Zynga Contributed 15% of Facebook’s Revenue In Q1, Down From 19% A Year Ago |

Zynga

Zynga and Facebook are ever gradually trying to separate from each other. It’s working — sort of?

Facebook said today that 15 percent of its revenue in the first quarter came from either advertising or payments tied to Zynga games.* That’s down from 19 percent during the same time a year earlier.

About 11 of the 15 percent in revenue was from the 30 percent revenue share Facebook takes from transactions in Zynga games on the platform or advertising that Zynga directly paid Facebook for. Another 4 percent comes from advertising shown alongside Zynga content.

Facebook continues to emphasize that any bad blood between the two companies could hurt financial results. Zynga recently overhauled its site as a web destination for gaming that it hopes will attract users away from the Facebook canvas. The social network is still powering payments for the site, however, meaning that Zynga is still paying Facebook its 30 percent share.

“Zynga may choose to try to migrate users from existing Facebook-integrated games to other websites or platforms,” Facebook said in an updated filing for an initial public offering. “We may fail to maintain good relations with Zynga or Zynga may decide to reduce or cease its investments in games on the Facebook Platform. If the use of Zynga games on our Platform declines for these or other reasons, our financial results may be adversely affected.”

Overall, Facebook’s payments and fees revenue is pretty much double what it was a year ago at $ 186 million, up from $ 94 million. It makes up 17.6 percent of Facebook’s overall revenue, up from 12.9 percent in the first quarter of last year. But this isn’t a perfect comparison since Facebook’s 30 percent revenue share for transactions on the canvas only became mandatory last July. Payments and fees revenue is basically flat on the quarter too.

 

*Note: There was a 12% figure that was widely reported a few months ago when Facebook first filed for an initial public offering. But that was Zynga’s share of Facebook’s revenue for all of 2011 and it excluded advertising bought by other companies that shows up alongside Zynga games.

Here’s the exact text if you want to read it yourself:

In 2011 and the first quarter of 2012, we estimate that up to 19% and 15% of our revenue, respectively, was derived from Payments processing fees from Zynga, direct advertising from Zynga, and revenue from third parties for ads shown on pages generated by Zynga apps. If Zynga does not maintain its level of engagement with our users or if we are unable to successfully maintain our relationship with Zynga, our financial results could be harmed.

In 2011 and the first quarter of 2012, Zynga directly accounted for approximately 12% and 11%, respectively, of our revenue, which was comprised of revenue derived from Payments processing fees related to Zynga’s sales of virtual goods and from direct advertising purchased by Zynga. Additionally, Zynga’s apps generate pages on which we display ads from other advertisers; for 2011 and the first quarter of 2012, we estimate that an additional approximately 7% and 4%, respectively, of our revenue was generated from the display of these ads. Zynga has recently launched games on its own website and on non-Facebook platforms, and Zynga may choose to try to migrate users from existing Facebook-integrated games to other websites or platforms. We may fail to maintain good relations with Zynga or Zynga may decide to reduce or cease its investments in games on the Facebook Platform. If the use of Zynga games on our Platform declines for these or other reasons, our financial results may be adversely affected.

 


Zynga’s Unredacted Response To EA: Uh, You Weren’t Suppose To Sue Us Over These Hires |

zynga logo

Earlier today, Zynga filed a scathing legal response to EA’s copyright lawsuit — with a few sensitive areas redacted. However, it turns out that TechCrunch readers are even more awesome than I expected, because one of them figured out how to un-redact the document and sent us the full countercomplaint, sans black bars.

So what was missing? Basically, more details about supposed agreements between Zynga and EA, and allegations that EA has violated the terms of those agreements.

If you read our earlier coverage, you may remember that in addition to responding to EA’s accusations that it had stolen copyright-protected elements from The Sims Social, Zynga filed a counterclaim accusing EA of anti-competitive behavior. Specifically, the counterclaim alleged that EA tried to convince Zynga to enter into a no-hire agreement, and threatened to sue Zynga if not.

The counterclaim also states that during the course of those discussions, Zynga reached multiple settlement agreements with EA over the hiring of EA executives. In the version sent to reporters, the details of the settlements were redacted. We still don’t have a copy of the settlements themeslves, but the big one seems to be summarized in the now-unredacted portions of the agreement: According to Zynga, it agreed not to solicit EA employees in limited circumstances, in exchange for EA’s “release of claims,” i.e, agreement not to sue Zynga over the hires. Here’s how Zynga describes the agreement (previously redacted portions in bold):

Even though Zynga was confident that it had done nothing wrong, Zynga agreed to enter into a settlement agreement that included lawful, appropriate, and extremely narrow non- solicit restrictions in the context of a non-monetary settlement agreement that included a release of claims as well as a means to address any related dispute that might arise.

Later, in the now-unredacted sections, Zynga alleges that EA violated by “bringing suit against Zynga for purported claims covered by the releases set forth in those agreements” and “failing to comply with the mandatory dispute resolution provisions set forth in those agreements.”

You can read the unredacted counterclaim below.

Counterclaim Unredacted


TechCrunch » Social


You’ve Got Facebook Fans, Now What? Booshaka Raises $1M To Ensure Your Posts Earn You Money |

Booshaka

 

It doesn’t matter if you have one million Facebook fans if they never see your news feed posts. That’s why SV Angel, Founders Fund Angel, and more have backed a $ 1 million Series A for news feed optimization service Booshaka, which is also launching a big product update today.

The startup helps businesses identify their most active fans — especially the 10% generating 90% of the engagement — and incentivize them to leave even more wall posts, Likes, and comments. This feedback signals to Facebook’s news feed sorting algorithm EdgeRank that a business is high-quality and that its posts should be shown to a higher percentage of its fans. More impressions -> more clicks and awareness -> higher return on investment for businesses on their social media spend. This is social SEO, and it’s worth paying Booshaka for.

A lot of people don’t realize that businesses only reach an average of 12%-16% of their fans with each news feed post. That’s because some might not be online around they time a post is published, but it’s also because of EdgeRank, which determines which posts are worthy of being seen. A big signal that goes into this relevance rank is how often a Page’s fans have engaged with it in the past.

So if businesses want more reach in the news feed, they need to inspire their fans to be active, and then amplify their mentions of the brand through social ads. Booshaka accomplishes this with a product suite including analytics, evangelist recognition apps, and an Facebook Ads API interface.

First, business give Booshaka permission to analyze their Page wall and identify their loudest fans. Pages can then install a leaderboard application on their Page that offers fame to those who engage most frequently.

Booshaka’s Activity Feed app highlights the latest participants in the conversation, and an Activity Box app lets Pages ask fans to complete specific missions such as uploading a photo or checking in to a physical store. Pages can then reward fans for their engagement with virtual goods, badges, real product samples, and discounts. All these activities improve a Page’s EdgeRank.

But here’s where Booshaka gets really smart. These actions automatically generate mentions of a brand that can be turned into Sponsored Stories ads on Facebook. These social ads that amplify word of mouth’s reach have proved to be influential and have stellar click-through rates. They’re also the only types of ads that can appear on Facebook mobile. Booshaka even tells brands how to target these ads by identifying Pages with similar fan bases who the ads would seem relevant to.

Investors think news feed optimization (NFO) could a big business the way search engine optimization did. 120,000 Facebook Pages have already signed up for Booshaka’s help, leading to today’s Series A participation from SV AngelPivotNorth Capital, FF Angel, Joe Lonsdale (CEO of Addepar and co-founder of Palantir), Peter Weck (co-founder of Keepsy and Simply Hired) and Rich Skrenta (CEO of Blekko).

Booshaka will be competing with other NFO services such as 500 Startups’ PostRocket, analytics providers including PageLever and EdgeRank Checker, plus the big dogs of Facebook marketing like Buddy Media, Vitrue, and Wildfire. Booshaka’s basic apps are free, with premium rewards and analytics capabilities ranging from $ 30 to $ 500 a month based on fan count, and enterprise service with competitor benchmarking and more available for Pages with over 75,000 fans.

Brands have spent the last few spending millions on enterprise  social marketing services who build them contests to net them new fans. But sometimes these are just fair-weather fans who are just looking to win prizes, and who aren’t necessarily potential customers. Even if they’re the right fans, they might never see a brand’s marketing messages if their EdgeRank is too low.

Booshaka’s founder and CEO Erik Ober tells me “This first wave of the companies took advantage of the naive the market, [charging them to] acquire these huge audiences that don’t care. Now it’s our job to go out and find the people that are engaged and rally them around the conversation.” If Booshaka works, brands won’t need to buy more fans because they’ll be able to squeeze more ROI out of the ones they already have.


TechCrunch » Social


Zuckerberg in Moscow to boost Facebook’s Russia presence –

Zuckerberg_in_russia

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was Monday in Moscow on a visit the government believes should stimulate innovation in Russia and the social network hopes will boost its position in the Russian market.
Zuckerberg was to meet Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev along with the main government pointmen on innovation in Russia, Deputy Prime Ministers Arkady Dvorkovich and Vladislav Surkov.

The government has said they will discuss cooperation in IT technology and start-ups in Skolkovo the technology hub outside Moscow that has been championed by Medvedev as a Russian equivalent of Silicon Valley.

Zuckerberg, 28, wasted no time in exploring the Russian capital after his arrival, posing for photographs in Red Square like an ordinary American tourist in one of his trademark hooded tops, Russian press reports said.

Staying true to his roots, he then headed for a meal at a nearby branch of McDonalds.

Regularly brandishing an iPad at government meetings and publishing comments on Twitter, former president Medvedev likes to promote himself as the main proponent of a drive to give Russia a more innovation-based economy.

Critics have regularly ridiculed his often banal utterances on Twitter and noted that making Russia a true innovation-based economy is still just a pipe dream.

Zuckerberg will be hoping his visit boosts Facebook’s presence in Russia, one of the few major countries worldwide where it is not the number one social network.

Facebook lags well behind Russia’s most popular social network VKontakte, founded by Saint Petersburg native Pavel Durov, 27, often described as the “Russian Zuckerberg.”

VKontakte is aimed firmly at Russian speakers, allowing it to better respond to a very specific local market.

Zuckerberg’s visit is not entirely free of controversy, with Russian firms saying his main aim is to headhunt Russian tech talent and lure recruits back to California.

While this is his legitimate right, the government should do more to keep homegrown talent in the country, the Vedomosti business daily quoted as saying the chief executive of the country’s biggest IT holding IBS Group, Anatoly Karachinsky.

“If the authorities are interested in helping Russian companies then they should encourage Western firms to make their orders here just like India and China have done,” he said.

Representatives of Vkontakte and Russia’s largest Internet company Mail.ru confirmed to Vedomosti that Facebook had made attempts to tempt their employees out of Russia.

High standards of education in Russia and strong traditions in research make Russian programmers highly sought-after worldwide, even if now the differences in pay are not so stark between Russia and the West as they were in the 1990s.

Meanwhile, Russian also has its own homegrown Internet industry with Russian-language firms like VKontakte and Mail.ru having tens of millions of users and start-ups enjoying success in both Moscow and Siberia.

Although it is believed to be his first visit to Russia, Zuckerberg’s company already has close links to the Russian Internet sector.

Russian technology investment firm DST Global, whose main shareholder is oligarch Alisher Usmanov, has a stake of at least five percent in Facebook although some observers estimate that the holding is even higher.

The anti-Kremlin demonstrations that rocked Russia since December have largely been coordinated through social networks and analysts say that the increase in Internet use poses a significant challenge for the domination of President Vladimir Putin.

Source: NDTV


Zuckerberg’s Disrupt Talk Pushes Facebook Stock Up 8.9% To High of $21.16 |

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

 

Facebook stock rose 8.9% to a high of $ 21.16 per share today, the first day of trading after CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s first public interview since the company’s IPO. The stock rose in after-hours trading immediately following Zuckerberg’s fireside chat at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco yesterday, and then jumped again when the market opened today.

The new high today is the highest the stock has traded at in almost a month. The stock closed at $ 20.91, still a 7.62% increase over yesterday’s close of $ 19.43.

In his talk with TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington yesterday, Zuckerberg shared details on Facebook’s mobile strategy, a major question mark for investors.

He explained that Facebook acknowledged it had misjudged HTML5 and refocused on its own apps. The social network saw users’ consumption of news feed stories double following the launch of its new iOS app. That’s a simple but astounding statistic. Double the content consumed. Double the advertising opportunity.

While the stock price surge is nice for Facebook and Zuckerberg, it only really matters if it signals a long-term shift in investors’ perception of Zuckerberg as CEO. If the stock drops again in a few days, then this was just another rise and fall in the long, downward trajectory of a volatile stock.

However, if Zuckerberg’s widely acclaimed talk convinced shareholders of his strength not just as a founder and entrepreneur but as a professional, mature CEO, then we could be seeing the beginning of a longer, potentially more steady rise for the stock.

Apple announced today that it has integrated Facebook into iOS 6, a long expected move, which also could have contributed to the increase in stock price.


TechCrunch » Social


YC-Backed HiMom Helps Your Parents Keep Up With Your Life, One Postcard At A Time |

HiMom

 

Social media sites like Facebook have become a central part of the lives of many families, letting them keep tabs on each other’s lives through pictures. But they’re not for everyone. My mom and dad, who live in the U.S., have no interest in joining Facebook. They are okay with email, and my dad will even video Skype if his wife, my stepmom (a computer scientist, as it happens), sorts it out for him. But you know what? They still really love it most of all when I send them a real letter with photos of me, my husband and our two kids. And you know what else? I’ve really fallen off the wagon where letters are concerned. I’m terrible at finding time to sit down and write them, and then getting around to sending them.

So I was especially excited to hear about HiMom, a YC-backed mobile app, part of the current class, that lets you create postcards from pictures you’ve taken on your phone, and then send them to your parents — or anyone else you’d like to keep in touch with on a regular basis. To me, it seemed like the perfect union: it takes something I am already doing to record and create things (using my phone) and matches it up with how my parents like to get their content (in a physical form).

“HiMom is about improving engagement between the young social networking generation and those who are not connected there,” co-founder Martin Poschenrieder says. As with a lot of YC products, the founders have been using their YC classmates and past work contacts as guinea pigs, and the service, they’ve found, is being used just as much by those living near to their families as it is by those who are many miles apart — the latter use case coming out of the founders’ own backgrounds, two Germans in Silicon Valley whose families are still back in their home country.

The app works simply enough: with the iPhone app, you can use any picture you have taken on your phone, or from your iPhone library via iCloud, and turn it into a postcard. You have some options for borders and filters on a full-sized postcard picture; and you can type a message. And in a nice touch, you can also “sign” the card either with a scribble of your name or another doodle. You can then send it as a postcard for $ 1.99 or as a free email.

Before I go any further with this, I’ll say yes, I know there are already a bunch of photo sharing apps, and even hundreds of postcard apps, out there already.

Touchnote says it has 2 million monthly active users on Android, and a further 50,000 active monthly users on Facebook. Postagram is another popular postcard-making app, and its developers Sincerely are now working with Facebook on a postcard service to create images out of Facebook photos specifically. And with so many more, is there really room for another?

I think yes, particularly if HiMom follows through on the trajectory its founders have started. HiMom does what its name says: it is about creating and sending postcards, and building up a relationship specifically around one or two particular people — in this case between you and your parents, grandparents or others who are not necessarily connecting with you in your busy life.

By narrowing the focus, it becomes something you could potentially use more regularly as part of that specific relationship. In that sense, it’s not unlike Pair and Cupple, social networking apps designed for groups of two. By focusing on building social relationships outside of the more established social networking norms, it’s not unlike YC alum Family Leaf (a family-based social networking platform for families who don’t want to or can’t use Facebook).

HiMom has some automation built into it as well: an upcoming update will offer a weekly alert at 11am, and future versions of the app, Poschenrieder says, will let users change how often and when this alert comes, to remind you to send over a card your contacts. Other features to come will include a read receipt, “so that you see when your mom opened the notification email,” Poschenrieder says, as well as a “thank-you” button for your recipient to reply automatically, as well as address book integration: right now you have to enter recipients’ addresses manually. Integrating the address book might widen the number of people you would use HiMom for as well.

What’s potentially even more interesting is how the HiMom framework could be developed for more than just postcards: think of how, say during a birthday or special occasion, you can add a bouquet of flowers or chocolate (or other gift) delivery, in addition to the postcard.

And that could loop in with some of the e-commerce knowledge of Poschenrieder and his co-founder Markus Jura.

The pair are both German and met while working for Accenture in Europe. When they were in London applying for Y Combinator, they actually pitched a completely different idea, around product sharing between people. (That idea was parked when they realised that “acceptance from local merchants in the U.S. was different than in the UK,” Martin told me.) It’s not too surprising to see YC startups changing this way; after all, the incubator has an ethos of backing talent, not specific ideas.

Things like physical gifts could be something to explore further down the line. For now, it’s about sending a beautiful postcard in place of what was there before… which, for many busy professionals, may well have been nothing.


YC-Backed Photo Sharing Service PicPlum Gets A Revamp; Mobile App & API Are Next –

Pic Plum

 

PicPlum, the Y Combinator-backed photo-sharing and printing startup that debuted last summer, is rolling out a major upgrade today. The focus, for the most part, has been on an improved user experience, offering everything from minor tweaks like address autocompletion, to new product offerings like more print sizes. But as a regular PicPlum user, I’m more excited about what they’re working on next: a mobile application and API that will allow any other developers to offer “print photos” from their camera or photo-sharing application.

First of all, a confession: I’ve been using PicPlum since Day One, and I don’t think I’ve ever skipped a month. But I never use it from the web anymore, so all of today’s changes don’t impact my everyday experience that much. To catch you up: PicPlum is a photo printing service, in the same space as something like Shutterfly or Snapfish, for example, and admittedly, a more pricey one. While PicPlum touts its high quality prints, the real reason for the extra cents that makes it worthwhile (in my humble opinion) is that it’s dead simple and convenient to use. I honestly can’t say the same about the competition.

For me, “usage” means emailing select photos from my iPhone’s Camera Roll to photos@picplum.com. Afterwards, everyone I’ve configured to receive them will be automatically shipped photo prints and/or a batch via email.

 

But today’s upgrade will entice those who prefer to work with PicPlum on the web. Fro starters, they’ve made it easier for new users to get going – you don’t have to sign up before dragging-and-dropping your photos into the box on the homepage, for example. You add your photos, then add recipients via Facebook or optionally sign up for the service.

 

Also new today are additional photo sizes: 4×6, 5×7 and 8×10′s are available, with the option to print text and dates on the back. In terms of features focused on ease of use, the service now completes typed-in addresses using Google’s Places API, fixes obvious typos (Gmial becomes Gmail, e.g.), and it helps you track down mailing addresses you don’t know with a feature called “ask for address.” You enter in the email address for the person, and PicPlum sends out a message to them telling them you would like to ship them photos, and provides a form where they can enter their address. When complete, the service automatically ships the photos to them, without any extra involvement needed by you.

 

However, one of the more notable features in today’s upgrade are new “sharing” pages. You can now configure a customized email address which everyone at an event can use (baby showers, family reunions, weddings, etc.). All the photos are mailed into that address, and participants can later view all the photos everyone shared from the PicPlum website, with the option to print the photos they want to keep.

 

The company has also added the ability to send a customized greeting alongside the printed photos. They’ll soon expand this feature with themes, so you’ll be able to use this for your holiday cards, for instance.

 

Combined, all these new features make for a completely revamped online service today. However, what’s more exciting is what’s still in the works: a mobile photo-taking app with the ability to share to PicPlum and elsewhere on the web, which will hopefully make PicPlum even easier to use from mobile, since the iPhone limits you to five photos per message. Another item on the way is the PicPlum API, which will allow third-party developers to integrate photo printing services into their app  – and even generate some income by doing so, unless they want to go white label.

While PicPlum isn’t disclosing user numbers, co-founder Paul Stamatiou (who created PicPlum with Akshay Dodeja), says that 90% of its top users are new parents or families sending in 15-20 photos per week (guilty on all counts). Engagement is high with users returning monthly, and despite PicPlum not having a mobile app, 30% of the photos shared come from mobile devices.

You can try out the new PicPlum from here.


Wikimedia Foundation Raises $20 Million From 1 Million+ Donors –

wiki

Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization that operates Wikipedia and other sites, this morning announced that they’ve raised $ 20 million from more than a million donors, shattering a record once again. The organization says donations have risen every year since its global fundraising campaigns began in 2003.

Wikimedia Foundation claims its sites now serve more than 470 million people every month. Wikipedia, which will celebrate its 11th anniversary in about two weeks, now boasts over 20 million articles in 282 languages.

The organization says more than 100,000 volunteers work on Wikipedia and sister projects.

The foundation employs approximately 80 people full-time.

From the press release:

The annual fundraiser is how the Wikimedia Foundation pays its bills. Funds raised in this campaign will be used to buy and install servers and other hardware, to develop new site functionality, expand mobile services, provide legal defense for the projects, and support the large global community of Wikimedia volunteers.

The Wikimedia Foundation’s total 2011-12 planned spending is 28.3 million USD. The bulk of that is raised during the annual campaign, and the remainder comes throughout the year in the form of grants from institutions such as the Sloan Foundation, and many other small donations year round.

If you’d like to learn more about the organization’s annual plan for 2011-2012, start here.

Also read:

A Personal Appeal TO Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales

Wikipedia Programmer: We Do The Funny Portrait Placement Thing Because It Works


TechCrunch » Social


With JOBS Act Becoming Law, Crowdfunding Platforms Look To Create Self-Regulatory Body |

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Social

With JOBS Act Becoming Law, Crowdfunding Platforms Look To Create Self-Regulatory Body

05 April 2012

Screen shot 2012-04-05 at 1.15.09 AM

Today, President Obama signs the JOBS Act into law, legalizing crowdfunding in startups by non-accredited investors, so that anyone and their mother can invest. The new law stipulates that entrepreneurs can now raise money from any and all, however, startups are limited to $ 1 million per year, and must stick to portals approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission. What’s more, the legislation dispenses with the 500-shareholder rule, which put a limit on the number of shareholders a company was allowed before registering with the SEC (and going public).

The new law gives high-growth companies a longer grace period, or on-ramp, leading up to IPOs, and lifts some of the one-size-fits all regulation that likely has been hampering the IPO market. While this is a big win for startups, it puts significant pressure on the crowdfunding market to self-regulate — which is risky. That’s why 13 equity and debt crowdfunding platforms and insiders have come together to form a leadership group to bring attention to the need — really, requirement — for the industry to develop effective self-regulation, best practices, and investor protection.

As the JOBS Act requires all crowdfunding sites to be members of a national securities association, the group is on a mission to find the best way to do that in a way that encourages the new industry while protecting investors. The “leadership group” is to include members of the crowdfunding industry, (duh), who will be working in collaboration with legal, securities, and SEC experts — many of the same people who helped push the JOBS Act forward.

According to the its statement, the leadership group will seek to “agree upon a set of principles as well as explore the development of a robust industry regulator.” The group will be collaborating with the SEC during its 9-month rule-making process that will enact the crowdfunding rules.

The group aims to create principles to:

Establish strong protections for investors in the form of an Investor’s Bill of Rights, including tests to assess investors understanding of risk, criminal background checks on issuers, and adequate disclosures by issuers;Ensure confidentiality of investors’ personal financial information;Ensure that investors do not exceed statutory investment limits, by implementing standardized reporting and communication among platforms;Establish standard communication processes for transparent flow of information between the issuer, the investor, the intermediary and the regulatory agency;Develop a code of conduct for crowdfunding platforms, with enforcement mechanisms to punish bad actors;Create a recognizable brand common to trustworthy intermediaries (akin to VeriSign or BBB).

In the end, it’s all about implementation, and how effectively these principles can be established and protected on the wild and woolly web that’s seen its fair share of fraud. Plus, a cynic might raise an eyebrow at asking the very platforms that stand to gain financially by an explosion of crowdfunding to police themselves. That being said, this is an important step for the crowdfunding industry to take — as long as it’s not simply for show.

The passage of the JOBS Act is a veritable miracle, in the sense both parties’ political interests actually aligned. It seemed for once it behooved them to dispense with the typical partisan tomfoolery, and send a message to their constituencies (in an election year, by the way) that they are taking the necessary steps to create jobs. By starting work right away on regulation that protects investors and enables a strong crowdfunding market, the group is demonstrating a willingness to work with the SEC for the good of mom and pop investors and to take self-regulation seriously.

Crowdsourcing.org, a neutral professional association and industry resource that offers news, articles, videos, and site information on all things crowdsourcing and crowdfunding, has established the Crowdfunding Accreditation for Platform Standards (CAPS) program to create standards for crowdfunding operations, and while the industry creates self-regulatory frameworks, CAPS has been designed to govern the accreditation of crowdfunding platforms.

With more than 400 crowdfunding platforms already operating in January 2012, and a new wave of sites likely to launch in the wake of Obama’s approval, the initiative to establish accreditation criteria — in collaboration with the SEC — to ensure crowdfunding platforms adequately protect fundraisers and investors is essential. Council member and founder of Crowdsourcing.org, Carl Esposti, said that more than 200 crowdfunding platforms are expected to apply for accreditation in 2012.

The leadership group’s goal is to use CAPS criteria as a way to mandates for SEC approval, along with building a united voice that can work carefully and quickly to launch equity crowdfunding in the U.S. so entrepreneurs can innovate and create new jobs, Esposti said. [The leadership group includes, thus far, CAPS, Crowdfunder, Funding Roadmap, Gate Technology, Indiegogo, Launcht, Motaavi, RocketHub, and more.]

There is no doubt that the JOBS Act can have a big effect on later-stage startups on the path to IPO. When asked about the potential consequences, Rally Software CEO Tim Miller told us:

“Before the JOBS Act, emerging growth companies were subject to the same stringent regulatory rules as multi-billion dollar corporations like Apple. The JOBS Act will loosen some of these requirements on emerging growth companies, creating a more vibrant and diverse IPO market and allowing companies like Rally to reinvest the money they would have spent on regulatory filings back into jobs.”

There are likely very few entrepreneurs who would disagree, but that deregulation has to be managed very carefully, or the industry will be in for a very bumpy ride. CAPS and a crowdfunding leadership group doesn’t sound like a bad place to start.

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With The Clicky Value-Wheel, Groupon Puts The “No” In Innovation –

clicky

You can say a lot of things about Groupon, but not that they lack a great sense of humor over there. This morning, the company distributed a press release touting a new invention called Clicky, the Clickable Value-Wheel (make sure you watch the behind-the-scenes video below too).

The company invites players to sign in with their Facebook account and then spin the wheel to potentially score a discount on select Groupons ($ 5, $ 10, $ 50 or $ 100).

According to the Clicky terms, only US residents are allowed to spin the wheel.

From the amusing press release:

Clicky, the Clickable Value-Wheel was designed to provide momentary distraction and meet the minimum threshold of amusement necessary for users to share Clicky, the Clickable Value-Wheel through social media channels, thereby virally spreading Groupon and increasing its number of active customers.

“The chances of winning are slim, but not impossible,” said Mike Bennett, Clicky, the Clickable Value-Wheel lead developer. “We designed the wheel to spin in a way that appears random – like you could potentially win on any given spin – but it’s not actually random, it’s programmatically predestined to ‘win’ 1 out of 1,000 times.”

As with many online computer games, the win ratio was determined to ensure that the lifetime value of the new customers attracted to Groupon by Clicky, the Clickable Value-Wheel will be greater than the total cost of the program, thus making the program a practical and sustainable investment for Groupon.

And since spinning is moderately enjoyable, every user of Clicky, the Clickable Value-Wheel is a winner – metaphorically. Literally, most people will not win anything.

Clicky, the Clickable Value-Wheel, is one of several potential marketing instruments Groupon has and will continue to test over time, some of which will be successful while others will not. Continuously experimenting with new marketing mechanisms is an important part of the growth of any company. The “win wheel” is not in itself a new concept.

Groupon will begin promoting Clicky, the Clickable Value-Wheel gradually over the next several months throughout Groupon’s more than 170 North American markets. The exact speed of deployment is dependent on the accuracy of ROI assumptions as determined by actual data gathered from Clicky, the Clickable Value-Wheel usage.

“Seeing Clicky spin for the first time, was like watching your newborn baby take his first steps. It was like an orphan who’d never seen the ocean, getting to see the ocean, while he’s getting adopted”.

Well played, Groupon, well played.