Alibaba backs Momo app

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Alibaba-backed Chinese social media firm Momo Inc.’s initial public offering was an impressive one. Trading with the ticker MOMO, shares of the company surged 26% to $17.02. The IPO was priced at $13.50.

Launched in 2011 by Tang Yan, Momo is a mobile instant messaging app that lets users post their pictures and profiles. In Chinese, Momo means unacquainted and it is sometimes referred to as China’s Tinder. Tinder is a popular U.S. dating app that allows users go through pictures of people in their area.

Momo is basically SnapChat, Match.com and Facebook brewed together. It informs users about others with “common interests” nearby. Users also meet in groups and on message boards. This is not all, Momo offers games as well.

The app is free. But users can upgrade to get “VIP logos,” advanced search and the right to follow more users for $18 a year.

According to the IPO filing, the app had 180.3 million registered accounts, 60.2 million monthly active users (MAU) and 2.3 million paying subscribers at the end of September.

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Tencent strikes deals with Sony and Warner

Visitors use phones underneath of logo of Tencent at Global Mobile Internet Conference in Beijing

Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd has struck the latest in a string of music distribution deals, this time with Sony Music Entertainment, as it teams up with labels to try to develop China’s paid-for music market and curb piracy.

The partnership, announced on Tuesday, will give Tencent the right to distribute Sony Corp’s music catalog online in China, including artists like Daft Punk, Bob Dylan and Yo-Yo Ma. Tencent, which operates China’s biggest messaging app WeChat, did not disclose financial terms of the deal.

Shenzhen-based Tencent will also promote Sony Music’s performers on its online platforms, including social network QQ. According to Tencent, QQ has more than 820 million monthly active users.

Last month, Tencent signed a similar music distribution partnership with Warner Music Group. Earlier this month it also agreed to become the exclusive online distributor for South Korea’s YG Entertainment, which manages a stable of K-pop artists including “Gangnam Style” rapper Psy.

With a market capitalization of about $135 billion, Tencent is quickly becoming an entertainment empire in China. Its video games, the firm’s main cash cow, are among China’s most popular and Tencent mobile games regularly top download charts.

Baidu invests in Über

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Chinese Internet giant Baidu Inc confirmed on Wednesday it is buying a stake in fast-growing international car-hailing service Uber as the pair chase growth in one of the world’s largest transportation markets.

The companies didn’t disclose how big a stake Baidu is taking, nor how much it is paying for the investment, announced jointly in Beijing.

Baidu and Uber said they would collaborate to expand Uber’s presence in China, where it lags far behind Kuaidi Dache and Didi Dache, two domestic car-hailing apps backed by Baidu’s rivals Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Tencent Holdings Ltd, respectively.

Crispin Hellion Glover on propaganda

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“I think there’s a misunderstanding specifically about US propaganda. When you hear the word propaganda, you usually think Communist-era propaganda or Nazi Germany propaganda. And there’s no question those cultures used propaganda. All governmental institutions use propaganda. The United States is no exception. I would argue that [ours is] the most well-oiled propaganda machine in the world. With the internet, people are becoming more aware of the use of propaganda, but usually what they’re focusing on is strict governmental propaganda. But what is really more important is the media-wide propaganda including fictional films and television that’s employed regularly by the corporate interests in distribution of these elements. What people have to realize when watching movies or television is that these are funded by corporate interests that would not fund things … if the content of those entities, those elements, would hurt the corporate interest.

“It’s not about the money. I would argue that film and television can lose money and cost the corporate interest money as long as it advertises the proper interests for the corporations that are funding those elements. The way that people have to look at media, the education system and government is as a triumvirate of the same subsidiary to corporate interests. … The corporations fund media, fund academia and fund the government. Media is a subsidiary to corporate interests, and academia is a subsidiary to corporate interests. A media element supports the propagandistic needs and interests of the corporation. It doesn’t really matter if it’s making or losing money; what matters is that it’s putting out to the people that ‘this’ is a ‘good’ idea. The corporations will then fund that idea and make sure it keeps existing.”

Read the full interview here.

AOL’s 2015 Predictions For Advertising Media & Technology

Automation and programmatic advertising have become anchors of success for today’s best brands. Partnering with the world’s biggest advertisers, agencies and publishers, we are fortunate to act as both witnesses and influencers of this significant transformation.

With 2014 coming to a close, we examined the year behind us and identified key areas of growth across every channel. Gleaned from proprietary research and in-depth conversations from advertising leaders around the globe, here are five predictions that identify critical inflection points we believe should inform strategic thinking over the next 12-18 months.

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