Advertising giant WPP is taking another step into the world of startup investments, this time specifically in mobile and social media. WPP Ventures, a new investment arm of WPP Digital, today announced a stake in Muzy, a social media platform that presents its content arranged in a Pinterest-style grid layout. The site, in some regards, has flown under the radar, but it has some 20 million users and is adding 1 million each month.
Terms of the investment were not disclosed but we are trying to find out. It is angel-backed by Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, and we’ve found out that the total size of this latest round is $ 4.4 million.
That growth, made so far without any marketing, promotion or distribution partners — and the facts that Muzy is social and mobile — are three possible reasons for why WPP took an interest in the site. Another is how WPP Ventures was first introduced to the company. “I met the Muzy founders through a friend at Andreessen Horowitz,” Tom Bedecarré of WPP Ventures told TechCrunch in an interview while he was in Cannes for WPP’s Stream event. Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz were early angel investors in Muzy.
Founded in 2011 and based in San Francisco, Muzy is led by co-founders Andrew Chen (CEO) and Matt Rubens (CTO). Chen had also held positions at Mohr Davidow Ventures and Revenue Science, while Rubens, an engineer, has worked at Amazon.com, among other places.
According to a release, the company will be using the funding to staff up — it currently employs less than 10 people — and “build out the suite of creative publishing tools for the Muzy platform.”
At the moment, when you go to the site, you can choose from some 50 widgets to publish content into your page, with a particularly strong emphasis on photos but also incorporating text, games and other content. It the app-within-app facility that sets Muzy apart from other platforms focused on content creation and self-expression, and could be one way for the company to differentiate longer term.
It could also be a way for WPP to look at ways of monetizing. You can imagine, for example, widgets or channels getting sponsored by brands, not to mention pages themselves. In an age where users are getting increasingly desensitized to display advertising online, you can see how new formats like these will continue to be tested out as ways of getting users to engage with marketing and as a way to create business models around sites like Muzy.
WPP has developed something of a track record in making strategic investments into digital, specifically mobile and other emerging areas, as a way of shoring up against larger trends in the industry away from more traditional forms of media like print.
Following where the consumer masses (and their eyeballs) are going, WPP has taken stakes in e-commerce sites like MySupermarket ($ 10 million in April 2012); and more straight media plays, such as yesterday’s news involving a stake in Fullscreen (undisclosed amount), stakes in Buddy Media (sold to Salesforce), Omniture (sold to Adobe) and more. One the biggest of the biggest investments made by WPP in digital was the company’s own acquisition of digital agency AKQA (June 2012, reportedly at a $ 550 million valuation).
It’s the AKQA deal that has provided the engine to today’s news around Muzy. The investment is being led by WPP Ventures, a Silicon Valley-based operation for WPP’s bigger investment efforts. Bedecarré, WPP Ventures’ president, is also chairman of AKQA (and, apparently, “Silicon Valley’s favorite ad man.” This is WPP Ventures’ first investment.
The timeline of when WPP may start to leverage Muzy is not laid out but it looks like it will be happening fast.
“WPP clients are looking for access to the next new social platform, the next big mobile app,” Bedecarré told TechCrunch. “I can’t wait to introduce Muzy to our clients and experiment with using their content publishing tools to create brand engagement. As an avid entrepreneur, I also want to help advise the Muzy founders on marketing and promoting their business, which has been operating in stealth mode to this date. I think we can significantly help them boost their growth and global distribution.”
WPP, one of the world’s very biggest ad agencies, says that in 2012 its digital revenues were over $ 5 billion, some 33% of its total revenues of $ 16.5 billion. It’s long been pursuing a target of getting 40% of its revenues coming from digital by 2018.
(Updated with comments from Tom Bedecarré.)
TechCrunch » Social
Ektron, a prominent .NET Web CMS provider, has debuted version 9 of its core product, and the focus is on things like personalization and targeting, two popular themes in digital marketing and mobile.
The Curator: Mobile Moments, Fund Raising Obsession, Creative Rewards, CFOs, Startup Mistakes, SBA $50M Fund, Praying #Smallbiz
Here’s our weekly link roundup of small business buzz, musings and muchness. A curation of the best small business talk around the web.
YFS Magazine – Startups, Small Business News and Entrepreneurial Culture
Take a look at some of the best productivity mobile apps for startups and small business owners.
YFS Magazine – Startups, Small Business News and Entrepreneurial Culture
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For the on-the-go employee, analytics is becoming a popular app to have on their mobile device. This week we see two new Google analytics focused mobile apps from Analytics3D and Metia.
Mobile carriers the world over have a fight on their hands if they want to keep up with customer demand, an Accenture report has found, and theyll need to provide better technology and more products to keep up.
Back in March, I wrote about how Heyzap was introducing advertising to its mobile gaming platform. Now co-founder Jude Gomila says the company has become a significant player in mobile advertising.
Specifically, Gomila sent along the chart showing the growth in publishers running Heyzap ads and the corresponding growth in ad impressions over the past six months. You can’t tell exactly where things stand now, because there’s no Y-axis to the chart. However, Gomila did note that Heyzap ads are now running in 800 games (it was 350 in March), and that number is also growing quickly. He also said that the publishers advertising with Heyzap include big names like Zynga and DeNA.
In the six months since the program launched, ad revenue has grown to the point that it already makes up the majority of its revenue. As a result, Heyzap is looking to expand its team beyond the current 25-person workforce.
“This does change our priorities,” Gomila said. “We want to offer full monetization tools for game developers. There’s also opportunity for a lot more automation.”
Gomila refers to Heyzap’s ad program as its “game discovery network” — basically, when publishers pay to promote their games, Heyzap will start recommending that game through interstitial units that pop up in the games. Those recommendations are also based the gaming data that users share on Heyzap’s social platform, so Gomila said the discovery network and the social tools “go hand-in-hand.”
He argued that this is a much better approach for the mobile gaming ecosystem, because Heyzap can recommend games that that users are actually likely to enjoy.
“We think most mobile ads suck,” he said.
TechCrunch » Social
Every so often you need to reimagine and disrupt yourself.
Commit yourself to discovery, purpose and visionary pursuits of excellence in life and business.We have a motto here at YFS Magazine: Commit yourself to discovery, purpose and visionary pursuits of excellence in life and business. To this end we’ve spent countless hours gaining feedback from readers and learning your needs, and we’ve used that research to create a new and improved version of YFS Magazine.
It’s more beautiful than ever, more flexible, and makes for a more user-friendly experience. This week we rolled out a all-new version of YFS Magazine that delivers a better experience on every device — from phones to tablets to desktops and beyond. We think you’re going to love it.
Here’s what to expect from the new YFS Magazine:
Mobile Responsive Design and Accessibility
As of 1Q’13 alone, 35% of visits to YFS Magazine are now from mobile phones and tablets — we wanted to make your experience seamless and easy on every device. So we introduced a new responsive design that’s optimized for smartphones and tablets. Now you can gain access to our must-read small business insight from wherever you are.
Enhanced User Experience (UX)
Our new high-impact, minimalist design embraces more white space and cuts out clutter to deliver a glossy digital experience. Additionally,
- Our new navigation menu highlights essential content channels to help you navigate each stage of your entrepreneurship journey with ease as you plan, launch, grow and more.
- We made big improvements to the functionality of our site so you can easily access the content that matters the most to you.
Fresh and Insanely Addictive Content
We’ll continue to deliver knowledge, vision, and renewal vis-à-vis simplistic thought leadership.We’ll continue to deliver knowledge, vision, and renewal vis-à-vis simplistic thought leadership. As a destination where entrepreneurship and pop culture collide we aim to share fresh and provocative viewpoints that represent the selective and optimistic lens of entrepreneurship culture.
We will also continue to serve up long-form content in lieu of a “quick-hit journalism” approach. Pressed for time? If you need to read our posts later, we’ve integrated a new Pocket button in each post. This free service lets you access your personal reading list at a more convenient time on your iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire or in your browser.
We are proudly made in the U.S. and celebrate global perspectives. You may have noticed that our fresh and insanely addictive content hails from the U.S., Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and other really awesome places. Why?
Insanely addictive content hails from the U.S., Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and other really awesome places.Because the world economy is getting substantially larger and the mega trend of globalization will forever impact how we create value. “We see globalization—growing interconnectedness reflected in the expanded flows of information, technology, capital, goods, services, and people throughout the world—as an overarching ‘mega-trend,’ a force so ubiquitous that it will substantially shape all the other major trends in the world of 2020,” according to 2020 Global Landscape study.
This means that as you grow your business locally, nationally or internationally you’ll need market insights and cultured perspectives to work smarter. As we expand our worldview of entrepreneurship we aim to deliver—what will be essential in years to come – access.
That’s Not All!
While we may have brought the new YFS Magazine out of beta, it is definitely not complete. We will continue to refine the new site, fix bugs and more. This new version isn’t a finished product but rather a platform we’ll use to launch new stuff that will bring simplicity to your entrepreneurial lives.
The bottom line is this: We will continue to empower you with the tips, tricks and tools you need to build an epic business and share it with the world.
We hope you like what you see. Thanks for helping us entrepreneurship accessible.
Founder / CEO of YFS Magazine
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Telemarketing spammers bothering you? Clingy exes calling in the middle of the night? iOS 7 will let you block calls from specific numbers to save your sanity. Rather than allow third-party developers to modify the native Phone app like on Android, Apple has chosen to offer this feature itself.
Apple mentioned the new privacy option in its WWDC keynote rundown of what’s new in iOS 7, and detailed in a press release that this fall the update to its mobile operating system includes, “Phone, FaceTime and Messages blocking to prevent specific people from being able to contact you.”
Yesterday I wondered if Apple might finally open up some more flexibility to iOS developers and allow them to provide this kind of functionality. Android lets apps like Mr Number and many others let you block specific numbers or entire area codes, instantly hang up on them, or automatically send them to voicemail. Call and text blocking builds on the iOS Do Not Disturb feature you can schedule to block calls and messages from all numbers except certain favorites or groups.
As a gauge of just how popular this capability could be in iOS, Mr Number had racked up over seven million downloads before being acquired by WhitePages a week ago. Perhaps it suspected that call blocking would go native in iOS, denying its potential there, and feared the same would happen on Android.
It’s hard to assess how valuable call and text blocking is unless you’ve ever had a stalker or bully. To those who have, the feature can make or break their mobile experience.
Getting woken up or interrupted by unwanted communication can feel like a deep invasion of privacy, and make people scared or angry every time their phone buzzes. It lets people fight back against drunk dials from old boyfriends or girlfriends, creepy strangers, and disrespectful marketers breaking their workflow.
With any luck, Apple will evolve the feature with more granularity over time. Putting communication devices in our pockets that anyone can reach with the right string of digits forced us to surrender control of our attention. Call and text blocking for iOS will put that control back in the hands of millions of people.
Question: What questions should you ask a mobile web developer?
Question by: Ashley