Tech Finance

Apple has announced plans to pay a dividend and institute a share buyback  programme as it deals with a cash mountain that has grown to more than $100bn.

The maker of the iPhone and iPad said it would begin with a quarterly dividend of $2.65 a share, sometime in its fiscal fourth quarter, which begins on July 1.  A $10bn share buyback would begin in its next fiscal year, starting September 30 and be executed over three years.

Apple held a conference call to discuss the moves (it also revealed a record weekend of sales for the new iPad). Our live blog on that, and the reaction to it, is after the jump. Read more

The frenzy to invest in mobile payments providers continues with Boku, the San Francisco-based start-up raising $35m, in a funding round led by Telefónica Digital. It will take the total raised by the mobile transactions company to more than $75m since 2008.

Investors in this round also included New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Andreessen Horowitz, Benchmark Capital, DAG Ventures, Index Ventures and Khosla Ventures. Read more

A little bit of much-needed consolidation is finally taking place in the European Venture Capital industry. On Wednesday DFJ Esprit and Tempo Capital announced plans to merge their secondary investment businesses.

Tempo is a specialist in this market of buying existing venture capital investments, and DFJ has been dipping its toes in since 2007 when it bought out Cazenove’s venture capital fund. Read more

Skolkovo FoundationA delegation from Russia’s proposed ‘Silicon Valley’ development, Skolkovo, came to the UK this week in an effort to persuade UK businesses to invest in the high-tech hub being built on the outskirts of Moscow.

They faced awkward questions, however, about the political landscape that companies might face if they transferred operations to Russia. Denis MacShane, Labour MP for Rotherham, wrote to Lord Green, the trade minister, criticising the UK’s Department of Trade and Industry for hosting the conference, and pointing to the difficulties that many UK companies had faced in Russia. Read more

Mark Zuckerberg

At long last Facebook has filed for its initial public offering, the most eagerly awaited event in Silicon Valley since Google went public in 2004. Having read the prospectus, with its details of how profitable and cash-rich the social networking enterprise is, may I suggest it calls the whole thing off.

There is still time to cancel its IPO and the filing provides plenty of reasons why it ought to, and why Mark Zuckerberg, its founder and chief executive, would probably be happier if it did. He could carry on running Facebook as a private company and would not have to justify himself to outsiders.

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Facebook has finally filed to go public, with plans to raise at least $5bn.  The 845m-strong social network’s S-1 registration statement appeared on the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s website on Wednesday afternoon.

Some key facts from the IPO filing: founder Mark Zuckerberg has a 28.4 per cent stake worth $22.7bn, based on a $80bn valuation for the company. Facebook made $1bn on $3.7bn in revenues in 2011.  It will trade under the symbol FB and Morgan Stanley is the lead broker.

After the jump,  a breakdown of  the contents of the 192-page filing and reaction from around the web as reported in our live blog. Read more

Online shopping and renting out spare capacity in flats and cars appeared to be the investment themes in Europe in January, with consumer-facing internet companies once again getting the majority of the money and attention.

Berlin was the fundraising hot-spot with at least four start-ups raising money, from $50m for SoundCloud to a more modest $1.4m for Gidsy.

This is the first of a series of monthly updates on the early-stage technology companies raising money in Europe.

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Venture capital investors appear to be growing increasingly wary of European companies. In 2011, they put just E4.4bn into 1,012 start-ups in the region, a 14 per cent drop from the previous year, according to Dow Jones VentureSource.

This was the lowest annual deal count since Dow Jones began tracking investments in Europe in 2000. Read more

Despite the disaster of Solyndra, now is still the best time to invest in solar companies, the FT and Stanford Graduate School of Business’s Financing Innovation conference was told on Tuesday.

In a panel discussion, Steve Westly, a leading cleantech venture capitalist, said that, while the Californian solar cell maker’s bankruptcy had been a terrible thing, four or five global solar brands would emerge within five to 10 years. Read more

Kleiner Perkins doesn’t admit new partners often. Last year it was the turn of former “Queen of the internet” Mary Meeker, the first to get a seat at the table of one of Silicon Valley’s top VC firms since video games star Bing Gordon in 2008.

So the appointment of Mike Abbott, former vice president of engineering at Twitter, looks like an important hire. Read more

Tech news from around the web:

MasterCard is to invest in mFoundry, a company that provides mobile banking solutions for more than 500 US banks, TechCrunch reports. As part of the deal, mFoundry will offer MasterCard’s PayPass Near Field Communication technology to the banks and credit unions it works with. Read more

Until now, it has been advisable to take rumours of an imminent Facebook IPO with a large pinch of salt.

Yet according to one person familiar with the company’s planning, all the pieces are now in place for a Wall Street debut that could come in the second quarter of next year – even if that timing has yet to be finalised. Read more

Tech news from around the web:

Black Friday – the day after Thanksgiving – saw $816m spent online sales, according to research and monitoring group Comscore, making it the heaviest online spending day so far in  2011 and representing a 26%  increase against Black Friday 2010. Thanksgiving Day, achieved a  18%  increase to $479m, Comscore reports. Read more

Three and a half years after its unsolicited takeover bid for Yahoo collapsed in shambles, Microsoft has edged back for a second look.

The software company’s revived interest in the fate of one of the internet’s best-known brands marks the beginning of what all sides expect will be an intense few weeks of negotiations, as Yahoo races to come up with a deal that will appease unhappy shareholders before a potential fight for boardroom control breaks out early in the new year.

 Read more

Tech news from around the web:

Malware targeted towards phones running on the Android operating system continues to be on the rise, TechCrunch reports. According to McAfee’s security report for the third quarter, the amount of malware targeted at Android devices jumped nearly 37 per cent since last quarter. This follows a 76 percent rise in Android malware in the second quarter. Read more

Tech news from around the web:

Amazon has increased the order numbers for its Kindle Fire tablet computer from manufacturers to 5m units by the end of the year, according to TechCrunch. The tablet is available in the US from next Tuesday. Read more

Yahoo just moved another step forward in its bid to control the end-game that has been taking shape around its future.

Silver Lake has agreed to enter into confidential discussions with the US internet company, making it the latest private equity firm to go this route – and potentially robbing Alibaba and Softbank of an ally as they consider making a play for Yahoo themselves. But it’s still far too early to call it “game over”. Read more

Tech news from around the web:

British billionaire Sir Richard Branson has made a ‘multimillion-dollar’ investment in mobile payment start-up company Square, a spokesperson for the company has told Reuters. The move  follows a $100m investment led by venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and an injection by credit card company Visa.

Adobe Systems is said to be scrapping its move to bring its Flash Player software to smartphones and tablets, CNET reports. The Flash browser plug-in is widely used on personal computers but has so far only reached a fraction of the mobile phone market.  Read more

When two key partners at Index Ventures, Danny Rimer and Mike Volpi, moved from London to open the tech investor’s first Silicon Valley office, many European entrepreneurs saw it as a loss for the region.

But as it raises a huge new €500m ($700m) late-stage fund, Index insists that it’s just as focused on Europe – and London – as it’s ever been. Read more

Tech news from around the web:

Downloads of Android’s apps overtook those of Apple’s iOS apps in the second quarter of 2001, Business Insider reports. According to figures from ABI Research, the market shares of Android and iOS were 44% and 31% respectively. However, Apple still gets more downloads per user than Android. Read more