links for 2009-11-20

  • In response to questions by U.S. regulators, Google (GOOG) handed over information about the number of users for its Google Voice communication service and a list of the companies that route the calls sent via Google Voice. It also outlined plans that suggest it may expand the call-management service into foreign markets.
    Google Voice, which provides people with a single phone number that can be used to reach them on their work, home, or cell phones, has 1.419 million users, according to the letter. Of those, 570,000 use it seven days a week, Google says. Google Voice began in 2005 as GrandCentral, a startup acquired by Google in 2007. Ring Central, a company founded in 1998 that provides similar call-management services to small businesses, says it has “tens of thousands” of customers.
    (tags: google voice)
  • Intel said today that it has invested $25 million in seven new startups as part of its goal of increasing demand for its own products.
    The investments were led by Intel Capital, which is the investment arm of the Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip maker. The investments show that Intel hasn’t flinched from its goal of supporting startups during the recession, said Arvind Sodhani (right), president of Intel Capital, at a press conference at Intel’s 10th annual CEO Summit in Huntington Beach, Calif. As proof of that, he noted that Intel has made 10 follow-on investments on its previous investments.
    (tags: intel vc)

  • It’s prone to cause drama in the online world.
    And, according to the New Oxford American Dictionary, it’s the word of the year.
    “Unfriend” beat out a tech-heavy field that included “netbook,” “hashtag” and “sexting” to take the annual honor.
    “It has both currency and potential longevity,” said Christine Lindberg, a language researcher for Oxford’s U.S. dictionary program. “In the online social networking context, its meaning is understood, so its adoption as a modern verb form makes this an interesting choice for Word of the Year.”
    Oxford defines “unfriend,” a verb, thusly: “To remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook.”
  • CEOs say they are experts at recognizing the brown-nosers, the Dwight Schrutes of The Office. Or, for those from the Leave It to Beaver era, think Eddie Haskell.
    When David D’Alessandro became CEO of John Hancock Financial Services in 1996, he felt that compliments from his subordinates were disingenuous unless he had truly accomplished something difficult. Otherwise it’s brown-nosing, says D’Alessandro, who retired from Hancock in 2004.
    QUIZ: Know the difference between brown nosing and being nice?
    (tags: career)
  • Cheaters beware. In late October, Indonesian developer Sheran Gunasekera released mobile-phone software that can help someone eavesdrop on your conversations. A distrusting partner or spouse can secretly download the free application, called PhoneSnoop, onto your BlackBerry, remotely turn on the microphone, and listen to conversations held in proximity to the device.
    PhoneSnoop, downloaded more than 2,000 times since its release, is one of a growing number of applications that can be downloaded onto a smartphone without a user’s knowledge. FlexiSPY similarly can be downloaded onto Research In Motion’s (RIMM) BlackBerry or the Apple (AAPL) iPhone. Smartphones and the growing number of people using them are becoming a bigger target for unauthorized and potentially harmful software, including worms, viruses, and spyware that tracks a user’s Web activity. The smartphone security threat “is imminent,” says Jeff Wilson, a principal analyst at consultant Infonetics Research.
  • The debate over Droid v. iPhone rages on, but lots more Android surprises are on the way. Get ready for the Google Phone. It’s no longer a myth, it’s real.
    The next “super” Android device will almost certainly be a HTC phone that’s much thinner than even the Droid or iPhone ¿ The Dragon/Passion. This is the phone the senior Android guys at Google are now carrying around and testing, at least as of a couple of weeks ago. If you’re willing to give up the Droid’s keyboard, the Dragon/Passion is going to be a really cool phone. It should be fully available very soon.
    But it isn’t the Google Phone. Everything up until now has just been a warm up to the Google Phone.
  • The valuations of venture-backed companies held steady in the third quarter, as the prices set in first funding rounds dropped to a six-year quarterly low while later-stage valuations continued to climb.
    According to Dow Jones VentureSource, the median valuation of U.S. companies raising money in the third quarter was $18 million, the same price as in the second quarter, after falling from $24 million in the first quarter. For the first nine months of the year, the median price sat at $19 million, a bit below the 2008 level of $20 million, which was a decade high.
    For first rounds, the median valuation was cut in half to $4 million after rising to $8 million in the second quarter. Although it’s just a three-month slice, this could signal that venture capital firms are putting less money to work in younger companies.
  • Earning an MBA is one of the most fulfilling and amazing experiences that one can have in their professional career. It’s the type of program that transforms the way you think and can even provide a no holds barred personal learning journey that would be difficult to attain anywhere else.
    Upon graduating from the MBA program, it’s hard not to feel proud of those three little letters that you’ve now tacked onto your name and onto your business card. You feel proud to flash those three letters because it’s supposed to represent instant credibility, differentiation, and respect. It also represents the fact that you’ve worked hard to clear the GMAT exam, got screened into a b-school, and successfully completed a rigorous curriculum – a certified reflection of your character and drive. What’s difficult for many newly-minted MBA graduates, as they enter their first post-MBA job, is that the MBA title sometime gives us an attitude in the workplace, and often times it isn’t the right one.
  • Verizon Wireless has won round one in the widely publicized legal tussle with rival AT&T, which recently sued the leading carrier over an ad campaign that AT&T claims misleads consumers about its network coverage. An Atlanta federal judge today denied a request by AT&T to force Verizon to halt its commercials, saying he found no evidence that the ads were inaccurate.
    At issue is Verizon’s “There’s a map for that” ad campaign, which shows two maps, one with Verizon’s 3G coverage blanketing the country, while another shows AT&T’s coverage represented by sporadic clusters and mostly white space. While AT&T does not deny the campaign’s veracity, it calls the map ads misleading. The No. 2 carrier claims the white space suggests AT&T offers no coverage at all in those areas.

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