eBay ‘deal to sell Skype’
Online auction site eBay is poised to say it has agreed to sell internet phone company Skype, reports say.
Skype is expected to be sold to a group of private investors, including Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen and private equity firms.
EBay has been trying to sell Skype for some time, and has said that Skype had “limited synergies” with it.
When eBay bought Skype for $2.6bn (£1.6bn) in October 2005, many analysts thought the price was too high.
The New York Times said that a price has not been named, but that eBay had been seeking about $2bn for Skype.
Earlier this year, eBay had said that it planned to spin off Skype and list its shares in the first half of 2010, an announcement many took as a signal that the firm was for sale.
Skype’s software lets computer and mobile phone users talk to each other for free and make cut-price calls to mobiles and landlines.
Unlike traditional mobile calls, which are transmitted over a cellular network, Skype turns your voice into data and sends it over the internet.
Since being acquired, the number of registered Skype users has risen to 405 million from 53 million, though free user-to-user calls still dominate the service.
NetVibes, the startup that lets you assemble all your favorite widgets, feeds, social networks, email, videos and blogs onto a customizable homepage, is rolling out a new feature today that lets users create personalized widget-based web pages. NetVibes’s tool, called Theme Publishing, is a visual design editor that lets users personalize and edit every part of their page’s’ theme, from images to background.
The layout of the editing tool is fairly simple. Users “click and pick” on the page:, meaning they click which part they want to edit and pick options from a color palette and design option menus. NetVibes offers a directory of themes or you can create your own theme. You can also publish your theme to the gallery for other NetVibes members to use. Every change is shown live in a preview pane, making it easy to see how a particular design will look. Plus, users can add widgets, feeds, social networks and more to their pages. The bonus: it’s all free.
While the new feature is sure to attract users, it is also likely to attract the attention of brands. NetVibes says that ad agencies, including Ogilvy and Razorfish, are already using NetVibes’ theme design tool to create interactive, uber-personalized microsites for clients that are branded and contain customized widgets for social networks and feeds. NetVibes is also offering a new XML-based Theme API, which will enable web designers to create animated themes on their pages.
The startup recently launched “drag and follow” widgets for Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, making it easy to create custom widgets around followers or feeds. Although NetVibes was a pioneer in personalized widget homepages, it has since been overshadowed by iGoogle. At TechCrunch’s Real Time Stream CrunchUp in July, Netvibes previewed a new live feed reader and instant update architecture to make RSS real-time, which will be officially
Google is still tightly intertwined with 23andme, a company that helps consumers understand and decipher their genomes. 23andme has raised another $2.6 million from Google out of a total $24.26 million it is trying to raise in a Series B round of funding, according to regulatory filings. This brings the total amount raised from this round to $13.6 million, after May’s $11 million funding round. At the time, Mohr Davidow Ventures divested its stake in 23andme after investing in a direct competitor Navigenics.
The juiciest disclosure in the filing is that Brin loaned the startup an additional $10 million which is being converted into Series B preferred shares. Earlier in 2007, he had loaned the company $2.6 million which was repaid from the proceeds of Google’s subsequent $3.9 million stake in 23andMe in May, 2007. The debt was repaid after the Google investment. It appears that Brin once again had to dig into his own pocket to help keep the company afloat.
The filing also says one of the investors in the Series B round in May was New Enterprise Associates, which also invested in 23andme’s Series A round. And it mentions that Google has entered into a lease agreement with 23andme, possibly for office space, but it is unclear what exactly is being leased.
23andme, which was co-founded by Sergey Brin’s wife, Anne Wojcicki, raised $9 million in a Series A round of funding from Google, Genentech, New Enterprise Associates, and Mohr Davidow Ventures in 2007. The company maps consumers’ DNA and helps them find information about their ancestry and their risks of getting certain diseases (Michael tried it last year).
I.B.M., long synonymous with the personal computer, hopes to become equally influential in mobile computing.
The company plans to announce Wednesday a $100 million investment pool to develop new services for mobile phones. The company provided few specifics about its research goals but said it broadly hopes to improve mobile payment methods, security, privacy and user interfaces and, chiefly, to enhance the ability of corporations to use mobile devices to interact with customers and employees.
In developing such a fund, IBM is tagging behind venture capitalists, mobile phone manufacturers and carriers that have created big pools of research and investment money for the mobile space. The growth of more advanced phones that give consumers easier access to the Internet has spurred their interest, as has corporations’ hopes of turning mobile gadgets into platforms for content delivery and commerce.
In a press release, IBM picked up on the trend that the personal computer was no longer the center of the action.
“Mobile devices are gradually becoming ubiquitous and helping us transcend many boundaries — geographical, economic, and social, among others,” says Dr. Guruduth Banavar, global leader of the mobile communications focus for I.B.M. Research and director of I.B.M. Research–India
I.B.M. said it hoped its research would serve “the millions of people who have bypassed using the personal computer as their primary method of accessing the Internet and instead use their mobile devices for managing large forces of enterprise field workers, conducting financial transactions, entertainment, shopping and more.”
Adify, a company that powers vertical ad networks, has released its API through a newly formed partner program to allow customers to extend online advertising technologies to the 12,000 publishers who use Adify’s vertical ad networks. Adify’s Network Builder is a technology platform upon which customers can build and commercialize vertical ad networks.
Adify’s Amplified Partner program brings together advertising technology companies Aggregate Knowledge, Ooyala, Rovion and Wave2 Media Solutions and networks who use Adify’s Network Builder, such as SixApartMedia’s VIP Ad Network and Resonate Networks. The release of Adify’s API allows ad technology companies to deliver video, display, and rich media advertising options tailored to each of Adify’s 180 vertical ad networks, which also include networks for the Politico, NBC Universal, The Washington Post, and Martha Stewart Living.
Adify, which was bought by Cox Enterprises in April of 2008 for $300 million, hopes to create a virtual marketplace for Network Builder customers integrate ad products and technology, from Ooyala’s video technology for ads to Rovion’s rich media ads. Adify also recently launched a horizontal business, Adify Media, to let advertisers buy across the networks built on its platform.
Popular document sharing service DocStoc just launched a collections feature, which lets users package documents around a particular topic. DocStoc has already created close to 50 collections, including “Starting a Small Business,” “Advertising Online,” and “Traveling on a Budget,” and is opening up the platform to users to add to existing collections and create their own.
The feature is just another way to organize your documents online and can be a pretty useful tool to manage large amounts of documents that relate to different topics. Competitors Issuu and Scribd both have similar offerings. Scribd’s “Group” feature allows users to organize documents around a theme and tries to connect users to other people who are interested in the same reading and topics. Issuu recently launched a collaborative Groups feature, where people can collect, organize and discuss publications related to any topic. DocStoc’s feature appears to focus more on the organization of documents around a particular theme than connecting users around that theme.
DocStoc is steadily growing, with 3 million documents uploaded and 1.6 million unique visitors a month in the U.S., according to comScore. (The company’s internal Google Analytics shows 4.8 million unique visitors worldwide). Docstoc recently took off its “beta” label with a homepage redesign, open APIs, and a new revenue-sharing model called DocCash.