(updated with link to Amisil-Thiel complaint)
Here’s the latest Silicon Valley-relevant tech news:
The collective delusion of Silicon Valley, and when are you working too hard? — Google’s product meistress, Marissa Mayer, says it’s ok to be workaholic…as long as you take vacation. She tells the Guardian such breaks help keep her sane. “I don’t believe it’s true that you burn out sooner or later if you work 80 hours a week, as long as you keep the thing that’s important to you sacred.” For her, it’s holidays, she tells the paper. We are reminded of a quote in the SF Chronicle about start-ups a few weeks ago: “They are temporary cults,” said Robert Sutton, an organizational psychologist at the Stanford School of Engineering, responding to the obsessive work habits of some Silicon Valley start-ups. “Any time you isolate people, bind them together and work them like dogs, it’s very powerful. You can get an enormous amount done when you create a place of such total focus and collective delusion.”
Skobee, an online calendar/event start-up, hits the wall; but others keep sprouting up — So reports reports Liz Gannes, who sums up this pain-filled area of online calendaring now that Google has entered in a big way. We’ve mentioned 37Signals’ Backpack (scroll down), as a hopeful suvivor. Some other players were lucky enough to get bought, like Upcoming (Yahoo) and HipCal (Plaxo, a few months ago). But others are dying too. Kiko just $258,100 from eBay. Liz, though, points to Involver, a group of six led by a couple of recent college grads, and planning a San Francisco test version next year (it had better be good!).
EBay hires Google to sell advertising outside of the U.S. — So Yahoo, which went international first (think Japan) no longer has the chops to hold off Google when it comes courting eBay for international business. Here’s the NYT story, which explains why eBay chose Google, even though eBay had struck a partnership with Yahoo in the U.S. This is significant, because eBay and Google have become competitors in so many areas.
As part of their deal, eBay and Google will build a “click to call” advertising system that will use both Skype and the much-smaller Google Talk. Ads on Google and products listed on eBay will have a click-to-call link that will allow users to have a conversation with the advertiser or product seller.
The companies expect that merchants will pay a fee — which Google and eBay will split — for each call they receive; this aspect of the deal involves both the United States and other countries.
Flickr launches geo-tagging — Techcrunch has the scoop the latest feature on the popular photo-sharing site, Flickr. The site has added a “maps” tab in its area called “Organize,” where you can drag photos into a Yahoo Map. A marker will appear there. Then you can search for photos by location in the “Explore” area, seeing the photos that other members have lodged in similar areas.
PayPal founder Peter Thiel has been sued by an investor in his hedge fund, Clarium Capital Management — The plaintiff, Amisil holdings, says he only got $372, even though Clarium’s stake in PayPal was worth more than $4.9 million when PayPal went public in 2002. Amisil says its rightful stake is worth $18 million. We heard about the suit, filed in U.S. District Court, from Amisil’s attorneys. Here’s the complaint. Amisil says Thiel’s side hasn’t responded to any requests for info. We contacted Thiel for comment, and here’s the response from Alda Leu, Assistant General Counsel at Clarium:
On August 28, Amisil Holdings Ltd. issued a press release stating that it had filed suit against Clarium Capital Management LLC and three of its officers. To date, Amisil has failed to serve Clarium with the complaint. Based on a review of Amisil’s press release, Clarium believes that Amisil’s claims are based on numerous misstatements of fact and that Amisil”s claims are meritless. Clarium intends to defend itself vigorously and pursue appropriate counter-claims against Amisil.
Meanwhile, here is the meat of Amisil’s statement:
According to Amit Choudhury, Amisil’s Senior Vice President, “Peter Thiel has been playing an elaborate shell game with our investment for the last eight years. Amisil has not received a single distribution from Clarium, while he has skimmed tens of millions of dollars out of Clarium into his own pockets. There’s been no pay for us, and he’s been no pal.”
…Through reinvestment of its holdings (including Amisil’s portion) in PayPal, Clarium owned at least 15% of Thiel Capital International Fund and PayPal by the end of 1999….In 2006, Amisil officials learned that Clarium paid out over $60 million at the end of 2005 to Thiel, the only other member of Clarium, and other employees. According to Choudhury, none of the proceeds of the IPO or eBay sale transactions was distributed to Amisil.
Amisil is asking for general, punitive and exemplary damages in the matter, as well as for preliminary and permanent injunctions to prevent Clarium from involuntarily removing it as a member. A jury trial is requested.