New York media correspondent Kenneth Li reports:
So persuasive a deal maker was Joanna Shields, who talked Time Warner’s AOL into paying close to $1bn to buy out the UK-based social network, AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher once joked that Ms Shields could sell Obama’s stimulus package to the Republicans.
But the astronomical figure for a web property perceived to be hot among British teenagers, although lagging behind Facebook and MySpace in the US drew enough criticism internally that even Jeff Bewkes, Time Warner chief executive, admitted last year it may have overpaid. Read more
John Gapper, the FT’s chief business commentator, says that Wolfram Alpha’s structured database poses long-term questions about the usefulness of internet search:
If all the data on the internet are simply too messy to be analysed and structured, Google will be unable to produce a service rivalling Wolfram Alpha in clarity and reliability. Read more
The FT’s Lex column says that it was high time Lenovo’s optimistic investors were brought back to earth, and that fixing the PC company’s struggling international operations will not be easy:
Founder Liu Chuanzhi, who returned as chairman in February, started by axing 2,500 overseas jobs in a bid to shave about 15 per cent from annual operating costs. But that’s the easy bit.
As traditional publishers falter, print-on-demand has been one of the few bright spots in the otherwise slumping book industry, writes Joe Menn:
The first serious bid for a print-on-demand bestseller began publishing on Wednesday, as Rick Smolan launched The Obama Time Capsule, as a customisable book which will be printed only after it is ordered. Read more
The FT’s editorial page turns its eye towards internet law and finds that “just as the law should be no looser or tighter on the internet, the enforcement of the law should be no less transparent, open and accountable.”
The world wide web is not the world’s wild west. Internet law is incomplete and faces practical hurdles which it will take time and thought to overcome. Lord Mandelson, the UK business secretary, was right to be wary this week about clumsy government proposals to impose age ratings on websites. But jurists must not give up on the rule of law on the internet. Read more
For the FT’s Business Life page, David Gelles looks at the opportunities and challenges for foreign-born entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley.
Today, Silicon Valley – perhaps more than any other region in America – is a magnet for educated immigrants. With its intellectual capital, high-tech resources and rich coffers, the region is uniquely suited to produce important, profitable companies. “Silicon Valley is an environment that allows people to act on their entrepreneurial instincts with much more success than other parts of the world,” says AnnaLee Saxenian, dean of UC Berkeley’s School of Information and the author of Silicon Valley’s New Immigrant Entrepreneurs. “There is a whole infrastructure for entrepreneurship.” Read more