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Sirgoo Lee, chief executive of the South Korean mobile messaging company Kakao, chuckles when asked about Facebook’s acquisition of rival WhatsApp for $19bn. “All I can say is that’s a lot of money,” he says.
While it has a strong presence in India and Hong Kong, WhatsApp is a marginal player in many parts of Asia writes Simon Mundy. Kakao, Japan-based LINE and China-headquartered WeChat dominate mobile messaging in their respective home territories, and are fighting for control of the market in southeast Asia. The Japanese internet company Rakuten, meanwhile, last month spent $900m on Viber, an Israeli company that provides similar free calling and messaging services. Read more
Expectations were running high ahead of Twitter’s maiden earnings as a public company – its stock had risen by almost 50 per cent since November’s IPO.
But investors got the jitters when they saw slowing growth in user numbers and engagement rates in the fourth quarter of 2013, feeding their fears that Twitter might be a niche product which the mass market will never understand. Dick Costolo, chief executive, stressed this was a problem they had always known about and had a plan to fix. Nonetheless, shareholders were not comforted, sending Twitter shares down almost 18 per cent in after-hours trading.
In this liveblog, Hannah Kuchler and Tim Bradshaw covered reaction and live commentary from the conference call.
Mark Zuckerberg’s push to make Facebook a mobile-first company seems to have paid off. Wednesday’s fourth-quarter earnings revealed that it now makes more than half of its advertising revenues from mobile devices, beating Wall Street’s forecasts and sending its stock up as much as 12 per cent in after-hours trading.
Hannah Kuchler and Tim Bradshaw reported from the earnings call as Zuck and his team talked about the opportunities in personalisation, messaging and artificial intelligence.
Twitter began life as a public company today as it started trading on the New York Stock Exchange in the most closely watched initial public offering of the year.
The San Francisco-based company priced its shares on Wednesday at $26 a piece. It will raise about $2.1bn by selling 80.5m shares, or about 13 per cent of the company.
The shares closed up 73 per cent at $44.90.
Federal judges evaluated the privacy and free speech implications of a California law that would create a database of online identities for sex offenders, noting the shift in public sentiment around such data collection since voters passed the law last November and today, as revelations about the US’s monitoring of online communications continue to emerge.
“We’re living in a post-Snowden world,” said Judge Jay Bybee of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, referencing the surveillance practices revealed by former CIA contractor Edward Snowden and questioning whether a database of email addresses and online identities intended to help solve sex crimes could be used to monitor people’s political speech.
Mr Bybee was one of three judges hearing oral arguments in a case about Proposition 35, the California law that requires convicted sex offenders to register their email addresses and user names for online news sites and social networks. The initiative was passed by a majority of voters last November, after receiving financial backing from Chris Kelly, Facebook’s chief privacy officer between 2005 and 2009. Read more
Twitter’s chief executive Dick Costolo is facing intense scrutiny about when the messaging site will go public. His appearance at the TechCrunch Disrupt event in San Francisco taught us little about that, instead going back to first principles of managing a company – whether brand new or about to IPO. Read more