Richard Waters

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

Richard Waters

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

Richard Waters

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

Richard Waters

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

Richard Waters

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

Richard Waters

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

Richard Waters

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

The three-year Brussels probe into Google’s search business seems to be meandering towards a thundering anticlimax. With every legal twist, revised settlement offer and procedural shuffle, the case is losing the zip that made it a cause célèbre in the antitrust world. The opposing camps, meanwhile, appear ever more entrenched and polarised. Nobody is satisfied.

 Read more

Richard Waters

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

Richard Waters

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.