Tech

Richard Waters

Until now, Facebook has struggled – and failed – to strike the right note in response to the disquiet over its deliberate alteration of users’ moods for a research study.

On Wednesday it got another chance, as Senator Mark Warner wrote to the Federal Trade Commission asking it to investigate. What Facebook came up with in response still didn’t classify as an actual apology, but at least the company no longer sounded so bemused by all the fuss. Read more

Richard Waters

Venture capitalists are lining up to back bitcoin start-ups. On Monday, Xapo bagged some of Silicon Valley’s biggest names for its latest $20m round: Greylock’s Reid Hoffman and Index Ventures’ Mike Volpi, not to mention personal money from Max Levchin, Yuri Milner and Jerry Yang.

But all of this VC activity raises an interesting question. If these investors truly believe the crypto-currency will one day support a significant new financial services industry, why not just buy the currency and hold it? Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Uber is wasting little time in putting last month’s huge $1.2bn fundraising to work. As it races for marketshare against not-quite-so-well-funded rivals such as Lyft, it has been cutting prices for its cheapest service, UberX, in several markets including its largest, the San Francisco Bay Area.

The fare reduction is flagged as temporary, which may be just as well: Fortune discovered that Uber is losing money on every fare by paying drivers more than it charges passengers, in order to boost their earnings and prevent them from switching to a more lucrative rival. Read more

Robert Cookson

Facebook has created a new “missed call” product for advertisers in India, marking the first time that the social network has designed a special ad format for a single country.

When a mobile phone user clicks on one of the ads, it calls the advertiser and immediately hangs up. The advertiser returns the call with pre-recorded entertainment content and a marketing message – enabling the consumer to avoid paying data charges.

Facebook’s creation of a special ad product in India, where the company has more than 100m users, is part of a broader push to develop customised solutions across emerging marketsRead more

Hannah Kuchler

The news that Facebook manipulated its news feed to analyse the impact on users’ emotional expressions has angered many who believe they should have been told they were part of a psychology experiment.

The study of more than 689,000 Facebook users, conducted over a week in 2012, found those who were exposed to fewer positive stories in the feed were more likely to write negative posts and vice versa. People felt worried the billion plus social network was trying to manipulate their emotions, coming as it does after years of conflicts over privacy with the social network. Read more

Richard Waters

Marc Benioff, Salesforce.com chief

Salesforce.com, the company that did more than any other to invent the software-as-a-service industry, is reaching a turning point.

After years of rapid growth, it has a pressing need for the more evolved infrastructure, processes and rounded management team of the large company it has become. And with growth starting to slow, it is coming closer to a seminal moment: when investors will start expecting it to report real profits, and not just on a pro-forma basis. The appointment of a new chief financial officer on Monday is the latest sign that is preparing for the changes. Read more

Richard Waters

The US Supreme Court has rejected Google’s bid to limit the legal fall-out from the StreetView spying case.

In the process, it has also delivered its second decision in a week that interprets how the country’s privacy laws should apply when it comes to new technologies. Both times, it has come down on the side of stronger legal protections for the individual. Read more

goog3

Smart watches, TVs and cars featured prominently on Wednesday as Google laid out its plans for pushing its Android smartphone software into new fields. At its annual I/O developer event in San Francisco, “wearables” had pride of place, with news that the first smartwatches based on Android Wear are now on sale – before Apple unveils its much-anticipated iWatch. With Android TV and Android Auto, on the other hand, Google was playing catch up with Apple. The event pointed to how the battle for the next big tech markets beyond the smartphone will be fought. Richard Waters and Tim Bradshaw were at the Moscone Center for this round. 

Richard Waters

Is Oculus, the virtual reality company being acquired by Facebook, going to make its own headsets? Or is it going to rely on some of the world’s biggest consumer technology companies to develop products using its software, turning it into the Android of VR?

Yes to both. Read more

Sarah Mishkin

A new tie-up between a payment company affiliated with Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba and a US-based payments processor could soon make it far easier for Chinese shoppers to buy online from overseas retailers.

Stripe, a San Francisco start-up that handles payments for online retailers, has started to let online retailers accept purchases made through Alipay, an Alibaba-affiliated payment method that is by far China’s most popular way of paying for goods bought online. Read more