E.B. Boyd

Behind the Scenes: How Starbucks is Assembling its Forthcoming Digital Content Network

Starbucks vice president for digital ventures Adam BrotmanThis summer, Starbucks announced that, later this fall, it will launch an in-store digital content network that customers can peruse using their laptops, smartphones, iPads, or just about any other mobile device they have on their persons as they order lattes and sip frappucinos. Starbucks’ vice president for digital ventures Adam Brotman will talk in depth about the project at mediabistro’s Think Mobile conference in San Francisco this Thursday. Ahead of the conference, we caught up with Brotman to learn why Starbucks thinks it can make content pay and whether the network’s success depends on the emergence of paywalls at other content sites. Our full interview appears tomorrow as part of mediabistro.com’s So What Do You Do series.

In the meantime, here’s a brief glimpse into how Starbucks persuaded premium content publishers – like the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, Nickelodeon, Rodale, Zagat, AOL’s Patch, and Yahoo – to provide content to the Starbucks Digital Network – for free, no less. Brotman explains:

We went to the various content companies that we wanted to hand-select for our customers, based on a lot of talking to our customers and based on the kinds of content they’d be interested in. And instead of charging [those companies] for access to our customers – and many of them would love to have access to our customers – we said: “Why don’t you provide something of value that they can’t get for free on the Internet, or that they can’t get at all because you make it a ‘sneak peek’ or exclusive to us.” That differentiates the content for our customers, but it still gives these content partners [the ability to raise] awareness [among Starbucks customers] and [have those customers give their content a] trial within our stores. Then we share revenue on the upsell, so we become like an affiliate network.

NPR's Apps Chief Moving to Netflix

NPR's Daniel JacobsonNPR’s director of application development, who set the vision for the APIs that have fueled a significant part of the network’s online growth, is leaving the nation’s capital to move to Silicon Valley where he will join Netflix in mid-October.

Daniel Jacobson will lead development efforts around the video rental giant’s APIs, including those that enable the transfer of content to set-top boxes and game consoles. like the Xbox, and mobile devices, like the iPhone and iPad.

Jacobson joined NPR 11 years ago and initially oversaw the development of the network’s content management system, which was launched in 2002 and which formed the underpinnings of the API system. The API system, which went live in 2008, allows NPR to easily share its content with publishers both inside and outside the network. The existence of the API has been credited with vastly accelerating NPR’s move into the mobile space, including its iPhone and iPad apps, as well as making possible the creation of its new Argo Network and enabling NPR to enjoy 100% growth in pageviews over the past year.

Also, Twitter Got a New Logo

In all the hoopla over the redesign of Twitter.com, a key development seems to have been overlooked: Twitter has a new logo. In a shift in aesthetics seeming to mirror the fact that everyone’s favorite little micro-blogging site is growing up, gone are the elementary-school unicorn-and-rainbow-style bubble letters. Taking their place are silhouettes sleek enough to adorn a pre-teen’s first skateboard. We are so proud.

Old logo:

Twitter's old logo

New logo:

Twitter's new logo

Biz Stone: New Twitter Interface Wasn't Designed for Monetization, but 'It Lends Itself to Advertising and Revenue Opportunities'

Twitter execs said their main motivation for doing a redesign of Twitter.com, which they unveiled Tuesday at the company’s headquarters in San Francisco, was to improve the user experience – to make Twitter “faster, easier, richer, more efficient to use,” as Biz Stone (right) put it. Monetization was so low on the list of design objectives that execs said they hadn’t even shown the new site to advertisers before yesterday’s launch. But, in an interview with WebNewser, Stone said he thinks the new design does offer the possibility for “new revenue-generating opportunities.” “The fact that you can click on any tweet that interests you and see even more information lends itself to advertising and revenue opportunities of promoted tweets and and so forth,” he told us.

After the jump, Stone tells us more about those monetization opportunities, why he’d prefer people not spend all that much time on Twitter, and why he thinks the redesign will nevertheless produce more users. Also: Complete screenshots of the new design.

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Wired.com Launches Science Blog Network

Masthead of the new Wired Science blogs

Wired.com today launched a new network of what it calls “superstar science bloggers.” Says Betsy Mason, former Contra Costa Times science writer and new Wired.com science editor:

The new Wired Science Blogs network will complement our news stories with more insight, opinion and geeky science details brought to you by people who are extremely knowledgeable and deeply embedded in their fields of interest, which range from infectious diseases to physics.

Among the superstars on the Science Blogs masthead: natural science blogger Brian Switek, Southeastern Louisiana University physics professor Rhett Allain, former newspaper reporter and long-time coverer of the CDC Maryn McKenna, geologist Brian Romans, award-winning science writer David Dobbs, How We Decide author Jonah Lehrer, and Australian DNA data-set researcher Daniel MacArthur.

Google, Twitter Execs: 'Facebook Places' Mainstreams Check-Ins

140ConfLogo.gifFoursquare might be quaking in its boots following the launch yesterday of Facebook Places, but executives from Google and Twitter speaking at today’s 140 Characters Conference in San Francisco said the new service signals the “mainstreaming” of “check-in” behavior—and that’s a good thing.

“Check-in is becoming more and more of a core action,” said Othman Laraki, Twitter’s director for geo-location and search features. “People tweet to broadcast information. People update their status or post photos. People [do] a search on Google. Checking in is emerging as a core action that people are taking in their daily lives as a way to express their current location. It’s overall a very good thing. It’s bringing it much more mainstream, and brings tons more information, and gives a place for all this information to exist.”

Said Leor Stern, from Google New Business Development: “I don’t think either of us is really freaked out about last night’s announcement. The real question is…: What does the future hold for the integration of geo-location and the real-time Web? A benefit of what Facebook is doing is driving check-ins into mainstream adoption, beyond the realm of game mechanics or more specialized use cases…. All of a sudden, from a marketing standpoint, as a venue or a local business owner, you have a much greater opportunity to communicate with your customers in real-time, when they’re in your location.”

5 Questions with John Byrne of BusinessWeek, Fast Company, and Now, C-Change Media

john_byrne_185x250.jpgLast week, former BusinessWeek and Fast Company editor John Byrne‘s new company, C-Change Media, launched the first site in a network he says will become “the Huffington Post of business.” The new site, Poets and Quants, combines original and curated content with a social network for MBA students, both current and prospective. The next site on deck, Slingshots for David, will launch later this year with a focus on disrupters. Others among the dozen or so planned niches for the network include doing business in China, doing business in India, management, finance, and the economy.

We caught up with Byrne to ask him about C-Change—and why he thinks he has a winning strategy.

WebNewser: Why focus on MBAs for your first site?

Byrne: There is some strategy here. Back in 1988, when I created the [business school] rankings for BusinessWeek, I was concerned about who would read BusinessWeek in the future. I felt we had to do something on a regular basis, that was big and substantial, to attract the next generation of readers.

As I thought about which site to launch first [for C-Change], I thought: If I go for the twenty-something audience, who attend the best business schools in the world, I’m getting people who are already Web-savvy. It’s an incredibly elite and lucrative audience of really smart people. If I can provide a really good service and introduce the brand to them in their 20s, they’ll get it and stay with it.

After the jump: Where the revenues will come from.

Photo credit: Brad Trent

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AOL's Patch Names Senior Editorial Leaders

PatchLogo.pngAOL’s Patch says it now has its senior management team in place with the appointment of four regional Editorial Directors who will report to Patch editor-in-chief Brian Farnham.

From the release, the four regional leaders are:

  • Marcia Parker ([based in:] San Ramon, California), Editorial Director of the West Coast Region, joins Patch from the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, where she served as Assistant Dean for six years. She is the founding Editor-in-Chief, of Tri Valley Magazine, former Director of Programming at AOL Small Business, and has worked at Crain’s New York Business, United Press International and the Center for Investigative Reporting.
  • Tim Windsor (Baltimore, Maryland), Editorial Director of the South Region, joins Patch from Johns Hopkins University, where he was Director of Digital Strategy. He is the former Vice President and General Manager of Baltimore Sun Interactive.
  • Anthony Duignan-Cabrera (Colts Neck, New Jersey), Editorial Director of the Northeast Region, joins Patch from CNNgo.com, where he was Editorial Director, charged with developing and driving the content strategy of CNN’s travel/culture/entertainment portal for the Southeast Asian region. He previously worked at Imaginova, ABC News and People magazine.
  • Sherry Skalko (Chicago, Illinois), Editorial Director of the Midwest Region, joins Patch from the Online News Association, where she served in several capacities, including training, membership, and development, and as editor of Journalists.org. She previously worked as an editor and content strategist at Tribune Interactive, SunSentinel.com and ESPN.com.

  • Patch also says it has 52 Regional Editors in place in 13 states.

    Former Entrepreneur Editor Joining C-Change Media

    Former Entrepreneur editorial director Rieva Lesonsky is joining C-Change Media, the company started by former BusinessWeek and Fast Company editor John Byrne. Lesonsky will lead the second site C-Change plans to launch, “Slingshots for David.”

    That site, which Byrne says is scheduled to go live at the end of September, will focus on disrupters and disruptive business models. Its goal is to “provide the tools, advice and inspiration to help entrepreneurs develop disruptive business models to slay the Goliaths in business.”

    “We really want to focus on people who have figured out how to disrupt an existing market,” Byrne told WebNewser. “Jeff Bezos [at Amazon] would be one. Reed Hastings at Netflix would be another. We want to view entrepreneurship through that lens exclusively.

    Lesonsky left Entrepreneur in 2008 after 26 years at the magazine. Since then, she has spearheaded her own communications company, GrowBiz Media, and has blogged for Microsoft Small Business Resources, AllBusiness.com, SmallBizTrends.com, AT&T, and Earn.com, as well as on her own site, Small Biz Daily.

    Slingshots for David will follow on the heels of Poets and Quants, the site for MBAs C-Change launched last week. C-Change is also planning for the launch of the third in a network of about a dozen business-related niche sites, which will focus on Business in China, name TBA.

    Ex-BizWeek, Fast Company Editor Byrne Launches Site for MBAs

    PQJB.bmpBack in March, we told you that former BusinessWeek and Fast Company editor John Byrne was planning to launch a network of business-related sites. Fast forward five months. The first of a dozen or so sites that Byrne’s C-Change Media is planning to release went live this week: Poets & Quants, positioned as “the go-to place for serious applicants to the best MBA programs in the world.”

    The site includes original content, school rankings, and the beginnings of community and social network for MBA applicants and students. C-Change says a niche site for MBA’s is a “a natural starting point for Byrne,” who is the person who created the first regularly published rankings of business schools at BusinessWeek, authored four editions of BusinessWeek’s Guidebook to the Best Business Schools, and built out the brand’s business school franchise on the Web in the mid-1990s.

    The next site C-Change plans to launch: “Slingshots for David,” which C-Change says will “provide the tools, advice and inspiration to help entrepreneurs develop disruptive business models to slay the Goliaths in business.” Release date TBA.

    Complete press release here.