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.

  • In a peaceful transfer of power, Xerox on Thursday said Ursula Burns would replace Anne Mulcahy as chief executive, becoming the only female African-American chief executive among the Fortune 500’s top 150 companies. Ms Mulcahy, 56, who turned the printing company round after the dotcom bubble burst, will retire on July 1 but remain as chairman. Ms Burns, 50, currently president, is her closest lieutenant.
  • Perhaps it will be Government 2.0, after all. The Obama White House took an important step forward in its promise to use internet technology to make government more open and accountable, a move that helped to ease some of the criticism that has welled up during the administration’s early months. The new initiatives include a website,, through which all types of government data will be released in machine-readable form, and an experimental open blog to shape the White House’s thinking on how the internet can be used more extensively in government.

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  • Google is one of those companies that we generally refer to as a frenemy,” New York Times executive editor Bill Keller said recently. Perhaps, but today Google proved it will be no saviour to the newspaper business, either. Google chief executive Eric Schmidt told the Financial Times that the company had previously considered buying a newspaper or using its charitable arm to support news businesses seeking non-profit status, but is now unlikely to pursue either option.
  • Craigslist is on the offensive. The US-based classified-advertising website has taken legal action against the attorney-general of South Carolina, who had attacked the site over its erotic services category. The company, which came under pressure from law enforcement officials to take down the section, then did so, is seeking declaratory relief and a restraining order against Henry McMaster, who has repeatedly threatened the company and its executives with criminal charges unless it complied with the requests.

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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

  • Speculation about Facebook‘s finances has once again been swirling, but chief executive Mark Zuckerberg at least provided a bit of clarity. Over the weekend VentureBeat said Facebook was about to close a $150m round to buy out shares from hundreds of employees. Then TechCrunch chimed in with a report that the company turned down a $200m term sheet that valued the company at $8bn because the investors wanted a board seat. Facebook is notoriously tight-lipped, but today Mr Zuckerberg said that his company is in no immediate need of capital, and that he does hope to take Facebook public, but not for a couple of years.
  • Could the worst be over? Hewlett-Packard said that stronger than expected Chinese and US consumer markets helped it beat Wall Street profit projections for the second quarter, and the world’s leading personal computer company by revenue struck a note of cautious optimism on the economy as a whole.

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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

  • Look out Amazon. Scribd, a digital document sharing service, is launching an online retail market for books and documents, betting that a surge in interest in reading online will help it transform into an Ebay or an of text. The two-year-old Silicon Valley start-up, whose doubling of audience size every six months has been compared to YouTube’s explosive growth, will let some 60m readers of its service begin charging each other for the rights to access just about anything uploaded to the service.
  • Facebook became a relying party for OpenID, the universal web login standard that is trying to gain traction. That means, for example, that Facebook users with an associated Gmail account will be able to browse Facebook without having to login if they are coming from Gmail. But Google, an issuing party, is not likely to become a relying party anytime soon. Doing so would mean surrendering some control of access to their proprietary accounts.

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