Blogging since 1998. By David Wertheimer

Month: May 2013

Digital facts of the day

There are now around 130 million smartphone users and at least 55 million tablet users in the U.S. market. Among other trends, 15% of ecommerce transactions will be completed on mobile and tablet devices this year, a number that will only continue to grow.
While this is a prime opportunity to gain market share and–still–establish first-mover advantage, 45% of marketers don’t have a mobile presence, either with apps or optimized websites.
When I was working at Ai we would annually update our stump speech for mobile. “2009 is going to be the year of mobile.” “2010 is really the year of mobile–our clients’ stats show smartphone usage on their sites tripled last year.” Now, in 2013, mobile and tablet use is starting to drive the digital economy, in a shift that is not going to turn back around. Yet many brands have not capitalized on the opportunity. If not now, when?

Parallels in Internet history

April 1999: Yahoo! buys GeoCities.

“A $3.6 billion deal that will further solidify Yahoo!’s position as a frontrunner in the online popularity contest. …

“GeoCities (GCTY) is the third most visited site on the Web behind AOL and Yahoo!, with 19 million unique visitors in December, according to Web research company Media Metrix.

“GeoCities sets up communities of people who share similar interests and allows customers to create their own home page on the Internet.

“A deal would likely propel Yahoo! to the top rated site in terms of traffic, but it’s not clear how much the two sites’ individual audience overlap. …

“Through GeoCities, Yahoo! will be able to distribute a range of editing tools and content published through personal homepages in an array of services. …”

May 2013: Will Yahoo Try to Get Its “Cool Again” by Doing a Deal for Tumblr?

“CFO Ken Goldman … said Yahoo needed to be ‘cool again.’ …

“Tumblr … focuses heavily on user-generated content, largely text and photos, although there is an increasing use of video on the site. …

“Any kind of deal with Tumblr could certainly bring Yahoo a big, young audience. Its worldwide traffic was at 117 million visitors in April, according to comScore. On its home page, Tumblr claims it has 107.8 million blogs and 50.6 billion posts.”

At the time of its acquisition, GeoCities posted a net loss for the year of $19.8 million alongside a $2.3 billion pre-Yahoo market cap. Tumblr generated $13 million in revenue last year and has a reported valuation of $800 million.

Timely Demise: Where are they now?

A friend recently discovered and fell in love with Timely Demise, my chronicle of the compression of American retailing in the last recession. I hadn’t really looked at the site since it closed, and as I started poking through the archives, I got curious about the final outcomes of the activities we tracked in the moment.

Researching the bankruptcies and acquisitions chronicled in the blog, I was able to get concrete updates on 40 of the larger entities. Here’s how they wound up:

  • Eighteen of them (45%) are gone, either through Chapter 7 liquidations or just closing up shop. Extrapolated across the hundreds of companies we covered, this percentage would undoubtedly be higher, given the amount of smaller brands and mom-and-pop stores we wrote about.
  • Seven (18%) were acquired and continue operating, including individual brands (Stila, J. Jill), retail brands (Crabtree & Evelyn) and multi-store chains (Better Bedding).
  • Four firms continued operating but encountered more trouble after their appearances in Timely Demise, including Fortunoff (which ended up closing all its stores, then reopening a few more targeted stores) and Reader’s Digest (which has returned to bankruptcy but continues to publish).
  • Now to the good news. Five companies emerged cleanly from bankruptcy and continue operations.
  • Four firms shrunk but are still in business in some form.
  • And four firms we wrote about look as though it’s business as usual for them, having weathered the recession and resumed their growth trajectories in recent years, some with admirable results. La-Z-Boy, we recline in a toast to you.

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