The Great Debate UK
Skype looks like Silicon Valley's best hope for a blockbuster initial stock offering in 2010. With Facebook determined to stay private until next year, the former eBay orphan could steal the scene with a quick flip. Moreover, as a result of clarifying copyright issues and rewriting its code to attack the business market, the company may be worth twice its $2.75 billion price tag when eBay sold all but 30 percent of its stake last year.
The company already has 500 million users and made $48 million in the third quarter, its last before going private. That's good, but eBay wasn't a natural owner. Its core auction and payments businesses had little to do with managing a communications firm.
And eBay's poisoned relationship with founders, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, also hurt. Because they threatened to pull Skype's license to use the underlying source code, and shut the service, eBay was reluctant to extensively upgrade Skype's software. Skype's new owner, a private equity consortium led by Silver Lake, has patched things up, bringing on Zennstrom and Friis - and the source code - with a slice of equity.
The company can now improve voice and video quality on calls by revamping the software. Furthermore, many companies are reluctant to use Skype because it pierces firewalls that protect IT systems from outside intruders. Updated software should give Skype a chance to tap the larger and more profitable enterprise market.
I have developed a practical approach to competitive success that defines strength not in terms of market share, but in terms of what I call “profit power.”
Cash, not China, is Google's biggest conundrum. More precisely, where should the search giant point its gusher of greenbacks?
The online advertising market recovery and increasing efficiency pushed free cash flow up 44 percent to $2.5 billion in the fourth quarter. Adding that to the company's $24 billion cash hoard doesn't make sense -- but giving it to shareholders does.
Google’s cyber-complaint is the tip of an iceberg. Coordinated attacks on IT systems are common, yet companies and governments have kept largely silent. The growth of computer services that rely heavily on the Internet means the stakes are growing higher. That may explain why Google spoke up about recent attempts to steal its intellectual property -- and why the U.S. State Department has also taken China to task.
The scope of the recent attacks points to a complex operation. More than 30 companies were attacked simultaneously through an undiscovered software security hole. The incursions appear to have had the blessing of the Chinese government, if not its direct involvement. It is hard to imagine who else would be interested in the email accounts of political dissidents, which Google claims were targeted.
Five years ago the thought that we could be on the move accessing applications such as You Tube or Facebook, or watching TV or listening to music using our mobile phones was no more than a dream – today it’s a reality.
If we take a step back and assess the journey of the mobile phone over the past few years it has been nothing short of epic. It has progressed from a piece of technology for the modern business person to a must-have item.
from For the Record:
Dean Wright is Global Editor, Ethics, Innovation and News Standards. Any opinions are his own.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Breaking Borders event in Berlin that marked the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The event, at which I spoke, took the anniversary as an opportunity to explore how the Internet is playing a role in advancing participatory democracy and free expression around the world.
Google doesn't want you to be afraid of the cloud.
The company announced a new feature on Thursday that lets people view all the personal information they've entered into Google's sundry Web-based products over the years.
The information in Google's new Dashboard covers everything from your personal account information for email and other Google services, to your viewing history on YouTube and the photos you've uploaded to Picasa. It's information that was always accessible in the past, but Google is now making it viewable in one, all-inclusive snapshot.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt has acknowledged he realized upfront that he was overpaying to acquire YouTube, to the tune of $1 billion, judged by any conventional measures.
The many critics of Google's $1.65 billion deal to acquire the video-sharing site three years ago will claim this confirms everything they have always said about the deal. Not quite.
from The Great Debate:
Google's former China head Kai-Fu Lee wants to create China's next internet giant in a factory. He believes that by combining the smartest entrepreneurs, the shrewdest businesspeople and the brightest business ideas, he will be able to create five highly sellable companies a year. That sounds like an ideal model for venture capital, but is he being realistic?
Lee's plan, formulated while he spent time in hospital over the summer, follows a battle with Beijing regulators who wanted to censor Google searches that lead to pornographic sites. It has drawn strong support from investors.