Notes of Note from John F. Ince

Archive for February, 2011

Groupon Pulls Controversial Super Bowl Ads

What your take on this …..?

Groupon announced on Thursday that it is pulling its controversial Super Bowl commercials from the air.In a blog post, Groupon CEO Andrew Mason apologized for the ads, which many said were offensive–especially the one that aired during the Super Bowl, which featured actor Timothy Hutton talking about the plight of the Tibetan people before unexpectedly shifting gears and boasting that he could still save money on Tibetan restaurants, thanks to Groupon.”Our ads offended a lot of people,” Mason wrote. “Tuesday I posted an explanation, but as many of you have pointed out, if an ad requires an explanation, that means it didnt work.”In the explanation, Mason defended the ads, saying they were actually meant to bring awareness and raise money for the various issues they mentioned other spots talked about the Brazilian rainforest and whales. But that stance clearly was not enough, causing Mason to go further.”We hate that we offended people, and were very sorry that we did – its the last thing we wanted,” Mason wrote on Thursday. “Weve listened to your feedback, and since we dont see the point in continuing to anger people, were pulling the ads…we thought we were poking fun at ourselves, but clearly the execution was off and the joke didnt come through. I personally take responsibility; although we worked with a professional ad agency, in the end, it was my decision to run the ads.”

via Groupon Pulls Controversial Super Bowl Ads.

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The Onion Speaks To Every Fanboy’s Fear: With Jobs Out, A Grotesque MacBook

When Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced he was taking another medical leave of absence earlier this year, the talk immediately started. “But what happens when Apple has to release a new product?” “Will it suck?” The truth, of course, is that Apple has a pipeline of products that likely spans years — all based on calls made while Jobs was in charge. And many of those are already in various levels of late-stage development. But what if a new products slips through the cracks? What if interim Apple head Tim Cook greenlights something awful? The Onion explores this possibility today.

Say hello to the new “grotesque” MacBook.

“Cook presented the bizarre, malformed new product to stunned silence during a media event at Apple headquarters, revealing a device that, while vaguely similar to a computer in certain respects, appeared to be encased in a thick, flesh-like coating that was visibly moist and engorged,” notes The Onion.

Ahhhh!

“Shocked audience members claimed the appalling laptop, which seemed to many onlookers to have functioning digestive, muscular, and urinary systems, was “hard to look at” and easily the most repellent product yet manufactured by Apple,” The Onion continues.

Ewwwww!

But, the silver lining:

“As of press time, 3.2 million loyal customers were lining up overnight outside of Apple stores across the country for the chance to buy the slick new abomination.“

Making fun of irrational fears and fanboys at the same time. Nicely done again, Onion.

via The Onion Speaks To Every Fanboy’s Fear: With Jobs Out, A Grotesque MacBook.

Visa Buys CyberSource for $2 Billion – NYTimes.com

Betting that electronic payments will increasingly replace cash, Visa announced on Wednesday that it would pay $2 billion to buy CyberSource, which facilitates payments for big online merchants.

The acquisition is the largest in Visa’s history and positions the credit card giant to increase its leading position in e-commerce. Currently, more than 40 percent of online payments are routed through Visa’s network.

At the same time, Visa hopes to use its vast global network to spread CyberSource’s technology outside of the United States.

CyberSource provides a payment gateway for online merchants, connecting them to networks like Visa and MasterCard. In essence, it is the online equivalent of the terminals used to swipe credit and debit cards at brick-and-mortar stores. The company provides additional services like fraud prevention and security for merchants.

CyberSource, based in Mountain View, Calif., handles about 25 percent of online transactions in the United States. Its clients include Home Depot and Google.

Joseph W. Saunders, Visa’s chief executive, said his company was concerned about maintaining its market share amid competition from PayPal and other e-commerce companies. “This is somewhat in reaction to it,” he said in a conference call.

“It also happens to be consistent with what we think our long-term strategies ought to be,” he said.

Jim McCarthy, Visa’s global head of product, said the main drivers for success in online payments were security and convenience. He said the acquisition of CyberSource would enable Visa to provide merchants and consumers with “a more frictionless experience” for online services and ultimately, mobile payments.

via Visa Buys CyberSource for $2 Billion – NYTimes.com.

Visa Buys Virtual Goods Monetization Platform PlaySpan For $190 Million In Cash

Check out the last line of this story … Amazing….

PlaySpan, a virtual goods monetization platform, has been acquired by Visa. According to the release, Visa will pay $190 million in cash for the company, plus additional payouts for performance milestones. The deal comes nearly a year after Visa spent a whopping $2 billion on e-payment company CyberSource. Visa says that the acquisition of PlaySpan complements the CyberSource deal and will extend the company’s presence in digital and mobile commerce.

This is a big exit for PlaySpan, which has raised a total of $46 million in funding since its launch four years ago. PlaySpan has been growing like a weed, striking partnerships with a number of social network, gaming and media companies, including Viacom, Disney, Facebook, Ubisoft, and Sanrio.

PlaySpan’s flagship product UltimatePay is a ‘Monetization as a Service’ platform for apps, games, videos and digital goods. Based on the user’s location, the payments platform draws from over 85 different payment options. Because of its vast variety of payment options (which include PayPal, pre-paid cards, and a number of credit cards), UltimatePay is designed for a global audience. Currently, PlaySpan powers virtual goods marketplaces across 1,000 video games, virtual world publishers and social networks.

The company also recently launched a mobile version of UltimatePay, which gives smartphone developers a way to deliver a one-click payment experience to mobile gamers, and provide a comprehensive payments offering. The mobile focused platform allows players to view their balance and transaction history, while allowing them to purchase items in-app without ever having to leave the game.

As virtual goods becomes a booming business, PlaySpan has reaped the benefits of technology and media companies looking to incorporate virtual goods into their platforms.

Visa says that ecommerce sales, which reached an estimated $948 billion, are a big growth area for the company. Approximately 45 percent of U.S. online spending takes place on Visa’s network today and for Visa’s fiscal first quarter 2011, the company reported 25 percent year-over-year growth in ecommerce payment volumes globally. Visa is going to use PlaySpan to capitalize on the growing digital goods market, which generated an estimated $25 billion in consumer spending globally in 2010 and is expected to reach $280 billion by 20143.

The acquisition is even more impressive when you conside that the company was founded by 12-year-old, Arjun Mehta, in 2006. PlaySpan is actually run by the teenager’s father, CEO and co-founder Karl Mehta.

via Visa Buys Virtual Goods Monetization Platform PlaySpan For $190 Million In Cash.

Can Square, Intuit and Other Mobile Payment Providers Compete With A 12-Cent Debit Card Transaction? – Bank Systems & Technology

The ranks of companies offering mobile payment solutions targeted at small businesses is growing, with Intuit GoPayment and Sage Mobile Payments joining Square and others in offering simple devices or services that enable businesses to accept payments from customers through a mobile phone. These are sure to be viewed with interest by small business owners such as physical therapists who don’t want to have to buy a merchant terminal or cash register, nor pay merchant card processing fees. The SMB Group, a research firm focused on the small and medium size business market, is conducting a study of SMB payment behavior; preliminary data shows that 3% of SMBs accept mobile payments today and this number will increase to 7% in the next 12 months, and 16% by the end of 2012.

But while these alternative providers market themselves as being easier and less expensive to use than the traditional merchant terminal and card network model, many of them do use the card networks and their transaction costs are high when compared with the post-Dodd-Frank debit card transaction, which if the Fed’s current proposal goes through will have a transaction fee cap of 12 cents per transaction. Some seem higher than the typical credit card processing fee, which is around 1.79%.

Square, whose one-inch-square card swipe device attaches to an iPhone, iPad, or Android device, charges 2.75% plus 15 cents for each swiped transaction; typed-in transactions cost slightly more.

Sage Mobile Payments, which launched yesterday, offers a credit card reader that plugs into the audio jack of a smartphone. The company plans to charge customers a set-up fee and then a monthly fee starting at $10.95, but no transaction fees.

Intuit’s GoPayment, which works with iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and BlackBerry devices and will be one of the first mobile payment apps available on Android 3.0-based tablets, provides a free card reader but charges 15 cents per transaction along with 2.7% per swiped transaction or 3.7% per keyed transaction for low volumes;

via Can Square, Intuit and Other Mobile Payment Providers Compete With A 12-Cent Debit Card Transaction? – Bank Systems & Technology.