TWiST News #211 Websites

TWiST News #211

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News stories we're covering for This Week in Startups Episode #21, airing on Friday, December 2nd, 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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    Marc Andreessen Mulling Yahoo Leadership Role in Bid

    VC Marc Andreessen is deciding whether or not to play a significant role—as a key board member and even possibly as chairman—at Yahoo Andreessen currently runs the Andreessen Horowitz venture firm with Ben Horowitz He has also reportedly been allied with Silver Lake Ventures on the Yahoo effort since September Andreessen Horowitz and Silver Lake last worked together to flip Skype from eBay to Microsoft while making a few cool billions Questions: What do you think of having Andreseen in charge? Will a re-invigorated Yahoo make a grab for AOL? SOURCE: AllThingsD
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    Groupon’s Stock Falls 50%

    The deal giant’s shares closed down nine percent on Monday, settling at $15.24 after bouncing off a new low of $14.85 That’s less than half the $31.14 that some investors paid at the stock’s high point, just after it went public in early November The drop is especially painful because it puts the company’s market valuation below $10 billion On the day trading opened, Groupon priced its shares at $20, several dollars above the expected price range of $16 to $18, and ended up raising $700 million at a valuation of close to $13 billion (just shy of its initial goal of raising $750 million) Questions: Is their under-performance bad news for the planned and rumoured upcoming IPOs of Zynga and Facebook, respectively? Is Groupon a "built to last" company or a flash in the pan? SOURCE: AllThingsD
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    Google+ Goes After Skype, Adds Voice Calling to Hangouts

    Google+ increased the features in Hangout, adding Hangouts with Extras that supports voice calling The feature is free to calls in the US or Canada, but to make an international call, you have to use your Google Voice account Competitor Skype currently charges for all voice calls to phones with pay-you-go rates starting at roughly $0.02 per minute, monthly subscriptions starting at about $0.01 per minute and a premium plan at a rate of $4.49 per month. As of October, Google+ had a reported 40M+ users compared to Facebook's 800M, so the new feature could bring some welcome growth Back in September, Google added screen sharing to Hangouts, posing a potential threat to web conferencing service GoToMeeting, which costs $49 per month SOURCE: The LAUNCH Blog
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    Twitter Launches Self-Service Ad Platform

    Twitter quietly launched a self-serve option for its ad platform this week in beta Advertisers with early access can now buy ads directly via Twitter, using a credit card and a Web browser, without ever having to talk to a human being The only products currently available are promoted accounts and promoted tweets, but Twitter says that will expand over time It’s a significant milestone for Twitter, as the service will need to be able to handle a huge volume of ad transactions--like Google and Facebook--if they’re going to grow into their $8B valuation SOURCE: AllThingsD
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    Google to Launch Amazon Competitor

    Google is said to be teaming with online retailers to launch a standardized way to ship goods, a la Amazon Prime Sources say that Google is becoming concerned with people searching for products on Amazon, rather than through its search engine The new offering would use Google's existing product search in Google Shopping and combine it with a back-end to show shoppers what’s in stock and how fast they can get it, with the possibilities of same-day or next-day delivery Retailers said to be ready to participate include Macy's, Gap and OfficeMax SOURCE: Gizmodo
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    Zynga Files for their IPO

    The company filed documents with the Securities & Exchange Commission this morning, indicating that it intends to raise between $850 million and $1.15 billion in its public offering At the high end of the range, that would translate to roughly $15 million more than it had previously estimated it could raise The company is seeking to sell 100 million shares at $8.50 to $10 a share and will reserve 15 million additional shares for extra demand Under the best circumstances, the company will be valued at nearly $7 billion based on 699.3 million shares outstanding That value comes close to the public valuation of EA, around $7.8 billion, but falls short of other game publishers, like Activision, which has a value of $14 billion SOURCE: AllThingsD
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    Path Gets a Major Redesign for Version 2.0

    Path, an iPhone-only social network designed around exclusive, photo-centric sharing to a select audience, launched version 2.0 this week The new version is a complete overhaul in terms of both design and functionality and is also now available on Android phones New features include a spring-loaded "composer button" for creating and sharing content; the generation of in-app notifications when someone visits your profile; and the ability to see who has ever played a song someone shared Launched last year, Path originally had a 50 person "friend" limit, which they quietly increased to 150 over the summer SOURCE: The LAUNCH Blog
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    Wikileaks Unveils New Digital Surveillance Collection

    Wikileaks released a new trove of 287 documents it’s calling the Spy Files, a collection of digital surveillance firms’ marketing materials, price lists and catalogues The release was a joint effort and includes media partners like the Washington Post, the Hindu, the Italian paper L’Espresso and the French news outlet OWNI The documents, sorted by company name and dozens of types of surveillance such as spyware, Wifi interception, and cellphone forensics are broken down on the new page of WikiLeaks’ site Included among the leaked documents are those from major companies like Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia-Siemens, HP, and dozens of smaller firms A statement on the site read: "Mass interception of entire populations is not only a reality, it is a secret new industry spanning 25 countries. International surveillance companies are based in the more technologically sophisticated countries, and they sell their technology on to every country of the world." SOURCE: Forbes
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    Facebook Planning Huge IPO

    Facebook is now targeting between April and June 2012 for an IPO that it hopes will value the company at more than $100 billion The company is exploring raising $10 billion in its IPO, which would be the largest IPO by any technology or Internet company since the $1.7 billion raise by Google in 2004 A Facebook IPO has been hotly anticipated for several years and is viewed as a defining moment for the latest Web investing boom The most recent IPO, an $805 million float of discount-deal service Groupon on Nov. 3, has plummeted 42% in price in the past five trading days after an initial surge The also recently public LinkedIn has seen its stock fall 36% throughout trading, but remains 33% above its IPO SOURCE: Wall Street Journal
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    Fred Wilson Feels Good About Bitcoin

    In a post on his blog, Fred Wilson suggests that the recent drop in Bitcoin value marks the maturation of the currency as opposed to it's demise He cites the Gartner "hype cycle," which maps out the rise and fall of commercial Internet over the past 15 years In the post, Wilson also says that his firm, Union Square Ventures, was considering a bitcoin-specific investment earlier this year Wilson also says that he’s "confident we'll see the emergence of currencies that are not controlled by nation states in my lifetime" Question: Has anyone in the panel considered using or paying services using Bitcoin? SOURCE: AVC
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    Spotify Debuts App Platform

    On Wednesday, Spotify announced that it would start allowing third-party developers to run apps right within the music service However, some people were immediately disappointed, noting that Spotify apps only run within the company’s desktop client and that devs will have to get app approval before releasing There had been speculation that Spotify’s new platform would make it possible to bring the service’s music everywhere and empower third-party developers to finally build commercial offerings based on Spotify’s API--but that’s not the case here But Spotify has been on the upswing; their Facebook integration has helped to add more than 12 million registered users since September SOURCE: GigaOm
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