Social

Interesting commentary from around the Web on the tech story that made headlines this week.

A more visually engaging newsfeed with additional streams was the focus of Facebook’s redesign this week. Bigger photos, however, didn’t bode well for a few tech observers who argued that the facelift won’t make up for deeper problems with the social networking site’s algorithm. Read more

Blake Ross, a director of product at Facebook, has signalled his departure from the company, adding his name to a growing list of employees to decamp in the months after the social network’s botched initial public offering.

Mr Ross offered vague plans for his next steps in a post on his Facebook page: “It’s just time for me to try new things,” he said. Read more

There is an empathy gap in technology development. In the analytic, data-driven world of Silicon Valley, emotions often do not get factored into the latest product design.

This comes down to the way engineers and technicians think, says Anthony Jack, the director of the mind, brain, and consciousness lab at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. The more people exercise the analytic functions of their brains, the less empathetic they become. Likewise, when we empathise, we turn off the analytic function of the brain.

“There is a cognitive tension between these two different types of understanding,” he said. Read more

Twitter co-founder Evan Williams is building his current start-up with a completely different business – and spiritual – structure in mind.

The freewheeling, non-hierarchical organisation popular in Silicon Valley technology companies is not the order of the day at Obvious Corporation, the re-launched incubator and web publishing platform Mr Williams founded with comrades Biz Stone and Jason Goldman in the pre-Twitter days.

“People romanticise start-up culture,” he said, speaking at the Wisdom 2.0 Conference in San Francisco on Friday. “People think: Freedom! No job descriptions! Damn with the rules! Actually, it creates tons of anxiety and inefficiency.” 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

Pinterest, the fast-growing online scrapbooking site, has raised $200m, valuing the three year-old company at $2.5bn.

The San Francisco-based company is adding to its unconventional list of investors with this financing round, rather than turning to the Silicon Valley venture capital firms that typically lead investments for a company at this stage of growth.

The latest round was led by Valiant Capital Management, a hedge fund in San Francisco founded by Christopher Hansen, who is better known for his attempts to bring an NBA basketball team back to Seattle than his technology bets. Read more

Sailthru, a start up that is trying to make “smart data” out of “big data,” has raised $19m in a Series B investment round led by Benchmark Capital.

This is the second investment to close in as many days for Benchmark, which led a $13.5m Series A fundraising round for Snapchat, the ephemeral social networking service that lets people post photos or messages that self-delete after 10 seconds or less. That company is valued between $60m and $70m. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Video chat is becoming more sophisticated and social, with developers working out how better to combine media streams and groups of friends in online conversation.

Rabbit, which launches in beta today on Macs, was designed by game developers and introduces more visually appealing video chatrooms and easier ways to connect with friends. Glide, which debuted at Macworld last week, offers a video group walkie-talkie service on the iPhone. Both are free to download and use. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Twitter has made one of its largest acquisitions to date with Bluefin Labs, to help its advertisers better understand the link between traditional and social media. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

The Super Bowl’s power outage was embarrassing for the NFL and CBS – but golden for Twitter.

When the lights went out in the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans, the Super Bowl broadcast didn’t show any extra ads. But the TV audience wasn’t watching the big screen anyway. If my Super Bowl viewing party in San Francisco is anything to go by (and, for once, fewer than half of the people here in attendance work in tech), a lot of people were looking at their smartphones, checking Twitter.

And amid the usual (t)witticisms you would expect in this sort of situation, many brands were quick to take advantage. If nothing else, it shows that not all of adland’s creativity goes into TV ads these days. Read more