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Facebook’s quarterly net income nearly triples

4:57AM | Thursday, 24 April

Facebook has released its first quarter results, announcing its net income has nearly tripled year-on-year to $US642 million ($A690m), up from $US219 million a year earlier.   The social media giant’s quarterly revenues hit $US2.5 billion, up 72% from the same quarter last year, as its operating margin has grown from 26% to 43%.   Advertising remains Facebook’s dominant source of income, growing 82% to $2.27 billion in revenues, with 59% of ad revenue now coming from mobile users.   However, the company’s growth rate has also led to 32% increase in expenses to $US1.43 billion, with the increase attributed largely to the company’s increased headcount and infrastructure spending.   Its non-payroll expenses grew 26% to $US1.13 billion, up from $US895 million during the first quarter of 2013.   During the quarter, Facebook announced a takeover of WhatsApp that saw investors in the mobile messaging service gain $US12 billion in Facebook stock and $US4 billion in cash, with a further $US3 billion in restricted Facebook stock going to WhatsApp’s founders and employees that will vest over the next four years.   Despite the social media mega-deal, Facebook reported cash and marketable securities of  $12.63 billion at the end of the quarter.   In terms of subscribers, the company now claims 1.28 billion monthly active users, up 15% from a year earlier, while mobile monthly active users grew by 34% to 1.01 billion.   Of its total user base, 802 million users use the company’s services daily, with 609 million people using its mobile sites each day.   Alongside the results, Facebook announced chief financial officer David Ebersman is standing aside, to be replaced by David Wehner, who is currently Facebook's vice president of corporate finance and business planning.   Wehner had previously served as the chief financial officer of online game developer Zynga, before defecting to Facebook in November 2012.   In an official statement, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg described the quarter as a “great start to 2014” for the company.   “We've made some long term bets on the future while staying focused on executing and improving our core products and business. We're in great position to continue making progress towards our mission,” Zuckerberg said.

Bitcoin to become increasingly mainstream in 2014: Online games, parking and everyday bills

1:29AM | Tuesday, 7 January

The new year has opened with some significant breakthroughs for those preparing for bitcoin to hit the mainstream, with major international game developer Zynga announcing a partnership with BitPay that will enable people to use bitcoins while playing games such as the phenomenally successful Farmville series.   The trial has been heralded as a breakthrough for BitPay, but also bitcoin more generally.   Closer to home, two Australian start-ups are exploring the potential of bitcoin payments for smaller and more common payments such as parking and bills.   Parkhound, a start-up that enables the leasing and sharing of parking permits and spaces took its first payment in bitcoin last month. Co-founder Robert Crocitti says the innovative step was an unanticipated step forward for his team.   “The first bitcoin payment wasn’t actually our decision. We’re just a start-up so we’re happy to try and accommodate any customer that comes our way. Many are more innovative than us, so we took our first payment in bitcoin when one of them asked us if we could,” Crocitti says.   He adds it was lucky they were using the Shopify payment system, which already had the built-in capacity to take digital currency payments.   As part of the growing group of companies beginning to translate bitcoin from the first adopters to more mainstream consumers, Crocitti says 2014 is likely to be the breakthrough year.   “Bitcoin has gained a lot of prominence in the last two years, but I think the big clincher will be when it’s available for people to pay using their mobile phones through NFC or some other kind of chip technology so you can use bitcoin via your phone at bricks-and-mortar store. This is likely to happen this year with a range of apps,” Crocitti says.   One Melbourne-based start-up is already bridging the gap directly, enabling Australians to pay their electricity and water bills with bitcoin.   BitBillPay.com.au has processed over $7,000 worth of bills already. The payments are made via CoinJar, an exchange and payment system that recently received $500,000 in investment funding from Blackbird Ventures.   Ryan Zhou, co-founder of CoinJar and founder of BitBillPay.com.au explains on the latter’s website he isn’t making any money from the service, and outlines the potential he sees for Bitcoin.   “I deeply believe that the true potential of Bitcoin lies on its intrinsic ability to provide a solid digital-native financial foundation to incrementally improve how people use money. It has never been easier to positively change the status quo of payments today with the power of a widely accepted decentralised currency,” Zhou says.   Bitcoin is set to be one of the biggest start-up stories of 2014, with over 140 bitcoin start-ups listed on investment information aggregator AngelList and several local start-ups beginning to gather momentum.   A range of Australian start-ups are working out ways to ride the bitcoin wave, including booming BTC.sx which announced in November it had processed over $14 million in transactions in six months, and Slingshot accelerator graduate World BX.   Bitcoin exchange World BX founder Nick Trkulja told StartupSmart in October that the digital currency’s growing respectability boded well for its future uptake.   “This is an exciting space to be in right now. Over the next year in particular, there will be a big shift in the ecosystem as it moves beyond the early adopters,” Trkulja said.   “The Bitcoin revolution was started online, and online retailers will increasingly accept it. This has helped to fuel its growth and spike the price, and we’re beginning to see bricks and mortar retailers follow.”   Evan Lucas, a market strategist at IG Markets, an investment and trading company that trades in a variety of assets including bitcoin, told StartupSmart in August that regulation will be essential for the digital currency to become mainstream.   “If it wants to become mainstream, it is going to have to subject itself to regulation. That will be a very interesting situation for those involved to subject themselves to that kind of scrutiny,” Lucas says.   “It’ll certainly be growing in its reach more and more as people start to look at it, but it’s still a very infant currency and the concern that a lot of analysts have about bitcoin is its regulation.”

Revealed: Characteristics of $1 billion consumer tech companies

3:36AM | Friday, 15 March

The average age of companies that the owners sell at more than $1 billion is seven years, according to US venture capitalist Jacob Mullins, who has revealed the common characteristics of $1 billion consumer tech companies.

Facebook flags move towards movies, books and fitness apps

2:05AM | Wednesday, 13 February

Facebook has highlighted opportunities for app developers after indicating its next major app categories will be movies, books and fitness, having conquered categories such as gaming.

Academic names worst CEOs of 2012 – five lessons for start-ups

3:08AM | Friday, 15 March

Start-up founders looking to avoid being labelled a bad chief executive should heed the advice of US university professor Sydney Finkelstein, who has compiled a list of the worst CEOs of 2012.

Zynga and Facebook: Why the social media game is changing

12:58AM | Friday, 7 December

Last week, we saw the relationship between Zynga and Facebook change. You can read the SEC filings here.

Ireland looks to lure Aussie start-up with incubator program

3:38AM | Monday, 11 March

The Irish Government is offering an Australian start-up the chance to participate in prestigious incubator program LaunchPad, after launching a venture capital fund for offshore companies.

Facebook hits 1 billion users – but what about revenue?

3:55AM | Tuesday, 12 March

More than one billion people now use Facebook each month, it’s been confirmed, but concerns remain around the site’s revenue.

MOL Global launches locally by investing in niche payment service provider

7:04AM | Wednesday, 18 July

Local payment service provider ocash has received a majority investment from Southeast Asian internet giant MOL Global, which will use ocash as a foray into Australia and New Zealand.

17-year-old Perth entrepreneur sets his sights on San Francisco

6:33AM | Friday, 22 June

A 17-year-old Australian entrepreneur is desperate to obtain a visa to work in the United States in order to launch a start-up there, having already launched and sold three others in Australia.

Google acquires social platform start-up Meebo

6:59AM | Tuesday, 5 June

Google appears more determined than ever to boost the profile of Google+, after acquiring Silicon Valley start-up Meebo, which the search giant described as a “great fit” for its fledgling social network.   Meebo is a consumer internet company focused on driving user engagement across the internet. Impressively, it reaches approximately half of the internet population in the United States.   Its flagship product, the Meebo Bar, enables publishers and advertisers to leverage this audience by weaving content engagement and brand experiences into the consumer’s internet activities.   Based in Mountain View in California, Meebo began as an instant messenger aggregator platform in September 2005. It was developed by Sandy Jen, Seth Sternberg and Elaine Wherry.   With six offices located across the US, Meebo is backed by True Ventures, Sequoia Capital, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Jafco Ventures and Khosla Ventures.   In a company blog post, Meebo confirmed it has been acquired by Google for an undisclosed sum.   “For more than seven years, we’ve been helping publishers find deeper relationships with their users, and to make their sites more social and engaging,” it wrote.   “Together with Google, we’re super jazzed to roll up our sleeves and get cracking on even bigger and better ways to help users and website owners alike.”   “We’ve had a blast building Meebo so far and we’re really excited to start the next leg of our journey.”   Google issued its own statement on the acquisition, confirming the Meebo team will be working on the company’s social network, Google+.   “With the Meebo team’s expertise in social publisher tools, we believe they will be a great fit with the Google+ team,” it said.   “We look forward to closing the transaction and working with the Meebo team to create more ways for users to engage online.”   A report from All Things Digital last month suggested Google was in talks to acquire Meebo, with a purchase price of around $100 million. According to Tech Crunch, that figure is accurate.   Meanwhile, fellow tech giant Zynga has acquired Oregon video game maker Buzz Monkey for an undisclosed sum, in what appears to be a talent buyout.   As part of the deal, Zynga will add about 50 employees to its ranks, along with Buzz Monkey’s Oregon office.   Founded in 2001 by four “industry ninjas”, Buzz Monkey offers full game development, co-development, ports, and consulting for both publishers and fellow developers.   The company is better known for larger console titles such as Army of Two: 40th Day and the Tomb Raider series. More recently, Buzz Monkey moved into the smartphone gaming space.   Because Buzz Monkey has experience working on Facebook games, including smartphone titles and more ambitious console games, it will complement Zynga’s stable of developers.

Zuckerberg to raise $US1 billion in Facebook IPO

5:14AM | Sunday, 6 May

Facebook has finally set a price range for its upcoming initial public offering, telling the market it plans to sell shares at between $US28-$US35, in a move that will vastly increase the fortunes of chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and a score of other shareholders.

Startup Genome forecasts growth of “transformational entrepreneurship”

4:18AM | Thursday, 26 April

Entrepreneurship is increasingly becoming the world’s primary source of socio-economic value creation, new research claims, with “transformational entrepreneurship” set to take centre stage.

Twitter’s latest talent buyout comes in the form of Hotspots.io

4:42AM | Tuesday, 17 April

Twitter has acquired social analytics start-up Hotspots.io for an undisclosed sum, with the Hotspots.io team expected to join Twitter.

Facebook targets developers with fbStart

2:23AM | Friday, 10 February

Facebook has launched a program aimed at giving third-party developers advanced notice of new tools and features, in a bid to encourage them to build businesses around the Facebook platform.

Facebook IPO bolstered by third-party developers

3:55AM | Friday, 15 March

Facebook’s flotation has revealed that 12% of its revenue in 2011 came from social gaming company Zynga, with the social media giant admitting its performance will become increasingly reliant on new innovations.

Twitter acquires security start-up Whisper Systems

11:24AM | Tuesday, 29 November

Twitter has acquired US-based security start-up Whisper Systems, with the company’s two team members to begin working for the social media giant in what is primarily a talent buyout.

Negative feedback to ignore

9:48AM | Thursday, 8 September

When creating a start-up there is no doubt you will get negative comments. And the more successful you are, the more negative comments you'll receive. Here are some of the more common ones that you'll get that you can completely feel free to ignore.

Groupon IPO faces delay

7:47AM | Thursday, 28 July

Groupon will delay its initial public offering until mid to late September, according to reports, but the Securities and Exchange Commission has dismissed claims the company's regulatory review is taking longer than usual.

Zynga joins tech float rush, set to raise $US1bn

7:56AM | Monday, 4 July

Social gaming giant Zynga says it intends to raise up to $US1 billion after filing for a float on the New York Stock Exchange, fuelling speculation of a second dotcom boom.

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