Canadian startup Shopify Inc. has raised $100 million to challenge juggernauts like Amazon.com Inc. and eBay Inc. in the arena of merchant software and services.
Shopify’s systems help merchants sell as easily online as they do offline, or vice versa.
Omers Ventures and Insight Venture Partners led the round, joined by the company’s prior backers, said Chief Executive Tobias Lütke, including Bessemer Venture Partners, FirstMark Capital, Georgian Partners and Felicis Ventures.
The Danish prime minister has been dismissed as a 'flirty blonde' in the Mail; the Sun has denounced Stella Creasy for wearing a blue skirt – just two recent examples of objectification. What others from the last year should we look at?
The politician who called a blonde colleague an "abortion barbie" for campaigning for a woman's right to choose, the magazine editor who described women in his pages as "ornamental" and the the commentator who said: "I'm not saying she deserved to be raped, but …": these are just a few of the lowlights of a brilliant video watched by 3.6 million people and counting.
How The Media Failed Women In 2013 is the latest video from the Representation Project, the US team whose 87-minute award-winning film, Miss Representation, highlighted in 2011 the ways women and girls are objectified in the media.
Some of the examples from their current work, bad like Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines video or good like the Goldieblox ads, have already been shared and debated in the UK. Others – Carl Jr burgers? – not so much.
But how many examples of sexism in politics and the media could be gathered just from the UK? Just thinking back over the past 24 hours, there's Thursday's Daily Mail front page coverage of the Danish prime minister, described as a "flirty blonde" for daring to snap herself alongside Barack Obama (understandable) and David Cameron (not so much) .
And then there's yesterday's unseemly spat between Labour MP Stella Creasy and Tom Newton Dunn, the political editor of the Sun. When Creasy used the House of Commons to question the prime minister's lack of support for No More Page 3, Newton Dunn commented on her clothes. He tweeted: "Boldly, @stellacreasy has just asked the PM to justify Page 3 – while wearing a bright blue PVC skirt in the Commons chamber." When Creasy retorted that Dunn never felt it necessary to mention Cameron's "shiny blue tie", he replied: "fully support ALL equal opportunity; yours to wear what you want – and p3 girls to express themselves as they want". Hmmm, wear a skirt to work today or continue to publish a daily topless picture in what is still the UK's biggest selling newspaper? To twist a phrase, all girls [sic] may be equal, but some are more equal than others.
When discussing whether everyday media sexism is a global phenomenon, it seems fair to point out here that my American friends are always shocked when reminded that the biggest picture of a woman in British papers every day is one in which she is wearing only knickers. Not even the Murdoch-owned New York Daily Post would go that far.
A joint venture between Object and the Everyday Sexism Project asking for examples of everyday media sexism was last active months ago. Can we come up with a few to help? If we were to make a new UK version of this video, what would you want to see?Jane Martinson
The editor-in-chief of the New Republic discusses the challenges of updating the media brand for the social age
Online forums today look like throwbacks to the Web of the 1990s. Lots of text, lots of page breaks, lots of hard-to-follow conversations. Meanwhile, more modern social media conversations on Twitter and Facebook spring up around hashtags, but they aren’t organized. You can see if a topic is trending, but Twitter offers only basic tools for curating tweets.
A product called N3twork wants to be the new center for those conversations. It’s a daunting task to try to attract the people of the Internet to leave wherever they are and have their conversations on your own property. But the people behind N3twork hope people will be attracted to it because it is built expressly for mobile, and it is highly visual.
Today’s active, general-purpose discussion sites, like Reddit and Wikia, are lacking on both those fronts, said N3twork CEO Neil Young in an interview at the company’s San Francisco office. “They aren’t visual. They aren’t well-integrated on the devices we have in our pockets all the time. And they have segmented audiences,” Young said.
That’s the other things about N3twork — it creates personalized feeds of activity around every topic a user is interested in, so they don’t have to click around to visit each page or discussion. This is done by users following hashtags, which are the central element of the service.
Users are invited to create posts that are collages of content, including Web pages, photos and videos. N3twork has a nifty trick where it captures a preview of a video and plays it silently and automatically, so the content looks alive as you scroll.
But there are a couple of big challenges in launching a tool such as this. One: How are you going to get people to join and care about something, when it’s quite so broad? And two, how are you going to avoid the inevitable problem of people spamming feeds by posting over and over to various hashtags?
As for the first, Young said that his experience building games at Ngmoco (which was bought by DeNA for $400 million in 2010) taught him and his team how to build things that grow and get people engaged. And the second, he said he trusts that people will report spam, and repeat spanners will get banned.
N3twork has some time and resources to figure it all out. The company has raised $12 million from Kleiner Perkins, Floodgate Fund and Google Ventures.
Why do people still bother with Christmas albums? Leona Lewis's is far from the worst, but it needn't worry Slade
This week, it was reported that Noddy Holder and Jim Lea are set to make £800,000 in royalties this festive season. With a fortnight still to go before Christmas itself, one website claimed – unverifiably – that Slade's Merry Xmas Everybody has already earned its writers £512,000. In fairness, it's not as if anyone's really tried to knock Merry Xmas Everybody from its perch in the national affections recently. You'd think the potential to earn nearly a million quid a year from one song would send pop writers scuttling off en masse to try to dream up a new Christmas single to rival it, but no one in Britain seems to bother. The traditional explanation is that Christmas singles are too naff for latterday artists to countenance: they're a relic of a less sophisticated era, when Christmas day meant turkey washed down with liebfraumilch, the family boggling in wonder as the Pong machine got hooked up to the telly, and dad emerging from the bathroom bearing the startling olfactory hallmarks of a Brut gift set applied with abandon. The truth may be that no one dares, cowed by the way that Christmas hits of the 70s and 80s are so deeply embedded in the nation's psyche that challenging their supremacy seems a futile kamikaze mission, like forming a band with the intention of being bigger than the Beatles.
But while the Christmas single is a dying art, you can't move for Christmas albums these days. Perhaps they're easier to make because they don't come freighted with the same historical weight. There are dozens of celebrated Christmas singles, all of them wheeled out on an annual basis, but only one truly legendary Christmas album: A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector, released on the day John F Kennedy was shot. No one expects them to get to No 1, or to become a beloved national institution, or indeed be anything other than a hastily constructed cash-in, designed to make a quick buck then be swiftly forgotten.
It's tempting to suggest that makes them the kind of album that fits perfectly with Simon Cowell's worldview, which might explain why so many artists associated with him seem to end up recording them. This year alone, Susan Boyle is duking it out in the charts with Britain's Got Talent runners-up Richard and Adam and Leona Lewis's Christmas With Love. Perhaps understandably, given that it's working in a genre where the biggest record of the year is 40 years old, the latter plays up the retro angle. It arrives in a 60s pastiche sleeve, bearing a version of White Christmas with an arrangement apparently based on that of Mud's 1974 chart-topper Lonely This Christmas, and two painstaking recreations of tracks from A Christmas Gift for You. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) and Winter Wonderland differ from Phil Spector's versions only in so far as the original vocalist, Darlene Love, was a singer of the 60s R&B tradition, in which one conveyed emotion by exercising a degree of restraint, even when belting it out in order to be heard amid one of the Tycoon of Teen's kitchen-sink arrangements. Lewis is a singer who graduated from The X Factor, and thus conveys emotion by leaping between octaves, embellishing every other word with a melismatic flourish, standing on her head and tearing telephone directories in half.
If the Spector recreations are tinged with a sense of pointlessness, the three original tracks are actually quite good. Your Halleujah is a spectral ballad, co-written by Lewis herself, that seems to be about that perennial topic of Yuletide jollity, someone dying at Christmas. The more upbeat One More Sleep and Mr Right are really enjoyable, particularly the latter. It's a little brazen in its attempt to recreate the atmosphere of Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas Is You – perhaps the last Christmas single to genuinely capture the mass imagination in the manner of Slade et al – but as its writers would doubtless point out, Christmas is no time for subtlety.
Elsewhere, it's hard to really go wrong with a song like Wizzard's I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day, although the team behind the album give it their best shot, rendering the opening verse as a piano-backed ballad, the better for Lewis to stand on her head and tear telephone directories in half over. Her voice sounds infinitely more impressive on Silent Night. The question of whether the world really needs another version of Silent Night hangs heavy over it, but you have to be thankful that Lewis reins her performance in a bit. This, after all, is a song both Destiny's Child and Mariah Carey have used as a springboard for double back somersault vocal extemporisations so florid they leave you thinking that if a carol singer came to your door and performed Silent Night like that, you'd pretend to be out.
You could say Lewis's entry into the Christmas market smacks of keenness to regain lost ground. The kind of people who bought her debut were apparently baffled by the incomprehensible experimentation of 2012's Glassheart, which contained a mild dubstep influence on a couple of tracks. Perhaps they'll be won back en masse by undemanding festive cheer? It seems more likely that Christmas With Love will sell moderately well, get played in the background at a few parties and slip in one ear and out the other without leaving much lasting trace, as is the way with your average Christmas album. There are certainly worse Christmas albums out there than this. Equally certainly, there's nothing here to challenge Noddy's supremacy at the top of the tree.Alexis Petridis
Rap group says YouTube video turned their lyrics into a jingle to sell products and band 'suffered injury to their business'
Beastie Boys have refused to back away from a legal clash with GoldieBlox, the toy company that adapted their 1987 song Girls for a viral YouTube hit. A few weeks after GoldieBlox took down the song, pleading, "we want to be your friends," the rap group has filed a lawsuit requesting all revenue that has resulted from the advert.
"The video advertisement ... featuring the Beastie Boys' song Girls constitutes copyright infringement and is not fair use," wrote the group's lawyers. "[The] lyrics [have been] modified to become a 'jingle' to sell GoldieBlox's products."
On 21 November, the San Francisco-based law firm representing the toy company filed a pre-emptive lawsuit asking the court to rule that because it is a parody, GoldieBlox's version of the song constitutes fair use. The ad encourages young women to code apps, build spaceships and become engineers. GoldieBlox's toys are aimed at inspiring girls to learn about science.
Mike D and Ad-Rock of the Beastie Boys had initially responded with an open letter:
As creative as it is, make no mistake, your video is an advertisement that is designed to sell a product, and long ago, we made a conscious decision not to permit our music and/or name to be used in product ads.
In its own open letter on its website, GoldieBlox agreed to take down the track:
We don't want to fight with you … When we made our parody version of your song, Girls, we did it with the best intentions. We wanted to transform it into a powerful anthem for girls ... Although we believe our parody video falls under fair use, we would like to respect [Yauch's] wishes and yours.
That move appears to have been insufficient. The Beastie Boys' new lawsuit, filed in a California court, claims the GoldieBlox video has caused "injury to [the group's] business, good will and property". The hip-hop act is claiming it is "entitled to recover from GoldieBlox the gains, profits and advantages [they have] obtained as a result of [their] wrongful conduct", or an award of statutory damages for the alleged wrongful conduct.
In a statement obtained by the New York Times, GoldieBlox's lawyer, Daralyn Durie, said they were reviewing the new legal brief. "Although the ad has been taken down and we would prefer an amicable resolution, we strongly believe that the parody constitutes fair use," she said.Sean Michaels
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has a new deputy director: Former Google exec Michelle Lee. Lee, who previously served as head of patents and patent strategy at Google, had been heading up the Silicon Valley branch of the USPTO. Her promotion to deputy director of the federal agency, which she will oversee until its vacant director’s slot is filled, should bring to the office a unique Silicon Valley perspective on intellectual property issues.