Conde Nast digital incubator hatches Santa’s Hideout

Conde Nast  just launched the latest product from its digital incubator in time for the holidays called “Santa’s Hideout.” The site is a free gift giving service aimed at children that lets parents set up a list for each child to fill while  also allowing parents to don their Santa beard. The items on the lists can be divvied up for Santa only as well as for family and friends.

Santa’s Hideout is using Amazon’s public API which is handling the e-commerce duties of shipping items on the list.

The site  is the second digital product launched from Conde Nast’s small research and development group which is overseen by Joe Simon, chief technology officer at Conde Nast. The first was something called Idea Flight, an iPad productivity app, that was released in June.

“The group is allowed to run in any direction,” explained Drew Schutte, chief integration officer at Conde Nast. “You never know how one technology will impact the rest of the company.”

Conde Nast is not alone in wading into tech waters. (It also acquired Reddit five years ago before spinning it out as a standalone company.) Hearst, for instance, launched App Lab at its magazine division and is behind the very nifty personal finance site  Manilla.

Rupert Murdoch on Obama and moose

Ever wonder what News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch thinks about the direction this country is going and how Rupert MurdochPresident Obama is handling his job?  If you were on hand during the opening panel at The New York Forum last night in mid-town Manhattan,  you got an earful.

Some background: The New York Forum is newly formed meeting of business, economic and other luminary minds to address challenges facing the global economy. The Forum plans to present the ideas developed during the conference to the G-20 Summit taking place this Saturday.

Murdoch spoke on a panel made up of a grab-bag of high level executives — Cathie Black, president of Hearst Magazines, real estate magnate Jerry Speyer and Philippe Camus, chairman of Alcatel-Lucent. CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo was on hand to moderate.

Lifetime, Scripps pitch advertisers

How do you sell TV advertising in this environment? If you’re Scripps Networks, you trumpet the product integration available in your make-over and do-it-yourself programs. You also make no bones about how difficult things are for advertisers and consumers.

At Tuesday’s Scripps upfront presentation (held at Cipriani 42nd Street), executives talked about these “very difficult and challenging times” and described viewers as “disillusioned,” “anxious,” and “frustrated.”

“There has never been a more important time than right now to reach out to viewers about their homes” said one Scripps executive.

More government aid to newspapers

The last time I mentioned the word “bailout” in connection with newspapers, I caught my fair share of flak from the conservative blogosphere for even entertaining the notion. I also caught a few rounds from Connecticut lawmakers who thought that I was suggesting their attempt to help secure tax breaks for struggling newspapers amounted to a bailout.

Having said that, it looks like Washington state is getting into the aid game as Hearst Corp weighs killing its Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper.

Here’s an Associated Press report about Washington’s state House of Representatives approving a temporary tax break for newspapers:

They’re feuding at Live Nation

madonna.jpgThings have gotten tense over at Live Nation. An internal feud at the concert promoter could end with Chairman Michael Cohl resigning.

The Wall Street Journal says Cohl is currently negotiating his resignation, having fought with Chief Executive Michael Rapino for weeks over so-called “360 deals.” In such deals, Live Nation gives superstars hefty upfront payments in exchange for financial rights in nearly all their business. Think Madonna and U2 and Jay-Z.

It seems, according to the reports, fairly simple: Cohl wants to sign more of these deals and Rapino wants the pace of these signings to slow; the board tells them to work out their differences; Cohl heads out the door.