Links: 2013-05-01

News links for 1 May 2013


Led by Andreessen Horowitz, Dwolla Raises $16.5 Million – Mike Isaac – Commerce – AllThingsD

Watch this space. Amazon and EBay are both ramping up in this arena and I see payments as a big deal in terms of data companies moving into finance going forward. The most disintermediated by the new move to payments are Visa, Mastercard, AMEX and banks.
“Payments startup Dwolla announced Tuesday it raised a $16.5 million round led by Andreessen Horowitz, with AH partner Scott Weiss to join Dwolla’s board. Former investors USV, Thrive and Village Ventures also participated in the round. Dwolla has built its own payments network, circumventing the usual fees associated with ACH networks (long used by credit card companies), charging 25 cents per money transfer.”

Obama To Reportedly Nominate Former Telecom Lobbyist Tom Wheeler As FCC Chair | TechCrunch

“The White House will reportedly confirm that former telecommunications lobbyist Tom Wheeler will be nominated to chair the Federal Communications Commission. Current FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn will act as interim chairman while outgoing Chair Julius Genachowski enjoys his luxurious new life as a fellow at the Aspen Institute policy think tank.”

BlackBerry CEO Questions Future of Tablets – Bloomberg

““In five years I don’t think there’ll be a reason to have a tablet anymore,” Heins said in an interview yesterday at the Milken Institute conference in Los Angeles. “Maybe a big screen in your workspace, but not a tablet as such. Tablets themselves are not a good business model.””

By 2018, tablets will be obsolete, says legacy smartphone company CEO — Tech News and Analysis

“as a factual, across-the-board statement, the notion that “tablets aren’t a good business model” is problematic. There’s at least one company that might argue with him since it’s been doing pretty well in part thanks to its decision to start making tablets in January 2010. Samsung, for its part, seems pretty happy with its decision to get into that business too. Gartner expects the worldwide tablet business to grow from 197 million units this year to 467 million units by 2017.
You know who’s not having a great time in the tablet market? Companies that were late to the game. Like Motorola. And Dell. Don’t forget HP’s Palm debacle.
And, yes, BlackBerry.”

BlackBerry CEO predicts tablet market will diminish within five years

“The CEO of the seemingly reinvigorated BlackBerry doesn’t have much faith in the long-term potential of the tablet sector, saying in an interview that in five years there might be no reason to have a tablet at all.”

Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock for Mac now shipping for $299

Apple’s new Thunderbolt cable is proprietary as their new iPhone 5 cable is too. This is not an industry standard like USB or HDMI. Apple have a habit of using proprietary connectors that add a hidden cost to their hardware.
“The Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock, first announced in January of 2012, is now available for purchase for $299, more than a year after the Mac accessory was unveiled.”

Financial Media Celebrates Apple’s Tax Evasion Bond Deal « naked capitalism

“By raising cheap debt for the shareholder payout, Apple also avoids a potentially big tax hit. About two-thirds of Apple’s cash — about $102 billion — sits overseas in lower-tax jurisdictions. If it returned some of that cash to the United States to reward its investors, it could have significant tax consequences for the company. In some ways, the bond issue is a response to that tax situation.
“In some ways” is an understatement. A simple Google search shows stories going back several years of how Apple has been pushing for a tax holiday so it can repatriate its overseas stash.”

To Satisfy Its Investors, Cash-Rich Apple Borrows Money –

“With a $145 billion cash hoard, Apple could acquire Facebook, Hewlett-Packard and Yahoo. Put another way, it could buy every office building and retail space in New York, according to city estimates.
But despite its extraordinarily flush balance sheet, the technology behemoth borrowed money on Tuesday for the first time in nearly two decades. In a record-size bond deal, the company raised $17 billion, paying interest rates that hovered near the low-cost debt of the United States Treasury.
Apple’s return to the debt markets raises a riddle: Why would a company with so much cash even bother to issue debt?”

Cyanogen: AT&T’s Galaxy S 4 bootloader locked down | Android and Me 

“If you really care about having an unlocked bootloader on your device, the best way to make yourself heard is to vote with your wallet. Don’t buy an AT&T S 4 with the hopes that someone will find a way around it. You might not get that lucky.”

AT&T Galaxy S4 has a Locked Bootloader. – Droid Life

“The arms race continues. News flash: MILLIONS of people run custom firmware (and I have the STATS to prove it). This is just a stupid move that will cost you customers and money.
I would not recommend buying this device on AT&T if you want to run CyanogenMod or another custom ROM, or if you are a developer and need to work with or debug the lower layers.”

Online Ads Can Now Follow You Home –

“Advertisers already know what people are up to on their personal computers. But understanding their online whereabouts on smartphones or tablets has remained elusive.
A number of companies are trying to better pinpoint mobile users’ online activity with new software and techniques they say could help advertisers track users across devices.”



Germany will think twice before saving France next time – Telegraph Blogs

“French and German leaders are now talking past each other. There is little common ground left on which they can find an understanding.
The French Socialist elites are lashing out because they at last grasp that there will be no cyclical recovery this time akin to Jospin years of the late 1990s. Unemployment will ratchet up to fresh records.
The penny has dropped that France is trapped in policy regime that will cripple the socialist party, just as it crippled Zapatero’s PSOE in Spain, or PASOK in Greece, and they will not take it meekly.
Germany’s rulers are in turn cleaving rigidly to their certitudes, unwilling to even start to analyse the core problems of EMU through any prism other than their own.
In 1992-1993, Germany ultimately blinked to save the Franco-German axis. It intervened to shore up the franc in the ERM in a way that it had refused to do for the lira and sterling.
Whether they will do so again when the time comes after the gratuitous insults of the French Socialists is an open question.”

ECB’s Mario Draghi faces narrowing options as economy stagnates –

“Is Super Mario struggling to reach the next level? After two big victories – offering banks unlimited three-year loans in 2011 and then creating a bond-buying programme to keep the euro area together – Mario Draghi’s options as president of the European Central Bank have narrowed, while the economic malaise just keeps growing.
The man nicknamed Super Mario during 10 tumultuous years at the Italian Treasury has been widely praised for monetary policy actions that eased financial market tensions threatening the bloc’s existence. Yet the real economy has steadily worsened and divergences between countries are still widening.”

Daiwa Securities’ profits boosted by impact of ‘Abenomics’ rally –

“Profits at Daiwa Securities more than quadrupled from a year earlier in the fourth quarter, as the market rally triggered by “Abenomics” lured Japanese savers into stocks, bonds and mutual funds.
Japan’s number two brokerage by sales said on Wednesday that net income in the three months to March was the best in a single quarter since 2006, at Y49bn ($500m), with gains driven by sales of equity funds, foreign bond funds and commissions on trading.”

Gold as collateral, not stock | FT Alphaville

“There’s been a lot of speculation about what really drove the volatile gold price move this month. Some are still defiantly searching for conspiracies or under-handed activities by authorities.
But it’s probably Nouriel Roubini who has provided one of the best and most logical explanations. In his opinion every bit of the gold move can be explained by shifting inflation expectations.”

House Finance Chair Hensarling Goes on Ski Vacation with Wall Street – ProPublica

“In January, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, ascended to the powerful chairmanship of the House Financial Services Committee. Six weeks later, campaign finance filings and interviews show, Hensarling was joined by representatives of the banking industry for a ski vacation fundraiser at a posh Park City, Utah, resort.
The congressman’s political action committee held the fundraiser at the St. Regis Deer Valley, the “Ritz-Carlton of ski resorts” known for its “white-glove service” and for its restaurant by superstar chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.”

Italy premier Enrico Letta tears up €6bn in tax rises –

“In the section of his speech most eagerly anticipated by Italians and by Silvio Berlusconi, former prime minister and centre-right coalition partner, Mr Letta announced the government would not impose the first instalment of an unpopular housing tax due in June nor increase value added tax in July as Mario Monti’s previous government had planned.
But while Mr Letta promised that Italy would abide by fiscal commitments made to Europe he did not explain where the government would find the lost revenues of up to €6bn. Scant reference was made to cuts in public spending, beyond an end to funding of political parties and salaries for ministers. Mr Letta made no mention either of privatisation of state-controlled companies or sales of state assets.
Political commentators immediately interpreted Mr Letta’s speech as a political balancing act aimed at preserving unity in a coalition forced upon his centre-left Democratic party following two months of deadlock since inconclusive elections two months ago.”

Italian showdown with Germany as Enrico Letta rejects ‘death by austerity’ – Telegraph

“Italy’s new premier Enrico Letta is on a collision course with Germany after vowing to end death by austerity, and warned that Europe itself faces a “crisis of legitimacy” unless it charges course.” | With aid clinched, Greek government shifts to reforms

“Eurozone officials meeting in Brussels on Monday approved the release of 2.8 billion euros in rescue loans to Athens after Greek lawmakers approved a new raft of reforms including the dismissal of 15,000 civil servants by the end of next year.
“There was a positive evaluation of the implementation of the Greek program and clear references to the decisiveness of the government in proceeding with the program’s reforms,” the Finance Ministry said after the decision.
The 2.8-billion-euro installment had been due in March but was delayed after talks between government officials and Greece’s so-called troika of foreign lenders – the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund – broke down over the civil service overhaul.”

BBC News – Greeks stage 24-hour anti-austerity general strike

“A general strike against tough austerity measures is under way in Greece, with trade unions calling for “mass mobilisation” of protesters.”

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