Microsoft invests in Facebook at $15 billion

The Wall Street Journal has a good overview and recap of the negotiation process.

Facebook is reported to have circa $150 million in revenue currently (and are launching their own advertising platform shortly). As a point of reference, Facebook’s revenue is worth 7.1x more on a price/sales basis than Google.

Looking back at the last round of venture funding, Accel participated in the $25 million round at a whopping $500 million pre-money. This was before the site was adding 200,000 users per day. Not a bad paper return given the price they bought in at… Now, how long until Facebook a) implodes or b) goes public?

How to make your customers very unhappy

Radiohead have taken their fate into their own hands– they’ve refused to sell their new album through iTunes (and apparently other online stores as well). I don’t think you can buy physical CDs either.

Normally, I would cheer them on, but…

The problem is, YOU CAN’T DOWNLOAD THE MUSIC. I put their release date in my calendar (I’m a pretty big radiohead fan). Went to the site on the 10th of October. The site was crashed. Went back this weekend. Site not working. (I did manage to read something about the new album, but almost went BLIND trying to read their website.)

Do I go back and try to download the album again? Or should I now boycott Radiohead until they release their music on iTunes where it’s convenient for me?

Steve Jobs had a good point- most people would prefer to pay $9.99 for an album rather than “work for minimum wage” to download an album for free (or even £1). I happily bought Thom Yorke’s Eraser on iTunes. One click an it was on my iPod.

I’ve actually spent more time trying to get the new Radiohead album than its taken to write this rant (which is far, far to long). Maybe someone will be kind enough to download the music, burn it on a CD and give it to me for my birthday.

Migrate from .Mac to Gmail in three steps


It’s almost that time of year again- the annual “Do I keep .mac, or do I leave it” decision. I’ve had a mac email address since the iTools days when it was all free. After years of paying my mac tax, I’ve decided to leave .mac and migrate to my own domain (hosted within my gmail account).


Google lets you manage your own domain effortlessly. I’ve set up a Google Apps account for which lets me manage about 100 emails on the domain.

The key here is I’m reading and managing everything from within one unified inbox at my gmail account (could have been from within the account, but I already use most Google products through my existing gmail account).

Google have made it dead easy to migrate from any service. For .mac there are three steps:

Step One– Move *all* your messages into your Inbox. This includes your sent messages. Although Google won’t register sent messages in your gmail inbox, nor in your gmail “sent” folder, it does add them to your archive- with the right date AND threading. This makes it easy to import all your inbox and sent messages- making them easily searchable.

Step Two– Go to the Settings>Accounts>Get mail from other accounts. Add .mac (even though it refers to POP accounts). You’ll need to input your username, password and these pop server details:, port 995, select “use secure connection”, select “archive incoming messages” and you’re off to the races.

I chose to leave the messages on .mac just in case I change my mind over the next five months. Google only loads 200 messages at a time, so it will take a while for all your emails to automagically appear in gmail (but they will and the time stamps will all be correct also.)

Step Three– There is no step three! (well, maybe some cleaning up, select as read/filing/tagging you might want to do, but not required. You might also want to uncheck that “auto renew” button for your .mac account).

Final Thoughts

Why leave .mac? Well, aside from calling it .crap for years…

I don’t use the blogging tools (I use TypePad).
I don’t use the photo albums (I use Flickr Pro).
I don’t use iDisk other than for backup- and a total of 2GB doesn’t get you very far (I now use Mozy, which offers 2GB for free, but pay the $50 per year to back up my entire HD).
I don’t use the iSync bookmarks feature I use Google Browser Sync and Delicious.

.Mac costs me about $150 per year (I have my wife, mom and dad on the service so it costs more than the standard $99). My current set up costs me about $75 net per year (Typepad gets offset with Adsense)- and I get much, much more for my money.

Other small details: .mac’s spam filter is pitiful. I had to buy Spamsieve a while back (excellent software) which meant that I had to read emails in my Google has caught every spam message that .mac missed. Also, the tight integration with calendar is great as well (i.e. there’s an event mentioned in an email and a “add to calendar” appears to the right of the message.

Any questions or problems doing the same, drop me a line: blog at jasonball dot com.

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TechBytes en Español

Ok, I lived in Spain for 6 years. Someone was looking at the site in Spanish via Google’s translation service, so I decided to take a look at my site in Spanish:

My posts are unbelievably unintelligible when translated by machine. The last post on “the Funded” turns into mush- the name “London Seed Capital” gets translated, the website “The Funded” gets translated, “Index Ventures” gets translated- all translated into a big pile of gobbled gook.

Taking the Spanish and feeding it back in to get English again gives you an idea:

Capital of seed of London – The ball of Jason has blog interesting that is much on technology and very little – this one is interesting considering its list is so separated towards it go so it lacks to equipment with solid masters of the industry.

Company of the atlas – some very good people with this company/signature, although the nature of euro of the company/signature has with her some partners extremely snobby. they leave you single, way too much. no aid beyond the cash infusion.

Companies of the index – One lies down to these individuals and obtained “to hey this” really fresh regeneration but then never followed. I do not concern the being said of not or a certain eufemismo for no, but it does not reflect well in a bottom when “they send it in”.

Too funny.

Si no sabes leer ingles y quieres leer algún articulo mío en español (y no te aclaras con la traducción de Google) envíame un email a techbytes arroba mac punto com y te lo traduciré.

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The Shopping Experience- keeping customers happy

I’ve believed since my days at infonomia that Alfons Cornella was correct: in the future, everything would be bought via the net and that physical shopping would be an “experience” in the same way that fine dining is about more than just nourishing the body.

I have now decided that e-commerce can provide a vastly superior shopping experience.

I was reminded what an “experience” it is to shop today at my local Sainsbury’s Market- how time-consuming, frustrating and stressful a weekend outing to the supermarket can really be.

I’ve been using Able & Cole for a few months now and have continued to be impressed with their website, value for money, quality food and above all, customer service. It’s all about customer touch points: the “notes” they include with my weekly delivery, the quirky explanation about what “Apples in conversion” means, what farm they’ve come from, how far they travelled, what the carbon footprint is, etc.

The last time I saw our delivery guy, he said, “Mr Ball, it’s been a pleasure delivering your groceries, but I’ve been re-assigned to NW3. My colleague [Scott] will be taking care of you from now on…”. He was very sincere that someone else would be taking care of me and my family and seemed honestly disappointed to be reassigned to a different part of London.

I was thoroughly impressed. I’ve seen at least 20 different delivery guys from Tesco, and none of them have even bothered to say more than “Sign here”.

If you’re an e-tailer, I seriously recommend that you study Able & Cole forensically. They are doing an amazing job.

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Disney sells 1.3 million films on iTunes

Sales of films from Disney on Apple’s iTunes Music Store jumped to more than 1.3 million just three months after debuting on the digital storefront.
Big-name studios have proven reluctant to join iTunes for fear of
angering brick-and-mortar retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target, both
of which derive a sizable portion of their profits from DVD sales.
Wal-Mart in September was reported to have threatened Hollywood studios
with retribution if they joined Apple’s movement. Disney CEO Bob Iger
said digital distribution is "creating more consumption of media,"
adding that "The message that we deliver to our traditional [retail]
partners is that the pie is getting bigger," according to (via MacNN)

I’ve argued before that digital distribution would expand the pie, not cannibalize any sales. Judging by iTunes music sales evolution, movie sales are running slower than music, but music sales just reached the 2 billion mark, after hitting the million mark in October 2005. With the coming launch of Apple TV, movie sales through iTunes should really take off. This should put further pressure on other studios to make their content available online.

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Collaborate to Innovate: The Rise of Social Networks

I attended a Nesta event on Monday, Collaborate to Innovate. Ronald Burt of the Chicago Graduate School of Business spoke about some of his research regarding social networks. Ronald has conducted extensive research on interaction between social clusters. The key conclusion is that value resides in the white spaces. Brokers, social flies, serial networkers, etc are most likely to benefit from cross-pollination between different social (or work) groups/communities.

The second topic for the evening was the rise of online social networks. For most anyone reading this, you’re well versed in social networks. The important point made is that there are really two key types of social networks- those focused on the person, such as LinkedIn, and those focused on people’s attributes, like musical taste, such as Lastfm, where the actual individual takes a back seat.

Thinking about where the white spaces are around my social networks, it makes sense to think about your (or my) attributes: American, VC, Chemist, Blogger, Guitarist, Mac Zelot, etc…any of those place me within potentially new "social networks".

Where would you look for disruptive, insightful, new social interaction?