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HP Kills TouchPad, Puts WebOS in Hibernation

HP announced it will no longer produce hardware running its webOS mobile operating system, discontinuing operations on future TouchPad tablets and the Pre smartphone devices.

“HP plans to announce that it will discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones,” the company said in a statement. “HP will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward.”

“Our WebOS devices have not gained enough traction in the marketplace with consumers,” said HP CEO Leo Apotheker in a conference call on Thursday. “Continuing to execute our current device approach in this space is no longer in the interest of HP or its shareholders.”

In its first major push into mobile in years, HP launched its TouchPad tablet in June. The tablet runs the webOS mobile operating system. The company also launched its Veer smartphone earlier this year.

But HP’s proprietary mobile platform, acquired from Palm just over a year ago for $1.2 billion, hasn’t taken off. Major competitors Apple and Google dominate the smartphone arena with their respective iOS and Android platforms, while RIM’s BlackBerry OS and Nokia’s Symbian round out the competition. Along with Microsoft’s puny Windows Phone OS, HP trails behind all the other leading platforms in market share.

“It’s obvious that they were using the TouchPad as a make or break event for webOS devices,” said Ben Galbraith, former director of developer relations for webOS, in an interview.

The news comes in the wake of a huge announcement from Google earlier this week, when the Mountain View company announced its acquisition of hardware company Motorola Mobility Holdings for $12.5 billion. Traditionally a software-only company, Google is making its first foray into the hardware business. (The company did test the waters slightly with recent partnerships with Samsung and Acer, which both make the Chrome OS-powered Chromebook.)

The news of the Motorola acquisition set the technology world abuzz, with pundits speculating that Google would alienate its other hardware partners — HTC, Samsung, LG and Sony Ericsson. The new relationship between Google and Motorola could make Google’s partners wary that competitor Motorola may be privy to inside information on Android, cutting others out of the loop.

Tech pundits speculated that rivals HP and Microsoft could potentially capitalize on Google’s acquisition by licensing webOS and Windows Mobile OS out to these manufacturers.

“OEM’s like Samsung, HTC, and LG are looking to hedge their smartphone strategy in the wake of Google’s Motorola acqusition,” said Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps in an interview. “They’re looking at Windows, but potentially webOS is now in the mix.”

HP CEO Leo Apotheker said recently that the company had plans to license its software to third-party manufacturers.

“We’re looking at all business models, from licensing to any other possibility for webOS,” Apotheker said in a conference call on Thursday.

HP’s TouchPad tablet arrived DOA, despite an extensive TV ad campaign that features actor and comedian Russell Brand and Glee star Leah Michele (seen below). Best Buy retailers offering the tablet for sale are reportedly sitting on hundreds of thousands of unsold units, according to AllThingsD.

It’s also possible that HP could follow in Motorola’s footsteps, putting its patent portfolio on the market for a hefty sale. Google claimed multiple times that its acquisition was important for Motorola’s valuable trove of software patents, which would help protect Google from the deluge of lawsuits the company is currently facing.

“They made the first official mass-consumer smartphone. I’m sure they hold some very valuable patents,” said Galbraith.

In the wake of this week’s news, all eyes are now on key mobile players Microsoft, Nokia and RIM — the three major companies trailing clear mobile industry leaders Apple and Google — to see which OS will take on iOS and Android.

“There’s absolutely room for three operating systems out there,” said Rotman Epps. “The question was whether there was room for a fourth or a fifth. HP just answered that question.”

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The 2700 Walnut Street Mural

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The building that resides on the corner of 27th and Walnut is a century old and has seen its share of activity but with a fresh paint job and a hand painted sign of the physical address, it lets you know you’re where creatives gather.

The building is home to multiple creative businesses including:
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Report: PlayStation 3 successor launching in 2012

by Don Reisinger

Sony is planning to launch a follow-up to the PlayStation 3 next year, DigiTimes is reporting.

Citing “Taiwan-based component makers,” DigiTimes says production on the console will start at the end of this year. However, the component makers did not say exactly when next year the device might launch.

Though DigiTimes’ sources call Sony’s next console the PlayStation 4, it’s important to note that the company has yet to even announce its next console, let alone name it.

DigiTimes didn’t report on the device’s graphical capabilities, but the publication’s sources said the console will boast a Kinect-like feature, allowing users to play games with only the movement of their bodies.

The DigiTimes report comes just a few months after game blog Kotaku cited its own sources saying that neither Sony nor Microsoft were planning to launch follow-ups to their current consoles until 2014. So far, however, neither company has said for sure when they might release new hardware.

Will the PS3 be replaced next year?

If Sony does release a new console next year, it won’t be alone. Earlier this year, Nintendo unveiled plans to release its follow-up to the Wii, called Wii U. The device promises better graphical capabilities and a new controller that boasts a 6.2-inch touch screen. Nintendo hasn’t said exactly when the Wii U will hit store shelves next year or how much it will cost.

If DigiTimes’ sources are correct, Sony has high hopes for its next console. In 2012 alone, according to the publication’s sources, Sony expects to ship 20 million units.

A Sony spokesman told CNET in an e-mailed statement today that DigiTimes’ report “is a rumor.”


Apple loses bid for injunction against Amazon

by Steven Musil

A federal judge has denied Apple’s request to immediately stop Amazon from using the term “Appstore” to describe its digital downloads storefront.

In an 18-page opinion filed today with the U.S. District Court for Northern California, Judge Phyllis Hamilton denied Apple’s request for a preliminary injunction preventing Amazon’s use of the term, which Apple claims it has trademark rights to. As expected, Hamilton ruled that Apple had not established the likelihood of confusion between the competing brands, but she also said she did not agree with Amazon’s contention that the mark is purely generic:

The court finds that Apple has not established a likelihood of success on its dilution claim. First, Apple has not established that its “App Store” mark is famous, in the sense of being “prominent” and “renowned.” The evidence does show that Apple has spent a great deal of money on advertising and publicity, and has sold/provided/furnished a large number of apps from its AppStore, and the evidence also reflects actual recognition of the “App Store” mark. However, there is also evidence that the term “app store” is used by other companies as a descriptive term for a place to obtain software applications for mobile devices.

Apple representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Apple filed suit against Amazon in March, taking aim at the company’s newly launched Appstore, which sells mobile applications to users on Google’s Android platform. At the time, an Apple spokeswoman said, “we’ve asked Amazon not to copy the app store name because it will confuse and mislead customers.”

Amazon responded in April by countersueing Apple, saying that “App Store” is too generic, and it wanted Apple’s case dismissed. In a court filing last month, Apple fired back, saying that it “denies that the mark App Store is generic and, on that basis, denies that the Amazon Appstore for Android service is an ‘app store.'”

An effort by Microsoft, HTC, Nokia, and Sony Ericsson in May sought to invalidate Apple’s European trademarks, while Microsoft’s taken on Apple’s U.S. trademark application with the help of linguists.


ICANN votes to introduce top-level domains, but will SMEs benefit?

One of the biggest recent changes to the way people will browse and use the internet was made yesterday, with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers voting to introduce the new Top-Level Domain program.

The ICANN vote took place in Singapore yesterday, ending a six-year debate in allowing companies and individuals to register domain names using brands and extensions, such as .music, .hotels or .Apple.

The move has been welcomed by various analysts and domain registries, which are set to benefit from the rush of new registrations.

“We’ve been following the program for six years, so to say this is monumental is an understatement,” AusRegistry International chief executive Adrian Kinderis said yesterday.

“This decision is going to have a significant impact on the web as we know it and will pave the way for the next wave of online innovation.”

Registry Melbourne IT has already expressed its support, with chief executive Theo Hnarakis saying it will increase the company’s bottom line in the longer-term as business under the new registrations ramp up.

So far only a few so-called generic top-level domains have been used, such as .com and .org. The new program will allow virtually any word or brand to be registered. This means a business could register its own name as a domain, and then have countless extensions under that brand name.

ICANN chairman Peter Thrush said the decision will “usher in a new Internet age…we have provided a platform for the next generation of creativity and inspiration”.

Analysts predict hundreds of new domains will be registered – but some aren’t so sure.

The new top-level domain program will start accepting applications from January 2012, and they’re expensive – over $US180,000 for a single application.

Some believe this means only larger brands will have the ability to make new registries.

David Lye, chief executive of domain name registry NetFleet, says the decision is certainly a milestone in the history of the internet but questions just how big of a “revolution” the top-level domains will spark.

“It’s certainly a fundamental change to the options with domain names. But I think personally where they will be a success is with huge brands using it as an opportunity.”

“So you might see companies like BMW localising their websites, so they may have Australia.BMW, or America.BMW and so on. I think they’d be able to justify spending the $US180,000 to run that closed registry.”

However, Lye points out this won’t stop businesses from being able to register their brands under these new domains.

Whenever a business or individual registers a new “.brand” name, they become the register of that domain and can allow others to buy the rights to end their URL with that brand.

For instance, if the city of Sydney purchased the “.Sydney” brand, they can sell the rights to various businesses to end their URL with “.Sydney”. Lye says it would be easy to imagine the city doing this for various tourism companies – it would give many businesses legitimacy and the ability to stand out from the rest.

“However, that’s only if the Government chose to support brands in that way. Brands and governments will have to decide what they want to do.”

And he also says despite individuals thinking they may be able to registry a generic name, such as “.shop”, and then make a business by selling URLs to end with that brand, it won’t be such an easy game as they think.

“I don’t think the opportunities there will be as successful as some think, like with .shop or .web and so on. I don’t see them being successful, because the cost of managing such a registry means you have hundreds of thousands of names – it would be a struggle.”

The top-level domain application process will begin in January 2012 and last for only 90 days.

Via SmartCompany


How Twitter + iOS 5 Will Change Mobile Apps

A deep integration of Twitter and iOS 5 was among the many things announced by Apple today but it’s not just that you’ll be able to post to Twitter from inside official Apple apps like photos and maps. Any 3rd party iOS developer will be able to leverage a number of Twitter Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to make their apps better and more social. After email, SMS and iOS messaging, Twitter will now become a key social layer over the top of many of the apps on iOS devices.

The features that app developers will have access to closely resemble what other platforms make possible with Facebook integration, and Twitter’s being the one to land this deal is a pretty big deal for the world’s 2nd place social network. Twitter Developer Relations leader Jason Costa wrote this afternoon on the Twitter developers email list that the points of integration will “create huge opportunities for both Twitter and iOS developers.” Here’s what that might look like.

Costa, who just joined Twitter six weeks ago to try and give that company’s relationship with developers a big refresh, announced to the community this afternoon that there will be an event on Wednesday at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco to talk about the new union of platforms.

My summary, in a sentence: iOS apps will look like, feel like, read from and publish to Twitter like never before. And they’ll do that in many cases instead of using Facebook.

Costa summarizes thusly.

  • “There is single sign-on, which allows you to retrieve a user’s identity, avatar, and other profile data.” That sounds like Facebook Connect, but I’m going to guess that Twitter will not prohibit developers from caching that data for time-shifted, aggregate, offline or other interesting types of analysis. Letting users skip having to create an account with every new app they download and instead click to log-in with their Twitter accounts is going to make many users very happy and encourage every iOS owner to get a Twitter account if they don’t have one already. App developers will get more and better populated user accounts, faster.
  • “There’s also a frictionless core signing service, allowing you to make and sign any call to the Twitter API.” To be honest, I’m not really sure what this means. Perhaps it means that parts of the Twitter API that require user authentication will be accessible via the same single sign-on feature discussed above.
  • “There is follow graph synchronization, which enables you to bootstrap a user’s social graph for your app.” In other words, apps will be able to offer users to find their Twitter friends who are also using a new app they’ve installed, and connect with them there too. That’s the kind of solution to the user-level “cold start problem” that Facebook Connect has been so helpful with for web apps.
  • “Furthermore, there is the tweet sheet feature, giving your app distribution and reach across Twitter.” Again, like Facebook Connect, this is a feature that appears to make it easy for apps to publish user activity and promotional messages out into the Twitter streams of a user’s friends. Facebook has a complicated algorithm that determines how often an app is allowed to publish messages out into the Newsfeed of a user’s friends, based on how much interactions messages from that app have received in the past. That’s a spam control mechanism that I’m going to guess Twitter will not replicate, at least at first.
  • “Loren Brichter [creator of beautiful iPhone Twitter app Tweetie, which was acquired and turned into the official Twitter iPhone app] will also be talking about ABUIKit, a UI framework specifically for Mac, which we’ll be open-sourcing.” Those are Costa’s words. Longtime social media leader Anil Dash has this to say about ABUIKit, “I know 3rd party client devs are still mad at Twitter, but every ‘sign in with Twitter’ app dev on iOS will be super excited about ABUIKit.”


Twitter vs. Facebook

The funny strategic big-picture of all this is that there’s probably no chance that Facebook and Google will team up to counter this move with Facebook enabled Android phones, due to the intense rivalry between those two companies.

In other words, this looks a lot like Facebook Connect, but powered by Twitter: Fast account creation, quick friend discovery and social distribution of content. In some ways, it could be better for developers and for users. In other ways, like the number of users right now or the risk of spam, not so much.It’s pretty interesting that after much rhetoric from Facebook about making everything, including mobile devices, social – it was Twitter that managed to add the social layer to the world’s most widely-admired phone. The funny strategic big-picture of all this is that there’s probably no chance that Facebook and Google will team up to counter this move with Facebook enabled Android phones, due to the intense rivalry between those two companies.

I assume that Apple’s experience with music social network Ping, which is inside iTunes, may have been both a clear indication that a social layer is not something Apple is very good at building in-house and a good introduction to working with Twitter. Ping included some Twitter integration but nothing close to this. It’s a shame Google hasn’t come to such a realization yet, but if it does and it choses to work with Twitter too, that could really rearrange the balance of power between Twitter and Facebook.


Twitter adding a photo-sharing feature

Rancho Palos Verdes, California (CNN) — Twitter is going beyond 140 characters by adding a photo-sharing service.

The social network is rolling out an image-hosting feature to users over the next couple of weeks, CEO Dick Costolo announced Wednesday at the All Things Digital conference here.

Users will be able to upload photos through Twitter’s website to start, with desktop and mobile applications coming later, Costolo said.

To construct the service’s backbone, Twitter partnered with Photobucket, which already hosts more than 8 billion photos and videos. The Twitter service will accept only still images.

The company is also in talks with cellular carriers to enable people to tweet photos using a phone’s picture-messaging system, Twitter said in a statement.

The new photo feature coincides with changes to Twitter’s search function. Results pages will now include popular photos and videos alongside text. The videos will be pulled from websites such as YouTube and Vimeo.

Several third-party photo services, such as Twitpic and Yfrog, have specifically targeted Twitter users. Costolo said Twitter created its own service to make the process easier for less tech-savvy people.

“We just need to remove the friction from adding photos into Twitter,” he said.

But Twitter’s recent moves to compete with the companies that build products for its service has created some ill will. Developers say they feel uneasy about Twitter acquiring makers of related software, such as TweetDeck, and then threatening to change the rules so as to potentially lock out certain types of apps.

“Anything we do is going to have some overlap with what they do,” Costolo said of Twitter’s 600,000 developers. “All we can do is be straightforward about where we’re headed.”

Costolo suggested that software makers displaced by Twitter’s new photo service should focus on other businesses. Yfrog, for example, has “an amazing hosting business,” he said.

Twitpic, a popular Twitter image-hosting website, has come under some scrutiny for selling the rights to photos uploaded by some of its users. Twitter’s policy outlines that the company will not try to claim ownership of images uploaded to the service, Costolo said.

He also said Twitter’s foray into photo sharing is not aimed at Facebook, the world’s largest host of online photos. Twitter’s is about sharing pictures as they happen and will not let users arrange images into photo albums, he said.

Twitter has 500 employees, but Costolo declined to say how many people actively use its service. Facebook, meanwhile, has about four times as many employees and more than 600 million active users.

A survey competed this month by the Pew Research Center says 13% of U.S. adults with Web access use Twitter.

Photobucket didn’t immediately return a request for comment.


Square’s Disruptive New iPad Payments Service Will Replace Cash Registers

Mobile payments startup Square is announcing big numbers today—500,000 Square card readers shipped, 1 million Square transactions in May, and the startup is now processing $3 million in mobile payments per day. Clearly the company is on a roll in terms of traction and usage. And CEO Jack Dorsey is also revealing the next generation of Square. And Square is about to get a whole lot more disruptive.

Today, Dorsey is revealing Square Register, a high-powered point of sale replacement for cash registers and point of sale terminals. And the company is taking it one step further for consumers by launching the Square Card Case, a way for purchasers to access a local merchants’ goods, prices, location, loyalty card and more.

For background, Square offers an iPhone, Android and iPad app which allows merchants to process and manage credit card transactions with a handy little credit card swiping device that plugs into the headset/microphone jack. The device and service is the brainchild of Twitter co-founder and recently appointed product lead Jack Dorsey and Jim McKelvey. And Square recently raised $27.5 million in new funding, and announced a strategic investment from credit card company Visa. In Q1, Square did $66 million in payment volume (the company expected $40 million) and is now in track to process $1 billion in payment volume within a year.

Square Register For The iPad

Square’s COO Keith Rabois tells us that as the startup has created a payments product for small businesses, they’ve learned that many businesses have more needs than simply having a credit card processor. One of these needs is being able to not only accept cards, but also communicate with customers more efficiently. So today, Square is launching this brand new version of its iPad app, Square Register.

Rabois says the iPad app makes these expensive and cumbersome terminals obsolete for merchants. Not only is the reader and app free (and beautifully designed), but the register is designed to help create and maintain meaningful relationships with customers. Historically, Square’s readers always stored every purchaser’s receipt for merchants and allowed merchant’s to send a copy of the receipt to the purchaser via SMS and email. It was fairly simple.

Now, with the upgrade, merchants can send customers a link to download an app on their mobile phone called a Square Card Case. And this gives merchants a whole new level of engagement with their customers. And data is another big component of Square’s announcement—Dorsey says merchants will have Google Analytics style data that merchants can access, such as how many muffins were sold, and to which types of customers, and more.

The Square Card Case For Consumers

As you can see from the image, the Card Case looks like a wallet-like case you would store your loyalty cards or credit cards in. Here’s how it works: when you go to a merchant who is a participating Square users, the merchant will send you a link to download the app on your mobile phone. It’s important to note that the app is not available in the App Store publicly, and at launch will only support iPhones; Android support will be rolled out soon.

Once you’ve downloaded your mobile Card Case, you can fill your case with ‘cards’ of all the merchants you visit and buy from who accept Square. When you click on an individual merchant’s card, you’ll be able to see a map of where the merchant is located, contact information, your own order and purchase history, and receipts with the merchant and a daily live menu of items or services from the merchant. You’ll also be able to see what other customers are buying at the store, and merchants can serve customized offers to specific customers based on their purchase history.

So here’s where things get interesting. In a merchant’s card within the case, you can press a “use tab” button which allows the frequent customer to essentially put a purchase on their virtual tab with Square at the merchant. So once you press that button within two blocks of the merchant, you’ll be able to tell the cashier your name and your card will be charged on the merchant’s backend Square register. Because you are a repeat customer, Square already has your payment information. The purchaser will then receive a push notification when the merchant processes the payment.

Another feature of the newly designed Square is the ability for the payments company to show other merchants nearby who also accept Square payments. As Rabois puts it, “it’s like a curated app store for local businesses.”

At launch, Square’s new register and digital wallet service is being used by 50 merchants across the U.S., in San Francisco, Washington D.C., St. Louis, LA, and New York. In fact, there are merchants in the hall at TechCrunch Disrupt here in New York who will be showing attendees how to use the new version of the service. We’re told that the service will the “thoughtfully” rolled out to merchants in the coming weeks. Participating merchants range from coffee shops to bakeries to flower shops to restaurants to salons.

Square believes that this next generation of the service will become the default way to run a business and a payments platform. Not only does Square give you analytics and insight into how well your business is doing, but it allows local businesses to connect to customers in a way they couldn’t with traditional point of sale systems and cash registers.

In terms of financial terms, nothing has changed. Square will continue to charge the 2.75 percent per transaction fee (the startup dropped the $0.15 per transaction charge for businesses a few months ago). And interestingly, Square chose to refurbish its iPad app into the suped-up register, keeping its Android and iPhone apps as simple payment processors. Rabois tells us this decision was made after seeing the iPad’s succes as a device in retail environments.

In the end, their strategy is based around how they take friction away from payments for local businesses, Rabois tells me. There’s no doubt that this new version of the service will be able to connect local merchants to customers in a way that no payments processer has been able to thus far. We know PayPal is trying to get into local, but Square just beat the payments giant to it with this offering. Not only does it offer personalization for each customer, but Square is now tapping into location, and there is still much more to come, Rabois notes.

One piece of advice to PayPal, Visa, or any other payments giant who wants to be a part of the future of payments: buy Square. Like yesterday.


Microsoft buying Skype for $8.5 BILLION…cash.

That’s not a typo, BILLION – read below.

Microsoft has bought Skype for $8.5 billion, in an all-cash deal. The deal closed a few hours ago. The Wall Street Journal confirmed the news after it was first reported yesterday. The announcement is likely to come out later today or tomorrow morning, according to several reports. Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, is said to be a big champion of the deal, the largest in the history of the company. Ballmer and Skype CEO Tony Bates will host a press conference in a few hours.

Skype has been up for sale for some time, thanks to some very antsy investors. My sources indicated both eBay and Silver Lake Partners have been getting nervous about the delayed initial public offering and have been pushing for a sale of Skype. Facebook and Google were said to be earlier dance partners for Skype, and Microsoft was a late entrant and is now close to walking away with the prize.

It won’t surprise me if Microsoft comes in for major heat on this decision to buy Skype — and the software company could always botch this purchase, as it often does when it buys a company. The Skype team is also full of hired guns who are likely to move on to the next opportunity rather than dealing with the famed Microsoft bureaucracy.

I also don’t believe Facebook and Google were serious buyers. Google, with its Google Voice offering, doesn’t really need Skype. In essence, I feel Microsoft was bidding against itself. Even then, I personally think this is a bet worth taking, especially for a company that has been left out in the cold for so long.


  • Skype gives Microsoft a  boost in the enterprise collaboration market, thanks to Skype’s voice, video and sharing capabilities, especially when competing with Cisco and Google.
  • It gives Microsoft a working relationship with carriers, many of them looking to partner with Skype as they start to transition to LTE-based networks.
  • It would give them a must-have application/service that can help with the adoption of the future versions of Windows Mobile operating system.
  • However, the biggest reason for Microsoft to buy Skype is Windows Phone 7 (Mobile OS) and Nokia. The software giant needs a competitive offering to Google Voice and Apple’s emerging communication platform, Facetime.

Guess Who’s the Big Winner

The biggest winner of this deal could actually be Facebook. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based social networking giant had little or no chance of buying Skype. Had it been public, it would have been a different story. With Microsoft, it gets the best of both worlds: It gets access to Skype assets (Microsoft is an investor in Facebook) and it gets to keep Skype away from Google.

Facebook needs Skype badly. Among other things, it needs to use Skype’s peer-to-peer network to offer video and voice services to the users of Facebook Chat. If the company had to use conventional methods and offer voice and video service to its 600 million plus customers, the cost and overhead of operating the infrastructure would be prohibitive.

Facebook can also help Skype get more customers for its SkypeOut service, and it can have folks use Facebook Credits to pay for Skype minutes. Skype and Facebook are working on a joint announcement, and you can expect it shortly.

Why Did Skype Want To Sell?

Skype had filed for an IPO, was going to do about a billion dollars in revenues, and was on its way to becoming profitable. So why sell? Silver Lake and eBay were both getting impatient and wanted to lock in their profits. Some sources also believe Skype’s revenues had stalled.

The company had bet heavily on is video sharing service. The premium version of video calling and sharing was a way for Skype to increase its average revenue per user and move into the enterprise market. However, given Skype’s DNA is that of a consumer Internet company, the challenges aren’t a surprise.

So Who Made What?

  • Using the $8.5 billion price as the likely sale price, eBay gets $2.55 billion for its 30-percent stake in Skype. So in the end, eBay did make money on the Skype deal.
    Skype FoundersThe Skype Founders

  • Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, the co-founders, with their 14-percent stake, take home about $1.19 billion. Damn, these guys know how to double-dip!
  • Silver Lake, Andreessen Horowitz and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) own 56 percent of the company, and that stake is worth $4.76 billion.
  • Andreessen Horowitz had three percent of the deal and made $205 million profit on their $50 million initial investment.




Via Gigaom

Weekend hack attack headed off by Sony?

A group of hackers that planned an attack against Sony’s servers this weekend was unable to execute its plan.

CNET has learned that our publication of the group’s plan may have caused Sony to secure the remaining servers this group claims it had access to, shutting off any avenues for another attack.

Wrote one of the members in the Internet Relay Chat channel the group uses, “Apparently Sony saw that article because the last server that I could access is offline now…its probably being patched like the other servers. There goes our window.”

On Thursday we reported that a group of hackers believed to be involved in the intrusion on PlayStation Network was planning yet another attack on Sony, this time on an unspecified company Web site, with the goal of posting any information they could find somewhere online. The hackers said at the time that they were planning another wave of cyberattacks against Sony in retaliation for its handling of the PlayStation Network breach. An observer of the Internet Relay Chat channel used by the hackers told CNET about the hackers’ plans.

In what may be connected, Sony said Saturday that on Thursday it had removed the names of 2,500 entrants to a 2001 Sony contest with partial addresses that had been copied from an old part of the company’s Web site and posted online.

No one has publicly taken credit for the attacks, but the hacker group Anonymous, who has been linked with the attack by Sony and others, has denied involvement in recent events.

In addition, the company said Saturday that the PlayStation network was still not ready to bring back online, following a massive security breach of three weeks prior. A company spokesman said the company was still trying to grasp the size of the subsequent Sony Online Entertainment gaming network breach, which is delaying the rebuild of PSN.

Sony has shut down PSN, Qriocity, and Sony Online while it does a total rebuild of the security systems. Overall, the personal information of more than 100 million Sony customers has been exposed in the breach. Sony has promised to compensate customers with free ID theft monitoring, as well as free content and 30 days of free access to the premium version of PSN.

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