MySpace Snaps Up Photobucket: $300M
Social-networking site locks up photo-sharing site's 40 million users.
By Scott Martin
Social-networking behemoth MySpace has agreed to acquire photo-sharing giant Photobucket for as much as $300 million, according to a source familiar with the deal. Final details were still being ironed out, but MySpace has agreed to pay $250 million for Photobucket, plus as much as $50 million more if certain performance targets are met, the source said. The deal represents a tidy return for the four-year-old startup's most recent investors. Trinity Ventures led a $10.5 million second round in May 2006. Should MySpace wind up paying $300 million, Trinity and other second round investors were expected to see a return of about three to four times their investment. "In less than a year—that is pretty good," said the source familiar with the deal. Photobucket was seen as a significant score for MySpace because the photo site is compelling as both a widget on the social-networking site and a website destination with loads of traffic.
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McCain Stops By Google
Presidential hopeful speaks to Google employees.
By Herbert A. Sample
It wasn't exactly the lion's den, but when Republican presidential hopeful John McCain stepped into the cavernous Google cafeteria last Friday, he must have known that his audience was going to differ from the one he entertained at the conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford University two days before. But a funny thing happened along the way to the left-wing, high-tech behemoth whose officers, managers, and minions donated nearly $290,000 to political candidates last year—91 percent of which went to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Far from being booed and hissed for his stand opposing abortion rights or his insistence on increasing troop levels in Iraq, Sen. McCain was rewarded with frequent applause during a 28-minute chat on stage with Google CEO Eric Schmidt and a 35-minute Q&A with employees. McCain's appearance may have swayed few minds among the standing-room-only crowd of about 1,000 workers. After all, as one employee said in prefacing her question, "Most of the people I've met in high tech are either liberals or libertarians." Still, the 21-year Arizona senator got points from the audience for his seeming forthrightness, employees said afterwards.
Solaicx Lands $27.1M
Single crystal silicon wafer maker prepares for move to larger production facility.
By Adena DeMonte
Solaicx on Tuesday said it has received an additional $27.1 million in funding, giving the solar wafer developer the funds it needs to boost production. Santa Clara, California-based Solaicx, a Red Herring North America 100 company for 2007, has developed a new process for making single-crystal silicon wafers—designed specifically for solar panels—more efficiently and cheaply. "We've proven the technology," said Solaicx CEO Bob Ford. "Now it boils down to actually doing it." Solaicx hopes to overcome a global shortage of silicon by making more solar wafers—the building blocks that are made into solar cells, which in turn get wired together to make solar panels—from less silicon. The company has developed technology to manufacture silicon wafers in a continuous process as opposed to in batches, increasing efficiency by up to 30 percent and lowering production costs. "Solaicx plays a crucial role in the solar energy value chain," said venture capital firm D.E. Shaw Group in a statement.
Wal-Mart Goes Solar
Retail chain behemoth agrees to buy sun power in California and Hawaii.
By Andrea Quong
Wal-Mart, the retail chain purveyor of ultra-cheap goods, announced Monday it has contracted to buy solar energy to power nearly two dozen of its stores and distribution centers in Hawaii and California. If all goes well, solar energy providers BP Solar, SunEdison, and SunPower subsidiary, PowerLight, will supply a total of 20 million kilowatt-hours per year to 22 stores, supercenters, Sam's Clubs and distribution centers, the company said. Wal-Mart said the systems could reduce greenhouse gas emissions that would otherwise be spewed from power plant smokestacks by up to 10,000 metric tons a year. "We're going to see how it goes," said Wal-Mart spokesman, Kevin Thornton. "We want to make sure this is a viable business option for us and, if it is, we want to apply it as fast as we can to other facilities." The sun power pilot project is the latest iteration in the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer's widely publicized campaign to make its 4,046 U.S. stores more energy efficient, less dependent on conventional fuel sources, and less wasteful. But that's a gargantuan task.