23snaps, an iOS, Android, Web and Windows app that we've previously likened to a 'Facebook for families', has added a neat feature that lets you tell betterstories by combing text, photos and video in a single update posted to your news feed. It's an iteration the UKstartup says was inspired by the way its users already use the app to share moments, such a parents posting updates about their… Read More TechCrunch » Social Steve O'Hear
HANA goes to the cloud, breaks a database record, curesdiseases and pokes fun at … Ok, slight exaggeration. But, truth be told, we could add more to it.
SAP wants to be the future of computing, and it wants it all. (It already owns a nice chunk of it.) More specifically, SAP wants to own big data, analytics, cloud, mobile, business applications and other technologies — in the enterprise and beyond it.
When a lot of people talk about real time marketing, brands like Oreo come to mind — brands that have had success in reacting quickly to external events. One of the most popular examples is when the lights went out in last year’s Super Bowl and Oreo quickly tweeted a “You can still dunk in the dark” image.
While that type of quick reactiontime and cleverness is great and certainly boosts brand awareness, relying only on the current events approach to real time marketing is unreliable and not necessarily beneficial in the long term. What’s ultimately more impressive — and results in bigger returns — is the ability to succeed in real time customer communication.
Above: On his Instagram account, Mail.ruGroup CEO Dmitry Grishin found an explicit way to illustrate his accusation of “corporate trolling” by UCP.
The Vkontakteshareholder drama saw new developments yesterday as United Capital Partners (UCP), which acquired a 48 percent stake in the social network last year, announced that it is suing the company’s two other shareholders in Russian and international jurisdictions.
The Russian fund is accusing Mail.ruGroup and Ivan Tavrin — who bought his 12 percent stake from Vkontakte founder Pavel Durov a few months ago — of “blocking the company’s development” and “taking decisions which are not in its best interests.”
Specifically, Mail.ruGroup and Tavrin have not supported UCP’s demands for independent auditors to investigate the “numerous abuses” of the company’s resources which it claims have taken place over the last few years.
In addition, UCP accuses Durov of spending a part of his time on Telegram, an IM project that the young entrepreneur launched last year outside of Vkontakte, which entails potential conflicts of interest.
“As a shareholder of VK, Mail.ruGroup represents Telegram as not competing with VK and instant messaging systems as holding no interest to VK. This position is increasingly difficult to understand when industry experts and financial anaysts tell us the opposite and Facebook has bought WhatsApp for $ 19 billion,” UCP states.
UCP also sees a “conflict of interest” in Mail.ru Group’s ownership of Odnoklassniki and Moi Mir. “These two social networks compete with VK,” the fund maintains, an assessment with which it is hard to disagree.
The fact that Tavrin works for Megafon, which is controlled by Mail.ruGroup main shareholder Alisher Usmanov, is another cause of UCP suspicion.
New shareholder solidarity
Mail.ruGroup and Pavel Durov – who rarely missed opportunities to air their own shareholder disputes in the past – responded to UCP’s claim immediately and in solidarity.
While Usmanov representative Ivan Streshinsky condemned UCP’s action as “pressure exerted by force” and “greenmail,” Mail.ruGroup GM Dmitry Grishin called it a “tactic of corporate trolling that only harms the business.”
Streshinsky recalled the controversial conditions under which UCP had acquired its stake in VK, which it characterized as “dubious schemes.”
“Since they [became] a shareholder, UCP has opted for a strategy of threats, blackmail and intrigues [instead of] buidling a constructive community with other shareholders,” Streshinsky insisted.
“In particular, they exerted legal pressure and attempted to publicly discredit Vkontakte founder Pavel Durov” with the ultimate aim of controlling the ocompany’s operational management – in spite of their minority position and in violation of shareholder agreements, according to Streshinsky.
In addition, the Pereponsky brothers are suspected of having committed criminal offenses while they were part of the social network’s management team – on which the audit currently conducted by Deloitte and Ernst & Young should shed full light in spite of UCP’s opposition, according to Streshinsky. “Strangely, UCP hired Ilya Pereponsky as a consultant immediately after he left Vkontakte,” Streshinsky added with undisguised suspicion.
For his part Durov recalled that since UCP became a shareholder, VK had, under his own management, “strengthened its leadership among social networks as well as its technical leadership in the mobile segment,” while the company’s value grew by “150 to 200%.”
“UCP’s stated goal of making the company independent from its founder is not obviously in line with the issue of making it successful,” Durov added.
Arguments between shareholders did not stop the social network’s growing popularity. Vkontakte recently registered a record 60 million visits from Russia and beyond in one day, Durov claimed last month on his VK page, up 10 million in a mere four months.
TNS has estimated Vkontakte’s average daily audience in December 2013 at 24.9 million unique users – ahead of competing networks Odnoklassniki.ru (17.9 million), Moi Mir (5.1 million) and Facebook (4.1 million).
Facebook lags far behind its Russian competitors in monthly terms, too, with 25.4 million unique users vs. 51.2 million for Vkontakte.
TNS’s figures take into account only users of 12 to 64 years of age from Russia.
Time to hit the caffeine, readers: HTC’s press conference at Mobile World Congresskicks off at 2am AEDT. We’ll be on the ground in Barcelona covering the whole thing, bringing you the news as it happens. More »
Update: WhatsApp experienced an outage for around 210 minutes today from 11am to 2:30 pm PST. Users around the worldreported that they were unable to send messages, and WhatsApp confirmed these problems at 12:16pm PST with a tweet stating “sorry we currently experiencing server issues. we hope to be back up and recovered shortly.”
WhatsApp startedtowork again for some users at 2:30pm PST after around 150 to 210 minutes of downtime. Some users reported that “last seen” stamps vanished from their conversations when WhatsApp first came back online, but now some say they’re appearing again.
At 2:48pm PST, WhatsApp confirmed it was back up with this tweet
When users (including me) tried to send messages or check their existing chat conversations, WhatsApp got stuck, showing an endless loading asterisk and the alert “Connecting…”
The “WhatsDown” reports started flooding in around 11am PST, but there were some troubles last night as well. We received tips from frustrated users in the US, India, Israel, and many places around the world. The outage could stoke fears that Facebook will screw up WhatsApp if the acquisition gets regulatory approval.
The down time may have pushed users to other chat apps, as Telegram tweeted:
This is crazy. We'are getting 100 new registrations every second. Trying hard to prevent connection issues in Europe.— Telegram Messenger (@telegram) February 22, 2014
In a testament to the global popularity of the 450 million user service, condom brand Durex’s Kenyan branch capitalized on the WhatsApp problems by doing some marketing:
WhatsApp has suffered short downtimes every month or two for the last half-year. Stumbles like this are somewhat common for fast-growing apps, and users aren’t likely to permanently switch away since it was fixed relatively soon. Still, Facebook bought the startup for the astronomical sum in part because it is many people in the developing world’s first taste of the Internet. Now, their first taste of the Facebook-owned WhatsApp has been soured.