Monthly Archives: November 2013

Benefits of Video Affiliate Marketing



Consider how many videos you probably consumed this week. You may have watched a funny cat video your friend posted, or that heartwarming soldier reunion video your former college roommate shared on Facebook. Whatever the content, the fact is we engage with online videos everyday and they have become a vital part of the internet landscape.

According to digital business analyst Comscore, 89.9 billion people watch videos streaming online each day. Cisco estimates that 55% of all consumer traffic online will be for videos. With statistics such as these, it’s logical that affiliate marketing has expanded to embrace video, and to connect with consumers on a new level. Consumers watch streaming videos for entertainment and to gain knowledge. These are some benefits videos affiliate testimonials can offer, with the added bonus of helping your affiliate marketing strategy when you use Modulates.com to enhance your sales through video testimonials.

Benefits of Video Affiliate Marketing

Videos Get People Talking About Your Message

A well-done video can get you traffic from unlikely places. Videos that go “viral” are shared throughout the internet, on blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms. Each place it travels is another user possibly connecting with your content and what you can offer. Modulates.com helps you publish your video on major social network platforms, plus in blogs and press releases. K-Mart’s “Ship Your Pants” video is a commercial advertising the department store’s shipping options, however, it’s also a funny video with a clever hook. The video received over 19 million views on YouTube, entertaining an audience, but also communicating an important feature of K-Mart to consumers. The lasting effect, we can presume, is customers remembering K-Mart’s shipping options next time they’re shopping. A well-presented video will communicate your message to consumers, so they want to know more or answer your call to action.

Videos Are An Easy and Affordable Marketing Choice

Many companies, such as a California-based vinyl tile maker profiled in The New York Times, use videos as part of their marketing strategy. The videos they produce are quick to make and affordable, yet offer value for their watchers. You don’t need a budget on par with a Hollywood production company, you only need Modulates recorder interface web portal, an idea of the video’s content, and some patience to create unique concepts. With a click of a button, your message and affiliate marketing will be shared with the masses. If you produce an inexpensive video, you could get a big ROI.

Videos Are an Easy Way to Stay Current and Gain Continuous Traffic

Blog content, press releases, and tweets only stay in the public’s mind for so long. Search engines may archive your content, but your competitors are using the same keywords and are on a quest to get to the top. Tweets may be buried in your timeline, and lose the power of their message quickly. However, six months from initial upload, a user may come across your video. Once they watch your message, that’s a new connection and a new prospect for your marketing. That’s because video have a longer staying effect than blog posts, etc. With each video you upload, your new audience might be driven to connect with the older videos, solidifying your message to them. Your videos can stay on the internet for months and years, with the power of bringing new traffic each time they’re viewed. Modulates.com dashboard helps you customize your video, with links right to your site, making it easy for you to drive traffic.

Videos Interest Us

A MediaMind report found that the click-through rate for online videos is 24% higher than that of banner ads. Videos interest us, and are a dynamic form of entertainment and information, compared to a static image. The same study found that one in every 10 videos interacts with an online video ad. We’re driven to click on videos and this force of habit could work well with your affiliate marketing. Videos also offer a personalized form of marketing, compared to text on a screen and a hyperlink. There’s an illusion we’re offering the viewer something in a video, either to inform or entertain them. Thus we’re driven to click.

Videos Allow Us to Communicate On a Personal Level

A typical marketing message, while targeted, is still words on a screen. Videos allow us to connect in a more personal way with our audience. Your audience will appreciate an “insider” view of your message or product, and videos help us form an intimate relationship. By watching your videos, your audience gets to “know” you. There is also an enhanced perception of trust built in videos, which is why video testimonials online and infomercials work in a marketing campaign.

If you’re looking to step up your affiliate marketing, and branch out, turning to video affiliate marketing is your next step. The benefits it offers are worth the minimal amount of time and investment. They’re the next wave of affiliate marketing. Modulates.com can help you get started with monetizing your video testimonials in an efficient way today.

New Trends in Video Affiliate Marketing



Affiliate marketing is quickly being embraced by individuals who are tired of the “rat race” and want an exciting and dynamic career. As affiliate marketing changes, the field of video testimonials has exploded, and has participants receiving checks from their affiliates. Websites like Modulates.com allow you to make money with affiliate marketing, and after following these tips, you’ll understand how utilize them to earn with from your affiliates.

Trend # 1 – QR Codes

QR Codes are those mysterious boxes of squiggles and lines that you see printed everywhere from a movie poster to a pack of gum. The codes work with your mobile device when you scan them, enabling you to visit the code’s website, download content and more. Savvy affiliate marketers have been using online code makers and including their unique custom code in their videos.

Trend # 2 – SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

SEO is the buzzword for any individual or business trying to stay at the top of the search engines. Well-written targeted keywords help your SEO on your website, however, many video affiliate marketers are using effective SEO in their published videos. Videos show up in search results on Google, and if you use keywords effectively, they can be a powerhouse tool in your videos. When you use the dashboard tool option on Modulates.com to create a new video, the tool helps you rank high in search results, and because video carries more prestige than simply text, you’ll receive more clicks and stand out above web posts, press releases and articles.

Trend # 3 – Locally-Targeted Outreach

Affiliate marketing practitioners are taking their outreach efforts beyond the internet and social media platforms. Now they’re thinking local. This may involve partnering with affiliates who are in their local area or using geo-targeted advertising, such as local keywords for a nationwide business. For example, “Florida handmade beach chairs.” The keywords draw individuals searching for a certain specificarea and if they see a result that matches their search, they’re driven to click.

Trend # 4 – Social Media

Individuals who strive for the best affiliate marketing practices know the power of social media. Videos provide a credibility individuals can’t resist; however, connecting with an audience on social media gets users watching. Social media is an affordable way to engage in affiliate marketing programs, and affiliate marketing website tools like those on Modulates.com let you share your video easily on social media. Not only does social media play well into video affiliate marketing, but it also lets you engage in conversation, thus creating a relationship.

Video affiliate marketing still offers a wide world of opportunity and untapped resources. The best point to remember when considering trends in the field is that while they exist, you can also create new trends other individuals will be dying to try. Being passionate about your messages, creating engaging videos, and trying new things will lead you toward the affiliate marketing style that’s best for you.

The Power of Video Testimonials Associated With Affiliate Marketing



When it comes to marketing campaigns, video is one of the most essential elements a brand can use. Video has been used to market products and services for years, whether in the form of commercials, online advertisements, product demonstrations or infomercials. Video affiliate marketing involves video testimonials made by affiliates for a product, company, or service. Videos generated by websites such as Modulates.com help affiliates easily record and present a testimonial to the world and make affiliate commission from the video directly. This creates brand awareness for a company. Video is an incredible marketing tool that offers endless possibilities. More affiliate marketers and brands are noticing the power of video testimonials associated with affiliate marketing.

Videos Make a Bigger Impression Than Text

Consider the various advertisements you’re exposed to daily. You may remember a bus advertisement, or a billboard, particularly if they’re clever. We remember video campaigns years later, such as the “Where’s the Beef” ads or the “Meow Mix” jingle by singing cats. Whatever the advertisement, videos make a certain impression on it, because they touch multiple senses. Unlike text, we see and hear videos. Text is static, while videos are dynamic. Using video testimonials in affiliate marketing programs is a natural step, because we want to engage the senses, but also make a personal connection. A video testimonial gives the viewer a feeling like we “know” the individual speaking. Consider the following facts:

● The video itself also holds power, as it’s now the 6th most popular marketing tactic according to Eloqua.
● 46% of people surveyed say they’re more likely to learn more about a product, company, or service, after watching a video advertisement.

Video offers a thorough way to get a message across, and video testimonials help others retain product or service knowledge.

Videos Garner Attention from Web Visitors, Especially If From a Trusted Source

Many of us regularly view videos on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and Youtube. When a friend posts a video link to their profile, with a message such as “You have to see this!” we often watch the video. The same rings true with a video testimonial, especially from a source we trust, such as a blogger, podcaster or online marketer. Just the mere presence of a video on a website means a longer visitor rate. A Mist Media study found that the average web visitors spent 88% more time on a website with video. This means that if a marketer’s audience visits their website, they’ll be likely to click to watch a video and receive the message. We spend an average of 16 minutes a 49 seconds watching online advertisements each month, according to comScore. Video testimonials and advertisements are part of our browsing experience and we’re used to them. They provide a service and inform us on products or services in which we might be interested, especially when a marketer uploads a video or hosts one with Modulates.com or related websites.

Video Testimonials Are Like Mini Candy Bars: Small Bite-Sized Bits of Content

Video testimonials are a good choice in affiliate marketing because of their size. They’re often short and informative, with just enough content to want the viewer to know more. Like a “fun size” candy bar, they have as much content as a website landing page, but with the added authority of a real person sharing the “need to know” facts. According to Brainshark, information received from an online video is the equivalent to reading 1.8 million words. By this logic, watching a video testimonial can give an interested consumer almost everything they would need to make a decision on a product or service, if they trusted the video maker.

A company may need to launch a several months long marketing campaign, with continual new branding on multiple websites, however, a marketing campaign using video testimonials with Modulates.com may pop up continuously on searches without going “stale” compared to other forms of advertising. That one video can educate consumers enough to answer a call to action.

Video testimonials are used right now online for a variety of products, from gift baskets to plumbing services to baby products. Their power lies in the way they convey a message and it’s easy to see why they’re growing in popularity for affiliate marketing.

Twitter Book Offers Singular, But Fascinating Narrative Of Invention



The distillation of one human life down into a few hundred pages is a task herculean enough to trip up even seasoned biographers. Expanding that to include four co-founders and a company with as explosive a history as Twitter’s is begging for disaster.

A new book called Hatching Twitter: A True Story Of Money, Power, Friendship and Betrayal, from New York Times reporter Nick Bilton attempts to do just that. It’s around 300 pages and packs in the nearly seven-year history of Twitter as a company and a bit more.

The introduction rips along, introducing us to the four people most responsible for Twitter: Noah Glass, Evan Williams, Biz Stone and Jack Dorsey.

A quick portrait of each of them is painted, albeit in fairly broad strokes. All talented, all intelligent, all searching for human connections and a way to enhance those connections using the Internet.

Bilton is also careful to note in his introduction that when he attributes emotional states or thoughts to the subjects within, they’re based on things told to him directly by those subjects. This is an interesting inclusion, in light of the recent controversy over Brad Stone’s approach in his book The Everything Store, on Amazon. Stone was criticized by CEO Jeff Bezos’ wife MacKenzie for attributing emotional states to Bezos which he was not privy to. Stone notes in his book that he was denied a direct interview for the book by Bezos.

The Twitter story would be a lot less rich without the scene setting and insight that this close third-person narrative brings. The efforts taken to nail down details like clothes brands, decorations of offices and locations all add to the enjoyable picture that’s painted.

One of the most interesting aspects of Bilton’s book is how he used social media to piece together the goings-on of the founders and other employees of Twitter.

The triangulation of these various bits of public record isn’t exactly new, as it’s a technique that journalists and writers (hi) use quite a bit now. But it takes on an especial poignancy when the subjects themselves posted corroborating details to a network that they helped construct.

“I found it fascinating that I could piece together the interviews with dates of tweets and blog posts and then flickr and Facebook pics, and in some instances YouTube videos,” Bilton told me. “It was as if the people in the book helped write it too.”

The book contains plenty of fodder for those interested in corporate machinations. Williams is positioned as a sympathetic, but driven serial entrepreneur that continues to learn hard lessons about the control you give up when outside investment is taken. After forcing Dorsey out of the CEO slot and into a silent Chairman role, Williams is himself deposed for a CEO more equipped to take the company to IPO.

From what I’ve heard from early Twitter employees, the credit given Williams in the book is well deserved, if not light. At every turn he treated employees and investors with respect and was the first to see Dorsey as something more than a quiet engineer. Bilton continuously points  out his willingness to help out friends and co-workers financially as well, with no desire for return.

Glass, as much a part of the early genesis of Twitter as any other of the four, finally gets a fair share of the limelight. He’s credited with naming the company and product, and with helping to define some of its core concepts.

Biz Stone is the Jiminy Cricket of this particular production, acting as a conscience for both the company and its investors. He’s positioned as an early advocate for user protection and data privacy, as well as a fierce protector of his friend Williams.

Dorsey, of all of the original founders, gets the roughest treatment in the text.

His part in the removal of Noah Glass from the company, and his willingness for Williams to take the blame is used to set the stage for a series of apparent machinations designed to position himself as the sole inventor of Twitter, and to place him back in control of the company. There is too much evidence here to discount the way that Dorsey has been portrayed altogether. Indeed, the trail of public appearances and documents that make up Dorsey’s time as ‘silent Chairman‘ clearly indicate that he made no efforts to disabuse people of the notion that he, alone, was responsible for Twitter.

His transformation from a quiet scruffy hacker to a carefully coiffed ‘auteur’ founder is treated as nothing more than artifice. Everything from his choice of shirt to lack of furniture to his fixation on Steve Jobs as role model is interpreted less as a personal transformation and more as an effort to build on this creation myth. In a culture like Silicon Valley, where so much value is placed on re-invention and the importance of design, why is it so outlandish for a man to re-design himself?

The facts of the situation are well documented, and Bilton’s book refrains from passing judgement for the most part. Still, there is plenty of room for other facets of this story and I’d love to see those explored.

But the book handles almost every aspect of Twitter’s founding with what appears to be a fairly even-handed approach. There will doubtless be many small inaccuracies (which may be interpreted to hold varying levels of importance by those actually involved) in the book, but the evidence and perspective set forth for all of the major events speaks of an intense amount of research, and solid insights throughout.

Thankfully, Bilton handles one of the most important questions very well: who actually created Twitter?

Despite what Dorsey was implicitly pushing all of those months, there was no sole creator of Twitter. Dorsey’s core status concept was far from the way that Twitter ended up, and it owed a debt to many earlier experiments like the ad-hoc text-message network TXTmob created by Evan ‘Rabble’ Henshaw-Plath, and the ‘portable Blogger’ concept Stone had worked on at Google. And without Williams’ insistence that it was about broadcasting ‘what was happening’, not ‘what people were doing’, the focus would have remained insular. Stone offered a moral core that set the tone for future legal positions on giving up user data. And without Glass, the company may never have existed or moved beyond a hack day project at all.

And, in the end, without Costolo – pictured as a no-nonsense and very well-liked leader – Twitter would likely not yet be going public, if ever.

The truth behind Twitter, as it is with any human life – or human endeavor – is massively complex. Bilton’s book is a fantastic, well written and well-researched narrative of the invention of Twitter, but it’s only one narrative. There are other stories out there, other truths about Twitter. Each of the founders no doubt has their own, and some have told it in one fashion or another over the years, and will likely do so again.

And really, who are we to disagree? We’re all inventing ourselves, writing our own stories. Twitter’s story gets an intense examination here, and it’s interpreted through dramatic set pieces of boardroom drama, motivational signs, clothing-as-personality-trait and infighting. Though it’s only one version of the truth, It’s a fantastic read, and worth absorbing for yourself.

Microsoft's Hardware Team Went Through Nearly 200 Controller Designs For Its New Xbox One Console



Microsoft’s forthcoming Xbox One console is the company’s vision for living room entertainment for the next half decade. Today at GigaOm’s Roadmap conference in San Francisco, Carl Ledbetter, who led the industrial design of the console, discussed how it came to fruition.

The design of the new console, according to Ledbetter, employs a resin molding technique that makes its appearance more similar to high-end televisions. This is a small point, but one that matters: Microsoft has taken hits from Sony that its console is less game focused than the PlayStation. Perhaps that’s fair. Recall that the Xbox 360 suffered from manufacturing defects at launch that led to the infamous Red Ring of Death. Presumably, we aren’t going to see a repeat of that, but it underscores how badly launches can go.

And as Microsoft increasingly points its console at the broader media market, it also breaks out of the young male-dominated gaming segment. Put another way, according to Ledbetter, 40 percent of Xbox’s users are women. That led to the changes in the Xbox One design. The controller was a simple pain point: It needed to accept more hand sizes. Ledbetter claims that they built nearly 200 models before they settled on one.

The final component Ledbetter hit on was voice. (I presume you are familiar with Xbox Music and don’t need me to walk you down that specific alley.) It’s easy to forget that Microsoft is, through the Xbox One and new Kinect sensor, bringing the first quality voice-control to Windows. The Xbox One, as you know, leans on the shared Windows core as part of its three operating systems.

Microsoft is betting half its new business model on selling hardware. If it can’t build strong devices, the company is about 50 cents short of a buck. The feel of the talk was that Microsoft is confident in its hardware package. In 17 days, we’ll start filling out its report card.

Top Image Credit: Flickr

Twitter & Friends: Ahead Of Its Public Debut Wednesday, Wix Prices IPO At $16.50 Per Share, With Valuation Near $800M



IPO season is in full swing, with RingCentral, Chegg, FireEye, Veeva Systems and Zulily representing just a few of the names to file or begin trading in recent weeks. Of course, the main attraction this season is Twitter and its long-awaited public offering, which finally rolls into town November 6th.

Twitter isn’t the only company joining the list at the New York Stock Exchange tomorrow, however. Israeli-American website creation platform, Wix, will also be vying for its share of media attention tomorrow, as the company announced this afternoon that it will be setting its opening price at $16.50 per share – the high end of its expected $14.50 to $16.50 price range.

Trading on the NYSE under the ticker symbol “WIX,” the website creator says that it will offer 7.7 million ordinary shares as part of its public offering, with selling stockholders offering 1.9 million of those 7.7 million shares. After filing its initial paperwork back in May, Wix revealed last week that it planned to raise $119 million by offering 7.7 million shares at a price between $14.50 and $16.50.

However, the company’s final filing before tomorrow’s debut shows that it was able to raise slightly more than the expected $119 million figure, with the final total coming in at $127 million. With Wix pricing its IPO on the higher end of its expected price per share range and raising slightly more than its initial target, the company will likely see its valuation boost as a result.

Considering the valuation was pegged at $720 million prior to today’s announcement, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to see that figure fall somewhere in the $750 to $800 million range. All in all, it’s a great finish to the pre-IPO process for the company, especially amidst all the hoopla surrounding its fellow IPO candidate, Twitter.

Founded in 2006, Wix set out to do for website creation what WordPress, Blogger (and later Tumblr) did for blogging and content creation beginning in the early 2000s. Riding the growing demand for “DIY”-style web design and publishing tools, and capitalizing on the maturation of web-based technologies, Wix has since become one of the largest website creation platforms on the Web.

Having raised $60 million from a laundry list of investors, as of this month, Wix employs over 400 people around the globe and is now available in over 190 countries. Today, the company boasts over 37 million registered users and continues to see strong growth in its user base, with its latest filing revealing a growth rate of 34,000 new registered users/day.

According to that same filing, Wix reported a net loss of $12 million in 2012 on revenues of $44 million, with losses and revenue growing to $18 million and $56 million, respectively, over the first nine months of 2013. On the bright side, Wix said in its October filing that it had “achieved 14 consecutive quarters of sequential growth in the accumulated number of premium subscriptions … and 14 consecutive quarters of growth in revenues in collections.”

Breaking that down, this means that Wix generated $9.9 million in revenue in 2010, which increased to $24.6 million in 2011 and $43.7 million in 2012, while collections started at $13.8 million and grew to $29.6 million in 2011 and $52.5 million in 2012, respectively. In turn, Wix generated $34.1 million in revenue during the six months ended June 3rd, 2013, with its revenue increasing to $56 million during the following three months.

While the media attention and scale of Wix’s IPO tomorrow will pale in comparison to that of Twitter, Wix represents the latest in a growing list of successful exits and outcomes for Israeli-borne technology companies. According to Forbes, Wix will be the “largest U.S. IPO by an Israeli company since SodaStream International’s debut in 2010″ and follows Google’s blockbuster acquisition of Waze earlier this year.

Israel’s startup ecosystem has continued to grow in stature thanks to the recent flurry of activity, which hasn’t been lost on the growing number of investors in the U.S. that are now pouring money into Israeli-borne startups. Wix, to that point, will only add more fuel to the fire, and its public offering tomorrow stands to make its investors – which include Bessemer Venture Partners, Mangrove Capital Partners, Benchmark, Insight Venture Partners and DAG Ventures – more than a few pennies.

For that reason, Twitter or no Twitter, there will still be more than a few eyeballs on the website creator’s public debut tomorrow morning. If the IPO goes well, Wix could open the door for a growing roster of Israeli companies looking to hit the public markets in the U.S.

For more, find Wix’s announcement here.

Inside Jobs: How Pinterest's Top Engineering Exec Really Works



We in the tech press are great at covering what it’s like to be a startup founder. But the world does not live by entrepreneurs alone.

One big reason that companies are so keen to tout venture capital fundraising is because the new money enables them to hire more staff – the people who build stuff, who really make the tech industry tick. Ideally, that flashy funding can help them attract some of the industry’s most kick-ass backend engineers, product managers, the UX designers. The top-tier tech people who are on the receiving end of the whole “hiring craze” everyone seems to be talking about.

What do those people actually do? Who are they? It’s something that TechCrunch doesn’t often talk about. But we should.

And that’s why I’m happy to introduce Inside Jobs, a new TechCrunch TV series that covers the work lives of the people who make this whole crazy world go ’round.

For our premeire episode of Inside Jobs, we’re so happy to have Jon Jenkins, who is the Director of Engineering at a little web property you might have heard of called Pinterest. Despite its massive reach (and massive funding), Pinterest is still in many ways a startup at heart, with an engineering team that clearly punches above its weight when compared to other big web names that have engineering teams many times its size.

Jenkins joining Pinterest was one of those hiring coups that was covered by many tech reporters – yours truly included – so it was a big pleasure to have him give us a glimpse into what exactly he does every day, and the challenges and perks that come with his gig.

Credits for Inside Jobs go to producer and production coordinator Felicia Williams, and producer, shooter and editor John Murillo.

TV Discovery Startup i.TV Acquires GetGlue In Second-Screen App Mashup



Provo, Utah-based video discovery startup i.TV has acquired GetGlue, we’ve learned, as consolidation in the market for second-screen or companion TV apps continues. The acquisition, which is expected to be announced soon, marks a bit of an inglorious exit for GetGlue, which had raised $24 million since being founded and had an earlier deal worth $70 million fall through earlier this year.

GetGlue, of course, was one of the early social TV pioneers, promising to help drive mobile and tablet users to tune into more TV shows and get them more engaged with the content through its app. The idea was that people were already on their phones while they watched TV, so why not try to hook them on a new, TV-based social network?

Leveraging Foursquare-like check-ins to TV shows, the app helped users share what they were watching, hopefully driving others to watch that same thing as well. Later, as the hype around TV check-ins began to wane, GetGlue pivoted to be more of a TV discovery platform.

Last year, GetGlue had agree to be acquired by social TV competitor Viggle, a company buoyed by billionaire investor and chairman Robert Sillerman. But that deal hinged on Viggle being able to secure additional funding from outside investors, and when that funding failed to materialize, the deal was called off.

Since then, GetGlue has apparently continued shopping itself around. It’s also shuffled management while looking for a buyer – over the summer it brought on digital media veteran Evan Krauss as president, and sometime between then and now founder and CEO Alex Iskold stepped down. He still remains chairman of the company, but sources say he’s not involved in day-to-day operations.

You probably know less about i.TV, a company which has also been around for about five years, and was also founded with the hope of connecting mobile and tablet users with TV and streaming content they might find interesting.

After launching in 2008 to give video viewers with a mobile platform for finding and discovering interesting content, i.TV has been relatively quiet over the last several years. While it had launched a few version of an app that provided ways to browse and get more info about streaming video options, as well as a remote control to power navigating traditional TV offerings.

But behind the scenes, it seems to be working with various content providers – including Entertainment Weekly, as well as AOL-owned properties like Huffington Post TV and AOL TV – to power navigation and discovery of videos on their apps. A little more than a year ago, it got its biggest deal yet, as it powered video discovery for Nintendo’s WiiU (a device I don’t think anyone actually bought).

The company also has quietly raised some capital. In August, i.TV closed a $9.2 million round of funding, according to an SEC filing. But that funding isn’t going toward the purchase of GetGlue, as we’ve heard that the acquisition was an all-stock deal.

It’s not clear how the newly-funded i.TV will use the GetGlue assets, or who will end up joining the company – if anyone. But this isn’t the first bit of consolidation among social TV, second-screen, or TV check-in apps. In January, Dijit Media – the company behind the NextGuide TV discovery app – acquired the assets of social TV startup Miso.

Apple Employs ‘Warrant Canary' To Warn Users Of Future Compliance With Patriot Act Info Requests



Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act is one of the most controversial of an already hot-button portion of US law. Section 215 of the act allows for court orders, which can be made secret, to allow the government to collect data  that may be relevant to a government investigation.

The big exception most take to the section is that it provides a much lower threshold for data gathering than a ‘probable cause’ warrant. Under Section 215, the government could force companies like Apple, Google, Yahoo, Dropbox or any other to disclose personal data about Internet usage, browsing habits or other items that it considers ‘tangible things’. And, because of the security requirements, it could force companies not to disclose that they had ever received such requests.

Obviously, this falls under the wider scope of government information requests with regards to user data that Apple spoke out against today, and that other companies like Dropbox have also filed Amicus briefs with the Foreign Intelligence Service Act court about.

But another aspect of Apple’s report today stands out as a bold and clever move. Senior Counsel & Free Expression Director at Center for Democracy & Technology Kevin Bankston, formerly an EFF Attorney, noted an interesting claim in the document. Specifically, Apple stated specifically that it had never received a PATRIOT 215 order.

The very last line of Apple’s report today states “Apple has never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. We would expect to challenge such an order if served on us.”

The cleverness of this becomes evident when you realize that if it had received such an order, it could not disclose it under current rules surrounding national security orders for user data. This tactic of announcing ‘nothing’ with regards to a government subpoena for data is known as a kind of ‘warrant canary’. Basically, Apple says that at this point it has not received any such order. But, if that phrase stops appearing in future transparency reports, this acts as a ‘canary in a coal mine‘ that indicates to users that it may have been forced to comply with such an order and not disclose it in the future.

Civil Liberties attorney Matt Cagle notes that Lookout Security has also recently stated they’ve never received a national security order for user data.

This tactic was used by offsite backup company Rsync in what is believed to be the first commercial company application. While Apple’s specific application differs from that of an ISP or pure data provider, it shares the ‘silent alarm’ characteristics.

Founder Stories: 10gen's Dwight Merriman On His Own Style Of Serial Entrepreneurship



There are founders, and then there are founders. Dwight Merriman is a rare breed of founder. A serial entrepreneur who has helped co-found and lead companies such as DoubleClick, BusinessInsider, Gilt Groupe, and Panther Express. And, as if that weren’t enough, his latest endeavor could be just as big, if not bigger, than the ones before it.

Merriman is one of the main brains behind MongoDB and is a CEO of 10gen, focused on creating a new generation of database technology using NoSQL. The goal is to reinvent online databases, and the insights were derived from the technical challenges he faces while building and scaling a previous company. At DoubleClick, the site could never be down, and that was during a time when computers were slower, it was harder to find load balance, and there were daily challenges with processing, storing, and scaling data, so much so they had to write their own software to handle their specific problems.

It was in these trenches that Merriman had the insight for MongoDB. He asked, simply: “What did I wish I had while at DoubleClick?” A simple question, a simple answer, and a big, big company. The goal with 10gen at inception was to harness the power of the cloud for more efficiency, to scale horizontally, and to make operations easier for scale at development. We talk about all of this, plus how to hire sales teams vs building engineering teams, and what Merriman believes the true essence of entrepreneurship is.

If you’re a technical leader with ambition, there aren’t many people like Merriman to look up to – he’s well worth the time to listen closely to.

Editor’s Note: Michael Abbott is a general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, previously Twitter’s VP of Engineering, and a founder himself. Mike also writes a blog called uncapitalized. You can follow him on Twitter @mabb0tt.

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