MediaFile

Tech wrap: Groupon offers itself to the public

Online coupon company Groupon filed for an initial public offering of up to $750 million, the latest in a series of Internet companies to tap the U.S. capital markets. In April, a source told Reuters that Groupon could raise as much as $1 billion in the IPO, which could value the fast-growing daily deals site at $15 billion to $20 billion. The IPO filing did not specify the number of shares to be sold in the IPO, the price range, or the exchange, though it did say the shares would trade under the symbol “GRPN.”

Groupon is losing an astounding amount of money, but generating an equally impressive amount of revenue, writes Silicon Alley Insider’s Jay Yarrow. In the first three months of 2011, it had a net loss of $114 million. For all of 2010, its loss was $414 million. For the first three months this year it generated $645 million in revenue, a 1,366 percent increase from the year prior, when it generated $44 million, adds Yarrow.

The hacker group calling itself Lulz Security said that it broke into servers that run the SonyPictures.com website, and then compromised the personal information of more than 1 million Sony customers. Lulz Security said in a statement posted on its website that it hacked into a database that included unencrypted passwords as well as names, address and birth dates of Sony’s customers.

Washington scrambled to assess whether security had been compromised after Google revealed a major hacker attack targeting U.S. officials that the Internet giant pegged to China. Neither Google nor the U.S. government has said the Chinese government was behind the attacks. Beijing nevertheless reacted angrily to Google’s charge, saying it was “unacceptable” to blame Beijing and allegations that China supports hacking were unfounded “and have ulterior motives”.

The Executive Office of the President, which includes the White House and related offices, blocks access to outside email services such as Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo Mail on its networks within the complex. Other agencies also have firewalls to block access.

Tech wrap: Google’s spending overshadows revenue growth

Google co-founder Larry Page in a file photo. REUTERS/Rick WilkingGoogle’s stunning 54 percent spending surge spooked investors already worried its new CEO Larry Page may take his eye off the bottom line to chase revenue growth, driving its shares more than 5 percent lower. Investors zeroed in on the stunning surge in expenses to $2.84 billion, which dwarfed a 29 percent jump in net revenue and reflected a record hiring spree, company-wide salary raises, and splurging on everything from marketing to technology. “If the expenses are targeted and result in future revenue streams, then good for Larry. If not, that results in an undisciplined spending approach”, said Colin Gillis, analyst at BGC Partners.

RIM’s PlayBook tablet bombed with influential technology reviewers calling the new iPad competitor a rushed job that won’t even provide RIM’s vaunted email service unless it’s hooked up to a BlackBerry. “RIM has just shipped a BlackBerry product that cannot do email. It must be skating season in hell,” New York Times’s David Pogue wrote. Even though the odd system on the PlayBook, aimed at pleasing security-concerned corporate customers, “is a neat technical feat, it makes the PlayBook a companion to a BlackBerry phone rather than a fully independent device,” wrote The Wall Street Journal’s Walter Mossberg.

Suppliers to Apple began production of white iPhones after a delay of almost 10 months, pointing to a launch date of within a month, two people familiar with the situation said.

Tencent, De Wolfe among interested buyers for Myspace

De Wolfe and Murdoch in happier times (Photo: Reuters)

De Wolfe and Murdoch in happier times (Photo: Reuters)

Chinese Internet holding company Tencent, Myspace founder Chris De Wolfe and Myspace’s current management team are among the 20 odd names kicking the tires at the once might social network to see whether it’s worth buying outright or partnering in some sort of spin-out with current owner News Corp.

Tencent has previously said it is interested in possible US acquisitions.

The names come up in Reuters’ Special Report on ‘How News Corp got lost in Myspace‘,  a behind the scenes tale on how the focused Facebook beat the partying Myspace. (We have the story in a handy PDF format here)

In the story, we highlight some of the key problems Myspace faced,  some well-known and some not often mentioned:

GlobalMedia-China’s shouts of “You suck!” music to executives’ ears

Big splashy action movies from the U.S. usually play well abroad. It should come then as no surprise that World Wrestling Entertainment, known for hulky dudes and toned ladies who act out soap opera scenarios both in and out of the ring,  manages to find fans well beyond these borders.

So, naturally, international expansion is something on the mind of Donna Goldsmith, the chief operating officer of WWE, who ticked off countries including Russia, India and Brazil where it’s seeking to introduce characters like Sheamus, Triple H and John Cena.

As a way to illustrate the global appeal of wrestling, Goldsmith relayed how talent is perceived in China, a country where WWE is available in 90 million households.

from Reuters Investigates:

Mongolia’s El Dorado stirs shareholder battle

friedlandIn Mongolia's South Gobi desert lies Oyu Tolgoi, touted as having the world's largest untapped copper and gold deposits. Little wonder then that this "El Dorado" has become a boardroom battleground between the relatively unknown Ivanhoe Mines and its biggest shareholder, the giant Australian mining company, Rio Tinto.  

Our attempts to get near this mine or elicit any comment from Ivanhoe were about as fruitless as the Spanish conquistadors attempts to find the legendary "El Dorado", or "Lost City of Gold" in the 16th century. Twice Ivanhoe stopped our reporters from visiting the mine with delegations from the investment community, saying reporters were not  allowed to mingle with bankers on visits to the mine. We don't know why that would be. We mingle with them pretty often in other contexts and usually find each other's company amusing and mutually informative.

Perhaps that's the point of Ivanhoe's policy. The company and its executive chairman, Robert Friedland, do not seem to trust the media much. They maintain a robust website,   http://www.ivanhoemines.com/s/The_Facts.asp., that pretty much takes issue with every story written about them. Friedland is legendary in the business for spinning a story and trying to control the narrative.

Sun Valley – Google’s Larry Page: Stop stressing about search data privacy

LarryPage at SunValley 2010Hey you Mr. Privacy Nut,

Google co-founder Larry Page has a message for you: Stop worrying about how data about your Web searching habits might be abused. Your search data is there to serve a greater good.

“It’s always easy to be fearful of a hypothetical bad thing that could happen in the future, and yet the data of these kinds of (search) logs and so on are actually very, very useful,” Page told reporters at a briefing in Sun Valley on Thursday.

He cited the company’s recent work using search data to figure out which regions in the US were experiencing flu outbreaks. Google was able to detect the flu more accurately than the government, Page said, and probably could save it tens of millions of dollars in the process.

Apple’s annual audit find some violations from suppliers

chinaapplApple has identified 17 “core” violations in an audit of suppliers that scrutinized 102 of the facilities where iPods, iPhones and Mac computers are produced.

Apple said its annual supplier responsibility assessment uncovered eight violations involving “excessive recruitment fees,” three with underage workers, three relating to hazardous waste disposal by noncertified vendors, and three of “falsified records.”

For example, it said three facilities were found to have hired 15-year-old workers in countries where the minimum employment age is 16.

What Apple’s “iTablet” could mean for Asia

Apple Inc. Chief Executive Steve Jobs walks through the crowd after a special event in San Francisco September 9, 2009. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

global_post_logoJonathan Adams serves as a GlobalPost correspondent, where this article first appeared.

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Here comes, maybe, Apple’s “iTablet.” Or “iSlate.” Or “iWhatever.”

Apple’s so-called “Jesus Tablet” has been described as the ultimate gadget: A netbook, e-book reader, movie player and games platform all in one. It’s going to revolutionize publishing, and education. No mention yet on solving Middle East peace, but surely it’s only a matter of time.

Google in China: For most companies, profit trumps human rights

GoogleBy Robert MacMillan

You can find the clearest statement about what’s happening with Google and its threat to quit China over the country’s human rights record in Xinhua, China’s state-run news service – seriously.

“It is still hard to say whether Google will quit China or not. Nobody knows,” an unnamed official told Xinhua. Here’s another comment from the story: “It will not make any difference to the government if Google quits China, however Google will suffer a huge economic loss from leaving the Chinese market.” That’s from Guo Ke, a communications professor at Shanghai International Studies University.

And that’s what you need to know: Google is taking a stand, challenging China to bring its human rights record into line with what it considers its most important tenet: “Don’t be evil.” Now everyone wants to know if other companies also will discover the ethicist inside them and find a purpose more important than making money for shareholders.

Apple iPhone China debut underwhelms some

Apple’s iPhone launched in China last Friday with plenty of fanfare, but the sales numbers so far appear a little light. China Unicom, the iPhone’s carrier in the country, said Tuesday it has signed up 5,000 iPhone subscribers since the launch, below what some analysts were expecting.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster called the China launch a “disappointment.” He was expecting something in the range of 30,000 units. “We believe that eventually China will emerge as a major market for iPhone sales but it could take a year or two to gain meaningful unit traction as it did in the U.S.,” he wrote in a research note Tuesday.

The iPhone is Apple’s biggest growth story, with more than 30 million units sold worldwide since its launch in 2007. China represents a huge market opportunity for Apple, which is starting with about 1,000 places selling the iPhone.