Spotify Announces “Spotify Radio” — Presumably A Pandora-Killer

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek took the stage at Le Web in Paris this morning and announced Spotify “radio,” a new service offering “unlimited stations” and “unlimited skips.”

This is presumably designed to be a Pandora-killer.

Thus far, Pandora and Spotify have been playing in different sandboxes: Pandora in the “radio” market, in which listeners have little control over what songs they hear, and Spotify in the “owned” or paid music market, in which listeners have control.

Historically, these have been different types of music consumption. This new service will presumably put Pandora and Spotify head-to-head with one another.

via Spotify Announces “Spotify Radio” — Presumably A Pandora-Killer.

Chow Tai Fook Prices HK IPO at Bottom of Range – CNBC

Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group, the world’s largest jewellery retailer, has priced its Hong Kong initial public offering at HK$15 per share, at the bottom of an indicative range, two sources with direct knowledge of the deal told Reuters on Friday.

The Hong Kong-based company offered 1.05 billion new shares, putting the total deal at HK$15.73 billion ($2.02 billion). The initial public offering was marketed with an indicative range of HK$15-HK$21 per share.

via Chow Tai Fook Prices HK IPO at Bottom of Range – CNBC.

UPDATE 1-Rose Rock Midstream prices IPO at midpoint of range | Reuters

* IPO of 7 mln common units priced at $20/unit

* Barclays Capital, Citigroup and Deutsche Bank Securities joint book-running managers for IPO (Follows alerts)

Dec 8 (Reuters) – Rose Rock Midstream LP (RRMS.N), a limited partnership formed by SemGroup Corp (SEMG.N), priced its initial public offering at $20 per unit, the mid-point of its expected range.

Rose Rock, which was formed by SemGroup to own, operate, develop and acquire a diversified portfolio of midstream energy assets, sold 7 million common units in the offering, raising $140 million in proceeds.

Barclays Capital, Citigroup and Deutsche Bank Securities are joint book-running managers for the IPO.

via UPDATE 1-Rose Rock Midstream prices IPO at midpoint of range | Reuters.

European Payment Service Klarna Raises A Whopping $155 Million From DST, General Atlantic, And Sequoia | TechCrunch

European e-commerce payments provider Klarna just raised a huge, pre-IPO round of $155 million. The round was led by General Atlantic and Yuri Milner’s DST Global, and included Sequoia Capital, which led its last $9 million round in May, 2010. At that time, Sequoia partner Michael Moritz (he of Google, PayPal, and Yahoo fame) joined the board.

The new round almost certainly puts Klarna’s valuation into Europe’s billion-dollar tech club.

Klarna is based in Stockholm and was founded in 2005 by three economics students, Sebastian Siemiatkowski, Niklas Adalberth and Victor Jacobsson. It already has 600 employees and clears $2.5 billion worth of payments from 6 million consumers across 14,000 merchants.

The company operates primarily in Europe, where it takes some of the risk out of e-commerce by extending credit to shoppers and allows them to pay after they receive the goods. Merchants are paid upon order. (In Europe, they call this invoicing).

via European Payment Service Klarna Raises A Whopping $155 Million From DST, General Atlantic, And Sequoia | TechCrunch.

Yahoo’s Patents Could Impact Facebook Negatively. Yahoo May Have Learnt From Its Google Misstep

As I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, Yahoo!’s (YHOO) patent portfolio is one of the least talked about aspects of the whole takeover speculation surrounding the company.  Yet, one of the greatest at-risk targets of an offensive owner of Yahoo!’s patent portfolio could be Facebook.

With Facebook rumored to be eyeing a $100 billion IPO sometime next year between April and June, anyone who wants to have maximum leverage against Facebook would seem to want to act now — just as Yahoo! did in 2004 against Google (GOOG) just prior to their IPO.

Back in 2004, Yahoo! would probably be the first to admit it left an enormous amount of money on the table — especially by today’s standards — when they struck a deal with Google 3 weeks before their IPO around their GoTo.com paid-search patent (No. 6,269,361).

Yahoo! could have sought an injunction to halt the entire AdWords paid search business model.  That business model makes up the large part of what is now a $29 billion a year business.  Instead, Yahoo! agreed to a modest amount of Class A common stock which they promptly sold in August and September 2004  – back when Google’s stock was hovering around $100/share (whoops).

If Yahoo! had known then that they could have shut down what was going to be a $30 billion business in a few years down, would they have?  Arguably, if it had happened, Yahoo! would still be the leader in search today.  Would they at least have held out for a king’s ransom from Google?  They certainly should have.

Well, fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.  It’s not often in life you get a do-over.  Yet, that seems to be exactly what Yahoo! might get with the upcoming Facebook IPO.

Yahoo!, as of today, has 955 granted patents according to the US Patent Office.  These patents are in the areas of paid search, display, and social networking (among others).  By comparison, Google, before their deal to buy Motorola Mobility (MMI), had 925 granted patents.  LinkedIn (LNKD) has 1 granted patent.  Groupon (GRPN) and Zynga have no granted patents.

Facebook has 161 granted patents to date — all granted since April 2009 as the company has been feverishly working to catch up in this acknowledged weak area of IP.

Many patent lawyers will tell you that you never know the value of a patent until it is tested in court.  Yahoo!’s 6,269,361 patent was tested several times before the Google deal in court.  It won’t expire until July 31, 2018 and is likely going to be valuable against Facebook (as well as Microsoft (MSFT) if Yahoo! ever terminates its search deal which agrees to share intellectual property between the two companies).  There are likely other patents (at least 5 – 10 out of 955 granted) which can be used offensively against Facebook in addition to the GoTo.com patent.

via How Yahoo! Could Trip Up Facebook’s Grand IPO Plans – Forbes.

uTest takes step toward IPO with $17M fundraise – Boston Business Journal

Southborough’s uTest, which does software testing “in the wild” for the likes of Google and Microsoft, says it’s raised its largest venture round yet, with a $17 million Series D led by Baltimore’s QuestMark Partners.

uTest offers crowdsourced testing of software applications in real-life settings, outside the lab — such as making sure the right ads display on a mobile app at a coffee shop.

The company reports having nearly 48,000 professional testers in 181 countries around the world; the testers can earn up to $7,000 per month from uTest for their work, said uTest CMO Matt Johnston.

According to an e-mail from the company, uTest is “on track to be the 1st crowdsourcing company to file an IPO.”

via uTest takes step toward IPO with $17M fundraise – Boston Business Journal.

Angry Birds Says Growing Faster Than Zynga (Turned Down $2.5 Billion Buyout Offer)

Rovio, the developer behind Angry Birds, just turned down a $2.5 billion buyout offer from FarmVille maker Zynga.

Rovio wasn’t interested because it’s growing faster than Zynga right now, Rovio chief marketing officer Peter Vesterbacka said at the IGNITION conference in New York.

Gamers around the world have downloaded Rovio’s Angry Birds game more than 500 million times, but Rovio isn’t stopping there.

Rovio sells toys, shirts, iPad covers and other kinds of Angry Birds merchandise. The company expects to sell 20 million plush Angry Birds toys this Christmas — and it would be selling more, but it can’t produce enough toys.

via Rovio Says Angry Birds Is Growing Faster Than Zynga.

Vostu Pays Zynga Cold Hard Cash To Settle Theft Allegations

Zynga, which accused South American social gaming company Vostu of stealing ideas from its top games like CityVille, has settled the copyright lawsuits in exchange for cash and changes to Vostu’s games.

Zynga filed suit against Vostu in the U.S. in June, and again in Brazil shortly after that. Here’s the joint statement from Vostu and Zynga:

Zynga and Vostu have settled the copyright lawsuits and counterclaims against each other in the United States and Brazil. As part of the settlement, Vostu made a monetary payment to Zynga and made some changes to four of its games. The parties are pleased to have settled their disputes and to now put these matters behind them.

via Vostu Pays Zynga Cold Hard Cash To Settle Theft Allegations.