Welcome to Freshly Minted, where we examine an overlooked deal or funding announcement in tech from the past week and tell you what you need to know and why it matters.
The deal: Apple acquired book analysis startup Booklamp for an alleged $10 to $15 million, likely to begin work building a book subscription platform, or something much bigger.
Apple is always stark and shady when it comes to their acquisitions. They’ve bought a number of under-the-radar startups, and when asked why, they offer up the same response:
“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”
Another day, another sky-high valuation for Uber. Today’s figure is $3.5 billion, with $258 million coming from Google Ventures [AllThingsD]
If you’re not interested in joining the Spotify bandwagon, Pandora is now ending its 40-hour monthly cap on mobile streaming thanks in part to good ad revenue. [CNet]
Since you people can’t stop watching House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, Netflix is speeding up its spending on original content. [Variety]
Larry Ellison’s foundation dishes out $40 million a year in research grants to end mortality. God bless him, tbh. [Business Insider]
Once a major competitor, Travelocity’s search platform is now going to be powered by Expedia. [Skift]
Money! It’s a gas, at least until you decide someone’s screwing you out of your rightful cut, and then it gets ugly. Take, for example, the PR war currently brewing between Pandora and the musical icons of Pink Floyd.
Earlier this week, the crotchety rockers took to the pages of USA Today (way to show your years there, guys) to voice their opinion of the streaming radio service. They are not fans. “Pandora is pushing for a special law in Congress to slash musicians’ royalties – and the tactics they are using to trick artists into supporting this unfair cut in pay,” the trio complain of the Internet Radio Fairness Act.
Grooveshark CEO Sam Tarantino has a case of the Mondays, only this one’s lasted every single day for over a year. Between 2011 and 2012, both Google and Apple pulled Grooveshark, a music streaming service, from their respective app stores. Then Spotify launched with star-studded support and millions in funding and Pandora, another Grooveshark competitor, successfully IPO’d. Oh, and this was all before the lawsuit. By the end of 2012, Universal Music Group had filed against Grooveshark and its employees for allegedly uploading copyrighted music.
Looks like hardware may finally be getting its chance in the sun at SXSW. [New York Times]
TechCrunch spoke to sources who were in the same fraternity with Reggie Brown and Evan Spiegel at Stanford and they corroborated the notion that Mr. Brown came up with the original idea for Snapchat. Winklevii’d. [TechCrunch]
Hey FYI, all those “free gift cards!” texts you were getting were actually spam (just in case you’ve never used a cell phone before). Luckily, the FTC is cracking down on 29 scam artists sending them out. [The Next Web]
Anita Sarkeesian, who became the target of trolls after daring to speak about women in video games, debuted her first episode of “Tropes vs. Women.” [The Daily Dot]
Pandora’s fourth quarter results were better than expected, but its CEO is still stepping down. [AllThingsD]
So much for a rosy outlook: Pandora stock plummeted 18 percent in trading after markets closed, as the digital music service projected increased losses for the current fiscal year.
Shares fell despite a strong fiscal third quarter for the company, in which revenue increased 60 percent to $120 million from the same period of 2011, and total listening hours grew by 67 percent.
Earlier today, the Verge reported that Spotify, the music player that ratted you out to Facebook that one time you listened to Kenny G holiday hits, is rolling out a beta version of a browser-based web app. The feature was in high demand and should give the company a boost against competitors like Rdio.
At least one artist, however, has a few questions about how this whole streaming music business is supposed to work in the long run.
When Spotify landed in the competitive U.S. digital music marketplace last summer, it was boosted by a cresting wave of good publicity, strong track record in Europe and a $100 million investment funding round that valued the company at $1 billion.
That wasn’t all: Given the strong demand for Pandora and LinkedIn IPOs (and even stronger anticipation for the eventual Facebook offering), Spotify CEO Daniel Ek’s timing for a U.S. launch seemed spot on.
Well, things have changed: Share prices for high profile tech IPOs such as Facebook, Zynga and Groupon have tanked, and as Spotify readies to close its latest round of fund-raising, the company looks likely to fall short of its goal. Instead of the $4 billion valuation that Spotify initially sought, the company will likely settle for something “slightly more than $3 billion,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
A lot of startups are letting their employees work from home for the next few days because of hurricane Sandy. That’s all swell news, but those members of New York’s tech scene who were supposed to go out and party or sit through conferences are screwed. Tech events are getting cancelled left and right, though some scene luminaries don’t seem to mind.
AllThingsD’s “D: Dive Into Mobile” conference has been postponed until a later date that will be announced as soon as possible. The event had originally been set for tomorrow and Tuesday in New York City. If you booked a room at the Ritz Carlton (looking at you, VC’s), the hotel is apparently giving full refunds and waiving cancellation fees. Speakers like Pandora CEO Joe Kennedy and Hillary Clinton’s Chief of Staff, Cheryl Mills, will just have to wait until another day to make their speeches.
If you went to Hulu or NBC.com this morning to catch up on this weekend’s Saturday Night Live–the highest-rated episode of the season–you could find Bruno Mars as a sad mouse mascot, Bruno Mars as a 17-year-old dropout in drag, Bruno Mars doing a monologue, and even Bruno Mars singing his own songs. The one clip you couldn’t find is Bruno Mars playing a very versatile Pandora intern–one of the better-rated sketches from the evening.
“The very, very obvious culprit here are music licenses, which are almost always the culprit behind missing SNL sketches,” reports AllThingsD.