Posts Tagged ‘silicon-valley’

Mark Zuckerberg Leads 700 Facebook Employees in SF Gay Pride

June 30, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Two years ago, Facebook employees marched in San Francisco’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Pride Celebration with a contingent of about 70 employees and one jeep with a broken stereo. For this Sunday’s Pride parade, the company geared up to bring a team of 700 — more than 15% of its staff — a decorated trolley, and its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, who is expected to march alongside his employees for the first time, the company said. Facebook’s bolstered presence at this year’s Pride reflects a larger push by some in Silicon Valley to champion gay rights in hiring practices, and even in their products Google is sending about 1,400 employees marching in San Francisco on Sunday, about 40% more than last year, according to a company spokeswoman. An Apple spokeswoman said a large group of employees will participate, though declined to provide specific details. Read the rest of this post on the original site »

Read More

Washington Post Reveals New Details, Slides on PRISM Data Collection Program

June 30, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

The Washington Post has revealed a new set of slides regarding PRISM, the government program aimed at collecting information such as emails, photos, messages and voice call data from nine of the world’s largest Internet companies. The new set of slides — which come nearly one month after the original disclosure of the top-secret program by ex-N.S.A employee, whistleblower and now fugitive Edward Snowden — give greater insight into the inner workings of how the PRISM program operates. The slides include details on how an NSA analyst requests information from a particular company, the number of active surveillance targets in PRISM’s database, as well as the dates the Internet companies began participating in the project. Microsoft was the first company to participate with the PRISM program, according to the slides, beginning in September of 2007. In subsequent years, other Silicon Valley mainstays such as Facebook, Google and Yahoo joined as well. The slides come as technology companies over the past few weeks have scrambled to reassure the public that their compliance with the government were only in response to reasonable requests for specific users, reviewed and occasionally challenged by internal corporate legal counsel. As a result of being unable to defend themselves from an initial wave of public outcry and misinformation, companies like Facebook, Google and Microsoft have pushed the government to allow for greater transparency in disclosures of governmental requests for user data. Read the full Washington Post report, complete with new slides, here .

Read More

Kleiner, Pao Attorneys Continue Battle Over Discrimination Claims

June 19, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

The gender discrimination case against Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers continued to wend its way through the legal system Wednesday as attorneys for both sides argued over whether the case should be tried in open court. Former Kleiner Perkins Partner Ellen Pao sued Kleiner in May 2012 in San Francisco Superior Court over alleged multiple instances of sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation. Read the rest of this post on the original site »

Read More

Facebook Reaches Agreement With Feds to Allow Data Request Disclosures

June 15, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

After intense discussions and at the urging of Facebook, Google and other Silicon Valley giants, the U.S. Government will allow Facebook and other tech companies to disclose some data on information requests made under national security laws, including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), to the public, according to a release from Facebook on Friday evening. As a result, tech companies such as Microsoft, Yahoo and others will also be able to disclose numbers of government requests, sources said. Update 8:22 pm PST: Just a few hours later, Microsoft has also released aggregate numbers of data requests for the six months ending December 31st, 2012. The development comes on the heels of a massive week of privacy and security scandals surrounding former NSA employee Edward Snowden, who has released documents suggesting that the Silicon Valley giants had given the Federal Government access to their large, treasure troves of data via a formerly classified NSA program called PRISM. The levels of access and cooperation between tech giants and the government have been in dispute since the news first broke last week. But companies like Facebook and Google were somewhat hamstrung to defend themselves by existing legislation, which bars companies from even discussing whether or not they have been served with FISA requests in the first place

Read More

Zynga’s Pincus: "None of Us Ever Expected to Face a Day Like Today"

June 3, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Here’s the tough-to-write blog post that Zynga CEO Mark Pincus just put up and also sent to the San Francisco gaming giant’s staff. The company just announced layoffs of 18 percent of the company and also lowered its second-quarter guidance. In it, the founder of what was once a rocket ship of a startup in Silicon Valley, Pincus appropriately began on a somber note: “Today is a hard day for Zynga and an emotional one for every employee of our company … None of us ever expected to face a day like today, especially when so much of our culture has been about growth.” Indeed, the fall has been fast and hard for Zynga, as it struggles to cope with a massive consumer migration to mobile that happened faster than its management — or, to be fair, anyone in the Internet business — could cope with. Until now, its fast growth has been based on its Web business and flagship franchises such as FarmVille. But, as several sources noted and Pincus addressed in this note, Zynga must now get smaller again to get larger, doing little things really well rather than a lot of things at scale. “The scale that served us so well in building and delivering the leading social gaming service on the Web is now making it hard to successfully lead across mobile and multiplatform, which is where social games are going to be played,” he wrote. Zynga had made smaller cuts of five percent last fall, but the fall-off of its Web business — especially on the Facebook platform — was faster than anticipated, sources said. That business has been, as one person close to the situation, been “brittle,” and it broke more easily than expected. That is not to say there has not been some promise, in games such as Running With Friends and even at its flagship FarmVille, which is still a strong title. And Zynga now has 65 million mobile users. Pincus had been signaling more changes to come of late, trying to keep the company cash-flow positive, as he sought to rationalize costs. In the company’s last earnings call, he stressed that 2013 would be “transitional” for Zynga and has rejiggered its top management to better focus the efforts on mobile. Sources said that severance benefits will extend for several months and include some acceleration of stock options. Still, it is not a pretty day for Pincus, or for the staff of Zynga, showing a lot of hard-charging entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley the very steep downside of being a public company CEO in a much tougher and fast-changing environment. Here’s the full Pincus post and memo: To our Zynga Community, Today is a hard day for Zynga and an emotional one for every employee of our company. We are saying painful goodbyes to about 18% of our Zynga brothers and sisters. The impact of these layoffs will be felt across every group in the company. None of us ever expected to face a day like today, especially when so much of our culture has been about growth. But I think we all know this is necessary to move forward.

Read More

Google Plans to Fund, Develop Wireless Networks in Emerging Markets

May 24, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Google Inc. is working to connect a billion or more new people to the Internet. The Silicon Valley company is deep in the throes of a multipronged effort to fund, build and help run wireless networks in emerging markets such as sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, said people familiar with the strategy. The wireless networks would be available to dwellers outside of major cities where wired Internet connections aren’t available and could be used to improve Internet speeds in urban centers, these people said. Read the rest of this post on the original site »

Read More

Amazon Kills Zombies, Keeps John Goodman as It Plans First Season of Web Series

May 17, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Just like a regular TV network, Amazon ordered up a bunch of pilot shows this year , and will end up making a series out of some of them. Unlike a TV network, Amazon has asked the Internet to watch and rate its test shows , and has said the input will help the company make its decisions. And now we’re getting to see some of those decisions play out. We only have definitive word on one of the 14 pilots Amazon has ordered. That’s because Rhett Reese, the writer/producer behind “ Zombieland, ” has announced, via Twitter, that it’s not getting picked up: Our Zombieland series will not be moving forward on Amazon.Sad for everyone involved. — Rhett Reese (@RhettReese) May 17, 2013 Reese wasn’t done, though. He also complained about people who didn’t like the show — presumably fans of the original movie his series was riffing on: I’ll never understand the vehement hate the pilot received from die-hard Zombieland fans.You guys successfully hated it out of existence.

Read More

Elon Musk and David Sacks Depart, Mark Zuckerberg’s Political Action Group

May 10, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Elon Musk and David Sacks, two of the Silicon Valley stars behind, Mark Zuckerberg’s political action committee, have left the group, according to sources familiar with the matter. The group, spearheaded by Zuckerberg himself and launched in late March , aims to advocate for issues related to immigration reform and education, among other things. Along with former members Musk and Sacks, the group touts an all-star list of Valley luminaries, including LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman, eBay’s John Donahoe, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer and Kleiner Perkins’ John Doerr, among many others. But has recently come under fire inside the beltway and by some in Silicon Valley, due to some of the group’s tactics and ties to conservative lawmakers on the hill. Environmentalist groups like the Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters, as well as and immigration-rights organizations like, announced they would pull existing Facebook ads and hold any orders for new ones for a minimum of two weeks — a response to seeing political ads for conservative lawmakers who support controversial policies like Arctic oil drilling and building the Keystone XL pipeline. Musk, of course, is the CEO of Tesla Motors, which specializes in eco-friendly electric vehicles. He also sits on the board as chairman of SolarCity, a company focused on solar energy. A spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Facebook declined to comment.

Read More

Former Yahoo Exec Rich Riley Is New Shazam CEO: "For Next Stage of Growth and IPO"

April 29, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Shazam, the music discovery mobile app that is now calling itself a “media engagement” company, said it had hired former top Yahoo exec Rich Riley as its new CEO, with longtime CEO Andrew Fisher moving to executive chairman. The London-based company — which reports that it has 300 million users in 200 countries around the world, including 90 million in the U.S. — said it made these moves to strengthen its leadership team and “position Shazam for next stage of growth and IPO.” Shazam also recently hired the BBC’s Daniel Danker as chief product officer. “I look forward to extending our dominance in media engagement, from our roots in music to our leadership position in second-screen TV and want to ensure that Shazam is the company that helps people recognize and engage with the world around them,” said Riley in a statement. It’s an unusual and interesting career move for Riley, who had been at Yahoo for more than 13 years. He was most recently EVP Americas for Yahoo, its most important unit, and before that was managing director and SVP of the Silicon Valley Internet giant’s Europe, Middle East and Africa region. The exec, who will be working out of Shazam’s New York offices, came to Yahoo when it bought a company he co-founded called, which later became the Yahoo Toolbar. This is Riley’s first gig as a CEO, although several sources said he had almost been recruited to be the CEO of performance advertising company Criteo. At Shazam, he will be charged with expanding and turbocharging the fast-growing app’s business from its roots in music to a range of other arenas. As one of the more popular, though less flashy, apps on Apple iOS and Google Android, Shazam says it has more than 60 million monthly active users who install it on their smartphones to identify songs based on how they sound, via tagging of its 27 million tracks. Shazam said that drives $300 million in digital sales annually through affiliate partnerships with Apple iTunes and Amazon. Shazam gets a cut of these sales leads. The company recently launched a TV service, with a companion app that has a range of features such as finding music in the broadcast, providing cast photos and a variety of other show information, and linking to sites with more information or to those with show-branded merchandise, previous episodes or the ability to rent or buy programming. Shazam is also offering a form of “clickable” advertising that links users to rich brand content, and is working on new tablet apps, too. Whether all this activity translates into an IPO is to be determined, but that seems to be the aim. But Shazam is certainly well-funded, having raised $32 million since it was founded in 2002, from investors such as Kleiner Perkins, Institutional Venture Partners, Acacia Capital and DN Capital.

Read More

Better Late Than Never: Yahoo’s Mayer Finally Talks About Telecommuting Kerfuffle

April 19, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

At a human resources conference yesterday, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer finally commented on the massive controversy generated after the Silicon Valley Internet company decided to end its work-from-home offering to its employees. News of the change came in February after AllThingsD published a hopelessly awkward memo on the new dictate that resulted in a firestorm of debate . That was no surprise, since the missive was confusingly penned by HR head Jackie Reses, who noted, in part: “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.” Along with an incomprehensible aside about the “cable guy,” there were few details. And because Yahoo PR’s goal is to not comment, except when pushing shiny new products, it was disinclined to say anything at all once the memo was public. ATD reported initially it was a couple hundred employees, but the memo made it unclear who would be impacted and how. Yahoo later made an unusually bloodless statement that work from home was not what was right for the company at that time, given its need to turn itself around. Mayer underscored that point in her keynote speech, with Fortune reporting that she put up an image of a purple elephant with WFH letters on its side and said, “I need to talk about the elephant in the room.” She also tried to push blame onto, well, I am not sure whom, noting, “It was wrongly perceived as an industry narrative.” This mistakes-were-made tactic was clever, but the situation spun out of control simply due to the fact that Mayer was tin-eared on a hot-button issue and was poorly advised not to give a quick and cogent explanation of it at the time, causing a lot of unnecessary external and internal confusion and worry. What was too bad was Mayer had a valid enough point — even if it was very harsh medicine to end the popular policy — that Yahoo probably needs all hands on deck right now to return to innovative relevance. She also said in her speech that while “people are more productive when they’re alone … they’re more collaborative and innovative when they’re together. Some of the best ideas come from pulling two different ideas together.” As I said, it’s an excellent point, even if how Mayer delivered her message turned out to be a lesson as a new CEO in how it’s not what you say, but how you say it. And, of course, when

Read More