MediaFile

Watch the moon landing as it happened

Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, is photographed during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity on the Moon in this July, 1969 file photo. Tuesday July 21, 2009 marks the 40th anniversary of the moon landing. REUTERS/Handout/Files

If you hear your coworkers muttering about Houston and mission control this week, there’s a reason.

With just days to go ahead of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, the John F. Kennedy presidential library and AOL have launched a brilliant website that simulates the voyage from beginning to end.

We choose the moon — named for Kennedy’s famous 1962 speech in Houston – recreates the moon landing mission with animations, real-time transcripts and audio between the cockpit and Mission control,and a wealth of other multimedia background information.

The site is full of social media widgets and gizmos, so you can embed a countdown timer on your computer or Facebook page and follow the mission chatter on Twitter.

At the time this blog post was written, Apollo 11 is in Earth orbit, prepared to commence stage 4 of the mission. The crew reports: “Our insertion checklist is complete and we have no abnormalities.”

Friday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s top stories in the media industry:

TV Networks Fight Drug-Ad Measure (WSJ)
“Advertising costs are deductible to any company as a business expense. The plan being considered by Rep. Rangel’s Ways and Means committee would eliminate the deduction with respect to prescription drug advertising,” writes Martin Vaughan.

Big media seek 21st century business models (Reuters)
“Media moguls at this week’s Sun Valley conference have spent as much time discussing how to reconfigure business models disrupted by the Web as they have worrying about the weak economy,” reports Yinka Adegoke.

Zucker Says Marketplace Has Reached Bottom (B&C)
Ben Grossman writes: “NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker said Thursday that while the overall marketplace is still challenged, he thinks it may have bottomed out. ‘It’s still quite uncertain and we don’t really see the full recovery we are all hoping for,’ he said.  ’It’s still tough out there, but I think we have seen a bottom.’”

Sun Valley: The stars align

Allen & Co’s 27th Sun Valley media and technology conference starts on July 7 and ends on July 12. In the meantime, expect media writers to breathlessly report, blog, tweet, photograph and record the event. Why the fuss? There are literally hundreds of people coming who are known to do nothing else than run the universe when it comes to TV shows, movies, telecoms, the Internet and all sorts of other electronic communications. We have lists of all the people who bankroll them as well, along with a list of other interesting people you will find there.

Here, meanwhile, are the big men and women of media and technology who justify the travel budgets that increasingly hard-up news organizations have to put out for your favorite folks in the press corps to hide behind the hedges and hope for a handout that will break news, move markets and excite our editors. Keep in mind: this list is not a guarantee that these people are showing up; it’s just an invitation list (arranged alphabetically by company). We’ll update it as we learn more. (Our boldface names indicate some general viewpoint that they’re the stars of the stars.)

    James McCann, CEO, 1-800-flowers.com. Bobby Kotick, CEO, Activision Blizzard Inc. Also Brian Kelly, co-chairman. Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon.com Inc. Tim Armstrong, chairman and CEO, AOL Michael Ovitz, AMSEF LLC, former uber-talent agent at Creative Artists Agency and former Walt Disney Co executive. Gerhard Zeiler, CEO, RTL Group, Bertelsmann AG. Bill and Melinda Gates, of the foundation of the same name. Bill, of course, co-founded Microsoft Corp. Mark Vadon, executive chairman, Blue Nile Inc. James Dolan, president, CEO, Cablevision Systems Corp. Leslie Moonves, president, CEO, CBS Corp. Also Neil Ashe, president, CBS Interactive. Also Quincy Smith, CEO, CBS Interactive. (And a former Allen & Co man.) Charlie Rose, interviewer and anchor on the Charlie Rose Show Anthony Bloom, Cineworld plc Richard Parsons, chairman, Citigroup Inc. Former CEO, Time Warner Inc. Lowry Mays, chairman, Clear Channel Communications Inc. Ralph Roberts, founder, chairman emeritus, Comcast Corp. Also Stephen Burke, president and COO, Comcast Cable. Patrick Condo, president, CEO, Convera Corp. Jimmy Hayes, CEO, Cox Enterprises Inc. Richard Lovett, president, Creative Artists Agency Inc. Also Bryan Lourd, managing partner. Michael Dell, chairman and CEO, Dell Inc. Richard Rosenblatt, chairman and CEO, Demand Media. He used to work at MySpace’s parent company before News Corp bought it. Chase Carey, former DirecTV CEO and Rupert Murdoch’s new No. 2 man at News Corp. John Hendricks, founder and chairman, Discovery Communications. Also president and CEO David Zaslav. Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO, DreamWorks Animation SKG. John Donahoe, president and CEO, eBay Inc. Dara Khosrowshahi, president and CEO, Expedia Inc. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. (We’ve heard conflicting reports about whether he’ll show. Either way, he’s still on our list.) Tom Freston, principal, Firefly3 LLC. Former Viacom executive. Martin Varsavsky, CEO, FON Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO, General Electric Co. Jeff Zucker, CEO, NBC Universal. (GE) Ronald Meyer, president and COO, Universal Studios. (GE) Eric Schmidt, chairman and CEO, Google. Also co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Juan Luis Cebrian, CEO, Grupo Prisa. Also Ignacio Polanco, chairman. Emilio Azcarraga, chairman and president, Grupo Televisa. Also Alfonso de Angoitia, executive vp. Christopher Schroeder, CEO, HealthCentral. Also former CEO of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive. Cathleen Black, president, Hearst Magazines. R. Todd Bradley, executive vp, personal systems group, Hewlett-Packard Co. Also CEO Mark Hurd. Barry Diller, chairman, CEO, IAC/InterActiveCorp. Also chairman, Expedia Inc. Also Victor Kaufman, vice chairman, IAC/InterActiveCorp. Lachlan Murdoch, executive chairman, Illyria Pty Ltd. Son of News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch. Craig Barrett, former CEO, chairman, Intel Corp. Also Sean Maloney, executive vp, chief sales and marketing officer. Jeffrey Berg, chairman and CEO, International Creative Management. Also president Christopher Silbermann. Michael Volpi, formerly of Cisco Systems Inc and Joost. Eric Eisner, L+E Pictures. Son of former Walt Disney Co. CEO Michael Eisner. Kevin Reilly, CEO, Lamar Advertising Co. Michael Fries, president and CEO, Liberty Global Inc. John Malone, chairman, Liberty Media Corp. Also Greg Maffei, president and CEO. Reid Hoffman, chairman, president of products, LinkedIn Corp. Sam Altman, co-founder and CEO, Loopt Inc. Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer, advanced strategies and policy, Microsoft Corp. Also Robbie Bach, president of the entertainment and devices division, and Henry Vigil, senior vp, strategy and partnership. Rupert Murdoch, CEO, News Corp. Also with him is his second son, James Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corp’s Europe and Asia operations. Also Jonathan Miller, News Corp’s chairman and CEO for its digital media group. Former president and COO Peter Chernin, whose last day was June 30, is coming along too, in tow with CFO David DeVoe and new MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta. Gina Bianchini, CEO, Ning Inc. Jorma Ollila, chairman, Nokia Corp. Greg Wyler, founder, O3B Networks Ltd. Jeffrey Jordan, president and CEO, OpenTable Inc. Jeffery Boyd, president and CEO, priceline.com Inc. Maurice Levy, chairman and CEO, Publicis Groupe. Paul Jacobs, chairman and CEO, Qualcomm Inc. Robert Johnson, founder and chairman, the RLJ Companies. Jay Y. Lee, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. Kenneth Lowe, chairman, president and CEO. Scripps Networks Interactive. Mel Karmazin, CEO, Sirius XM Radio Inc. Max Levchin, CEO, Slide Inc. Sir Howard Stringer, chairman and CEO, Sony Corp. Also Kazuo Hirai, president of networked products and services group; Robert Wiesenthal, executive vp and CFO, Sony Corporation of America; Michael Lynton, chairman and CEO, Sony Pictures Entertainment; Hiroshi Yoshioka, executive deputy president, president of consumer products and devices group; and Nicole Seligman, top lawyer. Nick Grouf, CEO, Spot Runner Inc. Thomas Glocer, CEO, Thomson Reuters Corp, along with Niall FitzGerald, deputy chairman. Michael Eisner, the Tornante Company LLC. Former Walt Disney Co CEO. Lars Buttler, CEO, Trion World Network Inc. Evan Williams, co-founder and chairman, Twitter Inc. David Levin, CEO, United Business Media plc. James Berkus, chairman, United Talent Agency. Brad Grey, chairman and CEO, Paramount Pictures Corp (Viacom). Sumner Redstone, chairman, Viacom. Also Philippe Dauman, president and CEO. Jean-Bernard Levy, CEO, Vivendi. Robert Iger, president and CEO, Walt Disney Co. Also Thomas Staggs, CFO. Edgar Bronfman Jr, chairman and CEO, Warner Music Group. Donald Graham, chairman, CEO, The Washington Post Co. Casey Wasserman, chairman and CEO, Wasserman Media Group LLC. Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman, The Weinstein Co. Shelby Bonnie, CEO, Whiskey Media LLC. Jim Wiatt, William Morris Endeavor. Terry Semel, chairman and CEO, Windsor Media. Former Yahoo CEO. Martin Sorrell, CEO, WPP. Anne Mulcahy, chairman, Xerox Corp. Jerry Yang, chief Yahoo. Mark Pincus, founder, CEO, Zynga Inc.

Make way for AOL

Today marks the beginning of the end of what is probably one of the most disastrous media mergers in recent corporate history — AOL and Time Warner. In 2000, AOL shelled out nearly $150 billion for Time Warner, but things didn’t quite work out as planned.

The folks at Time Warner have given ample hints that a separation from AOL was inevitable, especially as part of a strategy shift that will (hopefully) result on the media conglomerate returning to its core business. Hiring former Google executive Tim Armstrong to head AOL had created even more speculation that the split was coming soon.

Now that the spin-off has happened, what lies in store for AOL as an independent company? In January, AOL said it will focus on three areas: content, advertising and social networking. But things haven’t exactly been rosy at AOL, revenue-wise. So for the time being, it gets to hold on to the access line business, which loses value day by day as more people move to broadband, but still generates enough cash to make it an asset worth coveting.

Twitter vs. Facebook — you make the call

The top brass from Twitter and Facebook have been all over the place in recent days, starting with the Reuters Global Technology Summit. No matter the venue or the executive, the questions are pretty much the same: Are you going to put the company up for sale? If not, when are you going public? And how on earth are you going to make money? And when?

We’ll skip a rehash of yesterday’s news and interviews, but you can find articles just about anywhere you want. Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, BreakingViews, paidContent, Advertising Age, and, well, basically every other media outlet are carrying stories today about one or both of the web darlings.
So instead we’ll ask you a straightforward question. Which one — Facebook or Twitter — would you buy a piece of, if you could?

Keep an eye on:

    The following from TechCrunch: “Sources close to AOL tell us that the board of directors will make a final decision on the AOL spinoff at a board meeting this Thursday, May 28, possibly undoing the $147 billion 2001 merger of the two companies. Sources characterize the decision as ‘a done deal’.” Microsoft goes at Apple — again. The company plans to launch a new version of its Zune portable media player later this year in the United States, incorporating high-definition video, touch screen technology and Wi-Fi connection. (Reuters) BookExpo America isn’t looking so hot this year. In the New York Post, Keith Kelly writes that “the turnout is expected to be way down — about 20 percent less exhibition space was booked this year — and many big publishers like Random House are cutting back while others like Macmillan and Rodale plan to skip the floor show entirely.”

(Photos: Twitter’s Biz Stone (l.), Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg (r.); Reuters)

AOL’s Tim Armstrong’s more worried about Main St than Wall St

AOL’s recently appointed chief executive, Tim Armstrong, has only been in place for three weeks but Wall Street is waiting impatiently for his next move. He’s started to shake up the ad team. Investors are focused on when parent company Time Warner will spin off the Internet unit, which has lost favor with Wall Street, advertisers and users alike.

Armstrong, gave his first interview since starting on April 1 to Ad Age Editor Jonah Bloom at the 4A’s advertising conference in San Francisco. Though he has declined doing interviews since he joined, AOL’s communications people said Armstrong was keeping a commitment he’d made while he still at Google.

The three-part interview can be seen at Ad Age here. The fireside chat covered topics like AOL’s branding, AOL’s undervalued ad space, and how Armstrong had to leave Google by the tradesman’s entrance on his last day.

Microsoft glams up MSN home page

Microsoft is trying out a series of new home pages for its MSN web portal in an effort to drum up some new — and likely younger — readers to attract advertisers.

The first experiment, launching today, is an entertainment-themed home page, promising news, gossip and videos on all manner of celebrities, in much the same way that many rivals do.

Microsoft’s money-losing online business is hoping to capitalize on the 84 percent of Internet users it says visit entertainment-related sites, building on the 70 million or so people it says already visit the MSN site for entertainment content.

Google loses another executive

Another high-level Google executive is jumping ship.

Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, president of Asia Pacific and Latin American operations at Google, is joining venture capital firm Accel Partners as CEO-in-Residence.

Singh Cassidy, a six-year Google veteran, was responsible for Google’s commercial operations across 103 different countries in APAC and Latin America, according to an announcement by Accel Partners.

Singh Cassidy is no stranger to Accel Partners: she co-founded an online finance start-up in the late 90s called Yodlee, which was backed by the venture capital firm.

New York Times brings IHT into the fold

It’s no secret that the International Herald Tribune is part of The New York Times Co, so why not flaunt it? Visitors to nytimes.com and iht.com saw evidence of this thinking Sunday (or Monday, depending on where you are).

When you visit the IHT website, you now see a Web link on your Internet browser that says this: http://global.nytimes.com/?iht. The flag at the top of the page now reads: “International Herald Tribune: The Global edition of The New York Times.” The layout of the website also has been adjusted to resemble that of nytimes.com’s homepage. If you visit nytimes.com, a banner across the top of the page invites you to “try the new global edition,” which, of course, is what iht.com used to be. If you’re a regular Reuters reader, you can’t say you’re too surprised, as we told you last June that this was coming.

We’re curious about whether bringing the IHT closer into the fold allows the Times to cut its costs in any significant way, and will update this blog entry once we get some clarity on that. The Times is dealing with falling advertising revenue and also has had to take other steps such as selling its interest in its headquarters building and borrowing money at a high interest rate from Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim to help pay off debt. It also cut 100 jobs in its business operations, it said on Friday, and said it is cutting staff pay by 5 percent (and in the case of union workers in its newsroom, is asking them to agree to that pay cut to avoid news staff layoffs).

Google layoffs don’t stop hiring efforts

Google may be giving pink slips to some 200 hapless souls, but that’s not stopping the company from hiring in certain places.

The search giant has about 360 job openings listed on its Web site, and a spokesman has confirmed that they are indeed open positions. Only about 30 of the US job openings are for work that appears related to sales and marketing – the kinds of jobs that were impacted by Thursday’s layoffs.

The job openings provide a fascinating window into the inner workings of the vast Google empire, which has a need for everything from a software engineer in Krakow to an account manager in Cairo.