Facebook has finally found a permanent executive for one of its key leadership positions in its international operation: Nicola Mendelsohn, a longtime veteran of the ad industry, is joining the social network as its VP, EMEA. She replaces Joanna Shields, who left Facebook nearly seven months ago in October 2012 to run Tech City, the London tech cluster advocacy group. Carolyn Everson, VP of Global Marketing Solutions, was in the role on an interim basis.
Mendelsohn joins most immediately from Karmarama, an ad agency where she was partner and exec chairman. Before that she was at Grey London and a board member at BBH. She had also most recently been president of the IPA — the first female in the organization (an ad trade industry body) in 96 years. She’ll be leaving her position at Karmarama in July and making the transition then.
Facebook has had a mixed picture in EMEA and given that it currently makes the vast majority of its revenues from advertising, it makes sense to draw from that world for the role. Europe alone has 269 million monthly active users in Q1 but its ad revenues in the region actually declined last quarter, and are now at $423 million, down from $440 million the quarter previously. That was in a quarter where other regions like the U.S. declined as well — although some of that would have been due to seasonal attributes and also the fact that the last quarter covered a slightly longer period.
On the other hand, the EMEA operation also includes key markets that in some ways may represent some of the most interesting growth for Facebook: with regions like Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe also included in Mendelsohn’s remit, she will also be responsible for some of the emerging markets that are currently some of the fastest growing for the social network. As CEO Mark Zuckerberg said when Facebook announced 1 billion users, the next 1 billion is likely to be in emerging markets like those in in EMEA rather than in more developed and mature regions like the U.S.
Mendelsohn will be bringing deep contacts in the industry, along with both independent and big-four agency experience to the mix as Facebook looks to grow the number of brands and agencies relying on Facebook and its particular brand of social advertising for their marketing strategies.
“Facebook’s innovation in the way brands are putting people at the centre of the conversation is fascinating,” Mendelsohn said in a statement. “I am very excited to be joining the team and I look forward to bringing my experience to Facebook.”
She will be reporting to Everson. “I could not be more thrilled to announce Nicola Mendelsohn as the VP of EMEA,” Everson said in a statement. “She brings outstanding leadership and passion for what Facebook can do to become an indispensable partner for our clients and agencies throughout the region. It’s testament to Facebook’s innovative role in business and advertising that we’re able to welcome a leader with such great experience.”
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Though Southeast Asia is one of the world’s fastest growing economies and benefits from a youthful, tech-savvy population, the region’s startup ecosystem is still in its infancy and many founders lack resources. The freshly launched BootstrapAccelerator Asia seeks to address that gap. Founded by San Francisco-based seed and venture capital fund BootstrapLabs and Malaysia’s MAD Incubator, BootstrapAccelerator Asia is currently seeking startups that have the potential for global expansion.
The year-long program will focus on “early-stage capital efficient startups that leverage the speed of Internet distribution and the scalability of cloud infrastructure,” bringing promising candidates to Silicon Valley.
Foreign startups that BootstrapLabs has previously relocated to Silicon Valley include Prezi, Witsbits, AudioDraft and Zerply, which have raised a combined $25 million in funding. MAD (Make A Difference) Incubator is the largest private incubator in Malaysia, with the goal of helping 1,000 startups achieve a $1 million turnover by 2015. BootstrapAccelerator Asia is supported by Malaysia’s Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), the government group that directs and oversees the country’s National Information and Communication Technology Initiative.
BootstrapAccelerator Asia’s startups will receive cash and other benefits valued at over $35,000. Instead of organizing startups into cohorts, the accelerator will evaluate candidates on a monthly basis and enroll new participants at the relative stage of their development.
Though BootstrapAccelerator Asia will draw its startups from across sectors, Benjamin Levy, a partner at BoostrapLabs, says the firm has seen “a surge in mobile, Internet Web services, software as a service and gaming products” in the region.
“We are equally excited in seeing innovations from the Internet of Things, big data and B2C that leverages on the Internet/mobile and cloud infrastructure, bringing tremendous amounts of scalability and market reach towards regional and global markets in Southeast Asia,” Levy adds.
As BootstrapAccelerator Asia’s mentors work with startup teams, they will keep an eye out for companies that have the potential to reach a worldwide market. But Levy says there are plenty of exciting growth opportunities in Southeast Asia.
The region’s startup ecosystem may still be in its infancy, but founders benefit from the close proximity of its countries, which reduces the cost of doing business across different markets. As the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economy becomes more integrated with the ASEAN Economic Community, entrepreneurs will also enjoy the advantages of greater trade liberalization and open economies, Levy says.
“Being accepted in this accelerator means that in our view they are good potentials for the SE Asian market, markets such as Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam,” he says. “Our goal over time is to build our network platform in these countries so that it will be easy leverage for our accelerator startups.”
Startups can apply here. The application deadline is May 30 and the first enrollment begins on July 2.
Heroku, the popular cloud platform as a service company, today announced the public launch of its Europe region. Developers will now be able to deploy their services closer to their European customers, which should result in markedly reduced latency for them. The company says it has observed performance improvements of 100ms or more per request for European end users.
Heroku is built on top of Amazon’s EC2 platform, so while the company doesn’t explicitly note this in its announcement today, this means it is using Amazon’s data center in Ireland for this service. In the U.S., Heroku’s services are currently based in Amazon’s North Virginia (US-East-1) data center. Given this launch in Europe, it’s likely that Heroku is also looking into expanding its U.S. presence to more data centers across the country, too.
Developers, the company says, will also be able to easily deploy more than 60 add-ons from its marketplace in this new zone. Heroku will automatically deploy these in the same region the app is running in, too.
The company previously offered this service as a private beta for a small number of users, including Swedene’s TV4 and Betapond. “Deploying our app closer to our users in Heroku’s Europe region gave us a 150ms improvement in web performance. Based on this win for our users, we’re moving all of our apps to the Europe region,” TV4′s CTO Per Åström said in a canned statement today.
One issue for U.S. companies that want to bring cloud-based services to Europe is the fact that they have to comply with the EU’s privacy protection laws, which tend to be a bit more strict than similar laws in the U.S. The EU’s Directive on Data Protection prohibits the transfer of personal data to non-European Union countries that don’t meet its privacy protection standard. To ensure that this won’t hinder cloud-based services too much, however, Europe allows U.S. companies to be certified to ensure that their privacy policies are compliant with European regulations.
Heroku says it is “not yet a registered participant in the Safe Harbor program,” but the company has “laid the groundwork for becoming Safe Harbor certified and expect to have it soon.” Until then, developers have to assume that some of their data will be stored in – or pass through – Heroku’s U.S. data centers.
Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins is creating a new presence in L.A., announcing a partnership today with the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering and United Talent Agency (UTA) to create a startup accelerator.
Called the Viterbi Startup Garage, the early-stage accelerator will provide financial and other strategic resources to a select group of USC student and alumni entrepreneurs. The accelerator will provide financial grants (which is different from the investment model), guidance and mentorship for 12 weeks to about 10 companies that will work out of the Viterbi Startup Garage facility in Marine Del Ray, Calif. The program begins at the end of May.
USC undergraduate and graduate students, as well as USC alumni who graduated within the last five years, are eligible to apply to the Viterbi Startup Garage, with the requirement that at least one member of the founding team is an enrolled student in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering or a USC Viterbi alumnus.
The goal of the program is not only to foster new ideas in technology at the student level, but also to keep engineers and startups in the L.A. region.
The partnership is interesting on a number of fronts. First, it validates the fact that compelling startups are coming out of the L.A. tech scene. And one of the things that will help continue this growth is more VC dollars and interest coming to the region.
It’s also good for the startup ecosystem to help students find capital to get their ideas off the ground during the early stage. We’re seeing more and more VC firms engage students through accelerators, fellowship programs and even student-run VC firms. By engaging students, VCs can find interesting ideas that could be the next Facebook or Google and keep an eye on promising talent.
Amazon Web Services will now offer the option for everyone to have their own virtual private cloud (VPC), another sign of the company’s intent to push into the enterprise market. The service means that every customer using EC2 will see the option for a VPC as an instance type. Until now, the VPC was a separate service.
A VPC lets customers create what AWS calls a “virtual network of logically isolated EC2 instances and an optional VPN connection to your own datacenter.” That development has implications for customers who are weighing the benefits of a data-center centric approach that virtualizes a network of physical centers to create their own elastic infrastructure. The problem comes down to the cost of licensing, new hardware and the IT staff to manage it all. It’s a model promoted by companies like VMware, which are looking to extend the reach of their virtualization technology.
AWS takes a different approach. It gives customers the capability to take advantage of the low-cost and flexibility of AWS while leveraging the infrastructure that they already own.
Instances will launch into what AWS calls the “EC2-VPC” platform. AWS will roll out the feature by region, starting with the Asia-Pacific (Sydney) and South America (São Paulo) regions. The rollouts will begin in the next several weeks.
The process is automated so customers won’t need to create a VPC beforehand. Instead, according to AWS, a customer would launch EC2 instances or provision Elastic Load Balancers, RDS databases, or ElastiCache clusters like they would in EC2-Classic and a VPC is created with no extra charge.
At that point, customers can take advantage of features, such as assigning multiple IP addresses to an instance, changing security group membership on the fly, and adding egress filters to security groups.
According to AWS, VPCs are compatible with existing shell scripts, CloudFormation templates, AWS Elastic Beanstalk applications, and Auto Scaling configurations.
The new VPC features are available to new AWS customers and existing customers launching instances in a region for the first time.
The enterprise market has shifted in the past 12 to 18 months as CIOs have come to accept cloud computing, said Scott Sandell, a general partner with NEA Ventures in a conversation here at SXSW. He said it means all enterprise technology in a data center is obsolete. AWS’ move points to the shift in the market and the higher value on services that leverage the cloud as opposed to significant investments in new and existing infrastructure.