Is Silicon Valley drying up? David O Sacks, founder and CEO of enterprise social network service Yammer, certainly seems to think so. Others, like Marc Andreessen, disagree. That makes for a lively debate, and it is taking place on perhaps the most apt forum of all – Facebook, writes Vinjeru Mkandawire and Robin Kwong.

“I think Silicon Valley as we know it may be coming to an end,” wrote Sacks on his Facebook page over the weekend, just before the social networking site’s shares sank to half its initial offering price. Read more

After the success of last year’s wireless Play:3 speaker system , Sonos has brought out an addition to its music-player family: the Sub (pictured left, in black), writes Jeremy White.

Those familiar with Sonos will probably agree that its Play:3 speakers push out serious room-filling sounds and link with other units in range to offer up a home hi-fi network that’s refreshingly easy to set up. Read more

It is the moment in the summer holidays children dread: when the “Back to School” banners go up in local stores and parents start to tick off the list of classroom supplies for the new term. This year, Walmart, the US retailer, is trying to ease the pain with a dose of innovation. Its online Classrooms by Walmart site goes beyond a generic list of products all children need, and allows teachers to upload tailored requirements for individual classes. Some 60,000 supply lists are already online.

Continue reading: A foothold in Silicon Valley

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is a legend in the world of software, but the latest project of his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation deals with a very physical, real world problem, writes Vinjeru Mkandawire.

The “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge” encourages the use of technology in a very different way from writing code for computer operating systems – Universities are asked to build toilets that operate without running water, electricity or a sewage system. Read more

Some good news for Acer — the PC-maker narrowly edged out Lenovo and HP as the largest notebook PC seller globally last quarter, writes Sarah Mishkin in Taipei.

Narrow here means narrow. Acer now has 15.4 per cent of the market. Tied for second place are Lenovo and HP, which each have 15.3 per cent, according to new research from Gartner.  Read more

In the second week of Apple v Samsung at a court in San Jose, their patent dispute took a more serious turn, after the titillating revelations of the first week included Apple designs for a 7in iPad, one with a kickstand and Samsung considering a Retina display-like tablet, writes Constance Nuttall.

Testimony from expert witnesses this week shifted the focus towards the patented materials. Those called by Apple claiming that aspects of certain Samsung smartphones and tablets were easily confused with Apple products, namely the iPhone and iPad. Read more

Amazon’s launch of a textbook rental service on Tuesday reads as major competition for the likes of Chegg and Kno, both known for their pure-play focus on providing digital and, in Chegg’s case, physical textbooks for college students, writes Constance Nuttall.

But the two are expanding their playbooks to deal with increased competition – Kno announced a pre-college service on Tuesday, while Dan Rosensweig,  Chegg chief executive, spoke to us about its service becoming much more than renting textbooks. Read more

PC-maker Acerhad said that it could post as low as zero per cent annual growth in the number of computers it ships this year.The announcement sent its shares tumbling 3 per cent, even though news that PC sales are freezing should hardly be surprising given the global economic slow down.Acer, the world’s third-largest computer vendor, had previously forecast 10 per cent annual growth in the number of computers it ships. That has now been trimmed to zero to 5 per cent growth, according to a company source.

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Rupert and Wendi Murdoch©AP

The guest list features Jordan’s king and queen, Italy’s prime minister, three mayors, two governors and the director of the CIA. But technology and media superpowers will be the focus of attention this week as Allen & Co hosts its annual moguls’ retreat in Sun Valley, Idaho.

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Now that the post-float hubbub has passed, it is clear that Facebook priced its initial public offering too aggressively. I don’t know if it was a quest for the bragging rights it felt went with a $100bn-plus valuation, but there was little or no consideration for the consequences. Instead of pricing the stock with some upward room for new investors, they let everyone who had invested earlier take the maximum out and cash in. Faced with high earnings expectations, Facebook will need to do more with a business model that is suspect at best. And now they are doing it with a full boat of shareholders who are underwater on their investment.

Continue reading: “Facebook lessons from a dotcom veteran”

The body overseeing the allocation of new web addresses has revealed intense competition for certain domain names and strong demand for non-Latin web suffixes as companies apply to own potential rivals to .com, writes Duncan Robinson.
A total of 1,930 applications for new web suffixes were made, with more than a third of these aimed at just 229 addresses, according to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the organisation in charge of regulating web domains. Read more

At a cybersecurity conference in Tel Aviv yesterday, the Russian antivirus expert who discovered the Flame computer virus, a type of malicious software, appealed to the US and Israel to cease deploying cyberweapons. They “are a very bad idea”, he said. “My message is: stop doing this before it’s too late.” How right Eugen Kaspersky was.

Until now, cyberwarfare has been largely confined to Hollywood or to the prophecies of a few Cassandras warning darkly of a “digital Pearl Harbor” or “Cybergeddon”. But two closely linked events last week should give everyone cause for concern. An arms race in cyberspace is a distinct reality.

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The feeble showing of Facebook’s stock in the weeks since its $16bn initial public offering has left people casting about for explanations. Maybe Morgan Stanley, which organised the IPO, got complacent. Maybe Facebook neglected to adapt its platform fully to the world of mobile devices. Maybe, if we are to believe the Los Angeles Times, the company, for all its 900m users, is “losing its cool”. Those explanations are wrong. There may be a simpler explanation: political risk.

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Now we know what people mean when they say merger integration is torture. Former staff at Autonomy, the UK software company bought by Hewlett-Packard less than a year ago, say submitting to the US company’s “stifling” bureaucratic procedures felt “like being water-boarded”.

In turn, Meg Whitman, HP’s chief executive, has blamed “classic entrepreneurial company scaling challenges” for Autonomy’s “very disappointing” latest quarter. She has ditched Mike Lynch, the British group’s outspoken founder, often lauded in the UK as a hero of the homegrown technology sector.

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When Ayush Agarwal decided to look for love, he thought carefully about his likes and dislikes. The 28-year-old product manager at Google, who lives in San Francisco, loves Apple products. So he signed up to Cupidtino, a dating website for Apple fanboys and fangirls.

“The idea of pivoting my dating life around Mac ladies was intriguing,” he says. “It’s definitely a solid conversation starter. Also, having a Mac girlfriend would mean that I wouldn’t end up becoming [her] tech support”.

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Facebook has become the public network – no longer a private company, the social network now has shareholders and a ticker symbol (FB) to go with the 900m users of its service.

Its initial public offering was priced at $38 on - the top end of its range, giving the Silicon Valley company a valuation of $104bn. But after opening at $42.05, Facebook’s underwriters had to fight to keep it above its float price, the shares closing at just $38.23, up 0.6 per cent.

For a Facebook “Timeline” of its opening day – from before the opening-bell ceremony at its Menlo Park headquarters through a frantic trading day – read Tim Bradshaw and Chris Nuttall’s live blog after the jump.  Read more

By Robert Cookson in Hong Kong

A Hong Kong-based brokerage is offering free Facebook shares to all new customers in an attempt to cash in on the hype surrounding the initial public offering of the world’s biggest social network.

8 Securities, which launched in March, said customers would receive US$200 of Facebook shares simply by signing up to its online trading platform with a minimum deposit of HK$10,000 (US$1,287), a process it claimed took less than eight minutes.

However, investors hoping to flip the free Facebook shares immediately after they start trading on Friday are out of luck; 8 Securities will buy the shares on the open market in coming days and deposit them in customer accounts within 14 days. Read more

Facebook investors: you have been warned. The last time I was in Silicon Valley was 12 years ago, in the very week that the Nasdaq crashed, marking the end of the dotcom boom. That I should fly back into San Francisco on the eve of the social network’s initial public offering cannot be a good omen.

I’m not here to write about Facebook – for expert insights, read the analysis of my San Francisco-based colleagues or the FT Lex team – but the IPO overshadows most discussions. What strikes me is how entrepreneurs, technology executives and analysts I’ve met are reluctant to talk publicly about Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg. Ask them what they think about him and they tend to preface their remarks with a polite request that this part of the interview should be off the record.

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Mark Zuckerberg in New YorkDressed in his trademark “hoodie”, Mark Zuckerberg stepped in front of hundreds of would-be investors on Monday in New York City to make the case for buying shares in his company, Facebook, writes Arash Massoudi.

The lunch-time stop was the first on a roadshow that will showcase the social networking site to potential investors across the country. The stream of investors filing out of the conference center at the Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan described the company’s performance on Monday as “polished and professional”. Read more

Berlin tech start-up Madvertise has bought Turkish mobile advertising rival Mobilike in what the German company sees as an important step to becoming the European market leader, writes Gerrit Wiesmann in Berlin.

The four-year-old German company, which allows advertisers to pinpoint and address potential customers via their mobile phones, is one of the more mature start-ups on the Berlin scene.

To fund European growth, Madvertise secured $10m in series B venture-capital funding late last year, and counts Silicon Valley-based Blumberg Capital as a shareholder. Read more