49ers Embrace Social Media In Deal With Yahoo


Have you ever dreamed of seeing your name, or at least your picture, up in lights for all to see? Well for 49er fans, and I guess any fan that attends games at the new 49er Levi’s Stadium that has become a possibility due to a deal between the team and Yahoo.

Yahoo has signed on with the team as the team and stadium’s “exclusive online sports content, social networking, and photo and video sharing partner” which is quite a mouthful. The terms of the 10 year deal have not been announced, or even reliably leaked.

Part of the deal will enable fans to appear on the big screen, that is the stadium big screen. Fans that take photos can upload them to Flikr during the game, which just happens to be a Yahoo property, and there is the possibility that they will be displayed on the big screen.

Fans can use specific booths that will be situated around the stadium’s concourse to upload the photos into the 49ers Flikr photo gallery, from which selections will be displayed at the game. Yahoo will also have the ability to tout its Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football.

The deal enables the company to name the lounge in the stadium’s suites and its adjacent viewing platforms the Fantasy Football Lounge. But the deal is more than just static naming- the 49ers said that they intend to integrate Yahoo and its properties into its broadcast and digital media.

It is not surprising that the 49ers have gone out and signed a deal with a major Internet player; expect to see this as the trend of the future as fans increasingly use smartphones and tablets to upload imagery and comments from sporting events, a trend that has been growing at a tremendous rate for the past few years.

With the increased adoption of social media at stadiums will also come the increasing need for better networking and communications technology. Anybody that has tried to get online at a sporting event knows the long delays that can entail, even when the mobile device shows that the signal is strong.

MLB has already signed a deal with Qualcomm to develop and implement a fan to help solve this issue. The San Francisco Giants, which planned for these issues from the start of AT&T Park, have still had to continually upgrade the stadiums’ capacity as users’ demands increased.

Gabby Douglas Soars in Gymnastics and in Twitter Popularity

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) might not readily come to mind as a leading source of sports news from the London Olympics. But with the 30th Summer Games now complete, the newspaper should be rewarded with its own gold medal.

Where else could a Summer Olympics enthusiast read a front page article about former figure skating gold medalist Peggy Fleming and other former Olympians who have had successful careers as artists?

Gabrielle Douglas had huge Olympic and Twitter success during the Summer Olympics in London

And where else could Olympic followers read in such detail the trials, tribulations and impact of Social Media in London?

From the Opening Ceremonies to the Closing Ceremonies, no other social media platform was more discussed and utilized than Twitter.

The WSJ followed the Twitter coverage of the Olympics in detail, including an August 11 article that charted the most popular Twitter feeds among the London Games' most celebrated athletes.

For example, gymnast Gabrielle Douglas was an unheralded athlete prior to the Olympics, and the WSJ called her a “relative nobody” on Twitter. But that didn't last long. When Douglas claim

ed two gold medals in t

he first few days of the Olympics, her social media status soared into another stratosphere — much like she did while competing.

By the final weekend of the Olympics, Douglas had 576,654 followers on Twitter, an increase of 1,522 percent and the biggest jump among the top-20 most popular athletes on Twitter who competed in London.

Here's the top-5 largest Twitter popularity increases during the Summer Olympics, with name, sport, Twitter name, Twitter followers on July 27, followers on Aug. 10 and percentage increase:

1. Gabrielle Douglas, gymnastic, (@grabrielledoug), 37,888, 614,542, +1,522%
2. Missy Franklin, swimming, (@FranklinMissy), 29,694, 346,353, +1,066%
3. Jordyn Wieber, gymnastics, (@jordyn_wieber), 65,404, 446,108, +582%
4. Ryan Lochte, swimming, (@ryanlochte), 161,045, 911,290, +388%
5. Jake Dalton, gymnastics, (@jake_dalton), 16,939, 82,635, +342%

Michael Phelps was the most poplar American competing in the Summer Olympics via Twitter. Phelps had 319,427 followers at the start of the London Games and 1,246,351 after two weeks of competition. His popularity increase of 290 percent was the eighth-largest increase.

Equally interesting, of course, will be to re-visit the athletes' Twitter totals in the near future to determine if they retain their Twitter popularity.

James Raia is a California-based journalist who writes about sports, travel and leisure. Visit his cycling site at tourdefrancelife.com


Google Buys Social Media Startup Wildfire for $250m

Wildfire joins Google

Social media marketing startup Wildfire has been sold to Google for an estimated $250 million, an interesting partnership considering that the four year old Wildfire made its name in the Facebook space.

According to a blog post on Wildfire’s site the company is starting a new chapter in joining Google, where it is expected to continue operating as it has before/. The company was founded in order to run a promotion on Facebook and has strong ties with that company including receiving investment from Facebook.

Wildfire has established itself as a player in this space. The company, which has roughly 400 employees, 16,000 customers and the successful integration of its software across a range of social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a number of others.

It runs many of the contests, promotions and marketing campaigns that are seen on social media sites and does not use keyword inquires as its targeting mechanism but rather relies on individual users’ data that is held by the social media sites.

The company said that the deal will not alter its relationship with its customers, but it will be interesting to see if that is true. Increasingly we are seeing technologies that once purchased by one social media company slowly becoming excluded from rival platforms, so it is hard to say.

The company was founded in 2008 by Victoria Ransom and Alain Chuard and has launched over 250,000 social marketing campaigns using its software tools. It has received investments including from a number of venture capital firms including Accel Partners, Founders Fund, Summit Partners, 500 Startups, Felicis Ventures and SoftTech VC as well as Facebook’s fbFund.

Autodesk Snaps Up Socialcam for a Cool $60 Million

3D design powerhouse Autodesk has purchased startup Socialcam for $60 million in a deal that is expected to close in the third quarter that ends Oct. 31, 2012, according to a release from Autodesk.

Socialcam has only been on the scene since last year, but its technology that provides mobile social video capture, editing and sharing app and service has proven to be very popular with users. It is estimated that the platform has 54.7 million users. Top rival Viddy has half as many users and had a valuation of $200 million, at least at one point.

The move and the price both come as a bit of a surprise. While Autodesk has expanded from its core of delivering high end software for 3D modeling and architectural markets into entertainment, many had been predicting that Socialcam would go to Facebook, Google, Microsoft or one of the other major players in the social networking space.

Also the price was much lower than figures that had been tossed about when Facebook made its surprising purchase of Instagram for $1 billion. After that people were tossing around the question of what company would be the next Instagram, and the two most popular choices were Viddy and Socialcam, with an expectation that the winner’s valuation would skyrocket also.

Autodesk said that the move was due to the changing way in which its customer base was approaching their tasks, using cloud computing, mobile apps and social media for design purposes. The company said that video is a very good medium for communications and sharing of ideas and projects.

The first step will be to ensure that it supports and maintains the existing Socialcam customers, according to Autodesk. From there it seeks to scaling the platform and expanding its existing tool sets so that it can expand the technology into new and existing markets for Autodesk.

July Systems Provides ‘Apps Backbone’ for Developers

I think that everybody reading this has a host of apps on their smartphone, and know that some are better than others. Often the first release of an app is limited both in focus and in capabilities as developers big and small seek to stake a claim in the market and then improve on what they have started.

Some have the resources to make the next step, expanding their apps and opening up their brand to the mobile market in a meaningful way. This means not just developing for multiple platforms but developing relationships with advertisers and sponsors to monetize their work.

For many they need to turn to expert help from someone such as July Systems. July Systems is one of the behind the curtain players that enables app developers to move forward with the resources that they need to compete. It provides tools, development environments, strong partnerships and relationships to the table.

The company has an impressive customer list, with many of the major players in areas such as broadcast media, print journalism and sports leagues as its clients, but it seeks to appeal to developers large and small with its technologies and capabilities. Among the honor roll are CBS, Intel, Sports Illustrated, Yahoo, ESPN, NBA, the Wall Street Journal and the NFL.

The goal of July Systems is not just to help build great apps but to do something that is just as important, to enable the developer to take the vital step to monetize the apps and create revenue streams across multiple platforms, devices and operating systems. It works not only on the IT side but also on the marketing side of the coin for customers.

Nathan Kerry, July’s senior vice president of Global Client Management and Channels said that sports brands realize there’s enormous value in mobile, from creating a loyal fan base to generating more revenue. He noted that by nature, sports fans want to be engaged and be a part of the action. Sports were one of the company’s primary focuses when it was formed.

For the sports developer the company has a huge range of services and tools. A quick look at its modules include ones for real time score updates, photos and video interaction, alert and push notifications, to name a few. Sports development was the foundation of the company and it has now been expanding into new markets.

Its platform also provides a live events package and the ability to scale dynamically. Keys in this changing time also include free automatic software updates and cross platform support that continues to grow as additional products are released.

Kerry said that is just the beginning of what it brings to the table. It works with its clients to develop a cross platform strategy from the beginning, urging them to first create in HTML5 and then add any OS specific features afterwards. This way they build once for multiple platforms, and while there are some features that they might miss out the flip side of this is that it avoids issues like OS fragmentation such as is occurring in the Android space.

Another feature the company brings is its partners, and the role they play varies a great deal. In some cases such as Amazon’s web services it introduces the client the opportunity to scale operations quickly and easily. Then there are partners such as PayPal and ComScore, which can be delivered as installable modules in a finished product.

In the past many companies focused on getting an app out now and then integrating it with the rest of its properties, now more are taking a holistic approach, seeking to have that integration, service and support from the start, Kerry said. The importance of this is that it encourages sponsors to support apps and mobile environments since unstable and poorly devised platforms will not gain any significant sponsorship, he noted.

For app developer it provides basically anything and everything that they might want to get a solid basis for their development. Starting with an Eclipse-based Integrated Development Environment (IDE) it also delivers a suite of prebuilt modules that still have the ability to be configured for specific uses by the developer. Included is a range of tools for building, testing, debugging, running and managing apps all built around its Mi Platform. July Systems also offers discovery, design and development teams as well as providing operations and support for customers.

While July has an impressive list of major clients, the company is now seeing strong growth from smaller developers and it has tools for them. It has a Mi Platform Express, basically a quickstart program that would allow a company to create apps without real programming know-how, simply using marketing functions.

The quickstart program and the company’s modular approach enable mobile developer to rapidly prototype a project, say a tie in with an advertiser for a specific event, and do the development in a day rather than weeks, The compressed cycle leads to the ability to continually deliver fresh content to the market while bringing in sponsors and advertisers for new endeavors.

As customers become increasingly familiar with mobile apps for sports and other events the professionalism of the app along with the back room infrastructure will be increasingly important in order to maintain user interest and so enable the creation of revenue. Tools and development partners such as July Systems will only become increasingly important because of this trend.

Microsoft Slowly Pushing So.Cl Social Media Engine to Public

Microsoft has expanded the scope of who can use its So.Cl (pronounced social) social media search technology to everybody after a quiet beta push, as it seeks to establish it as a mainstream player in the social media environment.

So.Cl is a search engine that is designed to find and share social media, enabling you to connect with other users that have similar searches and interests and hopefully create an engagement between the participants. It enables users to take an assortment of media such as video, texts and photos, combine them into posts and then share them.

It is one of the many efforts under development at the company’s FUSE Labs and Microsoft has taken a low and cautious rollout for the product, quite the opposite of some of its efforts in the past. The company designed the technology for students and select schools were the first beta sites including University of Washington and New York University.

The student focus is intentional as the company has said that it believes that the features of the program reflect on how schools are teaching and how students are learning today, and not just computer science or technical students but for a range of scholastic focuses.

While focused on students I wonder how this will evolve, assuming that it does get off the ground. New sports blogs, apps for teaching players what to look for in an NFL defense, with commentary and past results listed in the frame? I have seen some pretty advanced sports pages and the ability to bring a large number of like minded fans, say baseball stat people, with live video examples etc.. could be compelling.

The effort was decidedly low key and that of course might have simply been because Microsoft did not want to try to be heard over all of the noise coming from the Facebook IPO or just because it is taking a different approach to establishing the technology.

So far it has had mixed reviews (I have not tried it yet) with Digital Trends decidedly unimpressed and with Cnet much more impressed with all of the features that the service provides.