Will Pinterest prove its worth in 2015?

The next year will be the most important one of Pinterest’s life. Until now, the company has focused on its application and its audience, to the detriment of its coffers. It had the luxury to ignore money because it raised a nosebleed $764 million in venture funding to sustain itself. Like most adventurous startups, the money was raised on an unrealized, untested, uncertain premise: That advertising on a visual inspiration application would be highly lucrative.

Come New Year’s Day, that hypothesis will be put to the test for the first time on a large scale. After endless preparation, Pinterest’s year of reckoning has arrived.

In 2015, any brands will be able to do native advertising on Pinterest by paying to promote pins that appear alongside regular Pinterest content. Companies can use Pinterest’s reservation-based system, paying set prices to make sure their ads appear in people’s feeds. The auction-based system, where advertisers bid against each other, is still in beta.

Pinterest has been beta testing reservation-based promoted pins with a select group of partners since September 2013, moving slowly to make sure it nailed its advertising process and didn’t scare off users. According to Pinterest’s blog post about the wider-scale release, the beta test was hugely successful. Like regular pins, promoted pins are shared an average of 11 times, resulting in additional free impressions for advertisers (they only cough up money for the initial impression). These pins continue to be seen and shared after the advertiser stops paying to promote them.

The quiet social company decided to herald its big advertising news when the least amount of people would see it: Over the holiday break. It broke the story by publishing a blog post that ran at the same time as a New York Times feature on the news.

This is par for the course for Pinterest. The company regularly holds big parties at its office to celebrate the introduction of new product features, but when it comes to its revenue stream it prefers not to raise a fuss.

It’s possible that Pinterest is nervous about its reckoning moment and wants to experiment with advertising outside the prying eyes of the public. It’s hard to get to a $5 billion valuation in Silicon Valley without having brought in a cent of revenue. At this point, the stakes are high for Pinterest’s investors and the path is risky.

In the next twelve months, we’ll learn for the first time whether investors overvalued Pinterest or if the company is worth the war chest of funding it’s sitting on. If it’s the latter, [company]Google[/company] better look out. It has another rival creeping up to compete in the category of search.

Pinterest’s image-heavy application may give it a distinct advertising edge in the visual web.

Short takes: Todoist updated for iOS 7, Twistspark raises $4.5M in Series A round and changes name to Sparkcentral

Doist has announced that Todoist has been updated for iOS 7 on iPhone and iPad. The interface is even better looking.

todoist_7-184x300

The company has also incorporated iOS 7 background sync:

In line with iOS 7, Todoist is now using background updates to synchronize data which means that free users will get automatic background syncs six times per day, whereas Premium users will have continual live sync across all devices including iPhone, iPad, web, Mac, etc.

Now I hope they implement some of the sharing features they’ve hinted at.


Twitspark, the social customer support vendor, has changed its name to Sparkcentral and announced a $4.5 million Series A round, led led by Sigma West and includes repeat investments from The Social+Capital Partnership, Graph Ventures, and existing angel investors.

Davy Kestens, Sparkcentral CEO, wrote this when announcing the funding:

We believe we can turn the fear-generating social world into a pro-active tool – a tool that enterprises can use to foster traditional customer service in a high-tech way, delivering a one-on-one relationship between customer and brands everywhere, at high-volume and to the masses.

And we’re excited. Be of service – wherever you are, whenever you want, through the same real-time channels that used to be the fear-factor of every brand’s communication department.

The dissatisfied customer no longer has to be ticket number 8374292, biding their time and biting their tongue as they wait in the customer service and complaints queue. The customer is now Joe, who is a daily consumer at our Starbucks in the Financial District…or flew our airline 20 times over the past year. His loyalty is important and we value him – as a person. So when he reaches out and says he’s disappointed and needs help, don’t let him down.

Find him and fix it. Let him know you’re sorry and you’ll make it right.

And while you’re at it? Send him a box of chocolates with a card – it’s his birthday next week.

Customers are not tickets – let’s make customer service human again.

Hear, hear!

Sparkcentral is a pure play social customer support product, one not based on an earlier social marketing analytics or monitoring product. I’ve requested a demo. (They seem to be having a blog meltdown at this moment.)

Is pre-paid and mid-market the future for the iPhone?

Analysts have begun their traditional pre-release Apple hardware predictions for the next generation of iPhone. Among the predictions are a claim that Apple will pursue the mid-range smartphone market with a $350 iPhone designed for use off-contract with pre-paid plans.

Chrome for Mac Beta Available Now

As of this morning, you can download the beta version of Google’s Chrome for the Mac browser. It’s missing some things found in its Windows counterpart, but what is there is very impressive.

It’s Windows 7 Day: Are We the Early Adopters?

windows-7-box-artApple (s aapl) did pretty much everything they could to steal some of Windows 7’s thunder by announcing some pretty major hardware changes earlier in the week, but Thursday is here nonetheless, and that means Microsoft’s (s msft) latest OS is on store shelves now, ripe for the picking. Question is, will Mac users be helping with the harvest?

I’m getting a copy (might pick up a burger, too), but for me it’s a legitimate business expense, so the decision, even without an upgrade path (I’ve just been using the Windows 7 RC on my iMac, and don’t have an existing retail license), it makes financial sense for me to have access to a Windows machine. Maybe you’re in the same boat. Read More about It’s Windows 7 Day: Are We the Early Adopters?

OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard Officially Available Today

OSX_snow_leopardIt’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Today, Apple (s aapl) officially launches the latest milestone update to its Mac OS X operating system. “Snow Leopard” is the fifth major update to the operating system since it was launched in 2001. Apple has spent the last year tweaking and refining just about every line of code in the entire operating system and the result is a far leaner, meaner animal.
We’ve been covering the rumors, news and leaks on Snow Leopard for what feels like forever. For a whistle-stop tour of how 10.6 has developed over the year and what new features and functionality it brings, follow these links to learn about:

  • How much weight Snow Leopard has lost -– system apps are much smaller than ever before now all that old PPC code is a thing of the past.
  • How the Finder and Dock have been tweaked to make navigating your files faster and easier than ever before.
  • Under-the-hood additions, tweaks and tune-ups that make Snow Leopard the most powerful and sophisticated Mac OS X yet.
  • Changes to Apple’s venerable QuickTime media software.
  • The introduction of native support for Microsoft Exchange.
  • The revolutionary new multicore management technology Grand Central Dispatch.

Read More about OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard Officially Available Today

Apple Shipping Snow Leopard on Friday August 28

snow_leopardLooks like the rumor mill was spot on this time, as speculation that Mac OS X Snow Leopard would ship earlier than its anticipated September street date have proven true. Apple (s aapl) announced this morning via a press release that 10.6 will go on sale Friday, August 28th (yes, that’s the end of this week, you’re not dreaming) at Apple retail stores. Pre-orders are now being accepted online.

It’s not really that shocking, since one Mac mini reportedly already shipped with Snow Leopard in Japan. This means users will be able to physically get their hands on the new OS two months before Windows 7 is scheduled to arrive, marking a significant win for Apple over Microsoft (s msft). Read More about Apple Shipping Snow Leopard on Friday August 28

Firefox 3.5 Released

Firefox

You may already be running Firefox 3.5, if you grabbed it early from Mozilla’s FTP servers, where it’s been available for a little while now, but if not, head over to Mozilla.com to update. I’ve been using the Beta and the Release Candidate versions for some time, and aside from the usual incompatibility with a few add-ons, I can tell you that 3.5 not only works great, but also packs some useful new features.

For most users, the first thing you’ll notice is how much faster Firefox 3.5 is compared with the previous version. There are a lot of reasons for the speed improvements, but one of them is the new TraceMonkey JavaScript engine that is much more efficient when dealing with resource-hogging web apps. There’s a great post over at WebWorkerDaily that goes into more detail about how that works and what it means. Read More about Firefox 3.5 Released

OpenOffice 3.0 Released

Open Office 3 ReleasedThe latest version of Open Office, released today, has been in development for the past three years. As one of the most popular open source competitors to Microsoft Office, the release has been anticipated for some time (the launch even warranted a party!).
Open Office comprises of several applications: a word processor (Writer), spreadsheet (Calc), presentation package (Impress), drawing app (Draw), and database tools (Base).
Some of the features heralded in the new release include:

  • A new splash screen upon launch (see above)
  • The ability to import Microsoft Office (.doc, .ppt, .xls) and Office 2007/Office 2008 for Mac (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx) files (though it still isn’t possible to save to these formats)
  • Support for sharing Excel workbooks
  • Support for Excel sheets with up to 1024 columns
  • A solver component for solving optimization problems
  • Better polished crop and drawing tools
  • The display of multiple Writer pages while editing
  • Inclusion of Office commenting / change tracking in the document margin
  • Some support for Visual Basic macros (a feature dropped by the Microsoft Office team)
  • Enhanced support for PDF exporting, including password protection
  • Support for Open Office extensions, allowing further features to be created by developers (similar to Firefox)
  • No more reliance on X11

Open Office 3.0 is completely free to download and try out. If you are struggling with the Open Office site being overwhelmed with requests for the new software, it’s worth trying this mirror. Installation is far simpler than in previous versions and you can be up and running in a few minutes.
Let us know whether you’ll be switching from Microsoft Office!