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Twitter Buys AdGrok Team To Work on Monetization

Twitter is making a serious bid to compete in the online ad space, this time buying up a small company called AdGrok whose tagline is “we make internet marketing simple.” Actually, their interface was designed to make Google’s AdWords simple and if they did that, then it’s no wonder Twitter wanted to scoop them up.

The AdGrok system included a GrokBar, the Grok-o-Matic and the Groknoculars, all of which made you a Pro-Groker for only $59.00 a month. And I tell you all of this only because I like the word Grok as much as they do. But now, sadly, the time has come to move on to a world where everything happens in under 140 characters, which is enough to say Live long and prosper six times in one Tweet, so it’s all good.

salesforce.com Acquiring Radian6; Social Media Monitoring No Longer a Cottage Industry

Nothing makes me smile wider than waking up to find out that a social media monitoring vendor has just agreed to be acquired.

But Andy, I hear you ask, you’re happy that one of Trackur‘s competitors has been acquired? How so?

Well, it completely validates the social media monitoring industry and, when companies like Radian6 get acquired by companies like salesforce.com, you can’t get much more in the way of validation than that.

The deal is expected to close at the end of July and will be worth $276 million in cash and $50 million in stock. In addition, Radian6’s founders get another $14 million in cash and stock. I pause here to note that it’s interesting that the earnout for the founders is singled out. I also wonder just how much equity Radian6 had handed over to venture capital firms, to be earning a comparatively small percentage of the total sale price.

Boom or Bubble? Twitter Valued at 100x Revenue!

Hands-up if you’d like to sell your company for 100 times your projected earnings for 2011?

Sorry, it will…take a little…longer to…type this sentence…with just one hand.

On the back of a recent $200 million investment–and a reported $80m secondary market purchase–the Wall Street Journal is reporting that both Google and Facebook are sniffing around Twitter.

Both Google and Facebook have discussed buying Twitter in the past and have kept their lines of communication open, people familiar with the matter said. One of these people said companies including Facebook and Google have expressed “latent interest” in an acquisition.

When it raised the $200m in December, Twitter’s valuation was only $3.7 billion. Now it appears that Google and Facebook are kicking around valuations anywhere between $8 billion and $10 billion.

Rumors Say Linkedin May Be First to IPO

Facebook may get more than its share of buzz, but Linkedin, the social media network with an eye toward business relationships, has been quietly sneaking up on the world. According to the LA Times and a variety of other sources, Linkedin appears to be priming itself for an early 2011 IPO.

Sources say that Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase all took meetings with Linkedin back in November and the timing couldn’t be better. With the financial world all a flutter at the thought of investing in a social media site, Linkedin would be smart to jump in before Facebook steals the spotlight once again.

In True Groupon Fashion; 68% of $500M VC Round Going to Groupon’s Wallet

Just how close Google was to handing over $6 billion for Groupon, no one can say for sure. What we do know is that Groupon has converted that interest (or perception of such) into a cool $500 million in venture capital funding!

According to an SEC filing (reported by Fortune.com), Groupon has found $500M of the $950M it is hoping to raise. What’s the purpose of such funds? Well, a good chunk of it will go towards a cashout for shareholders…

One purpose of Groupon’s massive new round is to provide liquidity for existing shareholders, including those who may have been ticked off that the company spurned Google. Fortune has learned that all Groupon shareholders recently received a letter offering to buy back up to 15% of current stock holdings, and the SEC filing indicates that $345 million of the $500 million will be used to cash out insiders (both investors and management).

FCC to NBC: No More Exclusive Video Deals

Comcast cleared one more hurdle last week in it’s bid to acquire control of NBC Universal. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski gave the deal his blessing as long as they agreed to certain conditions. Conditions that certainly took the merry out of Hulu’s Christmas.

Says the Wall Street Journal:

According to people close to the FCC negotiations, those conditions would require that Comcast make NBC Universal and its other Comcast-owned video content available to pay-TV competitors at reasonable, nondiscriminatory terms. He also wants to impose conditions that would require Comcast to offer NBC Universal programming to other online video providers.

Right now, Hulu is the preferred carrier of all NBC programming online. They do syndicate out the video feeds to other third party sites, but they still get a piece of the pie and control of what and where it goes.

AOL & Yahoo Plan Merger? Building an “Exclusive” on…Well, Nothing Actually

Sometimes, merger and acquisition rumors are juicy, thrilling, with a sense of mystery.

Other times, they’re a lame duck and you wonder why anyone–let alone Reuters–would waste the time writing the story.

Exhibit A:

Exclusive: AOL mulls breakup, then merger with Yahoo

Ooh, that’s a BIG story, right? AOL, trying to reinvent itself and Yahoo, looking at a boatload of options to survive.

This is a huge story for a Monday in December. Let’s examine the “smoke” to this “fire” shall we?

…The plans are still in the exploratory stage…

Oh, OK. But I am sure the two sides are deep in talks, right?

…and Yahoo has not been contacted, the sources said…

Oh well, I’m sure Reuters has someone reliable that can be quoted here.