NBD: Disney buying Maker Studios for $500 million, could reach $950 million

From Bloomberg:

Walt Disney Co. (DIS) agreed to buy Maker Studios, a supplier of online video content to YouTube, for $500 million, gaining technology and experience with short-form entertainment.

Disney also agreed to pay as much as $450 million more if Maker Studios meets “strong” performance targets, the Burbank, California-based company said today in a statement. That could boost the total to $950 million.

With Maker Studios, Disney is following DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. into an online video business with expanding audiences and little profit. DreamWorks Animation, producer of the “Shrek” movies, bought AwesomenessTV, a smaller competitor of Maker Studios, for $33 million plus as much as $84 million in incentives last year. The online outlets could help media companies build awareness for films and TV shows.

“Short-form online video is growing at an astonishing pace and with Maker Studios, Disney will now be at the center of this dynamic industry with an unmatched combination of advanced technology and programming expertise and capabilities,” Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in the statement.

With more than 55,000 channels, 380 million subscribers and 5.5 billion views a month on Google Inc.’s YouTube, Culver City, California-based Maker has established itself as one of the top online video networks for young audiences, Disney said.

Buying Again

“There is a lot of good happening in digital video networks,” Mike Vorhaus, a technology consultant at Magid Advisors, said in an interview. “There are a ton of eyeballs and the content isn’t expensive to produce. There just hasn’t been a lot of meaningful profit yet.”

The acquisition is one of the biggest for Disney, the world’s largest entertainment company, since the $4 billion purchase of Lucasfilm Ltd. in 2012. In the online space, Maker could potentially exceed the $563.2 million Disney spent in 2010 on mobile game maker Playdom. Disney paid $350 million in 2007 for Club Penguin online world.

Disney rose 0.6 percent to $79.98 in extended trading after the deal was announced. The stock fell 1.1 percent to $79.49 at the close in New York and gained 4 percent this year.

Maker Studios reports to Jay Rasulo, Disney’s chief financial officer, according to the statement. The online company was founded in 2009, according to a regulatory filing.

Disney had $4.4 billion in cash at the end of September, according to regulatory filings.

***

You may not recognize Maker Studios buy its name, but you most likely know the popular YouTubers behind this now very wealthy company. Maker Studios was founded by Ben Donovan, Danny Zappin, Scott Katz, Lisa Donovan, Shay Carl ButlerPhillip DeFrancoKassem Gharaibeh and Derek S. Jones.

Honestly, I didn’t even know about Maker Studios. As someone who has been a member of the YouTube community since 2006, I’m really excited for the people behind this deal. And I’m excited for Disney.

To give some kind of comparison to try to understand just how much money this is – Disney’s Frozen recently became a billion-dollar franchise. Any way you slice this deal, that’s a lot of zeroes.

As a Disney Cast Member, I can definitely understand the acquisition. I feel The Walt Disney Company really wants to keep up with the times and evolve alongside technology. The public may not always agree with this sentiment, which is understandable. But I think the loyal fans of this site can rest assured that Disney doesn’t want to change anything about Maker Studios. It’s obviously doing pretty well for itself already…

What do you think of this deal?

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Beware of Referral Key

So when you’re in the process of looking for employment opportunities, you tend to pay a bit more attention to emails and your LinkedIn profile.

On Feb. 11, I received an odd email from one of my LinkedIn contacts about what sounded like a lead to possible work. Since it was from someone I knew on LinkedIn, I trusted the link and opened it.

Note: I removed the sender’s name and business.

To read the entire message, you need to join the site, Referral Key, which as we all know only takes a few seconds to do. The message itself included this YouTube video, which instructs the user on how to export their LinkedIn contacts to their profile.

However, the video does not inform you that completing the process will email ALL OF YOUR LINKEDIN CONTACTS.

For someone who has 730+ LinkedIn contacts, that created quite the mess. I’ve already had to email countless friends and colleagues who messaged me to see if I had been hacked. (Apologies if you were one of them…)

Mashable endorsement?

Mashable endorsement?

So was I hacked? Technically, no. Apparently this site is real. I’m still having difficulty figuring out what its exact uses are, though. All I know, is that a few clicks can easily damage your reputation, so I advise you NOT to join this site.

The same exact thing happened to poor Cathy Miller…”How Referral Key’s Spammy Practice Embarrassed Pollyanna.” AND this article is another one I wish I would’ve read before this happened – it would have saved me a ton of grief.

Needless to say, I have already emailed the site and deleted my account. I also messaged the contact who initially invited me to the site.

Have you heard of this website? Has the same thing happened to you? I’d love to hear about it. Definitely NOT how I intended to spend my Wednesday afternoon…

*Update (2/13/14)*

It appears the site has removed the “Contact Page,” which is where I sent my complaint. Instead, they now have a “Support” page, which gives a quasi-FAQ. It conveniently has buried the fine print that the user is “100% responsible” for how they use the site. However, none of this verbiage was even on the site before. And, not surprisingly, I haven’t heard anything back from them.

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 18 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Help! My car is rotting: How Toyota failed me

***UPDATE***

10/11/2014 I am getting more and more comments and I continue to see these cars everywhere I go. Please LIKE this Facebook page I created and perhaps we can finally get this the attention it deserves!

https://www.facebook.com/ToyotaRust

Nov. 7, 2013 – 6 p.m.

Let me start off by saying that I should’ve written this more than a year ago…

My car: 2006 Blue Toyota Corolla

Mileage: Just hit 70,000 miles

Past issues: None – I’ve never missed a service.

I just got off the phone with Toyota. Again. Every single time I get off of the phone with them I’m left with the same story: “We’re sorry Ms. Forman, but your vehicle falls outside of the 3-year, 36,000 mile warranty. There is nothing we can do for you at this time.”

The problem I have with that statement, is that the issue I’m having didn’t start until long after the warranty ended.

See, a little over a year ago, I noticed an odd discoloration on the roof of my car. First it was just a patch. And then it was two patches. And then it spread. Like a disease. My car looks like it has a disease. Don’t believe me? See for yourself. Note: I took these photos about an hour ago…

Image

Image

Image

The disease is spreading…

So what do you do when you have a problem? You Google it. And when you google this problem, a plethora of results emerge:

Check it out:

  1. http://www.edmunds.com/toyota/corolla/2006/consumer-discussions.html
  2. http://townhall-talk.edmunds.com/direct/view/.f19d878/212
  3. http://www.topix.com/forum/autos/toyota-camry/T7KNSSJUAKT2TPCN4/p6
  4. Look at poor Judy! (hers is a 2010) 
  5. And so on and so forth…

Naturally, I took my car in to my trusted dealership, Toyota of Tampa Bay, and they gave me a repair estimate of $1,200 (this was before it spread). I was told this wasn’t just a regular paint job and that they would need my car for up to four days. “Would this be something you would like to do?” they asked me.

I’m sorry. But at the time, I had final exams and obviously did not have an extra grand lying around that I could use to fix something that wasn’t even close to being my fault in the first place.

Several estimates and auto mechanics later, I’m being told the same thing: the paint on your vehicle was applied incorrectly. But Toyota doesn’t want to hear any of that.

The mechanic I saw in June (and just got off of the phone with) told me that I should just trade my car in. “At this point, just get rid of it,” he told me.

Really, Toyota? That’s it? Oh yeah, because I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of $$ for my trade-in with it looking like that. Even though, otherwise, my car is in better-than-great condition.

I know this site does not get a ton of views, and to Toyota, I’m just one person, with one car. But I know I’m not alone. I’ve walked up to strangers, probably 15+ as a matter of fact, who have the same problem with their Toyota. I saw one this very afternoon.

I know the easy thing to do is to just give up. Get a new car. Because that’s just so easy (my car is paid off and I like not having the expense of a monthly car payment).

So please. If you’re reading this, and have the same problem, or know someone who does…please leave a comment. Share this even. I’d like to not completely lose my faith in customer service.

When things fall into place: #EIJ13

Last September, I attended Excellence in Journalism 2012 #EIJ12 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I’m from Florida so it made sense to go. My SPJ chapter went as a group and made the four-hour trek south to the convention. It was definitely a new experience and certainly a rewarding one. I mean, how often do journalists from all across the nation come together for a weekend in the name of all things journalism?

But, as much fun as it was, I figured I probably wouldn’t get the chance to attend again anytime soon. I knew the location changed every year and I assumed next year’s event would probably be on the other side of the country. And I was right.

However, this past January I began working for The Walt Disney Company, which led to me having roommates. One of my roommates, the one I shared a room with, is from the Los Angeles area. This past April, said roomie invited me to go home with her to California — which ended up being my very first trip to Cali! Fast forward a few months later to find out that not only is this year’s convention IN California, but it’s being held across. the. street. from. DISNEYLAND. Really? What are the chances?

So, four months later and I am preparing for a journey out west once again. Isn’t it funny how life works out sometimes? It is truly remarkable how seemingly little choices and decisions can affect other aspects of your future. It’s fascinating to reflect on the little web that is your life and the zillion degrees of separation that form and intertwine from within it.

So, here is what I’m looking forward to:

  1. IN-N-OUT (Hey, at least I’m being honest here.)
  2. Yes, journalism. Of course. It’s always fun to be in a room with other crazy newsies.
  3. Being reunited with my roomie!
  4. Cali weather & landscape (a.k.a. me staring out of the window the entire flight with my jaw to the floor from seeing land that isn’t flat. I still love ya, Florida…)
  5. DISNEYLAND – #DUH. I mean, I’ve only spent one day out of my entire life in this resort, so there is SO much more for me to see and explore. Funny sidenote: the convention is giving each participant two free park hopper tickets. OF COURSE THEY ARE…now that I can get myself in no problem. See, life wins again.
  6. Seeing Jason Mraz in concert on Labor Day. That’ll be one off the bucket list.
  7. The culture & languages – I can practice my Mandarin AND my Spanish all in the same day!
  8. Being somewhere else.
  9. Not knowing what the day will bring.
  10. Making new life connections – who knows where these new stories and experiences may take me!

EIJ12 Welcome Reception: USF SPJ with our genius professor!

EIJ12 Welcome Reception: USF SPJ with our genius professor!

New Fantasyland Dress Rehearsal


10/27/12: Here’s a shot I took while at the Magic Kingdom during a dress rehearsal for the expansion of Fantasyland.

I was lucky enough to experience just about everything that was open (minus meeting Ariel in her grotto). However, I arrived during sunset, so most of my time there was in the dark. I was disappointed at first about this, but it will just give me more to look forward to!

What can I say? I was speechless when I walked up to the entrance. To say I was excited is beyond an understatement. I notice when a restroom on Disney property is changed, or when a new poster is put up, so seeing an entire new area of the Magic Kingdom is quite the milestone.

I don’t really want to give too much away – if you want spoilers, there are plenty of those blogs out there. I will say that it is Disney being Disney. I could easily spend hours roaming around in order to explore each little detail. Both Belle and Ariel were a big part of my childhood and it is so lovely to have an entire portion of the park dedicated to them.

Oh. And Be Our Guest restaurant. I only got to see the dining room from behind a rope, but my heart stopped for a moment when I first stepped inside. Can’t wait to try the grey stuff – I hear it’s delicious! 😉

Have you seen New Fantasyland yet? Do you have plans to? What are you looking forward to most?

Presidential debates: the art of cherry-picking

cher·ry–pick: counting the hits and forgetting the misses; seeing only what you wish to see. Overlooking and ignoring evidence, while encouraging your audience to be equally blind.

I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to presidential debates. I think debates are exciting and I enjoy watching them, especially while reading all of the reactions on Twitter. However, the theatrics and the need for constant fact-checking are ruining the excitement and overall potential of this race.

In a perfect world, debates would provide specific, factual information and would help undecided voters make up their minds. Instead we get half-truths, pants-on-fire lies and, in turn, apathetic voters.

One good thing about all of this is that it has encouraged me to be even more on point with what’s really going on. I’ve learned to be skeptical with what’s being said and I think it’s sad that so many Americans accept what they’re told at face value. Almost everything that was said in Tuesday’s debate could be challenged.

Clearly, we could go on and on and on. Which is why it is so much easier for the public to latch on to Big Bird, gang bangers and binders full of women.

I can only imagine what the final debate in Boca Raton will offer.

High gas prices leading the way to independence from OPEC and crude oil?

As I watch tonight’s Presidential Debate, I can’t help but think back to a story I posted on The Digital Bullpen back in April. Think you know everything about natural gas, coal and alternative energy options? Be informed…

***

On March 9, after 39 days of increases, the national average price of gasoline was $3.758 per gallon. Sixteen days later, it was $3.894 and climbing. Today, it teeters near $4.

Is it possible rising gas prices could actually be a good thing?

“What’s good about high gasoline prices is it sets in motion the market forces that will cause gasoline prices to fall,” said Christopher Thomas, an associate professor in the College of Business Administration who holds a doctorate in economics. “When it goes up, two valuable things happen: consumers will buy less gasoline and some of them; will make permanent changes in their consumption behavior. They will get rid of their gas-guzzling cars and switch to more gasoline efficient cars.”

Thomas said this will not just help today, but in the future in reducing the demand for gasoline, which creates a downward pressure on future prices.

And that’s just on the demand side of things.

“Producers, when they see higher gasoline prices, they want to add to their capacity to produce gasoline,” he said. “So rising prices cause both an increase in supply and a decrease in demand. That’s a good thing.”

Another good thing, Thomas said, is that rising prices of gasoline will force us from fossil fuels to alternative fuels, such as natural gas.

In fact, in March 2012, GM and Chrysler announced they will soon sell trucks that run on both natural gas and gasoline. Thomas said this wouldn’t be happening without the rising prices of gasoline and the falling prices of natural gas.

Thomas said the benefits to natural gas are that it is cleaner than the dirty coal that is used now, and is very abundant and cheap.

“We have a 100 to 200 year domestic supply,” he said. “All the natural gas we’ll ever burn, we don’t have to buy one bit of it from foreigners. Domestically produced, it is very cheap.”

Thomas said the gasoline equivalent is 75 cents to $1 a gallon. The reason we have not been accessing it already is the technology is just now being discovered and implemented.

“It’s going to change the nature of our energy markets substantially within the next few years,” he said. “We’ll be much less dependent on OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) and much less dependent, I might add, on dirty coal.”

Thomas said when oil companies drill for crude oil they also find natural gas.

“As we say in economics, the marginal cost is zero,” he said. “The cost of taking the natural gas out is a big fat zero, so even if the price is low, it’s still above the cost.”

Thomas said it is also necessary to consider the potential of natural gas because of the ongoing tensions in the Middle East and the price of crude oil going up.

“You still need crude oil for some things,” he said. “But natural gas can replace crude oil for many things, and in time, and this is where the complexity comes in, the ability to substitute natural gas for crude oil grows increasingly easy to do. Two years from now this will be commonplace.”

Stop searching for perfect…*Hint* It doesn’t exist.

You. Are. Beautiful.

Your height. Your eye color. Your ears. Your teeth. You wouldn’t be YOU without them. There are some things we can change/alter about our physical appearance, but for the most part we are stuck with them. Why not embrace what you have?

Today I read that Pussycat Dolls and X-Factor judge, Nicole Scherzinger, struggled with Bulimia and self-harm…for eight years. And let’s face it – that kind of struggle never truly goes away. Personal battles shape us into who we become and I’m glad so many public figures are finally choosing to come forward with their REAL life issues.

We somehow have this notion that celebrities don’t get depressed and that they are immune to sadness. Little by little we are tearing down the idea that they are these perfect entities who don’t have stretch marks and never had acne. But we have so many examples to prove that it is pretty far from the reality, so why does the misconception continue?

And often the funniest people have struggled the most with depression. Ellen. Jim Carrey. Alec Baldwin. Owen Wilson. (The list is endless…) The people who have inspired you the most have been where you’ve been.

So Nicole, Demi LovatoLady Gaga and many other women in the spotlight have told their stories. Will we allow it to make a difference? Will bullies think twice before they make their next taunt?

How long will it take for these revelations to trickle down to our youth? I think we need more men to come forward and speak on their battles (men suffer from anorexia/bulimia, too).

And don’t think that just because you’re in college that you can’t still set an example for the next generation. Pay attention to the messages you are sending when you are in public. Kids DO pick up on what twenty-somethings do and even if you don’t think you are a role model, YOU ARE.

Perfect example: I went to grab a bite to eat the other day and the there was a young girl (probably no more than eight) sitting at the table next to me. She took a sip of her drink and proceeded to ask her mother/sister…

“You know that show with Snooki?” she asked.

“Yes, I do. JWoww..she was on that show with JWoww.”

“Yes! That show. I want to be JWoww,” the little girl said without laughing.

Wow, indeed. Is this what we’re teaching our little girls? I probably wouldn’t have batted an eyelash if a high-school-aged girl had said this, but an elementary schooler? Again – PAY ATTENTION.

Oh. And more thing. You know that stank eye some girls like to give other girls when they’re out and about? The one they do when they’ve seen someone pretty, someone who is wearing something they like or wish they had. Perhaps try smiling at them instead. Or complimenting them. Lead with kindness instead.

Another example: I was in the line at Chick-Fil-a once and I saw three girls behind the register looking me up and down and talking/laughing. My mind immediately went to a negative place and I started wondering what was wrong with me. However, when I stepped forward to place my order, one of the girls proceeded to compliment me on my laptop case. See, it’s a Walt Disney World case and she LOVES Disney World. I actually ended up sharing my info with her and learned myself a lesson.

And while this blog post is getting way longer than I intended, let me end with this.

We are human. We are all struggling with something. We are all trying to find our way in this crazy game called life. Let’s try leaning on each other more. Even if it feels unnatural or makes you uncomfortable, try it. Try smiling at someone instead of scowling. Try sharing something that makes you vulnerable with a friend.

It’s amazing the amount of doors it can open up.

Disney Professional Internships: Stage 1 Complete

I’m not very good at waiting.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a very patient person, but when it comes to things that I’m really excited about…I want to know NOW…or yesterday for that matter.

Just  a few minutes ago I had my first phone interview for a Disney Professional Internship. I was able to schedule the interview on Monday, so I did not have to wait very long for it, but I was told I might not get a response/official offer for a position until early December!

My interview was scheduled for 3:30 p.m. My phone rang at 3:29. Typical Disney and that is what I love about this company. You can count on what they tell you. They’re just dependable like that.

According to my phone, the interview lasted 15 minutes and 16 seconds (shorter than most wait times on property)! A lot was riding on those few minutes, so I spent a good amount of time preparing for my onstage moment. I know The Mouse like the back of my glove, so I didn’t want to over-think the entire process, but I did print out the application, take notes and ask friends and family for advice.

It’s been a few years since I was a Cast Member (although, once a CM, always a CM, I like to say) and I really miss it. I hope my answers grant me the opportunity to move on to the next step. I know the competition is fierce and the opportunities few, so I’ll be checking my status and keeping my fingers crossed.

I have found I can connect every one I meet to Disney (it’s a great ice-breaker if you’re ever in need of a conversation starter). The Disney name is global and every life has been touched by the brand in at least some form. So, what’s your favorite Disney memory? Do you have a favorite park? Character? Event? I’d love to hear it.

Faith, trust and pixie dust,

Rebecca

If you’re a Walt Disney World fan, follow my Disney Twitter account: @TweetsFromWDW