Friday, June 1, 2007

Google buys RSS company FeedBurner

By Elinor Mills

Google has acquired another medium for its advertising engine by purchasing FeedBurner, a company that distributes syndicated content for blogs and other media Web sites, the companies said Friday.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although the figure of $100 million had been reported by TechCrunch, which broke the story last week.

"This is an area where we saw a lot of opportunity and that was growing quickly," Susan Wojcicki, vice president of product management at Google, said in a conference call with reporters.

Google is the titan of paid search advertising and has a large network of Web sites that host ads Google sells through its AdWords online marketing system. The company has been expanding aggressively into enabling offline forms of advertising, such as in print and on radio and television. Now it can put ads in the more than 430,000 RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds that FeedBurner has and it can expand its AdSense Web site publisher network with the FeedBurner publishers, Wojcicki said.

"If you are a Google advertiser, now you can advertise on feeds that you otherwise may not have had access to," she said. Also, "our advertisers will have more access to (FeedBurner) publishers."

Google will figure out "interesting ways" it can integrate FeedBurner technology with its Google Reader, Wojcicki said.

RSS feeds enable media Web sites, bloggers and podcasters to shoot their content directly to readers through so-called RSS readers. FeedBurner helps publishers deliver the RSS feeds, as well as manage the feeds, track usage of the subscribers and serve ads.

The Google deal will undoubtedly shine the spotlight on technology that while growing rapidly, is not yet mainstream.

"We can absolutely help raise the profile of this new distribution vehicle," said Dick Costolo, chief executive and co-founder of 4-year-old FeedBurner, which is based in Chicago.

Google's FeedBurner acquisition may just be the tipping point that leads to widespread adoption of RSS and advertising in RSS feeds, said Bill Flitter, founder and vice president of marketing at Pheedo, a FeedBurner rival that feeds ads in RSS feeds.

"There is a market for RSS and RSS analytics in advertising," he said. "Looking at ads in the feeds, as content moves outside of your site, you need some sort of revenue model. Google has Google Analytics, which makes a good fit with FeedBurner's analytics."

The FeedBurner acquisition is just the latest of several recent Google purchases. On Tuesday, it was revealed that Google acquired security software developer GreenBorder Technologies. On Wednesday, it was disclosed that Google has purchased Spanish geo-photo firm Panoramio. In April, Google said it planned to spend $3.1 billion to buy Web ad firm DoubleClick.

Dow, S&P 500 Hit Record Highs on Data

Stocks Finish Higher After Manufacturing, Jobs Data; Dow, S&P Set Records

NEW YORK (AP) -- Wall Street carved out a solid advance Friday after data on job creation, manufacturing and inflation injected the market with renewed confidence about the economy and sent major indexes to record closes.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index was the biggest gainer among the major indicators and moved toward its all-time trading high.

Investors found reason for optimism in a stronger-than-expected jobs report for May. Nonfarm payrolls rose by 157,000 last month, a larger increase than in April and more than analysts anticipated. The unemployment rate held steady at 4.5 percent, as forecast, according to the Labor Department report.

The economic picture appeared brighter still following a lower reading on inflation from the Commerce Department and data from the Institute for Supply Management's May survey, which indicated that the manufacturing sector was strengthening.

Investors have been trying to glean from recent economic data any clues about the state of the economy and the direction of interest rates. The market hopes a slowing economy will prompt the Federal Reserve to lower rates, something the Fed is loath to do if inflation remains defiantly above the central bank's target. The job figures Friday pleased Wall Street, however, because they showed growth without an attendant rise in wage inflation.

"If you can get job growth without wage inflation, that's about as positive as you can get," said Randy Frederick, director of derivatives at Charles Schwab & Co.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 40.47, or 0.30 percent, to 13,668.11, the Dow's 26th record close for the year. The Dow, which tacked on 1.19 percent for the week, also set a fresh trading high of 13,692.00 Friday.

Broader stock indicators also gained Friday to end a week that saw stocks advance amid a bevy of favorable economic figures and the continued hum of corporate takeover activity. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 5.72, or 0.37 percent, to 1,536.34. The S&P traded as high as 1,540.56 and advanced toward its record trading high of 1,552.87 set in March 2000. Wall Street marked a milestone this week when the index set its first record close since 2000, signaling the broader market's recovery from the dot-com implosion early in the decade.

The S&P's gains, which totaled 1.36 percent for the week, came as a welcome development for many investors given that so many investments such as mutual funds are tied to the S&P's performance.

The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index rose Friday, advancing 9.40, or 0.36 percent, to 2,613.92. Despite a 2.22 percent advance for the week that far outpaced other major indexes, the Nasdaq remains well off of its closing high of 5,048.62, set in March 2000; the index was arguably bloated by investors' frenzy over high-tech and Internet issues.

"As the market pushes higher and higher and higher, people start to get a little more uneasy about where it's at," Frederick said. While he contends the markets appear reasonable at present, he said prudent investors should remain cautious.

"To me it gets a little more nervous every Friday with the market pushing higher," he said, referring to the overall mood on Wall Street.

As stocks climbed Friday, bonds fell sharply. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 4.95 percent from 4.89 percent late Thursday. The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices rose.

Light, sweet crude rose $1.07 to $65.08 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. was the biggest gainer among the 30 components of the Dow industrials. The retailer said it will open fewer U.S. superstores next year as it looks to reduce spending and announced plans to repurchase $15 billion in stock. Wal-Mart rose $1.87, or 3.9 percent, to $49.47.

Technology stocks were among the biggest gainers, as was the case Thursday. Fiscal first-quarter profits at Dell Inc. topped Wall Street's estimates late Thursday and the company said it would cut 10 percent of its work force during the next two years in a bid to lower costs. Dell advanced 39 cents to $27.30.

Dow Jones & Co., parent of The Wall Street Journal, jumped $7.89, or 14.8 percent, to $61.20 after the family that has long controlled the publishing company said it would meet with media mogul Rupert Murdoch to discuss his interest in acquiring the company. The Bancrofts had initially rebuffed an offer from Murdoch's News Corp.

News Corp. rose 59 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $24.22.

In other takeover news, CKX Inc., the operator of Elvis Presley's Graceland estate and holder of the rights to TV's "American Idol," agreed to be taken private by its chairman and chief executive. CKX surged $4.02, or 37.8 percent, to $14.65.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by about 2 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange, where consolidated volume came to 2.85 billion shares compared with a heavy 3.27 billion Thursday. Often Fridays in the summer months see lower trading volume.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 6.23, or 0.74 percent, to 853.41.

Overseas, the often-volatile benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 2.7 percent. Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 0.47 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.84 percent, Germany's DAX index rose 1.33 percent, and France's CAC-40 rose 1.05 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended the week up 160.83, or 1.19 percent, at 13,668.11. The Standard & Poor's 500 index finished up 20.61, or 1.36 percent, at 1,536.34. The Nasdaq composite index advanced 56.73, or 2.22 percent, to 2,613.92.

The Russell 2000 index finished the week up 23.48, or 2.83 percent, at 853.41.

The Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 Composite Index -- a free-float weighted index that measures 5,000 U.S. based companies -- ended Friday at 15,532.67, up 263.46 points for the week. A year ago, the index was at 13,008.66.

Bank of America promotional fax mistaken as bomb threat

Associated Press

ASHLAND, Massachusetts: A Bank of America employee misinterpreted a faulty fax about a bank promotion as a bomb threat Wednesday, leading authorities to evacuate more than a dozen neighboring businesses.

The fax from a marketing group about a Bank of America small business promotion contained images of a lighted match and a bomb with a fuse, bank spokesman Ernesto Anguilla said. But words explaining the promotion did not transmit.

"The fax machine malfunctioned, so a partial image came through that looked somewhat suspicious," Anguilla said.

The missing text included the phrases "The countdown begins" and "Small business commitment week June 4-8," according to a copy circulated by police.

"It was an internal communication designed only for our employees," Anguilla said. The fax was sent to the bank's branches in parts of New England as well as New York and New Jersey.

The bank's Ashland branch manager called police Wednesday morning. Fears also arose because the branch received a suspicious package delivered by a customer around the same time, police said. A State Police bomb squad searched the bank branch and checked out the package, which was a delivery of documents.

About 15 small businesses in a shopping plaza were evacuated for about three hours, including a day care center with about 30 children, Police Chief Scott Rohmer said.

Authorities eventually learned from Bank of America security officials that it was a false alarm.