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Media Roundup: Richard Branson Eyes Playboy, Microsoft Launching New Google Competitor and More

Richard Branson eyes Playboy -- A UK newspaper has suggested that Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of Virgin Media, is considering purchasing Playboy. Playboy has been on the selling block for $300 million, despite the company only having a current market cap of $100 million. Playboy posted losses of $13 million for the first quarter of 2009. Hugh Hefner remains the controlling shareholder and is currently planning on passing his stake along to his teenage sons. [Source: Chicago Tribune]

Microsoft launching new Google competitor -- In a few days, Microsoft is expected to launch its newest Web search product named Bing. Microsoft is planning to spend nearly $100 million marketing the new search as a better alternative to Yahoo and Google. Currently, Google holds the lion's share of searches on the Web, with Yahoo a distant second and Microsoft's Live search trailing in third. Search and search advertising are the primary source of revenue for Google. Microsoft previously attempted to bulk up their search presence by offering to acquire Yahoo. [Source: TechCrunch]

Latest New Yorker cover created with iPhone -- The May issue of the New Yorker features cover art that was created by an artist using only the iPhone. The picture depicts pedestrians in New York's Times Square, and resembles a brush painting. The artist, Jorge Colombo, recorded the entire process using the $4.99 Brushes iPhone application and says he will continue making art for the magazine using only his mobile device. [Source: New York Times]

The New York Times hires social media editor -- The New York Times has appointed its first social media editor, Jennifer Preston. Preston is the former editor of the paper's regional sections and is now tasked with formulating the company's use of social media as well as helping employees be more active on services like Twitter. The announcement was meant with much criticism on the Web, with many calling Preston a "social media cop" to police the Twitter use of employees. The paper has reprimanded journalists for publishing details of company meetings on Twitter. [Source: paidContent]

AOLs fate to be decided tomorrow -- Time Warner will decide whether it will spin off AOL at a meeting tomorrow. The company announced last month its intentions to separate the former Internet service provider from the parent company. Time Warner plans on buy out Google's five percent share and taking the company public. There is debate over whether AOL's once mighty dial up business will remain with Time Warner or be spun off with he rest of AOL. The two companies merged in 2001 when AOL was primarily known as a dial up Internet service provider. Since the proliferation of broadband the company has focused more on content creation. [Source: TechCrunch]

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