Skype announces free calls within the U.S. and Canada to any landline or mobile number — Wow, this is a big deal. Yep, even calls outside of Skype’s network — via its so-called SkypeOut service — are free. Can anyone tell us why we shouldn’t turn off our home’s fixed line long distance service, and simply use Skype? It is only valid until end of 2006, and some are calling it a gimmick, but it works.


Bottlenotes: the Netflix of Wine — One-year-old Bottlenotes, of Palo Alto wants to do for wine clubs what Netflix has done for DVD rentals, reports BusinessWeek. It wants to match wines to customers’ personal tastes much like Netflix recommends movies. Hate to be curmudgeons folks, but part of the reason we like wine is the surprise of a new taste. Ok, we like Cabernet, Pinot, Riesling and Gewurtz, but once we’ve gotten this far, why do we want to go monogamous on particular sub-tastes?

The company’s board includes Netflix co-founder Jim Cook, Cakebread Cellars winery founder and CEO Jack Cakebread and Tiger Management hedge fund founder Julian Robertson, who is also an investor. Founder and CEO Alyssa Rapp is a Stanford MBA who formerly worked at RO Imports, a startup importer of New Zealand wines…Bottlenotes raised a first round of $637,504 in March from Robertson and 12 other accredited investors.

via Joe Friend

Blogging from Word — This could be pretty cool. See the blog post from Joe Friend, a lead program manager at Microsoft, for more info about a new feature for Word 2007: Direct publishing of a blog to the Web from Word.

Jot acquired by Yahoo? — Some people say they’ve heard Yahoo is acquiring Jot, a Silicon Valley start-up that sells software for wikis, or web sites that let multiple people edit a single document. Jeff Nolan says it makes sense for Yahoo, since Jot has focused recently more on the consumer area, or at least that’s what Jeff says. Keep in mind that his company, SAP, has invested in a competitor, Socialtext, which is going after large companies. But he tosses Jot a nice bone:

The potential for SMB adoption of wikis is also very high and this would compliment Yahoo! small business services. Can you imagine how cool it would be if every business listed in Yahoo! Local had a wiki page attached to it?

Om says he’s not so sure, having talked with the company. We also checked with the company last week, and they told us they couldn’t comment.

Yahoo launches Yahoo Answers — No surprise here, as it basically matches what eeverybody else (Google/Yahoo) has.

Will FreeWebs bring the good karma back to 165 University?: Remember the lucky place on University Ave in Palo Alto, at the heart of Silicon Valley, which housed Google, PayPal and others that have done well? We recently wondered whether the luck had run dry, when Dipsie faltered (it is apparently still alive, just licking its wounds and readying for a relaunch). Anyway, the latest tenant is FreeWebs, which has a team of 16 employees, 16 million unique visitors (the number alignment alone suggests good mojo), is profitable and adding 20,000 new websites a day, according to its executives. It has just moved here from the East Coast (the exec team is staying on East Coast, tho’).

Google handing Schwarzenegger the California election? — California took in a record $11.3 billion in personal income tax receipts in April, $4.3 billion more than it collected last April. And a significant chunk came from Google employees paying taxes on their stock gains from the phenomenal IPO — or up to one-eighth of the total gain in California’s taxes, says the SF Chron.

Fourteen of Google’s top executives and directors sold $4.4 billion worth of stock last year, according to Thomson Financial. That includes founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, each of whom sold about $1.3 billion worth of stock. Assuming the 14 insiders had acquired the shares at very low cost and that all were in the top 10.3 percent state-tax bracket, they could have owed the state close to $450 million in capital gains tax on their stock sales.

That doesn’t include the rank and file.

Meanwhile, our colleagues at the Merc report the tax windfall may be best campaign contribution Gov. Ahnold receives this year. Indeed, he’s struggling to know how to spend it all.

Google Notebook glimpse — Erica Joy has some screenshots of the upcoming Google Notebook feature.

MySpace is supplying 8.2 percent of Google’s trafficat least, that’s according to Hitwise, which analyzes Web data. Gosh, that’s huge.

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