Mashable: Latest 25 News Updates - including “Beyond Badges: 3 Smart Ways to Gamify Your Startup”

Mashable: Latest 25 News Updates - including “Beyond Badges: 3 Smart Ways to Gamify Your Startup”

Beyond Badges: 3 Smart Ways to Gamify Your Startup

Posted: 27 May 2011 11:25 PM PDT

game image

Rajat Paharia is the founder and chief product officer at Bunchball. You can follow him on Twitter @Bunchball and read his blog.

Gamification, or the use of game mechanics in non-gaming contexts, has quickly made its way into the lexicon of the marketing and tech world. Companies in every industry imaginable are trying to tap into this powerful new strategy for influencing and motivating their customers, employees and fans.

Blindly slapping badges and points on your site isn't going to work. Like any technology or methodology, there's a right and wrong way to implement gamification.

Here are three key strategies for creating a gaming solution that has lasting value and truly engages consumers and site visitors.

1. What Is Your Core Experience?

What is the core experience that you're trying to gamify? Understanding this dictates everything else you're going to do, so it's crucial to set this foundation correctly and understand both the experience and your users. Here are just a few of the many core experience types:

  • A content and community site for fans of a TV show or musical artist: Your users are fans who have a passionate interest in something and want to indulge and share that passion.
  • An expense-reporting application: Your users are employees who are dealing with a necessary evil in order to get paid.
  • An ecommerce website: Your users are customers who are looking for a trusted vendor, a good deal and quality information that can help them make an informed purchase decision.
  • Complex media creation software: Your users are people who are probably using 10% of the available functionality of the software and need a compelling reason to move up the mastery curve.

What’s your core experience is?

2. Know Your Business

Now that you know what your core experience is, you need to have a point of view about what's good. Typically, this flows naturally from answering the question, "How does my business make money?"

Sometimes this is pretty straightforward. We make money from online advertising, so more pageviews = more money. Therefore, pageviews are good. Other times, it's less straightforward.

If you were going to gamify an email client, what's good? Responding quickly? Having an empty inbox? Dealing with high priority items first? It’s not always an easy question to answer, but you need to have a point view, because a) You want your gamification program to generate value, and b) You need to be tracking and rewarding the right behaviors. Here are some examples:

  • Passionate interest sites are typically ad and sponsorship driven, so content consumption and content sharing is good.
  • Some applications are a pain to use but are necessary for business. Getting employees to use them in a timely manner is good.
  • Quality information sites thrive on user-generated content. So, content creation and content moderation is good.
  • Mastery curve applications are powerful but also very complex. Users typically would like to learn more about how they work, but don't have the time or inclination to go through dry tutorials and training. (Think Microsoft Word or Adobe Illustrator.) For a user to get the full value out of the application, and be willing to pay for upgrades once the next version comes around, the application developer needs the end user to understand the capabilities of the software, and develop fluency in using them.

3. Know Your User

At the end of the day, whenever we engage with anything, we're always asking, either consciously or unconsciously, "What's in it for me?" Your core experience provides value to the user in some manner:

  • Passionate interest sites satisfy my desire to know more about a topic.
  • Necessary but complicated applications accomplish business goals.
  • Quality information sites help me make informed decisions.
  • Mastery curve applications help me work better.

If your core experience doesn’t provide value, then you’re in trouble. The next challenge, however, is trying to influence and motivate behavior around that core value. What is meaningful value? The answer depends on your users, the context, the community of people participating, and the core experience.

Let's take a stab at our example sites and see what kind of meaningful value we can provide. To make things clearer, I've provided fictional illustrative examples below. Note that meaningful value doesn't need to mean dollars.

  • Passionate interest: A Kanye West fan site rewards me with status ("Top 10 Fans"), unlocking exclusive access to content (music, wallpapers, ringtones) and early access to concert tickets for sharing music with friends on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Difficult but necessary app: Employees earn points for filling out expense reports, with the number of points earned being proportional to how much time has elapsed since the first expense on the report. If it's within one to two days, the user gets 100 points, three to four days, 50 points, five to six days, 25 points, etc. Employees are heavily incented to fill out expense reports quickly. They can redeem points for chances to win paid time off, gift certificates and other dollar value goods.
  • Quality information: rewards me with status and reputation (5-star reviewer) as well as more powerful moderation abilities (edit anyone else's review) for writing good quality product reviews.
  • Mastery curve: Microsoft's Ribbon Hero 2 rewards me with unlocking an entertaining story and a feeling of mastery for going through the tutorial content embedded within (this one is real).

  • Conclusion

    Following these three key strategies will put you on the road to implementing a compelling gamification solution. You'll be asking all the right questions, so that when it comes time to start designing and implementing, you'll have a solid foundation of understanding on which to build a solution that drives meaningful value for your business and for your users.

    Image courtesy of iStockphoto, yurok

    More About: business, gamification, gamify, social media, startup

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A Look Back at Eight Years of WordPress [GALLERY]

Posted: 27 May 2011 10:36 PM PDT

The Web Development Series is supported by Rackspace, the better way to do hosting. Learn more about Rackspace’s hosting solutions here.

On May 27, 2003, the first public version of the open-source project known as WordPress became available for download. What started as a fork of the blogging platform b2 has evolved into one of the largest publishing platforms on the web.

More than 45 million websites are powered by WordPress or — including Mashable. In celebration of WordPress’s eight birthday, we wanted to take a look at how the project and its user interface has evolved over the years.

To Matt, Mike and the hundreds (if not thousands) of volunteers that have helped make the project what it is, we salute you!

WordPress 0.7.1

The first release of WordPress was unleashed onto the interwebs on May 27, 2003.

Check out the sparse backend/post page.

WordPress 1.0.1

WordPress hit 1.0 in January of 2004. The update included an improved installation process, a new default theme and a more robust backend.

WordPress 1.2

Released in May 2004, WordPress 1.2 introduced plugins, extending WordPress even further.

WordPress 1.5

In February 2005, WordPress 1.5 was released. It included new features like the ability to create pages, as well as posts and a new default theme, Kubrick. Kubrick would stay on as the default theme until 2010.

WordPress 2.0

On December 31, 2005, WordPress 2.0 was introduced to the world.

WordPress 2.0 featured a redesigned (and blue) admin, WYSIWYG editing and inline uploads.

WordPress 2.1

More than a year would pass before WordPress 2.1 would make its way to users in January 2007.

WordPress 2.1 included autosave for posts and drafts, a tabbed post editor and the ability to set any page as the homepage of a website.

WordPress 2.2

In May 2007, WordPress 2.2 was released. It introduced widgets to the WordPress world and kicked off a new, more frequent development cycle.

WordPress 2.3

WordPress 2.3 was released in September 2007. The big new feature in 2.3 was support for tags as well as categories. That may not seem that important in 2011, but at the time, it was a huge feature.

WordPress 2.5 Dashboard

In March 2008, WordPress 2.5 was released. A major user interface update, WordPress 2.5 brought about some major changes to the dashboard and post screen.

WordPress 2.5 Post Screen

Although certainly better looking than previous versions of WordPress, WordPress 2.5 was criticized for some as being "too different."

The interface remained largely unchanged in WordPress 2.6, released in July 2008, but the backend would soon change again.

WordPress 2.7

In December 2008, WordPress 2.7 became available. For the second time in less than a year, the user interface was completely revamped. This time, it was a hit.

WordPress 2.7 Post Screen

The overall interface remained largely the same from WordPress 2.7 through WordPress 2.9.

In the intervening 18 months, however, WordPress gained lots of new features and started to really round itself out as more than just a blogging engine.

WordPress 3.0 Dashboard

Released in June 2010, WordPress 3.0 was a major release for the platform.

Many of the new features, like custom post types and taxonomies have helped WordPress establish itself as a real, grown-up CMS.

WordPress 3.0 Post Screen

The post screen for WordPress 3.0 and 3.1 is customizable and modular.

WordPress 3.2 Beta Dashboard

The next major WordPress release, WordPress 3.2, is expected sometime in June 2011. This release features a revamped dashboard and post interface. It also marks the official end for support for Internet Explorer 6.

WordPress 3.2 Post Screen

WordPress 3.2 carries over many of the elements from WordPress 3.0/3.1, but with a more refined look and feel.

WordPress 3.2 Distraction Free Writing Page

One of the big new features in WordPress 3.2 is the introduction of the Distraction Free Writing mode. This mode allows the user to just concentrate on writing, without worrying about sidebars, modules or custom fields.

In some respects, the new writing mode harkens back to the earliest days of WordPress.

[via WPCandy]

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More Dev & Design Resources from Mashable:

- How the WordPress SEO Plugin Can Help Your Blog [INTERVIEW]
- Closed or Open Source: Which CMS is Right for Your Business?
- HOW TO: Get Devs to Use Your Company’s API
- HOW TO: Get Started with the Less Framework
- 4 Free Ways to Learn to Code Online

More About: blogging platforms, open source, web apps, web development series, WordPress

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Our Favorite YouTube Videos This Week: The Cover Song Edition

Posted: 27 May 2011 09:34 PM PDT

Cover songs are undoubtedly an institution on YouTube, and, recently, music licensing service Jingle Punks has been hard at work adding to that canon with its Hipster Orchestra.

The Punks habitually cover “hipster” songs in a classical style — apparently to appeal to the aging cool kid demographic — which is why we’ve asked CEO Jared Gutstadt to curate this week’s YouTube Roundup, the theme of which is “Cover Songs.”

Check out a Jingle Punks cover, as well as a bevy of other tributes, below and share your favorite musical re-imaginings in the comments.

"Tighten Up," Jingle Punks Hipster Orchestra

Jared Gutstadt: We took songs from the American Hipster songbook (MGMT, Strokes, White Stripes) and re-imagined them as arrangements for a civilized dinner party for the transitioning adult Hipster. Introducing – The Jingle Punks Hipster Orchestra, which is our favorite "hipster approved" songs washed through the Mark Mothersbaugh filter. Check out our cover of The Black Keys "Tighten Up" here.

"Hurt," Johnny Cash

Amy-Mae Elliott: Get your hankies out...

"I Will Survive," Cake

Todd Wasserman: Easy one: Cake's "I Will Survive," though this version's not as good with the cuss words bleeped out.

"Come On Eileen," Save Ferris

Erica Swallow: Ska, baby! "Come on Eileen," covered by Save Ferris is hot. I'll hum this tune forever.

"Dazed and Confused," Aranda

Karen Hartline: The best band you've probably never heard of... Aranda! Kelly Clarkson even "covered" their songs "Whyyouwannabringmedown" and "All I Ever Wanted." (Disclosure--I went to high school with Aranda.)

"Bad Romance," Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Emily Banks: Joseph Gordon-Levitt takes on Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance." And all the ladies want his romance (see the comments on the video and you'll understand).

"Look At Me Now," Karmin

Ada Ospina: Anyone that can rap that fast is A-Ok in my books. This duo rocks! I would have equally chosen Danny Vola but his covers are a bit NSFW.

"Wonderwall," Paul Anka

Todd Wasserman: Nobody swings Oasis like Paul Anka.

"Born This Way," I Love Monsters

Jared Gutstadt: At first the song/arrangement didn't really offer me anything new, but when I got halfway through the video they hooked me with their surprise guest. Like a good card trick it took me a moment to figure out how they got Lady Gaga to appear in their viral cover. BTW, if anyone wants the answer, hit me up on Twitter @jinglejared.

"Angry Birds Theme," Pomplamoose

Jared Gutstadt: Though I've tried to resist the Angry Birds phenomenon, I too got sucked in (plus I have kids that play this non-stop, so I have no choice)!

"Home," Jorge & Alexa Narvaez

Jared Gutstadt: If you don't enjoy this clip you may have no soul.

"Be My Baby," Jorge & Alexa Narvaez

Brenna Ehrlich: I'm generally frightened of children, but any kid who can sing like that can totally be in my imaginary band.

"You Lost Me," Molly Krouse

Ben Parr: What I love about YouTube is that it can turn undiscovered talent into superstars -- it doesn't matter who you are or where you're from. This particular video is a cover of "You've Lost Me" by Christina Aguilera.

Image courtesy of Flickr, swanksalot

More About: cover songs, favorite-youtube-videos, jingle-punks, music, youtube

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Startup Turns Anyone’s Car Into Part Of A Zipcar-Like Fleet

Posted: 27 May 2011 07:52 PM PDT

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: Getaround

Quick Pitch: Getaround lets you rent a car from someone nearby.

Genius Idea: Offering hourly car rentals without purchasing a single vehicle itself.

Companies like Zipcar and Hertz’s Connect have proven there is a market for alternatives to car ownership, but they fall short of meeting everyone’s price point and needs. In many markets, Zipcar charges an $82-per-day rate in addition to an annual fee, and the service isn’t offered outside of cities.

Getaround fixes both of these problems by allowing its users to rent their neighbors’ cars. It’s like an Airbnb for vehicles. Car owners choose their own hourly rental rates and schedules — all they need to do to make their cars Getaround ready is install a free “carkit,” which functions as both GPS tracker and key mechanism.

Renters can sign up free of charge. After they’re approved by the owner of the car they’d like to rent, they pick up it up using an iPhone app that unlocks it. Insurance (provided by Berkshire Hathaway) and 24-hour roadside assistance come with the rental fees, which most owners set at between $3 and $15 per hour.

Avery Lewis, Getaround head of product, says some renters have used the service as a way to safely lend their cars to roommates who don’t have insurance. At the other end of the spectrum, one woman went on vacation with her car available for rent during her abscence and then was able to extend her vacation using the proceeds.

If Getaround catches on, its number of available rentals has the potential to make Zipcar’s 8,500 cars look diminunitive. And it could reach areas that are too rural to be viable for a company like Zipcar — all while taking a 40% cut of rental fees on vehicles that it doesn’t own.

As with most good ideas, community car sharing isn’t something just one company is pursuing. A startup called RelayRides, which counts Google Ventures and August Capital among its investors, is pursing a similar idea. The company already has cars available in San Francisco and Boston.

Getaround has functioning services in San Francisco and San Diego, and it officially launched its national expansion at TechCrunch Disrupt on Tuesday. It also won the competition’s $50,000 grand prize.

The startup will add that cash to $1.25 million in funding as it courts a critical mass of car owners beyond the Bay Area.

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: car sharing, Getaround, relayrides, zipcar

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Social Media Distractions Are Costing Businesses Major Money [STUDY]

Posted: 27 May 2011 05:55 PM PDT

How many times each day are you distracted by social media, email or instant messages?

According to a recent survey from social email software provider, you and other employees are blowing $10,375 in productivity each year, and all because we don’t disconnect from an online chat quickly enough, or we get sidetracked by a bulging email inbox, or we fall into a Facebook hole of photos, updates and messages.

In a survey of more than 500 employees in U.S. businesses of all sizes, found that at companies with more than 1,000 employees, these kinds of digital distractions can waste more than $10 million each year.

And in this social media-obsessed age, typical water cooler banter and pointless meetings are no longer the greatest time-wasters at work. Almost 60% of workplace distractions involve social networks, text messaging, IMs or email. In fact, navigating between multiple tabs and windows to keep an eye on a wide variety of apps is a huge distraction in itself.

In the end, almost half of the employees in this study said they worked just 15 minutes or less without getting interrupted or distracted. More than half said they wasted at least one hour every day day due to distraction.

Yaacov Cohen is a co-founder and the CEO of In an email, he wrote that the survey results were particularly ironic.

“Information technology that was designed at least in part to save time is actually doing precisely the opposite. The very tools we rely on to do our jobs are also interfering with that mission. We're clearly seeing what psychologists call ‘online compulsive disorder’ spill over from our personal lives to the work environment.”

Here are the greatest digital distractions noted in the survey:

  • Email processing: 23%
  • Switching windows to complete tasks: 10%
  • Personal online activities such as Facebook: 9%
  • Instant messaging: 6%
  • Texting: 5%
  • Web search: 3%

While these distractions are money-wasters for companies, they also negatively effect individuals’ ability to creatively solve problems, think deeply about work-related issues, efficiently process information and meet deadlines.

Does digital distraction have an impact on how you work? In the comments let us know how Facebook, IMs and email hamper or help you in the office — and what steps you might have taken to minimize distractions.

image courtesy of Flickr, rishibando

More About: distraction, social media, study, survey, workplace

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Happy Little Checkins: Bob Ross on Social Media [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 27 May 2011 04:45 PM PDT

Have you ever wondered how iconic painter/television personality Bob Ross would portray Facebook or Instagram?

You haven’t? Well, we have a handy chart for you on that subject, anyhow. So get your iPad and your paintbrush stylus, and get ready to follow along.

On the canvases of Bob Ross, Facebook is a mega mountain with 600 happy little users, and Google Buzz is a desert with “swirly tumbleweeds.” We’ve also got Ross’s take on Path, Color, Digg, Reddit and a slew of other social web apps.

This infographic comes to us from Flowtown, a social marketing startup, and the designers at Column Five Media.

Click image to see full-size version.

More About: bob ross, infographic, social media

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HANDS ON: Motorola Droid X2, Verizon’s First Dual-Core Smartphone [PICS]

Posted: 27 May 2011 02:42 PM PDT

Motorola has released the Droid X2, Verizon’s first dual-core smartphone. Although it looks similar to its Motorola Droid predecessor, it’s been improved with a higher-resolution 4.3-inch screen and a 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor. Let’s put it to the test.

Taking the Droid X2 out of the box, I was impressed with its slim and light form factor. Starting it up for the first time, I could see its saturated colors filled the 960×540 screen in a resolution otherwise known as quarter HD or qHD. But even though the screen’s resolution is 20% higher than its Droid predecessor, it’s still not quite as sharp and vibrant as some of the OLED screens we’ve seen.

The Good

The speediness of the dual-core Tegra 2 processor makes everything happen noticeably faster and smoother. Apps launch faster, games play smoother, multitasking works better — but the most pleasing improvement is the smoother-scrolling screens, a joy to behold.

Another benefit of that increased horsepower is quicker camera response than previous models. Now you can start up the camera and take a picture in three seconds, and it stores those pictures quickly, letting you take another picture in slightly less than three seconds.

Shooting pictures and video with the Droid X2′s 8-megapixel camera resulted in well-focused, correctly exposed and colorful stills. See the gallery below for an example.

The Bad

The Droid X2′s 720p video recording was not quite perfect in testing. When I subjected the video camera to wide variations in light levels, it dropped frames. This shouldn’t happen with a 1GHz dual core processor on board.

What else is missing? There’s no front-facing camera for videoconferencing. And there’s no sign of Verizon’s much-vaunted 4G LTE network, because this phone doesn’t handle that. Supposedly the LTE baseband radio chip is not compatible with the Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, so we’ll have to wait for a dual-core LTE phone on Verizon.

The Droid X2 is running Android 2.2 (and reportedly soon to be updated to 2.3). Android 2.2 is starting to feel old, especially after we’ve been testing Android tablets with Honeycomb 3.1.

The Ugly

The phone’s 5.4 oz weight makes it easy to handle, but it also makes this mostly plastic object feel dime-store cheap. The X2′s overall impression is that of a utilitarian handset that was slapped together without regard to design. It looks and feels like a disposable slab with four cheap buttons across the bottom, topped by an overly obtrusive Verizon logo.

Like many Android smartphones, the back ramps up to a sloping chin with the camera on top. And that side of the phone is festooned with no less than four logos, reminiscent of a NASCAR driver’s fire suit. If you’re looking for high style, you’re certainly not going to get it with this smartphone.

The Verdict

Those quibbles aside, the highlight of the Droid X2 is its snappy response. Even though its design is nothing groundbreaking, its performance is excellent. But that performance is out of sync with its old-style 3G connectivity and doesn’t make sense. If all you do is text, its 3G service will suffice, but if you want to do more than that, you might want to wait until a 4G version is available.

Closeup, Front


Camera and Flash Closeup


Side View with HDMI and USB ports

The two ports are situated close together, similar to the Motorola Atrix -- will this fit into a special dock like the Atrix's? We think Motorola should have provided an HDMI cable.


We like this top/center placement of the power button.

Front and Center

This is not exactly an exciting design.

Good 8MP Camera

Here's a snapshot from the camera, with good resolution and vibrant color, unretouched except for scaling down to fit this page's format.

More About: android, hands-on, Motorola Droid X2, review, smartphones

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Why 2011 Is Mashable’s Big Growth Year [VIDEO]

Posted: 27 May 2011 02:19 PM PDT

I joined Bloomberg West‘s Emily Chang this week to discuss the current Internet boom and why 2011 is Mashable‘s big growth year.

I explained to Emily that Mashable has a truly unique audience — digital influencers with thousands of Twitter followers and hundreds of Facebook friends. Our audience is interested in a range of topics — not just technology — and as such, we’ve been able to expand our coverage to include the evolution of media (our Media channel) and digital marketing (our Business and Marketing channel).

These additions have been hugely successful — Business and Marketing is now one of our most popular channels, led by former Brandweek Editor-in-Chief Todd Wasserman. We’re continuing this expansion over the course of 2011, adding new coverage areas and more top talent to lead these verticals.

But we also know that some of our readers are interested in very specific topics. That’s why we launched Mashable Follow last month: This new social layer lets you follow the topics that interest you, creating a custom news feed. If you only want to read our technology section — or more specific topics like Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter or online advertising — Mashable Follow makes it even easier to do so.

How are we fueling this growth? Among other big moves this year, Mashable took over its own ad sales at the start of 2011 – ads had previously been handled by our ad partner. This more than doubled our ad revenue, allowing us to grow the team, expand our coverage, and bring on seasoned journalists like San Francisco Bureau Chief Chris Taylor (formerly of Fast Company).

It’s an exciting time for us and we’re thankful to our wonderful Mashable community for making it happen.

More About: Bloomberg, mashable, social media, video

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Google Would Have Paid More Than $100 Million to Major Labels for Licenses

Posted: 27 May 2011 01:54 PM PDT

Many music fans were disappointed by Google Music Beta, the cloud-based locker that the company released at Google I/O this year — in particular because it lacks the ability to purchase music and stream seamlessly without uploading. Now it seems Google was prepared to offer big bucks to make a more robust notion.

Bloomberg Businessweek is reporting that Google was ready to shell out $100 million to the four major labels — up front — for licenses. However, those negotiations fell apart because of “the music industry’s concern that search results in Google and YouTube often point to pirated music.”

We already know that Google was having issues getting the labels’ blessings. The piracy angle is new, however. It was reported that Google was fed up with the labels, particularly WMG, which was said to be suggesting that Google charge users $30 per year for the cloud service. Apparently, Google wanted users to be able to try the service for free with the first 500 tracks stored.

As a result, Google launched Google Music Beta without licenses with the first 20,000 stored songs on the house, meaning that users have to upload all their music to the cloud-based locker (a lengthy process) for listening across devices. This is a much less intriguing — and much bulkier — offering than what could have transpired if Google had been able to nab those licenses.

The cloud-based music business has been heating up of late. Amazon launched its Cloud Player (similar to Google’s service) recently, and we’ve been hearing reports that Apple is close to unveiling its offering — possibly called iCloud — as early as Apple's developers conference in June.

Apple has reportedly scored deals with three of the four major labels, which means that its service could be far superior to Amazon’s or Google’s. Armed with licenses, Apple's service would scan a user’s iTunes library and match those songs on its services — no uploading required.

What do you think? Were the labels right to turn down Google’s overtures?

Photo courtesy of Flickr, karindalziel

More About: amazon, apple, cloud, Google, google music, google-music-beta, icloud, music

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Tumblr Blog Chronicles Real Outrage Over Fake News

Posted: 27 May 2011 01:35 PM PDT

Is Planned Parenthood opening an "abortionplex"? Are the final minutes of the last Harry Potter movie being split up into seven separate films? When most readers see these stories from satirical news source The Onion, they immediately realize they're not true.

It turns out, however, that the readers who take fabricated news seriously are much more entertaining. A new Tumblr blog, Literally Unbelievable, chronicles their Facebook discussions.

In response to The Onion story about the Harry Potter movie, for instance, one woman posted, “it sounds legit…it came straight from warner bros…click on the link and watch the video it tells you how they’ll do it.” Another reads, “the Fans they interview like it because I guess the part in the Books this is telling was super Important.”

The man who started the blog, 24-year-old freelance writer Hudson Hongo, says he launched it last Friday after noticing sincere responses to the abortionplex article, most of which used considerably stronger words.

“I found the sheer number of people reading Onion articles sincerely (across the political spectrum) a surprise,” he says. “I wasn’t sure whether it was crueler to share these remarkable texts publicly or to keep them to myself. Then I got bored and just did it.”

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, camrocker

More About: humor, the onion, tumblr

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Microsoft To Break Back Into Tablet Market Next Week [REPORT]

Posted: 27 May 2011 01:19 PM PDT

Microsoft is planning to show off a version of its Windows 8 designed for tablet PCs next week, according to a report.

Bloomberg says that Windows President Steven Sinofsky will present a version of the software with a touchscreen interface at the All Things D conference next week. The software will be running on a tablet based on Nvidia's Tegra chip. The new operating system isn't expected to be out until next year.

Rumors about a new Microsoft tablet have been floating around for some time. In February, Business Insider reported that Microsoft planned to showcase a version of Windows 8 for tablets in June. According to the report, Microsoft is taking a more Apple-like approach to interface design by using the Metro interface developed for Windows Phone 7.

The effort comes after two Microsoft misfires in the tablet market. There was the 2010 debut of the “slate PC,” a model running Windows 7 and Amazon’s Kindle software, which has been compared to a stripped-down PC lacking a keyboard. And long before that came the Tablet PC, first unveiled by Bill Gates at Comdex in 2000. The Tablet PC was a laptop with a rotating screen and stylus functionality.

Meanwhile, Microsoft recently reported weak consumer PC sales partially because of the surge in sales for Apple's iPad and iPad 2. To spur PC sales among students, Microsoft is now offering a free Xbox for those who buy a PC costing $699 and up from participating retailers. Despite Microsoft’s relatively late entry to the tablet market, at least one analyst, Citigroup, predicts Microsoft can corner a large share of the market in 2013 and beyond.

More About: apple, ipad, ipad2, microsoft, NVIDIA, tablet pcs

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Beloved, Horrifying Web Series Salad Fingers Returns [VIDEO]

Posted: 27 May 2011 12:21 PM PDT

Have your nightmares dissipated in the four-plus years since the last episode of the online horror cartoon Salad Fingers aired? Well, you might not want to sleep alone tonight, because the little green Brit is back.

For those of you unfamiliar with Salad Fingers — brought to my attention because of the eerie similarity between my great aunt’s voice and the character Salad Fingers’ lilting accent — it’s a Flash show created by David Firth in 2004. The cartoon stars the eponymous hero, who lives in some post-apocalyptic world and regularly converses with inanimate objects.

Back in the day, the cartoon quickly established a foothold in the Internet zeitgeist, scoring a place in the The San Francisco Chronicle‘s “Year in Review” for pop culture.

The newest episode is characteristically deranged and charmingly unsettling. Warning, though: Much like the previous eight episodes, it’s a little gross.

Enjoy! And sleep with one eye open.

More About: humor, pop culture, salad-fingers, video

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Forget Vinyl; Band Releases Album as Location-Based App

Posted: 27 May 2011 11:26 AM PDT

Washington, D.C.-based band Bluebrain’s new album drops Friday, but not in the way one might think. It will be available on iTunes, but not in MP3 form — rather as a location-aware app that only works within the stretch of park in downtown D.C. called the Mall.

“The music changes and evolves based on your chosen path within the park,” says Ryan Holladay, one half of the band. (His brother, Hays, makes up the other half of the outfit.) “To do this, the app uses the phone’s built-in GPS capabilities.” The app features a map of the Mall that shows what locations are tagged with sound.

The album, titled The National Mall, contains about three hours of music that the brothers composed while traipsing around the area. “It was certainly the most amount of exercise I’ve ever gotten while making an album,” Holladay says.

The disc will not be available for standard download as a musical piece, since it will only work when one is standing in the Mall.

“Unlike a number of other music apps out there, this one isn’t a companion to a normal album or an app that gives you tour dates or things like that,” Holladay says. “It actually is the work itself. The music has been composed to work specifically in this landscape. So, for instance, at the Lincoln Memorial, as you ascend the steps up to the giant statue, the sound of bells increases to the point where, when you are standing at Lincoln’s feet, they are surrounding you.”

The music constantly changes as you wander around the park, Holladay tells us. Ascending the hill toward the Washington Monument, you’ll hear only a cello, then, gradually, violins, a choir, clapping, fireworks and drumbeats will come into the mix as you get closer to the obelisk.

At this point, you might be scratching your head (or pounding your fists, depending on your temperament) and inquiring: “Isn’t this some kind of stunt? How is this music?”

“We knew when we started working on the project that, in order for it be considered something more than just a novelty, we had to compose the best music we’ve ever made,” Holladay explains. “But more than that, it’s been exciting to compose music in a way that’s never been done before. We had to constantly think about everything we were writing, examining it from multiple angles asking ourselves ‘Does it work if a person is coming from this way? What about this way?’”

Granted, Bluebrain’s approach is original, but the idea of creating music in unconventional ways — made to be consumed in a specific manner — is hardly a new concept. Remember the Flaming Lips’s song “Two Blogs F**king,” which could only be listened to via 12 YouTube videos? And, before that, there was their album Zaireeka, which came in the form of four CDs to be played simultaneously. Music doesn’t always have to be a leanback, staid experience — sometimes it can be theatrical and kinetic and strange.

Sadly, many of us do not live in Washington, DC, so we won’t be able to check out the album as it should be heard (the app should be up on iTunes later tonight for anyone in the nation’s capital), but Holladay says that the band plans to compose similar apps in a variety of other locations as well.

“We’re actually starting work on Flushing Meadows in Queens, New York,” he says. “It’s the site of the 1964 Worlds Fair and has all these amazing, archaic looking structures that have been really a blast to compose to.”

More About: apps, bluebrain, music, music apps, trending

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8 Important Term Sheet Items to Evaluate Before Investing in a Startup

Posted: 27 May 2011 10:53 AM PDT

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Bill Clark is the CEO of Microventures, a securities broker/dealer that uses crowdfunding to allow investors to invest between $1,000 to $10,000 in startups online. You can follow him on twitter @austinbillc.

After you’ve done your due diligence and finally start investing in startups, you’ll have to review the term sheet.

If you’re lucky, you will be working from a standard term sheet like the one that Y Combinator publishes on its website. Not only does this help keep the legal costs down, but you could instead be looking at an 8 to 10 page document so complex that only your lawyer would understand it.

Let's review the most important items on a term sheet and what they mean so that you are better prepared for any legal issues that may arise.

1. Valuation

It is common to see the valuation of the startup as a "pre-money" valuation. That gives the value of the company before the investors in the round participate. Investing pre-money versus post-money can make a big difference in your equity stake.

Let's say you are going to invest $1 million in a startup and the pre-money valuation is $10 million. If you invest pre-money, the new valuation of the company is $11 million and your equity would be 9.1%. If you invest at $10 million post-money, the valuation is $10 million after your investment and your equity is 10%.

A .9% difference might not seem like a lot, but if it was an investment in LinkedIn, which was just valued at $8.9 billion, a small percent of equity can equal big money.

2. Liquidation Preference

This is what is used to determine how the money is shared once the liquidity event happens. The preferred shares might have a liquidation preference of 1x the common shares. That means that when the company is sold, the preferred shares will be paid first and then the common.

Let's look at two scenarios to see the difference between a company with liquidation preference versus one without.

  • Scenario 1: The startup has $10 million invested in common stock and none have liquidation preference. If it’s sold for $5 million, all shares lose 50% and are paid back equally.
  • Scenario 2: The startup has $10 million invested, but $8 million is common stock and $2 million is preferred shares with 1x liquidation preference. If the startup is sold for $5 million, the preferred shareholders will get back their original investment of $2 million and the remaining $3 million will be distributed to the common stockholders. The common shares would lose a value of 63%.

You can see that having liquidation preference is important, and would have saved you 13% of the loss amount. It is also important to look at liquidation preference multiples which are not as common as they were in the late ’90s. A 2x liquidation preference means you will double your investment before the remaining shareholders see any return.

3. Type of Shares Offered

You will want to understand the type of shares you are getting in order to know how best to manage them. Will you get common shares with voting rights, and is your vote weighted equally among other shareholders and founder stocks? You could also be getting preferred shares, which typically don't have voting rights.

Those preferred shares could have an option to convert to common shares, which would lead to voting rights (but more risk). Weigh these options against what you’re hoping to get out of your investment.

4. Pro Rata Rights

This determines if you have the right to participate in future investment rounds. Make sure you have the ability to invest in future rounds, even if you don't intend to. You always want to have the option. You are taking a lot of the risk in the early rounds, so it is only fair to have the right to continue to participate. It also allows you to make sure your investment is not diluted with each additional investment.

5. Options Pool

These are shares which are set aside and will be issued to new employees, advisors and others during the current investment round. Having available stock for this purpose is important because it is needed to bring in new talent. This pool is typically part of the pre-money valuation of the business. You need to understand the option pool because it can dilute pre-money shares. Also, if the pool is not large enough, it might not attract good talent to the company. The startup's plan for option pool shares should be based on their hiring plan. 7-10% is a good range.

6. Founder Vesting

The vesting period for founder shares should be three to four years. You don't want to have all the shares issued immediately and then have the founder walk away with a huge part of the company. There may also be an accelerated vesting section based on change of control. This is OK, because it protects the founders if the company is acquired. Check to make sure how founders' shares are going to be managed before you sign.

7. Anti Dilution

This is an important provision because it can protect your investment if the startup raises an additional round of funding at a lower valuation than your previous round.

There are a few forms of it that Brad Feld does a great job discussing on his blog. The basic premise is that if a new round is raised at a lower valuation, your previous round's price gets reduced to the current round’s valuation, which will give you more shares.

8. Information Rights

One of the reasons it is riskier to invest in private companies is that you don't have access to a lot of recorded public financial data. Public companies report and publish quarterly results, while private companies are not required to do so. It is critical that the term sheet outline some provision for reporting on financials to shareholders.

Typical startup term sheets state how unaudited quarterly statements are communicated. It should give you enough information so that you can track your investment over time and make sure the company is healthy.

I hope this list helps you understand what you should be looking for when reviewing a term sheet. You should not only conduct your own thorough review, but have a securities attorney look over the term sheet to get the full picture prior to any investment.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Nikada

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Look Up Caller IDs on Free App for iPhone & Android

Posted: 27 May 2011 10:09 AM PDT has released an app that functions as a caller ID lookup service for iPhone and Android smartphones.

Unlike similar, existing apps, NumberGuru [iTunes link] is free to download and offers an unlimited number of lookups.

The app has indexed 90% of landlines and more than 50% of cell phone numbers, say its creators. (Verizon Wireless numbers are not included, as that information is not available to anyone.)

App users can leave comments on the numbers they look up, alerting others to the existence of spammers.

As with the rest of‘s web and mobile apps, such as the Sex Offender Tracker, NumberGuru pulls the numbers from a large database of public records. It’s all part of the company’s larger mission to make those records better accessible to consumers.

There is also a web version available at

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Facebook Profile Photos By The Numbers [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 27 May 2011 09:05 AM PDT

Facebook has the largest collection of photos on the web, and according to a recent analysis, about 10% of them are profile photos.

Photo discovery app Pixable analyzed about 500,000 of its users’ profiles to come up with some statistics about the photos we choose to represent ourselves.

Check out the highlights from the analysis in the infographic below.

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President Obama To Name Twitter CEO To Advisory Committee

Posted: 27 May 2011 08:49 AM PDT

Once again signaling his close ties with Silicon Valley, President Barack Obama plans to draft Twitter CEO Dick Costolo to his National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee.

In a White House statement released Thursday evening, Obama named Costolo, along with Scott Charney, corporate VP of Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing Group, McAfee President David G. DeWalt and three others, as potential appointees. The group oversees the availability and reliability of telecom services in the U.S.

Costolo became Twitter CEO last October after co-founder Evan Williams stepped down.

The move is Obama's latest overture to Silicon Valley. In his January State of the Union address, the president name-checked Google and Facebook. The following month, Obama shared a dinner with Eric Schmidt, then-CEO of Google; Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, among others, at the home of Silicon Valley venture capitalist John Doerr.

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5 Strategies for Maximizing Your Content’s Social Reach

Posted: 27 May 2011 08:30 AM PDT

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Frank Marquardt is director of content strategy at The Barbarian Group, a digital services and creation company. Find him on Twitter @tralition.

What once existed as a webpage now finds expression as an update on Facebook, a link, a tweet, an email link or a reblog on Tumblr. Welcome to the age of “traveling content.”

Traveling content, a consequence of the social evolution of the Internet and smart bookmarklets, is changing how search works. Google +1, Google's war on content farms, and Facebook's partnership with Bing all elevate content people actually like over content designed to gin search algorithms.

Brands have only begun to grapple with the repercussions. Two big ones need their attention.

First, a brand needs quality content. Otherwise who wants it? If nobody wants it, nobody's going to share it. If nobody shares it, it's impossible to meet audiences where they are on the Internet. Second, unless the content travels well, audiences won't make the trip.

So how do you make content that's a desirable traveling companion, and package it so it's ready to go? Let's look at five strategies.

1. Create Quality Content

There are two ways to do this. Create content that people can use, or create content that's going to entertain them.

Quality branded entertainment can be hard to create, but it can pay dividends with audiences. "Easy to Assemble," a quirky web series created by and starring Illeana Douglas as an employee at a Burbank IKEA, attracted more than 9 million viewers.

More recently, a seven-minute documentary released in January about The Sartorialist, Scott Schumann, drew 700,000 views (and counting) as part of Intel's Visual Life campaign. It managed those numbers without any media spend.

Other brands create content people can use. Sephora's Beauty Advice section combines videos of celebrities and fashion tutorials along with conversation boards, from which Sephora highlights "Advice of the Week." That lets them gather many pieces of advice and call out the one that's most notable.

A caveat: Think of your content as an ambassador for your brand. At Kashi, a natural foods cereal company, articles about healthy eating topics like protein have historically outperformed articles unrelated to the core brand message and product. Traveling content that is specific to what you do generally serves as a better ambassador than traveling content that’s only broadly connected to your brand.

Disclosure: Kashi is a former client of the author’s company.

2. Organize Around Your Message

Organizations that operate in silos create content that varies in style and substance from one team to another. Worse, they can simply get in the way of maximizing the reach of good content. Take for example a media brand with old-school editors who don't want to work with the social media team because they're located in the marketing department. A small reorganization would put the social team within editorial. Social shouldn't be separated, but integrated.

In the age of traveling content, organizations need to adapt by creating a common platform for what they publish. Often, that means reorganizing workflows or creating a layer of content that sits above each department. This means there's a framework for what gets published, ensuring a consistent voice, tone, and style for product marketing, social media, HR, and other groups.

Too often, design precedes content, leading to a last-minute scramble to produce content that fits the design. That's neither strategic nor smart. If you want content that travels well, you'll have to think hard about what it should be and when it should be released, how it'll be packaged across social platforms, the story it's telling, and what its lifespan will be. Think about building community over time through a consistent, sustained story rather than short-term campaigns that often don't relate.

3. Operate Like A Publisher

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Twitter, Facebook, and other social distribution turns brands into publishers. By publishing regularly, providing entertaining or useful content, you increase your chances of remaining top-of-mind and meeting audiences where they are online.

Williams-Sonoma does this really well. Their Guide to Grilling comes with seasonally relevant content designed to be talked about on Facebook and Twitter.

A regularly updated blog with sharable posts like The Art of Sangria, offers additional useful, fresh info. Williams-Sonoma makes its content go even further by syndicating it to food-related bloggers who affiliate (and earn a referral fee) when they add a Williams-Sonoma widget to their site.

Of course, publishing isn't just about the content; it's also about the presentation. Pharmaca competes in the category of supplements, where products are not always well understood and educational information could make a substantial difference in sales.

While the Pharmaca site offers how-to information, it comes in dense paragraph blocks that read poorly online. The lesson? No matter how good the content, unless it's presented in a usable format, you're going to chase away your audience.

4. Make Your Content Portable

visibli tweet

To Pharmaca's credit, its "Bookmark & Share" widget makes it easy for people to share its content. Social sharing tools offer a one-click option for sending content into a social network, where there's no telling who it'll meet. Meet your audience where they are, rather than forcing them to come to you.

Facebook and Twitter icons are pretty much omnipresent online, but there are other creative ways to invite people to share your content. Visibli's study on Facebook engagement integrates "tweet this" links into its summary bullets. The clever writing — of both the bullets and the tweets — makes the content highly sharable.

5. Make Your Content Findable

When you invest in content, make sure it travels as far as it can. This means optimizing it for the road. Put games and videos into standard sizes/ratios so that they're easy to embed. Make sure reviews and recipes include microformat data so they can be easily found by search crawlers. Create a mobile version of your site. Use an RDF (Resource Description Framework) to tag your content and use good, standards-based code. Consider other tools like Embedly to maximize sharability. There's nothing worse than well-dressed content waiting for a train that never arrives.

Image courtesy of Flickr, weno

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Will Nike’s SportWatch GPS Keep You Running?

Posted: 27 May 2011 08:00 AM PDT

The Gadget of the Day Series is supported by the Energizer® Inductive Charger, which brings you the next generation of charging with Qi technology. Qi is the new universal standard for wireless charging … now that's positivenergy™.

Product: Nike+ SportWatch GPS

Price: $199.99

What It’s Good For: It promises to track your run via GPS without you needing to carry your phone, as it has a push-button satellite connection.

Who It's Good For: Runners of all levels who want an accurate assessment of their runs, accounting for corners and hills.

Limitations: There’s an awful lot you have to plug this watch into your computer for, such as adjusting the clock and syncing your location. Plus you have to take a few steps to get to the website that shows your running history.

Bottom Line: The Nike+ Sportwatch GPS is very accurate, and with a little software-side tweaking, it could be the perfect scoring system for your runs.

A Look at the Nike+ SportWatch GPS

I love running — so long as I’m getting some kind of credit for it. Some people track calories, others track kilometers. The latter is your score in a real-world video game that can make you healthier faster than just about any other activity. Without a good scoring system, it’s simply too easy to stay in bed instead of hitting the road.

That’s why, ever since the iPhone app Couch to 5K transformed me from a run-o-phobe to a halfway-decent middle-distance runner, I’ve been looking for tech that can inspire me in a similar manner and log my runs precisely. And that’s what I hoped I’d found in the Nike+ Sportwatch GPS.

Prior to reviewing the SportWatch, which came to market last month, I’d been using the Runkeeper app to track my outings. But that can be a somewhat irritating process. Not only does it mean you have to run with your phone strapped to your arm (or bouncing around distractingly in your pocket), but you have to fire up the app, tell it you’re running rather than walking or biking, and wait for it to connect to GPS satellites. And if, like me, you tend to run up, down and around city streets rather than in a straight line, you have to log on to Runkeeper afterwards and painstakingly adjust the map of your run. Because its connection to GPS is not constant, Runkeeper has a frustrating habit of assuming that I ran through buildings rather than around a corner. Unadjusted, this has too often made it look like I ran 9K, say, rather than 10K. The more you run, the greater the lost distance. No fair!

These, then, were my main questions about the Nike+ Sportwatch GPS: Would it have a push-button satellite connection, allowing me to run without the extra bulk of a phone? And would it log my runs more precisely than a phone app? Certainly, the branding would suggest so — the watch was made in conjunction with GPS stalwarts TomTom. Like other Nike products and apps, the watch also connects to the company’s patented shoe pod, which sits in your left sneaker and estimates your distance via your footfalls. But it’s GPS accuracy that you’re paying the big bucks for.

So is it push-button? Literally, yes. Press one button on the side of the watch’s massive face, and the attractive number display is replaced with a “linking” screen. I found that the amount of time it stays on that screen can vary wildly. After I took a trip to Florida, ran there, and came back to San Francisco, it refused to connect to GPS at all. A Nike rep told me that was likely because it was looking for satellites as if it were in its last known location; it would be fixed by simply plugging it in to my laptop’s USB port (there’s a nifty little USB connector built into the strap) and connecting to the Nike+ app. And indeed it was.

There’s the rub, though. There’s an awful lot you have to plug this watch into your computer for, including adjusting the clock itself. Taking a trip outside your time zone without your laptop? Then you’re going to have a hard time — or at least an out-of-sync time. We’re a long way from the convenience of mobile apps here.

The SportWatch GPS does beat Runkeeper on accuracy, overall. The runs shown on the map at look more like the route I ran; evidently the TomTom technology is more precise on roads than the iPhone’s GPS chip, so Nike’s software usually understands the concept of street corners without needing adjustment — which is a good thing, because you can’t actually do any adjustment on the Nike map as you can with Runkeeper. The few times my watch was inaccurate, there was no hope of appeal.

Overall, the SportWatch is a pretty cool piece of technology, if a little pricey. I like that Nike has kept it simple and friendly, offering congratulations on a run that beats your previous best time or distance, and personal trainer-like encouragement (“good job!”). It would be nice to have a little more functionality on the watch itself, such as changing the time without an assist from your PC. Where Nike falls down is on the software, which sometimes didn’t load automatically, and takes too many steps to get to the webpage that displays your most recent run.

For that reason alone, Runkeeper will remain my favored system for the moment. With a little software-side tweaking, however, the Nike+ Sportwatch GPS could be the perfect scoring system for real-world video game runs.

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The Gadget of the Day Series is supported by the Energizer® Inductive Charger, which brings you the next generation of charging with Qi technology. Qi is the new universal standard for wireless charging. Energizer® has always been designed with performance and responsibility in mind … now that's positivenergy™.

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HOW TO: Choose & Approach a Corporate Partner for Your Non-Profit

Posted: 27 May 2011 07:45 AM PDT

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Laura Kimball directs the communications and social media outreach at Jolkona, a non-profit that is cultivating the next generation of philanthropists. She also blogs at, and can always be found on Twitter @lamiki.

Corporations are looking for ways to bring giving into their business because it works. A 2008 Cone Corporate Citizenship study claimed 85% of Americans had a more positive image of a product or company when it supports a cause they care about. Nearly 90% of Americans said it is important that business, government and non-profits collaborate to solve pressing social issues. And 79% of Americans said they would likely switch from one brand to another if the other brand is associated with a good cause.

Businesses in turn want to give back for a variety of reasons, and your non-profit could be exactly what they're looking for.

An effective partnership is critical in building momentum for funding and brand awareness, for both the non-profit and the corporation. But similar to dating, you need to find a corporate partner that is the perfect match for your organization. And we're not talking about a one-night stand here — we're talking "the one" you want to spend the rest of your fundraising life with.

Find the Perfect Corporate Partner

Have you ever laid your eyes on a company whose mission was perfectly aligned with yours, was incredibly successful, and had all this money it wanted to donate to support your cause?

Tragically, that kind of "true love" partner doesn't exist without some investment on your end. In order to find your true love you need to start by building a list of 15 to 30 companies, large and small, that you would like to work with. Just like with dating, choose companies that have a similar vision of how to be innovative in the world as you do.

Once you have your "match" list, do your research. Check out each company's corporate social responsibility (CSR) statement. If they don't have one, do your detective work and see what qualities the company values based on their corporate culture. Research the company's non-profit history. Which causes and non-profits have they supported in the past?

Look into the philanthropic habits of their founder, CEO, and executive leadership team. See if you can find what causes they support outside of the company.

True Love

What does "true love" look like between a non-profit and a corporation? Take a look at Pampers, which is improving the lives of babies and their families by donating one tetanus vaccine through UNICEF for every package of diapers purchased. Or look at Penny Arcade, which leverages its community of gamers to give money, toys, and games to children at local hospitals through the charity Child's Play.

Making the First Move

Now that you have a list of corporations who would make a perfect match for your non-profit, it's time to ask them out on the first date. Even though you'll be dating the entire company, you'll want to start with anyone who can get you in the door. Think of your first point of contact as your matchmaker.

First Date Rule: Keep it causal. Share with your matchmaker what you're working on and why his company would be a good fit to sponsor your campaign and partner with your non-profit. Woo them.

Second Date Rule: If your matchmaker is interested and sparks fly, ask him for an introduction to the decision makers at the company and set up a formal meeting. If your matchmaker is truly passionate about your idea, invite him to be a part of this meeting as an advocate for the partnership. Again, woo them. Advocates are key.

Bryan Pape is an entrepreneur and an advocate for clean water. While creating his company, MiiR Bottles, he learned that nearly one billion people don't have access to clean water, and dedicated his entire company to helping alleviate that cause. For every bottle MiiR sells, they donate $1 to give one person clean water for one year through water partnerships at One Day's Wages.

How to Make the Pitch

Third Date Rule: Making your actual pitch is the magical third date. When it comes to building a relationship with a corporate partner, don't leave any doubts that you’re the right fit. This is where you'll learn if it’s meant-to-be or not.

For your pitch, outline exactly what you're looking for in your relationship. Briefly introduce your organization and your mission, then get right into the juicy bits about the campaign or cause marketing opportunity you need sponsorship for. Detail what you're asking of the corporation, including funding, promotion, employee evangelizing, branding opportunities, joint media outreach, etc.

For example, take a look at what Microsoft has been doing with the Boys and Girls Club since 1998. In this partnership, Microsoft donates their money, software, and volunteer hours. If you are looking for a corporate partner to go beyond writing you a check, make sure you let them know that.

Finally, explain what you will bring to the table. Outline success metrics that align with the partner’s business goals. Speak their talk and show them how you will calculate the ROI of their philanthropic dollars and how that will make an impact on your campaign and your work.

The purpose of this meeting is to deviate from the traditional dating ritual. Stop playing games and put all your cards on the table so you can both decide if this partnership is a match made in heaven or not. It's also important to listen and take counter offers into consideration. If the chemistry is off, it's okay to walk away. Remember there are other corporate funding fish in the sea.

For more lists, how-tos and other resources on this topic, check out Mashable Explore!

Image courtesy of Flickr, Lel4nd

More About: charity, corporate, corporate social responsibility, csr, non-profit, social good, social media

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Lady Gaga & Polaroid’s First Product Hits Shelves

Posted: 27 May 2011 07:27 AM PDT

Remember that deal between Polaroid and Lady Gaga back in January at CES? The first actual product to come out of that arrangement is finally hitting retail shelves.

The Polaroid Grey Label GL10, a 15 oz. wireless printer, is now available on at Bloomingdales’s flagship store on 59th Street in New York City at a suggested retail price of $169.99. The product is the first from Polaroid and Lady Gaga's Polaroid Grey Label line. The product is also available for pre-order at Polaroid's website and will be widely released in June.

The line features Polaroid's Zink (for "zero ink") printing technology. Unfortunately, the most attention-getting item in the line — a pair of picture-taking sunglasses — has yet to be released.

More About: CES, Lady Gaga, polaroid, printers

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Sony Set To Bring PSN Back Online in Asia

Posted: 27 May 2011 07:12 AM PDT

After a long period of downtime, Sony has announced that it will start restoring its PlayStation Network in some Asian countries on Saturday.

The company recently restored the network, which had been incapacitated by a series of hacker attacks for nearly a month, in most parts of the world. But users have still been waiting for PSN to get back online in Asia.

That’s about to change — for some countries, at least. According to a statement from the company, it will first restore online gaming and chat in Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand on Saturday. PSN will remain down in South Korea and Hong Kong until further notice.

The restoration of PSN was delayed in Asia, as authorities in some countries had asked Sony to prove it had taken security measures to protect the customers’ data.

Sony is also offering a “Welcome Back” gift package to users in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, similar to gift packages offered in other parts of the world.

As Sony slowly cleans this mess, the cost of the PSN hack and the resulting downtime has built up: Sony directly lost $171 million due to the incident. The damage to its reputation, as well as the loss of users’ trust, might end up hurting Sony even more.

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Thanks to Mashable’s Socially Savvy Supporters

Posted: 27 May 2011 06:51 AM PDT

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LoopFuse supports Mashable’s Social Ad Series. Follow Loopfuse on Twitter and Facebook.

Mygazines is an interactive marketing solution that lets you enhance, distribute and track your content on any web enabled device, including desktop, iPad, iPhone, Blackberry and Android phones. Looks like an app, works on any browser. Learn more.

Mygazines supports Mashable’s Mobile Content Series. Follow Mygazines on Twitter and Facebook.

BMW i is a new concept dedicated to providing mobility solutions for the urban environment. It delivers more than purpose-built electric vehicles — it delivers smart mobility services. Visit

BMW i supports Mashable’s Global Innovation Series. Follow BMW i on Twitter and Facebook.

Elance is where where businesses tap into the human cloud for immediate access to the talent they need, when they need it. Elance offers the flexibility to staff up or down, and is faster and less expensive than traditional staffing and outsourcing. Check out Startup Cloud to learn how to hire and manage in the human cloud.

Elance supports Mashable’s Digital Careers Series. Follow Elance on Twitter and Facebook.

Discover Digital Group is a unique consultancy that focuses on identifying new e-revenue opportunities for both Fortune 1000 and startup clients alike. From developing new digital products to generating new audiences and revenue for existing online products, it creates smarter, more effective solutions for your business challenges. Follow DDG on Facebook to get a taste of the insights that are offered.

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Global Strategic Management Institute is a leading source of knowledge for today's leaders. Its Social Media Strategies Series are the leading educational events for organizations looking to advance their online capabilities. Learn more at

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Mynewsdesk's social media newsrooms makes it easier to exchange news and multimedia content with key influencers, reach the top of search engines and automatically update your social media outlets and homepage. Learn more.

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Ford supports Mashable Explore. The Content Exploration Series is presented by Mashable Explore, a new way to discover resources and information on your favorite Mashable topics. Mashable Explore is brought to you by the all-new, 100% reinvented 2011 Ford Explorer. Drive One.

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Site24x7, an online website monitoring service which allows users to monitor their website, web application and online web transactions. Users can get instant alerts when their website goes down. Site24x7 allows monitoring from across 25+ global locations. Site24x7 pricing starts from $1/Month/URL. Sign up for a 15-day Free Trial!

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With the explosion of mobile devices, advertising dollars will begin to shift to mobile for tech marketers this year. IDG Global Solutions President Matt Yorke talks about the rise of social and how IDG helps marketers create social campaigns. The line is fading between social media and traditional media. Earned media or sharing of information within social networks is becoming mainstream whether on a PC or mobile device. Learn more.

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Elsevier‘s SciVerse Application Marketplace and Developer Network enables developers to build apps based on trusted scientific content. In 2008, the prominent science publisher Elsevier launched SciVerse to provide developers with access to ample research data. SciVerse also sponsors "Apps for Science," a $35,000 developer challenge to accelerate science. Learn more.

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HubSpot offers inbound marketing software that helps small and medium sized businesses get found on the Internet by the right prospects and converts more of them into leads and customers. HubSpot's software platform includes tools that allow professional marketers and small business owners to manage SEO, blogging, social media, landing pages, e-mail, lead intelligence and marketing analytics. Learn more.

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Vocus helps businesses get heard and talked about on social media and beyond. It brings you all the conversations that matter, without information overload, and lets you find influencers fast. Take a quick online demo and see what it can do.

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Level 3 Communications is an international provider of fiber-based communications services. Level 3 is committed to carrying digital media from anywhere to anywhere, in whatever format needed.

Level 3 supports Mashable’s Social Gaming Development Series.

Qualcomm's Snapdragon chipset platform is redefining mobility by offering an optimal combination of mobile processing performance, powerful multimedia, wireless connectivity and power efficiency. Inside your smartphone beats the heart of a dragon.

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Sourcebits, a leading product developer for mobile platforms. Sourcebits offers design and development services for iOS, Android, Mobile and Web platforms.

Sourcebits supports Mashable’s Mobile App Trends Series. Follow Sourcebits on Twitter and Facebook for recent news and updates.

Oneupweb is an agency specializing in search marketing, social media and design for mid-to-enterprise level brands. Keep up with Oneupweb through its blog and monthly newsletter.

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SoftLayer provides global, on-demand data center and hosting services from facilities across the U.S. it leverages best-in-class connectivity and technology to innovate industry leading, fully automated solutions that empower enterprises with complete access, control, security, and scalability.

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SRDS connects agencies, brands and media through its online database of media planning data. SRDS is committed to making it easier to buy online ad space and build integrated marketing campaigns. Sign up for a free 14-day trial of the SRDS consumer and business database here.

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Buddy Media is Power Tools for Facebook. Have something new to tell 500 million people? Learn the best way to manage multiple brands on Facebook with this webinar.

Buddy Media supports Mashable’s Facebook Marketing Series, which is about how brands can advertise on Facebook. Follow Buddy Media on Twitter and Facebook.

Clickatell was the first provider of Online SMS Gateway connectivity, and after 10 years, is still the leading provider. Clickatell can deliver your SMS text messages to over 818 mobile networks in more than 222 countries and territories.

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BizSpark is a program which offers new software businesses and entrepreneurs access to Microsoft design, development and production tools with no upfront costs for up to three years. Learn more or connect with a Microsoft BizSpark advisor here.

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Webtrends founded the web analytics industry in 1993. Today, its leadership extends much further to social media measurement, paid-search optimization and connecting the online and offline data silos scattered throughout organizations. Webtrends helps you analyze the data generated by your web site, blogs, online campaigns and enterprise systems to understand your customers and, ultimately, business opportunities.

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Since 2007 W3 EDGE has assisted with creative, web development, and search and social media marketing for and its other web properties and projects. Day-to-day maintenance and support is handled by Frederick Townes and his W3 EDGE team.

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Rackspace Hosting is the world’s leader in the hosting and cloud computing industry. The San Antonio-based company provides Fanatical Support® to its customers across a portfolio of IT services. For more information, visit is hosted on Rackspace, and Rackspace sponsors Mashable’s Web Development Series. Check it out here, and follow Rackspace on Twitter.

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Dyn Inc. is a world leader in managed DNS, powering the best brands on the web including Gowalla, Mashable, Twitter, Wikia and more. For more information about Dyn Inc., visit, e-mail or call +1-603-668-4998.

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ConcentricSky offers web and mobile development with a focus on emerging technologies. With partners ranging from National Geographic and Encyclopedia Britannica to NASA and The World Bank, Concentric Sky is known for delivering innovative, world-class software solutions.

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The 5 Biggest Stories in Social Media, Tech & Business This Morning

Posted: 27 May 2011 06:28 AM PDT

Social Media News

Welcome to this morning’s edition of "First To Know," a series in which we keep you in the know on what's happening in the digital world. We're keeping our eyes on five particular stories of interest today.

Google Unveils Mobile Payment System, Lawsuits Ensue

Google unveiled Google Wallet, its mobile payment system, as well as more details about Google Offers at a press event Thursday. Shortly after, PayPal filed lawsuits against the company as well as two of its former executives over trade secrets.

Facebook To Unveil Multimedia Features for Pages

Facebook is partnering with online music and video companies for the launch of a new feature that will integrate outside media into profile pages, according to a new report.

Twitter Lets Users See Others' Timelines

Twitter has launched a feature that lets users see the microblogging site through the eyes of the people whom they follow.

Gmail Widget Furnishes Background Info on Contacts

Google has introduced the “people widget,” a Gmail feature that adds contextual information about those with whom one exchanges email.

Online Ad Revenues Jump 23% to New Record

Internet advertising revenues hit $7.3 billion in the first quarter, setting a new record, the Interactive Advertising Bureau reports.

Further News

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, DNY59

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Hacking for Good: Three Ways for Devs to Get Involved

Posted: 27 May 2011 06:22 AM PDT

If you’re a developer and you’d like to use your powers for the greater good, we have three ways for you to use your unique talents to affect positive change.

Random Hacks of Kindness

Random Hacks of Kindness is a community that focuses on developing practical and open-source solutions to global challenges. These challenges can range from disaster risk management to climate change adaptation. Solutions so far have included apps such as I’m OK, an SMS app that lets people in disaster-afflicted areas notify family members of their status, and CHASM, an app for landslide risk visualization.

These apps are made by thousands of software experts, volunteer devs and designers from 26 cities around the world. Currently, 120 distinct projects make up RHoK’s opus. Projects continue year-round, but events can be organized to create sprint scenarios.

Random Hacks of Kindness was founded in 2009 as a partnership between Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, NASA and the World Bank.

Hack for Change

From comes Hack for Change, a weekend-long event to be held in San Francisco on June 18 and 19, 2011. (Disclosure: Mashable is a sponsor of this event.)

At the hackathon, 50 devs and designers will split into teams and spend 24 hours creating web or mobile apps they believe will affect positive change. Devs can use any publicly available APIs in their apps, and several companies with APIs popular in this arena will be presenting before the hacking begins.

Anyone can apply to attend and hack in this event, and invitations will be confirmed at the beginning of June.

Code for America

Code for America is still seeking fellows for its 2012 cycle. This organization assembles teams of crack developers to build open-source apps for governments. Each year, many cities and states apply for the CfA program, and many more developers vie for a spot as a CfA fellow.

The chosen hackers are sent to the cities where the apps will be built and used. Each dev is given a stipend, as well as mentorship and post-program recommendations.

CfA Fellowship applications are due July 31, 2011 for the 2012 fellowships.

image courtesy of iStockphoto, nyul

More About: developers, development, devs, hackers, hacking, social good

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Mark Zuckerberg Only Eats What He Kills

Posted: 27 May 2011 05:46 AM PDT

The new diet of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is not for the faint of heart: He only eats what he kills.

“This year I’ve basically become a vegetarian since the only meat I’m eating is from animals I’ve killed myself,” Zuckerberg wrote in an email to Fortune.

The diet is one of Zuckerberg’s many “personal challenges,” he claims, that help him expand his interests and teach himself discipline. Last year, he tried to learn Chinese, and now he’s trying to be more responsible about the food he eats.

“A bunch of people told me that even though they loved eating pork, they really didn’t want to think about the fact that the pig used to be alive. That just seemed irresponsible to me. I don’t have an issue with anything people choose to eat, but I do think they should take responsibility and be thankful for what they eat rather than trying to ignore where it came from,” Zuckerberg says.

Zuckerberg’s view on nutrition ethics are similar to some types of Buddhist vegetarianism and Locavorism. And as he himself admitted, it’s “basically” a vegetarian diet.

However, the fact that Zuckerberg did kill some animals himself — according to Fortune, this includes a lobster, chicken, pig and a goat — to eat them will surely stir some controversy. Zuckerberg even posted a message on his private Facebook page on May 4 saying, “I just killed a pig and a goat.”

What do you think about Zuckerberg’s view on meat-eating? Could you ever embark on such a diet? What’s more acceptable: having others kill the animals for your food, or doing it yourself? Please, share your opinions in the comments.

More About: diet, ethics, facebook, mark zuckerberg, nutrition, trending

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