Tag Archive | voices

Verizon Profit Jumps 40 Percent on Wireless Subscriber Growth

Verizon Communications Inc. said its third-quarter profit improved 40 percent as the largest U.S. phone carrier continued to build up its base of wireless and FiOS customers.

Verizon last month agreed to purchase Vodafone Group PLC’s 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless for $130 billion, granting Verizon full control of their joint venture. To help fund the deal, Verizon sold $49 billion in bonds, making it the largest corporate-debt sale in history.

Verizon reported a profit of $2.23 billion, or 78 cents a share, up from $1.59 billion, or 56 cents, a year earlier. Excluding special items, per-share earnings were 77 cents in the latest quarter. Revenue improved 4.4 percent to $30.28 billion.

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Activision to Buy Back Most of Vivendi’s Controlling Stake

Activision Blizzard Inc. said it has reached an agreement to buy back nearly $6 billion worth of Vivendi SA’s holding in the company, ending months of negotiations over the fate of the videogame giant.

Santa Monica, Calif.-based Activision said Thursday it will buy 429 million shares for about $13.60 per share, reducing Paris-based conglomerate Vivendi from being majority shareholder. Activision said it would fund the purchase with $1.2 billion in cash on hand from its domestic accounts and approximately $4.6 billion in debt financing from banks including J.P. Morgan and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

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Why Wall Street Should Care About Marketing Data

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Image copyright leungchopan

Today’s CMOs are making major investments to reach their target audiences across dozens of touchpoints – on their own websites, through search, display advertising and email, and increasingly on social channels and mobile devices.

The problem is, most of the technology platforms marketers are using to accomplish this don’t talk to each other.

What’s more, many of the groups within the organization running these programs are just as siloed. This means that the things marketers learn about customers in one channel often don’t translate into sound strategy decisions for other channels.

I’ll give you an example. Today, if someone clicks on a display ad, reaches a landing page and fills out a form, the CRM or marketing automation system can capture that lead and track that it came from display advertising. What marketers can’t yet do is take advantage of the information exchange in the opposite direction. What if they could use the rich information stored in the CRM system – such as how far along a prospect is in the sales pipeline – to make the display ad creative and messaging more relevant?

Marketing executives know they need to get their systems and people to talk to each other. In fact, a new study by Accenture Interactive, “Turbulence for the CMO,” reveals that 70 percent of top CMOs think they have five years to fundamentally overhaul their companies’ corporate marketing operating model to achieve competitive success. Big marketing technology companies know this too, and it is why companies like Salesforce, Oracle and Google are duking it out to own the customer data and CRM system. They want to be at the center of the value created by unlocking this marketing data and getting at an integrated view of a prospect or customer.

Think about how powerful it would be to serve up personalized Web content based on the ads someone has previously been exposed to, events they’ve attended, or when they’ve most recently engaged with a sales rep, or, to easily target email or display ads to just those people who engaged with a social campaign.

One company in particular has built a business around this very concept: Amazon. Amazon.com might very well be the most sophisticated marketer on the planet today, and if you spend a few minutes on their site looking at products, you’ll notice that the follow-up emails you get, the next experience you have on the site and even the display ads you see will all be synched to your product searches and prior browsing history – all to help you convert. Amazon is far ahead of the pack, with very few keeping pace today.

As companies get better at integrating their marketing systems to more fully understand the customer journey – from first exposure to the brand to the last program that drove the sale, and every touchpoint in between – every marketing dollar spent becomes extremely efficient.

And it’s a lot of dollars at stake. According to research by Outsell, B2B marketers alone will increase their advertising and marketing digital spend by almost 11 percent to $65.9B in 2013. Imagine the bottom-line impact when the performance of these investments improves by five percent or 10 percent – just by having the left hand talk to the right.

As companies use data to optimize their digital tactics – whether it’s through better targeting, reaching people where they are consuming media or tying together all the pieces of the marketing funnel – they’ll inevitably achieve a step-function in efficiency in terms of deploying marketing spend for impact. They can then cycle the additional revenue back into marketing, or R&D, or more salespeople.

And this is where Wall Street comes in. Wall Street should care about marketing data because companies that do the best job of tying together and leveraging marketing data will ultimately win and create outsized shareholder value.

So how can you tell if a company has a data-savvy CMO? Look for clear evidence of marketing integration.

It’s actually pretty amazing how many large companies have yet to integrate their marketing tactics. Investors should be looking to see, for example, if a company has a Super Bowl TV spot that they’re also using search ads and display ads to reinforce the Super Bowl message. The company should also be previewing the ad online to test customer response and drive viral awareness before the TV ad ever launches. Companies that only have a single spot and don’t back it up (and there are lots of them!) aren’t communicating effectively across the organization nor are they maximizing returns on invested capital. This is likely a good indicator that other programs are not well integrated either.

Another great way to test for marketing integration is simply the relevance of the ads you’re seeing. If they are relevant, and improving over time, the company is likely making the right investments in marketing technology to be ready for the next 10 years of growth. If you still get the same untargeted direct mail piece that you throw away every week, there’s cause to be concerned.

There are a lot of reasons to be bullish about the economy and the stock market over the next five to 10 years. Look no further than the innovation beginning to hit the CMO’s office to help decide if you agree, and if so, how to find leaders to invest in.

Russell Glass, CEO of Bizo, is a serial technology entrepreneur, having founded or held senior positions at four venture-backed technology companies. Prior to Bizo, Russ led the marketing and product management teams at ZoomInfo, a business information search engine, where he sharpened his B2B marketing skill set and developed his love for business data.

Barnaby Jack, Famous Hacker, Dies

Barnaby Jack, the hacker known for making an ATM literally spit out cash, died Thursday, days before he was set to show how to disable a pacemaker from 30 feet away at Black Hat, the large annual hacker conference. He was 36 years old.

Jack was the director of embedded security research at security firm IOActive. He had previously worked at a variety of security firms, including McAfee.

The San Francisco Medical Examiner’s office confirmed the death Friday but didn’t yet know the cause.

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Samsung’s Profit Climbs 26 Percent

Samsung Electronics Co. said its third-quarter net profit rose 26 percent from a year earlier to another record as smartphones and its chip division helped drive earnings.

As smartphone margins plateau, Samsung is finding refuge from a cyclical upturn in memory chips. The division’s margins have nearly doubled from a year earlier. The importance of Samsung’s chip unit – composed of memory and logic chips – is being highlighted as it now accounts for roughly one-fifth of its total operating profit.

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Amazon Mines Its Data Trove to Bet on TV’s Next Hit

In May, a dozen Amazon.com Inc. executives, including Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, gathered in a Seattle conference room to select the first original TV shows the company would produce for its streaming video service.

A group of 14 “pilot” episodes had been posted on the company’s website a month earlier, where they were viewed by more than one million people. After monitoring viewing patterns and comments on the site, Amazon produced about 20 pages of data detailing, among other things, how much a pilot was viewed, how many users gave it a five-star rating and how many shared it with friends.

Those findings helped the executives pick the first five pilots – winnowed down from an original pool of thousands of show ideas – that would be turned into series. The first will debut this month: “Alpha House,” a political comedy about four politicians who live together, written by Doonesbury comic strip creator Garry Trudeau.

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QOTD: #happyholidays

Had Twitter priced at $45.10 per share and used the extra proceeds to give out holiday bonuses, it would have worked out to more than $580,000 per employee.

– Fortune’s Dan Primack

Juniper Profit Surges as Revenue Climbs

Juniper Networks Inc.’s third-quarter profit more than quadrupled as the network-gear company recorded an uptick in revenue and lower expenses.

Juniper – along with rival F5 Networks Inc., which reports third-quarter results Wednesday – reported signs of weaker demand earlier this year. Juniper on Tuesday, however, suggested that markets are improving, with Chief Executive Kevin Johnson saying the company continues to see strong demand from its service-provider customers and is gaining traction in enterprise sectors.

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Publicis, Omnicom Close to Merger Deal

Omnicom Group Inc. and Publicis Groupe SA, the world’s second- and third-biggest advertising companies, respectively, are near a deal to merge, people familiar with the situation said, creating what would be a $30 billion behemoth.

If a deal is completed, it would be billed as a merger of equals. The two companies each have a market capitalization of about $16 billion. Omnicom Chief Executive John Wren and Publicis CEO Maurice Levy are expected to be co-CEOs of the combined company, the people said. An announcement could come as early as Sunday, the people said.

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Twelve Things About Voxer’s Tom Katis

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Frustration was the impetus for Tom Katis to co-found Voxer in 2007. While he was serving in the U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan, he experienced the limitations of communication via military walkie-talkie firsthand. Now his push-to-talk app is looking to be the Nextel of the future, with free Voxer Pro and Voxer Pro for Business versions available on iOS and Android. He sat down recently to answer some of our questions about what interests and drives him.

What qualities do you like in a person?
The qualities I find appealing are simple: Courage, intellect, enthusiasm.

Name one thing you will regret never having done (if you never do it).
Having kids. I love my life, but I feel like I’m missing out on something if I never have kids.

Name one thing you will never regret having done.
Challenging myself. Attempting something hard. Even if I fail.

Do you still buy CDs or rent DVDs?
No. I get everything off the Internet all the time. Sometimes I use a thumb drive to move media around, but even that seems counter to where things are going.

What would you be doing if you were not in your current job?
I am doing exactly what I want to be doing. I pay myself nothing and have given myself no stock options. It doesn’t feel like work. I built Voxer for myself. I want Voxer to exist in the world, and it’s exciting to make it happen.

iPhone, Android or BlackBerry?
iPhone. Android keeps getting better, but iPhones are still the best devices out there.

If you could meet any historical or fictional person, who would it be?
George Washington. President of the most important startup in the history of the world.

What site/app do you check first when you wake up?
Voxer, then email, then Techmeme.

What was the last thing you fixed?
Push-to-talk communication. Live-only communication is so 1930s.

What was your first computer?
TRS-80. I suppose that dates me, since most of the people I work with weren’t even born when it first launched.

Do you have a dog or cat or other pet?
No. I’ll get a pet when I have kids.

If you could have any superpower, what would you choose?
To fly. Not that it would be useful in any particular way, but it just seems cool.