The Week in Tech: Facebook floats, Iran threatens Google and a great read on Yahoo! and Flickr
Featuring this week in our tech round-up: Facebook, Nintendo, Google, Irish start-up Soundwave and a ghost from Internet past, Flickr.
Facebook’s $100bn flotation
As Miley Byrne might have said once or twice, “Well holy God.”
Facebook’s initial public offering (IPO) of 421 million shares on Friday came in at a share price of $38 a pop, equating to a company valuation, when you tally up this capitalisation with the existing unexercised stock options held by company employees and executives, of around the $107bn mark, numbers that would get the Eurozone out of a sovereign implosion or two.
The Facebook flotation was by a distance the largest tech IPO in history and the third largest of all time, behind only Visa in 2008 and General Motors two years ago.
But are things all rosy in the garden? For every commentator who expects Facebook’s share price to implode, there are others who argue that it will be the subject of a massive over-demand from thousands upon thousands of Facebook members keen to become novice investors by grabbing a slice of the pie.
One thing that is certain is this: Facebook had revenues of less than £4bn last year. That’s revenues, not profits, so they’ve a fair bit to make up.
So as Kenneth Froewiss of the NYU Stern School of Business so nicely put it to Mashable this week: “Purchasing shares at an IPO, especially a ‘hot’ one that has been widely hyped, is rarely a good idea. Might someone on occasion reap a tremendous windfall by doing so? Yes, but then again, on occasion someone wins the lottery. That does not make the lottery a great investment in general.”
With 82 million shares traded in the first 30 seconds yesterday, a lot of people made a lot of money of quite quickly, yet the shares quickly dropped back to their issue price of $38 within the first twenty minutes. As the bumpy ride continued during the day, the share price eventually closed at just $38.27, just some earlier predictions that it might hit $50. Ouch.
Irish tech wizardry
Turning closer to home, and startup company Soundwave was announced as the winner of NDRC’s ‘Lift Off’ competition at this week’s LaunchPad accelerator programme.
Soundwave was among 15 tech startups competing for an overall prize which includes access to a €50,000 investment pot.
A sort of social media/music/analytic service, Soundwave purports to allow users to track the most popular songs being listened to right now: a sort of trending mechanism for music, which sounds like a hell of an idea to us.
Finally - an actual reason to buy your Nintendo DS everywhere
Having secured a deal with The Louvre in Paris earlier this year for Nintendo 3DS consoles to provide tourists with virtual guides, Nintendo have teamed up with Toyota for another unique partnership.
Launching on June 1 in Japan, drivers will be able to use a special DS cartridge to connect to their Toyota vehicle and using its Smart Navi system, can use the console to input destinations, view maps and even save destinations.
Let's face it; this is an ideal purchase for any Nintendo fan, especially when you consider that if you're stuck in a particularly heavy traffic jam, you can remove the Toyota cartridge and enjoy New Super Mario Bros all over again.
Iran threaten Google over lack of Persian Gulf mention
Iran has got its back up after Google removed the name of the Persian Gulf for its Google Maps service, provoking the country's Foreign Ministry spokesman in the process.
As of this writing, the Persian Gulf is unnamed on Google Maps - perhaps because as some Arab states refer to it as the Arabian Gulf, Google wanted to avoid any potential controversy. Not the case, however, as oreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast says that Google must reverse its decision or face "serious damages" and possible legal action.
To paraphrase Graham Norton on Father Ted, you're in for it now Google...
How Yahoo! killed Flickr
To finish, let us point you in the direction of one of the best #longreads we’ve come across in a while: Gizmodo’s in-depth take on the rise and fall of Flickr before and after the Yahoo! takeover, and how the web giant, having lost the search race to Google, then contrived to spurn the opportunity to be the front-runner in the social web at a time when Facebook was still little more a website for college fraternities.
At the time, the Web was rapidly becoming more social, and Flickr was at the forefront of that movement. It was all about groups and comments and identifying people as contacts, friends or family. To Yahoo, it was just a fucking database.
It’s well, well worth a half hour of your time. Click here for the full Gizmodo article on Yahoo! and Flickr.