Will MTV Mean Microsoft Television?

Microsoft has taken another step into the world of advertising. This time, the Redmond giant has scooped up a Massachusetts-based interactive television advertising firm called Navic Networks.

Navic's technology is centered around interactive television -- the kind of thing you see during interactive polls or broadcasting live questions to which viewers can respond. Navic also develops a tool called Admira, which is targeted directly at advertisers for measuring consumer behavior and tracking advertising effectiveness.

Navic has established partnerships with numerous cable and satellite TV companies. It says its interactive technology is installed on more than 35 million televisions throughout the United States. This gives Microsoft a powerful leap into the world of television advertising, as it continues to blend with other interactive technologies. Terms of the deal under which Microsoft is buying Navic, founded in 2001, weren't disclosed.

What do you expect to see as the worlds of technology continue to collide? Are you becoming numb to advertising messages? Drives me nuts -- advertisers must have given up on me long ago. They could offer to sell me a Ferrari for five bucks in a pop-up ad, and I still couldn't click to close the thing soon enough. Let me know your thoughts at llow@redmondmag.com.

Firefox on Fire
Firefox was going for a record 5 million downloads when it hit the Web yesterday. Did it make it? The site was certainly bogged down as crowds of eager downloaders flocked to the site to get Firefox 3 -- the latest and greatest from the volunteer army at Mozilla.

Just after the download for the new version went live, the site was slowed down or, in some cases, became completely inaccessible, according to performance monitoring firm AlertSite. After a couple of hours, things returned to normal as some of the overly eager Firefox hounds somehow found something else to do.

Part of the problem was the concerted effort by Firefox fans. People had organized download parties around the world, trying to set a record for the most downloads within a 24-hour stretch. While that's indeed a noble goal -- and they probably met it, although I think they missed the 5 million milestone -- it will take a while for the record-keepers at Guinness to validate the attempt.

Some of the updates to the new Firefox 3 help you organize your favorite Web sites and block known malware sites. There are also several performance and interface design improvements.

How do you browse? Are you a dyed-in-the-wool Internet Explorer fan, or have you tried burning it up with Firefox? Is there anything the browsers currently on the market are still missing? Browse on over to llow@redmondmag.com and let me know.

LinkedIn BankedOn
It had to happen. You keep hearing about Facebook and MySpace attracting the attention of deep-pocketed investor types, while relatively quietly in the background, professional people have been doing similar types of networking -- although more for career advancement than digging up the latest gossip on the class flirt -- on LinkedIn.

In fact, I had seen LinkedIn mentioned as an attractive acquisition alternative to Yahoo as Microsoft's initial attempt at scooping up the search company contender began to fall apart.

So it had to happen. LinkedIn has caught the attention of the big bucks of Silicon Valley. Bain Capital Ventures, Greylock Partners, Sequoia Capital and Bessemer Venture Partners have ponied up a total of $53 million for a 5 percent stake of LinkedIn (that's 5 percent among the four or them, not 5 percent each). The four money magnates have also valued LinkedIn at a whopping $1 billion.

LinkedIn helps connects people for the primary purpose of career advancement. So far, the site has nearly 23 million people signed up. LinkedIn pays the rent by charging advertising fees and users fees for advanced subscriptions. It anticipates generating revenue upwards of $100 million this year.

Both Facebook -- which also received a hefty valuation when Microsoft dropped $240 million on it last year for a small piece -- and LinkedIn are expected to go public within a couple of years. That is, if they can stave off companies hungry for a prime acquisition.

Do you use LinkedIn? Facebook? MySpace? What's your overall take on the social networking phenomenon? Link up with me at llow@redmondmag.com and let me know. And as always, you can read more about these and other stories on RedmondReport.com.

About the Author

Lafe Low is the editorial liaison for ECG Events.

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