Europe

Robert Cookson

Taylor Swift clearly touched a nerve at Spotify last week when she pulled all of her music from the streaming service.

Daniel Ek, Spotify’s chief executive, has responded to her move by publishing a 1,800 word essay that defends the company’s business model and reveals some fascinating numbers about its growth. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

The taxi industry’s war on app-enabled chauffeur services such as Uber has broken out into physical combat on the streets of Paris. During a strike by French cab drivers who are protesting against the rise of what are locally called “voitures de tourisme avec chauffeurs”, several drivers and limos who crossed the picket line were attacked, with windows smashed and tires slashed. 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.

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Richard Waters

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

If you’re wondering why Jack Dorsey’s payments company Square hasn’t launched in Europe, here’s one possible answer. The market is just too competitive.

Already several European companies do what Square does – allowing small businesses to process card payments without a monthly contract. They are now engaging in a price war, ripping up the 2.75 per cent transaction fee that Square made standard. Read more

It may seem hard to understand how one could go bankrupt selling iPads and MacBooks in one of Europe’s richest countries, but that is what happened Tuesday to iCentre, the largest Apple reseller in the Netherlands, writes Matt Steinglass in Amsterdam.

A judge in the Dutch town of Haarlem proclaimed the 34-store chain bankrupt on Tuesday, after a week of negotiations between the company, its creditors and potential buyers failed to produce a rescue plan. And on closer inspection, iCentre’s fate is not so hard to explain. Like other Apple resellers, iCentre was coping with a long-term shift from notebook and desktop computer sales towards smartphones and tablets, which have lower profit margins. Read more

Splashpath founder Dan Morgan (left) with Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps

London startup Active in Time has taken the path less traveled to financing by licensing its Splashpath swim tracking app to Speedo. Read more

Strike one up for the humble firewall, veteran of network security software.

McAfee, the 25-year-old security software maker founded by John McAfee and bought by Intel in 2011, has made a conditional offer for Finland’s Stonesoft, which makes military-grade firewalls for securing networks. Read more

Robert Cookson

Duedil, a start-up that provides information on every private company in the UK, has raised $5m in funding ahead of an expansion into more than a dozen countries across Europe.

The London-based company takes data from public and private databases and links it together to provide users with insights that would otherwise have been impossible to obtain. Read more

Roy and Eldar Tuvey, the British brothers who sold their startup ScanSafe to Cisco for up to $183m in 2010, have announced a new venture, this time in mobile services.

Wandera helps companies save money on data roaming by compressing data in the cloud before it is sent to an employee’s phone or tablet. On Wednesday it received $7m in backing from Bessemer Venture Partners, whose past investments include Skype, Box and Linkedin. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

The Number 10 adviser behind London’s Tech City project, Rohan Silva, is to leave Downing Street this summer to become an entrepreneur himself.

A champion of innovation, behavioural economics and “open data” in government, Mr Silva confirmed his departure to the Financial Times late on Tuesday night, after reports first emerged on Sky NewsRead more

Tim Bradshaw

Angry Birds developer Rovio has already become the first app maker to successfully transfer its brand from digital to physical, with all sorts of merchandising and toys.

Now the Finnish company is making its most ambitious play yet to become – in its words – a “fully fledged entertainment powerhouse” with the launch of a weekly cartoon series this weekend. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Wooga, the social games developer behind Diamond Dash and Monster World, said it was profitable last year, but indicated that it had no immediate plans to follow rival Zynga onto the public markets.

“We were profitable for the year 2012,” said Jens Begemann, Wooga’s founder and chief executive at a press briefing in San Francisco where he also unveiled four new gamesRead more

Tim Bradshaw

The so-called PayPal mafia is a force to be reckoned with in Silicon Valley: Max Levchin joining the Yahoo board is just the latest example of a network that spans Facebook, YouTube, Yammer, LinkedIn, Square and – with Elon Musk’s SpaceX – the edge of the earth’s atmosphere.

In the British start-up world, the closest analogy is Lovefilm. The DVDs-by-post turned video-on-demand service was acquired by Amazon in January 2011, but even before that, had started the careers of many London tech-scene notables.

Now, Adam Valkin – a co-founder and sometime chief executive of Lovefilm, who went on to join TV producer Endemol and, three years ago, Accel Partners’ London office – is helping to take the Lovefilm mafia abroad. Read more

Robert Cookson

LumiTwo of the three founders of Last.fm, the original Silicon Roundabout success story, have arrived back on the London tech scene to launch a new service that helps people discover popular web pages.

Felix Miller and Martin Stiksel, who sold their music “scrobbling” service Last.fm to CBS in $280m in 2007, announced their new venture Lumi in a blog post on Tuesday. Read more

Maija Palmer

HouseTrip.com, the Swiss-based holiday rentals website, became the latest technology start-up to raise money in the recent flurry of funding rounds. The C-round brought Accel Partners in as an investor, alongside existing backers Balderton and Index Ventures. It is possibly the first time these three top European VC investors have all piled into the same company, making HouseTrip seem hot property indeed.

The company, which has raised a total of $60m since it was founded nearly three years ago, is a competitor to US Airbnb, which has also been awash with venture investment money and has a valuation of around $1.3bn. HouseTrip says it focuses more on holiday home rentals, rather than short stays in a spare room. Read more

Maija Palmer

News that TV mogul Simon Cowell and Will.i.am, singer with the Black Eyed Peas are considering launching an X-Factor style reality show to find the next Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates has caused a combination of amusement and disbelief across the technology sector.

But the idea of bringing a bit of glamour into the industry is not without merit. Read more

Maija Palmer

For a tech start-up the aim is nearly always to “go viral” and spread as far and wide as possible. So it is no surprise that TechHub, which provides work spaces for fledgling technology businesses in London, is looking to colonize more cities starting with Manchester.

The company has teamed up with Town Centre Securities, a  property developer, to open an office with 50 desks permanent desks and a drop-in work space in a Grade II listed building in Manchester’s Piccadilly Basin. Read more

Maija Palmer

SkyDox, the online document sharing company, has bought its larger US rival  Workshare and raised £20m from venture capital groups in order to create a stronger UK challenger in the market for online work collaboration.

Anthony Foy, chief executive of Brick Lane-based SkyDox, said the combination of the two companies, which creates an entity with annual revenues of around £20m,  would allow them to better challenge rivals such as Box and Dropbox in a fast-growing market. Read more

Maija Palmer

It has not been a great week for Sony employees, as the Japanese consumer electronics group carries out some late-summer pruning on its businesses. Around 1,000 people at Sony Mobile’s operations are to be let go, with two-thirds of the redundancies falling in Lund, Sweden,  as the headquarters of the mobile phone unit moves to Japan.

This was widely expected after Sony bought out Ericsson from their Sony Ericsson joint venture last year. In April this year, Sony had announced plans to cut 10,000 jobs globally. About half of these would come from the sale and spin-off of two subsidiaries, but detail about the rest is just starting to trickle through. Read more