Silicon Valley Watcher - Tom Foremski and team
Collected Posts by Richard Koman [RSS]
IBM breakthrough in light beam processing
The era of light computing may be upon us. IBM unveiled today a prototype transceiver that can transmit and receive data by beaming light pulses through plastic fibers, The SF Chronicle reports. IBM vice president and technology guru Bernard Meyerson said that the chips could break through looming data chokepoints on the Internet. As Meyerson explained it, the idea is to reduce the amount of energy it takes to transmit data. Today it is common to send data as a stream of electrons flowing through copper wires, but that turns out to take comparatively large amounts of electricity. In addition to the cost of the electricity, large electric currents also generate heat and that puts pressure on the air-conditioning systems in data centers and demands yet more energy. By comparison, it takes far less energy to send pulses of laser light flowing through clear filaments of glass or, in this case, plastic. Meyerson said IBM's prototype transceiver chips can transmit 160 gigabits of data per second, using less power that it would take to run the sort of safety light people plug in to the hallway or bathroom at night. The cost breakthrough for this kind of performance is massive. IBM will be able to sell its 160-Gbps chipsets for $500 to $600, while today's 40-Gbps transceivers cost about $25,000, according to one technology analyst. Further down the road, the technology could move from routers and switches to PCs, speeding up download times exponentially, from, say half an hour for...[Read Full Article]

Intel to open $2.5bn chipset factory in China
Intel will open a $2.5 billion wafer fabrication plant in China, the first major production facility there, according to the New York Times. Labeled Fab 68, the new plant will join just seven other plants in the world capable of producing Intel 300mm wafers when it opens in 2010. But Fab 68 will produce only chipsets. Microprocessors themselves will not be produced in China. That's a distinction that won US government approval for the plant. The move is a huge win for China, which is trying to become a high-tech center. “The Intel plant is very symbolic,” said Li Ke, a senior analyst at the Semiconductor Industry Research Center in Beijing, a government body. “It is inspiring and will help to expand the production scale of the industry.” Private industry has been relucant to move to China because of weak protection for intellectual property and the federal government is very concerned about China getting a hold of private sector technology that it can use for military operations. But by the time Intel opens its facility in the northeastern city of Dalian, the company will have opened production lines of at least two generations of more advanced equipment, Intel officials said. While other companies have assembly facilities in China, Intel stands alone in the size of the investment and the nature of the operation. It's just Intel's third 300mm wafer facility outside the US. The others are in Ireland and Israel....[Read Full Article]

WSJ: Rave reviews for Apple TV
The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg and Katherine Boehret ran a review of Apple TV on Friday and it's a rave review. Bottom line: It rocks. This silvery little $299 gadget is designed to play and display on a widescreen family-room TV set all the music, video and photos stored on up to six computers around the house -- even if they are far from the TV, and even if they are all Windows PCs rather than Apple's own Macintosh models. In our tests, it worked great, and we can easily recommend it for people who are yearning for a simple way to show on their big TVs all that stuff trapped on their computers. We tried it with various combinations of Windows and Mac computers, with movies, photos, TV shows, video clips and music. And we didn't even use the fastest wireless network it can handle. It performed flawlessly. Mossberg and Boehret say Apple's design brilliance is in not trying to do too many things. Apple TV does one thing: It takes content from your computers and it plays them on your TV. So it's not a "mess of complexity." Although it would be nice if it did a bit more, like stream content from the Net. Apple is hoping that, just as the iPod trumped earlier, but geekier, rivals, Apple TV can do the same by making a complex task really simple. Compared to the Xbox 360, Apple TV is limited: you can't use it to purchase content...[Read Full Article]

With campaigns spinning on YouTube, GOOG smells a market
Even before the explosion of the anti-Hillary Vote Different parody, Google had gotten the idea: Political campaigns are using YouTube as an advertising medium. Google wants to make sure they maintain their platform - and, of course, find a way to monetize, the LA Times reports. A newly formed political sales team made a sales pitch to some 80 politicios in Washington earlier this month, pitching not just YouTube but how to get sites appearing higher on Google's search engine. "They're more keen to the desires and the needs of the political campaigns," Eric Anderson, online marketing director for the Republican National Committee, said after attending the company's seminar. Elliot Schrage, the company's vice president of global communications and public affairs, said the company is "now recognizing that this is a segment that we have to pay attention to in a way that we hadn't." Of course, many net companies like to dress some properties up in political clothing - MySpace launched a channel featuring pages from 10 campaigns and Yahoo launched a mini-portal, election.yahoo.com. But Google is the most aggressive with its political marketing. "There's probably a lot less (money) than they think initially, but Google plays for the long term and they're smart to be there," said Phil Noble, founder of PoliticsOnline, a site that provides Internet tools and strategies for campaigns. "The Internet and politics is a revolution, and Google and these guys are not going to lead the revolution, but they don't want to get...[Read Full Article]

Child Online Protection Act invalidated
A federal judge in Philadelphia invalidated the Child Online Protection Act, which makes it a crime for websites to allow anyone under 17 to access sexual material, saying that the government failed to show that filters are ineffective and that the law infringes on free speech, The Washington Post reports. "Perhaps we do the minors of this country harm if First Amendment protections, which they will with age inherit fully, are chipped away in the name of their protection," Senior U.S. District Judge Lowell Reed said in issuing the permanent injunction, noting his "personal regret" at having to reject an attempt to protect children from harmful material. The American Civil Liberties Union brought the suit on behalf of website owners. ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said: "The courts have ruled, once again, that speech on the Internet is protected." "Had the decision gone the other way," ACLU staff attorney Chris Hansen said, "the Web would have had to dumb down. It would have made the entire Web homogeneous and bland so that a 6-year-old could read everything on the Web without anyone objecting." A large part of the judge's decision was an analysis of the effectiveness of web filters. he said that filters were widely available and often free. Even the government's own expert witness concluded that software filters are effective, most blocking at least 95 percent of sexually explicit Web pages. The law is overly broad and vague, Judge Reed said. Requiring a credit card system wuld be...[Read Full Article]

MSFT shutters Soapbox for copyright upgrade
Microsoft has shut down the MSN Soapbox video site for 30 to 60 days while it implements Audible Magic's technology for detecting copyright-violating video, PaidContent says (in a typo-laden post). The move isn’t directly prompted by the announcement today that MSN will be a launch distribution partner of NBCU-News Corp.’s new video network but that was one factor. But copyright — and showing allegiance to it - has been on Microsoft’s agenda for some time. Spokesman Adam Sohn said: "“We’ve been thinking of filtering for a long time. It’s the right time to pull the trigger. It’s the right thing to do for the long term.” The whole business doesn't give a lot of confidence in Redmond's ability to combat YouTube, says Mashable: I understand why they’re doing it: no point having all the legal liability of YouTube with none of the traffic. And one major court case would be ruinous to the project. But the series of events doesn’t reflect well on Microsoft either: declare you’re launching a new video platform, launch it after many months of testing, get no traction because it’s useless, re-enter closed beta so that you can open up again with even less content and users than before. Microsoft can only hope it becomes the Steven Bradbury of online video: become the last man standing as all the others are sued into oblivion. Somehow, I don’t think that’s gonna happen....[Read Full Article]

Gates to get his Harvard degree
Bill Gates will be commencement speaker at Harvard and finally receive his (honorary) degree from Harvard, IDG reports. Gates arrived at Harvard as a freshman in 1973 and while there got to know Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO, who lived just down the hall. Gates had already discovered his interest in software, having programmed computers since the age of 13. While at Harvard, Gates helped develop a version of the programming language BASIC for the first microcomputer, the MITS Altair. He dropped out to found Microsoft. The only interesting question is what subject Bill will get his degree in. Harvard doesn't announce that choice in advance....[Read Full Article]

Papers charging readers would be death-knell of industry
Tom just pointed out a study from a publishing conference that found that only one publisher - magazine powerhouse Meredith - was profiting from their online operations. And in the Chronicle, David Lazarus' column today follows up on an earlier one in which he asserted that newspapers should bite the bullet and charge for their websites. Right now, only the Wall Street Journal is principally behind a paywall and the New York Times locks up most of its big-name columnists. In his earlier column, Pay-to-play is one way to help save newspapers, Lazarus offers a cockamamie scheme for industry collusion, in which the entire industry would agree to charge for content. He means not just charging for some content, but charging for everything. Since industry collusion is illegal, he thinks Congress should offer the industry an antitrust exemption. The industry would never agree to this because it would destroy the newspaper business, as I explain below. Even if the industry wanted it, it would never happen. Newspapers have already had their asses pulled out of the fire that is economic reality by joint operating agreements. The Chronicle and the Examiner co-existed for many years by that antitrust exemption. In recent years, Hearst managed to take over the Chron, foist the Exam onto the Fangs and degrade the quality of SF's morning paper. Granting that an antitrust exemption ain't gonna happen, he likes the Viacom model: Sue Google. "Maybe newspapers should follow Viacom's example," said Jane Kirtley, a professor of media...[Read Full Article]

Studios, MySpace take on YouTube - one more chance to 'get it'
In the aftermath of Viacom's $1 billion suit against Google, News Corp. and NBC Universal announced plans to build their own online video site to compete with Google's YouTube. In a sign of somewhat getting it, the plan includes distribution deals with Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL, as well as MySpace, the LA Times reports. Naturally the odds of this working are weak, mostly because the studios will screw it up by trying to control it too much. But the participation of MySpace makes it more likely that something will stick. Making videos available on Yahoo, etc., though is less than enthralling. This will be just one more Yahoo licensing deal for which they will create some boring portal. The thing about net video is that it is part and parcel of the texture of the blogosphere. It is YT's sharing and embedding features that make it possible not merely to point to a specific video but to include it in your own work, in the moral equivalent of <blockquote>. The key thing the content owners should understand is that "The Daily Show" gets uploaded to YouTube not so that people can avoid paying cable bills but because they want to tell their friends (broadly defined) about, say, Jon's Net Neutrality segment. We say that blogging is a conversation. Video is part of the conversation. When someone does something great, or witty or stupid, we want to be able to talk about it and to show it. We've always talked about...[Read Full Article]

'Vote Different' creator had ties to Obama, is fired from his design job
Ariana Huffington was about to out Philip de Vellis - a designer with the firm that created Barack Obama's website - as the creator of the infamous Vote Different YouTube video, which mashes up Apple's 1984 ad with Hillary Clinton's own campaign imagery to create a compelling online ad for Obama, the Chronicle reports. So de Vellis came forward and wrote a post for Huffington in which he admits to authorship and says that he has resigned from his employer, Blue State Digital. I made the "Vote Different" ad because I wanted to express my feelings about the Democratic primary, and because I wanted to show that an individual citizen can affect the process. There are thousands of other people who could have made this ad, and I guarantee that more ads like it--by people of all political persuasions--will follow. The campaigns had no idea who made it--not the Obama campaign, not the Clinton campaign, nor any other campaign. I made the ad on a Sunday afternoon in my apartment using my personal equipment (a Mac and some software), uploaded it to YouTube, and sent links around to blogs. ... This ad was not the first citizen ad, and it will not be the last. The game has changed. He says that he decided to resign even though the company had no knowledge of the ad not did its clients - "so as not to harm them, even by implication." The company, wanting to maintain its credibility as a trustworthy...[Read Full Article]

Cerf, VP dismiss gPhone rumors
Google's Vint Cerf and its Southeast Asia VP of marketing both came out and said Google won't be entering the cellphone hardware business (as I predicted), according to Newsfactor.com. The comments are so similar as to indicate that both are speaking "on message" and that the rumors have gotten far enough out of control that Google needed to speak up. I don't read this as Steve Job-style subterfuge. Vinton Cerf dismissed reports that Google is collaborating somehow with Apple on new handset hardware. Cerf, one of the founders of the Internet and Google's chief Internet evangelist, said that "[b]ecoming an equipment manufacturer is pretty far from our business model." However, Cerf added, Google is "quite eager" to be part of the growing mobile sector, and "is very interested in the platforms other people are building." Richard Kimber, Google's South-East Asia managing director of sales and operations, told attendees at the Search Engine Room conference in Sydney that the company is currently focused on mobile applications and not hardware. He added that Google is very interested in finding ways to bring its search technology and other applications to all mobile devices....[Read Full Article]

GOOG unveils Pay Per Action advertising
Don Dodge has a wrapup of Google's new Pay Per Action advertising plan. Under this model, advertisers only pay when users actually do something on the site, like filling out a form, providing email, etc. It's a natural step in targeting advertising. PPA will be attractive to the highest cost CPC advertisers. My guess is that the very top of the CPC market will gravitate to PPA ads. Mortgage loan companies and automobile advertisers now pay the highest CPC rates, sometime $4 to $10 per click. These are very expensive clicks to get someone to read your ad. Why not filter out the curious ad clickers and just pay for the serious ones that actually fill out a form? These advertisers might be happy to pay $40 for a PPA that fills out a form. Multiply this by the millions of people every day looking for a loan or new car and you can see why this will be a very big business. Spammers and Click Fraudsters will attack. Wherever there is money fraudsters are soon to follow. They will figure out ingenious ways to trick people into taking actions so they can collect the PPA revenues. The Spammers "cat and mouse" game has also just been taken to another level. There will need to be systems in place to verify the data entered into a form to make sure it is a valid action. They will need to verify that email addresses are valid or IP addresses for downloads...[Read Full Article]

If 'Vote Different' was made independently, it changes everything
In the 2006 election, the big YouTube story was George Allen's "macaca" video. That is, the mode was campaign staffers and volunteers tailing their opponents, running video on everything they said and waiting for campaign gold. Already in 2007, it's clear that the 08 election will be the mashup campaign. That's because of an amazing piece of net video: "Vote Different" is a mashup of Apple's iconic "1984" commercial with Hillary on the big brother screen, her words of conversation and collaboration taking on ominous tones. The subtext of the video is that "conversation" equals "dictation" in Orwell-speak. The woman who hurls the Big Sister-bashing hammer wears an Obama t-shirt. We read about the video in Sunday's Chronicle. The Chron quotes among other ad consultants Simon Rosenberg of the New Democrat Network. [The video has] "changed the zone" between political campaigns, their followers and the Internet, said Rosenberg. With presidential campaigns now poised to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising that will blanket television before November 2008, this seemingly home-produced video -- created with software and a laptop, and likely without the benefit of a team of expensive political consultants -- opens a new window, Rosenberg said. The ad is proof that "anybody can do powerful emotional ads ... and the campaigns are no longer in control," Rosenberg said. "It will no longer be a top-down candidate message; that's a 20th century broadcast model." Some say the mashup is proof that VoN opens a wide new path for...[Read Full Article]

NPR, DiMA ask for relief from new royalty rates
At the urging of the RIAA-associated SoundExchange organization, the Copyright Royalty Board earlier this month assigned a per-song royalty rate for internet broadcasting and a $500 minimum per-channel fee. Now webcasters big and small are going to court to contest the ruling, AP reports. Under a previous arrangement, which expired at the end of 2005, broadcasters and online companies such as Yahoo Inc. and Time Warner Inc.'s AOL unit could pay royalties based on estimates of how many songs were played over a given period of time, or a ``tuning hour,'' as opposed to counting every single song. Jonathan Potter, the executive director of the Digital Media Association, which represents major online companies affected by the decision, asked that the judges specifically allow a per-tuning-hour approximation measure for paying the royalties. Potter also asked the judges to clarify a $500 annual fee per broadcasting channel, saying that with some online companies offering many thousands of listening options, counting each one as a separate channel could lead to huge fees for online broadcasters. NPR said the new rules would have ``crippling effects'' on public radio's ability to serve the public. Clear Channel was among the companies complaining about the new rules. NPR says they will appeal the ruling, even as it asks the board to reconsider....[Read Full Article]

Schmidt: GOOG is not a content company (and the datacenter is king)
Two Stanford biz students, Matt and Julio, have been interviewing some of the biggest names in the Valley on a podcast called iinovate. They posted an interview with Eric Schmidt yesterday, in which they tell Eric that Google is becoming more of a content company. To this he takes exception: You used the term content company. We don't use that term. Google is an infrastructure company that enables content. Google is not in the content business. We have many partners that produce content. We are a distribution mechanism and a monetization mechanism for our partners. This is an important line that we've decided not to cross. Any questions? Now to the Google Grid, as David Scott Lewis terms it (see comments on this post). Schmidt describes it in terms of datacenter (which I think is the same thing as David's Grid): Google is much more capital-intensive than our competitors and we're much further along in the datacenter. We have a competitive advantage because we have the cheapest and most scalable architecture. We hope that in the course of innovation, we will be able to build products that are impossible for our competitors to replicate. Virtually all of our capital expenditures go into the datacenter. Not a lot of technical detail there, but it gives a good sense of why Google will become the Microsoft of its generation (not in the sense of anticompetitive practices but in the sense of "owning the stack"). Just as nobody could write Windows apps like...[Read Full Article]

Here come the Tubies
YouTube announces the YouTube Awards for best videos created in 2006, says AP. YouTube Video Awards to recognize the best-user created videos of 2006. The awards will be handed out in seven categories: most creative, most inspirational, best series, best comedy, musician of the year, best commentary and "most adorable video ever." The nominees, picked by YouTube, are compiled in a gallery at http://www.youtube.com/YTAwards. YouTube community members can vote on their favorites beginning Monday and concluding on Friday. The winners, as chosen by the community, will be announced March 25. Each will be prominently featured on YouTube and receive a trophy, the design of which will be revealed later....[Read Full Article]

Apollo alpha: We have a launch
The first public alpha version of Adobe's Apollo is out, the company announced today. Apollo allowed developers to create "rich Internet applications" that run on the desktop, leveraging HTML, JavaScript, Ajax and Flash. Arrington is excited: I honestly believe that entirely new classes of companies can be built on this platform, which takes Flash, HTML and javascript completely outside of the browser and interacts with the file system on a PC. Photos, music, email and many other everyday tasks make a lot of sense in a single environment that is both local and in the cloud simultaneously. There is going to be a lot of creativity coming off of this platform over the near term. Early developer feedback is decidedly underwhelmed, however. Posting on The Ajaxian, András Bártházi writes: rogramming in Flash what I’m not really interested in. It needs a quite different setup that I have now for web development, the tools are not free and are just a few of them, they’re not really platform independent, too. As I see, more or less running Flash applications natively was possible earlier, too, it’s nothing really new. The interesting thing would be writing desktop programs with HTML or other ML, JavaScript, without compiling. If it will be possible, and won’t be hard, I’ll be interested in this environment. And a reader names Shuan writes (sic is default): in apollo, u have the runtime layer, and the html/flex application built on top. everything runs within that window… like a normal browser....[Read Full Article]

Google (secretly) to Viacom: 'Bring it on'
On her Lawgarithms blog, Denise Howell picks up the thread that Google is not exactly averse to this Viacom suit, which may mean that it won't settle as quickly as some may think. She cites Katie Hafner's October 06 look at Google's legal eagles: Michael Kwun, a senior litigation counsel at Google, ... said that establishing a body of precedent was a priority for Google, especially as legal interpretations continued to evolve. “If we don’t at least litigate to the point where we get rulings on the issues that matter to us, we’re left with less clarity in the law,” he said. And EFF's Fred von Lohmann, as interviewed by John Battelle: I've thought for some time that the first lawsuits against YouTube (and other video hosting services) will be from small copyright owners (like LA News Service), not from major media companies. That's good news for YouTube (and Google). Small timers tend to lack the resources to bring top-drawer legal talent to bear in these fights. As a result, they often lose, creating useful precedents for the Google's of the world. In fact, Google has already been successful in securing good precedents against unsophisticated opponents who thought that they could squeeze a quick settlement out of Google (Field v. Google, Parker v. Google). What the small-timers don't appreciate is that Google would much rather spend money on setting a good precedent than on settling. So I think the YouTube acquisition may well represent a legal opportunity for Google (and...[Read Full Article]

MS Research: Search spam originates with a few 'rogue actors'
Microsoft researchers say they've tracked down all those search engine spam pages to a small group of "rogue actors" acting in collaboration with advertisers, The Times' John Markoff reports. The report is online here (PDF). The researchers uncovered a complex scheme in which a small group, creating false doorway pages, works with operators of Web-based computers who profit by redirecting traffic passed from search engines in one direction and then sending advertisements acquired from syndicators in the opposite direction. Surprisingly, the researchers noted that the vast bulk of the junk listings was created from just two Web hosting companies and that as many as 68 percent of the advertisements sampled were placed by just three advertising syndicators. As suspected blog services are a huge reason for the explosion in the problem, and ironically, it's Google's own Blogger that is the most wide open to abuse. The Microsoft research findings, based on a survey in October, also determined that much of the spam ad traffic was being funneled through the Internet addresses of just two Web-hosting companies. Phillip Rosenthal, chief technology officer of one of the companies, ISPrime, an Internet services company based in New York, said the activity had been traced to a single customer and violated the company’s acceptable-use policy. He said the company’s relationship with the customer, whom he would not identify, had been severed after the company was notified about the Microsoft paper by a reporter....[Read Full Article]

Scoble: MSFT in it "to win?" Hardly.
Robert Scoble has as they told the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Global Summit) Robert thinks it would all be quite funny, if it weren't pathetic. The words are empty. Microsoft’s Internet execution sucks (on whole). Its search sucks. Its advertising sucks. If that’s “in it to win” then I don’t get it. ...Microsoft: stop the talk. Ship a better search, a better advertising system than Google, a better hosting service than Amazon, a better cross-platform Web development ecosystem than Adobe, and get some services out there that are innovative Oh, and Ballmer, if I ran Google your speech at Stanford yesterday would be plastered on every door on every campus Google has. Why? It’ll motivate Google employees the same way a coach will motivate an opposing team during the Superbowl by taking trash in the press. You’re up against a formidable competitor and one you’ve never seen before that has some real, significant weapons that you can’t deal with (and YouTube isn’t even close to it). Google’s secret weapon? It controls the entire stack in the datacenter. Google writes its own hard disk drivers. It has its datacenter hardware built to its spec. Ever wonder why Live.com is slower than Google? Hint: it’s cause Google is out executing Microsoft in the datacenter....[Read Full Article]

Did pretexters get off too lightly?
The Chronicle's David Lazarus says the state's failure to prosecute Pattie Dunn or her pretexting henchmen sends a message that business as usual is just alright. He quotes a few privacy consultants: "It's a mixed message," said Ray Everett-Church, a Silicon Valley privacy consultant. "On the one hand, we're being told that this is illegal. On the other, we're told that this is apparently a standard business practice." "This seems to be a slap on the wrist for something that's pretty serious," said Christine Rosen, an associate professor at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business. "For other companies, the message seems to be that these sorts of practices are going to be treated as a trivial thing," she said. Lazarus says that Dunn and Mark Hurd managed to adequately shield themselves from the chain of command. "The lack of a clear chain of command in the corporate probe is what seems to have derailed much of the state's legal case." Still, there are other investigations to come. Both the SEC and the US Attorney's Office are also pursuing charges against Dunn and other players....[Read Full Article]

gPhone confirmed?
Elinor Mills at News.com says a European Google executive let slip that a Google phone is in fact in the works. The head of Google in Spain and Portugal has confirmed that Google is working on a mobile phone. "Some of the time the engineers are dedicated to developing a mobile phone," Isabel Aguilera is quoted as saying on the Spanish-news Web site Noticias.com. A Google spokeswoman in the United States released this statement when asked for comment: "Mobile is an important area for Google and we remain focused on creating applications and establishing and growing partnerships with industry leaders to develop innovative services for users worldwide. However, we have nothing further to announce." Google stateside has repeatedly declined to comment on rumors of a Google Phone, but the smoke has been rising lately. Earlier this month, Simeon Simeonov of Polaris Venture Partners wrote in his blog that an inside source told him the Google Phone will be a BlackBerry-like device running C++ at the core with an operating system bootstrap, or loading program, and optimized Java, and that it would offer voice over Internet Protocol....[Read Full Article]

3.15.07 Cisco buys WebEx
The purchase price is about $3.2 billion, according to the press release. WebEx is a market leader in on-demand collaboration applications, and its network-based solution for delivering business-to-business collaboration extends Cisco's vision for Unified Communications, particularly within the Small to Medium Business (SMB) segment. "As collaboration in the workplace becomes increasingly important, companies are looking for rich communications tools to help them work more effectively and efficiently," said Charles H. Giancarlo, Chief Development Officer at Cisco. "The combination of Cisco and WebEx will deliver compelling solutions accelerating this next wave of business communications. Cisco believes the network is a platform for all forms of communications and collaboration, and WebEx's technology and services portfolio complement Cisco's leadership in the Unified Communications and collaboration market, while providing Cisco with a new and unique business model to expand its presence in the fast-growing SMB market," Giancarlo continued. Om Malik says the buy is part of a strategy to compete head to head with Microsoft in SMB services. For the price of two YouTubes, Cisco just bought a company that had sales of $380 million, and a net income of around $47 million. The move, a smart one, is actually part of a bigger chess game the company is playing against Microsoft. Microsoft with its communications efforts is increasingly competing with Cisco in the VoIP business. The two companies will continue to butt heads as the worlds of computing and communication collide and become COMMputing....[Read Full Article]

3.15.07 Viacom suit is an assault on Silicon Valley
So I finally read Viacom's complaint against Google and from a legal perspective I find it strange. The complaint is completely based on the Copyright Act and completely ignores the DMCA's Safe Harbor provisions. This section of the DMCA essentially says that "service providers" will not be liable for user-submitted content if it's posted in an automated process. The other major part of the law provides that the content owner can provide a "take down" notice; if the service provider doesn't comply, then it becomes liable for the infringement. While Viacom doesn't attack the Safe Harbor directly, it strongly suggests the law is unfair to content owners. Even though Defendants are well aware of the rampant infringement on the YouTube website, and YouTube has the right and ability to control it, YouTube's intentional strategy has been to take no steps to curtail the infringement from which it profits unless notified of specific infringing videos by copyright owners, thereby shifting the entire burden - and high cost - of monitoring YouTube's infringement onto the victims of the infringement. In other words, YouTube is accused of doing exactly what the DMCA says it should do - wait for a take-down notice. Google will claim the Safe Harbor provisions in their defense and, as I see it, Viacom will need to show that Google was not in compliance with those provisions, that they in some way encouraged or selected or promoted copyright-infringing material. Thus, they should lose. Which will suit them fine,...[Read Full Article]

3.15.07 Charges against Dunn dropped, Hurd wins battles with retirement funds
California has dropped charges against Pattie Dunn, and charges against the three other defendants will be dismissed once they complete their community service. NYT: Charges Dismissed in HP Spying Case Good timing for Mark Hurd, who for the first time since the fiasco broke, was facing shareholders at the annual meeting. “Let me assure you that no one is proud of what happened last year,” Mr. Hurd told shareholders. “We need to transform our board the same way we transformed the company.” Exactly how that transformation takes place was the subject of investor debate. CALPers and other big investors wanted to be able to appoint some directors. Hurd was against that - and again, Hurd got his way. They voted to re-elect all eight members of the current board, and voted down a proposal to allow stockholders to nominate up to two board candidates, leaving the responsibility with Mr. Hurd and the other directors. That proposal, which gained about 39 percent of the shares voted on Wednesday, was fiercely opposed by H.P. executives, who said the board already accommodated shareholder input. While there are still other investigation under way (notably at SEC), HP was escaped the storm. No one is going to jail, although a few people lost their jobs. Hurd is firmly in control and investors big and small must simply trust that HP culture has changed on a dime and it's smooth sailing ahead....[Read Full Article]

3.14.07 Dylan Hears a Who
Everyone should listen to these tracks. Is it a mashup or a damn good impersonator. I can't believe it's a mashup, it would be too timeconsuming and the tracks are too smooth for me to believe it's cut together. But he sure does sound like Highway 61-era Dylan. In any case, it's a great tribute. Dylan Hears a Who The best little touch: if you stop the music you hear the crackle of a needle on a vinyl LP. And click the link for album art....[Read Full Article]

3.14.07 Cuban: Google doesn't know how big Viacom suit really is
In a long post in which he explains the Entertainment Business to addle-brained Web 2.0 junkies, Mark Cuban drives his point all the way to ultimate meaning of the Viacom-Google lawsuit. Laws that currently protect Internet companies will quickly be changed. First, as to why Viacom is justified in their $1 billion suit against Google/YouTube: HBO charges a monthly fee to subscribers. If someone can watch an HBO show on Google Video or Youtube, even if its divided into 1, 3 or 6 parts and reassembled into a playlist, they have far less incentive to subscribe or retain their subscription(s). HBO in turn, syndicates those shows to cable networks. As an example, A&E paid a reported $2.2 million dollars PER EPISODE of the Sopranos. If the content is available online, do you think maybe it might reduce the value to A&E and HBO of the Sopranos ? And thats before we even get to overseas syndication. Then of course there are DVD sales. Youtube downloads every video right to your PC. Google Video not only downloads to your PC, it provides the option to convert it into a PDA format including the Ipod. So tell me why it makes good business sense for HBO to let users post the content they sell for a ton of money ? Normally, you'd figure that Viacom settles this suit for money and the implementation of more find-and-destroy technology and some kind of licensing deal. But of course there are many more content producers...[Read Full Article]

3.14.07 Is Slacker competing against iPod or XM/Sirius?
Even as XM and Sirius have conceded there's not enough users for two sat radio services, some industry execs are launching Slacker, sort of Satellite 2.0, Matt Marshall reports. They announced a web-based service today and are releasing PC software shortly, which will provide a free (with ads) alternative to iTunes. And they're coming out with their own player as well. It's a satellite service that lets you teach it what songs you like and which you never want to hear again. The company is aimed at the vast majority of iPod users who don't keep constantly updating their playlists. You just turn it on and you get music you like - limited, however, by the universe of music the company has licensed, currently about 2 million songs. So you can't pull up the music you want to hear immediately, don't get to own it and can't use it on your computer, you can't listen to podcasts, can't put your own music on it. On the plus side, you don't have to think about it, don't have to transfer music from PC to device, and don't have to buy music, just pay $7.95 a month for the ads-free version (the with-ads version would surely be unacceptable.) The device is about the size of a blackberry. So you can carry it around like you do an iPod. However, Slacker’s servers will communicate with your Slacker device constantly. It uses commercial satellites, and WiFi, refreshing your device’s drive with new songs when...[Read Full Article]

3.13.07 Eisner offers up lessons from Content 101
Michael Eisner has a few words about content. His new webshow production company, Vuguru is launching with a series of 90-second long shows about high school competition gone to extremes, Prom Queen. (Read Eisner dives into Web TV.) He's working with Veoh, a company in which he's a major investor, to deliver his production value shows. In an interview with News.com, Eiser has a few choice words for marketers who think it's all about strategy and platform - and he lets it be known that user-created content has a long way to go to meet his standards. Here's the absolutely best line in the interview and it applies to journalism and all other "content" as well: We come from a place about story. It is story, story, story. It is emotion, it is humor, it makes you laugh, cry, whatever. We do not come from a technology platform, and we are not interested in a technology platform for anything other than to get it out there any more than I would have been interested in slow motion as the end product of sports coverage. What's interesting in a sport is the game. How you shoot it, and how you use technology, just makes it more attractive. But the game is the answer, and we're interested in the game, not the camera. Other answers carry a similar theme. You come up with what you think is a good idea that interests you, and you put it out there. If it happens...[Read Full Article]

3.13.07 MSFT, GOOG in coalition to deliver Internet over TV airwaves
Internet, online and on the air Microsoft, Google, Dell, HP, Intel and Philips say they can deliver Internet over TV airwaves - and they're pushing the FCC to give them the green light, says the Washington Post. The coalition has come up with a device that would make TV-spectrum Internet work in homes. After a few months of testing, they're hoping the agency will approve the device and that it could be sold in stores by 2009. "These devices have the potential to take the success of the WiFi phenomenon to another level," said Jonathan S. Adelstein, an FCC commissioner. That would mean a little competition for the cable companies and telcos, which of course also control massive amounts of content. And really the greatest use of TV Internet would probably be in rural areas, where it's hard and expensive to get wired net and wireless solutions have proven too flaky. IMO, it should also work in urban areas where underprivileged can't afford to pay $60 a month for cable Internet. In any case, it could have a positive effect on municipal wireless networks. In urban areas, a TV Internet system might somehow be combined with phone- or cable-provided Internet service to redirect signals through every wall of a house or office -- without replacing the phone or cable company as the provider, said a person affiliated with the coalition. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record about such possible uses....[Read Full Article]

3.13.07 Viacom sues Google for $1 billion
Viacom is suing Google for $1 billion over the presence of its content on YouTube, Reuters reports. Viacom says there are 160,000 copyright clips on YouTube, which have been viewed 1.5 billion times. Here's Viacom's statement: “YouTube is a significant, for-profit organization that has built a lucrative business out of exploiting the devotion of fans to others’ creative works in order to enrich itself and its corporate parent Google. Their business model, which is based on building traffic and selling advertising off of unlicensed content, is clearly illegal and is in obvious conflict with copyright laws. In fact, YouTube’s strategy has been to avoid taking proactive steps to curtail the infringement on its site, thus generating significant traffic and revenues for itself while shifting the entire burden – and high cost – of monitoring YouTube onto the victims of its infringement. This behavior stands in stark contrast to the actions of other significant distributors, who have recognized the fair value of entertainment content and have concluded agreements to make content legally available to their customers around the world. There is no question that YouTube and Google are continuing to take the fruit of our efforts without permission and destroying enormous value in the process. This is value that rightfully belongs to the writers, directors and talent who create it and companies like Viacom that have invested to make possible this innovation and creativity. After a great deal of unproductive negotiation, and remedial efforts by ourselves and other copyright holders, YouTube...[Read Full Article]

3.12.07 Eisner dives into Web TV
In Wired 1.01, Nicholas Negroponte dismissed the push to HDTV with this pithy lede: When you look at television, ask yourself: What's wrong with it? Picture resolution? Of course not. What's wrong is the programming. That was 1993. These days, the programming is clearly better, thanks to HBO and a few other cable networks. There's still plenty wrong with Web video, but YouTube has solved one big chunk - sharing and redistribution. But despite a few breakout hits like the Mentos guys and Lonelygirl, the programming mostly consists of stuff lifted from TV, hence the deep concerns over copyright. With Google in charge of YouTube, copyright owners are concerned Google will be only too happy to wrap advertising around their content investments. (There's also the problem of getting the stuff off the computer and onto the TV.) Enter Michael Eisner, who is forming Vuguru, a development company for direct-to-Web programming, USA Today reports. Vuguru also today will unveil its first show: a serialized mystery called Prom Queen that will roll out over 80 days beginning April 2 with daily installments lasting 90 seconds. It's co-produced with production company Big Fantastic, in a deal brokered by United Talent Agency. "There's a new distribution platform that's going to be ubiquitous, and that's clearly broadband," Eisner says. While sites that feature user-generated video, such as YouTube, "won the short-term sprint" to reach audiences, he says, "Winning the marathon will be professionally produced, emotionally driven story content." Check Vuguru.com and promqueen.tv to tune in....[Read Full Article]

3.12.07 Wikipedia deals with fake experts
Who's Essjay? He's not, it turns out, a tenured professor in Catholic law but rather 24-year-old Ryan Jordan. The disclosure has prompted Jimmy Wales to draft a credential verification scheme and is causing something of an identity crisis among the Wikipedians, The Times says. The details of how Mr. Wales’s system would work are still being bandied about, and include the idea of having users fax copies of their diplomas to Wikipedia’s offices, or relying on a “circle of trust,” whereby a trusted individual would be in charge of verification. Mr. Wales said he thought that some version of his proposal would begin on the site “in a week.” Florence Devouard, head of Wikimedia Foundation board, said she was “not supportive” of the proposal. “I think what matters is the quality of the content, which we can improve by enforcing policies such as ‘cite your source,’ not the quality of credentials showed by an editor,” she added. Wales concedes: “The moral of the story is what makes for a good Wikipedian is not a good credential.” But he always realizes something important: that Wikipedia will die if people perceive that it is “written by a bunch of 12-year-olds.” In general I agree with Devouard that "cite your source" is the best protection against falsity and slopppiness. As a law student, I take offense at assertions of fact that can't be backed up. It's not enough that others may correct errors. In the law, assertions require proof. Published works are best,...[Read Full Article]

3.9.07 First Blush: CSPAN video is free, Josh Wolf is not, Danny Hills puts the Web into a database
Danny Hillis launches his MetaWeb Technologies, a "semantic Web" company that strives to make the Web more like a database. (NYT) Jury orders Vonage to pay Verizon $58 million in patent infringement fees. There will be an appeal. (NYT) In the brouhaha over the cable network's ownership of Congressional hearing video, C-SPAN has come up with a Creative Commons-like license to all its video content. Bloggers, including Nancy Pelosi, can post C-SPAN video. The terms: share-alike, non-commercial, attribution. (Ars Technica) Palm has hired former Apple engineer Paul Mercer to design new phone/PDA units to compete with iPhone (NYT) Josh Wolf and the US Attorney's Office had a session with a mediator yesterday. Unless some breakthrough occurred, Wolf will probably stay in jail until July. But, Wolf's reasons for staying in jail are "less than crystal clear." (Wash Post) Gateway executives are liable for manipulating earnings and lying to the SEC, a civil jury found. ((AP)...[Read Full Article]

3.8.07 Valleywag: Red Herring on its death bed
ValleyWag says that Red Herring magazine will shutter the doors anytime now. Claims that the magazine had a $1 million infusion of cash coming in was a "lie." Staffers' paychecks arrived late and/or the magazine didn't print. The magazine has failed to print several issues. Caulfield's out. Managing Editor Eric Wahlgren is rumored to be heading out too (going to something science-related), which would leave quite a hole at the top of the masthead. Of course, the cash-starved RH keeps hiring new Editorial Assistants and promoting them to Journalists -- the perfect solution to fill the dying ranks from the bottom, i suppose. Journalist Jennifer Kho is likely heading out too, if I'm correct. There goes the energy reporter! The HR director (Kevin Lee) quit a few weeks ago too. I think that, at this point, virtually everyone is shopping their resume out... at least, I should hope they are. In true publishing industry fashion, one day the doors will just be locked....[Read Full Article]

3.8.07 Judge: Intel, AMD must determine if lost email relevant, important
The judge in the Intel-AMD lawsuit ordered both sides to work with a mediator to figure out how serious Intel's loss of email is, InfoWeek reports. Intel admitted recently that it had deleted some of the emails AMD had requested in discovery in the case. The judge gave Intel 30 days to determine whether any of the lost email was relevant to AMD's suit and how important they are. After that, AMD will have two weeks to respond and Intel will have 10 days to answer AMD's response. All of this to be done under the eye of a mediator, who will report to the judge. Intel could face sanctions for the destruction of the email. Intel in court filings on Monday acknowledged that for three and a half months after AMD filed its suit on June 27, 2005, a small number of employees whose e-mails were considered potential evidence failed to move all messages to their hard drives, which means they would have been purged automatically from Intel's system. In addition, "a few" employees believed erroneously that Intel's IT group was automatically saving their e-mails. The judge considers the deletion unintentional but AMD is fuming. "Given the obvious implications to the administration of justice, it is exactly right that Intel must now prepare a full accounting, fashion an effective remedy, and be accountable for the loss of evidence," Thomas M. McCoy, chief administrative officer and executive VP of legal affairs for AMD, said in an e-mailed statement. If the...[Read Full Article]

3.8.07 Only truly big sites deserve VC investment
(Via Tim O'Reilly) Venture capitalist Jeremy Liew says any investment needs to have potential to reach $50 million. If your brilliant idea is for an ad-supported Web 2.0 site, here's how big you'd have to get to make Liew's investment pay off. With today's CPMs, really big. 1. Be a site with a broad reach (say general social networking, communications, news). At large scale, without a great deal of targeting possible, a startup’s “run of site” or “run of network” advertising might be able to get to the $1 RPM range (Revenue per thousand impressions). To get to $50m in revenue you would need 50 billion pageviews in a year, or just over 4 billion per month. 2. Be a site with demographic targeting (say a Latino portal, or a sports site (targeted at men) or a social network targeted at baby boomers). Although in TV and in magazines, demographic targeting can generate double digit CPMs, online at scale, RPMs tend to be in the low single digit range. Lets assume a $5 RPM. To get to $50m in revenue you would need 10 billion pageviews in a year, or just over 800 million per month. (More than Microsoft.com.) 3. Be a site with endemic advertising opportunities (say a site about movies that movie studios will want to advertise on, or a site about cars that auto manufacturers will want to advertise on, or a site about travel that hotels and airlines and online travel agencies will want to...[Read Full Article]

Chinese Dissident's Wife to Sue Yahoo
The wife of Chinese dissident has come to the US to sue Yahoo for turning over her husband's emails to Chinese authorities. He was sentenced in 2003 to 10 years in prison for publishing "subversive" articles on the Internet, reports Voice of America. Speaking with VOA's Mandarin Service Wednesday after arriving in Washington, Yu Ling said Chinese police arrested her husband, Wang Xiaoning, partly because Yahoo's Hong Kong office gave Chinese authorities information about his e-mail accounts. Yu Ling said she has come to the United States to sue the company for damages and to demand an apology. Last year, Yahoo provided the Chinese with information about Shi Tao, a journalist who emailed to Western news outlets details of China's plans to handle the 15th anniversary of Tiananmen Square....[Read Full Article]

3.8.07 Glorious republic of Kazakhstan censored Borat
Among the human rights abuses chronicled by the State Department is that Kazakhstan took control of the .kz domain and deleted the Borat website there, AP reports. The government also monitored e-mail and Internet activity, blocked or slowed access to opposition websites and planted propaganda in Internet chat rooms, the State Department said. "The government limited individuals' ability to criticize the country's leadership, and regional leaders attempted to limit local media outlets' criticism of them."...[Read Full Article]

3.7.07 gPhone silliness ...
Venture Beat is reporting heavily on rumors that Google is working a cellphone, rumors that Eric Schmidt denied yesterday. It all stems from a post from Polaris Venture Partners' Simeon Simeonov (a name right out of Tolstoy), who said a source described a phone stack that would run optimized Java on a C++-bootstrapped OS. Everyone's sure that means Google is doing a Steve Jobs-like number, where Google controls hardware and software and service providers dance to their tune. That is sheer speculation, though. Consider what he told VB: Why does he think Google will want to dictate the hardware too? Look at Apple, he says. Apple’s selling point for its iPhone is that it controls both the hardware and software completely, and if you’re a partner or user, you have the option of being on board or not, he explained. Microsoft, on the other end of the spectrum, says ‘We sort of control the software, but you can mess with it in other ways — for example, by taking out the IE browser, and putting in Opera.” He said Google itself may not even be sure about where it is on the spectrum between Apple and Microsoft, because it is in a complex dance with multiple players, such as with carriers about ad revenue share and distribution. On the one hand, Google has a great brand, but it’s not like Apple, where its brand is associated with hardware. However, Simeonov says “it doesn’t feel Googlish” to forgo the hardware, and...[Read Full Article]

3.7.07 On the Hill Gates continues campaign for better education, more workers
Bill Gates continued his lobbying campaign for more investment in education and workers on Capitol Hill yesterday, saying he suffered "deep anxiety" over the state of US innovation, Computerworld reports. “America simply cannot continue along this course,” said Gates in written testimony delivered to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.“When I reflect on the state of American competitiveness today, my immediate feeling is not only one of pride, but also of deep anxiety. "Too often, we as a society are sacrificing the long-term good of our country in the interests of short-term gain." Gates said in too many areas, the U.S. is “content to live off the investments that previous generations made for us — in education, in health care, in basic scientific research — but [is] unwilling to invest equal energy and resources into building on this legacy to ensure that America’s future is as bright and prosperous as its present.” "A top priority must be to reverse our dismal high school graduation rates — with a target of doubling the number of young people who graduate from high school ready for college, career and life — and to place a major emphasis on encouraging careers in math and science,” Gates said. Gates said the H-1B program was unacceptably limited. He predicted that “for the first time in the history of the program, the supply will run out before the year’s graduating students get their degrees. This means that U.S. employers will not be able to...[Read Full Article]

3.7.07 Panama won't boost Yahoo for a while but morale is up
Yahoo's Panama - the context-based ad placement service that is supposed to return Yahoo to powerhouse glory - has been out a month, but CFO Susan Decker says Wall Street shouldn't look for an impact on Sunnyvale's bottom line until the second half of the year, AP says. But it's already making a critical change in Yahoo's culture, CEO Terry Semel says. Panama ''is now out and we are starting to smile again,'' said Semel, who is also Yahoo's chairman. ''It has changed the mood and tempo of the company.'' It needs to do both, analysts say. If Yahoo can't turn the ship around with Panama, Semel may need to start looking around for warmer waters. Either that, or an acquisition by Microsoft could be in the works. Decker predicts Yahoo will make gains at Yahoo's expense. "Our hope and expectation is we will see query share improve as our relevancy improves."...[Read Full Article]

3.7.07 Microsoft Research focused on search
Is search broken? Microsoft thinks that it is - at least, it concedes that MSN Search is not doing the trick (Google market share: 53.7%; MSN marketshare: 8.9%). So at TechFest - Redmond's three-day chance to show off to reporters and employees the neat tricks MS Research is working on - the word of the week is "search," says the Times' John Markoff. Lili Cheng, a user-interface designer for the Windows Vista operating system, showed off a new service called Mix that will allow Web surfers to organize search results and easily share them. She said Mix would be released in six to nine months. A second tool demonstrated, called Web Assistant, is intended to improve the relevance of search results and help resolve ambiguities in results that, for example, would give a user sites for both Reggie Bush and George Bush. Microsoft is not the spiffiest when it comes to product names, but these widgets are not products yet. Personalized Search compares web-search results with an index of content on the user's hard drive (that's generated by Desktop Search, quite similar apparently to Google Desktop). It does a neat trick, though. Susan Dumais, a veteran Microsoft search expert, demonstrated the effectiveness of the program by searching for Michael Jordan. By culling through local information on her hard drive, the program was able to discern that she was interested in finding the Michael Jordan who is the machine-learning expert at the University of California, Berkeley, not the basketball player. Search...[Read Full Article]

3.6.07 MS to publishers: Fear Google, solve 'orphan works' problem
Microsoft launched an attack on Google's respect for copyright today. Speaking at a publishing conference, Tom Rubin, Microsoft's associate general counsel accused Google of encouraging salespeople to sell keywords on pirated software and illegal downloads of music and movies. Text of Rubin's prepared remarks Microsoft was surprised to learn recently that Google employees have actively encouraged advertisers to build advertising programs around key words referring to pirated software, including pirated Microsoft software. And we weren’t the only victims – Google also encouraged the use of keywords and advertising text referring to illegal copies of music and movies. These actions bolstered websites dedicated to piracy and reportedly netted Google around $800,000 in advertising revenues from just four such pirate sites. At the end of a speech where he emphasized Microsoft's respect for copyright and castigated Google for treating it cavalierly, Rubin also told the publishing industry that it needs to update its act and make accomodations to the online world. He especially called for two industries to come up with a solution to the orphan works problem - the fact that it's virtually impossible to find owners of many copyrights. Online providers should make diligent efforts to locate copyright owners, but when they cannot locate the owner, there must be a process or a safety net by which they can move forward without risk of liability beyond payment of a reasonable royalty if the copyright holder later makes herself known." He also told the publishers they need to realize that online...[Read Full Article]

3.6.07 Online revenue up for Times
Online is looking up for the New York Times, at a time when traditional newspaper businesses are suffering, CEO Janet Robinson told a Bear Stearns conference. Online revenue growth will increase 30 percent in 2007, from $273m to $350m, accounting for 10.6 percent of total revenue. The leap comes as the Times invests more money in its online business. At the same time, it is cutting costs through plant closings, shutting foreign bureaus at the Boston Globe and outsourcing various functions at some of its other papers as print advertising weakens. In 2007, the Times expects to achieve cost savings and productivity gains of $65 million to $75 million, excluding expenses, Chief Financial Officer James Follo said at the conference....[Read Full Article]

3.6.07 Schmidt: Google working with Apple, no more YouTube-size deals
Eric Schmidt told an investors' conference that Google is working closely with Apple, noting that the two companies have "similar goals and similar competitors," Reuters' Eric Auchard reports. The two companies are doing "more and more things together," he said. The answer came in response to a question about a rumored Google phone that would compete with Apple's iPhone. Schmidt joined Apple's board in August '06. Schmidt also said that it would be "highly unlikely" for Google cut any more billion-dollar deals like the one for YouTube. "It is not obvious to me where it would go," he said referring the pile of cash Google is accumulating - more than $11 billion. Investors are anxious to see some diversification at Google. Virtually all of Google' revenue comes from advertising. Schmidt said the newest meaningful contributor to revenue will be from the company selling subscriptions to business software delivered via the Web, its so-called "Google Apps" business. "The next really big one is actually an extension of Google Apps," Schmidt said in speaking of major revenue contributors. And finally, he dismissed rumors of a Yahoo-Microsoft merger. "There are so many new areas ... where targeted advertising can be done. It does not strike me as the right time to be consolidating the whole market," he said, noting how the pace of innovation promises explosive change for years to come....[Read Full Article]

3.6.07 VC3: Ready Set Pitch
So, it's a humbling experience, making the rounds on Sand Hill, making your well-honed elevator pitch. Why not compress the whole sordid affair into a rapid-fire afternoon? That was the idea behind VC3 - part of EntrepreneurshipUSA - give budding startups three minutes to pitch and VCs three minutes to respond. Then move on. It was a humbling experience for some of the hopeful, the Mercury News reports. Eric Frenkiel, a purposeful, bespectacled 21-year-old Stanford junior, recently launched what he coyly described as a site ``in the fashion-media space.'' In a session with young venture capitalists John Vrionis and Chris Sun -- themselves Stanford alums now working at Lightspeed Venture Partners and Storm Ventures, respectively -- Frenkiel talked at a fevered clip ... At the end, Vrionis handed Frenkiel his business card, but Frenkiel took it glumly. ``Are you giving your card to everyone?'' he asked plaintively. His demeanor brightened when Vrionis said no. But it's hard to hold a VC's attention even for three minutes. In reality you probably have 15 seconds to get someone's attention. After that, it's just politeness. Brian Ong, a 24-year-old Stanford graduate student who launched an online services marketplace in December with four friends, said some VCs were: ``actually checking their BlackBerrys while I was talking. We're talking about a three-minute pitch,'' he said, incredulous. ``Maybe some of them need to see who's e-mailing them at every single minute of the afternoon, but I kind of doubt it.'' Doesn't seem like the financiers were...[Read Full Article]

3.6.07 Intel can't find emails for AMD lawsuit
Well it would be handy to AMD's lawsuit alleging anticompetitive behavior against Intel, but the chip giant just can't seem to find some of the emails AMD asked to see, the Mercury News reports. Intel told U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Farnan that it had some "document retention lapses" in the discovery process. Intel said it has been communicating its problems with AMD and that it is doing everything it can to piece together e-mails that were inadvertently deleted by employees. It said that certain employees failed to move e-mails from their sent boxes to their hard drives, as the company asked them to do, and that they were purged automatically by Intel's e-mail system. AMD's response? In typical fashion, Intel's archrival says the "lapses" were hardly inadvertant. The Mercury reports AMD wrote in a court filing: ``Intel executives at the highest level failed to receive or to heed instructions essential for the preservation of their records, and Intel and its counsel failed to institute and police a reliable backup system as a fail-safe against human error.'' Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said, "We did not intentionally destroy anything. We are attempting to recover everything. We are leaving no stone unturned." He said Intel is spending ``millions'' on looking for e-mails, reconstructing e-mail traffic and creating a new backup system. Intel said that in July 2005, it sent a notice to hundreds of employees who, based on the complaint, were the most likely to possess relevant documents. It asked those employees...[Read Full Article]

3.5.07 Judge throws out MP3 verdict
After a federal jury handed down the biggest patent infringement verdict ever, a federal judge has thrown out the verdict, ruling as a matter of law that Microsoft didn't infringe Alcatel-Lucent's MP3 patents, CNET News.com reports. The judge dismissed all 19 of the claims made by Alcatel-Lucent, which plans to appeal and is "comfortable with our chances of success as the case makes its way through the legal system", spokeswoman Joan Campion said. Microsoft deputy general counsel Tom Burt said the ruling "reaffirms our confidence that once there's judicial review of these complex patent cases, these Alcatel-Lucent claims ultimately won't stand up." Don't worry, there's plenty more patent action. A new trial between the two over user interface patents starts May 21....[Read Full Article]

3.5.07 RIM chair quits in backdating scandal
Options scandal takes down RIM's Balsillie The option backdating scandal took down RIM's chairman, Jim Balsillie, this morning as the BlackBerry maker admitted it needed to remove $250 million from past earnings, as a result of improper accounting for the options, AP reports. The Waterloo, Ontario-based maker of the popular handheld Internet device said a special committee determined that all options granted prior to Feb. 27, 2002, were accounted for incorrectly. The company said Balsillie was directly involved in approving grants following the company's initial public offering in 1997, including grants that have been found to have been accounted for incorrectly. Balsillie's role in approving grants decreased over time as more responsibility for approving certain grants was given to Kavelman and other employees. Balsillie and CEO Michael Lazaridis both agreed to pay back $4.25 million to help defray costs. While Balsillie has resigned, Lazaridis remains on as CEO....[Read Full Article]

3.5.07 CA bill would require open XML
The movement towards open document formats in government is gaining steam, as a bill was introduced in the California legislature to require state government to use XML formats, BetaNews reports. The bill would indeed stipulate that state workers must create documents using the XML-based format, not just archive them. So Microsoft Office 2003 and older versions would have to be replaced on or before January 1, 2008; and conceivably, existing documents might need to be translated on or before that time - a process which for other states generally takes far longer than twelve months. The bill says the format must be interoperable, fully published, royalty-free, sponsored by an open industry organization, and implemented by multiple vendors. A new version of Novell's WordPerfect that supports Microsoft's Open Office XML would mean that Microsoft's standard would qualify, as well as Open Office, based on the ODF format. Now Microsoft says, the format war is over, with the new MS Office and Open Office both supporting OOXML and ODF. "I think at this point we can really move onto more productive and collaborative discussion and admit that we are no longer in any sort of "file format war." If we ever were really in a war, it's now over, and both sides are winners," said program manager Brian Jones....[Read Full Article]

3.5.07 Patent Office 2.0?
I guess this is Digg.com for the Patent Office. Everyone knows it takes too long to process patent apps, that too many trivial software "inventions" win patents, and that the software industry plays a game of mutually assured destruction with patents. Still is this Web 2.0 thing going a little too far? The Post reports: The Patent and Trademark Office is starting a pilot project that will not only post patent applications on the Web and invite comments but also use a community rating system designed to push the most respected comments to the top of the file, for serious consideration by the agency's examiners. A first for the federal government, the system resembles the one used by Wikipedia, the popular user-created online encyclopedia. The project was hatched by IBM and New York Law School Professor Beth Noveck. Noveck called the initiative "revolutionary" and said it will bring about "the first major change to our patent examination system since the 19th century." "For the first time in history, it allows the patent-office examiners to open up their cubicles and get access to a whole world of technical experts," said David J. Kappos, vice president and assistant general counsel at IBM. Under the pilot project, major tech companies have agreed to have their applications reviewed online. Among the volunteers: Microsoft, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and IBM. You can volunteer too. The program will start with apps from software design. Anyone who believes he knows of information relating to these proposed patents will...[Read Full Article]

3.5.07 The new power in social nets: Cisco?
So this is odd. Last month Cisco bought Five Across, not a company that springs to most people's minds when you think social networking. (I profiled Five Across' previous incarnation, Bubbler, in 2005.) This week Cisco will announce its acquiring the technology infrastructure behind Tribe.net, a social networking pioneer that has largely retrenched to the Burning Man crowd, the NY Times reports. What's going on? The Times' Brad Stone says: The deal[s] will give Cisco the technology to help large corporate clients create services resembling MySpace or YouTube to bring their customers together online. And that ambition highlights a significant shift in the way companies and entrepreneurs are thinking about social networks. And from there Stone devines a trend. MySpace and Facebook were great, awesome, as far as they went but now they are hitting a wall. The future of social networks will be community-based. Of course, the large social networks naturally splintered up into lots of little communities and advertising areas, etc. But with more focus, something better can result, Ning cofounder Marc Andreessen says. “The existing social networks are fantastic but they put users in a straitjacket,” said Mr. Andreessen, who this week reintroduced Ning, his third start-up, after a limited introduction last year. “They are restrictive about what you can and can’t do, and they were not built to be flexible. They do not let people build and design their own worlds, which is the nature of what people want to do online.” So will Cisco be...[Read Full Article]

3.5.07 Cleantech companies litter the Valley
The Chronicle ran a front-page look at the Valley's cleantech industry (or "green tech" - reporter David Baker emphasizes that the industry is so new it hasn't settled on nickname yet), profiling some of the new and more established companies in the area. There's Menlo Park's Solazyme, which is genetically engineering algae to produce oil. They recently picked up a financing round from Berkeley's Roda Group. The current interest in cleantech is a welcome change for such companies. A few years ago, Valley VCs were a lot less interested. We'd go talk to biotech VCs, and they'd say, 'This is interesting, but we know nothing about this energy business," said Harrison Dillon, Solazyme's chief executive officer. Then there are more established companies, like SunPower in San Jose, which makes highly efficient solar powers. It brought in $236.5 million in revenue last year, up 200 percent from $78.7 million the year before. Its profit hit $26.5 million. Competing with SunPower is Santa Clara-based Miasolé, of Santa Clara, which will soon start producing "thin-film" solar panels. Rather than collect the sun's energy with silicon wafers, the traditional solar technology, Miasolé uses a combination of copper, indium, gallium and selenium -- all deposited on razor-thin, stainless steel sheets. Thin-film cells don't convert sunlight to electricity as efficiently as silicon cells. But Miasolé's process for making cells will be far cheaper, said Chief Executive Officer David Pearce. If all goes as planned, Miasolé should be able to cut the production cost of solar cells...[Read Full Article]

3.1.07 Understanding Google - media company, online service, or both?
Can Google have its cake and eat it too? That's what Tom wonders in this follow-up post to my report on a federal decision that Google has the right to refuse advertising as it sees fit. Tom wrote: "An ISP can argue that it is just a pipe, a bit carrier, and therefore has the protection of the [Communications Decency Act]." But the CDA protection is much broader than this. In fact it's really aimed at user-created content, protecting "online services" from liability for what users post. In one case, a service was found not liable for some very clearly libelous things a user wrote about a starlet. And just recently, as I reported two weeks ago, the CDA was found to protect MySpace against liability for an online predator's use of the service. In that case, the court said: "To ensure that Web site operators and other interactive computer services would not be crippled by lawsuits arising out of third party communications, the Act provides interactive computer services with immunity." Liability attaches for publisher-created content (for say, running "Why I Hate Blacks"), not for user-created content (thanks to CDA.) So long as Google doesn't create any original content, it seems to me they don't have liability concerns for such things as libel. And this is not just District Court judges. The First Circuit just released a decision that Lycos and Terra Networks are immunized from lawsuits based on user postings (PDF). So, if newspapers are at a disadvantage because...[Read Full Article]

3.1.07 Perkins, Dunn lawyer in spitting match
At a venture capital event in San Francisco Tuesday, Tom Perkins issued some stinging words for Patricia Dunn, and yesterday Dunn's lawyer struck back. The HP spying scandal ranks with the Iraq war for behavior that makes no sense for the stated reasons. Perkins offered a reason for the whole pretexting fiasco: an effort by the "compliance" directors to finally oust the "guidance" directors. CNET News.com explains: In Perkins' view, HP's board was split between two types of directors: "guidance" directors like himself who wanted to spend board meetings concentrating on ways to beat Dell and IBM, and "compliance" directors who were obsessed with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, social responsibility campaigns and regulatory issues that were less germane to the company's survival. The scandal was the final act in a plan by the compliance directors to oust the guidance directors, he said. The fact that HP hired investigators to get the phone records of reporters and board members is a red herring in the whole drama, he said. Dunn was mostly after control, he added. "In spite of being indicted on four counts by the California attorney general, it is clear that former Chairman Patti Dunn won the battle," Perkins said. "I see this embarrassing public mess as a culmination of a war over the control over the board of the company." Dunn's lawyer, James Brosnahan, issued an angry email retort yesterday, sent out to major business news publications and published on PR Newswire. In its entirety, then: Yesterday, a man...[Read Full Article]

03.01.07 Oracle buys biz intel vendor Hyperion
Oracle is buying Hyperion Solutions, a top seller of business intelligence software, for $3.3 billion in cash, the companies announced. Oracle is paying $55 per share. The move makes Oracle the leader in "the high growth enterprise performance management market," said Larry Ellison. Oracle now has an "end-to-end performance management system that includes planning, budgeting, consolidation, operational analytics and compliance reporting. " Hyperion CEO Godfrey Sullivan said: ``Requirements for performance management and business intelligence solutions are increasingly converging,'' Sullivan said in the statement. ``Given the critical need for managers across the enterprise to align operational decisions with strategy, now is the right time for Hyperion to combine with a strategic partner like Oracle.'' The move is the latest incursion into SAP territory, Oracle president Charles Phillips said. "Hyperion is the latest move in our strategy to expand Oracle's offerings to SAP customers. .... . Oracle already has PeopleSoft HR, Siebel CRM, G-Log, Demantra, i-flex, Oracle Retail, and Oracle Fusion Middleware installed at SAP's largest ERP customers. Now Oracle's Hyperion software will be the lens through which SAP's most important customers view and analyze their underlying SAP ERP data."...[Read Full Article]

2.28.07 Judge: Google is a media company, legally speaking
A federal judge has dismissed a case against Google that challenged the search engine's right to refuse advertising. In his ruling (PDF), the judge handed Google, Yahoo and Microsoft a big fat juicy win, saying that search engines can refuse advertising for any reason - and they don't have to say why. The plaintiff, Christopher Langdon, was suing Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Time Warner and AOL for refusal to run his ads. The complaint focused mainly on Google and its refusal to specify the reason for the rejection. In essence, the judge answered the topic that's been tearing up these pages this week: Is Google a media company? Simply, yes. Search engines are constitutionally similar to newspapers, the decision says and they have the same limited First Amendment rights as newspapers to accept or reject advertising. Eric Goldman has an excellent review of the decision. He highlights the main points. Search engines have a First Amendment right to reject ads as part of their protected right to speak or not (see Miami Herald v. Tornillo). This opinion is consistent with the uncited Search King ruling, although that case framed Google's Page Rank as protected opinion. Search engine decisions to reject ads is protected by [the Communications Decency Act] as a legitimate decision to filter "otherwise objectionable" content. The court concludes that "Section 230 provides Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft immunity for their editorial decisions regarding screening and deletion from their network." I'm expecting the KinderStart judge to protect Google's ranking choices under...[Read Full Article]

2.28.07 GOOG leads Net stock recovery
All Internet stocks took a beating along with the rest of the market yesterday, but the free-fall has stopped and several stocks are no worse off today than they were at yesterday's close. Standing out from the crowd, again, is GOOG, up 3.45 at midday to $452. MSFT was up a quarter percent and YHOO was running just about flat with yesterday's close. AMZN and EBAY were also up slightly. AAPL was up a full percentage point to just shy of $85. Part of the bounce for GOOG must be the news from Nielsen/NetRatings that more searchers used Google last month than a year ago, up from 48.2% in Jan. 06 to 53% in Jan. 07. Yahoo searches fell an insignificant amount, from 22.7% to 22.2%. The real loser was MSN, which went from 11% to 8.9%. Even better for GOOG: A federal judge ruled yesterday that the search company has a First Amendment right to refuse advertising for any reason, just like print publications. That might settle the question once and for all to whether they're a "media company." (More coverage to follow on the decision.)...[Read Full Article]

2.27.07 Hack saves House webcasts to the Web
After reading that C-Span owns the copyright to the House and Senate hearings it tapes, Carl Malamud whipped up a little hack. It seems that the floor debates that Congress records with its equipment is public property and the hearings C-Span tapes are its property. But what about the hearing that Congress webcasts? They're clearly public since they are recorded and transmitted by public equipment, but since they are just webcasts they're unusable for research or just time-shifting. Enter Carl, as he explains on Boing Boing: The U.S. Congress provides webcasts for many of their hearings. In all cases, the hearings are streaming only, in many cases they are "live only" (no archive of the stream). In some cases, the committees even put a "copyright, all rights reserved" notice on the hearings! This is really dumb. So, I've started ripping all congressional streams starting with the house and posting them in a nonproprietary format for download, tagging, review, and annotation at Google Video and another copy at the Internet Archive (just to prove this is a nondenominational issue :). This is a Tom Sawyer hack, a la "painting this fence is *loads* of fun!" I intend to prove to the Congressional webmasters that it is so much fun doing their web sites for them that they'll want to do it themselves so that I go away. Until then, look for "Carl Malamud on behalf of the U.S. Congress" for official news....[Read Full Article]

2.27.07 Tech Policy Summit: Is patent system broken?
Patent reform is Topic One at the Tech Policy Summit in San Jose this week. One camp wants to see software patents flat-out obliterated. From InfoWorld: "Patents are not a driver of innovation, they are an impediment to innovation," said Mark Lemley, a professor of law at Stanford University Law School, speaking at the summit. [Often] one company asserts a patent right against another company and forces that company to stop production until the patent issue is resolved. "The patent holdup forces the company to settle for more money than the patent is worth," Lemley said. Part of the problem is the backup. There's something like a million-application backlog and it routinely takes three years to get final approval. The Patent and Trademark Office plans to hire 1,200 more examiners. But don't look to USPTO to dismantle the patent system. At ZDNet, Dan Farber reports that a top official said the patent system is far from broken. John Dudas, the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, said the idea that patents are "fundamentally broken" is just plain wrong. "I have traveled around the world, and every nation is thinking how it can model [intellectual property governance] after the U.S," Dudas said. "It's a proven system, over 200 years old. The Supreme Court, Congress and policy makers are involved [in cases and legal reforms] not because the system is broken. It's not perfect, and we should be having the debate on how to improve." Dudas...[Read Full Article]

2.27.07 Firefox 3 promises offline web apps and more
It might not be Monster Garage, but at Mozilla, the geeks are under the hood, furiously remaking the Firefox browser into a souped up monster browser. According to InfoWorld, Firefox 3.0 will be released later this year with such features as offline support for Web apps. From a platform perspective, FF3 will also be laying the foundations for FF4 and JavaScript 2. So far, engineers have made Firefox work with Zimbra, an open-source email, messaging, and VoIP application. With a bit of code from Google and Microsoft, it would be possible to integrate with Gmail and Hotmail and other e-mail services. To do offline support, engineers have overcome the hurdle of how to store data locally on the computer, VP of engineering Mike Schroepfer said. The feature will make it into Firefox 3.0, although the user interface is still under development, he said. There are ideas for bookmarks - people should be able to display by popularity, for instance. Seems like a local version of delicious-style tagging still makes the most sense. FF3 will include a SQL Lite database, which would allow features like full-text search of history, for example. "The advantage of the database is that we can search your cache," Schroepfer said. And FF4 will support JavaScript 2, a revamp of the language designed to make it easier for people with less coding experience to write Web applications....[Read Full Article]

2.27.07 Ning: Both a platform and easy-to-use site tool
Judging from Ning.com's response time this morning - which is to say, no response - I'd say Marc Andreessen's social networking company either has a bright future because so many people are interested or a dim one because their servers are so unprepared for news-day stress. So we must trust in reviewers who got a look at it last night. Michael Arrington must be relieved because he so hates to dis Web2 apps and just a month year ago he was forced to call it DOA. But amazing things have happened: Ning relaunches tonight with new functionality and an interface that allows even the most novice of web users to create their own highly customized social network in moments. ... I’m now willing to offer a full mea culpa. The new Ning is an impressive and useful service. Om says the new service is focused, simple and streamlined. Today’s social networking services are fantastic, but they are very similar in approach to AOL, CompuServe, and Prodigy in the early nineties. They have a fixed and rigid view of what people can do,” says Marc Andreessen, co-founder and CTO of Ning. The analogy is apropos, for there are some of us who believe that the social networks are getting rapidly commoditized, and becoming what amounts to being a feature. That is not necessarily a bad thing – since it means the focus is squarely on the vibrancy of community. In the TechCrunch comments, a user named Drama 2.0 raised this issue:...[Read Full Article]

2.27.07 Gates says US needs better education, more H-1B visas
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/23/AR2007022301697.html In an op-ed piece for the Washington Post Sunday, Bill Gates calls on government to pay attention to the importance of innovation in economic health. He highlights two areas he says are critically important: math and science education and H-1B visas. Gates notes with dismay that on an international math test in 2003, U.S. high school students ranked 24th out of 29 industrialized nations surveyed. Our schools can do better. Last year, I visited High Tech High in San Diego; it's an amazing school where educators have augmented traditional teaching methods with a rigorous, project-centered curriculum. Students there know they're expected to go on to college. This combination is working: 100 percent of High Tech High graduates are accepted into college, and 29 percent major in math or science. Contrast that with the national average of 17 percent. To remain competitive in the global economy, we must build on the success of such schools and commit to an ambitious national agenda for education. Government and businesses can both play a role. Companies must advocate for strong education policies and work with schools to foster interest in science and mathematics and to provide an education that is relevant to the needs of business. Government must work with educators to reform schools and improve educational excellence. Until America starts producing the number of computers scientists and hard scientists that industry needs, there will be a crying need to import more foreign high-tech workers. But with H-1B visas limited to 65,000, there...[Read Full Article]

2.26.07 Who owns video of Congress? A crack in the C-Span business model
Is it possible that video of the hearings and floor debates of the US Congress are actually private property? The issue exploded when Nancy Pelosi launched a blog, The Gavel, featuring video of House floor debate. As The Times reports, Republicans rushed in and accused her of copyright infringement, claiming that Pelosi lifted the videos from C-Span. Shortly after the news release was distributed by e-mail, C-Span corrected the record to say that House and Senate floor debates are "government works," shot by government-owned cameras, and thus in the public domain. The Republican committee promptly sent out a news release to withdraw the accusation against Pelosi's office. As it turns out, though, one of Pelosi's videos was C-Span property, shot by C-Span cameras at a House committee hearing where Pelosi testified. Although C-Span carries public domain material from the House and Senate floors, C-Span itself shoots hearings. "We are structurally burdened, in terms of people's perception, because we are the only network that has such a big chunk of public domain material," said Bruce Collins, the corporate vice president and general counsel of C-Span. He estimated that 5 percent to 15 percent of C-Span's programming is from the House and Senate floor, and thus publicly available. "It is perfectly understandable to me that people would be confused," he said. "They say, 'When a congressman says something on the floor it is public domain, but he walks down the street to a committee hearing or give a speech and it is...[Read Full Article]

2.26.07 Green Grid announces board, releases papers
The Green Grid, a consortium of major computer and power companies dedicated to lowering power consumption in data centers, announced its board of directors today and released three white papers on energy-efficient data centers, CNET News.com reports. The board is composed of Advanced Micro Devices, Intel, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Rackable Systems, Spraycool, VWware and American Power Conversion. The white papers are: "The Green Grid Opportunity," which identifies both short-term and long-term objectives to increase the energy efficiency of datacenters and IT infrastructure equipment. "Guidelines for Energy Efficient Data Centers," which provides a framework for improving the efficiency of both new and existing data centers. "The Green Grid Metrics: Describing Data Center Power Efficiency," which explains the use of the Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) metric, along with its reciprocal the Data Center Efficiency (DCE) metric....[Read Full Article]

2.26.07 Google cuts video deal with Dow Jones, Conde Nast
If you want proof that the center of media power is in fact moving to Silicon Valley, look no further than this morning's news that Google is syndicating video content from Dow Jones, Conde Nast and other companies on whose very souls are written "New York City." NYT: Google in Content Deal with Media Companies Google is working with Dow Jones & Company, Condé Nast, Sony BMG Music Entertainment and other large content companies to syndicate their video content on other Web sites. The videos appear inside Google ad boxes on sites that are relevant to the content of the videos, and advertisements run during or after the content. Google shared the ad revenue with the video provider and with the sites that show the videos. The ads are part of Google’s larger initiative to gain traction with consumer goods companies who spend billions on brand advertising. Founded as a text-based search company, Google’s early advertisers were smaller companies and advertisers who bought ads to generate direct sales rather than to build brand recognition. Large brand advertisers still spend the bulk of their money on television advertising, but Google sees potential for them to spend more online through the use of video ads. It's a substantial expansion of Video AdSense, where there's a real value to sites to run Google's video advertising. Aside from the pennies paid on click-throughs there is no editorial value to adding AdSense text ads to your site. And adding a video commercial is either just...[Read Full Article]

2.26.07 BitTorrent brings P2P to Hollywood
If you went to BitTorrent.com last night you saw this message: BitTorrent will return in a few hours as an entirely new entertainment experience. Today, BitTorrent launches its "entertainment network," 3,000 new and classic movies, thousands of TV shows and, of course, tons of user-uploaded content. From the Times: The programming comes from studios, including Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount and Warner Brothers, that previously announced their intention to work with BitTorrent. There is also a new partner: the 83-year-old Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which will take part by making 100 films available on the site from its 4,000-movie library. "Somebody once said you have to embrace your enemy,” said Doug Lee, executive vice president of MGM’s new-media division. “We like the idea that they have millions of users worldwide. That is potentially fertile, legitimate ground for us.” BitTorrent EN of course has lots of competition, not only Apple's iTunes but Walmart, Amazon, studio-owned MovieLink, etc. And with the sound of Steve Jobs' call for an end to DRM ringing in Hollywood's ears, BitTorrent creator Bram Cohen says: “We are not happy with the user interface implications” of digital rights management, or D.R.M., Mr. Cohen said. “It’s an unfortunate thing. We would really like to strip it all away.” This is the big-time for P2P. As more users sign up, there are more sources for the chunks of data that make up a movie, so theoretically at least, BitTorrent could offer much faster download speeds than traditional competitors. The Times tested BT against Walmart...[Read Full Article]

2.23.07 MP3 patent verdict could hurt whole tech sector
If you're rejoicing over Microsoft getting wacked with that $1.5 billion patent infringement verdict, you might want to think again. That verdict could enrich Alcatel to the tune of many billions of dollars from technology companies if its upheld, The Times notes. That's because the patents in question cover core MP3 technologies developed by Bell Labs 20 years ago. Microsoft and most other technology companies license MP3 patents from the Fraunhofer Institute, which, along with Bell Labs and the French company Thomson, developed MP3. They paid $16 million for the patents from Fraunhofer. But Alcatel-Lucent, which is a descendent of Bell Labs, claims earlier patents that were not part of the Fraunhofer patents. Microsoft is asking the judge to discard the verdict and will appeal the decision if he doesn't. If the verdict stands, Alcatel-Lucent may go after Apple and any other company that makes MP3 playback software. “Intellectual property is a core asset of the company,” said Joan Campion, a spokeswoman for Alcatel-Lucent. “We will continue to protect and defend that asset.” Without conceding that the company violated the patents, Microsoft argues that the damages are way too high in any case, given that the cost of the licensed patents was just $16 million. Alcatel valued the patent violation at .5 percent of a computer with Windows installed. “We think this is just plain wrong,” Microsoft lawyer Thomas Burt said. “They told the jury to measure damages, not on the value to Microsoft of one of the 10,000 features...[Read Full Article]

2.22.07 $1.5bn patent verdict against MSFT
A federal jury in San Diego just delivered a verdict that Microsoft infringed on audio patents held by Alcatel-Lucentand should pay $1.52 billion in damages, Reuters says. Microsoft claims the verdict is unsupported by law or facts and will seek a judgment not withstanding the verdict from the trial court and failing that, will appeal. "We made strong arguments supporting our view and we are pleased with the court's decision," said Alcatel-Lucent spokeswoman Joan Campion....[Read Full Article]

2.22.07 Egypt jails blogger for 'insulting Islam'
Egypt has sentenced a political blogger to four years in prison for insulting Islam and President Hosni Mubarak. From ITV: An Alexandria court convicted Abdel Karim Suleiman, a 22-year-old former law student, for eight articles he had written from 2004. Suleiman, who has been in custody since November, was the first blogger to stand trial in Egypt for writings on the Internet. One of his article's described some of the companions of the Muslim prophet Muhammad as "terrorists", and has likened Mr Mubarak to dictatorial pharaohs who ruled ancient Egypt. Reporters Without Borders condemned the action, calling it a slap in the face of the international community that has supported Mubarak. "This sentence is a disgrace," the press freedom organisation said. "Almost three years ago to the day, President Mubarak promised to abolish prison sentences for press offences. Suleiman's conviction and sentence is a message of intimidation to the rest of the Egyptian blogosphere, which had emerged in recent years as an effective bulwark against the regime's authoritarian excesses." Bahraini blogger Esra’a Al-Shafei launched a site, FreeKareem.org to call for his release, saying: “I was offended by some of Kareem’s blog writings. But I cannot support his imprisonment merely because he said a few things that insult my identity. Freedom of expression and open exchange of ideas must be respected.” Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin had this pithy post on the news: The verdict against Kareem is in: three years in prison for insulting Islam and inciting sedition and another year...[Read Full Article]

2.22.07 Apple, Cisco settle over iPhone name
The great iPhone squabble is over. Steve Jobs gets his iPhone after all. Cisco presumably gets some money and a (so far) vague commitment to interoperate. From the Times: Wednesday night, in a short, ambiguously worded statement, the companies said they would dismiss all legal action against each other regarding the trademark and that Apple could use the name for its device, which it plans to start selling in June. In addition, the companies said they would explore ways to make their identically named iPhone products work together “in the areas of security and consumer and enterprise communication.” "Other terms," like how much is cost Apple to buy the name Steve Jobs unilaterally decided to just take, remain confidential....[Read Full Article]

2.21.07 Google Desktop 'extremely' vulnerable to attackers
Google recently fixed a very severe security risk in Google Desktop - which left users' PCs vulnerable to cross-site scripting attacks, in which hackers can place malicious software on users' computers, AP reports. The problem was reported by Watchfire Jan. 4 and reported as fixed by Google Feb. 1. The attacker uses JavaScript code to control Google Desktop functionality, Watchfire said in a press release. While evading current information protection systems, such as anti-virus software and firewalls allowing the attacker to covertly hijack sensitive local information. (For example: Office documents, Media files, emails, in many cases, even deleted emails, chat sessions and files could be accessed.) Although this vulnerability has been patched, Google Desktop's integration between Web and desktop is a malicious attacker's dream application. "Application security vulnerabilities need to be taken seriously. As the potential damage of a Cross Site Scripting attack against a desktop application with a Web interface is enormous, Web application security must be comprehensively evaluated and continually monitored," said Michael Weider, founder and CTO, Watchfire. "Industry leaders like Google continue to make strides in security but due to the dynamic nature of applications vulnerabilities can surface." A Google spokesperson emailed the AP that Google has "taken many steps to protect our users and mitigate such attacks. We've added an additional layer of security checks to prevent the types of attacks pointed out by Watchfire and future possible attacks through this vector as well."...[Read Full Article]

2.21.07 Mercury execs used 'magic backdating ink,' suit claims
The unlawful backdating of stock options and the failure to report is perhaps not the most riveting story on the business page. But when the details start to come out, what was done and what people said, it gets a little better. The details of Mercury Interactive's (now owned by HP) backdating shenanigans may not rise to the level of Enron traders' "Burn, baby, burn" comment, but they're still eye-opening. Based on a shareholders lawsuit, which was unsealed, filed in the matter, the Chronicle reports a couple of tidbits. Other lawsuits are still sealed, although several newspapers are pursuing their release. Mercury executives used WhiteOut on options documents and joked about "magic backdating ink." A finance department employee e-mailed another regarding an employee's stock option grant: "I betcha that Sharlene (Abrams, a former CFO) will overrule these types of things ... and we will use her magic backdating ink. Let's see what happens!" According to a lawsuit, Abrams and Susan Skaer (former GC), faked a letter hiring drew up a fake letter hiring Douglas Smith as CFO on May 23, 2000, a date before he was actually hired. In January 2002, three board members approved for an option grant to Skaer. But Skaer or an assistant whited out the date the fax was sent and changed it to a low-price day, Nov. 5, 2001....[Read Full Article]

2.21.07 HP profits up on PC sales
HP's earnings jumped ahead of expectations to 55 cents a share, up from 42 cents a year earlier. Net incomes for the quarter ending Jan. 31 was $1.5 billion, The Times reported. Shares dropped in after-hours on concerns about rising inventories. Surprisingly strong: PC sales, which jumped 17 percent, three times the rate of the industry. HP's printing and imaging division jumped 7 percent. But the company is not firing on all cylinders. If PC growth drops out of the picture, things look substantially worse. A. M. Sacconaghi, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Company, said without the computer sales, the company’s organic growth was only about 2 percent. “That’s a pretty anemic performance,” Mr. Sacconaghi said. “PCs were bailing out what was, quite frankly, a rather mediocre performance.”...[Read Full Article]

2.20.07: Security chip startup lands $18m round
Canadian chip startup Teradici closed an $18 million B series round, The Deal reports. The start up, headed by Dan Cordingley, formerly with Intel and LevelOne, is making a chip aimed at addressng security compliance disaster recovery issues around personal computers. Teradici is planning a full launch by June and has delivered prototypes to OEMs who are adding the chip to their 2008 systems. Financial services and manufacturing are the target markets. "There's a lot of issues in large enterprise IT organizations in how they deploy and manage desktop PCs," Cordingley said, including security issues with corporate data and core intellectual property, compliance issues with HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley, and disaster and pandemic threats....[Read Full Article]

2.20.07: eBay fighting IRS demand for seller information
EBay is fighting a White House plan to force it to turn over sales data to the IRS, The Financial Times says. There are millions of eBay sellers not paying tax, the government says. Probably $2 billion in unpaid taxes could be collected if eBay reported sellers who make $5,000 a year on eBay. But an eBay spokesperson said: “We do not believe it is our responsibility to serve as the go-between. We believe that it is the seller’s responsibility.” The company pointed out that many users file self-employment and business tax returns based on their eBay income. Ebay especially doesn't like being singled out when Craigslist and other online services that don't use an auction format are not being asked to inform on their customers. And it's taking its arguments to Washington. Representative Rick Boucher, a member of the internet caucus in Congress, said he had been in touch with eBay and would rally opposition on Capitol Hill. Among the arguments, legalistic debates over the definition of "auction": “We do offer sellers auction-like transactions but they are not auctions,” said a spokesperson, citing technical definitions in state law that an auction has no fixed end-time....[Read Full Article]

2.20.07: Australia to ban incandescent lightbulbs
The Australian government is banning old-fashioned lightbulbs. In four years, only energy-efficient lightbulbs will be available, AP reports. Legislation to gradually restrict the sale of the old-style bulbs could reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions by 4 million tons by 2012 and cut household power bills by up to 66%, said Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Australia produced almost 565 million tons of greenhouse gases in 2004, official figures show. A good start, putting Australia in the company of California, which is just considering a measure to ban the sale of incandescent lightbulbs. Conservatives oppose the measure because it takes away consumers' right to choose their lightbulb technology. Environmentalists caution, though, that industry, not lightbulbs are the major cause of global warming - and Austrlia's John Howard is a steadfast opponent of the Kyoto Protocols. "It is a good, positive step. But it is a very small step. It needs to be followed through with a lot of different measures," Australian Conservation Foundation spokesman Josh Meadows told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio....[Read Full Article]

2.20.07: Will Obama win the Net vote?
Writing in The Washington Post, EJ Dionne gives Barack Obama good odds to win over the Internet in the Democratic primary. Since the Internet has gone mainstream in politics, though, Hilary Clinton is sure to put up a good fight. While the Clinton-run Democratic establishment scoffed at MoveOn and the Web in '04, Howard Dean's DNC definitely gets it - and so does John McCain. "It's so mainstream now that every part of the campaign touches the Internet," said Becki Donatelli, who pioneered McCain's 2000 Internet fundraising and is working for him again. "It's the 900-pound gorilla. It's the real thing." "It's hard to have a Dean-like phenomenon ever again," said Simon Rosenberg, president of NDN, formerly the New Democrat Network, a progressive advocacy group, "because the Internet is not a shiny new toy anymore." Obama's campaign uses the words blogosphere likes to hear - participatory, "your" campaign, etc - and he winning among the young. But young voters have not shown up in their full numbers yet. To be truly mainstream is to reach people who don't necessarily want to create their own blogs on BarackObama.com but still want to feel part of the campaign. "You have to make people feel they're part of the campaign," MoveOn.org's Barack Obama says, "that they're not just people a candidate is trying to suck money out of." It will be harder for Clinton to make that claim since she's been widely hailed as a fund-raising machine and, Trippi says, people will conclude...[Read Full Article]

2.19.07: XM, Sirius set to merge
AP reports that XM and Sirius have agreed to merge. In other words, Sirius is buying XM shareholders out for 4.6 shares of Sirius for each share of XM, which is valued at $4.5 billion. Sirius CEO remains the chief executive of the merged company. XM chairman Gary Parsons remains chairman. Stern federal scrutiny is expected. The obvious question is whether XM hardware will continue to be supported....[Read Full Article]

2.19.07: BitTorrent marketplace to launch next week
Haven't seen this anywhere else but the Mercury News reports that BitTorrent's long-awaited marketplace for movies and other entertainment will launch next week: ext week, BitTorrent, the creator of software that made it possible to easily exchange full-length movies at virtually no cost, will launch a marketplace of licensed movies, television shows, video games and music. While details of pricing and available titles have yet to be unveiled, the San Francisco company says it has cut deals with 40 studios, production houses and game publishers....[Read Full Article]

2.19.07: Does Google's buy of in-game ad company signal Google Earth's second life?
Red Herring reported last week that Google has bought in-game advertising company Adscape Media for $23 million. Red Herring said the deal is signed but not completely zipped up. Adsense boasts two technology components, in addition to its experience and connections between gaming companies and Madison Avenue. AdverPlay allows for dynamic, customizable placement of ads in games. Real World/Virtual World Gateway enables two-way communication between advertisers and users via SMS, audio and video. In-game insiders said the acquisition won't give Google much of a leg up in the sector. “There is a whole world of difference between the form of advertising done by Google and Madison Avenue,” one source familiar with the in-game ad business said, comparing Google's familiar text-based ads to the rich media used in videogames. “While everyone appreciates the dollars Google can throw around, when it comes to [in-game ad] experience they just don’t have it.” Adscape launched in 2006 with $3.2 million in VC funding but has yet to announce any customers. WebProNews notes that the deal is an order of magnitude lower than Microsoft's acquisition of Massive last year. That deal was rumored at $200-$400 million. Microsoft has Xbox Live, the online game network where they could integrate Massive's technology right away. Massive also had existing deals with game developers like Ubisoft and Konami, giving Microsoft an additional potential outlet for their adCenter and other advertising clients. Naturally rumors have been abounding for some time that Google Earth would make a swell Second Life. Michael...[Read Full Article]

2.16.07: Why is Cisco buying blogware Five Across?
Cisco acquired community-building startup Five Across last week for an undisclosed sum. In a press release, Cisco SVP Dan Scheinman said: "With the acquisition of Five Across, Cisco is taking an important step towards helping its customers evolve their website experience into something more relevant and valuable to the end-user." Andy Lark, formerly head of Sun's marketing efforts, questioned the fit with Cisco but noted: I've always been impressed with what Five Across have been doing in creating communities for big brands. They have a platform that scales. Does this mean Cisco is getting into the Participatory Platforms business though? We'll have to wait and see. We profiled Five Across' Bubbler product back in 2005. Since then, they had moved on to the current product, Connect Community Builder. VoIPLoop's Sheila McGee-Smith notes of that effort: The product we’re told can be used by businesses to extend their existing Web sites to include dynamic user-produced content, including audio and video materials, blogs, podcasts and profiles. One of the big customer references is the NHL, which in 2006 launched NHL Connect based on Five Across technology. Those of us in the VoIPLoop community might think there could be synergy here with Cisco’s Unified Communications business. Apparently Cisco doesn’t think so. Organizationally, Five Across will report into the Cisco Media Solutions Group. That group is part of Cisco’s aggressive push into new markets that are more consumer-focused, such as video, home networking and even consumer electronics....[Read Full Article]

2.16.07: Cisco gives Apple one more week on iPhone sqaubble
Cisco has given Apple one more week to respond to its trademark-infringement lawsuit over the iPhone name, AP reports. Last night was to be the deadline but Cisco extended it one more week when Apple failed to respond to the previous deadline. According to Cisco's site, Apple asked for the extension. Cisco has said it would license the name but wants Apple and Cisco phones to interoperate with each other....[Read Full Article]

2.16.07: Apple patches critical bugs
Apple released four patches for "highly critical" security holes in MacOS X and iChat, eWeek reports. One of the OS X bugs could allow for malicious remote code execution. A buffer overflow bug in the Finder's handling of volume names could allow an attacker to use a disk image to gain control of a Mac. Of the two problems Apple moved to fix in iChat, one could lead to code execution on unprotected machines, according to the company. Apple highlighted a format string vulnerability in the iChat AIM URL handler that could be triggered using a specially crafted URL and may lead the program to crash or become infected. The problem is specifically present in copies of iChat included in the version 10.3.9 and 10.4.8 releases of Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server, Apple reported. A second iChat issue, found in the same versions of the OS X desktop and server software, could allow attackers on the same local network as someone using the products to crash the messaging application. The problem is related to a null pointer dereference in iChat's Bonjour message handling, company officials said....[Read Full Article]

2.16.07: Cleantech investment skyrocketing
VC investment in cleantech companies hit $3.6 billion in 2006 (that includes North American and European investors), a 45% increase over 2005's $2.5 billion. The fourth quarter saw a 10% increase of investment over the previous year, from $704 million to $775 million, according to a Cleantech Venture Network press release. Naturally, most of that money - 72% - went into energy-related investment. That represents a $2.6 billion investment, double the $1.3 billion invested in 2005. Still, Nicholas Parker, co-founder of the Cleantech Venture Network, said other sectors also benefited from the investment boom. “Energy was the most prominent beneficiary, but companies that specialize in transportation, water, air and environmental technologies and other categories also attracted venture capital,” he said....[Read Full Article]

MySpace decision emperils Web 2.0
Across the country, lawmakers are targeting crimes against children for special, perhaps unconstitutional, treatment. Bills are being introduced and passed to require released sex offenders to register their emails and IM names - violation would be a felony; to make parole violations into aggravated felonies; and to outfit sex parolees with GPS tracking devices for 24/7 monitoring. An email registration bill has also been introduced in Congress. Against this backdrop comes a decision by a federal court in Texas that MySpace cannot be sued for negligence by the family of a girl who was sexually assaulted by a man she met through News Corp's social networking service. The reason? The federal Commuunications Decency Act gives "interactive services" immunity from lawsuits based on user postings and content. Passed in 1996, the CDA was passed to allow Internet businesses to grow without fear of lawsuits. The family says they will bring suit in state court to pursue the issue. But it's likely that the CDA preempts any state law to the contrary. The world's changed a lot in 10 years and it's a matter of Internet legend that the Net is filled with sex addicts, perverts and kiddie porn. No matter if the number of MySpace-initiated assaults is tiny, the social sense is that kids are at risk through social networking and corporations like News Corp are profiting. With that backdrop, how long before Congress looks at the CDA and says: The Internet no longer needs the help of the CDA, which...[Read Full Article]

2.15.07: Data centers gobble up only 1% of US energy bill
Are data centers contributing to global warming or the energy crisis? A new study commissioned by AMD says no: While data center energy consumption has doubled from 2000 to 2005 and now matches the consumption of the state of Mississippi, it's still only 1.2 percent of total US consumption. SF Chron: Demand grows, but data centers don't hog power That's massively less than previous estimates that Internet power use was as much as 13 percent. "If you see that there might be a problem, you have to ask how big is the problem," Jonathan Koomey, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley and the author of the study, said. "The purpose of the study is to give a reasonable estimate of how much electricity is used. From that, you can then figure out whether there are actions that industry can take or that government can take." Still, it's a huge increase and AMD's John Fruehe says customers were starting to max out their energy budgets. Both to save money and to retool to be less polluting, companies are looking at how to make data centers more energy efficient. Chandrakant Patel, a research scientist at Hewlett-Packard Labs, said tech companies need to focus on every aspect of the data center, from the microprocessor to the air-conditioning system. "You really must look at the stack," he said. "It has to be addressed holistically."...[Read Full Article]

2.15.07: CleanTech Expo SF
If you're interested in the growing cleantech industry, check out the CleanTech Expo XII next week in San Francisco. Pressing concerns about climate change plus a widespread re-engineering of American business to reduce greenhouse gas emissions means clean technology will play an increasingly important role in Silicon Valley. I'll be reporting from the conference Monday and Tuesday. From a press advisory we received: Cleantech Forum XII will be held at the San Francisco Marriott (SOMA) on February 19-21 and will feature technologies that will develop alternative energy, increase energy efficiency and mitigate global warming - while making money. Attracting nearly 400 venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, the SF Cleantech Forum provides first-hand access to cleantech leaders. Key speakers include Vincent Chornet, Enerkem; Chris Poirier, Coaltek; Jan-Olaf Willums, Th!nk Electric Car Company; Bob Epstein, Environmental Entrepreneurs; Dan Kammen, Berkeley Institute of the Environment; Alexander Karsner, Department of Energy; Jonathan Lash, World Resources Institute; Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute; and Governor Edward Rendell of Pennsylvania....[Read Full Article]

2.15.07: Piracy case against Russian schoolteacher dismissed
A Russian prosecutor's outrageous case against a schoolteacher who installed 12 pirated copies of Windows has been thrown out by a Russian court, calling the case "trivial," AP reports. "We're off to drink champagne now," Ponosov told The Associated Press by telephone. "Of course, it was trivial." The open question is still whether Microsoft had anything to do with these criminal charges. Mikhail Gorbachev wrote a letter of appeal to Bill Gates, asking him to drop the charges. Microsoft, however, said it had nothing to do with the charges, and that the company declined to file a civil action against the teacher last year. Gorbachev has since stated that he was satisfied with Microsoft's response to his letter. Ponosov said that 12 new computers at his school came with the bootleg versions of Windows operating system and Microsoft Office already installed. While the charge of major copyright infringement can carry a five year prison term, the prosecutor was seeking $110 fine. Prosecutors claimed Ponosov had caused $10K in damages to Microsoft....[Read Full Article]

2.14.07: Second blogger resigns from Edwards campaign
Following the Swift-blogging of Edwards' blogger Amanda Marotte, a second campaign staffer, Melissa McEwen, has resigned over Christian right attacks on her pre-campaign writing. Her resignation post is here: There will be some who clamor to claim victory for my resignation, but I caution them that in doing so, they are tacitly accepting responsibility for those who have deluged my blog and my inbox with vitriol and veiled threats. It is not right-wing bloggers, nor people like Bill Donohue or Bill O'Reilly, who prompted nor deserve credit for my resignation, no matter how much they want it, but individuals who used public criticisms of me as an excuse to unleash frightening ugliness, the likes of which anyone with a modicum of respect for responsible discourse would denounce without hesitation....[Read Full Article]

2.14.07: HP cuts emissions with new packaging
HP's redesigned print catridge and packaging will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 37 million pounds this year, the company said last week. HP estimates its redesigned print cartridge packaging will eliminate the use of nearly 15 million pounds of materials, including 3 million pounds of corrugated cardboard in 2007. The packaging also will eliminate the use of more than 6.8 million pounds of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic through material reduction and substitution of recycled content plastic and paperboard. The release quotes Greg Norris, Ph.D., environmental life cycle assessment instructor at Harvard University: "What I see here is smart design. The changes all go in the right direction environmentally and all in ways that make economic sense to HP and its customers. More power to these designers."...[Read Full Article]

2.14.07: 'Digester' tech turns cow poop into power
PG&E has agreed to buy three billion cubic feet of cow-produced methane (otherwise known as "renewable natural gas") from Central Valley-based BioEnergy Solutions, enough hot air to provide electricity to 50,000 California homes, according to a press release. "BioEnergy Solutions was founded by dairymen, and we understand the challenges agriculture faces in the coming years to reduce emissions," said Albers, a third-generation dairyman. "PG&E has a similar challenge, which is to increase its production of renewable energy. This agreement turns what would otherwise be a growing problem for farmers into a new revenue source and helps PG&E reach the environmental goals set by the company and the state." Here's how it works, reports Green Wombat: BioEnergy Solutions will install methane digesters at dairies, where manure will be pumped into covered lagoons. As methane is released from the decomposing manure, the digester will remove the carbon dioxide and impurities before piping the gas to a PG&E plant to be burned to produce greenhouse gas-free electricity. Albers says BioEnergy will install and operate the digesters at no cost to dairy owners while giving them a share of the gas sales (he wouldn't say how much) and any renewable energy credits that result. "Even though there’s been a lot of digester technology out there, there's never been a situation where the dairyman can share in the profits," Albers says. The solution is a win for PG&E because by 2010 they have to be delivering 20 percent of their electricity by renewable energy sources....[Read Full Article]

2.14.07: Wolf case goes to settlement conf - An interview with Josh's lawyer
After months of denying jailed videojournalist Josh Wolf's motions for release, Federal Judge William Alsup issued an order referring the case to a US magistrate, the SF Chronicle reports. Without a request from either side, the judge handed the matter over to US Magistrate Joseph Spero (illustration via Law.com) to attempt a settlement. I talked to Josh's lawyer, Dan Siegel, about this development and the other aspects of the case. "I don't really know where this came from," Siegel said. "It's a surprising and welcome development. No one on Josh's defense team has had any kind of secret negotations with the court. I hope no one from the prosecutions has either." So does going before this magistrate improve the odds of Josh's release? "It should but I just dont know," Siegel said. "I'm not trying to be wiley here; it's completely unclear to me what the court may be thinking or what the US attorney may be thinking. He called Josh a 'so called journalist' and 'delusional.' " It's hard to understand why the US attorney would make such aspersions, I said, since his status as a journalist is not at issue. There is no reporter's shield law in the federal system, so whether he is or isn't is immaterial. The Justice Department under Bush has been very disrespectful of the role of journalists. It leads to abuses as in this case. This case has so many points where the government's actions appear to be reckless: the trivial nature of...[Read Full Article]

2.14.07: Google loses Belgian copyright appeal
After losing a copyright infringement case in Belgian court last September, Google lost again on its appeal. The earlier ruling prevented Google from copying newspaper headlines from 18 Belgian newspapers and threatened a 1 million euro per day fine. One good bit of news for Google, though. The daily fine is cut to 25,000 euros and publishers have to allow Google to remove any items they give firm notice about. On the corporate blog, Google said: We believe search engines are of real benefit to publishers because they drive valuable traffic to their websites. If publishers do not want their websites to appear in search results, technical standards like robots.txt and metatags enable them automatically to prevent the indexation of their content. These Internet standards are nearly universally accepted and are honored by all reputable search engines. In addition, Google has a clear policy of respecting the wishes of content owners. If a newspaper does not want to be part of Google News, we remove their content from our index—all the newspaper has to do is ask. There is no need for legal action and all the associated costs....[Read Full Article]

2.13.07: Yahoo Music execs resign
UPDATE: Here's the official statement from Yahoo: Statement: David Goldberg and Robert Roback, Vice Presidents and General Managers of Yahoo! Music, have resigned. As the founders of LAUNCH Media and the leaders of Yahoo! Music, Dave and Bob have made significant contributions to Yahoo! and we wish them all the best in their future endeavors. Vince Broady, Head of Entertainment and Games at Yahoo!, will now oversee Yahoo! Music. Dave Goldberg: “I have made a personal decision to resign as Vice President and General Manager of Yahoo! Music. After 13 years in this industry, Bob Roback and I look forward to going back to our entrepreneurial roots. I will help in the transition to new leadership, and I am proud to have led an exceptional team of music professionals. I wish them continued success.” Bob Roback “I have decided to leave Yahoo! Music with my business partner of 13 years, David Goldberg to go back to my entrepreneurial roots. I am grateful to our devoted team for the years of hard work and dedication which made Yahoo! Music the #1 music site and I wish them the best of luck.” Last week Tom reported on a conversation with Dave Goldberg, head of Yahoo Music, about the future of DRM. Today, ValleyWag reports that Goldberg and No. 2 Bob Roback "resigned." Given the big reorg and the heavy pressure on Wall Street, is this a sign of a larger purge? Or is it just because Goldberg came out against DRM in...[Read Full Article]

2.13.07: Cisco: Surveillance vid an IP opportunity
eWeek interviews John Farino on how the interest on surveillance video may be a big opportunty for Cisco: Cisco is planning a major push in the sector, built largely around the technologies gained via its April 2006 acquisition of SyPixx Networks, which markets video surveillance tools that allow analog-based systems to link over IP networks. Cisco officials are playing up their products' ability to serve as a backbone for a whole new breed of physical security capabilities. "Even the most advanced network-based video surveillance systems out there today have largely been limited to one building or one network," Farino said. "There needs to be a lot of bandwidth available to allow for these new applications, and we want to provide the IP transport capabilities necessary to unbolt these systems from a cable and bring them into the larger networked world." "We can help organizations convert any analog network-based system to IP to offer new surveillance applications today, while preserving their investments in existing technologies," Farino said. "And there are other added services that we can offer around storage of video, for instance, that will offer companies increased ability to view live streams or review footage for incident management."...[Read Full Article]

2.13.07: Swift-blogging: Edwards blogger resigns under pressure
"Anti-Catholic" blogger resigns from John Edwards' online staff. Is it because she couldn't take the gloves off in response or because the campaign asked her to go? That's a question many have been asking, so Amanda Marcotte has made a definitive statement about the controversy. To correct misinformation in the comments, I was not "fired". I offered my resignation and it was accepted. Marcotte has taken down her site due to heavy traffic except for a collection of hate email she's received as part of the controversy. Her goodbye letter said: ... it was creating a situation where I felt that every time I coughed, I was risking the Edwards campaign. No matter what you think about the campaign, I signed on to be a supporter and a tireless employee for them, and if I can't do the job I was hired to do because Bill Donohue doesn't have anything better to do with his time than harass me, then I won't do it. I resigned my position today and they accepted. There is good news. The main good news is that I don't have a conflict of interest issue anymore that was preventing me from defending myself against these baseless accusations. So it's on. The other good news is that the blogosphere has risen as one and protested, loudly, the influence a handful of well-financed right wing shills have on the public discourse. Regardless of one's politics, it's upsetting to see that the swift-boat tactics once reserved for candidates...[Read Full Article]

2.13.07: Josh Wolf: Incarceration is 'anarchist witch hunt'
Amy Goodman interviewed Josh Wolf on Democracy Now! yesterday, where he explained his long-standing resistance to providing footage of a protest to a federal grand jury. There was an altercation at the protest when a police car drove into a crowd of protesters and was allegedly burned. The case was prosecuted by federal authorities, on the pretext that since the SFPD receives some federal antiterrorism funds the incident is a federal matter. What really explains the federal status of the case, according to Josh: AMY GOODMAN: The protests that you were covering, what do you think the government is trying to find out about the protesters? JOSH WOLF: I think that their intent is two-fold, or even more than that. One thing that they're trying to do is they're trying to basically move toward state-sanctioned journalism. They're trying to say that I’m not a journalist, and even if I was, that journalists aren't protected, in order to basically force journalists to act as agents for the state. Beyond that, they're also trying to identify civil dissidents and form databases. The ACLU has uncovered numerous instances of the government trying to capture identities of people who are protesting against the government. Dissent may be patriotic, but this current administration doesn't think so, and they're doing everything to criminalize it, or at least intimidate those that are engaged in it to the point that they feel that it is not safe to continue expressing their beliefs. AMY GOODMAN: You have used the...[Read Full Article]

2.12.07: Hey, hey, my, my: Silicon Valley will never die
There's Silicon Alley, Silicon Forest, Silicon Prairie. Will any of them or a dozen other pretenders to the throne ever unseat Silicon Valley? In an essay in the Sunday Times, G. Paschal Zachary says, it ain't gonna happen. The reason for that is simply the sheer density of ideas, money and people in the Valley, the continual draw of entrepreneurs here. Google’s astonishing rise and Apple’s reinvention are reminders that, when it comes to great ideas, location is crucial. “Face-to-face is still very important for exchange of ideas, and nowhere is this exchange more valuable than in Silicon Valley,” says Paul M. Romer, a professor in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford who is known for studying the economics of ideas. In short, “geography matters,” Professor Romer said. Give birth to an information-technology idea in Silicon Valley and the chances of success seem vastly higher than when it is done in another ZIP code. Why does geography matter so much? Increasing returns and first-mover advantage, says Zachary. “All that venture capital attracts a lot of ideas — and the people who are having those ideas,” said Stephen B. Adams, an assistant professor of management at the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business at Salisbury University in Maryland who has studied the rise of Silicon Valley. Newcomers plug into an existing network of seasoned pros that “isn’t matched anywhere else in the world,” says AnnaLee Saxenian, dean of the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley, and author...[Read Full Article]

2.12.07: Intel demos 80-core chip
The New York Times reports that on Monday Intel will demonstrate a computer chip with 80 separate cores. While the chip is not compatible with Intel’s current chips, the company said it had already begun design work on a commercial version that would essentially have dozens or even hundreds of Intel-compatible microprocessors laid out in a tiled pattern on a single chip. The chip’s design is meant to exploit a new generation of manufacturing technology the company introduced last month. Intel said that it had changed the basic design of transistors in such a way that it would be able to continue to shrink them to smaller sizes — offering lower power and higher speeds — for at least a half-decade or more. During a briefing on Thursday in a hotel room here, Nitin Borkar, one of the chip’s designers, showed an air-cooled computer based on the chip running a simple scientific calculation at speeds above one trillion mathematical calculations a second. During the demonstration, Justin R. Rattner, the company’s chief technology officer, showed several futuristic computing applications that he said the new chip design would help make possible. One of the applications was an automated video editing tool that would, for example, allow a computer to create a digital sports highlights video featuring a user’s favorite players. A second demonstration showed motion capture technology — a technique widely used by the videogame industry to reproduce human forms in action — relying only on digital video cameras and computers. Conventional...[Read Full Article]

2.12.07: Primary 2.0: BarackObama's social networking site needs work
Hand in hand with Barack Obama's official entry to the Democratic race is the launch of BarackObama.com, which includes Web 2.0-style social networking features as an integral part of the campaign. There are "thousands of blogs" being created by supporters, as well as 1,000 groups, available from the site, links to Facebook, and more. At least, that's the hype. But it seems that many of the groups have only one member. With the boost he's getting from the launch of the campaign, there's sure to be an explosion of participation on the site at first, but will social networking have legs for this campaign? If the Howard Dean online campaign illustrates anything, it's that campaigns "need to fire on all cylinders." Obama is no doubt a stronger, smoother candidate than Dean, but the campaign will need to work on traditional fundraising and organizing as well as online. Fred Wilson, http://avc.blogs.com/a_vc/2007/02/thats_not_how_y.html">writing on his A VC blog, notes that the site doesn't actually tap into the blogosphere or the big social networks; the site wants all its supporters to revolved around BarackObama.com. I saw that they let you write your own blog. That's smart too. But what if you already have one? No way to import my political blog posts into my profile. The people who are most likely to blog for Obama already have blogs. It's silly to shut them out. But despite all the bungles today and they made a bunch, I do think Obama's team gets the net. They...[Read Full Article]

2.12.07: Sulzberger says Times will go out of print eventually
NYT pub Arthur Sulzberger suggests that the debate over how far online newspapers must go is over in an interview with Haaretz.com. He sees his job as shepherding the times onto the Internet while maintaining profit margins - and "I really don't know whether we'll be printing the Times in five years, and you know what? I don't care either." Sulzberger says the New York Times is on a journey that will conclude the day the company decides to stop printing the paper. That will mark the end of the transition. It's a long journey, and there will be bumps on the road, says the man at the driving wheel, but he doesn't see a black void ahead. Newspapers can maintain an online business by driving towards the obvious advantages of online classifed advertising. While there's more competition for such ads, the Internet is also a massively cheaper platform than print. "(Site development costs) aren't anywhere near what print costs," Sulzberger says. "The last time we made a major investment in print, it cost no less than $1 billion. Site development costs don't grow to that magnitude." The Times cut a deal with Microsoft to create software that enables a decent reading experience on laptops. Also, the Times signed a deal with Microsoft to distribute the paper through a software program called Times Reader, Sulzberger says. The software enables users to conveniently read the paper on screens, mainly laptops. "I very much believe that the experience of reading a paper...[Read Full Article]

2.9.07: 7th Circuit: GPS spying on car needs no warrant
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that police can place a GPS tracking unit on a suspect's car without obtaining a search warrant. In US v Garcia (2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 2272), decided Feb. 2, Judge Richard Posner found that such a device was a mere "augmentation" of police officers' natural ability to follow a car. In the Garcia case, an informant alerted police that Garcia used meth with her and said he intended to resume producing meth; he was also taped on a security camera buying chemicals to make meth. The police found his car and attached a GPS tracking device. When they retrieved the device, they discovered that he had visited a large tract of land. They obtained consent from the owner to search the land and found a meth lab. As they were searching, Garcia drove up. They searched his car and found additional evidence against him. Following a suspect's car is not a search, since a driver is putting himself in public view. In US v Knotts (460 US 276), police worked with a vendor to replace one of the vendor's chemical drums with one the police owned and into which they had installed a beeper. The Supreme Court held it was legal for the police to "augment" their ability to follow the suspect's car with the beeper. A person travelling in an automobile on public thorougfares has no reasonable expectation of privacy ... Nothing in the Fourth Amendment prohibit[s] the police from...[Read Full Article]

2.8.07: SJ landed Nanosolar with green cred, modest bucks
San Jose didn't spend $20 million to lure solar-cell "printer" Nanosolar to Silicon Valley, as the California Assembly is considering giving to Tesla Motors. The city's $1.5 million incentive, far less than what Nevada and Arizona were offering, was sufficient - coupled with the Valley's commitment to cleantech and the benefits of being in the technology hub. Paul Krutko, director of the San Jose Office of Economic Development, told the Green Wombat blog that SJ doesn't just flash greenbacks, it builds green. San Jose touts its green building initiatives - it opened the world's first LEED (Leadership in Environmental Design) certified public library - and cites local companies' efforts to fight global warming. Software maker Adobe's downtown San Jose headquarters, for instance, has been rated the greenest corporate building in the United States. Green tech companies, says Krutko, are "looking at communities that have an approach to sustainability. It is very much a competitive advantage in having a community that really gets it in dealing with the global issues we’re facing in terms of climate change and global warming." Ultimately, Krutko says, it's not about tax incentives. Speaking like a true Valley guy, he says, ""Our currency is really about time to market. Market entitlements and the ability for a company to find space and quickly occupy that space and move forward." San Jose invests in a Pacific Community Ventures fund that will finance local companies. It's also streamlining the permitting process and changing zoning regs to accomodate green companies....[Read Full Article]

2.8.07: Gore to Valley: Tech is key to climate fight
Al Gore speaking at the Joint Venture Silicon Valley conference last week, following the release of UN report that makes it crystal clear that climate change is real and human-initiated: "If information technology and biotech have been the mainstays in recent years, it's abundantly obvious that cleantech, greentech ... will be a new pathway that attracts a lot more investment and time and attention. ... I'm here today in part to encourage that ongong phenomenon. The world faces an unprecedented challenge and Silicon Valley can play an unprecedented part in facing that challenge. I say this not to flatter you. I say it because its very simply true and because I want to further encourage what many of you have already decided and perhaps in the process encourge others to join in this as well." Watch the Video clip | News.com coverage JVSV reported that VC investments to cleantech increased 266 percent last year, with investments of about $300 million by the third quarter alone, News.com said. Gore emphasized just how critical technology is to the effort to combat climate change. "Technology is the key to giving us enough leverage to change the pattern that is now causing the climate crisis. The old and traditional patterns by which a new suite of technologies replace the old has to be examined and changed," he said. "Government policies can play a significant role, but the most significant role will be played here by you."...[Read Full Article]

2.8.07: YouTube founders took about $300m in sale to Google
Chad Hurley earned $345 million in Google shares as a result of selling YouTube - and co-founder Steve Chen $326 million, AP reports. The third cofounder, Jawed Karim, who dropped out of the company to attend Stanford (see Jawed Who? Meet YouTube's silent partner), received $64 million worth of stock. And Sequoia Capital, the sole VC backer of the company, got back a nice $442 million on their investment. (Did the pension funds invest in Sequoia?) Google reported these details in SEC filings yesterday. In total, online search leader Google registered about 3.23 million Class A shares to issue to former YouTube stockholders, according to the filing. Roughly two dozen of YouTube's 70 employees received Google shares, as well....[Read Full Article]

2.8.07: European deals set a record in '06
Silicon Valley's not the only place where deals are getting done these days. European dealmaking hit a high in 2006, with some 3,000 mergers and acquisitions totalling $337 billion, Silicon.com reports. According to The Regent Associates quarterly European Technology Acquisition Review there wre 3,295 deals in 2006 compared to 3,053 deals worth $272bn in 2005. There were seven deals worth more than $10 billion, but there's no bubble, says Regent's Peter Rowell: "2006 was a very active acquisition market for technology companies. Just as in 2005, the current activity is built on solid foundations with carefully thought-out strategic and financial metrics." "Good profit levels in the industry are ensuring that successful companies are able to pursue an active acquisition strategy to supplement their organic growth. This, together with increased aggression from the cash-rich private equity community, means that we are seeing some interesting buyer tensions in the market." Look for 2007 to be a little less busy....[Read Full Article]

State considering $20m subsidy to Tesla
Far and away the hottest car in the world is a Tesla, which boasts Google's Larry Page and Sergey Brin as investors. The Tesla Roadster is an all-electric two-seater that does 0 to 60 in four seconds and delivers the equivalent of 135mpg. This baby goes for a cool hundred grand. Tesla Motors is ready to dive into a more affordable part of the electric market - a four-door sedan that will sell for only $50,000. The company is considering locating the assembly plant for "Whitestar" project in California, New Mexico and Michigan. To help Tesla choose California, Assemblyman Kevin DeLeon (D-Los Angeles) introduced a bill to fund a clean technology fund by adding $4 to the auto registration fee, which would produce $45 million in tax revenue. Politicians want to give $20 million of that to Tesla as an incentive to build in California, probably in Pittsburg. That public investment comes on top of an investment by the state's big pension funds - CalPERS, CalSTRS and CalCEF - into venture capital firms. One of the funds that receives pension fund money is VantagePoint Venture Partners, and one of VantagePoint's investments is Tesla. Mercury News reporter Vindu Goel complained in his blog about investing so much money in one company: As promising as Tesla seems to be, it’s a lot of taxpayer money to give to one company–especially one that could raise the extra $20 million from VCs in, oh, about four seconds, if it wanted to. A state clean...[Read Full Article]

Jobs welcomes the death of DRM
Steve Jobs blows the lid off the music industry's dirty little secret in an essay called "Thoughts on Music." Actually, it's no secret at all but Jobs' logic is so obvious and clear-headed and so unexpected from someone in his position, it really blows like fresh air. ...DRMs haven’t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy. Though the big four music companies require that all their music sold online be protected with DRMs, these same music companies continue to sell billions of CDs a year which contain completely unprotected music. That’s right! No DRM system was ever developed for the CD, so all the music distributed on CDs can be easily uploaded to the Internet, then (illegally) downloaded and played on any computer or player. ... So if the music companies are selling over 90 percent of their music DRM-free, what benefits do they get from selling the remaining small percentage of their music encumbered with a DRM system? There appear to be none. And he imagines a DRM-free world: Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we...[Read Full Article]

2.6.07: Gorbachev to Gates: Show mercy
The turmoil that exists within Bill. As head of the Gates Foundation, his role is to help the developing world prosper, using technology, vaccines and infrastructure building. As chairman of Microsoft he is on a crusade against piracy, otherwise known as free software, the engine that is creating some actual vibrant economies in Eastern Europe. This was all laid out to him in an embarrassing press conference with the president of Romania (which we joked about here). Now another embarrassing moment for Bill. None less than Mikail Gorbachev is asking him to intercede in the sentencing of a Russian Windows pirate. BBC reports. Mr Gorbachev's letter, on the website run by his charitable foundation, said "many people in Russia regard this scandalous case as trumped-up, launched on the initiative of Microsoft corporation to set a precedent". "We have great respect for the work of Microsoft's programmers... and are in no way casting doubt on the principle of punishment for intellectual property violations. "However, in this case we ask you to show mercy and withdraw your complaint against Alexander Ponosov," the letter read. It was also signed by Russian parliament deputy and banker Alexander Lebedev. Mr Gorbachev said that under Russian criminal law the teacher could face "imprisonment in Siberian camps". Surely this outrage cannot stand. It is even worse than Yahoo's turning in a Chinese journalist to the authorities because here, it appears, the charges are being pressed by Microsoft while Russia's top leadership is opposed to the punishment....[Read Full Article]

2.6.07: Cleantech investments skyrocket to $7 billion worldwide
Investment in cleantech companies surged in 2006 from $2.7 billion to $7.1 billion, a 167% jump, reports GreenBiz.com. Investment in biofuels increased more than four times, from $647 million in 2005 to $2.8 billion in 2006. Averge deal size seems to be increasing, as the number of deals only increased 31% to 354. Investment in solar was up 210%, from $451m to $1.4bn, driven by initiatives such as California's 'Million Solar Roofs' and attempts to overcome the shortage of silicon both by building more capacity and through investment in technologies that use less silicon. Wind investment more than doubled from $307m to $821m, but most of the investment in the sector is directed towards asset finance because the technology is relatively mature and the business model is proven. Other low carbon technologies, including energy efficiency, smart distribution, carbon markets, fuel cells and hydrogen grew by 74% from $979m to $1.7bn but individually each sector remains relatively small. First round venture capital raising increased from $217m to $339m, suggesting that the search for technological solutions still has some way to go. Second round financings actually dropped but a big jump in third rounds, from $261m to $675m, signifies that many technologies are coming of age....[Read Full Article]

2.6.07: Berkeley gets $500m grant to fund energy research
Ever on the cutting edge of progressive ideas, UC Berkeley has won a large grant to develop new biofuels, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. The $500 million grant from British Petroleum Group will go to creating an internatinal research hub at Berkeley to develop clean energy fuels. BP is one of the largest oil companies in the world. Last June the company announced it it would fund half a billion dollars over 10 years to conduct research on alternative fuels, and was looking to find an academic institution to host the project. The center will fund "radical research aimed at probing the emerging secrets of bioscience and applying them to the production of new and cleaner energy, principally fuels for road transport," according to an announcement on the company's Web site. Cal beat out other universities in the U.S. and England because Gov. Schwarzenegger's recent efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions persuded BP to put the money in California. "California is yet again leading the world on clean energy," said Adam Mendelsohn, Schwarzenegger's communications director....[Read Full Article]

2.6.07: Bush boosts funds for renewable energy tech
President Bush's budget proposal includes $1.2 billion for renewable energy sources, out of total request of $24.3 billion for the Department of Energy. That's a $60 million, or five percent increase, over last year's budget, according to Renewable Energy Access. And that jump has the emerging cleantech industry pretty happy. "We applaud the Administration for continuing to support the President's Solar America Initiative (SAI) at robust funding levels. The Administration's FY 2008 budget request calls for $137 million in funding for the SAI, a major new R&D effort to achieve cost-competitive solar energy technologies across all market sectors by 2015," Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said But in a press release, Resch warned that the request also includes marginal amounts for several critical aspect of the industry. At the same time, the administration's request funds solar water heating research at just $2 million and concentrating solar power at just $9 million. ... Moreover, the budget does not include a long-term extension of the Federal solar investment tax credits, which is the single most important policy affecting solar development." The 2008 budget request also includes $2.7 billion for Bush's Advanced Energy Initiative, which is supposed to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign energy sources by promoting renewable energy technologies, such as biomass, hydrogen and solar, clean coal technologies, and nuclear energy technologies, through the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership....[Read Full Article]

2.6.07: Reporters Without Borders speaks out on Wolf case
Reporters Without Borders took note of Josh Wolf's imprisonment for refusing to turn over evidence in a federal case. Today marks Wolf's 171st day in prison, the longest an American journalist has spent in a US jail. Wolf's jail time now surpasses the 168 days Vanessa Leggett spent behind bars. Journalists are facing increased pressure from the federal government, since there is no federal reporter's shield, unlike in California. "Like Leggett, who was jailed for refusing to name her sources to federal judicial officials, Wolf is being held on a federal judge's orders for refusing to surrender his unedited video files," Reporters Without Borders said. "This is scandalous on two counts - the principle at stake and the length of time in prison - and speaks to a disturbing deterioration in press freedom in the United States." The organisation added: "Other journalists are currently risking imprisonment for similar reasons. Congress cannot remain silent any longer on the key question of professional secrecy, which is accorded to journalists in 33 states of the union. We reiterate our call for a federal 'shield law' and for the rapid release of Wolf, whose work had no bearing on national security, like Leggett's."...[Read Full Article]

2.5.07: Apple, Beatles come together
Apple and Apple Corps - the Beatles' corporate entity - are finally ready to give peace a chance. Under a new agreement, Apple owns all trademarks related to "Apple" and will license some trademarks back to Apple Corps, The Times reports. The Beatles have long been antsy about Apple's use of the fruit - a 1991 agreement forbid Apple from entering the music business - and when Apple started distributing music through iTunes, the Beatles filed suit. Following a victory for Apple Inc. last May, in which a British judge ruled Apple's use of its famous apple logo was "fair and reasonable," it appears the Beatles were finally ready to try to see it Steve's way. “We love the Beatles, and it has been painful being at odds with them over these trademarks,” said Steve Jobs. ... “It is great to put this dispute behind us and move on,” Neil Aspinall, manager of Apple Corps, said in a statement. “The years ahead are going to be very exciting times for us.” At any rate the speculation is that Beatles music will now be available on iTunes, which would be a huge publicity hit - and no doubt a financial win too - for Apple. Elizabeth Freund, a spokeswoman for Apple Corps, said the settlement had no bearing on any move to make Beatles music available on iTunes, saying that was a separate matter for the Beatles to discuss with EMI, which holds the rights to the Beatles’ recordings. A spokeswoman...[Read Full Article]

2.2.07: Romanian president loves Windows, piracy
The Romanian president Traian Basescu held a press conference with Bill Gates as part of Gates' worldwide Vista Thunder Revue. Observers could be forgiven if they suspected that Borat had kidnapped Basescu and made a guest appearance. We imagine it went something like this: "Bill Gates, I like you, do you like me? I like you because you make Windows. And we like to steal Windows. Is very nice! When Romanian man have Windows helps him to make sexy with woman. I like! Real quote: "Piracy helped the young generation discover computers. It set off the development of the IT industry in Romania." "Now everyone loves Romania! Even Khazakstan is jealous of Romania's manly programming skills. We wish to learn Windows. So we take! Is very good. Thank you Bill Gates! Real quote: "(Piracy) helped Romanians improve their creative capacity in the IT industry, which has become famous around the world ... Ten years ago, it was an investment in Romania's friendship with Microsoft and with Bill Gates." "I so happy for Bill Gates, I want him to meet my sister, Windows power user and also No. 3 prostitute in all of Romania. Bill Gates, you my friend! Give me kiss. “Wawaweewah!”...[Read Full Article]

1.24.07: Apple DRM illegal in Norway
Apple's DRM scheme for iPod and iTunes is illegal in Norway, the Consumer Ombudsman has ruled. Germany and France are joining Norways' action. The Norwegian Consumer Council brought the action against Apple claiming the company's Fairplay DRM is against consumers' interests, Out-Law.com reported. (Does this mean that in Norway corporate actions against the interests of consumers is illegal?! What would happen if the US had such laws?) "It doesn't get any clearer than this. Fairplay is an illegal lock-in technology whose main purpose is to lock the consumers to the total package provided by Apple by blocking interoperability," Torgeir Waterhouse told OUT-LAW.COM. "For all practical purposes this means that iTunes Music Store is trying to kill off one the most important building blocks in a well functioning digital society, interoperability, in order to boost its own profits." "iTunes Music Store must remove its illegal lock-in technology or appear in court," he said. "As of right now we're heading for a big breakthrough that will hopefully pave the way for consumers everywhere to regain control of music they legally purchase." What must Apple do? According to the Council: license Fairplay to all interested vendors; develop an open standard; abandon DRM altogether. The Ombudsman considers Fairplay to be an unfair contract term. "The Ombudsman has confirmed our claim that the DRM must be considered part of the contract terms and not a copy protection scheme only," said Waterhouse. "This means that under the Norwegian Marketing Control Act the DRM must provide...[Read Full Article]

1.24.07: YHOO profit in toilet, stock up
Yahoo profits dropped 61 percent for the fourth quarter, the company reported yesterday. Profits came in at a meager $269m compared to $683m a year ago. Oddly enough, YHOO shares are up roughly 7.5% to roughly $29 per share this morning. The excitement seemed to be centered on Panama, Yahoo's new advertising system that brings it rougly into parity with Google's. Here's The Street's Vishesh Kumar: Yahoo! management exuded confidence when talking about Panama late Tuesday, with CEO Terry Semel noting that the majority of Yahoo!'s U.S. advertiser revenue has already been transitioned to the system, and that the company will begin introducing the new system into international markets starting with Japan during the second quarter. The extra time that Yahoo! took in rolling out the new system was well worth it given its quality, CFO Sue Decker said, and the platform was put together in a way that would make future upgrades simple. Given that the system will learn which ads are more effective than others over time, Yahoo! expects the bottom line impact to grow over time. Notes the Washington Post: One particularly troubling trend to Yahoo watchers is that the company is starting to lose its footing in display advertising, one of its strongest businesses. Yahoo, with 500 million users, still has the heaviest traffic of any Web site, but Kessler said popular social-networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook are cutting Yahoo's traffic and revenue growth....[Read Full Article]

1.23.07: Job talks to feds, took 7 months to report suspicious options
The Recorder, SF's legal newspaper, first broke the story that the SEC and the Justice Dept. interviewed Steve Jobs, with lawyers in tow, last week. (SF Chronicle. No word on what they talked about, but the Washington Post reports that Jobs took 7.5 months to report the receipt of 7.5 million options that were improperly backdated. Washington Post: The Options Paper Trail Washington Post: Graphic - An Unusually Long Filing Period and a Falsified Approval Date SF Chronicle: Soures say Jobs quizzed by fed This is starting to look serious: A falsified backdate, made-up documents to justify the date, fraudulent SEC filings, an exchange of the options for restricted stock, and now seven and half months for Jobs to file? The timing of Jobs's filing was not illegal and beat the deadline. But it broke with the practice common among other Apple officers and directors of submitting the report, in this case a Form 4, within weeks, not months. "That's clearly an anomaly worth pursuing," said Michael Levy, a former federal prosecutor who heads the white-collar group at the McKee Nelson law firm in the District. "The fact that it was this grant in particular that was subject to such a delayed filing of Form 4 seems very interesting."...[Read Full Article]

1.23.07: Hilary, Obama and YouTube
You will hear a thousand times over the next two years that in 2008 the role of Internet video will be unprecedented. Not just because campaigns are posting videos of the candidates speaking their carefully written announcements into a camera. But because some campaign managers really get the power and danger of the viral spread of little commercials that individuals, nonprofits and campaigns can create and distribute in a matter of hours. The Washington Post's coverage of this topic starts not with Hilary or Obama's online announcements but with a story of how Republican candidate Mitt Romney's campaign reacted to a video making the YouTube rounds. By noon on Jan. 10, Matt Rhoades and Kevin Madden knew they had a problem. The two men handle communications for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney's presidential exploratory committee and had been told about a video flying around the Internet that spliced clips from Romney's 1994 debate with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.). In it, Romney (R), then running for the Senate in a losing campaign against Kennedy, voiced support for abortion rights and gay rights — positions he has since renounced. Romney's political inner circle, alerted to the threat, decided to strike back quickly. Less than eight hours after the attack appeared, a video of Romney rebutting the charges was being sent to his supporters and to Republican blogs....[Read Full Article]

1.23.07: Point man in Apple investigation is leaving
The US Attorney's Office for Northern California is being gutted - perhaps on orders from Washington, perhaps just because of greener fields in Silicon Valley lawfirms - and the stock options backdating investigations will more than likely grind to a halt as a result. We noted last week that Kevin Ryan is stepping down as US Attorney for the district, even as Attorneys across the country and most especially in California have been dismissed by the federal Justice Department. Today, the San Francisco Reporter - the city's (er, City's, as the old Examiner had it) legal newspaper - reports that Christopher Steskal, the point man in the investigation of Steve Jobs and Apple as well as Brocade, is leaving government service to lead the white collar practice at Fenwick & West (press release). "It would be hard to understand how this couldn't have an effect on that investigation, when the lead prosecutor, or co-prosecutor, is going to leave in the middle of the investigation," said Thomas Carlucci, a partner at Foley & Lardner who represents former Apple in-house lawyer Wendy Howell, a potential target of the probe....[Read Full Article]

1.17.07: US Attorney investigating stock options resigns
Kevin Ryan, the US Attorney for Northern California responsible for prosecutions of tech firms for options backdating, has resigned amid what is widely regarded as a Bush Administration purge of US Attorneys, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. It's not clear what effect Ryan's departure will have on his office's investigation of Bay Area companies for allegedly concealing their backdating of stock options granted to top executives. Ryan appointed a task force last summer to look into the practice and has obtained two criminal indictments and a flurry of executive resignations. The Department of Justice has asked for resignations of all but one US Attorney in California and Democrats see the moves as at attempt to replace Attorneys who don't meet the Bush Administration's conservative litmus test. Under the Patriot Act, the Department can appoint "interim" replacements indefinitely....[Read Full Article]

1.12.07: Bill would require webcasts, sat radio to use DRM
Democrats and Republicans are cosponoring yet another bill that requires technology companies to deploy DRM technology that would hamstring their users' legal uses of copyright material in order to prop up the Hollywood's business models. Under the Platform Equality and Remedies for Rights Holders in Music (PERFORM)Act, reintroduced today by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Joseph Biden (D-Del.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), both Internet and satellite music broadcasters would have to pay "fair market value" for the use of copyright music libraries, News.com reports. The bill is a direct assault on the young satellite radio industry, as well. It would stop satellite providers from allowing users to store a copy of broadcast songs. The proposal says that all audio services--Webcasters included--would be obligated to implement "reasonably available and economically reasonable" copy-protection technology aimed at preventing "music theft" and restricting automatic recording. "New radio services are allowing users to do more than simply listen to music," Feinstein said in a statement. "What was once a passive listening experience has turned into a forum where users can record, manipulate, collect and create personalized music libraries." Not all recording would be banned under the bill, though. The sponsors seem to be particularly offended by any sort of active searches on the part of users. Radio listeners would be permitted to set their devices to automatically record full radio programs on certain channels at certain times. But allowing users to program their devices to automatically find and record specific sound recordings,...[Read Full Article]

Obama announces - in online video
In yet another sign of the central role of the Internet on electoral politics, Barack Obama announced today that he is launching an exploratory committee for a run for the Democratic nomination for presidency. What's notable is how he made the announcement, not in a press conference or call to media but in a video posted on his website. It's a fitting venue perhaps, since Obama emphasized in his announcement video that: Years ago, as a community organizer in Chicago, I learned that meaningful change always begins at the grassroots, and that engaged citizens working together can accomplish extraordinary things. So even in the midst of the enormous challenges we face today, I have great faith and hope about the future - because I believe in you. And that's why I wanted to tell you first that I'll be filing papers today to create a presidential exploratory committee. Rachel Sklar notes on The Huffington Post that the move to announce directly to the public via the Web, rather than via media, shows a deft political touch: Pretty savvy move, actually, on Obama's part, with the obvious bounty of media coverage to come (never mind in the lead up), to say nothing of the suddern traffic possibilities on his website (if he slaps Google ads up there quick he can totally rake it in!). That's why it's savvy — Obama knows that he's been the object of scrutiny and fascination, obviously, and this is a great way to sow he's not...[Read Full Article]

1.15.07: Timeframe for citjour: 10 years?
With Backfence now on life support, we wonder: Is citizen journalism (citjour) dead? Was it even a good idea? One could make an argument that citjour was one of those memes that bounced around the media blogosphere until it became self-evidently a must-do - but did anyone ask the citizens? In a piece on Backfence's demise (yes, demise, says one of Backfence's angels: "At this point, I don't look for any return or any prospect of recovery"), The Washington Post quotes consultant Vin Crosbie: "Realistically, it's going to take close to 10 years for the business models to be there and for there to be enough advertisers willing to give money to hyperlocal start-ups," said Vin Crosbie, managing partner of Digital Deliverance, a Connecticut media consulting firm. "Backfence's problem is that it was too early." Cofounder Susan DeFife is hooking up with two former VPs to create a consulting firm. Her former partner Mark Potts, who had already left the company, is returning to run what's left of the company. "It always ends up being so much different than the way you imagine it to be," Potts said. Over the next three months, he said, Backfence will add more features, such as social networking, online video and mapping. "We haven't rolled out as quickly as we'd wanted to. But we think the basic concept we went after is absolutely still the right place to be."...[Read Full Article]

1.15.07: EoPlex 'prints' tiny components
A fascinating technology story in this morning's SF Chronicle: Redwood City-based EoPlex is a startup with a proprietary secret sauce (literally) that manufactures complex miniature parts through a kind of printing process. The company intends to mass-produce tiny gears and switches using a process that builds 3-D objects by layering materials on top of each other, over and over, until a third dimension takes shape. Think of a book instead of a poster. The process is based on EoPlex's proprietary substrate - a toothpaste-like glue that can carry ceramic or metal particles for fabrication. Imagine that the first pass of "ink" squirts out a square line that contains a metallic powder. This square blob is immediately hardened by a quick blast of ultraviolet light. Then the EoPlex technology prints a second layer of fluid inside and around the four hardened lines. This second fluid differs from the first. It does not have any metals inside. It has one purpose -- to create a flat surface upon which to print the next layer. Thus, to build a box of any given height involves a repetition of these steps: lay down the next square layer of metal-bearing paste; harden it with ultraviolet light; fill and surround it with the next layer of empty goo; harden it up; and repeat until done. In the final step the printed object is placed in an industrial furnace, where the real magic occurs. The goo, the ink, the carrier fluid evaporate completely -- leaving behind...[Read Full Article]

11.12.07: Bill would require webcasts, sat radio to use DRM
Democrats and Republicans are cosponoring yet another bill that requires technology companies to deploy DRM technology that would hamstring their users' legal uses of copyright material in order to prop up the Hollywood's business models. Under the Platform Equality and Remedies for Rights Holders in Music (PERFORM)Act, reintroduced today by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Joseph Biden (D-Del.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), both Internet and satellite music broadcasters would have to pay "fair market value" for the use of copyright music libraries, News.com reports. The bill is a direct assault on the young satellite radio industry, as well. It would stop satellite providers from allowing users to store a copy of broadcast songs. The proposal says that all audio services--Webcasters included--would be obligated to implement "reasonably available and economically reasonable" copy-protection technology aimed at preventing "music theft" and restricting automatic recording. "New radio services are allowing users to do more than simply listen to music," Feinstein said in a statement. "What was once a passive listening experience has turned into a forum where users can record, manipulate, collect and create personalized music libraries." Not all recording would be banned under the bill, though. The sponsors seem to be particularly offended by any sort of active searches on the part of users. Radio listeners would be permitted to set their devices to automatically record full radio programs on certain channels at certain times. But allowing users to program their devices to automatically find and record specific sound recordings,...[Read Full Article]

1.12.07: Criminal and civil investigations into Jobs option grant
The US attorney's office and the SEC are investigating Apple's backdated grant of 7.5 million options to Steve Jobs in Decemer 2001, The Wall Street Journal is reporting today. There could be both criminal and civil sanctions against some of the players, including two former company lawyers. WSJ: US Scrutinizes Grant to Jobs Apple attorney Wendy Howell apparently created false documentation stating that the grant was made to jobs at a meeting on Oct. 19, 2001. That's what Apple told shareholders in a 2002 proxy statement. But the grant wasn't actually made until December - and the October grant meeting never happened. The price of Jobs' grant was backdated to a date when Apple's stock price was 20 percent lower. Howell has been fired, Thomas Carlucci, Ms. Howell's attorney, said that while at Apple "Ms. Howell acted as instructed by Apple management and with the company's best interest being paramount."...[Read Full Article]

1.11.07: Steve Jobs benefitted from backdated options
Steve Jobs didn't benefit from backdated stock options grants he received, because he gave them up in 2003. So says Apple's internal investigation on the matter. But, it turns out, he certainly did benefit. According to Apple filings with the SEC, Jobs exchanged his options for $75 million worth of restricted Apple stock - 5 million shares - just about the value of the options he gave up, the Washington Post reports. Washington Post: Apple Chief Benefited From Options, Records Indicate Steve Dowling, Apple's director of corporate communications, said the 2003 transaction did not directly benefit Jobs because he could not sell the restricted shares until he had remained at Apple for another three years. Some investor advocates call that explanation disingenuous. "You are torturing the English language to say he did not benefit from the options," said Patrick McGurn, executive vice president of Institutional Shareholder Services. "He certainly benefited from the grant because the grant was converted on a value-to-value basis." Plus, McGurn says, the stock option value was inflated because of improper backdating, so the amount of restricted stock he received was also improper. Jobs was finally able to sell his 10 million restricted shares (there was a stock split) in March 2006. He sold half at that time for $295.7 million. At today's close of 98.50, that would give him roughly $492 million if he sold the remaining shares today - nothing to sneeze at even with a personal fortune of $4.9 billion. Still with the...[Read Full Article]

Does iPhone signal the end of the Mac?
Thinking about the iPhone and its impressive use of OS X - and Apple's name change from Apple Computer to Apple Inc. - I wonder if Steve Jobs is finally ready to lead his company out of the PC business once and for all. Apple is clearly covering the consumer electronics space - with iPods, a PC-to-TV streaming device (or more likely an iPod-to-TV stream), and the iPhone. All of these show that OS X can be a powerful embedded OS for devices. Coupled with web services like iTunes (will we see a namechange there too, to something like iMedia?), the company's growth is entirely(?) built on consumer market devices....[Read Full Article]

1.9.07: Apple iPhone wows
A walk through the blogosphere after the announcement of Apple's new iPhone, a handsome piece of magic that brings full web-browsing, random-access voicemail, OS X functionality, MP3 and video playing, motion detection screen adjustments, and more. Wall Street loves it - Apple's stock price was up 7.10 to 92.57 after Steve Jobs' keynote. In fact, the Street was very tuned into the keynote, as this graphic from mcsey points out (via ValleyWag) And Paul Kedrosky points out that "the Apple mobile phone is going to mess with the mobile market." While Nokia and Motorola were only marginally down on Steve's big day, Wall Street punished RIM and Palm. Michael Arrington was totally wowed - no surprise - he calls it a "game changing device."...[Read Full Article]

1.8.07: News from CES
News from CES: SanDisk launches three media players (AP) Motorola touts deals with Yahoo, Warnet (AP) Yahoo upgrades mobile suite with search app (InfoWorld) Microsoft introduces Windows Home Server, Sync at CES (Ars Technica)...[Read Full Article]

1.8.07: SF Apple store gets a greening
Greenpeace celebrated Macworld by "greening" the San Francisco Apple store in protest of the company's environmental practices at 6 pm Monday night, AppleInsider reports. During a press conference on Monday, representatives for the group said they plan to be outside this week's Macworld Expo in San Francisco, handing out flyers that present their views on Apple's environmental savviness -- or lack there of -- to conference attendees. Although Greenpeace had wished to be amongst the paid exhibitors at Macworld, their requests to do so were repeatedly denied by show organizer IDG (apparently under the influence of Apple). At the press conference, Rick Hind, legislative director of Greenpeace USA's Toxics campaign, noted the group had greened Apple's NYC store by shining green spotlights on it. "That was a symbolic screening," Hind said during Monday's press conference. He added that this evening's demonstration would "be different, and probably more dramatic." >...[Read Full Article]

1.8.07: Google in China
Will Google manage to work its magic on the oh-so-hard-to-crack China market? Internet biggies have floundered and faltered in China - not least over human rights and censorship but, more importantly to them, market share. But Google made two strategic investments in China last week, The Times notes, raising the question: Can Google do what Yahoo, eBay, and Amazon have so far failed to do? In its latest move, announced Friday, Google struck a deal to invest about $5 million in one of the country’s fastest-growing Internet start-ups, Xunlei.com, according to people close to the deal. That follows another hook-up this week, when Google said it would team with China Mobile, the country’s dominant, government-owned mobile telephone carrier, to offer mobile search services using the Internet....[Read Full Article]

1.4.07: Lawsuit, investigations will dog Jobs for awhile
Apple faces a shareholder lawsuit and two federal investigations into its stock option practices, Jessica Guynn reports for the SF Chronicle, as CEO Steve Jobs and his team try to stay focused on Macworld next week. Juice in the suit: Apple granted a slew of option in 1997 just before announcing a landmark $150 million bailout of the company by Microsoft. The deal was Jobs' first coup as the "interim" CEO. The suit says that stock option funny business started in the mid-90s, soon after Jobs' return. Meanwhile the SEC and the US attorney's office are looking into the company, but crisis management expert Eric Dezenhall says the company played it smart with its unabashed support of Jobs. "Now it's up to prosecutors and regulators to demonstrate that they have a real legitimate beef," he said. "They have to ask themselves if this is a fight worth having." The attorney in the suit, Mark Molumphy, a partner at Cotchett, Pitre, Simon & McCarthy, is also interested in stock option behavior at Jobs' other company, Pixar. Federal authorities are probing options granted to Pixar executives from 1997 through 2003, the same period as Apple. Pixar executives received options at lows in 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2003, a statistically improbable pattern, analysts say. "The Pixar angle is one of great interest to us," Molumphy said. "It raises even more red flags." "Given the magnitude of the backdating, the people involved and the possibility of faked meetings to approve (options), I believe...[Read Full Article]

1.3.07: Defunct high-tech law firm's records saved for posterity - a cause for worry?
When a law firm that handled tons of sensitive legal matters for Valley startups and VC firms and then goes belly up, what happens to all that information? News.com's Anne Broache notes that now-defunct Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison LLP notified clients that their digital files would be placed in a "closed archive" managed by the Library of Congress. That didn't set well with Tom Fragala, CEO of Truston, a company that monitors for ID theft. He blogged that, "There wasn't much in (the letter) to make me feel good about the privacy implications. "My social security number, and that of all my former investors and officers is in those documents." After Brobeck went belly up in 2003, a federal bankruptcy court last August went on to authorize creation of a "secure digital repository" for its abandoned records. The idea behind the project, its organizers, say, is to capture a moment in history. As a Web site devoted to the preservation project explains, "these digital records document one of the most extraordinary episodes in the history of capitalism, the explosion of internet technology companies in the 1990s." David Kirsch, a University of Maryland professor, is overseeing the project. He says the fears are unfounded. Only a limited pool of scholars and archivists would be granted access to the archived documents at a single secure, monitored location, he says. But EFF's David Sobel is uneasy. "A law firm's clients don't expect that their sensitive files will be made available to third-parties...[Read Full Article]

1.3.07: Video on demand pioneer sues Apple, Google
One Jonathan T. Taplin, who once had a video on demand company called Intertainer - and before that served as Bob Dylan's road manage and produced Mean Streets and The Last Waltz - is claiming in a lawsuit that Apple, Google and Napster are infringing Intertainer's patents, The Times reports. The company holds nine patents, including United States Patent No. 6,925,469, which was issued in 2005 and is intended to cover the management and distribution of digital media from various suppliers. The suit is being filed in a federal district court in Texas that is friendly to patent claims, but a patent date of 2005 seems awfully late, reporters John Markoff and Miguel Helft note. By that time, for example, Real Networks, the Seattle-based pioneer in streaming digital media, had begun a Internet subscription service for digital content. The article quotes Eric Goldman, director of the High-Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University, who seems a bit weary of all these patent infringement claims. "There are so many of these lawsuits nowadays, it is hard to figure out which ones are a serious threat and which one are not." "I have the same problem with this patent as so many of the patents of the dot-com boom days: I don't know what it means," Goldman said....[Read Full Article]

1.3.07: Mozilla revenues increase 10-fold
Mozilla (the foundation and the corporation) made a surprising $52.9M - $29.8M from the foundation, the rest from the corporation, reports CEO Mitchell Baker. That's 10 times what Mozilla earned in 2004. The bulk of this revenue was related to our search engine relationships, with the remainder coming from a combination of contributions, sales from the Mozilla store, interest income, and other sources. These figures compare with 2003 and 2004 revenues of $2.4M and $5.8M respectively, and reflect the tremendous growth in the popularity of Firefox after its launch in November 2004. Expenses, meanwhile, were at a very comfortable $8.2M. The substantial positive cashflow means that Mozilla can invest in the engineering talent that will make it possible Mozilla to become an even more important player in Internet software. "The unspent revenue provides a reserve fund that allows the Mozilla Foundation flexibility and long term stability," Baker wrote. Our financial stability has enabled us to attract and retain world-class talent, people who have willingly turned their backs on the world of startups and stock options in order to work toward our goal of promoting choice and innovation on the Internet for the benefit of all. It enables us to support massive communities of people who contribute their efforts to making the Internet experience better. It allows us to cultivate competitive, viable community innovation....[Read Full Article]

1.2.07: Apple probe focuses on Anderson, GC Heinen
While Apple has taken pains to clear Steve Jobs of any wrong-doing in its option backdating troubles, the company's internal investigation focused on two unnamed executives who may have fraudulently altered documents. But everybody knows who those executives are - they were forced out during an earlier phase of the investigation: former general counsel Nancy Heinen and CFO Fred Anderson. So says The Wall Street Journal today (and read it today, while the online Journal is free). WSJ: Apple Probe Spotlights Two Within the clubby circles of Silicon Valley, Apple's allegations have caused a stir among people who know the former Apple executives. A person familiar with the matter says Apple may argue that, as financial chief, Mr. Anderson should have been responsible for proper accounting of backdated options. In Ms. Heinen's case, Apple believes it has evidence that Ms. Heinen, as board secretary, was aware of improper documentation that said a board meeting occurred in October 2001 to approve a big option grant to Mr. Jobs, when no such meeting occurred. Anderson joined Apple in 1996 during the dark, pre-re-Steve days and survived a purge of Apple's horrendous management team. During his tenure, he resolved a major liquidity crisis, executed a massive restructuring that returned the company to sustainable profitability, and reenergized Apple’s revenue and profit growth, his his bio says. He joined the board in 2004 after leaving the CFO post. After Apple found preliminary evidence of irregularities in past option grants last year, Mr. Anderson spent...[Read Full Article]

1.2.07: In the shadow of Google, new search engines emerge
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher A new year will bring new search engines to the Internet - for the first time in a long while - but with Google so dominant in the space, will these new players find substantial niches, unseat the giant, or simply be able to crack Google's stranglehold? The New York Times profiles several up-and-comers in a space that in 2006 most people thought was owned by Larry and Sergey. NYT: In Silicon Valley, the Race Is On to Trump Google We first read about Powerset when VentureBeat reported the company was receiving gobs of VC funds. They've raised a total of $12.5 million from Foundation Capital, Founders Fund and several angels. SVW: Powerset says it can knock off Google As unlikely as it seems, many millions more are rushing in to compete with Google. “There’s definitely a segment of the market that thinks we are crazy,” said Charles Moldow, a partner at Foundation Capital, a venture capital firm that is Powerset’s principal financial backer. “In 2000, some people thought Google was crazy.” That mindset - more than any hardnosed evaluation of a startup's technology - may be what drives venture capitalists to keep playing in search. Google repeated the Silicon Valley mythology: Stanford, garage, modest start, groundswell of uptake, going public, the king is dead, long live the king. There may be big money to be made in niche search - but the dream is all about public search, about being a household name, about...[Read Full Article]

12.31.06: Free Culture Foundation
Received this press release this morning: The Free Culture Foundation was launched today to promote and protect cultural freedoms. The Foundation provides an accessible, independent introduction to the free culture movement, now a global phenomenon thanks to the Creative Commons licenses, organisations like Open Business and artists like the Beastie Boys. The Foundation defines 'free culture' in terms of four simple principles: the freedom to use, create, share and learn. In recognition of the controversy surrounding the Creative Commons licenses (apparently they have been criticized by the media industry for tricking artists into giving away their rights and the free software community has criticized them for allowing limitations on re-use), the Foundation's new web site presents a set of essays that discuss precisely what these might mean. Future plans include packaging free art for free software users and commissioning a set of essays to explain the issues. Rob Myers, digital artist, said "we fill a gap left by the likes of Creative Commons, popularising a coherent set of principles. We don't pretend to have all the answers, but want people to think more about how technology and the law help or hinder our ability to watch films, write novels, share music with friends and learn to paint."...[Read Full Article]

12.22.06: Screen shots from P2P TV Venice Project
Om has screen shots from the still pre-beta Venice Project, a P2P TV start-up created by Skype founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis. In an interview with Om in October, Friis explained: Television is the most powerful mass medium, and we are trying to do is marry the best of television with the best of internet. What people love about the television is the story telling. What people don’t like is television that is locked in linear time. We want to try and preserve the best bits of television, and discard bits people don’t care for. People like the freedom of choice and like freedom from choice. For example, channels are good, because they define the content. Today, the channels are locked in legacy infrastructure, but on broadband the channels are not locked in time. That’s what the Venice Project is doing. What we have done is created a streaming P2P platform for television. This is a platform, which is good for content owners, for advertisers and of course the viewers. Since there are no borders on the Internet, this is a global platform. Sometimes we think content owners have legal reasons to restrict content locally and the technology allows them to do that. It's hard to tell about the quality based on the screen shots. We'll take Om's word for it: The visuals on a Lenovo T60 with a 15.2-inch screen were stunning and crisp. The streams came through without a problem and there was very little jitter....[Read Full Article]

12.21.06: Juniper takes $900m hit, IBM nixes options for directors
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher The stock options tornado keeps on blowing through the Valley and the rest of corporate America, as Reuters reports here IBM will stop providing stock option grants to its board of directors. Directors will get a raise in cash compensation from $100K to $200K. Juniper Networks will take a $900 million hit for stock options granted from 1999 to 2003. The charge stems from two grants made to CEO Scott Kriens. Juniper will file its Q2 and Q3 statements in Q1 of 2007. Red Herring offers Kriens' apology: “As the leader of this company, I would like to express our regret, to everyone who relies on Juniper, for the difficulties this situation has caused for us all,” said Mr. Kriens in a statement. “In prior years, we should have had better stock option granting processes, controls, and oversight in place, and we did not,” he added. “While we cannot undo the past, we will focus going forward on the filing of our financial statements, further improving the robustness of the company’s stock option-granting procedures, the ongoing cooperation with government agencies, and the continued execution of our business strategy.”...[Read Full Article]

12.21.06: Google updates Blogger
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher "Hey now that Time says that bloggers are the person of the year maybe we at Google should have some whizzy blog software. Hey! What's this with mold and hair all over it?! It says "Blogger." Maybe we can gussy this old thing up." Yes, after about, what, six or seven years, Google is rolling out a new version of the original blog software, which they've left starving in a forgotten closet for most of these many Web 2.0 years. InfoWorld reports that the new version will feature user-definable templates, tagging of posts, multiple authors, and faster publication of new posts. On the Blogger homepage, Google gushes over the new version: The new version of Blogger is metaphorically bursting with features, from the big guns like drag-and-drop template editing and post labels (which are perfect, by the way, for indexing the 131 historical figures you may have written about), to little polishes like a better-designed Dashboard or that you no longer need to solve a word verification CAPTCHA to post a comment on your own blog. We’re excited about the new version of Blogger, both for what it can do now (which also includes access control for blogs and better input fields for post dates) and what we’ll add to it in the future, now that we have a new, stable, powerful infrastructure to work with. We’re done with “beta,” but we’re far from done with the new Blogger....[Read Full Article]

12.21.06: Labels sue AllofMP3.com in US court
US record companies filed suit in New York against Allofmp3.com, the Russian website that sells copyrighted recordings for a fraction of the price charged by legitimate vendors. The Russian company says it's legit because it pays royalties to the Russian Multimedia and Internet Society, reports Out-Law.com for the Register. "Defendant's entire business amounts to nothing more than a massive infringement of plaintiffs' exclusive rights under the Copyright Act and New York law," says the law suit. Unlike US and British royalty collecting agencies, the Russian version pays no royalties to artists or record labels. Yet the Russian Multimedia and Internet Society ROMS itself says the site is legal because it licenses it. "Allofmp3.com's activity is quite legitimate," ROMS general director Oleg Nezus told BBC Russia earlier this year. "The opinion of foreign copyright owners is just that - their opinion."...[Read Full Article]

12.20.06: Ericsson buys Redback for $2.1bn
Ericsson is buying "edge" router maker Redback for $2.1 billion. Not exactly a household name, Redback's technology is seen as key to supporting the growth of Internet video, AP says. "It's a huge market for the routing technology necessary to build out these networks, and it's really video driving the need for the infrastructure changes," he said in an interview. "I don't view this as an ending, I view it as a perfect match of the key technologies that will be necessary in the future." Om offers a litte history on the company: Those of you too young to buy your own drinks may not know Redback, but is was once as highflying as say, Facebook. It was a company which made uber-VCs like Norwest Capital Partners, Telesoft and Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers a lot of money… and I mean a lot of money. But that was back in the day2, the late 1990s. But then the bubble popped, and everyone assumed Redback would deflate along with it. But they didn’t! The broadband boom happened, and suddenly everyone wanted to get a piece of Redback’s multi-service edge routing technology. That’s a fancy way of saying it makes boxes that allow phone companies sell DSL, broadband, telephone, TV and other services over the local loop. In 2005, sales were up 33 percent, and in first nine months of 2006, sales went up another 87 percent to about $197 million. Ericsson is paying $25 for a share of Redback, an 18%...[Read Full Article]

12.15.06: Gizmodo: iPhone on Monday
At Gizmodo, Brian Lam says he "knows" the iPhone will be announced on Monday. In its entirety, the post says: I guarantee it. It isn't what I expected at all. And I've already said too much Just the kind of tease to guarantee traffic galore. Om says it's BS: Just pointing out that the teaser doesn’t mention Apple. And no, Steve Jobs & Co. are not crazy to release what could be a hot device mere nine days before Christmas. In other words don’t expect an iPhone from Apple. In fact, I am confident enough to bet another 10-pounds on it. Actually, here are some detailed rumors from Doug Berger at Gadgetell: Morgan Stanley analyst Rebecca Runkle has added to the mess of rumors by revealing more pricing possibilities. She says the 4GB and 8GB models of the new Apple Phone will cost $599 and $649 respectively and will be wider than the iPod nano, but narrower than the 5G iPod. She also added it will have a 3.5 inch screen and come in multiple colors like the new nano. Her prediction is it will launch in the first half of 2007. Personally if I were to shell out hundreds for a phone (and I've never had a phone that didn't come free from the cellphone company), I'd go for this one (found on iliketotallyloveit:...[Read Full Article]

12.15.06: Photoshop CS3 beta download
You can download a free beta of the upcoming version of Photoshop at Adobe Labs The next generation of the professional standard in digital imaging, Adobe Photoshop CS3 delivers new tools and enhancements that enable you to work more productively, edit with unrivaled power, and composite with breakthrough ease and control. Please note that a beta is, by definition, an unfinished product that may or may not include all the features and functionality that will appear in the final release. And while some may find the quality appropriate for use in a production environment, the beta is not final-release quality and should not be used for critical work. - Richard Koman...[Read Full Article]

12.15.06: Indictments, guilty pleas on Chinese trade secret thefts
The Chinese government wants to get their hands on military technology being developed in Silicon Valley and apparently the Valley is full of spies to help with those aims. Tom Abate and John Cote write in today's Chronicle that federal prosecutors indicted one Xiangdong Sheldon Meng for stealing night vision training software from defense contractor Quantum3D for sale to Malaysia, Thailand and China. "The alleged economic espionage and theft and export of trade secrets such as these -- visual simulation training software that has military application, no less -- has real consequences that could jeopardize our country's military advantages in the world," he said in the statement. He added in an interview: "We own the night. And there are people who want to take it from us." Meanwhile US citizen Fei Ye and permanent resident Ming Zhong pled guilty in federal court to stealing civilian chip technology from Transmeta and Sun. They intended to use the designs to start a chipmaking firm with financial backing from the Chinese city of Hang- zhou and the provincial government of Zhejiang. These are the first convictions under the Economic Espionage Act. The 36-count criminal indictment against Meng alleges that he stole night-vision training software and other simulation tools from Quantum3D, a San Jose defense contractor for whom he worked between 2000 and 2003. The indictment alleges violations of several federal statutes, including the Economic Espionage Act and the Arms Export Control Act -- charges that could lead to hefty fines and lengthy jail...[Read Full Article]

12.13.06: Google auctions employee options
New York Times: In a move that will enable its employees to earn more money from stock options — and perhaps motivate them to settle for fewer of them in pay packages as a result — Google said yesterday that it would create a system allowing options to be sold as well as exercised. Under the program, Google will grant employees a new type of option, called a transferable stock option. The company will work with Morgan Stanley to set up a market that will enable financial institutions and other investors to bid for those options. Experts briefed on the plan were divided on whether it might provide a useful model for other companies. But the move appears likely to reinforce Google’s reputation for financial innovation. ...Google said the plan was aimed at showing employees the full value of their stock options....[Read Full Article]

12.13.06: Yahoo, IBM go for enterprise search
AP reports: IBM Corp. and Yahoo Inc. are teaming up to offer a free data-search tool for businesses, a quirky move challenging Google Inc. and other corporate-search specialists in a blossoming market. IBM hopes the service, being announced Wednesday, bolsters its overall efforts to improve its dealings with small companies. More broadly, though, Yahoo and IBM expect their partnership to shake up the field of "enterprise search," in which leading providers such as Google, Autonomy Corp. and Norway-based FAST are seeing forays from business software giants such as Microsoft Corp., Oracle Corp. and SAP AG....[Read Full Article]

Hurd asked to explain option sales
Mark Hurd exercised $1.37 million in options less than two weeks before HP disclosed its spying tactics in a SEC filing and congressional investigators want to know why. The sale does not appear to be part of a prescheduled program, AP reports. Indeed, seven other executives cashed out during that period, part of a three-week window where option holders are allowed to exercise their options. The congressmen asked Hurd to explain the reason for the transaction, seeking an answer on "whether executives are cashing in ('bullet dodging') while in possession of potentially damaging material facts that shareholders do not know." Dingell and Stupak also asked in the letter to "please inform us whether any other HP officers or directors engaged in similar transactions during this period."...[Read Full Article]

12.13.06: Epicenter of Web 2.0 boom: 625 Second
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher The boom is back in SoMa, the Journal's Pui-Wing Tam wrote yesterday, and the epicenter is 625 Second St.... On a recent Friday, one new tenant on the third floor, online software firm BuzzLogic was meeting with a venture capitalist.[Read Full Article]

12.11.06: iTunes sales stagnant
Considering that the average iPod has some hundreds of tracks on its little hard or flash drive, the fact that the ration of iTunes sales to iPods is 22, as of September 2006, according to the New York Times, reveals that something is not as advertised in the world of online music sales. Apple single-handedly created the online music business, according to the Gospel of Steve. But since iTunes sales are flat - they have inched up from 20 to 22 - it's apparent that people rapidly lose interest in shelling out bucks for the same stuff that can be stolen online or legitimately ripped off of their own CDs or those borrowed from the library or friends. “IPods are not sitting around generating dozens and dozens of transactions every quarter,” said Josh Bernoff, a principal analyst for Forrester Research. “People buy a certain number of songs, and then they stop.” That's not necessarily horrible news for Apple since the real profits are in hardware as Furd Log briefly notes. "It's the RIAA who should be worrying," the blogger says and I agree....[Read Full Article]

Should Semel go? Is Yahoo a media company? Is that a good thing to be? (Yes, Yes, No.)
So GigaOm posted this piece on Thursday, based on Yahoo employee Jonathan's Strauss' verbatim transcript of Terry Semel's post-reorg talk to employees. Read it at either of those blogs. The essence is this: Reports of Yahoo's - and Semel's - demise are greatly exaggerated. Strauss' post is combatively positive. He says he and many other yahoos are hugely inspired and excited by the reorg. As someone who has witnessed many of Yahoo!'s dysfunctions first-hand, I am frankly surprised at how right on they got it with this re-org. The changes that were announced this week and the ones that will come over the next few months are pretty much exactly what I think needs to be done to enable Yahoo! to realize its full potential. Strauss defends Semel as a leader of "resilience, defiance, and strength." He adds that Yahoo needs not a geek who wrote some cool code when he was 25 but "the guy who spent 25 years climbing the corporate ladder all the way from the bottom to become arguably the most respected leader in one of the most cut-throat businesses in the world." That's as may be. My gripe is with this sentiment - more crucial than whether Semel stays or goes: I hate to break it to all of you, but the Internet isn't about technology. Cisco is a technology company, Yahoo! is a consumer services company -- the fact that those services are delivered via IP is just a detail. The people who...[Read Full Article]

12.8.06: Rumors of Metacafe sale for $200-$700mn
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher TechCrunch and GigaOM are running rumors that video sharing site Metacafe will be sold for some hundreds of millions of dollars, anywhere from $200 million to $700 million. Way too much for an also-ran video sharing site?[Read Full Article]

12.8.06: HP settles with California for $14.5mn
The bulk of the fine - $goes to an investigatory fund - the Privacy and Piracy Fund - that pays for investigations into consumer privacy violations and intellectual property crimes.[Read Full Article]

12.6.06: Arrington: Kingmaker or sleazy journalist?
The San Francisco Chronicle's Dan Fost profiles TechCrunch's Michael Arrington - on the front page of this morning's paper. The piece lauds Arrington as "Mr. Web 2.0, a kingmaker among Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and a figure of controversy in the media world he is disrupting." But the news hook is Arrington's announcement that he is taking a couple months off to pay attention to the business side of things, away from the constant grind of pimping companies with silly names that barely register on the Valley's radar. He's making money - he's got half a mil in the bank after 18 months of full-time blogging. But when you're on top you're also assailed from everyone from The New York Times to Nick Denton. Old-school journalists question Arrington's ethics and potential for conflicts of interest. He even engaged in a high-profile dustup with the New York Times at an Online News Association conference in October in which he accused the Times of ethical lapses but later backed down. Blogger and author Nick Carr charged that while Arrington discloses his investments when he writes about companies, he doesn't always disclose those investments when he writes -- sometimes negatively -- about their competitors. Tech gossip blog Valleywag has a field day with each alleged transgression. Arrington struck back on his blog, writing that his friendships and his activity as an entrepreneur and investor help him get access to inside information. "No one should think TechCrunch is objective or conflict-free," he wrote. "We...[Read Full Article]

12.6.06: YHOO's half-measure reorg
Yahoo is reorganizing and Wall Street has the scent of Terry Semel's blood in its nostrils. Reuter's Eric Auchard reports that CFO Susan Decker, long seen as a major candidate for Semel's job, will head the profitable online advertising unit. The other unit will focus on marketing and international. With Decker taking the advertising helm, COO Dan Rosensweig is leaving the company. As for Semel he says he has no plans to leave the company and is energized by the changes. But a key Semel hire, Lloyd Braun, who Semel brought over from ABC to integrate Hollywood content with Yahoo, is also leaving, signalling that Yahoo may be jettisoning the Hollywood approach. The reorg comes fast on the heels of the Peanut Butter Manifesto, an internal memo that said the company suffers from too many redundant products, too many layers of managment and too few repurcussions for failure. The company, the memo said, spreads itself thin like peanut butter and is afraid to pass on any opportunity. "This is just the beginning of what Yahoo needs to do," said RBC Capital Markets analyst Jordan Rohan in New York. "It may take all of 2007. Change like this is evolutionary, not revolutionary. The new division heads will need time to grasp the enormity of the task at hand." Rohan argues that Yahoo faces less competition from Google, but, like Google, it must become more nimble in order to grasp emerging opportunities on the Internet, where two- or three-year-old companies frequently...[Read Full Article]

12.5.06: WSJ cuts back and calls it good news
Wall Street Journal publisher L. Gordon Crovitz announces a new, slimmer (that is, cheaper) Journal starting Jan. 2, pushing more company news onto the website and reserving the printed paper for "what it means" stories. Today perhaps a bit over half of our news space is devoted to exclusive, differentiated information and the rest to essentially what happened the day before. Our goal is to move to 80% exclusive news, with 20% making sure you're aware of the key developments of the previous day. Journal reporters and editors serve a community of interest -- business executives and other leaders with similar concerns -- and look forward to devoting more time and space to keeping you ahead of the news that's essential to you. Expect to see more forward-leaning coverage, with headlines featuring predictive and explanatory words like "will" and "means" and "why." Crovitz goes on to crow about the growing importance of the website: As the print Journal moves even more toward exclusive, "what it means" journalism, WSJ.com will be the place to go for "what's happening right now" in business and markets. The digital medium is perfect for breaking news and for delivering great depth, across media. He is even excited about losing about one-sixth of the news hole as this will make the printed paper easier to handle. At Slate, Jack Shaffer finds this rich - in the extreme. It's the rare amputee who describes himself as better off without his two big toes than with them, but...[Read Full Article]

12.5.06: Requiem for a Photojournalist
The big news yesterday was that Yahoo and Reuters are embracing citizen photojournalism in a big way. Today, Dan Gillmor offers a long goodbye for the profession of photojournalism. How can people who cover breaking news for a living begin to compete? They can’t possibly be everywhere at once. They can compete only on the stories where they are physically present — and, in the immediate future, by being relatively trusted sources. But the fact remains, there are far more newsworthy situations than pro picture takers. In the past, most of those situations never were captured. Not any longer. Is it so sad that the professionals will have more trouble making a living this way in coming years? To them, it must be — and I have friends in the business, which makes this painful to write in some ways. To the rest of us, as long as we get the trustworthy news we need, the trend is more positive. As for the deal in question, Dan says flat-out: "I’m highly skeptical of business models, typically conceived by Big Media Companies, that tell the rest of us: “You do all the work, and we’ll take all the money we make by exploiting it.” This is not just unethical.. It’s also unsustainable in the long run." Under the deal, users won't be paid for images appearing on Yahoo and Reuters websites but will be paid if they run in print. Isn't that backwards? Newspapers are rapidly moving operations online. Getting...[Read Full Article]

12.4.06: Gannett radically remaking newspapers into something bloggy
The feeling is palpable this year that the newspaper just might not make it after all. Ink on paper, distributed through city kiosks, change boxes and home delivery, is the technology that worked for 300 years but that tradition makes it all the more susceptible to the cruelty of the digital age. Newspapering is slow (today's news tomorrow), impersonal (inverted pyramid with references to the author reduced to "a reporter" or boldy "this reporter"), expensive (those presses run in the $10 million range, delivery requires a fleet of trucks, reporters, production people and press operators are unionized with stultifying effect) and anachronistic (it's a mass market business, delivering only text and low-res imagery in a multimedia time.) Newspapers have websites of course with audio and video, and reporters blog, but the cost structures continue to be unwieldly and papers are singularly unable to turn their benefits into online advertising dollars. Thus they have outsourced - at a high cost - advertising sales to Google and Yahoo. With hard costs fixed, some companies like the Tribune Co. have acted to gut the newsroom. But as Foremski points out, if newspapers fail to figure out the new media business model before they gut themselves out of any relevance, we're all be worse off. While few newspapers still do it, papers are the institution best-positioned to do investigatory reporting, to follow the money, work leads, build contacts and have enough visibility to attract leaks and smoking gun documents. And so to Fort...[Read Full Article]

12.1.06: Subpoenas for AMD, Nvidia
The Justice Dept. is looking into possible antitrust violations by AMD and Nvidia, News.com reports. Both companies have made major acquisitions in the graphic chip field. AMD bought ATI Technologies for $5.4 billion in October and Nvidia announced its intent to acquire PortalPlayer, which provides video chips for Apple's iPods, in November. The U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust Division has issued subpoenas to the companies, both of which said they intend to cooperate. Last month, AMD was sued by intellectual-property company Opti over potential copyright infringement in its Opteron processors. - Richard Koman...[Read Full Article]

12.1.06: Yahoo smiles as Google folds Answers
Michael Arrington notes that the folding of Google Answers was a big win for Yahoo and for the Web 2.0 model. But it's also a milestone for Google in that it shows they're willing to kill off projects operating under the wrong concept. Google Answers launched in 2002, at a time when the desire for cheap user generated content wasn’t valued much because the advertising market was in a slump - monetizing page views was much harder than it is today. They adopted a for-pay model, where experts received a fee for answering questions, and Google took a 25% cut. ... This is a case study in why all this “Web 2.0 stuff” actually has legs when applied properly. Google went for a direct revenue stream, a business model that made sense in 2002. Yahoo, launching much later, launched a free product and used the ideals of community participation to remove friction from the process and get out of the way of users. This incentivized use and has created a massive number of page views that Yahoo is now monetizing. The network effect kicked in big time. Finally, the move shows that Google wants to see performance out of its projects - 20 percenters or not - and is willing to pull the plug on stuff that just doesn't work. Perhaps not a great sign for Google Video....[Read Full Article]

11.30.06: Google's Wi-Fi invest, patent obviousness, and oh yeah, Vista
Google is one of several bridge investors in Meraki Networks, a wireless mesh provider that Google has shown interest in regarding the San Francisco WiFi Project, Katie Fehrenbacher writes on GigaOm. co-founder Sanjit Biswas Biswas wouldn’t specify the amount but said the round was under a million dollars. “We’d bootstrapped the company so far, so this cash is really just for growth/acceleration . . .and for the development of some products we plan to launch next year,” says Biswas. The company currently sells a $49 wireless 802.11b/g router (beta price) that allows users to build a wireless mesh network or extend the range of a municipal network. Microsoft officially released Vista and Office 2007 to business customers. But after so much delay and build-up, the official launch of Vista is fairly anti-climactic, especially since it's still not available to consumers. Infoworld: This is a big launch for them but for everyone else it's ho-hum," said James McQuivey, a professor for Boston University's College of Communication who specializes in marketing research and business management. "It's the biggest wait-and-see event of the week. Customers are going to wait and see when they need [Vista] and if they need it." Paul Kedrosky points to the transcript of oral arguments (PDF) before the Supreme Court in closely watched patent case. The case has big ramifications for software because the Court may reject the current "obviousness" standard for awarding patents. This is important stuff, and changes -- which look inevitable, based on justice comments this...[Read Full Article]

11.29.06: Another video deal for Verizon
A day after cutting a deal with YouTube in which Verizon users will be able to download YT vids - and more importantly - A day after saying it will bring YouTube videos to cell phones, Verizon Wireless is announcing a similar deal with Revver.com, a Web site that shares ad revenue with the people who upload the video clips.... "This is a breakthough for our creative base in that they will be paid 50 percent of all the revenue that's generated from this relationship with Verizon Wireless," said Steven Starr, founder and chief executive of Revver, which he said has 40,000 content contributors.[Read Full Article]

11.29.06: BitTorrent snags $25m, founder Cohen is out as CEO
Om Malik reports that BitTorrent has raised $15 to $25 million in venture funding. But that big investment comes at a cost: Founder Bram Cohen is on his way out as CEO. Following up on Om's lead, Michael Arrington pegs the number at $25 million from Accel Partners and Doll Capital Management. And says Arrington: CEO Bram Cohen, who created the BitTorrent protocol, is definitely on his way out. The company has retained the well known headhunting firm Heidrick & Struggles to find a replacement as soon as possible. No word on what, if any, role Cohen will have going forward. At ValleyWag, Nick Denton notes he received a comment from an anonymous VC investor: "I don't understand any 'platform for rent' business models these days. I think investors are paying up for brands like bittorrent and brightcove without digging into the business fundamentals." BT has cut deals with major TV and Hollywood players to sell movies and shows for $1 a download. That would way undercut the prices Apple was able to get. But as Om notes: BitTorrent has not yet launched its long-awaited video store. Perhaps this latest funding will boost the company’s e-commerce rollout. BitTorrent spent some of the year announcing truces and partnerships5 with Hollywood, but it has been quiet lately....[Read Full Article]

Italians investigating Google for abuse videos
Google is facing more legal trouble in Europe. Italian prosecutors are suing Google over some videos showing a Down's Syndrome patient being abused, AP says. Oddly, the suit seems to fly right in the fact of EU law, which excuses Internet providers for content uploaded by users. "As far as I understand, the entire European Union has decided there is no responsibility for the Internet provider for content. You can't blame the Internet for being a means of diffusing something whose causes lay somewhere else," said Carlo Alberto Carnevale Maffe, president of Assodigitale, a think-tank on digital technology. "You can't blame the manufacturer of paper because someone prints an insult on it." The investigation is sought by Vividown, a Downs advocacy group. Vividown President Edoardo Cenzi said that although Google removed the content within 12 hours after they reported its existence to authorities, the group took further action because "we don't believe these videos should be circulated without controls." But Google says they don't want to "hide behind laws," said Stefano Hesse, a spokesman for Google Italia. "We have clear policies about content and we always remove what we think is illegal content and what our users flag as illegal content," Hesse said. But he acknowledged that sometimes what is deemed offensive varies by culture. "It could be religious. It could be pornography. It depends on the culture or the way of thinking of the people looking at the video, since it is a worldwide platform," Hesse said....[Read Full Article]

11.27.06: Google settles with two Belgian groups
Google has settled with two of the five Belgian publishing groups suing the company for damages in a Belgian court, according to Bloomberg.[Read Full Article]

11.27.06: Psiphoning off censorship
“What might have started as censorship of pornography and Western news organizations has expanded to include blogging sites, religious sites, health information sites and many others.”... “So far it’s been tech solutions for tech people,” said Dmitri Vitaliev, a human rights activist in Russia who has been testing psiphon in countries where the Internet is censored.[Read Full Article]

11.27.06: Apple working on tablet, chip deals, bringing Beatles to iTunes
GigaOm: PortalPlayer, in the process of being acquired by Nvidia, is providing an applications processor for the forthcoming iPhone and a new graphics chip for future video iPods. Total value of Apple-Nvidia/PortalPlayer deals: $280 million.[Read Full Article]

11.25.06: French film firm sues Google Video
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher More franco trouble for Google.[Read Full Article]

11.25.06: Security flaw in Firefox 2 as browser battle heats up
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher With the upcomng release of Vista and IE7, Microsoft is putting Mozilla on notice that it go through the open source program with a fine tooth comb looking for security flaws.... We're not suggesting that Chapin is in MSFT's employ but as part of On sites that allow users to enter HTML into a form, a hacked form can trick Firefox into sending its stored usernames and passwords.[Read Full Article]

11.25.06: Google heads to Brussels court in copyright suit
This will be the first time Google (nasdaq: GOOG - news - people ) argues its case after the Brussels-based Court of First Instance ordered the California-based company to remove Belgian French-language newspaper content from its news index, threatening daily fines of 1 million euros ($1.28 million).... The French news agency AFP sued Google for at least $17.5 million (13.8 million euros) in damages in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., arguing that the Google service adds little value because its news site looks much like those of AFP subscribers, albeit one where software and not human editors determine the placement of stories on a page.[Read Full Article]

11.22.06: Anatomy of a spam node
Niall Kennedy notices a weight-loss column at the top of Digg and deconstructs how that particular bit of spam leveraged various social networking engines to work its magic.... The webmaster of i-dentalresources.com had inserted some Digg bait, seeded a few social bookmarking services, and waited for links and page views to roll in, creating a new node in a spam farm fueled by high-paying affiliate programs and identity collection for resale.[Read Full Article]

11.22.06: Blogger kings' spitball fight
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Something to file under "Who Gives a F-": Jason Calcanis and Nick Denton pissing on each other on respective blogs, with Dave Winer, Mike Arrington and Robert Scoble all chiming in. Somebody wake me when its over.[Read Full Article]

11.21.06: Update: Google 500
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Google hit 500 today, closing at $509.65. That puts the company's market cap at $155 billion.[Read Full Article]

11.20.06: ValleyWag speculates wildly on Benioff visit to WSJ
By Richard Koman for Nick Denton has been furiously following up on his Friday scoop that Salesforce.com's Marc Benioff had Wall Street Journal reporter Pui-Wing Tam (one of the several reporters tailed by HP) arrested when she tried to get close to the five-acre estate he's building on the Big Island.... That the accusation is the wildest of speculation based on the thinest of evidence is apparent from Denton's own words: It's not clear whether Benioff's visit to the Journal's headquarters came before publication, [if] he [was] trying to head off publication, or at least mention of the incident; or, less likely, that the visit came after publication, and an effort to head off further such intrusive coverage.[Read Full Article]

11.20.06: Internal memo: YHOO's peanut butter strategy is what ails the company
Our inclination and proclivity to repeatedly hire leaders from outside the company results in disparate visions of what winning looks like -- rather than a leadership team rallying around a single cohesive strategy. ...Restore accountability and clarity of ownership a) Existing business owners must be held accountable for where we find ourselves today -- heads must roll, b) We must thoughtfully create senior roles that have holistic accountability for a particular line of business (a variant of a GM structure that will work with Yahoo!'s new focus) c) We must redesign our performance and incentive systems.[Read Full Article]

11.20.06: YHOO, GOOG pick over the remains of newspapers
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Yahoo announced a deal with 150 newspapers to sell ads through the online portal.[Read Full Article]

11.16.06: SEC launches inquiry into HP spying
News.com reports: Hewlett-Packard disclosed Thursday that the Securities and Exchange Commission has moved ahead with a formal inquiry into the company's controversial investigatory practices.... HP said in September that it had received an additional request for information from the SEC, but, until Thursday, the company had not yet noted that it was the subject of a formal inquiry.[Read Full Article]

11.16.06: Shakeups at AOL
Here's Om: An anonymous tip dropped into our inbox, claiming that Jason Calacanis, one of the co-founders of Weblogs Inc., and architect of the new Netscape has resigned from AOL, following the1 resignation of Jon Miller.... If the news is indeed true - we are still trying to nail down the details - then AOL might have lost one of the handful of people who were outspoken enough to shake AOL from its polite slumbering ways.[Read Full Article]

11.16.06: ValleyWag's Douglas fired for shooting off his mouth
But what got Steele and Denton frothing is apparently this interview, in which he said Valleywag was baiting for a good, solid lawsuit from News Corp.... I think there's a real hunger for unadulterated news on the Valley ND: and I wanted to bring in someone as fearless as Nick Douglas, but with more authority Al: Yeah, the traffic looks good.[Read Full Article]

11.16.06: Craigslist not liable for discriminatory ads
Background on the case from the Chicago Trib: The Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law sued San Francisco-based Craigslist in February, claiming that during a six-month period, the site published more than 100 housing ads in Chicago that violated the federal Fair Housing Act.... But the 1996 Communications Decency Act (CDA) shields websites from liability for the contents of user posts: No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.[Read Full Article]

11.16.06: Small bits from Google
Big Three agree on sitemaps standard From TechCrunch: In an encouraging act of collaboration, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft announced tonight that they will all begin using the same Sitemaps protocol to index sites around the web.... The protocol is offered under an Attribution-ShareAlike Creative Commons License, so it can be used by any search engine, derivative variations using the same license can be created and it can be used for commercial purposes.[Read Full Article]

11.16.06: Zune doesn't work with Vista
ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley points out that Microsoft's Zune player, so heavily hawked by Ballmer and Gates, is incompatible with a even more heavily hyped MSFT product: Microsoft Vista.[Read Full Article]

11.15.06: Slide lands another round, making it a top-funded 2.0 co.
VentureBeat: Slide gets big VC round for its slideshow product Slide, the San Francisco start-up that lets you create slide shows from your photos or other content, has raised a large third round of funding from Khosla Ventures and Mayfield Fund.... That gives the company near or north of $20 million in total funding, putting it comfortably on the list of best-funded Web 2.0 companies in Silicon Valley -- and apparently making it the biggest of any of the latest generations of photo-related sites.[Read Full Article]

11.15.06: MSFT Zune campaign comes with a loyalty oath
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Apparently, Microsoft lawyers are running a loyalty oath for blogs and websites that they advertise on. Autumn Davis writes on WebProNews that MSFT contracts include this friendly clause: Microsoft sent out agreements to bloggers and sites which it advertised on stating that, "You may not display the Logo(s) on any site that disparages Microsoft or its products or services, infringes any Microsoft intellectual property or other rights, or violates any state, federal or international law."... Also, with regards to the logo agreement, just by having the Zune logo on our page would mean we would not be able to make disparaging comments about Microsoft and that's just not a reasonable restriction for Rocketboom.[Read Full Article]

11.15.06: Cisco will make A's a stadium of hi-tek delights
InfoWorld: Cisco Chief Executive Officer John Chambers hosted a news conference Tuesday at which he was joined by A's owner Lewis Wolff, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, and others to unveil plans for a proposed US$400 million to $500 million ballpark in Fremont, California, 22 miles south of the current home of the A's in Oakland, California. The 34,000-seat Cisco Field will feature a wireless network on which fans can use handheld devices to watch instant replays, order food and beverages, communicate with friends and keep score.[Read Full Article]

11.14.06: Ballmer: Zune will morph into video-sharing phone, but if its tech against style, Jobs will win every time.
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Bloomberg reports that Microsoft's Zune will eventually share videos wirelessly and hook onto a cellphone somehow, Steve Balllmer said.... Steve Jobs dissed the wireless functionality (and showed he understands the iPod demographic) in an interview with BusinessWeek: I’ve seen the demonstrations on the Internet about how you can find another person using a Zune and give them a song they can play three times.[Read Full Article]

11.14.06: Open source Java: too little too late?
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Jonathan Schwartz is moving quickly to shore up some of the missteps the company has made under Scott McNealy.... Released under the GPL, which forbids proprietary redistribution, effectively prevents its use in a number of open source efforts.[Read Full Article]

11.13.06: The new frugality
The Great Bubble was based on huge amounts of venture money, which led to companies being taken public, getting insane valuations, and on to the pop. But today, venture capitalists are scrambling for companies to invest in, because it can be done so cheaply - Meebo was founded on $4,000 of credit cards - that entrepreneurs are loathe to take the big money and the business control.... And Union Square Ventures, which was formed in 2003, has made nearly half of its investments at $1 million or less, a departure from its initial plan to make first-round bets of $1 million to $3 million, according to its Web site.[Read Full Article]

11.13.06: Denton fires Valleywagger Nick Douglas
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Nick Denton reveals on his Valleywag site that he has fired Nick Douglas, the cub reporter who's been blogging away on the dirty skinny from Campbell to San Mateo.[Read Full Article]

11.13.06: Tired of all the 2.0 hype? Here comes Web 3.0
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Noting, in the aftermath of the O'Reilly summit, that Web 2.0 "has in recent months become the focus of dot-com-style hype in Silicon Valley," John Markoff writes in the Times of Web 3.0 - what we used to call the Semantic Web.[Read Full Article]

11.10.06: Lou Reed pissed off at rude geeks
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher By far the funniest thing I've read in the Chronicle in a long time - far better than Mark Morford - is Dan Fost's review of Lou Reed's show at the Web 2.0 Summit.[Read Full Article]

11.09.06: Democratic takeover: What impact on tech?
But Republicans have consistently been standing in the way, and there is zero doubt that the increased Democratic control of Congress will be fantastic news," said Green, whose group lobbies on the topic.... But Democrats have their eye on the prize of the 2008 Presidential election and the possibility of holding onto Congress for a dozen years, like the Republicans did from 1994-2006.[Read Full Article]

11.09.06: Google Video sued - but by whom?
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Google Video has been sued, according to an SEC filing, AP says.... The filing does concn Wednesday's filing, Google acknowledged it could face more copyright suits once the YouTube deal closes.[Read Full Article]

11.09.06: Bidding war for LA Times?
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Let us now consider the sad fortunes of the newspaper business. Several threads are coming together to indicate that newspapers will soon be aggregated by online companies big and small.[Read Full Article]

11.09.06: Skype 3.0 pushes e-commerce
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Speaking at Web 2.0 yesterday, Skype CEO Niklas Zennstrom unveiled Skype 3.0, which will expand the eBay-owned company's click-to-call program. Businesses can place a click-to-call button on their websites, which will let customers place a call to a traditional phone number, Reuters' Eric Auchard reports.[Read Full Article]

11.08.06: Web 2.0 Launchpad
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Richard Macmanus offers a rundown of the 13 startups profiled at the Web 2.0 Summit's Launchpad.[Read Full Article]

11.08.06: Riya launches Like.com image search
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher On a day when the political sands have so fundamentally shifted after a blowout night for Democrats and Donald Rumsfeld has resigned, is it a little out of whack to focus on the technology breakthrough that allows people to better find watches similar to ones that adorn Paris Hilton's fetching wrist? Yes, but you know where to turn for political news so ....[Read Full Article]

11.08.06: At Web 2.0, Schmidt denies legal fund rumors, competition with MSFT
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher We're not at Web 2.0 (at least I'm not, I'm happily sitting on a love seat with a view of a lovely November morning) but many people are, so we offer up a mishmash of blog posts on the conf so far.[Read Full Article]

11.07.06: Palo Alto schools technologically behind
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher From my edtech blog for ZDNet, "Palo Alto, ground zero of Silicon Valley, lags in edtech, school quality": In the middle of Silicon Valley, the hub of computer software and hardware manufacturing, public schools in Palo Alto are lagging far behind when it comes to classroom technology, reports the Palo Alto Daily News. A study recently released by Partners in Education found that compared with five of the nation's best school systems, the Palo Alto School district lack funding for technology, has the fewest and oldest computers and limited staffing and instruction to teach computing.[Read Full Article]

11.07.06: Nvidia buys PortalPlayer, HP gets Mercury, Verizon/YT deal?, NTP sues Palm ...
(Reuters) Verizon is discussing a deal with YouTube/Google to make the videos available on cellphones and through its new television services.... (Reuters) Patent troll NTP, which successfully sued Blackberry-maker RIM to the edge of existence, filed suit against Palm, saying the Treo and other wireless Palm devices infringe on wireless email patents.[Read Full Article]

11.07.06: 24 hours against censorship
Shi committed the crime of journalism by emailing to foreign websites an email his newspaper received from the Chinese government, warning about the dangers of "social destabilization" from commemmorations of Tiananmen Square.... obviously complied with requests from the Chinese authorities to furnish information regarding an IP address that linked Shi Tao to materials posted online, and the company will yet again simply state that they just conform to the laws of the countries in which they operate,” the organisation said.[Read Full Article]

11.07.06: MS Virtual Earth 3D blows past Google Earth
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Microsoft's Virtual Earth 3D, released yesterday, looks to truly blow Google Earth out of the water.[Read Full Article]

11.6.06: Time says YouTube invention of the year
The more people use them, the better they work, and more people use them all the timeÑa kind of self-stoking mass collaboration that wouldn't have been possible without the Internet.... People want unfiltered video from Iraq, Lebanon and DarfurÑnot from journalists who visit there but from soldiers who fight there and people who live and die there.[Read Full Article]

11.6.06: HP's services chief out. Was he pushed?
With revenue increasing in the group just 1% last quarter and, as the FT notes, "expanding HP’s services footprint has emerged as a top priority for HP under the leadership of Mark Hurd," it's reasonable to suspect that the resignation was not all Smith's idea. Rumor has it that HP is getting ready to acquire European IT integrator Atos Origin and last week extended its tender for Mercury Interactive for the fourth time.[Read Full Article]

11.6.06: 'Google killer' Powerset gets $12.5m
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Powerset, a search startup that says it can blow Google away by providing actual answers to natural language queries, rather than hits based on keyword frequency, has raised $12.5 million in venture funding, Matt Marshall reports on VentureBeat. (We blogged on Matt's previous Powerset report.)[Read Full Article]

11.6.06: State of the blogosphere
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Dave Sifry has released Technorati's quarterly state of the blogosphere report and, besides the overall numbers (100K new blogs/daily, blogos doubling in size every 230 days to 57m) and Technorati's improvements at filtering "splogs," the most intriguing findings have to do with the global nature of the blogosphere in 2006.[Read Full Article]

Friday Newswatch: CA's Kumar gets 12 years, Hurd faces more questions
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Former CA CEO gets 12 years for fraud, obstruction Faced with life in prison for securities fraud and obstruction of justice, Sanjay Kumar got off easy.... Little things like the "35-day month," where sales made in one quarter were booked to the previous quarter, thus driving up the stock price as it looked to Wall Street that CA was making money hand over fist.[Read Full Article]

Day of protest against net censorship
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Reporters Sans Frontieres (Reporters Without Borders) is organizing the blogosphere into a mass protest action next Friday, Nov. 8.[Read Full Article]

Thursday Newswatch: MSFT, Novell in Linux pact, see you in Bengalooru ...
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Hot on the heels of a deal with Zend, a commercial vendor of PHP products for Windows, Microsoft announced an even bigger deal: Redmond will include maintenance and support for Novell SuSE Linux as part of corporate sales of Windows, AP reports.[Read Full Article]

Lawsuit says search companies abuse consumers
When it comes to Google, Microsoft and Yahoo collecting, datamining and exploiting user personal communications and identifying data, enough is enough, two consumer groups said in a lawsuit filed yesterday, The Washington Post reports Two consumer advocacy groups asked the Federal Trade Commission yesterday to investigate online advertising practices of Internet companies, asserting that the practices violate consumer privacy.... The groups asked the FTC to investigate Microsoft Corp., Google Inc., Yahoo Inc. and other online companies and software firms, which they said were "aggressively" building new tools to analyze and classify consumers' behavior across the Internet and other digital media -- computers, cellphones, video games and televisions.[Read Full Article]

MS may reconsider China policy
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher "Things are getting bad... and perhaps we have to look again at our presence there."[Read Full Article]

Wednesday Newswatch: Wiki Intelligence Agency? Stock option madness
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher CIA + Wikipedia = Intellipedia In the buildup to war, US intelligence agencies failed to deliver an independent, accurate view of the situation in Iraq.[Read Full Article]

Tuesday Newswatch: Microsoft meets PHP, Cisco slammed at net forum, new frontiers for women in tech
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Microsoft, Zend hook up for PHP Microsoft has committed to a long-term partnership with Zend, a commercial developer of PHP products, Reuters reports.... If shops can get PHP running as well on Windows as Linux, why take on the hassle of running multiple operating systems?[Read Full Article]

Google buys JotSpot
Google has acquired JotSpot, the Wiki-based groupware company founded by former Excite CEO Joe Kraus.[Read Full Article]

Monday Newswatch: Brightcove ad network, Seagate encryption drive, Monitor 110 raises $11mn
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Brightcove Network Brightcove launched video content and advertsing networks, offering websites a range of tools to create "channels" while taking a 50% cut of advertising that runs. (press release and News.com story.[Read Full Article]

Google's nonexistent YouTube problem
Law professor Tim Wu explains on Slate why all that copyright material on YouTube is really no problem at all for Google, deep pockets or no.[Read Full Article]

Liberal bloggers drop a Google bomb
In a "fascinatingly evil" plot - as one conservative blogger puts it - liberal blogger Chris Bowers has hatched a plot to "Google bomb" 50 Republican candidates by mounting a concerted effort to link to negative articles about them, thus driving those articles to the top of Google's search results.... The project was originally aimed at 70 Republican candidates but was scaled back to roughly 50 because Chris Bowers, who conceived it, thought some of the negative articles too partisan.[Read Full Article]

Thursday Newswatch: Ellison trying to crush RedHat? NewsCorp cash hard to Digg up.
San Francisco-based startup Digg has been in recent acquisition discussions with a number of companies, including News Corp., according to multiple sources close to the negotiations. However, the company was unable to land an offer in the price range they’re looking for - at least $150 million - and will likely close a Series B round of financing instead.[Read Full Article]

BT buys Schneier's Counterpane
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Counterpane Internet Security - computer security and encryption expert Bruce Schneier's firm - has been acquired by British Telecom for an undisclosed sum, according to the BBC.... "As more and more of our customers seek to exploit the opportunities of globalisation, we are finding that, increasingly, business critical applications are dependent upon the resilience and security of their infrastructure," he said.[Read Full Article]

Wednesday Newswatch: Amazon cuts back, Adobe invests for Apollo, data centers are in the money, Bush checks out 'the Google'
Amazon.com says it will cut back on technology spending and hiring as it tries to transform technology into profitable services. “We expect our year-over-year increase in technology spending to decline during the fourth quarter,” Tom Szkutak, Amazon’s chief finance officer, said in a conference call with analysts.[Read Full Article]

DVD Jon says he has cracked Apple DRM
'DVD Jon A hacker known for cracking the copy-protection technology in DVDs claims to have unlocked the playback restrictions of Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod and iTunes music products and plans to license his code to others. The move by Jon Lech Johansen, also known as "DVD Jon," could pit the 22-year-old against Apple's lawyers, experts say, but if successful could free users from some restrictions Apple and its rivals place on digital music.[Read Full Article]

Tuesday Newswatch: Customized search, Wi-Fi cells, more Sony recalls
And the search engine is meant to be a collaboration with public users, or just those you invite, able to add more sites to index.... This tool can be set to allow only the site's publisher to exercise this option while surfing the Web, or invite a few people, an entire community or random visitors to do the same.[Read Full Article]

Monday Newswatch: Amazon patent trouble, Chinese bloggers use real names, BitTorrent does hardware
IBM says Amazon infringed patents IBM has filed two patent infringement lawsuits against Amazon.com, claiming crucial aspects of the Internet retailer’s Web sites violate its patents.... It also says it has tried to negotiate licensing fees with Amazon over a dozen times since 2002 but “Amazon.com has refused every time.”[Read Full Article]

Google pushes the boundaries of copyright laws
Google Books, Google News, Adsense and even the search index are the subjects are lawsuits challenging every major aspect of Google's business Google's reaction: Bring it on. According to Katie Hafner's article in the Times this morning, Google uniquely among giant corporations is trying to re-define the law.... To my way of thinking, courts should interpret this question according to the rationale of the Constitution - "to promote the progress of science and useful arts" - and thus where Google's services detract in no way from the copyright holder's ability to control and sell its product, Google should be able to provide a service that improves access to users' ability to use the product.[Read Full Article]

Top AOL execs escape prosecution
It look like top AOL executives will escape prosecution for their accounting tricks at the time of merger with Time Warner, The Washington Post reports.[Read Full Article]

Friday Newswatch: YouTube pulls vids, PC work causes cancer, Vista security spat
Snarling and sniping erupted into a full-blown spat today as Microsoft and McAfee are getting into it over when MS is going to deliver Vista code security vendors need for their products. ...Compared to a baseline of 100 score of for you and me, PC workers had: Proportional cancer mortality ratios (PCMR) were 166 for cancers affecting the brain and central nervous system, 162 for kidney cancer, 179 for melanoma and 126 for pancreatic cancer.[Read Full Article]

With Website Optimizer, Google to help turn click-throughs into conversions
Google's purchase of web analytics firm Urchin 18 months ago is paying off for website operators today as Google unveiled (a beta version of) Google Website Optimizer at the eMetrics summit in Washington.[Read Full Article]

WSJ's Tam: HP went through my garbage
The always edgy Inquirer has this oh so British take: HP dug out details about her and her husband but might have got their hands dirty by digging in her bins, she said.... For an alternative view, Peter Cohan sees HP's investigations as "investigative reporting by other means": Patricia Dunn must have felt a similar fear when she realized that someone on HP's board was leaking to the media.[Read Full Article]

GOOG: Profit up 92%, revenue 70% - Feel the power
Nielsen//NetRatings came out with new numbers today finding that Google’s market share in search has grown 24% over the last year to 50% of the total market.... The future remains some what unclear with an office strategy that could succeed or fail, a video strategy that will face legal challenges and the first big competition in contextual advertising ramping up - but Google is looking well prepared for dealing with all of those challenges.[Read Full Article]

Thursday Newswatch: IE7 innovations, 9.6 exploding batteries, NYT woes
Microsoft has a version of IE7 for download. It features tabbed browsing and a phishing warning system.[Read Full Article]

Victory for Web in libel case
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher In the offline world, there's a statute of limitations for libel cases.[Read Full Article]

Apple wows with 3Q numbers
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Apple reported some awesome numbers for its third quarter after the bell today - earnings of $61 million, or 16 cents a share, more than tripling revenues of a year ago, $19 million, or 5 cents a share.... iPod sales increased 35 percent and total music sales increased 162 percent from a year ago. Jobs crowed: "It was an outstanding quarter — our highest third-quarter revenue in eight years."[Read Full Article]

New Apple breakthrough: Virus iPod
"As you might imagine, we are upset at Windows for not being more hardy against such viruses, and even more upset with ourselves for not catching it," Apple said on its Web site.... "We encourage all third party vendors to follow best practices and help protect their users regardless of platform through careful scanning of the software they ship, so that they do not expose their customers to unnecessary risk from malicious software," the company said.[Read Full Article]

Wednesday headlines: Google up, Firefox out, Universal sues
When Google reports its earnings on Thursday, it will demonstrate unchallenged dominance of the online advertising business - $4bn of the $16bn sector, according to a report from eMarketer.[Read Full Article]

Sony recalls batteries, computer makers may seek damages
How bad are Sony batteries? Bad enough for Sony itself to recall 90,000 Vaio-branded batteries from Japan and China.[Read Full Article]

Bloggers win attorneys' fees in baseless suit
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher A lawsuit is a powerful weapon. Regardless of the merits of the suit, it's expensive to defend.[Read Full Article]

Yahoo numbers down 38% from a year ago
Yahoo's third quarter year-over-year numbers fell a whopping 38%, the company announced after the bell today.... That compared with net income of $253.8 million, or 17 cents per share, in the same period last year.[Read Full Article]

Intel numbers just beat expectations
Still, times have changed at Intel, which has lost market share (to Advanced Micro Devices) and employees this year after slashing prices on outdated products and cutting costs through layoffs.... It launched new Xeon server processors in June and rolled out new Core 2 Duo desktop processors in July, addressing two Digital Enterprise Group categories in which rival Advanced Micro Devices had enjoyed a solid performance advantage for several years.[Read Full Article]

Oct. 17 headlines: Google solar, Edelman sorry, Sanger cleaning the stables
This is SVW's morning survey of the top stories in tech. Google will deploy the largest corporate installation of corporate power, supplying 1.6 megawatts of power.[Read Full Article]

iPhones on the way
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Prudential Equity Group analyst thinks Apple is preparing two MP3-playing cellphones for January's Macworld, RedHerring notes. “Based upon our early checks, we expect Apple to unveil two models of its widely anticipated cell phones,” Prudential Equity Group analyst Jesse Tortora said in a research note Monday.[Read Full Article]

CBS, Warner video deals: Not much there
From the TV side of things, Terry Heaton, a TV branding consultant, thinks its bad business for local news: This is a precedent-setting deal and will likely spawn all kinds of others, but there's a real danger here that I call the "on-demand trap." While I agree that stations need to unbundle their content (hell, I'm the guy who first called it that), the reality is that this deal exposes these 16 markets to further encroachment by Yahoo (or any of the other portals) as THE local go-to media entity for those markets and assigns the CBS affiliates to a purely content-creation (read: expensive) role in the media value chain.[Read Full Article]

Josh Wolf, still in jail and not going anywhere
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher The case of Josh Wolf, spending his 57th day in prison for refusing to turn over his video of an SF protest to a federal grand jury, raises some thorny issues and it's not as simple as censorship on one hand or rule of law on the other.... Wolf's lawyer, Martin Garbus, revealed some details of what's on the tape that Wolf refuses to show in court - it doesn't show the attack but does include interviews with 10 protesters who took off their masks to talk to Wolf's camera.[Read Full Article]

Headlines for Monday, Oct. 15
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Here are some stories we're tracking this morning. Hit the site at 4 pm (Pacific) to catch full coverage.[Read Full Article]

How users behave, not their passwords, is key to new wave of database security
By Richard Koman for The law of evidence assumes that if people have regular habits - she always speeds past Candlestick Park - or businesses have regular customs - incoming mail is always stamped within 2 hours of receipt - they will always act in that way, unless some unusual occurrence causes a break in the habit.... But if just the right queries and characters--such as quotes or asterisks--are put in the right places in a search field, a harmless search for books or videos can become a successful theft of credit-card numbers in the company's database.[Read Full Article]

Hurd hires his old right-hand man
AP reports that HP has hired Jon Hoak as VP and chief ethics and compliance officer.[Read Full Article]

Jawed Who? Meet YouTube's silent partner
By Richard Koman for The story of YouTube's founding is rapidly approaching a level in the Valley's mythology approaching Steve Jobs' garage and "the letter" Bill Gates wrote to the Homebrew Computing Club. Essentially, that the founders were shooting video at a party and discovered there was no easy way - even for geeks - to exchange video online, thus was born YouTube.[Read Full Article]

Koman: Why copyright violations don't matter
Only desparate industries scream "copyright violation!" As GooTube shows labels how to monetize unauthorized use, it's not a problem. [Read Full Article]

Google takes a baby step on the way to Google Office
Last night I thought it odd that Writely was prominently displaying a planned outage notice. This morning, I found that www.writely.com redirects to Google's new Docs and Spreadsheets page. What gives? Basically, just a sensible, if modest, integration of two online office services - Writely's word processing and Google's homegrown spreadsheet app - just in time for the Office 2.0 conference. (Where are the branding people at Google, though? Docs and Spreadsheets? And when Google adds the next piece of Office, what will they call it? Docs, spreadsheets and slideshows? Please.) Michael Arrington notes: Google is straightforward in its goal to excel in collaboration and sharing of documents, while agreeing that desktop office applications will continue to offer superior editing features for the foreseeable future. Still, the ability to import and collaborate on a document, and then publish it to the web or take it back to the desktop, is a powerful feature not available to Microsoft Office users outside of Office Live or Microsoft Sharepoint Portal Server. And use of Google’s online office applications is free....[Read Full Article]

Stock options take down two more execs: Cnet, McAfee CEOs quit
By Richard Koman for Cnet chairman and CEO Shelby Bonnie and McAfee boss George Samenuk resigned today, both victims of the stock options backdating scandal that is roiling the Valley. McAfee president Kevin Weiss was flat-out fired, the company said. Both companies recently completed internal investigations of backdating from 1996 to 2003, The Washington Post reports. "I apologize for the option-related problems that happened under my leadership," said Bonnie. Samenuk said he was retiring "in the best interests of the company, its shareholders and employees. I regret that some of the stock option problems . . . occurred on my watch." Meanwhile the Times' Laurie Flynn writes that Apple's Fred Anderson may have lost his place at Apple to save Steve Jobs'. Anderson left after an Apple investigation found options problems from 1997-2003, a time when he served as CFO. “I would say that Jobs and the Apple board threw Fred under the bus to keep it from hitting them,” said Lynn E. Turner, a former chief accountant at the Securities and Exchange Commission and a managing director at Glass, Lewis & Company, which advises institutional investors on corporate governance. Apple's disclosures left the financial community (and certainly the SEC) dissatisfied, Brian Foley, an independent compensation consultant, said. “You don’t know what the scope of the problem really is. They told you the number of grant dates, but not the number of grants. They told you that (Jobs) was in the know on a few instances, but those could be...[Read Full Article]

Ready to IPO? Valley companies take AIM at London
Silicon Valley companies considering going public are increasingly looking to London's AIM exchange, rather than Nasdaq, the Financial Times reports. Why? First and foremost, Sarbanes Oxley. More than 100 US companies are thinking about listing on AIM instead of Nasdaq, the paper says. The interest started about six months ago and grows daily, said Gary Benton of the Palo Alto law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman. "We get a phone call from an interested company almost every day at the moment.” Venture capitalists have reached a breaking of frustration with the high costs of launching companies. Tim Draper says it now takes 10-12 years, instead of 5-7 years, to go from startup to IPO. A lot of the entrepreneurs I’ve talked to who have very successful companies…are going to take them public on the London exchange or the Singapore exchange or the Hong Kong exchange. The first Valley company to list on AIM is OCZ, a maker of memory technologies. They raised $9.4 million on AIM when they listed in June. And SOX was the main reason they chose AIM instead of Nasdaq. “Sox is a big impediment for companies of our size, with bills of $2m to $4m to raise the money and then get a first-year sign-off [of accounts by auditors]," said CFO Arthur Knapp....[Read Full Article]

Google buys YouTube for $1.65 billion
Google is officially the proud new owner of YouTube. It's a $1.65 billon, stock-for-stock deal. According to the Google press release, "When the acquisition is complete, YouTube will retain its distinct brand identity, strengthening and complementing Google’s own fast-growing video business. " The deal has been approved by both corporations and is expected to close in Q4. I just got off of the conference call on this deal, so here the notes I was able to take. You can listen to the full call at 888-203-1112, confirmation code 2260624. Eric Schmidt: The music deals of this morning show the growing value copyright holders place on video. YT is one of many investments Google will be making in video. YT is a social phenomenon that I've never seen before. The thing that tipped us over was their vision. YT/Google will create a new and very interesting platform. Chad: We're in the midst of a shift in control of entertainment. We'll sharpen our focus on this vision and Google's revolutionary ad platform has inspired us to create a revolutionary new video platform. Sergey: Video is a very important part of the world's information. When you think about search, oftentimes when you want a true explanation of something what better way to get it then to see a video of it. Video is a great medium for advertising. I expect YT will be a great channel for advertising. It's hard for me to imagine a better fit - technically and culturally. YT reminds...[Read Full Article]

YouTube cuts three content deals
YouTube announced three major deals to include TV and music content on the site, allow users to incorporate music videos in their own mashups, and test software to seek out copyright violations on the site. AP reports that YouTube has locked up deals with CBS, Universal Vivendi and Sony BMG. The music deals mirror a deal YT cut with Warner a month ago - the label provides music videos and allows users to legitimately include the content in their own creations. Universal and its artists will be "compensated not just for the official videos, but also for user-generated content that incorporates Universal's music," AP reports. Sony BMG also said Monday it will make video content available on YouTube — and will also let YouTube users include some catalog songs in their own amateur video uploads. Sony BMG said it will share advertising revenue with YouTube for all music videos that incorporate audio or video works from the Sony BMG library. The CBS deal includes the network providing some short-form content to YT, mostly excerpts from shows and previews. The CBS deal, like the others, includes testing of YT's copyright searching tech, but includes the option to get the last laugh on violators by placing advertising on their own content and splitting revenues with YouTube. The deals are promising as they show copyright holders are somewhat willing to allow users to play with their content and get paid on the back end. YouTube is certainly racking up more video deals...[Read Full Article]

WSJ: GooTube deal could come today
What was Chad Hurley doing over the weekend? Unlike Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, it seems that Hurley is willing to spend a beautiful couple of days talking to lawyers. The Wall Street Journal reports today that a deal to buy the company for $1.65 billion could be announced today. The deal would allow YouTube to keep its name, office and staff - a "smart move by Google," notes Cynthia Brumfield at IP Democracy . At Hitwise, LeeAnn Prescott takes a look at the numbers and sees just how lamely Google Video has performed, compared to YouTube: Last month YT received four times as many visits as Google Video. And until the August placement of Video on the Google homepage, Google was sending more traffic to YT than to GV. Oddly, she concludes that Google needn't spend this money on YouTube, since their brilliant engineers could replicate any and all features that YT offers. It's not a question of engineering, though; it's question of "mindshare." YouTube has it - and it's enabling them to cut the big deals with Hollywood. If Google can't make those deals - and Schmidt has never delivered a big Hollywood deal; indeed copyright owners (in the form of publishers and European news agencies) hate Google - it will have to buy into them. (More on YT's deals shortly.) Finally, the deal is so obsessing the Valley that strange rumors are flying about, as Michael Arrington, who broke the rumor, notes: Whether its happening or not, this...[Read Full Article]

Rumor Mill: Google to buy YouTube for $1.6bn?
Google is in the final stages of talks to buy YouTube for about $1.6 billion, according to inside sources. The deal was first reported by Michael Arrington on TechCrunch as "completely unsubstantiated rumor" but moments ago The Wall Street Journal confirmed that the talks are real. The Journal's Kevin Delaney reports: Google Inc. is in talks to acquire popular video-sharing site YouTube Inc. for roughly $1.6 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter. The discussions are still at a sensitive stage and could well break off, this person says. Arrington said early this morning that: A quick phone call to a VC confirmed that the rumor is circulating (he also confirmed the price), but that is far from confirmation that this deal is happening. I’m digging for more but the source on this one is very good. We know that YouTube has had informal talks with a number of companies about acquisition in the $1.5 - $2 billion range. And I suspect Google won’t be daunted by the prospect of dealing with a ton of pissed off copyright holders. Based on experience with these sort of rumors, I’d put this at 40% likely to be at least partially true. Such a deal would be "damn cheap," Trip Chowdhry, an analyst with Global Equities Research, told the Journal. "YouTube's brand identity is no less than Google's and is no less than Coke's.'' While YouTube is the brand name in user-created video services, Google Video is one of dozens...[Read Full Article]

Dunn surrenders to authorities
Patricia Dunn is due to be in court Thursday afternoon to surrender to authorities and set an arraignment date. CA Attorney General Bill Locker charged her and four others on invasion of privacy and conspiracy charges yesterday. (See SVW: Charged! Dunn, Hunsaker indicted) The hearing at Santa Clara Superior Court was due to start at 2 pm today. At a news conference this morning, Lockyer said the investigation was ongoing and that more charges could be filed. All defendants other than Matthew DePante agreed to surrender, the AP reports. These charges are being brought against the wrong person at the wrong time and for the wrong reasons," Dunn's lawyer, James Brosnahan, said. Ron DeLia read the AP a statement: "I am innocent of these charges," DeLia said. "I've been a professional private investigator for more than 30 years. I respect the law and I did not break the law in the HP investigation."...[Read Full Article]

John Mark Karr case dismissed
Appropo of nothing particularly technology related - other than the fact that his kiddy porn was allegedly on a computer - John Mark Karr - the guy who claimed to have killed JonBenet Ramsey - is a free man today, as the Sonoma County District Attorney dropped all charges just moments ago, a well-informed source informs SiliconValleyWatcher. The case was pretty much of a mess since the Sheriff's Department lost the hard drive it had confiscated when they originally arrested him on child porn charges back in 2003. The DA later claimed it had hundreds of porn images on a zip drive. "There was not enough evidence to proceed - it would be difficult to prove whether computer had the porn on it when it was in Georgia & he moved with it, having deleted it, or whether it was deleted in CA," the source said. "That and the fact that empaneling a decent (i.e., non-tainted) jury pool would be damn-near impossible." The Santa Rosa Press Democrat was the only media attending the hearing today, so it will be fun to watch the networks scramble for the story....[Read Full Article]

Carly ordered first probe into board leaks
Carly Fiorina started HP down the road into covert investigations against board members, ordering probes in January 2005 into whom on the board was leaking to the press, she reveals in her book "Tough Choices," due for release on Tuesday, The New York Times reports. Larry Sonsini, chairman of Wilson Sonsini, the company's outside law firm, conducted the probe by personally investigating every HP director after an article in The Wall Street Journal revealed an impending reorg. That probe identified Tom Perkins as the source of the article. She doesn't mention pretexting and the California attorney general's office refused comment on whether it is looking into her actions. Sonsini told Fiorina that Perkins had been "honest enough to admit" that he had spoken to the Journal. Ms. Fiorina added, however, that she was deeply suspicious of another board member, George A. Keyworth II, also known as Jay, because of his behavior at a board meeting and during a related board conference call. In a board conference call in which Sonsini revealed the results of his research, Fiorina writes, all but one board member - Keyworth - spoke up. Ms. Fiorina asserts that when the Hewlett-Packard board began to turn against her leadership, she was blindsided. “I was mystified by the board’s recent behavior,” she wrote. “I was suspicious of Jay’s heated denial when the leak first occurred and then his complete silence on our last call.” Keyworth was central to Fiorina's firing. He, Dunn and Richard Hackborn confronted her in...[Read Full Article]

Apple clears Jobs, Anderson leaves board without explanation
Apple has completed its internal investigation of stock-options improprieties and concluded that Steve Jobs knew about backdating of options but that he didn't knowingly receive any backdated options and didn't understand the accounting repercussions. But the company also said that two former officers' dealings "raised serious concerns" and Fred P. Anderson, Apple's CFO during the backdating period, abruptly resigned from Apple's board without explanation. He said it was in Apple's "best interest" that he leave the board. The Times reports, though, that spokesman Steve Downling said there may have been some "irregularities" in stock options granted to Jobs, but he wouldn't elaborate. In its official statement, Apple listed the investigation's key findings: No misconduct by any member of Apple's current management team. But "the investigation raised serious concerns regarding the actions of two former officers in connection with the accounting, recording and reporting of stock option grants. The company will provide all details regarding their actions to the SEC. " Would that include Anderson? The most recent problematic stock grant occurred in January 2002. grant. But to whom? There were 15 backdated stock option grants between 1997 and 2002. In a few instances, Jobs was aware of backdating but he did not receive or benefit from these. In the statement, Jobs says: I apologize to Apple's shareholders and employees for these problems, which happened on my watch. They are completely out of character for Apple. We will now work to resolve the remaining issues as quickly as possible and...[Read Full Article]

Charged! California to indict Dunn, Hunsaker, private eyes
California will indict HP's Patricia Dunn and Kevin Hunsaker, as well as three outside contractors, in criminal charges stemming from the HP spying scandal, The New York Times reports. In addition to the two executives, California attorney general Bill Lockyer will indict Ronald L. DeLia, who worked directly with Hunsaker, Joseph DePante, owner of Action Research Group and Bryan Wagner, who worked for DePante. The charges, all felonies: using of false or fraudulent pretenses to obtain confidential information from a public utility unauthorized access to computer data identity theft conspiracy to commit each of those crimes. The US Attorney's office for Northern California may also file charges. Emails released BusinessWeek has some juicy emails from and to Hunsaker during the pretexting campaign. They were released by the House committee on Monday. Check Memo #2 especially. Reporters reassigned CNET and AP have moved off the HP beat reporters who were pretexted, AP reports. CNET's move involves not only Dawn Kawamoto, who was at the center of the scandal, but also Tom Krazit and Steve Shankland, who is married to AP reporter Rachel Konrad, who was also on the HP beat and was pretexted by the company. The New York Times has barred John Markoff from covering the scandal directly but he may report on the company as part of his overall tech beat. The rationale is to do away with conflicts of interest, as reporters whose privacy has been violated may be seen to have an axe to grind. Reporters...[Read Full Article]

Google Literacy Project: Little more than a home page
The wire services gave Google due credit for launching The Literacy Project - an effort with LitCam and UNESCO to promote literacy around the world - at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The press release version is represented in this BBC article: The Literacy Project enables teachers, organisations, and those interested in literacy to use the internet to search for and share literacy information. .... Users can search for information in digitised books and academic articles, and share information through blogs, videos and groups. Cool. But take a look at the so-called portal and you realize that the so-called development is little more than a landing page and some predefined searches. The portal features links to Google Books, Video, Blogger, etc. You might as well bookmark it for whatever you want to search on Google, because there's absolutely nothing specific to literacy about it. The portal doesn't feature a subset of books available on Google, such that every search is going to come up with on-target hits of interest to literacy advocates. Indeed, searching from the Literacy Project simply queries the entire Books index. Search Books for "africa literacy" and you get a hodge-podge of titles with those words; the top hit is from an encyclopedia of library science referencing South Africa. This is a job for the AOLs of the world, which are going to put an army of actual people on the task to preselect the best, most relevant materials. Google's effort is development via press release, essentially a...[Read Full Article]

Wilson Sonsini report: RAND expert advised pretexting
The HP scandal widened its poisonous reach today with a story in the New York Times that anti-terrorism expert Brian Jenkins advised HP to pretext board members. The Times' Damon Darlin writes that Wilson Sonsini's report to HP on the leaks included the line: “Jenkins specifically recommended that they conduct pretexting to get information if they had not already done so.” Jenkins was consulting with HP as a security expert when he was asked about the leak situation. The report said that the company’s general counsel, Ann O. Baskins, called Mr. Jenkins on Jan. 30. Kevin Hunsaker, a senior counsel working for Ms. Baskins, also told the lawyers at Wilson Sonsini that he spoke with Mr. Jenkins. The lawyer’s report said that Ms. Baskins told Patricia C. Dunn, the company’s chairwoman at the time, that “Jenkins agreed with their techniques.” The report also seems to exonerate CEO Mark Hurd of any knowledge of the pretexting plans. Pretexting appears to first come to HP execs' attention in June 05, in a meeting attended by Ann Baskins and Pattie Dunn. Baskins' handwritten notes from that meeting include the word "pretexting." Hurd was then informed about pretexting in a July 22 meeting, although he seems not to have appreciated its import. According to the report, Mr. Hurd did recall hearing at a meeting on July 22, 2005, that phone record information was obtained off the Web. He told the lawyers that he “remembered thinking that must be a Web site with such...[Read Full Article]

Search startup Powerset says it can knock off Google
Matt Marshall at VentureBeat reports on Powerset, a new startup which has been boldly telling VC firms that it has search technology that will beat the pants off Google. The company's website proclaims: Our unique innovations in search are rooted in breakthrough technologies that take advantage of the structure and nuances of natural language. Using these advanced techniques, Powerset is building a large-scale search engine that breaks the confines of keyword search. By making search more natural and intuitive, Powerset is fundamentally changing how we search the web, and delivering higher quality results. Powerset is led by Barney Pell, an AI expert who has worked for NASA and VC firm Mayfield. The company is expecting a super-high valuation for its first round, Marshall says. We’ve heard Powerset is on the verge of raising $10 million, and has been asking to be valued at $20 million before the investment. In other words, if it gets the $10 million, the company is valued after the deal at $30 million ($20M + $10M). That gives venture capitalists a third of the company ownership in return for their investment. Powerset has reportedly been hiring like crazy, poaching from Yahoo in particular — on the promise that it is about to raise the round. That last statement is born out by a post on Pell's blog about a mid-summer party celebrating the landing of angel funding. We thought about having a contest for people to guess what Powerset is up to, since it's unusual...[Read Full Article]

Bloggers, press expose lying Hill staffer
Until last week, Mike Caulfield toiled on his Democratic blog, NH-02, in relative anonymity. He is part of a movement in political blogging - superlocal blogs that focus on incumbent Republicans - and he worked hard to expose the positions of incumbent New Hampshire Republican Rep. Charlie Bass. Then RollCall exposed the fact that Bass' No. 2 staffer, Tad Furtado, had been posting on NH-02 and another Democratic blog, BlueGranite, pretending to be a supporter of Bass' challenger Paul Hodes who saw the virtues of Bass's positions. For instance, writing as IndieNH, Furtado wrote in response to Caulfield's post on Bass's position on stem cell research: I hate to look like I am pimping for Bass (this is the 2nd post on this and related sites that I've done this), but I want Hodes and my party to hit Bass where it will hurt. Stem cells ain't it. To his credit, Bass was a key supporter of the bill and was part of a small handful of D & R members who made it happen. When it all came out, Furtado was gone - a powerful political staffer brought down by bloggers. At a press conference a week ago, Bass told how it went down: "He came right out and said to me, 'I'm sorry. I'll do whatever you say I should do.' Although this is a rather severe way of resolving the problem, in my mind it's the only way to do it." But that was last week's...[Read Full Article]

How badly has Larry Sonsini been hurt?
It must have been an amazing thing for some of Silicon Valley's CEOs to watch Larry Sonsini hauled before Congress and forced to listen to speech after speech about the failure of ethics at HP. The question of the day - as the San Francisco Chronicle has it - is how badly tarnished is Sonsini's reputation now? "This is his Clark Clifford moment," said corporate watchdog Nell Minnow, referring to the lawyer who, after advising four presidents over the span of a half a century, faced criminal charges in the biggest banking scandal in history, the collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International. Before his death, Clifford lamented that, in responding to the charges, he had a choice between seeming venal or stupid, an embarrassing predicament for a lawyer thought of as neither. "It's no better to be a schnook than a crook," Minnow said. "Someone who has been very highly respected can find out that it can all come down like a house of cards with one sloppy decision." Among the questions being thrown around now is whether the firm - which is estimated to have half of the valley's business - and Sonsini himself have too many clients to be able to avoid conflicts of interest. Many people interviewed in the Chronicle story said the potential for conflict is actually proof of Sonsini's high standards. One of the things he is faulted for is that he is counsel to half the companies out there," said...[Read Full Article]

HP: When lawyers play spies
HP's leak investigations look outright ridiculous in an internal report released by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce yesterday. Investigators focused on the language in a CNet story to help finger George Keyworth as the source of the leak, the Times reports today. The scrutiny included intricately parsing the language of a Jan. 23 CNet article in which Dawn Kawamoto, a reporter for the service, described a board meeting that month. The article quoted an anonymous source as saying, “By the time the lectures were done at 10 p.m., we were pooped and went to bed.” Like Kremlinologists (or maybe Encyclopedia Brown), the investigators for Hewlett-Packard drilled in on the use of the word “pooped.” “This is also an unusual term,” the report reads. “A number of key witnesses interviewed indicated that contrary to a number of members of the board, Keyworth often uses casual, colloquial terms in conversation, so this is a term he may use.” The investigators also focused — in that same CNet quote — on the use of the word “lectures.” “This is an academic term, rarely used in the business environment. Keyworth is the only board member with an academic background.” This is the report that Hunsaker delivered to Mark Hurd, Ann Baskins and the board. Interestingly, it was Carly Fiorina who initially encouraged Keyworth to strike up a relationship with CNet's Dawn Kawamoto to promote HP's aggressive moves. Further clues were available in the story. Kawamoto cited only a single "source," in...[Read Full Article]

Morning questioning of Dunn and Sonsini
A rough transcript of the morning questioning of Dunn and Sonsini. Rep. Ed Whitfield: Q: Mr. Sonsini, did you understand that pretexting was occurring? A: At that particular time, I didn't understand pretexting. I turned to Baskins and Hunsaker and said we should respond to Perkins. Hunsaker sent me a report, Baskins sent confirming email, and I took that and went to Perkins and said, It appears it was done within legal limits. Q: Ms. Dunn, did you receive opinion about the legality? A: I didn't get a legal opinion. Hunsaker reported to me that every method was legal. Q: We've determined the only legal opinion ever given was by John Kiernan, the lawyer for Delia, and the opinion was actually written by a law clerk. It would appear that HP at the highest level relied on opinion by the law clerk of an attorney who worked for a private investigator. A: There was a memo with a second opinion that said it was legal. Q: What was that? A: It was not produced by the company. Q: Mr. Sonsini: The California penal code prohibits fraudulently obtaining information from a public utility by false pretenses. A: We concluded methods may have been used that implicated that statute. Diana DeGette, (D-CO) Q: Mr. Sonsini, as outside counsel, is this standard business practice in the industry to investigate leaks in this way? A: I have never dealt with an investigation of this kind from a board. Q: Pretexting? A: No Q:...[Read Full Article]

Opening statements of Dunn, Sonsini, Adler
Opening statements from Dunn, Sonsini and Adler. Patricia Dunn: All corporate directors have a solemn duty of confidentiality. Leaks create unfair advantages to some stockholders over others. When HP board asked me to become chairman, I expected challenges but I never imagined these circumstances could ever occur. I took the mandate to stop leaks seriously. As detailed in written testimony, she sought out Bob Wayman, acting CEO and CFO. He referred her to Kevin Huska, global security, who led her to Delia. In talking to Delia, she learned that checking phone records was SOP and were drawn from public sources. In Jan. 06, there were leaks about CSC acquisition. Baksins felt strongly that Hunsaker should run the investigation. He brought in the same team for Kona II as Kona I. His draft report was given to Dunn and Hurd. I requested and received assurances that investigation was legal and proper. In June Sonsini told her Perkins raised concerns. Sonsini concluded "the process well done and within legal limits." He later told the board the methods were not generally unlawful. I deeply regret that so many people - including me - by were deeply let down this reliance. I hope that Congress enacts legislation to protect themselves from leakers. Larry Sonsini: Wilson Sonsini was not involved in the design or conduct of Kona 1 or 2. I was not even aware of them when they were being conducted. HP asked WS to provide legal advice. In my opinion, pretexting is...[Read Full Article]

Baskins, Hunsaker, contractors all take the Fifth
By Richard Koman All of the witnesses on the first panel are pleading the Fifth as I write this. The witnesses are Ann Baskins, Kevin Hunsaker, Anthony Gentilucci, Ron DeLia, and owners and subcontractors to Action Research. The committee is seething that the entire panel pled the Fifth, since only two witnesses previously said they would do so. One representative called the hearing a "waste of the committee's time, a waste of witness's time." The second panel is Dunn and Sonsini. They're being sworn in now....[Read Full Article]

Rep. Ed Markey on the HP scandal
Ed Markey addresses the subcommittee: What has happened to our corporate culture? We used to ask who does your PR? Now will we have to ask, so who does your spying? That is what this whole area has opened up. HP's website says 'the company respects your privacy." What were they thinking? I am concerned officials are suffering from Sgt. Shulz syndrome. Some are saying I saw nothing, I heard nothing, I know nothing. That is not believable. Where were the lawyers? Some are suggesting that ambiguities in existing law made it difficult for lawyers to determine legality. This is absolutely absurd. What happened is already illegal. Section 5 of FTC Act makes pretexting illegal. The Telecom Act of 1996, section 222 clearly states customers phone records can only be revealed to customer or someone with permission. Wire fraud laws also prohibit pretextiing. Congress must act to ensure this never happens again....[Read Full Article]

HP Hearings: Barton focuses on Sonsini, others point to violation of public trust
Rep. Joe Barton points out that Larry Sonsini signed off on the pretexting ops back in April, and demands to know how he didn't wave a red flag, rather than saying "such operations are not generally illegal." He and other reps have asked, why are so many principles refusing to testify today if the actions were so legal? A common thread in the opening statements is that the public will expect HP's actions are common throughout the Valley and the whole corporate world and that public will fear that their own private records may be searched. "Is corporate America the next big brother, Rep. Tammy Baldwin said in her opening statements. Most members of the subcommittee are pointing to an anti-pretexting bill the committee reported out this summer, which died in a "black hole" on the Hill. lt's pretty obvious that another bill will be passed and that House leadership will be hard-pressed to sit on it after all this....[Read Full Article]

HP Hearings: Barton focuses on Sonsini, others point to violation of public trust
By Richard Komanfor SiliconValleyWatcher Rep. Joe Barton points out that Larry Sonsini signed off on the pretexting ops back in April, and demands to know how he didn't wave a red flag, rather than saying "such operations are not generally illegal." He and other reps have asked, why are so many principles refusing to testify today if the actions were so legal? A common thread in the opening statements is that the public will expect HP's actions are common throughout the Valley and the whole corporate world and that public will fear that their own private records may be searched. "Is corporate America the next big brother, Rep. Tammy Baldwin said in her opening statements. Most members of the subcommittee are pointing to an anti-pretexting bill the committee reported out this summer, which died in a "black hole" on the Hill. lt's pretty obvious that another bill will be passed and that House leadership will be hard-pressed to sit on it after all this....[Read Full Article]

Dunn: I thought it was legal
UPDATE: Dunn will take the Fifth. What about Hurd? How did Pattie Dunn come to work directly with Ron DeLia for HP's anti-spying probe? In her written testimony (PDF) today, she says she was pointed by Bob Wayman, then the acting CEO, to Kevin Huska, HP's global security chief. Huska referred her to DeLia, whom, she says, worked almost exclusively for HP. Thus, "I did not hird the private investigators who were involved in the Kona ... investigations. They were already under contract to HP when the leak investigation was initiated." She relied on DeLia to understand the legality of the operation: As a matter of course I asked Mr. Delia at every point of contact for his representation that everything being done was proper, legal and fully in compliance with HP's normal practices. ... At some point during the late spring of 2005, I became aware from Mr. Delia that phone records were accessed as a standard component of such investigations from HP. The clear impression I had from Mr. Delia was that such records could be obtained from publicly available sources in a legal and appropriate manner ... I now believe that not only I, but all of the executives upon whom I relied at HP ... were similarly confident that these records were accessed under fully legal circumstances. To that point, Rep. Ed Whitfield said in his intro minutes ago: "If there are legitimate ways to get access to someone's personal phone records without their consent,...[Read Full Article]

HP's Baskins quits, won't testify today
HP general counsel Ann O. Baskins has resigned from HP and will not testify at today's congressional hearings, her lawyer said, The Times reports. Hearing start at 10 am EST. Baskins was intimately involved in the HP's anti-leak probes. She assigned Kevin Hunsaker, HP's senior counsel for ethics, to run the investigation. Hunsaker clearly received warnings from security officials that the pretexting operations were probably illegal, and Baskins would have been apprised of that information as well. The Washington Post recounts several emails that show that Hunsaker - and thus, presumably, Baskins - knew about the illegality. In February, HP global security investigator Vince Nye told a Boston colleague working with him on the leak probe that he had "serious reservations" about how they were obtaining phone-record information in an internal probe to ferret out the source of media leaks. He said he thought the method, impersonating someone else to trick the phone company into providing call data, "is very unethical at the least and probably illegal." "I am requesting that we cease this phone number gathering method immediately and discount any of its information," Nye wrote in a Feb. 7 e-mail to Gentilucci, one of four members of the internal investigative team reporting to HP's legal department. Nye sent a copy of the e-mail to Hunsaker, then HP's chief ethics director and superviser of the probe. Baskins' actions are also very suspicious in that she asked for legal opinion on the legality of the program not from Wilson...[Read Full Article]

AMD loses big chunk of case against Intel
AMD just lost a big chunk of their suit against Intel. AMD had charged that Intel strong-armed computer makers into buying Intel chips, but Intel responded that many of the charges were in fact international antitrust claims not domestic ones. Intel had responded that many of AMD's charges were for lost sales of German-made, Asian-assembled microprocessors to foreign customers. It called such damages "a foreign antitrust injury (if it is one at all) for which the U.S. courts cannot provide relief," Reuters related. Late yesterday, federal judge Joseph J. Farnan Jr. agreed. "AMD has not demonstrated that the alleged foreign conduct of Intel has direct, substantial and foreseeable effects in the United States which gives rise to its claim," Farnan wrote in an 18-page opinion. At best, he said AMD's allegations described activity that might have had "ripple effects" in the United States, but not enough to give rise to an antitrust claim....[Read Full Article]

House subpoenas DeLia, Hunsaker, Gentilucci
Mark Hurd, Patricia Dunn and Ann Baskins have already said they would appear Thursday at a congressional hearing into HP's spying practices. But Ron DeLia, the security outsourcing specialist who did the pretexting, has said he would not. And Hurd's lawyers' investigations have made it clear that Kevin Hunsaker, senior counsel for ethics, and Anthony Gentilucci, manger of global security, were intimately involved in probably illegal activities. Yesterday, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce said it wants to see DeLia, Hunsaker and Gentilucci in Washington on Thursday and it issued subpoenas to back up that desire. Gentilucci said through his lawyer that he would take the Fifth on Thursday, while Hunsaker hasn't yet said what he will do. DeLia will refuse to answer questions. Gentilucci has already lost his HP job and Hunsaker is on the way out, although he is still employed by HP today. Calif. Attorney General Bill Lockyer is concerned that subpoenas could mean Congress offers immunity to get testimony, the Times reports. “In light of today’s developments, the attorney general will again be contacting the committee to express his concern,” Mr. Dresslar said. “We’re not trying to issue a red alert here, but this is an important case and it’s only prudent for this office to take all appropriate steps to protect the integrity of our investigation.” He said the attorney general had been told by Congressional officials that they had not granted immunity to any of those subpoenaed and that it was rare...[Read Full Article]

Will Hurd dodge the bullet or fall through the ice?
Mark Hurd didn't get very good grades for his performance Friday. The Washington Post ran a story on Saturday quoting disapproving corporate government types. Charles M. Elson, leader of the corporate governance center at the University of Delaware, said HP's culture "needs to be seriously reexamined and completely reworked." "It is inconceivable to me that top management could have been aware of this kind of activity and not taken steps to separate the company from it," Elson said. "Large organizations are based on ethics and integrity, and the tone comes right from the top." Given that Hurd admitted to approving the sting operation on Dawn Kawamoto, and that he managed to avoid exposing himself to a report that would have apprised him of a range of unacceptable behavior, will Hurd be able to maintain leadership of the company that was once the definition of integrity in Silicon Valley? For some perspective on that, I contacted Michael S. Malone, longtime Valley reporter, and the author of an upcoming book on HP, "Bill and Dave: How Hewlett and Packard Created the Greatest Company in the World," to be released this spring. Malone thinks Hurd will "dodge the bullet." There's no paper trail showing that he signed off on the pretexting. And his behavior -- getting a verbal summary of the investigation at a meeting, but not reading the final report -- is consistent with the behavior of a CEO. He got the executive summary of things, Dunn was running the show,...[Read Full Article]

A BILLION dollars for Facebook?
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher The Wall Street Journal reports that Yahoo is in talks to buy Facebook for ONE BILLION DOLLARS. A billion dollars? Are you kidding? News Corp. bought MySpace for $580 million and they seem to be very happy. But really. Still it's good to know that some 22-year-olds act their age. Bloggers are zip-zipping about Facebookie Mark Zuckerberg's behavior during the negotiations. Michael Arrington at TechCrunch quotes from the Journal article: During one series of talks with Microsoft, Facebook executives told their Microsoft peers they couldn’t do an 8 a.m. conference call because the company’s 22-year-old founder and chief executive, Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg, wouldn’t be awake, says a person familiar with the talks. Microsoft executives were incredulous. At one point in the Yahoo negotiations, the talks extended into the weekend, says a person familiar with the matter. Mr. Zuckerberg, this account continues, said he couldn’t take part because his girlfriend was in town. Others pointed out they were closing in on a billion-dollar deal. Mr. Zuckerberg said it didn’t matter: his cellphone would be off, this person says. Jason Drohn likes this. Very much. The situation is truly priceless. First of all, the money will be there on Monday morning. And who knows, it may have gone up by then. He might get $1.5 billion! People are bashing him for being arrogant and not taking the cash and running like a fool, but what does he truly have to lose? He is making enough to...[Read Full Article]

Hurd to Dunn: The plan is eggggcellent. Mwhahaha ...
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher HP CEO and soon-to-be chairman Mark Hurd was in the loop and approved spying operations on Cnet reporter Dawn Kawamoto, as well as five HP directors, the Washington Post and New York Times are reporting today. Both papers obtained internal emails showing that Hurd and Patricia Dunn jointly approved spying ops. While there's no direct email from Hurd, emails to and from Dunn show that the plan only went through with Hurd's approval. The Times story shows that Hurd, as well as Patricia Dunn, OK'd spying on HP directors. Robert Sherbin, HP's director of communications, a key henchman in the project, emailed Dunn on Jan. 20 that "there's been another leak around the board." The same day he emailed Jim Fairbaugh, chief of global security, that "Mark believes the names worth looking at are (Richard) Hackborn, (Lawrence) Babbio, (Lucille) Salhany, (George) Keyworth and (Tom) Perkins." Clearly, then, Dunn talked to Hurd and passed the message back to Sherbin. But that's nothing. Just when you thought your jaw couldn't drop any further on this story, today's Post report will knock your socks off. The story details HP's attempts to infect Cnet reporter Dawn Kawamoto's computer with software that would track who she sends a planted email to. Dunn and Hurd enthusiastically approved the plan, according to emails obtained by the Post. Here's the timeline: Jan. 26 - Kawamoto is sent an email from a fake HP employee named "Jabob," saying he wanted to pass her information...[Read Full Article]

Monitor 110 brings blog intelligence to Wall Street
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Blog watching meets Wall Street with Monitor110, an aggregator and filter for some 40 million information sources, due to launch early next year, the FT reports. It's aimed exclusively at hedge funds currently, and is currently being tested by 10 funds. Its' being run by Roger Ehrenberg, former head of Deutsche Bank's hedge funds operations. The platform is similar to the data portals that investors are used to, but the difference is that it tickers the unstructured universe. Mr Ehrenberg said the platform in time could lend itself to trading strategies dependent on computer-driven models feeding off measures of online activity. However, analysts expressed fears that these strategies could be vulnerable to spammers. At TechCrunch, Marshall Kirkpatrick is going ga-ga over Monitor 110: Monitor110 gathers information from 40 million sources of various types (100 million by the end of next year they say), ranked by financial market knowledge through a proprietary algorithm that takes 50 factors into account - inbound links being just one reputation metric. Users can chose between top sources preselected for their market sector, and subscribe to sources of their own. Static sites can be monitored for changes with good granularity. Premium subscription and other deep web sources, blogs, forums, news and regulatory filings are among the sources included. The end results will be delivered through the company’s RSS reader with email, IM and SMS alerts as appropriate. While the initial offering is focused on financial markets - Kirkpatrick notes these huge...[Read Full Article]

HP emails show Dunn & Baskins intimately involved
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher The Wall Street Journal has internal HP emails that show that chairman Pattie Dunn and general counsel Ann Baskins were intimately involved in the leak-plugging investigations - known internally as KONA and KONA II - and that they may well have known that pretexting was involved. The emails also detail some of the HP personnel involved in the probe. On Aug. 6, 2005, HP's manager of global investigations, Tony Gentilucci (who contracted with Security Outsourcing Services' Ron DeLia, who hired the firms who did the actual pretexting) sent an email to Dunn, Baskins, Jim Fairbaugh and DeLia. In the memo, Mr. Gentilucci updated Ms. Dunn and the others on several facets of the probe, including "intelligence gathering" on "interested parties" through "internal and external sources." Mr. Gentilucci's memo described an intensive investigation in 2005, code-named Project KONA, in which H-P's security officials cultivated confidential "informants" to develop leads on which directors may have met with which journalists. The memo says that Gentilucci intends to follow up on some leads provided by VP of media relations Robert Sherbin, including a sighting of George Keyworth, who was in fact the leaker, meeting with a Journal reporter in a San Francisco hotel a year prior. In another section of the 2005 memo labeled "Update," Mr. Gentilucci wrote that a "tentative management briefing" on the investigation was scheduled for Aug. 31. It is unclear if this meeting took place. If it did, it raises the question of who else...[Read Full Article]

HP pretexted Sonsini, was warned of possible illegallity
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher The HP spying program is looking more and more like an out of control operation, especially after the revelation in the Wall Street Journal that HP pretexted Larry Sonsini himself. There is precious little information about this. Buried on the jump page of a larger story, the Journal simply reports that a "person familiar with the matter" said Sonsini was pretexted. Law blogger Alex Simpson writes: Think about it -- Larry Sonsini advises many other companies and their boards -- he may have been conducting secret merger negotiations, and HP's investigators now know who he was talking to and when. That's a massive violation of Sonsini's clients' trust (through no fault of his own, of course). It's a slippery slope from trying to identify the source of the leak to doing a little corporate espionage on your competitors. Surely Pattie Dunn is not the only person at HP with an interest in who besides Cnet reporters Larry Sonsini and Tom Perkins are talking to. Increasingly, the whole thing smells like a Palo Alto version of Watergate, where top leaders decide to investigate more and more people and engage in more and more outrageous behavior. This should all make for some nice airplane chatter as Dunn, general counsel Ann O. Baskins and Sonsini make the trip to Washington to testify before a House subcommittee on the matter. Surprisingly, all three said they would testify at a hearing on Sept. 28. And today, HP delivered reams of...[Read Full Article]

Microsoft says its building a YouTube
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Continuing its strategy of copying fantastically successful online services (see Microsoft's iZunes strategy), Redmond is getting ready to launch Soapbox as a challenger to YouTube, Reuters reports. "We're definitely not blind to the fact that YouTube has a big lead right now," said Rob Bennett, general manager of MSN's entertainment and video services. "It's really early days in online video. This is still act one." Microsoft Video was a traditional online video site with news clips and featured product (movies and music) videos from partners. They were completely blindsided by the user-created revolution and Soapbox is an attempt to embrace and extend. "Microsoft is jumping on this bandwagon with some uncertainty with where it's going, but the company believes it needs to be on board," said Joe Wilcox, an analyst at JupiterResearch. But MS will control the site with a stern eye towards copyrighted material (they could do no less, given their outrage over software piracy), but the solution to copyright infringement is cut deals with labels that allow sampling and mashups of copyright material. Given how weakly MS seems to get the user-creation piece of this, Soapbox strikes as a beta project that is unlikely to steal YouTube's magic. Both Apple and Google should be better aligned on that score....[Read Full Article]

Warner content moves to YouTube
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Warner Bros cut a deal with YouTube to distribute and license copyrighted videos and music on the site. The companies are negotiating to strike a distribution deal, too, AP reports. The deal includes the ability for YouTube users to include WB content in their own home-made videos. That's a pretty major deal for mashup culture. "The Warner deal is one more piece of evidence that the record labels are comprehending the value of free music distribution," [industry market researcher Phil] Leigh said. "Instead of insisting on being paid every time, they're realizing they can use the Internet to popularize music and stimulate demand for both CD and digital downloads." It's all in the context of copyright. But with Warner taking the lead on being proactive about online distribution, the rest of the industry may fall into line. Analyst Steve Lidberg: The labels still want to be paid each time. What's changed is that they've found new monetization models where they can get paid. It's a new revenue source for Warner that they weren't getting paid from before. ... I'd expect this to be the foundation by which YouTube could have other discussions with the major labels in the marketplace....[Read Full Article]

NYT: Spying was dirtier, earlier, broader than HP has admitted
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher New revelations in the HP scandal from the Times: The hunt for the leaker started in January 2005, when word of Carly Fiorina's ouster hit the press. HP relied in part for its evaluation of the program's legality on a law firm that shares a phone number with Security Outsourcing Solutions, the Boston firm that supplied many of the detectives working on the project. News.com's Dawn Kawamoto may have been physically followed. HP spied on its director of corporate media relations, Michael Moeller. Detectives tried to track News.com reporters actions by sending a bogus document that included a program that would report back to detectives whom the reporters forwarded the document to. It didn't work. The Times is starting to put things in a timeline: Within 60 days [of stories about Fiorina's ouster], the investigation into the leaks was up and running, according to those briefed on the company review. Responsibility for the investigation was delegated to the company’s global investigations unit, based in the Boston area. Those company officials turned the effort over to Security Outsourcing Solutions, a two-person agency that hires specialists for investigations. That firm hired Action Research Group, an investigative firm in Melbourne, Fla. The actual work of obtaining the phone records was given to other subcontractors, one of which is said to have worked in or near Omaha. The methods were said to have included the use of subterfuge, a practice known as pretexting, in which investigators pose as those...[Read Full Article]

Josh Wolf likely headed to jail
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com The Justice Department wants to put Josh Wolf back behind bars, the freelance videographer reported on his blog last week. Wolf - who was sentenced to jail by a US District Court for refusing to release video of a protest that involved the burning of a San Francisco police car - was released on bail at the beginning of September by a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. A separate panel - a more conservative panel than the one who released him, notes the Huffington Post's Steven Kraus - rejected his appeal from the District Court's contempt order. Based on that order, the US Attorney now warns that the clock is ticking on the grand jury investigating the car burning and that Wolf should be returned to jail to compel him to turn over his material. In their Motion to Revoke Bail (PDF), government lawyers argue: The clock is ticking on this grand jury's term of service and thus the coercive intent behind the recalcitrant witness statute is lessened with each passing day. ... Wolf's interest has lessened because each of his claims was rejected on appeal. In fact, this Court's opinion brings the total number of [courts] to unequivocally reject Wolf's claims to six Having reviewed the Court's decisions, it seems to me exceedingly likely that Wolf is headed back to jail. As the government notes, the point of the contempt order is to get him to turn over the goods. There's...[Read Full Article]

'Underwhelming' Zune will be on shelves for holidays
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Microsoft confirmed plans to deliver its iPod-knockoff Zune music player for the holiday season, Red Herring reported. What's cool: Wi-Fi capability, a built-in FM receiver, a screen that tilts for letterbox-like viewing, and an all-you-can-eat option. What not: A control that appears to copy iPod's early controls, a brown option, a 30GB hard drive, and according to analyst Shawn Wu, it's a retread of the Toshiba Gigabeat. Microsoft Zune appears underwhelming. Microsoft had hinted of an all-new design from the ground up, but from our analysis, it appears that the Zune is essentially a repackaged Toshiba Gigabeat that has seen limited success. The other Apple-like aspect is a music store called Zune Marketplace, but really, why not just call it iZunes? I do like the all-you-can-eat Zune Pass option, which, according to Red Herring, offers "unlimited downloads for a flat feet." [sic] (Not that we are typo-free here at SVW, but that's a cute one.)...[Read Full Article]

Yahoo launching "Marketplaces" division
Yahoo has hired Hilary Schneider from Knight-Ridder to run the company's new Marketplaces division, encompassing Yahoo's various classifieds ads sites like jobs, autos and personals - as well as the travel and shopping sites, Bloomberg reports. She knows something of the online classifieds business from her work at K-R, especially competing with Craigslist. Interestingly, PaidContent.org ran an interview with her as " one of the most visionary newspaper industry executives on the subject of newspapers in the digital age." No doubt she is top-notch talent; but does it say something that Yahoo is reaching to newspapers instead of to the online world? It certainly says something about K-R's future that it is losing one of its top executives who understands the rapidly shifting economic models. Here's some good stuff from that interview: Q: But wouldn't you concede that Craigslist has been a rude wake-up call for newspapers? A: Craigslist is a fascinating phenomenon, and one of the things it has done is expand the market for person-to-person listings. We did some quantitative research, which showed that 40% of those looking to conduct person-to-person transactions primarily use non-traditional advertising methods, such as word-of-mouth, e-mail, fliers, etc. In response to this trend, we improved our classified product in November 2004. We upgraded our search and navigation capabilities and added new, cool features like photos, RSS feeds and others. The pricing is very inexpensive, and, in some cases, it's actually free, with the idea being that consumers will pay for advanced features...[Read Full Article]

HP used small Boston firm to find investigator
A Massachusetts company called Security Outsourcing Solutions was involved in HP's investigations, the SF Chronicle reports. According to the Chronicle's Ben Pimentel, one individual at SOS has been identified as being involved - Ronald DeLia, managing director for SOS's Due Diligence practice. According to the company's Due Diligence.com site, DeLia's group offers such services as: An investigative tool that provides a business profile of a company, its Officers & Directors and meets standard investigative Due-Diligence background requirements. An in-depth background inquiry into a company, its Officers, Directors, subsidiaries, corporate affiliations, finances, and reputation. The Chron story notes that it's not known whether the company was hired directly by HP or was a subcontractor. But the company's site makes clear that it is an outsourcing broker for security services. When it is determined that specialized services are required we select a firm from our network of affiliated companies to provide the services. Our in-depth knowledge of the security industry insures that our clients receive the most favorable rates from our affiliates. It is important to note that Security Outsourcing Solutions, Inc., does not accept any form of compensation or gratuities from its affiliated firms. Affiliated firms are selected solely on the basis of their expertise, reputation and quality of work product. We work closely with our client in managing the activities of the affiliated company providing the specialized services. We continue to do so until a suitable resolution to the security issue is obtained. Our unique business model incorporates long...[Read Full Article]

Memo to IMDB.com: Aliens
Amazon is advertising for editors for iMdbPro.com, with the following quiz: Extra points for the person who can identify the source of the following quote: Gorman: All we know is that there is still is no contact with the colony, and that a xenomorph may be involved. Frost: Excuse me sir, a what? Gorman: A xenomorph. Hicks: It's a bughunt. That would be Aliens. If I'm not mistaken. - Richard Koman...[Read Full Article]

Did Angelides hack CA server?
By Richard Koman for Silicon Valley Watcher Democratic candidate for CA governor Phil Angelides' campaign workers grabbed audio files from a State of California server and provided them to LA Times reporters, who broke the hugely embarrassing story that Arnold called a Latina assemblywoman "hot," and characterized blacks and Cubans as "hot blooded." The recording also captures Arnold and staff calling Assemblyman Kevin McCarthy "Bakersfield boy" and Assemblyman George Plescia a startled deer. (Listen to the MP3.) Monday, the administration claimed that their servers had been cracked and the California Highway Patrol said they were launching an investigation. Yesterday, Angelides' campaign said they did nothing wrong, that the files were publicly available from a public website. The LA Times reports: Angelides campaign manager Cathy Calfo said her camp came by the audiotape easily. She said an Angelides campaign researcher who downloads documents daily from government websites got the material by backtracking from a link sent out Aug. 29 by Schwarzenegger's press office. She said the researcher used the link in the Schwarzenegger press release to download four hours of recordings, including six minutes of Schwarzenegger bantering last spring with his chief of staff, a speechwriter and a speech coach. According to News.com, the files were available on speeches.gov.ca.gov/dir, available simply by trimming the end of a URL provided by the administration. The most basic web security is to make directory contents unavailable. Apparently that much was not even done. "We believe that these audio files--accessed through a public Web site,...[Read Full Article]

Dunn steps down, to be replaced by Hurd
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Patricia Dunn has resigned her position at Chairman of HP but will not step down until January 18, 2007, HP announced today. She will continue as a director. Dunn had initiated secret spying on board directors in an attempt to root out who leaked information about board discussions to the press. The primary leaker - George Keyworth II, who had refused to resign - also agreed to step down. CEO Mark Hurd will become the new Chairman in January. Former chairman Richard Hackborn will become lead independent director. Dunn's official comment: The recent events that have taken place follow an important investigation that was required after the board sought to resolve the persistent disclosure of confidential information from within its ranks. These leaks had the potential to affect not only the stock price of HP but also that of other publicly traded companies. Unfortunately, the investigation, which was conducted with third parties, included certain inappropriate techniques. These went beyond what we understood them to be, and I apologize that they were employed. “I am very proud of the progress HP has made over the past 18 months. During the remainder of my tenure as chairman, I look forward to completing the transition that is underway, including expanding the board, continuing to improve our corporate governance standards and bringing the current issues to resolution.” Keyworth defended his leaks to News.com: The invasion of my privacy and that of others was ill-conceived and inconsistent with HP's values....[Read Full Article]

What's behind the curtain for Apple's big show?
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Can there be any doubt that Steve Jobs will unveil Disney movies on iTunes this morning? No. Not with Apple's invite to the media event announcing "It's Showtime!" and spotlights criss-crossing over a gray background. It's well-known Steve has been commuting between Cupertino and LA trying to do a deal. We related Business Week's intelligence on the matter a week or so ago: Apple will start selling feature-length movies on iTunes in mid-September, sources tell BusinessWeek. But only from one studio - Disney - where Steve Jobs just happens to be the largest shareholder after Disney's purchase of Pixar. Apple will charge $14.99 a flick, up from the $9.99 he wanted to charge. But what else will Steve say today? The rumor mill has it as a serious "blockbuster" event. AppleInsider cites insiders who say the event will show Apple pushing the envelope in a big, home entertainment kind of way. Besides the video download deal, will there be new video iPods and even a solution to stream movies from your computer to TV? Last week, AppleInsider claimed: Jobs many months ago commissioned an elite group of Apple engineers to get the ball rolling on an intuitive hardware solution that would more closely tie the company's digital media strategy to the living-room. And so AppleInsider has been told, Apple has been quietly developing a video streaming device that will interface with an updated version of its iTunes jukebox software. Hmm, that would be cool. But...[Read Full Article]

Is HP chairwoman Dunn done for? The board meets to decide...
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher UPDATE: HP said U.S. federal prosecuters have asked it for information about its investigation into leaked boardroom discussions. Saturday, Tom Perkins called on Patricia Dunn to resign as HP's chairman, saying in a statement: "I acted not from any ill will toward Ms. Dunn but to protect the best interests of HP, I think the past months and days have shown that those interests are best served if Ms. Dunn would resign from the board." And he's not the only one. The business press is now lining up on Perkins' side. Fortune: : Even if there might be some argument that Dunn could reasonably have thought the company was acting legally in obtaining the records, she behaved improperly in not insisting that she know for sure of their origin. HP is a leading vendor of personal computers to consumers in the United States, and the second largest producer of all PCs worldwide. It cannot afford to suffer even for one more day the perception that it does not put the highest priority on protecting personal information. That is the perception one cannot avoid having at this moment. There's plenty more like that. The board met Sunday and is meeting today, but no surprise, there have been no leaks so far. Dunn suggested last week that no resignation is in the cards, telling the press that she'll resign if asked but doesn't expect to be so asked. The sands are shifting, though, as the opinion pieces...[Read Full Article]

HP pretexted Times in 2005, others in 2006
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher HP spied on nine journalists, including The New York Times' John Markoff, News.com's Dawn Kawamoto and Tom Krazit, and the Wall Street Journal's Pui Wing Tam. The company gave the reporters' names to the California Attorney General's Office, who informed the reporters. AT&T said Markoff's records were a "target of pretexting" in 2005, the Times reported. HP has to date only admitted to pretexting in the aftermath of a Jan. 23 News.com article. The Times revelations indicate that pretexting investigations were happening as news about the board's ouster of Carly Fiorina was coming out in the press. Viet D. Dinh, Mr. Perkins’s lawyer, said Thursday, “If it is true that the pretexting started before January 2006 and dated back to 2005, it would suggest a deeper and more troubling chain of events than the hiring of third-party pretexters and would reach much higher to persons responsible at H.P.” The Times says that by Tom Perkins' account, the only investigations were interviews conducted by the law firm of Wilson Sonsini, which according to a spokeswoman “absolutely, definitely did not” use pretexting. That would mean HP ran a separate investigation into the leaker, presumably using the same technique of entering a social security number onto AT&T's website, which Sonsini may or may not have been privy to. An HP person backpedaled on the news, saying HP's statement about pretexting never confined the events to 2006. An HP spokesperson also said the company was "absolutely horrified that the...[Read Full Article]

HP admits pretexting, CA subpoenas, SEC awaits explanations
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Earlier this week it came out that HP Director Thomas J. Perkins had resigned over an internal leak investigation organized by Chairwoman Patricia Dunn and conducted by an outside investigator. In its SEC filing yesterday, HP confirmed all of the developments that had been reported in the press: Perkins resigned over the investigation. Director George Keyworth was fingered as the leaker and was asked to resign, which he refused to do. Keyworth will not be renominated to the Board. The investigation involved pretexting, in which investigators lied to phone companies about their identity in order to get access to directors' records, including Perkins'. The California Attorney General is investigating the legality of the investigation. The SEC is inquiring into why HP originally reported that Perkins did not give a reason for his resignation. SEC inquiry. By law, a company must supply the SEC with information whenever there is a change in its Board. On May 22, HP reported Perkins' resignation but didn't provide any reason for it, saying he hadn't given a reason. But in today's filing, the company tells a different story: The Chairman of the Board, and ultimately an internal group within HP, working with a licensed outside firm specializing in investigations, conducted investigations into possible sources of the leaks of confidential information at HP. Those investigations resulted in a finding that Dr. George A. Keyworth II, one of HP’s directors, did, in fact, disclose Board deliberations and other confidential information obtained during...[Read Full Article]

Crimes in high places? HP's internal investigation possibly broke law, as Dunn sought out leaker, leading to Perkins' resignation and Keyworth's ouster
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Leaks from HP's board of directors so angered HP Chairwoman Patricia Dunn that she initiated a secret investigation into which directors were responsible for the leak - over the objections of HP director Tom Perkins (of Kleiner Perkins fame), News.com reports. Perkins told Dunn not to launch an investigation but just to ask the directors if they were responsible for the leak. But, write News.com reporters Dawn Kawamoto and Tom Krazit, Perkins was "stunned" to learn that Dunn proceeded with the investigation anyway and has resigned in protest. And the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the investigation has identified George Keyworth, a 20-year HP veteran, as the source of the leak. Keyworth was asked to resign at a May 18 meeting and refused. Now HP says they will not re-nominate him. And in even more turmoil, News.com reports that California's attorney general and federal investigators suspect HP of obtaining information on directors' telephone calls by fraud and deception. California law prohibits anyone from making statements known to be "untrue or misleading," with violations punishable by six months in prison and fines of $2,500. HP is due to file documents with the SEC as early as today providing more details on Perkins' resignation, and Perkins is requesting that HP be more forthcoming about the reasons. Perkins, over the last several months, had expressed concern to HP over its alleged actions in securing telephone logs of his private residence and of his long-distance calls, sources said....[Read Full Article]

Google will turn over data to Brazil
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Google will turn over to Brazil information that could identify users engaging in online racism, pedophilia and homophobia, The Washington Post reports. But when the US Dept. of Justice asked to see Google data, the company responded with a lawsuit. What's the difference? What they're asking for is not billions of pages," said Nicole Wong, Google associate general counsel. "In most cases, it's relatively discrete -- small and narrow." Google released a statement yesterday saying it was complying with the Brazilian court orders following a ruling Thursday by a Brazilian judge that threatened Google with a fine of $23,000 a day for noncompliance. The Brazilian court orders focus on Orkut, which Google bought a few years ago. Orkut is hardly on the radar of American social networking sites but it is the dominant player in Brazil. And some of the social connections being made on Orkut are of the depraved and hateful variety. Google has complied with 26 court order and has stored information on 70 other users whose information is ripe for subpoena. Civil liberties groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Electronic Privacy Information Center say Google has no choice but that the fact that internet companies store so much information is the source of the problem. "It's almost a defining moment for the industry," Rotenberg said. "They need to decide if they want to become a one-stop shop for government prosecutors."...[Read Full Article]

Browzar is adware scam
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher On Friday I wrote up a story from the BBC on Browzar - an IE add-on that would disable all the personal information browsers typically save to your hard drive. Over the weekend, bloggers pulled the curtain down on the developers, who turn out to be adware scum who have hit on the latest way to get people to download their spyware: call it a privacy product. Web3.0log reports: After starting, Browzar shows its’ homepage, and these settings cannot be changed. Homepage offers to “Search the Web…”, but gives weird results from weird SE. I input “del.icio.us” and got ... [r]eally odd results, “Delicious at Amazon.co.uk“, “Find Delicious on eBay“… Attention to status bar!!! You’ll see links to… www6.overture.com. Overture is well-known PayPerClick-SE! It’s no wonder that search field on browser toolbar operates via Overture too. A blog by McGill engineering student Wadih concludes: "A 45 minutes analysis showed that Browzar™ does not securely destroy the history, cookies, nor other kind of medias downloaded with it. Indeed, those files are fully recoverable as I will show in this blog entry. Browzar™ offers a false sense of privacy and security, and should only be used to hide traces from unknowledgeable people." The BBC has Browzar's denials....[Read Full Article]

Polysilicon shortage squeezing solar, semi industries
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher As California pushes the solar industry forward with a landmark greenhouse gas emission law, the nascent industry is running aground against some surprising shoals - a shortage of super-pure polysilicon (it's 99.99999 percent pure), essential for the manufacture of both computer chips and solar cells. Prices are soaring for the stuff, the Chronicle's Tom Abate reports. But semiconductor makers aren't too hard hit - for now - because they have long-term contracts. But over time, that could change. For solar companies, it's a crisis today. "In 2003, polysilicon was going for $32 a kilogram (about 2.2 pounds). Now it's more like $75 to $80," said Richard Winegarner, whose Healdsburg consulting firm, Sage Concepts, tracks this rare product. Yet even at those prices, polysilicon is getting tough to find. "You have solar procurement people traveling around the world with suitcases full of cash," Winegarner said. Today, Dow Chemical announced a new material that could substantially alleviate pressure on poly makers, according to EE Times. PV1101, like polysilicon, is derived from metallurgical silicon, but is not a replacement material. It can be blended with existing poly stocks to produce material for solar products. But it's not pure enough for semiconductors, however. "The gap is so huge that we just hope to provide some help," a Dow executive said. "We hope that can bring an alternative solution that will help the [solar] industry to grow further. As far as we are concerned, this is just the first step....[Read Full Article]

Intel set to cut 10,000 jobs
Intel (an SVW sponsor) is preparing to cut as many as 10,000 jobs, News.com is reporting. The job cut is likely to weigh particularly heavily on marketing staff. Intel studies comparing its own staffing levels to competitors' concluded that the ratio of marketing personnel to salespeople was too large, the sources said. The cuts are part of a huge internal review embarked on last April. Intel apparently concluded that its marketing staff was bloated compared to other companies'. The review has already resulted in the sell-off of Intel's telecom and XScale chip businesses, the layoff of 1,000 managers and the reshuffling of top management....[Read Full Article]

Private surfing with Browzar
The BBC reports on Browzar, a privacy browser that operates as a shell on top of Internet Explorer. Unlike IE, Firefox, Safari or most any other browser, Browzar doesn't save surfing history, cache visited pages, or cookies beyond the browsing session. We've had downloads from over 200 countries," said Mr Ajaz Ahmed, founder of internet service provider Freeserve and the man behind Browzar. "All sorts of people are using it: teenagers, mums and grandparents. Many don't realise that their browser doesn't offer them privacy and they learn the hard way." None of this is rocket science - all browsers let you disable all of these settings in a preferences dialog. Yet, few people do it. So maybe a new browser is what's needed. But because it sits on top of IE, Browzar still exposes users to all the same security flaws that the underlying Microsoft browser faces. - Richard Koman...[Read Full Article]

Apple movie store to launch mid-Sept.
Apple will start selling feature-length movies on iTunes in mid-September, sources tell BusinessWeek. But only from one studio - Disney - where Steve Jobs just happens to be the largest shareholder after Disney's purchase of Pixar. Apple will charge $14.99 a flick, up from the $9.99 he wanted to charge. BW tackles the story from the Wal-Mart angle, though, and has Wal-Mart furiously pounding the studio corridors trying to stop Jobs from signing on any other studios. With Wal-Mart CEO H. Lee Scott assigning his point man David Porter to roam the halls of major studios, skittish executives have for months delayed giving Jobs the rights to distribute their movies through his new service. ... News Corp.'s (NWS) Fox Entertainment Group may join in later, as might independent Lions Gate Entertainment (LGF), say Hollywood sources, but only if other studios come along, too. So far, other large studios have taken a pass, especially after Wal-Mart earlier this year threatened not to sell Disney's High School Musical for a time after Disney released it initially only on iTunes. Wal-Mart, it seems, is planning its own movie download site. It wants marketing help from Hollywood for that site and it wants serious price cuts. Wal-Mart pays $17 a pop wholesale for DVDs. It wants prices slashed to $14. And Steve is getting pissed, too. He had a little meeting with Porter, in which he reminded him that Wal-Mart makes a ton of money selling iPods. Presumably they might find the wholesale...[Read Full Article]

Talk and drive without headset, get a fine
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Here's a story that seems important to Silicon Valley: the Assembly is about to pass a bill making it illegal to drive and talk on a cellphone without a headset. The legislation by Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, seeks to impose a fine of $20 for a first offense and $50 for subsequent offenses. However, the infraction would not result in adding a point to motorists' driving records. Data collected by the California Highway Patrol in 2004 show that 818 of the collisions involving distracted drivers were related to using cell phones in the drivers' hands while only 30 were hands-free. But does anyone in Silicon Valley talk without a headset? Forget about driving, no one even walks without a Borg implant device in their heads, do they? This is strictly aimed at amateurs. The governor seems unlikely to sign it anyway. He said: [Schwarzenegger] said that he wasn't sure if legislation was needed to solve the problem. The governor's office said Tuesday that he has not yet taken a position on Simitian's bill....[Read Full Article]

Having fun in the Valley ... TiVo losses ... Hiring continues ... Brocade trial
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Having fun: USAToday says that Web 2.0 is giving Valley entrepreneurs a chance to start companies that are more about people than business. And they're loving it. Andy Halliday started OurStory, a sort of storytelling/scrapbooking site for families. "I wanted to distill seminal life moments amid a proliferation of media, such as e-mail and digital cameras," says Halliday, 52, who had a long-running career in specialty retailing. "This is something that has heart to it." And Bill Nguyen, former CEO of Seven Networks, has started LaLa, a CD sharing site. "The other start-ups had a level of (business) logic to them," he said. "This one has a fun, cool vibe," he says. "And I'd like to watch my kid grow up." With the modest amount of money it takes to get a stand-up going, people are forgoing the hassle of investors. Liberated from the constraints of investors and pursuing their personal pet projects, executives say they are having a ball. "My biggest regret is that I did not do this earlier," says Andrew Littlefield, a former BEA Systems executive who is founder and CEO of Doppelganger, a virtual lounge for teens. TiVo lost $6.45 million, or 7 cents per share, compared with a loss of $892,000, or 1 cent per share, a year ago. Those numbers still look good to Wall Street, which expected the DVR maker to lose 14 cents per share. A big part of the loss must be attributed to legal costs,...[Read Full Article]

Looking for meaning in GOOG's Eric Schmidt joining AAPL board - nothing much here...
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher The fun game yesterday was speculating on the meaning of Google CEO Eric Schmidt's joining Apple's board. After all, Google and Apple are two great tastes that go great together. First, corporate speak: Steve Jobs (from Apple press release): "Like Apple, Google is very focused on innovation and we think Eric’s insights and experience will be very valuable in helping to guide Apple in the years ahead.” Om Malik looks forward to integration between Google's advertising network and Apple's iTunes juggernaut. "Even though Google is being overtly aggressive about online video market, it is trying to leverage its advertising network more than download sales. Is it too hard to imagine - watch the video on Google Video, and download it on iTunes store? Both parties win? iTunes being included as part of Google software pack, or part of Google Toolbar? Google driving music-related searchers to iTunes store?" Any of these scenarios is possible, even likely, but none of them require a seat on the board. My initial take - especially after having posted about speculation that Jobs may have stock options problems at Pixar - was that Apple needed someone of Schmidt's stature as a potential CEO successor to Jobs. If you care to revisit the 1980s, you will recall that Apple simply doesn't run on MBAs. Apple requires vision, obsession and near-insane devotion to execution at the top. And ValleyWag points out that Schmidt has experience dealing with demanding personalities. But somehow, none of...[Read Full Article]

New music service at AOL
AOL will debut today its new music service, AP reports, with 2.5 million audio tracks and thousands of music video for sale at the magic price point of 99 cents per song, $1.99 per video. (Aren't music videos actually advertising? Would you pay twice as much for a song that has the detriment of having a video track?) The more interesting pricing option is a monthly fee of $9.95 for unlimited downloads, $14.95 for the ability to transfer to portable players. Does that include iPod? The site should be live today at AOL Music Now. - Richard Koman...[Read Full Article]

Google-eBay deal: Discovering small business
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher The way I understand the eBay-Google "click to talk" deal is that it may provide an extension of Google ads for the kinds of businesses that arent' really running sophisticated ecommerce sites. That's still most of the businesses in the world. It brings those businesses into the online world if they can advertise on Google and have the click-through be a real-world phone call. The AP story emphasizes eBay's attempts to get small service providers as well as small products vendors onto the site, and by including Google search results (on the non-US eBay sites), they are improving the value of eBay to auction bidders. On the Google side, which is more interesting, it's an expansion of the advertising model - using VoIP calling to bring in a new level of business as advertisers. But will users really click to call? Do Mom and Pop yet have headsets permanently plugged into their computers? Do they really want to call? And despite assertions that the calling will be somehow be split between Skype and GTalk, Russell Shaw notes that the deal signals GTalk will never amount to anything: What this deal tells me not so much between the lines, is that by working up this deal with Skype, Google is signalling relatively modest plans for Google Talk. ... In doing deals with a rival that is farther along the PC-to-PSTN infrastructure curve than Google Talk shows any signs of wanting to be, Google is signalling they...[Read Full Article]

Are these the top Web 2.0 companies?
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher In today's Chronicle, Dan Fost and Ellen Lee offer snapshots of what they think are the Web 2.0 startups on the move. What strikes most is that most of these apps leave me cold. The one that perked my interest was popURLs, a competitor to NetVibes, which I looked at here. I guess I'm just a shut-in but I don't see myself spending a lot of time sharing music with friends online or watching their photos go by. And with so many Web 2.0 offerings, how would you ever get all the people you care about to standardize on one solution? That said, I will try to spend some time with these and other W2 sites in coming days and offer some better perspective. Here's the Chron's top picks (and my comments): StumbleUpon - rate and recommend websites as you stumble around the Net. How is it better than delicious? Meebo - check all your instant messages without having to run four different clients. Useful, but not exciting. imeem - Social networking. Lucaso says its built-in IM makes it great. Slide - set photos from any website to slide by your screen all the time. Dabble - Kind of delicious/Digg for online video, it makes sense. Pandora - This is what Cory Doctorow was talking about eight years ago or so. Collaborative filtering to make an online radio station you really want to listen to. Problem back then was Cory was talking about P2P downloading...[Read Full Article]

Backdating at Pixar could still ensnare Jobs
It's never a great idea for a multibillion corporation to have an irreplaceable leader. But clearly, that is the case for Apple. What would the investment community think of Apple if Jobs were gone? Who is the brilliant lieutenant who will lead the company past Jobs' 70s? The question is worth raising after Richard Farmer at Merrill Lynch issued a report that raises the possibility that Jobs was involved in options backdating at Pixar - a revelation that could possibly endanger his role at Apple. "We believe there are not yet enough facts to form a conclusion on whether key executives might have been involved in creating options irregularities at Apple or Pixar, and our default assumption is that Jobs is not likely to have been involved; however, our review of Pixar disclosures does not allow us to rule out the possibility, given Jobs was a member of the board that made options decisions, and our analysis suggests these may contain irregularities. [The question] "is whether he knowingly participated in creating option irregularities (at either Apple or Pixar) in a way that constitutes serious direct personal misconduct, which could lead the SEC to take legal action against him, including potentially barring his ability to serve as a director, officer, or financial reporting executive of any public company, including Apple." (via San Francisco Chronicle) Options backdating at Pixar seems likely, Farmer says. Five of the seven options grants made between 1997 and 2004 were recorded at the lowest price within months...[Read Full Article]

More Sony battery recalls - a safer alternative exists
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher I need to buy a new Windows laptop. My last laptop just died when the hard drive went south. I resurrected an iBook G3 running 10.2 for now. And I need Windows because a) I need to run a Windows-only app and b) I can get one for $500. But now when I choose which one to get, I need to check the manufacturer of the battery. I really don't want it to be made by Sony. That's because Apple just recalled 1.8 million batteries, a week after Dell recalled 4.1 million. Both batteries were made by Sony and they both suffer from the same defect - which contained tiny metal impurities that lead to overheating. Did you see that picture in the Times of the burnt-out truck? That guy had been running his Dell laptop on his front seat and kept ammo in his glove box. Trouble. Does this make you think twice about your next laptop? Will this bad news turn into a major drag on the PC makers? Sony says other manufacturers won't have this same problem, but USAToday quotes Roger Kay as saying: "Sony battery impurities are strewn across the land." Sony fell 2.4 percent to 4,980 yen at 2:43 p.m. in Tokyo, Bloomberg reports. Sony will take a $257 million hit on the problems. What exactly's the problem? MIT Technology Review explains that safer battery materials are available now. According to Yet-Ming Chiang, materials science and engineering professor at MIT...[Read Full Article]

Google just has too much cash
With $9.8 billion in cash and securities, the SEC may start considering Google a mutual fund, Red Herring notes, which means the company might have to start spending that money like crazy - or face much tighter regulations. Google has applied for an exemption but of course isn't saying what they would do if they didn't get it. Google lists $14.4 billion in assets, including $4 billion in cash and $5.8 billion in marketable securities. AP reports that the Investment Company Act of 1940 requires companies with more than 40% of assets in cash and securities to be regulated under the stricter disclosure and operating rules required of mutual funds. ``Google states that it is not in the business of investing, reinvesting, or trading in securities,'' the company said it a July 20 filing. A Google spokesman told Red Herring: "Our only comment is that we hope our application will be approved and if necessary will work with the SEC to address any concerns." How does a company even spend that much money, though? Google focuses on small companies with proprietary technology that probably cost between $8 and $20 million each. A real estate buying spree in Mountain View only dented the bank account by $300 million. RH suggests Google could do a massive expansion of infrastructure - or buy a Prius for everyone in Oakland. - Richard Koman...[Read Full Article]

Apple settles with Creative for $100mn, cans retail workers
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Apple has agreed to pay Creative $100 million to settle a patent dispute that was blowing in Creative's direction (official statement here). The dispute was over the user interface for the iPod. The legal wrangling dates to May, when Creative sued Apple for violating its Zen Patent, according to AppleInsider. On the same day, Creative also submitted a complaint to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), seeking an exclusion order to prevent Apple from importing its iPods into the United States. Apple immediately counter-sued Creative, reversing the charges and stating that Creative's digital music players infringed on some of its own iPod patents. In the weeks that followed, Apple tacked on yet another suit, which similarly charged Singapore-based Creative with continuous infringement on three more of its iPod patents. Things started looking bad for Apple when the ITC voted to investigate Apple's use of Creative's patent. The settlement gives Apple a license to use Creative's patent in all Apple products, and what's more Creative joins Apple's "Made for iPod" program and will announce their own iPod accessories. "Creative is very fortunate to have been granted this early patent," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "This settlement resolves all of our differences with Creative, including the five lawsuits currently pending between the companies, and removes the uncertainty and distraction of prolonged litigation." ThinkSecret says the move removes a big distraction for Cupertino that "could have hung over the company for more than a year while the lawsuits...[Read Full Article]

Quattrone is back
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher The government dropped all obstruction-of-justice charges against Frank Quattrone yesterday, and he doesn't have to admit culpability. All he has to do is stay out of trouble for a year. The Chronicle has Valley insiders going ga-ga over the news. Frank McNamee: "The US economy needs people like Frank Quattrone." Mark Lehmann of JMP Securities: "People are getting excited about the possibility that we may have a chance to revive the tech market." And the Mercury has VC Bill Burnham: "Out here in Silicon Valley, I don't think there's anybody who is not going to welcome him with open arms, and there's a tremendous amount of sympathy. I think he can do whatever he wants to do.'' Not a good thing, says Dan Gillmor : "The record is clear enough that Quattrone and his "Friends of Frank" did disgraceful things. Now he'll be back to a hero's welcome. Sadly, that speaks speaks volumes about the valley." BusinessWeek's Peter Burrows sees it as a sign of government impotence: If a supposedly strong case against Quattrone ended with such a wimper, what does the future hold for companies currently implicated in the stock options scandal? It's a safe bet that most of the 80 or so companies that face federal probes will never result in anything approaching what Quattrone faced--no criminal charges, grand jury indictments, even a conviction later overturned on appeal. Most of those companies will restate their earnings, and in some cases pay a penalty...[Read Full Article]

Sony buys Grouper for $65m
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Sony will pay $65 million for video-sharing site Grouper, which has about 8 million users, a far cry from YouTube. The point is not traffic but technology, says PaidContent.com. "It’s about Sony realizing they don’t have to invent everything, and trying to prove they can bring in good people and let them do something solid. Secondly, this probably signifies the start of a shakeup in the video sharing space, where other also-rans are struggling to find their footing against the YouTube juggernaut." Still, TechCrunch wonders about the valuation: "It looks like Sony was most attracted to Grouper’s P2P technology for movie distribution, meaning YouTube comparisons are inappropriate. $65 million is still a lot to pay, however, and bittorent, as well as services like Red Swoosh, are proven and effective means of moving large amounts of data over the Internet." I'm most intrigued by Sony being most attracted to a P2P solution, the amazing fact that they will authorize some material to be used in mashups, and the dominance of user-creation. Sony's Sean Carey said: "There's a shift where the audience is spending its time and it's increasingly on user-generated sites."...[Read Full Article]

Microsoft Office Values: Gervais videos leaked on YouTube
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher If you caught the two seasons of Ricky Gervais' brilliant but hard-to-watch "The Office" (not the American remake) and the "Office" special, you might have had quite enough of David Brent. But not so fast. Gervais' Brent has been reprised on YouTube, as a training video Gervais did for Microsoft three years ago has been leaked to online video sites. Gervais is upset about the leak and Microsoft is investigating, Silicon.com reports. Gervais is worried the leak will make fans think he was disingenuous about retiring Brent ("integrity" in Brent-speak) but will not be seeking damages from Microsoft. "Unfortunately these things happen but it's Microsoft's responsibility to let us know how it got out," a Gervais spokeswoman said. On the video, Brent advises employees with good ideas to keep them to himself: I don't think Gates made his billions by putting his hand up in the early days and saying, "Duh, boss, I got a great idea. I'd like to see every home and office with a computer one day." "Oh, great, thanks, Gates. Ka-ching. Now get back to work, you little nerd." So keep your ideas to yourself and make em work for you. Maybe set up a rival company....[Read Full Article]

Newswatch: 8.22
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com Guba is trying to find the sweet spot for on-demand online movies, cutting prices to $9.99 for a same-day-as-DVD-release, $4.99 for catalog movies, 99 cents for a 24-hour rental and 49 cents for a TV show. "“Nobody knows what the right price is for this stuff online,” Guba CEO Tom McInerney tells Red Herring. “The studios don’t know, even Apple doesn’t know.” Well, I may not be the typical movie viewer, but I could tell Tom to look to Netflix for guidance. Why do I want to buy movies for $10 a pop when I'm renting five a week for $25 a month? How many movies do I want to watch more than once? (Some I can't even watch once.) 99 cents for a movie rental, though: that actually starts to undercut Netflix for rentals. If the selection came anywhere close to what I can get on Netflix, I'm interested. No waiting, no scratched disks? And they don't have postage costs. But when the market appears, how does Guba compete with Apple? A final thought here: Why do movies have to be flat-rate priced? There are movies people want to see and movies no one wants to see? Why not charge more for immediate access to "good" movies and discount prices for crappy stuff? Based on box-office take or ratings, of course, not actually quality. ParisTube In other video news, YouTube announced that it will join the heights of modern culture with the launch of...[Read Full Article]

Newswatch: Monday, 8/21/06
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher The Chronicle profiles Metro-Fi, which has built a huge Silicon Valley free wireless network, covering most of Santa Clara county. The question is is there a business model in free? Metro-Fi CEO Chuck Haas says there is: "There is no proven Wi-Fi model yet, but we believe free is the best. Everyone loves free. You don't have to pull out your credit card if you just want to use your laptop," said Haas. "If you're on for an hour at Starbucks, our incremental cost is zero. We may have made only a dime or a quarter off of you, but do that many times and you can see that's a good business model." ... Salesforce.com clears 500,000 subscribers as revenues rose 64% in Q2. The company still took a $1.3 million loss for the quarter. Reports Silicon.com: Ovum analyst David Bradshaw said Oracle, Microsoft and SAP don't "seem to be casting any shadows on Salesforce.com's field" and the software as service model "continues to attract ever more customers, forcing everyone in the CRM market and beyond to take this business model increasingly seriously." ... The day after Integrated Silicon Solutions announced it would not file its quarterly report because of stock options questions, investor Bryant Riley bought up almost 200,000 shares, as the price slipped nine percent. Now, with 12 percent of the company in his hands, the Mercury News reports, Riley is moving to remake the board. Riley wants to get rid of five...[Read Full Article]

Thumbs up for Netvibes
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Everyone complains that they have too many feeds to deal with. It's too easy to subscribe, too hard to keep up. I was just about at the point where I never checked the rss feeds, just looking at the major websites. Last night, I came across Netvibes, based in Paris and London, which last week picked up an additional $15 million in seed funding, with Index Ventures and Accel leading, I look at a lot of Web 2.0 thingies and a lot of them leave me cold, but I'm a big fan of Netvibes after half an hour of building my home page with it. It shows you just where Ajax is leading us ... to online apps that are just as responsive and intuitive as desktop apps. Netvibes comes with plenty of good mainstream feeds that are easy to load in - you click and drag to where you want them on your page. Clicking on a headline brings up a fantastic interface element - pop-up box with recent headlines from that feed, detail on the link you clicked on and any associated art. Adding feeds directly is not so much fun (you have to paste in an XML url or load an OPML). But, it's super W2 friendly, with modules for everything from Gmail to Flickr to delicious to digg. You can track ebay auctions, track product prices with Kelkoo, load in your online calendar events. But the real distinguisher is the Netvibes...[Read Full Article]

Apple: iPod factory has a few problems but is basically doing a heckuva job
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Apple has completed its investigation into alleged mistreatement of workers at its Chinese iPod plant and found the Chinese company was working employees harder than Apple rules allow. Other than that, there is no child labor or forced labor, the company said. In the official report on the Apple website, the company addressed several accusations. Apple found no evidence of forced labor or child labor but was unhappy with the worker dormitories. Some of these, Apple said, were too "impersonal." Later, it is stated that "we believe in the importance of a healthy work-life balance." Are such touchy-feely sentiments a little out of place when dealing with the inherently inhumane work of snapping together iPod after iPod? At Ars Technica, Jacqui Cheng note: "For a company like Apple who has a widespread reputation for being an environmentally and socially conscious company that even the hippest of hippies could love, it's extremely important for them to issue such a high-profile response to such accusations in order to save face with the general public." Our audit of on-site dormitories found no violations of our Code of Conduct. We were not satisfied, however, with the living conditions of three of the off-site leased dorms that we visited. These buildings were converted by the supplier during a period of rapid growth and have served as interim housing. Two of the dormitories, originally built as factories, now contain a large number of beds and lockers in an open space, and...[Read Full Article]

BizDev 2.0, TechCrunch bidding, plus lotsa tweaks
by Richard Koman for RedHat was a no-show at LinuxWorld, leaving most vendors and attendees scratching their heads, all the more so because Novell had a huge booth near the entrance promoting new SUSE products ... Yahoo is leaving its mark on del.ici.ous with a new homepage featuring thumbnails and "tags to watch" and contextual ads. Steve Rubel finds it dicey to screw around with techies' core web service but notes "there are no contextual ads on del.icio.us tag pages yet. However, I am sure that Yahoo will soon move to monetize these pages since they are prime real estate on certain keywords." The idea of course is that it won't be just for techies for much longer .... Google has updated GoogleTalk with voicemail, file and folder sharing and music status. I guess that's cool but G is so far behind the major chat players, not sure how many people care ... BizDev 2.0 Flickr's Caterina Fake has a line on the 2.0 way to do business around here. Build it, then negotiate. Several companies -- probably more than a dozen -- have approached us to provide printing services for Flickr users, and while we were unable to respond to most of them, given the number of similar requests and other things eating up our time, one company, QOOP, just went ahead and applied for a Commercial API key, which was approved almost immediately, and built a fully-fleshed out service. Then after the fact, business development on our side...[Read Full Article]

A most intriguing buy: Google acquires biometrics firm Neven Vision
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com Here's one for the conspiracy theorists. Yesterday Google announced the purchase of Neven Vision, which specialized in photo recognition software which does business both with the cellphone industry (organize your camphone pics) and the federal government (recognize who's going through security with tubes of gel in each hand and white powder on his shoes). So does buy give Google a leg up in the online digital photo service biz? (Yes.) Or a foot in the door into the lucrative federal government contracting biz (possibly). As far as online photos go, Neven's tech will be integrated into Picasa. Adrian Graham, Picasa product manager, says this on the Google blog: "Unless you take the time to label and organize all your pictures (and I'll freely admit that I don't), chances are it can be pretty hard to find that photo you just know is hidden somewhere deep inside your computer. ... Neven Vision comes to Google with deep technology and expertise around automatically extracting information from a photo. It could be as simple as detecting whether or not a photo contains a person, or, one day, as complex as recognizing people, places, and objects. This technology just may make it a lot easier for you to organize and find the photos you care about." Uh huh. Picasa. The thing, is, Neven is a powerhouse in the mobile market with 15 patents. Their technology works without communication to a central server. In March they cut a deal with...[Read Full Article]

NYT: Advertisers follow search trails - very closely
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com In the aftermath of the AOL leak, people are getting more interested than ever in exactly what search engines are doing with all the information they're collecting. The Times takes a look with a piece today by Saul Hansell, headlined "Advertisers trace paths users leave on the Internet." Yahoo, it seems, has some complex data modeling in which users are categorized into some 300 groups, based on search history, and then served appropriate ads. Every search company does something similar. As the AOL leak showed, search histories create a portrait of an individual, and targetted searching is an early warning sign of imminent spending, and if you're about to spend money, there are a lot of companies that would like to know about that. No suprises there. You search, we look at what you search and serve you ads. It gets a little spookier when you realize that cookies allow advertisers to track users across the Web. “You are no longer targeting people you think will be interested in your product,” said Les Kruger, a senior marketing manager at Cingular. “We know based on your behavior that you are in the market, and we can target you as you bounce around the Internet.” Tacoda Systems runs its behavior targeting ad software on a network of some 3,500 sites, including the Times. So when you've visited one site, Tacoda can serve you ads related to that subject anywhere you travel on the network. For instance, you...[Read Full Article]

Monday 2.0: Xbox devel for everyone, Current gets some mojo
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com XBox 2.0 The 2.0 meme is all over the front pages today. First and foremost, Microsoft takes a 2.0 approach to future XBox development with the release of a low-end game authoring environment for the XBox 360. Reports the Times: Programs created with XNA Game Studio Express will not look as good as most packaged titles. But at a time when gamers seem tired of sequels and genre standards, the company says it believes that some kind of independent games business could provide a breath of fresh air. “We thought a lot about ‘The Blair Witch Project,’ ” said Scott Henson, a director for Microsoft’s game developer group, referring to the low-budget horror film that became a surprise hit in 1999. And, of course, the company hopes the process of making games proves as addictive as playing them. “On the Internet, we’re going from a monologue world to a dialogue world,” Mr. Henson said, referring to sites with user-created content like MySpace and YouTube. “It’s amazing how much participation there is.” TV 2.0 And Current, the cable network co-founded by Al Gore that broadcasts user-generated content, is suddenly looking good to investors. The magic phrase that causes otherwise hard-boiled business types to moan "ooooo" is - wait for it - "YouTube." The Chronicle says: "Now carried in 30 million homes, Current will announce a plan next month for online expansion and is planning an international version next year. Madeleine Smithberg, co-creator of Comedy Central's "The...[Read Full Article]

Apple restatements will be substantial, more charges for Reyes
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com After Apple announced they would restate all their earnings post-2002, the stock naturally fell but not as much as one might have suspected. Conventional wisdom was that investors were holding out hope that the restatements wouldn't be all that serious. Forget it. In its 10-Q filed today (PDF), Apple stated: The company anticipates that there will be significant changes in the results of operation for the quarter ended July 1, 2006, compared to the quarter ended June 25, 2005, including significant increases in the Company's revenue and expenses. The Company cannot provide a reasonable estimate of the results because it will likely need to restate its historical financial statments to record non-cash charges for compensation expense related to past stock option grants. The AP's Michael Liedtke notes that the "irregularities" in the stock options date to 1997 — the same time that Steve Jobs began running the company (again). Apple has acknowledged its stock option inquiry involves some awards made to Jobs, although the grants were canceled before its chief executive realized any gains. Some investors nevertheless worry the brewing scandal might distract or, in a worst case scenario, force out Jobs, who is widely viewed as the key to Apple's continuing success. Industry analysts so far seem to believe he will remain on the job and focused on building upon Apple's recent momentum. More charges against Reyes p>More trouble for ex-Brocade execs Greg Reyes and Stephanie Jensen. Much more trouble. A day after a...[Read Full Article]

MTV buys Atom for $200mn, Wired spits out bad reporter, Gartner hype cycle
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com MTV is buying SF's Atom Entertainment (Atom Films, Shockwave.com) for the big bucks - $200 million. The Chronicle's Ellen Lee is reporting the acquisition as a sign that the chase is on for media corps to snap up online video sites with an attractive demographic. Atom has been profitable since 2002, making tens of millions a year, according to CEO Mika Salmi. "It's a move that brings together two really innovative companies whose sum of their part is going to be pretty significant," sai Allen Weiner of Gartner. Not sure how innovative MTV is these days but they have certainly been going digital. "We are transforming our company into a television and digital company," MTV CEO Michael Wolf said. Bad reporter Wired News has removed three articles from their website written by freelancer Philip Chien, freelance space reporter who has worked for online, print and television news outlets, and recently authored a book on the Columbia space shuttle disaster. Three stories quoted Robert Ash as a "space historian" and "aeronautical engineer and amateur space historian." But Ash is an aeronautical engineering professor. Chien's reporting came under scrutiny when he submitted a draft article citing a different source, Ted Collins, along with contact information for Collins, as required by Wired News ever since questions arose last year over another reporter's sources. An investigation traced the name and Hotmail account provided to a Usenet posting praising Chien's work. Wired News senior editor Kevin Poulsen then compared the...[Read Full Article]

Does Kennedy's departure signal internal rot at MS?
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com RSS guru Niall Kennedy announced yesterday that he's leaving Microsoft out of frustration with lack of support for his syndication work at Microsoft Live. His mission was to build a massive syndication platform for all of Microsoft's users. "The opportunity presented to me was extremely unique and a way to change how the world interacts with syndication technologies such as RSS, RDF, and Atom. The launch of Windows Live and Ray Ozzie's vision of Internet services disruption made me believe Microsoft was serious about the space ..." But, he says, if Ozzie and MS that opportunity is simply stuck behind Redmond's need to get Vista out the door. What do you do when the market responds to your 6 month-old online services strategy by reducing your valuation by 1.5 Yahoos? Windows Live is under some heavy change, reorganization, pullback, and general paralysis and unfortunately my ability to perform, hire, and execute was completely frozen as well. It's a blogosphere story, for sure, and not one you'll see in the Business page at the Seattle P-I, but Microsoft bloggers are smelling blood in the water. AccMan Pro: "My sense is the accountants are back in charge of running the farm. This is very bad news because they’ve clearly got a bunch of stock analyst brown nosers rather than number savvy innovators. Of course Microsoft has a duty to its shareholders. But in a world where innovation is currently dominated by the small, often independent vendors, the...[Read Full Article]

Bloggers ID photos faked by Reuters stringer.
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com Score another MSM takedown for right-wing bloggers. Reuters has pulled two photos of the Israel-Hezbollah War taken by Lebanese photographer Adnan Hajj. Most egregiously, the first photo shows obvious and heavy-handed Photoshop-like cloning of smoke plumes created by Israeli bombing of Hezbollah leaders' residences. Right-wing bloggers, always on the lookout for evidence of left-wing bias in the media immediately flagged the suspicious image. The doctored photo The original photo littlegreenfootballs, which was instrumental in the takedown of Dan Rather, was quick to point out the similarities between the two episodes, namely that the doctoring was so sloppy that even "guys in their pajamas" (to quote Rather) could see it. It’s so incredibly obvious, it reminds me of the faked CBS memos. Smoke simply does not contain repeating symmetrical patterns like this, and you can see the repetition in both plumes of smoke. There’s really no question about it. So does this mean that the liberal media is out to spin the war against Israel? Or at least that Reuters photo editors intentionally pass over fraud obvious to amateurs? Perhaps the answer has more to do with economics than politics. MSM-basher Ace of Spades writes: Reuters has some explaining to do. The whole MSM has some explaining to do. But they will do no explaining, and ask no questions, and embargo the story, because they cannot admit that they have cut foreign budgets to such a degree tthey now rely almost entirely on local stringers of...[Read Full Article]

News: Apple will restate earnings
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com Restating earnings is never a good thing. Even worse when the SEC is investigating all of Silicon Valley and an internal investigation has already shown that improper options were offered to chief executive. Thus sits Apple Computer and CEO Steve Jobs as its stock plummets today, down 6.4% at the noontime bell. Following up on an announcement in late June that internal investigators had uncovered "irregularities related to the issuance of certain stock option grants made between 1997 and 2001," Apple yestertoday dropped a bombshell: [T]he Company will likely need to restate its historical financial statements to record non-cash charges for compensation expense relating to past stock option grants. The Company has not determined the amount of such charges, the resulting tax and accounting impact, or which periods may require restatement. Accordingly, the Company today filed a Form 8-K stating that the financial statements and all earnings and press releases and similar communications issued by the Company relating to periods commencing on September 29, 2002 should therefore not be relied upon. Apple is delaying its quarterly 10-Q statement until it sorts out the proper accounting and has hired outside counsel to further investigate. While the June announcement covered 1997 to 2001, yesterday's news broadens the investigation to include the iPod years: 2002 forward to the present. That means, points out BusinessWeek: Some of the years when Apple showed lean profits—specifically its fiscal years 2002 and 2003—would appear to be at risk of becoming loss-making years....[Read Full Article]

Josh Wolf is in jail
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com Josh Wolf is in jail. The 24-year-old freelance videographer and blogger (www.joshwolf.net was not responding to repeated attempts as I write this) went to jail yesterday for refusing to turn over to a federal grand jury unpublished video of a 2005 clash between demonstrators and SF police. Prosecutors were investigating the arson of a police car, they said. At first glance, the case seemed to me as "slam dunk" as the judge, US District Judge William Alsup, said it was. According to the Chronicle, he said: "Every person, from the president of the United States down to you and me, has to give information to the grand jury if the grand jury wants it." High-flown words and an accurate statement of law, but then one wonders, isn't the burning of a SF cop car a local matter? It is - and it's one that apparently the SF DA didn't bother to investigate. So how did Josh Wolf wind up in federal court? The government's argument is that the SFPD receives federal terrorism dollars from Washington, therefore crimes against the police are crimes against the United States That's a very shaky argument. It essentially says that the Justice Dept. can step in at any time and say that any crime against any local agency that receives any federal funds - and the Dept. of Homeland Security has been littering the country with antiterrorism funds (there are, for instance, over 8,000 target sites in Indiana, 40% more...[Read Full Article]

All scandal roads leading to Sonsini?
As the SEC and other law enforcement agencies investigate whether executives and companies committed crimes by backdating stock options, the list of Silicon Valley companies under investigation looks like a client list of one firm: Wilson Sonsini. Actually, that's something of an overstatement: Sonsini represents just under half of the Valley companies under investigation, according to a NY Times profile of Larry Sonsini, described as the Valley's "most feared and sought-after lawyer," (reporter Gary Rivlin), "the most powerful person in Silicon Valley," (investment banker Sanford Robertson), a better deal-maker than lawyer, and a great lawyer. While Sonsini was untouched during the dot-bomb meltdown and accounting scandals of a few years back, the current spreading scandal may be enough to tarnish Sonsini's untouchable reputation, Rivlin suggests. Specifically, what liability if any does Sonsini have for his advice to ex-Brodade CEO Gregory Reynes? Wilson Sonsini served as outside counsel to Brocade and Sonsini sat on Brocade's board until last year. Prosecutors have accused [Reyes] of defrauding not only investors but also its board by doctoring documents, including board minutes. ... [P]rosecutors, questioned at a news conference, said that they had not ruled out the possibility that Mr. Sonsini could be charged at a later date." Back in February, Reyes lashed out at Sonsini in a Business Week article. Reyes says Sonsini urged the board to make Reyes a "committee of one" to dole out options as he wished in 1999. The next he heard from the board, he claims, was after a...[Read Full Article]

Options scandal: More criminal indictments afoot?
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com On July 20, the full force of the law came down on former executives of Brocade Communications, when the SEC, the US Attorney's Office and the FBI filed charges against Gregory Reeves, the company's former CEO, and Stephanie Jensen, former VP of HR, for crimes related to the backdating of stock options. U.S. Attorney Kevin V. Ryan stated, ``The criminal charges filed today allege that this backdating scheme contributed to the restatements of hundreds of millions of dollars of Brocade's financial results. The criminal complaint alleges that these defendants altered and backdated Board of Director meeting minutes and employment offer letters in a scheme to defraud in connection with the pricing and granting of stock options." (Mercury News, 7/20) Today, the SEC announced that it is investigating Santa Monica-based Activision, a game maker, over its accounting practices, presumably looking at failure to account for backdated options. And Friday the IRS said it would be looking closely at executive compensation for problems with options. And run of the mill employees who received options may also be facing criminal liability, Eumi Choi, second in command at the US Attorney's Office for Northern California Today, told the Mercury News in an interview. On Sunday, the Chronicle looked looked at what fueled the backdating craze of the 90s. "The recruiting pressure was so intense," said Ron Bottano, senior partner in the executive compensation practice at recruitment firm Korn/Ferry. "Companies were viewing (options) as currency. (Job seekers) focused on the...[Read Full Article]

Tech Con Friday
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com Notes on conferences current and future: BlogHer BlogHer is holding forth today and tomorrow at the San Jose Hyatt. What was a nice little chickcon last year has blown up into a sold-out monster this year (more proof that SV is in full swing). "How could we expect it to turn into this?" the Chronicle quotes Elisa Camahort, BlogHer's president of marketing and events. With 700 attendees this year, "We can all agree now, women are the power of Web 2.0," founder Lisa Stone told News.com. Arianna speaks tomorrow. But, hey, is these heady Web 2.0 days, BlogHer isn't just about female power - or maybe it is, as in purchasing power. Camahort then told the group that based on demographic studies that BlogHer has conducted, the for-profit organization has an audience that's very attractive to advertisers. She said that more than 80 percent of BlogHer readers make more than $50,000 a year, 90 percent have at least a college education and half write their own blogs. Real Estate Connect Today concludes Real Estate Connect, where some real money is floating around. The searing hot real estate buzz is on Zillow, which just picked up $25 mil and Reply!, which got $17 million. But the big story really is that Realtors (mustn't forget the capital R) are finally embracing tech in a big way, the Mercury's Sue McAllister reports. ``There's a feeding frenzy,'' said Glenn Kelman, chief executive of Redfin, a Seattle-based online brokerage now...[Read Full Article]

YouTube poised to monetize the clip culture
The fast-moving digital media world basically cleaves into two parts: those that license, sell or pirate traditional, label/studio-generated content, and Web 2.0 stuff - media created, sampled or collected by people for other people. Apple clearly belongs in the first camp, YouTube clearly in the second. (Yahoo uncomfortably tries to split the difference, simultaneously pursuing studios and labels, while buying up social networking sites. Not too much has really changed with Yahoo since I wrote about them last year - see 'Yahoo unveils Media RSS spec and elaborates on its schizophrenic strategy'.) The cleavage becomes apparent in coverage of Chad Hurley's appearance at the AlwaysOn Summit yesterday. Hurley was speaking on a panel with Yahoo, Sony and Michael Robertson, but all eyes were on Hurley as Bubble-blowers continued to salivate over the way-cool vidclip service. People like the WSJ's Kara Swisher, who moderated the panel, are calling on hot companies to show their profits. Wall Street won't get fooled by a tech bubble again! A typical exchange went roughly like this. Hurley: We already are generating revenue and developing a new ad platform and building out our sales team. Swisher: So not profitable, huh? Hurley: No, not yet. Robertson: Give them a break, they just started. Swisher: It's back to the dot-com days! The real juicy issue is media, not profits, though. `We are not trying to stream full-length programming. We have developed a new clip culture," Hurley said. The site limits videos to 10 minutes. Or as Tony Perkins...[Read Full Article]

Google shines light on click fraud, decison on settlement due this week
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com Even as a judge prepares to decide whether to enforce a $90 million settlement against Google for a class-action lawsuit, Google announced moves to shine some light on their click fraud suspicions. The Mercury reports that will tell advertisers how many clicks have been deemed invalid each day for advertising campaigns they run on Google. Google will start giving advertisers an estimate of the number and percentage of invalid clicks over a day, week, quarter and year, the Chronicle reported. ``This gives them the data that shows that Google is doing what we say we have been doing,'' Shuman Ghosemajumder, business product manager for trust and safety, told the Mercury. What Google says they have been doing is using sophisticated software to filter out the vast majority of fraudulent clicks. On the official Adwords blog, Estimates from third-parties (usually from consultants who have a financial incentive to make the problem seem very large) have been both inconsistent and greatly exaggerated due to their methodologies. Advertisers have always been able to compare their log data with their AdWords charges to calculate an estimate of the number of invalid clicks in their own account. This new tool will make estimating invalid click activity much easier. Meanwhile, Google has been trumpeting this week an independent report published as part of the Lane's Gifts v Google case. The report (available here) concludes that Google's efforts at stopping click fraud are "reasonable." While the report says that Google is doing...[Read Full Article]

Mercury Interactive: HP gets BTO software, legal headaches
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com HP President Marc Hurd shows he's serious about building a software business with the acquisition of Mercury Interactive, a Mountain View-based company specializing in business technology optimization (BTO.) Analysts say it's a stunningly good fit for HP - `It's so complementary we think it could be worth more to HP than to many other bidders,'' said Cindy Shaw of Moors and Cabot, the Merc reported. It must be, because Mercury carries with it more than the usual risk baggage. It was the "grandaddy of companies being investigated for options backdating," as Jack Ciesielski puts it on Seeking Alpha. Backdating is claiming a grant date that is different that the actual grant date. Mercury did lots of that, apparently, plus incorrect accounting of options, incorrect reporting of options, failure to record options. You get the picture. Hurd said HP had been pondering the Mercury purchase ``for a while.'' One of the issues HP was mulling over was the possibility of assuming liability for the costs of cleaning up Mercury's stock-option backdating. HP Chief Financial Officer Bob Wayman told financial analysts during a conference call, ``We have done a lot of work evaluating the potential liability. We think we have our arms around them. . . . We think they're very manageable.'' As for the actual business synergy, CXOToday provides perspective: The acquisition is likely to strengthen HP's OpenView line of offerings with Mercury's application management, application delivery, IT governance and SOA governance range of offerings. ......[Read Full Article]

1999 all over again? VCs setting funding records
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher The Valley is back. How do you know? Follow the money. AP reports that VCs sunk $6.35 billion into 856 startups in Q2 - the hottest quarter for VC investing since Q4 of 2001. And surely you remember that quarter with fond memories. VCs also set records in fundraising for future investments - $11.2 billion. VCs delivered first-time financing to 282 companies for a total of $1.2 billion in the quarter. That's the most in five years. And what are they funding? Yup, Web 2.0. PricewaterhouseCoopers just compiled a list of Q1 funding to W2s (.xls file) and it comes in at $870m, up from $786 in 2005's Q4. But Ajay Sanghani at ITVidya.com notes that the list is a little funky, as it includes such back-end companies as Riverbed and Netli So Bubble 2.0? Ajay talked to Tracy Lefteroff, the global managing partner of PwC's venture capital practice. "People are trying to contrast this with the Internet bubble, and want to know if we're getting in the same risk category we saw developing in late 1999, early 2000.You always run that risk, but I still don't see the frenzy to invest in these companies that we saw in the late 1990s." Seven of the top W2 deals in the first quarter were in Silicon Valley, it's Seattle that's grabbing headlines this week. Jobster, a Web 2.0 approach to head-hunting is now valued at $100m, the Merc's Matt Marshall reported last week. And yesterday, Zillow.com,...[Read Full Article]

Story of the Day: AMD buys GPU maker ATI. What now for Nvidia?
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher AMD made a major push towards parity with Intel today with a $5.4 billion acquisition of ATI Technologies - a major manufacturer of graphics chips, chipsets and the semiconductors used in cellphones and HDTVs. The move, says AMD CEO Hector Ruiz, will enable AMD to offer more integrated platforms by integrating microprocessors with other types of components. ZDNet's David Berlind has a podcast of the press announcement of the deal, in which Ruiz and ATI pres Dave Orton describe "a future where graphics technologies are integrated into the microprocessor silicon much the same way that AMD already integrates memory controller technology into the same dies as its CPUs." At The Register, Guy Kewney points out that concerns that AMD paid a premium (as much as 25%) simply miss the point. The world is moving to GPUs - you just can't cram all the processing power required for HDTV and fast-response gaming. Throw in the exploding market for video iPod devices and the convergence of media and voice that is finally happening in cellphones and, Kewney writes: AMD feels that it has to move, now, before it becomes part of Intel, rather than part of a generic processor platform. If it is right, then the question of "how much did you pay for ATI?" is irrelevant. It may be a question of "How can you expect to survive, without ATI?" Now Valley wags are turning their attention to Nvidia, the Santa Clara-based graphics chip maker who...[Read Full Article]

It was the most dull of times, it was a fascinating time when one paradigm was dying and the next was not yet born

It was the most dull of times, it was a fascinating time when one paradigm was dying and the next was not yet born

Is enterprise IT stagnant and boring? Or it that just a symptom of the deadend-ness of client/server? Something new is struggling to be born, or that everything old becomes new again? Tom and Network World ed John Gallant tip off.[Read Full Article]

MSN sends out aggressive RSS bot, apologizes

MSN apologizes for its over-aggressive RSS bot

Ooops, Sorry-sm.jpgMicrosoft sends out bot that hits RSS feeds every 10 minutes, then politely backs down when bloggers complain. [Read Full Article]

Today in filesharing: Linking is infringement in AU; legal music downloads nearly triple

Australian convicted for linking to download sites

gavel14.jpgCourt down under decides man was guilty of copyright infringement, leading to prospect of similar suits elsewhere. [Read Full Article]

600% growth in iPods leads to Apple's best quarter
by Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Apple announced its best quarter ever at its conference call yesterday, reporting a net quarterly profit of $320 million, or $.37 per diluted share, and revenue of $3.52 billion. A year ago, Apple reported net profit of $61 million, or $.08 per diluted share, and revenue of $2.01 billion. It all comes out to revenue growth of 75 percent and net profit growth of 425 percent. International sales accounted for 39 percent of the quarter’s revenue. Mac sales rose 35 percent to almost 1.2 million units, while Apple shipped more than 6 million iPods, which is more than six times the iPods sold a year ago. Steve Jobs cited Tiger as a "tremendous success," and promised as he always does, "more amazing products in the pipeline." Apple expects revenues to be slightly down from these numbers in the fourth quarter....[Read Full Article]

Intel's Dirty Tricks

More Intel dirty tricks alleged

Chip_Poker-med.jpg AMD suit claims Intel created compiler that made code run more slowly on competitors' chips.[Read Full Article]

Powell joins Kleiner, Perkins in mentor role
'Yes, General, we respect your technical knowledge ... by the way, are you still on good terms with Wen Jiabao?' But don't worry, he won't be talking about you at the UN ... Former Sec. of State Colin Powell will join venture capitalist firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers as "strategic limited partner," a title that reveals both his investor status and his real job as entrepreneur mentor. "I wanted to be on the leading edge of technology developments in America and in the world, which will not only benefit America, but all of human kind," Powell said in an interview with the San Jose Mercury News. Kleiner partner Brook Byers said in a conference call, according to the Mercury: ``The real role he's going to play for us is mentorship.'' The Times quotes Ray Lane, Kleiner partern and ex president of Oracle, on Powell's international expertise: "General Powell has a global perspective. So we think he will be very helpful in helping us figure out what we should do overseas, and how we do it, and what we should eventually invest in." Really. While Powell has sat on the boards of tech companies like AOL and Steve Case's Revolution - he is, he said, "not a total rookie" - what does he really bring to the party? The Times quotes Paul Kedrosky, a professor at the University of California San Diego and a specialist in venture capital, who thinks that Kleiner wanted him for the usual reasons former government...[Read Full Article]

Blog-happy PR firms
Steve Broback, who's bringing the Blog Business Summit to San Francisco in August, did a brief survey of how often PR firms use the word "blog" on their websites. And the winner is ... Edelman, by a long shot. Here's the list: Edelman PR Worldwide 77 Manning, Selvage & Lee 53 Horn Group 18 Hill & Knowlton 9 Burson-Marsteller 5 Haas MS&L 5...[Read Full Article]

Top blog-happy PR firms

Top blog-happy PR firms

Which PR firms make the most use of the word "blog," as they attempt to show off their new media credentials? A quick survey finds the biggest offenders .. oops, we mean the winners. [Read Full Article]

Eric Schmidt speaks up on GooPay, denies Google wants to compete with PayPal

Schmidt: GooPay is not a PayPal competitor

Google-change.jpg Google CEO confirms work on payment system, but says it's nothing that eBay should worry about. It's simply an extension of existing services. It's not PayPal-like in any way. It is not a threat to anyone. Really. [Read Full Article]

BitTorrent's Cohen: Avalanche is 'Vaporware' and 'complete garbage'

Avalanche is "vaporware" and "complete garbage," fumes BitTorrent creator

avalanche-sm.jpgBram Cohen lashes out at Microsoft Research's Avalanche peer-to-peer software, saying it's just a bunch of simulations and proposed algorithms. And even if it did exist, it wouldn't work, he claims. [Read Full Article]

GooPay makes sense for Google's shopping, video, premium content businesses

GooPay rumor update: Why a Google PayPal killer makes sense

Update:Schmidt says payment plan related to ad business, not a PayPal killer [Read]
AP report adds detail to speculation: A payment service could let Google track buying habits, enabling it to target ads better, while taking a slice of every transaction...[Read Full Article]

Ready for the Avalanche?

Microsoft Readies an Avalanche

avalanche-sm.jpg
Microsoft Research is working on a BitTorrent-like app that would make downloads smoother, faster and more reliable - and impossible to share copyright material.
Update: BitTorrent's Bram Cohen writes that Avalanche paper is "vaporware ... complete garbage."[Read Full Article]

WSJ: Google Readying PayPal Competitor

WSJ: Google Readying PayPal Competitor

Google-change.jpgRevenue from transactions could reduce dependence on ads - and enable Google to steal some of eBay's fat profits, Wall Street Journal reports. [Read Full Article]

Blogs of freedom: Reporters Without Borders picks top free speech blogs around the world

Jailed Iranian blogger, six others praised for free speech

Freedom Blog Awards.bmpReporters Without Borders picked seven blogs whose work advances the cause of free speech and press freedom around the globe. Among them are blogs from Iran, Afghanistan, Malaysia, and the USA...[Read Full Article]

Monday's News (aka the Asia Report)

News Roundup

RoundUp 2.jpgIntel launches China venture fund ... Microsoft censors words like "democracy" from Chinese MSN site ... denies it is offering Indonesia a piracy amnesty for $1 a seat ... and locally, is rumored to be readying subscription-based music service. [Read Full Article]

Mr. Unpredictable: Jobs Embraces Intel
Will wonders never cease? To the amazement of just about every analyst covering Apple, Steve Jobs announced this morning at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference that future Macs will use chips from Intel - just like most other PCs in the world. Apple has been developing all versions of OS X since its inception to run on Intel and PowerPC chips, Jobs announced, according to cnet. "Mac OS X has been leading a secret double life the past five years," he said. The shift should be much easier than the one from Motorola to PowerPC. In the future, developers can create a universal binary that will work on both Macs and Windows-based PCs. In the meantime, Apple has developed Rosetta, a tool to allow PPC-based apps to run on Intel chips. "Every application is not going to be universal from day one," Jobs said....[Read Full Article]

Apple embraces Intel. The question is why. Steve to explain all Monday morning. Meanwhile, bloggers spin the news.

Apple dumps IBM, signs with Intel

Steve Jobs will announce the change at WWDC Monday morning, but will it be a change in architecture or just manufacturers?[Read Full Article]

Google's Secret Searchers
Hank van Ess reveals on SearchBistro.com that Google operates a secret worldwide network of search testers - humans not bots - to make sure that sites are properly placed in Google's search results. Does this mean that Google's vaunted algorithm is really a whole bunch o' clickmonkeys? What is it? It's a lab of humans from all over the world (from China to The Netherlands, from Korea to Brasil) They are paid to check search results of Google every day. Most of the employees, called international agents by Google, were recruited through universities all over the world. The aim is to avoid spam, to get the right sites at the top of the listing and to test new features, not shown to the public yet. I call it Google's Secret Evaluation Lab, but the real title is less adventurous; 'Rater Hub Google'....[Read Full Article]

Thursday News Wrap: Top 10 Reasons to Publish Top 10 Lists

Thursday News Wrap: Top 10 Reasons to Publish Top 10 Lists

A fresh sampling from the never-ending stream of lists, including 100 products of the year (Firefox, Gmail are the winners) and 12 online traffic drivers (entertain me and I'll come to your site).[Read Full Article]

Bubbler blows up distinctions between websites and blogs

Bubbler blurs the line between websites and blogs

bubbler.gif Authoring software combines features of blog- and web-building tools in an easy-to-use package. Despite its limitations, it's a breakthrough product. [Read Full Article]

News roundup: BitTorrent searches, the evolution of Sims, IBM's blogging launch and more

News roundup: BitTorrent searches, the evolution of Sims, IBM's blogging launch and more

RoundUp.jpgA wrapup of recent news items, plus a smattering of advice gathered by the WSJ about what old media should do to survive, and a peek into Jeff Hawkins' electronic brain. [Read Full Article]

Who are the watchers of SVW ?

Who are the watchers of SVW?


That's what some people, mostly advertisers, ask us. We know some of you, but not all of you, so please take a minute to complete our brief readership survey.[Read Full Article]

BP, Morgan Stanley have "zero tolerance" for bad coverage

Corporations demand positive media spin

Media Makeover.jpgBP demands the opportunity to approve cover stories before publication, threatens to pull ads from magazines.[Read Full Article]

[Sponsor Watch] Infineon, IBM, Macronix Researching Phase-Change Memory

Shape-shifting memory?

Crystal Memory.gif Infineon, IBM and Macronix research new technology in which materials actually change molecular structure, which could lead to super-dense memory that stores data without power.[Read Full Article]

Perspective: TimesSelect is all about the print model, not digital media

TimesSelect: It's about the paper, stupid

NYTimes toll.jpgCharging for yesterday's news makes a kind of sense. It makes a subscription to the daily paper look like a better deal. And it is fair notice that Times does not see a business model online.[Read Full Article]

Live from Syndicate: Red sky in the morning - Hearst News puts Google and news aggregators on notice

Publishers start to take on Google

sunrise5-a.jpg As Google launches Adsense for RSS, publishers declare resistance to further aggregation. "Who wants to be one of a thousand publishers?" Hearst exec asks.[Read Full Article]

Yahoo unveils Media RSS spec and elaborates on its schizophrenic strategy

Yahoo unveils Media RSS spec, elaborates on schizophrenic strategy

YahoooohaY.jpgRich metadata spec is part of broad, sometimes confusing strategy, as Yahoo builds open source cred while courting fiercely proprietary Hollywood studios[Read Full Article]

Latte sippers face off with technologists working in the third world

Latte-sippers scrap with entrepreneurs about whether technology is a boon or a bane for third-world countries

Latte Sippers.jpgA Berkeley CyberSalon panel discussion turns surreal as technologists are accused of exploiting children and destroying cultures. SVW's Richard Koman weathers the storm and tells us all about it. [Read Full Article]

NYT exec Nisenholtz discusses the Gray Lady's premium content move, About acquisition and growth in RSS

New York Times charges for more online content, hints at Amazon-like affiliate program

At Syndicate, NY Times VP suggests content affiliate program may be in the works, looks to RSS as the future of online readership.[Read Full Article]

Enterprise RSS-oriented Newsgator acquires maker of FeedDemon, popular Windows-based desktop reader

Newsgator acquires Bradbury Software

The maker of enterprise-oriented Newsgator, whose flagship product allows RSS feeds to be read inside of Microsoft Outlook, purchashed the maker of FeedDemon, a popular Windows-based reader.[Read Full Article]

SimoHealth, a breakthrough health management app built on Firefox, launches

Firefox development allows startup to deliver breakthrough health care app

As America ages and boomers have to manage kids' and parents' health care, startup SimoSoftware leverages open source development to fill a big need - and compete in the mother of markets.[Read Full Article]

Is that Steve Jobs dissing the video iPod on slashdot?

Is a video iPod a 'dumb idea'?

Is the poster just a hoaxster or is this Apple FUD to confuse the alpha geeks? In any case, the facts remain as we reported - Apple is building something that leverages Alphamosaic chipset.[Read Full Article]

SiliconValleyWatcher launches ionRSS.com edited by noted blogger Richard MacManus

Announcing ionRSS.com, a new biztech site from SVW and Richard MacManus


ion.gifRichard MacManus, blogger of The Read/Write Web, and SiliconValleyWatcher have launched ionRSS.com to cover how RSS is changing business - and how business uptake may change RSS. [Read Full Article]

Where can you find Flickr and Apple in the same room? At the AJAX Summit of course. An insider report from the press-free zone where the future of webdev is being mapped out.

Live from the Ajax Summit

ajax-veen2.jpgWeb 1.0 and 2.0 insiders gather in San Francisco to discuss Ajax - the webdev technology behind Google Maps. [Read Full Article]

[ChatterWatch] What people are saying about Google Accelerator

What people are saying about Google Accelerator

Road Runner.gifAccelerator stumbles at some sites, indiscreetly blabbing cached names of previous users[Read Full Article]

Tech in the Developing World: Boon or Bane?

Tech in the Developing World: Boon or Bane?

bookmob-xsm.jpgDoes technology solve problems or destroy cultures? Join us for a panel discussion. [Read Full Article]

Blog, the Movie

Blog, the Movie

The_BLOG.jpg Josh Hallett has done the spoof casting for the story of the saints and sinners who built the blogosphere[Read Full Article]

Google releases Accelerator app - beta of course

Google Accelerator speeds browsing, reroutes surfing

Road Runner.gifThe question is, what will Google do with all the logs, cookies and personally identifying information?[Read Full Article]

GooglySpam - unwanted, untrusted uninfo
In a piece for Media Post's OnlineSpin newsletter, Shelley Palmer of Palmer Advanced Media, is waving a red flag about "GooglySpam" - sites created (and ironically often hosted on Google's own Blogspot service) to monetize on AdWords/AdSense click payments. She writes: Because the best way to drive traffic is through a relevant search result; and, because keyword advertising pays anywhere from pretty well to very well on click-throughs, a cottage industry has emerged: GooglySpam. GooglySpam is not a real word, it's not even a good word, it just describes a new kind of extremely annoying spam -- fake microsites pretending to be relevant search results....[Read Full Article]

O'Reilly making the most of Make - Makers Media will pursue range of opportunities in realworld remixing

O'Reilly making the most of Make

make.jpg With success of mag for tech tinkerers, O'Reilly senses a new market -- and a movement of people (not all geeks) who want to make and remake the things that fill our lives.[Read Full Article]

Electronic ink is here with Sony Librie

Paper-like computers are here with Sony Librie

Digital Writingpad.jpgBased on E-Ink technology, Librie display looks like a paper decal. Imagine this thing doing 24-bit full-motion video.[Read Full Article]

Singapore blogger shut down, Reporters Without Borders reports
Reporters Without Borders today expressed support for a student in Singapore forced to shut down his blog on 26 April for fear of a libel action by the head of a government body and warned that "such intimidation could make the country's blogs as timid and obedient as the traditional media." "Threatening a libel suit is an effective way to silence criticism and this case highlights the lack of free expression in Singapore, which is among the 20 lowest-scoring countries in our worldwide press freedom index," it said. "We especially support bloggers because they often exercise a freedom not seen in the rest of a country's media."...[Read Full Article]

Putting the beta back in beta: Yahoo MyWeb's support for Firefox doesn't quite work

Putting the beta back in beta - Yahoo's MyWeb doesn't quite work as advertised

Richard Koman pokes around Yahoo's new MyWeb product and finds a few holes.[Read Full Article]

Exclusive interview with Google video platform director Jennifer Feikin

Can Google create an "Ebay" for video?

Google Video.jpgExclusive interview with video platform director Jennifer Feikin as Google's latest business launch attempts to build a global video store. [Read Full Article]

Google execs look ahead and see even more more from their powerful business model

Notes from Google's analyst call

google_manual.jpg Google execs say their goal is to "solve very large user problems" and make pots of money. [Read Full Article]

Advertising booms for Google, as they report earnings of $1.29 a share

Google boasts blistering ad revenues

GoogleDollars.jpgAlso:Notes from the conference call - Look for graphical ads and more targeted advertising, "amazing" browser tricks, and more ... innovation is about fixing "large user problems." [Read]
Advertising is a "beautiful thing," Google execs say, as revenue from Google sites, Europe continue through the stratosphere. [Read Full Article]

How we know that multitasking is out of control

Net users multitasking like crazy: while watching TV, reading newspaper, even in the bathroom

Loo Laptop-sm.jpgA Yahoo-funded study found a trend towards "media meshing," using the Internet while consuming other media. The trend is much stronger among wireless users. [Read Full Article]

Technology Review looking for those young geniuses
Nominations are now open for the TR35, Technology Review’s selection of 35 top young innovators whose contributions to emerging technologies will shape the world. Nominees can work in any area of technology, including computing, biotechnology, nanotechnology, energy, medicine, telecommunications, and transportation. Nominees must be under 35 as of October 1, 2005. Technology Review will showcase all 35 in a special October 2005 issue and recognize them at a gala awards ceremony at the Emerging Technologies Conference at MIT on September 28-29. The deadline for nominations is April 30, 2005....[Read Full Article]

Can't beat them? Buy them. Adobe to take over Macromedia in $3.4b deal

Macrobe: Adobe acquires Macromedia, buying its way into the web design market

Adobe-Does-Macros.gifAdobe today announced its acquisition of Macromedia for $3.4b in stock, giving Adobe control of web development and web-based animation markets. [Read Full Article]

[Friday Watch 2] You can’t get there from here… on blogs and journalists

You can't get there from here ...

Blogging has to be experienced to be understood. You can't get there from inside newsrooms, PR firms or corporate marcom. The solution? Create NewRules enterprises. [Read Full Article]

As Become.com leaves beta, Michael Yang speaks up on their spam-proof algorithms
By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher The Become.com shopping search site has come out of beta and has gone beyond 10,000 registered users. No registration is now required to use the site. Company cofounder Michael Yang recently clarified for me some of the anti-spam measures that Become.com has in place around its AIR (Affinity Index Ranking) technology, which is a different approach than Google’s PageRank method. While it is true that AIR technology is superior to Google's PageRank for preventing spammed pages from showing up on the search result (and in theory it is spam-proof) we can not completely eliminate spams 100% in implementation. Also on the issue of patents for anticipated spam techniques … our patent lawyer recommended that we do [file] but we have not filed yet because we have not identified any spam techniques that would work against AIR. cd1225...[Read Full Article]

[Friday Watch 1] What does it take to be Flickricious? Sony might find out

What does it take to become Flickrlicious?

dogster_orange_94x30.gif The very idea of trying to nip in the bud unintended uses of a service, such as so-called "fakester" users on Friendster, has become laughable. Now everyone's pining for Flickr-like users. Here's a win for Dogster, people chattting in the voices of their dogs.[Read Full Article]

Adware company ready to tell all to publishers

Now if we could just get the insurgency to install these programs ...

APRIL 13 -- Now that Redwood City-based spyware company Claria has managed to infect 40 million PCs with software that turns them into advertising displays, the company is ready to clue publishers, as well as marketers, into information about how consumers surf, shop and buy. [Read Full Article]

Transcript of Grokster oral arguments
Groklaw has a transcript of the oral arguments before the Supreme Court in the Grokster case. That case, you remember, focuses on whether a service with lots of copyright-ignoring users is off the hook under the Sony Betamax rule of "substantial noninfringing uses," or whether the Court will come up with a new orthodoxy....[Read Full Article]

Yahoo appoints datamining pioneer to lead expansion of Research Labs
Yahoo's chief data officer, Dr. Usama Fayyad, has been appointed to head up a major expansion of Yahoo Research Labs, the company announced today. "We want to lay the foundation for establishing the new science that will define the future of the web and its essential role in everyday life," Fayyad was quoted in a press release. Yahoo labs will particularly focus on the design of the algorithms Yahoo will depend on in the future. "Yahoo! Research Labs will develop the underlying scientific foundation to address complex challenges in areas including search and information navigation, social media, community, personalization, and mobility," Yahoo said in a press release. Fayyad has serious datamining chops, having datamined for NASA's Joint Propulsion Lab through massive scientific datasets. He worked as a researcher at Microsoft Labs, and founded DMX Group, a data strategy and datamining company....[Read Full Article]

Apple says it will go after websites in trade secrets theft case

Apple threatens to pursue journalists in trade secrets case

Also: Big media rushes in to defend online journalists [Read]

Is Apple turning up the heat on its legal battle with industry websites, or just engaged in legal posturing? Apple brief suggests sites could become defendants.[Read Full Article]

Gmail baits phishing spam, demonstrating there is a public good in email scanning

Gmail phishing alerts show the plus side of email scanning

By letting Google scan your email, are you giving up privacy or getting real benefits? Probably both.[Read Full Article]

Watcher "offices," via Google Maps
[Read Full Article]

Wire services, newspapers and media conglomerates side with bloggers in appeal of Apple decision

Here comes the cavalry as California newspapers come down on side of bloggers in Apple case

Major media outlets including AP and most major CA newspapers filed a friend of the court brief asking the appeals court to overturn earlier ruling for Apple.[Read Full Article]

PSP-Pod? Could Sony's latest mobile gaming system beat out Apple's forthcoming multimedia "mPod"?
gpod-sm.jpg

Memo to Steve: Make mPod even more hackable than PSP

Game players are going PSP crazy, turning the game machine into a web-browsing, RSS-reading, video/MP3-playing pocket PC. Take a close look at this activity, Steve, and make the mPod an open media platform.[Read Full Article]

The emperor has no clothes, just a box of cookies

The emperor has no clothes, just a box of cookies

cookie.jpgFurther research confirms that users really are deleting coookies at huge levels, making cookie-based tracking a dubious enterprise. [Read Full Article]

Google wants your video
At the big cable conference in SF today, Google cofounder Larry Page said the search company plans to put out a call for personal video clips. "We're going to start taking video submissions from people," Reuters quoted Page as saying in his speech. This would be a part of Google Video, a search service that displays stills and closed caption text from broadcast video. The announcement comes on the heels of the launch of OurMedia.org, cofounded by Marc Canter and JD Lasica, a nonprofit organization dedicated to allowing individuals to create, distribute and market their original content. So will OurMedia gain traction if Google is ready to become the free video hosting and search archive?...[Read Full Article]

Are bloggers journalists? San Francisco Says Yes
newspapers.jpg

San Francisco: Bloggers ARE Journalists

San Francisco became the first jurisdiction in the U.S. to rule that bloggers are effectively "press." [Read Full Article]

Podcast of Urchin interview
Here is the podcast of my interview with Eric Peterson of Jupiter about Google's purchase of Urchin....[Read Full Article]

Mark Jen, fired Google blogger, helps Plaxo draft a blogging policy

Plaxo, fired blogger's new employer, offers policy for community review

policybriefs_pic.jpgMark Jen, who was fired by Google for blogging, is taking the lead in drafting his new employer Plaxo's policy, and offering it to the blogosphere to review, use and modify. [Read Full Article]

Wary of stifling innovation and unwilling to countenance widespread IP theft, Supreme Court seems torn in Grokster case
TightRope.jpg

Supreme Court torn in Grokster arguments

With Hollywood and Silicon Valley, not to mention the electronic frontier community, anxiously watching the oral arguments in MGM v Grokster yesterday, observers were hard-pressed to predict how the Court would rule in June.[Read Full Article]

Web analytics heats up as Google buys Urchin; NetIQ spins out WebTrends for $94m

Web analytics heats up as Google buys Urchin; NetIQ spins out WebTrends for $94m

Look for Google to give web analytics software away -- one way or another, says Jupiter analyst Eric Peterson. VCs are circling the space "like sharks in bloody waters."[Read Full Article]

Why the Grokster case is so important to Silicon Valley

Grokster case to decide future of innovation

grokster.jpeg Cuban to fund Grokster's defense as Supreme Court reconsiders the Betamax decision and the Valley wonders if tech will be controlled by Hollywood.[Read Full Article]

Yahoo Launches Creative Commons Search

Yahoo joins the Commons

cc.gif Yahoo! launches feature for searching Creative Commons-licensed content, another "we get it" feather in the company's hat.[Read Full Article]

[News Analysis] Flickr co-founder hints at big plans ahead and explains sale to Yahoo
rael2.jpg

Yahoo Gets Flickerized

Some weeks ago, SiliconValleyWatcher confirmed rumors, first reported by news site GigaOm, that Yahoo! would acquire Flickr, the red-hot photo-sharing service. On Sunday Flickr announced it had sold to Yahoo for an undisclosed sum.[Read Full Article]

Screenshot of Yahoo 360

An early look at Yahoo 360

yahoothumb.jpgSiliconValleyWatcher has obtained some early screenshots of Yahoo's new 360 blogging and social network service [Read Full Article]

[etech] SVW gets an early pre-launch look at Odeo, the slick new podcasting service from Blogger.com founder Evan Williams

Tuning in Odeo's Signal

odeo O.gif Richard Koman gets an inside look at Odeo, the new podcasting service from blogger.com creator Evan Williams.[Read Full Article]

Yahoo 360, Yahoo's blog, photo and social networking play
When Flickr CEO Stewart Butterfield took the stage at O'Reilly's ETech conference Tuesday he joked he had an important announcement to make about rumors that the photo-sharing company would be acquired: "The next person to ask me about it gets punched," he said, displaying a slide of a cartoon POW! As previously reported here, Yahoo! is about to acquire Flickr, the popular photo sharing community web site. It now seems likely that the announcement will be made March 29, along with the official invitation-only beta launch of Yahoo 360, which Yahoo announced this morning after press reports revealed the project's existence....[Read Full Article]

[etech] Analee Newitz: Sex laws drive innovation
EFF evangelist and techsex columnist Annalee Newitz is holding forth at Etech on the history of the camouflaging of pornography and sex toys, and how this drives development of free speech and privacy technology. She starts with the equation: "Everybody wants porn + nobody will admit it + everybody loves tech = innovating ways to look without being seen."...[Read Full Article]

[etech] Yahoo Launches 'Tech Buzz' game, an experiment in meme markets
At his session today at Etech, Yahoo Labs head Gary Flake introduced the Tech Buzz Game, a joint project between Yahoo Labs and O'Reilly Research. The game is a demo of a "fundamentally new type of auction," Flake said. He explained that there are many ways to get opinions, including individual opinions, expert opinions, voting, electoral college, markets aggregate opinions. Markets are a system where people who perform well earn more votes (dollars) than people who don't....[Read Full Article]

[etech] Jeff Bezos Announces open search RSS
Recovering nicely from the first awkward demo moment of Etech, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos announced OSRSS, for Open Search RSS, a small set of extensions to RSS that enable vertical search. In his demo he showed that you get a very different set of results depending on which database you search. "If you search the Web for 'Vioxx,' you'll get the impression that Vioxx is about class action lawsuits. If you search the medical database PubMed you'll get very different results" -- specific medical and pharmacological results. "PubMed actually does sophisticated translations from search term to specific medical terms." etech...[Read Full Article]

[etech]Danny Hillis
Applied Minds is apparently a geek's version of Monster Garage. It's headed by Thinking Machines inventor Danny Hillis. He's showing the maximod, which has "every legal receiver band and maybe some others," infrared cameras, and even the ablility to inflate and deflate tires from inside the vehicle. "Something like this we just do for fun." Now he's showing a toy, where you can remix bits of things together. He's showing a ray gun, a helicopter and a car, which can all fit together and it works as a single unit. It's not just all silly stuff. They are working on cancer research by doing mass spectrometry on blood, in order to identify all the proteins in the blood sample and then try to figure out why certain drugs work on some patients but not others. (I think.)...[Read Full Article]

[etech]Ajax
Asynchronous JavaScript & XML: Ajax. I heard about this for the first time when I sat down for breakfast with Jonathan Boutelle an hour ago. Rael is talking about it a lot during the opening sessions. Basically it means you can load in fresh data without refreshing the page. It's what gmail and Google maps use. I'm hoping to learn more soon. ... from Etech...[Read Full Article]

[etech] Opening sessions: Remixing everything
Live from Etech ... In his introductory remarks to Etech, Rael Dornfest is talking about "the hacking imperative," the amateurization of looking into how technology works. It used to be just uber-hackers would look under the hood; now average people are putting new hard drives in their TiVOs. Rael is promoting the "remix" term rather than "hacking," because it's more conversational. Rael offers a whole slew of landscapes that are being remixed:...[Read Full Article]

Filling up on Those Bloating Blog Burgers
I just arrived in San Diego for the O'Reilly Emerging Tech con, running Tuesday through Thursday, and I picked up the LA Times to look at over my burrito touristo here in Old Town SD. There are two stories of interest. A study from the Project for Excellence in Journalism which is associated with Columbia U, carries the headline "Study Warns of Junk-News Diet," and it's really a mixed bag. On the one hand the study warns that people are getting too much "journalism of assertion" from blogs and cable news; on the other it notes that journalism need to become more transparent. The first trend leads to the second, the report said. [It's important] to document the reporting process more openly so that audiences can decide for themselves whether to trust it. ... Since citizens have a deeper range of information at their fingertips, the level of proof in the press must rise accordingly. In effect, the era of trust-me journalism has passed and the era of show-me journalism has begun....[Read Full Article]

Will Flickr CEO make any interesting announcements at ETech?
Since I confirmed Om's story that Yahoo! was negotiating to buy Flickr, Tom has been asking me daily, "Where's the Flickr deal?" CEO Stewart Butterfield is giving two sessions at O'Reilly's Emerging Tech conference next week, entertainingly called "Web Services as a Strategy for Startups: Opening Up and Letting Go" and "Folksonomy, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Mess." So this could be the venue where the announcement happens. But I wouldn't bet on it. ;-)...[Read Full Article]

Confirmation: Yahoo is testing a Google Adsense competitor
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com SiliconValleyWatcher has confirmed that Yahoo, through its advertising network Overture, is testing "YPN" a competitor to Google Adsense--the hugely profitable advertising network. The confirmation came from a highly informed source at Yahoo. And it follows the recent discovery of strange ads on the blog of Yahoo program manager Ken Rudman. In his blog, Andy Baio drew attention to the fact that Rudman’s blog was running text ads that were called from a "ypn.overture.com" server. While the YPN acronym is set, what it stands for is still up in the air. Andy Baio suggested Yahoo! Publisher Network but we like Yahoo! Profit Network. Any other ideas out there? Email rkoman (at) gmail.com or use our Anonymous Tip box to the right....[Read Full Article]

NYT no longer devoting weekly section to the "little enclave" of Silicon Valley
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com Bill Keller, the New York Times executive editor, sent out a memo recently announcing the death of the Times' Circuits section among other changes. In the memo, Keller notes, "Like the technology industry itself, which is no longer concentrated in a little enclave in Silicon Valley, the coverage has already been migrating into the mainstream, including the front page. Circuits will end as a standalone section with the edition of March 24 -- much of it merged into Bizday, and other features distributed to other venues." Section like Circuits were always a vehicle for advertising, and tech advertising is no longer showing up for the Times or many other papers. See Poynter Online to read the whole memo....[Read Full Article]

Looking for proof of click fraud?
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com Richard Lusk, commenting on a post at John Batelle's Searchblog, suggests googling for "earn rupees". More jobs lost to outsourcing....[Read Full Article]

Why your podcast is probably already illegal
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com By a strange series of links (starting with Scoble's Crossfader post), I see (via Mark May) that ASCAAP has updated its latest internet license to include a reference to podcasts. So podcasters are explictly included among those expected to shell out to play music. If you're not paying up right now, you're out of compliance. (Thus if the Grokster ruling is for MGM, the companies whose products you use to produce those 'casts would be liable for your actions, right?) Mark figures the bill comes to $750 to performing rights organizations like ASCAAP, $42.50 per track to Harry Fox Agency for "mechanical rights" and a mystery figure you need to negotiate with the labels for "master use license" (they don't have to agree to give you the license either). (Oh, btw, Crossfader is "a new online educational and collaboration community for electronic artists. Built by artists for artists, Crossfader will help you learn about the tools of trade [sic], promote your style, experience new genres and stay ahead of the technology curve.” Via Greg Yardley.)...[Read Full Article]

Why Grokster matters (especially to podcasters)
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com Today's papers all carried stories about the amicus briefs in the Grokster case, so it seems a fitting moment to discuss the case in the context of the new emerging Media Technology industry (exactly what that is, I'll define a little later). It was generally played big that Intel filed an amicus brief in the case. While Intel was an early proponent of P2P (they tried to hijack something called the P2P Working Group, long since defunct), they have not to my knowledge taken Hollywood head-on (they were pretty wimpy on the Induce Act, if memory serves.) But in Grokster, Intel finally sees the writing on the walls. In their brief, they state:...[Read Full Article]

SiliconValleyWatcher confirms Yahoo is negotiating acqusition of Flickr
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com Yahoo, the leading Internet media company is in negotiations to buy Flickr, the fast growing photo sharing web site. This follows reports by Om Malik at Business 2.0 earlier in the week, of a possible deal . A high level source within Yahoo told SiliconValleyWatcher that the two companies are in negotiations over the purchase price and other details, but that as of late Friday night Pacific Time, no final agreement had yet been reached. The Yahoo source said that industry reports valuing Flickr at $35m or more were too high and indicated the final valuation would be smaller. The acquisition of Flickr would provide Yahoo with one of the hottest online companies to have emerged in recent years. Flickr is emblematic of a new breed of Internet companies that have become successful as platforms for a diverse number of communities of users. And often there is no way to predict what types of communities will arise to take advantage of the online services. The challenge for any new owner of Flickr will be in how to continue Flickr’s growth and monetise its operations without harming the communities of users that grown around the service. Yahoo might find itself in a bidding war if other online media giants such as Google, AOL, or even Microsoft decide to compete for Flickr....[Read Full Article]

Flickr-Yahoo rumors smell like a deal
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com The rumors have been flying fast on Friday that Flickr has made a deal to be acquired by Yahoo! Business 2.0's Om Malik blogged today that, "Most of the deal-related chatter is coming from blogging world insiders who have said that Flickr might have inked the papers last week, but Yahoo is holding off on an announcement until March 1." So far all lips are sealed tight. On Flickr Central, co-founder Caterina Fake posts that the rumors are a retread of a Business 2.0 story suggesting a Yahoo! purchase might be in the works....[Read Full Article]

A Yahoo for RSS? Nooked Directory collects corporate RSS in one resource
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com Fergus Burns, CEO of Dublin-based Nooked, gave us a heads-up on tomorrow's launch of the beta for the Nooked Directory. It's essentially a Yahoo! for corporate RSS feeds (Yahoo! as in browsable, searchable listing of resources organized hierarchically). "An RSS directory focused on corporate feeds is needed to make it easy for people to discover RSS feeds -- at present the only way of discovering RSS feeds is fragmented. For example, the recently launched Microsoft Presspass feeds were originally mentioned on a blog." That would be Scoble's rant -- "if you do a marketing site and you don't have an RSS feed today you should be fired" -- which mentioned in pasing the existence of the MS feeds....[Read Full Article]

Was the Tibco post a puff piece for an advertiser?
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com On his blog today, Dan Gillmor suggests that the post about our first sponsor is "advertising, and should be explicitly labeled that way." He compares the situation to a newspaper running a front-page story announcing that a new company is now advertising with the paper. We can all agree this would be unseemly pandering and on the face of it the posting amounts to the same thing. UPDATE: Tom Murphy at PR Opinions first questioned the post in his entry Blogging for Cash. He follows up on this post, noting that I neglected to link to him in the first place, with A storm in a teacup? But here is the difference. SVW is both blog and publication. We reserve the right to act like a blog at times. Landing a serious company as a founding sponsor is a very big deal to us; in the context of what most any other blog is earning on the basis of editorial content, it's a big deal. So we'll take a page from Hunter S. Thompson and put ourselves in the story when we're a story. I really think this is a story about our success and about the kind of sponsors we are seeking, and to call it advertising is less honest than writing it up the way it is....[Read Full Article]

For blogs, as with P2P, infrastructure is politics
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com To follow up on Tom's post below, Cory Doctorow recently mentioned to me the Mitch Kapor line, "Infrastructure Is Politics." We were talking about peer to peer but I think this applies to blogs as well, and it perhaps will help Tom understand the intensity of the reaction to blogs. (But let me say at the outset that I could live without anymore articles about someone famous is now blogging, or noting that someone has stopped blogging as if this meant something.) My point about P2P is that from the early days of Napster people conflated -- and continue to conflate -- the infrastructure that is P2P (e.g., systems that allow PCs to function as both clients and servers, typically simultaneously) with the common applications of the infrastructure (MP3 filesharing). But there are many applications for P2P networks, such as cycle sharing, grid computing, massively distributed processing, video redistribution, etc....[Read Full Article]

5000 Hours of White House Tapes Online
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com I was watching "The Trials of Henry Kissinger" last night, which is a pretty compelling argument that Kissinger is one of the great war criminals of all time. So I was quite interested to get a message from Jeff Ubois that the Miller Center for Public Affairs has launched WhiteHouseTapes.org, featuring 5000 hours of tape from Roosevelt through Nixon. The site has some lovely Flash animations of some choice tape excerpts like Johnson giving some very specific instructions to his tailor; Nixon on Rumsfeld ("he's a ruthless little bastard"); and Kennedy ordering some more of those "little blue pills" (he lived in great pain, if you didn't know). To dig deeper you have to be a little more scholar-like and have certain dates in mind. The Internet Archive has a smaller selection of presidential tapes as well. Links: WhiteHouseTapes.org Presidential Recordings on Internet Archive...[Read Full Article]

Self-Promotion: Marketing Shift on SVW
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com Jason Dowdell at Marketing Shift posted a lovely appreciation of Tom and this site. Can't buy publicity like that, right? "I began reading [SVW] a few weeks ago and kind of got hooked. Not sure how it happened but it's now a daily read, probably cause it's chocked full of good content and Tom's a former journalist." The phrase "former journalist" is interesting; as if you can't do journalism online only on paper. Ah well, not to quibble. Tom here: Jason, you are making me blush, thank you for your kind words. (I had an excellent time last week when I ran into Jason at the launch of Become.com...which is a very interesting company, I'll tell you more about them v.soon.) If we were in Pulp Fiction, I know what Mr Wolf would be saying ;-) And yes, Richard is right, I'm not a former journalist. I'm a former journalist at the Financial Times. I'm doing more journalism now than ever before...this blogging stuff is a heck of a thing!...[Read Full Article]

News from Demo: With Perspectives, iUpload is making blogging safe for businesses and better for users
I just got off the phone with Robin Hopper, CEO of iUpload. He's at Demo in Scottsdale to show off iUpload's latest product, Perspectives, which he'll present Tuesday. iUpload is rooted in the enterprise content management world. Before starting iUpload, Robin was VP of sales for Ibex Technologies, a leader in the fax-on-demand space. In starting iUpload six years ago, he wanted to pursue the vision of making information available when, where and to whom it's wanted. iUpload started as a content management system for web publishing. In the past 18 months or so, they've clearly identified that their content management expertise could improve the level of control a publisher has over their blogging. In the current blogging paradigm you have to manually replicate your content in all the different forums you want to post: personal blog, corporate blog, other people's comments, social networking communities, CRM, etc. iUpload offers two critical wins in the business blogging space:...[Read Full Article]

Jupiter analyst: What Technorati can offer Google
The day before the Bloglines-Ask Jeeves deal was formally announced, I talked to Jupiter analyst Eric Peterson. Eric said it made a lot of sense for large search engine companies to start gobbling up RSS aggregators. "It really seems like Google would want to add something like Technorati that uses the relevance mechanism for searching," Eric told me. "When people search they're looking for both widley linked to and new stuff. There's a great opportunity for Google to apply the news.google.com technology to the blogosphere. RSS search would fit well into Gmail's threaded conversation mode. Google lets you search the Web; Google desktop lets you search your information on your hard disk. Why not search my RSS subscriptions? Or search all the blogs linked to by people I subscribe to? "That's what Google would do well," Eric said. "Microsoft could do that as well. Yahoo already has their rss reader. If you win eyeballs, you win loyalty....[Read Full Article]

Why gmail could be a killer app in the third world
It's easy to forget sometimes, as you sip your latte and check your email in your favorite cafe, cursing yourself for only packing your last-years-model Nokia instead of your spanking brand new vidphone, and realizing that you've filled your 40 gigs of iPod in one long weekend of BitTorrent frenzy ... it's easy to forget that technology can actually make a much bigger difference in people's lives. In third world countries, online communications are expensive, spotty, and sometimes critical to human life. Human rights activists, families in refugee camps, and media developers are all dependent on online communications. That's why George Lessard, an international development specialist with particular interest in radio, technology, and development, thinks Gmail is a particularly interesting application. Here's what George told me about the pros and cons of Gmail in the developing world:...[Read Full Article]

Bye, bye, Carly
Carly Fiorino was forced out as head of HP today. For several months now, we had been hearing reports from insiders that Carly had been increasingly isolated. And many of her former staunchest supporters had been steadily departing the company. The Merc has the story:...[Read Full Article]

JotSpot--one of the first of the emerging, disruptive Internet 2.0 technologies...we interview co-founder Joe Kraus
by Tom Foremski and Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Joe Kraus, the founder of JotSpot, one of the hottest Silicon Valley startups, stopped in yesterday for a chat at our deluxe meeting rooms (featuring all day breakfast) at the Lucky Penny Diner on Geary St. in San Francisco. He had a glint in his eye, and a grin on his face that some might describe as looking like the "cat that ate the canary." And why not? JotSpot's enterprise wiki technology has quickly earned a very respectful buzz since its beta launch in late October. It is simple, sophisticated, and easily adaptable for a multitude of corporate IT tasks, with the potential to make a good-sized dent in the enterprise software market. Understandably, Joe would rather not draw that kind of attention from larger players just yet... "We’ll never be able to produce an application that has the depth of a Salesforce.com," he says. "They will always be better at it than we are." (There you go Marc, no need to worry....) But it's plain to see that JotSpot has leveraged wikis into a software development platform that fills a large unmet need: create specialized enterprise applications for which there are no vendors (because the market size is too small) -- without involving IT departments. It's also plain that a lot of enterprises are paying huge amounts of money for bloated applications, and that JotSpot apps could deliver required feature sets for many types of businesses. cd1930...[Read Full Article]

Bloglines acquisition official
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher Ask Jeeves' acquisition of Bloglines became official at the stroke of midnight this morning, with a press release and FAQ posted to the Bloglines site. No financial data was released. Here's the meat of a letter to subscribers from Bloglines founder (now an AskJeeves VP) Mark Fletcher:...[Read Full Article]

Ask Jeeves Buys Bloglines
Mary Hodder at Napsterization has the scoop: Ask Jeeves has bought Bloglines and will announce the sale on Tuesday. Right now, however, check out the Ask Jeeves blog and you'll see that all the blog links go to Bloglines. Is this the beginning of a blogging buying spree?...[Read Full Article]

Clickrisk.com identifies denial of keyword attack from China
Via the Register: Click fraud consultants Clickrisk.com found one of their clients click-through rates suddenly dropped to zero. Turns out out they were the victims of "keyword hijacking" -- automated searches that cause a company's ads to be displayed like crazy. Here's how it works: By running searches against particular keywords from compromised hosts, attackers can cause click-through percentage rates to fall through the floor. This, in turn, causes Google Adwords to automatically disable the affected campaign keywords and prevent ads from being displayed. By disabling campaign keywords using the technique, cybercrimals could give their preferred parties higher ad positions at reduced costs, according to click fraud prevention specialists Clickrisk." Link: Botnets strangle Google Adwords campaigns | The Register dc814...[Read Full Article]

GuruNet Skyrocketing
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com GuruNet, the Israeli company behind Answers.com, bolted more than six points in trading today to 22.98. The stock price ended last week at 12.50, so it has almost doubled this week. What did Guru announce this week to make investors swoon so hard? Nothing. Here's the Motley Fool's take: Investors would be wise to go back to the IPO prospectus and read through the risks this company faces. One significant one is that of IPO funding. While it is adequate for the next 12 months, the company is going to be producing operating losses. More funding, and probably share dilution, is coming. Oh, and the company has more debt than cash. Yikes. The company's content is licensed from year to year. That's hardly comforting when it is the content, as well as the search, that counts. Why is GuruNet soaring? Investors may be looking at Google's $55.6 billion market capitalization and thinking that GuruNet's Lilliputian $93 million capitalization leaves a lot of room for growth. Maybe, but Answers.com has just been released, and its future, and the company's too, are far from certain. Link: Is Answers.com the Next Google? dk1153...[Read Full Article]

Flickr at Center of Perfect Storm: An Interview with Stewart Butterfield
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com O'Reilly Network is running my interview with Stewart Butterfield, CEO of Flickr, today. There's a lot of interesting stuff in that interview but a couple things that may not have made it in are that Flickr does not necessarily see itself as only a photo service although they realize the difficulties in branching out beyond that for the foreseeable future; and they will have quite a few interesting announcements at the O'Reilly Emerging Tech conference in March. At the risk of being sooo self-referential, I thought I would offer an extended quote from my introduction to the interview, which I think captures Flickr a classic Web 2.0 service....[Read Full Article]

Flickr Forward--Flickr CEO speaks to Silicon Valley Watcher
After Om Malik blogged Tuesday about the possibility that Flickr had missed a chance at an egress lined with gold, I asked Flickr CEO Stewart Butterfield to comment. Referring to a Business 2.0 piece in which Michael Copeland wrote that Google and Yahoo want to buy Flickr outright, while VCs are flooding the husband-and-wife management team with offers, Om wondered: "...Given the aggression with which Google has moved with Picasa, and their track record of replicating-and-improving on other people's ideas, you think maybe Flickr missed an opportunity to cash out?" Here's what Stewart had to say:...[Read Full Article]

Yahoo tests contextual search
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatch.com Yahoo started public testing of Y!Q, its new contextual search engine late Wednesday. The feature allows users to click on a Y!Q button, which pops up contextual search box right on the web page. A toolbar option lets users select specific text and search for news and web pages related to the text instead of the page itself. SearchEngineWatch.com's Chris Sherman writes: "It's hard to describe just what Y!Q does without actually trying it out. Imagine combining suggested search terms with result clustering, but all assembled on the fly based on an analysis of a web page rather than from search terms you type into a query box. It's neat, and in some cases, it's a very powerful tool for easily constructing sophisticated queries." Read SEW's review and check it out at next.yahoo.com...[Read Full Article]

Marqui Program: Hot Air?
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com Marqui's program of paying bloggers to mention the company on their blogs has resulted in mostly a lot of "introspective blather," in the opinion of Marc Canter, the genius behind the program. The point of the program, after all, isn't to be the center of a storm of inside baseball chatter but rather to close sales and recruit developers. In the case of this Marqui program - the company missed the notion that we were setting up a pipeline - explicitely for the purpose of getting compelling stories and usage sceanrios out into our bloggers blogs. With a piepline established - not only the corporate message - but success stories and on-going updates could be fed to our paid bloggers - utilzing their intellect and feedback to spread the Marqui meme....[Read Full Article]

The (high) value of blogging
By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com Alan Meckler noted in his blog last week that Jupiter Research's blogs are "reaping business." Our JupiterResearch team has been writing blogs for close to two years (JupiterResearch was the first Research company to offer blogs). Readership has grown dynamically (Close to 70,000 page views per day). And we now have several cases of gaining sales leads as a result of a reader becoming interested in our research because of being impressed by analysts' comments. Other areas of Jupitermedia have blogs as well. In addition to my blog, Danny Sullivan's blog has been growing significantly as well. Danny and his news editor Gary Price now garner near 30,000 page views per day. When combined with our SearchengineWatchforum and Searchenginewatch.com site we have daily page views in the Search field of over 200,000 per day (and growing)....[Read Full Article]

Google's stunning results
Google reported stunning financial results yesterday, with profits of 71 cents per share, far in excess of analysts' expectations of 54 cents per share, and seven times their results of a year ago. The Washington Post reported that Google will roll out significant upgrades to the service in 2005. "I'm very excited about how Google will look to the end user in six to 12 months, lots of new and interesting ways," CEO Eric Schmidt told analysts. In the conference call with analysts, Larry Page made it clear that it's all about advertising. Google even certified ad execs in how to use search and how to track sales from Google ads, Page said. Growth internationally looks especially bright, Google execs said. Link...[Read Full Article]

Yahoo rising
Sunday's piece in the Times -- "Search Sites Play a Game of Constant Catch-Up" pegged Google as losing focus and Yahoo and Microsoft closing the gap. Google's stunning numbers should quiet their detractors for awhile, but the word is getting out that Yahoo is not to be sneezed at....[Read Full Article]

Google as portal?
by Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com Referring to our blurb about Google's search for a content acquisition manager, Mitch Ratcliffe argues that Google needs to become a media company. Whether they are talking about building search-based views of rich media or bringing rich media into Googlespace to drive its own page views, Google's waking up to the reality that it's a media company with great technology and not a technology company that can succeed on coding skills alone. Even a billion-dollar quarter doesn't salve the wound Yahoo opens when it makes more revenue with its content-packaging approach. SVW believes that all companies are becoming media companies. On the today that Microsoft unveiled MSN Search, one can't help thinking that Google won't outlast Microsoft purely on the superiority of their algorithms. While they've achieved great results with their advertising model, it's certainly a repeatable strategy. Content is still going to be king....[Read Full Article]

Google ready to buy up content?
by Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com Google yesterday posted a job listing for a strategic partner development manager on craigslist. Of interest is this line: "This high-visibility role requires someone who will be responsible for identifying, structuring and negotiating licensing relationships with some of Google’s largest and most strategic partners to acquire and monetize a wide range of video and audio content."...[Read Full Article]

Distributed Journalism in Action
by Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com If you want to see why blogs really are the future of journalism, head on over to The Daily Kos, where you can see distributed journalism in action. The story in question is who is "Jeff Gannon" and what is the "Talon News Agency." It was Gannon, you see, who was the sole reporter with access to the memo exposing Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA agent....[Read Full Article]