MediaFile

Facebook doubles office space in Seattle

The social network is spreading its wings in Seattle, taking advantage of relatively cheap office space and a pool of talented engineers in Microsoft and Amazon’s home town. Facebook view

The view from Facebook's new Seattle space

According to a blog post today, Mark Zuckerberg’s unstoppable web phenomenon is moving into 27,000 square feet of space in a 20-story block in downtown Seattle. That’s double the size of their current rented offices overlooking Pike Place Market and Seattle’s harbor.

Seattle is Facebook’s biggest engineering office outside its home in Palo Alto, California, with more than 60 engineers. Zuckerberg said when he visited in June that the city was a great place for hiring, with so many software and mobile superstars working for local firms like Microsoft, Amazon, T-Mobile and a host of smaller firms.

Facebook’s Seattle crew already led the tie-up with Skype — now a part of Microsoft — and is busy on more video calling, iPad and iOS projects.

“This new office will give us room to keep growing as we hire the best engineers in Seattle,” said Ari Steinberg, the head of Facebook’s operation in the city. Back in August 2010, when he set up the office, there were only three local employees.

Brace yourselves: (former?) video titan takes aim at Netflix

By Lisa Richwine

It’s getting crowded in Netflix-land.

The field of players battling for customers in the fast-growing online video market may soon get another big-name entrant: Blockbuster, reinventing itself under new owners Dish after a disastrous run, looks ready to launch its long-awaited move into instant video streaming next week, another shot at grabbing customers frustrated with Netflix.

Blockbuster, a unit of Dish Networks, set a press conference for next Friday in San Francisco coyly named “A Stream Come True,” where it promises to unveil “the most comprehensive home entertainment package ever.”

CEO Joe Clayton and Blockbuster President Michael Kelly will appear at the event.

Tech wrap: Google’s appetite for local grows with Zagat buy

Google bought Zagat, the popular dining recommendations and ratings authority, jumping into a niche Web market alongside the likes of OpenTable and Yelp. The 32-year-old Zagat, which polls consumers and compiles reviews about restaurants around the world, will become a cornerstone of Google’s “local offering” and work in tandem with its mapping services and core search engine, the Internet search and advertising leader said.

The Zagat acquisition also marks Google’s first foray into original content creation. Google had been accused of poaching user reviews from the likes of Yelp for use on Google Places pages, without providing a link back.

Only about half of Twitter’s 200 million-plus registered members log on daily but the microblogging website is chalking up growth of 40 percent every quarter in mobile device usage, CEO Dick Costolo said. Twitter is gearing up for a hotly anticipated initial public offering. But Costolo told reporters they would do so only on their own terms. Twitter.com now sees about 400 million unique visitors every month, a 60 percent leap from 200 million at the start of the year.

Sony not out of the woods

Sony cranked up its video game networks over the weekend starting with the Americas after an unprecedented breach led to the theft of personal information from more than 100 million user accounts.  But experts continued to  criticize the Japanese electronics giant for failing to plug other potential holes in its vast global network.

Using little more than a web browser, a search engine and a basic understanding of security systems, one researcher found more than five entryways into Sony’s systems in the United States and elsewhere shortly after the story went to press. ”"Sony still has several external security issues that need to be addressed,” John Bumgarner, chief technology officer for the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit, tells Reuters’ Jim Finkle.

Bloomberg weighed in on Monday to lay out how hackers of Sony’s networks and others have Amazon.com’s cloud computing services to launch attacks, citing unnamed sources.

Tech wrap: Amazon offers Android apps, gets sued by Apple

A demonstrator plays a racing game on an Android-based Motorola Atrix smartphone during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas January 6, 2011. REUTERS/Steve MarcusAmazon.com opened its store for Google Android smartphone applications, ratcheting up its fight with Apple after the iPhone maker sued Amazon in a bid to stop the online retailer from improperly using its App Store trademark.

A New York court rejected a class action settlement hammered out between Google and publishers that would allow the Web search leader to scan millions of books and sell them online.

U.S. wireless operators will have to pay higher subsidies for cellphones as they come with more features, Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse said during a chief executive panel at the annual CTIA wireless industry conference.

Tech wrap: Facebook friends Google exec

The Facebook logo is displayed on a computer screen in Brussels April 21, 2010. REUTERS/Thierry RogeFacebook signaled an increased interest in deals, poaching a member of Google’s corporate development team to lead its fledgling merger and acquisition efforts and underscoring the rivalry between the social networking company and the search engine giant.

AOL hired Twitter co-founder Biz Stone as a strategic adviser for social impact. Its newest addition, The Huffington Post, also announced several hires. AOL announced last week that it was firing 20 percent of its global workforce and editor in chief for AOL’s Engadget Joshua Topolsky quit over the weekend. Still unclear was the fate of AOL freelancers.

Sales of Apple’s iPad 2 eclipsed that of its predecessor on its debut weekend, with around 1 million units being gobbled up. One analyst sees the iPad 2′s early success as a warning sign of a global tablet bubble, where supply could outpace demand for tablets by about 36 percent. While a glut might not make tablet makers happy, consumers aren’t likely to complain about the price drops that could result.

How PayPal fumbled in the Wikileaks controversy

A unique feature of the web is that it was designed by idealists and capitalists alike. A hacker sensibility fights for an open, democratic structure, while profit-minded businesses helped shape it into a thriving industry. The more successful companies, like Google and Facebook, understand both ethics equally.

But idealism and commerce often clash as well, and woe to the company that is caught in the crossfire. This week, PayPal is such a company. The eBay online-payments subsidiary suspended the account that Wikileaks used to handle donations, citing a violation of terms that prohibit “activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity.”

The business logic seemed clear enough: Avoid the wrath of the U.S. State Department and steer the company away from the Wikileaks controversy. But it quickly backfired. Not everyone agreed Wikileaks was engaging in illegal activity, and many hackers and other idealists not only boycotted PayPal, they hit the company with denial of services attacks.

Hey Woot, its Amazon. You’re rich.

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You gotta figure that every web entrepreneur waits (prays!) for a call or email that goes like this: “Hey dinky but popular outfit with a loyal customer base — super-huge company here. We want to buy you and make you rich. Have a nice day.”

Woot.com got a call like that from Jeff Bezos’s Amazon.com. They announced the deal on Wednesday. It’s speculated that Amazon paid about $110 million for the company that sells only one item per day at discounted prices, until inventory runs out. The next day, it moves on to another item such as you know, a water gun or a home pedicure kit.

woot shortAlready, Woot is playing a part in the e-book reader price war between Amazon and its Kindle, and Barnes & Noble and its Nook, by selling Kindles cheap. (But sorry,  It sold out before many of you woke up.)

Apple’s iPad in Jobs’ words

In case you weren’t among the members of the fourth-estate lucky enough to get an invitation to Apple’s highly-anticipated unveiling of the iPad on Wednesday, here are some of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ key comments about the new device and its importance to the company:

“Apple is a mobile devices company. That’s what we do.”

“When you feel all this power, and this much fun, and the internet in your hands, you’ll never want to go back.” Reuters

Reuters

“When we set out to develop the iPad, we not only had very ambitious technical goals, and user interface goals, but we had a very aggressive price goal. Because we want to put this in the hands of lots of people.”

from Shop Talk:

Bezos and Zappos.com in a garden, K-I-S-S-I-N-G

Amazon.com's Jeff Bezos puts his quirky on in an online introduction geared to employees of Web shoe retailer Zappos.com.

The chief executive of the world's largest online retailer, in an 8 minute YouTube video posted on Zappos' website, told folks he "gets all weak-kneed when I see a customer-obsessed company."

Bezos, wearing a purple-red button-down shirt and standing in a very non-corporate-looking garden under natural light -- which gives the spot a quasi-online video dating feel -- enthuses about Zappos and his excitement over acquiring the zany online shoe company. Amazon announced on Wednesday the approximately $928 million deal, mostly in stock.