Today in Tech: Barnes and Noble sales take a big hitJanuary 4, 2013: 5:30 AM ET
Also: The future as per Google CEO Larry Page; eBay experiments with drop-offs and pick-ups.
The Nook segment — which includes devices, digital content and accessories — had revenues of $311 million, down 12.6 percent from last year* and a far cry from the $1.5 billion in comparable sales that CEO William Lynch had expected last year. While digital content sales — ebooks, newsstand, and apps — increased by 13.1 percent (compared to an increase of 113 percent last year), the decline was driven by lower device sales, which Barnes & Noble didn't break out. However, the company noted that Nook sales declined "due to lower unit volume and average selling prices." Barnes & Noble launched the Nook in the U.K. this fall, but the company didn't mention sales performance there.
The seven product executives form the core of the "L-Team" -- short for Larry's team. They meet every Monday at noon in one of the conference rooms in Page's executive suite. The meetings can last two hours or more and are often followed by huddles involving a subset of the group to hash out issues that emerge across teams or to focus on products that are lagging. Page, who before becoming CEO was at times distracted or staring at his laptop during management meetings, is now very much in charge. "There is no Larry on his laptop anymore," says a former senior executive who left in 2012. Meetings always end with action items, which Page never forgets, Pichai says. The new structure has allowed Page to impose his will more effectively and to drive his vision for Google's services. From the beginning he emphasized design and strove to create a more unified user interface across Google's disparate products. Now, whether you are on YouTube, the Google homepage, or Gmail, menus have a consistent look and feel. And features of Google+, the company's social network, are now woven into a variety of products on the web and on Android. "For the first time, someone is thinking across Google products," Pichai says.
Last month, I got a close look at the pick-up service as well as a similar pilot that allowed people to drop off clothing and small consumer electronics at a mall. The two trials are being conducted in a small number of markets for a limited period of time, but could be expanded if successful.
A third pilot that falls into the local category is something called eBay Now, a same-day delivery service that is being tested in San Francisco and parts of New York City. The program allows users to place orders at major stores, like Macy's or Toys "R" Us, from a mobile phone and have them delivered to their door within a couple of hours.
Why BuzzFeed raised new venture capital [FORTUNE]
FORTUNE: You led a $15.5 million financing just last year for BuzzFeed, and the NY Times reports that the money "essentially hasn't been touched yet." So why pump in more cash now?
KERINS: It's not true to say the money hasn't been touched. It's a slight misinterpretation that someone might have made after hearing that BuzzFeed didn't 'need' new money. This round was a situation in which the company had interest in raising new money as a cushion to be aggressive in a few areas. And insiders like us said, 'Don't go to market, just do it with us.'
If the company ramps the way we think it will over the next year, we could take advantage of its position to be a lot more aggressive in mobile. There also are some ideas about international development, but that comes after mobile. There also are some new developments in video, and the company has added some people in that space.
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