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Archive for November, 2010

Bidding War For Twitter Raises Valuation To Nearly $4 Billion. Kleiner Perkins Currently In Pole Position

November 30th, 2010 11:38 admin View Comments

Two weeks ago we reported that Twitter was mulling over raising a big new round of financing and the expected valuation was in the $3 billion range. Things have developed since then, it seems.

The bidding has gotten more intense from what we’re hearing. Russian firm DST, among others, submitted offers to invest valuing the company above $3 billion, say multiple sources. But the current leader, and likely winner, is Kleiner Perkins, say multiple sources.

Alpha investor and Kleiner investor John Doerr is personally leading the charge, we’ve heard, and is acting something like a dog with a bone that won’t let go. “Doerr wants to own part of Twitter, And Doerr generally gets what he wants” says one person with knowledge of the negotiations.

Is the deal done? No. Another investor could step up with an even higher valuation, forcing Twitter to make a difficult (even legally difficult) decision to pass on Kleiner. But as things stand right now, our understanding is Kleiner is in the pole position on the round, and unless something dramatic happens, they’ll soon be an investor.

This fits in neatly with Kleiner’s push to invest in the “third wave” of technology disruption. See his April guest post here on TechCrunch for more details on how they’re thinking about their current investment strategy.

Source: Bidding War For Twitter Raises Valuation To Nearly $4 Billion. Kleiner Perkins Currently In Pole Position

SoundCloud Launches Cool Recording Features, Aims At Wider Market

November 30th, 2010 11:37 admin View Comments

Today, SoundCloud, an audio platform that has concentrated on music makers so far, makes a significant pivot into the wider sphere of audio sharing. Up until now SoundCloud has done a pretty incredible job of attracting well known artists to its platform such as The Foo Fighters, Kylie, Deadmau5, Moby and Caribou, who have used it to effectively socialise their music. But today Soundcloud releases the ability to record sound direct via the site, and via it’s updated iPhone app. That puts it into the realm of pure audio sharing platforms such as Cinch and Audioboo. In other news SoundCloud has also passed two million users.

SoundCloud’s new record facility on the site or iPhone apps lets users capture sound anywhere and put it into their waveform player to share it across social networks, websites, the SoundCloud community or privately between friends. The iPhone app also has the ability to add an image and location to the sound recording. This is exactly what Audioboo and Cinch do already for instance, but the social features on SoundCloud may well trump any existing player right now. Check out the screen grabs below. Having looked at the app I can see that I may shift my own audio recording to SoundCloud because the experience is really very good.

Read the rest of this entry »

Source: SoundCloud Launches Cool Recording Features, Aims At Wider Market

SoundCloud Launches Cool Recording Features, Aims At Wider Market

November 30th, 2010 11:37 admin View Comments

Today, SoundCloud, an audio platform that has concentrated on music makers so far, makes a significant pivot into the wider sphere of audio sharing. Up until now SoundCloud has done a pretty incredible job of attracting well known artists to its platform such as The Foo Fighters, Kylie, Deadmau5, Moby and Caribou, who have used it to effectively socialise their music. But today Soundcloud releases the ability to record sound direct via the site, and via it’s updated iPhone app. That puts it into the realm of pure audio sharing platforms such as Cinch and Audioboo. In other news SoundCloud has also passed two million users.

SoundCloud’s new record facility on the site or iPhone apps lets users capture sound anywhere and put it into their waveform player to share it across social networks, websites, the SoundCloud community or privately between friends. The iPhone app also has the ability to add an image and location to the sound recording. This is exactly what Audioboo and Cinch do already for instance, but the social features on SoundCloud may well trump any existing player right now. Check out the screen grabs below. Having looked at the app I can see that I may shift my own audio recording to SoundCloud because the experience is really very good.

Read the rest of this entry »

Source: SoundCloud Launches Cool Recording Features, Aims At Wider Market

Aussie Government Gives PDF the Thumbs Down

November 30th, 2010 11:54 admin View Comments

littlekorea writes “The central IT office of the Australian Government has advised its agencies to offer alternatives to Adobe’s Portable Document Format to ensure folks with impaired vision are able to consume information on the Web. A Government-funded study found that PDFs can present themselves as image-only files to screen readers, rendering the information contained within them unreadable for the vision impaired.”

Source: Aussie Government Gives PDF the Thumbs Down

Zynga’s FarmVille Heads To The Land Of The Rising Sun

November 30th, 2010 11:00 admin View Comments

It’s already taken over the English-speaking world, and it’s ready for more. Zynga’s juggernaut FarmVille will soon be launching in Japan, marking the first time the game has been translated into another language. A localized, mobile version of the game, which will be called FarmVillage, is slated to launch in Japan in “early December”.

FarmVillage is going to be available on Mixi, which is the top Japanese social network.  But it will only be available for mobile ‘feature-phones’, at least for now, which could impact adoption. The release is the first from Zynga Japan, the social gaming company’s joint venture with Softbank that was announced over the summer (in addition to a Softbank investment of $150 million).

This is the latest round of Zynga’s international expansion. The company launched Texas Poker in traditional Chinese over the summer, and will soon be launching CityVille simultaneously in English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish (that will also mark the first time Zynga has had an international launch for a game’s initial release).

Source: Zynga’s FarmVille Heads To The Land Of The Rising Sun

Come On, People, Let’s Get Convertible Tablets Right This Time

November 30th, 2010 11:20 admin View Comments

Back in about 2002 or so when Toshiba and a few others tried to sell tablets to businesses and consumers. This was around when Bill Gates was flogging Windows Tablet PC Edition and we all realized that tablets weren’t quite the trick. Among those tablets were the so-called convertibles – laptops that folded around to become thick tablets. When you wanted to tap on the screen you could and when you wanted to type you could do that, too. They were awful.

Now, suddenly, Dell comes out with the Duo and Apple is patenting something that looks like a MacBook Air with a clever folding screen. Sadly, the Duo is a dud and the Apple patents probably won’t make it to market, but here’s what I’d like to see in the convertible department.


There are some times when you totally need a keyboard. I’d love to see a MacBook Air or Vostro-sized tablet with a slide down keyboard that can also act as a stand. Obviously the stand would have to be able to support the thin piece of glass that is the screen, but the goal would be to add a very thin, very light keyboard to an equally thin and light tablet device.

The problem with most convertibles was an untoward attraction to legacy ports and parts. They were there because laptop manufacturers felt that users needed to have an Ethernet port hanging out in their convertibles like an gaping abscess. This is no longer the case. Something like the Dell Streak melded to a nice, full slide-down keyboard would be ideal and it would force manufacturers to really think about tablet usability versus laptop usability.

This is not to say that the traditional-style convertible doesn’t have a place. I’m sure someone thinks they need it. I’d just like the 7-inch plus tablets to go the way of smartphones like the Droid and offer a physical keyboard plus an on-screen keyboard. It makes sense and it would change the tablet use case immensely.

Will this ever happen? Most probably. Dell kind of did it with the ultra-light Duo and there’s no telling what HP is working on with Palm. Things are looking up, especially when compared to the dark days of the proto-convertibles back at the turn of the century.

Source: Come On, People, Let’s Get Convertible Tablets Right This Time

Report Shows iPad Gaining On Kindle In E-Reader Category

November 30th, 2010 11:54 admin View Comments

I’m not really sure this research is as revealing as it seems to be. Take a look at the diagram. The take-away is that since the introduction of the iPad, the Kindle’s share of the e-reader market has dropped from 68% to 40%. This suggests that sales of the Kindle are dropping, or that Amazon is losing ground to Apple. But the simple nature of the study suggests a different conclusion.

Read the rest of this entry »

Source: Report Shows iPad Gaining On Kindle In E-Reader Category

Greg Bear, Others Cry Foul on Project Gutenberg Copyright Call

November 30th, 2010 11:51 admin View Comments

Nova Express writes “Recently a lot of science fiction stories from the 1950s and 60s (including work from still-living authors like Frederik Pohl and Jack Vance) have been showing up on Project Gutenberg as being in the public domain. However, according the science fiction writer Greg Bear and his wife Astrid Anderson Bear (daughter of Poul Anderson, some of whose works were among those put up) Project Gutenberg has made a mistake: ‘After conducting legal research on the LEXIS database of legal cases, decisions, and precedents, we have demonstrated conclusively that PG was making incorrect determinations regarding public domain status in many, many works that originally appeared in magazine form … In general, Project Gutenberg is doing a tremendous service by making available texts that have truly long since fallen out of copyright, but they are clearly overstepping their original mandate. They are not merely exploiting orphan works, but practicing a wholesale kidnapping of works that are under copyright protection.’”

Source: Greg Bear, Others Cry Foul on Project Gutenberg Copyright Call

What TechCrunch Staffers Want Yammer to Spend that $25 Million on (TCTV)

November 30th, 2010 11:57 admin View Comments

It’s no secret that we like Yammer here at TechCrunch. We gave the company the top TechCrunch50 honors a few years back, we use the product pretty obsessively for in-house communication, and Mike even uses it as a reporting tool.

But we could like it a lot better…

In part two of our interview with David Sacks we ask him what he’s going to spend that new $25 million in venture capital on, and we oh-so-humbly suggest a few things we’d like for him to spend it on. (Spoiler alert: Jason Kincaid is going to be the happiest.)

I forgot to make my request, which is for a “dislike” button. I asked Sacks over email and he said, “You want to tell people you dislike them? What kind of operation is Arrington running over there?” As he said in the first part of our interview, the Yammer feed is like looking in a corporate mirror.

Source: What TechCrunch Staffers Want Yammer to Spend that $25 Million on (TCTV)

Apple Buys HP’s Old Campus, HP Buys The Twitter Ads For #Apple

November 30th, 2010 11:47 admin View Comments

Last week, MercuryNews.com revealed that Apple made a massive land purchase near their current headquarters in Cupertino, CA. They actually bought the old HP campus, which the electronics giant announced they were moving out of to consolidate their offices in nearby Palo Alto. So perhaps it shouldn’t be too surprising that HP bought something of Apple’s today: their hashtag on Twitter.

Okay, Apple doesn’t technically have any rights to a hashtag containing their name on Twitter. In fact, maybe HP is targeting people tweeting about the fruit. Yeah, right.

As you can see here, the HP Official Store has paid to promote tweets with links to computer sales they’re having to people searching for Apple. They have a group of rotating tweets they’re promoting, but all point to sales they are having at the HP online store — a store which couldn’t look more different from Apple’s.

This kind of rivalry targeting is done all the time on Google and other search engines, but it seems to becoming more of a norm on Twitter as well. A few weeks ago, we saw competing ads on Twitter from Microsoft and Google for mobile.

I wonder how newly prolific Twitter user and Apple executive Phil Schiller likes them apples?

[thanks Kevin]

Source: Apple Buys HP’s Old Campus, HP Buys The Twitter Ads For #Apple