Foursquare's $600 Million Valuation. Popular check-in service Foursquare is a monster. After passing 10 million users and locking down a nationwide deal with American Express this week, the startup has just closed a $50 million funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz, TechCrunch reports. The funding round puts Foursquare at a valuation between $550 million to $600 million, and will help expand the company's merchant platform, West Coast office, and international presence. --AC
-- Updated 4:40 p.m.
Google Pulls The Plug ... On PowerMeter and Google Health. PowerMeter, which helped people track their energy use, is being made obsolete in part by smart meters. And Google Health, it turns out, actually causes cancer. Kidding! The service, which aimed to broaden people's access to their health data, never caught on with the right influencers, Google says. You can use it through Jan 1, then download the information through January 1, 2013. Not everything works, folks. (On the plus side, Google's driverless cars are a go in Nevada!) Also, if the FTC doesn't back off, Gmail gets a bullet to the head. Again, kidding! --TG
--Updated 3:40 p.m.
The FTC Gives Google Jitters. The U.S. government is rearing its figurative longsword like a hooded henchman, threatening to Eddard Stark Google. (Google it. Warning: Game of Thrones spoiler). And now, Google has responded ... er, presponded (they're really taking this Instant thing seriously, no?). "We firmly believe you control your data, so we have a team of engineers whose only goal is to help you take your information with you." Yes. And an entire company of engineers to make sure Google hangs on to it, too, one might argue. Further: "It's still unclear what the FTC's concerns are." Here they are. Plus, the White House is chided for Google-y bro-downs, being told to distance itself.--TG
--Updated, 12:54 p.m.
The Onion's Pulitzer Push: Bo Obama, Dog, and Neil Gaiman, author, have made their case for America's fakest news getting a real journalism prize. But Glenn Beck is the perfect clown to push The Onion's silly, maybe serious bid for a Pulitzer. "Wonder if he got paid to do this," we wondered aloud in the FC HQ. Or was the payment the idea that Glenn Beck would breathe a little life into his brand as his Fox show ends and his paid online network begins.--TG
Feds Use Facebook To Nab "Whitey." Let's all calm down a little bit about just how much the feds used Facebook and YouTube to nab Jack Nicholson in The Departed James "Whitey" Bulger. They've used social media bunches before.--TG
--Updated 11:56 a.m.
Earlier, Kit Eaton noted...
The Winklevoss twins are now pressing ahead with their legal battle against Facebook not in the Supreme Court, but in the federal court in Boston. Their allegation, filed yesterday, is that when Facebook settled with them over allegedly stolen IP, it didn't turn over appropriate information about Mark Zuckerberg's anti-competitive plans, and thus may owe them more than the $65 million in cash and stocks it settled for. This is the IP case that just won't go away.
It's hotly rumored that after months of testing, Twitter's ready to roll out in-stream advertising across its social feeds. The tech is an evolution of promoted tweets, and means users will have ads inserted into their usual tweet feed among regular content--with the brands tailored to users habits by a system that analyzes who you follow. The question is will users tolerate what may be seen as an intrusive change, in the same way they disliked the controversial top-bar ads recently?
Google's made a small but significant change to its advertising system that may affect what ads you see embedded in web pages: It's rolled out behavioral-targeted ads to all of its AdWords partners after trialing the system with a limited number. Essentially this means cookies will track your habits and associates you with particular ad categories, which may match your interests more accurately. Advertisers claim the system delivers much better click-through.
China is planning something unusual: A six-square-mile office zone, nicknamed the Cloud Zone, which will be for high-tech firms and new startups that require a little more conventional marketing...so web users in the zone are allowed a much less filtered access to the World Wide Web proper. It's effectively a window through the famous Great Firewall censoring system, and represents something of an oddity in a time when China seems to be cracking down.
Skype, in the news for an enormous $8.5 billion payday after being bought by Microsoft, is now in the limelight for a seemingly controversial move regarding employees stock options. It seems Skype has a tricky contract clause with its employees that sees some of their stock options, even vested ones, zeroed out by a repurchase by owners Silver Lake if the employees leave the company. This could affect recently fired top management, who were among the team responsible for building Skype's brand value.