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The Generations Network Acquired for $300 Million

Today it was announced that privately owned The Generations Network is being acquired by Spectrum Equity Investors for $300 million. The asking price was $500 million. The Generations Network is the company that runs Ancestry.com, MyFamily.com and other geneology web sites. It’s based in Provo, Utah.

Their last round of financing valued the company at $100 million. TechCrunch reports that they are making $150 million or so in yearly revenue and that they’ve heard the company is hugely profitable. But there have been chronic cycles of layoffs and morale has seemed low at the company for quite some time. A few months ago the the CFO was laid off and there were offers and speculation that a buyout was coming.

Evian Water Debuts in Second Life

Evian Natural Spring Water’s marketing slogan is “The most important body of water is your own.” They are helping people improve their bodies – in the virtual world Second Life. Avatars just need to head to Evian vending machines and they can get a new skin.

Avatars come with standard bodies but you can buy another version to suit yourself. Evian says the skins they offer will not just be new but they will be more vibrant and have better texture (I’ve never noticed that level of detail but from the picture below the skin does look very smooth.)

When you buy water, there will be a pop-up with the offer. Choose a skin and you’re avatar will be transformed.

Facebook to Step Up AntiPerv Efforts

Three weeks ago, the New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced he was subpoenaing Facebook to learn how the social networking site dealt with users who were reported for sexually soliciting underage users. The notice came after New York conducted an undercover operation posing as teenagers on the site and reporting the illicit advances that adults made on their profiles.

Now, Facebook and the Attorney General have reached an agreement. Or, rather, as they called in at a press conference today, “a great cooperative effort that we hope the whole industry will follow.”

Appearing with the NYAG, Facebook VP and Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly, said the site had “slipped a little bit” when it came to safety concerns. However,

Facebook Out to Get LinkedIn, Not Overvalued

Facebook is all over the news today. I know, I know, just another day at the office. Anyway, two of the biggest stories are that Facebook appears to be going after LinkedIn as it enhances its business networking capabilities—and that $10B isn’t too much to pay for the site.

Facebook Gets Business—Now on to Get LinkedIn
Friday, TechCrunch reported that Facebook will be adding enhanced networking capabilities specifically designed to better network for business on the social networking site.

Many professionals using Facebook have complained that Facebook is still too college-mentality-centric, with ‘networking’ mostly used as a euphemism for ‘hookups.’ TechCrunch reports that this may be about to change:

Win the Nobel Prize Get More Friends on MySpace

One way to measure your popularity is to see those social network invitations roll in. You get friend invites on MySpace. Everyone wants to connect with you on Facebook. You can’t keep up with your LinkedIn requests. Suddenly, through these communities, people you admire can be just an email away from being your friend.

You don’t even need to have your own MySpace page to be popular on the site. Today the Noble Prizes were announced and The New York Times reported on Doris Lessing who won a prize in Literature. The 87-year-old (at almost 88, some say she’s one of the oldest on the site) has a MySpace page but she didn’t create it and has in fact never visited. The page is being maintained by a fan and now friend Jan Hanford. Soon after winning the prize last week, Lessing got 100 new friend requests. Hanford calls her to read comments and to give her updates on the page which is full of congratulations from her friends all over the world.

Nike+ a Lesson in Social Community Marketing

image In my forthcoming book, I take a look at how Nike has increased sales by tapping into social community marketing initiatives. Instead of simply shoveling more TV and print ads down our throat, Nike is instead shifting its marketing budget to non-traditional channels.

The NYT has a great summary of Nike’s “Nike+” effort to engage runners and get them to connect and compete with each other. In conjunction with Apple’s iPod, runners can time their laps, download their progress, and keep track of how their friends are doing–all without forceful participation by Nike.

This use of social media is helping Nike to better allocate its marketing budget.

Google Hinting at Its Own Social Network?

Unlike our good friend Steve, Eric Schmidt is one of the “true believers” in social networking. Perhaps he’s just one of the “younger people” (or younger at heart people) that Ballmer said were so absorbed in the faddish nature of social networking, even though he is a couple months older than Ballmer.

Whatever the case, Schmidt is praising the power and popularity of social networks—and dropping hints about a Google social network in front of the New York Times.

Mr. Schmidt did say that over the next year, Google is planning to use information it has about the connections between its users, something techies call the “social graph,” to improve searches and other Google services.