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Polls Are Open for Vote at Facebook

As we discussed a little while back, Facebook is going for the democratic (not the party) approach of putting the proposed changes to their terms of service to a vote. The polls opened yesterday and thefacebook-logo idea is that with the users of Facebook ‘making the call’ there can no longer be an uproar over Facebook making changes unilaterally.

On the Facebook blog, founder Mark Zuckerberg outlines the new policy with the crux of it being

You will have two options on the ballot, as shown below: 1) the new Facebook Principles and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (SRR), which incorporate feedback from users and experts received during the 30-day comment period, or 2) the current Terms of Use, which were developed by Facebook and did not go through an outside comment period.

Ning Shows Some Zing

Ning has hit a pretty significant milestone reports cnet. The social network enabler has just seen its one millionthning-logo network set up. This was accomplished in two years which makes the number even more impressive (average of 1,370 networks started per day).

Of course, it doesn’t hurt when Marc Andreessen is a co-founder and the timing was good considering the upswing in popularity of social marketing / media / networking over the past two years. The flip side of that is the possibility that the folks at Ning had a pretty accurate crystal ball and called this one pretty well. Either way, being good fortune or recognizing opportunity the success is there.

Ning has overcome its fair share of adversity as well.

Facebook Snubs $4B Valuation?

facebook-logo Conflicting reports, none confirmed, are circulating today about Facebook’s latest attempts at raising funding. TechCrunch says that Facebook has been shopping itself around at a $4 billion valuation somewhat unsuccessfully, while VentureBeat says they just decided not to accept funding at that level.

In October 2007, Facebook announced a major deal with Microsoft—1.6% of the company for $240 million, placing the overall valuation at $15 billion. However, in the intervening eighteen months, the company’s speculated value has fallen off, being projected as low as $5 billion last June. By October 2008, many sources thought Facebook was headed for financial ruin.

TechCrunch’s story is that Facebook is having trouble coming up with new funding:

Would You Pay to Read a Twitter Stream?

While Twitter continues to tease us with its advertising plans, third-party providers continue to get creative with their efforts to make money from the micro-blogging service. Next in line to give it a shot is TwitPub, which lets you charge users to access your protected Twitter stream.

Here’s how TwitPub explains its "get rich quick" service:

TwitPub is just another fantastic way to monetize Twitter. The best way to be rewarded for generating quality content (or tweets) is to get paid for it. All you need to do is to have a Twitter account and set it to private (or protect your updates so it’s not publicly visible) in your Twitter settings.

eBay to Free Skype in 2010 IPO

Well, stop the presses, folks! Skype may have failed in its efforts to buy itself away from eBay, but that doesn’t mean the online auction site is going to be holding onto the telephony service in the long term. Today, eBay announces that they will spin Skype off with an IPO next year. Scheduled for the first half of the year, the exact timing will depend on market conditions.

Back in 2005, eBay bought Skype for $1.3B in cash and $1.3B in stock. The deal could actually pay out even more (for a maximum total of $4B), provided the telephony service met certain goals by 2008.

However, by Q307, eBay took a $1.4B impairment charge on Skype. Rumors have long circulated that eBay would sell the site, which never seemed to align with its strategy in the first place.

Skype Attempts to Buy Itself Back from eBay

skype-logoNope, this isn’t just a super confusing rehash of yesterday’s story about StumbleUpon buying itself back from eBay—turns out the online auction site’s other confusing acquisition has also been seeking to free itself from its parent and reestablish itself as an independent company.

The WSJ reports that eBay welcomed Skype’s effort to raise its independent funding:

Founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis originally approached Ebay about repurchasing Skype, which acquired the service for $2.6 billion in 2005. Ebay encouraged them to make an offer, and the Scandinavian billionaires rounded up a group of private-equity firms to back them, the person familiar with the bid said. . . .

The proposal involved private-equity firms contributing some $1 billion to the deal, according to people familiar with the situation, though a full deal price could not be learned. The transaction also involved Ebay providing financing for the deal.

FTC and Viral Marketers May Square Off

AdAge reports that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is moving closer free-speechto a proposed plan that will begin regulating viral marketing and blogs. Regardless of what side of the political fence you are on it’s starting to get a bit scary as to just how much the government wants to be the overseer of everything.

Rich Cleland, assistant director of the FTC’s advertising-practices division puts it this way

“The commission is attempting to update guidelines that are 30 years old so that they address current marketing techniques,” he said, “and in particular to address the issue of whether or not the safe harbor that’s currently allowed for ‘result not typical’-type disclaimers is still warranted.”