Off the Wires

U.S. Stocks Trim Gains As Nasdaq Experiences Delay In Facebook

May 18th, 2012  |  Source: Bloomberg


U.S. stocks trimmed gains as Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. said it is experiencing a delay in opening shares of Facebook Inc. (FB) following its record initial public offering.

Facebook Nearly Breaks IPO Price, Pulls Back to $38

The Beau Sancy Diamond

May 14th, 2012  |  Source: Bloomberg


Weighing 34.98 carats, the modified pear double rose-cut stone was worn by Marie de Medici in her crown at her coronation as Queen Consort of Henri IV of France in 1610.

It will be offered at auction by Sotheby's Geneva on May 15.

Source: Sotheby's via Bloomberg

Edvard Munch's The Scream sold for $120m

May 3rd, 2012  |  Source: BBC

Norwegian expressionist Edvard Munch's The Scream has become the most expensive artwork sold at auction, after it fetched $119.9m (£74m).

The 1895 pastel was bought by an anonymous buyer at Sotheby's in New York. Bidding lasted 12 minutes.

The work is one of four in a series by the Norwegian expressionist artist and was the only one still owned privately.

Proceeds of the sale are to go towards founding a new museum, hotel and art centre in Norway.

Seven bidders were competing for the work, which had a starting price of $40m. The crowd broke into applause, following the sale on Wednesday.

Norwegian day traders cleared of wrongdoing

May 2nd, 2012  |  Source:

Two Norwegian day traders who outwitted the automated trading system of a big US broker and became local heroes have been cleared of all wrongdoing by the country’s highest court.

Svend Egil Larsen and Peder Veiby were handed suspended prison sentences for market manipulation in 2010 after they worked out how the computerised system would react to certain trading patterns – allowing them to influence the price of low-volume stocks.

The two men appealed and the case has over the past last two years worked itself up to the Supreme Court.

On Wednesday they were found not guilty, by the narrowest margin of three votes to two, in the final chapter of a widely followed case.

“I am pleased that the case is finished,” Mr Larsen told local paper Dagens Næringsliv, adding that this was the most nervous he had been in any part of the appeal process over the years.

Supreme Court justice Bergljot Webster explained the not guilty verdict, saying that while the defendants did use the system to their advantage, they did so with full transparency which “would indicate that the ... actions should not be punished.”


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The Power of Crowd Funding

April 12th, 2012  |  Source: Kick Starter

Pebble: E-Paper Watch for iPhone and Android

With a Goal of raising $100,000  ThIs company has 10,556 Backers  pledging $1,435,208  

with 6 DAYS still to go..


The e-book wars: Who is less evil, Amazon or book publishers?

April 12th, 2012  |  Source:

As expected, the Department of Justice launched an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and several of the major book publishers on Wednesday, alleging collusion and price-fixing behavior on e-books as a result of the “agency pricing” model. As my colleagues Jeff Roberts and Laura Owen have reported, three of the publishers named in the suit have decided to settle while two have chosen to fight the charges, and the states have jumped into the fray as well.

The argument from publishers is that they need to be able to set prices on e-books, because otherwise Amazon will increase its monopoly and decimate the book industry. So who should we be rooting for, the giant electronic retailer or the giant publishing houses?

As Jeff has explained before, this case revolves around an agreement that Apple struck with five of the “big six” book publishers — namely Macmillan, Penguin, Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster — when it was planning the launch of the iPad. Since Apple was coming into the e-book market late and was trying to mount an attack on Amazon’s entrenched market share, the deal with publishers to institute what is known as “agency pricing” seemed like a good idea: It gave Apple plenty of content (plus 30 percent of the revenue from each book sold), and the publishers got to control the price of their books, something they weren’t allowed to do with Amazon.

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Online Porn Is Huge. Like Really, Really Huge. Who Knew?

April 6th, 2012  |  Source: Business Week

The good folks at ExtremeTech took it upon themselves this week to get at one of the Internet’s crucial questions—just how big are porn sites these days? The answer? Ron Jeremy big. To study porn sites,ExtremeTech turned to the DoubleClick Ad Planner tool from Google (GOOG). It’s a useful website where you can peek at information gathered by ad-serving cookies about how much traffic a website gets, the age and income of visitors, and the amount of time people spend on a site.

According to this tool, the online porn kingpin Xvideosfeeds up 4.4 billion page views per month. That’s about 10 times as many as the New York Times and three times as many as YouPorn—another site packed full of stimulating content—notches 2.1 billion page views per month. And while people spend a few minutes per day on news sites, they tend to spend 15 minutes or more on porn sites, which would seem to say something rather definitive about, er, male stamina.

“But it’s not just men on the sites,” you shout. True, although the top porn sites count men as about 75 percent of their visitors. Breaking the stats down further, about half of the visitors make between $25,000 and $50,000 per year, while only 2 percent earn more than $150,000 per year. According to Google, the other interests of Xvideos visitors include Latin American music and gangs and organized crime, while YouPorn visitors like networking equipment and family films, so it’s an eclectic bunch.

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Atlanta’s Water War Is First in a flood to come

March 25th, 2012  |  Source: Bloomberg


Atlanta has always prided itself on its forward-looking perspective. As one business leader put it in the late 1980s, “Atlanta is a city of the future, not the past.” Today, however, Atlanta’s past is ensnaring it in a nasty conflict over water -- a kind of fight that’s likely to be more common in the future.

Atlanta developed as a railroad hub. Since railroads tended to be built on ridges, the city wound up at a place where several ridges intersected, “on the drainage divide between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico,” according to the U.S. Geological Survey. As a result, it is the largest city in the U.S. that is not near a major body of water.


Today’s low interest rates offer an ideal situation in which to finance investment in new or replacement pipes. We also need to invest in new technology -- from desalination to strategies for water reuse. In future columns, I will explore ways to better price water -- and also discuss the global dimensions of water problems.

There’s no reason to wait passively for the next water battle. Even before hearing from the Supreme Court, let’s look at the Lake Lanier story as a spur to aggressive action on our water problems.

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Read the full article by Peter Orszag, vice chairman of global banking at Citigroup Inc. and a former director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Obama administration. Here:

New World Bank president Jim Yong Kim's lighter side

March 23rd, 2012  |  Source:

President Barack Obama’s decision to pick Dartmouth President Jim Yong Kim took many by surprise, considering that Kim isn’t a regular in Washington circles.

“Dr. Kim’s name was closely held and not among those widely bandied about since Mr. Zoellick announced his plans to move on,” the New York Times wrote in its story on nomination.

”At this moment, across Washington, hundreds of surprised reporters and government aides are Googling ‘Jim Yong Kim’ to find out who he is,” joked Washingtonian magazine editor Garrett Graff on Twitter.

(Also on POLITICO: Obama taps new World Bank head)

Kim’s been president at Dartmouth since 2009 and is a former director at the World Health Organization and the co-founder of Partners in Health, which provides health services to the poor. But career accomplishments aside, what about his lighter side? In a “Greenroom” online-only video interview he did during an appearance on “The Charlie Rose Show” in March, Kim opened up about less weighty matters.

His first job: “[A]s a waiter in a restaurant in my little town in Muscatine, Iowa.”

Favorite book: “The Miracle of Mindfulness” by Thich Nhat Han. “It was about a practice in which one can be deeply passionate and compassionate toward those who are suffering. This is a monk who was very active in the struggles against the Vietnam War when he was in Vietnam.”

Read more:

Apple Sells Record 3 Million New IPads in Tablet’s Debut Weekend

March 19th, 2012  |  Source: Bloomberg

Apple Inc. (AAPL) said it sold more than 3 million iPads during the debut weekend for the latest model of the market-leading tablet computer.

The tally is a record for opening weekend iPad sales, Cupertino, California-based Apple said in a statement. AT&T Inc. (T) said earlier today that it had also set a single-day record for iPad sales when it was made available on March 16.

The iPad, first introduced in 2010, is Apple’s second- biggest source of revenue, behind the iPhone. The new version features a high-definition screen and a faster processor. Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has said he thinks purchases of tablet computers such as the iPad will eventually surpass those of personal computers.

Apple sold a record 15.4 million iPads in the fiscal first quarter, which ended Dec. 31. The new device initially went on sale in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Switzerland, the U.K., U.S. Virgin Islands and Hong Kong. On March 23, it goes on sale in 24 additional countries.

The iPad sales figure is Apple’s second major announcement today. The world’s most valuable company said earlier it will use some of its $97.6 billion in cash and investments to institute adividend and begin buying back $10 billion worth of shares.

Apple rose 2.7 percent to a record $601.10 at the close in New York. The shares have surged 48 percent this year.

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