TWiST #141 News Stories Anything
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TWiST #141 News Stories

News stories we're covering for This Week in Startups Episode #141, airing on Friday, May 13th, will be posted here. Vote up the stories you most want to see discussed on the show. If you have suggestions for news topics that aren't listed here, leave them in the comments section below and we can add them! And don't forget to click through to Page 2 for more of the stories we're covering!

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    Facebook Paid for Google Smears?

    According to Dan Lyons and The Daily Beast, Facebook has hired Burson-Marsteller, a top public-relations firm, to put negative stories about Google into the press. Lyons has confirmation from a FB spokesperson that, indeed, Burson-Marsteller was brought on, citing genuine concerns about Google's invasions of user privacy as well as general antipathy based on Google's efforts to utilize Facebook data.

    (Much of the debate surrounds Google's "Social Circle" feature, allowing Gmail users to see not only their contacts, but "friends of friends" and other secondary connections.)

    QUESTION: Obviously, a public humiliation for Facebook to get caught in such an antiquated "corporate espionage" type scheme. But anyone want to step up to their defense? Is Google invading user privacy, and do they deserve to be investigated more than they are?

    SOURCE: The Daily Beast
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    Microsoft Acquires Skype

    The Wall Street Journal announced on Monday evening that Microsoft would acquire telephony giant Skype for $8.5 billion. The move is Microsoft's most aggressive in the digital space to date. Skype had been on the path towards an IPO, but will now likely be absorbed into pre-existing Microsoft online communications efforts, such as Windows Live.

    QUESTION: What's Steve Ballmer planning here? Think this gamble will pay off?

    SOURCE: All Things D
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    Google Chromebooks are notebook computers that will run Chrome OS, a "cloud-based operating system." (This means Chrome OS will only run web-based applications through a Chrome browser, giving it more battery life and making the entire device significantly faster). They will be available beginning June 15th and the initial releases will come from Samsung and Acer.

    Samsung's device will have a 12.1 inch screen and 8 hours of battery life. It will run you $429 with Wi-Fi only and $499 to add a 3G option. Acer's entry will feature an 11.6 inch display and 6.5 hours of battery life. It starts at $349.

    An even bigger potential gamechanger? There may be plans to allow people to RENT these Chromebooks for as little as $20 per month.

    QUESTION: How disruptive do you see this being to the PC and laptop market? Google is presently denying this, but do you think we will eventually see a Chrome OS tablet?

    SOURCE: Mashable
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    Google Music Launch

    At the I/O Conference, Google launched a new Google Music service similar in some ways to Amazon's recently-released Cloud Player. Google Music allows users to store music they own in the cloud and then stream it over the Web, or on to their Android devices. It appears Google's offering may beat Amazon's, at least in terms of the free version. Amazon only offers space for approximately 2,000 songs without a fee, while Google looks to potentially offer 10 times that amount of space without charging.

    As of the time of the announcement, Google did not have agreements in place with any of the major music labels and publishers. According to the AllThingsD blog MediaMemo, Google had hoped to release a more robust, feature-rich version of the service, but negotiations broke down with the music industry, prompting the company to release a modified version of the service independently.

    QUESTION: How much longer will the music industry be able to maintain control of how and where users store their music? Think Amazon will be forced to increase the amount of space you can use for free? Finally, with the recent hiccups in large-scale cloud storage, think people will have second thoughts about storing important files - like their music libraries - there?

    SOURCE: AllThingsD
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    Y Combinator Accepts 60+ Startups for Summer Session

    Startup incubator Y Combinator just keeps growing. After accepting a record 44 startups in their last session, they've now upped the ante again by allegedly accepting over 60 companies for Summer 2011. (Last summer, for comparison, Y Combinator worked with 36 companies.) It's not hard to see why the program has become so popular: powerhouse startups like Reddit, Disqus, Dropbox,, Heroku, Posterous, Airbnb and more have all come from the incubator. Not to mention Yuri Milner and Ron Conway's $150,000 convertible debt offerings for every company in the program.

    QUESTION: With a total of 6 partners, 3 of whom are solely focused on providing advice and guidance, is Y Combinator going to start spreading itself too thin? Is there a danger of spoiling what makes the incubator special by taking on too many companies?

    SOURCE: TechCrunch
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    Facebook Offers Virtual Currency for Commercial Views

    A new Facebook credits program includes ad startups SocialVibe, TrialPay and Sharethrough, and lets users earn money by watching video ads. Users can also download an app, take a poll or interact with the site to get free access to featured that are normally paid-only. Apps can pay in Facebook-wide or app-specific virtual currency, or in real dollars that can then be donated to charity. Facebook has stated that their goal here is to get more people to use credits and carry a balance of Facebook Credits in the system.

    QUESTION: We know people will look at ads in exchange for accessing content, but will they watch ads in exchange for virtual currency? Or is this getting too complicated, when what people really crave is a simple payoff?

    SOURCE: AllThingsD
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