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Here goes our weekly magazine of stories curated from around the world. In this edition: Twitter Is Said to Be Worth $9 Billion as BlackRock Buys Shares. Redesigning Google: how Larry Page engineered a beautiful revolution. Has Facebook’s Zuckerberg Forgotten How to Change the World? and more.
Twitter Is Said to Be Worth $9 Billion as BlackRock Buys Shares: Twitter Inc. was valued at about $9 billion after early employees sold $80 million in shares to a fund managed by BlackRock Inc three people with knowledge of the matter said. The sales were overseen by Twitter Chief Operating Officer Ali Rowghani, said one of the people yesterday, who asked not to be identified because the transactions were private. Twitter is helping early shareholders realize part of the value of their holdings while letting select investors obtain equity in the fast-growing Internet company before it holds an initial public offering. The deal with BlackRock, the largest money manager, marks an increase in the blog-site’s value since 2011, when an investment led by DST Global valued Twitter at $8 billion, people with knowledge of the plan said then. More here.
Redesigning Google: how Larry Page engineered a beautiful revolution: Something strange and remarkable started happening at Google immediately after Larry Page took full control as CEO in 2011: it started designing good-looking apps. Great design is not something anybody has traditionally expected from Google. Infamously, the company used to focus on A/B testing tiny, incremental changes like 41 different shades of blue for links instead of trusting its designers to create and execute on an overall vision. The “design philosophy that lives or dies strictly by the sword of data” led its very first visual designer, Douglas Bowman, to leave in 2009. More here.
New new world
Has Facebook’s Zuckerberg Forgotten How to Change the World? If anyone understands the power of disruptive technology, it’s Mark Zuckerberg. And yet when it comes to solving the toughest issues of our time, the Facebook (FB) chief seems remarkably reliant on money. As he prepares to host his first fundraiser on Feb. 13 for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie—a man whose popularity has already sparked millions in donations—Zuckerberg might consider the lessons of his own business. Few pursuits demonstrate the power of social media like U.S. politics. More here.
Jan. 25, 1979: Robot Kills Human: A 25-year-old Ford Motor assembly line worker is killed on the job in a Flat Rock, Michigan, casting plant.1 It’s the first recorded human death by robot. Robert Williams’ death came on the 58th anniversary of the premiere of Karel Capek’s play about Rossum’s Universal Robots. R.U.R gave the world the first use of the word robot to describe an artificial person. Capek invented the term, basing it on the Czech word for “forced labor.” More here.
Why We Should Build Software Like We Build Houses: With widespread access to free, online coding courses and tools, “coding” has become the new writing – the everyman’s skill. So Wired asked Leslie Lamport, winner of the IEEE John von Neumann Medal and an expert on distributed systems (known for saying “A distributed system is one in which the failure of a computer you didn’t even know existed can render your own computer unusable”) for his opinion on … writing code. More here.
Chanda Zaveri’s extraordinary story would have been just another dream dashed had she stepped out of her Kankurgachhi home in a trousseau back in 1984 rather than sneak out to a life of challenges.The Telegraph writes about a Calcutta girl who fled home & marriage at 17 to return as a millionaire US innovator. Read here.
Spy Bases: 9 Secretive HQs of the World’s Intelligence Agencies: Architecture is a language, one used by institutions to say something about themselves. The same basic principle is true for the world’s spy agencies. All show their secrecy in their buildings, while some may appear starkly utilitarian, and some may even be frightening and alienating. But they also have their quirks and differences, whether it be an isolated complex hidden by trees, in a location that’s never been officially disclosed, or a prominent complex built by superstar architects and put on prominent display in the middle of a capital city. From Virginia to Berlin to Moscow, here are nine of them.
Unlocking Your Mobile Phone Is No Longer Legal in the US: Mobile phones purchased beginning Saturday can no longer be legally unlocked by U.S. consumers to enable them to work on different networks. The reason, as we reported three months ago, was that the U.S. Copyright Office is no longer granting unlocking an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The DMCA makes it illegal to “circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access” to copyrighted material, in this case software embedded in phones that controls carrier access. More here.
iPhone 5S, a Plastic Version and iPad 5 Reportedly Coming This Year: It’s been about three months since the fourth-generation iPad appeared, which of course means it’s time for the rumors that the fifth-gen model is on the way, and we’ll throw in rumors of the next iPhone as well. Jeremy Horwitz over at iLounge got the opportunity to check out what is said to be an accurate model of the redesigned fifth-generation iPad. It shares the same design aesthetic as the iPhone 5 and iPad mini, with chamfered edges and minimal bezels just large enough to accommodate the camera and home button. More here.
Tony Hsieh’s Rule for Success: Maximize Serendipity : Tony Hsieh is a serial entrepreneurco-founded Zappos, the online shoe and clothing retailer he now runs. He’s also co-founder of the Downtown Project, which is seeking to revitalize Las Vegas’s downtown. He spoke with Inc. reporter Issie Lapowsky. “My fascination with serendipity started in college. I think for most people, college was the last time it was normal to just randomly run into people all the time. As you get older, you drive to work, see the same people every day, then go home. But the best things happen when people are running into each other and sharing ideas,” says Hsieh. More here.
Get Inside Your Customers’ Heads: Understanding your customers is the universal rule for entrepreneurs. Successful businesses understand their customers’ characteristics, demographics, and buying habits. Exceptional businesses gain additional insight into what their customers see, hear, think, and feel. How do you go about this? Make better use of your data, shift to a more customer centric business model, Explore what your customers truly want, not just what they are asking for, says Inc. More here.
Indian Startup Braindrain to USA : A (disturbing) trend that’s for real: For Indus Khaitan, the co-founder at Bitzer mobile, being in India just didn’t work out. Last weekend after a four year stint in the country, Khaitan moved back to the bay area in the United States where Bitzer is headquartered. When in India, it became difficult for him to do 1 am calls and still be in a “solid mood” to give a walk through of the mobile enterprise platform they have built. Khaitan is not the only startup guy who has moved to the bay area from India recently. More here.
Hackers claim attack on U.S. Justice Department website: Hackers sympathetic to the late computer prodigy Aaron Swartz claimed on Saturday to have infiltrated the website of the U.S. Justice Department’s Sentencing Commission, and said they planned to release government data. The Sentencing Commission site, www.ussc.gov , was shut down early Saturday. Identifying themselves as Anonymous, a loosely organized group of unknown provenance associated with a range of recent online actions, the hackers voiced outrage over Swartz’ suicide on January 11. More here.
Instagram Asking For Your Government Issued Photo IDs Now, Too: Over the past week, a number of users of the popular photo sharing app Instagram and parent company Facebook have been locked out of their accounts and prompted by both services to upload images of their government issued photo IDs to regain access, as CNET first reported on Tuesday. Concerned users seeking to regain account access have turned to several outlets online, including Yahoo Answers, to try and determine whether or not the prompts asking for images of their IDs are real or are hacking attempts. More here.