Stories for Apr. 15, 2014
In Brief

Automattic, the San Francisco-based company that is responsible for the WordPress web-publishing and blog-hosting platform — and the associated open-source community — is raising a round of venture capital that could value the company at $1 billion or more, according to a report in Fortune magazine. The financing is said to be in the $100-million to $150-million range. WordPress recently acquired Longreads, a content-sharing community, and has said it wants to get more into content recommendation. Web-publishing competitor Squarespace just closed a financing round of its own that was worth $40 million.

Disclosure: Automattic is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of Gigaom.

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In Brief

CrOS docking

Google’s Chrome OS is looking more and more like a traditional desktop operating system when it comes to usability and familiarity. Now, when using a Chrome app that normally opens in a small window, you can drag it to the side of your display and the main browser will automatically re-size to make room. Microsoft introduced a similar feature called Snap in Windows 7 and it works the same in Chrome OS. That’s likely not a coincidence. Working in a browser-based environment is a big change for some after decades of using Microsoft Windows. By replicating existing usability and navigation features, Chrome OS becomes more familiar to new users.

In Brief

Google has been quietly transforming Google+ into a useful way for Android users to backup and share photos, and its newest Gmail integration, announced Tuesday morning, is pretty nifty. If you use Auto Backup to offload and organize photos from an Android phone, the Insert Photo button gives you a one-click way to include those shots into a message when using Gmail on the web. In addition to the one-click feature, all photos inserted into Gmail now have re-sizing handles: To change the display size of a photo, simply drag a corner. Perhaps this isn’t as awesome — or silly — as Auto Awesome, but it’s certainly convenient.

Stories for Apr. 14, 2014
In Brief

In a bit of an about-face, Microsoft added a little support to Google’s Chrome strategy by announcing Office Online apps in the Chrome Web Store on Monday. “Apps” is a bit of a misnomer: These are shortcuts for Chrome’s app launcher to the already available web versions of Word, Excel and Power Point. The timing of the gesture is interesting as well: It corresponds with the ZDNet’s reported end of Microsoft’s Scroogled ad campaign today, a series of spots that focused on Chrome OS deficiencies including the fact that they don’t run Microsoft Office.

In Brief

SpaceX’s CRS-3 mission, which has already been delayed for months, was pushed back again today after the Falcon 9 rocket experienced a helium leak. SpaceX said it will fix the leak before the next launch opportunity Friday, though the weather is expected to be poor. The CRS-3 mission will deliver supplies and equipment for experiments to the International Space Station. SpaceX will also deliver a gasket needed to fix a broken backup computer on the ISS.

On The Web

The Verge published an indepth expose on eccentric energy and computing entrepreneur Mike Cheiky and how he’s been able to convince Valley venture capitalists to invest in his companies, despite some early questionable scientific claims. Cool Planet announced last month that it raised another $100 million (from folks like Google Ventures, BP, UBS, Goldman Sachs and others), and to which my response on Twitter was “I thought this was an April Fools joke, but looks like not.” The companies that Cheiky has founded have distanced themselves from him, and some have changed directions and business models. But the energy industry is particularly susceptible to what I once called “snake oil energy salesmen and green bamboozlers.”

Cool Planet 3

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