Zum Ende der Arbeitswoche präsentieren wir die vergangenen Tage noch einmal in einer knackigen Liste. Es geht dabei um die meistgelesenen Artikel der vergangenen Tage auf deutsche-startups.de. Wir wünschen viel Spaß beim Stöbern in den News der Woche.
Die meistgelesenen Artikel der Woche
* “Ich zahle gerne mehr” – Ein offener Brief von Ehssan Dariani zum Anti-Angel-Gesetz
* “Die Neuregelung zum Anti-Angel-Gesetz ist dumm” – Vollmann antwortet Dariani
* Steuervergünstigungen für Business Angels sollen fallen: Die Gründerszene läuft Sturm
* Offline! 5 gescheiterte deutsche Gründer berichten über das bittere Ende ihres Start-ups
* In der deutschen Gründerszene toben dutzende Revolutionen
* Disruptive Innovations – MyTaxi tötet den Taxifunk
* Umsatzwachstum von 700 %: Das Konzept von Jobmensa und Studitemps funktioniert
* 5 neue Start-ups: OCG, Starmeo, Neodau, Perfect Select, celapp
* Die Streetflirting-App sbob.me lebt vom Kontakt auf der Straße
* Was ist disruptive? – Strategien und Denkansätze für Start-ups
Im Fokus: Artikel über taufrische Start-ups gibt es in unserem Special Brandneue Start-ups
Im Fokus: Artikel über Start-ups, die demnächst starten, gibt es in unserem Start-up-Radar
But neither one of those companies worry Google executives as much as another that is actively taking money out of their pockets.
This company is from Washington, but no, it's not Microsoft.
Google's real rival, and real competition to watch over the next few years is Amazon.
Google is a search company, but the searches that it actually makes money from are the searches people do before they are about to buy something online. These commercial searches make up about 20 percent of total Google searches. Those searches are where the ads are.
What Googlers worry about in private is a growing trend among consumers to skip Google altogether, and to just go ahead and search for the product they would like to buy on Amazon.com, or, on mobile in an Amazon app.
There's data to prove this trend is real. According to ComScore, Amazon search queries are up 73 percent in the last year. But it makes intuitive sense doesn't it?
Why go through these steps …
- Google search "rubber galoshes,"
- Analyze some text links,
- Click on one to go to a product page on some e-commerce store,
- Click to add the item to your cart,
- Input your credit card,
- Input your address,
… when you can just …
- Search amazon for "rubber galoshes,"
- Click one button to buy the product with your usual credit card and have it shipped to your normal address.
On mobile, where Amazon has its own app and Google is just a search bar for a smaller-screened browser, the equation tips further in Amazon's balance.
The scenario gets even scarier for Google if Kindle phones and Kindle tablets gain ubiquity.
If you have a Kindle phone, which comes with free movies and books because you have an Amazon Prime account, which also gives you free shipping, why in the WORLD would you ever search to buy something through anything but Amazon?
That's why Amazon is practically giving its hardware away.
It's also why Amazon scares Google more than anything Facebook or Apple are up to.
Like the hot dog toaster, mobile payments may offer a solution looking for a problem. To get consumers to switch, they’ll need to be convinced mobile offers a truly improved experience over cash and plastic. Photo: Nostalgia Electrics
Hot dogs: What a hassle! First you have to wrap them in paper towels, then put them in the microwave. And those without every mod con are actually stuck heating them on the stove or the grill—for a few minutes. And don’t get me started on the buns. Does this sound like your dreary lunchtime? Well, thank goodness for American innovation. Thank goodness for the hot dog toaster.
The history of technology is littered with solutions to non-existent problems. The difference between genius and hucksterism runs along the fuzzy line between technology that meaningfully changes day-to-day life, and novelties that just end up hogging space on the kitchen counter. Call it the Skymall divide.
The world will soon get to see which side of this gap mobile payments lands on. The would-be grand experiment in re-engineering consumer behavior gets under way this fall when Square arrives in 7,000 Starbucks. But does demand for another way to pay really exist?
“The real issue is the need to convince the consumers that this system is somehow better/easier/more valuable than just taking out the plastic card they already carry that’s used everywhere and transition that function to their phones,” says Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with the research firm Gartner Inc.
Sometimes the convincing part takes almost no effort. The technology speaks so well for itself that demand blooms where none existed before. The smartphone offers the best recent example. Does everyone want to send photos, videos, messages, access the Internet AND order food and transportation from a device they can carry in their pocket? Yes please.
But do they want to use that same device, or some version of it, to pay for things? Even some in the mobile payment industry say that just waving a smartphone over a scanner rather than swiping a card through the same machine isn’t enough to get consumers to switch.
“Credit, debit and cash all work pretty good in the United States,” says Gene Signorini, a vice president at Mobiquity, which designs and builds mobile applications for corporate clients. “Those payment options aren’t really broken.” Consumers will only change their behavior, he says, if paying with their phones truly changes the retail experience: “It’s not about the technology itself,” Signorini says.
Square’s attempt to change the way customers check out from coffee shops and other retail outlets (mostly food for now), Pay with Square, lets users “open a tab.” Customers tell the cashier their names and their photos pop up on the Square app, which lets the cashier confirm they are who they say they are. Then their accounts get charged—no wallet or phone necessary. But that option won’t be available right away when Square goes online in Starbucks. At the beginning, at least, Square users will scan a barcode on their phones, just as users of Starbucks’ own mobile app do already.
“That’s not much value added,” says Leo Rocco, CEO of Square competitor GoPago (pronounced go-pay-go). His company’s take on changing the retail user experience comes in the form of an app for pre-ordering. GoPago users can “skip the line” by ordering via smartphone ahead of time and pick their orders up by showing the cashier their in-app receipts.
Loyalty programs and rewards are the other major enticements for consumers to adopt mobile payments. And it’s no mystery why retailers hope their customers go mobile. Like frequent buyer or “club cards” that offer discounts when scanned at the register, mobile payment accounts let retailers track an individual’s buying behavior in exquisite detail. These data-rich profiles let stores target their marketing with tailored coupons and deals and even push notifications when customers get near a store. But even better than the club card, the “m-payment” system already has the way to pay built in. You can apply the coupon to your cappucino, and pay in full before you ever walk in the store.
With such built-in potential for impulse buying, retailers have obvious incentive to get you to change the way you pay. But will a free coffee every tenth cup, or a chance to save a few minutes in line be enough to engineer a wholesale switch from a piece of plastic that weighs less than any phone and never needs charging?
Framed this way, the difference between cash, credit, and mobile payments seems like the quintessential first-world problem: How to refine the consumer experience to meet our whopping sense of consumer entitlement.
Ironically, the developing world is where mobile payments have the best chance of leaping the Skymall divide. Many places in the world don’t have the infrastructure to take plastic of any kind. But many citizens of these same places do have mobile phones.
“It’s just like mobile leapfrogging the internet in certain economies,” Signorini said. “Mobile payments could leapfrog credit and debit systems.”
In other words, convenience is about frame of reference. Mobile payments might carry the taint of the hot dog toaster in the U.S., where consumers have never had a problem finding ways to get their money spent. But some cash-and-barter economies could suddenly gain access to international systems of exchange that makes mobile payment less another gadget in the kitchen drawer–and more a fixture for buyers and sellers to really start cooking with gas.
Seoul, South Korea (CNN) --- The first thing you notice about the professional video game players are their fingers -- spindly creatures that seem to flail about at their own will, banging at the computer keyboard with such frequency and ferocity that to visit their live-in training centers in South Korea is to be treated to a maddening drum roll of clicks and clacks.
The clatter is loud enough to drown out conversation. And it's constant. Rows of expressionless young men sit at cubicle-like workstations tapping at a galactic military strategy game, "StarCraft II," sometimes for 18 hours a day -- from 10 a.m. to 4 a.m.
One of them is "MarineKing" (real name, Lee Jung-hoon; age, 19; annual earnings, $105,000). His digits rap like machine-gun fire at a black keyboard; the twitchy glow of a computer monitor reflects in the lenses of his purple glasses. MarineKing lives with fellow members of his team, called Prime, on the 16th floor of a high-rise building west of Seoul -- an ultra-wired city that takes on an intense, digitally enhanced quality after dark, with neon lights and big-lettered advertisements lighting up a sea of skyscrapers. It's a place that's home to the world's finest "e-sports athletes," as they're called here without irony. It's also a hub for gaming addiction -- a place where deaths are attributed to games and the government funds treatment centers.
MarineKing knows those facts all too well. He's been caught in a lifelong struggle between the dark and the light sides of gaming. It's a struggle that at times tore his family apart.
When I visited MarineKing in December, he was preparing for the Olympics of the video game world -- the World Cyber Games. There, he would compete against his chief rival, "MVP," who was ranked No. 1 heading into the tournament, to MarineKing's No. 2.
In previous professional battles, MVP (real name: Jung Jong-hyun; age: 21; annual earnings: $250,000; team: Incredible Miracle; sponsor: LG Electronics) had always triumphed.
That rivalry wasn't MarineKing's biggest concern, though -- not really.
The scrappy, frustrated underdog cared more about proving to his parents, and to himself, that he was not addicted to the video game that had come to dominate his personal and professional life -- that he's a pro, something his mom and dad should be proud of.
"I am very desperate," he told me through a Korean translator. "I really want to win."
To impress his father, he wanted to be the world's best.
And at the World Cyber Games, his dad would be watching.
Google has just bought social marketing software developer Wildfire, which lets brands serve marketing and ad campaigns on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and LinkedIn. Wildfire has grown to 400 employees over the last four years and now serves 16,000 customers. Several sources and blogs say the sale price was around $250 million.
The acquisition will allow Google to provide advanced software and services to brands who want to run contests, sweepstakes, branded games and more on Google+. Wildfire will still operate as a marketing tool for brands on Google’s competing platforms, including Facebook, putting the search giant in a curious position where it earns money on the success of its rivals.
Google bid on buying Buddy Media but lost the deal to Salesforce. With Oracle buying other social marketing leaders Vitrue and Involver, Wildfire was the last top-tier startup in the space. Today’s deal leaves ThisMoment, another popular marketing platform, as a possible buy for old-world enterprise juggernauts like IBM or SAP.
Now it’s successfully bought one of Facebook’s biggest marketing partners. But Google hasn’t directly entered the social ad space yet. Wildfire only offers ad buying through a partnership with startup Adaptly. [Update: That's why I've just published "Wildfire Only Sells Ads Through Its Partner Adaptly, So Will Google Buy Them Too?"]
Wildfire claims there will be no disruption or immediate changes to the service it offers, which includes ad buying (via Adaptly), feed publishing, Page management, social app and contest development, analytics, social monitoring:
“We remain focused on helping brands run and measure their social engagement and ad campaigns across the entire web and across all social services — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn and more — and to deliver rich and satisfying experiences for their consumers. To this end, Wildfire will operate as usual, and there will be no changes to our service and support for our customers.
That puts Google in an odd spot, where it will benefit if social networks such as Facebook and Twitter rise in popularity amongst brands. This hedges it against failure of Google+ as play to gain ad-targetable social data, but could heat up the on-going API battles between the top social platforms.
What if Facebook denied Wildfire API access? That could sting Google but it’s unlikely as it would send a shockwave through Facebook’s developer ecosystem. Facebook may have to grit its teeth and watch Google cash in on brands trying to infiltrate the news feed and its mobile apps. Though since it decides who gets early access to new features that can attract clients, Facebook could subtlety hurt Wildfire by favoring its competitors.
Wildfire will help handle owned marketing, such as handling Pages and other properties brands control, to complement Google’s DoubleClick AdX/Admeld paid marketing service for buying ads on search and other websites. The acquisition shows that Google understands that ads can’t do it all. Tons of brand spend is going towards managing their presences on social networks, and now it will get a slice of that pie too.
For more on Google’s acquisition of Wildfire, read: “Wildfire Only Sells Ads Through Its Partner Adaptly, So Will Google Buy Them Too?“
I’ll also be discussing the acquisition on stage this Friday with Facebook’s VP of ads engineering Greg Badros at TechCrunch’s Facebook Ecosystem CrunchUp in the Bay Area. There’s still a few last tickets available.