Posts Tagged ‘Skype’

Article from GigaOm.

Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur — or something like that is true of 27-year-old Joshua Kushner, who despite being one of the hottest hands in the venture capital business has started his second startup, according to sources in New York.

Kushner, who eschews attention, is keeping everything hush-hush, so much so that even the name of the company is under wraps. In fact, I am still waiting to hear back from him. What I have learned is that it is focused on the healthcare business and is trying to take advantage of the changes in the healthcare industry due to universal healthcare. It has been funded by Kushner’s fund and has hired about fifteen people, mostly in engineering and design.

One of the reasons why Kushner’s new effort is interesting is because he has proved to be a stunningly successful venture capitalist, with a keen eye for consumer internet trends. Kushner started his first startup, Vostu (a social-gaming company based in Brazil) when still a junior in college about five years ago.

He left to work full-time on Thrive Capital, which has three funds and has about $200 million under management. As a venture capitalist, Kushner has been on a tear. His investments include Instagram, CodeAcademy, Dwolla, Fab, Warby Parker, and GroupMe. Of the lot, Instagram was acquired by Facebook and GroupMe was gulped by Skype before it was acquired by Microsoft.

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Article from GigaOm.

Microsoft announced Monday that the company has officially acquired social software startup Yammer for $1.2 billion in cash. The purchase was widely reported more than a week ago, but Microsoft confirmed the deal Monday in a press release.

As we noted earlier this month, the purchase could give Microsoft a social dimension to its popular corporate software products. Yammer creates a Facebook-like experience for business clients.

Yammer will join the Microsoft Office division after the acquisition, but CEO David Sacks will continue to lead the group, Microsoft said in the release. Kurt DelBene, president of the Microsoft Office group, offered some thoughts on how Yammer might fit into the Microsoft world in a blog post that accompanied the formal press release:

The combination of Yammer, SharePoint and Office 365 will provide the most comprehensive and flexible solutions for enterprise social networking. Over time, I see opportunity for exciting new scenarios by adding Yammer’s stand-alone service alongside and integrated into our collaboration offerings with SharePoint, Office 365, Dynamics and Skype. I picture people being able to use Yammer to manage and expand their professional relationships, share and collaborate on Office documents, stay informed about content updates, and to seamlessly move from status updates and feeds into voice and video conversations.

Yammer most recently raised $85 million in a February funding round, which brought it to $142 million in total funding. The company currently has more than 5 million corporate users, including customers at 85 percent of Fortune 500 companies, Microsoft and Yammer announced along with the acquisition today.

“We think that Microsoft is a great partner for us,” Sacks said in a conference call Monday with DelBene and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. “I think it’s really the best possible partner in terms of its reach and resources, and its ability to help us scale.”

Ballmer said Yammer’s emphasis on cloud computing fits perfectly with Microsoft’s expansion into that area, and Yammer’s popularity with corporate clients makes it a natural partner:

“What we love about Yammer is that it was built on the notion that things can grow virally,” Ballmer said.

They noted that Yammer will remain in the San Francisco area even after the acquisition with Microsoft, which is headquartered near Seattle.

“When most people thought social networking was for kids, we had a vision for how it could change the way we work,” Sacks wrote in a blog post Monday. “Four years ago, we started paddling out to catch the wave that we’re riding today.”

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Article from GigaOm.

“2011 has been a year of milestone birthdays in tech. September saw Google become a teenager, email hit the big 40 in June, and even Twitter turned five back in March. Perhaps the most significant tech birthday this year, though, was the World Wide Web itself turning 20.

In 1991 British scientist Tim Berners-Lee posted a brief summary of the World Wide Web (or W3) project on the alt.hypertext newsgroup, writing:

“The WWW project was started to allow high energy physicists to share data, news, and documentation. We are very interested in spreading the Web to other areas, and having gateway servers for other data. Collaborators welcome.

It’s safe to say that Berners-Lee’s invitation to potential collaborators went fairly well. That initial web page has expanded to more than 19 billion pages (at the last count) and there are millions and millions of workers across the globe who rely on the World Wide Web to go about their daily lives. In those 20 years, the changes to the workplace that have taken place thanks to the Internet are nothing short of remarkable. Email is as good a place as any to start.

You’ve got mail

Try to explain the workplace B.E. (before email) to someone under 30, and you could be describing life in the 19th century for all the relevance it has to their working day. Back then, we lived in a world in which quaint technologies such as the fax machine prevailed. With the fax machine, it was not unusual to wait days for a reply.

Later, when Web-based email began to grow in popularity, it transformed communication in the workplace. You could now receive a response to a question within minutes, especially once broadband connections became more commonplace. You could send information and documents to colleagues around the world at the click of a button.

Email overload

But technology was now developing at a pace that seemed astonishing even to those who worked in the industry, and email, after a honeymoon period, hit problems. “Too intrusive,” said some. “Too much of it,” said others. “Not quick enough,” moaned the rest.

When consumer-based instant-messaging technologies infiltrated the workplace – AIM launched in 1997 and Yahoo! Messenger (then Pager) in 1998 – users were suddenly able to communicate with co-workers in real-time. Years later, these tools would often be integrated into a platform that also included voice over Internet protocol (VoIP), shared whiteboards, video conferencing and file transfer features.

It was around this time that social networks also began to establish a presence. Some of these are undoubtedly more consumer-focused, but there can also be no denying that Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have had a massive impact on working life, too. The ability to communicate and share content with your extended network (and beyond) has transformed many of our traditional working practices. As well as enabling businesses to engage in two-way conversations with their customers, these social networks are now a central part of the recruitment process. Last year, I wrote a piece on how Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter can enable you to find a team of peers without breaking the bank of recruitment agencies. You can tap into your workforce’s network and find like-minded, talented people to become part of your company.

Getting ready to collaborate

The net result of all the technological developments outlined above has been to change the very fabric of how we work. We now live in a collaboration economy. To share and communicate information, ideas and innovation has never been easier, or come more naturally to the workforce. The emergence of the Web has given rise to a global working village, with location and time zone utterly irrelevant. You can work as closely with someone in another country as you would with someone sitting opposite; work from home or on the move, and even send files from your mobile handset to someone on the other side of the world.

This has all been made possible by the World Wide Web. From Skype to smartphones and social networking to SaaS, it’s all underpinned by the internet and the changes to the workplace of 20 years ago are just extraordinary. With a global mobile worker population set to hit 1.19 billion by 2013, one can only wonder what the Internet will bring us next. Bring on the next 20 years!”

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Article from SF Gate.

“Facebook began bringing video calling to the masses Wednesday, partnering with Skype to provide the free chat service to its 750 million members.

Video calling comes to the world’s largest social network as part of a larger overhaul of Facebook’s chat features. The updated service will allow users to create group text chats by adding multiple friends into the same window. The chat window also becomes more prominent, taking up the right side of the screen by default.

Speaking at the company’s Palo Alto headquarters, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the updates marked a shift for the company away from simply adding users at an ever-faster clip.

“The driving narrative for the next five years or so is not going to be about wiring up the world, because a lot of the interesting stuff has actually been done,” he said. “It’s about what kind of cool stuff you’re going to be able to build, and what kind of new social apps you’re going to be able to build, now that you have this wiring in place.”

Zuckerberg said the shift was prompted in part by a surging demand for sharing information. Facebook users share twice as much today as they did a year ago, as measured by photos posted, comments written and other items.

Facebook’s announcements come on the heels of Google rolling out a new social offering, Google+, that duplicates many of the sharing functions found in Facebook. Google+ also includes a feature called Hangouts that enables group video chatting.

For starters, the Facebook-Skype partnership will only allow one-on-one chatting. Group video chat could be forthcoming, executives said, although on Skype’s stand-alone product, that feature costs money to use.

Zuckerberg said Google’s new product validated Facebook’s own works, and that in the future social features would become an expected part of every application.

The question is which Internet company will prove better at retaining users. Google has more unique users, but they spend less time on the site than Facebook users do. The more time users spend on a site, the more valuable it is to advertisers.

Susan Etlinger, an analyst at Altimeter Group, said Facebook’s large user base would make its video-calling feature instantly competitive with Google’s and other video chat services.

She said the company’s plans to build new services on top of their platform signaled a newfound maturity for the 7-year-old company.

“What I heard Mark say today is that Facebook is starting to focus more on the social aspect of social networking, whereas in the past they focused more on the networking and engineering,” she said. “It’s a really healthy shift.”

Executives at Skype, which was acquired by Microsoft in May for $8.5 billion, said the acquisition would introduce them to an enormous new audience and sell add-on services to them.

“We think this makes a lot of business sense as well,” Skype CEO Tony Bates said. “We get huge reach. In the future we’re talking about potentially also having Skype paid products available within the Web format that we saw here today, so we’re very excited about it.”

Every month, Skype’s users spend 300 million minutes making video calls, Bates said. At peak times, video represents more than half the company’s traffic. (Skype has 170 million regular users.)

Video chat should be available to everyone within a week, Skype product manager Mike Barnes said. Making calls requires users to download a small Java application through the browser.

At first, users will not be able to link their Facebook and Skype accounts. But that integration is in the works, Barnes said. Users who have microphones but not webcams will be able to make voice-only calls on Facebook, he said.”

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Article from GigaOm.

“Microsoft confirmed that it has agreed to buy Skype for $8.5 billion and plans to integrate it into a wide array of products, from Kinect and Windows Phone 7 to Lync, Outlook and Xbox Live. The deal caps a sudden turn of events for Skype, which had previously been the target of interest from Google and Facebook, but then attracted attention from Microsoft. Om first broke the news about Microsoft’s interest in Skype, and last night nailed the purchase price. With the deal, Microsoft is taking a product that eBay couldn’t integrate well and will try and use it to compete against Google, Apple, Cisco and others in the collaboration and communications space.

Microsoft said Skype will become a new business division with Skype CEO Tony Bates assuming the title of president of the Microsoft Skype Division. The company said the acquisition will enhance its work in real-time communications, which includes Lync, Outlook, Messenger, Hotmail and Xbox LIVE. And it expects it to bring in new revenue and provide more benefits to both consumers and enterprise customers.

“Skype is a phenomenal service that is loved by millions of people around the world,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in a statement. “Together we will create the future of real-time communications so people can easily stay connected to family, friends, clients and colleagues anywhere in the world.”

For Skype, the deal allows it to extend its reach and introduce new ways to communicate, said Bates. Microsoft said Skype currently has 170 million connected users and logged more than 207 billion minutes of voice and video conversations in 2010. For all its popularity, however, Skype has had trouble making money and posted a $7 million net loss in 2010.

Microsoft will have a big job on its hands in trying to make Skype work — in part because at $8.5 billion, it is Redmond’s biggest acquisition ever. As Om points out, Skype could give Microsoft a boost in the collaboration market and improve its Windows Phone 7 offering. It could also be an intriguing video-calling combination for Kinect, the gesture-based system for the Xbox. But big acquisitions also have a history of failure, so it remains to be seen whether Microsoft has the ability to turn Skype into a money maker — especially considering its other online efforts haven’t seen much success.”

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