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  • Internet Advertising Reaches Record $26 Billion In 2010
    Internet advertising revenues reached $26 billion in 2010, up 15 percent from 2009, according to a new report from the IAB and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

    Fourth quarter revenue also hit new highs at $7.45 billion, up 19 percent from Q4 2009 and 15 percent from Q3 2009.

    As the latest IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report amply demonstrates, brand advertisers and marketers have adopted the power of digital media as a central element of their campaigns, said Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO, IAB.

    Consumers have shifted more of their time to digital media " watching television shows and movies online " and advertisers now accept this multifaceted medium as a key component for reaching their targets.

    Highlights of the report include:

    *There were record numbers for the yearly advertising revenue as well as record quarterly highs in the Q4 2010.

    *The most popular ad format in 2010 was search which accounted for 46 percent of revenue and saw 12 percent growth from last year.

    *Sponsorships saw the most growth with an 88% increase over last year and 142% increase in the fourth quarter alone.

    *Display-related advertising continued to grow, totaling nearly $10 billion with an increase of 24 percent over 2009.

    *The results show revenue growth for the past five consecutive quarters.

    *The Annual Report marks the debut of estimated US mobile ad revenue for 2010: between $550 and $650 million.

    With a strong rebound from 2009, the $26 billion spent on Internet advertising points to a continued focus on digital media ad spend, with dollars catching up to the eyeballs,said David Silverman, PwC Assurance partner.

    More time spent online, especially with increases in digital video and social media, has certainly helped to fuel the continued growth.

  • Worldwide IT Spending To Total $3.6 Trillion In 2011
    Global IT spending is on track to total $3.6 trillion in 2011, a 5.6 percent increase from $3.4 trillion in 2010, according to the latest forecast from Gartner.

    Gartner has included media tablets, such as the iPad, to its computing hardware spending estimates beginning this quarter. Including media tablets has increased Gartners computing hardware growth outlook from 7.5 percent to 9.5 percent for 2011.

    Worldwide media tablet spending is projected to reach $29.4 billion in 2011, up from $9.6 billion in 2010. Global spending on media tablets is forecast to increase at an annual average rate of 52 percent through 2015.

    The addition of media tablets, reinforced by an expected additional decline in the value of the dollar, accounts for the increase in top-line growth, said Richard Gordon, research vice president at Gartner.

    Absent the addition of media tablets, the forecast would have slightly declined in constant-dollar terms; however, with their addition, there's virtually no change in underlying forecast growth at the level of overall IT.

    Gartner analysts said this stable forecast outlook comes despite political unrest in the Middle East, while the impact on IT markets of the recent natural disasters in Japan is yet to be fully understood.

    The Middle East share of global IT spending is approximately 2 percent. While the political unrest affecting many countries in the region may well dent IT spending levels, any impact would be insignificant at the global level, Mr. Gordon said.

    We had largely completed our forecast by the time the recent natural disasters in Japan occurred, and we are still evaluating their likely impact on our forecast. On this point, we are looking at two potential effects on IT markets as a result of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan: consequences of disruptions in the global electronics supply chain and impacts on IT demand.

  • Angry Birds Lands Rovio $42 Million In Funding
    Rovio the company behind the popular Angry Birds game, said today it has raised $42 million in Series A investment to help it expand.

    Currently, Angry Birds is played by 40 million monthly active users, and Rovio says the game has grown from an App Store success to become one of the most popular games in just over a year.

    The funding round was co-led by Accel Partners, the venture capital firm known for working with companies including Facebook, Groupon and AdMob, and Atomico Ventures, the venture capital firm created by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrm. Leading super angel fund Felicis Ventures also participated.

    Niklas Zennstrm, who also co-founded Kazaa and Rdio, will be joining the board of Rovio.

    Rovio has plans that the investors endorse and will facilitate. The investment will transform Rovios growth, allowing it to increase its reach internationally, and across markets including mobile, social media and other platforms, and via merchandising and media production and partnerships.

    With Angry Birds, we have successfully launched not only a strong new brand, but also a whole new entertainment franchise, said Mikael Hed, CEO and co-founder of Rovio.

    Angry Birds will continue to grow, and we aim to create more similar success stories. We will strengthen the position of Rovio and continue building our franchises in gaming, merchandising and broadcast media.

    Rovio has been expanding steadily through 2010 and 2011, and has 50 employees in Espoo, Finland. Currently, Rovio is expanding Angry Birds to even more gaming platforms and forms of media. The company earlier announced plans to roll out an online Angry Birds experience towards summer 2011, as well as developing Angry Birds games for all major consoles later in the year.

  • Global IT Spending Reached $1.5 Trillion In 2010
    Global spending on information technology climbed to its fastest rate of growth since 2007 last year, driven by pent-up demand for hardware upgrades and infrastructure investment after the financial crisis and global recession of 2009, according to a new report from IDC.

    The global IT market grew by 8% year over year to more than $1.5 trillion. Including telecom services, the overall information and communications technology (ICT) market grew by 6% to almost $3 trillion in 2010.

    Hardware spending led the way, as a major capital spending cycle saw IT spending on computer systems, peripherals, storage, mobile devices, and network equipment increase by 16% to more than $661 billion, the fastest rate of growth for hardware investment since 1996. Storage spending grew by 14%, servers by 9%, and PCs by 11%.

    "Like the global economy, the global IT industry performed better than expected in 2010," said Stephen Minton, vice president of IDC's IT Markets and Strategies Group.

    "With business profits and stock markets back into a cycle of growth, many organizations took the opportunity to make up for lost time by upgrading mission critical systems and infrastructure over the course of the year. While downside macroeconomic risks are still present, we entered 2011 on the back of a resounding rebound for the technology industry.

    Spending on software and services, while lagging the pace of hardware investment, also returned to positive growth of 4% and 2% respectively. This is set to accelerate in 2011, as investment in new IT projects (including rapid adoption of cloud computing) begins to make up for an inevitable deceleration in the pace of capital spending by the end of the year. The overall IT market will grow by 7% this year to $1.65 trillion with another year of double-digit growth for hardware spending (10%), while software and services markets will increase by 5% and 4% respectively.

    The U.S. IT market grew by 6% in 2010, and will expand by another 5% in 2011, but emerging economies are again leading the way and driving the overall growth of the global industry to higher levels. The Asia/Pacific region, excluding Japan (APeJ), saw growth of 13% last year, which will be followed by a 10% increase in 2011. Double-digit growth is also forecast in Central & Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East & Africa.

    Last year was a big year for the technology industry," said Minton. "Some of the growth was just a bounce back from the declines of 2009, when the market declined by 4%, but there was also a very real surge of demand as businesses around the world continue to deal with the issue of managing, storing, securing, and analyzing the increasing flood of digital information that is resulting from the proliferation of mobile devices and embedded computing platforms.

    As long as the economy remains stable, we look forward to another strong year of investment in 2011."

  • TD Ameritrade Settles With SEC For $10 Million
    Online brokerage firm TD Ameritrade will reimburse $10 million to customers to settle Securities and Exchange Commission charges it misled them when selling shares of the Reserve Yield Plus Fund, a mutual fund that "broke the buck" in September 2008.

    According to the SEC's order, TD Ameritrade's representatives offered and sold the fund through the firm's various sales channels prior to Sept. 16, 2008. The order finds that a number of the representatives violated the securities laws when they mischaracterized the fund as a money market fund, as safe as cash, or as an investment with guaranteed liquidity.

    TD Ameritrade failed to prevent the misconduct by its representatives because it did not establish adequate supervisory policies and procedures or a system to implement them with respect to the offers and sales of the fund.

    "It is critical that customers get accurate information about investment products, and broker-dealers must provide the training and supervision that enables their representatives to deliver this important guidance," said Julie Lutz, Associate Director of the SEC's Denver Regional Office.

    "TD Ameritrade failed to establish the policies and procedures necessary to reasonably supervise its employees and prevent these misrepresentations to investors."

    The SEC's order finds that thousands of TD Ameritrade's customers continue to hold a majority of the fund's shares. They have received approximately 95 percent of their original principal investments in the fund following distribution of most of the fund's liquidated assets to all of its shareholders.

    Without admitting or denying the SEC's allegations, TD Ameritrade consented to the SEC's order, which censures the firm. As part of the order, TD Ameritrade also agrees to:

    *Distribute $0.012 per share of the fund to eligible customers who hold such shares within 30 days of the order's issuance.

    *Provide notice of the terms of the SEC's order to all eligible customers and display information concerning the terms of the order on the firm's website.

  • Google Q4 Revenue Tops $8 Billion, Schmidt To Step Down As CEO
    Google's fourth quarter earnings surpassed analysts expectations giving the company its best profitability since 2006.

    Google reported revenues of $8.44 billion in the fourth quarter of 2010, representing a 26 percent increase over fourth quarter 2009 revenues of $6.67 billion. The company had a profit of $2.54 billion, or $7.81 a share, a 29 percent increase over Q4 2009.

    Google earned $8.75 a share, beating analysts expectations of $8.06 a share.

    "Q4 marked a terrific end to a stellar year," said Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google.

    "Our strong performance has been driven by a rapidly growing digital economy, continuous product innovation that benefits both users and advertisers, and by the extraordinary momentum of our newer businesses, such as display and mobile. These results give us the optimism and confidence to invest heavily in future growth -- investments that will benefit our users, Google and the wider web."

    The big news from the earnings report was the announcement that Eric Schmidt will step down from his role of CEO and become Executive Chairman, focusing externally on deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships, government outreach and technology.

    Starting on April 4, Larry Page, Google Co-Founder, will take charge of Google's day-to-day operations as Chief Executive Officer.

    Commenting on these changes, Eric said: "We've been talking about how best to simplify our management structure and speed up decision making for a long time. By clarifying our individual roles we'll create clearer responsibility and accountability at the top of the company. In my clear opinion, Larry is ready to lead and I'm excited about working with both him and Sergey for a long time to come."

  • Facebook Revenue Stronger Than Expected
    Facebook is bringing in revenue at a higher rate than expected, and is set to attract so many investors this year that it will likely have to release financial information similar to a publicly traded company by April 2012, according to a document from Goldman Sachs.

    Facebook, the top social network in the world, earned $355 million in net income in the first nine months of 2010 on revenue of $1.2 billion, according to documents Goldman Sachs gave its clients.

    According to Reuters, Goldman delivered copies of the 101-page private placement memorandum for a $1.5 billion Facebook offering to its wealthy customers. The document offers detailed financial information about Facebook, which Goldman valued at $50 billion in a separate, $450 million funding.

    The valuation is high, but in line with the company's financial performance and growth that it implies, according to Ryan Jacob , of the Jacob Internet Fund.

    It just shows you that these businesses can generate 30 percent to 40 percent, potentially, operating margins," he said. "They probably did at least $500 million in net income in 2010."

    This year you could make the case that they're probably going to be north of $800 million and probably close to a billion," said Jacob.

  • Adobe Reaches Record $1 Billion In Revenue
    Adobe Systems reported its financial results for the fourth quarter beating analysts expectations and raising its outlook.

    Adobe said it reached record revenue of $1.008 billion in the fourth quarter, compared to $757.3 million reported in Q4 of fiscal 2009 and $990.3 million in Q3 of fiscal 2010.

    This represents 33 percent year-over-year revenue growth. Adobe's fourth quarter revenue target range was $950 million to $1 billion.

    The company also reported record revenue of $3.800 billion in fiscal year 2010, compared to $2.946 billion in fiscal 2009. This represents 29 percent year-over-year revenue growth.

    "We posted our first billion dollar quarter and record annual revenue in 2010, driven by outstanding performance across all of our major businesses," said Shantanu Narayen, president and CEO of Adobe.

    "Adobe is transforming how the world is creating, measuring and delivering digital experiences. We are one of the most diversified software companies in the world and are entering 2011 with strong momentum."

  • Invests $175 Million In LivingSocial
    Local social shopping website LivingSocial has secured a $175 million investment from

    LivingSocial has also secured an additional $8 million investment from Lightspeed Venture Partners. LivingSocial will use this investment to maintain a steady drumbeat of worldwide launches and overall business growth while continuing to serve more than 10 million subscribers across the U.S., Canada, UK, Ireland and Australia in more than 120 locations.

    Because of LivingSocial's rapid expansion, the company is currently booking revenues of more than $1 million a day on average and is projected to book well over $500 million in revenue in 2011.

    To be the biggest player in the local commerce space there is no one better to work with than Amazon," said Tim O'Shaughnessy, CEO of LivingSocial.

    "As the social shopping space continues to heat up, LivingSocial is committed to staying focused on providing the high level of quality that consumers and merchants have come to expect when working with us."

    LivingSocial helps people find deals on restaurants, shops activities and services in their area. The company has area experts on the ground in every location working directly with business owners, and constantly researching the best in local adventures to bring a savings of 50% to 70% for consumers.

    Recently, LivingSocial expanded its business by acquiring adventure company Urban Escapes, and launching three new verticals including LivingSocial Family Edition, Campus Deals and LivingSocial Escapes, a travel site that offers savings on curated adventures.

    In addition, the company continues a regular flow of launches - on average one per day - and has expanded its reach in Australia with a controlling stake in Jump On It, making it live in five countries.

  • Holiday Gift Card Spending To Reach $24 Billion
    Americans plan to spend an average of $145.61 on gift cards this holiday season, up from $139.91 last year, according to a new survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF), conducted by BIGresearch.

    Total gift card spending is expected to reach $24.78 billion. The NRF says that gift cards remain the most requested holiday gift for the fourth year in a row.

    This holiday season we expect Americans to gravitate toward both sale and non-sale items, including gift cards, which in recent years have been passed up for heavily discounted merchandise, said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.

    With people focusing less on price and more on value this holiday season, Americans may choose to buy gift cards due to their convenience and popularity among gift recipients.

    Not only will more people purchase gift cards this holiday season, but the average amount spent on each card will increase as well ($41.48 vs. $39.80 last year). According to the survey, 77.3 percent of shoppers will buy at least one gift card.

    When it comes to which gift cards people will buy this holiday season, most shoppers say they will give their friends or family members a gift card to a department store (39.2%) or restaurant (33.4%), but others will consider book stores (23.7%), electronics stores (19.0%), entertainment venues like the movies (14.1%) and even coffee shops (13.9%).

    Gift cards serve as a blank check of sorts, giving the gift recipient free will to buy something they may have had their eye on for years, said Phil Rist, Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, BIGresearch.

    For some, gift cards are straight from the heart and among the most thoughtful gifts that a person can receive.