Posted by Rick Stine
on March 22, 2010
Hugo Chavez will be happy to know that for a price, the following url is available: www.totalitarian.com.
The Venezuelan president announced during his Sunday TV program that he plans to create his own blog so that he can communicate with the world. He plans to respond to questions from both supporters and critics. “I’m going to have my own battle trench on the Internet,” he declared.
So, is this akin to “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em?” Chavez recently suggested his government would look for ways to control the Internet after charging that anyone who criticized him by using Twitter, the Internet or even text messaging was engaging in “terrorism.”
No start date was announced for the blog.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, in a speech in Houston today, compared China’s censorship of the internet to Europe’s Nazi hate crime laws and the U.S.’s anti-child porn laws. This comes a week after rival Google stood up to China, putting at risk its business future in that country. Needless to say, what Beijing does to stifle the free flow of information (and much else) cannot be compared with European post-WWII anti-hate laws and American prohibitions on child pornography. Colleague Angel Gonzalez covered Ballmer’s appearance before an audience of Texas oil and gas executives. Angel writes that Ballmer told the group “most countries exert some sort of control over information; in France, it’s illegal to trade Nazi paraphernalia, for example, and the U.S. has strict laws to curb child pornography. ‘We have to take our cue here from the U.S. government,’ he said.” Granted, many Western companies find ways to comply with distasteful Chinese laws without (completely) compromising their morals and standards. But simply put, Ballmer might have found a way to describe the nature of this quandary without so blatantly appeasing Chinese officialdom.
Posted by Gabriella Stern
on January 12, 2010
Google’s decision to take on China over cyber attacks “originating from China” could go one of two ways, I reckon: 1) the giant search firm will reach some sort of watered-down accommodation with Beijing with minimal repercussions for either side; or 2) today’s bold statement will mark a turning point in foreign IT and media companies’ relations with China. One hopes it’s the latter. Here’s the latest coverage. Google hasn’t always stood up to China, as my WSJ colleagues have reported in the past. It’s extremely rare for foreign companies with a lot at stake in China to openly, or even behind-the-scenes, push back when Chinese authorities and power-brokers censor, infiltrate and otherwise bully them. It’s hard enough to make money in China, given the partnerships, joint ventures and other revenue-sharing configurations foreigners are forced into. To challenge the business and regulatory status quo – in a public forum – is asking for trouble. Threatening to pull out completely, as Google is doing, begs for it. “If we determine that we are unable to achieve the objectives outlined we will not hesitate to reconsider our approach to China,” says David Drummond, Google senior vice president for corporate development and chief legal officer, in his extraordinary blog. Google is stirring the pot; how things play out will be well worth watching.
Posted by Chaz Repak
on January 07, 2010
, Consumer electronics
(This is a guest post from Michelle LaRoche, Americas recruiting and training editor of Dow Jones Newswires, and the concerned mother of a 15-year-old son.)
Today I’m awfully glad that I commute by train. At this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, auto and tech companies have teamed up to bring the Internet and other flashy devices to the front seat.
Preparing to sit behind the wheel is a generation of kids who can’t spend five minutes without an iPod, iPhone, Wii, backseat video player, computer or TV – my 15-year-old son included.
Comcast doesn’t want to be a just a utility anymore.
That’s one way of looking at reports that the nation’s biggest cable operator is in talks with General Electric about some sort of hook up with GE’s NBC Universal business.
The majority of Comcast’s business today is distribution. It’s like being in the power business – these companies own the lines to your house and create the electricity that gets pushed through those lines. Except with Comcast, they don’t create the electricity.
When we think of public WiFi access to the Internet, little shops like Starbucks or Panera come to mind. Or perhaps the local library. But in China, it’s big business – both legally and illegally. The government in 2007, concerned about safety (some Chinese Internet cafes are said to hold 300 to 400 PCs) and worried teens might become addicted to playing games on computers, banned the openings of any new Internet cafes.
So it is with that in mind we look at Shanda Games, a Chinese online computer gaming company that went public today in what has become the largest IPO in the U.S. this year – it sold 83.5 million American Depositary Shares at $12.50.
Posted by Rick Stine
on May 20, 2009
, Wall Street
A little more than a dozen years ago or so we still had companies that were anything and everthing Internet, raising millions of dollars from investors even though the enterprises had little sales and no profit, and often no business plan other than to have a URL. Flash forward to today. We are hobbling out of a credit crisis and recession and along comes another company that is peddling its services only on the Internet and arguably services tied to a sector that is about as discretionary on the spend front as you can be – restaurants. So why would investors be so keen to buy this company’s initial shares?