Google seems determined to leak all the exciting Google I/O news ahead of the official event. We’ve already seen the new Google Maps go live briefly before being pulled down, are hearing reports of a new music streaming service, and now there’s been confirmation that the next version of Android appears to be Android 4.3.
As with the Google Maps leak, this too was spotted only momentarily before being pulled, but not before being snapped by the folks over at The Verge, who provided the first screenshot below. A reference to “Android 4.3″ appeared in Google’s search results, while they were poking through Google’s developer site, source.android.com.
Google has since pulled down the cached page (it now 404s).
Bing has also spotted the reference:
Other than confirming its existence, there’s not much more detail to this particular leak regarding what the updated operating system will provide in terms of features. However, as the Verge post notes, the update is generally expected to bring Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), which could help with battery life conversation on smart watches and other connected devices, as well as the OpenGL for Embedded Systems 3.0 graphics specification.
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo has quit his position as a U.K. director of the company, days after Twitter subsidiary TweetDeck was dissolved as a separate U.K. business by business registrar Companies House, according to Sky News. We’ve reached out to Twitter for confirmation and comment and will update this story with any response.
Costolo stepping back from the U.K. directorship role appears related to the dissolution of TweetDeck: a U.K. startup which Twitter acquired in May 2011 for a price-tag that we reported as $40 million. Late last year TweetDeck failed to file U.K. accounts with Companies House, and continued failure to file ultimately led to the dissolution of the company as a separate entity earlier this month, on May 7.
TweetDeck’s failure to file accounts was part of a process to wind up its status as a separate corporate entity to its parent company. Earlier this month a Twitter spokesperson told the Guardian: “TweetDeck the product continues to thrive as part of Twitter, but the old company has been dormant for some time, with no outstanding liabilities; hence our agreement with the move to dissolve it.”
Once TweetDeck became a part of Twitter, with product development and other business processes moving in-house, there was no longer a need for it to exist as a standalone business in the U.K. It’s likely, therefore, that that shift also explains Costolo stepping back from his U.K. director role. His resignation took place on May 9, according to Sky News.
The news organisation reports that Costolo’s position has been replaced by a Dublin-based chartered accountant, Laurence O’Brien. That looks like a clear sign that Twitter’s main order of business in the U.K. is now minimising its tax liability, with the development that was associated with TweetDeck now rolled into its main business. The other two Twitter U.K. directors, Alex Macgillivray, Twitter’s general counsel and head of trust and policy, and chief operating officer, Ali Rowghani, remain in post.
Despite TweetDeck’s corporate dissolution and Costolo stepping back from his U.K. directorship there’s little doubt that Twitter remains committed to the product. Although it has recently shut down AIR-based versions of the Twitter client and shuttered mobile apps, it is focusing on developing TweetDeck’s web-based apps. Back in March, Twitter noted that the TweetDeck team has doubled in size over the past six months.
Sky News notes that Twitter controls its U.K. firm through an Irish subsidiary known as Twitter International Company Ltd. And while Twitter has been expanding its staff headcount in its London and Dublin offices this headcount push is to build a multinational sales team for Europe, rather than being product development related.
We’ve just gotten word that Facebook’s Director of Engineering for Ads, John Hegeman, will be moving to Quora to lead the Quora engineering team. While I haven’t received direct confirmation from either Quora or Hegeman on the hire, Hegeman has apparently confirmed the move on his (private) Facebook Timeline according to a tipster, writing:
Today is my last day at Facebook. I feel extremely fortunate to have spent five and a half years working with and learning from such an exceptional group of people. In particular, I want to thank Mark for building this incredible company and my managers Yishan, Kang-Xing, Greg, and Boz for all of the mentorship and opportunities that they have given me. The decision to leave wasn’t easy, but I’m very proud of all that the ads team has accomplished and I’m extremely confident that the team is in good hands. I look forward to seeing the great work I know they will continue to do. Looking forward, I’m excited to be joining the engineering team at Quora in a few weeks. I’m grateful to Adam for this opportunity to work with him and the rest of the team at Quora who are building an incredible product. I can’t wait to get started.”
The company has recently launched a series of products — like a blogging platform and reviews — that attempt to surface the cream of the Q&A site’s content crop, and the Quora engineering team has been strenuously focusing its efforts on growth hacking — throwing the kitchen sink at the problem of attracting and engaging users. Ostensibly Hegeman will be leading this charge.
Taking Quora to the next user-adoption level is a tremendous opportunity if he and CEO Adam D’Angelo can get it right. Just last night Quora was described to me as an “anti-Twitter” at a dinner party, with the specific questions “What does it feel like to murder someone?” and “What does it feel like to be an unattractive woman?” brought up as specific examples of content where people avoid the sorts of knee-jerk reactions as evidenced on Facebook and Twitter in favor of more in-depth and thoughtful responses.
There is definitely room for an anti-Twitter, but will Quora be it in the wake of platforms like Medium and Svbtle? Well …
Last month, we posted a bit of a rumor: that Finland’s Supercell — likely the most lucrative iOS gaming company in the world — had raised about $100 million in funding in a round led by Index Ventures, Atomico Partners and Institutional Venture Partners.
Now we have confirmation today that the deal did happen, according to a flashy Forbes feature.
The tiny Helsinki-based company, which is about 100-people strong, did in fact raise $130 million on a $770 million valuation from Index, Atomico and IVP. Like we said, the round was secondary: all shareholders, including early investor Accel Partners, sold 16.7 percent of their holdings in the company to the newer investors. Index took $52.5 million of the round.
Not only that, Supercell shared some revenue figures, (and holy crap, are they bigger than I thought they would be). Last quarter, Supercell made $179 million and netted $104 million of that after expenses and Apple’s 30 percent cut. Last year, they grossed $100 million.
Today, they’re making $2.4 million a day — which is about double the rumor figures I had heard from numerous sources in the industry. They also have about 8.5 million daily active users, which is actually lower than comparable companies like King or Zynga.
So they monetize their existing players well.
Why share these numbers now? It’s likely because Finland has some unusual rules around financial disclosures for privately held companies. Even privately-backed companies have to share the the split of their equity holdings. Angry Birds-maker Rovio reported earnings a few weeks ago, saying they doubled revenue and made about $195 million last year.
Supercell’s CEO Ilkka Paananen said in the Forbes story that they took the funding to give early shareholders a payout, give a “thank you” to employees and avoid pressure to go public.
Finnish business magazine Talouselämä has more details on how the round was structured. Apparently, all shareholders, including employees, were given the choice to sell 16.7 percent of the holdings, and all did. It’s equitable of them, in the sense that it wasn’t just executives that got to take cash off the table.
Clearly, Supercell didn’t need the capital. But $770 million is a steep bar to clear and they’ll now have pressure to prove that they’re worth several times that.
As for Index, which is effectively betting that Supercell will become a multi-billion dollar gaming company, one of their partners, Neil Rimer, posted an explanation of the deal earlier today. They were enamored of Supercell’s culture:
The founders had witnessed the downfall of too many companies that had turned into bloated, bureaucratic behemoths with many design studios in multiple time zones requiring massive management overhead and crushing hierarchies and to coordinate.
As its name implies, Supercell is organized as a collection of small, independent teams called cells tasked with developing new games or building new deep features for existing games. Cells are given complete autonomy in terms of how they organize themselves, prioritize ideas, distribute work and determine what they ultimately produce. Describing himself as the “world’s least powerful CEO”, Ilkka encourages cells to exercise extreme independence and prides himself on having no creative control over them once they are constituted. The company as a whole is merely an aggregation of these cells; a Supercell.
With only 100 employees compared to 3000 at Zynga and almost 10,000 at EA, Supercell offers a radically new model for agile content development that has made it the highest grossing iOS game developer with only 2 game titles (versus EA’s 970).
Canvas is a portal for mobile business applications, used primarily by small businesses and contractors to replace their paper forms with smartphones apps. Today Canvas is announcing MyCanvas, a cloud service for their subscribers that allows anyone to access their personal service data history in the cloud.
Canvas wants to make the paper form obsolete. They claim that if you factor in all of their subscribers that have transitioned over to digital forms, they’ve saved 2 tons of paper per month.
MyCanvas is simply the natural next step. They’re trying to make the ugly metal cabinet where you store all of your paper receipts and forms obsolete as well.
Let’s say a plumber that subscribed to Canvas came by to service your home. He would have you fill out a digital form on his phone or his tablet. And up until now, he would then email that form to you himself as a confirmation.
With MyCanvas, that form will automatically be saved as a pdf in Canvas’ servers, and you’d be able to access it right away from any device. Contractors can also upload pictures of their progress to MyCloud as well.
Canvas hopes that MyCanvas will be used to host a variety of other things. Canvas is toying with having promotional offers available for contractors to offer their loyal customers through MyCanvas. They’re also looking into hospitals using MyCanvas as a convenient way for patients to access their medical records.
“MyCanvas is a valuable tool in their arsenal,” says Jim Quigley, CEO of Canvas. “It completely changes how businesses interact with consumers.”
MyCanvas is a tool that makes things more convenient, for contractors and homeowners. It may not be as revolutionary as he makes it out to be, but sometimes convenience is a valuable selling point to have.