Friday, April 27, 2012
Gavin O'Malley, April 27, 2012, 12:13 PM
FTC Hires Big Gun To Go After GoogleThe New York Times

Escalating its inquiry into Google’s search business, federal regulators have hired a prominent litigator to pursue the antitrust investigation. The move sends “a strong signal that they are prepared to take the Internet giant to court,” according to The New York Times. “The case has the potential to be the biggest showdown between regulators and Silicon Valley since the government took on Microsoft 14 years ago.”

The big question is whether Google manipulates or has ever manipulated its search results, thus making it less likely that competing companies or products appear at the top of a results page. According to Federal Trade Commission officials, a decision has yet to be made about whether to bring a formal case against Google.

“But the hiring of Beth A. Wilkinson, a former Justice Department prosecutor who played a lead role in the conviction of the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, immediately catapulted the investigation to another level,” NYT writes. “The agency has hired outside litigators only twice in the last decade.”

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  • Gavin O'Malley, April 27, 2012, 12:40 PM
  • Note-taking and digital archiving Evernote is fast approaching 30 million registered users, according to its CEO Phil Libin. “Last number we heard was 20 million in December 2011, so things are obviously moving fast for Evernote,” notes The Next Web. As Libin tells NTW, however, racking up users isn’t the startup’s end goal. To be truly successful, Evernote has to convince users to actually spend time with the app. (Currently, Libin says 40% of long-term members -- i.e. people that signed up for Evernote when it launched four years ago -- still use the service today.) Evernote will also have to generate some revenue at some point, which it plans to do by upselling a paid service. Remarkably, Libin says that more than 25% of users already pay to use a premium Evernote. That said, “It’s more important for an Evernote user to stay than it is to pay,” Libin tells TNW.  Last year, Evernote picked up popular Mac desktop app Skitch for an undisclosed sum. What did Libin have to say about the widely rumored $100 million financing round, which would value Evernote a $1 billion? Nothing -- at least for the time being.    Read the whole story...
  • Mobile video-sharing service Viddy -- which recently ranked as the top free iPhone app on Apple’s App Store -- is reportedly raising a $30 million Series B round at a $370 million valuation. “I have no idea whether that is post or pre-money, but whatever it is, it is really ambitious,” writes TechCrunch’s Alexia Tsotsis. “It also means investors are hoping it’ll be a $10 billion company, or an $800 million company at the least.” Just this past February, Viddy closed a $6 million Series A round, with participation from Battery Ventures, Greycroft Ventures, Qualcomm, and Bessemer Ventures. According to Viddy, it attracted over 40 million app views in January, which analysts attributed to the startup’s courting of celebrities and tech influencers. Viddy recently claimed 8 million users, and, more significantly, a sharp increase since Facebook launched its Timeline app back in February. Regarding competition, however, TechCrunch recently wrote: “There are a number of startups vying to claim the ‘Instagram for Video’ title, with Socialcam, Viddy, Klip, Mobli, and even the infamous Color all in the running.”   Read the whole story...
  • Proving a clear market demand for its services, Amazon reported net sales of $13 billion for the first quarter of the year -- up 34% year-over-year. Yet, the ecommerce giant also revealed $130 million in net income, or $0.28 per diluted share, for the quarter, which is down 35% year-over-year. “Altogether, [first quarter] earnings were a plus for Amazon following a disappointing fourth quarter, and they ultimately beat Wall Street’s expectations of a first-quarter profit of seven cents a share on revenue of $12.9 billion,” Reuters reports. All told, Amazon finished the first quarter with $192 million in operating income -- down from $322 million in the first quarter of 2011. Ecommerce side, Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet device remains the company’s bestselling product. As usual, however, Amazon refrained from revealing specific sales numbers for its Kindle product lineup. Going forward, for the second quarter of the year, Amazon said Friday that it expects to earn between $11.9 billion and $13.3 billion in revenue, which would represent up to 34% year-over-year growth.   Read the whole story...