Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund Just Raised $625 Million

Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund has raised $625 million for its fourth fund, and that’s more money than its first three funds combined, reports Evelyn Rusli of the New York Times.

Founders Fund has been in operation since 2005, making investments in companies that include Facebook, SpaceX, and Palantir Technologies, a company co-founded by Thiel himself.

via Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund Just Raised $625 Million.

Zynga Plans to Sell Shares for $8.50-$10 – Bloomberg

Zynga Inc. will sell about 15 percent of its common stock in an initial public offering, said a person with knowledge of the matter, breaking with a practice among Internet companies this year of using a lower free float to boost demand.

Zynga, the biggest maker of games on Facebook Inc.’s site, plans to sell shares for $8.50 to $10 apiece in its initial public offering to raise as much as $1 billion, said the person, who declined to be identified because the terms are private. That would value Zynga at as high as $7 billion, less than it previously had targeted, the person said.

The game developer decided against a low float for its stock after companies such as Groupon Inc. and Pandora Media Inc. tumbled following their IPOs, the person said. While selling fewer than 10 percent of their shares helped those companies boost early demand for their offerings, the stocks have more recently dropped below their initial prices.

via Zynga Plans to Sell Shares for $8.50-$10 – Bloomberg.

The First Yahoo Bids Are Coming In, And They Look Pretty Low

At least two private equity groups placed bids on Yahoo today, and both bids valued the company at more than $20 billion.

A consortium led by Silver Lake bid $16.60 per share for a minority stake, according to Bloomberg. That would value Yahoo around $20.6 billion, or about 6% higher than the company’s share price at market close today.

It’s also on the very low end of the bidding prices that have been floated in the press over the last couple months.

Microsoft and Andreessen-Horowitz are also part of the Silver Lake group, the report says, although sources told us that Microsoft is still keeping its options open. Microsoft’s main interest in the deal is preserving its search arrangement with Yahoo.

via The First Yahoo Bids Are Coming In, And They Look Pretty Low.

Microsoft’s Windows 8 For Tablets: Its Fifth-Mover Product Strategy Is Late – Forbes

Forrester is bullish on Windows 8 as a product for consumers. Windows 8, Microsoft is adapting Windows in key ways that make it better suited to compete in the post-PC era, including a touch-first UI, an app marketplace, and the ability to run natively on SoC/ARM processors. This pivot in product strategy and product design makes sense as we move deeper into an era when computing form factors reach far beyond traditional desktops and laptops.But in a new report, Sarah Rotman Epps and I look at Windows 8 tablets, specifically, through our product strategy lens. What do we see? On tablets, Windows 8 is going to be very late to the party. Product strategists often look to be “fast followers” in their product markets. Perhaps the most famous example is the original browser war of the 1990s: Microsoft’s fast-following Internet Explorer drove incumbent Netscape out of the market altogether.For tablets, though, Windows really isn’t a fast follower. Rather it’s at best a fifth-mover after iPad, Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, HP’s now-defunct WebOS tablet, and the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. While Windows’ product strategists can learn from these products, other players have come a long way in executing and refining their products—Apple, Samsung, and others have already launched second-generation products and will likely be into their third generation by the time Windows 8 launches.Meanwhile, newer competitors like Amazon Kindle Fire and Barnes and Noble Nook Tablet are reshaping consumer expectations in the market, driving down price points and concomitant price expectations, and redefining what a tablet is.These market dynamics are rapidly altering consumers’ attitudes and needs. Most significantly, consumers’ interest in Windows tablets is plummeting. In Q1, 2011, Windows was by far the top choice of consumers – while no touch-first Windows tablets existed, 46% of U.S. consumers yearned for one. By Q3, 2011, that picture had changed dramatically: Windows was no longer #1 in choice preference, and interest among consumers dropped to 25%. Microsoft has missed the peak of consumer desire for a product they haven’t yet released.For product strategists, Windows 8 tablets provide a cautionary tale: To be a fast-follower, you must amp up the experience – and do so quickly, before the market changes beyond recognition. Windows 8 tablets must provide consumers with a more differentiated product experience than it otherwise would have, had Microsoft entered the market sooner. They’ll have to take a lesson from Amazon’s product strategists, who fundamentally changed the tablet product experience by leading with content and services rather than feeds and speeds, at a compelling price point. In the rapidly evolving tablet market, Amazon — and Barnes & Noble, with its Nook Tablet — demonstrate fast following done right.JP Gownder is a Vice President and Research Director at Forrester Research serving Consumer Product Strategy professionals. Follow him on Twitter at @jgownder

via Microsoft’s Shrinking Window For Tablets: Its Fifth-Mover Product Strategy Is Late – Forbes.

Stalin’s only daughter dies in Wisconsin at 85 Photos | Stalin’s only daughter dies at 85 Pictures – Yahoo! News

Lana Peters — who was known internationally by her previous name, Svetlana Alliluyeva — died of colon cancer Nov. 22 in Wisconsin. Peters caused an international furor when she defected to the United States from the Soviet Union in 1967.

via Stalin’s only daughter dies at 85 Photos | Stalin’s only daughter dies at 85 Pictures – Yahoo! News.

New China Life Said to Cover Institutional Books for IPO – Businessweek

Nov. 30 (Bloomberg) — New China Life Insurance Co., the state-backed insurer seeking as much as $2.3 billion in an initial public offering in Hong Kong and Shanghai, received enough orders to cover its institutional books for both listings, said two people with knowledge of the transaction.

The insurer, partly owned by Zurich Financial Services AG, is offering 358.4 million shares at HK$28.20 ($3.62) to HK$34.33 apiece in the Hong Kong portion of the IPO, of which up to 95 percent will be allocated to institutional investors, a sales document shows. The Hong Kong institutional book was covered on the first day it took orders, said the people, who declined to be identified because the process is private.

New China Life may sell 158.5 million shares in Shanghai, the company said this month. The Shanghai offering would raise 4.5 billion yuan ($698 million), based on the same pricing as the Hong Kong sale.

Companies are planning to sell as much as $7 billion of new shares in Hong Kong before the end of 2011, betting on a revival in investor appetite after the value of IPOs slumped almost 70 percent this year. Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd., which is seeking to raise up to $2.8 billion, received bids for all the stock available to money managers in its first day of order taking, people with knowledge of the matter said

via New China Life Said to Cover Institutional Books for IPO – Businessweek.

Facebook May Have Already Drafted Its Own Prospectus. To Bankers: Hands Off Our $10 Billion IPO – Venture Capital Dispatch – WSJ

When it comes to Facebook, founder Mark Zuckerberg marches to the beat of his own drum. And that apparently goes for his company’s IPO.

The Wall Street Journal tonight reports that Facebook is aiming for an IPO in the second quarter of next year that could fetch about $10 billion, which would be one of the largest offerings ever.

But what stuck out to us in the story–besides the timing, offering size and possible $100 billion valuation–is that Facebook has already drawn up the IPO docs without the help of bankers and lawyers who typically drool all over an offering of this magnitude. According to WSJ’s Shayndi Raice:

Facebook has gone so far as to craft its own prospectus, said the people familiar with the matter. A prospectus document—which is filed with the SEC outlining the company’s business—is typically prepared by bankers and lawyers hired by a company.

Facebook Chief Financial Officer David Ebersman has been leading the company’s talks with Silicon Valley bankers about an IPO, said people familiar with the matter.

Bankers are aggressively pursuing the company, but Facebook remains elusive about a commitment to specific banks, even though an IPO looms. Mr. Ebersman told some bankers that he is skeptical over what contribution investment banks could make to a Facebook IPO, since the company is so highly sought after by major investors, said people familiar with the matter.

via Facebook To Bankers: Hands Off Our $10 Billion IPO – Venture Capital Dispatch – WSJ.

American Airlines Parent AMR Files for Chapter 11 Protection – WSJ.com

The parent of American Airlines filed for bankruptcy protection, an abrupt course change by the No. 3 U.S. airline that it said would help it cut costs and emerge as a more competitive carrier.

AMR Corp.’s filing Tuesday in New York makes it one of the last of the major U.S. airlines to seek bankruptcy protection. AMR has suffered losses of more than $10 billion since 2001 as the company has struggled to bring costs in line with rivals such as United Airlines and Delta Air Lines Inc., which have restructured under court protection and found merger partners.

via American Airlines Parent AMR Files for Chapter 11 Protection – WSJ.com.

Facebook Said to Plan IPO at $100B Valuation – Bloomberg

Facebook Inc. is considering raising about $10 billion in an initial public offering that would value the world’s largest social-networking site at more than $100 billion, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

The company may file for the IPO before the end of the year, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private. Exact timing for the filing hasn’t been determined, the person said.

Facebook’s $100 billion valuation would be twice as high as it was in January, when the company announced a $1.5 billion investment from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and other backers. The IPO is far enough away that the details may change, said Lise Buyer, principal of the Class V Group, an IPO advisory firm.

“It’s far too early to accurately predict where the valuation will be on deal day,” Buyer said.

At $10 billion, the offering would raise more money than any other technology IPO, a sign Facebook expects investors to clamor for a piece of the social-networking company. The amount would dwarf that of the previous record holder, Infineon Technologies AG, which generated $5.23 billion in its 1999 debut. Agere Systems Inc. raised $4.14 billion in 2000, putting it second.

Hard to Predict

Facebook expects to be required by U.S. regulators to disclose financial results by April 30, 2012, if it doesn’t go public by then, the company said in January. Facebook decided to wait until 2012 for its IPO to give Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg more time to gain users and boost sales, people familiar with the matter said last year.

Facebook, which boasts more than 800 million users, also is increasing its focus on mobile technology, aiming to take advantage of the shift to smartphones and tablets. The company expects its next 1 billion users to come mainly from mobile devices, rather than desktop computers.

via Facebook Said to Plan IPO at $100B Valuation – Bloomberg.