It feels as if Wall Street is moving westward, and that US investors, having been caught up in the mortgage boom, have instead turned their attention to the opportunities on the west coast.
The National Venture Capital Association has unveiled figures showing that the industry had its best start to the year in terms of fund-raising since 2001, raising about $7.1bn in the first quarter.
Meanwhile, Matthew Garrahan writes in the FT about the keiretsu-like Raine merchant bank, which is raising $500m from a range of Illuminati from Silicon Valley and Hollywood including Eric Schmidt of Google and Sean Parker of Facebook etc. Read more
Twitter’s fifth birthday today comes as AT&T’s announces it wants to buy T-Mobile USA for $39bn to form the largest US mobile provider. The two events are more than a coincidence.
AT&T produced some slides for its announcement showing the rapid growth in mobile data use – 8,000 per cent over four years according to its calculations – and is justifying the acquisition partly by warning of spectrum exhaustion.
Twitter, meanwhile, is the first big social media company to be conceived with mobile in mind. It’s 140-character limit for messages was based on the original 160-character limit for phone text messages. Read more
Mary Meeker, the “queen of the net” and the best-known investment bank analyst in the technology and media world, has picked an interesting moment to become a venture capitalist.
Ms Meeker, who survived the bursting of the 1990s dotcom bubble without getting caught up in the research scandal of the time, has become a venerable figure in the tech world. She is capitalising on that by leaving Morgan Stanley to join Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as a partner.
Chris Dixon, an angel investor, tweeted in response that “Wall Street sell-side research is dead”, and it never regained its influence after the dotcom meltdown. A few analysts have made their name since – in particular Meredith Whitney – but most of the action has been on the buy-side. Read more
Yuri Milner, the Russian internet investor, has become one of the most intriguing figures in the industry by acquiring a near-10 per cent stake in Facebook, and by floating Mail.ru, his Russian internet company in London.
Mr Milner, whom I saw in action at the Monaco Media Forum, also has the element of mystery. Few people outside Russia paid attention to him until his Digital Sky Technologies acquired its Facebook stake in May 2009. Read more
To his credit, Mark Zuckerberg has responded to the outcry over privacy, including my column on the subject, by making significant changes to Facebook’s privacy policies.
The most welcome aspects of the changes, discussed by him on the Facebook blog, are that it will be far simpler for a user to control how information is shared, and these choices will apply to future Facebook services.
Facebook has also pulled back from its sleight of hand in making six types of data into “publicly available information” by reducing these to four, including taking users’ friends list out of the category. Read more
Facebook is likely to announce some privacy changes soon in response to the furore over the complexity of its privacy controls and its sharing of user information. But are they going to be enough to address all the problems?
So far, it does not look very likely. Read more
The news that Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites have been (unintentionally) sending some user details to advertisers adds to my growing sense that the companies either do not place a high enough value on privacy or are not careful enough about it.
It follows Google’s disclosure that it accidentally picked up personal information from WiFi networks while filming for its Street View service. Read more
Further to my FT column on Facebook’s privacy failures, the company has made things worse for itself by not being clear about its intentions.
I noted that Mark Zuckerberg’s open letter about privacy on December 1 last year did not mention that it was about to define six categories of user data as “publicly available information”. Read more