Hannah Kuchler

By Hannah Kuchler and Tim Bradshaw

Facebook unveiled the sleek, unfolding pages of its Paper app last month to appreciative oohs and aahs from reviewers, marking a new era for the social network as design becomes more central to companies up and down Silicon Valley.

Paper was developed with a small unit of designers who wanted to break away from the site’s basic ‘blue and white’ look to create an app inspired by the National Geographic magazine. Read more

Alibaba’s decision to head to the US for its blockbuster IPO – perhaps the world’s largest ever – is undoubtedly a major blow to Hong Kong’s global ambitions.

But chucking out years of hard-won progress for a single pay-day – with the risk of opening
the market to myriad potential problems down the road – would have been the wrong move.

 Read more

Richard Waters

You need a strong gut to invest in a market when it’s just suffered the kind of financial scandal that hit the Bitcoin world with the demise of Mt Gox.

But that hasn’t stopped Matt Cohler at Benchmark from leading a $20m investment round in Xapo, the latest entrant in Silicon Valley’s bid to assume a leading role in Bitcoin innovation. Read more

Richard Waters

Bill Gates has a soft spot for Mark Zuckerberg. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine that has just been published, this is what he has to say about the Facebook CEO: “We’re both Harvard dropouts, we both had strong, stubborn views of what software could do.”

And he strongly endorses Zuckerberg’s acquisition of WhatsApp: “It means that Mark Zuckerberg wants Facebook to be the next Facebook.” Read more

Richard Waters

Looking back at the history of the world wide web (which celebrates its 25th birthday on Wednesday) brings to mind that famous question from Monty Python’s Life of Brian: “What have the Romans ever done for us?”

Like the Judean revolutionary complaining about his Roman overlords, it’s easy to see the downside. Spam, viruses, government surveillance, loss of privacy: the negatives are hard to ignore. Read more

Richard Waters

How much freedom will Google have to come up with new advertising formats after its anti-trust settlement with the European Commission?

That question looks like being tested sooner than you might think. The ink isn’t even dry on the settlement yet, but Google is already trying out new forms of advertising that will reveal how well the regulators have done their job. Read more

The BBC thinks its iPlayer service is “the best online television service in the world” – a platform so good that it’s the envy of Silicon Valley. So will Apple and Google be impressed by the platform’s latest redesign, unveiled in London on Tuesday?

This is a crucial time for the iPlayer: it will soon become the only home of BBC Three, the off-beat channel which is being taken off air to save costs. Tony Hall, the BBC’s director-general, wants the platform to be the “front door” to all the broadcaster’s content.

So what’s on offer in the new version? Read more

Tim Bradshaw

It would be easy to glance at Samsung’s new Milk Music service and dismiss it as another copycat. The personalised internet radio service for Galaxy smartphone owners that launches in the US on Friday is, in essence, pretty similar to Pandora or Apple’s iTunes Radio, which launched last year.

But while maintaining feature parity is an important if unglamorous part of the hypercompetitive smartphone market, Milk does bring something new to Samsung Galaxy: great software design. Read more

Hannah Kuchler

A Flickr co-founder has been quietly compiling a map of the world’s stories in an attempt to transform location-based apps from drab star-based ratings and recommendations into a lively map packed with history, culture and personal tales.

From the historical Blue plaques that line London streets to maps of subcultures such as “Punk Rock in Chicago”, Caterina Fake’s new app Findery aims to help users discover new places in a more imaginative way. Read more

Robert Cookson

Big media companies owned by profit-hungry private equity groups don’t normally give their core products away for free.

But Getty Images, which was acquired for $3.3bn by Carlyle in 2012, is doing just that. The world’s largest supplier of stock photos has made more than 30m images available to people to share for free on their blogs and social media sites, including tumblr, WordPress and Twitter.

This is not charity, however. Behind the move lies cold commercial logic. It’s all about data, control and advertising. Read more