Monthly Archives: January 2013

Berlin has scored a victory over London in the battle to be the main hub for Europe’s start-up companies after Seedcamp split its flagship event of Europe’s largest support programme for fledgling tech businesses between the two cities.

The incubator programme, which began life with a week-long event at London’s Imperial College in September 2007, will now hold four such gatherings in the UK and German capitals. 

Chris Nuttall

Evernote, the service that maintains memos of your daily life, is closing on a new milestone of 50m users, but is still some way from an IPO, according to Phil Libin, chief executive.

That may have to wait until at least 2015, he told me this week, as the Silicon Valley company focuses on further growth in users and services such as Evernote Hello and Penultimate, both apps being the subject of upgrades launched today. 

Turns out people’s obsession with photographing their food is worth millions of dollars.

Foodspotting, a three-year old mobile app that allows people to post photos and reviews of dishes, has been acquired by OpenTable, the online reservation system, for $10m in cash.

Foodspotting’s catalogue of 3m photos is small compared to the number of food images on Instagram, the Facebook-owned mobile photo-sharing site with more than 100m users. Instagram could prove a formidable force for the new partnership to battle if Facebook ever decides to build an advertising tool linking food photos with restaurants. 

BlackBerry 10Research In Motion unveils the BlackBerry 10 today amid the greatest degree of anticipation and scrutiny in the company’s history. At events in New York, Toronto and London, the Canadian manufacturer is launching a new operating system and two smartphones.

The company and CEO Thorsten Heins are betting it will secure RIM’s future – and even its survival – in a tough marketplace where it has lost share to Apple’s iPhone and Android-based devices. 

Wall Street is predicting a good showing from Facebook on Wednesday when it reports financial results for the fourth quarter of 2012, and the full year.

Investor sentiment towards Facebook appears to have shifted towards a cautious optimism in the last quarter, with the company’s stock price rising back above $30 for the first time since its initial public offering in May, when shares were priced at $38, then quickly fell below $20.

Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research Group predicts the stock will pop after the next couple of earnings reports, then “come back to earth” as the market better understands the company.

This quarter, Facebook’s revenues will reflect advertising purchases related to the November presidential election and the holiday shopping season. Analysts are expecting the social network to report earnings per share of 15 cents on $1.53bn of revenue. For the full year, estimates average at 52 cents earnings per share on $5.03bn in revenue. 

It is ironic that both Dell and Apple shared big news last week.

Back in 1998 Michael Dell, then the crown prince of the personal computer industry, recommended that Steve Jobs shut down Apple, which was in dire shape, and distribute the proceeds to shareholders. By contrast, reflecting the turmoil now afflicting all PC makers, Mr Dell is negotiating to borrow money to make his company disappear from public view. Apple, meanwhile, announced that its shareholders would receive a Valentine’s day dividend of $2.5bn – a tiny portion of its $137bn cash pile.

 

Amazon chief executive Jeff BezosMicrosoft recently opened a store near my home in the San Francisco Bay Area, marking the occasion with a concert in the car park by Kelly Clarkson, the first American Idol talent show winner, and an appearance by a famous American football player – Jerry Rice of the San Francisco 49ers. I had not seen such a local commotion since another famous football player, George Best, opened a fish-and-chip shop in my home town near Manchester around 1970. All this fuss, just for piles of boxed copies of Windows, I thought.

 

Apple lost its crown as the world’s most valuable company this week after its quarterly profits disappointed Wall Street. However, worries of slow growth didn’t discourage some tech observers from rooting for Silicon Valley’s star tech power to bounce back.

Farhad Manjoo at Slate called suggestions that Apple was somehow losing its allure with consumers “totally bogus”. The only thing that held it back, he added, was an inability to keep up with customer demand: “Limited supply, unlike limited demand, is something Apple can fix. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not such a terrible problem.” 

Tim Bradshaw

It’s been a torrid 12 months on the public markets for consumer internet stocks, with Facebook, Groupon and Zynga all seeing their valuations collapse after going public.

Yet during that period, privately held Twitter has managed to increase its valuation: a tender offer to employees by a BlackRock fund prices the social media site at more than $9bn, sources familiar with the situation told the FT. 

Astell & KernWhile the iPod and iTunes dominate portable players, some users consider the music’s sound quality to be less than stellar. This has opened up a niche for rivals to offer higher-fidelity recordings on higher-end devices. This week, a look at one such player, also a PC appendage and an app audio upgrade.