Saturday, September 26, 2009

Acquisitions are 'back on' says Google CEO

Google, facing slowing growth amid a slump in advertising spending, is again considering acquisitions, CEO Eric Schmidt said.

"Acquisitions are back on," Schmidt, 54, said in an interview at an event in Pittsburgh this week. His company had more than $19 billion in cash and short-term investments at the end of its most recent quarter.

Schmidt's comments suggest Google's business is improving, giving the company confidence to spend on purchases, said Jeff Lindsay, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein in New York.

Google, the world's most popular Internet search engine, has relied on smaller acquisitions since buying DoubleClick for $3.2 billion in 2008 and YouTube for $1.65 billion in 2006.

"It's definitely a sign that Google is seeing stronger cash flow," said Lindsay, who recommends buying the stock and doesn't own it. "In the down economy all of the Internet players, including Google, cut back on capital expenditures to preserve cash flow."

Google typically buys 10 to 12 companies a year, Lindsay said. The company acquires smaller rivals, including startups, to boost its technology development, he said.

This month, Google bought ReCaptcha, a company that helps prevent fraud and spam at Web sites such as, for an undisclosed sum. In August, it agreed to buy video-technology company On2 Technologies for $106.5 million.

Google reported a sales gain of 2.9 percent last quarter — down from 39 percent a year earlier — as ads fetched lower prices and the recession crimped marketing budgets.

The company is also facing increasing competition from main rivals Yahoo and Microsoft, which agreed to combine their search businesses in July.

Google may buy wireless-technology providers and so-called cloud-computing companies to supplement its product lines, said Jim Friedland, an analyst at Cowen in New York.

The purchases might range from $10 million to $75 million, said Friedland, who rates the stock "buy" and doesn't own it.

Cloud-computing services let customers store and access data over the Internet.


TV blogging application from Den Networks

NDS, which provides technology solutions for digital pay-TV, has announced that digital cable TV operator Den, has launched two services on the NDS MediaHighway platform.

Den recently launched an interactive TV micro blogging application Blog.telly, after the launch of its 24-hour music service in January this year.

Den CEO Anuj Gandhi says, "The launch of these additional services further improves the entertainment experience for our digital cable viewers in India."

NDS senior VP, GM Asia Pacific Sue Taylor adds, “We will continue to work with Den to provide solutions and localised support in India, enabling them to deliver interactive entertainment services to their subscribers."


IT services deal signed between GE, Mahindra Satyam

Mahindra Satyam today said it has received an extension of its multi-million dollar contract with GE for next three years January 1, 2010.

GE, which is among the top five customers of Mahindra Satyam for over a decade now, gets support in the specialised areas of Application Development Maintenance, Business Intelligence and engineering services, Satyam Mahindra said in a statement.

"We thank the leadership at GE, for having reposed their confidence in us, and reinforce our resolve to excel in our deliverables to our esteemed partner, for years to come," Mahindra Satyam Global Account Executive Arvind Malhotra said.

GE has signed a similar contract with 11 other vendors. "GE recognizes the support extended over the years by Mahindra Satyam, and their commitment to delivery excellence, even during trying times," GE GDC Leader Steve Morrison said.

Satyam management had been in constant dialogue with its major clients, including GE and others to continue working with it.

"Mahindra Satyam has gained 32 new customers in the last four months," a top official had said earlier.

"Some of the large clients we had lost earlier are coming back and are reassigning new business," Atul Kunwar, the company's president of the Middle East, Europe, India and Asia Pacific regions, said on the sidelines of an industry conference.

The company, currently has about 420 clients, he said, compared with 480 in January before it was left battling for survival after Satyam's founder revealed India's biggest corporate fraud.

Satyam was acquired by Tech Mahindra in an auction in April and subsequently renamed. The number of employees the company has on reserve has come down to 7,000 from 8,500 in July, Kunwar said.

"With the business improving and new deals coming in, we have slowly started taking in employees from the virtual pool."


Win $10 million prize for building a best power saving bulb

The US Energy Department has declared a contest in which the company that makes the best power saving bulb will get a prize of $10 million. The contest winner will also receive consideration for federal purchasing agreements and will have a head start at cracking a vast consumer marketplace. The Energy Department will also award $5 million to the creator of an LED reflector lamp.

The L Prize has attracted significant attention in the lighting industry. Currently, 60 watt incandescent lamps represent 50 percent of all the lighting in the United States, with 425 million sold each year. The Energy Department says that if all those lamps were LED equivalents, enough power would be saved to light 17.4 million American households and cut carbon emissions by 5.6 million metric tons annually.

So far, Philips is the only company which has submitted its entry. The company has developed a led based bulb which uses one-sixth energy of a 60 watt incandescent bulb. "Philips is confident that the product submitted meets or exceeds all of the criteria for the L Prize," Rudy Provoost, Chief of Philips Lighting, said in a statement to New York Times. Philips has delivered 2,000 prototypes of its bulb to the Energy Department for testing.

Apart from few changes, the incandescent bulb continues to be similar to the Thomas Edison creation. But now the incandescent bulbs will be outlawed by new energy standards that go into effect in 2012. LED bulbs are now available but they have limited output and high prices.

The energy department has made certain criteria for the competition. All bulbs must be able to provide as much light as 60 watt incandescent bulb in 10 watt. The bulb must also last for more than 25,000 hours - about 25 times longer than a standard light bulb. Also, at least 75 percent of the bulb must be made or assembled in the United States. Philip's prototypes currently meet up in all criteria.

Speaking about the contest, James R. Brodrick, Manager of the Solid State Lighting Program of the Energy Department says that these will be the most publicly tested bulb ever. "We've probably eliminated almost 25 products that were horrible," said James R. Brodrick, manager of the Solid State Lighting Program of the Energy Department. "We test LED bulbs today that claim on the package that they're equivalent to 40 watts, but are really like 20-watt bulbs."

Kevin Dowling, Vice President for innovation at Philips Solid State Lighting Solutions, is confident that the LED light bulb can become an affordable option. "Over the long term, we can absolutely get the cost down to the $20 to $25 range," he said.


Friday, September 25, 2009

New Web site for US imigration agency

The Obama administration launched a new Web site on Tuesday that U.S. officials hope will make citizenship and other immigration services more accessible.

The new Citizenship and Immigration Services Web site was unveiled Tuesday at an event with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, as well as White House and Homeland Security staff.

Napolitano said USCIS' Web site gets 230,000 visits a day, therefore it is important that it be easy to use and provides ``the kind of information that people seek.''

The site was revised in 90 days using in-house resources, officials said. CIS officials could not immediately provide a total cost for the revisions. Parts of the service, including its Spanish-language sections, were still under construction.

Citizenship and Immigration Services is responsible for processing millions of applications for citizenship, immigration to the U.S. and legal residency as well as claims for asylum and refugee status.

One of the highlights of the new site is a tool allowing users to get e-mail updates or text alerts about the status of their cases, as well as to check them online with their case number.


Ford Motors on a hiring spree in India

Ford Motors has signed an agreement with the Tamil Nadu government for the $500-million expansion programme at its manufacturing facility at Maraimalai Nagar, a city suburb.

As part of its plan to expand its manufacturing facility in Chennai, car manufacturer Ford India has announced that it will hire 1,000 people. The expansion of the manufacturing unit will be completed by next year.

According to a company official, the company has already hired 400 people and the rest will be recruited by next year. On Thursday, the company signed an agreement with the Tamil Nadu government for the expansion by setting up new engine manufacturing units. As a part of its expansion plans, the company would double its vehicle production capacity to two lakh units per year. A new engine production unit with a capacity of 2.5 lakh is also being set up at a total invest cost of $500 million announced early last year.

The agreement was signed by Industries Secretary Farooqui on behalf of the government and Ford Managing Director Michael Boneham before Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi and U.S. Ambassador Tim Roemer among other officials.


GM, Reva to jointly roll out more electric vehicles

The Indian arm of General Motors (GM) Thursday said it is partnering Bangalore-based electric car maker Reva to develop and produce electric vehicles for the Indian market.

According to General Motors India managing director Karl Slym, the initiative was "in line with government objectives to reduce fossil fuel dependence".

"We are going to work closely with the central and state governments in India to develop infrastructure for electric vehicles charging and providing specific financial benefits to consumers," Slym said.

Describing electric vehicles as "a growth area around the global automotive industry", GM's president of international operations Nick Reilly said: "This cooperation with Reva in India will accelerate GM's progress to meet the emerging needs in many parts of the world."

Reilly said his company was pursuing several energy alternatives and advanced technology options to meet the changing needs of customers around the world.

"Electrically driven vehicles, based on battery and hydrogen fuel cell technology, offer the best long-term solution for providing sustainable personal transportation," he added.

The two companies have already started the feasibility study of GM's vehicle platforms to produce electric cars and are expected to announce the details shortly.

Reva had launched its electric car in 2001.

GM India, which has been unaffected by the bankruptcy proceedings of its parent in the US, is central to the company's global growth strategy.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Is Silicon Valley seeing shift from Chips to Bricks?

Forget microchips. Silicon Valley sees a profitable future in the humble brick thanks to a low-energy production process that illustrates the greening of the US technology capital.

Brick maker Calstar Products is backed by venture capitalists whose vision is to create buildings less expensively and in a way that saves energy. “We think it is time for a second industrial revolution,” said Paul Holland, a partner at Foundation Capital, which invested $7 million in Calstar. EnerTech Capital led another round that raised $8 million for the business.

Currently about 40% of US energy use goes toward the heating, cooling and general operation of buildings. Silicon Valley is finding high-tech ways to make ageold materials, pursuing carbon dioxide-eating concrete, windows that insulate better than walls, and wood substitutes.

The field is still new. Venture investments in green buildings have waxed and waned with the recession, but involved 45 deals worth about $350 million the past year, according to Cleantech Group LLC.

Bricks have been made pretty much the same way for 3,000 years, until Calstar’s scientists came up with their new technique, said Chief Executive Michael Kane. Ordinary bricks are fired for 24 hours at 1,100°C as part of a process that can last a week, while Calstar bricks are baked at temperatures below 100°C and take only 10 hours from start to finish, Kane said.

Lower energy costs mean higher profit, allowing the company to pay for its research and compete against large companies that have economies of scale. The new bricks — which the Brick Industry Association says are not actually bricks — will sell for the same price as traditional claybased ones.


Ex-lovers most popular online search on the Net

Most people look for their long lost love on the internet, a new survey has found.

The study found that one out of four people are using social networking sites like Facebook to search a childhood sweetheart.

Search engine Ask Jeeves claims that 9% even confessed trying to know details of a one-night stand.

Nearly 37% said that they wanted to learn about their ex to just “see what they were doing these days”, reports the British tabloid the Sun.

Surprisingly, 4% even looked for former flames just to inform them how happy they were without them, while 3% searched to find out how miserable their ex were.

Apart from searching for previous lovers the poll also suggested that a trend of “vanity searching”, which means looking for yourself on the net, has become increasingly popular.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Henning Kagermann joins Wipro board of directors

Wipro has announced that the former CEO of SAP AG, Henning Kagermann, would be joining its board from October 27 this year. Kagermann, who retired as CEO of the global business software maker SAP in May 2009, is currently president of Acatech (German Academy of Science and Technology). He would be joining Wipro’s 10 other board of directors.

Commenting on his appointment, Mr Kagermann said, “I have for long admired Wipro as a company as much for its innovative approach to business as for its strong commitment to values. I am excited at the prospect of guiding the company as it prepares for its next phase of growth.”

With the addition of Mr Kagermann, seven of the 11 directors of Wipro will be independent directors that include Ashok Ganguly, BC Prabhakar, PM Sinha, Jagdish N Sheth, N Vaghul and William Arthur Owens.

Wipro chairman Azim Premji said: “We are delighted to welcome Mr Kagermann to our board. He brings in a unique combination of academic perspective, technical expertise and leadership experience. I am sure that Wipro will benefit from his rich knowledge, insights and wisdom.”

This is the second time that Wipro has inducted a former CEO of a global technology company onto its board. It earlier inducted William Arthur Owens, former CEO Nortel Networks in July, 2006. Besides Wipro, Mr Kagermann is currently a member of the supervisory boards of Deutsche Bank AG, Munich Re, Deutsche Post in Germany and in Nokia Corporation.

Prior to joining Acatech, Mr Kagermann was CEO of SAP AG, till 2009. Kagermann joined SAP in 1982 and was initially responsible for product development in the areas of cost accounting and controlling. Later, he oversaw the development of all administrative solutions, including human resources, as well as industry-specific development for banking, insurance, public sector, and healthcare.

His duties also included finance and administration as well as the management of all SAP regions. He has been a member of the SAP Executive Board since 1991.

Prior to joining SAP AG, Dr Henning Kagermann was Professor of Physics and Computer Science at the University of Tu Braunschwieg & University of Mannheim, Germany.


Why is Sun Micro losing $100 mn a month?

Oracle Corp Chief Executive Larry Ellison said Sun Microsystems Inc is losing about $100 million a month as European regulators delay approving his company's $7 billion purchase of the struggling hardware maker.

"The longer this takes, the more money Sun is going to lose," Ellison said on Monday evening during a dinner at one of Silicon Valley's most prominent speaker's forums, the Churchill Club.

Sun's revenue has tumbled since April when Oracle agreed to buy the world's No. 4 computer server maker in April as rivals IBM and Hewlett-Packard Co have poached customers amid uncertainty about its future.

Oracle has pledged to boost investment on development of Sun's products, but the hardware company has cut spending prior to the deal's closing as sales have plunged. Last month it reported a quarterly loss of $147 million.

Ellison, the world's fourth-richest man according to Forbes, said he expects the deal will eventually be cleared by European regulators as it was in the United States, without any conditions.

The European Commission is conducting an in-depth probe into whether the competition would be stifled by the combination of Oracle's database, the world's top seller, and Sun's MySQL database, which is widely used to run popular websites.

Legal experts have said Oracle may need to make concessions, including the divestiture of the MySQL software business, and that it is unclear how long European approval would take.

European regulators have until January 19, the deadline set by the Commission, the competition watchdog of the 27-country European Union. That would put Oracle months behind its original plan for closing the deal by the end of August.


Will $3.9b Dell acquisition of Perot Systems payoff?

Dell agreed to buy Perot Systems for $3.9 billion, undertaking its biggest purchase ever to compete with International Business Machines and Hewlett-Packard in computer services. Dell, the second-biggest maker of personal computers, offered $30 a share in cash, about 68% more than Perot’s closing price September 18. The acquisition probably will boost profit in fiscal 2012, Round Rock, Texas-based Dell said in a statement on Monday.

Chief executive officer Michael Dell is pushing into computer services as consumers and companies curb PC purchases to cope with the economic slump. Larger services units helped IBM and Hewlett-Packard withstand the recession better than Dell, whose sales slumped 22% last quarter. The new services business would have annual sales of about $8 billion.

“This significantly expands Dell’s enterprise-solutions capabilities,’’ CEO Dell said in the statement. “The acquisition makes such great sense because of the obvious ways our businesses complement each other.’’

Once the transaction is complete, Perot Systems, based in Plano, Texas, will become Dell’s services unit. The purchase price is more than twice what Dell paid last year for EqualLogic, which was the computer maker’s biggest acquisition until now.

Perot Systems jumped as much as $11.89, or 66%, to $29.80 in trading before US exchanges opened. Dell, which ranks second to Hewlett-Packard in PC sales, fell as much as 5.6% to $15.75.

The acquisition of Perot, founded by former presidential candidate H Ross Perot, mirrors Hewlett-Packard’s purchase of Electronic Data Systems for $13.2 billion last year. EDS, the world’s secondlargest computer services provider after IBM, helped Hewlett-Packard increase services revenue 93% last quarter. Sales in the PC unit fell 18%.

Dell has relied on cost reductions to help prop up profit amid the recession. The company, aiming to save $4 billion a year, has farmed out 40% of manufacturing. Still, profit dropped 23% last quarter. Perot, which sells services to industries including health care, reported an 11% drop in sales and a 3% gain in net income last quarter. The company expects to benefit from the US government’s plans for electronic health records, Peter Altabef, CEO of Perot, said in an April interview. IBM’s sales fell 13% last quarter, while Hewlett-Packard’s total revenue dropped about 2%.

The companies have benefited from long-term services contracts to maintain corporations’ computers and networks. The Perot acquisition, while not subject to a financing condition, will need government approvals and the satisfaction of other conditions, Dell said. Dell to acquire x for $3.9bn.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Twenty seven lose job every hour in America

Despite the US economy showing indications of recovery, the global job market remains gloomy, with companies laying off at least 27 employees every hour to cut costs.

With companies continuing to reduce their headcount in their efforts to tackle the downturn, around 13,000 jobs have been slashed so far in September by some of the leading global firms most of them headquartered in the US.

Job losses of about 12,900 have been witnessed in just 20 days of this month, translating into an average of 645 people being laid off per day. In turn, the toll comes to at least 27 people losing jobs per hour.

The lay-offs are happening across almost all the sectors from pharma to software to refinery, among others.

Most of the job cuts happened in the United States, which has already seen a staggering 5,50,000 Americans filing for unemployment benefits in the first week of September.

Last week, US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said the recession is “very likely over,” while America’s retail sales data strengthened on hopes that recovery from the economic downturn was progressing.

Bernanke, however, said that recovery would be slow and it would take time to create jobs.

September’s job cut wave was led by pharma major Eli Lilly & Company, which will slash around 5,500 jobs globally by 2011.

While in terms of numbers, diversified technology leader Danaher came next with 3,300job cuts followed by agricultural company Monsanto, which would reduce its headcount by 8% of its total workforce or about 1,800 people.

Defence major BAE Systems is also planning to cut 1,116 jobs across plants in the country and may shut down one of its facilities by the end of 2012.

Moreover, US-based computer maker Dell is eliminating 500 people while Deere & Company is reducing its workforce by 367 manufacturing employees.

Other companies which announced job cuts include — Valero Energy, which slashed the jobs of 150 employees and 100 contractors, HJ Heinz’s frozen food arm fires 65 workers in Idaho.


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