Fresh Capital

Tolkien-Loving, Data-Mining Palantir Just Raised Another $196M in Venture Capital

"How creepy could we be? We're like grammar schoolers!" (Photo by C Flanigan/Getty Images)

If you see a hobbit making it rain on Palo Alto’s University Avenue this afternoon, here’s why: VentureBeat reports that Palantir–Peter Thiel’s shadowy data-mining startup–has raised another $196 million, bringing its total raised to a whopping $498 million.

With cash like that, you could have custom costumes made for every Shire-loving employee. Or you could just buy the leftovers from Sean Parker’s wedding.  Read More

Linkages

Booting Up: Google Assures Us That It’s “Not in Cahoots With the NSA”

Digg Reader. (Photo: Digg)

If we’re to believe the tweets of Vine’s cofounder Dom Hoffman, it looks like the Twitter app is adding some new features along with a slightly tinkered layout. Wonder why! [AllThingsD]

Google said yesterday that it’s “not in cahoots with the NSA,” in an attempt to quell concerns that the government’s PRISM program is an open door to user data. [NBC News]

Oh good, now you can add pictures to your comments on Facebook. We’re sure that’s going to look great. [CNET]

Here’s a fascinating story of how Betaworks, which bought Digg when it “was really a carcass,” created its Reader with a team of 15 people in 60 days. [Wired]

XBox One is pulling two previously planned features that angered users, like checking to see if gamers are online every 24 hours and eliminating restrictions on disc-based games. Yay? [Verge]

Linkages

Booting Up: Controversial Man Once Bragged About Sex on Internet

Holla. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

No doubt you’ll be shocked to learn that the U.S. has apparently been hacking China for years. No? [ABC News]

Edward Snowden’s full of great ideas: “You have not lived until you’ve rolled over to post-coital Krispy Kremes. That’s what being an American is all about. I recommend them.” [Daily Mail]

MySpace is spending $20 million on an ad campaign for its relaunch, because somebody just cannot take a hint. [Ad Week]

Even if you’re using a “hands-free device,” electronic bells and whistles in your car are still big, fat distractions. [Computer World]

Human rights activists worry about the uptick in attempts by Southeast Asian governments to impose controls on Internet access. [Wall Street Journal]

Hello? Hello?

Surprise! In 2002, Edward Snowden Hung Out on an Anime Site and Called Himself ‘Phish’

Holla. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

No one’s turned up a Reddit account or Twitter handle for NSA leaker Edward Snowden. However, Reuters has managed to find what appears to be his long-abandoned profile for “a Japanese anime company run by friends,” written circa 2002. His aliases included “The True HOOHA” and “Phish.”

Because let’s face it, that’s pretty much what all of us were doing on the Internet in the early 2000s. (This reporter frequented a “Wheel of Time” fan site, for example!) Read More

Hello? Hello?

Good Luck Parsing Your Conflicted Feelings About Edward Snowden, Silicon Valley

Yesterday's rally.

At yesterday’s rally to support NSA leaker Edward Snowden, a software engineer who identified himself only as Michael huddled under Union Square subway entrance (just out of the pouring rain). “The fact that we have this man coming out now puts a face on this,” he said. “The human element is what’s most important, because most people think of these big surveillance things as these impassive, cold structures, but they’re the creation of humans, they’re the creation of people like me and you and all of us and there is a moral equation to all of that.”

He gestured to the northern edge of the park.

“Even in New York City, Union Square Ventures is right over there, which funded Tumblr, which is now owned by Yahoo, which is one of the companies that reported back to PRISM.”

But not everyone’s so sure of their feelings about Mr. Snowden. The occasional 1984 quote from Fred Wilson notwithstanding, the industry’s position in this whole mess is awfully conflicted. Read More

Hello? Hello?

Turns Out the Cloud Makes It Super Convenient for the NSA to Spy on Your Ass

NSA HQ. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Good morning! It seems we’ve all woken up in a conspiracy theorist’s fever dream, so I hope your wore your finest tinfoil hat to work.

Yesterday opened with the revelation that the NSA is collecting phone records for millions of Verizon subscribers on a daily basis. If that wasn’t Orwellian enough, then came another bomb from the Washington PostAs part of a program called PRISM, the NSA is collecting information from several major tech companies–Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, YouTube, Skype, AOL and finally Apple. The Post claims the agency is grabbing “audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets.”

We know all this, by the way, thanks to a disturbed whistle-blower, who sent PowerPoint slides about the program. “They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type,” he told the Post. Hello and welcome to your cyberpunk future!  Read More