As it turns out, cheating does not actually pay off in the long run, as one Pennsylvania mom and one disgraced Yahoo executive are finding out today. Former Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson announced today that he would be heading-up the two-year-old shipping service ShopRunner, a slight downgrade from leading one of the world’s largest tech companies.
In May, Yahoo sent Mr. Thompson packing after discovering he lied about his credentials on his resume, where he falsely claimed that he had a computer science degree. Presumably, Mr. Thompson has corrected his resume, though both ShopRunner and Mr. Thompson suspiciously forgot to mention his past at Yahoo when announcing the news.
Having already succeeded in building two of the most spectacularly successful Internet companies of the modern age–PayPal and YouTube–what on earth do you do next? We’d be inclined to buy an island and never touch a computer again, but that’s not the plan for Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, who just announced that their digital magazine building platform, Zeen, will roll out next week.
Zeen is a part of AVOS, an Internet company helmed by the duo that acquired bookmarking tool De.licious last year. Precious little info is known about the mysterious Zeen. “Discover and create beautiful magazines,” reads the sparse splash page.
Perhaps the biggest hints about Zeen’s ethos come from its Facebook page, where avid fans have been posting about beta testing and wanting more information since April.
We’re not sure how closely you follow the fascinating world of college dropout fans Peter Thiel & Pals, but the writers at Betabeat have had more than one animated conversation about Thiel-funded libertarian utopias and life longevity experiments. One of the PayPal cofounder’s buddies is Patri Friedman, the San Francisco-based grandson of economist Milton Friedman, who shares some of Mr. Thiel’s notions of libertarian politics: mainly, that establishing floating cities in international zones will “give people the opportunity to peacefully test new ideas about how to live together.”
Mr. Thiel has funneled millions into the Seasteading Institute, the primary initiative working to construct these floating cities, which is the brainchild of Mr. Friedman. But recently, Mr. Friedman stepped down as the institute’s executive officer to become chairman of the board, a move that had some wondering whether Mr. Thiel and Mr. Friedman had had a falling out.
The Final Frontier
Fellow science fiction nerds, it’s a new day. The space shuttle might be a relic, but that doesn’t mean we’re stuck here permanently. (Well, provided you’ve got some cash lying around.) After last weekend’s none-too-impressive failure to launch, Elon Musk’s ride to the stars finally made it into orbit this morning. The commercial spaceflight company’s cargo ship, the Dragon, is now headed for the International Space Station. Your move, Facebook mafia.
It's Zuck's World We're Just Living In It
The New York Times has dedicated its front page web spot to a story on the incestuous world of ex-Facebookers and the many companies they have spawned, funded and acquired since leaving Facebook. It should probably strike you as unsurprising at this point that the majority of these people are newly-rich white dudes with vast amounts of influence.
Players in the payments space aren’t just going to sit around while Square gobbles up their market, nosiree. PayPal has their blue dongle; as of June, NCR (best known for making ATMs, airport kiosks, and the like) will have NCR Silver, its own device and software system allowing merchants to accept payments via iPad and iPhone.
It’s quite clear from this Fast Company piece that NCR is sweating bullets over Square. Reps from all rungs of NCR’s corporate ladder chimed in to voice their superiority to the startup. Here’s VP of speciality retail Christian Nahas:
Squares they most certainly are not. In an impressively cutthroat move by mobile payment startup Square, the team announced today that they poached PayPal’s VP of products for North America, Alyssa Cutright. PayPal has recently entered the market as a direct competitor to Square with their Dunder Mifflin-inspired mobile payment device, so the steal has to be a harsh blow.
Dongle Me This
As expected, PayPal released its own version of Square’s mobile payments service today. Like Square, “PayPal Here” uses a small dongle that can be plugged into an iPhone’s headphone jack as a credit card swiper. Merchants punch in the required amount and customers can choose whether to swipe their card, use the camera to read the credit card number, or even scan a check. Also like Square, the app boasts tracking features for small businesses and allows for direct payment based on location.
However, it’s super hard to focus on the pros/cons and whether the eBay subsidiary can squash Square, when all we can picture is Dwight Schrute’s moonpie face as he unveiled the similiarly-hued-and-shaped Saber Pyramid. We’re not the only ones who noticed. Verge commenters couldn’t stop knee-slapping over the likeness.
Over and over, no matter how many times you ask, Peter Thiel insists there is no tech bubble. Now Bloomberg reports that Mr. Thiel is backing up that statement with something much mightier than his word. He’s putting his global macro hedge fund, Clarium Capital Partners, behind it. A victim of bad bets on oil prices, currencies, and stocks, Clarium lost a whopping 90 percent of its assets by the end of last year, down from a peak of more than $7 billion in mid-2008. To change course, the fund plans to go back to the well that made Mr. Thiel Internet-famous in the first place: investing in private tech companies.
Mr. Thiel will pledge “a significantly higher percentage” of assets toward private equity investments in later-stage tech companies, a brand new asset class for Clarion, though not for Mr. Thiel, who invested early in PayPal, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Zynga. Perhaps Mr. Thiel, always a fan of the contrarian position, has taken everyone else’s panic over what macro conditions in the market will mean for tech start-ups as a sign that he should jump in–albeit in the less risky, private equity side of the pool, where a double is more likely than a home run.
As part of his no-bubble-to-see-here-folks spiel, Mr. Thiel frequently mentions the idea that Facebook might be undervalued. In fact, according to Bloomberg, taking advantage of “asset price distortion” is partly why he started the fund:
David vs. Googliath
eBay must have really dug Jack Dorsey’s vision for a frictionless point-of-sale system because CEO John Donahoe just announced that its PayPal unit is trying to do the same thing. Back in May, Mr. Dorsey, announced that Square, his mobile payments company, would be releasing Card Case, an app that attempted to reinvent the point-of-sale experience the same way Square reinvented mobile payments.
Card Cases stores your credit card info so that after swiping once with participating merchants, you can start a “tab” and pay with just a tap of your iPhone, iPad, or Android device. On the merchant side, businesses can use Square Register to spit out digital receipts, check daily transactions, and basically automate the checkout experience. On its quarterly earnings call, Mr. Donahoe said PayPal plans on targeting those same offline point-of-sale transactions.