A Week’s A Long Time Vol. 7

Once again, a week here is more like a fortnight. I was on holiday last week and couldn’t drag myself away from the pool to jot down any thoughts on the latest developments in tech. But this week, I hope to make up for it.

The Only Way Is Up?

Wall St. met Silicon Valley this week as Facebook held its first earnings call since its rather disappointing flotation. It came on the back of a week where Zynga had singularly failed to impress the finance world, with very disappointing results.

The first question on everyone’s lips was whether Facebook’s founder, who many believe is dismissive of finance, would show up. He did. Though that doesn’t mean that people were impressed by him. Interestingly, an unconnected post by Fred Wilson highlighted why Mark Zuckerberg might need to play ball a bit more.

VCs have control when things don’t work. Entrepreneurs have control when they do.

The second question was whether what he, and his lieutenants, had to say would relieve the worries of those who bought Facebook’s stock. Not so much.

fb q2 deck

One of the main problems for both Facebook & Zynga is that people are switching to mobile quicker, even, than fast-moving Californian start-ups can keep up with, and the revenue on mobile devices is lower than on the desktop web. Which, of course, is why Facebook bought Instagram. And, in a move that looks like a perfect example of using offence as the best form of defence, Twitter cut off part of Instagram’s access to its API. Ouch.

The Only Way Is Down?

On the other side of media equation, things were also looking rocky. The New York Times released financial results, showing losses had halved. That said, those losses still stood at $88 million for the quarter, or around $1 million a day. And, just days before, The Guardian also reported huge losses, though only £44.2 million for the whole of 2011, which works out at about £3.6 million a month (about £100,000 a day, which has been the case for the last 3 years).

Not everyone was glum though: the web edition of the Daily Mail, the most popular newspaper site in the world, posted its first ever profit. It’s likely that publishers around the world will be looking at them to try to work out how they’ve done this. Unfortunately, whilst the Mail has a pretty strong record of issue-based, investigative journalism (it pretty much ensured that the Stephen Lawrence case wasn’t forgotten), the website owes more to Kim Kardashian than stories of murdered teenagers.

So what hope is there for journalism? Well, it depends who you believe. Salon argued that claims that the way that the shootings at a Batrman screening in Aurora showed how citizen journalism would lead the way, were pure hype.

The Web seems neutral, because it is an open platform that anyone can use. But just because anyone can does not mean everyone does. It is no accident that spontaneous, active citizen journalism emerged on Reddit in response to a shooting at a Batman premiere. The stories that get covered are the ones citizen journalists care about most, and these citizen journalists tend toward a certain social-cultural-economic orientation.

But, another author argued that this very article was, itself, hype. Where was this counter-argument published? Salon.

Confused? You will be.

Still, at least one person seems to have cracked the solution. Facebook just needs to buy The Guardian.

London Calling

And, just to end, let’s have a look at a little event that’s taking place in London at the moment. Unsurprisingly, it’s brought on a flurry of marketing, both ridiculous & sublime; official & not-so-official.

Nike are back to their best with Find Your Greatness*

Adidas have their own take on things with a piece soundtracked by British rapper Wretch 32.

Does the fact that I think the song is wretched make me old? Probably? I prefer the more thoughtful athlete-focussed pieces.

Away from the big, global brands, a couple of local British companies have been getting some cheeky jabs in. Paddy Power & Oddbins both highlighted the fact that the Olympics police have been coming down very heavy on anyone who dares to try to make money off of the back of the event. And Specsavers showed, once again, that being quick off the mark is as important in advertising as it is in athletics, with a dig at the flaggate episode.

If you have any thoughts on these issues, or anything you’d like covered in a future digest, please do leave a comment, drop me a line on ciarannorris at gmail dot com, or tweet me.

*Nike are a current client of my employer Mindshare

Javelin by Banksy.

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