TWiST #186 News Websites
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TWiST #186 News

News stories we're covering for This Week in Startups Episode #186, airing on Friday, September 9th, will be posted here. This is an open list, so in addition to voting for the stories you want to hear about, now you can go to the bottom of the page and suggest your own! The big startup and tech industry stories from the week that get the most votes will be featured on the show, and if you suggested them, we may even give you a shoutout on the air! And don't forget to click through to Page 2 to see all the stories we're working on!

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    Carol Bartz Out at Yahoo!

    Carol Bartz was let go as the CEO of Yahoo! on Tuesday. After Kara Swisher broke the news on AllThingsD, Bartz sent out an e-mail to Yahoo! employees confirming the news, and saying the following:

    To all,

    I am very sad to tell you that I’ve just been fired over the phone by Yahoo’s Chairman of the Board. It has been my pleasure to work with all of you and I wish you only the best going forward.


    CFO Tim Morse was named interim CEO while the board searches for a more permanent replacement.

    Bartz published an interview with Fortune's Dan Primack following her termination in which she referred to fellow board members as "doofuses" and complained that they "F-ed her over." It has since been reported that Bartz may have signed a non-disparagement clause in her employment contract (still good for about $10 million) which she now may have violated in her interview.

    QUESTION: Why now? Why let go of Bartz before completing the search for a replacement? And is it wrong for Bartz to have been informed of her termination via a phone call? Who was less classy - the chairman for firing her on the phone, or Bartz for noting it so defensively in her e-mail?

    SOURCE: AllThingsD
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    Google Nabs Zagat Added by: cbedgood

    Google has acquired Zagat, which will become the cornerstone of its local strategy by offering reviews, ratings and insights for services and restaurants worldwide.The sale amount was undisclosed, but according to Erick Schonfeld of TechCrunch, it didn't trigger an FTC antitrust review, indicating it must have been less than $66 million.

    Zagat was founded by Tim and Nina Zagat more than 32 years ago, operating in 13 categories and more than 100 cities. Tim and Nina are expected to stay on as co-chairs, and the company will apparently continue to produce the physical Zagat Guides independently of Google.

    QUESTION: How do you see Google integrating Zagat into its current location and local offerings? Is this a case of just wanting the respected Zagat brand name? Or is there some other angle here?

    SOURCE: Mashable
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    Groupon Postpones IPO?

    Groupon, which had been expected to make its stock market debut with a valuation around $20 billion, has canceled its investor roadshow and is said to be re-evaluating plans for an IPO. The stated reason: "Stock market volatility." It had been thought the company might price its shares as early as mid-September.

    It has, of course, been a troubled road to IPO for the Chicago daily deal giant, after criticisms of the accounting practices in their initial filings - which attempted to downplay the considerable costs of promoting and marketing the business - as well as public statements in recent weeks that may have violated SEC rules forbidding employees from commenting about the company.

    The other big web company looking to go public in the near f*ture, Zynga, declined to comment on the Groupon situation. They now seem likely to be next out of the gate.

    QUESTION: Think the postponement had to do with fallout from the SEC rule violation? Other factors? Or do you take Groupon at their word that the condition of the market itself was their chief concern?

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    AOL vs TechCrunch: The Saga Continues

    UPDATE: According to Fortune/CNN, AOL has terminated Michael Arrington. No word yet on the fate of the CrunchFund or next week's TechCrunch Disrupt event, but according to Fortune's Dan Primack, Arrington "has lost both his job and (likely) his TechCrunch platform."

    To sum up where we are so far...

    - Michael Arrington and AOL announce that he will be stepping down as the full-time editor of TechCrunch to start a new venture capital fund, known as CrunchFund. Lots of prominent angel investors and VC firms were chipping in to the $20 million fund, including Ron Conway, Yuri Milner, Kevin Rose, Sequoia Capital, Accel Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Greylock Partners and Redpoint Ventures.

    - Arianna Huffington, Arrington and various other AOL spokespersons seem to all have different ideas about how involved Arrington will be in TechCrunch. Opinions range from "not involved at all" to "I am TechCrunch and TechCrunch is me."

    - Concerns were raised by many in the press - including the New York Times' David Carr and AllThingsD's Kara Swisher - about the conflict of interest of having a tech news blog run by a guy who's putting money into many of the companies being covered.

    - TechCrunch's MG Siegler puts up a post saying that the end of TechCrunch as we know it may be nigh if Arrington is asked to step down.

    - Arrington himself writes a post in which he publicly offers two options: Complete autonomy from Huffington Post (and therefore, Arianna Huffington) OR allowing him to repurchase TechCrunch from AOL. He also apologetically compares his situation to that of the Spartans from the film "300."

    QUESTION: What to make of all this? Is Arrington's explanation that transparency about companies in which he's invested on TechCrunch absolves him of having a conflict of interest, or at least makes it acceptable? Are companies like the New York Times - which themselves occasionally purchase other companies and have numerous unexplained biases - hypocritical when calling him out for investing in companies he covers? Is this the beginning of the end of the entire AOL/HuffPo acquisition? In 1 year, will there be a "TechCrunch" as we have come to know it?
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    Twitter Breaks the 100M Mark Added by: cbedgood

    Twitter CEO Dick Costolo announced in a "state of the union" style address this week that Twitter has 100 million active monthly users and 400 million monthly visitors to its Web site. He also revealed another interesting statistic: 40% of active users don’t create their own tweets, opting instead to just read submissions from other people.

    The statistics indicate that Twitter is on track to add as many active users in the next 4 months than they added in 2006, ’07, ’08 and ’09 combined: 26 million. The jump from January of 250M monthly visitors may be partially attributed to an increase in mobile use: 55% percent of active users now access Twitter through mobile platforms and apps.

    Costolo also explained that the reason the company hasn’t improved its products as much as people would have expected is because it first had to get its infrastructure in order. He did not address the growing issue of tweet spam, other than to say the team is "doing a much better job with spam"

    SOURCE: AllThingsD
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    Google Bids on Hulu

    Hulu has been looking to sell, and the word is that Amazon, Yahoo! and Dish Network have all made offers, allegedly in the $1.5 billion to $2 billion range. According to AllThingsD, Google also has entered the fray, and made a considerably larger offer than the other companies. However, rather than bidding on what Hulu executives have put on the table, the company wants something more.

    What is it, exactly? No one seems to know. But it likely includes far greater access to the libraries of the studios behind Hulu, possibly for an extended period of time.

    QUESTION: What do you think Google wants from Hulu to make this deal worthwhile to them? Would the plan be eventually to integrate Hulu with YouTube? Or do you think they would keep them both on as parallel systems? How much do you think it would cost to get the studios to turn their content over to Google?

    SOURCE: AllThingsD
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