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Twitter Introduces the Innovator’s Patent AgreementTwitter introduced a draft of the Innovator’s Patent Agreement (the IPA) this week, which amends the assignments agreement they sign with their employees. In a blog post, Adam Messinger, VP of Engineering, said, "Like many companies, we apply for patents on a bunch of inventions. However, we also think a lot about how those patents may be used in the future; we sometimes worry that they may be used to impede the innovation of others."
According to Twitter, the IPA will keep patent control in the hands of engineers and designers. It also states that patents can only be used for defensive purposes, unless the employee whose invention it is expressly permits offensive litigation.
In the post, Messinger also pointed out that this is a departure from current standards, in which "engineers and designers sign an agreement with their company that irrevocably gives that company any patents filed related to the employee’s work."
He concludes that, "With the IPA, employees can be assured that their patents will be used only as a shield rather than as a weapon."
Twitter plans to implement the IPA later this year and apply it to all patents issued to their engineers past and present. In a post on AVC, Fred Wilson said that he supported the IPA and plans to instruct the lawyers at USV to insert this language into their standard forms.
QUESTION: Obviously, this sort of agreement would be appealing to great engineers, designers and developers, who will have more of a say in how their innovations are used. Any other benefits to adopting this strategy for Twitter and Fred Wilson companies? Would you advise startups in which you're invested to make a similar agreement?
SOURCES: Twitter Blog, AVC
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Tim Berners-Lee Urges People to Demand Their DataTim Berners-Lee, often credited as the Father of the World Wide Web, has urged internet users to demand that companies like Google and Facebook turn over all their personal data. Berners-Lee describes the effort as an attempt to usher in a new era of highly personalised computer services "with tremendous potential to help humanity."
Berners-Lee says that, while there has been an explosion of public data made available in recent years, individuals have not yet understood the value to them of the personal data held about them by different web companies. That data could provide useful services to individuals, Berners-Lee said, but only if their computers had access to the data held about them.
"One of the issues of social networking silos is that they have the data and I don't... There are no programs that I can run on my computer which allow me to use all the data in each of the social networking systems that I use plus all the data in my calendar plus in my running map site, plus the data in my little fitness gadget and so on to really provide an excellent support to me."
Berners-Lee has warned in the past about the rise of social-networking "silos" such as Facebook, and "closed world" apps which cannot be indexed by search engines. These have the potential, he argues, to threaten the openness of the internet itself.
Said Berners-Lee, "Every time somebody puts a magazine on a phone now and doesn't put it on to a web app, we lose a whole lot of information to the general public discourse."
QUESTION: What kind of user action would it take to get a closed system like, say, Facebook to change its policies? We're talking potentially here about data worth billions of dollars. Would it even be possible to get Google or Facebook to institute this change?
SOURCE: The Guardian
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Facebook Targets May 17th for IPOFacebook is said to be eying May 17th for its IPO--depending on whether the SEC agrees that the paperwork (including details of its recent acquisition of Instagram) is good to go. This is in line with earlier reports that the company was going to hit NASDAQ during the third week of May.
According to sources, Facebook will be valued at around $100 billion, reflecting current levels of trading in the secondary markets (and avoiding SEC scrutiny.) "Investors want as high a price as possible so that the secondary market won’t look like a problem," a source told TechCrunch.
With 2.51 billion fully-diluted shares outstanding, the valuation desired would price the company at around $40 a share. Mobile strategy issues are of utmost concern for institutional investors, though some were ameliorated by the Instagram buy.
Facebook acknowledged its mobile problem in the risk section of its S-1, saying, in effect, that it has 425 million active mobile users--and no way to make money off them. George Zachary, a VC who has dealt before with Morgan Stanley (who is underwriting the Facebook deal), had this to say: "Institutional investors were debating whether they wanted to own something that has cracks in the armor around mobile. In the mutual fund world, they now think the problem is solved."
QUESTION: In retrospect, how much of a gamechanger was the Instagram purchase? Predictions for how Facebook fares on its first day of trading?
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Coming Soon: Buy Stocks on FacebookBy June of this year, public companies may be able to sell their stock to customers directly from their Facebook pages. The platform, powered by SF startup Loyal3 (launched last year), will charge buyers no fees, involve no brokers and allow sales in as little as $10 increments.
"This is the next evolution of the 'like' button in a lot of ways," said Loyal3 director--and former Facebook chief privacy officer--Chris Kelly. Facebook could prove to be a source of significant numbers of untapped consumers, since only about 18% of American families are stock owners.
Loyal3 CEO Barry Schneider said that he sees his customer stock ownership plan (CSOP) as an extension of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement.
"Occupy Wall Street exemplifies the disenfranchisement your consumers feel," he said. Now they can "occupy Main Street." To hammer home the "for-the-people" point, there will be a $2,500 a month cap to deter day traders.
QUESTION: Do you agree that this is bringing the ability to participate in the market to the masses, thus democratizing the process? Or is treating something like purchasing stock over social networks trivializing what should be a thought out, careful decision? Does the $2500 monthly cap successfully eliminate concerns about potential fraud or individuals suffering serious losses?
SOURCE: Business Insider
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Evernote Raises Giant $100 Million RoundNote-taking startup Evernote has either completed or is closing in on a new $100M round at a reported $1B valuation. (Business Insider says the deal is done; TechCrunch claims nothing is yet final.) The new round is reportedly led by Meritech Capital Partners.
Evernote itself, of course, allows users to sync notes - containing text, photos, video, even entire web pages - to any desktop or mobile device.
Evernote surpassed 20 million users last December across Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, web browsers, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7, and other platforms. Prior to this round, Evernote had raised $95.5 million in funding, most recently in a $50 million round last July led by Sequoia Capital. TechCrunch mused that the money could be intended to make a push into Asian markets.
QUESTIONS: Think TechCrunch is right and this money will go to entering the Chinese market? Will Evernote go IPO?
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