A New (Third) Claim To Facebook’s Creation – WITH PROOF

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August 31, 2007

With the ongoing legal battle between Facebook and ConnectU going on, who’d of thought a third claim to the hot social networking site would surface? The New York Times’ John Markoff reports that Aaron Greenspan, another Harvard classmate of Mark Zuckerberg, claims to have had the original idea for Facebook. Greenspan launched a website called houseSYSTEM prior to both Facebook and ConnectU’s creation. houseSYSTEM was used by many Harvard students, including Mark Zuckerberg, to accomplish various tasks online. Greenspan sent an email to houseSYSTEM’s users informing them of a new feature called “the Face Book”, which would allow them to easily locate other students. This email was distributed 4 months before Zuckerberg started his site, thefacebook.com. Greenspan has given copies of this email to The New York Times, verifying its existence. Zuckerberg has declined to be interviewed and had his spokesperson say that he does not know how to respond. And, as The New York Times article says, “he did not dispute the chronology of events or the authenticity of Mr. Greenspan’s e-mail messages.”

 

 

I wonder if this will come into play in the judge’s decision of whether or not to dismiss the ConnectU-Facebook case. Even further, I wonder what, if anything, will end up happening between Greenspan and Zuckerberg. Amazingly though, Greenspan’s hostility actually seems pretty light, judging from the article. But looking at Facebook’s success, if Greenspan’s claim is 100% accurate, how can he not want what is was his?…

Twitter Hat-Tricks With New “Explore” Section

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August 30, 2007

 

Twitter has been on a role lately. They have been churning out new features like crazy. The first two features included a much needed search feature and a Gmail contact import feature. Well, now there are even more new things coming to Twitter. TechCrunch reports that tomorrow morning a new set of features are being added to Twitter. But they are actually functional right now. The new features were available tonight for a short period of time but then were disabled and replaced with a “Launching Soon!” banner.

The features are part of the new Explore section of Twitter, which is sponsered by Motorola. Within Explore, there are tools that allow you to use Twitter with “Other Devices”, but there is more to it than just devices (see screen shot, courtesy of TechCrunch). A very interesting feature called Blocks allows you to interactively navigate through a 3-dimensional animation of twitter updates. I was able to play with it a little bit before it went down. This is a very cool feature and I don’t even use Twitter! And it looks like they will be launching more new features under Explore, judging by the description of the new area: “and watch this space, because even we don’t know what might show up next!” I may reconsider using Twitter with all of the new (an upcoming) features being launched.…

The Clash Of Music Downloading Ethics: Google Vs. Baidu

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August 29, 2007

 

As BusinessWeek reports, China has a HUGE music pirating problem. They reference a man by the name of Eric Zhou, who lives in Beijing and likes listening to western pop music. He doesn’t pay for the music though, which he receives thanks to Chinese search engine Baidu (BIDU). Baidu has a special MP3 tab that allows users to quickly find and download MP3s. Eric listens to everything  from “the Backstreet Boys to the Spice Girls, on his MP3 player” (which should be a crime in itself).  He does not think that he is doing any wrong by downloading these songs and believes that the fault lies with the law and not the users. And Eric is not alone, according to Leong May See, Asia director for the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, nearly 100% of all music downloaded in China is pirated. WOW! So how can Google China gain search market share if it does not allow access to pirated music, while its rival nearly promotes it? It can’t.


BusinessWeek says that the ease at which Baidu’s users can find MP3s has made it hard for Google China to compete with Baidu. Google indeed has a challenge, but what about companies that sell music for that stuff called money? It would be nearly impossible for them to thrive with the current piracy levels in China. But according to Jianguang Li, a Chinese venture capitalist, “more Chinese are learning to respect intellectual property online.” Li has even participated in funding companies who charge for downloading music. But with those estimated piracy rates in China nearing 100%, I doubt that any of those companies will create the next iTunes.

Mercedes-Benz Partnership With Google And Yahoo Brings First Directions-To-Vehicle Feature In U.S.

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August 28, 2007

Mercedes-Benz will soon be offering a new feature on their S, CL, and C class lineup, thanks to Yahoo and Google. The new feature is called Search & Send. It will allow Mercedes-Benz owners to send directions, obtained either from Google Maps or Yahoo Maps, to their vehicles’ navigation system via a new “Send to Car” icon. From there, by pressing the i-button on the Tele Aid system in the vehicle, the navigation unit will download and make available the directions. Search & Send is the first feature of its kind in the U.S. and is set to debut on September 5th, 2007.

 

It would be interesting to know why they choose to go with Google and Yahoo, instead of just one of them. It could be because Mercedes-Benz is a very brand conscious automaker and they don’t want to alienate their customers by offering a service that they might not regularly use. So maybe they wanted to cover their bases by appealing to two rivals’ users rather than choose one and risk adoption by some of their customers and dislike by the others. Either way, they will probably still have customers who don’t like the service. For one, they forgot about some major players in the map game and not everyone likes Google or Yahoo maps. And two, some people may not want to bother with the service because they don’t like it or because they simply prefer another method to get directions on the go, like their phone. I know that I would certainly use the service, it’s just getting the new Mercedes that would be the issue.

 

A Lot Happening At EarthLink

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August 26, 2007

 

A press release issued today by EarthLink (ELNK) outlines a comprehensive corporate restructure plan that is taking way immediately. The plan includes cutting approximately 900 jobs and closing multiple offices nationwide, which is expected to give the company $25 to $35 million in cost savings this year alone. However, the costs associated with the restructure will be anywhere from $116 to $140 million, allocated between the third and forth quarters of 2007. The company expects cost savings to overtake restructure costs within six months. EarthLink has changed their outlook for 2007 as a result of the restructuring and is now expecting $1.19 to 1.21 billion in revenue for 2007. In addition, they expect industry wide subscriber addition to slow, forecasting fewer EarthLink subscirbers in 2008. The company’s board of directors has also authorized an additional $200 million for stock buyback, bringing the total allocation to $270 million. And lastly for the company’s updates, Joe Wetzel has been appointed EarthLink’s new COO.

 

A lot of  news for the company and wall street seems to like it. The stock was up as much as 12% on the news.…