MediaFile

Data shows thousands circumvented NBC Olympics coverage

At least one company benefited from Olympics fans in the United States who tried to circumvent NBC’s television coverage during the London Games. AnchorFree, the Mountain View, Calif.-based startup released data to Reuters on Monday showing a major bump in users who installed a product that gives U.S. users an anonymous IP address in the United Kingdom. Presumably the people who signed up for the product, called ExpatShield, used it to watch BBC’s online streams of the Olympics.

According to the data, the number of installs of the free software surged 1,153 percent in the United States during the games. The company, which recorded an average of 220 installs a day before the Olympics, saw the number of installs increase to 2,753 installs during the 17-day event.

Its daily number of users also quadrupled to 8,121 compared to 2,040 average users before the Olympics. The peak day was on July 31 when 10,105 users logged in to catch the  U.S. women take gold in the gymnastics team final while in swimming, South Africa’s Chad le Clos edged out Michael Phelps in the 200 meter butterfly.

While these aren’t massive numbers, it’s just one company that people turned to during the Olympics to find a workaround to NBC. Others said they used TunnelBear and StreamVia while some tech savvy people like Walnut Creek, California-resident Jason Legate devised their own methods.

AnchorFree’s best known product is Hotspot shield, which lets users in certain countries visit blocked U.S. websites by offering an anonymous American IP address. The company has caught the attention of Goldman Sachs, which led the company’s last funding round of $52 million.

from Breakingviews:

Goldman’s old-school Facebook deal sets new tests

Goldman Sachs' old-school Facebook deal brings a new set of challenges. The bank is raising up to $1.5 billion from clients to invest in the social network while putting in $450 million itself. Like Morgan Stanley's reported deal with online coupon service Groupon, it looks like classic merchant banking. With hot firms in the driver's seat, however, the banks could find themselves in for a wild ride.

Internet darlings, with their growth, profitability and cash, face little pressure to go public yet still have some use for what a fundraising can provide. So instead of an IPO, they rely on so-called D-rounds. This allows them to raise money at favorable valuations for internal use, while buying stock back from employees or early-round investors who want to cash out.

It's a calculated pay-to-play on the banks' part. By stumping up for Facebook and Groupon, Goldman and Morgan Stanley put themselves in a strong position to underwrite the eventual IPOs. They make the tech firms happy by providing stronger headline valuations, in Facebook's case $50 billion. And the intermediaries score points with their well-heeled clients by enabling them to put money into hard-to-access investments.

Anyway you look at it, it’s still “shitty”

“Shitty” is such an under-used word on TV and in the stately halls of Capitol Hill, except today as senators – especially Carl Levin —  grilled Goldman Sachs executives on their role in the sub-prime mortgage meltdown. “Shitty” and its second cousin “crappy” are flying all over the place thanks to an e-mail in which Goldman Sachs employees used the phrase “shitty deal.”

This presented a dilemma for news organizations, many of which have been live blogging the hearing. Let’s check in and see how shitty goes down in the various style guides.  (It  goes without saying, shitty is acceptable over here.)

At The Washington Post, Frank Ahrens refrains from using the word straight out and instead goes with the demure “s****y deal.”  But, way down in the tags,  someone thinks the style is stuffy and manages to sneak in the full monty.

Is Google’s message on YouTube starting to get through?

YouTube executives and spinmeisters have been pushing back more aggressively at the perception that the video site is a great big drain on Google’s bottomline, probably  losing $200 million to $500 million a year by some estimates. These execs say that hundreds of major advertisers are taking spots on YouTube against “hundreds of millions” of video views every week.

The problem with this is the lack of precise details. How much revenue is YouTube generating from these monetized videos exactly (even approximately)? And how much does it cost to stream and store those hundreds of millions of videos every week? Google and YouTube decline to provide any numbers other than to say things are moving in the right direction. Wall Street and investors are yet to be convinced.

Goldman Sachs analyst James Mitchell is the latest to have a shot at a respectable estimate for YouTube. He says it will generate around $300 million in 2009. He also thinks the best is yet to come from YouTube — and that Google will see some benefit.

Hi, I’m Gregory Lee, banker for The New York Times

We’ve heard in recent days that The New York Times has gotten some interest in its stake in the Boston Red Sox, but it seems like whatever offers are being discussed, they must not be enough for the publisher.

In the murky, mysterious world of mergers and acquisitions, companies and their bankers and financial advisers tend to operate far below the radar — only surfacing to leak the news in The Wall Street Journal that a deal is close at hand.

Not this time. While the Journal did get the tip-off back in December, the Times on Wednesday simply issued a press release inviting all comers to take a look at the stake. Not only that, the Times published the name of the Goldman Sachs banker handling the sale, along with his phone number. Usually, as a reporter, you have to cash in lots of chips to get digits like that.