Today in Tech: How Netflix will become the next HBO
Also: Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer doesn’t fear Dropbox; Zynga loses chief game designer.
He hopes to make at least five new shows a year, he says, leaning back on a sofa in his Beverly Hills office in an anonymous-looking suite. His dream project: a Netflix series created by Warren Beatty. “He’s great in long form,” Sarandos says. “His only problems have been when he’s constrained.” Sarandos is also warming up Jodie Foster, who directed an episode of Orange Is the New Black. “The goal,” he says, “is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us.” His seductive pitch to today’s new breed of TV auteurs: a huge audience, real money, no meddlesome executives (“I’m not going to give David Fincher notes”), no pilots (television’s great sucking hole of money and hope), and a full-season commitment.
Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer does not fear Dropbox or an office-less iPad. [BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK]
You guys face the huge challenge of trying to advance a product on which about 1 billion people rely. You want to modernize it, but you don’t want to break anything that people need. Partly as a result of this, Microsoft is coming to the cloud late and now going up against a company like Dropbox that already has 100 million users.
Well, you’ve got to remember, 100 million sounds like a pretty small number to me, actually. We’ve got a lot more Office users. And actually if you even want to go to the cloud, we have a lot of Hotmail and SkyDrive users. I’m not beating on Dropbox. They’re a fine little startup and that’s great.
We first did our HTML versions of Office, the so-called Web Apps, two releases ago. I think probably six years. We enhanced them three years ago. And this is just another logical step down the path that we had embraced.
Amazon profits take a dive [FORTUNE]
Although Amazon is typically reticent about breaking down sales for different segments of its media business, CEO Jeff Bezos suggested that the Kindle is a healthy, growing segment. “We’re now seeing the transition we’ve been expecting,” said Bezos said in a statement. “After 5 years, eBooks is a multi-billion dollar category for us and growing fast – up approximately 70% last year. In contrast, our physical book sales experienced the lowest December growth rate in our 17 years as a book seller, up just 5%. We’re excited and very grateful to our customers for their response to Kindle and our ever-expanding ecosystem and selection.”
Reynolds was initially hired to found and head up Zynga East in Baltimore and help create new social games with a “strategic emphasis.” Reynolds, whose game development portfolio includesCivilization 2, Alpha Centauri and Rise of Nations, went on to help develop Frontierville and Cityville 2 for Zynga.
Last year Zynga suffered a series of high-profile departures which included chief operating officer John Schappert, chief creative officer Mike Verdu, chief security officer Nils Puhlmann, chief technical officer of infrastructure Allan Leinwand, OMGPOP chief revenue officer Wilson Griegel and Words With Friends co-creators David and Paul Bettner. Zynga chief financial officer David Wehner was the most recent departure, leaving the company in Nov. 13
Smart thermostat startup Nest has closed on a round of $80 million, we’ve learned, and the funding was done at a post money valuation of $800 million. Google Ventures led the round, and Venrock participated as a new investor, according to our sources. Nest is currently listed on Venrock’s site.
The company has raised this round to continue its growth; it’s now shipping 40,000 to 50,000 of its learning thermostats per month. If the company’s growth continues at this current rate, Nest could reach a shipment rate of 1 million thermostats per year by the summer, say our sources. Note, that’s shipments, not sales, though the figures are clearly closely related.
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