New website and digital magazine for cyclocross.The publishers of Singletrack, the U.K.-based magazine on mountain bikes, are launching a digital magazine and website focusing on cyclocross, a sport similar to motocross racing but using bicycles. The website, called grit.cx, will premier at the end of the summer, and the first issue of the digital magazine will be available in early October. The magazine will feature stories and influences from the U.K., Europe, the U.S. and other countries where the sport is growing in popularity. Emergency Management website getting a makeover.A newly redesigned website for Emergency Management magazine will be rolled out soon. The format will likely be similar to other e.Republic websites, such as Governing and Government Technology. The website, like for its sister publications, will feature digital links to all articles from the print editions. BRAIN magazine offers both digital and print.Beginning with its May 1st issue, Bicycle Retailer and Industry News (BRAIN) has added the option for subscribers to receive a new digital version in addition to or instead of the print edition.Christianity Today‘s Books & Culture lives on in digital.Less than nine months after a pledge drive saved the publication from closing in 2013, Books & Culture has released a biweekly digital edition featuring reviews and news from a Christian perspective. Acquisition of Audience Media by Zinio.The digital platform company Zinio has acquired Audience Media, a company that provides CMS and app services for magazines such as ELLE, Marie Claire, Cosmo and more. Created in Barcelona but now based in Vietnam, the service currently has 30 apps under the its name in the Apple App Store, and possibly more publishers who want their branding instead of Audience Media’s. So far its magazine apps are simply replica editions of the print versions.WSJ‘s new digital video magazine.The Wall Street Journal has launched new platforms for its expanding video content, including the new digital video magazine, Signal. The magazine will include excerpts from filmmakers and emerging talents, interviews with celebrities and luminaries and a mix of short videos from WSJ contributors around the world. This will add to WSJ‘s existing shows “The Short Answer” and “Startup of the Year.”
Furthermore, Meredith chairman and CEO Stephen Lacy, who would lead the proposed new entity created under a Media General/Meredith merger, reiterates that the company’s board of directors still believes the agreed-upon merger agreement with Media General is in the best interest of Meredith and its shareholders. Even as negotiations with Nexstar begin, Media General’s board of directors continues to recommend following through with the Meredith acquisition under the terms established in September. Media General first announced an agreement to buy Meredith for $2.4 billion in September. Weeks later, Nexstar submitted an unsolicitied proposal to buy Media General, a deal that, if made, would jeopardize the yet-to-be completed Meredith takeover, an acquisition Nexstar described as “ill-conceived.” Media General’s board of directors reached two unanimous decisions, according to a company statement. The first was to formally reject Nexstar’s initial, $4.1 billion proposal, saying that it “significantly undervalues” the company. The second was to enter negotiations with Nexstar over the suitor’s non-binding, unsolicited proposal. Media General was granted a waiver by Meredith to pass on non-public information to Nexstar in evaluation of the deal, which Nexstar claimed would offer Media General greater value, both immediately and long-term. The cloud of uncertainty cast over Media General’s proposed purchase of Meredith Corp. grew a shade darker Monday, as Media General announced that it will officially open negotiations with its own proposed buyer, Nexstar Broadcasting Group. “We are surprised that Media General’s Board considers the value of our proposal to be inadequate today,” said Perry Sook, chairman, president and CEO of Nexstar, in a statement. “However, we are willing to engage with them to hear their perspectives.” Meredith released a statement of its own in response to the announcement, saying, “Meredith understands Media General Board’s fiduciary responsibility to respond to the Nexstar proposal consistent with our binding merger agreement announced on September 8, 2015. However, Meredith still remains confident that the combination of Meredith and Media General will generate superior shareholder value … as compared to a potential Nexstar transaction.”
“Canadians can expect that digital platforms will not foster or disseminate hate, violent extremism or criminal content. The launch of the charter follows Canada last week signing the Christchurch Call following the March terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand. “The platforms are failing their users, and they’re failing our citizens,” Trudeau said. “They have to step up in a major way to counter disinformation. And if they don’t, we will hold them to account and there will be meaningful financial consequences.” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Getty Images The Christchurch Call, led by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron, is a plan to prevent terrorists from uploading extremist content online, and to increase transparency around tech companies’ algorithms and the detection and removal of such content. Share your voice Politics Tech Industry Internet Security Culture Applications Mobile Apps Digital Media Online Universal access. Safety and security. Control and consent. Transparency, portability and interoperability. Open and modern digital government. A level playing field. Ensuring data and digital media are used for good. Strong democracy. Freedom from hate and violent extremism. Strong enforcement and real accountability. “The Government of Canada will defend freedom of expression and protect against online threats and disinformation designed to undermine the integrity of elections and democratic institutions,” the charter says. Canada wants to promote both safety and innovation online. Government of Canada The last three principles deal with hate speech and disinformation. Comments Canada was joined by the governments of Australia, the UK, New Zealand, Germany, France, the European Commission, Indonesia, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, the Netherlands, Norway, Senegal, Spain and Sweden, as well as eight tech companies: Facebook, Google, Twitter, Amazon, Microsoft, Daily Motion, Qwant and YouTube. 5 The 10 principles of the charter are: “There will be clear, meaningful penalties for violations of the laws and regulations that support these principles.” Tags The charter will target fake news and hate speech online, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday. The US didn’t sign the call. Canada has launched its new Digital Charter, designed to protect its citizens online and enforce rules governing social media platforms. Amazon Facebook Google Microsoft Twitter
China’s Anbang Insurance Group Co raised its offer for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc to almost $14 billion, Starwood said on Monday, in the latest challenge to the U.S. hotel operator’s merger with Marriott International Inc.The bidding war for Starwood has pitted Marriott’s ambitions to create the world’s largest lodging company with about 5,700 hotels against Anbang’s drive to create a vast portfolio of U.S. real estate assets.The acquisition of Starwood, owner of the Sheraton and Westin brands, by Anbang would be the largest ever by a Chinese company in the United States.Anbang’s consortium, which includes private equity firms J.C. Flowers & Co and Primavera Capital Ltd, has offered $82.75 per share in cash, in what is reasonably likely to lead to a proposal that is superior to the deal with Marriott, Starwood said on Monday. Reuters had reported earlier on Monday that Anbang had raised its offer.Marriott’s latest cash-and-stock offer, which was announced on March 21, is currently worth around $78 per share. Starwood’s board has not yet changed its recommendation to its shareholders in support of the company’s merger with Marriott, Starwood said. A vote for Starwood shareholders to approve the Marriott deal is scheduled for April 8.”Marriott has the financial capacity and the wherewithal to push its bid up higher. However, so much of the transaction is based on Marriott’s current share price, I think investors would be less than thrilled if it increased its offer materially at this juncture,” said Bill Crow, an analyst at Raymond James.Marriott declined to say on Monday if it would raise its offer further. In a statement, Marriott said it was confident that the previously announced amended merger agreement with Starwood is the best course for both companies.”Starwood stockholders should give serious consideration to the question of whether the Anbang-led consortium will be able to close the proposed transaction, with a particular focus on the certainty of the consortium’s financing and the timing of any required regulatory approvals,” Marriott said in its statement.In any deal with Anbang or Marriott, Starwood shareholders will also receive stock in Interval Leisure Group Inc, which is getting Starwood’s vacation ownership business, currently worth $5.91 per Starwood share.Starwood shares were trading up 2.4 percent at $84.07 on Monday. Marriott shares were up 4 percent to $71.40, as some investors hoped Anbang’s move would prompt Marriott to walk away from an expensive deal.Anbang’s latest offer values Starwood at 13.5 times earnings. By comparison, peers Hyatt Hotels Corp and Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc are trading at around ten times earnings.To be sure, the Anbang offer is still cheaper than some of large real estate deals seen in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis. Buyout firm Blackstone Group LP’s $26 billion leveraged buyout of Hilton in 2007, for example, valued that company at 15 times earnings.CFIUS REVIEWMarriott said last week it believes it could achieve $250 million in annual cost synergies within two years after closing the deal with Starwood, up from $200 million estimated in November 2015 when it signed its original merger agreement.An acquisition of Starwood by Anbang would probably face scrutiny by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an inter agency panel that reviews deals to ensure they do not harm national security. However, sources have said both Starwood and Anbang believe that deal would receive CFIUS clearance.Under its latest merger agreement with Marriott, Starwood would pay a breakup fee to Marriott of $450 million.Lazard and Citigroup Global Markets Inc are financial advisers to Starwood, and Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP is its legal counsel. Deutsche Bank Securities and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher are advising Marriott.PJT Partners Inc PJT.N is Anbang’s financial adviser, while Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is its legal counsel.
December 19, 2014 4 min read Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. For many organizations, big data is the engine of their success. Netflix , Eloqua and Obama’s 2008 winning campaign for the presidency provide key lessons for entrepreneurs looking to harness the power of big data. Each of these businesses used big data to get closer to its customers — and to develop a successful strategy. In show business, a sector traditionally ruled by executives making decisions based on gut instinct, Netflix brought big data to the table when making the initial decision to invest in what eventually became a huge hit, House of Cards. When pitched the show that other producers had passed on, Netflix consulted its viewership data, according to David Carr of The New York Times. Related: Mine Big Data’s Promise. Selling Info You Gather Is a Profitable Sideline.After seeing that it had enough viewers who watched the films of David Fincher (who was directing the series), movies with Kevin Spacey (who was the star of the series) and the original British version of the show, Netflix agreed to invest $100 million to produce the show. The company was so confident in the data that it took the unusual step of green-lighting two seasons. Netflix originally started as a mail-order to alternative to Blockbuster. But at its heart, Netflix is a data play. The selection queue gave Netflix insight into its users’ viewing habits and enabled it to recommend movies and TV shows its customer might enjoy. That capability has been expanded and made more immediate now that Netflix streams entertainment to its viewers. Related: 5 Ways to Pull Big Data Into Your Marketing StrategyEloqua is another startup that rode big data to success: This marketing-automation software company was sold to Oracle in 2013 for $957 million. One of the secrets to Eloqua’s success was its software-as-a-service model. Because it hosted its solution online, Eloqua had access to rich data on how its customers were using the product, which gave the company tremendous insight into how to serve individual customers and how to make the software better. “I think what’s interesting about the technology phase we are in today is that for the first time we have a pretty good sense of how people are using our software and when they’re using, how frequently they’re using, and how many people are using it,” Joe Payne, the former CEO of Eloqua, explained in an interview for my book The Big Data-Driven Business. “If you pay attention to all of those things, it can give you insight that will help you win your market.” In 2008, Obama for America in 2008 used big data not to win a market but win a presidential election. Dan Siroker was the director of analytics for the initial Obama campaign for the White House. In this role, Siroker focused on website optimization — often using A/B and multivariate testing. Obama’s campaign embraced the use of data, particularly for the campaign’s website, and this was critical to getting supporters’ email addresses because each individual averaged $21 in contributions to the Obama campaign. To drive sharing of email addresses, the Obama team tested a variety of combinations of visuals and calls to action, 24 in all. Using A/B testing, the campaign discovered the combination that outperformed the others: A photo of Barack Obama with his wife and children combined with a call to action of “learn more” drove 11.6 percent of visitors to share their email address, which was a 40.6 percent improvement over the 8.26 percent average of the 24 combinations, according to a blog post written by Siroker. Ultimately, that combination led to the collection of 2.88 million additional email addresses and an extra $60 million for the campaign, Siroker said. In 2010, he used the lessons he learned on the campaign trail to launch his own big-data business, Optimizely, a platform that helps companies get the most from their websites, email marketing and other digital marketing. Next on Optimizely’s plan is to help improve mobile marketing for its customers. “Our vision is to enable the world to turn data into action,” Siroker said. “We think website and mobile optimization are just the first steps on that journey.”Related: 5 Ways Open Government Data Can Inspire Startup Innovation This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience. Enroll Now for Free
December 5, 2016 Register Now » 2 min read Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box. For most of us, a call to 911 is our first impulse when facing an emergency situation. Today, with the rise of social media and advances in technology, people can turn to a smartphone app or social media page for help during crises.From Apple’s Find My Friends to Facebook’s Safety Check, tech giants are creating ways to help people during emergencies. And Google has taken things one step further with Trusted Contacts.Trusted Contacts allows users to share their location with any of their designated “trusted contacts,” while trusted contacts can request the user’s location as well. A person can accept or decline someone’s request, but if they don’t respond, the app will automatically accept the request and share that individual’s location.Users can share their location at any given time, or indefinitely. The app is different than Find My Friends, letting users share their location for a certain period of time, while perhaps walking home alone or out and about at night. Unless a location is shared indefinitely, the app only shows trusted contacts general information about a user’s whereabouts and if they are online. The app works offline too, so if a user’s phone dies, a trusted contact can find out where their last online location was.Google’s product manager David Tattersall tells Mashable, “It basically means then that as long as you’ve got your phone in your pocket, someone can always find you in case of an emergency. You’re always findable.”The app is only available for Android right now, but will be available on iPhones soon. Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Global
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. February 28, 2017 Enroll Now for Free Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now 5 min read This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience. Chatbots are the new rage as more top brands are advancing the technology and integrating it into their chat systems. Big names such as Facebook and Telegram have already made moves in this arena by creating their own chatbots and chatbot platforms.Over the past couple months, I’ve been trying to implement chatbots into my company Due. For many, chatbot marketing can sound overwhelmingly complicated, but a chatbot, not so much. It can truly save you enourments of time.With numerous advancements and tools being created to make the process easy, making a chatbot does not seem out of the question. So, if you are thinking about jumping on the chatbot bandwagon, here are the top 10 platforms for you to know about.Related: Enterprise Chatbots Platforms and the Future of WorkChattyPeopleChattypeople is the best chatbot platform for creating an AI chatbot on Facebook with integrated Facebook commerce. With Chattypeople you can create a Facebook message both quickly and easily, no coding required. The platform’s simplicity makes it ideal for entrepreneurs and marketers in smaller companies, while its technology makes it suitable for enterprise customers. You can make a simple bot answering customer service questions or integrate it with Shopify to monetize your Facebook fan pages. ChattyPeople is where f-commerce and ai-commerce come together. Chattypeople is 100% free to get started.Related: Enterprise Chatbots and the Conversational Commerce Revolutionizing BusinessMEOKAYMEOKAY is one of the top tools to create a conversational Messenger bot. It makes it easy for both skilled developers and non-developers to take part in creating a series of easy to follow steps. Within minutes, you can create conversational scenarios and build advanced dialogues for smooth conversations. Once you are done, link and launch your brand new chatbot.Related: How to Create a Facebook Messenger Chatbot For Free Without CodingSmoochSmooch acts as more of a chatbot connector that bridges your business apps, (ex: Slack and ZenDesk) with your everyday messenger apps (ex: Facebook Messenger, WeChat, etc.) It links these two together by sending all of your Messenger chat notifications straight to your business apps, which streamlines your conversations into just one application. In the end, this can result in smoother automated workflows and communications across teams. These same connectors also allow you to create chatbots which will respond to your customer chats…. boom!Related: Make Chats With Chatbots WorkBotsifyBotsify is another Facebook chatbot platform that helps make it easy to integrate chatbots into the system. Its paid subscription helps you in five easy steps. 1) Log into the botsify.com site, 2) Connect your Facebook account, 3) Setup a webhook, 4) Write up commands for the chatbot you are creating, and 5) Let Botisfy handle the customer service for you. If the paid services are a little too much, they do offer a free service that lets you create as many bots as your lovely imagination can dream up.Beep BoopIf you are looking for another paid platform, Beep Boop may be your next stop. It is a hosting platform that is designed for developers looking to make apps for Facebook Messenger and Slack specifically. First, set up your code using Github, the popular version control repository and Internet hosting service, then input it into the Beep Boop platform to link it with your Facebook Messenger or Slack application. The bots will then be able to interact with your customers with real-time chat and messaging.Related: The How-To: Using Chatbots As A Tool For Customer ServiceChatfuelNeed a Facebook bot? Well, look no further, as Chatfuel makes it easy for you to create your own Facebook and Telegram Chatbot without any coding experience necessary. It works by letting users link to external sources through plugins. Eventually, the platforms hope to open itself to third-party plugins, so anyone can contribute their own plugins and have others benefit from them.Facebook Messenger PlatformHave you checked out Facebook Messenger’s official page lately? Well, now you can start building your own bot directly through the platform’s landing page. This method though, may be a little bit more complicated than some of the previous ways we’ve discussed, but there are a lot of resources that Facebook Messenger provides in order to help you accomplish your brand new creation. Through full-fledged guides, case studies, a forum for Facebook developers, and more, you are sure to be a chatbot creating professional in no time.Telegram BotsBuild a bot directly from one of the top messaging apps themselves. By building a bot in Telegram, you can easily run a bot in the application itself. The company recently open-sourced their chatbot code, making it easy for third-parties to integrate and create bots of their own. Their Telegram API, which they also built, can send customized notifications, news, reminders, or alerts. Integrate the API with other popular apps such as YouTube and Github for a unique customer experience.Related: #4 Chatbots Took Full Advantage Of India’s DemonetizationBotKitA toolkit can be integral to getting started in building chatbots, so insert, BotKit. It gives a helping hand to developers making bots for Facebook Messenger, Slack, Twilio, and more. This BotKit can be used to create clever, conversational applications which map out the way that real humans speak. This essential detail differentiates from some of its other chatbot toolkit counterparts.FlowXOLast, but not least coming in with the bot platform for business is FlowXO, which creates bots for Messenger, Slack, SMS, Telegraph and the web. This platform allows for creating various flexibility in bots by giving you the option to create a fully automated bot, human, or a hybrid of both. ChatBot expert Murray Newlands commented that “Where 10 years ago every company needed a website and five years ago every company needed an app, now every company needs to embrace messaging with AI and chatbots.”
7 min read Register Now » In 2018, my company, Miller Heiman Group, did something crazy: After years of relying on multiple customer relationship management systems (CRMs), endless spreadsheets, numerous marketing systems and disorganized data … we decided to start over. From scratch.Related: 4 Reasons Why Companies are Choosing CRM Over Traditional Marketing toolsThis makes sense, because anyone who has worked at a business that’s changed ownership, acquired other companies or expanded into other countries understands the headaches associated with working in a multi-CRM environment.Different business units and regions may use different CRMs, each with its own functionality, data storage process and renewal cycle. Our company used 15 of them! And that scenario created an ineffective environment, to say the least.As a company which advises sales leaders all over the world on how to be more effective, we needed to own our own methodology and drive best practices into our own back office. We became our own case study.This is not insignificant because CRM represents the largest software market in the world, with $39.5 billion in revenue, according to EContent. But instead of funneling our data and processes into an existing CRM structure, we chose to build our own solutions into an off-the-shelf model from the ground up. Why go to all that trouble? In 2017, CIO magazine studied more than a dozen analyst reports and discovered that approximately one-third of all CRM projects fail.That finding, together with our own experience, told us we could do better.What a good CRM should doIn fact, we wanted to actively manage our customer relationships. A CRM should serve as a helpful tool throughout the customer life cycle, whether it’s used by a presale engineer creating a data sheet or a salesperson calculating downstream revenue.We wanted to break out of those silos. With good reason: Our work wasn’t being managed in a centralized or consistent way. Most of our sales leaders avoided our CRM systems and managed their tasks via forecasting calls and a series of spreadsheets.And we weren’t alone in this: We knew that such CRM issues happen at other companies. In fact, just 25 percent of sellers surveyed in our company’s World-Class Sales Practices study expressed a high degree of confidence in their CRMs’ data.So, our goal was to become more efficient. Indeed, before we eliminated our old CRMs, we had been drowning in tedious tasks. Typically, sellers reached out to multiple team members, as well as the client, to gather the information necessary to make even small changes to an account. And this consumed a tremendous amount of selling time: We estimated this was eating up about 50 percent of our time at one point. The result was that we were turning our sellers into administrative assistants.Related: How CRMs Can Spark (or Continue) Fast GrowthOverall, our old CRMs demotivated our sales force personnel and wasted their time — a common complaint, according to anecdotal evidence. In fact, in 2001, Ingersoll-Rand poured $2 million into rolling out a new CRM and discovered that the new system increased its sales’ reps workloads, rather than freeing up their time to sell. The result was a relaunch aimed at mitigating pain points.In sum, we wanted to analyze data, not just store it. All of our previous CRMs had performed data entry and other automated tasks, but none had the capability for a built-in sales methodology. Yet we knew a CRM could do more — including consistent global forecasting and revenue tracking. So, that was the goal we set for ourselves.Here’s what we did.From start to launch, the process took approximately two years. But we didn’t just flip the switch on a new product. We changed our entire back-office process flow and integrated legal, finance IT ops and sales-ops processes, gathering feedback and gaining stakeholder buy-in throughout. We also encountered some valuable lessons and reminders that reinforced our decision:We put end-users first. While a 90 percent adoption rate is the minimum required to affect sales performance, just 47 percent of companies achieve this level. There was no point in creating a new tool if no one used it, so end-user needs were front-of-mind throughout our development and testing process. When Ingersoll-Rand relaunched its CRM, the company directly involved its sales force in the system’s redesign.We added value with predictive analysis. The ability to accurately predict the methodology-backed action that will increase the odds of closing deals lets sellers see what moves they need to make to move an opportunity through the pipeline. But traditional CRMs aren’t built with this function — or sellers’ needs — in mind. Adding an insight-driven arm to the product revolutionized the way our sellers do their jobs.We scrubbed our data. We needed to trust our CRM. That meant combing through all the back-end data from those 15 legacy systems and importing only the information we knew was clean. Dirty data damages your reputation — and your ability to do your job. A 2017 study of home sale prices found that estimates on Homes.com were inaccurate 84 percent of the time. Would you trust a company with that kind of track record to sell your house?We kept existing systems in place to ensure consistency. Although everyone wanted to launch the new tool as quickly as possible, we couldn’t just pull the plug on legacy systems. Our project budget included fees for about a year’s worth of duplicate licenses on contracts with different renewal dates.We invested in tech that increased the time to sell. While sales relationships of the past relied on interpersonal relationships, today’s buyers no longer consider sellers an essential resource. The analysis provided by our new tool changed that: Sellers have instant access to actionable insights that prove their worth. According to Marketing Week, a CRM strategy helps car manufacturer Renault better understand the customer journey and how best to engage those people on the path to purchase.We streamlined to improve security. Housing clients’ personal and financial information in multiple places only increases the likelihood of a massive leak like the JPMorgan Chase breach that affected more than half of American households. A single, dedicated CRM means fewer dangers to monitor — and more visibility into suspicious behavior.We remembered the little things. Our 60-day pilot process involved both internal stakeholders on our operating team and a small group of clients. While we received very little feedback on the CRM’s overall function, one small feature we overlooked was a PDF writer. While our CRM was built with mobile in mind, people still wanted the ability to print documents — a small tweak that added essential functionality.We kept prospective and existing client messaging consistent. If sellers can’t see every client communication in one place, multiple people will reach out. When that happens, your company looks disorganized, and clients and prospects grow frustrated. A dedicated CRM allows the sales team to present a united front.Related: 4 CRM Hacks Every Entrepreneur Should Be UsingIn sum, if I could offer just one takeaway from the whole process, it’s this: A CRM is just a tool. If sellers and sales organizations truly want to find value, they should first align around a consistent sales methodology that guides their actions. When that solid foundation is in place, the right CRM will provide the insights to give your company the competitive edge it deserves. Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. April 16, 2019 Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right.