Today at Disrupt NY 2013, Benchmark partner Bill Gurley shared an interesting fact about Uber. “Uber is growing faster than eBay did,” Gurley said. In 1997, Benchmark invested $6.7 million in eBay. It was worth more than $5 billion less than two years later. Benchmark is also an investor in Uber.
“Uber is probably the fastest growing company that we’ve ever had,” Gurley said. He insisted a lot on the quality of the product. If a company builds a good product, it will grow organically.
Benchmark took part in Uber’s Series A and Series B rounds of respectively $11 million and $37 million. Gurley seemed very satisfied with this investment and only had good things to say about the car company.
“The product is so good, there is no one spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on marketing,” Gurley said. eBay and Uber are both consumer companies that have reached a lot of customers in a very short time.
It contrasts a lot with his comments about the past failures of the tech industry. “On the consumer side, the risk is what there was in the late 1990s, with too much money spent on marketing,” Gurley said.
A few days ago, New York finally decided that e-hail services would be able to operate in the city. Last year Uber launched UberX in New York, its e-hailing service on top of regular taxis. But the company had to kill its service because of legislation issues. Uber will now be able to enter the market again, with competition from Hailo, TaxiMagic and others.
View original post here: Benchmark’s Bill Gurley: “Uber Is Growing Faster Than eBay Did”
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Stephen Wolfram, the CEO of Wolfram Research, took to the stage at The Next Web Conference Europe 2013 today to discuss the ‘Computational Future’. Afterwards, he met up with TNW’s Paul Sawers to discuss automated medical diagnosis, the incredible potential of natural language processing and more.
At the end of the interview, he shared an interesting nugget. Wolfram says that his company was in talks to bring its computational search technology (as seen in Wolfram Alpha) to Google. Wolfram Research signed a deal with Microsoft in 2009 to bring the power of computational search to Bing.
Although he doesn’t say when, Wolfram says that his company got close to a deal with Google, but that “it blew up.” Would Wolfram work with Google in the future? He says that the way that the previous negotiations with Google broke down mean that the people he works with don’t want to deal with Google again, although Wolfram himself says he remains “a positive, optimistic guy” about such a deal happening in the future.
It’s an interesting situation, given that Google co-founder Sergey Brin was an intern at Wolfram Research back in 1993. Google itself has been working on computational search for several years. Indeed, the experimental Google Squared was launched in 2009 but shut down two years later, although as the Wall Street Journal reported last year, Google has continued to work on ways of bringing smarter, computational results to its search engine.
You can watch the interview below. You’ll be able to see his keynote on The Next Web in the coming days, along with all the other great talks from the conference.
Go here to read the rest: Wolfram Research nearly had a deal to use its tech in Google search, “but it blew up”
Verizon Communications is preparing a $100 billion cash and stock bid to take full control of Verizon Wireless from Vodafone Group, reports Reuters. Verizon’s board is expected to discuss the potential buyout next week ahead of its annual shareholder meeting.
Verizon Communications and UK-based Vodafone formed Verizon Wireless as a joint venture in 1999. Though Verizon has not yet made an official proposal to Vodafone, it has hired banking and legal advisors, according to Reuters’ sources. The company currently owns 55 percent of Verizon Wireless. Though it’s uncertain if Vodafone is interested in the deal, Verizon is prepared to take a bid public if negotiations don’t come to fruition.
Reuter’s two unnamed sources state that after contemplating a buyout Verizon Wireless, its British partner, from Vodafone for the past 10 years, Verizon is now “ready to push aggressively for a deal.” Taking full ownership of Verizon Wireless would give Verizon more flexibility thanks to the wireless company’s cash flow. Verizon currently has the advantage of record low interest rates, as well the current strong performance of its shares, which have risen about 20 percent this year and are currently trading at their highest price in a decade. The company would raise about $50 billion of bank financing, and make up the other $50 billion with its own shares.
Verizon spokesman Bob Varettoni declined to confirm the proposal to Reuters, but noted that Verizon had said earlier this month that it would be a willing buyer of Vodafone’s share of Verizon Wireless.
If Verizon does indeed take Verizon Wireless of Vodafone’s hands, it would fit into Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao’s strategy for the company, which has been to streamline its assets after years of rapid expansion. Colao has been exploring options for its stake in Verizon Wireless, which makes up 75 percent of Vodafone’s valuation. Selling its Verizon Wireless share to Verizon is just one of Colao’s options. He could also sell Vodafone in its entirety to Verizon, but that seems less likely because of Vodafone’s relatively high valuation. If Vodafone does indeed sell off its Verizon Wireless stake, it could potentially make the company an attractive acquisition for suitors like AT&T.
Continue reading here: Verizon Reportedly Preparing $100B Bid For Vodafone’s Verizon Wireless Stake
Don’t write off Microsoft’s chances in mobile just yet. It may still be struggling to make itself count in the smartphone space but early signs are more promising for Windows plus tablets. Microsoft has gone from having no share of the global tablet OS market in Q1 last year to taking 7.4% one year later, with three million Windows 8 tablets shipped in Q1 2013, according to preliminary figures from Strategy Analytics‘ Global Tablet OS Market Share: Q1 2013 report.
The analyst notes record tablet shipments in the quarter, with global branded tablet shipments reaching an “all-time high” of 40.6 million units in Q1, driven on by year-on-year growth of 117% (vs 146% in Q1 2012).
Microsoft launched Windows 8, its touchscreen-friendly reboot of its desktop OS, last fall – so it’s swung from zero to a 7.4% share in just under half a year. Compare that to the Windows Phone OS, which launched more than two years ago, in fall 2010: Windows Phone took only a 4.1% share in the US smartphone OS market in the three months ending February, according to Kantar figures. Globally, its share is even smaller. Earlier this year ABI Research predicted Windows Phone will end 2013 with around 3% of the worldwide market.
Returning to tablets, compared to the dominant players in the tablet OS market — iOS and Android — Microsoft’s share is still very modest. Strategy Analytics dubs it a “niche” portion, noting that “very limited distribution, a shortage of top tier apps, and confusion in the market, are all holding back shipments”. Microsoft has followed its Windows Phone strategy of paying developers to create apps for Windows 8 but it’s still got work to do in the quality vs quantity stakes. While “confusion in the market” likely refers to Microsoft’s decision to offer two flavours of tablet OS (Windows RT/Windows 8).
According to Strategy Analytics’ figures, Apple retains its lead in the tablet OS space, with a 48.2% share in Q1 vs a “robust” 43.4% for Android on 19.5 million and 17.6 million unit shipments respectively. Apple’s tablet lead over Android is shrinking considerably, dropping to under half the market from 63.1% in the year ago quarter when Android took just over a third (34.2%).
The analyst described Apple’s performance as “solid”, helped by its first full quarter with the iPad mini in its tablet portfolio. But Android is growing fastest, with global branded Android tablet shipments increasing 177% annually in the quarter. Add in budget white box tablets and Android becomes the market leader, taking a 52% share of the total tablet market while iOS slips to 41%.