MediaFile

Yahoo planning more job cuts

Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz is planning a new round of job cuts according to the reports as the company continues to cope with the aftermath of a downturn in online advertsing sales.

The New York Times and Reuters, citing several people with knowledge of the plans, said the layoffs could affect several hundred employees and may be announced as early as Tuesday when Yahoo reports its first-quarter earnings.

The cuts would be the first since Bartz joined the company as CEO in January.

Yahoo, which spent most of 2008 in a series of off-on merger/partnership talks with Microsoft, has already had two rounds of job cuts in the last year or so. It let go 1,000 staffers in early 2008 and cut another 1,400 at the end of last year.

According to reports, Bartz has renewed partnership discussions with Microsoft in recent weeks which will likely focus on outsourcing its search advertising business to the Seattle-based company according to reports. Keep an eye on:

    Is CBS Chief Les Moonves job in danger? (BusinessInsider.com) AT&T Chief is in discussions to keep iPhone exclusive till 2011 (WSJ) US Dept of Justice should reject Live Nation-Ticketmaster deal (NY Post)

(Photo of Bartz courtesy of Yahoo)

Making the grade: Adweek out with agency report cards

Adweek is out today with its annual ad agency report cards — and it looks like nobody took home an “A” for 2008. The trade publication covers 25 companies, picked based on size and influence. Agencies are judged on creative performance, management and revenue growth profitability (these final two factors were a challenge in 2008 for obvious reasons).

Top marks for 2008 (in this case “B+”) went to Crispin Porter + Bogusky; Goodby, Silverstein & Partners; The Martin Agency; Publicis USA; and Wieden + Kennedy.

Ogilvy and Draft FCB were handed “C-” grades. Here’s what Adweek said, in part, about Draft FCB (which, it should be noted, rang up a bit of good news last week in landing the Miller Lite account).

Microsoft, Gates master the art of product placement

There is no better way to learn about the art of product placement than to learn from the masters. Today, that means Microsoft Corp and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, both of which were the subject of articles about how they’re delivering their messages like little pills wrapped in the sugar coating of the entertainment you consume.

Ad Age:

Can Microsoft market its way out of the search basement? Probably not, but it’s going to try, entrusting [ad] agency JWT to craft a campaign for its new search engine, alternately dubbed Kumo or Project Kiev or Live Search, depending on who’s talking about it. … The service is being tested and is expected to make its debut in the summer. … Industry executives expect JWT, part of WPP, to unveil an estimated $80 million to $100 million push for the new search engine in June, with online, TV, print and radio executions. Microsoft spent $361 million on U.S. measured media in 2008, the bulk of it devoted to brand advertising and smaller chunks to other Microsoft brands such as Xbox and MSN, according to TNS Media Intelligence data.

The New York Times:

The huge [Gates] foundation, brimming with billions of dollars from Mr. Gates and Warren Buffett, is well known for its myriad projects around the world to promote health and education. It is less well known as a behind-the-scenes influencer of public attitudes toward these issues by helping to shape story lines and insert messages into popular entertainment like the television shows “ER,” “Law & Order: SVU” and “Private Practice.” The foundation’s messages on H.I.V. prevention, surgical safety and the spread of infectious diseases have found their way into these shows.

Google finds panacea to the ill-advised email

How many times have you smacked your forehead in frustration after sending a bawdy e-mail to your boss that had been meant for a friend?

Until now, there had been no way to retrieve the missive. Even if the person’s on vacation, it’s only a matter of time before – as the saying goes – your nether region is grass. Enter Google’s Gmail Labs and “Undo Send”. If you enable the feature, every time you hit ‘send’, a button allowing you to ‘undo’ the send will pop up along with confirmation that the e-mail has been sent. You have five seconds to decide.

Etiquette hounds coach you to leave the “to” blank while you write an e-mail (especially if it’s a subject you feel strongly about) and not forward an e-mail without permission. As author and business consultant Tim Sanders says, “you never need to send an e-mail that’s regrettable.” But it happens all the time.

Windows to iPhone: been there, done that

Yes, yes everybody’s still talking about iPhone, but during Apple’s presentation of some new phone software today, Microsoft happened to call and couldn’t help mentioning that they’ve sold more phones with Windows Mobile, which has long had some of the stuff iPhone users are foaming at the mouth to get their hands on.

Despite the hype about the iPhone, Greg Sullivan, a senior product manager for Windows Mobile noted that Windows-based phones outsold iPhones in 2008, but he said…”If you talked to 10 people on the street I’m not sure how many people would guess that.”

However, not to sound like that unfortunate PC guy taunted by the Apple guy on the TV ads, Sullivan was quick to point out that while copy and paste, universal search and other features are new to iPhone, Microsoft has had them for some time.

from Shop Talk:

A suitor for Skype?

(Refiles to correct Donahoe's first name to John.)

TECH TAIWAN SKYPETo sell Skype, or not to sell Skype. That is the question for eBay, and Wall Street has diverging opinions on whether the San Jose company will or won't unload its Internet telephone service.
    
Skype was acquired under the reign of former CEO Meg Whitman (now a California gubernatorial hopeful) and touted as a nifty way for eBay's millions of sellers and buyers to connect. That reality never materialized, and current CEO John Donahoe has acknowledged that synergies between eBay and Skype are nonexistent.
    
Still, Skype is on a tear, growing at double digits and adding 350,000 global users a day. The five-year-old company logged $551 million in revenue in 2008 -- that number is expected to double by 2011 -- and is now a subject of great speculation by analysts, who wonder whether eBay plans to spin it off, or hold it close. 
                              
Cowan and Co's Jim Friedland, for one, thinks it's for sale. Writing in a note the day after eBay held an analyst presentation to outline the company's three-year plan, Friedland said it appeared "eBay was using the Skype discussion to trigger a bidding war between Google and Microsoft."
       
"We believe the asset would be attractive to both Google and Microsoft to enhance their web-based enterprise application services. In addition, Skype's user base of 405 million, which is particularly strong internationally, would likely strengthen Google's dominant position in the consumer web app market."

But Bernstein Research's Jeffrey Lindsay did not see it that way: "We think the dearth of buyers such as Google or Microsoft will mean that eBay is more likely to spin out part of Skype to the public (like Time Warner did initially with Time Warner Cable)."
    
Huh. Donahoe, incidentally, has said only that eBay will do what's best "to maximize Skype's potential and value."
    
Deutsche Bank's Jeetil Patel opined that, since Skype is performing well, "Management should hold on to this business model" and Credit Suisse's Spencer Wang said he did not see eBay rushing to sell.
    
"While we think the company would be open to parting with Skype at the right price (currently valued at $1.8 billion on eBay's balance sheet), a divestiture of Skype does not appear imminent," Wang wrote.

(Photo: Reuters)

Les Moonves: No price cuts here!

CBS’s stock may be in the tank (now under $4 a share),  but Chief Executive Les Moonves is still pretty darn optimistic. That may be because his network — home to the “CSI” franchise, “Survivor,” and “The Mentalist” — is the only one of the big four that’s been pulling in more prime-time viewers. For months it has been crushing ABC, NBC, and Fox in the ratings game.

What’s the payoff? CBS won’t have to make wholesale changes to its 2009-10 schedule and should be able to hang on to more advertising dollars than its rivals,  Moonves told an audience at the Deutsche bank Deutsche Bank Annual Media & Telecommunications Conference.

Moonves figures CBS will need to shoot six fewer pilots than it did a year ago, and bring only 2 or 3 new shows to air next season. He also says that with known hits — like “The Mentalist” — and few question marks about its schedule the network should fare well in this spring’s upfront market.

Mundie shows off Microsoft’s latest gizmos

Craig Mundie, Microsoft’s research chief, strolled the stands at TechFest on Tuesday, checking out the fruits of the software company’s 850 researchers working in six labs across the world.

The annual showcase, held at Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington headquarters, is an attempt to “manufacture serendipity,” said Mundie, as developers see how other far-seeing projects might mesh with their own. 

One of the most popular demonstrations was the “omni-directional projector”, which lets you manipulate 360 degrees of data or images with voice and hand signals, like being in a little planetarium where you can reach out and pull the stars around.

Checking out the Microsoft retail store

When it comes to Microsoft, you can count on one thing: Whatever they do will get plenty of scrutiny in on the wires, in newspapers, and across blogs. Think A-Rod or Brad and Angelina.

Last night, they announced plans to start opening retail stores, which generated a lot of attention (rightfully so, too). Here’s the plan, as Reuters put its:

The world’s largest software company, which also makes the Xbox video game console and the Zune digital music player, did not say how many stores it was looking to open, or when, or which of its products would be on sale.

Facebook valuation in eye of the beholder

The $15 billion valuation that Microsoft appeared to bestow on Facebook in 2007 provoked some scepticism – including within Facebook itself.

It turns out, the privately-held social networking firm has a much more conservative sense of self-worth, and puts its value at a one-fourth of the Microsoft figure.

According to redacted court documents obtained, and somehow decoded by the AP, Facebook valued itself at $3.7 billion in June, when it was in court over a dispute with a rival social networking site.