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Every Friday, I'll provide a roundup of the week's stories that I find to be most interesting and relevant.
With some of the world's top business leaders, politicians and intellectuals busy mingling at Davos, it's not surprising that some of this week's most noteworthy news dealt with Big Media, Big Technology and Big Recession.
Murdoch says won't make all of online WSJ free
It turns out that Rupert Murdoch plans to keep some of the Wall Street Journal's online content behind a pay wall and may even increase the cost of this content. He had previously indicated that he would move towards the free, ad-supported model that other newspapers have embraced. Perhaps he's been reading my blogposts? Probably not, but I had to throw it out there.
Publicis, Google to Exchange Execs
While many ad agencies see Google as the enemy, Publicis has either decided that Google truly isn't a threat or has decided to heed the adage "Keep your friends close but your enemies closer." The two advertising giants have teamed up to develop new initiatives and are even exchanging some executives so that the companies can forge a better relationship. It's interesting to note that Publicis chairman-CEO Maurice Levy publicly dismissed the notion that Google poses a disintermediation risk to companies like his. I look forward to seeing if this relationship results in anything of substance.
Newspaper websites draw record viewers
Despite all the discussion about the death of the newspaper, newly-released figures for the US confirm that they are still providing news to a large number of Americans, albeit on the internet. While it's unclear if the revenues generated from the increase in online readership can offset the decrease in revenues from print readership, it's wise to note that newspapers still make a lot of money and seem to be slowly adapting to the new medium called the internet.
Fed cuts rate, but recession worries persist
After watching markets around the globe plunge on Monday, the US Federal Reserve took unexpected and aggressive action on Tuesday by cutting interest rates three-quarters of a point - the biggest single reduction since 1982. Some, myself included, question whether this will be able to save the economy, especially given that the economic problems are not merely liquidity-related. One thing is for certain: the global economy is going to remain interesting for the foreseeable future. See this post for my thoughts on the implications for web companies.
BBC Worldwide signs MySpace deal
Facebook continues to grab all the headlines in the social networking space but MySpace, which still has more registered users and traffic, continues to make moves of its own. Its deal with the BBC will see popular BBC programmes available to MySpacers through MySpace TV. MySpace and the BBC will share revenues from advertising and plan to experiment with a number of different models other than pre-roll, which may be a good idea given the recent BurstMedia study showing that users don't like in-stream video ads.
Microsoft Exceeds Expectations Again
Microsoft reported a 79% rise in quarterly profits and lifted its full-year profit guidance despite the gloomy economy. Microsoft is on a run the past couple of quarters and appears to be quite healthy across multiple segments of its business. Google reports its Q4 2007 earnings on January 31. This should be interesting. While Microsoft executives have admitted that they will be "impacted just like everybody else" in a recession, Google's executives seem a bit more confident. They have stated their belief that the Google business model is immune to any downturn in the larger market. Arrogance? Only time will tell.