Google Acquires German Company Nik Software For It’s SnapSeed Startup

While the Instagram staffers were taking their new offices at Facebook on Monday and Tuesday, Google announced that they have acquired German company Nik Software and with that, their photo sharing startup SnapSeed.  Instagram officially moved it’s modest staff of under 20 into Facebook’s headquarters Monday where they will be able to integrate and innovate closely with the existing Facebook team.

Nik Software, which has been around since 1995, catapulted in recent days with their picture sharing app SnapSeed.  Forbes recently called SnapSeed “Instagram and a lot more”. SnapSeed has more features and more ways to edit and play with photos in the mobile environment.

Nik Software has a few photo apps out there already but none as popular as SnapSeed. SnapSeed boasts 9 million users, which may seem like very little compared to the 100 million that Instagram says they have. However, SnapSeed’s 9 million users have paid $4.99 for the app, opposed to Instagram which is free.

Parmy Olson at Forbes Magazine suggests that SnapSeed may fit in better with Google+. Google+ has a huge community of semi pro and pro-mateur photographers who have taken a liking to Google+ and the fact that they allow you to save high resolution photos directly to the Google+ network.

Vic Gundotra, the Google executive who oversees Google+ said this about Nik Software “We want to help our users create photos they absolutely love, and in our experience Nik does this better than anyone…”

Nik Software’s US office is in San Diego. The terms of the Google deal were not disclosed. It’s unclear whether or not Nik Software employees will immediately move to Mountain View or if they’re staying on at all. It’s also unclear as to whether SnapSeed will remain a stand along product or if it will be integrated into Google’s Picassa product.

In regards to the acquisition, Nik Software said  “We’ve always aspired to share our passion for photography with everyone, and with Google’s support we hope to be able to help many millions more people create awesome pictures.”


Check out snapseed here

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Google Officially Updates Google Wallet To 4 No Wait 3 No Wait 2 Credit Card Brands

GoogleWallet,ISIS,American ExpressEarlier this week Co-Founder and Google extreme loyalist Cameron Wright, was bragging to me while we were on the road in Ohio, that Google Wallet was now a game-changer. He was finally excited that you could add any major credit card to Google’s NFC enabled “Google Wallet” product.

Today that is still the case however Google has come under fire by TechCrunch and SAI after it was learned, that they actually had no definitive agreement with American Express, and one other credit card carrier. They haven’t named the other credit card carrier but our sources tell us it starts with a D and ends in an R and has iscove in the middle.

While both American Express cards and the other cards are still available for use with Google Wallet either company can pull the plug at anytime. This TechCrunch story points specifically to American Express.

American Express is concerned with the transparency that Mastercard’s Pay Pass program provides to the customers. Currently Mastercard Pay Pass terminals are still the only terminals that are able to accept Google Wallet, regardless of which credit card provider your transaction goes to.

This isn’t meant to alarm anyone as Google Wallet is essentially a safe mobile commerce payment solution. American Express (and we will assume the other company as well), doesn’t like the amount of data that Mastercard Pay Pass provides.  Mastercard’s Pay Pass terminals only provide location and transaction amount back to credit card carriers outside of Mastercard.

While American Express has long been a partner of Google’s “Google Checkout” payment system, they never signed an agreement with Google specifically for Google Wallet. Earlier this year Google merged all of their payment products together under one umbrella, perhaps thinking that this merge would allow them to arbitrarily just use all four brands.

American Express’ Social Media VP Scott Minor told Chris Velazco at TechCrunch:

“We want to make sure Google’s mobile wallet product meets the standards we set for our Cardmembers in terms of transparency and clarity about transaction detail,” Minor said. “Right now, American Express does not have an agreement with Google for our cards to be used in the Google mobile wallet.”

It took a good part of  the day yesterday, but Google finally replied to Velazco’s request for a statement and said:

For many years, we’ve accepted American Express, Visa, MasterCard and Discover for online and mobile transactions. The latest version of Google Wallet extends these same benefits to people who choose to use the Google Wallet app to make purchases in-store. We are in active discussions with American Express and look forward to working together as partners as the world embraces digital payments.”

Google has been struggling with Google Wallet since they first launched the product via the Samsung Galaxy S and then the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. When it was released Google Wallet supported their own in-house prepaid credit card program along with Citibank MasterCards. While American Express and the “other” credit card carrier hash out the details of an agreement with Google, all four brands are still able to connect to Google Wallet and use via NFC.

We are well into the summer of 2012 and still waiting for the rollout of ISIS, the mobile payment service developed in concert with Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile .At South By Southwest earlier this year ISIS indicated that they would have markets up and testing during the Summer of 2012.


SAI Story

TC Story

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Holy Google’s Marissa Mayer Is Moving To Yahoo As CEO

As many of our loyal readers know, we don’t typically report on Silicon Valley news, unless it’s say as big as Facebook acquiring Instagram for $1 billion dollars, or Google’s Marissa Mayer getting the nod as CEO at Yahoo. Mayer replaces a disgraced Scott Thompson who was fired when it was discovered he did not possess a computer science degree that was on his resume and subsequently reported in filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

This is a significant accomplishment for an incredible woman who I’ve personally met on two occasions and have seen speak on more than a handful of occasions. Mayer was the first woman engineer at Google. She led Google’s search team for years before pivoting to lead Google’s maps team. She is one of the few, female or male, people that can withstand a Mike Arrington beating in the hotseat and still not give up any information.

It’s clear that Mayer has the strength, knowledge and expertise to go head first into straightening out the mess that was left in the wake of Thompson. This includes an erroneous patent battle Thompson put Yahoo in with Facebook. Google has been on both sides of similar patent situations.

Mayer is also a visionary and a respected leader in Silicon Valley. Yahoo co-founder David Filo (who still works at the company) said in a statement:

“Marissa is a well-known, visionary leader in user experience and product design and one of Silicon Valley’s most exciting strategists in technology development.  I look forward to working with her to enhance Yahoo’s product offerings for our over 700 million unique monthly visitors.”

Mayer said, “I am honored and delighted to lead Yahoo!, one of the internet’s premier destinations for more than 700 million users.  I look forward to working with the Company’s dedicated employees to bring innovative products, content, and personalized experiences to users and advertisers all around the world.”

“The Board of Directors unanimously agreed that Marissa’s unparalleled track record in technology, design, and product execution makes her the right leader for Yahoo! at this time of enormous opportunity,” said Fred Amoroso, Chairman of the Board of Directors.

While some may find it odd that Mayer is leaving Google for the CEO position, at what was once one of Google’s key competitors, it was actually a Facebook executive, Sheryl Sandberg who summed up Google’s internal philosophy on moves like this. While giving a commencement address at Harvard Sandberg told a story about her interview with then CEO of Google Eric Schmidt. After showing Schmidt a spreadsheet declaring that the position she was up for at Google matched none of her job criteria Schmidt told her “don’t be an idiot” “Get on a rocket ship”.  The same holds true for this opportunity for Mayer, which direction that rocket ship is going is still unclear though.

Source: SAI

Official Google Buys Meebo, But What About Google+

It’s official Google has announced that they are acquiring social network company Meebo. This comes right on the heels of Google Plus’s one year anniversary. While this is great news for Meebo, it leaves some people wondering why purchase a social network when Google is telling everyone that Google plus is going so well.

Meebo began as an instant messenger type of service and then evolved into a social networking platform of it’s own with it’s user base hitting around 100 million.

“We are always looking for better ways to help users share content and connect with others across the Web, just as they do in real life,” Google said in a statement. “With the Meebo team’s expertise in social publisher tools, we believe they will be a great fit with the Google Plus team.”

According to Yahoo Google Plus currently has 170 million users but they are having trouble converting those users to regular daily users, as with Facebook and Twitter. Google’s number of users has been widely criticized because they recently lumped a bunch of their services under the Google+ umbrella. Also, new users to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, are persuaded to sign up for a Google+ account to activate their phone’s operating system.  Google has also made it really easy to hit a big button to sign up for Google+ when signing up for a new, free GMail account.

It’s cases like Android activations and new GMail users which result in a bunch of new users being created that never actually do anything with the social network.

Meebo specialty is working with web publishers and engaging users for longer more frequent periods, which is something the Google Plus team definitely needs.

Kevin Rose, the founder of Digg and Milk was recently acquihired by Google to lead the Google Plus team. It was announced in a separate announcement last week that Rose is moving onto the Google Ventures team and exiting his post with the social networking arm of the search giant.

Meebo seems very excited about the news of the acquisition. As with most Google deals the financials have not been revealed. Over the weekend we reported that Google acquired the software from DC startup KikScore for an undisclosed amount.

Google has spent more than $16 billion dollars acquiring over 140 companies since 2009. That does include the $12.5 billion dollar acquisition of Motorola.

Source: Yahoo

Washington DC Startup: KikScore Aquired By Google


Google has Acquired a Wahington DC startup called KikScore. KikScore is an online reputation startup that helps smaller online businesses build reputations and become more trusted for consumers.

CEO and co-founder Rajeev Malik created KikScore after his wife noticed that people would fill up their shopping carts on her furniture website and then abandon them. Malik and his wife did some research and discovered that most incomplete shopping cart purchases were partially based on the customers trust, or lack thereof, of the merchant.

Malik describes KikScore on their blog as:
a patent-pending online reputation score and interactive report card for small businesses around the world. KikScore enables online small businesses to take information and reputational data about themselves, their track record of responsibility and dependability and show their website visitors that their business can be trusted. Small businesses do this by placing the interactive KikScore Confidence Badge, real-time merchant report card and comment platform on their website so they can close more leads and sell more.

KikScore’s other co-founders are Travis Valentine CTO, Mike Collins Head of Product, Mike Mauseth Board of Advisors member, and Tom Lewis another Board Of Advisors member.

This article from SocialMatchbox positions the acquisition as a straight up acquisition without acquihire. Malik told SocialMatchbox that he aimed to spend more time with his budding family and work on his next startup.

Google will most likely fold KikScore into their current Trusted Stores product that falls under the Google Checkout/Google Wallet department.



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Facebook To Buy Opera, To Gain More Of A Footprint In Mobile


In a move that makes as much sense as buying a company for $1 billion only to release an application just like it weeks later, rumor has it Facebook is looking to buy Opera. Facebook, which is now having to go before the SEC over how it handled its IPO is rumored to want to buy the Browser. Facebook which listed Mobile as a major interest in it’s IPO filing is quickly pushing full steam ahead to build it’s Mobile footprint. Which the acquisitions of Lightbox, Instagram and others Facebook looks to be pushing forward to the often rumored and mythical Facebook Phone.

With getting closer and closer to 1 billion users, having a browser will no doubt send shock waves in what is already a fierce battle between Google with Chrome and Microsoft with Internet Explorer. With the addition of a browser, rumored Application store, buying/built a Camera interface with Instagram and it’s own newly released iOS application, Lightbox for gallery. The only thing left for a full on blitz is an operating system. However after seeing what Amazon did with the Kindle, could a Forked Android version be what Facebook is soon to be looking at building or would buying RIM for it’s Blackberry OS finally push FB into building it’s own phone.

Source: Pocket-lint

Google+ Updates Its Android App To Mimic It’s Update To iOS

Google has finally updated their Android app to follow the model of the iOS version they released to make the mobile experience “more beautiful.” Many Android users were pretty jealous to see the beauty iOS users were beholding, and they now can finally have it themselves. With some glitches though, the tablet version is still a little lacking as seen below. Most of the update takes what was a bland boring application and just makes it pop with the photos and posts, as well as some  other major updates that we’ve all been waiting for and hoping for.

Read More…

Foss Patents Founder Florian Mueller Taking Money From Oracle

The interwebs went wild on Friday when it was revealed that trusted patent blogger Florian Mueller is actually being paid by Oracle and may be in line for a top paying job with the company that’s embattled in a bitter patent suit with Google.

Over the past couple of years, the self proclaimed patent expert has been quoted on every site in the tech blogsphere from Engadget to Yahoo, and even the likes of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and CNET. It was assumed with his patent rhetoric and court documents all over his site that he knew what he was talking about. No one took into consideration the fact that until just a couple of months ago his site was hosted by and not even his own domain name.

Mueller has received a lot of criticism for his anti-Google position, however it’s now surfaced that he has actually been paid by Oracle which explains his anti-Google position.

Mueller has recently posted an “ethics” statement of sorts on his blog which it seems that he feels relieves him from any potential backlash:

That said, as a believer in transparency I would like to inform you that Oracle has very recently become a consulting client of mine. We intend to work together for the long haul on mostly competition-related topics including, for one example, FRAND licensing terms.

More after the break
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Seattle: Google Backed CleanTech Startup AltaRock To Start Drilling In Oregon

In 2008 Google invested in a new CleanTech startup called AltaRock. AltaRock plans on building engineered geothermal systems in places where natural resources aren’t already available for such systems. AltaRock will create geothermal reservoirs in areas without natural flowing streams.

AltaRock had embarked on a demonstration project of this technology in California in 2007 however the project ran into technical difficulties and ended in 2009. AltaRock applied to work on a similar project in Oregon in May of 2010 which was just recently approved.  Oregon’s Bureau of Land Management said they find no big environmental impact to the project.

For this project to work AltaRock needs to use special tools to drill wells that are a few miles deep. They will then inject cold water to fracture hot rocks. Electricity is produced by pumping water into the well where it will “flow along fissures of hot rocks and extend them” reports GigaOm. AltraRock needs to predict the paths of the expanded fissures to insure the production wells will intercept them. Each well typically costs a few million dollars. For the Oregon site AltaRock needs to build two new wells which they will use in conjunction with a well that’s 10,060 feet deep and already in place. The existing well will be used for injecting the water while the two new wells will be used to pump out the hot water.

AltaRock raised $26 million dollars earlier on in a round led by Google Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, Khosla Ventures and Vulcan Capital. They have also received a $21.4 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

An MIT study has said that the enhanced geothermal system could create 100gw of electricity by 2050.

Source: GigaOM

Google Acquires TxVia To Help Bring Google Wallet Into The Prepaid Space.

New York based TxVia has been working in the prepaid space since 2008. They reportedly handle over 100 million accounts and have partnerships with some of the biggest brands in the world.

Google announced on their Google Commerce Blog last week that they’ve acquired TxVia.  Google didn’t disclose any of the financials behind the deal.

Google’s VP of Wallet & Payments Osama Bedier said on the Google Commerce Blog:

“They’ve partnered with the industry’s best known brands, and their leadership team has played an instrumental role in defining the fast-growing prepaid card segment of emerging payments.”

Google is working relentlessly as of late, on refining the Google Wallet platform and trying to build scale as quick as they can before ISIS rolls out.


While Google has teamed up with the nation’s third largest carrier, Sprint, to roll out Google Wallet the other three carriers have teamed up to form ISIS another virtual wallet and checkout program.  ISIS has been successful in partnering with not only three of the for major carriers but some of the largest payment partners as well. For instance, Google’s current POS partner for Google Wallet  transactions is Mastercard’s Pay Pass.  ISIS on the other hand, has secured Verifone for their POS transactions.

According to Google TxVia has a payment network that is fast and reliable. 

It hasn’t been revealed what role TxVia will play in all of this.  Gift cards and prepaid cards have always been in the plans for Google Wallet.  It appears, that with this transaction, Google Wallet will be closer to rolling out more “funding” options for Google Wallet customers.

Source: Google Commerce Blog

Google Wallet Co-Founding Engineer Joins Square

Fresh on the heels of the departure of Google Wallet’s Jonathan Wall, co-founding Google Wallet engineer Rob von Behren has departed the internet giant as well.

In what von Behren categorized as an unplanned move, he has left Google entirely for Square’s San Francisco office. von Behren told the NFC Times:

“When I left the Google Wallet project in January, I fully expected to stop working in payments but to remain at Google,” he said. “After meeting the team at Square, however, I decided to do the opposite. Square is doing some great things in the payment space. They have a strong leadership team and a culture that fosters innovation.”

Square’s current solution doesn’t rely on NFC. They manufacture a dongle that connects to your Android smartphone or iPhone and allows small businesses to purchase credit card transactions by swiping a card through the dongle.

Square has just re-released their consumer app which is now called “Pay with Square”. This payment method allows people to pay without submitting a card for swiping.

The app uses geolocation to identify account holders in proximity. This would be a really good place to start looking for NFC integration.

source: NFC Times

Google Tries to Prove It’s Self Driving Cars Are Safe By Putting A Blind Man Behind The Wheel

Google, never one for standing still and always trying to push the boundaries of what it can do, upped it’s self with it’s latest video. They put a legally blind man behind the wheel of one of their self driving cars to show that on public roads, that anyone can get behind the wheel of one of their cars safely. First thing they did was take a drive to Taco Bell, as you’ll be able to see in the video, there was a Google employee next to him to make sure nothing happened.

The car moved with ease stopping at red lights, as well as going through the drive through. One of the major advantages of this is that in the future when this becomes widely adapted, those with disabilities could go around with no issues at all.

Google Opening Startup Tech Center In London

We love reporting about Great Britain’s thriving tech scene. We’ve recently reported on Hailo, a taxicab app that could put the squeeze on any potential plans for Uber in the home of the 2012 summer Olympics. We also reported on Culture Label an upscale mesh between Etsy, and Amazon offering access to the world’s finest museum shops and more. is also one of our favorite startups in the UK targeting, tackling the issue of mortality and making it more social.

London is heating up as one of Euope’s hot tech epicenters and Google will be there in full force. Bloomberg reported today. The tech center model Google is building rivals that of American centers popping up all over the place. Shared work spaces, access to high speed internet, conference rooms, mentorship and collaboration are all things that will be offered in the London venture, as says is in one of Europe’s “hottest zipcodes for technology”.

Google’s new startup tech center will be close to Amazon’s new tech center, both on London’s east end.


[Updated]Google+ Land Of The 25 Million Blank Profiles, Make That 60 Million

News coming from Labnol  shows that Google+ has approximately 25 million blank profile pages. So the reports of everyone calling it the land of boredom may be true. However what the same report tells you that under 1 year of being open to the public, they’ve gained over 170 million “active” users.

While not scientific, Amit has been able to, thanks to Googles own Site Map, figure out what the numbers are. Larry Page reported over 90 million users in January. So in less than 3 months, Google + has theoretically gained over 80 million new users. Reports have it that by end of 2012 they will amass nearly 400 million users, but no telling how many are real, spam, or even active.


To see your self, copy and paste the line below for your self. "has not filled * profile yet" inurl:about


Anup Verma on Google+ pointed out to me that, that number could actually extremely higher. Making the “real” number 60 million, instead of the original 25 million first reported if you are to believe the screen shot below. What he did was log out, put that “code” above and pulled this for me. However when I tried the same thing, I got 23.9 million. While this isn’t an exact science as to figuring out who has done what, it does show that 20+ million people don’t care to fill it out and most likely not using the service after checking it out.

Source: Labnol