With “daring” billboard (and lack of punctuation), PrimeHangout aims at Facebook

At least it's not another messaging app.

At least it’s not another messaging app.

The social networking wars resurge, this time in the form of billboard dares. The latest entrant to the arena is PrimeHangout, spotted in San Francisco by Jonathan Cowperthwait, Product Marketing Manager at social analytics startup awe.sm.

Taking aim at Facebook’s billion-or-so users, PrimeHangout offers “Social media with artificial intelligence!” adding, “The future is here” — apparently a future freed from the constraints of pesky, sentence-ending typographical marks.

We are the Next Step” claims the Philadephia-based startup, to approximately fifteen Twitter followers.

Registration for the site is “FREE” (emphasis theirs) and features a bevy of in-network apps, including sClassified©, Transparency©, PH Mall, Relationship, MyPicBook©, DocuTrail©, and Music & Movies.

“All these,” they enticingly claim, “plus Games and more.” (Ed: Punctuation added.)

Brave internet pioneers may sign up today, turning dares into dollars that will hopefully fund even more of these fantastic advertisements.

Let the competition begin

Price Per User: The Surprisingly Average Metric Behind the WhatsApp Aquisition

All your users are belong to us.

All your users are belong to us. (Source: Statista)

Think the price tag for the WhatsApp acquisition is special? Think again.

Via a post on her Napsterization blog, serial entrepreneur Mary Hodder tipped me off to a new perspective that justifies the $16-to-$19-billion acquisition: price per user.

Hodder points to a chart on statistics aggregation site Statista, cited above, compiling the price per user paid for ten high-profile, consumer-oriented technology companies. The figures range from a low of $6 per user (for multiplayer gaming studio OMGpop) to a high of $240 (paid by Microsoft to acquire Skype).

Depending on which way you flip the integer, Facebook either paid $35 per WhatsApp user (at the $16 billion valuation) or $45 per user (at $19 billion). These figures line up consistently with previous high-profile acquisitions, including MySpace ($36 per user) and YouTube ($48 per user).

Facebook’s second-most-recent high-profile acquisition — mobile-first photo-sharing network Instagram, purchased for $1 billion — amounts to $22 per user. Not quite as high as WhatsApp, certainly — but roughly in the same ballpark.

Unlike Instagram, however, which duels in a fiercely competitive photo sharing app arena, WhatsApp supplanted a vast global telecommunications infrastructure, becoming the default messaging platform for nearly half a billion users (and counting), who use the service to bypass the price and privacy concerns raised by SMS, along with the platform lock-in imposed by iMessage, BBM, and other proprietary networks.

In addition to controlling the world’s biggest social network, Facebook nows owns one of the world’s largest messaging networks, providing the Palo Alto company with a windfall of new users, particularly in regions where it’s struggled to gain traction.

Facebook Acquires WhatsApp for Staggering $16 Billion


Texting: Now worth 10x Youtube

In SEC filings released today, Facebook is acquiring cross-platform mobile messaging startup WhatsApp for a monumental $16 billion, almost ten times the acquisition price of Google’s $1.65 billion acquisition of YouTube.

WhatsApp is a widely used messaging app that circumvents the fees imposed by SMS, along with the platform lock-in on networks like BBM and iMessage. According to the filings, WhatsApp enjoys over 450 million monthly users, 70% of whom access the service every day.

Jan Koum, WhatsApp co-founder and CEO, said, “WhatsApp’s extremely high user engagement and rapid growth are driven by the simple, powerful and instantaneous messaging capabilities we provide. We’re excited and honored to partner with Mark and Facebook as we continue to bring our product to more people around the world.”

The acquisition is the latest in Facebook’s foray into mobile, following the $1 billion purchase of Instagram, along with its in-house launch of the critically acclaimed Paper app for iOS.

Almost half of Facebook users access the service exclusively through mobile, reports TechCrunch. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, has called the social network “a mobile company now,” and the latest purchase of WhatsApp signals the company’s redoubled commitment to the space.

Parenting in the Age of Facebook

A photo by Kate Picton of Avi and his father Shannon Clark

A photo by Kate Picton (http://www.pictonphotography.com) of Avi and his father Shannon Clark

Recently Slate posted an editorial about the steps a parent is taking to keep his children off the Internet – not just to keep them off, but to keep any references, photos or tags of them from social media sites.

On Facebook I posted how I disagree completely with this approach to parenting.

As a new father, my wife and I have benefitted greatly from sharing our parenting experience with our friends and family on Facebook, Google+ and other social media networks. My post on Facebook was limited to my friends there, one of whom, Christian Perry of SF Beta asked that I write this post for SF Beta.

Here is, edited a bit, what I posted to my friends on Facebook. It sparked quite a discussion there.

If you are my friend here on Facebook you clearly see I’m not following this approach. I think it is actually short sighted.

Given a generation raised digitally the impact of baby photos on future collage applications will be trivial but the value in just a few short years of being connected digitally to a world of friends and family is massive.

And the value is for my wife and I as well as for our son. As he grows older he will be able to see comments from his grandparents and great grandparents on his baby photos – given that his great grandparents are in their 90’s they may not be around when he is a teenager.

As well his extended family is a global family – with family across the US and relatives around the globe.

My wife and I both grew up without a lot of childhood photos and few if any videos. I want to give my son digital memories of his childhood.

Equally being connected even briefly via “likes” has been hugely helpful for my wife and I remaining sane and calm as new parents.

Sure we get some unsolicited advice and spark debates amongst our friends about our decisions but one that I do not regret in the least is sharing his photos and our life as parents with our friends and family.

Am I careful about what I post – sure, I try whenever possible to post photos with good light and the grandparents have asked for photos where his eyes are open (harder when he was a newborn but getting easier now that he is 8 weeks old) and I try to avoid photos of myself or my wife at our most sleep deprived.

But the idea that somehow baby photos we post now will haunt him in the future – or that facial recognition or data mining will somehow impact his college applications or future job applications is silly.

At the moment we are seeing the impact of a second generation growing up with ubiquitous connectivity – while Generation X grew up with the dawn of the Internet in the 1990’s, the Millennial generation is a mobile first generation where Internet connectivity is not just a given but increasingly an always available part of the core fabric of their lives.

Connectivity means more than just searching Wikipedia for school answers – it also means never having to leave old friends behind – unless you want to. It means growing up, as my nephew does, with grandparents half a world away teaching you their native language via Skype.

And it means a world where everyone assumes that nearly every moment of their lives is captured digitally.

As an employer I won’t hold an employee’s digital archive against them – in fact I will expect it. What would surprise and actually worry me would be an employee without a digital footprint.

And that is today – in ten years or twenty years I strongly believe it will be the children without a digital life, without connections to the fabric of friends and extended family who will be at the disadvantage when it comes time to apply to colleges and to jobs.

This may still be Facebook or, more likely, it will be whatever comes after Facebook, but it will be a history that stretches back decades and links my son to his family and to our friends (and to his friends).

This digital world will help him find his place – whatever his passions and interests. And the support this extended family will give him and my wife and I will have helped us all have a richer childhood.

Rich with love, feedback, care, attention and connections.

Of course there will be embarrassing moments – but it is those moments that make us laugh and that make us human.

FTM Model Banned from Facebook over Unicorn Gangbang Controversy

The New Locus of Facebook Censorship

Sex-positive activist, filmmaker, FTM model and porn star James Darling woke up yesterday to a 30-day Facebook ban for not showing, but simply linking, to a wonderfully self-explanatory video called Unicorn Gangbang, posted to the FTMfucker website.

The banning comes as the newest controversy caused by the social network’s anti-nudity and anti-sex censorship policies, which activists, feminists, and free speech advocates have widely condemned — particularly when it comes to breasts, which are fine to show if you’re male, but not fine to show if you’re female — and unclear where the rules stand if you’re FTM. According to Fred Wollens, a company spokesman,

Unfortunately, exposed breasts are against our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. At the moment, we have absolutely no way of rationally delimitating “non-sexual images posted by women” from other potentially pornographic nude images. It’s incredibly difficult to come up with any sort of workable standards around non-sexualized vs sexualized nudity particularly for reviewers faced with hundreds of thousands of reports every week.

On November 17, 2012, Facebook admins threatened another group with suspension, The Uprising of Women in the Arab World, a movement where Arab women posted self-portait photographs wearing limited to no clothing, in protest of their religion’s strict sartorial standards.

Feminist individuals and groups regularly report harassment from Facebook officials, while their own complaints directed at the site’s more misogynist content are rarely taken seriously. Huffington Post columnist Soraya Chemaly discusses how Facebook content is rife with slut-shaming, fat-shaming, and glorification of rape culture, which rarely trigger the forms of censorship and threatening language to which female activists themselves have become accustomed:

According to Facebook’s interpretation and adherence to its own policies, they will not take down Boobs, Breasts and Boys who love them, unless the boys are babies since they do take down photos of breastfeeding mothers. They will not take down [Controversial Humor] rape pages, but they will remove a photograph of a woman crossing the street in New York City because she is topless (legal in New York, but not the sovereign state of Facebook). Obscene being defined by Facebook as a breast not in service to a man. Maybe it’s not a breast problem at all, but a nipple issue. Maybe Facebook lawyers are scared or put off by nipples. This isn’t offensive. At best it is sloppy and stupid and incoherent and, at worst, overtly sexist and misogynistic.

Considering these actions are taken by the same company culture that popularized brogramming, shall we truly be surprised?