Baidu Posts Mixed Q3 Earnings, Sending Its Shares Sideways

Today Baidu reported its third-quarter financial performance, including revenue of $2.203 billion and GAAP earnings per share of $1.79. The market had expected the Chinese company to earn $1.69 per share on revenue of $2.22 billion. Excluding the costs of share-based compensation, Baidu earned $1.90 per share (non-GAAP).

The company, which fell nearly 2 percent in regular trading, is off another 1.7 percent in after-hours trading.

The company’s operating profit in the quarter of $638.6 million was up 17.4 percent on a year-over-year basis. Its revenue figure was up a sharper 52.0 percent compared to the year-ago period. Nearly all of Baidu’s revenue comes from its online marketing income, which totaled $2.188 billion in the quarter. Baidu is best known for its online search property.

Baidu spent $283.8 million in traffic acquisition costs in the quarter, or 12.9 percent of its total revenues. That percentage figure is up from its year-ago comparable statistic of 11.2 percent.

Investors seem to not know what precisely to do with Baidu shares after the report. The after-hours chart shows a bit of indecision:

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Looking ahead, Baidu expects its revenue to expand to between $2.256 billion, and $2.322 billion. Those figures represent a roughly 45 to 50 percent improvement in its calendar fourth quarter of 2013, the comparable period. The company did not guide on profit.

Trading for around $224 per share, Baidu has been increasing in value nearly steadily since the middle of 2013. The company went public in 2005 with revenue in the single-digit millions per quarter. The company executed a stock split in 2010, which brought its share price down from more than $700. Since then, its shares have tripled in value. The company is worth north of $80 billion.

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Netflix Stock Opens Down 25% After Missing New Subscriber Target

Yesterday, as part of its third quarter earnings news, Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) reported not acquiring as many new subscribers as it had previously forecasted. The stock price crashed in after-hour trading, tumbling down 25% (more than a $100) as Wall Street reacted to the news. Today, the stock price has yet to recover, opening at $332.73, down from yesterday’s closing price of $448.59.

The company reported a third-quarter profit of $59 million, up from $32 million a year ago. But the company failed to attract as many new subscribers as it had predicted, calling it “over-forecasted” on membership growth.

In a letter to shareholders, Netflix blames the miss to new prices and the fading of the positive reaction to its hit series “Orange is the New Black” before the third quarter. “As best we can tell, the primary cause is the slightly higher prices we now have compared to a year ago. Slightly higher prices result in slightly less growth, other things being equal, and this is manifested more clearly in higher adoption markets such as the US,” the company said.

Following yesterday’s after-hours sell-off, pundits were quick to point out that the company still has a solid base and should be able to recover from the crash.


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Pond5 Raises $61 Million Series A Led By Accel Partners, Stripes Group

Pond5, Shutterstock’s rival in the digital media and video world, has today announced that the company has closed a $61 million round of funding led by Accel Partners and Stripes Group.

According to CrunchBase, this is Pond5′s second round of funding after securing a $500k seed round back in 2008.

Launched in 2006, Pond5 offers an alternative to Shutterstock with a user-driven marketplace for stock video, music, photos, special effects, Adobe AfterEffects, etc. The Pond5 model asks media creators to upload their own work and set their own prices, so control is left almost entirely in the hands of the buyers and sellers. Pond5 simply provides the venue.

Here’s what Pond5 CEO Tom Bennett had to tell TechCrunch about the round:

We are profitable, and part of the reason we were able to hold off on another financing round up until now is because we chose to grow more slowly in a way that is more robust and organic. With regards to any future financings, we haven’t made a determination one way or another whether we’ll go down that path, but we decided a long time ago that at all points in time we would have the option of a sustainable, profitable business that doesn’t require external funding.

Pond5 now accounts for more than 15 million media clips from 30,000 artists in 127 different countries, and according to the company, Pond5′s 2.7 million videos comprise the largest royalty-free video collection on the web.

In terms of the business, the company is home to around 70 employees distributed between the New York headquarters and an office in Prague. With the funding, Pond5 plans to build out the product, double the staff, add more content, and marketing.

If you want to learn more about Pond5, check out the website here.

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eBay Reports Mixed Q2 Results With Revenue Of $4.366B, Non-GAAP EPS Of $0.69

Today after the close of regular trading, eBay announced its second-quarter financial performance, including revenue of $4.366 billion and non-GAAP earnings per share of $0.69.

Its revenue tally for the period was up 13 percent year-over-year. eBay’s second-quarter GAAP earnings totaled $676 million. It’s non-GAAP earnings were much higher at $868 million.

The company had mixed results. Analysts had anticipated eBay to earn $0.68 per share on revenue of $4.38 billion. It therefore beat on profits, but missed on top line. Ebay was slightly down in regular trading, and following its earnings report is up nearly 2% after hours.

In the sequentially preceding quarter, eBay reported revenue of $4.3 billion, and non-GAAP earnings per share of $0.70. The company had a large one-time tax charge of $3 billion in that period that impacted its GAAP earnings.

In the second quarter — its most recent — eBay’s core marketplace gross merchandise volume rose 12 percent, with international growth besting domestic expansion. That business provided eBay with $2.2 billion in revenue.

PayPal, eBay’s other key asset, saw its net total payment volume rise 29 percent compared to the year-ago quarter. PayPal’s revenue for the period was $1.9 billion, with the payment company picking up 4 million new “active registered accounts,” wrapping the quarter with a total of 152 million.

eBay Enterprise, the smallest of its three main business groups, had revenue of $267 million in the quarter, up a slim 3 percent from the year-ago period.

eBay had a workable, but not ecstatic, quarter. The minor profit beat and the minor revenue miss are mostly a wash. The company is seeing its GAAP operating margin decline, which could put pressure on its future profitability.

As far as its bank account, eBay is very wealthy, ending the quarter with cash, equivalents, and non-equity investments of $12.4 billion.

For the current quarter, eBay expects something of a repeat, with top line of $4.3 to $4.4 billion, and non-GAAP earnings per share of $0.65 and $0.67.

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NEA Backs BetterDoctor’s Quest To Develop Tools To Find A Better Doctor

For Ari Tulla, the chief executive officer in NEA’s newest portfolio company, BetterDoctor, the decision to launch a company was a matter of more than just money.

Almost ten years ago, Tulla’s wife began treatment for a serious illness. At the time the couple was living in Europe and spent months looking for a doctor, when Tulla’s job with Nokia took him to the U.S. they had to relive the process again in the labyrinthine maze of the U.S. healthcare system.

“I became a super-user,” says Tulla of the hours he spent trolling the California peninsula looking for specialists. “We saw 40 different doctors [and] along the way I decided that this is a pain point.”

According to Tulla, some 70 million patients in the U.S. will switch their physicians or seek additional consultations or treatment, and BetterDoctor aims to make that process easier — thanks in part to $10 million in new financing led by NEA.

Tulla launched BetterDoctor three years ago in the waning days of Nokia with his partner, another Nokia employee, Tapio Tolvanen to make the process easier. Based on social media reviews, physicians’ social networks, and a host of other public and private data, BetterDoctor offers would-be patients a one stop shop for vetting, selecting, and booking appointments with doctors based on user criteria.

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The company isn’t without competition, companies like ZocDoc provide online scheduling services and organizational tools for doctors’ offices, while HealthGrades, offers online services to select a physician. The company sees itself as a combination of the two, like an OpenTable and Yelp service for the buffet of medical services offered under a customers’ health care plan.

BetterDoctor pulls its information from a number of sources including Yelp, Doximity, and Federal health professional registries. The database serving information to the site’s users took nearly a year and a half to put together. That initial legwork was financed by a broad consortia of seed stage investors including Burrill & Company, Commerce Ventures, Kima Ventures, Lifeline Ventures, 500 Startups, MESA+, and SoftTech VC.

While the company’s basic service is free, there are new premium offerings on the way that will cost money for both prospective patients and for doctors. Six months ago the company allowed doctors to create and change their profiles. Soon, BetterDoctor will begin charging for premium sites for doctors that have been vetted as top-quality physicians by the service.

While Tulla does expect to see a shakeout in the industry, he’s not worried about things in the admittedly heavily invested healthcare information technology market becoming overly frothy anytime soon.

“You’re looking at a funnel here that is $800 billion a year,” he says. “There’s no one company that will own that market.”

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Harley-Davidson Might Be Making An Electric Motorcycle

A mysterious video released on Harley-Davidson’s YouTube channel today shows a much quieter motorcycle zooming down Route 66, fueling speculation that this bike is electric.

Harley fans were already suspicious after the folks at Visor Down leaked of one of the possible bikes on the set of the new Avengers movie a few days ago.

The Harley is a symbol of the open road and the Hells Angels. This seems like a watered-down version of all that is Harley-Davidson and America to some.

All of this is, of course, just speculation for now.

The video title says “06.19.14.” Probably not coincidentally, the Harley crew is set to make a big announcement about its next hog tomorrow.

Originally posted here: Harley-Davidson Might Be Making An Electric Motorcycle

Adform Raises $5.5M To Expand Its Rich Media Ad Business In The US

European ad-tech company Adform is announcing that it has raised $5.5 million in Series B funding.

The company was founded more than a decade ago, in 2002. Chief Marketing Officer Martin Stockfelth Larsen told me it sells its technology to both advertisers and publishers, with products including a demand side platform for ad-buying from multiple sources.

Most DSPs, Stockfelth added, “compete on algorithms,” namely their ability to efficiently buy ads through real-time bidding. While that’s part of Adform’s offering, its real focus has been on rich media ads, including a variety of video formats. Those formats aren’t unique, but Stockfelth said that with Adform, advertisers can “easily scale rich media” rather than go through the standard process that’s “very manual, very cumbersome” and can require negotiation with and customization for individual publishers.

Those ads can run across desktop, tablet, and mobile devices — Stockfelth said mobile has become a big part of Adform’s traffic, though revenue lags behind.

Supposedly, the company has always been profitable, but he said the funding will allow it to become “more aggressive,” particularly in the United States, where it recently opened two sales offices (in New York and Los Angeles). Adform also plans to launch its own data management platform and to expand its efforts in outdoor advertising.

The new funding comes from Nordic firm Via Venture Partners, which previously invested in Adform a few years ago.

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Mobile Social Networking App Skout Acquires Nightlife App Nixter

Skout, a social networking app that’s backed by $22 million from investors including Andreessen Horowitz, just acquired nightlife app Nixter.

Skout’s CEO Christian Wiklund (pictured above) said he pursued the deal to find a better way to marry offline and online interactions in Skout’s app with real-world events. While Skout is an app that helps connect strangers all over the world, Nixter’s platform lets party seekers find upcoming nightlife events in their city, buy tickets, see the guest list or get VIP accommodations.

“This will be a huge value-add service to our users. I also think it’s highly monetizable and it will build even stronger loyalty from our users,” Wiklund said.

Wiklund didn’t close the amount Skout paid for the company. The deal was a mixture of cash and stock.

Nixter, which came out of Santiago, Chile, was founded about two years ago and it now operates in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. It had raised about $200,000 in angel funding, largely from a group of angel investors down in Chile.

The company’s co-founder Francisco Saez says the company weighed a bunch of different options. They’re competing against a number of other apps including San Francisco-based WillCall, which focuses on live events.

“We had other offers, but we worried about losing a lot of power and autonomy until we started talking with Skout,” Saez said.

Wiklund said that Nixter will be kept as a separate app and brand, although it will be heavily integrated into Skout.

As for Skout, while Wiklund didn’t share overall audience numbers, he said the company hit profitability about six months ago. The app sells points, which are like a virtual currency that can be redeemed to unlock special features like the ability to see who has checked you out. Wiklund says that 30 percent of Skout’s users are in the U.S., while the remainder are abroad.


Originally posted here: Mobile Social Networking App Skout Acquires Nightlife App Nixter