The $3.2bn acquisition of Nest will bring a whole new class of personal data under Google’s control: information about what happens inside your home. So it’s not surprising that privacy questions are already looming large.
After five years of trying, online investment management firm Wealthfront seems to have hit on a formula that works. Its assets under management jumped nearly five-fold last year to top $500m.
Of course, this hardly counts as a drop in the bucket in an industry where huge scale really matters. Vanguard and Charles Schwab count their assets in the trillions. But it hints at a fast-growing opportunity for new online financial brands if they can hit the right formula – as online credit firm LendingClub has also proved. Read more
John McAfee has his name back. The controversial anti-virus software entrepreneur had been sharing it with Intel since 2011. But after his bizarre exploits in Belize became prime tabloid fodder more than a year ago, it seemed only a matter of time before the association went the way of history. Read more
It’s financing season for cloud storage. With Dropbox reported to be looking for another $250m and Box working towards an IPO, the company hoping to stake a claim to being the number three independent name just took in a more modest round of $34m.
Hightail – the new name of file-transfer company YouSendIt – has been in the business longer than its bigger rivals and needs to step on the gas if it wants to be a player in a market that is destined for consolidation before long. Read more
Europe may be more sensitive to breaches of online privacy, but the US has levied larger penalties when things go wrong.
The latest case in point: the $17m that Google agreed on Monday to pay to a group of US states and the District of Columbia to resolve complaints that it circumvented cookie controls in Apple’s Safari browser. According to Google’s critics, however, it is still too easy for the company to buy its way out of trouble. Read more
There was plenty of self-congratulation going on between Twitter and its advisers on Thursday. They had just avoided a repeat of the messy Facebook IPO: Twitter is officially the new darling of Wall Street.
But did they err in the other direction instead and massively under-price the offering? Read more
Helpouts is just the kind of big, ambitious project Google should be working on. A marketplace for people to sell – or just donate – their knowledge and expertise through live video sessions, it’s an all-embracing platform covering everything from the simplest how-to advice to full, personalised masterclasses.
So why does it feel like a re-run of Knol, the crowd-sourced Google knowledge base that was closed in 2012 after a four-year run? Read more
Google is constantly on the receiving end of patent lawsuits: its last annual report listed challenges to 13 of its services, including Android, YouTube and Chrome.
But when a claim comes along that’s aimed squarely at AdWords, the money-minting machine on which its entire fortune rests, it has a way of grabbing the attention – particularly when the case is launched by a consortium of tech companies that include Microsoft and Apple. Read more
How much is Google prepared to spend as it searches for a breakthrough in the mobile handset business?
That question is prompted by the latest wacky-sounding ideas to come out of its Motorola division. Building-block smartphones? A vanity animation project to invent a whole new entertainment form for mobile? Read more
Apple may have beaten Wall Street’s revenue and profit expectations with its latest quarterly earnings on Monday, but the market’s skittishness about the durability of its profit margins was much in evidence. Earnings guidance, on the face of it, seemed to point to steady margin erosion in the coming months. But Apple was able to silence the doubters – for this quarter, at least.
Read on for details of the earnings and our coverage of the earnings call as it happened.
Step into the San Francisco offices of Climate Corporation, and the first thing you see is a giant suspended globe. It is a dramatic representation of the power of big data: cloud formations move across it in real time, attesting to the level of detail with which the company captures and models weather information.
Now, with Climate Corp’s sale to Monsanto for an up-front payment of $930m (with more cash set aside for staff retention), the big data business has its first significant acquisition, and an important vindication for those who argue that data analytics is becoming a competitive differentiator. Read more
First, for Google’s opponents, let’s look on the bright side.
The company’s tentative deal with European regulators in April to head off a formal anti-trust complaint was, according to critics, worse than useless. In the words of Silicon Valley lawyer Gary Reback: “They were Nowheresville”.
Tuesday’s revised deal at least fixes the most glaring flaws. Whether it will do anything meaningful to change the competitive situation is another matter. Read more
Wednesday will be a big day in the life of Lawrence J Ellison, co-founder and chief executive officer of Oracle, multi-billionaire, defending champion of the America’s Cup and head of Oracle Team USA.
It will also present an interesting test of where his true allegiances lie. As the boat he bankrolled with tens of millions of dollars faces defeat, will he choose to front Oracle’s quarterly earnings call or be out on San Francisco bay? Read more
You’re wearing Google Glass. A stranger walks past in a T-shirt emblazoned with a QR code. Suddenly, your world changes: images you didn’t expect start appearing on the tiny Glass screen above your eye. It quickly becomes clear that someone has taken complete control of your eyewear. Read more
Daphne Koller, one the founders of Coursera, makes no bones about the global ambition of her online higher education start-up. Thanks to huge interest in moocs (masssive open online courses) in countries like the US and UK, she says, there’s “an incredible opportunity opening up for us” to get big fast.
So why wait years to go global when investors are queuing up to push the money into your hands right now? Read more
Apple chief executive officer Tim Cook took the hot seat on Tuesday morning in Washington to answer questions about a tax planning strategy that has enabled it to avoid billions of dollars of taxes.
Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate investigations committee, set the tone with his opening remarks, noting that just in 2012, Apple had exploited tax loopholes allowing it to avoid $9bn in US taxes. Such practices, he said, did “real harm” to the US economy, disadvantaging domestic companies that don’t make use of “tax gimmicks”.
You can watch the hearing here, read Mr Cook’s written testimony here and read the Senate committee’s report on Apple’s tax structure here.
The US may be moving only slowly towards opening up its airspace to commercial drones, but a market for unmanned aerial vehicles is already emerging rapidly elsewhere. Andreessen Horowitz and Google Ventures are the latest to jump in, with a $10.7m investment in drone technology company Airware. Read more