de.tech.ting

Posts Tagged ‘microsoft’

Forget Facebook privacy, now charges of Facebook securities fraud

Posted by andreaitis on May 20, 2010

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg turned 26 last week.  I wonder if anyone got him a bullseye with his picture in the center — because that’s where Zuck lives these days.  People want the underdog to succeed, but once he does he becomes target practice.

The latest unwelcome gift: accusations of securities fraud from former Harvard schoolmates who say he and other Facebook executives tricked them into a supposed $65 million settlement that was actually worth far less.

Judge James Ware of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will hear those arguments, filed in an appellate brief late last month, in an upcoming court case.

Divya Narendra and brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss  contend that they hired Zuckerberg to work on their social network, ConnectU, when they were all students at Harvard, only to have him delay the project and use ConnectU’s code to launch his own project, then called TheFacebook. Their side of the story gained credence after instant messages sent by Zuckerberg bragging about his success in duping them emerged in the press.

via Facebook CEO’s latest woe: accusations of securities fraud | VentureBeat

The battle between ConnectU and Facebook has been raging since they were all in college together at Harvard.  A $65 million settlement was reached in 2008, but Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and Divya Narendra filed an appeal.  They claim “the settlement was never finalized and that a judge acted improperly in allowing the settlement to proceed and awarding ownership of ConnectU to Facebook.”

In the midst of the Facebook privacy fiasco, though, the smoking gun — or, in this case, the smoking instant messages — are an ironic twist.   Business Insider walked through the overall timeline and revealed what they believe are the IMs  ConnectU’s creators say support their case.

In January 2004, Mark met with the Winklevoss brothers and Divya Narendra for what would be the last time. The meeting was on January 14, 2004, and it was held at the same place Mark met with the HarvardConnection team for the first time — in the dining hall of Mark’s residence, Kirkland House.

By this point, Mark’s site, thefacebook.com, wasn’t complete, but he was working hard on it. He’d arranged for Eduardo Saverin to pay for his servers. He had already told Adam that “the right thing to do” was to not complete Harvard Connection and build TheFacebook.com instead.  He had registered the domain name.

He therefore had a choice to make: Tell Cameron, Tyler and Divya that he wanted out of their project, or string them along until he was ready to launch thefacebook.com.

Mark sought advice on this decision from his confidants. One friend told him, in so many words, you know me. I don’t ever think anyone should do anything bad to anybody.

Mark and this friend also had the following IM exchange about how Mark planned to resolve the competing projects:

Friend: So have you decided what you’re going to do about the websites?

Zuck: Yeah, I’m going to fuck them

Zuck: Probably in the year

Zuck: *ear

via At Last — The Full Story Of How Facebook Was Founded – Business Insider

Interesting when juxtaposed against another instant message exchange a 19-year-old Zuckerberg had while in college.

Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard

Zuck: Just ask.

Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS

[Redacted Friend’s Name]: What? How’d you manage that one?

Zuck: People just submitted it.

Zuck: I don’t know why.

Zuck: They “trust me”

Zuck: Dumb fucks.

via Well, These New Zuckerberg IMs Won’t Help Facebook’s Privacy Problems – Business Insider

Notice a pattern?

But the big question:  Is this fancy legal eagle’ing because so much money is on the table, or is there a real case of securities fraud here?   The best answer I found is in an excellent comment on Hacker News by Silicon Valley business lawyer George Grellas.  He says, in part:

This appeal is a testament to what high-priced (and quite excellent) lawyers can do to stir things up when large amounts of money are at stake. I have been involved in countless mediations over the course of a 30-year-plus career and can strongly attest that no one in his right mind (or otherwise) even begins to think that federal securities laws should be taken into account when settling a case by which stock is transferred from one party to another as part of the settlement.

[…]

The alleged “fraud” is likely bogus here as well. The theory is that FB did a press release shortly before the settlement touting Microsoft’s $240 million investment and suggesting that, based on that investment, FB had a market cap of $15 billion. The claim is that the ConnectU founders relied on that valuation in determining what the value of the common stock was that they received. Later, supposedly, they discovered that FB had in fact done a 409A valuation of the common stock and that such valuation had placed an approximately $8/sh price on the common stock (in contrast to the $35/sh price placed on the preferred at the time of the Microsoft investment). Thus, the ConnectU founders were supposedly defrauded by having been misled about the value of the FB stock they were receiving to settle their claims (that is, as alleged, they thought they were getting stock worth $35/sh when it was in fact worth no more than $8/sh and, presumably, they would not have settled their claims for this supposedly lower amount had they known the true facts about the 409A appraisal, which facts were not disclosed to them at the time of the mediation). That might sound plausible to someone who knows nothing about startups but it is in fact an absurd argument to anyone who knows even the basics of startup financing. Every startup deal-maker knows that startups value preferred stock at 4 to 5 times higher (it used to be more like 10 times higher) than the common stock. This is vital for keeping employee incentives reasonably priced. Anyone who has been through even a single financing with a startup will know this. Therefore, what are the odds that the ConnectU founders, knowing that the $35/sh price was based on a press release discussing Microsoft’s preferred stock investment, did not immediately know and understand that a startup of this type would be putting a significantly lower price on the common stock at the same time. Thus, the argument strikes me as entirely artificial. It is a lawyer argument, very likely concocted after the fact. Because of this, too, in my judgment, I believe the argument will be rejected on appeal, just as it was by the lower court. If courts were to hold that no stock could be transferred in a settlement effected through mediation unless the parties stopped to comply with federal securities laws, the result would be utter chaos whenever a party sought to transfer equity as part of resolving a dispute.

If you want the nitty gritty, read Grellas’ full comment on Hacker News (yes, there’s more!).

As for Zuckerberg, I’d suggest someone get him a suit of armor as a belated birthday gift.  He’s gonna need it.

Posted in Business, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

10-year-old Bill Gates fanboy sings love song for Windows 7

Posted by andreaitis on November 15, 2009

His name is Will Smith, and he’s proving yet again that geeks rule.  For his fifth grade talent show, Will wrote a song all about Windows 7, literally singing its praises.  Here’s the video from the talent show rehearsal, Will’s own  a cappella version of  ‘Windows Rising.’

windows 7 rising 11-16-2009 12-49-01 PM

Will Smith sings love song to Bill Gates: 'I see Windows 7 rising...'

TechFlash’s Todd Bishop saw the video and contacted the 10-year-old’s mother in Lakeway, Texas.  Carolyn Smith confirmed that Will is a “huge Microsoft fan” but said Microsoft had nothing to do with the song.

“I just wanted to write a song about the new Windows operating system,” Will said after his mom put him on the phone. Asked about his favorite feature, he said it’s the new taskbar. And this, frankly, is almost more unbelievable than him writing the song: He said he has upgraded all four of his family’s computers to Windows 7.

When he grows up, he said, he plans to work at Geek Squad, or Microsoft, probably as a programmer.

via Ballad of a Windows 7 fanboy

Will Smith even looks like a young Bill Gates.  Can’t wait to see a Will Smith / Bill Gates meet-up.  If Microsoft is smart they’ll make that happen and it’ll end up on YouTube soon, too.

Will’s mom said he was mobbed by girls in the green room after he performed his song.  No word on whether any of them were named Melinda.

UPDATE:  By popular demand, geektastic lyrics below so you can sing along.

I see Windows 7 rising
I see it coming on the way
I hear my laptop making new sounds
I change my background every day

Don’t stay with XP
‘Cause you’re bound to get confused
Windows 7 really rules

I see that Microsoft has done it
I like to shake my Windows up
I like my Internet connected
I like the bigger icons too

Don’t stay with XP
‘Cause you’re bound to get confused
Windows 7 really rules

Hope you got your system going
Hope you have Windows 7 too
Looks like we’re in for nicer task bars
Windows 7 really rules

Don’t stay with XP
‘Cause you’re bound to get confused
Windows 7 really rules

Don’t stay with XP
‘Cause you’re bound to get confused
Windows 7 really rules

Posted in technology | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Rupert Murdoch angry at 'content kleptomaniacs' and crazy like a fox

Posted by andreaitis on November 9, 2009

Rupert Murdoch - World Economic Forum Annual M...

Image by World Economic Forum via Flickr

Two pieces of news from the Murdoch empire:

1. New York Post circulation continues its downward death spiral.

Nearly every paper in America has lost circulation, but The Post more than most — down almost 30 percent in 2.5 years, to 508,000 in the most recent reporting period, against 544,000 for The Daily News. The slide accelerated after The Post’s price returned to 50 cents last year. And this year, The Daily News has surged far ahead in online readership.

[New York Post editor] Mr. Allan, who called it “a joyous occasion” when The Post took the lead, now takes a more subdued view of the competition, saying in an e-mail exchange that “whether we are a little in front or a little behind has no impact on our forward business plan.”

Sober Mood at New York Post as Circulation Spirals Lower – New York Times

2. Rupert Murdoch suggests he will remove News Corp. websites from Google and other search engines.  At least, that’s what the headlines are blaring.   Are they jumping the gun?  I think so.

If you listen to the first five minutes of Murdoch’s interview with Sky News political editor David Speers, you hear the following:

–  Speers delivers a classic and very public introductory suck-up,  referring to his interview subject (and big-time boss) as “the world’s most powerful media owner.”

–  Rupert Murdoch says users should not have had free content, that “we’ve been asleep.”  He sees the paywall as long overdue, but says we’ll be surprised by how minimal some of the fees will be.

–  He wants a different kind of audience – not drive-by consumers but loyal and engaged users with high-frequency habits.  Or, at least, users who will open their wallets.

“What’s the point of having someone come occasionally, who likes a headline they see in Google?… The fact is, there’s not enough advertising in the world to go around to make all the websites profitable. We’d rather have fewer people coming to our website, but paying.”

– At this point, Speers raises the Google index question.  When he asks Murdoch why he hasn’t removed News Corp. sites from Google’s search index, Murdoch replies “Well, I think we will.  But that’s when we start charging…”

BUT Murdoch doesn’t stop there.  He goes on, indicating that perhaps he didn’t fully understand Speers’ question.  They clearly were not communicating on the same, uh,  Google wavelength.

“…We do it already with the Wall Street Journal. We have a wall but it’s not right to the ceiling. You can get usually the first paragraph of any story, but then if you’re not a paying subscriber of wsj.com there’s immediately… a paragraph and a subscription form.”

Does that sound like he doesn’t want News Corp. content to appear in Google or Microsoft search results?  Nope.

Speers follows up, asking  if this is the model we should expect to see.  Murdoch’s clear as mud answer: “Maybe, maybe.” He mumbles something about the Fair Use Doctrine and taking it slowly.

So all those headlines shouting about Murdoch pulling his sites out of Google?  Not quite accurate.

When you take another  look at the comment from New York Post editor Col Allan, it all starts to make a bit of sense: “…whether we are a little in front or a little behind has no impact on our forward business plan.”

It seems Rupert Murdoch is saying size doesn’t matter.  It’s quality of audience, not quantity. The only quantity he wants is the dollars from subscribers, in both micro and macro payments.  Perhaps he’d rather build audiences that are meaningful, loyal and consistent because these are audiences that can be sold and targeted to an advertiser.

Will he pull all of his sites out of Google?  I doubt it.  When he refers to “content kleptomaniacs”  I’d venture he means not the initial link, but the pay-off link to the full story that is currently not providing a pay-out to the content creator or publisher.

Rupert Murdoch is bold and brash.  He is not stupid.   He is approaching the digital news  problem the same way he approached his move into television:   just because this is the way it’s being done doesn’t mean it’s the way it has to be done.

Remember when ABC, NBC and CBS were the only three networks?   Remember when CNN and MSNBC were the only dominant news players on cable?

I worked at Fox while Rupert Murdoch was transforming it.   I remember when he announced he was going to start a new cable news channel.  I walked through that studio as it was being built.  Murdoch is a challenger, even when the status has barely reached the quo.   I’m not counting him out just yet, and neither should you.

Watch the first five minutes of his interview with David Speers and you’ll see what I mean.

[youtubevid id=”M7GkJqRv3BI”]

Posted in Business, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

What's worse: IE8 or commercials for IE8?

Posted by andreaitis on June 30, 2009

It’s really a toss-up.  An infuriatingly aggravating toss-up.  You see, Internet Explorer is known for its suckage.   If you google “internet explorer sucks” you’ll get the following results:

Why IE Sucks, a site all about the ways in which, y’know, IE sucks.  In case you’re not clear on that, just check the tagline: Internet Explorer sucks ass.  Need reasons? Read on, reader, read on.

IE Sucks•Info, which calls Internet Explorer “the dumb browser” and boldly declares:  Internet Explorer sucks so much, we won’t stop this internet explorer sucks campaign.

IE Death March, encouraging companies to stop supporting IE6 – especially since there are now three versions of IE to support:  IE6, IE7 and IE8.  This site includes a list of things you can’t do in IE6, and things younger than IE6: It came out a few weeks before the Twin Towers fell. It came out before the Nintendo GameCube. It came out before the first iPod.

Beloved, it is not.

So what does Microsoft do?  Let’s see….fix IE to address legit and long-standing techie complaints or spend lots of money creating an oxymoronic ‘viral’ marketing campaign.   Hmm.

Trailing a series of failed and questionable commercials, Microsoft has launched an experimental new advertising campaign. Can Superman, puke jokes, and lolcats make IE cool again?

The new campaign features actor Dean Cain (former Superman from TV’s Lois and Clark) in a series of mock-PSAs, advertising the launch of Internet Explorer 8. Produced by Indiana-based ad agency Bradley and Montgomery, the commercials try hard to be funny in spots like S.H.Y.N.E.S.S. (“Sharing Heavily Yet Not Enough Sharing Still”) poking fun at web users who over-share lolcats, while going for the gross-out factor in O.M.G.I.G.P. (“Oh My God I’m Gonna Puke”) featuring a woman who’s accidently seen her partner’s obscene browser history.

Microsoft’s strange new ads for Internet Explorer – idsgn.org

Well, the campaign launched a couple of weeks ago and is now making the rounds.  The commercial strategy seems to be so-bad-they’re-good.  Except, they’re just so bad.

[youtubevid id=JyQolo0Xdqw]

Chuckling yet?  Try this one:

[youtubevid id=2aA_PEltVTw]

But wait, there’s more:

[youtubevid id=QjUzzxAKs20]

Funnybone still intact?  Last one:

[youtubevid id=8-9Mjm-Hohc]

Hello, Microsoft? You are not 30 Rock or The Office.  And we don’t want you to be.  We just want a browser that works. I appreciate that you’ve partnered with Feeding America to make a donation when someone downloads IE8.  But even they’re not promoting Internet Explorer on their homepage anymore.  I couldn’t find it anywhere prominent on the site and I looked.  Twice.

Oh, Microsoft, I know you launched an official IE8 site specifically to lure us down the path.  But ZDNet’s Adrian Kingsley Hughes had a pretty strong rebuttal. And your tagline for this campaign: Browse Better.  Browse Better?!?  Stop with the unfunny video nonsense and fix it so we can browse better.

In the meantime, for everyone else, if you really want to browse better I suggest you try Firefox, Safari or Chrome.

Posted in technology | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Google Wave vs Microsoft Vine: Who wins the Next Big Thing contest?

Posted by andreaitis on May 29, 2009

Google unveiled its Next Big Thing at the  I/O Developer conference this week.   Geeks everywhere are drooling all over their keyboards, waiting to get their twitchy fingers on Google Wave.  A project more than four years in the making, its primary goal is to bring all communication needs together in a single, fluid experience.

A “wave” is equal parts conversation and document, where people can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.

Google Wave

Here’s how it works: In Google Wave you create a wave and add people to it. Everyone on your wave can use richly formatted text, photos, gadgets, and even feeds from other sources on the web. They can insert a reply or edit the wave directly. It’s concurrent rich-text editing, where you see on your screen nearly instantly what your fellow collaborators are typing in your wave. That means Google Wave is just as well suited for quick messages as for persistent content — it allows for both collaboration and communication. You can also use “playback” to rewind the wave and see how it evolved.

Official Google Blog: Went Walkabout. Brought back Google Wave

Sounds pretty cool…but, also sounded a little familiar…and then I remembered another recent announcement, microsoft-vinefrom another big gig company: Microsoft Vine, blending Twitter, Facebook and Google in its own  attempt to be the Next Big Thing.

They are not identical offerings, but they are trending in the same direction and there is some overlap.    Microsoft is taking a more traditional approach, looking at a particular type of communication between smaller groups,  and trying to make that multi-dimensional with mapping, alerts and location (see the demo here).  Google is using a much broader definition, thinking about communication tied to personal interaction, work and collaboration, in addition to streamlining tools we currently use.  If Google succeeds, email, IM, texting and twittering may merge into a single experience.

With Wave and Vine in the works and the continuing Twitter buzz, we see what our future holds.  The next phase of digital innovation will focus on  social and  real-time aspects of communication, search and mobility.   With hope, that means greater flexibility and interaction using fewer tools and devices.

Who will conquer this world?  When you add Wave to Android, Chrome, Maps, Earth, Gmail, Gtalk and (of course) Search…the smart money’s still on Google.   I say that begrudgingly because, at the end of the day, it all comes at a price.   Big Brother’s not watching.  Google is.

Posted in technology | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Microsoft's Vine takes on Twitter, Facebook and Google

Posted by andreaitis on April 28, 2009

Microsoft Vine

One minute Oprah is the Internet’s new Tweetheart, the next minute hard-core twitterers are grumbling.  It’s like when hordes of people invade your favorite secluded beach spot.  Usually that means it’s time to find a new favorite secluded beach spot.  Enter Microsoft, and a new product called Vine.  It’s in early beta testing in Seattle, but it looks like they’ve zeroed in on core needs with the easy messaging of Twitter, the contacts and connections of Facebook, and the local news and Latitude of Google.  If it works better than Internet Explorer (a low bar),  it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.   Could this be the next big thing?

Vine is designed to keep family and friends in touch when other communication methods are either broken or not particularly efficient. Times of crisis usually involve a breakdown in mobile phone or other key communication infrastructures, and Vine is designed to be as hardy as possible to keep people connected. Vine can be accessed via a desktop client (Windows only for now), text message or email.

So what is it? Vine is a tool keep people connected during a crisis, but it’s also used to for more mundane, everyday tasks. My guess is it will hit a sweet spot with the masses. My parents, for example, are going to love this.

via TechCrunch:  Microsoft Vine To Connect Family, Friends When Crisis Hits

Posted in social media, technology | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

A Call to Disarm: Deep-six IE6

Posted by andreaitis on March 20, 2009

Call it a browserout.
Listen up, Microsoft: We’re mad as hell and we’re not gonna take it anymore!  I can barely find enough time to whine about IE7 issues, let alone IE6.   There are pros and cons, of course…but this is a direct shot in the browser war. Will IE6 go down?

Ultimately, the long tail of obsolete browser usage is nothing new: it’s just the level of standards in the rest of the current leading pack that causes frustration when IE6 looms into view. “IE6 is the new Netscape 4,” reasons Jeff Zeldman, one of the main guys responsible in the 1990s for beating browser makers with the standards stick until they started to play ball. He considers that in a perfect world, designing with web standards means not needing to exclude any browser or device. “But in practice, the hacks needed to support IE6 vis-a-vis display and behaviour are increasingly viewed as excess freight. Like Netscape 4 in 2000, IE6 is perceived to be holding back the web. How much longer we prop up this ageing browser must be decided on a case-by-case basis. Not every site can afford to dump it today, but the writing’s on the wall.”

via Bring Down IE 6: Calling time on IE6.

Posted in technology | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

IE8 Out Today. Will I Need Regular Aspirin or Extra-Strength?

Posted by andreaitis on March 19, 2009

Yes, that’s judgmental.  Especially considering I haven’t even tried Microsoft’s latest browser upgrade.  But, seriously, have you used IE7?

A friend said to me just yesterday: “Internet Explorer is the bane of every CSS developer’s existence.”

So many people using it just because it’s a convenient default browser does not a good product make.

So, with trepidation (and some cautious notes from Walt Mossberg) I will test it out and report back.

IE8 is more stable than IE7, more compatible with industrywide Web standards, and packed with new features that improve navigation, search, ease of use, privacy and security.

Some of these features can’t be matched out of the box by its main rival browsers. For instance, related tabs are color-coded, the search field can show images along with text, you can get instant fly-out maps of place names in Web pages, and you can easily hide your tracks online from the prying eyes of advertisers.

But, in my tests, IE8 wasn’t as fast as Firefox, or two other notable browsers — the Windows version of Apple’s (AAPL) new Safari 4 and Google’s (GOOG) Chrome. IE8 loaded a variety of pages I tested more slowly than any of the other browsers, and it grew sluggish when juggling a large number of Web pages opened simultaneously in tabs

Microsoft Ups Ante With New Browser | Walt Mossberg | Personal Technology | AllThingsD

Posted in technology | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sometimes Microsoft Is So Silly

Posted by andreaitis on February 22, 2009

I highlighted my favorite quote, just to make sure you don’t miss it.

Microsoft has created a new learning institute aimed at helping researchers learn more about how video games positively influence gamers.

“We want to figure out what’s compelling about the games,” said Microsoft head of gaming research John Nordlinger. “If we can find out how to make the games fun and not make them so violent, that would be ideal.”

DailyTech – Microsoft Creates The Games for Learning Institute Research Lab

Posted in technology | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

icahn ready for prime time?

Posted by andreaitis on July 21, 2008

carl icahn just played the tech version of Let’s Make a Deal.    he agreed to end his yahoo proxy fight in exchange for 3 board seats.  techcrunch has the details, of course…. but what struck me even more was that, in this extended silicon valley soap opera, carl icahn sorta looks like blake carrington from dynasty.   of course, icahn’s ego is bigger than linda evans’ shoulder pads.  and his temperament is frostier than joan collins.  but he’s got the cat fight down pat, and…well, see for yourself:

blake carrington (aka john forsythe)

billionaire and corporate raider blake carrington (aka john forsythe) and the dynasty dolls

carl icahn
billionaire and corporate raider carl icahn

Posted in news, pop culture, tech | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »