HITS Daily Double
“Jeff Bewkes is about putting things behind him and focusing on content."


From “You’ve Got Mail!” to Tweeting, What a Long, Strange Trip The Digital Decade Has Been
The mega-disastrous merger of Time Warner and AOL may be entering its final chapter. In its 10-K filing, Time Warner said that "the company currently anticipates that it would initiate a process to spin off one or more parts of the businesses of AOL to Time Warner's stockholders, in one or a series of transactions." The company could spin off one or both of AOL’s two divisions, dial-up access and content. Heading the list of prospective buyers is Earthlink. Time Warner posted a 14% drop in Q1 profit, with AOL dragging down the numbers: both subscription and ad revenue fell more than 20% in the quarter. Also suffering (in a sign of the times) was the print mag business. "Advertising at AOL and Time Inc. especially is proving even tougher than expected," TW topper Jeff Bewkes acknowledged, sounding like he’d be delighted to be rid of both AOL and Time Inc. once and for all. "Jeff Bewkes is the kind of CEO who's not sentimental; he's about putting things behind him and focusing on content," Collins Stewart analyst Tom Eagan opined in The Wall Street JournalFacebook has been holding exploratory meetings with private-equity firms about raising another round of funding, but the two sides are $3 billion apart on what the site is worth, Peter Lauria reports in the N.Y. Post. Multiple sources close to or involved in the situation said Facebook has held "valuation discussions" with Providence Equity Partners, General Atlantic, Bain Capital, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and others. In an interview with Bloomberg, Facebook CFO Sheryl Sandberg said, "We absolutely do not need to take money. We might take money, but it doesn't mean we need to." Sources told Lauria that Facebook would indeed "take money," if it can get a valuation in the $5-6 billion range. The problem is, the private-equity firms Facebook has had talks with see the firm's value in the $2 billion to $3 billion range. "Facebook is looking for dumb money, but there's none of it out there anymore," said one source who was approached by the company… Just when we start tweeting, they rain on our parade. A new report from Nielsen Online reveals that more than 60% of those who signed up for Twitter had stopped going to the site a month later. "Twitter's audience retention rate, or the percentage of a given month's users who come back the following month, is currently about 40%," says Nielsen Online’s David Martin. "For most of the past 12 months, pre-Oprah, Twitter has languished below 30% retention." By comparison, Facebook and MySpace average retention rates in the neighborhood of 70%. According to the research, Twitter's site drew north of 7 million unique visitors in February, up from just 475k a year prior. But Martin sees a big slowdown ahead. "Twitter has enjoyed a nice ride over the last few months, but it will not be able to sustain its meteoric rise without establishing a higher level of user loyalty," he asserts. But Nielsen only measures traffic on Twitter.com, not the myriad third-party services where Twitter messages are also posted… Despite these stats, certain Twitter users are jaw-droppingly active. Britney Spears has joined Ashton Kutcher on the north side of the1 million-follower threshold, with 1.23million, while John Mayer is up to 896k, Digital Music News reports. The item also contains these handy-dandy facts: Spotify now has more than a million registered users in the U.K., with another million-plus users across Europe. The ad-supported, elegant on-demand application is adding 40k users a day. And Slacker just exceeded 1 million downloads on the Blackberry App World.