Silicon Alley Morning News: July 16, 2007

Vodafone to buy Verizon for $160 billion?   The FT’s Alphaville says it might.  Vodafone denies, denies, denies.  After swallowing, Vodafone will reportedly ditch the landline business for $90 billion and keep the wireless piece.  VZ up 9%, Vodafone down 2%.  Gee, wonder which side leaked?  Marketwatch

WaPo goes hyperlocal, launches  Town-coverage project will combine traditional writers and photogs with bloggers, videographers, and detailed databases on schools, businesses, and events.  If successful, WaPo will follow with other sites in Virginia, Maryland, and D.C.  Like other newspapers, WaPo needs to try something: Print circ has dropped from 832,000 to 664,000 in the last 15 years, and Q1 print advertising revenue fell 16%.  6 people run LoudounExtra.  The site follows reportedly successful local ventures like the Denver Post‘s YourHub–and disasters like Backfence.  Wapo

WSJ Bancroft family vigilante takes matters into own hands, launches one-man anti-Murdoch campaign. DJ board member Christopher Bancroft has apparently met with everyone in New York, trying to raise enough $ to buy the majority of shares necessary to stiff Rupert.  Why?  Perhaps he’s among those who continue to mistake the Journal for a “public trust” instead of a business.  Reuters.

Dan Goldman flees OgilvyInteractive.  The senior partner and managing director won’t say where he’s going, but he follows on heels of senior strategist Brandon Berger, who left to join MDC in March.  ClickZ

Perez Hilton gets own TV show. Mario Lavandeira (a.k.a. Perez) moved a step closer to joining his subjects in celebrity, announcing a new one-hour show on VH-1.   CNET

Advertising on fire, especially Internet. Advertising budgets grew at their fastest pace in 7 years in the Q2, according to the Bellwether report (issued by the UK’s Institute of Practioners in Advertising).  The Internet, direct marketing, and PR led the way, but even traditional media hung in there.  Internet advertising now accounts for 6% of marketing budgets, with one in five companies spending more than 10%.  Still, WPP mogul Sir Martin Sorrell dissed the results, saying the UK remains a laggard compared to China, India, and Russia.    MediaGuardian.

Movie theatres finally going digital, showing operas.  3,000 of North America’s 40,000 movie theatres now have digital projectors, says the Economist, with 2,000 conversions in the last year.  The projectors save printing and distribution costs, some of which is passed on to theatres to help pay for the conversion.  The digital projectors also allow HD broadcasting of live events, such as six recent Metropolitan Operas, which lured 324,000 people at $20-plus each.  This new “application” is a godsend for struggling theatres, whose number has increased by a third in the past decade.  Economist

Big newspapers, formerly cash cows, heading for losses–and wondering when to pull the plug.  BusinessWeek‘s Jon Fine places bets on which newspaper will be the first to shutter its print division and go exclusively online.  His bet: The SF ChronicleBusinessWeek

Net Radio granted temporary stay of execution.  As reported last week, many net radio companies were set to go belly-up on July 15, when higher royalty rates were to take effect.   Ongoing negotiations between labels, traditional broadcasters, and webcasters appear to have bought time, with a big powwow planned this week.  Facing death, webcasters promise to be “reasonable.”  BusinessWeek

Fred Wilson fails in bid to go Microsoft-free.  New York VC Wilson (Union Square) vowed to ditch all Microsoft products as a New Year’s resolution, but he’s now succumbing again.  The killer app?   Exchange and a horrendous product called “Entourage” that ties his office’s email, calendars, etc. together and works great with Blackberry.  Fred also reveals that he wants to spend his whole life twitteringA VC

Inspired by Fake Steve Jobs, Newsgroper launches network of faux VIP and celebrity blogs.  Ever wonder what George Bush is really thinking?  Newsgroper’s guess is as good as any.  TechCrunch

Facebook analysis camp.  It’s Facebook week at Read/Write/Web: everything you ever wanted to know about the hottest company on earth and more.  Unfortunately, other than RWW patting itself on back for a correct 2007 prediction (social networks will become more open), the first instalment is largely content free.   Read/Write/Web

The “A Taste of Your Own Medicine Department”: Michael Moore threatens to become CNN’s ‘worst nightmare.’  The outraged “Sicko” filmmaker promises to go ape on CNN and its medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, after Gupta questioned some of Sicko’s facts and refused to issue a complete retraction.   MediaBistro

Marketing via cell-phone text messages shows promise–if done carefully.   The most-potentially-annoying form of advertising ever devised appears to have legs–as long as marketers don’t send messages along the lines of “IMMEDIATE DISCOUNT NOW.”  Moosejaw Mountaineering uses texting to chat with and amuse customers, not advertise sales. For now, it’s working, at least until the novelty wears off.  Bob Tedeschi, NYT

NYC’s WeShow gets funding from Pittman’s Pilot Group and others.  WeShow provides people-powered aggregation of global videos.  PaidContent worries the space is already too competitive.  Does PaidContent also think Pittman is a moron?  PaidContent

Ringtone market slowing to single-digit growth rates.  Just a fad after all?  iSuppli puts the U.S. ringtone market at $700 million in 2006, up 10% year-over-year (a major deceleration from 34% the prior year).  The firm also notes flattened markets in Asia and Europe, where mobile is far more advanced.   Digital Music News offers summer jobs in Second Life (to recruit real-world users). Second lifers will be able to access CareerBuilder listings through 50 virtual kiosks.  As a carrot, CareerBuilder will also pay real-world workers to moonlight in Second Life (while at work?) as guitar players, karate instructors, et al.  Press Release

IAC’s Service Magic offers print directory as supplement to online home improvement site.  So there’s a future for dead-tree media after all.   MediaPost

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