TWiST #190 News Roundtable Websites
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TWiST #190 News Roundtable

News stories we're covering for This Week in Startups Episode #190, airing on Friday, September 23rd, 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 shout-out 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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    Meg Whitman Replaces Leo Apotheker at HP

    Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman has been named CEO and President of HP, ousting Léo Apotheker. Whitman made an unsuccessful bid as the Republican nominee for governor of California last year and since has been consulting part-time at Kleiner Perkins.

    HP’s most recent spate of trouble was the announcement of layoffs of hundreds of employees in its Palm division, which came after the news that HP was shutting down its webOS hardware business.

    QUESTION: Whitman’s expertise is primarily in the consumer space, so is she a good pick to run what is largely a hardware company--and one with major enterprise clients? Why take on

    SOURCE: AllThingsD

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    Google+ Opens to the Public with Search

    Google+ started the week off by opening access to everyone. (Users previously were required to obtain an invite.) The service also rolled out search functionality for people, posts and Web content.

    Along with search, Google released a pack of new features for their Hangouts feature. Hangouts are now available for Android phones with front-facing cameras, for larger viewing audiences, and can include screen-sharing, basic sketching, Google Docs and public topic listings.

    QUESTION: Facebook seemed to do a pretty good job this week of stealing G+'s thunder, and more and more people have been observing that G+ is generating less new conversations and engagement than it did post-launch. Will opening the gates give the system the surge of eyeballs and commentary that it needs? What more can Google do to compete with the constantly-updating, ever-iterating Facebook?

    SOURCE: AllThingsD

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    Netflix Rebrands DVD-by-mail Service Qwikster

    Netflix announced that its DVD-by-mail operations would soon be rebranded "Qwikster." The service will be separated from its streaming service, but share the same infrastructure and content library as the current DVD-by-mail system. Video game rentals will also be available.

    Netflix recently angered its customer base with a rate hike and some feel that even more DVD members may leave the service if there’s not an incentive to bundle.

    QUESTIONS: Is a standalone DVD-by-mail operation going to really be a viable business model? Or is the goal just to get a better valuation on Wall Street for its streaming operation?

    SOURCE: GigaOm

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    Controversy over FBI's Stingray Cell Phone Tracker Added by: Lons

    The FBI has been using a cell phone tracking device known as a "Stingray," capable of zeroing in on a cell phone even if it's not in use. The FBI has said it obtains appropriate court orders before ever using the device.

    Recently, the Stingray was used to track down a hacker named Daniel David Rigmaiden, accused of filing fraudulent electronic tax returns. Rigmaiden's lawyers are now arguing that they should have access to information about the government techniques used to find him, including the Stingray. This has led to questions about how much access even judges have been given to the inner workings of the technology.

    QUESTION: Should Rigmaiden's lawyers be given access to more information about the Stingray and other equipment used to track him down? Or does the FBI have a right to keep its technology and techniques a secret?


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    Rick Santorum vs. Google Results Added by: Lons

    Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has a Google problem.

    Back in 2003, after Santorum gave an interview comparing homosexuality to polygamy, adultery, incest and bestiality. (He argued that allowing gay marriage would be akin to tolerating "man on dog" relationships.)

    In response, sex columnist Dan Savage asked his viewers to decide on a new definition for the word "santorum," eventually resulting in using the term to refer to - prepare yourselves - the mixture of lubricant and fecal matter resulting from anal sex.

    Search "Santorum" on Google to this day, and this is what you'll find - first, the page "" providing the alternate definition, and then a Wikipedia page about the incident, followed by information on Rick Santorum the candidate.

    Santorum has begun lobbying Google to alter the result. He said "To have a business allow that type of filth to be purveyed through their website is something that they say they can't handle but I suspect that's not true." He also implied that if a Democrat were in a similar situation, Google would help them out.

    QUESTION: Aside from thoughts about whether Google SHOULD make this change, or thoughts on Mr. Santorum's positions... is this really the best possible result for this term? Are people looking up the word "Santorum" more likely to be looking for the slang than the man? As well, how much of a concern is it that politicians don't seem to really grasp the Internet. Should comfort with technology be a more prominent consideration when choosing a president?

    SOURCE: ABC News

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    Dish Network Announces Streaming Service Added by: Lons

    Dish Network is preparing a Netflix-style streaming video service along with Blockbuster, which the company purchased out of bankruptcy for $228 million back in April.

    Currently, Netflix has about 20,000 titles available to stream. Amazon, the next competitor, has a bit less than half that. The Dish/Blockbuster offering will have 4,000 streaming titles, but it will supplement Blockbuster's pre-existing VOD and DVD-by-mail service (unlike Netflix, which has of course segmented off DVD-by-mail as a new company, Qwikster.) The cost is $10 a month.

    Also, Dish Network's new service will - at least for now - be limited to people already paying for Dish Network's pay TV.

    QUESTION: Can Netflix bounce back, particularly now that more competitors are entering the fray? How do they move forward if they can't manage to squeeze a better deal - more titles or less money - from the studios? And if Netflix is vanquished by Dish Network, won't the studios just start playing hardball all over again with the new service?

    SOURCE: AllThingsD and Giga Om

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    Facebook's Big Changes

    This week was Facebook's F8 Developers conference, and the company took the opportunity to massively alter the site's basic interface, as well as introducing a bevy of new or reconfigured features. Most significantly, perhaps, were the alterations to the classic Facebook "Wall," which has now become a news feed functioning as something of a "personal newspaper," presenting the most interesting news that has been published since the last time a user signed in.

    Accompanying each top story will be the option to unmark an update as a top story; doing so will mean that Facebook will stop prioritizing similar posts in the f*ture. Facebook also rolled out larger News Feed photos and a new feature called Ticker that shows the latest updates from all a user’s friends in real time in the right-hand column.

    During his F8 keynote, CEO Mark Zuckerberg also gave the world a first look at Timeline, essentially a curated "story" recounting all of the time you've spent on Facebook. New events and "stories" are featured at the top of the page, and scrolling down takes you on something of a tour of Facebook days-gone-by. (The algorithm condenses events more and more as you travel back through history.) The Timeline is also where 3rd party Facebook apps will live.

    Spotify CEO Daniel Ek and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings also appeared at the event. Ekl announced that the Spotify music streaming service will be deeply integrated into Facebook, allowing. Facebook users to stream Spotify tracks directly from the news feed or from one's own profile, where their top tracks will be listed. Facebook will launch a music dashboard, which will display music-specific notifications and updates, and also show which songs are currently popular within one's network of friends.

    QUESTION: Facebook's massive changes initially caused some degree of controversy among users, who complained in particular about losing tighter control on what updates they would see upon logging in. Is this just the usual fear of the unknown, or is Facebook changing to much too fast and risking alienating its hundreds of millions of fans? What do you think generally of the new Facebook? Too busy and overdeveloped, or bold and innovative?

    SOURCE: The Internet (but specifically Washington Post and Forbes

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    The New Gowalla Added by: Lons

    After 2.5 years, check-in app Gowalla is re-launching its mobile apps and website. The new pivot is built around "Social Guides" - 'best of' collections for various locations highlighting recommendations on what to do from your friends as well as experts.

    Gowalla's launching Guides for 60 cities this week as well as individual attractions like national parks, teaming with partners like National Geographic and Disney. Their goal is to hit 100 Guides quickly, with help from the community creating highlights and lists for places that aren't yet in the system. Gowalla's calling the new system "a social atlas of the world."

    QUESTION: What held back Gowalla from hitting the success of, say, FourSquare? Thoughts on the new Social Guides system?

    SOURCE: Gowalla Blog

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    Political Ads Hit Twitter

    Twitter announced that it will begin accepting political advertising as part of its Promoted Products suite, although it will distinguish them from other ads with a "special icon." Mitt Romney’s campaign was the first to buy one and those familiar FEC disclaimers will be a included in the hover overlay.

    This project is being led by Peter Greenberger, who previously ran political sales for Google. Twitter says that it "has become a more mainstream presence in politics, both domestically and around the world," making these advertisements a natural platform fit.

    QUESTION: Figure political advertising will be a huge nuisance for users, more than traditional ads, considering how ever-present they have become on television?

    SOURCE: TechCrunch

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    iTunes Experiences an In-App Purchasing Fail

    In-app purchases via iTunes have apparently been failing in a big way for the last ten hours and app creators who depend on this heavily taxed income are getting antsy

    It’s unconfirmed, but possible that the problem may be connected to fake purchase receipts getting into the system

    Whatever the cause, one developer told Engadget that the failure is "losing lots of sales" for apps that use receipt verification and is "threatening to more-or-less take down the entire IAP ecosystem"

    Some developers haven't been able to process any in-app payments for 10+ hours, and it’s been confirmed that Zynga is included in that group

    SOURCE: Engadget

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    Living Social May Pick Funding Over IPO Added by: Lons

    According to Bloomberg, LivingSocial may be considering raising $200 million more in funding at a valuation of $6 billion, rather than proceeding towards an initial public offering.

    The proposed funding round could include both equity and debt. JP Morgan Chase is currently serving as an adviser. The daily deal giant was in talks earlier this year about raising $1 billion in an IPO, but the declining stock market has apparently given them second thoughts. The funding round would most likely include some existing LivingSocial investors as well as some newcomers. LivingSocial raised $400 million back in April at a $3.5 billion valuation, bringing the total private investment to $627 million.

    QUESTION: If you were running LivingSocial, which way would you go with it? How many tech companies do you think are hesitating to go IPO because of the slumping market?

    SOURCE: Bloomberg

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