Google Drive App For Android Gets Card-Style Redesign, Document Scanner With OCR And Improved Spreadsheet Editing Experience
This new look, which Google says is cleaner and simpler than the previews design, will likely be the first thing users notice, but the company has also added a number of new features to the app. Most of these are small, such as the ability to download copies of your files to your Android device, but the new document-scanning features open up a whole new range of use cases for Drive.
The scanner tool, for example, which you can now find under the “Add New” menu, allows you to easily turn paper documents like receipts, letter and billing statements into PDFs. Thanks to Google’s advanced optical character-recognition technology, you can also easily search them later on. This definitely feels a bit like Evernote and it’ll be interesting to see if Google will continue to go down this path in the future updates to the app.
Also new in this version is an updated editing experience for Google Sheets spreadsheets. Users can now adjust font types and sizes for their spreadsheets and change cell text colors and cell alignment right from the application. The app now also finally supports Google’s Cloud Print.Read More →
Editor’s note: Kakul Srivastava is CEO and co-founder of Tomfoolery, Inc. She was General Manager for Flickr from 2004 – 2009 and helped the product grow from 37,000 users to over 60 million. Simon Batistoni is VP of Platform and co-founder of Tomfoolery, Inc. He joined Flickr in 2006 as the engineering lead for internationalization.
People can’t help but look at the Tumblr acquisition through a lens colored by the many examples of large, public (and often screwed-up) tech acquisitions by Yahoo and others — Marissa even refers to it in her blog post announcing the deal.
As leaders who helped to guide the Flickr team in its early history at Yahoo!, we had front-row seats as Flickr was (sometimes painfully) integrated with the larger Yahoo! organization. Despite this pain, we believe that Flickr has come a long way as part of Yahoo!, and yesterday’s announcement of a major redesign and refocus is a testament to the continued excellence of the core Flickr team.
Kakul, a product/business professional, joined Flickr just as the ink dried on the acquisition deal. She represented Flickr’s needs through painful acquisition-integration check-ins and figured out how (and if) any of Flickr’s roadmap needed to change based on Yahoo!’s larger corporate needs. Simon, a hacker/engineer, was responsible for creating the translation technology and internationalization infrastructure that allowed Flickr to begin serving customers in Yahoo!’s overseas markets.
Yahoo! is on an upswing — at least in hype — and hope is rampant.
The advertising powerhouse has acquired fast-growing sites featuring rich-media content and extremely passionate communities.
There are ardent reassurances that independent growth will be nurtured.
Both products are missing “e”s in their names.
So as former Flickr employees, here is some practical advice from us to our friends at Tumblr, humbly shared:
Don’t pretend it’s not happening or that it doesn’t matter.
Regardless of who’s involved, acquisitions always make communities nervous, if only because they represent significant change. For some people, an acquisition can feel almost like a betrayal, and some Tumblr community members will be looking for any reason to justify their distrust of the situation.
The more honest you can be about the direction you’re taking and the reasons behind it, the better. Give your members a means to easily communicate back to you — the Flickr Forum, while sometimes contentious, has always been a great bellwether of how the community feels, as well as an opportunity for the team to explain and (hopefully) reassure.
Open discussions can be exhausting to manage, but they’re often more rewarding (and instill more confidence in your community) than pronouncements with no outlet for feedback. Avoid reassuring platitudes that gloss over the issues – if putting ads on the Dashboard will allow you to reach a goal of tripling annual revenue, it’s better to say so plainly. Honesty is appreciated by most communities, even if the truth is unpleasant.
Don’t forget you’re awesome.
Merging your company culture with another is a bit like combining a Trifle and a Tiramisu into a single dessert, layer by layer — hard work, probably messy, and it might taste a bit weird for a while. Losing focus on how you all work together can make the difficult moments seem worse than they really are.
Don’t forget that your culture isn’t just important to you — it’s important to Yahoo! too. Over the years, Flickr had many opportunities to influence the wider culture at Yahoo! including:
Innovative approaches to database sharding, website localization and geographic data handling which were adopted by other teams, and informed company-wide initiatives.
A highly productive team culture focussed around continuous deployment, which influenced a general trend towards faster development of many Yahoo! products.
Faceball, one of many ongoing experiments in office clowning, which became something of an official Yahoo! “sport,” and was even played live onstage by senior company management.
Tumblr can set new precedents on how to join and influence Yahoo!’s culture and management. Equally importantly, a truly strong product is usually the result of the strong, connected team behind it. When acquisitions wither on the vine, it’s often a symptom of that team having dispersed over time, taking too much knowledge and culture with them.
However, the magic that really binds a team is larger than any one individual and can persist through multiple “generations” of people, provided everybody feels ownership of it. Ensure that new team members understand the value of the culture you’ve built, and the history that led you from being an experimental blog engine to a 400-million-user powerhouse.
At Flickr, we had several traditions to aid in ensuring that history and culture were passed along. When veteran members left the team, they were asked to provide a “last lecture,” summarizing the most important things they knew, and the lessons they’d learned at Flickr. Equally, new employees spent time with managers from each department during their first week on the job, learning more about how the team operated, the product philosophy, and the engineering infrastructure that made it all work. Every new Flickr team member was also encouraged to spend a day answering member help questions, which allowed everyone to understand how to communicate with the community, and the common problems they had with using the product.
Finally, the importance of goofing around was also underscored by regular bouts of spontaneous dancing, foam-dart wars and liberal posting of lolcats on the walls.
Plan for the Bear Hug.
Yahoo is a friendly place — and everyone will want to greet the new neighbors. Everyone will want to figure how they can work better with you. Everyone will have ideas about what Tumblr can do to support their property. By and large, these meetings come from a genuine desire to be a better partner, but they can take time and focus away from your core mission and slow the whole team down. Sometimes too much of this “love” can be overwhelming, and at times it definitely led the Flickr team to handle the overtures less than gracefully. In some cases, this led to relationship management headaches for years.
Allocate a “first point of contact” to triage the ideas and opportunities that come your way. Filtering in this way will allow you to seize the best opportunities and execute well on them, without draining your resources trying to handle too much. And remember that, while the occasional approach will be from someone furthering an agenda of their own, most folks are trying to help both Yahoo! and Tumblr get better. Even if their approach is clumsy, they mean well.
Tumblr has promised to continue executing on its own roadmap, and right now that’s essential. But Yahoo! wants 1+1 to equal 5 (or even 15), not just 2. Back when Flickr was acquired, it seemed everyone was thinking about what the “Flickrization of Yahoo” might mean — except for the team at Flickr. We just wanted to keep Flickr as “Flickrized” as we could. In our case, we missed out on some promising avenues for product improvement and growth.
Don’t forget to leverage what Yahoo! can really add to your business. Whether it’s 24-hour datacenter support, the world’s largest Hadoop cluster, international legal expertise or better Tumblr schwag, you now have access to the resources of a large company that wants you to succeed. Relying on these resources whenever you can will free you up to focus on the things — your core team and your product — that you’re truly the experts on.
Know how deep the rabbit hole goes.
For both parties to really benefit from the acquisition, Tumblr will need to embrace certain Yahoo! technologies and infrastructure, but sometimes a successful integration can be much more complex than it initially seems. Will it require that you host Tumblr in Yahoo! datacenters? Perhaps you’ll also need to start using Yahoo! IDs or introduce new features to comply with foreign laws? When large, complex “sub-problems” crop up halfway through a project, the knock-on effects can cost months of time to address.
Make sure you’re always asking questions and scoping out the entire landscape – a large company like Yahoo! has some intrinsic challenges and approaches that will be unfamiliar, and you need to be ready to embrace and work through them. Being a part of Yahoo! will subtly change a few things about how you do business.
You’re a bigger target for hackers hoping to get access to Yahoo! data, or to “punish” Yahoo! for a mistake that might have nothing to do with you.
You’re a bigger target for opportunists like patent trolls looking for a quick payout from an “Internet giant”
Yahoo! is a multinational company with offices in many countries — the legal landscape in which you operate will likely change as a result.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to people for a “gut check” even if you feel like you’re asking a silly question. It’s better to spend 20 minutes before you start ensuring that your security measures are adequate, or you’re legally compliant, versus having to significantly rework a project after you thought it was finished.
We are still passionate advocates of Flickr, we use Yahoo! Mail, and run our company blog on Tumblr. We are thrilled about these marriages and can’t wait for you all to show us how well it can be done.Read More →
Twitter’s Innovator’s Patent Agreement Goes Into Action For ‘Pull To Refresh,’ Jelly And Lift Will Adopt The Framework
Last year, Twitter announced something it called the Innovator’s Patent Agreement (IPA), which would keep patents in the hands of the designers and engineers that came up with the technology behind them. What this agreement serves as is a promise to only act on a patent for “defensive purposes.” Anything outside of that scope would need to be signed off on the creator of the patent itself.
Here’s how Twitter defines “defensive purposes”: “Defensive purposes means that you can defend yourself should another party try to initiate patent litigation against you or your customers or users. Under the IPA, it also means that you can use these patents against anyone who has sued others offensively in the past (up to ten years).”
The first patent to get the IPA treatment is Loren Brichter’s pull to refresh user interface interaction, which was built into Tweetie, the Twitter app that was acquired by the company and adopted as the official client.
Basically, Twitter is saying it’s not going to go after companies that are using pull to refresh, or other parts of Brichter’s patent, within their app. If someone were to claim to have created the functionality first, only then would Twitter defend itself.
Twitter has also announced that two other companies, Biz Stone’s Jelly and the Lift task tracking app, will also be adopting the Innovator’s Patent Agreement. With so many ideas running around, there should be no reason why the first person to successfully file a patent should hold the power to make everyone’s lives miserable. At the end of the day, all companies benefitted from Brichter’s work, and it’s been nice to see Twitter not going after anyone else for replicating parts of it.
When the IPA was announced last year, Twitter VP of Engineering Adam Messinger had this to say:
This is a significant departure from the current state of affairs in the industry. Typically, engineers and designers sign an agreement with their company that irrevocably gives that company any patents filed related to the employee’s work. The company then has control over the patents and can use them however they want, which may include selling them to others who can also use them however they want. With the IPA, employees can be assured that their patents will be used only as a shield rather than as a weapon.
Using patents as a shield will hopefully slow down the rampant patent trolling that has plagued the technology space for the past ten years. Twitter, Jelly and Lift promise not to be trolls, and that’s a good thing.
You can read the full IPA draft here to see if it’s something your company would want to adopt.
[Photo credit: Flickr]Read More →
It’s easy to forget that Yahoo has had a long on-again-off-again love affair with online video. Remember Broadcast.com, which kicked off the Mark Cuban Era? But you might not remember that, because other online video platforms long ago left Yahoo in the proverbial dust. Today, as Yahoo streamed its Flickr product and Tumblr acquisition announcements, we were given a demonstration of why Yahoo has been left in the dust — and why it’s had to turn to acquisitions for help in, well, nearly every department.
The event was nearly impossible to watch. Because, well, you know, Yahoo! As you’ve heard by now, Yahoo has been on an impressive buying spree over the last month — including, by the way, a scuppered deal to boost its video tech and buy the “YouTube of France,” Dailymotion — snatching up a new company seemingly every week.
But today, the company raised the bar even higher with the $1.1 billion acquisition of Tumblr, hoping to turn back the clock and gain access to Tumblr’s millions of young users.
The company held a media event in New York City this afternoon to formally announce the acquisition — along with sharing the news that it will be moving into new digs in Times Square — but something was stealing the spotlight from Mayor Bloomberg and Marissa Mayer. And that would be Yahoo’s questionable video tech. Those who watched the event from home spent most of that time enjoying a hiccupy stream. Or none at all.
You can see the error message above. The video-streaming technology is Yahoo’s own, running through Yahoo! Screen, first launched back in 2006, renamed Screen from Yahoo Video. With all the acquisitions Yahoo has been making of late, it makes one think that, for its next acquisition, Yahoo should go for some new video technology. Of course, after Tumblr, it may be broke.
But, come on, Yahoo has somehow become the Rudy story of the tech industry. At the very least, someone should launch a Kickstarter page so that it can continue to make acquisitions.Read More →
Yahoo has now officially confirmed that it is buying blogging platform Tumblr for $1.1 billion mostly in cash, after reports on an impending deal first surfaced last week. It says it will keep it as an independent company, with founder David Karp at the helm as CEO. “The product, service and brand will continue to be defined and developed separately with the same Tumblr irreverence, wit, and commitment to empower creators,” it writes.
The deal will close in the second half of this year.
With a lot of negative comments coming in from Tumblr users in lead-up to the deal, and some competitors claiming that they’re witnessing a kind of exodus from Tumblr as a result, Karp has also weighed in with his own announcement about the deal, emphasizing the same independence line: “We’re not turning purple,” he wrote:
“We’re not turning purple. Our headquarters isn’t moving. Our team isn’t changing. Our roadmap isn’t changing. And our mission – to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve – certainly isn’t changing.”
Karp also points out that Tumblr, joining up with the “original Internet company,” will be getting more resources to create the “ultimate creative canvas.” Some users have complained about certain features around the site, such as how video works, so the implication here is that areas like this will be addressed faster from now on, but — again — in a way that “doesn’t compromise the community and product we love.”
To get into the spirit of things, Marissa Mayer has fired up her very own Tumblr account and has posted on the news herself, complete with her own GIF to commemorate the deal (and, yes, also respond to the negativity):
Although both Karp and Mayer are pushing hard on the “we will not screw this up” line, there are of course business reasons behind it.
The deal, as many have pointed out, will give Yahoo not just access to more younger users (Tumblr is strongest in the 18-24 age bracket), but a fast-growing number of consumers who are in general very engaged online. Yahoo notes that Tumblr currently has 300 million monthly unique visitors and is growing by 120,000 signups every day, “one of the fastest-growing media networks in the world” with 900 posts per second and 24 billion minutes spent on site each month. There is also a strong mobile story that fits with Yahoo’s new emphasis on that platform: more than half of Tumblr’s mobile users using the mobile app on an average of 7 sessions per day.
Yahoo says it expects Tumblr to expand Yahoo!’s audience by 50% to more than a billion monthly visitors, and to grow traffic by approximately 20%.
That’s presuming there will be advertising against all of that content and all of those users. While Yahoo and Tumblr say that we won’t be seeing the birth of Yahooblr here, it’s also careful to note that advertising and Yahoo’s other monetizing services will most certainly be finding a place at Tumblr.
Tumblr, it appears, will be using Yahoo’s “personalization technology” and search infrastructure in its services to help users find content that fits their interests better. This is directly connected to advertising: “In turn, Tumblr brings 50 billion blog posts (and 75 million more arriving each day) to Yahoo!’s media network and search experiences,” Yahoo writes. Still, these apparently won’t be standard Yahoo display ads like the ones we see everywhere else: “The two companies will also work together to create advertising opportunities that are seamless and enhance the user experience.”
Tumblr has been working on services like this for some time, for example with its Spotlight highlighting Tumblrs from brands. This last year helped the company make some $13 million in revenues — not much by Yahoo standards. It will be interesting to see whether Yahoo will be able to raise that figure without lowering the others around usage that attracted it to Tumblr in the first place.
The companies are holding a conference call at 9am Eastern time; we’ll be listening in and updating from that.Read More →
Apple has a good deal of cash. And, in the Valley, the startup ecosystem — for many reasons — wants to see Apple spend that cash. As their cash pile continued to grow as their stock price and market cap soared, Apple’s inability to provide robust software services combined with opportunities to expand their reach through acquisitions has become a fancy parlor game which includes every stripe of public and private investor imaginable. On top of this, pumping even a small percentage of cash pile into acquisitions could provide another pool of much-needed liquidity for founders and investors alike. While it all makes sense on paper, part of what makes Apple “Apple” is that they operate how they want to — not how the market wants them to. Recently, in response to a variety of pressures to do something, to do anything, Apple announced a two-part share buyback. There are many explanations for this financial strategy, and while the Valley may have their own armchair financial analysts with a Twitter account, I reached out to some friends who actually work in technology banking or at techonology-focused hedge funds and asked them to send me a paragraph on their perception of the move. Because of the world these folks work in, I’ve reproduced their answers below anonymously, as they are not permitted to publicly share their opinions on such matters:
Technology Investment Banker: With the amount of cash stock piled by Apple, and mainly overseas, it was only a matter of time until the water would break, especially with activist investor David Einhorn ruffling feathers. Apple did something very standard and not uncommon, but on a large scale the way Apple likes to do things. At the end of the day I feel Apple’s actions represent the following four points: (1) Increased Shareholder Value: There are many ways to value a profitable company but the most common measurement is Earnings Per Share (EPS). If earnings are flat but the number of outstanding shares decreases. . Voila! . . A magical increase in period-to-period EPS will result; (2) Higher Stock Prices: An increase in EPS will often alert investors that a stock is undervalued or has the potential for increasing in value. The most common result is an increase in demand and an upward movement in the price of a stock; (3) Increased Float – As the number of outstanding shares decreases, the shares remaining represent a larger percentage of the float. If demand increases and there is less supply, then fuel is added to a potential upward movement in the price of a stock; and (4) Excess Cash: Companies usually buy back their stock with excess cash. If a company has excess cash, then at a minimum you can bank that it doesn’t have a cash flow problem. More importantly, it signals that executives feel that cash re-invested in the corporation will get a better return than alternative investments. This is definitely a positive sign for the company going forward. Customers and investors should feel confident with these events transpiring that Apple will continue to deliver value to both parties respectively.
Technology Hedge Fund Principal: Since Apple has around $150B cash on the books (70% of which is foreign), it’s clear they need to do something with this cash because it’s just wasted sitting on the balance sheet earning low interest rates. People have assumed the market would respond well to Apple making acquisitions, especially in software and services, particularly in cloud and mobile software. While they have reaped the benefits of profits in mobile hardware, the value going forward is at the application and services layer. Other hardware manufacturers are catching up, if they haven’t caught up already. Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t seem to have an appetite for these types of acquisitions. Another option is to buy back shares, a proven way to deploy cash, though doing so sends a signal that they are a mature (read: not growth) company. Tactically, buybacks can decouple EPS growth from new product lines, and Apple could see 2x its buyback investment in earnings growth as a result. Ultimately, Apple has withstood significant pressure from the investment community to do something with the cash, especially as growth has slowed. (Venture arms, since you asked, are not an effective use of capital for a corporate player; I see the share repurchase as a much more responsible use of proceeds.
Hedge Fund Partner #2: Apple had four basic choices of what to do with their cash, remembering that apple has a duty to its shareholders: (1) Do nothing (status quo), which makes zero sense. given that they have ~$145Bn in cash and are adding ~ $40Bn in cash annually assuming zero growth earnings earning; (2) Strategic acquisition or expansion, though Apple will be hard pushed to effectively put either their cash hoard or future cash flows to use to do this; (3) a one-time special dividend and increased annual dividend; or (4) a share buyback (or various form of it). Only options #3 or #4 made any sense to me and I assumed it was only a matter of time before they did something. #1 is out as they are would not be meeting their shareholder responsibility and #2 is out simply because of scale.
I see the share buyback as positive for three key reasons: (1) Apple stock is currently very cheap. My back of the envelope calculations conservatively value them at $500-$550/share, so they are effectively leveraging and creating additional shareholder value here until the multiple recovers to fair value. What’s more is that management knows a lot more than what we all do, so they should be able to calculate their own value in two to three years fairly well, and I assume they saw this as a positive. (2) Because Apple issued bonds to finance the deal rather than using cash, this way they will not need to repatriate taxable offshore cash to perform the buyback and they will likely get a bond rate the crazy low prices. Bottom line, they are saving shareholders cash, although at some point they will need to find a way to address the offshore cash, so perhaps they are waiting for another tax holiday. And (3), assuming the market reacts rationally, a buy back signals that managements believes in stock and the story and believes that this will generate returns that will outperform for long-term investors, something that a cash hoard did not address at any level and effectively generate returns far in excess of what could be achieved in any other safe manner.
More often than not I do not like share buybacks. often management does this to boost their own salary bonuses (EPS biased etc) or simply follow bad advice and follow the investment banking herd, but this time I liked Apple’s share buyback at this share price and multiple and applaud the debt financing way of doing it, I would have applauded it more if they had also issued a $40 special dividend.
Hedge Fund Partner #3: The view is Apple has stopped being an innovator. While they were at the forefront of technology, people bugged them to use their cash for a dividend or buyback and they could say “no” because the stock price was going up on leading edge innovation. Once Jobs passed away, Tim Cook hasn’t been able to keep that going, and if anything they are now playing catch-up to Samsung or even Google. When you aren’t innovating and you have $150B in cash, a board has to find ways to keep investors happy and one tactic is to conduct a massive buyback. Showing they are returning money to shareholders, creating a new base if “capital return” investors rather than growth investors. It’s all a game to prop up the stock price, money is cheap because of Bernanke, so it’s an easy way for them to please shareholders without much cost to the business. In general, I think that Apple is falling behind and trying to figure out how to regain their lead, and I’m not sure if its possible any time soon.
Technology Stock Investor: They’re doing the buyback because: 1) they have an unprecedented amount of cash ($140+ billion) that’s earning nearly nothing; 2) the stock is down nearly 40% from its high and shareholders are angry; 3) the stock is cheap on every financial metric, signaling that buying shares is a good use of cash if you believe in the long-term growth of the company. The company does not appear to want to do a large acquisition or massively increase its capital expenditures. They don’t “need” to hold that much cash. So the company had a very inefficient capital structure ($140+ billion of cash and no debt). Equity investors (who, in the end, own the company) sooner or later demand to get returns on their companies’ cash. Capital markets are competitive, and if management doesn’t give investors great reasons to own their stock, investors will go somewhere else. AAPL is facing slowing revenue growth, margin pressure, and uncertainty about their next major product line. A management team that is perceived as unfriendly to shareholders is another reason for investors to sell the stock. The buyback is a big gesture by management that they understand their shareholders’ concerns, in addition to likely being a good investment.
Photo Credit: Eddi 07 / Flickr Creative CommonsRead More →
After Being Hit With A Cease And Desist, Car-Sharing Startup RelayRides Suspends Rentals In New York
It’s becoming increasingly commonplace for startups in the so-called “sharing economy” to take heat from regulators who seek to hold them to the same business standards as incumbent businesses. The latest company to come under fire from regulators is peer-to-peer car-sharing startup RelayRides, which received a cease-and-desist notice from New York State’s Department of Financial Services (DFS).
The DFS has charged RelayRides with “false advertising and violations of insurance law,” which it says could put the public at risk. Along with the cease and desist, the Department has issued a “scam alert,” due to intricacies in New York insurance law which could leave those who use car-sharing services like RelayRides liable in the case of an accident.
In short, the DFS warns that the insurance from RelayRides’ provider Hudson Insurance Company may not cover damages that occur while a car is being rented through the service. Furthermore, participating in these types of car-sharing programs could be a violation of their existing policies and could result in the cancellation of their insurance.
As a result, RelayRides has agreed to suspend new rentals in the state while it tries to work with the Department on the issue. In a blog post, CEO Andre Haddad said the company would honor existing reservations in the meantime.
The suspension of service was announced one day after the startup acquired San Francisco-based competitor Wheelz. That acquisition was meant to add some technology in the form or proprietary hardware that could be used to make car sharing more easily accessible.
RelayRides isn’t the only “sharing economy” startup that has come under fire recently. The cease-and-desist against the car-sharing startup comes at the same time that ride-sharing startup SideCar is coming under regulatory scrutiny from local officials in Austin, Philadelphia, and New York City. Airbnb also is being looked at more closely in major metropolitan cities like New York, where half of its rentals are deemed illegal.Read More →
At an event in San Francisco at Blue Bottle Coffee, Square debuted a stand built specifically for the iPad, which turns the device into a card-swiping register. Hardware has always been a part of who we are and who we want to be, says Jack Dorsey, CEO and co-founder of Square. “We wanted to build software and hardware that matches,” he says. You can check out a video of how Stand works below.
While merchants using the iPad have been connecting to Square using the traditional Square card swiper, this product is targeted specifically for the iPad and turns the iPad into a full-fledged register. The iPad focus is because customers using the device now represent nearly 50 percent of total payments processed by Square. The average payment volume processed by these customers is more than double the average volume processed by Square customers using smartphones.
Square Stand features a card reader and connects to the hardware accessories businesses need, including a receipt printer, kitchen printer, cash drawer and barcode scanner. Merchants can lock their iPads in place and secure the stand to their countertops. The device also allows the iPad to tilt and rotate. Additionally, Square Stand works with an iPad 2 or 3, with a version for iPads with Lightning connectors available later this year.
Already, 13 businesses with 30 locations will start using Stand tomorrow, including Blue Bottle in San Francisco and Cafe Grumpy in New York. Dorsey explains that the company has been talking to Starbucks about possibly using Square Stand (Square inked a processing deal with Starbucks last year). “We’re going to push this very hard, but we have to push this the right way,” he says. “We want to work together and test things.”
Dorsey says this hardware is about not having merchants compromise — this acts as a full-fledged register. He adds that this also allows merchants to process payments faster, especially for high-volume merchants. The company focused on the operating system for the register, he says, as opposed to replacing barcode scanning or cash drawers.
Square Stand costs $299 and is available for pre-order today at squareup.com/stand. Customers will also be able to purchase Square Stand in Best Buy stores and other select retailers starting the week of July 8.
Square says it is now processing over $15 billion in payments on an annualized basis, excluding Starbucks.
Square’s point-of-sale technology and iPad-powered register app, Square Register, got a big update a few weeks ago targeted at serving restaurants better.
The company, which raised $200 million in new funding last fall, has made some major hires of late. Last week, the company announced that Demetrios J. Marantis, who was President Barack Obama’s Acting United States Trade Representative, and the U.S.’s chief trade negotiator, as head of international government, regulatory and policy work. Additionally, Square hired Alex Petrov, a former PayPal exec, as vice president of Partnerships. The company also brought on a new global business lead from Google.Read More →
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo Resigns As Director Of Twitter U.K. After TweetDeck Dissolves As Standalone Business
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo has quit his position as a U.K. director of the company, days after Twitter subsidiary TweetDeck was dissolved as a separate U.K. business by business registrar Companies House, according to Sky News. We’ve reached out to Twitter for confirmation and comment and will update this story with any response.
Costolo stepping back from the U.K. directorship role appears related to the dissolution of TweetDeck: a U.K. startup which Twitter acquired in May 2011 for a price-tag that we reported as $40 million. Late last year TweetDeck failed to file U.K. accounts with Companies House, and continued failure to file ultimately led to the dissolution of the company as a separate entity earlier this month, on May 7.
TweetDeck’s failure to file accounts was part of a process to wind up its status as a separate corporate entity to its parent company. Earlier this month a Twitter spokesperson told the Guardian: “TweetDeck the product continues to thrive as part of Twitter, but the old company has been dormant for some time, with no outstanding liabilities; hence our agreement with the move to dissolve it.”
Once TweetDeck became a part of Twitter, with product development and other business processes moving in-house, there was no longer a need for it to exist as a standalone business in the U.K. It’s likely, therefore, that that shift also explains Costolo stepping back from his U.K. director role. His resignation took place on May 9, according to Sky News.
The news organisation reports that Costolo’s position has been replaced by a Dublin-based chartered accountant, Laurence O’Brien. That looks like a clear sign that Twitter’s main order of business in the U.K. is now minimising its tax liability, with the development that was associated with TweetDeck now rolled into its main business. The other two Twitter U.K. directors, Alex Macgillivray, Twitter’s general counsel and head of trust and policy, and chief operating officer, Ali Rowghani, remain in post.
Despite TweetDeck’s corporate dissolution and Costolo stepping back from his U.K. directorship there’s little doubt that Twitter remains committed to the product. Although it has recently shut down AIR-based versions of the Twitter client and shuttered mobile apps, it is focusing on developing TweetDeck’s web-based apps. Back in March, Twitter noted that the TweetDeck team has doubled in size over the past six months.
Sky News notes that Twitter controls its U.K. firm through an Irish subsidiary known as Twitter International Company Ltd. And while Twitter has been expanding its staff headcount in its London and Dublin offices this headcount push is to build a multinational sales team for Europe, rather than being product development related.Read More →