MediaFile

Despite tough economy, Wikimedia raises $20 million in donations

Wikimedia Foundation is marking the new year with a hefty deposit into its coffers.

The San Francisco-based non-profit group that maintains Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia, officially closed its annual fundraising drive on Tuesday. The total amount raised: $20 million.

That’s a record, and a step up from the $16 million Wikimedia raised last year during a nearly two-month-long fundraising effort.

Raising $20 million may seem commonplace by the standards of today’s super-heated venture capital start-up world. But given the difficult economic environment, and some of the struggles that other non-profits have experienced raising money, Wikimedia’s result is notable.

The drive garnered some big-ticket donations, such as $500,000 from Google co-founder Sergey Brin and his wife’s foundation. But according to Wikimedia, the majority of the pledges came from more than a million ordinary folks coughing up donations in the $20 range.

Google’s Brin, wife donate $500,000 to keep Wikipedia going

Very few have missed Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales’ picture looming on all of the pages of the user-generated information website.

But that may soon go away, thanks to Google co-founder Sergey Brin and his wife Anne Wojcicki.

The duo donated $500,000 to the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, which runs Wikipedia and its sister sites, through their Brin Wojcicki Foundation.

Sergey’s secret Google projects, and the challenge of 1,000 blooming flowers

What’s Sergey Brin been up to since his pal Larry Page took the reins as CEO of Google, the Internet search company that the pair co-founded 13 years ago?

Brin, who spoke at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, discussed his new role at Google, which he said is focused on advanced research projects like Google’s famous self-driving cars, as well as some “infrastructure” projects.

Brin said he was optimistic that Google’s so-called “autonomous cars” would eventually make it to market – though he noted that the vehicles still required a good deal of research and development before being ready for prime time.

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.

Tech wrap: Breaking down Zynga’s possible IPO delay

One of tech’s most anticipated public offerings of the year could be delayed, according to a report in the New York Post on Monday. Online gaming company Zynga may hold off on its IPO until November said The Post, citing a “source close to the company.”

The delay is partly related to questions the SEC has about how Zynga measures its daily and monthly users, as well as its bookings, CNBC reported. “Zynga’s accounting measures are less worrisome to the SEC than Groupon’s, says one person familiar with the matter, but the agency is nonetheless working to make Zynga’s prospectus as accessible to investors as possible,” writes CNBC’s Kate Kelly.

Renowned venture capitalist Alan Patricof, managing director of Greycroft Partners LLC, told Bloomberg TV he thinks Zynga is merely waiting for a “hole in the market,” which he described as a one or two-week period where the markets are up and the underwriting bank “calls up and says we’re going tomorrow.”

Wild news on Apple, Google changes? Not if you’re an analyst

It has certainly been an interesting week in Silicon Valley as two of the most closely watched companies in the world shuffled their executive suites. On Monday, Apple announced that its chief executive  and charismatic leader Steve Jobs was taking a temporary medical leave – his third since 2004  — a day before Apple released its quarterly results.  On Thursday, Google reported a stellar Q4 and dropped that Larry Page would be stepping into the role of chief executive, as Eric Schmidt takes up the executive chairman position.

Big news, right? So it’s surprising then that analysts who have the opportunity to quiz management during earnings calls failed to mention anything about the changes. Not one analyst asked about the C-suite during the Google and Apple calls. Google even made its three top executives, Schmidt, Page and Sergey Brin available for short period on Thursday’s call. The three analysts in the queue pitched questions about the following subjects:  Google’s real estate purchase in New York,  government outreach and social networking plans.

Google’s Brin: Make smartphone apps searchable

For more than a decade, GOOGLE/Google has reigned supreme as the main gateway to online information.

But with consumers increasingly accessing the Internet through specialized apps on smartphones like Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Web search engine could be at risk of playing a smaller role in the Internet’s next phase.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin has an answer: Make apps searchable.

On the sidelines of the press event in San Francisco to unveil Google Instant on Wednesday, Brin offered some thoughts on the future of apps and search.

Sun Valley: Jane Goodall and the primary primates

John MaloneIt’s day three of the Sun Valley media conference and the event has started to feel like a Jane Goodall documentary, in which we’re Jane and the moguls are the apes who have become comfortable letting us observe and record their movements. Several media executives groggily making their way to the morning’s first session (scheduled to kick off at 7:30), stopped to chat with the throng of press waiting to greet them.

Liberty Media Chairman John Malone voiced concerns about the economy for nearly 10 minutes while NBC’s Jeff Zucker, who once warned of the risks to media companies of trading analog dollars for digital pennies and later upped the exchange rate to dimes, posited the idea that the media industry was now within reach of collecting digital quarters. It’s change we can believe in.

Later on Thursday, Google’s chief executive Eric Schmidt (who for reasons unknown has been toting a camera with a beefy zoom lens throughout the event, even after-hours at the bar on Wednesday evening) will hold his traditional Sun Valley press roundtable, possibly with co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who are here.

Google’s Brin clears the air (sort of) on Twitter

Before this week’s dueling Google and Microsoft search licensing deals with Twitter, a recurring rumor in Silicon Valley had Google trying to buy Twitter outright.

So when Google co-founder Sergey Brin made a surprise appearance at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco on Thursday, the stage was set to finally put the record straight.

Showing that ten years in the media spotlight have not been wasted on him however, Brin displayed a deft command of language to duck the question.

Google’s chief: small salary, big expenses

Protecting Google’s head honcho got more affordable in 2008, but the cost of air travel for CEO Eric Schmidt and his entourage rose sharply.

 

According to Google’s annual proxy statement, released on Tuesday, Google paid out $106,201 “on Eric’s behalf for costs related to aircraft chartered for Google business on which family and friends flew in 2008.”

 

That’s a good deal more than the $4,000 Schmidt’s friends and family racked up flying the friendly skies in 2007 or the $22,456 in tax “gross ups” for air travel in 2006.