in the rear, and the girls wore long wide dresses. Remember gray wool skirts with pink felt poodles on them? The poodles had rhinestone eyes. And men’s & guy’s 3-button collars had that third button there in the back!
39. In the 50’s rock and roll started big teen styles for the first time.
40. Everyone went to a Bar Mitzvah even if you weren’t Jewish.
41. Everyone took their date to Orchard Beach for swimming or the submarine races, or the NYU Bronx Campus overlooking the river.
42. There were 3 main nationalities in The Bronx in the 50’s: Italians, Irish and Jews. Then there was a sprinkling of everyone else.
43. It was the only borough that wasn’t an island and everything was downtown, even Manhattan .
44. In The Bronx, a fire hydrant is a “johnny pump.”
45. Rides on a truck came to your neighborhood to give little kids a ride for a dime. The best one was “The Whip,” which spun you around a track. You got a little prize when you got off, sometimes a folding paper fan, sometimes a straw tube that you inserted two fingers into, that tightened as you tried to pull your fingers out again (Chinese Handcuffs).
46. As a kid, you hit people with water balloons from atop a building, you shot linoleum projectiles from a carpet gun, you shot dried peas from pea shooters, and you shot paperclips at people with a rubberband. Today, you’d probably get arrested for that on weapons possession.
47. You shopped at EJ Korvettes, Robert Hall, Woolworth’s, Alexander’s, A&S. Barney’s was Barney’s Boys Town back then, and not a luxury store. You bought your shoes at National, Miles, A S Beck, Thom McAn, Florsheim, London , Coward, Chandlers who had beautiful matching handbags. And how about Lafayette Electronics and Johns Bargain Stores??
49. Everybody lived near, and shopped at, a local candy store and a local grocery store. They added up your bill on a brown paper bag, with a pencil, or put it down in a book, to be paid later.
50. No malls here, only the local places. Who needed malls with all that we had.
51. Bagel stores start popping up everywhere in the 60’s.
52. Went to Jahn’s Ice Cream Parlor with a big group and had the Kitchen Sink. If it was your birthday (you had to bring your birth certificate), you could get a sundae free. Don’t forget Krums.
53. Everybody knew of somebody who was a “connected guy.”
54. We used the word “swell” that is passe today.
55. In the summer, we all waited for the Good Humor, Bungalow Bar, Mister Softee or Freezer Fresh man to come into our neighborhood to buy ice cream. In the early to mid 50’s, the Good Humor man pushed a cart instead of driving a truck. Remember the bells? A pop was 10-15 cents. A large cup was 15 cents, a small cup was a dime. And a sundae — remember licking the chocolate off the back of the cardboard top? — was a quarter.
56. Many of us would sneak cigarettes and hide them when we got home.
57. When we talked about “the city” we meant Manhattan .
58. The Mets in the 60’s became our substitute for the Dodgers and Giants if you were a National League person.
59. In the 60’s we were ready to drive and hit the night life scene. With the car came the girls.
60. We are all in a select club because we have roots in The Bronx

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