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.

In the Larry Page era, wither the splashy Google product launch?

Remember the days when Google had big splashy product launches?

It almost seems like a bygone era, with the Web search giant now appearing to favor a more muted approach to product unveilings.

The change in style may reflect the change at the top, with Larry Page, Google’s famously laconic co-founder, taking the CEO reins in April.

Consider Friday’s unveiling of the revamped Google TV service. All the key media outlets were pre-briefed on the news ahead of time, resulting in the usual blanket of press coverage. But there was none of the fanfare that accompanied the rollout of the first version of Google TV, during which CEOs from partners such as Intel, Sony and other companies took the stage at Google’s developer conference last year.

Google+ to Facebook: TMI!

Vic Gundotra, Google’s head of social, doesn’t care about every song his friends are listening to and every article they’ve read.

“We do not believe in over-sharing,” he said at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.

Gundotra may not have said “Facebook,” but his comments were aimed directly at the world’s No.1 social networking service, which recently introduced a so-called “frictionless sharing” feature in which a user can elect to have all their online activities – such as the names of the videos they’re watching and the songs they’re listening to – automatically broadcast to their friends.

Facebook makes us embrace creepy

By Kevin Kelleher
The opinions expressed are his own.

Sean Parker was looking edgy. Maybe it was because he was sitting in for Mark Pincus, who bowed out of this week’s Web 2.0 Summit because of Zynga’s pre-IPO quiet period. Or because this was a chance to show a large gathering of his peers that Justin Timberlake, no matter how smooth, could never be a Sean Parker. Or maybe it was just because he was Sean Parker.

He shifted nervously on a black leather sofa as he was asked about Facebook’s new power, a power that leads many to see the company as fearsome and a little creepy. His posture hunched, his expression murine, his black wardrobe gothic porn, his eyes shifting around the room as he hunted for the precisely evasive word. Parker’s reply finally came in the form of a couple of sentences that might stick with him for some time: “There’s good creepy and there’s bad creepy,” he said. “Today’s creepy is tomorrow’s… necessity?”

It sounds so unpalatable coming from Sean Parker, but it’s true. After all, more people are sharing more information on social networks than they were a few years ago. In a way, Parker was just channeling Zuckerberg, who said in early 2010 that people will grow more comfortable with sharing information about themselves; and more recently that people will want to share more of their lives as each year passes, and that “it’s going to be really, really good.”

Another day, another social network: Bill Gross chimes in

How many social networks does the world need?

Bill Gross, the man credited with pioneering the search advertising business, believes there’s room for one more.

On Monday, Gross’ Ubermedia unveiled Chime.in, a social media “platform organized around interests.”

The idea is to make it easier for people to cull the sea of social media content and home in on specific topics of interest, whether it’s photography, Indian cuisine or neighborhood-specific news.

Tech wrap: Apple’s iOS 5 debuts

Apple rolled out its iOS 5 mobile operating system, one week after pancreatic cancer claimed the life of its former CEO and visionary Steve Jobs. The update adds voice recognition software called “Siri”, instant messaging and support for Apple’s iCloud service, although the inclusion of Siri is limited to the iPhone 4S. MacWorld’s Dan Moren says the free update is “ambitious” and that “there’s hardly a part of Apple’s mobile operating system that isn’t altered in some way”. Engadget’s Dante Cesa says that “other than turn-by-turn navigation, more multitasking APIs and some delectable widgets, there isn’t much, headline-wise, left on Apple’s hit list for iOS 6“.

Despite Jobs’s death, investors still like what they see at Apple and want the company to start giving up some cash, according to a Reuters Poll. Apple has a cash hoard of $75 billion and record demand for the iPhone 4S has pushed its stock price near an all-time high. Six of the 11 money managers polled by Reuters called for a dividend payout as a reward for their loyalty.

A three-day disruption of BlackBerry services spread to North America, frustrating millions of users of RIM smartphones and putting more pressure on the company for sweeping changes. RIM advised clients of an outage in the Americas and said it was working to restore services as customers in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India continued to experience patchy email delivery and no access to browsing and messaging. RIM said the root cause of the failure was the malfunction of a core router switch and the subsequent failure of a back-up system to kick in. It then experienced a severe backlog of unrouted messages that is taking time to deliver.

Is Zynga’s lead slipping on Facebook?

Electronic Arts, the second-largest video game company in the U.S., is stealing market share away from Zynga, the top dog in social games on Facebook, according to a new report on gaming behavior.

The report, released on Wednesday, is based on data that tracks the game play of more than 10 million users of Raptr, a website that automatically tracks its users’ video game activity on Facebook, consoles and PCs.

 “EA has stolen 10 to 25 percent playtime from Zynga’s top games,” the report said.

Inside Zynga: Tour the office that’s raised the ante in Web start-up workspaces

Remember when a foosball table or a massage chair at the office was all it took for a company to flaunt its Web street cred?

Today, such on-site accoutrements seem as passé as a cathode ray tube monitor sitting atop a desk – a fact reporters discovered on Tuesday when they were invited to the new headquarters of Zynga, the social gaming giant that’s poised to do an IPO of up to $1 billion.

At the event, Zynga’s top brass took the stage to unveil a flurry of new games. But the event also gave the five-year-old company, whose hit titles include FarmVille and Mafia Wars, the chance to show off the new theme-park-like digs it moved into over the summer.

Tech wrap: Microsoft still into Yahoo

Microsoft Corp is considering a bid for Yahoo Inc, resurfacing as a potential buyer after a bitter and unsuccessful fight to take over the Internet company in 2008, sources close to the situation told Reuters on Wednesday.

Microsoft joins a host of other companies looking at Yahoo, which has a market value of about $18 billion and is readying financial pitch books for potential buyers, they said. Those companies include buyout shops Providence Equity Partners, Hellman & Friedman and Silver Lake Partners, as well as Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and Russian technology investment firm DST Global, the sources said.

Rival smartphone makers could exploit a rare letdown by Apple in the launch of its new iPhone 4S model, which failed to wow fans, and grab a bigger share of the most lucrative part of the phone market.

Tech wrap: Oracle and HP keep sparring

Oracle and Autonomy escalated their war of words on Thursday, sparring publicly over whether the British software firm had ever been shopped to the U.S. technology giant.

Autonomy, which Hewlett-Packard this year agreed to buy for $12 billion, is at the center of a debate on Wall Street over the tenure of fired HP CEO Leo Apotheker and the future direction of the company he once ran. The spat comes at an inopportune time for HP, fighting to salvage its reputation with investors.

Entrepreneur, venture capitalist and HP board member, Marc Andreessen, referred to Oracle as an “oldline” software company and took a jab at outspoken CEO Larry Ellison: “Larry is one of my idols,” Andreessen said. “I wouldn’t quite say my role model.”