Microsoft unveiled its newest gaming console, the Xbox One, earlier this week, and along with it, revealed many new features attached to the console. From Xbox One's new Kinect and controller to its all-in-one entertainment hub, this gaming console extends well beyond movies and gaming.
To sift through all the news that came out of Microsoft HQ this week, we will be hosting a Google+ Hangout today at 1pm ET on our Google+ page. Join Mashable Editor in Chief Lance Ulanoff, Games Reporter Chelsea Stark, Tech Editor Pete Pachal and Senior Tech Analyst Christina Warren as they recap and analyze the features of the Xbox One. Read more...More about Microsoft, Gaming, Xbox, Kinect, and Entertainment
According to an internal memo and now on his LinkedIn profile, Yahoo has just hired longtime McKinsey exec John DeVine as SVP of global operations. He has worked in the marketing and sales practice at the consulting firm since 1999 and has been an advocate there of “how companies need to embrace the customer experience.”
Devine will report to COO Henrique De Castro and will be helming a wide swath of operations — such advertising solutions. DeCastro has also been searching recently for a head of key U.S. ad unit and has tried to hire former AOL sales chief Ned Brody. That hire is limbo now, due to Brody’s 14-month non-compete contract with AOL and CEO Tim Armstrong shows no signs of letting him leave sooner.
But DeVine is on board at Yahoo, so to speak. The former submarine officer in the U.S. Navy also has a masters degree in nuclear engineering — batten down the hatches for incoming at ATD HQ! — from the University of California at Berkeley and did his undergraduate work at the U.S. Naval Academy.
Kmart is on a roll with its ads
The discount chain is promoting a deal on gas with a funny new video called Big Gas Savings. If you don't realize the joke already, just say "big gas" out lout a couple times — and you'll get it. In the video, several customers ogle over the "really big gas discounts." One man tells his wife it solves her "big gas problem." She agrees, but gives him some cause for concern when she stares longingly at the "big gas man" standing in front of the "big gas truck."
Kmart struck viral gold last month with a similar ad that played on the phrase "ship your pants." The spot has been shared more than 2.5 million times since it was released, according to Unruly Read more...More about Ads, Kmart, Business, Advertising, and Viral
Lyft, the company behind the peer-to-peer ride-sharing app of the same name, has raised $60 million in Series C funding from the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.
It’s a huge round for the company, which is much-loved for its community spirit and pink “carstaches,” but has also been much-questioned for its practice of having regular people essentially act as city taxicab drivers in their own cars.
The deal was a speedy one; it was negotiated over the course of the past week, said Lyft co-founder and president John Zimmer.
And it brings Lyft to $83 million in total funding, having just raised a round about six months ago.
Why so much money so fast? It’s to try to get Lyft to the next level, given the expansion, competition and regulatory challenges it faces. “We can scale globally in the next 12 months,” said Zimmer.
For those paying close attention, Lyft was formerly known as Zimride, and it continues to operate a long-distance ride-sharing service under that brand, but it changed its name a month ago to reflect the momentum of the Lyft business, which is a year old.
Andreessen Horowitz partner Scott Weiss, who led the investment, contended that Lyft differs from competitors like SideCar and Uber, who are both based in San Francisco as well, and have been expanding nationally. He likes that Lyft’s mission is around “taking cars off the road,” not replacing or augmenting existing systems.
Weiss said Andreessen Horowitz was motivated to swoop in and make a deal because Lyft “looked and smelled so much like Airbnb.”
Weiss noted that he’d been following Lyft closely, and saw the service grow from 14,000 rides per week two months ago (mostly in San Francisco, but expanding in other newer cities like Los Angeles and Chicago) to 30,000 rides per week now. Plus, he said, more than half of the company’s passengers are women, which says something about safety.
“With the risk of the Samwer brothers [who infamously replicate consumer Internet businesses for the European market] and the copycats, you can’t let grass grow under your feet,” Weiss said. “You have to grow it as quickly as you can, and that’s where we come in.”
Here’s their latest attempt: “TV ad targeting,” which promises that it can find Twitter users who saw a TV ad, and then show them another ad from the same marketer when they come to Twitter.
The basic idea: If you were watching the Super Bowl, and you tweeted about it while you were watching, and Samsung ran an ad during the game, Twitter could let Samsung find you on Twitter and show you another ad, later.
If that sounds like a lot of ads to you, the TV-watching Twitter user, well … all this stuff is free, right?
Here’s a video that shows how it’s supposed to work:
The most obvious limitation here is that, for now, the program is only supposed to work if you tweet about a show while you’re watching it. And since most regular humans don’t write tweets while they watch TV — most regular humans don’t write tTweets, period, though they may read tweets — that caps the available audience for this sort of thing. (And, by the way, if this works, then Facebook would really benefit from this, since even Twitter executives acknowledge that it has a much larger audience of people commenting about TV shows than Twitter does.)
You may also wonder if someone who watches a TV show actually sees the ad, what with DVRs and bathroom breaks and lots of second screens and all. Twitter has an answer for that, on a blog post announcing the campaign: ” We believe a user engaged enough with a TV show to tweet about it very likely saw the commercials as well.”
The big picture: As it has been doing for several years, Twitter is trying to connect itself to the TV industry by telling both advertisers and programmers that it can help them boost the stuff they’re already showing.
Note that Twitter’s pitch is different than from some other platforms who want TV money, notably video platforms like YouTube, who tell TV advertisers that the audience they want isn’t watching their stuff. Instead, Twitter wants TV spenders to think about spending additional money with them.
Think of it as “Twitter times TV,” Twitter ad chief Adam Bain told marketers today, “with Twitter being a force-multiplier.”
The stuff powering all of this, by the way, comes from Bluefin Labs, the startup Twitter bought for $90 million a few months ago. At our D: Dive Into Media conference in February, Bluefin founder Deb Roy showed off the way his company connects Twitter and TV, and if you watch the clip below, you can see a direct connection between it and the program Twitter launched today:
[ See post to watch video ]
It's a dream come true for fans across the entire nerd spectrum: a life-sized X-Wing fighter built entirely of LEGOs
(Just take a second to let the awesomeness of that sentence sink in. Ready? OK.)
In celebration of the upcoming Cartoon Network series The Yoda Chronicles, the LEGO Group unveiled the iconic Star Wars ship — the largest LEGO structure built to date — in New York City's Times Square on Thursday. The ship will remain on display in New York for three days, then be transported to the LEGOLAND California Resort in Carlsbad, Calif., for the rest of the year
The huge structure is comprised of 5,335,200 individual LEGO bricks. At 11 feet tall, 43 feet long and 44 feet wide, it weighs almost 46,000 pounds (that's including the steel infrastructure designed to hold the pieces in place.) It's a one-to-one replica of the traditional X-Wing retail model, only 42 times larger Read more...More about Lego, Toys, Star Wars, Legos, and Entertainment
I have been working in sports analytics for nearly 10 years, and still, virtually every time I tell someone what I do, they say some variation of “Oh, you do moneyball.” While my normal response is “yes, something like that,” the truth is that there is real difference between “sports analytics” and “moneyball.” As I’ve written elsewhere, sports analytics (or just plain old analytics) is a set of tools, while “moneyball” is the term coined by author Michael Lewis in his 2003 book to describe a strategy that employs the tools of analytics. The tools of analytics have advanced significantly since Michael Lewis’ book, yet the “moneyball” strategy is unchanged.
Analytics involves the tools of data gathering, data management, statistical analysis, data visualization and information systems to deliver better information, more efficiently, to decision makers within an organization. Clearly the technology behind these tools has advanced rapidly in the last ten years with tools such as Hadoop, R, Qlikview and the like all making the utilization of the mass amounts of data that are now available to organizations possible.
In sports, the most significant leap forward in technology is in data gathering, where companies such as Stats llc and Catapult Sports have utilized advances in technology to fundamentally change the size and scope of data available from practice and competitions. Stats llc utilizes cameras and optical tracking technology to capture the position of everything that moves on a basketball court 25 times a second, while Catapult Sports utilizes GPS, accelerometers and other wearable technology to track player movements and physical characteristics such as heart rate. Both technologies have shifted the type of data available in sports from the count of specific on court actions (attempted shots, for example) to the continuous movements of every element on the field of play.
Despite this massive increase in the availability of data, Moneyball remains unchanged, because Moneyball is a strategy for utilizing analytics. Moneyball is the value investing of building a successful sports franchise. The concept is to utilize data to identify undervalued players so that teams with lower payrolls can still compete at a high level. The Oakland As — and, to some extent, the Tampa Bay Rays — have followed this strategy successfully for 10+ years. But, just as there are a multitude of investment strategies, there are countless strategies for building successful sports teams. Moneyball can be effective, but that does not make it the best use of analytics for every franchise. Analytic systems can require a significant investment in tools and personnel, so it is the strategy for employing those systems within the organization that determine how successful the organization with their analytics.
The key to successfully employing analytics is not to simply invest in analytic systems and blindly apply the strategies that have been made famous through popular books and movies. The key instead is to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your organization and seek to find the areas that can best utilize analytics as you build them. The Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association, for example are both highly analytic teams, but they also have approached analytics differently, applying their analytic resources strategically to areas that make the most sense for the team.
The San Antonio Spurs were one of the first NBA teams to hire a statistical analyst and an applications developer. They employed these personnel assets along with any technological investments, at least initially, on assisting with player acquisitions. The general philosophy of the organization from a personnel side has been to buy low and sell high — acquiring players who fit the style of play of the organization well — typically through the draft — and then trading them for other assets once the rest of the league has seen the value that the Spurs did. This is similar to the Moneyball strategy employed by the As, and has produced a team that is currently in the Western Conference Finals, with only one player picked in the top 10 of the draft.
The Dallas Mavericks were pioneers in analytics in the NBA as well, but employed a very different strategy for maximizing their investment in analytics. The Mavericks hired the first statistician in the NBA to function as part of the coaching staff. Instead of focusing primarily on player acquisitions like the Spurs, the Mavericks focused first on in game decisions, believing that is where analytics would be most impactful in their organization. The guiding philosophy for the Mavericks was that since there are a lot more in game decisions made during an NBA season than personnel decisions, the benefit to them would be best realized focusing on that part of winning games. The Mavericks won the NBA title with statistician on the coaching staff and were in the playoffs for two of the three seasons since the hiring.
Most businesses, like most teams, have limited financial resources to spend on analytics. This constraint makes it vital for organizations to not just invest and “do analytics,” but to create a strategy for maximizing the return on their analytic investments. While there is no one strategy that works best for all organizations, any organization can be helped to make better decisions by having better information.
Benjamin Alamar is a researcher, consultant, and author in the field of sports analytics. His book “Sports Analytics: A Guide for Coaches, Managers, and Other Decision Makers” will be published in August, 2013.
What is it about kids that makes their nonsensical comments and absurd thoughts sound brilliant? Oh yes, they are so darn cute
Kids often get away with murder — on the English language, that is. When it comes to having conversations, no one minds, because we adore them. But when a grown man tries to say that stuff? It's creepy, just plain creepy
Filmmaker Matthew Clarke decided to prove how odd this was by staging a series of episodes entitled "Convos With My 2 Year Old," replacing an adult man in place of his daughter Coco. Watch the hysterical results in the first episode, and prepare to have similar noggin-scratching exchanges with your children one day (or perhaps, with other awkward adults) Read more...More about Viral Videos, Cute Kids, Watercooler, and Videos
Chicken and waffles for breakfast, Seth Rogan and Katherine Heigl as a couple in Knocked Up, Snoop Lion and Miley Cyrus teaming up for a reggae song: some things shouldn't work — yet, they totally do. For our vine challenge, we want you to create a vine that captures an unexpected pair.
Vine users are really pushing the creative envelope with their creations. Now, it's your turn!
Think of two things that you wouldn't normally associate, yet somehow work together — such as unusual animal friendships or Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett singing a duet. Your pair could be anything from household items to an unexpected love story. Read more...More about Vine, Social Media, Apps Software, and Vine Challenge
Twitter took the stage at Internet Week New York Thursday to introduce a new advertising product for media and consumer brands.
Dubbed "Twitter Amplify," the product allows media brands and their advertising partners to promote television clips on Twitter — think a 5 or 10-second replay from a basketball game accompanied by a short commercial from Ford, or a weather forecast from The Weather Channel followed by an ad for a restaurant chain.
Twitter began testing these ad units earlier this spring with various media partners, including Turner Broadcasting and Disney's ESPN. Here's an example from ESPN and the NBA, which last week streamed clips from an NBA game accompanied by commercials for the upcoming blockbuster After Earth, among other advertisers: Read more...More about Advertising, Twitter, Business, and Marketing
Robert Reimann watched the second plane hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001 and then observed as his office nearby destroyed as the towers fell. Then he did something few Americans considered at the time: He took a bike tour across Iran.
"I wanted to see a Muslim country and see what people in that part of the world were actually thinking vs. what the press was reporting," he says. "So I got my way into Iran and rode through there with a New York Cycle Club jersey on."
The trip had an unexpected effect on Reimann's vocation. A former banker and CEO of a mobile publishing company, Reimann moved to Germany and, in 2009, founded BikeSherpa, a company that arranges bike tours in Europe "with a special expertise in beer-based travel in Germany, the Czech Republic and Belgium." BikeSherpa has respectable 1,000 or so fans on Facebook, but Reimann says he's more interested in forging a deeper connection with his existing fans than cultivating new ones. Read more...More about Facebook, Features, Business, Advertising, and Marketing
Whether you're looking for a compact option for on-the-go charging, a stylish device for your home or even a way to keep your phone's power levels up in the car, we have found a solution to suit your needs
Have a browse through our selection of superb charging solutions in the product gallery above. In the comments below, let us know your preferred method of juicing up your Apple mobile Read more...More about Mobile, Gadgets, Iphone, Apple, and Features
TaskRabbit today is announcing a new tool for businesses who want to hire its workers for extended stints, which it says should serve as a more modern temp agency with lower fees.
TaskRabbit CRO Anne Raimondi said that 30 percent of TaskRabbit revenue already comes from small businesses, and many of them are trying to use the platform to do much more than posting simple, one-off tasks like building IKEA furniture. For instance, companies have used TaskRabbit to find a temporary office manager while theirs is unavailable for a few weeks.
So for organizations who want a “Rabbit” to do more than 15 hours of work per week, TaskRabbit will now handle W-2 forms for a fee of 26 percent (compared to its normal 20 percent, and compared to perhaps double that for a temp agency). And the process of finding an applicant will be significantly more transparent than it might be with an offline middleman.
TaskRabbit now has 11,000 pre-screened workers in nine U.S. cities on its platform. It plans to open in London later this year. Some 10 percent of those workers earn all their income on TaskRabbit.
Yahoo said it had bought PlayScale, a small gaming infrastructure startup for cross-platform gaming. Yahoo has been on a bit of a tear in buying up small companies for low prices, to strengthen its talent and expertise in a wide variety of arenas, including mobile, productivity and gaming. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but PlayScale said on its blog that it would “continue to support our existing product,” which is Player.IO.