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Since his first day on the job, BlackBerry's new CEO, John Chen, has been focused on rebuilding the company from the ashes left over from his predecessors tenure with the company. That does not mean that he would not sell off key components of the company if the right offer was made. During an interview with CNBC, Chen told reporters that he would sell off BlackBerry Messenger, the company's widely popular messaging service, if the price was right.
"If somebody comes to me with $19 billion I would definitely sell it," Chen said. "I mean, I would recommend to the board to take it." He was of course referring to the total selling price that Facebook acquired WhatsApp for earlier this week. Unfortunately it seems that the greatly inflated acquisition of WhatsApp has set a false precedence or "bar" if you will at what companies value their messaging services at.
Unfortunately what I feel is happening is that another .com bubble is inflating, and eventually the market will not be able to sustain all of these $1 billion, $3 billion, and $19 billion valuations, causing the bubble to burst the same way it did in the late 90s. It feels like every tech company, start-up, and company fork is being valued at $1 billion plus these days, and that trend does not seem to be slowing at all. Eventually something will have to give, and the aftermath will not be pretty if history is any indication.
T-Mobile might be the smallest of the four major carriers in the US, but it is putting pressure on other carriers to match its offers. AT&T has announced a move that is likely in response to pressure from T-Mobile that anyone with friends or family outside the US will appreciate.
Starting on February 28, anyone on an AT&T Mobile Share plan will be able to send unlimited text messages from the US to just about any other country at no cost. The change also makes voice calls placed to other countries like Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean with a monthly plans selling for $5 per month.
The minutes on that plan are a penny each. AT&T previously charged people $10 per month for international texting and a higher per minute rate for calls to other countries.
Samsung and PayPal have announced that they have teamed up to allow users of the Samsung Galaxy S5 announced this week to make more use of that fingerprint scanner the smartphone offers. PayPal will allow the S5 user to use the fingerprint scanner to login and shop at any merchant that takes PayPal.
That includes online and in-stores that accept PayPal. The use of the fingerprint scanner means that the user won't need to memorize a password or login info for multiple websites. PayPal says that is provides a secure wallet in the sky and no personal details are stored on the device.
The S5 has FIDO Ready software that can communicate securely between the fingerprint sensor on the device and the PayPal service in the cloud. The only information shared between the device and PayPal is a unique encrypted key that verifies the user's identity. The fingerprint authentication service will launch on the Galaxy S5 in April and will be offered in 26 markets.
When Facebook pushed its offer of $16 billion onto the table to acquire WhatsApp, the company's founders would've had their hearts drop - in utter surprise because its last funding round had them pegged at a value of around $1.5 billion.
In WhatsApp final round of funding, which took place in July last year, it secured $52 million from a valuation of around $1.5 billion. WhatsApp grew exponentially between July 2013 and just a few days ago when it was acquired by Facebook for $16 billion in stocks and cash. The sole investor in WhatsApp, Sequoia, owned around 20% of the company, which is now worth a cool $3 billion.
At $3 billion, Sequoia has seen an amazing 50x return in its investment in WhatsApp... something that nobody could complain about, that's for sure.
Stephen Elop, the ex-Nokia CEO, has taken control of Microsoft's Devices and Studios division, which includes a bunch of Microsoft's most important lines of products. This includes Xbox, Surface and the company's game and entertainment studios.
Don Mattick left the post last year for Zynga, where Julie Larson-Green took over. Larson-Green is moving on to another role, leading the "My Life & Work" time in Microsoft's Application and Services Group, where she will serve as its Chief Experience Officer. Larson Green wrote in an internal memo: "I want to thank each and every one of you for welcoming me and supporting me as the leader of Devices & Studios over the past 7 months. I'm very proud of what we have accomplished during such a short timeframe. We launched Xbox One, Surface 2 & Pro 2, blockbuster games like Forza and Ryse, a brand new Xbox Music and Video service, PPI, and some amazing unannounced innovations just to name a few...".
There were rumors that the ex-Nokia CEO would take over as the CEO of Microsoft, but does this position suit him more? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
Set-top box maker Roku is reportedly interested in exploring a possible initial public offering (IPO), despite successfully generating $60 million its latest round of funding last May. The company has spoken with several unnamed banks, according to a Bloomberg report, though nothing has been confirmed.
It has been a good time for companies to go public - or seek to sell - as companies have been largely overvalued. If rumors are true, expect to hear Roku pick a lead banker and announce a tentative IPO launch date sometime later this year.
In addition to the appeal of additional funding, with Apple and Amazon both rumored to enter the set-top box market, Roku is going to have an even harder time competing.
While Facebook's $16 billion acquisition of WhatsApp was most certainly the biggest tech news of the week, another popular messaging service is making big waves in the tech community as well, although most Americans have likely never heard of it. Korean messaging service Kakao, has announced that it is negotiating with Morgan Stanley as well as Samsung Securities in hopes of filing its first Initial Public Offering.
With more than 133 million users, the app is about 1/5 the size of WhatsApp in its user base, but with more than seven years under its belt, it is a vet when it comes to instant messaging and mobile gaming. Kakao is seeing to raise about $2 billion which is about 1/8th of what Facebook paid for WhatsApp, so in terms of scale, the asking price is technically a deal, but with the app being locked to the Korean market, it is still a bit of a gable. Some industry insiders are suggesting that Kakao could be seeing the capital in an effort to expand its world wide presence, but nothing official has been announced yet.
Typically, when you think about a plug-in hybrid car performance isn't something that comes to mind. The majority of hybrids on the market today are aimed at being green and sipping fuel with no thought of performance at all. Think Toyota Prius or Ford Fusion Hybrid. Volkswagen has unveiled a new plug-in hybrid that offers fuel efficiency and impressive performance.
The Golf GTE isn't going to compete with a sports car, but it is certainly more exciting than a Prius. The GTE is a plug-in hybrid with a battery pack that can recharge from a wall outlet in only 3.5 hours. The car has a 1.4L 148 hp turbo direct-injected engine.
The car also has an electric motor producing 101hp. Combined the car has 201 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. That equates to a top speed of 135 mph and a 0-62 mph time of 7.6 seconds. The car can also drive for 31 miles on electricity only and reach a top electric speed of 81 mph.
A company called ART+COM Innovationpool GmbH (ACI) has announced this week that it has filed a patent infringement suit against Google. The suit has to do with Google allegedly infringing on a patent that ACI holds. The patent in question is # RE44,550. The title of that patent is "Method and Device for Pictorial Representation of Space-related Data."
ACI takes issue with how much Google Earth looks like its Terravision service. Terravision is the commercial implementation of the patent at the heart of the case. ACI says that Terravision was developed a decade before Google Earth.
Looking at the image here, it is clear that the Terravision service and Google Earth are very similar in how they look. ACI also says that it has issue with some of the executives at Google, particularly Michael Jones, CTO of Google Earth, and Brian McClendon, VP of engineering for Google Maps.
China Mobile added a huge number of new high-speed data subscribers in January, with over 14 million new customers joining the world's largest wireless carrier. This is mostly thanks to the iPhone, which China Mobile started selling on January 17.
The 14 million new high-speed data subscribers represents a 7.4% growth for the first month of 2014, with the competition - China Unicorn, seeing an additional 3.2% customers for the month. China Mobile was unable to offer the iPhone until late-2013, but it was locked to 3G on the network's TD-SCDMA technology. Now that it has unleashed its TD-LTE 4G network, things are looking up for the world's largest wireless carrier.