Facebook's lawyers are asking a judge to order Paul Ceglia to foot the bill for more than $84,000 in fees.
Ceglia, the New York man who claims he's entitled to half of Mark Zuckerberg's multibillion-dollar stake in Facebook, was fined for refusing to turn over email account information and ordered to pay reasonable attorneys' fees.
Facebook's lawyers are also asking Leslie G. Foschio, the federal magistrate in Buffalo, N.Y., to order Ceglia not to file any additional "non-responsive papers or pleadings in the case" until he pays up.
Ceglia's lawyer, Dean Boland, said he has not had a chance to review the court filing in detail, but said he and his client would prepare a response over the coming week.
"If we feel it ought to be modified, we will respond accordingly," Boland said.
Boland, who's from Cleveland, took a shot at Facebook's lawyers for charging Manhattan hourly rates in a case unfolding in Buffalo.
"Cleveland and Buffalo are pretty identical demographically, and I can tell you that no lawyer would survive in the city of Cleveland charging that much an hour because no one would be able to hire him," Boland said.
Orin Snyder, the most senior Gibson Dunn partner, charged $716.25 an hour. His most junior associate charged $337.50 an hour, according to the filing.
Facebook, which is on the verge of an initial public offering that could value the world's most popular social networking company at $100 billion, can clearly afford it.
– Jessica Guynn
Photo: The Facebook sign outside the company's new campus in Menlo Park, Calif. Credit: David Paul Morris / Bloomberg
How to sum up Twitter's latest acquisition? Discover, discover, discover.
Twitter snapped up Canadian startup Summify on Thursday. It's little bit of genius: Summify found the stuff that mattered to you (it generated a daily email with links to the most shared content in your social networks).
And that's the one thing that Jack Dorsey wants Twitter to do much, much better: Filter through millions of updates and massive amounts of information overload that flood users' streams to uncover the hidden gems. And he's been pecking away at how best to do that.
Last month while unveiling Twitter's latest design, Dorsey said one of his primary objectives is to "bubble up" the most relevant tweets, messages of up to 140 characters in length that users broadcast.
So Twitter is shutting down Summify (to the great chagrin of its users) and its team is zipping down to Twitter to focus on Twitter's "Discover" tab, which suggests content to users to encourage them to stick around longer and do more on Twitter.
The yawning need for more and better curation on the Web is, of course, not unique to Twitter (yes, we're talking about you, Facebook). Twitter does have a secret weapon: Flipboard's Mike McCue, who sits on Twitter's board and who is probably an excellent source of advice and wisdom on the subject for Dorsey.
– Jessica Guynn
Photo: Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. Credit: Dave Getzschman
Larry Page's honeymoon at the helm of Google may be officially over.
Google reported strong fourth-quarter revenue and profit results after the market closed Thursday (including quarterly revenue of $10.58 billion, its highest for a single quarter) but they missed analyst expectations.
Revenue in the three months ended in December rose to $8.13 billion, with earnings per share of $9.50. Analysts had expected $8.43 billion and $10.51.
Google shares plunged $59.08, or 9%, to $579.30 in after-hours trading.
Page, the chief executive, did not acknowledge the shortfalls in a statement: "Google had a really strong quarter ending a great year."
He added that the company's Google+ social network has grown to 90 million users, more than double the number it announced in October.
Google is also continuing its hiring spree. It hired more than 1,000 people in the last three months of the year. It now has 32,467 full-time staffers.
Despite concerns that Google is spending loads of money, Wall Street had seemed more confident that Page was the right steward to keep Google's moneymaking machine on track. The stock had gained 7% since Page took over as CEO last April.
– Jessica Guynn
Photo: Google co-founder Larry Page looks on during a product launch on February 24, 2010. Photo credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
So Facebook has teamed with more than 60 partners to roll out apps that encourage users to tell their friends what they're doing: buying a merino wool scarf at Fab.com, researching a new travel destination on TripAdvisor, donating to a favorite charity on Causes or highlighting a new hobby on Pinterest.
The most popular social networking service is working with new applications so that users can publish their activities on their Facebook pages, Carl Sjogreen, director of platform products, said at an event in San Francisco on Wednesday night (and in a blog post).
Facebook is looking for new ways to get people to spend more time on the site and advertisers to spend more money reaching them. The activities will show up in users' Ticker, News Feed and Timeline.
The announcement comes as Facebook tees up a $100-billion initial public offering, the biggest the tech world has ever seen.
Facebook Chief Technology Officer Bret Taylor said in an interview that the new profile page called Timeline is increasingly becoming Facebook users' de facto online identity and that the new apps would help users personalize their profiles with just a few clicks. He said that expanding the Facebook platform would generate revenue in the "grand scheme" but that the announcement was not "overtly" about making money. He said Timeline has deepened users' relationship with Facebook and increased the amount of time users spend on the site.
Facebook is taking on Google, Apple and other technology giants in competition for eyeballs and ad dollars. It first launched the new wave of apps last year at the company's annual developer conference, allowing Spotify to show songs that users play and the Washington Post to display articles users read. At the time, Facebook founder and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said the new apps created "real-time serendipity" beyond users just telling their friends they "like" something. The apps move beyond the "like" button which has become a universal means of expression on the Web but isn't adequate to communicate the full spectrum of human emotion and activity.
Millions are already using the apps, and Taylor said Facebook was "thrilled" with the response.
Now Facebook is opening up the platform to all developers (not just the 60 launching Wednesday) to help Facebook's users let their friends know when they go for a run or design a new outfit, Taylor said.
That not only gives users a way to express themselves and broadcast to their friends, it gives advertisers and marketers even more insight into their interests and habits. That in turn could give Facebook even more of an edge over Google's social network Google+, which has about 40 million users.
Some privacy advocates are concerned about Facebook's growing knowledge of its users and its reach into their lives.
"Facebook now has more ways to track and target us, as it enables dozens of apps designed to drive user and network behavior," said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. "Facebook now has more profile information it can monetize on its massive base of consumers. While giving the appearance of greater privacy control, Facebook knows that for the most part the default will be that they and their business partners can easily harvest our data."
– Jessica Guynn
Photo: Facebook's Menlo Park campus Photo credit: David Paul Morris / Bloomberg
He has also relinquished all other positions with the company and his posts on the boards of Yahoo Japan Corp. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., according to a statement from the Sunnyvale, Calif., company.
The stock soared 4% on the news in after-hours trading.
"What the market is telling you is that Jerry stepping down removes an obstacle to unlocking some of Yahoo's value," said BGC Partners analyst Colin Gillis.
Yang stepped down as Yahoo undergoes a strategic review, in which the board is deciding whether to jettison its holdings in Yahoo Japan and Alibaba Group or sell a minority stake to private equity investors. Its new chief executive Scott Thompson took the helm two weeks ago. Thompson also joined Yahoo's board.
But Gillis cautioned against a rush of optimism.
"Jerry resigning doesn't improve the fundamentals of the business. The fundamentals are still declining," Gillis said. "There is a lot of work to be done at the company to turn it around."
Yang, one of the Internet's pioneers, has earned the ire of some investors who blamed him for thwarting Microsoft's unsolicited takeover attempt.
In a letter to the Yahoo Board Chairman Roy Bostock, Yang wrote: "My time at Yahoo, from its founding to the present, has encompassed some of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of my life. However, the time has come for me to pursue other interests outside of Yahoo. As I leave the company I co-founded nearly 17 years ago, I am enthusiastic about the appointment of Scott Thompson as Chief Executive Officer and his ability, along with the entire Yahoo leadership team, to guide Yahoo into an exciting and successful future."
Yang co-founded Yahoo Inc. in 1995 with David Filo and served on the board since March 1995. He was CEO from June 2007 to January 2009.
In a statement, Yahoo's chairman Roy Bostock said: "With Scott Thompson leading an outstanding team of Yahoos to deliver innovative products and an engaging customer experience, Yahoo's future is bright."
Writes Forbes' Eric Savitz: "The larger question, of course, is what this means for the company. Yang has been a champion of Yahoo staying independent; he played a key role in the company’s rejection of a generous takeover bid from Microsoft in 2008. The company has recently been considering various strategic options; there have been reports that the company could be acquired by private equity investors, perhaps in concert with Microsoft, Alibaba and/or Softbank. Does Yang’s resignation signal that a deal is imminent? The market seems to think so."
– Jessica Guynn
Photo: Yahoo founder Jerry Yang Photo credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press
Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said his group is considering filing a letter with the FTC.
EPIC made the complaint that resulted in Google's settlement with the FTC that requires the Internet search giant to submit to external audits of their privacy practices every other year.
"We believe this is something that the FTC needs to look at," Rotenberg said.
Google calls the new feature rolling out to users of its English-language search engine "Search Plus Your World." It blends information such as photos, comments and news posted on its Google+ social network into users' search results.
It mostly affects the one in four people who log into Google or Google+ while searching the Web. Those users will have the option of seeing search results that are customized to their interests and connections, say, a photo of the family dog or a friend's recommendation for a restaurant.
Google has been working for years to create a personal search engine that knows its users so well it delivers results tailored to them. It's also trying to catch up to social networking giant Facebook, which, with more than 800 million users, knows its users far better than Google does.
But critics contend Google, a laggard in social networking, is using its dominance in Internet search to favor its own products and take on its chief competitor.
"Google is an entrenched player trying to fight off its challenger Facebook by using its market dominance in a separate sector," Rotenberg said. "I think that should trouble people."
Critics also say the move raises alarm bells for consumer privacy.
"Although data from a user’s Google+ contacts is not displayed publicly, Google's changes make the personal data of users more accessible," EPIC said in a note on his website.
The effect of Google's latest search feature may be fairly limited — at least for now. The 6-month-old Google+ has 40 million users.
Google is not the first search engine to do this. Microsoft's Bing, which has an alliance with Facebook, has been tapping some information shared on Facebook since May. But Google is attracting more attention because of its dominance in search. It handles as many as two-thirds of all search queries in the U.S.
Twitter has also complained about the new Google search feature. So far Facebook has stayed out of the fray, declining to comment.
When a user is logged into Google or Google+, Google will now tap information from Google+ and photos from its photo-sharing service Picasa, to deliver personalized search results. In the future it will also incorporate other Google services.
Seeing how much information Google gathers could make some people uneasy, said Danny Sullivan, editor of SearchEngineLand.com. Google has tried to assuage privacy concerns by switching to technology that encrypts all of its search results.
Rotenberg says the FTC needs to go further to protect consumer privacy on the Web.
"This is a problem the FTC needs to look at closely," he said.
In an interview this week, Google Fellow Amit Singhal said Google has taken significant steps to make its new feature private and secure. He also said Google was open to including information from Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.
"However," he said. "It has to be done in a way that the user experience doesn't deteriorate over time and that users are in control over what they see from whom and not some third party."
– Jessica Guynn
Photo: Google's new search feature has raised concerns. Credit: Virginia Mayo / Associated Press
The New York state man who claims he's entitled to half of Mark Zuckerberg's multibillion-dollar stake in Facebook has been fined $5,000 by a federal judge for not complying with a court order.
Paul Ceglia was also ordered to pay some of Facebook's legal fees.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie G. Foschio's ruling is a victory for Facebook and Zuckerberg, who have denounced Ceglia's claims that he and Zuckerberg signed a 2003 contract that gives him an ownership stake in Facebook, which is on the verge of a $100-billion initial public offering.
Facebook plans to ask Foschio to dismiss the lawsuit.
– Jessica Guynn
Photo: Facebook sign outside the company's new campus in Menlo Park, Calif. Credit: David Paul Morris / Bloomberg
Starting Tuesday, Google will pluck only the results most relevant to you — and not just from billions of Web pages but from the personal stuff that you and your connections privately share.
The idea, says Google Fellow Amit Singhal, is that Google now searches your world, not just the Web, and serves up results that combine both for your eyes only.
"Your world was missing from search until now," he said. "We are bringing your world into search."
It's not just a radical departure for Google. It's a major salvo in the Internet search giant's rivalry with Facebook for eyeballs and ad dollars.
Google, with founder Larry Page at the helm, has been looking to blunt the growing influence of Facebook, which is on the verge of a $100-billion initial public stock offering.
Google has been adding more personal touches to its search engine as people flock to Facebook, the Web's most popular hangout with more than 800 million users who share personal photos, updates and recommendations. Now it's looking to combine its dominant search engine with its nascent social networking service, Google+.
"It's one of the most significant things Google has ever done in search," said longtime Google observer Danny Sullivan, editor of SearchEngineLand.com.
As a child, his favorite fruit was the sweet brown chikoo. Singhal was reminded of the fruit a few years ago when his wife held a tiny brown fur ball in the palm of her hand. They decided to name their 4-week-old miniature schnauzer Chikoo and privately shared photos of him as he grew with family members. Now both meanings of Chikoo show up when Singhal is logged into Google and searches the word.
Google, like rival Microsoft's Bing, has been working for years to make search more personal and more social. Google says with this move it's transforming into a search engine that understands not only content but also people and their relationships.
It's doing this in three ways. First, it's expanding search beyond public Web pages to the photos and posts you and others have shared privately. Second, as you type a person's name into Google, it will automatically suggest people you are close to or may be interested in. Third, Google is guiding users to profiles and Google+ pages related to the topic of interest.
But how will users react?
Some users may not want or understand why their personal information is appearing in its search results. Google said it would explain the change to users at the top of Web pages.
Even though Google is just making information more visible and easier to find, it may encounter the same kind of resistance that Facebook did when it rolled out its new feature Timeline, Sullivan said.
Like Facebook, Google isn't asking users whether they want the new feature, it's just turning it on for all English-speaking users over the next few days. If you don't want the feature, you have to turn it off.
Google may also be seen as favoring its own products in search results, an allegation that already has made Google a target of an antitrust investigation, Sullivan said. For example, instead of sending someone searching for Britney Spears to her website, Facebook page or Twitter account, Google will suggest her Google+ page, giving the service a "huge advantage," he said.
"It makes you question if Google is doing the best thing for the searcher or the best thing for Google," Sullivan said.
Google says it's hamstrung because Facebook fences off its website from Google's search engine.
"We want users to have control over what personal content they can search for at Google. We don't want third parties dictating to users what they can or can't search for in Google," Singhal said. "Based on the current policies at many social networks, users don't have that control."
"This is a really big gun pointed back at Facebook," he said. "This may cause Facebook to say that now that Google has merged social and search, that's what it needs to do as well."
Facebook has an alliance with Microsoft's Bing to lure traffic away from Google, which handles about two of every three Internet search requests. Microsoft owns a 1.6% stake in Facebook. But the partnership has not yielded much, Sullivan said.
Google's new personal approach also raises a broader societal issue, Sullivan said.
"Until now, search has largely been a common experience," Sullivan said. Jon Stewart gets a lot of laughs over Rick Santorum's "Google problem" (a search for his last name brings up a graphically sexual definition of "santorum"). But if search results are tailored to the beliefs we hold and the people we know, chances are "we might not actually see the same thing Jon Stewart sees anymore," Sullivan said.
– Jessica Guynn
Photos: Google's new "personal" search results. Credit: Google.
Choe became infamous in Silicon Valley for allegedly being commissioned to spray-paint sexual graphics on the walls of Facebook's first Palo Alto office in 2005 by the company's founding president, Sean Parker. (If that really happened, though, it has been airbrushed out of the official Facebook history). Choe painted less — ahem — colorful murals for Facebook's next digs in 2007, this time at the request of Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg. When Facebook outgrew its office and moved again, it carved Choe's artwork out of the walls and took the pieces to the new place, where they were proudly hung.
So it's not much of a surprise that Choe has christened Facebook's latest address on Hacker Way in Menlo Park. Zuckerberg invited Choe to the new campus and even showed him around before Choe flexed his artistic muscles on Facebook's walls again. He painted a large blue mural in the lobby of one building and tagged the walls elsewhere with a variety of pieces, some of his own inspiration and some suggested by Facebook staffers, who stayed late Friday to "hack out" the office with spray paint and chalk.
Choe's Facebook graffiti art was re-created for the set of the film "The Social Network" by two of his friends, Rob Sato and Joe To.
You can check out more of Choe's adventures at Facebook here.
– Jessica Guynn
Photo: Graffiti artist David Choe tags Facebook's new Menlo Park campus at the request of Facebook founder and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg. Photo credit: Hunterzpointz
Yahoo picked EBay's pocket when it lured away PayPal boss Scott Thompson as its new chief executive.
Now it's lining Thompson's pocket.
The new CEO, who officially starts at Yahoo on Monday, may receive a $27-million pay package, according to a regulatory filing late Friday.
He'll get a base salary of $1 million and an annual bonus of as much as twice that depending on Yahoo's financial performance with Thompson at the reins. Thompson is also getting an equity grant worth as much as $11 million, an "inducement grant" of $5 million and a cash bonus of $1.5 million to make up for money he forfeited by leaving PayPal, not to mention stock incentives worth up to $22.5 million.
Thompson had a pay package of $10.4 million at PayPal in 2010, including a salary of $645,000. Numbers for 2011 are not yet available.
Thompson's $1-million salary matches that of his predecessor, Carol Bartz. But her pay package in her first year at Yahoo was originally valued at $47.2 million.
Thompson is also joining the Yahoo board. He may not be the only new face there. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo has retained executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles International to hunt for new board members. The paper did not say which board members would be replaced.
– Jessica Guynn
Photo: Former PayPal President Scott Thompson fields a question at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco in November 2010. Yahoo announced this week that Thompson will join the company as its new CEO on Monday. Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press
Interested in owning your very own nuclear bomb-proof earth station, a massive satellite dish and a piece of American space history?
The one-of-a-kind securely fenced 160-acre property comes with a three-bedroom house, a 20,000-square-foot building, a helicopter landing pad and a 10-story satellite dish and antenna. It’s in Cachaua Valley, not far from Carmel Valley and about 20 miles southeast of Monterey.
I spoke with Jeffrey Bullis, CEO of Absolute Turnkey Services Inc., who has owned the Jamesburg Earth Station for seven years.
He says he bought the property next door to his friend Jack Galante who runs a family vineyard. Bullis and his son Adam cleaned up the decommissioned satellite communications station and planted fruit trees and had some cattle.
Bullis paid $1.7 million for the property and then poured another $2 million into it. Then Adam, just 23, died of leukemia.
“It really knocked the wind out of me,” Bullis said. “He was the one who really liked the property.”
After grieving for a few years, Bullis said he put the Jamesburg Earth Station on the market. But so far, no takers.
“It makes a great place for armageddon,” Bullis said. Sheltered from the winds and operating its own self-contained air system, it could survive a biological or nuclear attack, perfect for a survivalist or Ted Nugent, Bullis said.
“It’s an above-ground bunker,” he said. “The building is so strong that you couldn’t knock it over with a 5 megaton nuclear blast. And you could defend it strategically with a small platoon of Marines.”
For the tamer of heart without a military contingent at the ready, the picturesque property in rolling hills could be turned into a winery or olive orchard, he said.
Bullis is a Santa Clara entrepreneur who runs a 30-employee electronic assembly business, a holdout among manufacturing companies increasingly moving offshore. One of his current projects: Building a security system for nuclear sites around the United States.
– Jessica Guynn
Photo: Jamesburg Earth Station in Cachaua Valley, Calif. Photo credit: Jamesburgdish.org
Who wouldn’t want to own a nuclear bomb-proof earth station and a piece of space history?
The Jamesburg Earth Station, which transmitted some of the first images of the Apollo 11 moon landing, is on the market.
The one-of-a-kind securely fenced 160-acre property comes with a three-bedroom house, a 20,000-square-foot building, a helicopter landing pad and a 10-story satellite dish and antenna. It’s in Cachaua Valley, not far from Carmel Valley andabout 20 miles southeast of Monterey, a bit off the beaten track and offbeat, period.
The unusual selling point of this picturesque property situated among rolling hills and wine vineyards: Built at the height of the nuclear arms race with the former Soviet Union, the 20,000-square-foot earth station can withstand a five-megaton nuclear blast.
The dish used to transmit satellite communications between the U.S. and other Pacific Rim countries. It was shut down in 2002 by owner AT&T and put up for sale. Some ham radio operators restored and fired up the dish in 2007 and bounced 20 radio signals off the moon.
The current owner of Jamesburg hails from Silicon Valley. He had hoped to turn it into a residence. He even added an exercise room and an indoor basketball court, according to his real estate agent.
For the last year he has been trying to sell the property for $4.2 million, but Bert Aronson of Keller Williams Realty in Carmel said the owner is considering dropping the price by $1 million or so. Local TV reports may generate interest among space history buffs or nearby geeks in Silicon Valley.
“We’ve gotten lots of inquiries but no offers,” Aronson said. “Somebody could use it as a server farm or to store vintage cars or wine. Someone will come up with a use for it.”
Aronson said he has received plenty of interest in the satellite dish from as far away as Australia. “But in this day and age,” he said, “nobody has any money.”
Photo: Jamesburg Earth Station in Cachaua Valley, Calif. Photo credit: Jamesburgdish.org
PayPal president Scott Thompson's departure to run Yahoo took a lot of people by surprise (although not Kara Swisher, natch). That includes EBay's chief executive, John Donahoe.
Donahoe dispatched an email to PayPal employees Wednesday morning, saying Thompson told him Tuesday he was leaving to become the next chief executive of Yahoo. Keeping a secret of that caliber in the insular tech community is deserving of Oscar consideration.
"Scott informed me Tuesday afternoon, saying that despite his passion for PayPal, this was an opportunity he felt he had to take," Donahoe said. "While I'm sure Scott's decision is a shock to many of you, as it was to me, there is one thing I am certain of: PayPal has an enormous opportunity in front of it and we will not slow down."
Yahoo announced Wednesday that Thompson is its new CEO tasked with reviving the struggling Internet company.
His departure creates a big void on the management team at EBay, which now must search for his replacement.
Thompson was its president since 2008. Donahoe has predicted that the PayPal unit will become bigger than EBay in as little as two years.
For the time being, Donahoe will run the unit himself.
– Jessica Guynn
Photo: EBay CEO John Donahoe Photo credit: EBay
Thompson, who ran EBay's PayPal unit, could "refocus" Yahoo's business, which has deteriorated without a permanent chief executive officer, analysts said.
Thompson will focus on turning around Yahoo's “core business,” its media and advertising assets, and work closely with the board on a review of the company's strategy, Chairman Roy Bostock said.
Thompson starts Jan. 9. His appointment will not slow down the company's strategic review, which includes the possibility of unloading valuable stakes in Asian Internet companies and selling a minority stake to private equity investors.
Yahoo is still considering "a wide range of opportunities for the company's business as well as specific investments or dispositions of assets," Bostock said.
Thompson must boost Yahoo as it loses eyeballs and ad dollars to Google and Facebook. Yahoo still has an online audience of more than 700 million visitors a month. But it's quickly losing market share to Google and Facebook. Facebook catapulted over Yahoo in U.S. display ad revenue last year while Google remains the third-largest purveyor of display ads, according to research firm EMarketer.
Thompson, who ran PayPal since January 2008, is credited with increasing revenue to more than $4 billion from $1.8 billion. He helped the payments company expand into online daily deals and mobile payments. He also helped PayPal expand its number of users to more than 104 million from 50 million. But he lacks experience on the media content side of Yahoo's business.
Thompson is betting that Yahoo's business is stronger than people think.
That was also the opinion of Bartz, who during her tenure reduced costs and formed a search partnership with Microsoft, but could not help Yahoo regain its sales growth in advertising and search. Bostock fired Bartz over the phone. Tim Morse, who had been chief financial officer, became the interim chief executive in September. He will return to his post as chief financial officer.
Thompson's selection could signal that Yahoo is preparing to reclaim its mantle as a technology company.
"We believe the appointment of Scott Thompson as CEO is a slight positive for Yahoo as he will likely act quickly to provide direction to the company that it has lacked in the past few months," said Piper Jaffray & Co. analyst Gene Munster. "Thompson's background is strong in technology, but he lacks media experience. We believe this could suggest that Thompson will focus Yahoo more on technology than Carol Bartz or Terry Semel in the past."
Analysts cautioned that Yahoo faces significant challenges.
"As always execution will be key," Macquarie Capital analyst Ben Schachter said. "As much as we respect what Scott has done at PayPal, Yahoo faces significant challenges in terms of brand identity, technology infrastructure, employee morale, competitive challenges, the transition to mobile etc. To say that Scott has his work cut out for himself is an understatement."
Yahoo shares fell 34 cents, or 2%, to $15.91 in trading Wednesday. Shares of EBay fell $1.09 or 3% to $30.25.
– Jessica Guynn
Photo: Carol Bartz, who was fired in September as CEO of Yahoo, has been replaced by PayPal's Scott Thompson. Photo credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press
The multibillionaire has made a $300-million investment in the popular social media site that activists used during the Arab Spring uprisings. That's roughly a 3% stake in the San Francisco company.
Twitter confirmed the investment, which was announced in a press release from Kingdom Holding Co. that touted Alwaleed's desire to invest in "promising, high-growth businesses with global impact."
A nephew of Saudi King Abdullah, Alwaleed owns 95% of Kingdom Holding, which has stakes in Apple, Citigroup and General Motors. He is one of the richest people in the world, with a net worth of nearly $20 billion, according to Forbes magazine. For more on him, check out this Charlie Rose interview from last year.
Fortune is reporting that he bought his stake in Twitter from insiders, not the company. Twitter spokesman Matt Graves declined to provide any further details. The prince's investment in Twitter has been rumored since October.
The San Francisco company's worth was pegged at $8.4 billion in a funding round led by Digital Sky Technologies in October.
Twitter says it has 100 million active users who send 250 million tweets per day.
One of an elite group of privately held social media companies sporting multibillion valuations, Twitter is taking its time before going public. Facebook, which has more than 800 million users, is planning a $10-billion initial public offering. Twitter is also seen as a major player in social media because of its popularity. The company is still working on its fledgling advertising business.
Twitter's advertising business is expected to generate about $140 million this year, up from $45 million last year, according to EMarketer. Twitter may generate $260 million in ad revenue in 2012, the research firm said. Twitter now has more than 700 employees.
“We believe that social media will fundamentally change the media industry landscape in the coming years. Twitter will capture and monetize this positive trend,” Ahmed Reda Halawani, Kingdom Holdings executive director of private equity and international investments, said in a statement.
– Jessica Guynn
Photo: Square and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey in June at D9. Credit: Asa Mathat / All Things Digital
A San Jose federal judge rejected Facebook's bid to dismiss a lawsuit claiming that ads telling Facebook users that their friends "like" the advertisers violate a California law on commercial endorsements.
U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh ruled Friday that the case can move forward but dismissed a claim that Facebook, which makes an estimated 90% of its money from online advertising, was unfairly profiting from the ads.
“We are reviewing the decision and continue to believe that the case is without merit,” Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said in an e-mailed statement.
The world's most popular social networking site began running the ads called "sponsored stories" in January. Such an ad shows a friend's name and profile picture and notes that the friend "likes" the advertiser.
The lawsuit was brought by Facebook users who contend the site is making unauthorized use of their names and likenesses, violating the state's "right of publicity" statute. Facebook says the law does not apply because of an exemption. The plaintiffs seek to represent tens of millions of Facebook users.
Facebook’s revenue will reach $6.9 billion in 2012 from $4.27 billion this year, according to estimates by research firm EMarketer. Its major selling point to advertisers is the persuasive nature of advertising when a product or service is recommended by a friend. People are twice as likely to remember commercial endorsements from friends and three times as likely to buy the product, according to Facebook executives.
Privacy issues continue to dog Facebook, which reached a privacy settlement three weeks ago with the Federal Trade Commission.
– Jessica Guynn
Photo: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shows off Timeline, a dramatic redesign of users' profiles, in September. Credit: David Paul Morris / Bloomberg
The entrepreneur who legally changed his name to Mark Zuckerberg says he has received mostly "funny reactions" since his story appeared on television news in Israel on Thursday evening.
"I've had a flooding of phone calls, as well from people I haven't seen for years. The people I did talk to think it's a mad idea, but take it with a smile," Rotem Guez — a.k.a. Mark Zuckerberg — wrote in an email.
"It's amusing, you know, because I'm so small while Facebook's huge," he added.
The 32-year-old entrepreneur, who says he also runs an online marketing company and a bailiff company, came up with the idea to change his name to Mark Zuckerberg after Facebook sued him.
"I wanted that once they sue me, they'll face suing 'Mark Zuckerberg,'" he said.
He says Facebook accused him of selling fictitious "likes," but he says they came from real users.
"The idea was, if only 'Mark Zuckerberg' is allowed to sell likes, then for that matter, I'm 'Mark Zuckerberg,'" he said.
Has he heard anything from Facebook about his name change?
"Yes, a few hours ago, my personal profile was disabled," he said.
No word from Facebook on whether it suspended his Facebook account. In a written statement, a spokesman said: "Protecting the people who use Facebook is a top priority and we will take action against those who violate our terms."
– Jessica Guynn
Photo: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg greets a student as he arrives to speak at Harvard University in November. Photo credit: Kelvin Ma / Bloomberg
Facebook is suing Mark Zuckerberg.
Not the Zuckerberg who founded Facebook, of course, but an Israeli entrepreneur who, embroiled in a bitter dispute with Facebook, has legally changed his name to Mark Zuckerberg.
Gotta admit it's kind of a clever move. I would not have seen that one coming. And it's more than a touch ironic for the giant social network that Zuckerberg built on the idea of authentic identity.
Apparently, Rotem Guez a.k.a. Zuckerberg took Zuckerberg's name after Facebook sued him. That was after he sued Facebook first because it apparently shut down his "Like Store," which sold advertisers fans for their pages in violation of Facebook's terms of service. In December, he changed his name to Mark Zuckerberg.
He has a page on Facebook with more than 3,000 likes.
When one Facebook user took to the page to call him a "huge joke," the newly self-anointed Mark Zuckerberg replied: "The world is big enough for more than one Mark Zuckerberg."
Of course there are other people in the world named Mark Zuckerberg. But most of them were born that way.
– Jessica Guynn
Photo: Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg at on Nov. 7. Credit: Brian Snyder / Reuters
That's what StatCounter is reporting.
It says Chrome topped Internet Explorer 8 in the last week of November, when Chrome took 23.6% of the global market and IE8 took 23.5%.
Of course, if you combine all of the versions of Internet Explorer, it's still the browser champ. And in the United States, Internet Explorer is still on top, with 27% of the market.
So what's driving the growth? Aodhan Cullen, chief executive of StatCounter, says businesses as well as consumers are adopting Chrome.
Microsoft, which includes Internet Explorer with its Windows operating system, used to have a lock on the browser market. Google didn't even enter the market until 2008.
But Chrome recently surpassed Mozilla Foundation's Firefox browser, which it used to support. Firefox launched in 2004 and drove innovation in the market, which was dominated by Internet Explorer since IE overtook Netscape's browser in the late 1990s.
Google CEO Larry Page was always a proponent of Google's getting into the browser market. Google began to build a browser in 2006, concerned that existing browsers were not good enough to support its online services or might lead users away from its search engine. (Microsoft uses Internet Explorer to send users to its own Bing search engine.)
– Jessica Guynn
Photo: The logo for the Google Chrome Web browser is shown during a news conference at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., in September 2008. Photo credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press.
In the case of Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs, that wish may come true.
Isaacson told Fortune senior editor at large Adam Lashinsky during a talk in San Francisco that he might expand the 630-page book.
That could mean an annotated version or an addendum that describes the period around Jobs' death in October.
"This is the first or second draft," Isaacson said. "It's not the final draft."
The biography topped Amazon.com's list of top 10 bestselling books in 2011.
– Jessica Guynn
Photo credit: Albert Watson / Simon & Schuster
Gawker has the numbers, which it calls "the Silicon Valley equivalent of hard-core pornography."
"The big picture is this: Facebook's income is blowing up, and the company will likely come close to earning a full billion dollars in profit this year, more than double what it reportedly made a year ago and quadruple what it is believed to have made two years ago," Ryan Tate wrote in the Gawker piece. "There have been news reports elsewhere on prior Facebook financial periods; our numbers from the latest quarter show the money keeps pouring in."
According to Gawker's unnamed source, Facebook had $3.5 billion in cash and cash equivalents, $5.6 billion in assets, revenue of $2.5 billion and net income of $714 million this year through September. And — unlike many of us around the holidays — it had zero debt.
(Not everyone is so impressed with the numbers.)
Gawker says it also got an inside peek at who owns Facebook: Employees 30%, Mark Zuckerberg 24%, Digital Sky Technologies 10%, Accel Partners 8%, Dustin Moskowitz 6%, Eduardo Saverin 5%, Sean Parker 4%, Goldman Sachs clients 3%, Microsoft 1.3%, Peter Thiel and/or Clarium Capital 3%, Greylock Partners 1.4%, Meritech Capital Partners 1.6%, Chris Hughes 1 %, Li Ka-shing 0.75%, Interpublic Group 0.5% and Goldman Sachs 0.8%.
"Facebook is clearly drowning in success. CEO Mark Zuckerberg could fill that saltwater lap-lane pool behind his house with hundred dollar bills many times over," Tate wrote.
Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.
– Jessica Guynn
Photo: Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announces a new messaging system on Facebook in November 2010. Photo credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
President Obama may have friended Facebook. But he and First Lady Michelle Obama don't let their daughters, Sasha and Malia, use it.
The revelation came in a People magazine interview.
"Why would we want to have a whole bunch of people who we don’t know knowing our business? That doesn’t make much sense,” the president said in the interview.
The first lady pointed out that Malia is 13 and Sasha 10, the interview said. Joked the president: "We'll see how they feel in four years."
Technically, only Malia is old enough to have an account on Facebook. Federal regulations prohibit websites from collecting information from users younger than 13. As a result, Facebook requires its users to be at least 13.
That hasn't stopped millions of preteens from signing up for Facebook, often with their parents' help.
Regulators are considering updating laws to reflect the new era of social networks and smartphone apps. The Federal Trade Commission proposed tougher privacy protections for children younger than 13, broadening requirements covering the collection of personal information by websites and online apps as well as how to obtain parental approval.
– Jessica Guynn
Photo: President Obama at Facebook headquarters in April. Photo credit: Jim Young / Reuters
Google has quietly made off with a U.S. patent for self-driving cars.
Google applied for the Transitioning a Mixed-mode Vehicle to Autonomous Mode patent in May and it was awarded Tuesday. It covers a method of handing the wheel from a human driver to the self-driving car.
It involves two sets of sensors: one which identifies a "landing strip" where the vehicle stops, the other which receives data about precisely where it is and where it should go. The driverless car could get directions or driving instructions from a URL, QR code or radio link.
"The landing strip allows a human driving the vehicle to know acceptable parking places for the vehicle," according to the patent filing. "Additionally, the landing strip may indicate to the vehicle that it is parked in a region where it may transition into autonomous mode."
In June, Nevada became the first state to legalize self-driving cars, a victory for Google which has been working to put technology in the driver's seat by building cars that use radar, video cameras and lasers to navigate traffic.
Google contends that computer-powered cars will drive more safely than humans. One vehicle in its automated fleet has gotten into an accident. But don't blame the technology. It was operator error.
– Jessica Guynn
Facebook and Greenpeace have called a truce over so-called dirty data after the environmental organization used the social networking giant's own site to rally for the cause.
Facebook has formed a partnership with Greenpeace to campaign for the use of clean and renewable energy, they said in a joint announcement Thursday.
The announcement was sparse in details but big on public-relations value for Facebook.
"Facebook looks forward to a day when our primary energy sources are clean and renewable, and we are working with Greenpeace and others to help bring that day closer," Marcy Scott Lynn of Facebook's sustainability program said in the statement.
Greenpeace has attacked Facebook for using coal to power its data centers with an Unfriend Coal campaign that drafted 700,000 online activists to call on Facebook to use clean energy instead.
“Greenpeace and Facebook will now work together to encourage major energy producers to move away from coal and instead invest in renewable energy. This move sets an example for the industry to follow,” Tzeporah Berman, co-director of Greenpeace’s International Climate and Energy Program, said in the statement. “This shift to clean, safe energy choices will help fight global warming and ensure a stronger economy and healthier communities.”
Facebook has pledged to use clean and renewable energy in its data centers. Facebook has launched the "Green on Facebook" initiative and the Open Compute Project which aims to build low-cost, highly efficient technology for data centers.
Facebook tipped its hat to Greenpeace's deft use of Facebook.
Last year Facebook opened a data center in Prineville, Ore., that saves energy by taking advantage of the climate there. But Greenpeace protested that Facebook used a power company that generates most of its electricity from coal. It launched a campaign on Facebook to get Facebook to rely on renewable energy. The page has more than 180,000 followers.
Facebook said it would work with the organization to engage users and communities on how to save energy.
Greenpeace said the agreement "raises the bar" for Apple, Microsoft, Twitter and others. IT says that the data centers operated by online services total more than 2% of all U.S. electricity demand.
— Jessica Guynn
Photo: Engineer Lee Rodriguez monitors huge transformers at the Garland Center that would kick in during a power outage and keep the many computer servers in the building running. Photo credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times
Google's Zeitgeist crunched billions of searches in 2011 to find the most popular and fastest-rising search terms. The result of the 11th annual survey is the online equivalent of climbing into a time machine.
Web celeb Rebecca Black was the fastest-rising query with singer Adele, reality star Ryan Dunn and Casey Anthony following quickly behind. Google+ nabbed the No. 2 spot.
But even as Hurricane Irene struck the U.S. and earthquakes shook Christchurch, New Zealand, and Japan, nothing took a bite out of Google's Zeitgeist like Apple (as GigaOm pointed out).
Three Apple queries appear in the list of the top 10 fastest-rising searches, including Apple's iPhone 5 (which still has yet to make an appearance), the iPad 2 (which did make an appearance and is burning up holiday sales) and the man who helped make it all possible: Steve Jobs, who peaked as a search term in October when he died.
Apple makes other appearances as well. The briskly selling iPhone 4S, for instance, is second-fastest in the consumer electronics category (the iPad2 and the iPad3 also ranked). But it was bested by Amazon's Kindle Fire.
Sure to get a big bump in Google searches today: Google Zeitgeist.
– Jessica Guynn
Fresh off its global debut in New Zealand, Facebook is rolling out its new profile design to all of its more than 800 million users. For the first time, they are getting a look at how their lives are about to appear to all of their friends.
Facebook said in a blog post Thursday that users can either wait for a notification to pop up on their screen or go to facebook.com/about/timeline to get Timeline right away. No point in foot dragging: Eventually all profiles will switch to the new look.
That means that all of those forgotten memories won't be lining the dustbin of your personal history for long. The new design has a way of bringing even the most mundane status update rushing back.
It used to be that profiles surfaced only the most recent stuff. But Timeline is like an obsessive compulsive's digital scrapbook, collecting every detail, no matter how trivial, in chronological order.
It may get people to think twice about what they do and say on Facebook. Or not. It's likely that a lot of people will look at the new profile, throw up their hands and just keep on doing what they've been doing. For now, it probably means that everyone with a Facebook profile is going to spend a lot of time perusing, pruning and doing a whole lot of adding.
Take it from me: I used a workaround meant for software developers and got Timeline shortly after Mark Zuckerberg unveiled it in late September during Facebook's annual developer conference in San Francisco. I could see what was happening in my life years ago as clearly as today. I proceeded to pore over my profile to highlight what was important to me and hide what wasn't. I also noticed a lot of other folks getting busy adding photos from important moments in their lives to better reflect their lives on Facebook.
It goes without saying that some people will love the new design and some will hate it. It's impossible to make even the smallest change on Facebook without upsetting someone.
If you make the switch now, you have seven days to preview the changes, highlight or hide whatever you want and adjust your privacy settings before Timeline becomes your official Facebook profile.
If you want to see how your Facebook profile appears to other people, click the gear menu at the top of Timeline and click on "View As."
– Jessica Guynn
Image: Facebook's new profile design Timeline Courtesy: Facebook
Facebook plans to ask a federal judge in January to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Paul Ceglia, a New York man who contends he's entitled to half of Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg's multibillion-dollar stake in Facebook.
Calling the lawsuit a "shakedown," Facebook said it has evidence the alleged 2003 partnership agreement Ceglia produced was faked two years ago, according to the Buffalo News.
"Since Day One, this case has been about pressuring us into writing a check and from Day One, we've said that's not going to happen," Orin Snyder, a lawyer for Facebook, said during a four-hour contentious federal court hearing Tuesday, the newspaper reported.
Dean Boland, one of Ceglia's lawyers, accused Facebook's lawyers of damaging the agreement and causing it to turn yellow, which could make some potential jurors question its authenticity. Snyder retorted that Ceglia yellowed the document in an effort to make it appear older.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie G. Foschio did not say how he would rule on a motion to dismiss, but suggested Facebook give Ceglia more time to question its experts.
"You have to put yourself in the court's shoes," Foschio said. "It's an unusual case."
– Jessica Guynn
Photo: Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg in October 2007. Credit: David M. Barreda / San Jose Mercury News
New Zealand already has lush rainforests and sandy beaches, bungee jumping and scuba diving, gourmet restaurants and lively night life, even a thriving tech community that has drawn investment from the likes of Peter Thiel. (Of course, they drive on the left side of the road, but hey no place is perfect).
Now the country has something else the rest of the world does not: Facebook's new Timeline feature.
New Zealand is getting first crack at the major redesign of the profile page. Key to the decision: It's English speaking and very far away from Silicon Valley.
That's according to Sam Lessin, product director of Timeline, who told the New Zealand Herald: "We chose New Zealand to be first — and I'll probably get in trouble for saying this — primarily because it is an English-speaking country…. It's far away from our data centers, so we can monitor speed and performance."
It may also have something to do with the country having about 4.4 million people, 2 million of whom are on Facebook.
And just how long will the rest of the world have to wait?
"We're definitely taking our time with this one," Lessin said. "It will give people a chance to get excited about what they can do with it."
– Jessica Guynn
Photo: New Zealand triathlete Tanya Dromgool leaves the water during a triathlon in Wanaka, New Zealand. Credit: Phil Walter/Getty Images
One L.A. startup is looking for the most interesting engineers in the world.
It has launched a spirited recruiting campaign that spoofs the Dos Equis beer advertising campaign featuring the most interesting man in the world ("At museums, he's allowed to touch the art," "He once had an awkward moment, just to see how it feels," "The police often question him, just because they find him interesting").
Scopely offers new recruits (or the folks who refer them) all the manly accoutrements that just such an engineer whose reputation is expanding faster than the universe might need: a briefcase filled with $11,000 in bacon-wrapped cash, a year's supply of Dos Equis, a custom-made tuxedo, cigars, sex panther cologne, a spear gun, beard-grooming oil and an oil painting of himself (or, of course, herself) "because Picasso needs a REAL model."
And, because competition for top technical talent has gotten as intense as cliff-diving in Acapulco (or other interesting man exploits), Scopely has turned its website into a digital "we're hiring" billboard that flashes questions such as "Did God use your wireframes to create the Himalayas?" or "Were you able to handle 100,000 requests/second at your high school prom?" next to a photograph of its chief technology officer Ankur Bulsara, who is so interesting that "Web technologies have meetups to discuss him."
Engineers have clearly taken the recruiting ploy seriously. Scopely has netted 1,000 resumes and two hires in the last four months. The oil painting of the first hire the company, ahem, speared, Mike Thomas, a senior software engineer, hangs prominently in the company's West Hollywood lobby.
"We had been using recruiters to help us find talent. It was fairly expensive and you don't always find the best people in the world. So we decided to create something a bit different and more fun than the standard cash bonus award," said Eytan Elbaz, the co-founder of Scopely who's most interesting achievement has been to help create Google AdSense. (Elbaz co-founded Applied Semantics, which sold to Google for $100 million in 2003 and became Google AdSense. He worked at Google until 2007.)
Now Elbaz modestly says he's running L.A.'s hottest (and clearly gunning for most interesting) consumer Internet startup with a team of 17 staffers from Playdom, MindJolt, Warner Bros. and Saatchi and Saatchi.
He won't say exactly what they are doing ("we're working on interesting stuff"), just that Scopely will disrupt the social web, or how much cash they've raised ("we will release it at some point") but investors include Terry Semel's Windsor Media.
That has been a serious enough proposition to lure three staffers from Silicon Valley. But for those engineers determined to remain in that technological hotbed, Scopely provides a helpful link to their pals' recruiting campaign in San Francisco.
Hipster, which has backing from Google Ventures, Charles River Ventures and Kapor Capital, has come up with a similar pitch: It's offering a year's supply of Pabst Blue Ribbon, $10,000 in cash, a fixed gear bicycle, authentic skinny jeans, Buddy Holly glasses, worn brown boots, 'stache grooming and bang trimming.
– Jessica Guynn
Photo: Mike Thomas, a senior software engineer at Scopley, wears a custom-made tuxedo and holds a spear gun while posing with the rest of his haul: a briefcase filled with $11,000 in bacon-wrapped cash, Dos Equis beer, sex panther cologne, cigars, beard-grooming oil, an oil painting of himself and more. Credit: Scopley
Twitter may limit you to a paltry 140 characters. But Facebook wants you to go on and on (and on).
The social networking site has increased its limit in status updates to more than 60,000 characters — 63,206 characters to be exact. That means you could fit an entire novel into nine status updates. (If you are a friend of mine, I am asking you nicely not to try).
Just this summer, Facebook pumped up the limit to 5,000 from 500 characters for those who are congenitally incapable of keeping things short and sweet. Back in the olden days (March 2009), the limit was 160 characters, a 20-word premium on Twitter.
Still Facebook doesn't let you go on as long as Google+. There the limit appears to be 100,000 characters.
For that, you may have to buy a few vowels from Vanna White.
– Jessica Guynn
Photo: Facebook founder and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg shows off the social network's new "time line" feature at its annual developers conference in San Francisco in September. Credit: David Paul Morris / Bloomberg.