Before Mark Zuckerberg started the question-and-answer session at today’s Facebook shareholder meeting, he noted that many of the pre-submitted questions focused on the performance of Facebook’s stock since IPO. It’s a familiar question, and he offered comments similar to ones that he’s made before — including at TechCrunch’s Disrupt conference last fall.
Zuckerberg acknowledged that many shareholders aren’t happy with the stock’s performance, and he said Facebook needs to do more than achieve its general mission of making the world more open and connected — it also needs “to be a great financial return for all of our shareholders.”
GREE Ventures, the investment arm of the mobile gaming giant, has expanded its Southeast Asia portfolio as the lead in Indonesia real-estate startup UrbanIndo‘s preferred Series A funding. Other participants include Japanese-US investment firm IMJ FENOX.
The amount of funding was undisclosed, but UrbanIndo co-founder and Arip Tirta told me that it’s in the seven figure range. The company is the latest investment GREE Ventures has made in Indonesia. While the investment firm’s portfolio is currently made up mostly of Japanese companies, it has ramped up its forays into Southeast Asia over the past six months. Back in January, GREE Ventures participated in top Indonesian e-commerce fashion platform Berrybenka.com’s Series A round and in April it led Singaporean beauty retailer Luxola’s Series A.
President Obama’s official schedule indicates that he is currently aboard Air Force One and en route to the San Francisco Bay Area for private events being held tonight with some of Silicon Valley’s most elite players.
The president’s visit comes within hours of massive new revelations about the United States National Security Agency’s reported collection of personal user data from Verizon as well as from the servers of Internet giants including Facebook, Google, Apple, and others (a number of those companies are denying any involvement in providing data.)
Dead Ahead is a game released by Chillingo a few weeks ago, and it’s been huge in the App Store charts lately. It’s an endless running game where you’re actually on a moped (or, later, a motorcycle), racing through a zombie-ridden apocalypse. The game’s controls are excellently simple (you move your finger up and down the screen to steer, and then there are two buttons to race forward or shoot backwards), but the biggest draw here is the game’s aesthetic, which uses a very stylistic look to add a little bit of whimsy to a pretty spooky zombie setting.
The game is relatively gory, as the zombies are you can either be crashed into cars (or shot apart) in very bloody ways. But for all of the gore, the zombies are also cool, and the various types you’ll encounter (including big, hulking zombie bosses) mix up the gameplay quite a bit. As you drive along, you’ll pick up coins and earn points, which then let you upgrade your bike, your gun, or unlock various powerups and other fun tweaks.
Dead Ahead is a great title — it’s an endless runner and doesn’t really break open the conventions of the genre, but it does perform its few features very well. You can download the game right now for free, and (not surprisingly) there are plenty of in-app purchases to make if you so choose.
According to to a new research report from Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty, Apple’s base of 500 million active user accounts is higher than any other company, save for Facebook which has 1.05 billion accounts. Amazon, meanwhile, checks in at third place with 200 million accounts.
A crucial difference, however, is that Apple has 500 million credit card accounts on file. Apple is therefore able to leverage its software and services in a way that competitors simply can’t match.
Believe it or not, many new iPhone owners are not customers switching from Android, but customers who have never owned a smartphone. These first-time smartphone buyers are choosing the iPhone, especially older models, at an increasing rate, says a report in GigaOM.
According to data from Kantar Worldpanel Comtech that was given to GigaOM, an impressive 31 percent of new iPhone owners upgraded from a feature phone. This is up from the 9 percent reported in the previous year. Kantar analyst Mary-Ann Parlato told GigaOM that this large increase is due to the iPhone 4 and 4S, which are being offered for free or at discounted prices through carriers.
iOS isn’t the only platform attracting first time smartphone owners, Windows Phone is doing very well with this segment of buyers. Of those who bought a new Windows Phone, 42 percent upgraded from a feature phone. This figure isn’t surprising as Windows Phone is priced competitively and marketed towards new smartphone owners.
Mansion Run is simple by design — in fact, it’s almost too simple. The idea is that you’re a skeleton named Boney Wellington (nice) who has to run through a house full of poltergeisted furniture. There are four levels to run on, and the whole game is that you simply swipe up or down to switch levels, dodging furniture for as long as you can. That’s it — all of the furniture is essentially the same, and none of it ever moves. Just run and dodge.
There are dozens upon dozens of apps interested in your photo creation and sharing habits, but very few focus on the consumption of photos. Meet Divvy, an iOS app that lets you combine all of your social feeds (for now Facebook and Instagram) into one collective photo stream.
You can filter between the two social networks, of course, but that’s just the start. Divvy also lets you share photos from those feeds (or your own) with individuals, groups of friends, or based on proximity like at a party or concert. See, Divvy is one of the only apps that lets you save Instagram photos in full resolution to your phone, and the same is true for Facebook photos.
Photo uploading and sharing is growing at an incredible pace, according to data shared by KPCB’s Mary Meeker in the Internet Trends report she presented on stage at D11 today. Well over 500 million photos are shared per day on average so far in 2013, the report estimates, which is on pace to become a 2x increase by the end of 2013, compared to share volume in 2012.
Facebook still accounts for the lion’s share of social photo activity, according to data shared in one slide of the Internet Trends report, but its growth is being supplemented more and more by activity on Instagram, and, to a remarkable degree, on Snapchat. The Snapchat growth is especially surprising, as activity on the semi-private network has easily surpassed that of Instagram in the past two years, and looks on pace to at least double every two months based on past trends.
The rapid rise of Snapchat sharing is interesting not because of how frequently users seem to be using it, but because of how quickly it has eclipsed more public sharing like on Instagram. It even looks like its volume could surpass Facebook’s if the trend continues as it has been going. That’s going to present a problem for companies who depend on public sharing as a means of driving engagement, and therefore revenue, to their own networks. Facebook is the obvious target, as illustrated in slide #14 below.
Yes indeed: Angry Birds soda. A Nordic beverage company named Olvi got the rights from Rovio to make some Angry Birds-branded sugar water, and apparently it’s a huge hit for them, raising the company’s sales by 85 percent. Exports were especially huge, going from 3 percent of Olvi’s market to a whole 20 percent, with exports focusing primarily on Spain, Norway and the UK. There’s no indication that any of this drink has made it over to the United States for sale just yet, so if you have a chance to try some, you’ll have to let us know how it tastes. Hopefully “eggy” isn’t a word included in the description.
This is far from the last we’ll hear about Angry Birds merch, especially with that movie set to arrive in the next few years. You can bet that even bigger companies are looking at sales figures like this, and then lining up to make a deal with Rovio as fast as they can.