Business Matters is a daily column that offers insight, analysis and opinion on the day's news. Follow Billboard senior analyst Glenn Peoples on Twitter at twitter.com/billboardglenn.
-- Ustream has received a $20 million investment from Softbank for a 13.7% stake in the company. That implies a valuation of $150 million. (Many reports said Softbank had invested $75 million. The Japanese company told TechCrunch the investment was actually $20 million with an option to invest another $55 million.) Ustream is a live interactive video platform that allows a person to easily broadcast video on the Internet. In effect, it turns anyone into a broadcaster. All it takes is a videocamera or webcam plugged into a computer and accessed by Ustream's software. The usefulness for artists and labels is obvious: cheap and easy real-time access to fans. (TechCrunch)
-- Three former executives at Echo (then owned by Ticketmaster) have formed Rockhouse Partners, a technology-based entertainment agency focused on sponsorship creation, activation and measurement. "We launched this venture hell-bent on not creating just another digital marketing firm," said co-founder Joe Kustelski. "We're creating scalable technology products that address specific business opportunities, we understand the value of data, and we bake measurement into everything we do." (Press release (pdf))
-- eMusic has launched an integration with Facebook Connect that will allow users to share their eMusic activities on Facebook. The site started allowing users to log in using their Facebook IDs and passwords in February of 2009. eMusic also introduced a new Free Daily Download widget that can be placed on social network pages, blogs, etc. Integration of Facebook Connect has helped sites increase their number of users because registration is made easier. Last year Facebook shared some stats on Facebook Connect: sites had a 30-200% increase in registered users and a 15-100% increase in reviews and other users generated content. (Press release)
-- To help combat piracy (and/or reduce its liability), UCLA has added a customized version of Clicker - an Internet program guide launched in November - on its main portal for students. UCLA is the company's first university partner. Clicker is like a TV Guide for Internet television. The company says it is "one part directory, one part search engine, one part wiki, one part entertainment guide, and one part DVR." It doesn't host files, it links to them. And many of its search results are for paid shows (such as "Mad Men" for $1.99 an episode at Amazon.com). But it's all legal, the links work and it's very easy to use. (Los Angeles Times)
-- A week after it approved the merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation, the Department of Justice is still in the news. As was the case with Ticketmaster-Live Nation, the DOJ may seek only tepid concessions in Election Systems & Software acquisition of Diebold's Premier Election Solutions. This was supposed to be an era of toughness on anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions. But that may not be the case. From the New York Post: "The recent decisions have led some Justice Department watchers to wonder if when it comes to antitrust issues, its bark is worse than its bite, suggesting that other big mergers, such as Comcast's purchase of NBC Universal, won't face the withering scrutiny some have predicted." (New York Post)