Tag Archive | "investment"

Richard Garriott’s Portalarium raises money for Facebook games

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Portalarium, the social and mobile game company founded by game pioneer Richard Garriott, has raised a second round of funding. Altogether, the Austin, Texas-based startup has raised $3.6 million to date.

The financing includes money from m8 Capital in the United Kingdom and Founders Fund (the investment fund which includes PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel) in San Francisco.

Garriott has vowed to create the same kind of fun games on Facebook as he did at earlier stages in his career. Earlier this year, Garriott said in an interview that Portalarium is aimed at exploiting the business opportunities in the “third age of video games.”

For those of you who didn’t grow up playing games, it may help to know that Garriott was present for the first age of video games, with the debut of great single-player games such as  Ultima, which was followed by many sequels. In 1997, under his alter ego Lord British, Garriott extended his role-playing fantasy world to the online multiplayer game Ultima Online. Garriott considers the rise of Internet-connected games to be the second age of video games. Garriott tried to exploit that age with Tabula Rasa, one of the most ambitious sci-fi online games, but that title met with an untimely death after six years of effort.

The third age began with the explosive growth of simple, quickly played social games like Zynga’s FarmVille on Facebook. In an interview at the Dice Summit game conference in Las Vegas, Garriott said he knows he is late and the gold rush into social games has happened without him so far. Portalarium launched two simple casino games on Facebook so far in order to test the company’s theories about player engagement, or the trick of getting gamers to play games for a long time.

“We are delighted to join Richard Garriott and the Portalarium team in creating the next great gaming company,” said Joseph Kim, general partner at London-based m8 Capital. “Richard is one of the giants of the industry. He’s a proven entrepreneur and has been a driving force at each of the industry’s major turning points.”

Kim said he liked Garriott’s vision for the future of mobile and social games. Ditto for Brian Singerman of the Founders Fund.

In the past year, Portalarium has released two games — Port Casino Poker and Port Casino Blackjack –  on Facebook and the hi5 social network. According to AppData, those games have just a small number of users. But Portalarium says that those are evergreen products that were created to quickly build out the company’s backend server technology and start interconnecting a player network across platforms and social networks. Port Casino Poker recently launched Apple’s iPad and both iPhone and Android versions are coming later this year.

Fred Schmidt, chief executive of Portalarium, said that the connection with m8 Capital will help the company shape its European strategy while the Founders Fund (which backed Facebook) connection is helping the company connect to the social media scene in Silicon Valley. Portalarium was founded in 2009 and has 12 employees.

We’ll be exploring the most disruptive game technologies and business models at our third annual GamesBeat 2011 conference, on July 12-13 at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. It will focus on the disruptive trends in the mobile games market. GamesBeat is co-located with our MobileBeat 2011 conference this year. To register, click on this link. Sponsors can message us at sponsors@venturebeat.com. To participate in our Who’s Got Game? contest for the best game startup, click on this link.

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Article courtesy of VentureBeat » deals

DoubleClick challenger OpenX raises $20M from SAP

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openx-teamOpenX, an online advertising company whose customers include deals service Groupon and news site Business Insider, just announced that it has raised $20 million in a fourth round of funding.

The Los Angeles-based company bills itself as an open source alternative to ad serving products like Google-owned DoubleClick. In February, it launched its latest product, OpenX Enterprise, which includes both an ad server and an ad exchange. At the time, chief revenue officer Jason Fairchild described OpenX Enterprise as the company’s first product to really beat the competition on technology, not just price, for example by giving advertisers a more holistic view of their ad inventory.

OpenX says that revenue has grown nearly 600 percent in the past year, and it notes that it’s growing internationally thanks to partnerships with Dentsu-cci in Japan and Orange-France Telecom in Europe.

The company has now raised more than $50 million. The new round was led by SAP Ventures. Other new investors include AOL Ventures, Mitsui & Co. Global Investment, and the Sumitomo Corporation’s investment vehicle Presidio Ventures. Past investors Accel Partners and Index Ventures also participated.

In a press release, chief executive Tim Cadogan said:

Having new investors representing one of the world’s largest enterprise companies (SAP), one of the world’s largest internet pure-plays (AOL) and two of the most important global Asian trading firms (Mitsui and Sumitomo) all coming together to invest in the global technology platform company we are creating is — we believe — a compelling and powerful mix.

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Article courtesy of VentureBeat » deals

Airbnb headed for a $1 billion valuation

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AirbnbSocial bed and breakfast startup Airbnb is in the process of closing a $100 million round of funding led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz that would raise the company’s valuation to more than $1 billion, according to TechCrunch.

This is a significant investment for Airbnb, which has previously raised $7.8 million, and comes days after actor-turned-investor Ashton Kutcher invested a significant amount of money in the company.

Kutcher, who was an early investor in Foursquare and the deal to purchase Skype back from previous owner Ebay, is increasingly being looked at in the investment world as someone to watch when it comes to predicting the next hot startup company.

Airbnb offers a service in which travelers looking for a unique experience (similar in scope to a bed and breakfast) can rent a living space from locals for a fee.  The service has seen incredible growth of 800 percent in the last year and had over 1.6 million local homes booked since it launched in 2008.

An investment this large may seem drastic, but Airbnb looks to be fulfilling a need in the marketplace. And while business trips and conference attendees will likely stick to booking hotel rooms, Airbnb could make a real splash with recreational travelers .

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Article courtesy of VentureBeat » deals

Write-Offs: 05.20.11

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Gold jumps 1.5 percent on euro zone debt fears (Reuters)

Payrolls Grow in 42 States Including New York, Texas as Job Market Revives (Bloomberg)

Greece hit by Fitch debt downgrade (FT)

IMF approves 26 billion euro funding for Portugal (Reuters)

Former IMF Chief to Stay in Temporary Housing in Lower Manhattan

Dervis rules himself out of IMF race (FT)

IMF Aborted Strauss-Kahn Probe in 2008 (Bloomberg)

Emerging market equity funds see $1.6 bln outflows (MarketWatch)

Soros sharpens gold bubble debate (FT)

Analysts’ Rare ‘Sell’ Ratings are Rarely Right (Bloomberg)

Mayor Bloomberg says if Apocalypse happens, alternate side parking suspended (NYDN)

JPMorgan Traders’ Market-Share Inroads Growing, Deutsche Bank Analyst Says (Bloomberg)

Goldman Sachs Names Sorrell, Gutman as Co-Heads of U.K. Investment Banking (Bloomberg)

UBS Loses Two Top Investment Bankers (CNBC)

Who shot bin Laden? Former SEALs fill in the blanks (WaPo)



Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

Intel Rises: Analysts See Renewed Focus At Investor Day

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Shares of Intel (INTC) are up 38 cents, or 1.6%, at $23.93 following yesterday’s upbeat investor day meeting, during which CEO Paul Otellini and his team laid out for analysts how the company can profit from “cloud” computing and the smartphone and tablet wars.

As I noted yesterday, Intel made the case that mobile devices require more and more server resources, a plus for Intel given its healthy business in selling server microprocessors. The company also presented a time-line for its “Atom” mobile chips that suggested that future versions of the chips will not lag the company’s desktop chips by the typical two-year time frame, which might help Intel to close the gap at some point with chips from ARM Holdings (ARMH).

Today, Street research reflects those encouraged by Intel’s move, and those for whom it just wasn’t enough:

Bullish!

Glen Yeung, Citigroup: Reiterates a Buy rating and a $27 target price. He notes the company’s full-year revenue forecast included a model for $1.9 billion of software and services revenue, which is more than the $1.74 billion he’s been modeling. He also notes gross margin is expected to be at the upper end of Intel’s targeted range of 55% to 65%. As regards Intel’s Atom chip, the roadmap is on a fast track, but the 32-nanometer version of the chip, code-named “Saltwell,” will still lag 28-nanometer chips by ARM, he argues. But the 32-nanometer part at least, “puts Intel within striking range of making headway in the smartphone market, and allows them to pilot a design with partners. The 22-nanometer “Silvermount” chip, coming in 2013, “will benefit from Intel’s tri-gate technology, where the greatest performance gains occur in low power settings.”

Uche Orjii, UBS Investment Research: Reiterates a Buy rating and a $28.50 price target. Among the things he came away with was that ARM may have a hard time breaking into the PC market, given lack of legacy compatibility for applications; Intel will use its 22-nanometer Atom chips for a server line at some point; Intel’s “software ecosystem can well support porting of native ARM apps.”

Christopher Danely, JP Morgan: Reiterates an Overweight rating and a $25 price target. He writes that the PC markeontinue to be the driver for most of Intel’s revenue. He doesn’t buy Intel’s forecast, however, that PC growth in units can rise to a rate of 14%, year over year. “The PC market has been benefitting from emerging market growth for many years.” He sees more of a long-term growth rate of 11%, he writes. Danely “loves the higher dividend,” which Intel intends to increase from a 33% payout ratio as a measure of free cash flow to 40%. “We expect Intel’s dividend to remain above 3% going forward, well above the average yield of 1.8% for our semi universe.”

N. Quinn Bolton, Needham & Co.: Reiterates a Buy rating and a $26 price target. The company “is seeing strong growth across all businesses, is investing to lead across all segments of computing and continues to return exceptional value to shareholders,” he writes. “We come away from the analyst day encouraged that the company is taking all the right steps to maintain its manufacturing lead and to become a player outside traditional computing form factors. As the growth of mobile connected devices and embedded computing explodes, Intel will present an excellent value proposition to its customers.”

Tristan Gerra, R.W. Baird & Co.: Reiterates an Outperform rating and a $29 price target. The “Medfield” Atom processors suggest the company’s got the goods to compete with ARM. “Medfield’s benchmark tests highlight a very
competitive power envelope with ARM-based architectures.” He concludes, “Intel’s strong fundamentals, core manufacturing strength, flawless execution of late, and end-market diversification (notably ultra-mobile) next year warrant multiple expansion, in our view.”

Bearish!

Alex Gauna, JMP Securities: Reiterates a Market Perform rating and a $27.50 target price, describing the event as “well executed but uneventful.” The company did a good job of showing “commitment” to pursuing the advantages it has in process technology. However, its pursuit of the smartphone and tablet markets look “as disjointed as ever.”

Christopher Caso, Susquehanna Investment Group: Reiterates a Neutral rating and a $21 price target. “We left the INTC analyst day with a view that INTC clearly understands the market shifts that are underway in the PC and mobile markets, and it is actively taking steps to position the company to maintain a leadership position, particularly in low power, where it is currently behind. However, our concern is not that INTC will not outperform the competition, but rather that the playing field is becoming more level, which will make it difficult for INTC to enjoy its current pricing and margin premium, even if it does maintain a performance advantage.”

Stacy Rasgon, Sanford Bernstein: Maintains a Market Perform rating and a $24 price target. The company’s financial targets imply revenue growth exceeding 15% per year through 2013, he writes, which is “aggressive” compared to his own estimates and the consensus. Rasgon questions the logic Intel applied to emerging markets, in which more and more people are earning the money they need to buy the PC in a shorter amount of time, which, the company argues, portends continued PC growth in those markets. “However, we are unsure whether or not prior relationships (observed in developed markets) will continue to hold to such a degree, as a multitude of different form factors (e.g. tablets and, potentially more importantly, smartphones) exist today (and did not when PC penetration was inflecting in current developed markets a decade or so ago).”

Article courtesy of Tech Trader Daily

DB At The Movies: Too Big To Fail

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If you’ve been keeping up with your HBO original programming schedule, you know that Too Big To Fail, the movie based on Andrew Ross Sorkin’s 2009 book, airs next Monday evening. Last night was the premiere at the Museum of Modern Art and while the trailers looked promising, in order to make sure none of you wasted any of your precious time or DVR space in the event it wasn’t worth it, I attended to see how things turned out and report back. Warren Buffett did the same, though was initially met with some opposition at the door, in an encounter that went like this:

Door girls: Do you have your ticket?
Buffett: Uh…no…
Door girls: You need your tickets.
Buffett: Oh, uh…we were invited..
[One of Buffett's dates]: This is Warren Buffett.
[The group is seated]

Other people in attendance who did have their tickets, included but were not limited to: George Soros (with a entourage of lady friends), Meredith Whitney in a white pinstriped suit, Becky Quick, Rodgin Cohen, Regis Philbin, Michael Douglas and all the actors from the flick (William Hurt, Paul Giamatti, Billy Crudup, James Woods, Bill Pullman, Evan Handler, Tony Shalhoub, Matthew Modine, Ed Asner), though not all the real life people they portray (Jamie Dimon was getting ready for today’s JPM shareholder meeting in Ohio, Fuld was probably busy plotting his comeback).

The movie condenses Sorkin’s 539 page book into about 90 minutes and traces the slightly tense moments that were 2008 just after Bear Stearns was bought to the day Paulson locked the top bank CEO’s in a room and and forced them to accept his capital injections. William Hurt does a pretty badass Hank– who gets the most screen time by far– having spent a few days fishing with him in preparation for the role (during which one would hope HP described what it was like threatening to send Ken Lewis home in a body bag if he backed out of the Merrill Lynch deal). I liked it, you probably will too.** Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty.

Who Will Like TBTF

- Hank Paulson: The former Treasury Secretary is the lead role; the movie shows his sleepless nights, his afternoons spent vomiting, and his attempt to SAVE AMERICA, all without shotgunning just one beer or a single tablespoon of Pepto-Bismol like you know he wanted to but which Christian Science prohibits. The movie even gets into his bird fetish, opening with Paulson observing a majestic red tailed hawk outside his window.

- Tim Geithner: Who producers decided resembles Billy Crudup (who plays “freaked the fuck out” pretty well)

- Ben Bernanke: Paul Giamatti grew a beard and (adorable) jowls to play the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, which he mostly does from the shadows- in a poorly lit room where he and Paulson discuss the fact that the economy might collapse over breakfast or emerging from a corner, where he might as well be holding a flashlight under his chin as he informs Congress or the bank CEOs that they can 1. do what he and Paulson are telling them to do or 2. don’t and be responsible for a Depression worse than the one he studied at Princeton (his pump up speeches are some of the best parts of the movie)

- Jamie Dimon: Every time JD- played by Bill Pullman- appears on screen we’re told in one way or another that he’s the smart banker, the responsible banker, the King of the Bankers (**Dimon’s only gripe may be that Bill Pullman doesn’t entirely pull off the innate coolness, which isn’t his fault- Jamie was born this way and some things can’t be taught; it’d be like asking Pavarotti, “teach me to sing like you.”)

- Lloyd Blankfein: The Goldman CEO is described as “a superstar,” but more importantly, Evan Handler actually nails the various The Lloyd Face(s), which some of us (me) were very skeptical anyone could do

- John Mack: While Tony Shalhoub’s Southern accent is more of a cross between a Southern and Western accent, Mack’s character fares well and gets one of the funnier (fictional?) lines of the movie: “Great, here comes E-Harmony,” when Geithner is calling him about the idea to merge the investment banks with commercial banks.

- Vikram Pandit: If he can get past the “no one knows if he’s running Citi or Citi’s running him” line, and is ready to laugh about all this, the actor who plays him does justice to the scene in which Pandit turns down Lloyd.

- CNBC: The network financial crisis coverage is threaded throughout the movie with Erin Burnett, Maria Bartiromo and Steve Liesman getting the most shout-outs

- Christian Scientists: They ought to appreciate the scene in which Hank Paulson flushes the sleeping pills someone on his staff gave him, as a commitment to his faith.

- Andrew Ross Sorkin: Someone got a cameo

- The (Our) Lehman Coffee Cart Guy: Oh yeah, there’s a nice lingering shot of his setup.

People Who Will Not Like TBTF

- John Thain: If the (unintentionally hilariously) bad toupee on Matthew Modine doesn’t do it, the fact that he’s pointedly made to look like the world’s biggest prick in every scene he appears might do it (Thain is portrayed as “selfish” (Paulson/Hurt’s words), conniving and greedy, and arguably comes off worse than Fuld)

- Charlie Gasparino: Who is not featured in any of the CNBC footage

- People Who Are “Tim Geithner Can Go Fuck Himself” Purists: This group will likely not appreciate the rewrite of the line uttered by John Mack while trying to do a deal with Mitsubishi and being repeatedly called by Tim Geithner. In the movie, he tells his secretary to pass on the message, “Tell Geithner he can blow me”

Wildcard

- Warren Buffett: On the one hand, when discussed by other characters, the point is driven home that he’s The Most Important Banker/Elder Statesman/ What Have You in the world. On the other, Ed Asner is about 40 pounds heavier, looks like a slob throughout the movie and deploys no folksy business wisdom con aberrant sex fetish. On the third, Buffett said at the 4 Seasons party afterwards that he thought the movie/Ed were great (and that “he did an excellent job portraying such a glamorous guy”)

- Alan Greenspan: Probably proud of the mention (Paulson to Bernanke: “Greenspan suggested we buy up all the vacant houses and burn them down”) but miffed at not having the entire movie be about him and his reign as Grand High Poobah

- Chris Cox: Comes off as kind of a pussy/imbecile but perhaps he’ll appreciate the accuracy?

- Barney Frank: Totally at a loss for whether or not he’ll approve of the outside the box casting of Dan Hedaya.

- Dick Fuld: Hear me out on this one. Yes, the movie (accurately) depicts Dick Fuld thinking that everything at Lehman was all good in the hood, that the only problem was “the god damn shorts,” that Lehman, as late as August 2008, would “stand strong and eat Goldman’s lunch,” that he wouldn’t fuck up the potential deal with Korea Development Bank by coming in and making the case that Lehman’s real estate holdings had a lot of value. But Fuld is also portrayed as actually caring about the bank and it’s employees, in his own way (which, if he wanted to show he cared, shouldn’t have blown a hole in their balance sheet and done some other stuff but retrospect, etc). Plus, he gets to watch himself be played by James Woods and who wouldn’t like that?

- Blankfein Humor Scholars: These people will likely be divided in their opinion that LB’s quips are generally more of the more subtle variety than, when discussing Paulson’s failure to get the authority from the FSA to do the Barclays/Lehman deal, “He didn’t drop the ball- he dropped the ball, kicked the coach in the nuts and took a shit in the quarterback’s mouth”

**Although you might not like the closing captions which I think some of you should probably close your eyes for if you’ve got blood pressure/heart problems and which I want to mention so badly but I won’t so see it and then we can discuss.



Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

Opening Bell: 05.16.11

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Strauss-Kahn Awaits Arraignment in Sex Assault Case (Bloomberg)
International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn awaits his first court appearance on attempted rape charges after giving police permission to examine him for physical evidence of scratches and DNA from his accuser. The alleged attack on a 32-year-old female maid at a Sofitel hotel in midtown Manhattan occurred May 14, according to the New York Police Department. Strauss-Kahn, who was taken into custody aboard an Air France flight at John F. Kennedy International Airport as it prepared to depart, also was charged with unlawful imprisonment and a criminal sex act. He remains in custody until an 11 a.m. hearing in Manhattan criminal court. Strauss- Kahn, 62, has denied the charges and will plead not guilty, his lawyer Benjamin Brafman said. The IMF chief was picked out of a lineup yesterday by the maid, police said. His arraignment, during which bail terms may be set, had been scheduled for yesterday and was delayed after investigators sought a warrant a physical examination of Strauss-Kahn.

I.M.F. Names New Leader (NYT)
Hours after its chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was arrested in connection with the alleged sexual attack of a maid at a Midtown Manhattan hotel, the International Monetary Fund on Sunday named John Lipsky as acting managing director. Mr. Lipsky, the I.M.F.’s first deputy managing director, is a former U.S. Treasury executive and onetime banker at JP Morgan.

Why Lagarde Will Be The Next IMF Managing Director
Felix Salmon: “Christine Lagarde will become the first female managing director of the IMF. She has the political skills and the economic credentials to get the job, and Europe will feel much more comfortable with a European in the role over the next few turbulent years. The US won’t object, and the Asians will go along with the choice since they don’t really have a candidate of their own.”

New Details in IMF Sex Case (WSJ)
According to the narrative [the accuser] gave investigators, Mr. Strauss-Kahn emerged from the bathroom nude and approached her from behind and touched her breast, then threw her on to the bed, the official said. She told police she broke free but was then pushed into a rear hallway of the suite near the bathroom. Mr. Strauss-Kahn allegedly caught up with her and sexually assaulted her, the official said, before allowing her to leave.

IMF head finally agrees to medical exam; set for arraignment today (NYP)
In an ironic twist, Strauss-Kahn may have inadvertently helped cops capture him before he fled the country. After the alleged assault Saturday, Strauss-Kahn was so desperate to flee that he left his cellphone in the hotel room, officials said. He also gave away his location, calling the hotel to tell management that he had left behind his phone and that he was at JFK Airport. So when the incident was reported and cops went looking for Strauss-Kahn, the hotel was able to direct authorities to the airport, where he was pulled off a plane just before it departed for Paris at 4:40 p.m.

Police Seek Evidence From I.M.F. Chief on Sex Attack (NYT)
The authorities said they had moved to obtain a court order granting them a search warrant to examine Mr. Strauss-Kahn for signs of injury that he might have suffered during a struggle or for traces of his accuser’s DNA. “Things like getting things from under the fingernails,” a law enforcement official explained, “the classic things you get in association with a sex assault.”

Strauss-Kahn Arrest Bolsters Push for IMF Changes (Bloomberg)
“This event is likely to put into play the leadership and governance structure of the IMF in a dramatic and unanticipated manner,” said Prasad, a former IMF official.

Soul-Searching in France After Official’s Arrest Jolts Nation (NYT)
Some, including Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s wife, the American-born French television journalist Anne Sinclair, expressed disbelief in the charges and faith in her husband’s innocence. His lawyer has said he would plead not guilty. Others talked darkly of a possible “setup” of Mr. Sarkozy’s most prominent rival.

How’s Strauss-Kahn Doing? (Telegraph)
“He’s tired but he’s fine,” DSK’s lawyer said.

What If the U.S. Treasury Defaults? (WSJ)
“I think technical default would be horrible,” [Stanley Druckenmiller] says from the 24th floor of his midtown Manhattan office, “but I don’t think it’s going to be the end of the world. It’s not going to be catastrophic. What’s going to be catastrophic is if we don’t solve the real problem,” meaning Washington’s spending addiction.

Nasdaq, ICE Pull NYSE Bid, Cite Regulators (Reuters)
“We took the decision to withdraw our offer when it became clear that we would not be successful in securing regulatory approval for our proposal despite offering a variety of substantial remedies, including the sale of the NYSE SRO and related businesses,” Nasdaq OMX CEO Bob Greifeld said in a statement.

Former S.E.C. Official Said to Be Subject of Criminal Inquiry (NYT)
A former Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement official who has been accused of repeatedly blocking efforts to investigate R. Allen Stanford, the Houston financier charged with running a $7 billion Ponzi scheme, is the subject of a federal criminal inquiry for having done legal work for Mr. Stanford after leaving the S.E.C., government officials said Friday.

Banks Woo Funds With Private Peeks (WSJ)
Investment banks vie for business from elite hedge funds by offering traders at those funds special access to senior deal makers and corporate executives at dinners and other gatherings. The traders sometimes pick up valuable nuggets of information that aren’t available to other investors, according to people who have attended such gatherings…The funds are prized clients because they collectively pay billions of dollars in fees each year for buying and selling stocks.

US dollar under more pressure as Zimbabwe speaks on its end as global currency (Examiner)
Just two years ago, the nation of Zimbabwe created a hyperinflationary economy that led to the creation of a $100 Trillion note for its citizens to be able to purchase food.  On May 15th however, this African nation is now speaking out on the US dollar, and advocating that its days are numbered as the global reserve currency.

Investors Show Interest in AIG Stock Sale (WSJ)
Underwriters for the $9 billion stock sale by American International Group Inc. and the U.S. Treasury have indications of interest from investors for about half the offering, according to people familiar with the matter.

Angry Birds CEO Plots Media Empire (CNBC)
“When we realized we had a big hit on our hands with Angry Birds, we looked at companies that had gone before us, especially in the mobile gaming sector where we were at that time very firmly,” Hed told CNBC.com. “We saw that most gaming companies had then immediately tried to make another hit game and we realized that had very rarely worked. Rather, we started to look at what we could do around Angry Birds and if there was a way that we could build this into an entertainment franchise,” he added.



Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

Breaking: Investors Stick With Firms That Make Them Money

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Fifty-four percent of respondents to the global poll of traders, investors and analysts conducted May 9-10 have an unfavorable opinion of the New York-based bank, more than double the negative rating for JPMorgan. Yet a month after a U.S. Senate report said Goldman Sachs misled clients, 78 percent of those surveyed said the accusations will either have no effect on the firm or will harm its reputation without driving away customers. “Investors will continue to put their money with capable institutions, regardless of their history or morality,” said poll participant Christian Contino, 27, who works as a consultant for the investment-management section of the United Nations’ International Fund for Agricultural Development. [Bloomberg]



Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

Typesafe raises $3M for modern software development tools

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Typesafe, a maker of software development tools for the Scala programming language, has raised $3 million in a first round of funding.

The Cambridge, Mass.-based company is also introducing today its open source Typesafe Stack, which integrates the most recent releases of the Scala programming language, Akka middleware and development tools. That makes it easier to develop software with Scala, which takes advantage of multicore hardware and cloud computing. Scala is used by some of the world’s highest-trafficked web properties such as Foursquare, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Multicore processors and cloud computing offer a lot of benefits for speeding up performance and allowing lots of users to use software at the same time. But it requires programming tricks to take advantage of them. That’s where the open-source Scala comes in. Scala is the foundation for building apps that are used by millions upon millions of users.

Greylock, the investment firm started by LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, made the investment. Cambridge, Mas.-based Typesafe makes money via commercial support and maintenance options through a subscription service. Martin Odersky, chief executive of Typeface, created the Scala (which stands for scalable language) programming language in 2001 at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne and launched it seven years ago. It runs on top of the Java Virtual Machine and is interoperable with Java.

“The previous generation application architecture came from sequential computing and it is running out of steam,” said Odersky. “With Typesafe, we’re introducing a modern software architecture that is designed for parallel and distributed computing, bringing huge advantages in scalability and reliability.”

Greylock partner Bill Kaiser, who made his bet on open source as an early investor in Red Hat, said that computing is entering the era of “big cores,” meaning lots of cores, or computing brains, on a single chip. And there are lots of chips inside servers, which are the computing machines inside data centers that keep huge internet web sites running. Kaiser said Scala is the only proven alternative that can handle the challenges of multicore and cloud computing. Typesafe, Kaiser says, can take Scala to the mainstream and thereby help protect the billions of dollars that corporations have invested in java.

Chris Conrad, engineering manager at LinkedIn, says Scala is a powerful programming tool that offers scalability and efficiency. He is glad to see the creators of Scala launch Typesafe so that they can invest in the next generation of the programming language.

Alex Payne, former platform lead at Twitter and chief technology officer of online banking firm BankSimple, said that Scala played a critical role in improving the scalability and reliability of Twitter’s backend services (which have had to handle huge computing loads as more and more users sign up for the service).

The company named Java creator James Gosling and Java concurrency expert Doug Lea to its board of advisors. Willy Zwaenepoel, a parallel computing expert, has also joined the advisory board. Odersky co-founded Typesafe this year with Jonas Bonér, creator of Akka. The company has 12 employees.

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Article courtesy of VentureBeat » deals

Microsoft In $7B Skype Deal? Oh, How They Laughed When eBay Paid $2.6B

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The Microsoft (MSFT) -for-Skype rumor is gaining ground.

GigaOm’s Om Malik earlier today offered a recap of rumors that “have been swirling around Skype” for a week now, with Reuters having written that Google (GOOG) and Facebook were looking for a deal with the Internet calling firm, or maybe looking to buy it. Malik wrote that Microsoft “has entered the mix.”

And tonight, The Wall Street Journal’s Anupreeta Das and Nick Wingfield are writing that Microsoft is “close to a deal to buy Internet phone company Skype Technologies SA for more than $7 billion,” citing anonymous sources.

Negotiations have been “wrapping up” this evening, they write.

eBay (EBAY), which bought Skype for $2.6 billion in October of 2005,  later sold the company in November of 2005 for $1.9 billion in cash, for a net gain of $1.4 billion, and a 30% stake in Skype to private equity shop Silver Lake, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, and venture firm Andreessen Horowitz in a leveraged buyout.

eBay listed its 30% stake at $620 million in last year’s 10-K filing, implying a value of roughly $2 billion for Skype.

Obviously, then, a Microsoft bid of this size would represent not just a premium t0 recent valuation, but multiples of the 2009 buyout, if it happens.

Some people thought eBay was crazy when they paid $2.6 billion in 2005, and there were also stories from Silicon Valley that some Skype backers at the time thought they should have asked for much more.

Microsoft ended the fiscal Q3 in March with $50 billion of cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments, and long-term debt of $12 billion.

Remember that bidding for Skype has been a spectator sport for some time. Back in August of last year, TechCrunch reported Cisco Systems (CSCO) was interested, which was then refuted by sources, Eric reported the next day.

Malik himself proposed back in September that Facebook should buy the company, and that it might have to pay $7 billion to $7.5 billion.

Remember, too, that Skype filed for a $100 million public offering last August, led by Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Morgan Stanley, which has since been amended multiple times. The latest version, filed last month, lists $860 million in revenue for all of 2010. That would represent 20% revenue growth from the $719 million the company reported in 2009.

Effectively, then, Microsoft would be paying on the order of seven or so times trailing revenue. Skype had a pre-tax loss of $57 million in 2010, according to the filing.

The prospectus from April also records $690 million in long-term debt that was racked up to facilitate the leveraged buyout in 2009, against $142.5 million in cash and equivalents.

Microsoft shares ended the day down 4 cents at $25.83.

Article courtesy of Tech Trader Daily