MediaFile

Tech wrap: LinkedIn IPO values firm at over $3 billion

LinkedIn, the social site for business professionals which attracts professionals and job seekers with 100 million worldwide members, is hoping to cash in with a public debut valuing the company at more than $3 billion.

Last week’s trading debut of Renren, one of the biggest social networking companies in China, is another indicator of investor interest in social media companies. Renren’s stock surged 28.6 percent in its May 4 debut.

The tantalizing prospect of finding the next Facebook, Groupon or Twitter is driving the biggest rush of venture capital since dot-com mania first boomed and then fizzled more than a decade ago, writes Jenny Harris and Jennifer Rogers. But characteristics of the current boom do set it apart. Online advertising and e-commerce are accepted as reliable revenue sources and there are more profitable young companies today, Harris and Rogers argue.

Apple overtook Google as the world’s most valuable brand, ending a four-year reign by the Internet search leader, according to a new study by global brands agency Millward Brown. Apple’s brand is now worth $153 billion, almost half Apple’s market capitalization, says the annual BrandZ study of the world’s top 100 brands. “Apple is breaking the rules in terms of its pricing model,” Millward Brown’s Peter Walshe told Reuters. “It’s doing what luxury brands do, where the higher price the brand is, the more it seems to underpin and reinforce the desire.”

Apple and magazine publisher Conde Nast reached a deal to offer the New Yorker on the iPad in the latest sign that relationships are improving between the technology company and content owners. Conde Nast said iPad editions of other magazines will also be available by subscription through Apple’s In-App Purchase system on the popular App Store. Titles including Vanity Fair, Glamour, Golf Digest, Allure, Wired, Self and GQ will be available in coming weeks.

Tech wrap: Yahoo’s CEO-in-waiting?

David Kenny, managing partner of VivaKi, poses for photographers during the Cannes Lions 2009 International Advertising Festival June 24, 2009. REUTERS/Alain Issock New Yahoo board member Akamai President David Kenny is the obvious choice to replace struggling CEO Carol Bartz, writes The Wall Street Journal’s Kara Swisher. Kenny is smooth and well-liked, has deep advertising experience, has a long relationship with Yahoo and its co-founder Jerry Yang and has tech cred as a leader of one of the Internet’s most important infrastructure companies, regularly in contact with media giants, ad networks and video providers that are Akamai’s clients, Swisher argues.

Microsoft explained the delay in updating its new phone software, partly blaming handset manufacturers for the problem. Microsoft’s JoeBelfiore did not name names, but said the company had started the update and ran into problems on some newly manufactured phones that would not function properly afterward. Samsung, HTC and LG Electronics are the main handset makers of Windows phones. A more comprehensive update, code-named Mango, will be available later this year, featuring performance bumps, live updates and applications that can run in the background while users move onto other programs, he said.

Russian hacker attacks on the country’s biggest blog site and a spy agency’s warning to Gmail and Skype have raised fears that authorities are tightening their grip on dissent in a China-like assault on free speech ahead of next year’s election, writes Thomas Grove. “This is a test drive during a very important year to see if it’s possible to close down websites, in particular social networking sites in case of demonstrations,” said Andrei Soldatov, head of the think-tank Agentura.ru.

Tech wrap: YouTube changing the channel?

A man looks at a YouTube page in a file photo. REUTERS/Peter JonesYouTube is working on a major site overhaul to organize its content around “channels” as it positions itself for the rise of Internet-connected TVs that allow people to watch online video in their living rooms, writes the WSJ’s Jessica Vascellaro and Amir Efrati. Changes to the homepage will highlight sets of channels around topics such as arts and sports and approximately 20 “premium channels” will feature 5 to 10 hours of professionally-produced original programming a week, according to a Vascellaro/Efrati source.

Dish Network won Blockbuster in a bankruptcy auction for $320 million, further broadening its business beyond satellite TV and setting up a possible showdown with Netflix. The deal covers “substantially all” of the rental chain’s business, and likely gives Dish the rights Blockbuster had to stream movies over the Internet, the Blockbuster brand name and customer lists.

A Deutsche Bank estimate that 100,000 Motorola XOOM units were sold over its first two months means the tablet was a flop, writes Business Insider’s Jay Yarow. For comparison, Apple sold 300,000 iPads on the first week weekend it was available. BetaNews’s Joe Wilcox calls the XOOM a surprising success, noting that the tablet came to market with “huge handicaps, all of which make comparisons to iPad 2 unrealistic”. Wilcox says higher pricing has been the main deterrent to buying a XOOM.

Tech wrap: A page from Larry’s book

Google co-founder Larry Page is seen at the Sun Valley Inn in Sun Valley, Idaho in this July 8, 2010 file photograph. Reuters/Mario Anzuoni/FilesGoogle’s Larry Page took the reins after a decade of “adult supervision” for Google under Eric Schmidt, as the outgoing CEO called it. The switch comes as mobile gadgets are redefining the way people use the Internet and Google’s main ad business is under threat from fast-growing upstarts such as Facebook and Groupon. Page has yet to make his battle plan public, but industry insiders and analysts expect he will try to shore up Google’s strength in search and mobile while breaking into a red-hot social networking market that has eluded his company.

Google bid $900 million in a “stalking horse” auction for the acquisition of bankrupt Nortel Network’s patent portfolio, in an effort to fight a growing wireless patent war against well-armed mobile superpowers. The company has pushed its Android mobile phone software to the top of the wireless heap, attracting litigation in the process.

Hackers fully cracked Apple’s latest iPhone OS update, according to Redmond Pie. The iOS 4.3.1 jailbreak supports all iOS devices except the iPad 2. Jailbreaking allows users to run apps unsanctioned by Apple and tweak their iPhones, but voids the devices’ warranty.

from Fan Fare:

Teen girl’s pop video mercilessly dissected by Internet masses

If you have trouble remembering the days of the week, a teen pop starlet named Rebecca Black has come to your rescue with an annoyingly catchy song that has quickly made her the hottest -- and most lampooned -- phenomenon on the Web. Black was a top-trending topic on Twitter on Tuesday, while her video for "Friday" racked up almost eight million page views in a matter of days.

The comments have been savage, ruthless dissections of the girl herself, her bubblegum pop song and the cheesy video. "Not joking. Worst lyrics I have ever heard. Ever. Yet so addictive," was one of the kinder critiques.

The fresh-faced youngster sings over and over in a nasally twang, "It's Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday. Everybody's looking forward to the weekend ... Fun, fun, fun, fun. Looking forward to the weekend."

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.)

Friday’s Media and Technology Roundup

Fans scramble for Apple’s iPhone upgrade-Reuters

“Apple fans lined up overnight by the hundreds outside stores in the United States, Europe and Japan to snap up the latest iPhone, setting a new benchmark in the fast-growing smartphone market,” writes Franklin Paul, Marie Mawad and Sachi Izumi.

Twitter settles privacy charges with U.S.-Reuters

“Microblogging service Twitter has agreed to a settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission over charges it put its customers privacy at risk by failing to safeguard their personal information,” reports Sinead Carew.

Broadband spurs new businesses and ideas in Kenya-Reuters

“When Kenyan graduate Roy Wachira, 25, set out to start his first business, he turned to the Internet, whose growth in the east African nation is spawning opportunities unthinkable even a year ago,” writes Duncan Miriri.

Google wins game that already played out

Google’s victory in the closely-watched lawsuit launched by Viacom alleging the Internet giant let users upload copyrighted videos including “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” to YouTube represents a win in a game that played out long ago.

The impact of the three-year old case,  some legal experts reckon,  occurred well before a U.S. District Court in Manhattan threw out Viacom’s $1 billion suit.   (Viacom said it is appealing the case.)

As these things tend to go, the case exhibits how technology outpaces the legal system by miles.

Hulu to charge? It’s getting closer…

Everybody loves free. But free has a price. And that price might just be $9.95 a month, according to The Los Angeles Times,  which writes that Hulu, the second most popular video site in the U.S, will soon start charging for a premium version of its site called Hulu Plus. We haven’t been able to confirm the details yet (Hulu’s staffers are sticking to the ol’ decline to comment). But rumors of premium version of Hulu have been doing the rounds for the last year. Back in October an NBC executive said the company was experimenting with various business models, including subscription content.

Let’s also not forget Hulu is soon to be a third owned by Comcast (through its ongoing acquisition of NBC) — which is not known for giving video programming away for free. Its other parents, News Corp and Disney, also aren’t known for their charity in the video programming business.

And it’s not just Hulu, YouTube has also started to experiment with pricing models and has indicated it would be open to subscription models if its content partners asked for it.

Viacom digs up more YouTube documents for court case

EricSchmidt1Viacom’s ongoing legal fisticuffs with Google over alleged piracy on YouTube rages on. The MTV and Nickelodeon owner on Thursday put out nine additional exhibits in addition to the hundreds of pages that were  put out last month including transcripted deposition from Google CEO Eric Schmidt.  Viacom, which extended CEO Philippe Dauman’s contract today, said the exhibits “make clear one of our core claims in the case: that Google made a deliberate, calculated business decision not only to profit from copyright infringement, but also to use the threat of copyright infringement to try to coerce rights owners like Viacom into licensing their content on Google’s terms.”

Viacom is making that claim based on various statements from Google senior employees while management was considering buying YouTube. 

As for Schmidt’s deposition from May 2009 it’s not particularly controversial, with perhaps the most interesting statement being that he owns 30 computers and claims it has been his practice for 30 years to not retain his emails unless asked specifically.