Monthly Archives: June 2014

Richard Waters

Marc Benioff, chief, the company that did more than any other to invent the software-as-a-service industry, is reaching a turning point.

After years of rapid growth, it has a pressing need for the more evolved infrastructure, processes and rounded management team of the large company it has become. And with growth starting to slow, it is coming closer to a seminal moment: when investors will start expecting it to report real profits, and not just on a pro-forma basis. The appointment of a new chief financial officer on Monday is the latest sign that is preparing for the changes. Read more

Richard Waters

The US Supreme Court has rejected Google’s bid to limit the legal fall-out from the StreetView spying case.

In the process, it has also delivered its second decision in a week that interprets how the country’s privacy laws should apply when it comes to new technologies. Both times, it has come down on the side of stronger legal protections for the individual. Read more

Jack Ma, Alibaba’s founder, admitted on Sunday that he had never once used Taobao, the ebay-like flagship website for the ecommerce company he will be taking public later this year, writes Charles Clover and Ma Fangjing.

The odd sounding admission came in the middle of a rambling commencement speech to graduates of Tsinghua University on Sunday, in which he highlighted his humble origins and lack of professional experience. He needs to keep his emotional distance from his products, he said, so that he can make decisions about them objectively. And that apparently means not knowing how they work. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

GoPro’s stock leapt more than 30 per cent on its first morning of trading on Thursday, valuing the action camera maker at around $4bn.

Nick Woodman, GoPro’s billionaire founder and chief executive, who still owns almost half of the company, spoke with the FT shortly after ringing the Nasdaq opening bell. Here is an edited transcript of our conversation about how he got here and how he plans to build a media business around millions of people taking photos and videos of themselves. Read more


Smart watches, TVs and cars featured prominently on Wednesday as Google laid out its plans for pushing its Android smartphone software into new fields. At its annual I/O developer event in San Francisco, “wearables” had pride of place, with news that the first smartwatches based on Android Wear are now on sale – before Apple unveils its much-anticipated iWatch. With Android TV and Android Auto, on the other hand, Google was playing catch up with Apple. The event pointed to how the battle for the next big tech markets beyond the smartphone will be fought. Richard Waters and Tim Bradshaw were at the Moscone Center for this round. 

Richard Waters

Is Oculus, the virtual reality company being acquired by Facebook, going to make its own headsets? Or is it going to rely on some of the world’s biggest consumer technology companies to develop products using its software, turning it into the Android of VR?

Yes to both. Read more

Sarah Mishkin

A new tie-up between a payment company affiliated with Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba and a US-based payments processor could soon make it far easier for Chinese shoppers to buy online from overseas retailers.

Stripe, a San Francisco start-up that handles payments for online retailers, has started to let online retailers accept purchases made through Alipay, an Alibaba-affiliated payment method that is by far China’s most popular way of paying for goods bought online. Read more

Hannah Kuchler

The FT gathered experts on cloud security on Twitter on Tuesday to discuss how to protect confidential corporate data as companies move it into the cheaper, and often more convenient, cloud.

We started by asking to what extent companies are moving away from US-based cloud providers in the wake of the revelations of an mass surveillance programme by the NSA? The experts were divided: Read more

Richard Waters

Will the smart home of the future be controlled by a single app to rule them all? Or will it be a more ad hoc affair, as a myriad different gadgets learn to play nicely together without a central “control panel”?

Before it was bought by Google earlier this year, Nest was pursuing the second of these visions. And to judge by the API it has just released so that other developers can write applications that draw on some of the functions of its devices, nothing much has changed since then. Read more

Richard Waters

It’s not every day an Apple executive gets personal.

That makes Angela Ahrendts’ first public comments since starting at the company – posted on LinkedIn – of more than usual interest. It is a sign that she intends to keep her own style, whatever the pressures of running Apple’s retail operations – and also that, under Tim Cook, Apple is evolving further beyond the Steve Jobs era. Read more

Hannah Kuchler

Twitter has acquired video start-up Snappy TV as part of its bid to dominate the second screen, taking money from advertisers who want to reach people watching TV while they are fiddling with their smartphones.

The messaging platform bought Snappy TV for an undisclosed sum, bringing the company’s video tools in house at Twitter for brands and media partners to use to clip and edit video just after it is recorded to distribute online.

Twitter promotes two main ways to use video. Firstly, encouraging marketers to buy adverts that echo their TV ads to ensure the message sticks as it tries to dominate digital advertising around live events such as the World Cup and the Oscars. Secondly, it is working with TV networks through its Amplify partnerships with TV networks to show live clips to persuade people to tune in.  Read more

Sarah Mishkin

What can a company that proposes using drones to deliver goods instantaneously do to impress?

Amazon tried hard with its Fire phone, the first smartphone ever from the e-commerce giant. It sort of succeeds, but the best thing about the phone is the vision of what it could become after a few rounds of refinements and tweaks. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

One of the dominant mantras in technology design these days is simplicity. From Apple’s Sir Jonathan Ive and his minimalist overhaul of iOS to the unbundling of Facebook’s “big blue app” into its smaller, faster components, smartphones are sweeping software to be ever simpler and sleeker.

For many people, most technology is still too complicated but those apps that do simplify tend to succeed. WhatsApp Messenger offers little more than basic text messaging, with none of the stickers or gimmicks of rival chat apps, and has amassed 500m users. Snapchat took out text altogether to allow people to communicate with just a photograph and three taps of the screen. Read more

Hannah Kuchler

Facebook has finally launched its latest answer to Snapchat, releasing Slingshot after Poke, its previous attempt at ephemeral messaging was withdrawn from the app store in May.

The world’s largest social network is trying to plug any hole in its dominance – it bought Instagram to shore up its place in photo-sharing, WhatsApp to expand its messaging and it attempted to buy Snapchat late last year.

When that project to buy the hottest new thing for teenagers failed, and its own usage amongst younger teens began to decline, it turned to its Creative Labs team to try to make its own at home. Read more

Sarah Mishkin

with Nicole Bullock

China’s premier job-hunting site got an impressive raise in its first day as a public company in the US, as its stock closed up 8.5 per cent on their debut day of trading.

Zhaopin, whose name means “recruit,” is a LinkedIn-like site for professional networking and job seeking. Its shares closed at $14.65. It had priced its offering of 5.6m American depositary shares at $13.50 each – the middle of an indicated range of $12.50 to $14.50. That means it raised a total of about $76m, excluding an over allotment option. Read more

From interfaces operated by gestures to digital ads that target the viewer, plenty of innovations were prophesied in ‘Minority Report’, writes Jeevan Vasagar in Berlin.

Rather fewer gee-whiz novelties were on view in the final scene, when three of the central characters were shown reading books in a cabin with smoke curling from the chimney. When Berlin-based audio site SoundCloud moves to its new offices, officially opened today, one of the rooms will take a leaf out of that final, low-tech image from the Steven Spielberg film. Read more

Richard Waters

All games, all the time. That’s what new Xbox chief Phil Spencer promised at the E3 games show on Monday, as Microsoft put the final touches to its comeback strategy for Xbox One.

He wasn’t kidding. Raging first person shooters were the order of the day. But Microsoft’s remedial action on the One has left the way open for Sony, whose E3 event is due later in the day in Los Angeles, to steal the show. Read more

Richard Waters

Without seeing Uber’s financials, it’s impossible to say whether its amazing post-money valuation of $18.2bn is deserved. But even if its business is starting to take off, as seems to the case, it still has a long way to go to live up to the hype generated by its latest fund-raising. Read more

Twitter has acquired mobile ad specialist Namo Media as it tries to increase advertising revenues and answer investor concerns about its growth prospects. Read more

Sarah Mishkin

A win for online education and sensible sanctions regulation. Today, online course provider Coursera says it is able to re-open the majority of its classes to Iranian students, a few months after US sanctions on Iran and certain other nations forced the start-up to block learners in those countries from its site.

 Read more