It’s a tough time to be a tech entrepreneur. IPOs are stalling, the banks aren’t lending and venture capital funds are running dry. But if you want some desk space and meeting rooms and a bit of camaraderie for a fledgling business, London’s start-ups are starting to be spoilt for choice. Read more
Little by little, European technology companies are trickling back onto the market. The latest planned addition is EPiserver, a Swedish company that makes software that helps companies build and run websites.
The company is planning a listing on the Stockholm stock exchange on June 30th, worth up to £28.8m ($43.2m) if all the shares are taken up. It could value the company at up to £62.9m. Not, then, exactly a technology titan. However, the listing is encouraging for several reasons. Read more
Slowly but surely, cases against Google over WiFi snooping are gathering pace. The UK police on Tuesday officially began to investigate the search company for criminal interception of wireless content, following a complaint by Privacy International, the pressure group.
Getting the police to take up the case was not easy, said Simon Davies of Privacy International. There were nearly two weeks of deliberations as to exactly how to proceed and which police body would handle it. This is not surprising. The UK has long struggled to pursue any internet-related criminal cases, and only recently re-established any sort of centralised e-crime reporting body. A muddle of regional police forces have occasionally struggled to track even the more mundane phishing scams, much less accusations against a rich and powerful international internet company.
Still, the case now has an official crime reference number: 2318672/10, and a certain due process of gathering evidence must begin. Read more
Given the recent furore over the confusing privacy controls on Facebook, you would have thought that “Quit Facebook Day”, scheduled for Monday May 31, would be proving more popular. So far fewer than 25,000 people have signed up to the site set up by two Canadian web developers, pledging to delete their accounts from the social networking site.
Given that Facebook has somewhere around 500m users, these disgruntled leavers represent a minuscule fraction - 0.00005 per cent - probably well within the normal levels of user churn. It seems, either Facebook’s latest attempts to improve its privacy controls have reassured the general public, or the vast majority of users don’t care enough about the issue to leave the site. Read more
Acquisitions are not generally Opera’s style. The Norwegian browser company has done only around five in its 15 years of existence. However, two of those were this year, first the $23m acquisition of AdMarvel, the mobile advertising company, in January and on Friday the purchase of FastMail, the Australian web-based email company for an undisclosed sum.
Frankly, I am becoming less convinced that Europe is capable of winning the war against cyber-attacks. Ever since a series of online attacks paralysed Estonia in 2007, protection against internet crime and terrorism has moved up the agenda for the European Commission, NATO and individual European countries. But it is unclear whether any real progress has been made in the last three years.
The UK’s House of Lords will on Thursday publish its study into how well Europe protects itself online. The conclusion is that there are serious concerns about co-ordination between different member states and a real risk that less well prepared countries could compromise those, like the UK, which are relatively advanced in their cyber protection measures. Not very surprising conclusions perhaps.
But the detail of the report highlights some farcical aspects. Read more
Naming mobile devices is a tricky business, it seems. The US patent office has rejected Google’s trademark application for the Nexus One mobile phone, on the grounds that Integra Telecom already holds a trademark for “Nexus”, covering telecoms services.
The name dispute adds to Google’s woes on a day that figures from Flurry, the internet analytsics company, suggest the Nexus One has been something of a flop in its first 70 days on sale, notching up only 135,000 units, compared to 1m iPhones sold by Apple in its first 74 days, and more than 1m for Motorola’s Droid in a similar period. Read more
The Financial Times Tech Blog was named as one of the best business blogs in the Society of American Business Editors and Writers 15th annual Best in Business Journalism competition.
In fact, the FT dominated the category for blogs at mid-sized websites, with the Alphaville blog also being commended. Read more
Why has Microsoft recently been so keen to play nicely and comply with all of the EU’s requests on antitrust and privacy?
This week the company began rolling out its “browser ballot screen” which allows European Windows users to chose which internet browser they would like to have on their computer. It marks – almost – the end of Microsoft’s long-running antitrust battle with Brussels, although the company will still be under the Commission’s scrutiny for a while to see how well the browser choice scheme works. Read more
It was only a matter of time before Brussels began looking at an antitrust complaint against Google. Murmurings of discontent about the dominant search engine have been going on for several years now, and recently there has been a rash of smaller cases against the company.
Three particular cases are being considered by the European Commission. A complaint by Foundem, a UK vertical search company, one from ejustice.fr, a French legal search site, and a complaint made initially in Germany by Ciao!, a vertical search site recently bought by Microsoft. Read more
The past has a way of catching up with you. Iridium, the satellite phone company, has been working hard to re-invent itself following its 1999 bankruptcy. Last September it returned to the stock market through a reverse takeover, and has set about raising money for a new fleet of low-earth orbiting satellites.
In the 1990s Iridium launched with the idea of selling satphones to a wide consumer market, but was soon overtaken by the mobile phone industry. It became chiefly a niche provider of phones to aid workers and the military.
Now, Matt Desch, chief executive, believes there could be a big new market to be exploited in tracking all sorts of objects, from trucks and cargo containers to polar bears, by satellite. Read more
The London technology community was dealt a blow on Tuesday when it emerged that Atlas Venture was planning to move its European operations to Boston. All new European investments will be co-ordinated from there, and Fred Destin, the London-based partner who has backed companies like Seatwave and Dailymotion, will be moving across the Atlantic this summer.
Other London-based partners, Christopher Spray, Graham O’Keefe and Regina Hodits will remain in London but only to service existing investments. They will not be involved in bringing new companies in to the portfolio. Which means that, as exits eventually arrive for the likes of Seatwave, these portfolio managers will have less of a role, and Atlas is likely to be slimming down further. Read more
Consolidation in the mobile advertising market continues at breakneck pace. After Google’s proposed $750m acquisition of AdMob and Apple’s $275m bid for Quattro, Amobee is now buying RingRing Media of the UK for an unspecified – but probably much smaller – amount.
California-based Amobee said the deal would result in a combined company bigger than Quattro in terms of revenues and number of ads served each month. Analysts at IDC estimate Quattro has around $21m in mobile ad revenues, giving it around 7 per cent of the market. Both would still be dwarfed by the combined Google/Admob, which would have nearly a quarter of the market with revenues of $68m. Read more
It is another change of tactics in a war that has been going on for 50 years. This week, consumer electronics companies led by Apple, HP, Sony, Panasonic and Research In Motion, broke off the latest round of talks to reform the Europe’s convoluted system of private copy levies.
The copy levies are surcharges placed on devices such as MP3 players and printers by 22 European countries, to compensate writers, artists, and musicians for small amounts of personal copying of their material. It is not to be confused with illegal filesharing; the copy levies are intended to cover handfuls of copies in the private sphere, which many countries allow. Read more
Google has had several years of tussles now with privacy regulators. Three years ago European data protection commissioners began question what the company was doing with all the personal data it was gleaning from users of its search engine. In the past year, the company has faced outrage – at least in some pockets like Italy, Japan and Switzerland – over Street View, which provides panoramic, eye-level views of every street of major cities around the world.
Earlier this year, a leading privacy group called on the US Federal Trade Commission to consider shutting down Google’s web services until the company could better safeguard personal data. There have been a number of instances where Google Docs, Google Desktop and Gmail have had glitches which made users personal documents visible to others. Read more
Dailymotion, Europe’s biggest online video challenger to YouTube, on Thursday said it had raised $25m in a new funding round led by the French Sovereign Fund (FSI). The French strategic investments fund, which is 49 per cent owned by the government, contributed $11m to the round, with all the existing investors, Advent Venture Partners, AGF PE, Partech International and Atlas Ventures, taking part.
Dailymotion chief executive Cedric Tournay also said the company had now hit break-even and expected to make a profit next year. The site now attracts around 60m unique users each month, up from 35m a year ago. Although it is dwarfed by YouTube, it is doing well to survive and grow in a market where competitors like Joost and Veoh have had to retreat. Read more