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Google is Bleeding Executives

By David Snyder

Google has had a tough March.

First it lost Sheryl Sandburg, a pre IPO executive largely credited with making Google the sponsored ad cash cow it is today.

Now it has lost Ethan Beard, its former director of social media.

Beard will be joining Facebook as the site’s director of Business Development.

He told Tech Crunch:

“Yes, I can confirm that I have resigned from Google and will be going to work for Facebook.

I think Facebook is great for a variety of reasons: the company has an innovative product with amazing growth, the team they have assembled is first rate, and the business is at a very exciting time in its development. I am excited to join Facebook at a time and in a role where I can have a significant impact on its core business and bottom line.”

Reports of Facebook’s Death Greatly Exaggerated

Admit it: you thought Facebook was the coolest thing since sliced bread (okay, CD/DVD-RW drives). You were so proud of yourself for joining long before Facebook became the media darling they are today.

And now you’re cheering for its demise with the rest of them. But you’ll have to hold off on the death watch for a little while longer.

Last week, Hitwise published a graph that showed that Facebook’s traffic had dramatically fallen off after Christmas 2007 in the UK, through March 17. Compared to their growth over same period in 2006, that wasn’t good news.

Luckily, a couple days later, Hitwise looked back at the data: in the last few days of the week, Facebook’s traffic had jumped up to its Christmas peak—tying for its record high.

imeem Enters the Platform Fray

imeem logoJust when you thought social networking was safe—it’s another platform. The imeem Media Platform, launched last night, is the latest addition to social networking platform stable.

But yes, there is a twist this time. imeem, if you’re not familiar with it or its Facebook app, is a social network centered around music, video and photos. In addition to personal media, imeem also features “professional” content, including popular music, music videos, movie clips and more.

And here’s the twist: the platform will enable developers to access and use any media on the site, including professional and personal content—and imeem will handle all the licensing for you. (Because they’ve never had legal troubles in that area before.)

imeem’s introduction for its platform says that developers will be able to:

Facebook’s New Privacy Measures: Problems Already?

As promised yesterday, Facebook has announced new privacy measures. The new features include long-sought for privacy controls based on friend lists (which were introduced in December). The blue privacy lock icon will denote areas that can have custom privacy options, which will include most of the site, apparently, from photo albums to contact information.

The privacy controls will even allow you to specify exactly which friends can and cannot see your photos and information, as well as allowing friends of your friends to see your information. Facebook states that this will be most beneficial “for people whose strongest social connections are not through the networks they’ve joined, but through the friends they’ve added.”

facebook adds privacy features to friend lists

Facebook Working on an IM Service

I take one weekend off the Internet, and everything goes crazy. Can’t you people get on without me?

TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington reported on Friday that Facebook would be developing an IM service, to premiere as early as this week. Naturally, as Arrington pointed out, this would not bode well for the existing third-party chat apps already in use on Facebook. Arrington’s sources say that Facebook’s IM would eventually be Jabber-compliant (ie open source and compatible with existing chat clients like Trillium).

A day later, the ever-reliable Valleywag reported that Facebook was in talks to acquire Social.IM, one of those third-party chat apps (which happens to be privately funded, as well). However, they updated their story when the CEO of Mogad (Social.IM’s owner company) said that “If we’re being bought, I haven’t gotten the call yet.”

AOL’s Bebo Acquisition: A Social Network Bubble or Not?

As you’ve probably heard AOL today announced the acquisition of social networking site Bebo for $850 million.

Sure, we could discuss how this will help AOL turn AIM and ICQ into an uber-social network. We could also discuss how Yahoo and Google let this slip from their grasp. But, here’s the question I’d like to ask…

Does this prove that social networks are approaching their own “bubble?”

For the past year, we’ve heard rumors that Bebo is up for sale. Valuations have typically placed the social network in the $1 billion to $1.5 billion price range. Now, after weeks of speculation that internet users are tiring of social networks, Bebo sells for just $850 million–almost half the top-end valuation thrown around last year.

Yahoo Going for OpenSocial?

It seems like an innocuous enough idea at first: Yahoo’s making moves as if to join the OpenSocial initiative of standardized APIs for social network developer/3rd party apps. And then we think about it: OpenSocial is Google’s baby.

Yahoo’s current official comment, of course, isn’t very informative:

Yahoo has a rich history of supporting open standards, such as OpenID and Apache Hadoop, as we believe industry collaboration is beneficial to the developer community and the Web as a whole. While we are evaluating OpenSocial as an emerging standard, we do not comment on speculation or rumors.

The New York Times, however, says otherwise. An article yesterday states that “Yahoo intends to join OpenSocial.” Interestingly, the Times says that this isn’t an act of defeat for Yahoo, as most of us would assume when Yahoo signs on to a Google effort five months later.