Talk of Twitter Sale Brews with Square/Block Floated as Suitor

Even before Jack Dorsey tweeted his resignation as Twitter CEO — and announced that another company he co-founded and runs as CEO, Square, will on December 10 change its name to Block — there was speculation that Twitter will soon be purchased. The rumors have been fueled by a belief that Twitter has potential beyond its stagnant share price — $44.47 as of yesterday’s close, slightly less than $44.90 the day of its November 2013 IPO — evidenced in its strong branding and popularity with elites. Top tech exec Parag Agrawal’s ascent to CEO is the corporate equivalent of staging in real estate.  Continue reading Talk of Twitter Sale Brews with Square/Block Floated as Suitor

PayPal Not Planning to Acquire Image-Sharing App Pinterest

Financial tech company PayPal clarified that it is not currently pursuing a deal to acquire image-sharing social platform Pinterest, shelving reports that surfaced last week, at least for the time being. PayPal stock rose approximately 3 percent while Pinterest shares fell 12 percent on news that the digital pinboard site was not being wooed to the tune of $70 per share, largely in stock, for a deal valued at roughly $45 billion. Assuming discussions were taking place, it’s hard to know if PayPal got cold feet, caving to a mostly negative market response, or decided now may not be the time to grow. Continue reading PayPal Not Planning to Acquire Image-Sharing App Pinterest

Vocal Facebook Critics Form Their Own Rival Oversight Board

About 25 experts in various fields formed the Real Facebook Oversight Board, an alternative to the one Facebook has promised to launch soon. Hosted by Recode founder and The New York Times contributing opinion writer Kara Swisher, the Real Facebook Oversight Board will hold its first meeting — via Facebook Live — on October 1, to analyze the social media platform’s content moderation, policies and other issues as the 2020 presidential election looms. Meanwhile, Facebook’s board is expected to begin reviewing cases in October. Continue reading Vocal Facebook Critics Form Their Own Rival Oversight Board

Twitter Debuts Reply Feature to Prevent Chronic Harassment

After testing earlier this year, Twitter has introduced settings that allow users to control who can reply to tweets. Twitter is responding to widespread pressure to combat chronic hate speech, misogyny and harassment. Twitter director of product management Suzanne Xie wrote that, “we’ve seen people use these settings to have conversations that weren’t really possible before,” adding that, “starting today, everyone will be able to use these settings so unwanted replies don’t get in the way of meaningful conversations.” Continue reading Twitter Debuts Reply Feature to Prevent Chronic Harassment

Elizabeth Warren Looks to Break Up Major Tech Companies

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) aims to be the Democratic Party’s candidate for the 2020 U.S. presidential election, but she just alienated Silicon Valley when she proposed to break up tech companies that generate more than $25 billion in online revenue. Her rationale is that companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google have become too big and too powerful, squashing small businesses and innovation, and more focused on their financial well-being than “the broader interests of the American people.” Continue reading Elizabeth Warren Looks to Break Up Major Tech Companies

Diller and Spielberg on the Growing Dominance of Streaming

On Kara Swisher’s podcast Recode Decode, Barry Diller declared that Hollywood is “now irrelevant,” adding that those executives who used to hold a lot of power now have much less and that the six movie companies that once dominated everything no longer do. “For the first time, they ain’t buying anything,” he said. “Meaning they’re not buying Netflix. They are not buying Amazon.” Meanwhile, at the Cinema Audio Society Awards, Steven Spielberg declared his affinity for the movie theater experience. Continue reading Diller and Spielberg on the Growing Dominance of Streaming

Facebook’s Plans for Innovation Hub in China Hits Roadblock

Facebook has been planning an “innovation hub” in Hangzhou, China — home to Chinese Internet leader Alibaba Group — to support that nation’s startups and developers as well as increase its own presence in the country. However, the approval that was briefly listed on a Chinese government database has now disappeared and, according to one source, the approval has been withdrawn. Facebook has been blocked in China since 2009, spurring the company to find other ways to position itself there. Earlier this year, it inked an agreement with Xiaomi to build a VR headset for the Chinese consumer market. The company planned to provide training and workshops through the proposed hub.

Continue reading Facebook’s Plans for Innovation Hub in China Hits Roadblock

Yahoo Now Envisions Tumblr as Its Own Version of YouTube

After Yahoo purchased Tumblr for $1.1 billion in 2013, CEO and founder David Karp was promised that the site would remain an independent property. Tumblr would use Yahoo’s advertising technology while Yahoo would use Tumblr’s publishing tools. Now, Yahoo executives see Tumblr as their version of YouTube. Tumblr would solve YouTube content creators’ complaints that they do not make enough money, and the poached YouTube stars would set up their new channels on Tumblr.  Continue reading Yahoo Now Envisions Tumblr as Its Own Version of YouTube

Internet of Things: Samsung Purchases Startup SmartThings

ETCentric community member Lee Lanselle forwarded us news that Samsung has acquired SmartThings, maker of smart-home controllers, for around $200 million. While SmartThings will continue to operate independently under CEO Alex Hawkinson, its three facilities are expected to move to Palo Alto to become part of Samsung’s Open Innovation Center (run by former Google and AOL exec David Eun). SmartThings, which is owned by Physical Graph Corp., began in 2012 as a Kickstarter project. Continue reading Internet of Things: Samsung Purchases Startup SmartThings

Best of D9: All Things Digital Conference

Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher of The Wall Street Journal hosted the D9 (D: All Things Digital) conference May 31 to June 2 in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. The annual event featured compelling interviews and demonstrations from an array of top media and technology executives representing companies such as HP, Twitter, AT&T, Nokia, Netflix, Disney, Adobe and many more.

The D conference was established in 2003 by columnists Mossberg and Swisher as an annual showcase for technology innovators and big names from the worlds of business, entertainment and occasionally politics. This year the title was “D9” (indicating its ninth year). The conference is known for hosting influential heavy-hitters and its somewhat exclusive nature. Typically, attendance is limited to about 500 guests.

ETCentric readers were quick to forward relevant news items and announcements that emerged during this year’s show. The following is a collection of links to articles and videos submitted by our readers, accompanied by their comments:


D9 Video: Eric Schmidt Highlights

  • Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook are successfully exploiting global platform strategies.
  • Challenge working with entertainment companies since taking content from scarcity to ubiquity.
  • Also need to deal with disintermediation and piracy. On privacy, Google will remain a place where you can do anonymous searches. And committed to insuring you have control over information they have on you.
  • We’re seeing the consumerization of IT that will lead to the death of IT as we know it.
  • There are not sufficient resources to develop for more than the two largest players: Google and Apple.
  • Search is moving from link-based answers to algorithmically-based answers using artificial intelligence.
  • Concerned about a balkanization of the Internet, which will lead to an Internet per country.
  • If you’re concerned about security, use the Chrome browser and use a Mac.


Google Shows Off Its Groupon Killer, Launching Tomorrow

  • Video of Eric Schmidt’s demo of Google Wallet and Google Offers.
  • Google is not charging a processing fee but is taking a share of the offer.
  • Credit card companies are willing to upgrade the POS terminals to get benefits of higher security.
  • Lookout Groupon, LivingSocial, etc.!!!


Groupon CEO Andrew Mason on Google, Clones and Hubris – But Not on an IPO

  • CEO sees Groupon evolving in three phases so far: One – the Daily Deal, Two – Personalized Deals, and Three – a technology company where they become more integral to a person’s daily life (i.e. wherever they are and whatever they want to do, they can get a deal right now based on the inventory of available deals).
  • Could you use Groupon to sell media?


D9 Video: Microsoft’s Steven Sinofsky on Windows 8

  • 95 percent of how the world gets on the Internet is through Windows.
  • Windows 8 will be a “modern” rethink to enable PCs and tablets to satisfy “things they say are solved in an iPad” and still bring all the benefits of Windows.
  • Video demo of Windows 8 showing touch-based UI (can still use mouse too), live tiles.
  • Targeting 2012.


D9 Video: Fanhattan Demo

  • Free video discovery app Fanhattan launched at D9 this week.
  • The iPad app serves as a directory and discovery engine, sourcing reviews and ratings from Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes, while organizing related content from the likes of YouTube, IMDb and Amazon.
  • Also shows pre-release version running on an Internet TV which is capable of creating a branded movie page in this case for Pirates of the Caribbean.
  • It connects to iTunes, Netflix, Hulu and the ABC Player to view TV and movies.
  • CNET review: “This free iPad app sounds simple–it finds stuff about movies and TV shows you want to watch–but the depth of the content, utility of what the site does, and clarity of the interface just puts this app on a different level than anything else I’ve seen.”


D9 Video: Hewlett-Packard CEO Leo Apotheker

  • WebOS will be available to other companies and enterprises for their own use.
  • Goal is to create an end-to-end ecosystem that figures out on a single device in the Cloud whether you’re doing enterprise or private work.
  • HP can create a large ecosystem of printers, PCs and tablets amounting to 100 million devices a year itself. They hope to interest others as well.


D9 Video: Reed Hastings Highlights

  • On Netflix’s virtuous cycle: the more content they get, the more members they get and they can pay more for content.
  • Consumers want all the new stuff but that’s very expensive.
  • At $8/month, they’re a compliment to the new stuff.
  • The news stuff will remain pay-per-view since has higher margin for content owners.
  • Can grow from 24 million subscribers currently to capture Internet TV and tablet viewers plus a share of the 5 billion active mobile phone users worldwide who like video.
  • Need to stay innovative.
  • Focus on talent density, which is the fewest number of talented people.


D9 Video: Twitter CEO Dick Costolo

  • Took three years to send the first billion tweets. Now sends a billion tweets every SIX days!
  • There are over 600,000 developers who have downloaded over 900,000 API tokens.
  • Will look to TweetDeck (recently acquired) as the professional UI.
  • Rolling out a native photo sharing app, relevance sorted search results and web intents which allows you to add a Twitter client into your website. 80 percent of advertisers using promoted tweets renew.
  • Advertisers are experiencing very high engagement rates (VW’s ad: 52%).
  • Focused on success of business, not IPO.


DARPA – The Coolest Agency You’ve Never Heard Of: Regina Dugan at D9

  • Regina Dugan’s DARPA t-shirt says “Impossible, Improbable, Inevitable” which describes the progression of their programs.
  • Developed Internet, GPS, stealth, night vision, UAV, MEMS technologies.
  • DARPA’s Mission is the “prevention and creation of strategic surprise.”
  • Encourages programs to have the big success.
  • So that means they can’t fear failure. Fear of failure is the limiting factor.
  • Talks about growth in need for cyber security, new computing architectures, explosive detection system.


D9 Tech Demo: Inkling

  • Inkling reinvents the college textbook for the iPad that is both interactive and social.
  • Rather than paying $200 for a book, you can buy it a chapter at a time for far less cost since the content is not re-sold like a physical book.
  • See impressive video demo.