Posts Tagged ‘silicon-valley’

Mark Zuckerberg Becomes a Landlord

October 11, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Irony of ironies: Mark Zuckerberg is going above and beyond to keep his privacy in check. As the San Jose Mercury News first reported , Zuckerberg purchased a series of houses near his own Palo Alto home earlier this year. Apparently, Zuckerberg isn’t going to build a mansion for himself with his new property. According to the Merc, he plans to continue leasing the homes to the existing tenants — essentially characterizing it as a defensive play against an opportunistic land developer. Indeed, according to real estate records, in December of last year, the home directly behind Zuckerberg’s was sold to an LLC associated with Iconiq Capital, a San Francisco firm that handles financial accounts for many Silicon Valley luminaries — including Zuckerberg and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. A source familiar with the transaction also confirmed the accuracy of the Merc’s report. Zuckerberg paid a reported $30 million-plus premium for the four properties combined, the Merc said. Despite the ridiculous prices he paid, I don’t particularly fault the famous founder for wanting his personal privacy in his own neighborhood, especially considering that he has one of the most famous faces in the world. I imagine, too, it would feel rather invasive if potential new next-door neighbors moved into their houses based on the fact that Zuckerberg would be nearby. That is to say, if that “defensive play” line is the whole story. Facebook representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Actually, the Pool Is Quite Deep

October 9, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

“Dick Costolo, Twitter’s chief executive, has prioritized finding a woman to be on the board, but has found it difficult.” “The issue isn’t the intention, the issue is just the paucity of candidates.” “… the pool for board-qualified women in technology is shallow …” “There is definitely a supply-side problem.” So asserts Twitter’s Chief Technology Officer, Adam Messinger when asked about women on boards … – New York Times, October 5, 2013 Wow. Where to begin? Let’s start with a fact: There are fewer women then men who write and debug software code for a living. No denying that. Now an observation: Having been in many, many board meetings over the years as a director, and other times as an adviser, I have never, not even once, been in a meeting where at any time, even for five minutes, any board member of any gender was asked to give a company directive in machine language, scratch out a decision policy in Ruby on Rails or, for that matter, code anything at all in any language. Image copyright hxdbzxy Most of the meetings I have attended have called on board members to ask questions, make introductions, discuss potential acquisitions or acquisition inquiries and, most importantly, to debate and discuss product strategies, marketing plans, management challenges, compensation structures, financial progress, financing options, investment decisions, how to deal with Wall Street and short- and long-term business goals. None of these topics requires a CS degree or years in the CTO’s office. Tech companies may well choose to have some engineering prowess on the board, but companies with nothing but technical directors will, in all likelihood, lose out to companies strategically advised by those with a diverse set of opinions, perspectives and experiences. The problem isn’t a “shallow pool” of qualified candidates; it’s a dearth of high-profile individuals with the right skill set. The real question is how many companies are building boards to provide actual advice versus how many are looking to put impressive, “A-list” names on a list. Sure, it would help any organization to have Marissa or Sheryl on the board, but as genuinely gifted as those two leaders are, they are not the only females in the Valley with demonstrable talent for thinking strategically, solving problems creatively, analyzing financial performance, negotiating terms and perhaps most importantly, assessing management skills

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Sequoia Capital Values Skyscanner at $800 Million in Mobile Travel Search Deal

October 3, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

The worldwide use of mobile devices to search for flights, hotels and other travel information is growing, and Sequoia Capital is betting on one mobile app maker to become the leader in the sector. The Silicon Valley venture firm has made one of its largest equity investments ever, acquiring shares of Skyscanner Ltd. in a deal that values the Scotland-based company at $800 million. Read the rest of this post on the original site »

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Meet the NSA’s Own Social Graphs, Comprised of Americans’ Data

September 28, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

The hottest, stealthiest social network won’t be found in any Silicon Valley incubator. It’s up and running. And you may already be a member. In an effort spanning the past three years, the United States National Security Agency has mined its massive stores of collected citizen metadata to create a series of social graphs, according to documents and confidential sources unearthed by the New York Times , mapping the large, interconnected web of connections between people. The graphs — which the Times claims details specifics as granular as citizens’ locations at certain times, personal connections with others, and traveling companions — were created piecemeal from vast public data stores, including (but not limited to) Facebook profiles, voter registration records, tax data and property records. The NSA acknowledged the program in a statement to the Times, but declined to state the number of Americans involved. Any data queries are required to have some sort of “foreign intelligence justification,” an NSA spokeswoman told the Times. The report is the latest in a series of revelations on the scale and depth of U.S. surveillance efforts, kick-started by the bombshell disclosures of former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden over the summer. Since Snowden’s disclosures, Silicon Valley Internet companies have issued vehement denials that the U.S. government had carte blanche access to customer data. The extent to which companies can explain how much data has been handed over to the government is limited, however, as current laws prohibit companies from disclosing certain details related to national security. It is unclear how much the NSA’s graphing efforts rely on data from Facebook, Apple, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft or any other number of Internet companies that have complied with the government’s requests for private data. Read more of the Times’ in-depth account here .

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Hey Yahoo! Take a Gander at These (Much Better) Crowdsourced Logos

September 6, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Yahoo debuted this new logo yesterday — the first redesign since 2009 (and not in 18 years, as the Silicon Valley Internet giant claimed) — and it was greeted with less-than-enthusiastic reviews. While everyone will eventually get used to it, I suppose, very few thought the effort — apparently done in all-nighter style over a weekend by CEO Marissa Mayer and various Yahoo elves — was up to snuff. For example, as I noted about the logo, which is above: The new logo is slimmer and neat, with the old serifs gone and minus the longtime whimsical tone. Stark and sensible — with an Optima font flavor and a whole lot of sharp edges (not very kid-friendly, IMHO) — it’s very much in keeping with CEO Marissa Mayer’s tidy design sensibilities. In fact, the new Yahoo logo kind of looks like it is a little hungry all the time, like some supermodel in a Vogue magazine spread. The Logo wears Prada! I consider naming it Giselle (and I wonder if I should offer Giselle a cronut?). And that was one of the nicer takes! But after getting an email tonight from DesignCrowd.com about what could have been, I am beginning to feel less charitable. That’s because the global design crowdsourcing startup — with over 130,000 designers — gave its community a challenge of coming up with something better. And, they did

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Yahoo Names Maynard Webb Permanent Board Chairman

August 16, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Yahoo on Friday named Maynard Webb the company’s chairman. “Maynard Webb’s leadership and guidance have been an invaluable part of our board since he joined it in 2012,” a Yahoo spokesperson said in a statement. “We are honored that Maynard will continue to serve as Chairman of the Board.” Webb first took over as interim chairman in late April, when Yahoo announced that Fred Amoroso would be stepping down as chairman and leaving the company’s board. Webb, a Silicon Valley veteran, was CEO of LiveOps from 2006 to 2011, and before that served as president of technology and then COO of eBay from 1999 to 2006. Bloomberg earlier reported the changes .

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Icahn Wants Apple Buyback Done Soon at About $525 a Share

August 13, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Investor Carl Icahn said he has acquired a “large” number of Apple Inc. shares, stating that they are undervalued and expressing interest in further share buybacks by the Silicon Valley giant. The activist investor didn’t disclose the size of his stake. A person familiar with the position said he made a $1 billion investment. Mr. Icahn, who is known for buying large positions in various companies and then agitating for change, disclosed the purchases on his Twitter account—marking one of the first times such a position has been initially disclosed through the medium. Read the rest of this post on the original site »

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Ryan Seacrest, Kevin Systrom Help Bridge Gap Between Hollywood, Silicon Valley

August 6, 2013  |  Variety  |  No Comments

The distance between Hollywood and Silicon Valley is being bridged by people like Seacrest and Systrom, who are emblematic of an ongoing cross-pollination between these two worlds.

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"Luminary" Access Site IfOnly Officially Launches With $3M in Funding From Tech Luminaries

August 3, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

IfOnly , a charitable marketplace for experiences with the top “luminaries” in sports, cooking and entertainment, is officially launching its site, after collecting $3 million in funding from a group of, well , tech luminaries. The San Francisco startup has raised the money from a spate of well-known Silicon Valley players, including Marc Benioff, Yuri Milner, Nirav Tolia, Dave Goldberg, Mark Pincus, Jeremy Stoppelman, Owen Van Natta and Hosain Rahman, among others. The concept behind the business, which has been in beta until now, is to offer the general public the ability to rub shoulders with big names — everything from a dinner with former San Francisco 49ers legendary quarterback Joe Montana, to having super-chef Tyler Florence design your kitchen or to getting singer Brunos Mars to sign a guitar. Or how about spending $116,000 for this : “After a night in The Penthouse Suites at the Bellagio, you and three guests will meet Andre Agassi and Stefanie Graf for a private tennis clinic at their local training courts, followed by lunch. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to gain insight into your game from two tennis legends. Later that evening, relive stories from the afternoon over dinner at the elegant Michael Mina restaurant. You will leave the next morning with personalized and hand-signed memorabilia to help commemorate this special occasion. Perfect for diehard tennis fans.” Perfect for extraordinarily rich diehard tennis fan, actually. But founder and longtime Web entrepreneur Trevor Traina noted that some things offered on IfOnly can be gotten for as low as $35 (that would be a hand-signed guitar pick from Third Eye Blind’s Stephan Jenkins). “We are offering things that cannot be gotten anywhere else and only focus on people who are at the top of their craft,” said Traina. “While a lot of well-known people have gotten comfortable with getting close to fans via social media, it’s largely been one direction and what we are moving toward is bi-directional.” Essentially, it’s literally delivering the A-List to the masses. Unlike online charity auction sites, where celebrity-affiliated items like this have become available, IfOnly prices are fixed, with about 70 percent of the amount paid going to a charity, selected individually by the stars. IfOnly makes money by taking at least 10 percent of the gross.

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Yahoo Paid $60M to $70M for Rockmelt — Will Dump Browser and Use Tech to Better Deliver Its Media and Mobile Properties

August 2, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

According to sources close to the situation, Yahoo paid $60 million to $70 million for social browser startup Rockmelt , with an aim of using its technology to turbocharge its myriad of media and mobile properties. The ambitious startup had not gained as much traction with its desktop browser as had been hoped since it launched several years ago to much attention, but it is hoped a link with the Silicon Valley Internet giant will give it a new energy. Sources said that Rockmelt has been focusing its attention of late on its mobile efforts and this engineering will become part of Yahoo’s own efforts in the area. The deal is not exactly a win for investors, who pumped close to $40 million into what was essentially a moonshot effort to compete via differentiation with browser powerhouses, including Google Chrome, Mozilla’s Firefox and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Rockmelt’s funders included a panoply of big names in venture and also angel investing, such as Accel Partners, Khosla Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Bill Campbell, First Round Capital and Ron Conway. But the acquisition does land a very gifted tech team at Yahoo, which is in need of more such talent. In the deal, its founders — ex-Netscape team member Tim Howes and former OpsWare employee Eric Vishria — will become key execs in the effort, with Howes running engineering for all its mobile products and Vishria becoming a VP for media products across Yahoo. As Mike Isaac just reported , Yahoo announced that it had acquired Rockmelt, a startup which aimed to reinvent the way users browse the Web through a host of social features. “The parallels between Yahoo! and Rockmelt are obvious: we share a common goal to help people discover the best personalized content from around the web,” said Yahoo product heads Mike Kerns and Adam Cahan in a company blog post. Rockmelt was created by Howes and Vishria and was originally launched an entirely new desktop browser back in 2010 , a standalone app to combat the likes of Google’s Chrome, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Mozilla’s Firefox, among others. As Isaac noted, “the fledgling browser company seemed to face almost too many hurdles on all fronts, and failed to gain as widespread adoption in the browser market as it had hoped to.” Rockmelt plans to shut down its existing apps at the end of August, the company said. That’s a far cry from Rockmelt’s once-lofty ambitions.

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