Your weekly rundown of the latest in tech and entertainment
YouTube has a new boss, but don't expect much change. Susan Wojcicki has been at Google since the beginning, even hosting the company in her garage early on. She's a talented and respected executive, but based on conversations with people close to YouTube, Google's former head of advertising products is not going to introduce dramatic changes at one of the fastest growing businesses in the entertainment industry.
That is both good and bad.
One frequent complaint about YouTube from those inside the community is that it wants to be everything to everyone. Anyone can upload a video at any time they want, which leads to both cat videos and well-made digital series.
YouTube loves to talk about how many videos get uploaded to the site, demonstrating its appeal to the masses.
Also read: YouTube Has a New CEO: Susan Wojcicki
Yet the more videos you have, the less control there is over subject or quality. That makes it more difficult to compel advertisers to pay significantly more, which in turn hurts the creators and companies relying on the platform for profits.
Wojcicki's background is not in entertainment or media, so no one expects her to help YouTube focus creatively, whether it's on live events, in-depth storytelling, music videos, or some combination of all that.
However, Wojcicki brings an advertising savvy that bodes well for YouTube's business. The site continues to grow at astronomical rates, so there's nothing wrong with keeping the same formula. Google wants YouTube to make more money, and it will. Whether that enriches YouTube partners remains to be seen.
Facebook Turns 10
In the video above, we talk about social media's impact on the film industry. Facebook has been instrumental in the marketing of movies over the past few years, but major studios are still reluctant to devote most of their marketing spend to social media. Why is that?
Here's what Mark Zuckerberg had to say on the Today Show about Facebook at 10, and below is the video Facbeook distributed as a ‘Look Back’ at 10 years:
A New Boss at Microsoft Brings in Bill Gates to Help
Microsoft officially announced Satya Nadella would be the company's new CEO, and also confirmed reports that co-founder Bill Gates would be stepping down as chairman. While Gates will no longer run the board, he will be playing a more active role at the company, serving as a technology and product adviser to Nadella.
Gates has spent the past several years focusing on philanthropy, and as the New York Times writes, “he has watched as the technology industry changed without him. The personal computer era that Microsoft so ably dominated during and after Mr. Gates's heyday as Microsoft's chief executive has started to fade away. Now, the focus is on social media and mobile devices that run in large part on cloud computing.”
Yet Gates still held regular meetings with Microsoft employees to discuss new products and ideas.
“Four to six times a year, said a person close to him, Mr. Gates has received briefings on technology from Microsoft managers at his private offices in Kirkland, Wash., not far from Microsoft's headquarters.”
Nadella wrote that Microsoft was uniquely positioned to conquer the world for a second time in his first note to staff:
“Many companies aspire to change the world. But very few have all the elements required: talent, resources, and perseverance. Microsoft has proven that it has all three in abundance. And as the new CEO, I can't ask for a better foundation.”
Twitter has a rough week
Investors soured on Facebook after its initial public offering because the company had not figured out how to make money from all the people accessing Facebook on their phones and tablets. Twitter does not have that problem. It recorded impressive revenue growth in its first quarterly earnings report since going public, and most of that revenue came from mobile advertising.
Yet its stock price took a beating for two consecutive days because growth stalled in another area: users. Twitter's active user base only grew 30 percent in 2013, and only four percent in the final quarter of the year. That did not please investors or analysts, one of whom noted it would take more than a decade for Twitter to crack 200 million users in the United States.
Also a concern: engagement declined.
So Twitter has gotten better at making money off of its users, but that is not enough to make the company a success. Twitter lost half a billion dollars in the final quarter of the year. Losses are fine when you continue to grow, but growth has slowed.
BitTorrent continues its efforts to rehab its image in Hollywood. Most people still associate the name with piracy, but it has forged partnerships with Vice, major musicians and even theaters owners like Drafthouse.
Break Media partnered with New Regency last summer to host a contest for aspiring filmmakers. Break later merged with alloy Digital to become Defy Media, but ‘The Protoype’ lives on. Here are the 8 finalists.
Shows from Felicia Day‘s “Geek & Sundry” YouTube channel will appear on Hulu as part of a new deal between the two companies. YouTube is letting some of the channels it funded seek distribution elsewhere, and new episodes of the G&S show “Caper” will appear on YouTube and Hulu at the same time.
Amazon encourages customers to watch the pilots it is considering turning into series, and uses data about their viewing habits to make decisions. Netflix got all the attention last year for “disrupting” the TV industry, releasing every episode of new series at once.Yet Amazon's approach to pilots is just as unusual, and Amazon says that system is working