Reason No. ? – Why The Yakir Group is developing “THE EXECUTIVE CONVERSATION”

Study: Over 50% say ‘someone in marketing’ handles social media

Selected op-ed by David Howell
To deliver unified and efficient responses across social media networks corporations must ensure their internal structures support this goal. Take a look at which global leaders will be addressing this issue at theCorporate Social Media Summit.

The delivery of a powerful and coherent message across social media networks begins with the internal structures of your corporation. Your business can’t become a master of social media without first ensuring each stakeholder across your organisation understands their role.

A well-defined ownership of social media within corporations continues to change, with a holistic approach being adopted by many to ensure all voices and stakeholders are heard and have input into social media communications.

In their last survey, the Altimeter Group concluded: “The average corporate social business program was established more than three years ago. Yet as social business efforts permeate the enterprise, those without ‘social’ in their titles often lag in understanding of the corporate social business strategy, let alone know how to use social media safely or effectively. The need for employee education on social media becomes apparent as social business programs formalize and mature.”

More than 60 percent of companies report having no program or only ad hoc social media education programs, yet when asked about their top internal objectives, developing social media education was the second most important priority for most organizations.

For many corporate users of social media, PR, marketing, communications and customer services now have a stake in how the organization leverages its presence across the social media networks. What is vitally important today is to ensure that all these departments generate a coherent message. Putting in place a management structure that ensures each department has a seat at the social media table is critical. Add to this the increasing moves to empower every employee to become a brand advocate, reveals that comprehensive planning, education, policy guidelines and policing are all key components of a corporation’s social media usage.

Jared Fletcher, VP, Implementations and Chief Marketing Officer – Arise Virtual Solutions Inc. said: “Currently, social media management and responsibility resides in our marketing department. Marketing curates and distributes content across all of the organization’s social media platforms, as well as to employees to post on their personal social media accounts. If various departments across the organization wish to curate content where Arise is concerned, they must send it to marketing for approval to avoid repetition, while maintaining the appearance of a unified whole, regardless of who is posting and/or generating content internally.”With Stacey Miller, Social Media Manager at Vocus explaining their approach: “To ensure a holistic internal approach as well as a unified external voice, we hold bi-weekly meetings between social media teams to share the month’s content and discuss collaboration opportunities to heighten our efforts. Additionally, the Marketing department creates official brand messaging for all teams to use, while our Product team provides approved products messaging; all of which ensures that all Vocus teams are on-brand and on-mission to support our products and services in the social sphere.”

Social media hubs

Because social media touches on so many different aspects of a corporation’s day-to-day activity it can be difficult to manage what is a multifaceted message creation platform. For Dell, it meant mapping their entire business with the view to creating a social enterprise. Former Social Media and Community Director, Liz Brown Bullock explained their approach:

“For us, it’s key to have social integration across all areas of the business – a social business. Social media is a tool to be used across all functions: HR, sales, marketing, our product group, online, customer support to better serve our customer. We are looking at how all areas of social (listening, research, support, content, and analytics) come together to have an impact on customer experience and employee collaboration. We want to embed social media in the fabric of the company and empower our employees to use it to achieve better results for customers and our business.”

Helen Lee, Social Media Lead, Clorox also said: “We’re currently organized by what the Altimeter Group’s Jeremy Owyang calls the hub-and-spoke model. Before I joined the company three years ago, all social media was being managed and executed by our agency partners. With an ever-increasing number of platforms to engage and the pressure to act in real time, we realized that we had to own some of the responsibilities in house to make it happen.”

Most corporations are adopting the hub-and-spoke approach to managing their social media activity, as this empowers several stakeholders simultaneously.

Back to School

Embedding social media within the culture of your corporation is now essential. Governance of the rich conversations that now take place across multiple social media networks must take place. Education is the key here, with many corporations developing their own training programs to ensure all stakeholders understand how social media should be approached. With some high profile mistakes made last year by several corporations, these lessons can’t be learned quickly enough.

What may have been little more than marketing or PR exercises have now evolved into a holistic approach to social media usage and management. Organizations are rapidly becoming social businesses. As the Altimeter Group conclude: “What was previously a series of initiatives driven by marketing and PR is now evolving into a social business movement that looks to scale and integrate social across the organization. There is no one-way to become a social business. Instead, social businesses evolve through a series of stages that ultimately align social media strategies with business goals.”

Corporations need to shake off the legacy of siloed departments, as today, social media bridges all business activity. Collaboration between stakeholders is vital in order for coordinated messages to reach their intended audiences. Educating everyone within your corporation about the importance of social media and how this should be approached should be a priority. To avoid crisis, enhance brand values and develop deep advocacy, a unified approach to all social media activity is now a commercial imperative all corporations need to embrace.

VC’s investing in Healthcare

VCs Investing To Heal U.S. Healthcare –

The U.S. healthcare system is sick, but increasingly early stage investors are spending money on new technology companies they believe can help provide a cure.

Earlier this week, Greylock Partners, one of the investors behind Facebook and LinkedIn, and the Russian billionaire technology investor Yuri Milner put together a $1.2 million round alongside a group of co-investors to back First Opinion – a consumer facing service selling a way to text message doctors anytime of day or night.

Greylock and Milner join a growing roster of technology investors focused on healthcare in recent years. The number of companies raising money from investors for the first or second time has skyrocketed since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, according to data from CrunchBase.

In 2010, the year in which President Obama signed the ACA into law, there were only 17 seed- and Series A-stage healthcare-focused software and application development companies which had raised money from investors. By the end of last year, that number jumped to 89 companies tackling problems specifically related to the healthcare industry, according to CrunchBase metrics.

Across all categories, investors spent over $1.9 billion in 195 deals with commitments over $2 million, according to a report from early stage investment firm Rock Health. Funding was up 39% from 2012 and 119% from 2011, the Rock Health report said.

And there’s plenty of room for the market to grow, according to Google Ventures’ general partner Dr. Krishna Yeshwant. “We’re still at the very beginning of what this is going to look like,” said Dr. Yeshwant.

Google Ventures is addressing the nation’s healthcare dilemma with investments in companies like the physicians’ office and network One Medical Group, which raised a later stage $30 million last March. At the opposite end of the spectrum in December 2013 Google invested in the $3 million seed financing of Doctor on Demand, which sells a service enabling users to video chat with doctors.

Unsurprisingly, the explosion in healthcare investments tracks directly back to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, investors said. “The incentives brought forward by the ACA shift what makes sense,” in healthcare, Dr. Yeshwant said.

“At the highest level there’s now a forcing function to take advantage of the efficiency technology provides,” said Bill Ericson, a general partner with Mohr Davidow Ventures, who led the firm’s investment inHealthTap, a service for consumers to message doctors with healthcare questions.

Overwhelmingly, Silicon Valley is leading the charge in these innovations, according to CrunchBase.

This flood of capital has pushed some investors like Founders Fund to re-think their strategy, and de-emphasize healthcare software in search of other, larger opportunities.

““The reason we have somewhat shifted focus away from healthcare IT is because there is so much investment going into that space.  So we think the problems there are being sufficiently addressed by the full market.” said Brian Singerman, a partner at Founders Fund.

The firm’s most recent investment was in Oscar, a new, New York-based insurance company. Yes… an insurance company.

“In healthcare there is a tech stack around genomics, digitization, biometrics, analytics, and actual cures; one of the things that ties that all together is insurance,” said Singerman.

“Launching a new insurance company is not something that happens very often. While you could launch a new insurance company without the Affordable Care Act, the catalyst it gives you by being on the same page as the big incumbents is unprecedented.”
At Google Ventures, Dr. Yeshwant thinks there will be more opportunities for tech-enabled companies like Oscar and One Medical to compete in these broad industrial categories rather than offering point solutions. “Instead of being a piece of the system, it’s being the entire entity,” he said.
“The thing to keep in mind… with the healthcare industry is that it is far bigger than tech. As an entity it is where we’re spending 17% to 18% of GDP, so any one segment is tens of billions of dollars,” Dr. Yeshwant said. “Increasingly you’re seeing IT investors who have a fine sense of disruptive opportunities enter the market.”

The Complicated future of Television

To understand the future of TV, look in your pocket — Tech News and Analysis


by Amit Karp and Paul Lyandres,

January 18th 2014

The future of TV is a hotly debated topic. And while consumption of TV content has increased (Nielsen reports that the average American watches almost 34 hours each week) in many ways TV has resisted many of the technology revolutions that transformed other industries. These include the Internet, the advent of mobile and social and the “UI/UX is everything paradigm shift.” With newcomers like Google, Apple  and even Intel now looking to disrupt the status quo, how can we try to model the future?

What if I said, “Just look to your pocket”? The evolution of television parallels another industry in an eerie way: the mobile phone evolution. Hear me out:

In the early days of mobile (which was not so long ago), various device manufacturers (HTC, Motorola, Nokia) and service providers (AT&T, Verizon) tried to develop their own ecosystems around their brands. Fragmentation was the name of the game: mobile developers had to develop in Symbian, Java, Windows Mobile and Brew, and customize apps for different screen sizes, device features and even carriers. The carriers tried to “own” the customer and sell additional services and content, using clunky technology like WAP. This was the world before iOS (and later Android) came in to create a simpler ecosystem for developers and a great user experience for the customer.

This isn’t so different from television today: We see device manufacturers sell “connected TVs” that run their own proprietary OSes with their own customized app stores. The MSOs or multiple service operators (the operators of cable or satellite television systems), like the wireless carriers of the past, try to own the customer through “TV Everywhere” solutions that tend to be subpar. It’s unlikely that these solutions will hold in the long run.

The complexity of content

The true future of TV—a meaningful revolution—will require the integration of a great user experience with painless access to content. We’ve seen it happen before, when Apple changed the music industry with the IPod, and again when it changed the mobile industry with the iPhone (the apps were the content), and one might argue that Google did the same thing for web content and Facebook for personal content. However it’s not so easy to do that with television for the following reasons:

TV content is extremely difficult to access: Six companies (Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, News Corp, CBS  and Comcast) control 90 percent of American media. These content owners refuse to sell content a-la-carte and force the despicable pay-TV bundles.

Obtaining content rights is extremely complicated and expensive: For example, ESPN pockets $6 per cable subscriber, regardless of whether they watch sports, which adds up to $7.2 billion a year. Even tech giants like Google and Apple will struggle to pay such amounts annually (especially as a non-R&D spend.)

Creating original content isn’t easy. It’s hit driven, it’s expensive (which explains why the less-costly reality shows and talk shows rule the airwaves), and it is built one show at a time. And, while we’ve seen quality programming developed by Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube they simply can’t compete on volume.

So how will change come about? It will happen when the content owners are forced to break their existing profitable model. This will only happen when enough people abandon expensive pay TV bundles to watch content online (a behavior termed “cord cutting”) and advertisers stop paying obscene amounts for TV ads.

For cord cutting to become mainstream there needs to be a surge of quality content available outside of pay TV (This is not happening yet: while Netflix and Hulu are doing well, pay TV subscriptions are not declining.)

Simultaneously, the bundling of pay TV with broadband Internet would need to be less attractive (this bundling is controlled by the MSOs who own “the last mile.”) But something will trigger it. With music the trigger was the transition from discs to MP3s and the rapid rise in piracy that allowed Apple to innovate. But the important takeaway from the iPod revolution is the reminder that when these changes do happen, they happen fast.

Consumers and MSOs will win

Ultimately everything will unify around a limited number of new underlying platforms that will serve both the UI as well as the content. These platforms will be closely integrated with mobile devices, so Google and Apple (and maybe Amazon or Microsoft) are well positioned to play—and someone will certainly win. The MSOs will go the way of the telecom carriers and become delivery pipes. There’s no need to feel sorry for the MSOs, though: Unlike mobile carriers their geography-based monopolies will mean they enjoy a larger share of the pie.

And consumers will win. It may take some time, but eventually they will have easy access to compelling content rolled into an amazing user experience.

Amit Karp is a senior associate and Paul Lyandres is an investor at Bessemer Venture Partners. 

Net Neutrality 2

People of the page, we need to come together on this.  original_580-0


by Betsy Isaacson,

January 17th 2014 9:50 AM

A graphic making its rounds on the web this week offered a glimpse of what the Internet might look like if net neutrality disappears. The takeaway? Not good.

A federal appeals court on Tuesday struck down an Federal Communications Commission order that required Internet service providers to abide by the rules of “net neutrality.” ISPs had previously been forced to treat all types of web traffic equally — meaning providers couldn’t block some sites or speed up loading times for others. Tuesday’s decision means corporations can now block or slow down loading times for pages they don’t like, or could charge businesses a fee to have their pages load more quickly — or at all.

Now, consumers looking to get Internet access might be met with something like this hypothetical set of pricing options like this, pointed out by Buzzfeed earlier this week:


This graphic was created by Reddit user quink
, who wanted to illustrate what happens if net neutrality disappears. Originally created when Comcast tried to appeal the FCC’s right to enforce net neutrality in 2009, the graphic is experiencing a renaissance in relevance after the ruling this week.

Though the FCC could try to rewrite its rule or appeal the decision, in the meantime ISPs like Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and Time Warner Cable are free to make deals with companies promising quicker content delivery in exchange for payment — essentially creating Internet “fast lanes” for wealthy companies and making their websites easier to access than those of nonprofits, activist groups and smaller competitors.

Quink’s graphic shows web-based service offerings (offered by the fictional TELCO ADSL) that look suspiciously like cable bundles. Very, very basic Internet is offered for a “starter” price of $29.95, while popular sites are bundled together and offered as optional add-ons for $5 to $10. As costs add up, people in quink’s world are left with tough choices — choosing, for instance, between access to online marketplaces and access to the news.

As for smaller sites? In quink’s hypothetical world without net neutrality, they’re out of luck. Any sites outside the bundles might count towards a data cap, while sites in the bundles wouldn’t, or small sites might just load really, really slowly.

Presumably, websites that want to be included in “bundles” would have to pay providers like TELCO for the privilege. It may sound crazy, but it’s the future envisioned by experts who talk about what the end of net neutrality might mean for small businesses.

The really remarkable thing about quink’s graphic, though, is how very much it looks like the current state of cable television. For an example, we pulled a screenshot of the current Time Warner Cable options for customers in Manhattan. Each subscription option contains a bundle of channels, like so:


“Information shouldn’t become a luxury,” Todd O’Boyle, program director of the liberal advocacy organization Common Cause, told The Huffington Post earlier this week. And yet it’s clear that at least as far as the purveyors of cable television are concerned, information is a luxury — and one that should be paid for. Those who subscribe to Time Warner Cable’s expensive “Preferred TV” bundle get access to all the TV news channels, while subscribers to Time Warner’s relatively bare-bones “Starter TV” bundle must content themselves with C-SPAN and Time Warner Cable News NY1.

Will the end of net neutrality see ISPs imitating cable companies? It seems likely, given that many ISPs already are cable companies.

The more pressing question is whether the FCC and the federal government will allow this to happen. Some commentators, like the Atlantic’s Kevin Werbach, believe the D.C. Circuit Court’s ruling will simply pave the way for better enforcement of net neutrality in the future. We certainly hope he’s right.

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U.S. appeals court kills net neutrality

$675,000 Music Piracy Fine

Any semblance of net neutrality in the United States is as good as dead. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Tuesday struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s 2010 order that imposed network neutrality regulations on wireline broadband services. The ruling is a major victory for telecom and cable companies who have fought all net neutrality restrictions vociferously for years.

The original FCC order said that wireline ISPs ”shall not block lawful content, applications, services or non-harmful devices, subject to reasonable network management” while also mandating that ISPs “shall not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful traffic over a consumer’s broadband Internet access service.”

In its ruling against the FCC’s rules, the court said that such restrictions are not needed in part because consumers have a choice in which ISP they use.

“Without broadband provider market power, consumers, of course, have options,” the court writes. “They can go to another broadband provider if they want to reach particular edge providers or if their connections to particular edge providers have been degraded.”

For anyone who lives in a market with limited competition for home broadband services, the court does acknowledge that you might have some “difficulty” in finding another provider but says that it’s still not reason enough to restrict what an ISP can do when it comes to managing its own traffic.

“To be sure, some difficulty switching broadband providers is certainly a factor that might contribute to a firm’s having market power, but that itself is not market power,” the court asserts. “There are many industries in which switching between competitors is not instantly achieved, but those industries may still be heavily disciplined by competitive forces because consumers will switch unless there are real barriers.”

In fact, the court actually argues that the United States is overflowing with competitive options in the home broadband market and cites Google Fiber — which is currently available in only three markets — as evidence that competition is robust.

“But there is no evidence in the record suggesting that broadband providers are carving up territory or avoiding head-to-head competition,” the court writes. “At least anecdotally, the opposite seems to be true. Google has now entered the broadband market as a direct competitor.”

Google Shaking up the Airline Business

Google poised to shake up airline ticket biz, Ryanair CEO says


Could Google’s next project be to revolutionize the way people buy their airline tickets?

That’s what Michael O’Leary, chief executive of discount airline Ryanair, said in an interview with the Independent.

O’Leary said he is working with Google on a plan to change how consumers buy their airline tickets. He also said the Internet giant is working on a price-comparison tool that will blow other comparison sites “out of the water.”

Ryanair will share its pricing through Google, and the airline is working to be part of the launch, he said.

He added the project could go live as soon as March.

Google, by the way, already has a booking system called Flight Search, which launched in the UK in March. The company didn’t have much to say about anything new in the works.

“We already have relationships with a number of airlines across the world but are always looking to improve the results by signing deals with more,” according to a Google representative. “We have nothing new to announce at this stage.”

Updated at 8:24 a.m. PT: to include a comment from Google.