All Posts

Report: Apple considered investing in Twitter

A Wall Street Journal story published last night has revealed that Apple considered investing in Twitter sometime last year. According to “people familiar with the matter,” the talks never amounted to anything, and there are “no current formal investment or acquisition discussions between the companies.” Though an investment is currently off the table, Apple is said to have met with a number of social media start-ups recently to “discuss product ideas”, according to WSJ.

The Wall Street Journal story debunked an earlier report published by The New York Times. Sources told The Times that talks were currently taking place between Apple and Twitter concerning a possible investment in the hundred million dollar range. Such an investment would have valued Twitter at $10 billion, up from their previous $8.4 billion valuation quoted last year. Since the Times story was published, numerous reliable outlets and journalists have corroborated the Wall Street Journal report, confirming that Apple is not currently planning to invest in Twitter.

Apple has struggled to grab a foothold in the lucrative social networking space (remember Ping?). Though no investment was ever made, Apple has still managed to form a strong partnership with Twitter over the last few years. Twitter integration was built-in to last year’s iOS 5 release, and recently spread to the Mac with the launch of OS X Mountain Lion. In fact, the relationship between the two companies is so good that Twitter has assigned a VP to work full-time with Apple.

Apple and Twitter have not commented on the rumours.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times

All Posts, Interviews

Tweet Lanes: The Most Promising Android Twitter Client

Let’s be honest, most of the third-party Twitter clients on Android are complete crap. Outside of select few, they are slow, frequently crash, and for some clients, significant updates can take months, if they even come at all. But there is one new app that has the ability to change the stereotype of third-party Twitter clients on Android.

Released earlier this month, Tweet Lanes is by far the most beautiful Twitter app available on Android. Adhering strictly to the Android Design guidelines, Tweet Lanes interacts perfectly with Android swipe controls, and takes some liberties with Twitter’s own mechanisms, removing the ‘New Tweet’ button, and replacing it with an ever-present Context Tweet Box.

Designed for power-users, Tweet Lanes includes features like multiple-account support, and VolScroll, a brilliant feature which allows you to navigate your feed with the hardware volume buttons. While these options are great, Tweet Lanes does lack basic features like notifications and direct messaging, both of which are expected to be added within the next few weeks.

I had a chance to speak with Chris Lacy, the author and designer of Tweet Lanes about his rampant update schedule, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo’s recent statements about third-party clients, and the future of Tweet Lanes.

There are a lot of Twitter apps for Android, and most of them are sub par. What made you decide to build your own?

You hit the nail on the head in the phrasing of your question. At the end of last year I started using Twitter more and more, and my frustration with all the Twitter clients available on Android at the time began to grow and grow. Eventually it reached the point where I decided to write my own.

Unlike most Twitter clients, you have added power-user features like multi-account support and scrolling with hardware volume buttons, before including basic features like direct messaging and notifications. Was it a conscious decision to build an app for power-users first?

Honestly, I was just focused on building the app that I wanted to use myself. I rarely use direct messaging personally, and I didn’t need notifications because at the time Twitter was a bit of an echo chamber for me and other people rarely spoke to me.

But I did use multiple accounts, so it made sense to implement that early. VolScroll was an idea that I came up with at lunch one day while trying to eat and read my timeline at the same time, and given it was only 10 minutes of work to implement and was a unique feature, I put it in the initial release.

When can we expect basic features like direct messaging and notifications to become available?

The next Tweet Lanes release will be a ‘project butter’ release that improves the app’s scrolling performance, as well as a few bug fixes. It will also contain some UI tweaks so I can enable Nexus 7 support. Once that release is done, I will get straight on to direct messaging and notifications. Direct messaging is in fact 90 percent done, with the threaded conversations already displaying correctly in a lane. I just need to finish them off. I’m hoping to have that release available in the first week of August.

What was the thought process behind getting rid of the ‘New Tweet’ button, and how has the response been to the Context Tweet Box?

There were quite a few little reasons that led to my going with the Context Tweet Box instead of a New Tweet button, but the crux of it was this: I felt the standard way of covering the screen with a giant new tweet box was limiting and a little heavy, and I wanted to try something different.

Overall, I’d say the response to the Context Tweet Box has been very positive. I’ve had a few requests from people who either want to be able to hide it, or compose a tweet ‘the old fashioned way,’ but I think those are natural requests as people get adjusted to such a different UX paradigm.

VolScroll seems like a relatively simple concept. Are you surprised that no one else came up with it first? And what’s with the name?

I am a bit surprised it’s not been done before, yes. I think it makes navigating a feed much easier when using the device with one hand, especially larger devices such as a Galaxy Nexus. As far as the name is concerned, for a long time I couldn’t think of a name for this feature, but then VolScroll just popped in my head one day, and it was too simple and obvious not to use.

Twitter hasn’t been too kind recently to third-party clients, with CEO Dick Costolo stating that they want to move away from companies that “build off of Twitter, to a world where people build into Twitter.” Are you worried about Twitter limiting API access for third-party apps in the near future?

All the talk coming out of Twitter does seem very ominous for third-party clients such as Tweet Lanes, but until they announce what (if any) changes they will be making, there’s not much for me to comment on at this point. That said, given how prevalent Twitter has been in helping people rally against dictatorships and oppressive regimes around the world, I certainly hope that the company will continue to provide freedom of choice to its users when it comes to how they consume and interact with the service.

Tweet Lanes has been consistently updated at a pretty fast rate. Do you have any assistance, or are you doing all this on your own?

I’m fortunate to have an ever-growing army of users who enjoy using Tweet Lanes that constantly provides me with feature requests and messages of support, as well as helping me with beta testing. The Android Design guidelines have also provided me with much assistance along the way. As far as the actual implementation of the app is concerned, I am and have always been the sole developer.

You have made it known that some premium features will come at a price. Are you worried about the recent piracy issues with Android?

Not really. I’d rather spend my energies improving my app and engaging with users to the point where they want to pay to support Tweet Lanes rather than worrying about factors beyond my control.

Did you create Tweet Lanes as an Android-exclusive app, or do you have plans to expand in the future?

I’m a ‘never say never’ type of person, but for the foreseeable future my focus will be entirely on Android. I’ve got far too much I want to add to Tweet Lanes for Android before I even think about other platforms.

Where can people find you?

Twitter (@chrismlacy) and G+ are the best ways to keep in touch. I’ll also likely be starting a blog soon, so keep an eye out for that.

All Posts

Tweetbot for Mac is Here, Twitter for Mac is Now Obsolete

The day has finally come. Gone are the days of being locked out of your own twitter feed due to it being a “private account,” and the many, many times of failed tweets due to it being “forbidden.” Twitter for Mac will die a quick and painless death. Let’s just hope Twitter doesn’t buy Tapbots…

Tweetbot for Mac review

All Posts

Spotify Gets Distribution Deal With Yahoo, Will Add Play Button to Yahoo Media Network

After spreading their ‘Play Button‘ around the web earlier this year, Spotify has struck a deal  with Yahoo, bringing the music-streaming widget to the eyes of ‘nearly 700M monthly users,’ on Yahoo’s Media Network. The play button will initially roll out on Yahoo Music, and will eventually make its way around Yahoo’s entire network of sites. Yahoo will also have an app on Spotify later this year.


Image Credit: The Atlantic
All Posts

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg joins company Board

Image Credit: The Atlantic

Facebook announced today that Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg has been appointed to the company’s Board of Directors. In her role as COO, Sandberg oversees many critical aspects of Facebook’s day-to-day operations, including sales, marketing, business development, legal, human resources, public policy, and communications.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, praised Sandberg for her integral role in growing the company. “Sheryl has been my partner in running Facebook and has been central to our growth and success over the years,” he said. “Her understanding of our mission and long-term opportunity, and her experience both at Facebook and on public company boards makes her a natural fit for our board.”

Sandberg has been with Facebook since 2008, and is the first woman to be appointed to the Board. Other members include CEO Mark Zuckerberg, financial backers Marc L. Andreessen, James W. Breyer, and Peter A. Thiel, Washington Post CEO Donald E. Graham, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, and University of North Carolina president emeritus Erskine B. Bowles.

Press Release

Facebook Names Sheryl Sandberg to Its Board of Directors

MENLO PARK, Calif. – June 25, 2012 – Facebook announced today that Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook, has joined the company’s board of directors.

Sandberg oversees Facebook’s business operations including sales, marketing, business development, legal, human resources, public policy and communications.

“Sheryl has been my partner in running Facebook and has been central to our growth and success over the years,” said Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook. “Her understanding of our mission and long-term opportunity, and her experience both at Facebook and on public company boards makes her a natural fit for our board.”

“Facebook is working every day to make the world more open and connected,” Sandberg said. “It’s a mission that I’m deeply passionate about, and I feel fortunate to be part of a company that is having such a profound impact in the world.”

Prior to Facebook, Sandberg was vice president of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google, where she built and managed the online sales channels for advertising and publishing and operations for consumer products worldwide. She previously served as Chief of Staff for the United States Treasury Department under President Bill Clinton and began her career as an economist with the World Bank. She received B.A. and M.B.A degrees from Harvard University.

Sandberg also serves on the boards of The Walt Disney Company, Women for Women International, the Center for Global Development and V-Day.

Along with Sandberg, Facebook’s current board members are: Mark Zuckerberg; Marc L. Andreessen, Andreessen Horowitz; Erskine B. Bowles, president emeritus, University of North Carolina system; James W. Breyer, Accel Partners; Donald E. Graham, chairman and CEO, The Washington Post Company; Reed Hastings, chairman and CEO, Netflix; and Peter A. Thiel, Founders Fund.

About Facebook
Founded in February 2004, Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. Anyone can sign up for Facebook and interact with the people they know in a trusted environment. Facebook is headquartered in Menlo Park, Calif.

All Posts

Microsoft Acquires Yammer for $1.2 Billion, Positions Itself as The Complete Enterprise Social Network

After weeks of rumors, Microsoft  announced it has purchased Yammer, the enterprise social network, for $1.2 billion in cash. The four-year old startup was founded by former PayPal COO David Sacks, and had raised a $85 million round in February, at a $500 million valuation. Yammer, which allows employees communicate and collaborate on projects in a private network that looks similar to Facebook (CE uses Yammer), has 5 million corporate users, including 85 percent of the Fortune 500. Yammer’s employees will join Microsoft’s Office division, where they will continue to report to Sacks.

If you include the Skype purchase, Microsoft may be attempting to build the perfect enterprise social network. With Office 365, a proven enterprise communication and collaboration service in Yammer, and the world’s most popular video video-chat service in Skype, Microsoft has positioned itself perfectly for companies looking for a complete collaboration network. Their biggest issue will be integration. Microsoft had issues integrating Skype into Windows Phone, so there’s no telling how long it will take them to get Skype and Yammer together, but if they pull it off, Microsoft is in prime position as the social enterprise leader.

Especiallly if the rumors of a RIM acquisition prove to be true.

Yammer CEO David Sacks Blog Post:

I am pleased to announce that Yammer has signed a definitive agreement to be acquired by Microsoft.    After the close of the deal, Microsoft will continue to invest in Yammer’s stand-alone service, and the team will remain under my direction within the Microsoft’s Office Division.

When Adam Pisoni and I started Yammer, we set out to do something big.  When most people thought social networking was for kids, we had a vision for how it could change the way we work.  Four years ago, we started paddling out to catch the wave that we’re riding today.

With the backing of Microsoft, our aim is to massively accelerate our vision to change the way work gets done with software that is built for the enterprise and loved by users.

As a Yammer customer, you will continue to get a secure, private social network—delivered with the same focus on simplicity, innovation, and cross-platform experiences.  Over time, you’ll see more and more connections to SharePoint, Office365, Dynamics and Skype.

Yammer’s expertise in empowering employees, driving voluntary adoption, and delivering rapid innovation in the cloud will not only continue to power our stand-alone service, but also help shape the communication and collaboration experiences in Office 365.

Microsoft Press Release:

REDMOND, Wash. and SAN FRANCISCO, June 25, 2012 — Microsoft Corp. and Yammer Inc. today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Microsoft will acquire Yammer, a leading provider of enterprise social networks, for $1.2 billion in cash. Yammer will join the Microsoft Office Division, led by division President Kurt DelBene, and the team will continue to report to current CEO David Sacks.

“The acquisition of Yammer underscores our commitment to deliver technology that businesses need and people love,” said Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft. “Yammer adds a best-in-class enterprise social networking service to Microsoft’s growing portfolio of complementary cloud services.”

Launched in 2008, Yammer now has more than 5 million corporate users, including employees at 85 percent of the Fortune 500. The service allows employees to join a secure, private social network for free and then makes it easy for companies to convert a grassroots movement into companywide strategic initiative.

Yammer will continue to develop its standalone service and maintain its commitment to simplicity, innovation and cross-platform experiences. Moving forward, Microsoft plans to accelerate Yammer’s adoption alongside complementary offerings from Microsoft SharePoint, Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics and Skype.

“When we started Yammer four years ago, we set out to do something big,” Sacks said. “We had a vision for how social networking could change the way we work. Joining Microsoft will accelerate that vision and give us access to the technologies, expertise and resources we’ll need to scale and innovate.”

The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approval.

All Posts

Facebook CTO Bret Taylor departing for new start-up

Facebook will soon be losing a high-profile member of its executive, as Chief Technology Officer Bret Taylor today announced his intent to leave the company later this summer.

Kara Swisher at AllThingsD was first to break the story of Taylor’s pending departure, reporting that he is leaving to form a new start-up. Taylor is no stranger to the world of start-ups; he left a previous job at Google to found FriendFeed, which you will recall was acquired by Facebook back in 2009.

Speaking to AllThingsD today, Taylor noted that he had planned to leave Facebook from the beginning – a plan CEO Mark Zuckerberg was apparently well aware of.

“I had always been upfront with Mark that I eventually wanted to do another start-up,” he told Swisher. “And we felt now is the best time after the IPO and the launch of some recent things for me to do that.”

Facebook has been under intense investor and media scrutiny as of late thanks to their rocky IPO last month. Taylor’s departure will certainly be cause for concern to some, as he was in charge of platform and mobile – two pivotal verticals for the company. Taking over the head roles in these divisions will be two members of Taylor’s team: Mike Vernal and Cory Ondreijka will head-up platform and mobile, respectively.

Vernal came to Facebook from Microsoft in 2008, and in his time at the company has worked on the development of the Open Graph, and led the original Facebook Connect project. Ondreijka has been at Facebook since 2010, having previously worked at Walletin – another Facebook acquisition – as well as Linden Labs and Second Life.

Here is Taylor’s original Facebook post announcing his departure.

I wanted to let you all know that I’ll be leaving Facebook later this summer. I’m sad to be leaving, but I’m excited to be starting a company with my friend Kevin Gibbs.

While a transition like this is never easy, I’m extremely confident in the teams and leadership we have in place. I’m very proud of our recent accomplishments in our platform and mobile products, from Open Graph and App Center to Facebook Camera and our iOS integration. I’m even more excited for the world to see all the amazing things these teams have coming.

I’ve learned more than I ever imagined in my time at Facebook. I’m also extremely grateful for my relationship with all of the amazing people I’ve worked with here.

I want to give a special thanks to Mark Zuckerberg. You’ve not only been my boss for the past three years, but my mentor and one of my closest friends.

Thanks to all of you at Facebook for the most incredible three years of my life.

All Posts

Schemer, Google’s Newest Social App for Android & iOS, Launches Today

Schemer, Google’s latest social media venture, is out of beta today and is born anew as an app for Android and iOS. The new social service recommends schemes; activities users may want to partake in based on time of day, weather, and location. Users can also create their own Schemes for future or present use and then mark them as complete. As with all things new at Google, Schemer includes deep integration with Google+, further emphasizing the company’s goal of taking more control over the social web. Naturally, this service is in direct competition with the likes of Yelp, Foursquare and Facebook Places. You can check out Schemer now on the web, Android, or iPhone, and let us know what you think in the comments.