Last week, Steve Ballmer drew cheers from most analysts with his announcement that he would be leaving Microsoft within the year. As New Yorker columnist John Cassidy notes, however, Ballmer wasn’t all bad for the software giant. For one, he did manage to grow net profit from $5.8 billion (on revenues of $23 billion) to $21.9 billion (on revenues of $77.9 billion).
Does Apple plan on turning future iPhones into universal remote controls, which can connect to multiple devices in the living room and around the house? Apple Insider suggests as much, citing an Apple patent published on Tuesday, which describes a method in which a portable device, like the iPhone, can save, manage and recall entertainment and "smart home" system settings.
Facebook has been granted full approval to its $20 million settlement of a lawsuit over targeted advertising by a U.S. judge. In 2011, five plaintiffs filed a class action suit against the social network, which argued that its "Sponsored Stories" program shared users' "likes" of certain advertisers with friends without paying them or allowing them to opt out. As Reuters notes: “The case has highlighted tension between privacy concerns and Facebook's drive to monetize user content.”
Facebook this week began rolling out a new feature that lets a number of users upload images to the same photo album. “The album creator can share access to as many as 50 ‘contributors,’ who each in turn can share up to 200 photos,” Mashable reports. “Album creators can choose a setting that allows contributors to invite others to the album, or retain total control over album invitations.”
Never short on big ideas, Jack Dorsey is trying to save struggling cities by inspiring local business innovation. The effort could also benefit the Twitter chairman and Square, the mobile payments and merchant services aggregator he co-founded in 2009. In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, however, Dorsey seems genuinely driven by a desire to help small business owners and their communities.
With their contract set to expire at the end of the year, All Things Digital is reportedly trying to part ways with current owner Dow Jones. As Fortune reports, the top tech new sites is working with investment bank Code Advisors to find outside investors. “One source says that the asking price is between $10 million and $15 million for a 25% or 30% stake in the company.”
Hardly the only one imagining Microsoft after Steve Ballmer, Box CEO Aaron Levie does a nice job of outlining the software giant’s biggest opportunities and challenges going forward. Writing in TechCrunch, Levie implores Microsoft’s next leader to embrace “openness,” unbundled apps and an ambitious product strategy. “Microsoft needs to figure out how to become the place where the next great apps are built -- by companies other than Microsoft,” he writes. “And this time around, it needs to avoid obliterating every successful start-up that emerges from its ecosystem.”
While Foursquare has been collecting consumer data for years, tech leaders (Yahoo and Apple among them) are now taking a particular interest in the location-based information. Why the renewed interest? For one, “While many companies have powerful location databases -- Yelp, Yext, the Yellow Pages -- Foursquare's database is unique in that it's inherently social: It was built on the 4 billion check-ins that users uploaded via the app,” Fast Company writes.
The Los Angeles Times takes us inside the mind of Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Neflix, and arguably the man most responsible for disrupting the premium content business. “The man at the center of Netflix's transformation from DVD-by-mail service to Internet TV network … seems to take pleasure in upending industry conventions -- ordering an entire season of a series without asking for a pilot,” the paper writes of Sarandos.
Despite all appearances, Steve Ballmer decision to leave Microsoft was far from harmonious. “It was neither planned nor as smooth as portrayed,” AllThingsD reports. “Instead, sources said Ballmer’s timeline had been moved up drastically -- first by him and then the nine-member board … due to a number of increasingly problematic issues on the immediate horizon -- including a potentially nasty proxy fight, continued business performance declines and, perhaps most of all, that Ballmer’s leadership was becoming a very obvious lightning rod.”