Tag Archive | "under-the-old"

Facebook Expands Its Definition Of Small Business Pages, Says It Now Has 25M Of Them

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facebook smb

Facebook is tweaking the way it counts up the small and medium businesses that have a presence on the social network.

Why the change? Well, it increases the count. Dan Levy, who leads Facebook’s small and medium business team, told me there are now 25 million Facebook Pages for SMBs, and 1 million of those businesses are active advertisers.

This may seem like an arcane tweak, and, well, it kind of is, but it’s worth noting as we track this side of Facebook advertising, since it could potentially become a big part of the company’s bottom line. In addition, Facebook likes to frame a lot of its ad-related changes in terms of how they might help small businesses (and not just giant advertisers), so it’s good to be reminded that those businesses really do exist and really are active on the site.

Back in April, Facebook said there were 15 million SMBs with Pages, but that was under the old definition. According to Levy, the company only counted businesses that had a physical location, whereas now it’s including e-commerce companies that may not have a brick-and-mortar store but aren’t big brand advertisers either.

Facebook is counting SMBs based on three criteria, he added - they must have a Page that’s been active in the past 28 days, it must be a business Page (rather than personal one), and they can’t be one of Facebook’s “managed clients” (those clients are the company’s big advertisers).

Facebook has been working to simplify its ad products this year, for example by launching “objective-based” ad-buying, and Levy said that’s already beginning to pay off with more SMB advertisers, but he added that the company has just “started that journey.”

“We continue to hear feedback from small businesses and incorproate it, and we still have a lot of potential left,” he said.

As for the mobile ads that account for 49 percent of Facebook’s revenue, Levy argued that Facebook is a great way for SMBs to establish a presence on smartphones – by creating a Facebook page and advertising on Facebook, they automatically have “a mobile marketing presence” and “a mobile advertising strategy” without doing any extra work.

Levy will also be discussing Facebook’s small business strategy at a session this afternoon at the Dreamforce conference in San Francisco.

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

SEC Allows General Solicitation, Effective Today: What Changed And What To Watch Out For

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sec-seal

Today, the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission’s final rules allowing general solicitation went into effect. In the fundraising context, general solicitation means publicly advertising the fact that you’re raising money. Previously, this was a big no-no.

The Way it Was

The most important securities regulations for startups is Regulation D, or Reg D. In a nutshell, Reg D provides exemptions from the general rule that all securities have to be registered with the SEC. Registration is a complex and expensive process that would in itself sink many small companies, so Reg D is a big deal. Blowing Reg D exemptions keeps securities lawyers up at night.

The most useful of the exemptions Reg D provides is Rule 506, which doesn’t have a dollar-amount cap. However, Rule 506 has two catches. First, companies can only raise funds from an unlimited number of accredited investors plus up to 35 non-accredited investors. For individuals, an accredited investor is someone with a net worth over a million dollars, or who makes $200K per year (or $300K with a spouse). The second catch was that companies couldn’t advertise the fact that they were raising money. The practical effect of these two catches was that (1) startups could only raise money from rich people, and (2) networks of investors were really important.

What Changes Today

As of today, the ban on advertising the fact that you’re fundraising goes away, but this, too, comes with a few catches. Under the new rules, if you advertise your offering, you have a heightened duty to make sure you only take money from accredited investors. Companies already had to be careful about this under the old rules, but the new rules are more stringent and the SEC’s staff has promised more vigilance.

Does this mean attendees will have to bring their tax returns to get in to demo days? Hopefully not, but we’ll see. At a recent public meeting, the SEC staff didn’t have great answers.

Points Of Uncertainty

As AngelList CEO and COO Naval Ravikant and Kevin Laws pointed out here this weekend, the SEC’s new rules use lawyers’ favorite weasel word: “reasonable.” Specifically, companies raising money have to take “reasonable steps” to make sure they don’t take money from unaccredited investors. A new part of Rule 506, subsection (c)(2)(ii) gives a few specific examples of what the SEC would consider reasonable, including looking at the potential investor’s tax filings or getting a verification letter from the investor’s lawyer, accountant, or SEC-registered broker-dealer or investment adviser.

There has been a lot of griping over these verification requirements. Yes, this will impose some costs on the process, but it’s not the end of the world. AngelList is taking an interesting step and turning this into opportunity by providing verification services. The SEC describes its approach to verification as “principles-based,” so these are not the only possible reasonable verification steps. Other angel investor groups could get into verification, as well, to help their members.

You Can Still Do It The Old Way

General solicitation is optional. If you’ve raised money under the old rules and are comfortable with them, you can stick to what you know and play it safe. If you do, the heightened verification rules don’t apply. I expect many entrepreneurs will play it safe and sit out general solicitation, at least for now, and let someone else take the first SEC enforcement bullet.

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

After Taking Flak For Sketchy Promotion, Carwash Startup Cherry Changes Wording And Cancels Trial Memberships

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cherry logo

Some people really don’t like a recent promotion from Cherry, the startup that brings car washes to its users. In a series of tweets which he then aggregated on Storify, Rod Begbie declared that Cherry was made up of “scammy rip-off artists who deserve to die unloved and alone” — and it looks like the company is responding to his criticism.

Begbie’s complaint is with a free carwash promotion that Cherry was offering. Turns out that promotion came with some strings attached — the carwash is indeed free, but people who sign up for it were automatically enrolled in a Cherry membership plan, with recurring payments that automatically start after the trial period. Begbie wrote:

No confirmation email. No banner saying “You’re now in a recurring plan.” This is the kind of bullshit that Zynga never dared pull.

Though their language may not have been as colorful, other commenters on Twitter were also suspicious of Cherry’s tactics.

When asked for an explanation, CEO Travis VanderZanden told us via email, “We’re experimenting with a free trial membership and we now realize that our copy wasn’t obvious enough, so we’re changing the button copy to be more clear.” And indeed, if you go to this page, you can see that the sign-up button now reads “start trial membership” instead of “accept free carwash.” VanderZanden also said that Cherry will be canceling the current trial memberships for anyone who signed up under the old wording.

But why take this approach in the first place? VanderZanden said the company switched to a membership model (plans start at $29 per month) because it was the only cost-effective way to deal with “extremely dirty cars.”

“We either needed to raise prices or keep prices low ($29) with a membership plan which allows us to automatically keep cars clean each month, which takes less time [and] therefore is less expensive for everyone,” he said.

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Facebook ad reporting change aims to help advertisers optimize campaigns for actions beyond Likes

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Advertisers will soon be able to measure a wider range of actions that consumers take after seeing an ad on Facebook, including comments, shares, app use and Credits spent, according to a spokesperson from the social network.

Previously, it had been difficult for marketers to understand what sort of effect their ads had beyond building a fan base since Facebook did not provide information about what users did after they clicked on an ad. This change seems to be part of a continued push to de-emphasize Likes as a campaign goal, and instead encourage marketers to focus on engagement within the platform. Today’s announcement does not affect Facebook’s pricing model. Ads are still sold on a cost-per-click or cost-per-impression basis.

Based on mock-ups provided by Facebook, advertisers will see a new metric in the ad dashboard called “actions” in place of what had been called “connections.” For example, with a page post ad — those derived from posts a brand made on its fan page — advertisers will now be able to see a breakdown of how many Likes, comments and shares the post received from users who saw the ad (see example below).

Under the old system advertisers could only get data about the number of people who Liked the page as a result of the ad. They could visit a separate page insights dashboard to see the total Likes, comments and shares for a post, but there was no way to distinguish which actions came organically versus through paid media. This latest change helps close that gap and could be particularly useful for Ads API partners that help advertisers optimize their campaigns.

Facebook also tells us that developers will be able to measure and optimize for actions within their apps, including making purchases or any other Open Graph action. Advertisers will define what actions they want to optimize for through the API, and this could later be added to the self-serve tool, similar to what we saw in a beta version that Facebook has been testing.

Article courtesy of Inside Facebook

Subscription Billing System Chargify Missteps As It Switches From Freemium To Premium

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It’s been a rough day for Chargify, a service that makes it very easy for startups to incorporate support for subscription payments into their products. Chargify launched a year ago, catering to Web 2.0 and SaaS companies with some attractive pricing, including a free package for companies with fewer than 50 subscribers. But that model isn’t going to work in the long term, so Chargify is making changes — today the company announced a new pricing scheme that ditches its freemium model in favor of one that only offers premium plans, and it’s also doubling the price of its entry-level product from $49 to $99. Users aren’t pleased.

Obviously it’s never good news when a company has to hike its rates, but Chargify’s big stumble lies in the fact that it’s not grandfathering-in current users under the old rates. Some price points are doubling, and free users are now going to have to make the jump to a premium option. Given that many of them likely chose Chargify over its competitors specifically because of this free option, it’s no surprise that Chargify is seeing a substanial backlash.

The Chargify Twitter account has been responding to complaints all day, and the change has sparked a popular thread on Hacker News. Chargify has responded to the negative feedback by announcing the addition of a ‘Bootstrapping’ plan, which runs $39/month for up to 100 customers and will only be available to Chargify users who signed up before today. But anyone relying on a free plan is out of luck, and it’s not trivial to make the jump from one payment system to another.

However, today isn’t all bad news. As part of the price-hike announcement, Chargify also announced that it will be Level 1 PCI Compliant in the next few weeks (which will be a big deal to some businesses) and that it’s offering 24/7 US-based tech support.

Chargify isn’t the only company in this space that’s had to change its pricing model. In March Recurly, which launched with pricing based on per-transaction fees rather than a monthly rate, moved to a flat-rate model. And, as you’d expect, some of its customers weren’t pleased.

Here’s a demo of the product:

Here’s a shot of the old pricing:

And the new pricing:

Information provided by CrunchBase



Article courtesy of TechCrunch

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