News Roundup: Secret IPOs, Tech Philanthropy and Bitcoin Psychology

A round up of the week's tech news including acquisition and NSA headlines, and something about Flappy Bird.


IPOs make a staggering amount of money. Just look at the currency raised by Twitter and Facebook over the last few years. But some companies seem to prefer to keep it hush-hush. The NY Times has a feature on Secret IPOs, it’s pretty good.

One company that probably wishes for a bit more secrecy is Blackberry. New figures from IDC put its mobile market share at a measly 0.6%, rating, below the 0.7% of the ‘Other’ category. Or, as the NY Times put it, “even less than the 0.7% attributed to operating systems so inconsequential that IDC lumps them together in a collective category.” Ouch.

And while we’re on the subject of figures, Global smartwatch shipments reached 1.9 million units last year according to Strategy Analytics. 2013 was clearly not the year of the wearables, just hype about them. But who knows what 2014 has in store? Probably more hype, if we’re being honest.

Philanthropy, Conflict Metals, Gender and Censorship

After its market cap reached $391 billion late last week, Google overtook Exxon Mobile to become the second most valuable company in the world. With so much money floating around the tech world it’s good to see a fair number of tech types on the list of 2013′s most philanthropic people.

In other bits of good tech news, Apple have declared its products now only use 'Conflict-Free' Metals, and Facebook have gone all post-Gender by adding loads of different options with which to define yourself, including “cisgender,” “transgender” and “intersex.”

Microsoft, however, have come under fire for apparently enforcing the censorship of China’s Great Firewall in the US. Using Bing in the US seems to filter out certain stories about China, and this is even more apparent if typing in Chinese. The company defended itself by blaming "an error in our system."

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Acquisitions

Step aside, Yahoo! 2014 and beyond is all about Vodafone’s purchasing power. The Telecoms company’s CEO Vittorio Colao has announced they could have $30 - 40 billion to spend on acquisitions in coming years. Mobile startups around the world are rubbing their hands with greedy glee.

Not to be outdone though, Yahoo! have continued their year-long shopping spree with the purchases of diary app maker Wander and recruiting startup Distill. Also parting with a healthy amount of money this week are Lithium Technologies, who are buying Klout for $100 million and Rakuten who are getting Viber for a mighty $900 million.

The Kids Are Alright

2013 was apparently a slow year for Startups. According to data from SeedTable there were 867 tech startups founded in ten big tech cities [San Fran, London, Berlin etc.] in 2012, but a mere 175 in 2013. Fear not though, for the kids will save us! A study from found that 72% of high school students and 64% of college students want to start a business someday. So give it a few years and we’ll be knee-deep in knee-high startups.


And on the subject of kids, Oracle CEO and tech man Larry Ellison has made his feelings know about the effects of tech on kids. “I am so disturbed by kids who spend all day playing videogames,” he said. “It can sometimes be disturbing to see how technology has, I think, very, very negatively impacted the lives of our children.”

Also in the media this week is Bill Gates, who took part in a Reddit AMA, revealing interesting facts such his favourite movie, fast food and that he likes Bridge. He also talked about Satya Nadella's vision for Microsoft and how he uses a Surface 2 Pro, surprisingly. On the subject of Microsoft, Tech blogger Paul Thurrott recently decided he’d had enough and went to town on Microsoft 8, calling it a “A disaster in every sense of the word. This is not open to debate, is not part of some cute imaginary world where everyone's opinion is equally valid or whatever. Windows 8 is a disaster. Period.”

And finally Apple motor mouth Steve Wozniak has been in the press AGAIN this week, this time saying the Cloud isn’t safe from NSA spying. “I think most companies, just like Apple, start out young and idealistic," he said. “But now all these companies are going to the cloud. And with the cloud you don't have any control.”

Bitcoin Blues

Russia’s banned Bitcoins; there’s been DDoS attacks, thefts, tech issues, the lot. But it’s value is still hovering around the $6-700 mark, and Bing now do a live conversion for you, in a rare case of Bing being more useful than Google. Pando have run a feature on the mindset of a Bitcoin miner; they like business and technology news, more interested in Microsoft than Google, and really, really like the Kindle Fire. And are Redditors, obviously.


More Spy Headlines….

-          Snowden didn’t have to try very hard to get data from the NSA systems.

-          NSA still spouting on about Terrorists.

-          The EU want less US influence and a more globalized internet, Rand Paul just wants to sue Obama, while Republican Marc Roberts is going to turn the NSA’s water supply off.

-          There was some online protesting this week, lots of calls & emails to congress.

Flappy Bye Bye

So a thing called Flappy Birds happened. It came, it went, and millions of clones appeared in its wake. Its creator cited pressure for pulling the app, and I for one am ok with that. I’d rather he get some money and move on after we’ve all had a few goes (or will with one variant or another) and we don’t have to be subjected to the kind of eking out of a franchise that Angry Birds constantly suffers.