Pacific Northwest Clearwire announced Tuesday that starting over the next few months, Google will be providing e-mail, chat and calendar...
Clearwire announced Tuesday that starting over the next few months, Google will be providing e-mail, chat and calendar applications to its customers.
Current customers are unlikely to notice because Google will provide just the back-end infrastructure, said spokeswoman Helen Chung.
Clearwire customers will continue to have access to their Cleawire.net e-mail accounts. The biggest difference is that they will start to have access to more features and services that mirror the Google Apps suite, including Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Talk.
In the future, Clearwire may use Google’s advertising and search technology as it builds out its own Internet portal for customers.
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Marketing-tech firm gets $6.5M
Mercent, a Seattle online-marketing-technology company, is receiving $6.5 million in series B funding to build up its sales and marketing teams.
The company, which builds a platform that helps retailers manage and optimize online product placement, now has 25 employees.
Mercent says its services touch 200 million Internet shoppers, but its client list is heavily local, with flagship customers such as REI, Nordstrom and Celebrate Express.”This financing will help us take that and expand into the national and potentially international markets,” Chief Executive Eric Best said. Best tapped his former employer, Amazon.com, for a business-development expert, Todd Sherman, who will help lead Mercent’s next phase.
The funding is on top of about $7 million in earlier financing, plus angel funding. Leading the latest round was San Diego-based TVC Capital, whose managing partner, Steve Hamerslag, will join Mercent’s board. Madrona Venture Group and an affiliate of Pittsburgh’s The Hillman Group increased their stakes.
Shares rise with news of patent
Dendreon shares rose Monday as the company announced that it had received a broad European patent for its lead experimental therapy, Provenge, and other products.
The Seattle-based company’s shares closed at $6.73, up 27 cents or 4.2 percent. The patent covers the composition of Provenge, a prostate-cancer vaccine, and that of other therapies such as Neuvenge, an early-stage breast cancer drug.
Alcatel-Lucent asking for $3.49B
Alcatel-Lucent is asking for more than $3.49 billion in damages from Microsoft, Dell and Gateway, which would be the biggest patent-infringement verdict in U.S. history, at a trial beginning next month.
Alcatel-Lucent, the world’s largest supplier of telecommunications equipment, contends the three companies violated five patents. Two of the inventions, for computer-video encoding and decoding, relate to a technology used in digital television, DVDs and video games. Two other patents relate to entering data on computer-based forms and operating a computer with a stylus. The fifth relates to color memory.
Alcatel-Lucent’s claims “are grossly inflated,” Microsoft said in a court filing Monday.
The three-week jury trial is set to start Feb. 20 in San Diego.
Nation and World
Profit, sales up; shares plummet
Intel’s profit leapt 51 percent as sales of microprocessors accelerated in the fourth quarter, but its shares plummeted on signs that the world’s largest semiconductor maker is feeling the pinch of an ailing U.S. economy.
The company’s results, released after the market closed Tuesday, narrowly missed Wall Street’s profit and sales expectations.
The news jolted investors who thought the technology bellwether was shielded from the housing and lending morass that has crimped consumers’ discretionary spending, analysts said.
“The stock is reacting as hard as it is because the market was expecting Intel to be at the tail of the dog — not really seeing the weakness we’re seeing in retail yet,” said Doug Freedman, an analyst with American Technology Research. “But the numbers at the top line suggest they are absolutely seeing this weakness.”
Intel shares plunged more than 14 percent, falling $3.24 to $19.45 in after-hours trading Tuesday after the results were released.
During the regular session, they had lost 39 cents, or 1.7 percent, to close at $22.69.
Company will cut 1,000 employees
Applied Materials, a major supplier of computer chip-making equipment, is jettisoning 1,000 jobs, a 7 percent cutback that suggests some manufacturers are hunkering down for a recession.
The purge announced Tuesday represents Applied Material’s biggest retrenchment since November 2002, when the Silicon Valley company laid off 1,750 employees.
American Technology Research analyst Bill Ong views the austerity measures as a clear sign of tougher times ahead in the technology industry.
“The current environment looks very weak, so it’s a good time for the company to get down to an appropriate size,” he said.
News of Applied Materials’ cost cutting lifted the company’s shares 11 cents to finish at $16.95 Tuesday.
Applied Materials is viewed as an indicator of the semiconductor industry’s direction because its equipment plays a fundamental role in the production of the microprocessors and memory chips used in computers, digital music players and a wide variety of other electronic gadgets.
Bank of America
Investment banking curbed
Bank of America said on Tuesday that it was scaling back its investment-banking operations, shedding an additional 650 jobs after suffering heavy trading losses from bad mortgage investments.
The layoffs will be on top of 500 jobs that were eliminated in mid-October, when Bank of America executives signaled plans for a retreat. Together, the cuts represent about 19 percent of the investment bank’s 5,900 employees.
Executives said that they would reduce coverage of certain investment-banking customers and narrow the services it provides to corporate clients overseas. They are also narrowing their trading activities, scaling back their presence in packaging the mortgages and other complex securities that have been hit hardest by a tightening credit market.
Profit down 21% from last year
U.S. Bancorp’s fourth quarter profit fell 21 percent from a year ago. It held back on share buybacks so it could shore up a money-market fund. Its chairman and CEO felt the need to tell investors that the nation’s seventh-largest bank is “well-capitalized.”
Not counting one-time items, “the earnings were essentially flat, which is really a victory in this type of market,” said RBC analyst Jon Arfstrom.
The country’s major banks are headed toward writing down at least $65 billion worth of assets in the fourth quarter, according to an Associated Press tally. That’s on top of $46 billion in the third-quarter.
U.S. Bancorp shares rose 10 cents to close at $30.42.
1,000-1,2000 jobs cut in restructuring
EMI, the storied home to The Beatles that was taken over by a private equity firm last year, announced Tuesday it would cut about a third of the company’s jobs in a restructuring plan aimed at reassuring its restless artists, countering plummeting CD revenue and saving $400 million a year.
London-based EMI Group said sales, marketing, manufacturing and distribution would be combined in a single global division as part of a “fundamental restructuring” of its recorded music unit. The changes will entail the loss of 1,500 to 2,000 jobs from the current work force of 5,500 over the next six months.
“We believe we have devised a new revolutionary structure for the group that will improve every area of the business,” said Chairman Guy Hands, who led the then $4.9 billion takeover of EMI last August.
Group to review banks’ response
The International Monetary Fund will review how the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank (ECB) and other central banks responded to the financial turmoil that erupted with the subprime-mortgage crisis.
The Washington, D.C.-based international development agency will set up a working group to draw lessons for “developing a more effective liquidity management framework,” the fund said in an article in its internal magazine.
“The IMF has already held discussions with central bankers and market participants in Europe, Asia and North America,” the article said.
The Fed and ECB injected billions of dollars into money markets starting in August to quell a surge in borrowing costs prompted by losses on subprime mortgage debt.
Compiled from Seattle Times business staff, Bloomberg News, The Associated Press, and The New York Times News Service