Review of Ubuntu Phone – A Work Still Under Progress

Review of Ubuntu Phone – A Work Still Under Progress
Right now, there doesn’t seem to be much opportunity for new players in the smartphone market, however, it looks like popular Linux maker, Ubuntu, is undeterred by it and is planning to take the challenge anyway. The company has recently developed a …
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Ashley Madison courted several buyers, landed none before attack

A photo illustration shows the privacy policy of the Ashley Madison website seen behind a smartphone running the Ashley Madison app in Toronto, August 20, 2015. /Mark Blinch

By Allison Martell and Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) – The owner of adultery website Ashley Madison had already been struggling to sell itself or raise funds for at least three years before the publication of details about its members, according to internal documents and emails also released by hackers as part of their assault on the company in recent weeks.

Some unnamed investors wanted out, multiple attempts to close a deal or raise funds failed, and a public market debut looked increasingly unlikely, the documents show.

Avid Life Media announced on Friday that CEO Noel Biderman, who founded the website in 2001, had left the company with immediate effect, the latest sign of the wrenching impact on the company of the attack that led to the disclosure of sensitive data about millions of clients.

From VentureBeat

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In an April 2015 letter addressed to all its investors, closely-held Avid Life acknowledged that some investors had pressed it to improve liquidity so they could sell shares. The company said it would buy back up to $ 10 million worth of shares.

“Over the last couple of years, we have not been successful in exploring various alternatives including a sale of the business and seeking debt from third parties,” said the letter signed by the board of directors.

Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of the email messages and internal documents.

Avid Life did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Members of the company’s board also could not be reached for comment. Biderman was not reachable by phone.

Diller’s hopes dashed

The attack has likely sharply lowered the price Avid Life could muster in any sale of assets, assuming it could find a buyer willing to take on a company facing several multi-million dollars lawsuits and the challenge of rebuilding a computer network that has been so badly infiltrated.

Bankers told Reuters last month – before the massive disclosure of its customers’ information – that a full data dump would create a ‘doomsday scenario’ for the company, and kill any IPO plan.

Several messages show that Biderman was trying to secure a meeting with executives at media mogul Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActive Corp, whose biggest online dating assets, including and Tinder, are being prepared for a public market spinoff. Biderman’s goal was to start acquisition talks with the much larger rival.

“They would be CRAZY not to speak with us,” wrote Biderman in February this year. And in May: “If there was ever a moment to have a ‘private’ meeting with Diller, it is now.”

But in an email message later forwarded to Biderman by an intermediary, one IAC director, Bryan Lourd, was blunt about the chances IAC might buy Ashley Madison: “They don’t want it.”

IAC declined to comment “on rumors and speculation about transactions.”

Avid Life in April said it was considering an initial public offering in London, at a $ 1 billion valuation, with company executives expressing hope in media interviews that European investors would prove more understanding of the controversial business than those in North America.

The emails show that Biderman received an informal approach in May from Cliff Lerner, the CEO of Snap Interactive, which owns the online dating site Lerner suggested a reverse takeover and a Nasdaq listing.

A spokesman for Snap said Lerner had a short back and forth email conversation with Avid Life representatives, but ultimately decided a deal wouldn’t work.

By June, Biderman called the IPO a “long shot” in one email. He told an acquaintance, who helped put other companies’ financing deals together, that he was looking to raise between $ 50 million and $ 75 million in debt.

Similar efforts had fallen through before. Avid Life had a letter of intent from Fortress Credit Corp, part of Fortress Investment Group, to borrow $ 43 million in September 2013, the documents the hackers released show, but the deal never went through.

“I can confirm that the proposed loan you referenced did not close,” Gordon Runté, head of investor and media relations at Fortress, said in response to queries, declining to comment further on the reasons.

Avid Life had intended to use some of that cash to pay a dividend to its shareholders, the proposal, dated September 6, 2013, showed.

It also received a term sheet for a $ 40 million three-year loan from GMP Securities, a Canadian investment bank, in 2012.

GMP said the deal was not completed and it has never loaned Avid Life any money. It declined to specify why.

The emails also show that Avid Life came close to selling itself at least three times in 2012.

In one instance, a deal with Canadian billionaire Alex Shnaider and frozen yogurt mogul Michael Serruya fell apart because of CEO Biderman’s “difficult and very demanding” personality, according to an email from the potential buyers. Two other attempted deals, with a boutique investment bank and a private equity firm, also fell apart.

Shnaider confirmed that he and Serruya wanted to strike a deal to acquire Avid Life and had agreement in principle to buy it. “We didn’t feel comfortable, at the end of the day, going through with the deal,” he said.

A spokesperson for Serruya did not immediately return calls.

(Editing by Amran Abocar and Martin Howell)

VB’s research team is studying web-personalization… Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.


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Google Container Engine: Could it be evil?

Google Container Engine is finally out of beta. The search-engine-cum-advertising-broker is also all about that containerization.

But is Google’s use of open-source projects such as Docker and Kubernetes entirely unselfish? Or will proprietary Google “enhancements” lock you in?

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers float away, dreaming of simple devops. Not to mention: This airline doesn’t understand how wings work

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.

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Computerworld Cloud Computing



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Prominent Am Law Firm Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC Selects…

Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC, a leading Am Law firm headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA and with 15 offices and over 500 attorneys, has selected NetDocuments for a modern, mobile, and innovative…

(PRWeb August 28, 2015)

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Pulse Evolution Corporation to Host 2nd Quarter Shareholder Conference…

Pulse Evolution Corporation (OTC:PLFX) will conduct its 2nd Quarter Shareholder Conference Call on Tuesday, September 1, 2015 at 11:00am EST, hosted by John Textor, Executive Chairman

(PRWeb August 27, 2015)

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Essex Woodlands Fund IX Acquires Significant Position in AxoGen, Inc.

Investment of $ 17.5 Million Builds Company Balance Sheet; Provides Resources to Drive Growth and Pursue Expansion Opportunities; Guido J. Neels, Leading International Healthcare Executive, Joins Board…

(PRWeb August 26, 2015)

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Tunstall Continues US Expansion Acquiring New York Medical Alarm…

The acquisition expands Tunstall’s growing customer base across the United States through acquiring and partnering with highly regarded regional providers of connected healthcare monitoring services.

(PRWeb August 25, 2015)

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Funding Daily: Today’s tech funding news, in one place


[Get all the tech funding news of the day delivered straight to your mailbox! Sign up for Funding Daily and never miss a deal.]

Here’s a list of today’s tech funding stories, updated as the day unfolds. Tip us here if you have a deal to share.

European VC firm Lakestar launches new $ 400M fund for local and U.S. startups

Europe’s Lakestar has announced a fresh €350 million ($ 400 million) fund, as the Guernsey-based venture capital (VC) firm looks to plow more cash into European and U.S. startups.

Founded and chaired by European VC Klaus Hommels, who was an early investor in Skype, Spotify, Facebook, and other well-known tech companies, Lakestar II is a follow-up to the €135 million ($ 154 million) fund launched in 2013, which is still active.

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OpenStack company Mirantis takes on $ 100M round led by Intel Capital

Mirantis, a company that sells a distribution of the OpenStack open-source cloud software, announced today a $ 100 million funding round. Intel Capital led the round, and now Mirantis will be collaborating with Intel to increase enterprise adoption of OpenStack.

From VentureBeat

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To date, Mirantis has raised at least $ 220 million, including the $ 100 million round announced last October.

In addition to Intel Capital, Goldman Sachs, August Capital, Insight Venture Partners, Ericsson, Sapphire Ventures, and WestSummit Capital also participated.

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Cavendish Kinetics raises $ 36M to improve smartphone reception

Cavendish Kinetics, a Silicon Valley radio chip design company, has raised $ 36 million to make chips that it says could transform the performance of smartphones.

The funding is a rare event in the semiconductor industry, a $ 335 billion business that is dominated by gigantic chip companies such as Intel and Qualcomm. Triquent Semiconductor, a division of Qorvo, participated in the round as a strategic investor.

Cavendish said that a new strategic investor in the round isn’t being identified. But a filing by Qorvo acknowledges that its Triquent division invested $ 25 million in Cavendish. Existing investors are Tallwood Venture Capital, Wellington Partners, Celtic House Venture Partners, Qualcomm Ventures, and Quadia.

To date, Cavendish has raised $ 105 million.

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Japan’s cloud accounting startup Freee raises $ 30M at $ 250M valuation ahead of IPO

Freee, a Tokyo-based cloud accounting and payroll service that launched in March 2013, today announced a $ 30 million Series C round that takes its total raised funding to date to $ 43 million. Existing investors in the round include DCM and Recruit Holdings, with Japan Co-Invest Limited Partnership coming on board for the first time.

Freee’s CEO and cofounder, Daisuke Sasaki, told VentureBeat in an interview that this latest round leaves Freee valued at around $ 250 million. He also said that while the company would be unlikely to raise further funding in the next 12 months, it is gunning for a $ 1 billion IPO on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in the next two to three years.

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Cannabis startup Tradiv is raising $ 1M to connect growers and sellers

Boulder, Colorado-based Tradiv is raising a $ 1 million round as it gears up to launch its B2B marketplace for cannabis cultivators, marijuana infused product companies, and dispensaries.

Backed by Cannabis accelerator CanopyBoulder and accelerator partner Micah Tapman, Tradiv revealed the raise in a public filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The weed startup has so far raised $ 650,000, according to the filing — at least $ 20,000 of which likely came from CanopyBoulder, in exchange for a whopping 9.5 percent equity stake. The filing also lists Emily Paxhia, partner of Cannabis-only fund Poseidon Asset Management; and former Microsoft Surface manager, Nick Hofmeister.


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This list will be updated with breaking funding news all day. Check back for more.

VB’s research team is studying web-personalization… Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.

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