MediaFile

TodayInMusic: Rdio gets $17.5 mln funding, Warner exec on board

Niklas Zennstrom Skype

Rdio, the social media music service backed by the founders of KaZaa and Skype, has raised another $17.5 million in its latest round of funding.

Its latest backer is Mangrove Capital Partners, who inadvertently broke this story over the weekend via Twitter. The start-up’s earlier funding was provided by Rdio co-founder Janus Friis through his investment entities as well as Atomico  and Skype. Atomico is the VC firm from Niklas Zennstrom (pictured) who was Janus’ partner in Skype and KaZaa, the music file sharing service. Currently available only in US North America., it’s going to use the new funds to expand its footprint to new platforms and countries this year.

Rdio’s service allows you to automatically share the music you’re listening to and discover new music through people you follow. It’s kind of what iTunes and Ping are trying to do but few think they’ve achieved.

Also interesting from Rdio is the fact they’ve added Warner Bros Records Chairman Rob Cavallo to its board. Cavallo, who only joined Warner Music in 2009, is best known as a producer of acts like Green Day, Dave Matthews Band and Alanis Morissette.

You might think that with all the troubles in the music industry investors might be staying away. Not according to Digital Music News, which estimates here that $33.8 millionhas already been committed to music-based start-ups this year including Rdio.

from The Great Debate:

Can sleeping giant Skype reinvent itself?

eric_auchard_thumbnail2.jpg -- Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

Do once-hot Internet start-ups who miss a date with destiny ever truly get a second chance? History says no, even for once-great names like Netscape, AOL and MySpace.

Skype hopes to be the exception. On Tuesday, a group led by top Internet financiers in Silicon Valley and Europe agreed to pay eBay $1.9 billion in cash for a 65 percent stake in the one-time web calling sensation.

The deal values Skype at a face-saving $2.75 billion, well above the $1.7 billion at which it has been valued on the ecommerce giant's books. Ebay also stands to keep a 35 per cent stake in the company.

Vonage CEO sees no reason for iPhone Google Voice rejection

The US telecom regulator FCC has been looking into why Apple rejected an Internet telephony application from Google for inclusion in its iPhone application store. Responses from Google, Apple and AT&T, the exclusive U.S. iPhone carrier, are due today.

Along with Google Voice’s consumer fans, the outcome of the inquiry will be closely watched by other Internet telephone services such as eBay’s Skype. Apple approved a Skype app for iPhone but consumers can only make Skype calls when they are connected to a short-range wi-fi network and not via the AT&T cellular network.
The head of another U.S. Internet telephony provider Vonage weighed in on the topic in an interview this week. Vonage plans to offer its own mobile communications application later this year.

Marc Lefar previously served as chief marketing officer of Cingular, now AT&T Mobility, where he helped put together the mobile operator’s iPhone deal with Apple, before becoming Vonage Chief Executive last year. Taking his previous experience in the wireless industry into acccount, Lefar said it was unclear to him why the Google Voice application was rejected for iPhone.

from Shop Talk:

Cross-Atlantic connectivity works, just don’t tell mom

Brian Dunn, who is set to become Best Buy's CEO next week, has his own example of what it means to be connected in today's digital age.

bryant-boozerWhen he was visiting London a few weeks ago, Dunn watched the L.A. Lakers take on the Utah Jazz in the NBA playoffs on his notebook computer.  His three sons, who are also big basketball fans, were watching the game on TV at home, Dunn said.  They kept in touch using Skype to have a video chat.

As Dunn told Reuters, the boys were whispering to him, worried that their mother would hear that they were up too late.

eBay to Skype: we’re no good together

Some tech mergers take a few years to prove their worth.

Hewlett-Packard’s $19 billion acquisition of Compaq Computer ignited a bitter internal board battle when it was announced in 2001, but is now deemed a key ingredient in H-P’s comeback.

No such vindication is on hand for eBay’s $2.6 billion purchase of Internet telephone service Skype: the deal left many scratching their heads when it was announced in 2005 and now it  looks like officially a poor fit in light of eBay’s plan to spin it off in an initial public offering next year.

“It’s clear that Skype has limited synergies with eBay and PayPal,” eBay CEO John Donahoe said Tuesday in a statement unveiling the plan.

iPhone Apps mean money for game publisher ngmoco

Given the popularity of downloadable apps for Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch, many folks — namely some prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalists — are confident there’s plenty of money to be made from app developers as well.******Ngmoco, which makes games exclusively for the iPhone and the iPod Touch, said Monday it has closed $10 million in Series B financing led by Norwest Venture Partners. The company’s previous investors –- Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Maples Investments — also participated in the funding. Ngmoco received $5.6 million in its first round of financing.******Ngmoco — which stands for “next generation mobile company” — was born last year along with Apple’s App Store, and the company’s profile has risen in tandem with the store’s popularity. Users have downloaded more than 800 million apps in total and the store now features more than 25,000 offerings.******Ngmoco’s games have been installed more than 7 million times. The company currently has seven titles –- its most popular is the $9.95 “Rolando Orlando” -– and 12 in development.******Neil Young, ngmoco’s chief executive and one of its co-founders, said in an interview that he was surprised by the “voracious” appetite for games on the iPhone and iPod Touch. Although he wouldn’t rule out making games for other platforms, he said the devices provide a unique opportunity for game makers.***

It’s just a blend of amazing capability with this awesome usability. And its clearly those two things that are enabling this new type of usage patterns both in terms of how people are consuming games and how much they’re consuming. And also the ease at which they’re able to get them. Until there are any other platforms that come close to that I think we’ll certainly remain focused on these devices.

******Young, who left game publishing giant Electronics Arts to launch ngmoco, declined to disclose a revenue figure for the company, which has 26 employees.******The App Store is estimated to offer some 6,000 games. Many see the iPhone and iPod Touch as legitimate competitors to Nintendo’s DS and Sony’s PSP handheld gaming consoles, and that battle should play out over the coming months and years. IPhone games are expected to be much on display at this week’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.******Keep an eye on:***

    *** EBay’s Skype plans to announce on Monday a version of its Internet calling software for small and medium-sized businesses (WSJ)

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    *** Former Yahoo Chief Operating Officer Dan Rosensweig will take over Activision Blizzard’s Guitar Hero franchise (All Things Digital)

    ***

from Shop Talk:

A suitor for Skype?

(Refiles to correct Donahoe's first name to John.)

TECH TAIWAN SKYPETo sell Skype, or not to sell Skype. That is the question for eBay, and Wall Street has diverging opinions on whether the San Jose company will or won't unload its Internet telephone service.
    
Skype was acquired under the reign of former CEO Meg Whitman (now a California gubernatorial hopeful) and touted as a nifty way for eBay's millions of sellers and buyers to connect. That reality never materialized, and current CEO John Donahoe has acknowledged that synergies between eBay and Skype are nonexistent.
    
Still, Skype is on a tear, growing at double digits and adding 350,000 global users a day. The five-year-old company logged $551 million in revenue in 2008 -- that number is expected to double by 2011 -- and is now a subject of great speculation by analysts, who wonder whether eBay plans to spin it off, or hold it close. 
                              
Cowan and Co's Jim Friedland, for one, thinks it's for sale. Writing in a note the day after eBay held an analyst presentation to outline the company's three-year plan, Friedland said it appeared "eBay was using the Skype discussion to trigger a bidding war between Google and Microsoft."
       
"We believe the asset would be attractive to both Google and Microsoft to enhance their web-based enterprise application services. In addition, Skype's user base of 405 million, which is particularly strong internationally, would likely strengthen Google's dominant position in the consumer web app market."

But Bernstein Research's Jeffrey Lindsay did not see it that way: "We think the dearth of buyers such as Google or Microsoft will mean that eBay is more likely to spin out part of Skype to the public (like Time Warner did initially with Time Warner Cable)."
    
Huh. Donahoe, incidentally, has said only that eBay will do what's best "to maximize Skype's potential and value."
    
Deutsche Bank's Jeetil Patel opined that, since Skype is performing well, "Management should hold on to this business model" and Credit Suisse's Spencer Wang said he did not see eBay rushing to sell.
    
"While we think the company would be open to parting with Skype at the right price (currently valued at $1.8 billion on eBay's balance sheet), a divestiture of Skype does not appear imminent," Wang wrote.

(Photo: Reuters)

Google enters Skype territory

Google’s at it again.

The Web search leader edged into Skype’s territory at on Tuesday with a feature that allows multitasking Gmail users to video chat, IM and email all at the same time.

Gmail and Google App subscribers can now gossip with friends or coworkers on a high-quality video screen and simultaneously instant message them in a Google Chat box.  The video screen can be popped out of the chat box and moved around a user’s computer screen.

Check out this YouTube video with Google engineer Serge Lachapelle to see how it works. A team of Googlers in Seattle, Sweden and Silicon Valley collaborated on the new app, which is available for both PC and Mac users.