Top Startup and Tech News Today: 7 Things You Missed Today
1. BlackBerry calls off sale, will replace CEO
BlackBerry is abandoning its plan to put itself on sale and will instead raise $1 billion from its largest shareholders and other investors. CEO Thorsten Heins would also be leaving the company within two weeks. His successor will be John Chen, the former CEO of Sybase, which is a database software company that SAP AG acquired in 2010. BlackBerry’s largest shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings has agreed to buy $250 million of the seven-year subordinated debentures. BlackBerry did not name any other institutional investors participating in the deal. BlackBerry had held talks with a large number of prominent technology companies, such as Google, Lenovo, and Samsung about selling parts or all of itself.
2. Google and Samsung sued for patent infringement by major tech consortium
Rockstar, the consortium owned jointly by Apple, BlackBerry, Ericsson, Microsoft, and Sony filed suit in US District Court in Texas, taking action against Google, Samsung, Asus, and others. Rockstar is devoted to looking for evidence of infringement. “Pretty much anybody out there is infringing,” said John Veschi, the CEO of “It would be hard for me to envision that there are high-tech companies out there that don’t use some of the patents in our portfolio.”
Rockstar is suing Google over patents that are the heart of Google’s search advertising business as well as Google’s hardware partners over Android devices. Google is also accused of infringing seven Nortel patents, covering the technology that matches internet search queries with relevant advertising. “While we haven’t yet been served with this complaint, we continue to advocate for patent reform that would address the current flood of patent litigation,” said a Google spokesperson. Samsung is accused of infringing seven patents that are related to graphical user interfaces, messaging, and notifications. HTC and LG are accused of infringing on the same patents.
3. IBM accusing Twitter of patent infringement, wants to strike a deal
Even though Twitter has gone on the record as saying it wanted to steer clear of the drama that is patent ligation, Twitter has recently let it slip that it’s received a letter from IBM accusing the social media giant of infringing three of IBM’s patents. These patents concern “efficient retrieval of uniform resource allocators,” “presenting advertising in an interactive service,” and “programmatic discovery of common contacts.” There has been no lawyering up as of yet, as IBM has gone on the record as preferring a business resolution to lodging a legal complaint. However, this could easily move to the courtroom as Twitter believes it has “meritorious defenses to IBM’s allegations.”
4. Apple CEO Tim Cook backs Employment Nondiscrimination Act in WSJ opinion piece
CEO Tim Cook of Apple has written an opinion piece expressing his support for the Employment Nondiscrimination Act. This act bans discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation or gender. “At Apple, we try to make sure people understand that they don’t have to check their identity at the door,” writes Cook. “We’re committed to creating a safe and welcoming workplace for all employees, regardless of their race, gender, nationality or sexual orientation.” Cook continues on by saying that adopting nondiscrimination policy is not only a matter of basic human dignity and civil rights” but additionally, it is “great for the creativity that drives our business. “When people feel valued for who they are, they have the comfort and confidence to do the best work of their lives,” pens Cook.
5. Apple’s head of iOS engineering Henri Lamiraux has left the company
Apple’s Vice President of Engineering for iOS, Henri Lamiraux, has recently retired and left the company. Lamiraux joined Apple in 1990 and worked closely with Scott Forstall on the original iPhone. His name is on a number of important patents, including visual voicemail. More recently, he worked with Craig Federighi, who is in charge of software on a broader level at Apple. Lamiraux planned to retire after Apple shipped out iOS7. His departure will be felt not only within the company, but also externally, as Lamiraux frequently led education sessions at WWDC. A new lead iOS engineer has not been named as of yet.
6. Twitter boosts IPO range amid strong investor demand
Twitter raised the price range for its initial public offering on Monday as it, instead, seeks to rause up to $1.75 billion. Twitter expects to sell 70 million shares at $23-$25 each, which is up for its prior estimate of $17-$20 a share. This new pricing would value the company at up to $13.6 billion, compared to the $11 billion it would previously have been worth. The IPO is set to price on Wednesday. Shares will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday.
7. PayPal who? Dwolla is the most daring digital payment startup you’ve never heard of
Dwolla, the Iowa-based startup has built its own alternative to the credit card networks and Automated Clearing House infrastructure, which powers everything from bank transfers to payment companies like Square. Dwolla has created its own network from scratch. This allow Dwolla to avoid the hefty interchange fees levied by credit card companies and offers instantaneous transfers, avoiding the sometimes multi-day waiting periods. The company is on pace to process around $1 billion in transactions this year.