In August, ET had reported that the company had mandated its global delivery head George Mundassery to run its automation project. For more see the : LINK.
In August, ET had reported that the company had mandated its global delivery head George Mundassery to run its automation project. For more see the : LINK.
Microsoft today announced that it has acquired technology from Talko, a startup that built a mobile-friendly team communication app. Talko will be shutting down in the next several months, according to a note on the startup’s website, and its technology will be integrated into existing Microsoft apps.
“Today we’re announcing that Talko’s been acquired by Microsoft to help fuel future innovation in Skype and Skype for Business,” the note from the Talko team read.
“As part of the Skype team, we’ll leverage Talko’s technology and the many things we’ve learned during its design and development. We’ll strive to deliver the best of our product’s innovations far more broadly than on our current path.”
Part of Talko’s appeal was that former Microsoft chief software architect Ray Ozzie was at the helm. Ozzie himself invested in the startup, as did Greylock Partners, Kapor Capital, and Andreessen Horowitz.
The app brings together talk, texting, and conferencing. It’s been available on iOS and Android.
“I welcome the new team members and am excited about how Talko will fuel more innovation at Microsoft, whether it is enhancing the way family members stay in touch with Skype or building on the new Skype for Business services within Office 365,” Skype corporate vice president Gurdeep Singh Pall wrote in a blog post. “This is another example of our company ambition to reinvent productivity and business processes. ”
But from a corporate perspective this is also significant because it’s the latest big mobile-centric acquisition on the part of Microsoft, following email app Acompli, task management app Wunderlist, and calendar app Sunrise.
The Talko app launched in September 2014 and got usage from “thousands of businesses,” according to the note from the startup. Headquarters was in Manchester, Massachusetts. Talko was once named Cocomo.
Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
When talking about top 10 e-commerce sites in the world by monthly unique visitors, you will most likely think of Amazon and eBay, but for some of you there may be some surprises in the top 10. Yes, the number 1 is not Amazon, but Taobao from China! The truth is that there is plenty of competition out there – especially in Asia!
Have a look at this list of top 10 e-commerce sites in the world:
|Brand Name||Montly (Cookie) Unique Visitor||Location|
Amazon and eBay are left behind by the Chinese Taobao, which is actually owned by the Alibaba Group. That means that three of the top five (that’s Taobao, Alipay and Alibaba) are all part of the same huge company, which started in 1999 with Alibaba.com (a B2B platform) and some five years later launched Taobao (C2C platform) and Alipay (payment platform).
In the top 10 e-commerce sites of the world, China, India and the USA are the most populous countries of the world, so it makes sense for them to rank amongst the top 10 companies, but Japan is a bit of a surprise. However, turns out that the Japan-based Rakuten (founded in 1997) operates globally (having acquired companies in the US, Canada, UK, etc.) and has even used English as its main language since 2012. Ever heard of Play.com, Kobo or Buy.com or ? Well they’re all part of Rakuten now.
Apart from Amazon and eBay, two more US-based companies have, Fiverr and Etsy, made it onto the list and both of them are quite different from the rest. Etsy primarily trades handmade and vintage items from small producers and Fiverr offers tasks and services instead of physical items.
Fiverr is the one that have less employees, more or less 100, a big difference with the 97.000 people of Amazon army!
The list of Top 10 e-commerce sites ends with two India-based companies, both of which are fairly new players (founded in 2007 and 2010). Snapdeal actually started off as a daily deals platform, like Groupon.com, but later transformed into an e-commerce marketplace, selling a plethora of goods for the increasing number of Indians buying things online. eBay has invested in and partnered with Snapdeal. Flipkart was actually founded by two previous employees of Amazon and also started by selling books, but soon expanded into other goods. An interesting factor behind Flipkart’s success is, that it offers cash on delivery as a payment option (and that option is chosen in approximately 60% of transactions).
It will certainly be interesting to see how Amazon and eBay will handle the ever-growing competition from emerging markets.
Uber has made a concerted effort to expand its mapping capabilities in recent months. Earlier this year, the company offered $3 billion for Nokia’s mapping business, before it was eventually sold to a consortium of German car makers. Uber has also acquired mapping technology and talent from Microsoft, and has begun using Microsoft’s fleet of Bing cars to gather street-level imagery, much like Google’s Street View.
Mapping data will also be important for Uber’s ongoing efforts to develop self-driving cars. In May, the company acquired top robotics talent from Carnegie Mellon University to work on autonomous vehicles, and has leased a 53,000-square foot facility in Pittsburgh to carry out the research.
Earlier this year in May, Google launched the revamped Photos app along with unlimited cloud storage to backup photos and videos. The Photos received mostly positive reviews for its photos management and editing features. The app, however, missed support for editing videos. Google is now finally addressing this as it has acquired Fly Labs, the maker of popular video editing apps for iOS.
Fly Labs confirmed the acquisition and also mentioned that their team will now be a part of the Google Photos development team. The technology that Fly Labs uses in its iOS video editing apps will also be integrated into Google Photos app.
It is important to note that, even after Android flagships gained 4K video recording support a couple of years ago, there is no proper 4K video editing apps on the platform. iOS smartphones such as the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus recently got 4K support and Apple has already updated the iMovies app with support for 4K video editing.
As of now, Fly Labs has four apps for iOS – Tempo, Fly, Crop and Clips. Out of these apps, Clip is a full blown video editing tool with support for 4K videos. With the integration of Fly Labs technology in Google Photos, Android users may finally have the much needed full-fledged 4K video editing app.
While the company didn’t announce any financial details about the acquisition, Fly Labs apps will still be available on the Apple’s App Store. However, it won’t receive any more updates.
Post acquisition, David Lieb, product lead at Google Photos tweeted “video is uniquely powerful for reliving memories, esp when combined with the machine learning of Google Photos. Lots to come!”
ZipDial a really cool home-turned-office in Bangalore, a team of brilliant people have turned a phenomenon that is unique to the country into a booming business. That phenomenon is missed calls.
While that might not sound like big business, once you realize why this is a prevalent behavior in India, it will make perfect sense. Basically, a lot of residents in the country use prepaid cellphones. Each connected call and sent text costs money; therefore the missed call was born. If you were to drop your friend off at their house and head home, you would call them and then hang up, as to signal that you’ve arrived safely. This way, nobody is charged for the call.
It’s kind of like the behavior of paging someone with “911” back in the day, as if to say “call me immediately.” While the pager behavior never turned into a business, the missed-call behavior most certainly has, and ZipDial owns the space.
The service that the company provides is provisioning a phone number that advertisers and companies like Disney and Gillette can plaster on billboards and newspaper ads, allowing people to call the number and disconnect without getting charged. After that, the person is sent a text message with communication about deals, coupons or any other messages that the business wants to convey. This is important because incoming text messages are free for prepaid cellphone users. The telecom companies in India love it, because it’s creating traffic that never existed before.
These companies can learn more about their “followers” by sending them surveys, which we’re told that many folks participate in. In many cases, these campaigns have outperformed those taking place on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
In India people make cellphone calls to each other, letting phones ring once or twice and hanging up to escape the call charges. This clever “missed call” behavior, second nature to Indians, is used to convey some predecided message such as “I’m there.”
Valerie Wagoner, an American, set about precisely to tap such ingenuity. And in January her missed call startup ZipDial in Bangalore was acquired by Twitter for a reported $30 million.
For many in India (and other emerging markets) for whom the first online experience is increasingly through a mobile device, the cost of data impinges on the Internet experience. Via ZipDial, Twitter gets access to those with erratic Internet access or with skimpy data plans. “Twitter in partnership with ZipDial can make great content more accessible to everyone,” said the San Francisco acquirer in a postdeal statement.
In emerging markets like India, although smartphone penetration is rocketing, only one in three smartphone users have a data connection, says Wagoner. The average Indian mobile data user uses only 60MB of data a month compared with 1.38GB by the average American. This curbs downloads of apps such as Twitter.
Wagoner, 31, a California native, studied microfinance in graduate school at Stanford and got interested in emerging economies. She worked briefly with eBay international marketing team and then moved to Bangalore in 2008 to get closer to emerging market problems, “which are more about ‘need to have’ than ‘nice to have,’ ” as she describes them. At mobile payments startup mChek, where she worked with entrepreneur and venture capitalist Sanjay Swamy, she was taken by the missed call phenomenon. Brainstorming with Swamy and a third founder on monetizing the tactic, they created ZipDial in 2010.
Through missed calls the service connects product brands to their target Indian consumers. There’s no consumer cost for incoming texts. So far Indians have missed-called ZipDial’s numbers over 1 billion times to access promotions and such from the likes of confectionary multinational Mondelez’ Cadbury’s chocolates and Unilever Dove soap.
ZipDial assigns companies a special phone number which the brands display in their ads or packaging. Disney India, for instance, has 2 million ZipDial missed callers who preview Disney content 13 times per month on average. (If the caller has a mere feature phone, he only gets text replies.) “It’s an insane level of engagement,” says Wagoner. By comparison, on Twitter, Disney India currently has 18,600 followers.
When the horrific New Delhi rape case erupted two years ago, Gillette launched a massive missed call crusade via ZipDial, asking men to pledge respect for women. Gillette ran the pledge in newspaper ads along with the ZipDial number to “missed call” if they took the pledge, after which Gillette responded with another ZipDial number to refer friends to take the same pledge.
Microsoft’s struggle to cut costs continues despite the thousands of jobs impacted by its global reorganization, and a new report published today claims the company has just fired 1,000 more people.
The news might come as a big surprise for many, given the fact that Microsoft was believed to have already completed its cost-cutting efforts concerning the workforce, but The New York Times writes that two people close to the matter have confirmed the layoffs.
It turns out that the new job cut is just a continuation of the original plan that came into effect after Microsoft completed the acquisition of Nokia’s Devices and Services unit. At that time, CEO Satya Nadella revealed that 18,000 people would be affected by the job cuts, most of them former workers of Nokia, but several company divisions have also been impacted.
A company representative has confirmed for the aforementioned source that some job cuts have indeed been made and revealed that they impact more than just a single division.
“The job reductions were spread across more than one business area and country and reflect adaptations to business needs,” he is quoted as saying.
Microsoft’s intention to cut costs comes as no big surprise, as the company’s revenues dropped during the first quarter of FY 2016 and its biggest divisions all reported smaller figures as compared to the same period the year before.
For example, the phone revenues dropped 54 percent, while Windows and Surface also dropped by several percentage points. This is mostly due to the fact that no new devices have been launched in the last 12 months, which has had a big impact on its revenues.
But all of these are expected to change in the coming months, as Microsoft is not only cutting jobs but is also working to overhaul its product lineup with new phones and tablets. The next quarter is expected to bring a much stronger performance.
Google ads boss Sridhar Ramaswamy thinks the ad industry needs to hurry up and do something about bad ads and ad blockers.
Ad blocking software, which automatically nixes display advertising from websites, became a hot topic after an Apple operating system update allowed ad blocking on iPhones and iPads for the first time.
Although Ramaswamy made it clear that mobile advertising is still doing “incredibly well for Google and everybody else” while on stage at The Wall Street Journal’s WSJD Live conference, he does see the growing popularity of the software as a cause for concern.
“Clearly [ad blockers] affect big companies. But the diversity of opinion that we get from the different blogs, from the small newspapers is that they all suffer when someone installs an ad blocker,” he said. “In my mind, it’s a very blunt instrument. And that’s why we need to be worried.”
People install ad blockers after they’ve had a poor experience, where a mobile web page is completely covered up by an ad, or they’re unable to find the “X” in the corner, Ramaswamy says. Bad ads threaten to bring chaos for the whole industry.
“There needs to be more of a sustainable ad standard that we voluntarily define, and things in that standard should not get blocked,” he said. “I think this is essential to us all for survival.”
He said that Google has been in touch with the Internet Advertising Bureau, browser companies, and other industry execs. Meanwhile, AdBlock Plus has been working on getting together a board of people in the ad industry to create a criteria for which ads should be labeled as “acceptable.” Acceptable ads would not get blocked.
Ramaswamy said they’re looking to declare the standards quickly: “hopefully months.”
On Google’s Q3 earnings call later the same week, Google CEO Sundar Pichai echoed the same sentiment when asked about ad blocking. He too said that the key was making sure that the ad experience improves.
“It’s clear that that are areas where the ad experience is getting in the way, it affects performance, and so we as industry need to collectively do all that better,” he said. “And so we are going to work hard to do that.”