MediaFile

Yahoo: stick around, we have widgets

Yahoo might not invent the next killer Web product. But the company wants surfers to be able to use  online applications, or “widgets,” without leaving the Yahoo kingdom.

In a blog post on Friday, Yahoo introduced a variety of new widgets from third-party Web developers that can be fused directly into Yahoo products.

The average person in the United States visits 85 sites a month, said Tapan Bhat, Yahoo’s senior vice president of integrated consumer experience in a blog post. “That just sounds exhausting. So we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how we can ease the pain of site-hopping to help you do more things at once,” he wrote.

There’s a PayPal application that can integrate into a user’s Yahoo mail, as well as apps from personal finance service Mint.com and blogging tool WordPress which can be weaved into a person’s MyYahoo start page. Nearly 20 new widgets are now available for use in various Yahoo products, including a handful of apps for Internet enabled-TVs.

The move to open up Yahoo’s Web properties to widgets was actually begun during the reign of Jerry Yang, Yahoo’s co-founder who was replaced as CEO by Carol Bartz in January.

Facebook crushes MySpace in minutes, but lags on video

Facebook won the bragging rights to being the world’s largest social network site last year, based on the worldwide number of unique visitors to its site.

But what about some of the other metrics that advertisers care about?

According to the latest figures from Nielsen, Facebook and rival MySpace each have key strengths to woo advertisers with.

When it comes to “engagement,” that is how much time people are actually spending on a site, Facebook is making big gains. In April, the total number of minutes spent on the site in the US surged a whopping 700 percent from April 2008, to 13.8 billion minutes.

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)

from Summit Notebook:

Facebook’s Zuckerberg talks MySpace, Twitter

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke to the Reuters Global Technology Summit on Tuesday and while he wouldn't touch TechCrunch's report about financing and valuation, he did opine about a few of Facebook's Web peers:

On the difference between Facebook and MySpace:

I think MySpace defines themselves as more of a media company and a media portal. A way to see the different content that is going on, or a way for a News Corp parent company to spread content through the network. Facebook has always been more focused on helping people build out their identity, helping people maintain their relationships and communicate really efficiently. We have talked about ourselves as a technology company a lot as opposed to a media company.

On the difference between Facebook and Twitter:

We respect Twitter and we think they are a great company. I think Twitter's focus different is markedly different from Facebook's. They are not really at all about a user's identity. They are more about real time communication. People are sharing more and more information...and on a more frequent basis. If you extend that out then there is a good amount of information that is being shared in real time. That's where a service like Twitter comes in, and that's why that's also one piece of what we want to do. If your friend does something important...there is no reason why you don't want that update immediately. Real time is clearly one of the growing trends but i don't think it's the whole picture.

Swine flu: not so bad for CDC.gov

Too bad the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn’t charge for its information or make money off its website — they could have made a pile of cash on the swine flu scare. (You know, if it wasn’t a government site.)

Web traffic measurement firm comScore says traffic soared at CDC.gov last month, as people visited the website amid concerns over the H1N1, or swine, flu.

In April, CDC.gov saw a 142 percent increase in traffic, or 5.7 million visitors, making it the top audience gainer among websites, comScore said. “When news of the swine flu pandemic erupted, many Americans turned to the Internet as their primary source of information for how to keep themselves and their families safe,” said Jack Flanagan, executive vice president at comScore Media Metrix.

On swine flu, Scribd calls itself the “anti-Twitter”

Use Twitter’s name even when you’re dissing it: that could be a good way to ensure some publicity, given the hype around everyone’s current sweetheart. But maybe Scribd, the social publishing startup that lets you upload all kinds of documents online and embed them into blog posts, does have a point about the misinformation that Twitterers could be putting up in 140-character bursts.

After all, at the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW) conference last week, CUNY J-school professor Sandeep Junnarkar did begin his workshop on Twitter for journalists with a caveat: “Everything you find on Twitter is rumors, false information. That’s the default position.” Kind of like what journalists and students are always told about Wikipedia.

A press release that landed in my inbox from Scribd seeks to distinguish the San Francisco-based startup as “anti-Twitter” — the antithesis of Twitter. Scribd is “quickly becoming a trusted source for unfiltered, detailed information about the swine flu,” the release says.

Swine flu talk spikes up on Facebook

Facebook has been mapping swine flu discussions among its members for the past few days using its Lexicon application, and it’s pretty cool to see how the conversation on Wall posts shot up over the weekend as more and more cases of the disease came to light in the United States.

Lexicon, for those who don’t have to follow Facebook’s every move, is a tool the social networking site uses to follow trends on words and phrases that are being used on “Walls,” the open space on each member’s profile where friends can post comments. Kind of like how you can take the pulse of topics trending up or down in Twitter search.

The chart below, courtesy of Facebook, shows how there were no mentions of the term “swine flu” before the evening of April 23 on any of its 200 million members’ walls, but people start discussing it quite a bit over the next two days, causing a sharp upward spike.

MySpace friends ex-Facebooker

It looks like MySpace is getting closer to raiding the competition — at least, one step removed. Facebook veteran Owen Van Natta is expected to be named as the new head of News Corp’s MySpace social network on Friday.

The appointment comes after Rupert Murdoch’s media conglomerate said earlier this week that MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe would not renew his CEO contract, which expires in the fall. News Corp also said  co-founder Tom Anderson was in talks about taking a new role in the company.

Facebook has already surpassed MySpace in worldwide users. Even though Van Natta, like other high-profile Facebook executives, had left the company already, the question now is whether he can sprinkle some much-needed fairy dust on MySpace that will help it improve its flagging performance. In one sense, this might be starting already. Kara Swisher, proprietor of the Boomtown blog at the News Corp/Dow Jones-owned All Things Digital, reports that part of Van Natta’s remit will be to recruit more new talent to MySpace.

Facebook in New York City?

Now that investment banks are nearly extinct, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants tech companies to fill the void.

The mayor told reporters at a press conference about environmental initiatives on Thursday that the city is in talks with Facebook about opening a New York city office.

“I met with people from Facebook the other day,” Bloomberg said. “They’re opening an office here.”

Yu, Zuckerberg and the Facebook fallout

Why do we care about Facebook? People you know and respect use it. That includes you. People you know and respect who scoff at it still know what Facebook is. Facebook, like Google, is popular enough to have become a verb as well as a noun. If the public ever got a crack at buying shares in it, lots of people would get rich.

That’s why mass clucking ensued among the technology press when the word came out Tuesday that Chief Financial Officer Gideon Yu is splitting. The Wall Street Journal, so far as we can tell, broke the news. It said:

The departure of the 37-year-old Mr. Yu and the ensuing search for a replacement are likely to renew speculation that Facebook is stepping up plans for a public offering, despite the rocky economy. The company, which has turned down several acquisition offers in the past, has said it is hoping to go public in the next few years.

But some employees and investors, who have poured roughly $455 million into the company, according to VC Experts.com Inc., are eager for Facebook to start planning an offering and have raised questions about whether it has enough money to sustain its growth. Many others have said the company is over-valued, which — in addition to the economic downturn — hampered its efforts to fund an employee-buyback program last year.