Explaining Southern California's economy

Mark Cuban and Mark Zuckerberg agree: Facebook is TV

Reality Rocks Expo - Day 1

Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Reality Rocks

Mark Cuban speaks in Los Angeles. He blogs about what he really thinks of Facebook.

Last month, I wrote about how Facebook, even in the eyes of CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is becoming a new sort of television: Social TV.

Now Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has backed up that idea, at his blog, with a post titled "What I Really Think About Facebook." (Hey, don't hold back!) It's not clear, however, that he's keeping up with what's on Zuckerberg's mind:

[W]e spend more than 26 minutes per day on FB. As this study said, FB is an alternative to boredom. FB is far more like TV than it is Google Search

FB is what it is. It's a time waster. That’s not to say we don’t engage, we do. We click, share and comment because it’s mindless and easy.  But for some reason FB doesn’t seem to want to accept that its best purpose in life is as a huge time suck platform that we use to keep up with friends, interests and stuff. I think that they are over-thinking what their network is all about .

Being a time suck that people enjoy is a good thing. There is a comfort in turning on the TV and having it work without any thought required. It’s easy. It is the best  five-hour on average per day alternative to boredom.

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FAQ: Why Mark Zuckerberg wants Facebook to be just like TV

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Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a news conference at Facebook headquarters. The company announced third quarter 2012 earnings today.

Facebook's adjusted net income has been on the loss column, but losses have slowed.

Meanwhile, Facebook's headcount has remained modest, even as it's acquired a billion users.


Facebook has announced third quarter earnings, and they beat what Wall Street was expecting. Analysts were looking for 11 cents a share and they got 12. Jump back! That penny is adjusted to a 2-cent loss once proper accounting protocols are followed. But a beat is indeed a beat. And as you can see in the first chart in the slide show above, Facebook lost less - on a GAAP-adjusted basis, a lot less - than it did last quarter. 

The next chart is even more interesting. As you can see, Facebook has acquired a billion users worldwide (not all of them active, however) with a headcount of just 4,331 employees. If you divide Facebook's quarterly revenue of $1.26 billion by total users, you get a per-user worth of $1.26. 

Viewed another way, every employee at Facebook is worth 230,894 users — or $290,926 in revenue. Now, you could argue that a lot of Facebook employees are costing the company more than $291,926, because they're getting stock. But you also have to consider that although Facebook pays its well, not that many of them make nearly $300,000 per quarter, or $1.2 million per year.

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Welcome to Silicon Bayou: Louisiana is coming after California's gamers

Silicon Bayou-Foodtruck-MDB

Matthew DeBord/KPCC

The good people of Louisiana want to steal our gamers! They've sent a food truck to E3 to entice Californians to cone to "Silicon Bayou."

You never know what you're going to find when you stagger out into the sunlight after watching a preview of the latest zombie-apocalypse videogame. But that's exactly what happened to me at Day 1 of the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, the big computer and video-game trade show that's taken over the Los Angeles Convention Center.

"ZombiU," the new game from Ubisoft, does looks pretty darn scary. It also seems to be set in London, which somehow makes it even scarier — you can watch the trailer here, be warned, it isn't for younger viewers! I'm not even sure it was for me, so I made a dash for sunlight and ran right into...a food truck from Louisiana! Giving away alligator (sausage) and fried shrimp po'boys! And root beer! And two kinds of chips! 

But also providing helpful information on why, if you're involved in the gaming industry, you might want to come to work or set up shop in the Pelican State. I spoke with Heath Williams, the Director of Digital Interactive Media from Louisiana Entertainment and Louisiana Economic Development, who was completely unapologetic about bringing his state's fine cuisine right to the very heart of the California gaming industry, a roughly $2.6-billion-per-year business (and about $5 billion nationally).

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Super Bowl ads: Great for Los Angeles, but it's still all about TV

The L.A. Times' Meg James has a great piece today about how a kind of advertising-tech axis is developing in Los Angeles, combining our resurgent ad agencies and all the new tech firms that have sprung up on the Westside and that are being called "Silicon Beach." (There was a Silicon Beach of sorts back during the 1990s dotcom boom, so this isn't so much a completely new thing as a reboot.)

Nowhere can this be seen more clearly than in the much-anticipated ads for the Super Bowl. Here's some salient language:

More than 110 million people are expected to watch the Super Bowl on TV, making it the biggest advertising event of the year. The pressure to perform is intense. Broadcaster NBC has charged a record $3.5 million for each 30-second spot. The commercials, which can cost an additional $2 million to make, will be analyzed and replayed as much as the action on the field. More than 20 of the high-profile commercials, including those promoting Hollywood films, were created locally.

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Facebook: The worst thing that's ever happened to humanity

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Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a news conference at Facebook headquarters on October 6, 2010 in Palo Alto, California.

OK, maybe not the worst thing. But according to Harvard Business Review blogger Daniel Gulati, not exactly a force for happiness:

When Facebook was founded in 2004, it began with a seemingly innocuous mission: to connect friends. Some seven years and 800 million users later, the social network has taken over most aspects of our personal and professional lives, and is fast becoming the dominant communication platform of the future.

But this new world of ubiquitous connections has a dark side. In my last post, I noted that Facebook and social media are major contributors to career anxiety. After seeing some of the comments and reactions to the post, it's clear that Facebook in particular takes it a step further: It's actually making us miserable.

He goes on. This is my favorite part:

[Facebook is] creating a den of comparison. Since our Facebook profiles are self-curated, users have a strong bias toward sharing positive milestones and avoid mentioning the more humdrum, negative parts of their lives. Accomplishments like, "Hey, I just got promoted!" or "Take a look at my new sports car," trump sharing the intricacies of our daily commute or a life-shattering divorce. This creates an online culture of competition and comparison. One interviewee even remarked, "I'm pretty competitive by nature, so when my close friends post good news, I always try and one-up them."

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