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Feb 19, 2014

Facebook to buy WhatsApp for $19 billion

By Gerry Shih and Sarah McBride

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc will buy fast-growing mobile-messaging startup WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash and stock, as the world’s largest social network looks for ways to boost its popularity, especially among a younger crowd.

The acquisition of the hot messaging service with more than 450 million users around the world stunned many Silicon Valley observers with its lofty price tag.

Feb 14, 2014

Investor Tom Perkins says progressive taxation ‘persecutes’ the rich

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Tom Perkins, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist who compared the plight of the wealthiest Americans to Jews in Nazi Germany, offered up a provocative new idea on what the rich deserve: more votes in public elections for every dollar they earn.

“If you pay a million dollars, you should get a million votes,” Perkins, the retired co-founder of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, told an audience at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club in comments that he later said were meant to be provocative. He also said that only taxpayers should have the right to vote.

Feb 11, 2014

Number of young U.S. technology companies falls: report

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 11 (Reuters) – Sluggish growth among
young technology firms could bode trouble for the U.S. economy,
according to a new report from the Kauffman Foundation.

The number of technology firms aged five years or younger –
key drivers of job creation – has fallen to below 80,000, down
from a high of 113,000 in 2001, according to the report. Today’s
levels are roughly on par with the mid 1990s.

Feb 6, 2014

Rents rising faster in tech hubs than in rest of U.S.

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 6 (Reuters) – San Franciscans have long
blamed the technology sector for rising rents. Now, a study from
real-estate company Trulia backs them up.

Rents are rising faster in U.S. tech hubs than in the rest
of the country, Trulia said in a report released
Thursday. In January, it said, rents rose 3.3 percent in the
nation’s 100 biggest metropolitan areas in January, but they
rose by an average of 5.7 percent in the 10 biggest tech hubs.

Feb 4, 2014

Ex-Sequoia partners raise $250 mln for Silicon Valley-style startups in Midwest

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 4 (Reuters) – Regions around the world
have long sought to replicate California’s success in launching
startups. Now, two venture capitalists have raised $250 million
in a gambit to recreate some Silicon Valley-style growth in the
U.S. Midwest.

Mark Kvamme and Chris Olsen, formerly partners at
venture-capital firm Sequoia Capital, announced Tuesday that
they had raised the funds to nurture companies in states often
overlooked by traditional venture cash. Their new fund,
Columbus, Ohio-based Drive Capital Fund I, will focus on
technology, healthcare and consumer businesses, they said.

Jan 28, 2014

Venture capitalist Perkins apologizes for Nazi analogy

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 27 (Reuters) – Legendary venture
capitalist Tom Perkins apologized for comments comparing the
treatment of wealthy Americans to the Nazi’s persecution of
Jews, although he stood by his belief in the danger of
demonizing the rich.

“I deeply apologize to you and anyone who has mistaken my
reference to Kristallnacht as a sign of overt or latent
anti-Semitism,” he said in an interview Monday on Bloomberg
Television. “This is not the case.”

Jan 28, 2014

Ride service Uber faces new lawsuit after fatal San Francisco crash

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The family of a young girl killed by a driver affiliated with fast-growing private transportation service Uber sued the company on Monday, adding to Uber’s growing list of legal problems.

On New Year’s Eve Sofia Liu, 6, died after she, her younger brother and their mother were hit by a car in a San Francisco cross-walk, according to the lawsuit. At the time of the crash, driver Syed Muzzafar was logged on to the Uber X smartphone app and was available to provide rides, the lawsuit said.

Jan 17, 2014

California governor declares drought emergency

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – California Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency on Friday, a move that will allow the parched state to seek federal aid as it grapples with what could turn out to be the driest year in recorded state history for many areas.

The dry year California experienced in 2013 has left fresh water reservoirs with a fraction of their normal reserves and slowed the normally full American River so dramatically that brush and dry riverbed are showing through in areas normally teeming with fish.

Jan 17, 2014

A new university bets on a hybrid online-learning model

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Offering a twist on the learn-from-anywhere convenience of Internet classes, a new university is asking freshmen to take a large leap of faith.

Minerva Schools of KGI, a radically experimental university in San Francisco, is sifting through applications for its first class, starting this fall. The school is an alliance between Minerva Project, a venture-backed for-profit company, and Keck Graduate Institute, one of California’s Claremont colleges.

Jan 16, 2014

Latest perk on Google buses: security guards

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – First, San Francisco-based commuters to Google Inc got buses with plush seats and free WiFi. Now, they are getting security.

In recent days, men with earpieces have closely monitored passengers boarding Google commuter buses at the site of at least one bus stop in San Francisco’s Mission District. Their presence comes a few weeks after Google buses were targeted by protesters who blame tech-industry employees for rising city rents.