As if it wasn’t tough enough being an entrepreneur in France right now (OK, it’s not impossible, but let’s face it it could be easier) news reaches us that a global tech company like Twitter is having issues putting boots on the ground in the nation’s capital. The news is not exactly an advert for Paris’s tech ecosystem, but it may also of course be a function of the weird market right now, especially post Facebook/Zynga/Groupon IPO. Whatever the case, Twitter has confirmed to us that although they have been looking for people to staff its planned Paris office, nothing is shaking so far. A spokesperson told us: “We’ve said for a long time that we’ll eventually have an office in Paris. [We have] Nothing specific to announce (about when or what roles will be there) at this point.”
It’s something of a mystery why this has happened. Twitter put a London office in place some time ago and has already placed it’s European HQ Dublin, where corporation tax has lead others such as Yahoo, Google and others. We’ve done some digging into this and there’s an indication that Twitter is either setting its bar pretty high, (as well they might), or that there is a lack of, well, direction?
Contacts we’ve spoken to say they have been bashing their heads with Twitter’s HR people for some time this year, but, as one put it to us, “It looks like they don’t know what they want, or who they want.”
The process for hiring a Paris team – built largely to engage with French advertising agencies around the platform – started in March, apparently when Jack Dorsey came to Paris and met the candidates of the French Presidential election.
Indeed, the wooing was mutual. In the Spring the mayor of Paris went to SF and visited Twitter, later tweeting about Twitter opening an office in Paris. Perhaps he tweeted too soon?
In April, Twitter’s HR machine spun up to try and pull names together. Contacts on the ground in Paris were called, names were sent, mainly for a country manager, to but also for account managers. The tech and media echo-system in Paris did their best to help out, we gather.
There are unconfirmed rumours that Twitter is also looking for an additional person to run operations for other French-speaking countries (Belgium, but also Morocco for example).
Then in June, Katie Stanton, Twitter’s head of international came to Paris with some other people from her team, and ran a number of interviews. There was also a Twitter developer meetup.
But, inexplicably, no one was selected for the Paris office.
Time passed over the Summer and other people were contacted. And we last heard that the hiring conversations were still going on in September. Tough gig huh.
So, that dear reader, is what we know for now. Any more information will be gladly received on the situation.
For now Twitter says it’s not announcing anything, France-wise.
C’est le bordel ?
We’ve talked about how Facebook’s latest feature, dubbed ‘Find Friends Nearby’, may put the company at risk of “feature creep”. If it were up to New York-based location-based service provider Friendthem, that’s the least of FB’s problems.
We’ve received an email from Charles Sankowich, CEO of Friendthem, who claims Facebook is blatantly stealing their idea and ‘trademarked materials’.
He seems very upset.
Sankowich asserts that he told Facebook about his idea back in February 2012, notably months before the social network giant acquired fellow location-based app maker Glancee. Here’s a statement we received from him:
I was amazed on Sunday to read that Facebook is blatantly stealing our idea with what they are calling, “Find Friends Nearby.”
Facebook engineer Ryan Patterson claims the feature was born at a hackathon as “Friendshake,” but we believe they simply stole trademarked materials of Friendthem.com.
More than two years ago we trademarked “Friendthem” and have had tremendous success and exposure with this concept. Even their language is similar to what has been on our website for year’s now – “Friendthem is a location-based mobile app designed to help you make connections with people near you. Use the Friendthem app to follow up on missed connections for work and personal.
We are consulting attorneys and assuming this is true and expect to commence a lawsuit very shortly. One would think that Facebook would have learned to play fair after being through the mud previously with legal difficulties, but now they are doing it again.
We may not be billionaires but we are damn tough New York entrepreneurs, and we believe in this idea and will keep working to connect people.
We’ve reached out to Facebook but don’t expect them to respond with an official comment, given that this appears to be pure one-sided speculation at this point, and no lawsuit has actually been filed yet, tough entrepreneurs or not.
And even then, what would the lawsuit even be about? Friendthem doesn’t appear to own any related patents, and as far as I can tell only trademarked the name ‘FRIENDTHEM’ for a location-aware mobile app (which Facebook obviously isn’t using for its new feature). What exactly does Friendthem plan to allege?
As I’m sure you’re aware, you can’t simply “trademark an idea”, and it’s virtually impossible to prove Facebook ‘stole’ anything – unless there is strong evidence like emails and recorded conversations to prove it, which I highly doubt.
Furthermore, I find it hard to believe Friendthem truly revolutionized the location-based service space. In fact, I’ve never heard of the company, which may be part of the reason the startup is beating the drums now – as a publicity stunt.
Which would mean its strategy worked beautifully. Except it would make Friendthem seem just a little too desperate for attention.
After a period of unnerving quietness, the Apple rumor mill is back up and running at full capacity producing two somewhat credible rumors over the last 24 hours. The next iPhone will not be announced until October if the latest rumors are believed. A separate rumor is just so wild that it might be true: The iPhone 5, or whatever it’s to be called, will be made of LiquidMetal, which will allow for a unique unibody construction.
But again, these are just unfounded rumors. Please proceed with caution.
Gene Munster, analyst for Piper Jaffray, stated that chipmaker Qualcomm is gearing up to supply the LTE chipset. However, per Qualcomm’s CEO yesterday, unpredicted demand has caused supply issues. Munster believes this sets Apple up to launch the iPhone in October, conveniently a year after the iPhone 4S’ announcement.
Korea IT News recently reported that the iPhone 5 will be housed in a LiquidMetal casing. This material, an alloy of titanium, nickel, copper, zirconum and other metals, is said to have a feeling of glass despite having the physical strength of metal. The material is perfect for use in smartphones. It’s physically tough and naturally resistant to wear, scratches and dents.
However, unlike traditional metal fabrication, LiquidMetal objects can be formed with a sort of injection molding similar to plastic. This allows for a wider range of applications and physical forms — perhaps a stronger unibody casing.
Phone manufacturers have recently turned to different material to set their phones appart. Motorola used a bit of carbon fiber on the back of the RAZR phones and Samsung is said be employing ceramic for the upcoming Galaxy S III. But the benefits of LuquidMetal would set the iPhone 5 apart and Apple has the exclusive rights to the material for use in consumer electronics.
It’s safe to say that the next iPhone will be something different even if it doesn’t employ LiquidMetal. The current iPhone design has been used for nearly two years now and has had its share of problems. Even glass touted as tough as gorillas is a poor material for a phone. So sometime in the coming future, perhaps this summer or maybe in October, Apple will announce the sixth generation iPhone.