Microsoft revamps Hotmail as social-friendly Outlook

Microsoft Corp unveiled a revamped, Facebook-friendly version of its
free, online email service on Tuesday in an attempt to reverse market
share losses to Google Inc’s fast-growing Gmail.

The world’s largest
software company is renaming its Hotmail service Outlook, giving it a
sharp new look, social network links and new features for handling the
tide of junk and mass mail that swamps many users.

Hotmail was
still the world’s largest online mail service as of June, according to
the latest comScore figures available, with 324 million users, or about
36 percent of the global market.

But it is losing customers to
Google’s Gmail, the fastest-growing rival, which now has about 31
percent of the market. Yahoo Mail is static with about 32 percent.

In a bid to recapture growth,
Microsoft is renaming the service Outlook, a name familiar to most
corporate workers who use Microsoft’s Office email application, and
sprucing up the whole experience. Hotmail users will be prompted to
switch over to the new service over the next few months.

Hotmail, launched in 1996, was one of the first online email services, but it has not been updated by Microsoft for eight years.

“A
lot has changed in the last eight years, and we think it’s time for a
fresh look at email,” Chris Jones, Microsoft’s corporate vice president
of Windows Live, said in a blog post.

The new look is clean and
uncluttered, featuring lots of white space, reminiscent of Google’s
recent makeover of Gmail. Relatively unobtrusive advertisements appear
in a column to the right of the screen when looking at folders. They do
not appear when a message is open.

Users can link up with their
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ accounts, to see the latest
updates from friends and contacts. Online chat is available via
Facebook.

Newsletters, offers, daily deals and social updates make
up over 80 percent of a typical inbox, according to Microsoft’s own
research. To help combat that overflow, the new service automatically
detects mass messages and puts them in separate folders. Users can
customize the process to sort mail any way they want to.

The new
mail service also allows easy use of Microsoft’s Internet-based
products, such as SkyDrive for storing documents, Office Web Apps for
working away from a PC and will eventually have Skype video chat built
in.

“This is about the battle of where people will make their
communication home,” said Al Hilwa, an analyst at tech research firm
IDC. “The big online players are connecting their online assets together
and hoping to provide convenience and functionality of a one-stop-shop
of cloud services.”

The success of Microsoft’s new service will
depend on whether it can develop it quickly enough “to keep up with a
brutally fast Google and a potentially re-invigorated Yahoo,” said
Hilwa.

Users can access the service at www.outlook.com. Microsoft
said the service is currently a “preview,” meaning more features will
likely be added before the final version is fully launched.

Microsoft shares closed down 17 cents at $29.47 on Nasdaq.

Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012

Google urges end to authors’ digital book lawsuit

Google Inc retook the offensive against thousands of authors claiming it copied their works without permission, and urged the dismissal of a class-action lawsuit arising from its ambitious plan to build the world’s largest digital book library.

Friday’s request by the world’s largest search engine company followed a federal judge’s March 2011 rejection of a sweeping $125 million settlement of the now seven-year-old case. Talks to revive an accord later broke down.

Google has said it has scanned more than 20 million books, and posted English-language snippets of more than 4 million, since agreeing in 2004 with large research libraries to digitise current and out-of-print works for its Google Books website.

While Google planned to provide only snippets online to comply with copyright laws governing fair use, The Authors Guild and groups representing photographers and graphic artists complained that it amounted to “massive copyright infringement.”

In a filing with the U.S. district court in Manhattan, Google said authors have shown no economic harm from its scanning and display of their works and the creation of a searchable index to find them.

The company also said authors actually benefit because the database helps people find and buy their books, and that there is a “significant public benefit” from providing access to information that might otherwise not be found.

“Google Books creates enormous transformative benefits without reducing the value of the authors’ work,” it said. “(It) therefore passes with ease the ultimate test of fair use.”

Michael Boni, a lawyer for The Authors Guild, whose president is novelist-lawyer Scott Turow, said he asked the court on Friday to grant summary judgment in his client’s favour.

He said his filing is not public because it refers to confidential Google documents. “We’re grinding away,” Boni said in an interview.

In rejecting the $125 million accord, Judge Denny Chin had said it went too far because it gave Google a “de facto monopoly” to copy books en masse without permission and served to “further entrench” its market power in online searches.

Among the libraries whose works have been scanned are those of Harvard University, Oxford University, Stanford University, the University of California, the University of Michigan, and the New York Public Library, Google has said.

The United States, Amazon.com Inc and Microsoft Corp had been among those to raise antitrust concerns about the settlement.

Chin began overseeing the Google case as a trial judge and kept jurisdiction after he was elevated in 2010 to the federal appeals court in New York.

He granted class-action status to authors in May, and said groups representing photographers and graphic artists may also sue. Individual plaintiffs in the case include former New York Yankees baseball pitcher Jim Bouton, the author of “Ball Four.”

The case is The Authors Guild et al v. Google Inc, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 05-08136.

Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012

Yes, Virginia, the Government Invented the Internet

Al Gore was once routinely mocked for supposedly claiming to have “invented the Internet.” He didn’t really say that but that didn’t do much to stop the joke from spreading. Now, in similarly fact-challenged fashion, Wall Street Journal columnist L. Gordon Crovitz has attempted to extend the idea and claim that government itself didn’t really have much to do with the Internet’s creation.

The difference is that critics of Crovitz’s misrepresentation of history are pushing back hard to set the record straight.

“It’s an urban legend that the government launched the Internet,” Crovitz writes in a column published in the Journal’s Monday edition, a rebuttal of sorts to President Barack Obama’s recent campaign-trail remarks about the U.S. government’s role in the creation of the Net.

Citing Michael Hiltzik’s history of Xerox PARC, “Dealers of Lightning,” Crovitz contends that it was the technologists at Xerox PARC who really invented the Internet and that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which created the widely recognized Internet precursor known as ARPANET, played a bit part at best.

The trouble for Crovitz is that Hiltzik himself, like Marshall McLuhan in Annie Hall, has turned up to say, basically, “You know nothing of my work! … How you got to write a column on anything is totally amazing!”

Hiltzik takes a scalpel to much of the column, noting that “while I’m gratified in a sense that [Croviz] cites my book about Xerox PARC, ‘Dealers of Lightning,’ to support his case, it’s my duty to point out that he’s wrong.”

Some of what Crovitz gets wrong is simply bad research. For example, he credits Tim Berners-Lee with the invention of “hyperlinks,” when in fact, Berners-Lee and his colleagues at CERN created the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) that gave rise to the World Wide Web. Hiltzik names Doug Engelbart as the “hyperlink” inventor Crovitz probably meant, noting wryly that, anyway, the development of these important technologies at CERN, a European government consortium, and the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) where Englebert created his NLS collaborative computing system with DARPA, NASA, and U.S. Air Force funding, does little to advance Crovitz’s cause.

The main pillar of the Journal columnist’s argument seems to be that Robert Taylor, who ran DARPA’s Information Processing Techniques Office before moving on to Xerox PARC and then the Digital Equipment Corporation, once said, “[t]he Arpanet was not an Internet. An Internet is a connection between two or more computer networks.”

Here’s Hiltzik picking apart Crovitz’s reliance on that quote:

“Crovitz confuses AN internet with THE Internet. Taylor was citing a technical definition of ‘internet’ in his statement. But I know Bob Taylor, Bob Taylor is a friend of mine, and I think I can say without fear of contradiction that he fully endorses the idea as a point of personal pride that the government-funded ARPANet was very much the precursor of the Internet as we know it today. Nor was ARPA’s support ‘modest,’ as Crovitz contends. It was full-throated and total. Bob Taylor was the single most important figure in the history of the Internet, and he holds that stature because of his government role.”

Game, set, match? Probably, but there’s more. Hiltzik notes with puzzlement that Crovitz wants to somehow credit private industry for the invention of the TCP/IP communications protocol without acknowledging that Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn developed it on a government contract. He also appears to have a thin grasp on what Ethernet is.

Then there’s the strange spectacle of Crovitz criticizing the government for allowing TCP/IP to “languish” for 30 years before private companies figured out how to make money from it, while at the same time heaping praise on Xerox—a company even he admits was far better at inventing things than packaging them for commercial sale.

Hiltzik, of course, is a fan of Xerox PARC and would scarcely disagree that its many contributions to the computing revolution were singularly impactful, if not always as beneficial to Xerox shareholders as they wound up being for Apple’s and Microsoft’s.

Luckily for the history of the Internet, the author isn’t such a big fan of revisionism.

For more from Damon, follow him on Twitter @dpoeter.

For the top stories in tech, follow us on Twitter at @PCMag.

Content Curation Software Company, XYDO, Launches New Website

XYDO launches website that promises a lasting solution to the process of gathering and sharing 3rd party content for businesses.

Park City, Utah (PRWEB) July 25, 2012 Long gone are the days of browsing through numerous Internet news sites, endlessly searching the web for something interesting to read and share. With the launch of XYDO’s (pronounced zy-doo) new website, the future of discovering and sharing Internet news is here. Utilizing a consumer-oriented web platform, the user (rather than the news site) decides what is newsworthy and what is better left in a pile under last week’s paper.

Founded by Eric Roach (founder and former CEO of Lombard Brokerage, former Executive VP of Morgan Stanley, former CEO of Elance, and founder of Roach Capital Partners) and co-founded by Cameron Brain (founder and former CEO of Bicycle Parts Direct.com and SesameVault.com), XYDO is a web-based content curation tool that customizes its users’ news-gathering experience based on their personal preferences and business fields. A socially savvy platform, XYDO connects users to their social media feeds such as Facebook and Twitter, incorporating users’ likes and dislikes into the filtering process to offer the most relevant news from trustworthy sources. It is this brand of social curation, as well as XYDO’s ability to elevate news articles based on popularity and ranking, that puts XYDO a cut above its competitors.

“We have a lot of changes to our system following our website launch that make sharing curated content even more simple!” says Cameron Brain, co-founder of XYDO.

With topics ranging from accounting to web design, XYDO lets its users choose from a vast array of topics that pique their interest. It also allows users to share articles they find most interesting with their customers, colleagues, and friends. Part of this personalization process involves giving users the freedom to change article headings, insert images, or add comments, as desired. Businesses are already jumping on board to add value to their content marketing strategies and to simplify their process of e-mail marketing by using XYDO to provide their customers with the most up-to-date information in their specified industries.

By helping users save time and providing a user-friendly website layout, XYDO is the answer that companies are looking for to streamline their process of gathering and sharing Internet content.

Cameron Brain
XYDO, Inc
682-220-9936
Email Information

Question for a CEO: What is Yahoo?

What is Yahoo?

That straightforward question has so far baffled the people who run the company.

I
got a taste of the fuzziness when I visited Carol Bartz, then the chief
executive, back in 2010. She was funny, profane and articulate, except
on the question of what the company is. After five minutes of listening
to her I still had no idea. Seventeen years after the company was
founded, you still have to wonder whether the frothy trademark Yahoo!
should be replaced with Yahoo? to convey the uncertainty of purpose.

Now
that question falls to Marissa Mayer, who was named the new chief
executive last week. Anybody who has followed tech knows she has
remarkable credentials and savvy – she embodied much of Google’s
intellectual charisma – but her tenure will be a pass/fail test based on
answering that single question.

I’m going to take a whack at it
and say that Yahoo is a media company, mostly by accident (more on that
in a bit). Yes, its headquarters in Silicon Valley are filled with
technologists and have the familiar trappings of a digital enterprise –
foosball, anyone? – but for most Americans, Yahoo is where they get
news.

In business, people will tell you that everything else is
secondary to being first. And Yahoo, despite its tattered reputation, is
No. 1 in 10 content categories, according to the measurement service
comScore, including news, finance, sports, entertainment and real
estate. Yahoo reaches more than 75 percent of the total Internet
audience in the United States, with 167.2 million unique users in June.
On any given day, 30 million or more people stop by. Globally, about 700
million people visit the site in 30 languages every month.

What
they get, more often than not, is carefully selected and displayed
commodity news drawn from a variety of sources, but they also can read
smart proprietary reporting from one of the 300 journalists – that’s a
huge newsroom these days – who work for Yahoo.

It is worth
remembering when people start talking about poor, feckless Yahoo that
the company suffers from a severe contextual handicap. No, it is not
Google or Facebook, but it isn’t nothing, either. Second-quarter
earnings announced last week reflected a slide of 4.4 percent from the
year before, but the company had $1.22 billion in revenue and earned
$226.6 million. Display advertising was actually up, to $534.9 million,
compared with $523.5 million from the year before.

So Ms. Mayer
may be taking over a stagnating company, but it is not a collapsing one.
Yahoo has what all media companies want, which is a large audience. The
company just doesn’t know what to do with it.

When Ms. Mayer
starts poking around under the hood of the news operation, she will find
a home page that has the kind of traffic that can melt servers when it
points to another site.

The secret sauce of Yahoo’s front page is
more clicky than sticky: the slide show of news that runs at the top is
not very deep, but it is difficult to resist. Editors have real-time
analytics on click-through rate and can adjust the presentation on the
fly; underperformers are quickly dumped or reconfigured. Yahoo uses a
combination of technological and human curators to feed a robust
audience. (Lest you think that’s easy, compare the home page to that of
AOL, another legacy portal. Yahoo smashes AOL flat.)

On Friday,
news of the shooting in Aurora, Colo., was mashed up on Yahoo’s home
page with an article about a Taiwanese teenager who had died after 40
hours of video gaming and a picture of a Burger King employee standing
on tubs containing lettuce about to be served to customers. But that was
juxtaposed with a thoughtful, original take on why the New York Knicks
had not signed Jeremy Lin.

Yahoo did not set out to be in the news
business – it ended up there by default. It was delivering useful apps
to consumers long before there was an iPad. Early excellence in search
and e-mail generated a huge realm of users. Its ability to help
consumers use data led to remarkable success in its finance and fantasy
sports portals, which generated huge, loyal comment groups.

Eventually,
Yahoo began feeding its audience bare headlines on news it bought from
The Associated Press. It added pictures and began making other
content-sharing agreements, while adding its own journalists over time.

Yahoo
Sports was the prototype for what the company hoped would be a broader
play in proprietary news. The money from fantasy sports bought must-read
bloggers doing timely work in various verticals, deep investigative
projects and big-name columnists.

But sports turned out to be the
exception. Because Yahoo’s journey to being a news site was somewhat
inadvertent, there was no comprehensive policy for developing content.
Yahoo became a series of editorial fiefs – there are dozens of separate
subject areas – all competing for attention from the front page with
little cooperation or standardization among them. And when you have that
much internal traffic to play with, any harebrained programming idea
can look like genius just because it received some love from the giant
home page.

Chris Lehmann was hired as a deputy editor (then
promoted to managing editor) to bring original voices to Yahoo News
through a series of news blogs in 2010. He made a number of hires, but
he left in 2011, frustrated by yet another change in strategy.

“News
is an activity, a verb, really,” Mr. Lehmann, who now works at
Bookforum and The Baffler, said, “and we would end up mired in these
endless conference calls where you would learn a lot about what
buzzwords were gaining currency and very little about how we were going
to cover the events of the day.”

John Cook, a news blogger for
Yahoo who is now at Gawker, suggested that Yahoo’s effort to create its
own content was more of an effort to pressure providers like The A.P.
“They backed into an audience and had no idea what it would take to
build a real news operation,” he said.

I exchanged a dozen
e-mails aimed at setting up a chat with Mickie Rosen, a senior executive
in charge of media and commerce, to get Yahoo’s take on the matter. But
the interview was canceled just before it was supposed to occur.

It
is possible, of course, that Ms. Mayer will choose code over content,
treating news as just the skin on a technology enterprise. But in that
space, Yahoo is not No. 1 in anything. It yielded search to Google,
flailed at social media and let its messaging product languish.

Even
if Ms. Mayer gets the disparate parts of the content apparatus moving
in concert, news presents its own problems. Yahoo has done well in
display advertising by creating desktop content that is all things to
all people. But the desktop is going away in favor of mobile.

Taking
that desktop franchise, a 10-pound bag of stuff if there ever was one,
and cramming it into the one-pound bag of mobile space will require
difficult choices, which will have to be settled by asking the same
question over and over: what is Yahoo?

Copyright 2012 The New York Times News Service


Yahoo! CEO – The cursed job?

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer could earn $100 million over 5 years

New Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer’s compensation package could total more than $70 million in salary, bonuses, restricted stock and stock options over five years, according to a regulatory filing made by the company Thursday.

Mayer’s pay package is made up of $1 million in annual salary, as much as $2 million in an annual bonus, and $42 million in stock options and other awards, as well as $14 million in “make whole restricted options” for forfeiture of compensation from Google Inc.

Also, by including some stock grants, Mayer could earn up to a total of $20 million a year, or up to $100 million over five years, a Yahoo spokeswoman told Reuters.

As the first female Google engineer and one of its earliest employees, Mayer’s net worth is already estimated to be as much as $300 million.

Yahoo’s hiring of Mayer as CEO from Google earlier this week caught analysts and investors by surprise. Mayer, 37, edged out presumed front-runner and acting CEO Ross Levinsohn to become Yahoo’s third CEO in a year.

Industry observers believe Mayer’s selection over Levinsohn is a signal that Yahoo is likely to renew its focus on Web technology and products rather than beefing up online content.

Her appointment caps a tumultuous year at Yahoo. In May, Scott Thompson resigned as CEO after less than 6 months in the job after a controversy over his academic credentials. Thompson replaced the controversial Carol Bartz, who was fired in September after failing to revitalize Yahoo.

Thompson’s total compensation at hire was valued at $27 million. He got no severance but was able to keep the $7 million in compensation he got for leaving Paypal. Bartz got more than $10 million in severance when she was fired last year.

New broom
A self-described “geek” with a master’s degree in computer science from Stanford, Mayer started as CEO on Tuesday, the same day Yahoo announced weak financial results, with flat net revenue and a slight decline in second-quarter profit.

Alhough she was on the company’s sprawling Sunnyvale, Calif, campus, she did not participate in its earnings call. Levinsohn was also absent from the call, which was led by Yahoo’s Chief Financial Officer Tim Morse.

Mayer joins Yahoo as something of a celebrity, having already established herself as one of Silicon Valley’s leading women, both inside and outside of the office. She is known for her love of fashion and regularly appears on the society pages for hosting parties.

In 2009 she married real estate investor Zachary Bogue – Mayer tweeted that the couple expects their first child, a boy, in October.

Despite its leadership upheaval, Yahoo remains one of the world’s most popular websites, with more than 700 million monthly visitors, according to the company.

But revenue growth has stalled amid an industry wide decline in online display advertising prices and competition from Facebook Inc and Google.

Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012


Yahoo! CEO – The cursed job?

NBC’s buyout of msnbc.com: bold venture or quixotic folly?

Alone among the four major television networks, NBC and its new parent company, Comcast, finds itself deeply in the news business. This is heroic, quixotic … or just not all that thought-through. On Monday, NBC further consolidated its news eminence by buying out its partner, Microsoft, in msnbc.com, one of the web’s leading news sites.

NBC’s strength in news, and the relative abandonment of the business by its broadcast competitors, may be as surprising to NBC as it is to everybody else in television and news. Indeed, as the weakest of the broadcast networks, NBC’s position in news might be seen as a bit of a musical chairs joke. The music stopped and everybody else had a prime-time schedule and NBC had news.

It would be hard to argue that its focus on the news business is born of its great success in it.

After a decade-long effort, NBC thrashed out a market position for MSNBC that earns it better prime-time ratings than CNN, the cable news laggard, but that is still a long way from Fox, the leader. (Perhaps NBC’s most notable move in cable news was to have gotten rid of Fox’s Roger Ailes, who ran the precursor to CNBC – thus allowing him to go to work for Rupert Murdoch and upend the business.) What’s more, of the three leading cable news channels, MSNBC is the least profitable. In CNBC, it has built the leading cable business channel; but having done that, it has long seemed bewildered about what else to do.

CNBC’s audience remains tiny and its prime-time line-up practically nonexistent. At the network evening news, there is Brian Williams, the last-man-standing network anchor, generally winning an ever-diminishing audience that has lost much of its currency with advertisers. In the morning, NBC has the Today Show, a significant earner and powerhouse, now under pressure from Good Morning America, its time-slot competitor.

For many years, industry observers saw NBC’s cable news strategy as a savvy bet on the part of NBC and its then owner, GE. It had quite aggressively followed the evolving news industry while ABC and CBS shied from it, and while News Corp segmented its network entertainment assets from its news businesses. In a sense, this was a bragging right for NBC, as much as a business strategy. Broadcast stature has long been measured – or at least once was measured – in part, by the size of your news operation. And even if everybody’s news operation (its bureaus and correspondents) was being cut to the bone – ABC and CBS have even tried to outsource their news – at least NBC, with its cable outlets, and with Brian Williams, was maintaining its news voice and brand.

It remained the last real network … or it did until its prime-time business fell apart. Then, suddenly, it was a lot more in the news business than it had surely ever intended to be. And in it, just at the point when news was being reinvented by Fox News in ways that traditional television news executives couldn’t fathom, and remade by the internet in ways that these same traditional television news executive even more surely could not fathom.

Still, in some kind of plucky, or stubborn, or no-alternative way, NBC persisted. While CNN has tried to hide from the Fox revolution, losing much of its prime-time audience and brand in the process, MSNBC has made an effort to ape it. MSNBC may be significantly less gifted at agitprop and other drive-by provocations than Fox, but at least, it is in the game – however guiltily. Indeed, MSNBC often seems most characterized by its determination to grit its teeth at having to do business in the way in which it has concluded it has to do business. We are better people than this, is often MSNBC’s tone, but, you understand, we’re in cable television.

Now, buying out Microsoft, NBC heads firmly into the internet news business: arguably, a more precarious existential predicament even than television news. This is not just doubling down, but a kind of eyes-wide-open march into the abyss. The plan is to turn the current msnbc.com, with its vast traffic, into nbcnews.com, and then, in a high-wire branding act, recast msnbc.com as a site better reflecting the network’s opposite-of-Fox theme.

In this regard, it is interesting to note that MSNBC once sought to buy the Huffington Post, the most successful native online news organization, but its parent balked at the price. The other point to make, certainly, is about the great and confounding maw so many legacy news brands have become, online. Many have built vast audiences and almost none has made any meaningful money doing it – and the price of advertising space, in the unlimited universe of internet advertising space, continues to go down. It’s all going mobile, anyway, where advertising is, grievously, even less profitable.

Yesterday, a trio of NBC News executives, NBC News President Steve Capus, MSNBC President Phil Griffin, and NBC News chief digital officer Vivian Schiller, held a news conference to try to explain themselves. These are three significant veterans of news bureaucracies, representing, as well as anyone, the news business’ past triumphs and current struggles and disappointments.

It is possible to argue – and this is what they seemed to be trying hard to argue – that NBC (and these three executives) have been handed a great opportunity. This is the team that runs the last living network news organization and now the internet is before them.

Of course, it is not possible to know what they were actually thinking. The chances are, each having taking as many blows to the head in the news business as it is possible to take and still be employed or sentient, they don’t know themselves.

Except that this is the news business and we slog on.

Marissa Mayer’s top 3 challenges as Yahoo CEO

Like a lot of math geeks, Marissa Mayer enjoys tackling complex problems. She will find plenty of those as the latest CEO at Yahoo. The troubled company has turned into a vexing brain-twister as its financial performance has steadily deteriorated even though it still boasts one of the Internet’s biggest audiences and best-known brands.

Yahoo announced Tuesday another lackluster set of financial results in the second quarter. The company earned $227 million, a 4 percent decrease from a year ago. In the last five years, Yahoo’s stock has tumbled 41 percent. It closed Tuesday at $15.60.

Mayer, 37, will try to reverse the financial malaise as Yahoo tries to match the growth of rivals Google and Facebook Inc. Both companies have been prospering as advertisers spent more money on Internet advertising.

Consider some of the challenges that greeted Mayer Tuesday as she took over Yahoo’s helm after a highly successful 13-year career at Google.

Acquiring an ally
Mayer’s to-do list probably will start with deciding the fate of Ross Levinsohn, who had made a positive impression among analysts during his two-month stint as interim CEO. He took over after the mid-May ouster of Yahoo’s previous leader, Scott Thompson, who left amid a flap over misinformation on his official biography.

Levinsohn had envisioned Yahoo’s website becoming the hottest spot on the Internet to get a mixture of exclusive content and material produced by a wide range of other media outlets. He was particularly focused on improving the quality of Yahoo’s video offerings, figuring more people would stick around the company’s website if it was serving up professionally produced news and entertainment clips. That in turn would help Yahoo sell more online advertising and revive revenue growth.

Mayer has previously worked with Levinsohn while she was overseeing Google’s Internet search team and he was running the digital operations at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. In 2006, News Corp.’s MySpace social network struck a lucrative advertising partnership with Google that was widely seen as a coup for Levinsohn.

But it’s not clear if those past ties will be enough to smooth things over with Levinsohn, who has now been snubbed twice for the Yahoo CEO job in less than a year. He was also interested in running Yahoo after the company fired Carol Bartz as CEO last September, but didn’t even get an interim tryout that time. Yahoo instead relied on Tim Morse, its chief financial officer, as its temporary CEO.

Levinsohn, 48, was widely seen as the leading candidate to be permanent CEO this time. So being passed over for a younger outsider such as Mayer may have bruised his ego.

In a Monday interview, Mayer declined to discuss her plans for Levinsohn.

Some analysts believe the two could form a powerful combination at Yahoo if Mayer can win Levinsohn over. That’s because Mayer specializes in developing products and managing how online services interact with users while Levinsohn’s strong suit is negotiating media partnerships and selling advertising.

Charting a new direction
Whether Levinsohn stays or leaves, Mayer will have to answer a question that has stumped the four other full-time CEOs that have steered Yahoo during the past five years: Where does Yahoo Inc. fit in an Internet and mobile market that is increasingly tilting toward Google Inc., Apple Inc., Facebook Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.?

As Mayer ponders this one, she is likely to draw on her experience as one of Google’s top executives. She probably knows Google’s weaknesses, as well its strengths. And her perch at Google may have given her a better vantage point on the potential vulnerabilities at Apple, Facebook and Amazon.com.

Yahoo is trying to build on its monthly audience of 700 million users and develop more effective ways to connect with people on smartphones and mobile devices. Mayer’s insights could help identify revenue-generating opportunities where Yahoo has the best chance to succeed.

In a Monday interview, Mayer said it was still too early to discuss her vision for Yahoo. “My first order of business is to meet with the senior leadership team and get a product road map,” she said, adding that she is confident she can make Yahoo’s services “even more innovative and inspiring in the future.”

Attracting top talent
Once she draws up a coherent strategy, Mayer will need to find the right people to execute on it. That means she will need to recruit elite computer programmers, a breed that has been more inclined to work at Google, Facebook and Apple. Yahoo’s morale suffered another blow in April when Thompson announced plans to lay off 2,000 people, or 14 percent of the work force.

Mayer’s hiring, though, may help reshape the largely negative perceptions of Yahoo on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley. Her track record at Google and her intellect gives her credibility in Silicon Valley, where Yahoo’s Sunnyvale, Calif. headquarters are located. She specialized in artificial intelligence while getting her master’s degree at Stanford University in 1999 and is conversant in the arcane vernacular of computer coders.

As she tries to nurture Yahoo, Mayer will be taking on a huge challenge that figures to test her ability to find the right balance between her job and home life. Shortly after the news broke about her move to Yahoo, Mayer announced she is pregnant. The baby boy’s due date is in early October, just before Yahoo will be reporting how it fared under Mayer’s leadership.


Yahoo! CEO – The cursed job?

YouTube source for news, disaster footage: Study

YouTube source for news, disaster footage: Study

youtube-news.jpg

A new study finds that YouTube is emerging as a major platform for news,
one to which viewers increasingly turn for eyewitness videos in times
of major events and natural disasters.

The Pew Research Center’s
Project for Excellence in Journalism on Monday released its examination
of 15 months of the most popular news videos on the Google Inc.-owned
site. It found that while viewership for TV news still easily outpaces
those consuming news on YouTube, the video-sharing site is a growing
digital environment where professional journalism mingles with citizen
content.

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Tags: Internet, online video sharing, YouTube

 






Yahoo password breach extends to Gmail, Hotmail

More than 400,000 Yahoo Inc user names and passwords were stolen and
published on the Web, putting other websites at risk as well, after
hackers exploited a vulnerability in Yahoo’s computer systems.

Some
logins for Google Inc, AOL Inc and Microsoft Corp services were among
those compromised. The three companies said they required affected users
to reset passwords for sites including Gmail, AOL, Hotmail, MSN and
Live.com.

Yahoo issued a statement apologizing for the breach, the
latest setback for a company that has lost two chief executives in a
year and is struggling to revive stalled revenue growth.

Chairman
Alfred Amoroso acknowledged that Yahoo had experienced a “tumultuous”
year at its annual shareholder meeting on Thursday morning. Interim CEO
Ross Levinsohn told attendees he was optimistic about the company’s
progress.

The breach prompted criticism from security experts who
said that a major Internet firm like Yahoo should do a better job at
protecting user data.

“This points to some very lax security
practices,” said Rob D’Ovidio, associate professor of criminal justice
at Drexel University.

As an example, he noted that the hackers
were able to produce more than 400,000 cleartext passwords within a day.
That indicates that Yahoo either did not encrypt them at all or used an
encryption method that was easy to crack, he said.

The
professional networking service LinkedIn recently came under similar
criticism. Security experts chided the company for failing to use
sophisticated encryption practices to secure its passwords, millions of
which were released following a breach last month.

What happened?
Yahoo
spokeswoman Dana Lengkeek said “an older file” had been stolen from
Yahoo Contributor Network, an Internet publishing service that Yahoo
purchased about two years ago. It helps writers, photographers and
videographers to sell their work over the Web.

“We are fixing the
vulnerability that led to the disclosure of this data, changing the
passwords of the affected Yahoo! users and notifying the companies whose
users’ accounts may have been compromised,” she said.

AOL said
the Yahoo data published on the Web included valid passwords for 1,699
accounts. Microsoft and Google declined to provide similar numbers.

Other
firms whose customers were at risk include Comcast Corp, Verizon
Communications Inc and ATT, Rapid7 researcher Marcus Carey said. He
estimated that tens of thousands of accounts of users of services other
than Yahoo were affected by the breach.

ATT and Verizon did not have any immediate comment. Officials with Comcast could not be reached.

AOL
Senior Vice President David Temkin said spammers typically use
credentials like the ones stolen from Yahoo to break into email accounts
and use them to send out spam.

“In this case, I think we actually
got ahead of it before the people who stole those accounts were able to
use them,” Temkin said.

The five most popular passwords in the
group were “123456”, “password”, “welcome” and “ninja”, according to an
analysis by anti-virus software maker ESET.

Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012