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Palantir, The Most Secret Company Ever:
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Is your ad shop Innovative? Compete in Cannes for Innovative Lions Award

Innovative online advertising agencies may find themselves with a new bauble to play with, thanks to the latest category to be added to this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Shops putting their names forward for the Festival will now need to decide whether they wish to compete in the “Innovative Lions” category, which is described as “a new awards category to honor the technology and innovation which lead to the creative idea being possible.” It brings the total number of categories at the Festival to 16, following the addition of branded entertainment in 2012 and Mobile Lions in 2011. A hard one to judge While firms will now be able to show off their technology-building prowess in the new competition, the rules for judging will be complicated.  The category isn’t as neatly defined as many of the others, like film or print, so working out exactly what qualifies and how it should be judged could well be a brain frizzler. Contenders will have to submit a written proof of concept and a proposal to enter. Those shortlisted will be expected to deliver a 10-minute presentation and undergo a Q&A grilling afterwards. The Festival, which celebrates its 60th year…

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Startup social ad agency Moontoast clinches 5 million in new funding round

Online advertising agencies seeking to harness the potential of new pastures might do well to take a look at social media advertising startup Moontoast, which has just secured Series B funding worth $5 million. The firm’s client list may not be especially long at 50, but sometimes size doesn’t matter. Especially if the list includes names like Nike, Universal, Hyundai, Nexus, Time, Simon & Schuster and Lady Antebellum. Many an art director, account manager and copywriter would fall off their chairs in their haste to grab a client list like that. No rehashed traditional ads from Moontoast Moontoast’s Social Activation Platform was developed to help ad agencies and brands gain impressive ROIs by distributing transactional, interactive rich media ads. It also yields business metrics about the impact and reach of the ads. Moontoast divides its ads into a series of categories; sweepstakes, surveys and a “social store”. It also features a unit that temptingly offers free MP3s when ad viewers give their email details. The company makes a point of ensuring that its rich media social offerings aren’t just traditional ads rehashed for Twitter and Facebook. Marcus Whitney, Moontoast’s CTO and co-founder, said, “In the social advertising world, the actual…

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Ecommerce startup One Kings Lane sees mobile revenue soar as 2012 closes

E-commerce startup One Kings Lane, which specializes in flash sales of luxury home décor items, fashion accessories and more, rounded off last year with 25 per cent of its total revenue coming via mobile. Funding in a cold climate The company also secured a handsome $50 million in Series D funding in December.  As any e-commerce manager, web content manager or e-commerce analyst could tell you, this was quite some accomplishment: venture funding for e-commerce startups was far harder to come by at the close of last year than at the start.  The latest round of funding, led by Institutional Venture Partners (with additional investment from Tiger Global Management, Greylock Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers and new kid on the block Scripps Networks Interactive), brought the firm’s total investment to date to $117 million. The sheer range of products and discounted prices available are impressive: customers can purchase items for as low as $20 and, at the other ends of the scale, for as much as $20,000. The company’s CEO, Doug Mack, believes that Scripps Network, a media company, invested because of One King Lane’s spectacular online sales growth. The firm concluded the year with $200 million in sales…

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The Rumors Were Right – Jason Kilar’s Heading Out the Door

The Rumors Were Right – Jason Kilar’s Heading Out the Door

The rumor mill has been in overdrive regarding Hulu CEO Jason Kilar’s future since the end of summer, but now the suspicions can be put to bed after he announced his departure from Hulu. This may mean that new opportunities open up for those looking for media jobs. Kilar, who has held posts at NBC Universal and was previously SVP of Worldwide Application Software at Amazon.com Inc where he was responsible for Amazon’s Marketplace, will take his leave of the company he has helped grow from an industry joke (Hulu was, at one time, referred to by many as ClownCo), to a business that can holds its own against the giants of movie and TV streaming, Netflix and Amazon. Hulu raked in nearly $700 million in revenue last year and Kilar, who has confirmed he will leave the company in Q1 of 2013, will miss out on the launch of the Hulu Plus App. Hulu – A Complicated Mix Although speculation surrounding Kilar’s life-expectancy at Hulu was rife back in August, many believe the process actually started in the Fall, when Providence Equity’s stake was bought out by Hulu’s other owners Comcast, News Corp and Disney. The transaction allowed Kilar…

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Aaron Swartz, twenty-six year-old founder of Reddit, is dead

Aaron Swartz, twenty-six year-old founder of Reddit, is dead

The world of social media and beyond is today reeling from the shock announcement that the 26-year-old co-founder of Reddit, Aaron Swartz, is dead. There can be few social media managers, community managers and content managers who could have been left unimpressed by Swartz’ achievements and ethical commitments. The success of Reddit was an inspiration to Mark Zuckerberg, but Swartz was also a devoted crusader for freedom of information online. He appears to have committed suicide on Friday in New York City. A stressful trial The troubled young genius may have succumbed to pressure weighing down on him as he faced trial, accused of hacking into the online research group JSTOR and downloading millions of documents. Swartz pleaded not guilty last year but, if convicted, would probably have faced a lengthy jail sentence. It was his lawyer, Elliott R. Peters, who confirmed news of his death in an email to the MIT’s newspaper, The Tech, by saying, “The tragic and heartbreaking information you received is, regrettably, true.” Swartz pursued his fight against internet censorship with enormous devotion and those who supported his aims were hugely supportive of his cause as the trial loomed. An organisation he had helped set up,…

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