Tech

Tim Bradshaw

It was just a regular Tuesday afternoon in Mountain View’s Red Rock coffee shop: rows of young entrepreneurs sitting behind their MacBook screens, working on what they hope might be the next WhatsApp.

The low-key cafe served as an office for Brian Acton and Jan Koum, WhatsApp’s founders, when they were starting out back in 2009. It was here that Sequoia’s Jim Goetz met them in 2011 before becoming their only venture-capital investor. WhatsApp’s modest, unmarked offices are still just around the corner. Read more

Robert Cookson

Technological utopians have been predicting for years that the internet will weaken the dominance of superstar artists in the music industry and enrich the teeming masses of smaller, niche creators.

But new research suggests that this “long tail” theory is wrong: superstars are capturing the vast majority of music revenues and their share is increasing – not decreasing – because of the rise of digital services like iTunes and Spotify.

The top 1 per cent of artists – the likes of Rihanna and Adele – accounted for a whopping 77 per cent of recorded music income in 2013, according to research by Mark Mulligan of Midia Consulting. Read more

Almost five years after launching, crowd-funding platform Kickstarter has received pledges worth $1bn. Half of the money has apparently been in the past twelve months (see chart below).

If Kickstarter were a venture fund, it would be a fairly significant player. So how exactly has humanity been enriched, for its money? Read more

Hannah Kuchler

Nok Nok? Who’s there? Usually someone with a terribly easy to guess password, a cyber criminal’s dream. But perhaps not for long.

Lenovo, the Chinese PC and phone manufacturer, has invested in Nok Nok Labs, a cyber security start up which aims to transform the industry by replacing passwords with a new technology which works with everything from fingerprints to voice recognition.

Nok Nok Labs raised $16.5m from Lenovo as well as venture capitalists DCM and Onset Ventures on Thursday to create a platform which will support the latest authentication technology. Lenovo will join the board of Nok Nok – and the assumption is, use the new tech in its devices from laptops to smartphones. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

The co-founder of fitness tracking device maker Jawbone wants to take on Twitter with the long-awaited launch of a new “global opinion network”, State.

State, which emerges from private testing on Thursday, has been many years in the making. Alex Asseily, who is still Jawbone’s chairman, and his brother Mark have been developing State since 2011, soon after Alex returned to London following 17 years in San Francisco. They had originally hoped to launch it in 2012 but the delay partly reflects the daunting scale of Mr Asseily’s vision. Read more

Richard Waters

The Wall Street analysts waiting eagerly for details of Tesla Motors’ planned “Gigafactory” will have been disappointed by the cursory treatment the project got on Wednesday, as the company announced plans to raise $1.6bn.

After all, this is the massive battery-making plant that is meant to cement Tesla’s rise as the world’s first mass-market electric car maker. According to an expansive report by a Morgan Stanley analyst earlier in the week, it could also make it the dominant player in a $1,500bn market for selling energy storage devices to electric utilities. Read more

Hannah Kuchler

The one big US social network not blocked in China launches its new site there in beta today – as part of a Chinese push previously reported by the Financial TimesRead more

Richard Waters

It must have been galling to Microsoft when Hewlett-Packard brought back Windows 7 “by popular demand” last month. But it reflected a reality that has been hard to ignore: the vast majority of PC users who still manipulate a mouse and tap on a keyboard have little to gain from the touch-centric tiled interface of Windows 8.

Now, Microsoft is ready to make more concessions to the keyboard-and-mouse crowd – while insisting that it is still committed to touch. Read more

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

Tim Bradshaw

Facebook is paying up to $19bn in cash, stock and earnouts to acquire WhatsApp Messenger, the world’s most popular mobile chat app with more than 450m regular users. Here Tim Bradshaw and Hannah Kuchler brought live reaction and comment from Facebook’s conference call.