The Buzz Factor: marketing research tools

Combine one part traffic pattern analysis (who links in from what and leaves to where), a tablespoon of popularity ranking, two parts subject matter, a dash of keywords and a map showing the picture it all yields and you have a recipe for funding.   Buzz Logic, a San Francisco startup focused on gleaning market data from blogs and social networks  recently closed a Series A financing round with $9.6 m.

Considering Blogs are today’s water cooler conversations, it’s not a bad market to jump into.  Social media (blogs and social networks) are accessible to almost anyone, at any time, and provide a discussion forum for anyone’s rants and raves.   Does Red Sox Nation approve of the Bo Sox’ new pitcher? Ask the blogs.  Nintendo Wii or PS3? Ask the blogs.   Are horror/suspense thrillers still a hot film genre? Ask the blogs.   If you can get them to answer you might just have something.

Buzz Logic, differentiates itself from search engines, which rank popularity of a site or a search term. The Buzz Logic approach is to consider the popularity of subjects and speakers, in a moment and over time,  and then maps the spread of conversations to determine who the most influential members of a discussion are.  Click to Read More

eBay Q4 Earnings

Ebay (NASDAY: EBAY), reported Q4 earnings late Wednesday.

4th quarter profit was up 24% with sales volume beating expectations.  Net income was up 5 cents a share over the prior year with net income at $346m.  Sales were up 29% to $1.72b.

The Paypal payments division showed robust growth with payments up 37% to revenues of $417m.  The communications division, home of Skype, showed revenue of $66m which according to comments by CEO Meg Whitman translated to “not yet developing as quickly as we hoped..”

For the coming year, Ebay raised guidance to project earnings for 2007 to be in the range of $1.25 to $1.29 a share; ahead of analyst average estimates of $1.23.  The increase is partly result of expected revenue from the acquisition of Stubhub (est. $120m) and growth at Paypal.

More detailed press coverage on Ebay’s finances can be found at:

Yahoo Finance
Google Finance

Yahoo Q4 Earnings

Yahoo  (NASDAQ: YHOO), reported Q4 earnings.

The company announced profit was down 61% to $269m from $683m but revenues were up 13% to $1.7b.   Free cash flow was $278m for the quarter.

Average analyst expectations were earnings of earnings of 13 cents per share on earnings. Excluding items including stock based compensation expense, the company had earnings of 21 cents a share.

Also of interest, the Yahoo Answers, Flickr, and Yahoo! Video properties surpassed 100m unique monthly visitors and 50% of those users are under 35 years old; a statistic the company says is better than both MySpace and Facebook.

In the company’s earnings call, there was significant attention on the coming quarters as well as high expectations for the implementation of the Panama modular advertising platform.

More detailed press coverage on Yahoo’s finances can be found at:

Yahoo Finance
Google Finance

Check out a book from the Internet Library

“Making up for lost time” and “better late than never” underscore some of Microsoft’s efforts to compete and keep up with Google.    

Given Google’s published mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful, efforts to digitize and index vast libraries is a natural way point on their roadmap.   With efforts over the past year Microsoft has been both catching up and making sure that road is at least a two lane highway.

With a deal widely announced in October, Microsoft partnered with high speed scanning service firm Kirtas Technologies to advance its efforts.  Kirtas’ services allow Microsoft scan as many as 2400 pages per hour.  While October is way back on the calendar from the point of breaking news, the deal, and the ongoing arms race between Microsoft and Google to sign up library/content partnerships makes it as timely as ever – and escalating

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Bucks for Brightcove

It’s still very early in the year but today, Cambridge MA based Brightcove announced the closing of the largest venture round of the year.  The two and a half year old Internet TV (and Ad Network) startup closed a $59.5 m series C private placement.  The round added a number of strategic corporate and international investors to Brightcove’s slate of stockholders which now includes:  AOL/Time Warner, General Electric, Accel Partners, Allen & Company, General Catalyst Partners, IAC/Interactive Corp, The New York Times, The Hearst Corporation, Brookside Capital and Transcosmos Investments (Japanese firm which also has money in CinemaNow).

The financing was a private placement in which Morgan Stanley and Allen and Company acted as placement agents. The capital, according to press releases, is earmarked for international expansion.  It may also be used to secure additional partnerships or even efforts toward consolidation in the developing, but crowded Net TV market.  (Brightcove acquired Metastories in March 2006, and could be out to buy up other companies to enhance its offerings).  

Notable to me is not so much the size of the deal (though it’s large) but the involvement from major media companies like the New York Times and Hearst co.  Brightcove has gained the confidence of many traditional media companies and this stands to expand those relationships.

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