About Frédéric Filloux

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Posts by Frédéric Filloux:

Would you compare your genome with mine?

Mixing genomics and social networking.That’s the pitch of 23andMe, a Silicon Valley startup. The company proposes a system where people compare their genomes. We can already foresee the conversations: “Hey, you have a predisposition to colorectal cancer? Great! Me too!”. “Oh, according to our respective genomes, we might develop Alzheimer together at the same age, isn’t it fantaaastic?!”. Meetic, Match.com will love it. Of course, mapping your 600,000 genetic variations for $999 also helps you to trace your ancestors. For the short-term, we have all the obvious business applications derivatives: from deciphering the genes to actually interpreting the results. Later, we’ll enjoy an endless stream of predictive medicine applications — hypochondria will finally become fact based. Companies like Navigenics are already on it. But there is also a darker outcome : gene-based social networking will also become the dream tool of eugenics.
> story in the MIT Technology Review

Geolocalized Social Networks

Ever heard of services called GyPSii in Europe, or Loopt in the US? Well, chances are your kids will. Unlike their parents, teenagers are less sensitive to the notion of privacy protection. Hence the success of social networks where 150m young people are putting their life online. The logical next step was to make the system mobile. This could be another killer app for cell phones: Loopt, calls itself “Your Social Compass”. For the moment, carriers are still struggling with regulatory issues: receiving unsolicited email can be an annoyance, broadcasting your exact location to others is quite something else. For now, geolocation can be made available to a group of friends — a rather extensive notion when social network become part of the formula. In the meantime, marketers salivate: imagine local advertising, mobile and dynamically pushed.
> story in the Wall Street Journal

US newspapers: Worst drop in ad revenue in 57 years

2007 was the worst year in terms of print ad revenue for American newspapers since record keeping began in 1950. Here are the main facts & figures to bear in mind from the Newspaper Association of America’s last report (tables here )
- Print advertising plunged 9.4% to $42.2bn from $46.6bn in 2006
- Losses are greater in the classified (-16.5%) than in any other area
- Internet revenue are jumping by 19% to $3.17bn
- In advertising dollars, the online gain (+$0.5bn) is peanuts compared to the total loss in print (-$4.4bn), classified loss (-$2.8bn) or the combination of national + retail ad (-$1.6bn).
- Cost cutting initiatives (in newsroom for example) won’t offset the ad and classified erosion.

Overall : for all indicators, the decline is worst than expected 18 months ago.Deterioration will continue this year (Bloomberg is mentioning a 20% drop in ads for McClatchy’s two biggest markets, California and Florida). Even if we remove the effect of the looming recession, transfers to the Internet are nothing compared to the deterioration of print. This is mostly due to poor per-reader monetization. The S&P Publishing Index reflects the situation: it lost 44% from its peak in June 2007 . And debt figures won’t help. Publishing-related bonds are falling sharply as explains Alan Mutter on his blog.

> read also David Carr’s column in the New York Times on the displeasure of newspapers owners.

Lagardère acquiring Doctissimo

Groupe Lagardère is acquiring the majority of the health specialized website Doctissimo. Lagardère Active Digital will get 53% of the capital and 58% of the voting rights of Doctissimo for about E70m that valued the company at E138m. By paying a 7.4% premium over the share price, and a multiple of 12 times the 2007 sales, the transaction seems way more reasonable than a year ago when Springer coughed up 21 times the sales for the French portal AuFeminin.com. Lagardère and Doctissimo agreed for a valuation in the low end of the E130m-E165m range set by analysts.
> story in Bloomberg
> and in Le Figaro

Murdoch’s competitive metabolism

On the same subject, Howell Raines, former editor of the New York Times, reminds us of the true drive of the new owner of the Wall Street Journal: competition. In 2002, in a discussion about how to compete against the WSJ, Murdoch gave Raines a piece of advice : “You ought to hit them where they live,” he said of the Journal. “Go after hard business news and beat them on their strength.” Times people know what to expect from someone who reportedly send a handwritten note to Arthur Sulzberger after the acquisition saying : “let the war begin”.
> story in Portfolio

Truce at the NY Times

The New York Times Company has reached a deal with Harbinger Firebrand, the hedge fund that was knocking (hard) on its door. For the first time since it became public in 1967, the Times will open its board to outsiders. The two new directors will advocate asset sales (the Boston Globe for instance) as well as aggressive investments in the Internet. The Sulzberger family retains the supervoting shares, but board meetings won’t be as comfy as they used to be when “we all were family”.
> story in the New York Times and as seen by the rival, The Wall Street Journal