Great Portland Estates lets Rathbone Square office space to Facebook

London property investment and development company Great Portland Estates plc (GPE) has revealed that all of the office space in its development at Rathbone Square, W1 has been pre-let to social media company Facebook UK Ltd (Facebook).

According to GPE, Facebook has signed an unconditional agreement to lease the entire 227,324 square feet of consented office space at Rathbone Square. The building will be occupied by Facebook on a 15 year term without break from practical completion to shell and core condition, scheduled for February 2017. The company will pay an initial rent of GBP16.9m after receiving 30 months rent free from completion of the offices and a capital contribution to fit out the building to a Category A condition.

Facebook has also signed a conditional agreement to lease another 15,461 square feet, subject only to GPE obtaining planning consent from Westminster City Council (WCC) for a change of use on this space from retail to office. On receipt of this planning consent, Facebook’s total occupation of GPE’s One Rathbone Square development would be 242,785 square feet.

One Rathbone Square was acquired by GPE from Royal Mail Group in September 2011 and received planning approval in October 2013. The 418,698 square foot mixed use development also includes 142 high quality private residential apartments and 24,222 square feet of retail around a new public garden square.

The company added that following this pre-letting to Facebook, 87% by value of Rathbone Square will be either pre-let or pre-sold.

In addition, GPE has also agreed to provide Facebook rights of first offer on: office space at 73/89 Oxford Street, W1, known as 1 Dean Street; and on co-terminus leases with One Rathbone Square. 

Portfolio director of GPE, Neil Thompson, commented: “We are delighted to welcome Facebook into the GPE portfolio and we look forward to providing them with a world class London headquarters in this outstanding development.

“We’ve long believed in the potential of the East End of Oxford Street, and have built an enviable portfolio of developments totalling almost 700,000 sq. ft. in the area. An endorsement of this scale from one of the world’s largest and most recognised brands, along with the arrival of Crossrail in 2018, will help transform this exciting part of the West End.”

Facebook’s head of EMEA, APAC and Americas Real Estate, Robert Cookson, added:

“The move to our new offices at One Rathbone Square highlights our commitment to invest and grow our talented teams of people based in London, from engineering and analytics to partnerships and design, who help us connect over a billion people on Facebook across the world. This is a fantastic opportunity to occupy a high quality new development in the heart of the West End. The location has excellent amenities and connectivity, with the very best the city has to offer right on the doorstep including Crossrail once it is established.”

Facebook considers placing video advertising in news feed

Facebook is considering introducing auto-play video ads in users´ news feed this summer, as it looks for new ways to boost its revenue, the Financial Times reported.

As the online video advertising market is growing rapidly, the most populous social networking site is seeking to take early advantage and attract huge advertisers. The Financial Times claimed that brands of the likes of Coca Cola, Nestle, Ford and Unilever are expected to be among the first to utilise the new option, which is expected to launch in July, although only in a trial phase.

The video ads will be a maximum of 15 seconds in length and will be placed directly in users´ news feed. The first video will start automatically but with the sound off. If users want to hear it, the ad will restart with the sound in place.

The shift of focus towards video was signalled by Facebook´s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg at the company´s first-quarter earnings call, when she said that Facebook was recording very strong results for video in brands´ pages and was working on new ways to utilise it as a format.

While the motivation behind Facebook´s new advertising option is clear, some analysts warn that this might be overkill and may put users off. However, the social site is unlikely to introduce changes that may annoy users, as an audience is more than crucial to successful advertising. Bearing this in mind, it is reasonable to believe that Facebook will launch the option only after extensive testing and analysis.

By Ben Hollom

Source: M2 Bespoke News

Facebook agrees to take over Parse

US tech giant Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has agreed to acquire domestic mobile start-up Parse Inc, the companies said in separate blog posts.

The deal, whose terms were not provided, is seen to complete soon, co-founder Ilya Sukhar said in the Parse blog post.

The acquisition follows collaboration between the companies. Facebook will continue offering the solutions of Parse, a cloud-based platform that provides scalable cross-platform services and tools for developers, the pair said.

The Wall Street Journal reported, quoting unnamed insiders, that Facebook was acquiring Parse in a cash-and-stock deal worth some $85m (€65.2m). According to the report, Parse had been raising a funding round which would have given it value of over $50m but Facebook put in an acquisition offer, trumping a lower one, by Dropbox Inc. The start-up was also said to have garnered attention from Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Yahoo Inc (NASDAQ:YHOO).

US hedge fund Omega Advisors leaves Apple for Facebook

Leon Cooperman’s hedge fund Omega Advisors divested the shares it held in US technology major Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) and acquired new shares in Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and in oil and gas company SandRidge Energy Inc (NYSE:SD) in the fourth quarter of last year, according to a filing with the US securities regulator.

Omega Advisors, which is led by Cooperman as CEO, shed 266,404 shares in Apple, which represented its entire holding in the technology firm and bought 3.16m shares in Facebook as well as 24.38m shares in SandRidge.

The market value of Apple has fallen considerably in the last months.

In addition, Omega Advisors boosted its ownership in US energy firm McMoRan Exploration Company (NYSE:MMR) by some 1.8m shares.

The filing provided no financial details.

Facebook overtakes Google as the world’s most popular website

Facebook has overtaken Google as the world’s most popular website, with 837 million unique visitors in 2012, according to digital analytics group comScore.

Google, which entered the search engine market in the 1990s and quickly dominated the space, took second place, with 783 million unique visitors.

Of the top ten most visited sites, two are Chinese – QQ.com and search engine baidu.com.

YouTube ranks number three in the world, attracting 722 million visitors. The video-sharing platform was acquired by Google in 2006.

The highest ranking Microsoft site is live.com, which allows users to access various Microsoft services, such as Hotmail.

Microsoft’s rival Apple is the 16th most popular website in the world, with 172 million visitors.

Here is a list of the top ten most popular websites in the world:

1. facebook.com

2. google.com

3. youtube.com

4. yahoo.com ( 469.9m)

5. wikipedia.org (469.6m)

6. live.com (389.5m)

7. QQ.com (284.1m)

8. microsoft.com (271.7m)

9. baidu.com (268.7m)

10. msn.com (254.1m)

 

Microsoft’s Bing to feature Facebook pictures in search results

Microsoft´s search engine Bing will be showing pictures added or shared on Facebook in its search, as the next step of its Facebook features integration that has been going on for quite some time now, the Bing team has announced on its blogspot.

Bing has already integrated other Facebook features in its search options, such as tagging friends in search results and displaying photos on its social sidebar, earlier this year.

The new Friends´ Photo feature allows users to search photos shared by their friends by the album title, the picture title or its caption. At first, relevant photos will be displayed in the sidebar and clicking on an image will allow a user to browse the whole album where the photo is posted, without even leaving Bing.

Another brand new feature is the Friends´ Photos landing page, which takes users to a scrollable page showing all their friends´ photos. The same page will also show all photos that users are tagged in and users´ own albums. Clicking on an image will show it full-size in a sidebar, from where comments and descriptions can be added.

Bing explains that privacy is a priority and the new feature will not compromise its privacy policy. Users will only see photos made viewable by their friends and the images will not reach the general public, the search engine promises.

Source: M2 Bespoke News