Old Dogs Learn New Tricks

Old Dogs Learn New Tricks

With Draw Something, NYC-Based OMGPOP Just Ousted Zynga As the Mayor of Facebook Games


OMGPOP, the New York-based casual gaming company founded all the way back in 2006, just had its first big breakout with Draw Something. In fact, according to the AppData leaderboard, which measures apps on the Facebook platform, Draw Something just surpassed Zynga’s Word with Friends in terms of daily active users.

Draw Something has 10.8 million daily active users logged in through Facebook, compared to Words with Friends 8.9 million. OMGPOP, which pivoted from its first concept, iminlikewithyou, in 2009, has released five Facebook games to date. But Draw Something is its first big hit. And how! A few days ago, the company told TechCrunch that Draw Something had passed 25 million registered users, was close to 1 billion ad impressions, and considering a TV show based on the game (which reminds us, where’s that Angry Birds movie, anyway?) Read More

Old Dogs Learn New Tricks

Facebook Cofounder Chris Hughes Named Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of The New Republic


It looks like we can cut the question mark at the end of “Chris Hughes: Media Mogul?” The New York Times Media Decoder blog reports that the rumors were true, Mr. Hughes will indeed head up the 98-year-old neoliberal magazine, which has struggled with diminishing profits and dwindling circulation.

Although the terms of the deal were not revealed, Mr. Hughes will become the magazine’s editor-in-chief and publisher. And they’ve wasted no time updating the publication’s Wikipedia page. After spearheading President Obama’s digital campaign in 2008, Mr. Hughes went on to found Jumo, a social network for nonprofits and activists which was “acquired” by GOOD for $0.

What’s the former Facebooker’s plan to rescue old media? According to Media Decoder, Mr. Hughes will focus on “distributing the magazine’s long-form journalism through tablet computers like the iPad.” Read More

Old Dogs Learn New Tricks

Flickr Is Getting a Major Makeover

The new Flickr photo view.

Markus Spiering has, as they say, a good eye. Most of his resume was in mobile before he became a senior product manager for Flickr. In March 2011, he slipped into the head product role, lording over Flickr’s 45 or so employees. “”I have the pleasure to run product management for one of the most exciting web sites in the world: Flickr,” he says on his website. He’s in town for the Photo Hack Day hackathon this weekend, the first small sign of what could be the company’s reinvigorated interest in its audience.

Mr. Spiering is very happy to be making extensive changes to the Flickr interface, the first of which will roll out next week, as he explained in a meeting with Betabeat, Yahoo’s Jason Khoury, and, looking pretty on Mr. Spiering’s Macbook Air.

Mr. Spiering moused over the current photo view. “This is very typical of Flickr,” he said. “Lots of white space, small photos, lots of information around.”

He then opened a new tab to show the spread, completely revamped. Suddenly the photos look more than four times their current size and lie neatly justified on the page, somehow jigsawing together without cropping or changing the order in which they appear.

The new photo view will hit on Feb. 28, Mr. Spiering said, and with it comes a new upload interface. Flickr’s uploading page now looks more like an app than a website. Goodbye, retro blue links. Hello, swoopy drag-and-drop. Read More

Old Dogs Learn New Tricks

Si Newhouse Saunters Into StartupLand In Search of Digital Dollars, and (Possibly) a Stake in Moda Operandi


Startups must be in this season, because it looks like Uncle Si is starting to pivot. Advance Publications, the Conde Nast parent company owned by the billionaire Newhouse clan, is “quietly” making a departure from the glossies, newspapers, and cable companies on which it built its empire. Keith Kelly at the New York Post reports that Advance, “armed with a $500 million war chest,” is looking to invest in both the digital and startup world–both realms the company has struggled with in the past.

Earlier this month, Mr. Newhouse spun reddit out from under Conde Nast and into an independent company under Advance, perhaps hoping to better capitalize on high volume traffic, which in the case of some sub-reddits is basically as large as if they were “their own websites, ” reddit general manager Erik Martin has told Betabeat. Read More

Old Dogs Learn New Tricks

Unigo’s One-Stop, People-Powered College Resource Guide Scores $1.6 M. from Newly-Splintered McGraw-Hill


It’s always a real confidence booster when the old guard comes a courtin’. Today, Unigo, the New York startup that Walt Mossberg called a “college resource built for the age of YouTube and Facebook,” announced it has received $1.6 million in funding from The McGraw-Hill Companies. It seems the publishing giant hasn’t wasted any time trying to pivot into the digital space. And no wonder, earlier this week McGraw-Hill announced it would be spinning off its education division amid stalled stock prices.

But that’s not the only old school company embracing Unigo’s unique formula of surprisingly comprehensive reviews from college students and counselors. The student review section in the US News & World Report’s rankings and directories will also now be powered by Unigo. The funding will be used to expand into grad schools and accredited universities outside the US and develop partnerships with other publishers. Read More

Old Dogs Learn New Tricks

This Is What Happens to Delicious When It’s Not Owned By Yahoo


Just in time for a post-mortem on Carol Bartz’s tenure as CEO of Yahoo comes an interview with YouTube founders Steve Chen and Chad Hurley in The New York Times about their plans to revamp Delicious. Even before her abrupt cellphone ouster by a bunch of “doofuses”–her words, not ours–Ms. Bartz was criticized for her “failure to innovate” or even capitalize on innovative acquisitions like Delicious and Flickr.

So what will Delicious look like under the leadership of Mr. Chen and Mr. Hurley, who purchased the bookmarking service after Yahoo threatened to shutter it or sell? According to AllThingsD’s Liz Gannes, “The new Delicious sounds a lot like the old Delicious brought up-to-date,” but that’s sort of the point. The need for a service like Delicious, the forward-thinking bookmarking site that never quite caught on outside early adopter circles, is heightened by the torrent of information flowing from social sites like Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and more. Read More

Old Dogs Learn New Tricks

Exec Compares Myspace to a ‘Young Adult Male,’ But It Looks More Like a Mid-Life Crisis to Us


Myspace is preeeeeeeeety pumped about its relaunch (under its new parent company Specific Media) later this year. So pumped, in fact, that Al Dejewski, the company’s new senior VP-global marketing, has extreme fitness on the brain.

In an interview in AdAge, Mr. Dejewski compared Myspace’s eight-year life cycle “to that of a young male adult who found a way to express himself through music but decided to bulk up on things like classified ads and horoscopes along the way,” says the paper.

Interesting. Tell us more.

Read More

Old Dogs Learn New Tricks

Gilt Groupe’s New Men’s Site, Park & Bond, Looks Duditor-Approved

He'd fit right in the Conde elevators.

Gilt Groupe founder & CEO Kevin Ryan sent out an email this morning announcing the launch of its new men’s fashion site, Park & Bond. Between the luxe offerings ($210 for an embossed Alexander McQueen passport holder, anyone?) the editorial layout and service-y content, the beta site comes across like an e-commerce version of GQ as filtered through the Lucky lens .

That shouldn’t surprise anyone who read Betabeat’s interview with Park & Bond president John Auerbach back in June, in which he explained…err…rather gracefully tried to side-step, the symbiotic relationship between the esteemed editors of Gentleman’s Quarterly and Gilt.  In Betabeat’s eyes the mutual benefits are clear,  Gilt gets some press (literally, P&B will have a page in GQ) and a marquee name to distinguish P&B from the seeming endless parade of new fashion verticals. And GQ, after years of being stymied by Conde’s  web phobia, gets a new revenue stream. Read More

Old Dogs Learn New Tricks

Gilt Groupe’s New Men’s Site Get’s Cozy With GQ, Like All Up In There


Gilt Groupe just announced that its new men’s site, Park & Bond‒ a name that practically drips with the silver-spooned sound of privilege‒ will be partnering with Conde Nast’s GQ magazine on an e-commerce strategy. Not only will Park & Bond host an online store that features products “handpicked from the pages of the magazine by the editors of GQ.” But starting with the September issue, GQ is also promoting the venture in its pages and on to drive readers to Park & Bond. Betabeat talked to Park & Bond president John Auerbach (Gilt employee no. 5), on the phone from the Pitti Immagine Uomo show in Italy, about the partnership‒and the genesis of that name. Read More