Bebo attempts the near-impossible: A comeback


Remember the popular ’90s social networking app Bebo? Yeah, me neither.

The Facebook predecessor, which dominated British social networking for awhile, sold to AOL for $850 million in 2008. The corporate behemoth wasted no time at all in killing it.

But Bebo will not go softly into that dark night. In July of 2013, founder Michael Birch, with the help of his business wingman Shaan Puri, bought back the brand for a pittance of what he sold it for. Last week, he relaunched it.

The new Bebo is a whole new beast. Gone is the social network of yore, and in its place is — what else? — a chatting application.

Bebo is now all about the custom avatar, letting you pick from a range of hair styles, colors, skin tones, glasses, clothing, and accessories. Then when you chat with a friend on the app you can animate your avatar using…

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Influencer Marketing Is Killing Santa


It?s the final week of the Christmas season, and the holiday shopping advertisements are flowing through my inbox faster than startup pitches. While endorsements from celebrities occasionally show up, there is one uber-influencer that seems to appear more than any other. Jolly St. Nick, the rotund and red-clothed Santa character partially popularized by Coca-Cola, has traditionally been the endorsement of choice for marketing executives in the month of December.

But if Mavrck, Pixlee, and other startups have their way, that omnipresent santa will be replaced by your colleague or your next door neighbor ? and maybe even by you.

I have written a lot about the opening up of labor markets through algorithms and democratized finance, but one activity that has ironically resisted this movement has been marketing. There has always been a tension in advertising between showing the ideal and the ordinary. Just think of celebrities in make-up commercials…

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