A little bird by the name of Bloomberg tells us that U.S. Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz took some time away from the tenth annual D conference for a cozy lunch at Catalina Kitchen with Google SVP of advertising Susan Wojcicki.
We wonder what they discussed Maybe they pondered what “point of friction” would be the focus of Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs biopic. Or maybe they discussed that little dust-up between Ari Emanuel and the Verge’s Joshua Topolsky.
Or–dare we even speculate?–perhaps they broached the no-doubt awkward topic of that escalating anti-trust probe. As Mr. Leibowitz himself said on stage yesterday, “There are certainly allegations that the search results have changed or evolved over the years… We’re trying to figure out if the evidence is there and what the theories are.”
No word on what they ate. We’ll assume seafood.
The Mozilla Foundation has been working hard to combat privacy issues spotlighted by sites like Facebook, which aggressively tracks and saves user data. Recently, Mozilla announced a “Do Not Track” feature that can be deployed through the Firefox browser that better protects your information. According to the Do Not Track site, “When the feature is enabled, Firefox will tell advertising networks and other websites and applications that you want to opt-out of tracking for purposes like behavioral advertising.”
Well, it doesn’t look like Google’s antitrust investigation is disappearing any time soon. The FTC hasn’t decided whether to bring a lawsuit, but the agency is bringing in a famous litigator to help run things. Reuters reports that former federal prosecutor and courtroom badass Beth Wilkinson will join the investigation Monday. She is perhaps best known for helping send Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh to death row.
Now, the FTC does not want anyone assuming that this guarantees a lawsuit. Richard Feinstein, who is the director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, told the AP that they are simply “delighted to have someone of her caliber helping us on such an important matter.” But former FTC official David Wales was more colorful:
How hip is Ashton Kutcher? The actor-angel has a hand in many of the hottest social media startups around (as well as some mega-losers) and he loves to do them favors. After Mr. Kutcher subtly pimped his investments without disclosure in Details comes this clever touch of realism: Mr. Kutcher’s tech billionaire character Walden Schmidt has two stickers each for New York startups Foursquare and Groupme on his–is that a Macbook Air?–laptop alongside stickers for his portfolio companies Flipboard, Chegg and Hipmunk. Anybody know what that other red sticker is for?
UPDATE: The FTC said, via Twitter, that it does not plan to investigate Mr. Kutcher.
With the scintillating cover line “Forget Hollywood: Ashton Kutcher is Silicon Valley’s Secret Weapon,” the latest issue of Details tries to make the case that @aplusk is an investor first and an actor second. No surprise here, after all Mr. Kutcher recently described the kind of mentorship he offers start-ups in his portfolio, telling TechCrunch:
“There are certain people in the media world that can be really, really influential to a company. And I can kind of get a return phone call from most people that I place a call to. That level of introduction for people when they’re first starting out a company can become extremely valuable.”
Unfortunately for Mr. Kutcher his “extremely valuable” skill may end up running him afoul of the feds, reports Bits blog‘s Nick Bilton.
David vs. Googliath
The Federal Trade Commission is reportedly on the verge of serving Google with subpoenas as part of a broad anti-trust investigation into Google’s primary money-maker: its search engine business. For months, the FTC’s lawyers have been gathering intel about the way Google ranks search results and related advertising to determine whether it amounts to anti-competitive behavior.
Meanwhile, Senators Michael Lee (R-Utah) and Herb Kohl (D-Wisc) have said they’re “very disappointed” to hear that Google has ignored Congress’ request to have Larry Page or former CEO Eric Schmidt testify at a hearing on competition in search and send their chief legal officer instead. Here’s why we think Google should reconsider, and send Mr. Schmidt to Washington.